THE ‘TRIPLE WHAMMY’!

It’s a cruel, (cruel), cruel summer!

THE TRIPPLE WHAMMY

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head–Lyrics from Summer In The City by The Lovin’ Spoonful 1966

 

wham·my

  • /ˈ(h)wamē/
  • noun
  • INFORMAL
  1. an event with a powerful and unpleasant effect; a blow.

“the third whammy was the degradation of the financial system”  

      2. an evil or unlucky influence.

“I’ve come to put the whammy on them”

Last weekend was Memorial Day in the USA. It has long been regarded as being the ‘unofficial’ start of the summer vacation season. But we are now living in a new reality because COVID-19, the virus that shut down the world has put a major damper on summer fun this year. Like many Americans, I work, save, plan for, and eagerly await my summertime fun. Often it is a mix of several events spread out over  June, July, and August, and extending just beyond Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately this year will be a ‘cruel, cruel summer’ because many people will be forced to spend their summer at home, unable to afford a fun summer vacation. Their vacation plans will be washed away like a sandcastle on the beach.

Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around
Trying to smile but
The air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying
(What did they say?)
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort
This heat has got
Right out of hand

It’s a cruel, (cruel), cruel summer
(Leaving me) leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, (it’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone –lyrics Cruel Summer by BANANARAMA 1983

I am one of the ‘lucky’ ones. As I am considered an essential worker, I have been gainfully employed during this nearly three month (so far) COVID-19 shutdown. I have also managed to escape a financial ‘Triple Whammy’ that has befallen many ‘non-essential’ workers at shuttered ‘non-essential’ businesses.  

I have NOT:

  • lost my source of income
  • lost my life-savings
  • racked up past-due, and mounting debts

This triple whammy affects not only many individuals, but many businesses as well! All of these shops that have been closed down since mid-March have still been racking up business debt. Rent continues to be changed whether you are open or not as long as you have a lease. Monthly utility bills must be paid. Payments on business lines of credit must still be made. Many of these businesses will NEVER re-open, and their employees will have no job to return to as a result.

The only real inconvenience that I have been facing is the reality that some of the things that I really wanted to do this summer may not be possible.

My favorite kayak rental place DELAWARE RIVER TUBING is not expected to open till possibly mid-June.

kayaking

I sincerely doubt I will be going horseback riding this summer.

horseback

JEEP WEEK in Ocean City MD is still slated as of this date, and hopefully will not be cancelled at the last moment.

JEEPER

Some of my summer races are now in jeopardy, and they may be cancelled for this year.

finished

Although all of my ‘official’ races since the shutdown have been cancelled up to this point, I have managed to replace them with virtual runs. I’m running more now than ever before, but it’s just not the same. I miss some of my fellow runners that I only see at the official races, and I am thankful that I have my small group of running friends that meet up several times a week for a ‘fun-run’, and food.

thepack

I am a runner, and a runner runs! I MUST keep running on a regular basis, as I am in training for my FIRST EVER FULL MARATHON. I have run five of the past seven days! I have done a 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K and even a Half-Marathon! I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! The 2020 Philly Marathon is still slated for November 22nd at this time. This event is very important to me. Over the past three years I have been working my utmost to improve my life, and I can honestly say that I am in better physical shape now than I was in college.  

Where is GOD?

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  – Psalm 107:1

As I have previously stated, I have managed to escape all of the devastating effects of the coronavirus, physical, social, and financial. No one in my family, or in my circle of close personal friends has died from the disease, or even contracted it for that matter. Atheists and cynics might claim that it’s very easy for someone in my fortunate position to praise God. All things come from God. God has a plan, and from a human view point it is often hard, and sometimes downright impossible to determine. That is because the mind of man is finite and God is infinite.

bible-2167778_1920

I am absolutely positive that there are God-fearing Christians all around the globe who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Maybe they lost everything, including family and even their own lives. Yes, people are dying. People die every second of every day and have been dying for thousands of years. Our lives are but a vapor, and this world is not our home. When we tragically lose a loved one to disease, an accident, or natural causes, it is sometimes easy for us to ‘forget’ that God gave his only begotten son Jesus to die a horribly painful death on the cross, so that whosoever believes in Him may be saved and receive the gift of eternal life. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and God is always to be praised, and is always good. God does not give us anything that we cannot overcome.

Consider the story of Job. Job was a righteous man, blessed with wealth, sons, and daughters, who lived in the land of Uz. Job lost everything including his children but continued to give thanks to God and to praise and worship him throughout  this entire ordeal. Painful boils covered his entire body.  His close personal friends could not comprehend why this was happening to him unless he had done something wrong. His own wife advised him to just ‘curse God and die!’ But it was all just a test and Job passed and he was restored to health, wealth and lived to see his children to the fourth generation.

I could not have accomplished all the things I have done, or received all the blessings in my life had it not been for God, the Lord Jesus Christ. I became a Christian back in college, and I could not be the man I am today without God. Hopefully you too feel the same way as I do, because God is real, and God is good, ALWAYS! As always, I wish you success and happiness!     

HAPPY(?) MEMORIAL DAY!

GOD HEAL OUR COUNTRY!

happy memorial day

For many Americans, Memorial Day has two meanings:

First and foremost, it is a day of remembrance to honor our fallen military service men and women who gave their all defending our nation so that we can enjoy the freedoms that they died to protect. Secondly, it is the ‘unofficial’ start of the Summer vacation season. The weather is nice enough usually to have a picnic and grill, take a day trip, or enjoy a 3-day weekend if you don’t have to work Monday.

