Book Review: ‘The Complete Maus’

Front cover of The Complete Maus. Cover art by Art Spiegelman. (C) 1996 Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House

Rating: 5 out of 5.

On November 19, 1996, Pantheon Books published the hardcover edition of Art Spiegelman’s The Complete Maus, a 295-page omnibus edition that combines the two volumes of Spiegelman’s graphic novel, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, with a related comic, Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case Story, included as a unifying element.

Originally published in Raw – a comics and graphics magazine published by Spiegelman and his wife Francoise Mouly – between 1980 and 1991, Maus is a multilayered story that intertwines the overlapping narrative of the author’s parents, Vladek Spiegelman and his wife Anja, who survived the horrors of the Holocaust after Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, and the author’s strained relationship with his father, who disapproves of young Art’s involvement with the hippie movement of the late Sixties and early Seventies.

From the Publisher’s Website

THE DEFINITIVE EDITION: The Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker).

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats. 

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father into an astonishing retelling of one of history’s most unspeakable tragedies. It is an unforgettable story of survival and a disarming look at the legacy of trauma.

The Book

The Complete Maus’s hardcover edition – it also comes in a paperback edition – is about the size of your average novel, measuring  ‎ 6.73 x 1.15 x 9.42 inches and weighs 1.9 pounds. On the front cover we see Art Spiegelman’s iconic image of two anthropomorphic mice that represent Vladek and Anja Spiegelman in the foreground, with a stark image of a Hitlerian cat set on a menacing swastika in the background.

On the back cover, in addition to the usual blurbs from contemporary (1992) reviews from The New Republic, Esquire, Washington Post, and the New York Times, we see two maps: a large one of World War II-era Poland that shows how that nation was carved up by Nazi Germany and the former USSR in 1939, as well as the various places mentioned in Maus, including Vladek and Anja’s town of Sosnowiec, Krakow, Warsaw, and – of course – the major Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The smaller map is of the Rego Park neighborhood in New York City, where Vladek, Anja, and Art (who was born in Sweden in 1948) settled as immigrants after leaving war-torn Europe and starting a new life in the U.S. The Spiegelman’s house – on Carlton Street and 63rd Avenue – is highlighted.

As I mentioned earlier, The Complete Maus is an omnibus edition that combines the following works that were originally published separately:

  • Maus: A Survivor’s Tale I: My Father Bleeds History (Page 9)
  • Maus: A Survivor’s Tale II: And Here My Troubles Began (Page 167)

There is also a short prelude set in 1958 Rego Park. We see young Art skating with two friends, Howie and Steve. As they race to the schoolyard, Art’s skate comes loose and he falls, but his friends merely laugh (Ha! Ha! Rotten egg!) and leave him behind. Distraught, Art returns home and finds his father in front of the house, fixing something. When Vladek asks Art why he is crying, the boy tells him that he fell while skating and that his friends left him behind. The hard-bitten reply from Vladek: “ “Friends? Your friends? If you lock them together in a room with no food for a week, then you could see what it is, friends!”

Art and text by Art Spiegelman. (C) 1996 Pantheon Books and Art Spiegelman

Maus I: My Father Bleeds History covers the time period between the mid-1930s and 1941, intertwined with a “present-day” (1970s) frame story centered on Art – currently estranged from Vladek -and his efforts to interview his dad about his and Anja’s experiences during the Holocaust. In this era, Anja has already committed suicide and Vladek is remarried to his second wife, Mala, another Holocaust survivor.

Maus I: My Father Bleeds History is divided into six chapters and tells us not just about Vladek’s life before World War II, but it also delves into the strained relationship between father and son. As depicted in Maus, the very qualities that helped Vladek survive the horrors of life in the camps make him a difficult person for his family – especially the Americanized Art – to deal with.

That’s not to say that the author depicts himself as a saint. Far from it. In his Maus incarnation, Art is angry, prone to feel sorry for himself, and is often impatient with his father’s miserliness, obstinacy, casual racism – especially toward blacks – and neurotic behavior. In addition, as he tells his wife Francoise, he feels that he has to compete with his late brother Richieu, who met a tragic fate in wartime Poland but is a constant presence in the Spiegelman home.

In the early stages of Maus, Art is not too charitable toward Vladek. However, as he learns more about his father and his parents’ experiences during and after World War II, Art becomes more sympathetic.

In between Part I and Part II: And Here My Troubles Began, Spiegelman inserts Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case Study. Originally published in the days of “underground comix” long ago, it is a short comic that deals with Art’s release from a mental health clinic after a nervous breakdown and his reaction to his mother Anja’s suicide in 1968.  Here, the characters are depicted as humans and not anthropomorphic mice, and the drawings are in a different style, but since the existence of Prisoner on the Hell Planet strip is a plot point in Maus, Spiegelman includes it in The Complete Maus.

Maus uses a minimalist drawing style, but it still shows the horrors of the Holocaust in stark, unforgettable images. Art and text by Art Spiegelman.

Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began begins in 1941 and ends in Present Day Rego Park (around 1980 or so). It is subtitled From Auschwitz to the Catskills and Beyond, and it continues the saga of Art and Vladek as the younger Spiegelman – in what we might call a “meta” method – interviews his father for his work-in-progress, Maus.

(C) 1996 Pantheon Books

My Take

I first heard about Maus after it earned the Pulitzer Prize (Special Awards and Citations – Letters) in 1992. Maus was the first – and as of this review, the only – graphic novel to win a Pulitzer, and because I am opposed to fascism and far right extremism, I wanted to buy it as long ago as the mid Nineties.

However, as it often happens in my book buying ways, I always ended up buying other books (usually World War II books that are not about the Holocaust or, more commonly, novels by Tom Clancy or Star Wars-related titles) instead.

It wasn’t until May of this year that I decided to get The Complete Maus for myself; a few years ago, I bought a copy for the Caregiver’s youngest daughter – she had to read it for her high school English class – but I loathe borrowing books, so I got my own hardcover instead.

Art and text by Art Spiegelman.

