Don’t let the door hit you…

We bid a not-so-fond farewell to 2020. Links are to previous mentions in these pages.

Losses include:
Political innocence (if we had any). When else has a losing president refused to accept the results of an election? If that wasn’t bad enough, most of his party supported him. There was apparently a vast conspiracy which included Google, YouTube, Facebook, the Democratic party, election officials in all states and municipalities, polling organizations, and local pollworkers throughout the country; yet they were too incompetent to oust Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, or a bunch of state officeholders that should be gone…or they were so sophisticated they managed to falsify only a single line on all of those ballots to fool us.

Green Bay Packers Willie Wood, Willie Davis, Herb Adderly, and Paul Hornung. Chicago Bear Gale Sayers. Harlem Globetrotter Curly Neal.

Musicians John Prine, Toots Hibbert, Jerry Jeff Walker, Johnny Nash, Little Richard, Ennio Morricone (composer), Spencer Davis, McCoy Tyner, Buddy Cage (pedal steel guitarist who replaced Jerry Garcia in The New Riders of the Purple Sage), Joseph Shabalala (Ladysmith Black Mambazo), Ellis Marsalis (jazz pianist and father of Branford and Wynton), Peter Green, Charley Pride, Tony Rice.

Poet, priest, revolutionary (and personal hero) Ernesto Cardenal (former Nicaraguan Minister of Culture).

Actors Diana Rigg (The Avengers), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 42), Carl Reiner (also writer, director), Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell from “Leave it to Beaver”), Jerry Stiller (half of Stiller and Meara). Max von Sydow (many Ingmar Bergman films), Kirk Douglas, Terry Jones (of Monty Python’s Flying Circus), Buck Henry (also screenwriter). Writer-Director Stuart Gordon.

Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Shirley Abrahamson (WI Supreme Court), Congressman John Lewis

Engineers Takuo Aoyagi (inventor of the pulse oximeter), Larry Tesler (a key developer of the Graphical User Interface – if you’ve used the commands cut/copy/paste, thank him), Bill English (inventor of the mouse), computer scientist Deborah Washington Brown (a pioneer in speech recognition), who left the New England Conservatory of Music and earned a doctorate in Computer Science at Harvard.

Journalist Jim Lehrer

345,000 (CDC) dead from COVID-19 in the US, 1,816,000 worldwide (Johns Hopkins)(rounded to nearest 1000 for ease of reading); 19% of deaths are in the US, which has 4% of the world’s population; for portion of population dead, US is 4th worst. Figures as of 12/31/2020

Aaron Danielson (killed during “Trump Cruise” rally)
Ahmaud Arbery (killed for jogging while Black)
Anthony Huber (killed during rally after Jacob Blake shooting)
Breonna Taylor (killed by police for sleeping in her bed)
Garrett Foster (killed during rally to protest George Floyd killing)
George Floyd (killed by police while lying on the pavement)
James Scurlock (killed during rally to protest George Floyd killing)
Joesph Rosenbaum (killed during rally after Jacob Blake shooting)
Michael Forest Reinoehl (killed by Federal agents; an extra-judicial execution that Donald Trump praised as “retribution”.)
Rayshard Brooks (killed by police for falling asleep in a drive-through lane)
1066 people have been killed by police in 2020 (as of 12/15/2020). According to the Guardian, 25 people were killed during protests or other incidents linked to political unrest (as of 10/31/2020). I have not located all of the names.

This is an entirely subjective list of losses for the year. Your list may vary.

I met Ernesto Cardenal during the US tour to promote his newly-released epic poem “Cántico Cósmico” (“Cosmic Canticle”), a poem that begins:
“In the beginning, there was nothing
no space
no time.
The entire universe concentrated
in the space of the nucleus of a single atom,
and before even less,
much less than a proton,
and before still less, an infinitely dense mathematical point.
And there was the Big Bang.”

(translation by Half-fast Cycling Club)
The history of the universe in 581 pages of verse – but think for a moment – this is a poem by a Roman Catholic priest, who does not say that in the beginning, god created the universe in 6 days.