I consider myself to be a very patriotic person, I love both God and our wonderful country. I make no secret of the fact that I am a Christian first, an American second, and a Trump supporting Republican third. 

When I first started writing http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com three years ago, I was because I had just enjoyed a great Summer vacation, and I wanted to share how The 52 WEEK CHALLENGE helped make it possible. So the first year my articles focused on ways to save money, spend wisely, and try to simplify matters of finance. The second year of articles was more about demonstrating how negative thinking and bad information hurt your chances for success and happiness.  I focused on The bigger picture and discussed how religion and politics played a very important part in your success. The freedoms that we enjoy in this Christian nation are always in peril if the wrong leadership is voted into office. As for this third year, I have been writing mostly about health, diet, and exercise. The purpose was to show that your health is form of wealth. What’s the point of being rich and successful if you’re sick and miserable? You want the trifecta! You need to hedge your bets on being happy and successful by being strong in mind, spirit, and body.

For me personally, during this three year odyssey I have seen vast improvements in my life. I’ve lost 90lbs, took up competitive running, and am currently in training for my FIRST MARATHON! The Philly Marathon on Nov 22, 2020 has been a goal that I have been working toward since I ran my first 5K over a year ago. The finishers of the race receive a very patriotic Liberty Bell Medal. 

finishers medal

I felt amazing and empowered! 2020 was starting out to be my best year ever! And then COVID-19, the virus that shutdown the world struck in mid-March.

At first, American were asked to make ‘small’ and ‘temporary’ sacrifices to preserve our nation. We were reminded of the sacrifices of life and limb by our military, and that this was nothing compared to what they sacrificed for us. And then the small got larger, and the temporary  became long term.  Days turned into weeks then became months. The forever quarantine seems to have no end in sight as non-essential workers are still sitting at home with no income wandering how they will feed their children.  For them, there will be no ‘Summer vacation’, just this soul-crushing ‘Corona Vacation’ with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to do it with, because half the country is terrified of contracting the virus.

I am a runner, and a runner runs. Since the start of this viral outbreak,  I have seen ALL my April, May, and now June, possibly even JULY races being cancelled one after another because of restrictions in assembly of large groups and social distancing.  Even non-running events like the Bowers Chili Pepper Festival that I attend in SEPTEMBER are now being cancelled! Fall County fairs are being scrapped this year, and I’m even wondering if JEEP WEEK in OCMD will actually happen now.

NOPEPPER

Fortunately my small group of running friends, The Pack have stood together throughout this shutdown substituting virtual races for official events. So we have been having regularly scheduled weekly  races, and running virtual half-marathons   So for the near future, reality is virtual. But virtual races are really just not the same as actual races.  My nightmare is that the biggest race of my entire life, the one that I have been training so hard for The Philly Marathon might get cancelled this year.

Yes, The Pack has vowed to set up support stations for ME along a virtual 26.2 mile course should the Philly Marathon SIX MONTHS AWAY be postponed due to COVID-19.  But I don’t want ‘MIKE’S MARATHON’, I want the real thing!  The annual event hosted by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the third Sunday of November each year since 1954. The one with over 30,000 runners, 60,000 spectators and 3,000 volunteers! The one with the course that takes you past historic landmarks, and past the Liberty Bell! It actually brings me to tears just thinking that my first Marathon might be the next victim of this cursed virus.

So yes, it is Memorial Day Weekend, and I am going to have a picnic with my friends. Hopefully some part of the Summer may be salvaged, but I’m finding it very hard to be optimistic while being bombarded by this constant stream of negativity.  So God bless America, God Bless President Trump and his family, and God heal our country. As Always I wish you success and happiness!  

69530532_2395250150529470_5834120267344904192_o

 

 

 

THE POLITICS OF DOOM!

WE THE PEOPLE VS LOCKDOWN!

the politics of doom

There has been a lot of COVID-19 fear-mongering being generated by both the ‘LEFT’ and ‘THE LIBERAL MEDIA’.  COVID-19 AKA ‘the Wuhan coronavirus’ has infamously become the virus that shutdown the world. There have been cases in nearly every country on the planet, and many countries including the USA have been virtually shutdown. Non-essential businesses have been shuttered, and a fair amount of they will never re-open. Even with the recently passed CARES Act providing Small Business Loans, many businesses will face an uphill struggle once they re-open whenever that may be.  

Last Wednesday, US President Donald J. Trump expressed his strong desire to re-open the USA, ASAP, preferably by the end of April, if not sooner. He also stated that the re-opening would be on a case-by-case basis, according to the wishes of the governors of each state, and with the support of the Federal Government.  Almost immediately, the president was slammed by the Left and their supporters. Democratic state governors vowed to extend the lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions into May, and possibly beyond.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

Like a growing percentage of Americans, I for one am sick to death of being told what to do, where to go, what I can or cannot buy, and that it’s to prevent the deaths of sickly people who cannot fight off the disease if they should contract it. You quarantine sick people, you do not  quarantine healthy people.  COVID-19 is a virus, just like the flu is a virus. Just like the flu comes back each year, in all likelihood we will have resurgences of COVID-19 annually for some time. I’m not a virologist, but it seems like a logical assumption. Does this mean that we will shut down the nation for several months every year?