 Maus is a fascinating – if sometimes heartbreaking and infuriating – masterpiece of the graphic novel format. Indeed, it’s one of the early classics of the genre – a mix of serious, adult-level storytelling and the graphic stylings of comic books, which up to the 1990s were often dismissed as slick but superficial material aimed at immature teens who did not read “serious literature.” (The other books often cited as masterpieces in the new subgenre of “graphic novels” are Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight.)

It is, of course, a difficult task to tell the story of the Holocaust and its effect on its survivors and their children in “comics.”  The Shoah is too huge, too horrifying, and too morally complex a subject to portray in feature films or TV-movies without trivializing its subject, and in documentaries and print media the sheer figures alone are staggering: the Nazis’ “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem in Europe” set its sights on murdering 11 million Jews – men, women, and children – and exterminated an estimated six million.

Art and text by Art Spiegelman. (C) 1992, 1996 Art Spiegelman and Pantheon Books

And yet, Spiegelman manages to convey the horrors of the greatest crime in history through his family’s traumatic experiences during the war and his own relationship with his parents, especially his often stormy but eventually loving one with his father Vladek.

Per Penguin Random House’s Teachers’ Guide to Maus, Part I: A Survivor’s Tale:

Maus has recognized the true nature of that riddle by casting its protagonists as animals—mice, cats, pigs, and dogs. As Spiegelman has said (in an interview in The New Comics, p. 191): “To use these ciphers, the cats and mice, is actually a way to allow you past the cipher at the people who are experiencing it.” When Maus first appeared as a three-page comic strip in an underground anthology, the words “Nazi” and “Jew” were never mentioned. Spiegelman’s animals permit readers to bypass the question of what human beings can or cannot do and at the same time force them to confront it more directly. His Jewish mice are a barbed response to Hitler’s statement “The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.” His feline Nazis remind us that the Germans’ brutality was at bottom no more explicable than the delicate savagery of cats toying with their prey. And although Vladek Spiegelman and his family initially seem even more human than the rest of us, as the story unfolds they become more and more like animals, driven into deeper and deeper hiding places, foraging for scarcer and scarcer scraps of sustenance, betraying all the ties that we associate with humanity.

Although The Complete Maus has its fair share of warm, even humorous moments, Spiegelman’s blend of European history, personal memoir, and sociological examination of Holocaust survivors (both first- and second-generation) in postwar America is also a horror story of man’s inhumanity to man. From the early stages of the destruction of Central European Jewish communities by Hitler’s Germany and its anti-Semitic collaborators in occupied Poland (and elsewhere) to the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in January of 1945 and beyond, Maus is a record – imperfect as it may be because it is primarily based on Vladek’s experiences and told mostly in his voice – of a horror story that is more frightening than any novel by Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft. There are monsters in Maus, but they are not vampires or interdimensional creatures – they are racist white Europeans who believe they are superior to other ethnic and religious groups in Europe.

The Complete Maus is worth reading, especially in these times where white supremacy and far right extremism are making a comeback in many countries, including the United States, the UK, and much of Europe. On social media (especially on Facebook) I see echoes of Nazi propaganda in the term used by Trump supporters when they refer to the Democratic Party or liberals in general, especially on social media, where conservatives tend to call liberals “Communists” – Hitler was a rabid anti-Communist, after all – and label Democrats as “Demon-Rats,” a not-too-subtle (if perhaps unconscious) callback to Nazi iconography that compared Jews to rats and other pests.

Maus is not a “light read” despite its presentation as a “comic,” but it is a moving story of loss, tragedy, survival, and the struggle to maintain human dignity in the shadow of war and intolerance. It should be read by everyone aged 15 and up as a reminder that history is repeated by those who choose to forget it.

Sources:

Teachers’ Guide to Maus, Part I: A Survivor’s Tale:

Penguin Random House/Pantheon Books: The Complete Maus

Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, July 7, 2021, or: Adios, Elsa!

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Greetings from New Hometown, Florida, Dear Reader. It’s mid-morning on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, and it is a warm if rather sullen-looking day. Currently, the temperature is 76˚F (24˚C)  under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 77% and the wind blowing from the southeast at 15 MPH (24 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 76˚F (24˚C). We are still under a tropical storm warning. The forecast for today, though, is not too bad; scattered showers will affect our area during the day, and the high will be 82˚F (28˚C). Tonight, scattered showers will continue. The low will be 75˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 22 or Good.

Well, former Hurricane, now Tropical Storm Elsa made its way past this section of the state in the early morning hours as we slept. Although I never scoff at any tropical weather events – I have been through enough of them now to understand how powerful and capricious they can be – I wasn’t worried…much. Elsa stayed offshore, and all we got, at least in our neighborhood, were squalls and occasional gusts of strong wind.

Per the “running commentary” news article Elsa remains at 65 mph as it approaches the northern Florida gulf coast on Spectrum Bay 9’s website:

8 a.m. update: Elsa is continuing to move north at 14 mph with 65 mph winds. Little change in strength is likely until landfall later today. 

The Tropical Storm and Storm Surge Warnings have been discontinued south of the Middle of Longboat Key.

On the forecast track, Elsa will make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late this morning or this afternoon. The storm should then move across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States through Thursday.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles (150 km) from the center. A C-MAN station at Cedar Key, Florida, recently measured a sustained wind of 41 mph (66 km/h) gusting to 51 mph (66 km/h).

Image Credit: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

5 a.m. update: Tropical Storm Elsa is moving north at near 14 mph with wind gusts at 65 mph. A general northward motion is expected to continue through the afternoon as Elsa moves near or over portions of Florida’s west coast.

The storm is expected to make landfall along the north Florida Gulf Coast by late this morning or afternoon. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles (150 km) from the center. Weakening will begin after Elsa makes landfall. 

2:27 a.m. update: The tornado warning mentioned in the last update has expired.

2:10 a.m. update: A tornado warning is in effect until 2:30 a.m. for eastern Sarasota County and small part of southeast Manatee COunty.

