Thoughts @ Large: 69

It doesn’t seem right that the days are already getting shorter in our fair Hemisphere. I’ve never been a fan of the summer solstice, the buoy in the bay that marks the turn of the sun’s race back to its winter harbour.  But the prospect of ever-diminishing daytime hours seems especially depressing this time around.  I wonder why.

I have gradually lost respect for the coordinator of the White House (emphasis mine) Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Deborah Birx.  Her public statements seem designed less to inform than to market the effectiveness of Trump administration actions.  I like to give health professionals the benefit of the doubt, but Birx has become the Susan Collins of our government’s pandemic response.  You really can’t count on what she has to say.

For-profit hospitals should award their patients points for emergency room visits and overnight stays.  You would earn 1000 points for every hour spent waiting to be seen in the emergency room, 100 points for every minute between the time you push the call button and a nursing assistant arrives, 2000 points for each time you had to tell a doctor or nurse what was wrong with you instead of the other way around, and 3000 points for trying to understand anything a doctor says to you while you are laying there weak and exhausted.  You would earn one free night in a semi-private room upon reaching Silver status, or a private room if you reach Gold, along with a voucher for a complimentary breakfast and a delicious cookie.

No policeman arrests himself…. except that one time in Mayberry, North Carolina.

My high-school English teacher annotated my final report card with a two-star review: negative attitude.  Yes, I did write and circulate a mocking and disrespectful school-satire magazine among my classmates, but to this day I’m not sure how my attitude should have affected my English grade.  It’s not like I was making crude jokes about Dickens — because those wouldn’t have been very funny.

The Great Saharan Dust Cloud of 2020 has arrived here in the Carolinas. Looking out our family-room window today, I figured our visibility is about 3000 feet. And even with our doors and windows closed, our eyes have begun to smart. What’s next, locusts?

It is time for a poet to step forward.  Poetry has the power to make people “hopeful as a rainwashed hill of moonlit pines.” [Carl Sandburg, “The People, Yes”, 1936].  I hope we are not in a post-poet era but I fear that is the case.  Maya Angelou died six years ago.  No one has replaced her.  Who can name one candidate?  (Please, no votes for Taylor or Beyonce.)

One would like to be optimistic, especially if one is an optimist.  One would like to think that the course of human events can indeed be bent in a favorable direction, if only one makes the effort.  The rest of this thought is left for one (you) to complete.

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8 Responses to Thoughts @ Large: 69

  1. Gavin Larsen says:

    I, too, squirm at the unhappy thought that as soon as we “arrive” at summertime, we’re heading for its end. It’s like the in and out doors are in the same place, right on the summer solstice. I also feel a bit extra depressed about it this year, Craig. But then, every summer I struggle with end-of-summer blues as soon as summer arrives, for fear of it passing too quickly and not fully enjoying its pleasures.
    To finish your last thought:
    One can make the effort to be optimistic, but only with sincerity, and only if there are reasons to be so. And one’s efforts to bend the course of human events in a positive direction can only be fruitful if other humans don’t stomp on them.

  2. Susan Maclean says:

    I think they’ve already announced the 17 year cicadas for 2020….Are they a fill in for the locusts? If so I think next up on the tarmac would be the rivers turning to blood. With Trump’s EPA rollbacks, that should be upon us pretty soon.

  3. Pete says:

    I give this blog entry ** for general pessimism!

    Instead I leave you with this:

  4. Rick says:

    Was the English teacher Mrs. Brown? I hated her.

  5. Eric says:

    I agree with you and Gavin, Craig, about the waning of daylight this year somehow hitting a bit harder this year. Seems that it blends in with the diminution of civility, reason, and leadership, the growing belief that “science is simply another opinion”, etc., that we been seeing since Jan. 2017. On the other hand: I agree with Pete, Calvin and Hobbes!

  6. Bruce says:

    Optimism is getting harder to pull off. But there’s a lot of great poetry still being written, and one place to learn about and hear some of it is a wonderful podcast called the Slowdown, hosted by former Poet Laureate of the US, Tracy K. Smith. I have not been listening every morning as I was for a while but I still read many of the poems she sends to me. Tracy is super cool and I love her often wise and/or funny intros to the poems she chooses. They often reference her experiences as a woman of color who also happens to be a professor at Princeton and the mother of twin black sons born on the Fourth of July. And a Pulitzer Prize winner. The poems and poets she chooses are very diverse. Available from any podcast source or from her website:

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