I want my life back! I want to go into stores and buy six cases of water if I so desire. I want fully stock store shelves! I want NORMAL shopping hours! I want to do to my gym and be able to exercise on my way home, and to be able to sit down at a diner for breakfast.  There are friends that I haven’t seen in weeks, and probably still will not be seeing weeks from now because they are terrified of contracting the virus, and I don’t see their mindset changing even when the restrictions are lifted. When you live your life in fear, you are afraid until the day you die.

coronavirus-4947210_1920

At state capitals across the nation protesters are gathering in mass to demand the shutdown be ended. People need to feed their families, people need to go back to work, and life needs to go back to normal.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  –Isaiah 41:10-13 NIV

As of the writing of this editorial, the current counter for COVID-19 in the USA stands at:

  • Cases- 957,362
  • Deaths- 54,145
  • Recovered- 116,201

With a total US population of roughly 330,000,000 people, 54,145 is a statistically insignificant percentage of the population dying from the disease. Most projection models of the virus indicate that not only are we past the peak, but that we also did not see the millions of deaths indicated by the ‘prophets of doom’ who told us all to shelter in place. We are barely at a million cases, about 10% fully recovered, and 5% died. So overall, only one person in 330 caught the virus, and that person had a 95% likely survival rate.  To put this is a ‘real world’ microcosm,  let’s look at my job:

My day job is considered an essential service. I have been gainfully employed since the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the USA back in January. I have co-workers who wear gloves, facemasks, and practically bathe in hand sanitizer. I for one, do not. I refuse to live my life in fear, and I do not kowtow to the socialist propaganda of the lunatic fringe. Last week a masked coworker cursed me out and practically accused me of attempting to murder his entire family. I did not retaliate. I stood there calmly listing to him rant and rave, but I was rather annoyed at the least. I get it, this man was AFRAID. To me his fear was totally baseless, but it was very real to him. If he feels a mask, gloves, and sanitizer are essential to his health and safety, by all means he should be allowed to use them. I refuse to be forced.

corona-5086496_1920

We have more or less, about 300 employees spread across 5 branches, and about a dozen zones.  Yesterday, the ‘big-boss’ announced that ONE person has JUST this week tested positive for COVID-19.  And I’m willing to bet that that one anonymous co-worker has a 95% chance of making a full recovery. They won’t tell us who it is because of privacy laws, but if we came in contact with he or she, they will inform us personally.    

“I now believe that television itself, the medium of sitting in front of a magic box that pulses images at us endlessly, the act of watching TV, per se, is mind crushing. It is soul deadening, dehumanizing, soporific in a poisonous way, ultimately brutalizing. It is, simply put so you cannot mistake my meaning, a bad thing.” – Harlan Ellison

Listen up, while many of you are still sitting at home locked down in state-imposed, or self-quarantine, you’re probably spending a lot of time sitting in from of the TV. If you are listening to newscasts or talk shows that are left-leaning, you are probably being inundated with a constant deluge of negativity concerning both COVID-19, and how President Trump is handling the situation.  Understand, whether or not you believe it, the president is doing everything humanly possible for the good of the American people.  The CARES Act is providing COVID-19 Impact stimulus checks that are being sent out nationwide. 

a stack of three example u s treasury checks for stimulus paymen

Not one person in the USA who needed a ventilator due to COVID-19 has been denied a ventilator, and the hospitals still have not been overrun. When Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat governor of the  state of NY cried he lacked hospital beds, the Army Corps of Engineers converted the 1,800,000-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City into an alternate care facility for more than 2,000 non-COVID-19 patients in a matter of days!  The USNS Comfort Hospital Ship was sent to aid New York! Neither was needed.  

And regarding the recent $484 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package,  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) was the only Democrat in both the House or Senate to oppose the bill. Her reason? She felt the Republicans and the president were getting too much of what they wanted.  The Government SERVES the people, not the other way around. 

This virus is NOT a death sentence. Your best defense against COVID-19 is a healthy immune system. You get that from having a healthy and active lifestyle. You get that by eating healthy and exercising, and avoiding stress and negativity. The GOVERNMENT cannot protect you from getting ANY disease, or virus. Your health is up to YOU.  This lock-down is purely political. This is an election year and the Democrats are desperate to retake the government by making Donald Trump look bad. Don’t be cattle led to the slaughterhouse. If President Trump is not re-elected in November, America  will be the final victim of COVID-19.  It is my sincere hope that my fellow Americans see through the Democrat’s deceptions and re-elect this great man. KEEP AMERICA GREAT! God bless America, and God bless President Trump and his family! As always I wish you success and happiness!

trumphuggingflag

 

WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN?

Protection for WHO?

who was that masked man

You may not be familiar with the word ‘fomite’. A fomite  is any object that, when contaminated with infectious agents, can transfer disease. One example of a fomite is a door knob or push handle.  If a sick person with  a highly infectious disease touched it, you might contract that disease through contact if you unknowingly touched that same object. Young children have a tendency to touch anything they see, or worse put it into their mouth. I’m sure at one point or another when you were younger your parents yelled at  you ‘don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been!’, or a similar warning.

hand-disinfection-4954840_1920

The healthier you are, the stronger your immune system tends to be, and you can fight off infection easier. Health and personal hygiene go hand-in-hand. Good hygiene should always been encouraged from an early age, as habits formed during one’s youth tend to last a lifetime. Habits are easily formed through constant repetition until they become second nature. These go for both good and bad habits. It takes discipline and diligence to improve one’s life by forming good habits and breaking bad ones. As always self-improvement begins with SELF. No one can force you do what you are unwilling to do, short of passing laws with stiff penalties.  Even so, laws do not stop people from completely disregarding or willfully violating them. It’s illegal to litter, yet people throw trash in the street. It’s illegal for people not to wear seat-belts, or safety harnesses while driving automobiles in 49 of the 50 US states, yet some people choose not to do so. There are over 30,000 gun laws on the books in the USA, and there is still crime committed with guns. We don’t need ‘better laws’, we need ‘better people’.  The Bible is the ultimate self-improvement book.