1:50 a.m. update: Elsa has been downgraded to a tropical storm after appearing more disorganized over the last few hours. Tornado Watches remain in effect, though, and the potential threat of storm surge in areas along Tampa Bay hasn’t gone away.
The storm’s center of circulation is currently about 60 miles west of Tampa with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
It’s moving north at 14 mph.

1:35 a.m. update: The Tornado Warning that was issued for eastern Pasco and Hernando County has been canceled.

1:15 a.m. update: A Tornado Warning has been issued for the Dade City area, including parts of eastern Pasco and Hernando County though 1:30 a.m. If a tornado has touched down, it will be racing to the north at 40 mph.

1:10 a.m. update: TECO is reporting more than 10,500 outages. FPL reporting about 2,200 outages in Manatee County. Duke Energy reporting scattered outages (less than 100) in Pinellas and Pasco counties.  

11:50 p.m. update: What to know entering Wednesday morning:

– Gusty rain squalls with wind gusts between 35 and 55mph will still be common as Elsa passes by with some gusts in the 60s still possible at the coast. 

– A Tornado Watch remains in effect through 8am as there is still a chance for some tornadoes to spin up as the storm passes by.

– A Flood Watch is still in effect as very heavy rain will fall in the heaviest squalls.  2 to 4 inches will be common with some amounts in the 4 to 8 inch range.

– There’s still a storm surge threat mainly for the overnight/early morning high tide, but it will be limited to isolated low-lying areas and we’re lucky that this high tide is not a particularly high one. 

I don’t think these trees were knocked down……Photo by the author.

I have not ventured outside to see if any trees were knocked down on other properties, but judging from the calm and quiet environment, it appears that Elsa didn’t do much of anything except raise our stress levels and dump a couple of inches of rain on our corner of Florida.

Other than that, the only news update that I can share with you is that I’m feeling a bit better today. I still have a stuffy nose and the occasional violent sneeze, but the headaches have eased off a bit, and I don’t cough as much as I used to. Hopefully I’ll feel a lot better by the weekend; summer colds are not fun.

Well, that’s it for this edition of A Certain Point of View, Too. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Source:

Elsa remains at 65 mph as it approaches the northern Florida gulf coast, by Juli Marquez, Spectrum Bay 9, July 7, 2021

Musings & Thoughts for Tuesday, July 6, 2021, or: Waiting for Elsa

Hey there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 78˚F (25˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With the blowing from the east-northeast at 6 MPH (15 KM/H) and humidity at 63%, the feels-like temperature is 77˚F (25˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 88˚F (31˚C). Tonight, rainy conditions will continue, and the low will be 76˚F (24˚C). A tropical storm warning is in effect for much of the west coast of Florida, and the Air Quality Index (AQI) is 33 or Good.

Image Credt: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

As I said earlier, we are now under a tropical storm warning, effective today and tomorrow. Tropical Storm Elsa has made its transit of the island of Cuba and is now headed toward the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Here’s the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami:

BULLETIN

Tropical Storm Elsa Intermediate Advisory Number 24A

NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL052021

800 AM EDT Tue Jul 06 2021

…ELSA JUST WEST OF KEY WEST…

…EXPECTED TO STRENGTHEN…

SUMMARY OF 800 AM EDT…1200 UTC…INFORMATION

———————————————-

LOCATION…24.5N 82.6W

ABOUT 55 MI…90 KM W OF KEY WEST FLORIDA

ABOUT 240 MI…385 KM S OF TAMPA FLORIDA

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…60 MPH…95 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT…NNW OR 340 DEGREES AT 12 MPH…19 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…1007 MB…29.74 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

——————–

CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

None.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…

* West coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla

River, including Tampa Bay

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

* The Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Mayabeque, Havana, and Artemisa

* The Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas

* West coast of Florida from Flamingo northward to Ochlockonee River

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…

* Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River, Florida

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…

* West of the Aucilla River to the Ochlockonee River, Florida

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…

* West of the Ochlockonee River to Indian Pass, Florida

* Mouth of St. Marys River to South Santee River, South Carolina

A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening

inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline,

during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations. For a depiction

of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm

Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.  This is a

life-threatening situation.  Persons located within these areas

should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from

rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions.

Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local

officials.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible

within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours

before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force

winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or

dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are

expected somewhere within the warning area.

A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-

threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the

coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather

Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at

hurricanes.gov.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are

possible within the watch area.

Interests elsewhere in the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic coast

should monitor the progress of Elsa.

DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK

———————-

At 800 AM EDT (1200 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Elsa was

located near latitude 24.5 North, longitude 82.6 West. Elsa is

moving toward the north-northwest near 12 mph (19 km/h) and this

general motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn

toward the north by tonight.  A north-northeastward motion is

expected on Wednesday.  On the forecast track, Elsa will continue to

pass near the Florida Keys this morning, and move near or over

portions of the west coast of Florida later today through tonight.

On Wednesday morning, Elsa is forecast to make landfall along the

north Florida Gulf coast and then move northeastward across the

southeastern United States through Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 60 mph (95 km/h) with higher

gusts. Slow strengthening is forecast through tonight, and Elsa

could be near hurricane strength before it makes landfall in

Florida.  Weakening is expected after Elsa moves inland.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km)

from the center.  A C-MAN station at Sand Key, Florida, recently

measured a wind gust of 52 mph (83 km/h). The Key West

International Airport also recently measured a wind gust of 48 mph

(77 km/h).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 1007 mb (29.74 inches).

As you can see, the weather is bound to deteriorate as the day progresses. So far, though, the forecast does not mention thunderstorms, just rain showers. Of course, as Elsa moves closer to the New Hometown area conditions will get worse even if Elsa does not strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane.

I’ll try to use my computer as long as I can today, although, with all the stress from Elsa and the symptoms of the Cold That Won’t Go Away, I doubt that I’ll get anything constructive done either today or tomorrow.

Other than that, Dear Reader, I don’t have a heck of a lot to report. I watched Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 4K UHD last night. I started watching it a bit later than usual (11:15 PM, I think), so I dozed off during part of Act II but woke up in time to see much of the film’s third act. I should have started the movie earlier – say, around 9 PM – but I watch stuff on a whim most of the time anyway, depending on my mood.

