November 2020: Life in the COVID-19 era

November 1, 2020

I used to look forward to an extra hour of sleep.  Last night it was an extra night of Hallmark movie watching.  I fell asleep early but awoke at 3:00.  By then Lynn had the Hallmark channel streaming.  I ended up watching two movies then finally got up.  One thing about growing old is that your sleep cycle is too easily disrupted.  I get tired early at night but awake long before daylight.

Another thing about returning to standard time I had forgotten about is how hungry I get at times that aren’t quite eating times.  I ate lunch around 11:00 today and was awaiting dinner by 4:00.

For the second time in a month, someone has stolen our Biden sign from the front yard.  How petty!  They bent over our “I’ve already voted for Biden” sign so I straightened it back up.  There are hundreds of Trump posters in our area.  I’m confident that Biden will win Virginia but not Augusta County but that doesn’t excuse someone from allowing us to support him.  They can take our sign but not our commitment.

Lynn has been on overdrive with craft projects.  I don’t want to give away all she’s been doing but she has been at it all day today with two projects.  She really gets good use out of her Cricut machine nowadays.

We did get a chance to walk a couple of miles today in the early afternoon.  It was a little windy but not that cold.  The temperature outside was around 60o.  By mid-afternoon it had turned much windier.  Her foot is definitely doing better. 

Lynn and I have begun to make plans for a December driving trip.  Unlike previous years in which we’d try to catch some Christmas shows, this year, thanks to COVID-19, we’ll likely limit ourselves to outdoor Christmas decorations.  She’s come up with some towns which apparently have good drive-through vistas.  I believe she is leaning toward Asheville NC, which is about five hours from here.  We’ve been there several times.

One thing nice about the Hallmark Channel is that there are plenty of commercials but no political ones.  Why did the Republicans and Democrats choose to not buy ads there?  Maybe they weren’t offered the opportunity.  Either way it has been refreshing.  The Hallmark movies have been on at our house all day though I confess I’m getting a little tired of plots involving a Christmas festival at the local small town with city people getting stuck there due to the snow.

We went to a few Dollar Tree and Dollar General stores after dinner tonight so Lynn could look for some craft materials she needed.  She was only mildly successful.  It was so unusual for us to be leaving home after dark.  Of course, it gets dark now at 5:00 pm.

There wasn’t much news about COVID-19 today.  Here are the statistics:

November 1         Infected                   Died

World               46,804,423           1,205,044

US                       9,473,720              236,471

Virginia               182,392                  3,655

Augusta County          718                         9

Virginia had 1200 new cases but only 1 new death.  The US had 73,000 new cases.  Ugh!

 

November 2, 2020

Today is the last day before our momentous election.  I hope the polls are correct but only four years ago the polls said Hillary Clinton would be our next President.  I have my fingers crossed and my vote already counted.

I am so looking forward to Butch’s visit.  I have written many times and places before that I wish I could see him more.  It is sad that his ability to travel only came about due to Ann’s death.  We have lived in this house for 32 years and he has never stayed here before.  That will change tomorrow night.  He is a lot like Lynn—smart, talented, good-hearted, and great company.

Today was the first Monday of November so I had extra work to do at Central.  I first had to get all of the information entered into QuickBooks for our new employee, Savannah Murrin, who started working this morning.  I had not entered a new employee before so I had to make sure I did all the federal and state forms correctly.  And I had to get her salary setup property in QuickBooks.  I hope I got it all right!

I had some bills to pay but I also now have bank accounts to reconcile since we’re into November now.  I hope to get the accounts reconciled tomorrow morning before Butch comes.  I can’t leave for Central until after our furnace is serviced, though.

This afternoon was a special school day for Freddie.  He ordinarily goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays but since tomorrow is a holiday with Election Day, he had school today.  It was too cold when he got off the bus for him to play outside so I took him to the basement where he played Wii while he waited on Ann to get here.  That worked out OK.

Lynn and I grabbed take-out from Cracker Barrel tonight.  We both like the country ham & biscuit breakfast meal which only costs $4.99 each.  I also had some ham & bean soup which we had picked up from Central yesterday.  Millie Brown made it so you know it was good.

ABC news has pointed out many times that the pandemic and the election are closely intertwined.  Here’s some of today’s news about this:  With Election Day just hours away, coronavirus cases are rising in every key political battleground state around the country, according to an ABC News analysis, a striking reality that highlights the inextricable link between the pandemic and the 2020 race for president, despite Donald Trump‘s best efforts to refocus the conversation elsewhere.  Deaths and hospitalizations are rising as well.  The outbreak is hitting in record numbers nationwide — but the virus is spreading faster in cases per population in many hotly contested states, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin and Texas, according to the analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.  Just this week, Pennsylvania, one of the most likely tipping points in the election, broke its single-day new case record this week with over cases 2,700 reported — the highest since the start of the pandemic. In Wisconsin, there have been more than 150,000 new cases in just the past two months — nearly double all the cases reported from March through the end of August combined.