The Ten Commandments which are the basis for most laws in the western world appear twice in the Bible,  first in Exodus 20: 1-17, and then they are restated in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Decent law-abiding citizens are kept in check NOT by the laws on the books, but by their internal moral code.  

MURPHY’S LAW

When I was in high school, my one English teacher the late Mr. Jim Murphy introduced me to a couple of ‘dangerous’ books. These were intended for mature readers, and were definitely way over the heads of most teenagers. There are even ADULTS that wouldn’t be able to handle some of the Science Fiction stories in these books. I refer to the Science Fiction anthologies Dangerous Visions, and the sequel Again, Dangerous Visions, both edited by Harlan Ellison. One of the two stories I vividly remember to this day appears in the second volume and is titled Elouise and the Doctors of the Planet Pergamon  by Josephine Saxton.  The story involves a perfectly healthy girl who was raised by her mother free of all illness and disease. Unfortunately that is against the law on Pergamon and she is arrested and forcibly restrained and examined by a hundred physicians who mercilessly poke and prod her everywhere.

Last month in mid-March most of the USA, as well as nearly every nation on Earth began shutting down EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE that was deemed non-essential due to the world-wide pandemic COVID-19,  AKA the Wuhan coronavirus, sometimes shortened to just corona. COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, and there are various strains, seven of which have crossed over to infect humans.  According to WebMD:
Scientists have divided coronaviruses into four sub-groupings, called alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Seven of these viruses can infect people. The four common ones are:

  • 229E (alpha)
  • NL63 (alpha)
  • OC43 (beta)
  • HKU1 (beta)

The three less-common ones are:

  • MERS-CoV, a beta virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
  • SARS-CoV, a beta virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19

Scientists are divided over whether or not COVID-19 is transmitted by airborne particles or solely by close contact or by both.  According to WHO, the World Health Organization, studies to date suggest that COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.  These droplets are too heavy to remain airborne. Only tiny air particles known as aerosols remain in the air for a brief period. This type of ejaculate of respiratory particles usually occurs when someone sneezes or coughs. If you’ve ever had someone accidentally sneeze or cough on you  and felt a slash of wetness, you understand what I mean.  It’s common sense.  You cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and you quarantine sick people to keep THEM from infecting healthy people. If you suspect a person is sick, you avoid contact. If YOU are sick STAY HOME. If YOU have a weak immune system, STAY HOME.

 

As far as how long the virus can survive outside of a host in can live:    

  • In the air: Up to 3 hours in air particles called aerosols
  • On copper: Up to 4 hours
  • On cardboard: Up to 24 hours
  • On plastic: 2 to 3 days
  • On stainless steel: 2 to 3 days

COVID-19 IS a ‘nasty bug’, BUT it is NOT a death sentence. HEALTHY people with STRONG immune systems may get sicker than they’ve ever felt before, but will generally make a full recovery with proper treatment and care.  As of this writing there have been 2,329,651 cases WORLDWIDE resulting in 160,721 deaths. In the USA, there have been 740,557 cases resulting in 38,979. To put in on a much more local level, in my home state of Pennsylvania, there are 31,731 confirmed cases, and there have been 1,102 deaths. This is ‘about’ the same number as what’s showing in California which reports 30,811 and 1,148. By comparison, the area of Pennsylvania is roughly equal to that of the nation of England, and California as about the same size as Italy. New York is the ‘problem child’ and the epicenter of the US outbreak. NY is responsible for about  1/3 of the total cases and nearly half of all the deaths due to COVID-19 in the US. Those numbers from our fourth-most populous state are 241,041 cases and 39,015 deaths.  (Pennsylvania is fifth in population.  New York has 19,491,339 people, Pennsylvania has 12,813,969) These numbers CHANGE every second and will probably have increased slightly by the time you finish reading this.    

respiratory-protection-4991354_1920

President Trump is desperately trying to re-open portions of the USA on a case-by-case basis as some states like NY have been hit much harder than the virus, than say Alaska. In a press conference on Wednesday, President Trump made his position clear that he wants to get the nation back to normal and re-opened very soon, possibly before the end of this month, but he would let each state make that determination on when it should, or should not re-open. People are out of work as a result of to the shutdown. Bills need to be paid, and that requires an income.  This prompted an immediate retaliation from Democrat run ‘Blue States’ like NY, and PA to issue new mandatory face-mask rules starting by or before this  Monday, and a promise to veto any attempts to re-open their states.

easter-4964344_1920

 Unintended consequences

When you lock away a sick person, it’s quarantine. When you lock away a healthy person  because they MIGHT make YOU sick, you take away THEIR freedom and THEIR rights. There is little or no evidence to suggest wearing a surgical face-mask will prevent a healthy person  from getting sick. If a person wants to wear a mask because it somehow makes them feel safer, I have NO problem with that. FORCE ME to do it, and we have a problem.  So until this mandate is revoked, my freedom is severely being infringed upon. This is America, NOT Communist China, and I am NOT happy.