After the movie, I took my dose of NyQuil and went to sleep with Sandy the schnauzer at my feet. I woke up sometime after 8 AM and had breakfast; the Caregiver had served me two waffles and the usual cup of café con leche earlier, but I was still asleep then, so everything was cold by the time I ate.

Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to print, so I’ll close for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and let’s hope Elsa’s bark is worse than its bite!

Musings & Thoughts for Monday, July 5, 2021, or: Of Storms, Summer Ailments, & Dealing with Weather-Related Ennui

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, July 5, 2021. It’s a hot day outside; the current temperature is 85˚F (29˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 51% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 9 MPH (15 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 92˚F (34˚C). Today’s forecast calls for thunderstorms to pass through our area, and the high will be 92˚F (34˚C). Tonight, we can expect scattered showers, and the low will be 76˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 116, or Poor. (That’s the worst AQI reading I’ve seen since my Weather app added that data earlier this year.)

I don’t think the thunderstorm activity in today’s forecast is connected to Tropical Storm Elsa. As of the latest advisory, the storm is near the southern coast of Cuba and moving at 14 MPH (22 KM/H) toward the northwest.

Per the National Hurricane Center in Miami:

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

BULLETIN

Tropical Storm Elsa Advisory Number  21

NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL052021

1100 AM EDT Mon Jul 05 2021

…ELSA NEAR THE SOUTH COAST OF CUBA…

…TROPICAL STORM WARNING EXTENDED NORTHWARD ALONG THE WEST COAST

OF FLORIDA…

SUMMARY OF 1100 AM EDT…1500 UTC…INFORMATION

———————————————–

LOCATION…21.5N 81.2W

ABOUT 20 MI…35 KM ESE OF CAYO LARGO CUBA

ABOUT 140 MI…225 KM SSE OF HAVANA CUBA

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…65 MPH…100 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT…NW OR 310 DEGREES AT 14 MPH…22 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…1006 MB…29.71 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

——————–

CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The Tropical Storm Warning along the west coast of Florida has been

extended northward to the Suwannee River, including Tampa Bay.

The Storm Surge Watch along the west coast of Florida has

been extended northward to the Ochlockonee River.

The Tropical Storm Watch along the coast of the Florida panhandle

has been extended westward to Indian Pass, Florida.

The government of Cuba has discontinued all watches and warnings

for the Cuban province of Camaguey.

The government of Cuba has changed the Hurricane Warning for the

Cuban provinces of Cienfuegos and Matanzas to a Tropical Storm

Warning, and has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the Cuban

province of Artemisa.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

* The Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus,

Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Mayabeque, Havana, and Artemisa

* The Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas

* West coast of Florida from Flamingo northward to Suwannee River

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…

* West coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Ochlockonee River

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…

* The Florida Keys from east of Craig Key to Ocean Reef

* Florida Bay

* North of the Suwannee River to Indian Pass, Florida

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are

expected somewhere within the warning area.

A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-

threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the

coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather

Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at

hurricanes.gov.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are

possible within the watch area.

Interests in coastal Georgia and the Carolinas should monitor the

progress of Elsa.  Additional watches and warnings will likely be

required later today.

For storm information specific to your area in the United

States, including possible inland watches and warnings, please

monitor products issued by your local National Weather Service

forecast office. For storm information specific to your area

outside of the United States, please monitor products issued by

your national meteorological service.

Image Credit: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK

At 1100 AM EDT (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Elsa was

located near latitude 21.5 North, longitude 81.2 West. Elsa is

moving toward the northwest near 14 mph (22 km/h) , and this

general motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn

toward the north-northwest on Tuesday. On the forecast track, Elsa

is expected to move across central and western Cuba later today and

pass near the Florida Keys early Tuesday.  Elsa is then forecast to

move near or over portions of the west coast of Florida on Tuesday

and Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher

gusts.  Some weakening is expected while the center moves over land.

Slight restrengthening is forecast after Elsa moves over the

southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km)

from the center.

The minimum central pressure estimated from NOAA Hurricane Hunter

observations is 1006 mb (29.71 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected in portions of central

and western Cuba today.  Tropical storm conditions are expected in

the warning area in the Florida Keys tonight and along the

Florida west coast beginning Tuesday.  Tropical storm conditions are

possible in the upper Florida Keys by tonight.  Tropical storm

conditions are possible in the Florida Big Bend area beginning

Tuesday night.

STORM SURGE: A storm surge will raise water levels above normal

tide levels by as much as the following amounts in areas of onshore

flow within the hurricane watch and warning areas…

If Tropical Storm Elsa holds together, it will probably skirt the west coast of Florida with the center remaining offshore over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s too early to tell if that is what will happen, of course, but even in a best-case scenario where Elsa remains a weak tropical storm and does not come ashore anywhere near New Hometown, our weather is going to be bad between tomorrow morning and Wednesday evening. We could have lots of rain, flooded streets, and power outages. I hope that we don’t, of course, but as a Florida native who has lived in the state for 52 of his 58 years, I have to prepare mentally for those eventualities.

Anyway….

I didn’t do anything festive yesterday for the Fourth of July. I’m still not feeling all that well, what with that summer cold and its symptoms. The rest of the household watched the fireworks from the front porch, and the Caregiver and her boyfriend watched TV out in the common room afterwards (I could hear the television from my room because of the 5.1 home theater system it is connected to), but they did not invite me to hang out with them, so I sat in my room and played Command Modern Air Naval Operations (a modern naval warfare simulation similar to Harpoon) and Cold Waters.

After that I watched a documentary about Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman on Amazon Prime Video, but although I liked the visuals, I disliked the narration. It sounded like it was done by a bright but not-too-talented college history major for a college oral presentation. I watched about half of the show before turning it off and going to sleep on my futon.