It will be very interesting to see the voter turnout.  Already over 93 million Americans have voted.  In 2016, a total of 136.7 million voted.

ABC also had this interesting article:  At a rally Sunday in Opa-locka, Florida, that stretched late into the night, President Donald Trump entertained the raucous crowd with the idea that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after the election.  Trump made the suggestion after his supporters began chanting “Fire Fauci.” It’s a favorite among Trump’s most ardent supporters, who believe the severity of the virus is being overplayed by Fauci and the news media in a bid to undermine the president’s popularity. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump told the crowd about firing Fauci.  But ABC retorted that Fauci is a career civil servant, not a political appointee, and his protected by law from political retaliation. If the president wanted to fire Fauci, he would have to claim some kind of performance problem or misconduct – a tall order for a doctor has served six presidents and is highly regarded among public health experts.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 2         Infected                   Died

World               47,302,604           1,210,896

US                       9,563,357              236,957

Virginia               183,418                  3,658

Augusta County          719                         9

The US isn’t getting any better—90,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  As usual, another 1,000 new cases in Virginia. 

 

November 3, 2020

My 70th birthday turned out to be one of my best ever.  There were so many wonderful things about today.  I had a wonderful morning with Lynn, got some good work done at Central UMC, welcomed my brother for a great visit this afternoon, and enjoyed Jim’s company this evening.  Between I talked and/or Facetimed with Kay and her kids and Ann and kids.  I got very nice cards from multiple people, inside and out of our family, and some cool presents, too.  But the best was how much I enjoyed the company I had today.

After a nice breakfast with Lynn, I went to Central where I got all four bank accounts reconciled for October.  I also finished writing the first section of the training manual I’m writing for our new administrative assistant for QuickBooks.  I finished the Deposit section.  It took me a while but I got home in the early afternoon before Butch came.

He arrived around 2:00.  We spent a superb day together.  He replaced a breaker in our electrical panel which seemed to fix the issue I had with one of our circuits.  Then he installed a ground fault receptacle in our bedroom which helped us eliminate several extension cords which could have been fire hazards.  But it wasn’t all work—we also took a two mile hike and chatted a lot.  We got back from our hike just before Jim came.

Jim cut the leaves in our front lawn with his fancy mower then he went with Butch and me to Chicano Boys to grab our dinner.  Lynn had a 6:00 parent-teacher conference she was interpreting for so she couldn’t go with us.  She had an earlier conference as well.  Butch was kind enough to buy our dinners which we ate as soon as Lynn’s conference was over. 

All of this was going on as the news focused on the election.  As of the time I’m writing this things are still well in the air as to who will win the election.  Lynn and I will likely be watching well into the night, hoping for good news.

Lynn has asked me to get an Apple watch.  I’ve looked at the models and will likely order one tomorrow at her insistence.  I guess I can put it to good use.  I also got nice presents from Kay and Ann.  Kay got me a Shenandoah Valley apple cake from a Virginia bakery.  Ann got me an advent calendar with tasty preserves for each day.

Butch brought several things for me including an electrical meter, a WVU hat, and an Ohio U shirt.  He has done so much planning for our Thanksgiving dinner.

I also had a nice phone call from Paul and Sandy Porterfield this morning.  We’re hoping we can meet at the Greenbrier in February, possibly with Hal and Diane, too.  That would be super!

Coronavirus has taken a back seat today but I’m sure it hasn’t let up any just because it’s election day or my birthday.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 3         Infected                   Died

World               47,844,347           1,220,210

US                       9,692,528              238,641

Virginia               184,679                  3,666

Augusta County          732                         9

My math is that the number of new cases in the US is almost 130,000.  That is unbelievable.  Virginia had 1,200 new cases.

I am so thankful for living this long and this well and for being surrounded by loved ones.  I have been truly blessed.

 

November 4, 2020

Being so anxious about the election, last night was not a good nighit for sleep.  I awoke at 2:00 AM and didn’t really get back to sleep before getting up at 5:30. 

Never before have we not known the results of a Presidential election 24 hours after the polls closed but that is the case tonight.  The race is still very, very tight with votes being counted in a handful of states that will determine the outcome of this election.  As of this moment, Biden needs only a couple of more states to claim victory but he trails in most though the mail-in ballots now being counted tend to be Democratic.  It may be another 24 hours before we know.