Before he entered the priesthood he wrote a book of epigrams (one of my favorites is at this link), mostly love poems. After he became a priest he wrote a book of psalms, many of them political. In Psalm 18, – Las galaxias cantan la gloria de Dios – (“The galaxies sing the glory of God”), he puts us in context – an ordinary planet circling an average sort of star which orbits through the constellation Sagitarius. A universe in whose vast, empty spaces “hay campos magnéticos que cantan en nuestros radio-telescopios” (“magnetic fields sing to our radio telescopes”). Galaxies speak in a language without words, but not inaudibly, in a universe containing billions of galaxies spinning like carousels or musical spinning tops.

In psalm 21 ¿Por qué me has abandonado? (“Why have you abandoned me?”) he sings of people being tortured, straitjacketed, gassed naked (with their clothes given away), tattooed with numbers, abandoned in nursing homes and hospital contagious disease wings, drowning in oxygen tents, crying in police stations; but he ends with “the poor will have a banquet/our people will have a grand celebration/for the birth of a new people”.

Added to the lexicon:
*contactless
*contact tracing
*coronavirus
*COVID-19
*face covering
*PAPR
*PPE
*social distancing

The good news: With snow in the forecast, I put the studded tires on my bike over the weekend. On the ride home from work Tuesday I saw a young bald eagle. It landed in a tree near me. I stopped to take a picture but it was camera shy and flew off into the woods. On Wednesday, with 8 inches of new snow, I rode in on empty streets, arriving at work at 5:35 AM. I had to be in early to cover for someone who couldn’t make it in because of the snow and to prepare for a long day covering for the other folks who wouldn’t be able to drive in because of the snow. I rode only on bus routes since they were already plowed (and the bike paths and side streets weren’t). I had the streets to myself. I allowed extra time to get in but it actually took only about five minutes longer than usual. On the way home I saw a flock of tundra swans swimming near shore.

New Year, New Ride

I started the year out with a morning ride around the lake, via the scenic route so it ended up about 1 mile per degree (F) of temperature; or about 20 miles. I rode past the house where I was born, past the house whose front yard I once had to crawl up after delivering their newspaper (due to ice), past the state capitol. The lake house (second picture) used to have a house in front of it, so the house you see in this picture was not visible from the street. By the time I took the first sip from the water bottle, it was nearly frozen. I’ve been home for 20 minutes and still waiting for it to thaw.

I had a difference of opinion with the rehab hospital to which we used to send a lot of patients. I found out another local hospital gave $500 bonuses to all of their employees; $700 to those who care for COVID-19 patients. Needless to say, we did not get said bonuses. Then a patient ruined my day by saying, “It’s obvious to me that you love your work.” Yeah, I had to admit that I love what I do during the time that I am face-to-face with patients. So far, that has sustained me. But, as I left work on the last day of the year, I told my co-workers, “Maybe I’ll see you Tuesday” after playing this for our management.

They didn’t hear it, as they are working from home.

We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy June 11, 1962

“The objective fact is I believe Trump probably did actually carry Georgia. …” Newt Gingrich December 7, 2020
(Just to clarify: While it may be an objective fact that he believes something, his belief is not an objective fact. But really, even that he believes it is not an objective fact. It is at best empirical [“depending on experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory”] and certainly not objective [“intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings”]. We only know he believes it because he tells us he does, or because we observe him to act as though he does.

“Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1746, I declare and verify under plenty of perjury that the facts contained in the foregoing Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief are true and correct.” (emphasis added.) L. Lin Wood, December 18, 2020 (From a court filing seeking to declare Georgia’s Senate runoff election unconstitutional and seeking changes in procedures. Wood used the same arguments to attempt to throw out Georgia’s presidential election results. He claimed further that Donald Trump won 70% of the US votes.)