Photo by Alex Conchillos on Pexels.com

As for today? I don’t think I’ll be able to do much of anything. I don’t know when the thunderstorms will start moving in, but I do know that I can’t use my computer – unless I use my laptop on battery power alone – once the lightning strikes start. Ditto for my television set and Blu-ray player. I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences that involved electronics and lightning, and I don’t want to have any more. Not if I can help it, anyway.

So I think today will be a good day for reading, and I have a lot of books on my TBR pile, including:

  • The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History, Alexander Mikaberidze
  • The Battle of Britain: Five Months That Changed History; May-October 1940, James Holland
  • The Complete Maus, Art Spiegelman
(C) 2020 Oxford University Press
(C) 2003 Penguin Books
(C) 2012 St, Martin’s Griffin

I’ll try to get some movie-watching done before the weather deteriorates, but I need to take a shower and change into clean clothes first. I can’t do either during a thunderstorm, so I best get going.

So, until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the less stormy side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, July 4, 2021, or: Happy 245th Birthday, America…It’s Independence Day!

Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay 

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s noon here in New Hometown, Florida on Sunday, July 4, 2021, the 245th Independence Day in U.S. history. It Is a hot, summery day: the current temperature is 85˚F (30˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 54% and the wind blowing from the west-southwest at 8 MPH (12 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 94˚F (35˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 90˚F (32˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies. The low will be 73˚F (23˚C). The current Air Quality Index (AQI) is 50, or Good.

As I mentioned earlier, today is the Fourth of July, which is celebrated in the United States as “Independence Day” – the day on which the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, issued by the 13 colonies during the American Revolution to officially break away from Great Britain after a year of fighting, in Philadelphia back In 1776.

John Adams, second President of the United States and one of the Founding Fathers. (Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay )

Although it took seven more years of fighting and the intervention of Louis XVI’s France and Charles II’s Spain on the Americans’ side, July 4 is considered by most folks to be “America’s Birthday.” John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers and the second President of the United States, thought at the time that July 2 (the day that the Declaration was signed) would be the true birth-date. He even wrote:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. –  Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, “Had a Declaration…” [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/

Per Scott Bomboy’s article, When is the real Independence Day: July 2 or July 4?in the Constitution Daily website of the National Constitution Center, here is why Adams thought July 2 would be celebrated from coast to coast as Independence Day:

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, when it voted to approve a resolution submitted by delegate Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, declaring “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Bomboy adds:

After voting on independence on July 2, the Continental Congress then needed to draft a document explaining the move to the public. It had been proposed in draft form by the Committee of Five (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson) and it took two days for the Congress to agree on the edits.

Once the Congress approved the actual Declaration of Independence document on July 4, it ordered that it be sent to a printer named John Dunlap. About 200 copies of the “Dunlap Broadside” version of the document were printed, with John Hancock’s name printed at the bottom. Today, 26 copies remain.

That is why the Declaration has the words, “IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776,” at its top, because that is the day the approved version was signed in Philadelphia.

So, basically, Congress voted to declare independence on July 2, but adopted the document written by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams on July 4.

American history is such a fascinating subject. Pity that it is – deliberately, in my opinion – taught so poorly and with so many omissions and distortions in elementary and secondary schools.

Image by Ujwal Pandit from Pixabay 

Happy 245th Birthday, United States of America. And here is to hoping that the country stays together long enough to celebrate its 250th year on July 4, 2026!  

Sources: Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, “Had a Declaration…”

When is the real Independence Day: July 2 or July 4?

Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, July 3, 2021, or: Tracking Elsa on a Dark, Rainy Florida Weekend

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Saturday, July 3, 2021. The current temperature is 79˚F (27˚C) under light rain . With the wind blowing from the west at 8 MPH (13 KM/H) and humidity at 76%, the heat index is 79˚F (27˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 86˚F (30˚C). Tonight, scattered showers will continue. The low will be 75˚F (24˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is 37 or Good.

I have been up and about for several hours. I almost woke up at 5 AM when I had to get up to “use the facilities,” but even though it took me a while, I managed to doze off for another 90 or so minutes before getting up for good between 6:45 and 7 AM. I usually don’t sleep past 6:30 AM; my body clock is simply not “set” so that I can sleep in until 9 or 10 AM. But because the day is so dark and dreary – and because I still have a cold – I have not done much besides putter about on Facebook and keep a wary eye on Tropical Storm Elsa updates.

And speaking of the devil, here is the latest public update from the National Hurricane Center in Miami:

Image Credit: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

BULLETIN

Tropical Storm Elsa Intermediate Advisory Number 12A

NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL052021

800 AM AST Sat Jul 03 2021

…ELSA MOVING RAPIDLY TOWARD THE SOUTH COAST OF HISPANIOLA…

…CONDITIONS EXPECTED TO DETERIORATE THERE OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL

HOURS…

SUMMARY OF 800 AM AST…1200 UTC…INFORMATION

———————————————-

LOCATION…16.5N 70.3W

ABOUT 110 MI…175 KM SE OF ISLA BEATA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

ABOUT 440 MI…710 KM ESE OF KINGSTON JAMAICA

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…75 MPH…120 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT…WNW OR 290 DEGREES AT 31 MPH…50 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…999 MB…29.50 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

——————–

CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

None.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…

* Southern coast of Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque to the

border with Haiti

* Southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern

border with the Dominican Republic

* Jamaica

Google Maps showing location of Elsa as of 9:31 AM Eastern

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

* The coast of Haiti north of Port Au Prince

* South coast of the Dominican Republic east of Punta Palenque to

Cabo Engano

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…

* The Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin,

Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…

* North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to

Bahia de Manzanillo

* Cayman Brac and Little Cayman

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected

somewhere within the warning area.  Preparations to protect life

and property should be rushed to completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are

expected somewhere within the warning area.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible

within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours

before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force

winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or

dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are

possible within the watch area.

Interests elsewhere in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the

Cayman Islands, the Florida peninsula, and the Florida Keys should

monitor the progress of Elsa.  Additional watches and warnings

will likely be required later today.

For storm information specific to your area, please monitor

products issued by your national meteorological service.

DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK

———————-

At 800 AM AST (1200 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Elsawas located

near latitude 16.5 North, longitude 70.3 West. Elsa is moving very

quickly toward the west-northwest near 31 mph (50 km/h).  A decrease

in forward speed is expected later today and Sunday, followed by a

turn toward the northwest Sunday night or Monday. On the forecast

track, Elsa will move near the southern coast of Hispaniola later

today and tonight, and move near Jamaica and portions of eastern

Cuba on Sunday.  By Monday, Elsa is expected to move across central

and western Cuba and head toward the Florida Straits.

Maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher

gusts.  Little change in strength is expected today, but slow

weakening is forecast on Sunday and Monday when Elsa is expected to

be near or over Cuba.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from

the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125

miles (205 km).

The minimum central pressure estimated from Air Force Reserve

Hurricane Hunter aircraft data is 999 mb (29.50 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

———————-

Key messages for Elsa can be found in the Tropical Cyclone

Discussion under AWIPS header MIATCDAT5, WMO header WTNT45 KNHC and

on the web at

http://www.hurricanes.gov/graphics_at5.shtml?key_messages.

WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning

area in Haiti and the Dominican Republic later today. Hurricane

conditions are expected on Jamaica tonight or Sunday, and are

possible in eastern Cuba on Sunday.

STORM SURGE: A storm surge will raise water levels above normal tide

levels by as much as the following amounts in areas of onshore flow

within the hurricane watch and warning areas…

Southern coast of Cuba…3 to 5 feet

Southern coast of Hispaniola…2 to 4 feet

Jamaica…1 to 3 feet

RAINFALL: The outer rain bands associated with Elsa will impact

Puerto Rico today with rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches with

localized amounts of 5 inches possible. This rain may lead to

isolated flash flooding, minor river flooding, and mudslides.

Across portions of southern Hispaniola and Jamaica, rainfall of 4 to

8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches is expected

Saturday into Sunday.  This rain may lead to scattered flash

flooding and mudslides.

Across portions of the Cayman Islands and Cuba Sunday into Monday,

rainfall of 5 to 10 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 15

inches is expected. This will result in significant flash flooding

with mudslides in Cuba.

Rainfall from Elsa is likely to impact portions of the Florida Keys

and southern Florida early next week. Amounts of 2 to 4 inches with

localized maximum amounts up to 6 inches will be possible, which may

result in isolated flash, urban, and minor river flooding.

SURF: Swells generated by Elsa will spread westward across the

Caribbean Sea through the weekend. These swells are likely to cause

life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.  Please consult

products from your local weather office.

Judging from the information in this advisory, it looks like most of Florida is going to feel the effects of Elsa over the next few days. My old neighborhood in Miami-Dade will probably experience really bad weather as early as Monday or Tuesday, but we’ll get some of Elsa’s wind and rain here in New Hometown later on, too. Hopefully the storm won’t intensify after making its way through the Greater Antilles, but even tropical storms can cause power outages and flooding.

Ugh. I hate hurricane season.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I don’t think I’ll be online much during the day. The forecast for today is, as noted above, not exactly one that lends itself for any kind of outdoor activities, and even though my Weather app says it’s “just” Light Rain, it is alarmingly dark. and I’ve already heard two BOOMs of muffled but distinct thunder.

In any case, even though I took my first dose of DayQul, I have a sinus headache and a stuffy nose, so I am in no condition to sit at my desk all day, even if it is just to game, lurk on Facebook, or watch YouTube videos.

Summer colds are, as you probably know, the worst.

I’ll probably end up reading a book or listening to music on my tablet. It’s nice to have options for entertainment on a rainy day.

Well, that about wraps it up for this installment of A Certain Point of View, Too, so I’ll just close for now. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Friday, July 2, 2021, or: Eyes on the Tropics (Again!), Trump Tanks in Presidential Rankings, & News from the Cold Front

Photo by kira schwarz on Pexels.com

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Friday, July 2, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 78˚F (26˚C)  under sunny skies. With humidity at 64% and the wind blowing from the southeast at 4 MPH (7 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 77˚F. Today’s forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 87˚F (31˚C). Tonight, scattered showers will continue, and the low will be 76˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 26 or Good.

One of the many downsides of living in Florida during the summer is the constant threat from tropical storms and hurricanes that come from either the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. We are already one month into the Atlantic hurricane season for 2021 and are watching the progress of its fifth named storm and first hurricane: Elsa.

Elsa’s current forecast track. Image Credit: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Per the National Hurricane Center in Miami, here is the latest public advisory on Elsa:

000

WTNT35 KNHC 021222

TCPAT5

BULLETIN

Hurricane Elsa Special Advisory Number   8

NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL052021

830 AM AST Fri Jul 02 2021

…ELSA STRENGTHENS INTO A HURRICANE…

…HURRICANE CONDITIONS SPREADING THROUGH THE WINDWARD ISLANDS..

SUMMARY OF 830 AM AST…1230 UTC…INFORMATION

———————————————-

LOCATION…13.1N 60.1W

ABOUT 40 MI…65 KM W OF BARBADOS

ABOUT 75 MI…120 KM E OF ST. VINCENT

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…75 MPH…120 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT…WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 28 MPH…44 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…995 MB…29.39 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

——————–

CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The Meteorological Service of Barbados has issued a Hurricane

Warning for Barbados, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.

The Meteorological Service of St. Lucia has issued a Hurricane

Warning for St. Lucia.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…

* Barbados

* St. Lucia

* St. Vincent and the Grenadines

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

* Martinique

* The southern coast of Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the

border with Haiti

* Entire coast of Haiti

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…

* Southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern

border with the Dominican Republic

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…

* Grenada and its dependencies

* Saba and Sint Eustatius

* Jamaica

* Dominica

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected

somewhere within the warning area, in this case in the next few

hours.  Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed

to completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are

expected somewhere within the warning area.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible

within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours

before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force

winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or

dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are

possible within the watch area.