I had another great day today especially with Butch’s company.  We got more jobs done today including installing another ground fault receptacle in Lynn’s sewing room. 

We ate well again, too.  We had Lynn’s English Muffins for breakfast.  For lunch, in addition to Millie Brown’s ham and bean soup, we had Lynn’s delicious apple pie again today.  This afternoon Lynn made more English Muffins and pepperoni rolls.  Wiley enjoys them so Butch will be taking back a bunch for him.  Tonight we got pizza and rigatoni from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and followed that up with ice cream from Smiley’s.  I’ve gained weight since Butch has been here!

We did get in some exercise this afternoon.  It was a marvelous day, sunny and warm, and the three of us walked the 3.7 mile Leaport Loop. 

After dinner, we were entertained with some ancient slides Butch brought.  There were about 100 slides in all, one set from Lynn’s college days in Mexico, one set from our rehearsal dinner, one set from Christmas in Altoona in 1978, and a small set from Morgantown in 1979.  He’s leaving the slides with me and I’ll get them all digitized.

Butch has made so many plans for Thanksgiving.  I hope it all works out for everyone.  He’s sparing no punches in expense.

With all the election hoopla going on, no one is paying attention to COVID-19 today.  Here are the stats:

November 4         Infected                   Died

World               48,411,814           1,230,100

US                       9,799,036              239,820

Virginia               185,836                  3,677

Augusta County          736                         9

It wasn’t a good day, either.  The US had over 100,000 new cases.  Whew!  Virginia had over 1,100 new cases. 

We’re heading to bed and will likely have the news on for a little while to see if Biden can creep closer to 270.  We’ll probably fall asleep long before he or Trump makes it, though.

 

November 5, 2020

We’re two days beyond the election and still don’t know who our next President will be.  It is looking much better for Joe Biden.  He can possibly win Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.  Trump will likely win North Carolina.  But Biden already has 253 electoral votes; Trump has only 214 so Trump cannot afford to lose any two of those states.  Biden is currently up in Arizona and Nevada; Trump leads in the other four but most of the votes being counted now are mailed-in votes which are heavily in favor of Biden.  Perhaps even later tonight we’ll know.  Some states are saying it will be well into Friday before they have them all counted.

COVID-19 is not stopping due to the election turmoil.  In fact, the US set a record for the most number of cases in one day in the past 24 hours. 

It has been almost funny watching Trump’s behavior during the past two days.  He has called for stopping the counting of votes (a real American thing to do!) in those states where he is leading yet calling for the count to continue in those in which he trails.  How ridiculous can he be!  He keeps saying the election has been fraudulent for which there is zero evidence.  He has tried to initiatve law suits in many of the states but certainly any judge, even if Republican, will dismiss those suits.

Tonight, Trump gave a speech to the public.  Earlier Biden spoke for a few minutes, saying that although he believes he will be declared the winner, he asked that Americans be patient until all the votes are counted.  He bragged about nothing and only seriously talked about the coronavirus pandemic.  When Trump took the microphone this evening, he said “if you count the legal votes, I easily win.  If you count the illegal votes they can try to steal the eletion from us.”  The truth is the votes that are coming in now and are causing his leads to disappear are mailed-in ones which were 100% legally submitted.  He bragged about all the Republican victories in the Senate and House.  He claimed that the Democrats benefited from spending by the rich and said Republicans were the party of the working class.  He showed absolutely no hint of conceding anything, hardly a surprise.  He won’t concede even when 100% of the votes have been counted.

Trump claims the election will end up in the Supreme Court.  He smeared the integrity of those working at the polls, lied that the mailed in voters were bogus, and illogically flailed away at the process of counting votes.  The irony is that he himself has voted by mail for years!

Lynn found a cute Facebook post today.  It said “when one door closes, another one opens.”  The first half of the quote had a picture of the White House behind it.  The second half had a picture of a jail cell.

Butch returned home today and messaged us that he got there safely.  It was a superb visit for Lynn and me and I honestly believe he likewise enjoyed it a lot.  It had been way too long that we spent quality time together.  I hope we are able to visit again often, not just at Thanksgiving which is only three weeks away.

Having been away from Central for a couple of days, I had some work to do on Central’s books today including one credit card reconciliation for October.  I have another one to do tomorrow and have several bills to pay.  I spent a good bit of time working on the manual I am writing for Savannah to use when I start teaching her how to do the bookkeeping.

Central’s bookkeeping has some tasks which are done weekly, one done twice a month, many done once monthly, and some done once each quarter.  I’ve been writing this training manual by focusing first on the tasks that are done weekly (deposits and bill paying).  I’ve finished that part now and am working on the credit card part now, especially since it was fresh in my mind from having reconciled one of our accounts today.

