“Musta been a whole acre of ’em…

and much funnier speeches than they had last year.” 1 Graduation is upon us and social distancing seems to have disappeared. While the graduation ceremony itself was open only to students (no family, no spectators), the after ceremony picture-taking and milling about looked like 2019 or earlier. You can see a few people in masks in the background of this photo. The crowd had just thinned – I took the picture while stopped in traffic so I didn’t have a lot of time to wait for the right moment.

The Tayles, a local band of my youth, wrote a song called “Master of the Arts” looking into the future of a friend with an advanced degree (“We all say that we knew him when…”). I wanted to play that for you but cannot find the cassette it was on – I may have thrown it and others out when I had no way to play or digitize them. (It’s available on Amazon Music for those who subscribe.) That’s a long way of saying that I am now the parent of a Master, one of the graduates honored this weekend, though in an online ceremony with the department only.

But since I’m talking about The Tayles, here they are at The Nitty Gritty in 1972, from the album “whoaretheseguys?” For some reason, this is on YouTube, while “Master of the Arts” is not.

Olio

Per the photo above, my proclamation of the Death of the Bubbler appears to have been premature.

I got to hug my son and daughter in law Sunday for the first time since Christmas 2019, or maybe birthday the next month. I wasn’t keeping track of it then, not knowing it would be the last time for over a year.

When people asked if I ran, I used to answer, “Only if I’m late for the bus” or “Only to chase a soccer ball.” Living with a dog who likes to walk, trot, canter, and gallop, I now find myself running so he can run.

Rhubarb season is back. Since we’ve been watching “The Great British Bake-off” I was inspired to make my first lattice-top pie in years.

Not a perfect lattice, but that won’t affect the eating. The dark rim is the drip tray under the pie.

Lloyd Price

We lost a musical giant last week. Lloyd Price died May 3 (I have seen 3 different dates published, but this date is quoting his wife, who ought to know), at the age of 88. He had his first hit in 1952 with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”. He went on to start a record company, develop housing, and help to promote the “Rumble in the Jungle”, the heavyweight boxing championship match in Zaire between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

It was my introduction to New Orleans-style piano, featuring the great Fats Domino.
While many have recorded Stagger Lee in various forms, this is the version I grew up with. My older brothers may have tormented me (see below), but they had good taste in music.

Giro d’Italia

The Giro d’Italia is underway, back to its traditional spring running as the first of the Grand Tours. Like the better-known (in the US) Tour de France, the Giro has various colors of jerseys for leaders in different classifications. The last place rider in the Tour is known as the Lanterne Rouge (red light – like the light at the back of a train). The Giro’s last place rider formerly won the black jersey (Maglia Nera), which was discontinued due to the fierce competition for the jersey. Once again, we honor Luigi Malabrocca and Sante Carollo as honorary members of the half-fast cycling club.

1 Martin Vanderhof (character), speaking of a college graduation in “You Can’t Take it With You”, by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. This is the role that made me realize I was an old man at age 16.

Trash into…trash

The winner for today’s highway cleanup (for weight and volume) was soggy cardboard. For the sheer number of items (thus the number of times we had to bend over to pick them up) it was smoking materials – butts, packs, lighters. The brand winner was Marlboro, with Pall Mall a surprising second. I guess even smokers have gone retro. Pall Mall has been around since 1899, Marlboro since 1908. According to The Guardian, five people who played The Marlboro Man in advertisements died of smoking-related diseases.

In second place overall for sheer number of items picked up were the flexible plastic reflectors that were glued down last year to mark the road for pavement striping. We picked up a bunch last fall. Today I think we picked up the rest of them. Over time the glue fails and they wash into the ditch. The road never got re-striped, so the only purpose those reflectors served was to provide a few hours of work for whomever glued them down and some more work for us to pick them up.

We were about to retire the brand championship with repeated wins by Busch Light beer cans, but today they just edged out (due to a six pack tossed in the last 100 yards before the park entrance) Icehouse Edge, a high-alcohol beer sold in 24 ounce cans. Since each Edge can contains roughly the alcohol equivalent of 4 Busch Light cans, we might call this a tossup.

Every time we clean this stretch of highway, we think about the potlucks held at this park after Wednesday night rides – it’s just about rhubarb pie time and we will miss Dave’s famous asparagus. No potluck again this year.

The view of our adopted highway during the post-ride meal as we watch the stragglers coming up this hill.

All this talk of winners who are actually losers made me play this on the way home.

We got home just in time to beat the much-needed rain. Maybe it will wash to pollen off of the car. The local weather folks recently changed from saying it was a dry year to calling it a drought.

Today in history: It was 51 years ago today that the National Guard massacred student on the campus of Kent State University; the day that another generation of white people learned that we are not immune.

I just read The Progressive interview with John Cusack. He ends by saying “Capitalism will sell you the rope to hang yourself with and then make you pay for the coffin and pass the debt on to your kids.” I don’t know if it’s original to him – it seems to be his own variant on an old line.

That new mask smell.

There’s nothing like the smell of a new mask every morning. Now that the PPE shortage is over, our instructions have changed from “wear a mask as long as you possibly can, and protect it with a face shield at all times” to “get a new mask every day and face shields are strongly recommended but not required.” This is still not the same as the pre-COVID standard where a mask was never worn with more than one patient and was disposed of upon leaving the room. A year ago we were wearing the same mask for months.

The protocols haven’t changed otherwise. I still wear hospital-issued scrubs that I change out of before I leave the building and that are laundered by the hospital. I still wear a fresh isolation gown and gloves for each patient. I wear a PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator) with COVID patients and a mask the rest of the day. If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, those doctors are all wearing PAPRs – except theirs are so loose you could stick your hand between the hood and their cheek and theirs aren’t turned on. We also don’t wear microphones inside of ours. And they never seem to sanitize them – it would slow the narrative to watch them spend minutes after every patient wiping everything down.

Each patient in the non-COVID parts of the hospital is now allowed one visitor – not one visitor at a time, or one per day, but the same one person. In rare circumstances they can change that person. It is odd to see visitors after so many months without them. In the COVID units there are no visitors.

I just finished another tour of duty in the COVID unit. The census is down considerably. This time it was just me and I still saw a few of my regular patients. Last time it was three of us full time. Each time I go there I learn something new, or see first hand what I’ve read about.

I saw a long-hauler – someone with symptoms that just won’t go away, and who continues to be sick and test positive months after the initial infection. They haven’t been in the hospital the whole time, as the illness waxes and wanes. I saw incidental findings – asymptomatic people whose infection was discovered on hospital admission when they came in for something else. I saw a COVID denier who can’t explain why he has a persistent cough and shortness of breath but he is sure it isn’t COVID because that’s fake. He can’t explain why he can barely make it from the bed to the chair with two of us helping, or why he is incontinent. He wants to go home because he thinks this is all our fault and he’d be fine if we just let him go home. He hasn’t really thought through how he’d get there, or even into the car. Is this thinking disorder a COVID symptom, or is this a manifestation of the same thought process that led him to thinking the whole think is a conspiratorial hoax?

I had another COVID dream last night; like the universal dream of finding yourself somewhere in public naked or in your underwear. In my version I find myself somewhere without a mask. The potential consequences are much worse than embarrassment.