20200418_105136_Burst01

And what those CIVIC-MINDED people who are wearing gloves and masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 doing with their used items? Why just throwing their potentially hazardous medical waste on the ground to blow around town like little coronavirus-tumbleweeds.   

coronamasks   

coronagloves

And then there’s identity. Who’s behind the mask? Anyone, EVEN dangerous criminals and sex-offenders can now move about freely with their identity concealed behind a mask.  If someone robs your essential business, how do you describe the criminal. He was wearing a mask. JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THE STATE.

 It was a running gag at the end of every episode of The Lone Ranger that some character would say “Who  was that masked man?”.    The Lone Ranger character was created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker and first aired as a radio drama on radio station WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan, in 1933 running up until 1954. There was a movie serial in 1938, and then a television show that ran from  1949-1957. Clayton Moore Portrayed the Lone Ranger alongside Jay Silverheel’s Tonto. Moore often was quoted as saying he had “fallen in love with the Lone Ranger character” and strove in his personal life to take The Lone Ranger Creed to heart. He was never seen in public without his mask until a 1979 lawsuit forced him to turn in his mask. He donned sunglasses before returning to his mask when the lawsuit was dropped three years later.  Doing what you love to do causes personal happiness, and Moore loved to be the Lone Ranger and wore his mask proudly, because he wanted to. He is forever synonymous with the character he portrayed.  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

A RUNNER RUNS!

What to do when the whole world is CLOSED!

A RUNNER RUNS

Today is Easter, April 12th 2020 in the USA. Church is CLOSED. Restaurants are CLOSED. The mall and almost all stores are CLOSED. Gyms are CLOSED. Anything non-essential is shut-down. If you happen to be Greek Orthodox, next Sunday is Easter for you, but things aren’t looking any better.  The COVID-19 virus has brought the entire world to a stand-still. There are events in JUNE that are now being cancelled,  and school in many parts of the US is over for the year. So this morning I got up and ran 5K with my friends. Last night we ran 10K. Events may have been cancelled, but life has not. To a runner, running is essential, running IS life! A runner runs!

This year the coronavirus has brought the world to its knees. As of today, COVID-19 has affected 210 countries, there have been over 1,800,738 cases, 112,204 deaths, and 415,000 who made a full recovery. In the USA those numbers are 535,591 cases, 21,409 deaths and 31,018 who made a full recovery.  The total US population is about 330,000,000. The virus is NOT a death sentence, yes it is HIGHLY contagious, but the best  defense against COVID-19 is a healthy immune system. The power that made the body has the power to heal the body. Physical activity and a healthy diet are the key elements needed to ensure that your immune system is able to defeat any disease.

I am not a virologist. In all likelihood neither are you. There is a plethora  of articles, opinions, and studies on COVID-19. Some contain facts, some are so error-filled as to be ludicrous. Depending on where you live, it may be a hotbed of disease like New York City, or maybe you live in an area like I do, where we have less than 800 cases in the entire county. I am more concerned about the economic ramifications of a long-term shutdown of places of employment than I am about the health aspects of this disease. There have been documented cases of people who donated blood, and were informed that their blood contained COVID-19 antibodies. In other words, they caught the disease, didn’t even know they had it in the first place, and their healthy immune system fought the virus and WON!  I’m also certain there are people walking around today oblivious to the fact that they caught the virus months ago and beat it.

 

I am grateful that COVID-19 struck in 2020 and not last year. A year ago today I was not a runner, I was a ‘wannabe’! I wanted to be a runner, I had never run a race before and I was inspired by a friend on twitter who was an Ultra-marathoner.  I was training to run in my first ever 5K on April 28th, 2019. I was  fat and I wanted to be thin and healthy. I knew nothing, the whole race culture was alien to me. I put my bib on backwards! Thankfully someone told me my number went on the front not the back. I was all on my own in a sea of professionals and I knew NOTHING! My plan was two-fold. ONE: Put one foot in front of the other and repeat rapidly for as long as it takes. TWO: Not be last. I succeed in both counts thanks to the support and encouragement of other runners. 

75429542_2541303579257459_5398820186524483584_o

As the year went on, I made friends with many runners and we soon began to form a little running pack, and we would run together on and off the track. These fellow runners soon became closer than many of my lifelong friends, not one of which has to this day come to any of my races, let alone waited for me at the FINISH LINE.

20200112_111826_Burst01

If the virus had struck a year ago, I would not be where I am today!

comparison

Now I may be unconcerned about the disease, but I am sympathetic to those who have died. Death happens to each and every one of us at some point. A weak, sickly person may crawl their way through life and live to be 100. A healthy twenty-something in the prime of their life might get hit by a bus. If you live your life in fear, you will be afraid of everything until the day you die.  There are no guarantees in life, and if someone told you life was fair, they lied! But isn’t it worth spending each and every day as healthy as possible? Isn’t it better to be filled with hope than full of dread?