Lynn’s mother is not doing well at all now.  The hospice people have told her and her brother and sisters that perhaps her body is shutting down now.  She sleeps all the time, eats very little, and is just not herself.  Lynn visited her today but her only interaction was to watch her sleep.  It is sad but at least she is not in much pain.  We can all hope to make it to 101.

The news media tonight is going beserk over Trump’s defiance tonight claiming he is being cheated out of victory.  Many called for other elected Republican officials to stand up and defy his lying claims.

This story is easy to explain.  The Democrats, under the urging of Biden and others due to the pandemic, by and large voted early and frequently by mail.  The Republicans, under the urging of Trump, voted in person.  So when the votes are counted, the in-person votes are counted first and it is no surprise that Trump jumped out to a big lead.  Now that the mailed in votes are being counted and his lead is evaporating, he is claiming foul play.  There is nothing foul about this!  Yet he is claiming cheating and his loyal supporters, who believe everything he says, may perhaps resort to violence.  I hope not.

The big story tonight beyond the election is the continuing spread of COVID-19.  I commented to Lynn tonight that everywhere we go we see people wearing masks now.  Yet even in our county the number of cases is increasing.  Are the people who are wearing masks coming down with coronavirus?  I certainly hope not because she and I are among those who go to the stores though always with a mask.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 5         Infected                   Died

World               48,997,626           1,238,746

US                       9,913,215              240,910

Virginia               187,202                  3,688

Augusta County          742                         9

Indeed, there were over 113,000 new cases in the US in just the past 24 hours.  There were over 1,100 new cases in Virginia.  Were these people mask wearers?  I am concerned.

Tonight we had a Family Zoom meeting.  We weren’t able to last night since Butch was here.  One of the things I had to share with them is that Lynn talked me into buying an Apple watch for my birthday.  I’m going to order it from Apple.  Tonight we went to Verizon and talked with them about adding it to our account so I can answer my phone using it.  I suppose I’ll get it ordered tomorrow.

 

November 6, 2020

The weather has been beautiful for the past several days and the forecast is for more of the same for almost another week.  This is Indian Summer with highs in the 70’s and no sign of rain. 

Overnight and throughout the day the Presidential vote count continued.  It was amazing to watch this scene unfold.  From being way behind Tuesday night, by this afternoon Biden had taken a lead in the critical states of Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania—much more than he needed to secure the nomination.  He didn’t make up enough ground in Alaska or North Carolina to beat Trump but that didn’t matter.   But by the evening he was ahead by 23,000 votes in Nevada, 39,000 in Arizona, 4,100 in Georgia, and 15,000 in Pennsylvania.  Officially, none of these states were called for Biden yet but it won’t be long until all are.

I would have loved to have seen the look on Trump’s face over the last two days as his lead—as much as 450,000 in Pennsylvania—shrunk then disappeared.  By dinner time this evening, Biden was up by 15,000 votes in Pennsylvania and more votes were coming in.  Like most of the others that were counted yesterday and today, these are mailed in votes and are mainly Democratic. 

As I wrote yesterday, the spread of COVID-19 has gotten much, much worse over the past week, especially in the Midwest.  We’ve averaged over 100,000 new cases in each of the last three days in America.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 6         Infected                   Died

World               49,624,630           1,247,839

US                     10,044,774              242,113

Virginia               188,770                  3,682

Augusta County          750                         9

That’s more than 1,500 new cases in Virginia.  The number of deaths reported was lowered from the previous day—I’m not sure what went on there.

Trump has acted like a spoiled brat for the past two days, claiming the election was stolen from him, making baseless claims of voter fraud everywhere, and shows absolutely no sign of conceding even though the electoral college vote will now be a landslide.  What has been very interesting is to see how other Republicans have responded to his shenanigans.  Way too many of them, especially those in power like Mitch McConnell, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, and Bill Barr have not condemned him at all.  You’d think that even they would respect the process of counting all the votes.  I expected Trump and his children to act like babies but others should “man up” and admit defeat. 

I ordered my Apple watch this morning.  Now I’ll have to learn how to use it once it gets here next week.

I spent a lot of time at Central today.  I processed the payroll for November 13.  It was the first time I’d processed a payroll by myself.  I confess that I did have to call Sarah Russell for one small part of the process.  I took screen shots at every step in the process and after I had submitted our payroll I used them as I wrote the instructional manual I’ve been developing in order to train our administrative assistants.  I also had several bills to pay.

As soon as I got home from CUMC, Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg.  We had to stop by the bank and shop at Costco.  There were several items that I’d been asked to pick up for CUMC plus Lynn got some items for us.  On our way back home we stopped for our weekly Friday night hamburgers at the Old Schoolhouse food truck in Weyers Cave. 