Interests elsewhere in the Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, the

Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba

should monitor the progress of Elsa. Additional watches and

warnings will likely be required later today, including Hurricane

Warnings for portions of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The advisory from the National Hurricane Center includes this estimate of where Hurricane Elsa may go in the near future as it makes its way across the Caribbean and approaches the southeastern United States, including Florida.

DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK

———————-

At 830 AM AST (1230 UTC), the center of Hurricane Elsa was located

near latitude 13.1 North, longitude 60.1 West. Elsa is moving toward

the west-northwest near 28 mph (44 km/h), and this motion is

expected to continue during the next couple of days.  On the

forecast track, Elsa will pass near or over portions of the

Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands this morning, move

across the eastern Caribbean Sea late today and tonight, and move

near the southern coast of Hispaniola on Saturday.  By Sunday, Elsa

is forecast to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba.

Reports from Barbados indicate that maximum sustained winds have

increased to near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher gusts.  Little

change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the

center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles

(220 km).  Barbados recently reported sustained winds of 74 mph

(119 km/h) and a wind gust of 86 mph (138 km/h).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 995 mb (29.39 inches). 

Barbados recently reported a pressure of 998 mb (29.47 inches).

On the downside of Elsa’s current forecast track – at least from my perspective – is that it looks like it will affect the Gulf Coast of Florida rather than the Atlantic side. New Hometown is inland but not too far away from the Gulf, so if Elsa manages to hold together after passing through the various islands (especially mountainous Hispaniola and Cuba), it will be in our vicinity sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Image Credit: Pixabay

In other news, in a recent C-SPAN survey of 142 historians and Presidential observers, former President Donald Trump was ranked among the 10 worst Presidents in U.S. history.

According to a USA Today news story republished  today in Yahoo News, James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, was the worst Chief Executive. A northerner (he was from Pennsylvania) who served for one lackluster term (1857-1861) who sympathized with the South’s “states’ rights” agenda and dithered during the Secession Crisis of late 1860 and early 1861 as the Civil War brewed, Buchanan definitely earned his spot as the Worst of the Worst.

Here’s what USA Today’s Susan Page writes in Historians rank Trump near the bottom of U.S. presidents as Obama rises into the top 10:

Donald Trump is ranked near the bottom of all U.S. presidents by a group of historians, getting the lowest grades for leadership of any commander in chief who has served in the White House in the past 150 years….

The findings underscore the duality of Trump’s standing, unprecedented among his fellow presidents. After his upset victory in 2016 and his defeat in 2020, historians hold him in the lowest regard of any president since soon after the Civil War. But he continues to be the face of the Republican Party and its most influential figure, and he is viewed as a potential contender for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2024….

The historians rate Trump as the worst president in history on two of 10 qualities, “moral authority” and “administrative skills.” His strongest standing is on “public persuasion,” on which he was ranked No. 32.

Since 2000, C-SPAN has taken the survey each time there has been a change in White House administrations. The public affairs network, known for its gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House and Senate, said that in this year’s survey, it significantly increased the number of historians participating and their diversity in race, gender, age and philosophy.

In the article, which also delves into Trump’s disdain for historians’ opinions despite his claims that he is a fan of history, Page says that Barack Obama, the 44th President, moved into the top 10 Best Presidents’ list after being ranked 12th in the previous C-SPAN poll.

Per Page:

Among other modern presidents, Barack Obama has risen to No. 10, compared with No. 12 in the last C-SPAN historians’ survey, in 2017. Ronald Reagan is ranked at No. 9; Bill Clinton at No. 19; George H.W. Bush at No. 21, and George W. Bush at No. 29.

Richard Nixon, the only president forced to resign the office amid scandal, is rated No. 31

And in other news, water is wet.

Meanwhile…..

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I’m still feeling under the weather thanks to the pesky summer cold that I’ve had since late last week. The virus and I are at an impasse as of late; the symptoms (mild but persistent headache, stuffy nose, and occasional coughs and/or sneezes) persist, but they are not getting worse. I don’t feel feverish, I don’t have trouble breathing – except for the stuffy nose, natch – and I have a normal appetite, so I think I have the situation somewhat stabilized. 

Still, having a cold is enervating and definitely not fun. I’m taking my cold and flu medications religiously, and I am taking vitamin supplements that the Caregiver gave me the other day to boost my immune system. So, I think I’ll live, guys.

Other than that, I don’t have much to report, so I think I’ll close this up so I can publish this on WordPress. So, until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Sources:

8 AM (Atlantic Time) Advisory for July 2, 2021, National Hurricane Center

Historians rank Trump near the bottom of U.S. presidents as Obama rises into the top 10

Musings & Thoughts for Thursday, July 1, 2021, or: The Persistence of (Cold-Related) Misery

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Thursday, July 1, 2021. Presently, the temperature is 79˚F (26˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 61% and the wind blowing from the east at 4 MPH (7 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 78˚F (26˚). This first day of the month is going to be rather soggy; the forecast calls for scattered rain showers and a high of 89˚F (32˚C). Tonight, those scattered showers will continue, and the low will be 74˚F (23˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is 29 or Good.

Last night I went to sleep sometime after 11 PM and slept straight on till 6:30 AM Eastern; I suppose the NyQuil helped a bit, but colds – severe or not – tire me out and make me irritable. So I think this was a case of what my mom would have called sueños atrasados, which is Spanish for delayed dreams. Basically, those bouts of insomnia or restless sleep caught up with me and I dozed off while I watched the last episodes of I, Caesar on Amazon Prime Video.

About the summer cold: I have not noticed any change – for better or worse – in my condition. I don’t feel feverish, and I have a normal appetite, so I don’t think I caught anything more serious than a garden variety cold. On the other hand, the stuffy nose and dull-but-persistent headache are still here. If it weren’t for the DayQuil I take every six hours (three doses in all a day) and the one dose of NyQuil I take at night, I’d feel worse than I do now.