Christians have the hope of a better life after this one, guaranteed us by the blood of Christ shed on the cross when he died for our sins. This world is temporary, and we are but a vapor. That doesn’t mean we waste our lives, waiting to die. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed!  Even if you have a compromised immune system and are susceptible to catch every germ and virus you encounter, you can use your time in self-isolation studying the Bible and exercising at home. Running a mile on a home treadmill is still running a mile. And it only takes about 77 hours to read through the entire Bible.  What else where you planning to do while the whole world was closed? So stop making excuses and take control of your life once and for all! If I have one hope concerning this virus, it’s that everyone that makes it through this does so as a better person than they were before. Happy Easter and God bless us, everyone!  As always I wish you success and happiness!   

cross-671379_1920

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

Make lemonade!

When Life Gives You Lemons

We’ve all heard the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” It is a cleaver way of making the best of your situation. Lemonade is such a simple thing to make, the most basic recipe uses just three ingredients. lemons, water, and sweetener of choice.  You can even make it healthy by avoiding processed white sugar. Sweeten it to your taste with stevia, or honey, just avoid the artificial sweeteners, that  stuff is worse for your health.

young-girl-1401668_1920

Covid-19, AKA ‘the Coronavirus’ has shut down nearly the entire USA, as well as most of the world. As I happen to live in the USA, my focus is on what is happening in my country.  As of April 1st, 2020 there are over 300,000 cases of the disease in the USA, and over 8,000 deaths.  Everything is cancelled or closed. Today is Palm Sunday, next Sunday is Easter, and for the first time in the history of the USA, people will not be allowed to gather in churches to celebrate Holy Week. Any worshiping of Almighty God has been relegated to whatever private citizens are doing in the privacy of their homes, with their family members who live under the same roof. Guests need not bother visiting, least they bring the plague with them. People are scared, people are unemployed, and people need hope.

holiday-4563092_1920

This past week during a Covid-19 press update from the White House rose garden, President Donald J. Trump invited Michael J. Lindell to speak. Lindell was one of several CEOs present to speak at the conference, and he owns the My Pillow brand. Like many companies eager to do what they can to stop the spread of this highly infectious Coronavirus , Michael Lindell explained how his company has temporarily  stopped making pillows and re-tooled to start making surgical face masks.  He concluded his portion of the conference by encouraging people to enjoy the time spent isolated with their families, and to spend time reading their Bibles. 

As it stands at this time, the shut down continues, and will last the reminder of the month of April.

summer-2359279_1920

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.– Reinhold Niebuhr, 1943  

This is the first time in the history of my country that the entire nation has been shut down for weeks. The last time we had widespread shortages and rationing was during World War II.  At Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts,  Reinhold Niebuhr first spoke his famous Serenity Prayer at a sermon delivered while the country was embattled in war. Today, like then, we are fighting a war, only it is now against an invisible enemy.  We cannot control the virus. It is a force of nature, and it must run its course.  We cannot control how long the shutdown remains in effect,  and we cannot control who dies from the disease because their immune system was just not strong enough to fight the virus. There is no cure. There is no vaccine. They can treat the symptoms, isolate you if you get it, and in extreme cases put you on a ventilator if you stop breathing, assuming there is one available.  The only thing you have control  over now is yourself.  If you are unsure of how to avoid the virus, or what to do if you are sick, consult the official US government website at  https://www.coronavirus.gov

God tells us not to waste our lives worrying about what may come to pass, or obsessing over things which we have no control over.  God is real, and God is good, ALWAYS. You can choose to curse the darkness, or you can choose to be a source of light in the world. No matter what the situation, you can choose to make the best of the hand you are dealt and rise above your circumstance.  The economic ripples from the impact of the coronavirus will be far reaching, but for now we just have to hunker down and get through it.

lemon-4929432_1920

For me personally, the last Sunday in April is a special anniversary. One year ago, on April 28th, 2019 I became a runner.  That was the day I ran my first ever official 5K race. Over the  course of the year I would run nearly a dozen races, including 2 half-marathons. This year I had planned to run more than two dozen races as I trained towards running my first marathon in November. Now all of my official races in April have been cancelled, as well as some in May, and possibly even some in June. I cannot go to the gym and train on a treadmill, gyms are closed. Fortunately my small pack of running friends and I have been hitting various trails and making our own fun. 

The Wolf Pack 2

Yeah, there are no race t-shirts, no medals. It’s just fun-runs. I had been looking forward to running a half-marathon on the last Sunday of this month with my friends to celebrate, but that race was cancelled. The best thing about half-marathons and up is that you get a finishers medal when you complete the race.

It is my firm intention NOT to allow this virus to destroy all the progress I have made this past year, and moving forward. My official races have been cancelled but I am doing more running now than I ever have with the support and encouragement of my friends.  Today The Pack will be running at least 8 miles. A runner runs! Just because you cannot do the things you normally would, you don’t quit! A runner runs! You find an alternative. A runner MUST run!

Going Virtual

MEDAL DASH is hosting a ‘virtual race’ The #CRUSHCORONA 5K/10K/13.1/26.2

https://runsignup.com/Race/TX/VirtualRun/CRUSHCORONA5K10K131262VIRTUALRUN

A ‘virtual race’ is one in which a person signs up online, pays the registration fee, and you run the race ANYWHERE during the appointed time period. You submit your time to the website, and they mail you your t-shirt and medal for completing the race. So today I’m going to encourage The Pack to help me celebrate on April 26th and run this virtual race when we meet this morning for our run. There’s about 8 in the group, and the line-up changes depending  if people are available to run when we meet up. Usually it’s always been about 4 or 5 at a time.  At least two of them will definitely run 13.1 miles with me, and another two may opt to go 10K. If it rains that date, we’ll do it the following week. You can’t control the weather, and The #CRUSHCORONA 5K/10K/13.1/26.2 virtual race can be run any time prior to May 31st. 