For dessert I finished off the apple pie Lynn had made me for my birthday.  I love apple pie!

 

November 7, 2020

The day started off very early for us; at 3:30 AM we got the call from Lynn’s sister Kay that their mother had passed away.  While it was sad for Lynn to lose her mother, Mrs. Hanger had 101 years of love, good life, and good health.  She was a fine mother-in-law.  I drove Lynn to join Kay at The Legacy around 4:30 and we waited until the funeral home came at 5:30.  Then we came home and put together a draft of her obituary.

What a change in lifestyle this will be for Lynn.  She has gone to The Legacy nearly every day for months to visit with her mother and help her with meals.  She’s not wanted to leave the area for more than one night.  All that will be different now.

True to form, soon after we got back to the house Lynn started working on making more bow ties.  She had made several from old ties her Dad had owned.  She wanted to make one for every grandson and great grandson.  She needed a few more so she immediately got on that task, figuring that she would be seeing many of the recipients at her Mom’s service this coming week.

At 11:00 we went to the funeral home to make the arrangements for her funeral which will be graveside-only.  It is such a shame that COVID-19 will prohibit the family from having a service at Central to honor Mrs. Hanger.  She was the oldest living member at CUMC.  I know there are many in the area who would have come not just to honor Mrs. Hanger but to show their support for her family.

After the arrangements were made, Lynn and her sisters went back to The Legacy to start the process of gathering their mother’s belongings.  It is a process she and I have been through four times now.

When we got back, there was a huge box of food that our neighbors, Bee and Janet Myers, had left for us.  We invited Ann’s family to join us for dinner.

I had time this afternoon to watch the WVU – Texas football game.  It was very tough to watch.  The Mountaineers played very well but three times in the fourth quarter the officials blew it and it cost us the game.  First they overruled a touchdown WVU had scored on a pass saying the receiver didn’t have control of the football.  Then Texas threw a backwards pass which was fumbled and recovered by WVU and the officials said it was an incomplete pass.  But the killer was with a few minutes to go WVU went for it on 4th and goal and threw a pass into the end zone.  The defender was all over the WVU receiver long before the ball got there but no interference was called.  The entire WVU sideline went berserk and even the TV announcers said they couldn’t believe it.  Texas ran out the clock and won 17-13.  We got cheated.  I now I sound like Trump but at least I have evidence.  The replay clearly showed it.

Today is finally celebration time for us on the Biden side.  He was finally declared the winner today though Trump still hasn’t conceded.  There are still some states not called but the current electoral vote count is 290 – 214. 

It has been fun watching the celebrations going on nationwide with the Biden victory.  Thus far there has been no violence, fortunately.  Let’s hope that this will usher in less confrontation, less vitriol, and more unity.

The only bad part about all the partying going on today is the threat of COVID-19.  The people I see on TV celebrating are clearly not keeping their social distance.  This past week has been awful for the US.  I certainly hope that now we can get a grip on this plague.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 7         Infected                   Died

World               50,144,979           1,255,505

US                     10,172,991              243,226

Virginia               190,873                  3,704

Augusta County          788                         9

The numbers are climbing exponentially.  In just 24 hours we’ve had more than 2,000 new cases in Virginia, more than 130,000 new cases in the US.  With all the celebration of the election, there’s a dark cloud over us.

We’re both pretty wiped out this evening; it has been a long day.  I’m not sure we’ll be able to stay up for the President-Elect’s speech.  Oh well, that’s why we have a DVR!

 

November 8, 2020

Sure enough, we didn’t stay awake to hear Biden’s speech though we were able to catch most of it throughout the day today.  Lynn especially had a hard time sleeping through the night though I did OK.

This was a typical Sunday except for the weather—another beautiful, warm day.  So far this November the weather has been spectacular.  So has the news with the election….

After my Zoom Sunday School class Lynn and I made a quick trip to Harrisonburg where she shopped at both Kohl’s and Belk.  Then we came back in time for her to get bread ready to be baked.  Her friend Pat came over at 2:00 and brought a bunch of food for us. 

There’s still a lot of unknowns about the election results.  Of course, Trump hasn’t conceded.  Biden has announced he will be appointing a coronavirus task force but there’s some concern that the current administration won’t share the information with them.

The map of the cases shows that Virginia is in better shape than most states but there have still been over 100,000 new cases daily in the US.  Virginia is listed as one of eight states whose new cases in the past week compared to the previous week were steady.  There were 35 states showing a 10-50% increase and seven states showing more than a 50% increase.  None showed a decrease.  In terms of new deaths over the past week versus the previous week, Virginia was one of six states actually showing a 10 – 50% decrease.  There were 3 states showing more than a 50% decrease, 16 holding steady, 15 showing a 10 – 50% increase and 10 showing a 50% or more increase.  So the news could be worse for us though it is still awful for the US.

