JULY 26, 2020



So anyway. Life in the time of COVID. People are going to look back on this time and wonder just what the hell some people were thinking. China is not the Great Devil of Trade. Immigrants are not the Great Evil source of unemployment and crime that needs a massive Border Wall to rival the East German complex of that era. And we see how well that Wall worked in its time. Not even the Taliban is that important a threat to the so cultured West.

A tiny little thing is our enemy, produced deep in the jungles of South America in bats brought in to serve starving people who can not afford steak and chicken meat at the markets. Bush meat it is called. Typically it is brought in live to the markets and slaughtered on demand for a fee.

The Editor stumped up the steps, his cigar clenched in his jaw, his mask pulled down to his chin. The summer of 2020 had become one of precedents and first times. The high school class of Drake had no Homecoming, no Commencement with the horrible music of Elgar that generations of students had endured. There was no annual prank to bother Superintendent Mr. Burgee on the Island. None of that had happened according to Tradition, and when you violate Tradition, things do not feel right at all.

Now Summer had assaulted the world with bad weather and no one was allowed to go to the beaches. The Editor hated hot weather. It reminded him of horseflies as big as crows and mosquitos large as Cessinas flying all about Bear Lake in Minnesota where his family had wanted to vacation despite the obvious common sense to remain in air conditioned St. Paul. In Marin he was pleased to find not a single horsefly and few mosquitos, which he imagined the tony Marinites had dispensed with long ago. The Island had suffered a fair amount of mosquitos, but those people belonged to the hoi palloi, which might account for much.

Oakland had few insect life of that derivation. This had nothing to do with income, but everything to do with the ravenous nature of rats and roaches who are apex animals on the food pyramid. In other places you find lions, bears and panthers at the apex, but in Oakland rats and roaches are the tip of the food supply. Humans, in Oakland, are a tad below that level, at least from the official perspective as far as we can tell by the official responses to any number of things.

Denby got a bad infection in his foot and so he was consigned to one of the quarantine sheds out back until it got better. The Veriflo Factory in Richmond finally got termed an Essential Business and so Martini returned to work as a sawboy when they resumed production. Social distancing was easy enough to enforce for the ISO 9001 plant as people did not stand or sit next to each other save in the Class 10 Clean Room where people entered fully gowned and masked through an airlock all the time anyway. The machinists stood a good 15 feet apart all the time as the massive ball-end makita enclosures were some 20 feet in size and spaced six feet apart.

Seeing an American factory, or indeed any industrial factory in operation, is a sight that all pencil pushers should experience at least once in their lives. It is the far end of the Midwestern Farm with trundling iHarvesters and bailers, huge irrigation wheels and nodding horsehead pumps marching across the horizon like giants. A factory is where things are made: cars, valves, fittings, tools, all the hardware stuff that excites the red blood of the American male. And now, because of Liberation and Empowerment, the American Woman (made famous by Guess Who) is excited by all that there is made. And this can mean only one thing.


Yes! We can sell twice the amount of Stuff we used to make in America to our American Women. Makita drills. Milwaukee planers and socket wrench sets. Orbital saws! Dremel tools. Dremel Tools and attachments! Pardon my saliva . . . .

Let us seque gently to what others are doing around the Bay.

Ms. Morales has gotten better with the Zoom lectures on Emily Dickenson and grading papers submitted via email, so she is ready for the next semester. Teachers around here always have gathered intruction materials on their own expense, so the problems are in face better off so long as the students have actual internet access, which is not always the case.

There is no library to go to at the moment, so the teachers have to be creative.

Amid this COVID lockdown there have been any number of marital discords along the lines of what we used to call "The Navy Predicament", which is to say that things were fine so long as the Officer of the House was a-sea for months at a time, and that household matters developed friction on the extended shoreleave.

At Bear's place Bear has been tinkering with his 1949 Harley Panhead, which is, as many know, a continuous horrorshow that leaks oil like a sieve in most iterations. Bear has managed to seal it up nice and tight using a few modern techniques and Silvia made the mistake of commenting, "well why do you not modernize the whole thing?"


"Replace the entire engine with a modern one that does not leak oil and performs better."

This resulted in a long, heated argument that featured mechanics, American history, kitchen dishes, the laundry, the state of household finances, Silvia's close relations including her Auntie who has a Problem, and why there are no children in the house. Among other things. The roaring argument ended in physical altercation that ended in physical activities as so often happens, or does not happen, among long-lived marital couples.

Some weeks later Sylvia appeared in the doorway of the livingroom where Bear kept his 1949 panhead in front of the couch and said flatly, "Bear I am pregnant."

Bear did not look up from his tinkering with a long-handled screwdriver. "I'll teach 'em how to adjust a CV carb." And that is all he said. And because of that, looking at him tinkering the way he always did, Silvia, although feeling like throwing up, fell in love with him all over again.

People are like that. You feel like you are about to vomit and you fall in love and that is just the way life goes. Despite Pandemic and despite the Economy and despite all the big words and big phrases and the Idiot President, and the equally stupid Senate, life goes on regardless of all of our best intentions. Children are not really ever planned but sort of pop into being mysteriously to everyone save their mothers who know all about it.