Now some people are un-employed at the moment due to this shut down, and maybe paying money for a virtual seems frivolous. My situation is good, for now.

There is also a totally FREE series of virtual races The UnCancelled Project offered by RUN THE EDGE just for fun during the month of April, and I will be doing these as well.

https://runtheedge.com/pages/un-canceled-project-registration

Being healthy is your best defense against COVID-19. Getting outside for fresh air and exercise is recommended by public health officials in most areas at this time, but precautions are necessary. It’s important to follow careful guidelines:

  •  DON’T go out if you’re sick! Stay home and help protect others.
  •  DON’T organize workouts in large groups. Keep it small.
  • DO announce your presence to others to help maintain the recommended six feet of social distance.
  • DO stay informed on your local rules and regulations in response to COVID-19.

The Wolf Pack

If you are in an area that’s under a total lock-down, use your time at home wisely and do things to improve yourself.  There are all sorts of home exercise programs you can start, if you have the internet, you have the sum total of human knowledge at your fingertips! Read, especially read The Bible. Catch up on all those chores you’ve been putting off. Don’t just sit there feeling sorry for yourself, enjoy your life! As always I wish you success and happiness!

A SMALL MOUNTAIN…

Is STILL a mountain!

a small mountain

Climb every mountain

Ford every stream

Follow every rainbow

‘Till you find your dream– Lyrics from the song Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music.

Last Sunday February 23rd 2020, due to an unexpected event there was no weekly article posted on my blog. It was maybe the 3rd or 4th time that this has happened since I began writing InstantCoffeeWisdom three years ago. To my frequent and long-time readers, I offer an apology, and an explanation.

Every now and then, life throws you a curve ball. Something you never expect. Sometimes it can be a bad thing, but sometimes it can be an unexpected and pleasant surprise.  This was the latter.  I was originally working on an article concerning nutritional supplements (which will now be posted next week, bumped by this article) when one of my running friends gave me a surprise gift.  Accepting this gift meant dropping everything I was doing, and being a little selfish to spend time with my friends. I feel bad for disappointing my dedicated readers like Ken, and  especially those who check-in from foreign countries like Romania, England and Canada.  I am always amazed that I have readers in other countries. The internet can be a wonderful thing, but I digress!

One of the items in my bucket list is training for a marathon. I have been putting in a lot of time running both at the gym on a treadmill, and in official timed races of various distances. Registration for official race events costs money, and as I planned 24 of them this year I had to pick and choose as well as budget accordingly to be able to afford to pay for my fitness hobby.  The point I have been stressing this year is that your Health is your Wealth, and vice-versa. What is the point of becoming rich, only to be too sickly and infirm to enjoy the fruit of your labors? The point of life is to enjoy it!

Gary Brendel, a friend who is part my pack of runners  wanted to run in The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run and he asked if I was going. This was a race that I had skipped. I told him that I had limited funds and had to pass because I couldn’t afford the extra race with all the others I had lined up.  Gary told me he would pick up the tab for my registration. I was stunned! It was such a wonderful gift and a generous surprise that to refuse would have been rude. It is very nice to know that when times are lean, you have friends who have your back. Gary is also planning on running in the Philly Marathon with me in November, and my other friend Steve will run the half that same day. Additionally, Gary also convinced another mutual friend, Alison Riley to run with us in The Ugly Mudder. Alison is a novice runner who believed that she was only able to run 5K (3.1 miles). This was her first ever 13K (8.078 miles) and she did amazing!  Like the Bible says in Proverbs 27:17, ” As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

20200223_094316

 One Ugly Mudder!

The name ‘Ugly Mudder’ is a play on words. It is a near homonym for ‘Ugly Mother’. A Mudder is a race horse that runs faster on a muddy track. This was the logo for this year’s commemorative  t-shirt.

87171348_2756566741064474_2050392467710148608_o

The character depicted is reminiscent of Baba Yaga , the pestle wielding witch from Slavic folklore who would kill and eat unfortunate travelers who got lost in the woods. Baba Yaga was most likely an influence  for the fictional Blair Witch in the 1999 horror film, The Blair Witch Project.  

20200223_101228_Burst01

The 17th annual event was timed by Pretzel City Sports. PCS was founded in 1987 by the awesome Ron Horn and they help many regional organizations such as The Pagoda Pacers hold races.

As for the race itself,  The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run is a foot-race up Mount Penn on some of the ugliest, treacherous, and muddy trails imaginable. Mount Penn is a 1,120-foot-high mountain that rises to the north and overlooks the city of Reading PA.  It’s a little mountain, but a mountain is still a mountain. For comparison the tallest mountain in Romania is Moldoveanu Peak at 8,346-feet , which is slightly taller than Omu at 8,219-feet, also located in Romania.  The tallest mountain in England is Scafell Pike at 3,209-feet.  In case you may be wondering, the tallest mountain in North America is Denali in the USA in the state of Alaska. At 20,237-foot, it is also the third tallest on Earth.

20200223_112716_Burst01

There are two large structures visible on Mount Penn.  One is the William Penn Fire Tower. This imposing stone and reinforced concrete tower is 120 feet tall and is situated on Skyline Drive. The 120-ft.-tall former fire observation tower was built in 1939 for $30,000. A lighted Cross on the tower was forcibly removed in 2009 by God-hating atheists who threatened a lawsuit because the Cross reminded them that they had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.    