I’ve been working on a fun project—preparing a folder of slides for Thanksgiving.  Butch asked me if I could project pictures during our meal so I’m putting together an appropriate subset of my 50,000+ pictures.   I’ve picked about 2,000 for the show; it will project about 650 per hour so if the dinner lasts around three hours then most of the pictures will be seen.

This afternoon we went back to The Legacy and loaded up six trash bags of clothes that Mrs. Hanger had there.  We took them to Central for the Clothes Pantry there.  She had a lot of clothes!

Lynn’s friend Pat Collins came over to visit with her today and brought some soup which we had for dinner tonight.  It was a spinach and potato soup—very yummy.  Lynn has so many good friends….

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 8         Infected                   Died

World               50,730,541           1,261,980

US                     10,288,480              243,768

Virginia               192,175                  3,707

Augusta County          789                         9

Augusta County only reported one additional case since yesterday—I hope this is actually the case and not just that nobody is reporting on a Sunday.  The US was again over 100,000 new cases and Virginia had over 1,200 new ones though only three new deaths.

 

November 9, 2020

The news is so repetitive:  COVID-19 is still spreading rampantly, Trump refuses to concede, the weather has been great, and I worked for a long time at Central UMC again.

One thing that doesn’t happen repetitively is that Henry turned 16 today.  Our oldest grandson is driving now and doing very well in school.  Tonight we had our customary treasure hunt for him with one big difference.  For many years I’ve made his treasure hunts math problems he had to solve to figure out the clues.  But this year, since he is taking Spanish 3 at Fort Defiance High School, Lynn made up his treasure hunt—all in Spanish.  I had made him a card with a dozen picures of him over the past year and inside the card we put his monetary present.  We are so proud of him (and the other seven grandchildren!).

The weather was so good that after I had made my run from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to Central for our Food Pantry this afternoon I played tennis with Pastor Won.  Both of us were out of shape and didn’t hit very well but at least we were out there.

This morning I made the weekly deposit at Central and did a few more QuickBooks tasks.  I showed Savannah a few things about our setup but didn’t start training her yet in how to do deposits and check writing. 

Pfizer announced today that their vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.  It means that protection from Covid-19 is achieved 28 days after the initial vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule. The CEO of Pfizer called it “a great day for science and humanity.”   It can’t come too quickly:  five days in a row the US has had over 100,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.

ABC news reported that Pfizer said they will provide the vaccine to health care providers and seniors first.  They need an emergency authorization from the CDC before distributing it.  ABC said that by December or January, health care workers would get it.  By February through March, seniors would get it and most Americans could have it by April through June.  Let’s hope!

Another issue, of course, is that many Americans are anti-vaxers and won’t take it no matter what.  They are just plain stupid IMHO.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 9         Infected                   Died

World               51,222,215           1,268,849

US                     10,411,013              244,392

Virginia               193,477                   3713

Augusta County          808                       10

Virginia again had over 1,300 new cases.  Augusta County’s cases jumped by 19 and had one more death. 

 

November 10, 2020

Here was the bad news from ABC this evening:  There were 165,000 new cases of COVID-19 in just the past 24 hours.  Cases are on the rise in all 50 states.  This translate to 74 Americans diagnosed every minute.  Some have warned there could be 20,000,000 infected by Christmas.  There are more Americans hospitalized than ever before. 

The news also included information about Pfizer’s new vaccine and its plans to distribute it.  They say they can produce 20,000,000 doses every month.  By the end of January all health care workers should have it.  This vaccine is hard to move; it must be stored at -94o.    Dr. Fauci says most Americans could get it by late April. 

No surprise, Trump still won’t concede.  He tweeted today “We will win!”  He is pushing Bill Barr to prosecute voting fraud cases even though Barr can’t find any.  The Washington Post reported today that a Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans admitted fabricating allegations of ballot tampering. 

This is the type of leadership America elected in 2016—someone who won’t play by the rules, admit defeat, or graciously allow the next administration to take over.  Every other administration in America’s history has cooperated with its successor.  Trump is not just a lame duck, he is a looney duck.

I should sing the praises of Lynn’s friends.  They have been so thoughtful to her (and me) during this grieving period.  Bee and Janet Myers brought a huge bag of food to use earlier this week; Pat Collins sent a huge pot of spinach and potato soup and a rich chocolate cheese cake.  Cheryl Kent sent ham sandwiches and a cake.  And Ann topped off my palate by dropping by some of the meat loaf she had made for Henry’s birthday yesterday.  Yum!