And speaking of not letting the door hit you…

www.facebook.com/johnrandallanthony.taraborrelli/videos/4143894078958832

El triunfo

July 19, 1979 marked the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution over the Somoza family dictatorship in Nicaragua. I have to mark this day with “Hijos del Maíz”, by Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy y Grupo Mancotol.

For those who speak no Spanish, the song says that the Nicaraguan people are children of corn, and describes the many influences and uses of corn in their culture.

While in Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to hear his brother Carlos sing. He was described to me as “the Nicaraguan Bob Dylan”. That Dylan lacks a brother like Luis Enrique weakens the comparison for me.

I also have to mention one of my personal heroes. Ernesto Cardenal was born January 20, 1925, exactly 28 years before I was born. There is a 28 year cycle in many calendars, so this might mean something. It might just mean I’m full of myself to think I can compare myself to him in any way. Cardenal is a poet, a priest (who once studied with Father Thomas Merton in Gesthemany, KY), the former Minister of Culture of Nicaragua, and the founder of a communal artistic community on the island of Solentiname in Lake Nicaragua.

He is known mostly for long narrative poems and his poem “Zero Hour” (“Hora Cero”), about US imperialism in Nicaragua and the murder of Sandino, is one of my favorites. I had the pleasure of hearing him read from “Cántico Cósmico”, an epic poem of the history of the universe, beginning with the big bang. Yes, you can be Roman Catholic and recognize the big bang theory and a universe billions of years old.

He also wrote simple and short poems, so I offer this:

        Ésta será mi venganza: /Que un día llegue a tus manos el libro de un poeta famoso/ y leas estas líneas que el autor escribió para ti/ y tú no los sepas.

My own translation:

This will be my revenge:/ That one day a book by a famous poet will come into your hands/and you will read these lines the author wrote for you/and you won’t know them.

(I can’t seem to get line breaks to appear without extra spacing, thus the slashes for line breaks.) Somewhat the reverse of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”.

We are two days from Northfield,  where my daughter spent the last four years at St Olaf College, a running Ole and Lena (or Sven and Ole) joke.

Today’s Ride

We slept in today because it was a short ride. We were headed north-northeast, with a wind from the southeast. During northerly stretches it felt like a tailwind and during easterly stretches it felt like a headwind. We mostly rode north so it was an easy 61 miles. The sun was filtered and it stayed cool. The forecast is for thunderstorms tonight so we were eager to beat the weather into Watertown.

Riding out of town we passed the Wilder homestead where I learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter was also a writer and the oldest war correspondent in Viet Nam.

We stopped in Hayti for gumbo, so of course I thought of Hank Williams.

 

Leaving Hayti we rode along a lake, a great change from the endless miles of prairie. There were even trees! Especially welcome was the fact that we rode much of the day on state and county roads, not US highways. In my hierarchy of roads,  town roads are first, then county, then state, then US. We’ve been riding mostly on US highways.

Overheard at the rest stop (from a concept by The Cheeky Cyclist):

”It’s not a pull when  you’re trying to drop everybody.”

I needed to buy a few things and Google Maps told me there was a bike shop in town, so I checked it out:

The owner was surprised to see us. He told us the bike shop in town had closed and he knew the town needed a bike shop, so he opened this place a month ago. He specializes in restoring and re-selling bikes from the 1950s and ‘60s. He didn’t have what I needed but we had a great visit. He is trying to get a contract with Trek to sell their bikes. He currently sells no new bikes. About the only new stuff I saw was a small collection of water bottles. The shop is called simply “The Bike Shop”.

South Dakota has a program to raise awareness of highway deaths. They mark the spot of deaths like this:06376029-39D1-44F7-9209-C4A57FA089CDSome of the signs, instead of saying “THINK!”, say “WHY DIE?”. On a climb in the Black Hills I saw six of these signs at one curve, in groups of three, two, and one.

We are now in the Watertown Middle School. Another in a series of inspirational school posters:

Tomorrow we cross the state line into Minnesota, one more notch in our belt as we leave South Dakota behind. The forecast is for rain all day all along our route, with a stiff headwind. Oh, joy.