20200223_110115_Burst01

One mile from the Fire Tower is Reading’s landmark Pagoda, the symbol of the city for over a century.

Commissioned in 1906 at a cost of $50,000 by William A. Witman, Sr. , the Pagoda was completed in 1908.  It was originally intended to be a luxury resort atop Mt. Penn, but due a bank foreclosure after the denial of his liquor license, Witman never opened the Pagoda.  By 1910 the Pagoda and its surrounding 10 acres of land were deeded to local business owner, Jonathon Mould and his wife, Julia (Bell).  On April 21, 1911 they “sold” the Pagoda to the City of Reading for the sum of $1.  Since then the Pagoda has been owned, loved and cared for by the citizens and City of Reading.

The Pagoda is 28 feet (8.5 m) wide, 50 feet (15 m) long, and 72 feet (22 m) tall and located at  98 Duryea Dr. Reading, PA.  After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 anti-Japanese sentiment nearly caused the building to be torn down. Cooler-heads claimed that the building was actually not Japanese, but a Korean Pagoda, so the Pagoda was spared.  (FYI– a Korean Pagoda is usually built entirely out of stone, and is slightly different looking than the Reading Pagoda which is clearly based on a Japanese design. Thank God there was also no internet in 1941. LOL. )

As for the course itself, it was rocky and treacherous, not to mention uphill and muddy at places. There was a little patch of ice easily negotiable just before the finish line.  You just knew it was going to be a rough trail when a priest was running in case someone needed Last Rites.

20200223_100809_Burst01

The humorous description and cautionary words from the promotional e-mail flier are as follows:

The same thing happened to most of the trails used in the Ugly Mudder. Once, they were bucolic hiking trails used by courting couples, families with kids, dog walkers, etc. And then heavy storms took away their topsoil, lack of use resulted in wild indigenous plants growing across the path, erosion left huge gullies in them that twist ankles and make then unsuitable for biking, etc. And what we have left are trails that are so misshapen and un-navigable that they can ONLY be used for the Ugly Mudder. The Ugly Mudder is a mishmash of ups & downs, fallen logs, debris, rocks & roots, discarded household items, deer poop and urban relics.  To offset this misery, Pretzel City Sports provides a bunch of “perks” at the event including a great post race party with a free breakfast, funny signs on trail to ease your pain, unusual aide stations with equally unusual beverages, cold volunteers that will treat YOU even “colder”, great course markings & other niceties that has made this, on several occasions, one of the 5 largest rustic trail runs in the entire country & the largest East of the Mississippi. In fact, annually, 99.9% of its participants live to run another day so how hard can it be?  Come join the 250-400 people each year that REFUSE to let ankle deep snow, sub-zero temps and a few rocks & roots turn them into mega-weenies, candybutts or, worst of all, “Bachelor/Bachelorette Fans”. LEGAL B.S: You RUN AT YOUR OWN RISK & you alone are responsible for your welfare at all times while racing!! You SHOULD finish this race unscathed other than from frostbite & snot frozen to your face. But if you DO get a boo-boo, crawl to an aide station so we can pick you up in a warm car. You WON’T get lost; it’s marked that well!  But if you STILL manage to do so, ask someone how to Uber to Stokesay Castle; the finish is right next door. Since this is a mid-level challenge, people discouraged from coming are

  1. those under 18 (15-17 yr olds OK with parent present-14 or below MUST have someone run with them)

  2. anyone, other than a current employee, who will miss K-mart and

  3. people who religiously “eat clean” because we ALL need Oreos and  they’re about as far from “clean” as a food group can be. And also DAMN yummy!

In case you’re wondering about the funny signs, I took pictures of them all as I ran. They ran in FOUR series each spaced about 2 miles apart ,and  started with a warning:

20200223_104423_Burst01

  • WARNING! BE PREPARED FOR…
  • THE SHITTIEST 8.078 MILES
  • YOU’LL EVER RUN (IF YOU CALL THIS RUNNING)

funnysign

  • LOTS OF “DOWNHILL” COMING UP
  • AFTER YOU FINISH THIS “RIDGE FROM HELL”

  • THERE HAVE BEEN MORE DEMOCRATS
  • RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
  • THAN WE HAVE ENTRIES IN OUR CLYDESDALE DIVISION
  • MAY MEAN THAT WE THAT WE HAVE LESS “FULL” PEOPLE IN THESE PARTS
  • THAN WE HAVE PEOPLE “FULL OF THEMSELVES”

20200223_105443_Burst01

  • WHAT GOES DOWN, MUST COME UP
  • AND WE REALLY MEAN “UP”!

20200223_104643_Burst01

At the last water station, they also had shots of whisky to anyone who needed calm their nerves after surviving this harrowing experience.

20200223_120120

Yeah it was quite the challenge, and this was only the second trail run I have done. Of the three of us, Gary finished first . Alison twisted her ankle on the rocks half-way, but was able to walk-off the injury and finished ahead of me. I’m a Clydesdale, so I tend to run slower, plus I took pictures. I did NOT finish last, and my pace from my first trail run had improved so I am getting faster which makes me happy. Progress is progress, and slow and steady wins the race!  

The best part was my friends waiting for me at the finish line.

20200223_130337_Burst01

As always, I wish you success and happiness!