I hope we’re doing the right thing by keeping our Thanksgiving plans in Ohio intact.  There are several medical professionals encouraging American families to forgo the big dinner this year.

Today was a busy day.  I spent the morning at Central while Lynn went shopping with her friend Cheryl Kent.  Then we met at The Legacy.  I had my truck and first loaded up Mrs. Hanger’s old mattress and a bunch of other trash.  Lynn and I took them to the dump then returned to The Legacy where we loaded up her bed which needs some work.  Jim has offered to look at it.

We got home in time to take a two mile walk.  Today was probably the last pretty day in a long while.  We’ve been spoiled by much higher than average temperatures and no rain.   Tomorrow all of that will come to an end.  We got home in time to meet Freddie.  Ann picked him up and later brought Henry by to get some documents printed at our house.

This evening, after an early dinner, we went to Smiley’s for ice cream than to Walmart to pick up pictures I had sent there of Lynn’s parents.  She wants to hand them out at her mother’s funeral on Saturday.

It took several attempts to get everyone happy but we finally did create an obituary that met with everyone’s approval.  It took longer than I anticipated.  We actually created two obituaries—one for the funeral home to post on its site and an abbreviated version for the Staunton News Leader.

Here are today’s awful coronavirus statistics:

November 10       Infected                   Died

World               51,791,296           1,278,460

US                     10,577,767              245,785

Virginia               194,912                   3726

Augusta County          810                       10

That’s over 1,500 new cases in Virginia over the past 24 hours in addition to the 165,000 new cases in the US.  Tonight we had to go inside Walmart to pick up the pictures I had sent there.  I saw approximately ten men there with no masks on.  Stupidity lives!

 

November 11, 2020

This was a holiday for lots of folks.  For retired people like us, every day is a holiday!  So it was a typical day except we didn’t get mail.

 

I went to CUMC early to work on my QuickBooks manual but returned by 10:00 so we could go to Charlottesville this morning.  Lynn wanted to get some fabric at Jo Ann Fabric in Charlottesville.  She was successful in buying some fabric that would work well as covers for the kids’ seesaw seats so she came home and made them. 

 

Today was rainy, the first sign of rain we’ve had in November.  It was still unseasonably warm and even tonight the temperature is near 60o.  Change is in the forecast, though.

 

The news on the national front is nothing new:  COVID-19 infections are up in all 50 states and Trump is still refusing to concede the election.  The overall vote total for Biden is now more than 5 million higher than Trump’s.  Trump’s lawyers have not been successful in any lawsuit yet regarding the election.  One Facebook post today said he was like the New York Jets:  0-12.

 

I made an appointment with Verizon Wireless in Staunton for tomorrow afternoon.  They are to help me connect my new Apple watch to my phone.  After that I should be able to use it.  So far I haven’t even taken it out of the box it was shipped in.

 

Our garage is overflowing now with furniture and other goods from Mrs. Hanger’s.  I don’t know why I call it a garage—there’s no way a car could fit into it.

 

Lynn and I are considering a short stay at The Greenbrier in early December.  We haven’t made a final decision yet but did check some dates.  We tried to call them today to check on availability/rates but never were able to talk to anyone.  We kept being put on hold and/or asked to leave a message.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

 

November 11       Infected                   Died

World               52,421,132           1,288,895

US                     10,708,007              247,397

Virginia               196,506                   3741

Augusta County          828                       10

 

This was the 8th straight day that the US has had more than 100,000 new cases.  Virginia had over 1,500 new cases.

November 12, 2020

The US has an all-time record in COVID-19 hospitalizations today.  This comes eight months after this thing started.  The vaccine can’t come soon enough!  Throughout the nation hospitals are running out of space according to ABC news.  There were 145,000 new cases yesterday, a record.  Dr. Fauci said today that the same advice he’s been giving for months now needs to be taken seriously.  He said that by April or May the ordinary citizen should be vaccinated. 

Donald Trump said that news about COVID-19 would disappear as soon as the election was over.  This shows his ignorance.

This has been a day of mixed emotions for me.  Nothing seemed to go right this morning.  I decided to open my new Apple watch box and see if I could start setting it up knowing that we had a 1:00 appointment at Verizon to connect it to my phone.  As soon as I took it out of the box it said to set it up using my phone.  But my phone had a message that it couldn’t set up the watch because it needed a software update.  So I let the phone cook for 30 minutes and install the latest IOS on my iPhone 6.  But when I then tried to set it up I again got the message that it couldn’t set up the phone because my phone needed a software update.  But the phone said no more updates were available.

My temper quickly rose so I called the 800 number of Apple and, surprisingly, was connected to a tech support person pretty quickly.  She stumbled with an explanation then told me I needed to update my phone through the computer instead of via WiFi so I connected it and tried.  Same story.  She even took control of my MacBook, couldn’t figure out what to do, then put me on hold.

