Sunday, April 19, 2020

Another life saved

In my free time I run a plant rescue operation out of my home. After my wife brings a plant to the point of death at work, with it walking toward the light (if she happened to provide it any), she brings it home for me to perform CPR.

Latest case in point is this orchid. I have no experience with orchids, but after a quick internet search, I re-potted it in an orchid mix, found the right window, put the humidifier in there a few days and misted it every day. It now has several flowers. They come one at a time up the stem, with more on the way. I'm impressed with how long the flowers stay on. The first is still bright as ever and it appeared a month ago.

Featured are before and current pics.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

'The Monkey's Raincoat' didn't meet expectations

Upon the suggestion of a friend I dove into the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series written by Robert Crais. "The Monkey's Raincoat" is the first book in the series. It was named one of the 100 favorite mysteries of the 20th Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

It wouldn't make the top 100 books I've read in a half century.

Yes, I gave it a 7 on the Haugenometer. Partly because it was a new series and I've been looking for one. And because it wasn't bad and Crais has a unique writing style.

I'll stick with the series but it didn't live up to the hype.

I really get annoyed when writers over-describe things. I don't need three paragraphs telling me what a room looks like, how it's decorated and where the furniture is situated. Crais did that too often.

Also, I get that I'm reading a mystery thriller, but that doesn't mean I want to have to suspend belief at events. Bond is Bond and Odd Thomas is Odd Thomas. I expect them to be over the top at times. But Elvis Cole is a private detective, supposed to be one of the guys. So when he murders a dozen people I expect there to be some legal consequences. Apparently not in California.

On top of it all, I never did get the meaning of the title of the book: The Monkey's Raincoat? I'm sure there's an obvious explanation, but I don't know it.

So I'm quibbling a bit with it, but enjoyed it overall. We'll see how the second book goes and take it from there.

** I also recently finished a nonfiction book, "Eichmann In My Hands." This was a first-hand account from a man, Peter Malkin, who was on the Israeli Mossad team who captured Adolph Eichmann in Argentina. He headed up the team and spent many days conversing with him while captive.

As opposed to some biographies I've read, Malkin is very humble throughout. He recognizes his faults, admits to mistakes made in his past and gave good insights into those on his team.

He struggled with Eichmann's personality and thoughts. Eichmann to the end claimed to not hate Jews, said he was only following orders, as if that somehow excused his actions.

It was an interesting read, with only a few discrepancies from what I've read earlier on the saga, but I'll trust Malkin's version since he was there.

** Other books I knocked off recently include:
Daniel Silva's "The Other Woman" - a 6
Craig Johnson's "Spirit of Steamboat" - 6
And three John Sanford books that slipped by me: "The Fool's Run" 6; "The Empress Files" 6; and "Neon Prey" 7.

Next up is Charles Krauthammer's "The Point of It All." Seems an optimist like him might be just the tonic I need during these times.

Some random thoughts from the past few weeks

* I'm sure glad we got our Florida week in just before the Wuhu hit or I'd really be bouncing off the walls. Missin' the salt life.

* It's not the staying home part that bugs me so much. I'm not a party animal or even that much of a social animal any more. It's the fact that it's not an option that bugs me. I liked at least knowing I could go listen to a band on Saturday night, even if half the time I chose not to.

* The other thing that weighs on my mental health a bit is that there's no end date and I know it's impossible to set one. But it would help if I knew that things would return to some semblance of normal on June 1 or August 1. Then I could start checking off the days. The OCD in me likes a plan, some order.

* We've had a houseful the past few weeks: My son (stuck in job search shutdown) and his girlfriend (whose college is shutdown), my Illinois teacher daughter (whose school is shut down) and her professor husband (whose college is shut down). They figured, correctly, that it's more fun to be locked down together than alone.

* I've seen a different side to my daughter when I overhear her on conference calls and Zoom. I never new her as department head or in her teacher capacity and she's impressed me.

* I've talked to friends on the phone more than I have in the past 20 years. That helps. My two best friends from college retired recently. Can't believe my friends are so old.

* Facebook has become almost unbearable. Twitter is okay, but I had to mute a few people for a while. Seems a lot of my social media "friends" are epidemiologists and I didn't even know it. Frankly, if they don't have an MD in front of their name or access to more information than I have, their opinion is being ignored.

* We broke out the ping pong table. My son isn't the push-over he used to be as my eyesight has gotten worse.

* Did people really need videos to show them how to wash their hands? To fold a facemask?

* Why does everyone assume there's going to be a vaccine/cure for this? It's a virus, not bacterial. There's still no vaccine for AIDs or the common cold. Even shots for the flu are a best-guess scenario. Some years they nail it, some years not so much. My degrees in journalism and English qualify me to say I think this is going to be around for years.

* My daughter brought her cat. The cat hates my son and hisses at him like a caged lion. Nobody else, just him.

* I get that some people hate the President and some love him. But that shouldn't mean everything he does is wrong or everything he does is right. Weird that some people feel the need to politicize a pandemic and live with blinders on either way. Playing partisan politics with decisions you make regarding your health doesn't seem wise.

* I appreciate nice people even more than I use to. I have even shorter patience for idiots than I use to.

* My wife makes friends with everyone and became friends with the gal who owns the small gym she worked out at. The gym got shut down by the city, because apparently we don't want people being healthy and better able to fight off the virus. So the owner rented my wife the Cybex bike she used most and we now have it in our basement, which has turned into a small gym itself. Everyone in the house is somewhat of a fitness/weight lifting freak, so you practically need an appointment.

* Trying times reveal true character in people. I've determined I'm even more impatient than I thought, but am making a concerted effort to be less so. "God grant me the serenity ..."

* Funny how quickly times change and the new vocabulary that goes with it. Six weeks ago nobody talked about "social distancing," "six feet," "asymptomatic," "flattening the curve."

* This is no way to live. I get the people protesting shut-downs. I get the people wanting everyone to stay home. I appreciate our governor trying to find that fine line between the two.

* The next time I get beer spilled on me at a concert or baseball game, I'm going to high-five him.

* Thank God for books, dogs, friends, family, health and Menards.