Still, the symptoms I feel are, at the very least, annoying. The severity of the stuffiness tends to wax and wane at random, but it seems to get worse when I have to concentrate on a task (such as, say, this blog post). Sometimes, when I’m not doing anything remotely useful or that requires serious concentration, the pressure in my sinuses eases off just a scintilla or two, but it doesn’t quite go away.

On the other hand, since the Caregiver handed me the two medicines I am taking, I don’t have as many sneezing/coughing fits as I did before, and the runny nose thing is only an unpleasant, if perhaps still vivid, memory.

I don’t have anything else to report, so I will close for now. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, June 30, 2021, or: Summer Colds Are the Worst!

Image by Meine Reise geht hier leider zu Ende. Märchen beginnen mit from Pixabay 

Hello, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 82˚F (28˚C) under partly sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the east at 9 MPH (15 KM/H) and humidity at 63%, the heat index is 88˚F (31˚C). Today’s forecast is much like yesterday’s: thunderstorms are expected to roll through our area in the afternoon, and the high will be 90˚F (32˚C). Tonight, we can expect scattered rain showers and a low of 74˚F (23˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 32 or Good.

I still have a cold. The symptoms have not gotten worse and they in no way, shape, or form resemble those of COVID-19, so I am not too worried about, you know, dying. I don’t feel feverish, and though I do have a mild headache, a stuffy nose, and occasional fits of either sneezing or coughing, I do have DayQuil and NyQuil to deal with that crap.

The NyQuil came in handy last night because after falling asleep early – don’t ask me what time cos I don’t know – I woke up at 1:30 AM to use the john. I had drifted off to sleep while I watched I, Caesar (which I did not plan to watch but ended up seeing anyway) without taking my dose of NyQuil, so after I returned to my room I unsealed the bottle of NyQuil (I prefer gelcaps, but the Caregiver bought the liquid medicine instead) and swallowed the correct dosage.

Of course, it took a while for the NyQuil to take effect, but once it did, I fell asleep and stayed that way till 8 AM. Considering that my usual wake up time is between 6 and 7 AM, that’s almost as if I had slept till noon!

I just took the first dose of DayQuil. It will be mostly to suppress the coughing and the runny nose, but it should also keep the headache under control.

As for the rest of my Wednesday: I was hoping I’d feel well enough to do a review instead of this I have a cold post, but nope. I still find it hard to concentrate when I’m writing, and I am not doing my eyes any favors by sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end without breaks. To avoid eyestrain, I think I’ll just reduce my deskbound activities and just take a rest day.

Furthermore, the forecast for today – with its warnings about thunderstorms passing through the area this afternoon – pretty much rules out my use of a computer or a TV set after 1 or 2 PM. I lost one TV and one computer to lightning strikes – on separate occasions – when I lived in Miami; I don’t want to lose this PC or my 4K UHD TV to lightning strikes now.

I hate summer colds. As my friend Patti says, “Summer colds are the worst!

Well, Dear Reader, I need to go take a shower and change into street clothes, even though I am just staying in the house today. I also need to eat lunch; I am running on a single cup of café con leche and a dose of DayQuil, so if I don’t eat anything, I’ll feel worse than I do now. So stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Tuesday, June 29, 2021, or: Rainy Days and Lost Memories

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

Greetings and salutations, Dear Reader. It is late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 80˚F (27˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 53% and the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 80˚F (27˚C). Today’s forecast calls for thunderstorms to pass through the area and a high of 92˚F (33˚C). Tonight, we can expect scattered rain showers and a low of 75˚F (24˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is 60, or Moderate.

I have been up since 4:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time. I have no idea at what time I went to bed; I always turn off my phone and my computer before going to sleep to avoid insomnia, so I don’t know how many hours of sleep I got. All I know is that one minute I was asleep – although not too soundly – and the next, I was I was wide awake. With a stuffy nose, at that.

Yep, Dear Reader, I still have what seems to be your run-of-the-mill summer cold. Aside from a dull and somewhat persistent headache, a nose that alternates between a dry, heavy stuffiness and a more, shall we say, fluid runniness, I don’t feel alarmingly sick. I don’t have any of the harsher effects of the flu, much less any symptoms of COVID-19. No fever, no lack of appetite, no difficulties with breathing besides the aforementioned stuffy/runny nose, as well as an occasional – if perhaps a bit violent – fit of sneezing.

I could have used the lost two hours’ worth of sleep, though. I am tired and more than a little annoyed and upset that I’m not at my best right now. If I could, I would lie down on my futon and try to take a nap. Alas, I have only been able to sleep well during the day only a handful of times since I was a toddler, and only under extreme situations.

My mom in December of 2013. By then, her health had deteriorated to the point that she was in that bed 24/7 and didn’t want to leave her room. (Photo by the author)

Do you want to know something bewildering? I can’t remember the last time I hugged my mom. I can remember – in starkly vivid detail, too – much of my mom’s last day alive (July 18, 2015), but I don’t recall when I hugged her for the last time, or if we said anything to each other during that last embrace. I remember patting my mom on the head reassuringly after she successfully swallowed a small pill of tramadol – a painkiller prescribed to ease her pain – following several failed attempts, just as I remember that last look of gratitude and loving recognition before she drifted off to sleep.[1]   

My mom and I were not huge fans of constant hugs or displays of affection. I do know that during her last few months I held her hand often, and she gave me kisses on the forehead or the cheeks from time to time. And once in a blue moon, we’d hug each other warmly.

I can’t remember the last time that happened, though. And I think that’s a tragedy.


[1] Mom was so weak on that last day that it took her six tries to swallow a tiny pill. By an unhappy coincidence, the home health aide we had at the time only worked one hour on Saturdays, and she had already come and gone when Mom called me into her room around noon complaining of an awful pain in the small of her back. The nurse from Catholic Services’ hospice service wasn’t due until 3 PM, and I already had several years’ worth of caregiving experience, so I didn’t panic or feel the need to call my half-sister for help. Looking back on the experience nearly six years later, I’m amazed that I kept my composure and got my mom to swallow that pill. For what it’s worth, that last look that seemed to say “Thank you, Alex” without words is what I remember the most from that long and sad day.

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