The explanation was simple, she said.  My iPhone was too old to be used with the watch because it couldn’t be upgraded to the newest IOS and the newest IOS was required by the watch.  I was livid.  I saw nowhere on the Apple Watch site that this was a requirement and the man at Verizon didn’t give me any indication that my iPhone 6 wouldn’t work.  I very unpolitely told the Apple support person that I wanted to buy a watch, not a phone and a watch.  I asked her to direct me to how I could ship the watch back.  I told her that I would think about it before acting but I still wanted to have the option to return the watch because I didn’t want to have to go to the expense of buying a new watch AND a new phone.

Lynn was insistent that my phone was old anyway and I should get a new one.  If it had been just up to me, that watch would be on its way back to Cupertino tonight.  I was really mad.  In the meantime, Lynn had a conflict with our afternoon appointment at Verizon so we moved it to the evening after dinner.

All day I stewed about this.  I went back to the website for the Apple Watch.  I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled and found nothing until I got to the very end.  There, in a tiny, tiny font, was a note that said that iPhone 6+ or higher was required. 

I spent the entire day at Central.  First, I joined a meeting Bill Bushman had arranged with a sound man about improvements to our sound system.  Pastor Won has it in his mind that the video streaming we’re now doing of the Sunday morning services should continue even when the pandemic is behind us.  Yet Bill admitted that only 5-6 people typically watch the stream.  The audio man said if we wanted to upgrade the stream we’d need a dedicated camera, dedicated laptop, and perhaps a monthly contract with a streaming service.  But even when he heard how few people viewed the stream he said that the investment of several thousand dollars in equipment wouldn’t be worth it.  He agreed to rig up a way to connect the iPad now used for streaming to our sound system.  I just hope I can convince Won to stick with this solution.  Our church can’t afford to spend lots of money on an expensive streaming setup, in my opinion.

I then had lots of work to do with QuickBooks.  I won’t rant too much but again I had issues.  I wanted to get screen shots of the reconciliation process for the manual I am writing so I thought it would be easy to undo the October reconciliation, taking screen shots at each step of the process.  But I hadn’t anticipated that the balance which came up as the beginning balance did not match what it was when I reconciled the October books ten days ago.  It took me a while to find the mistake.  I finally was able to get it reconciled again and made all the screen shots I needed.

I only have three more sections of the manual to write:  apportionments, taxes, and payroll liabilities.  I also need to do a table of contents.  The manual already is over 45 pages and will be around 50 when I finish.  Maybe I can get the apportionment section done tomorrow.  I’ll have to wait until next week to do the other two when the taxes and payroll liabilities are paid.

I got home in time to meet Freddie’s school bus.  Josh came over soon thereafter and dropped Henry to do some homework using our WiFi.  Lynn and I grabbed a calzone from the Mount Sidney Flying Pizza then headed to Verizon.

I promised Lynn that I would hold my temper there and it wasn’t easy, especially when the sales rep kept adding on things I needed to pay to get a new phone (set up charges, transfer charges, monthly charges, new phone cost).  The total came to around $500.  I had backed up my iPhone 6 to my laptop in the morning and took it with me into the Verizon store.  I opted to get the same phone Lynn got, an iPhone SE.  I was able to restore all of my apps and settings to the new phone while we were still at Verizon then the Verizon employee connected my new watch to it.

I’ll have to admit I’ve had some fun playing with the watch this evening.  It is fairly simple to use and will mean I won’t have to constantly get my phone out of my pocket to answer or make calls.  I’ll look like Star Trek talking to my watch.

The watch also gets my messages and e-mails.  It keeps track of lots of other things such as my heart rate, the current weather and its forecast, etc.  Maybe I’ll like it…

I could just copy and paste the news about coronavirus and Donald Trump from any of the past several days:  cases rising, still no concessions and more false claims.

ABC said this about Trump:  President Donald Trump, who has remained almost entirely out of sight for nearly a week, has demonstrated little evidence of — or interest in — governing in the wake of the election, as he persists in refusing to concede defeat.  The president’s absence from the spotlight — the longest stretch of silence of his presidency – comes as the coronavirus pandemic rages across most of the country and the nation continues to break records for new cases and hospitalizations. Closer to home, more top aides and allies of the president have tested positive for the virus after a packed, indoor White House party last week where Trump falsely claimed victory in the election.

November 12       Infected                   Died

World               53,082,241           1,299,220

US                     10,873,936              248,585

Virginia               198,027                   3758

Augusta County          833                       10

The US numbers are scary:  165,000 new cases and 1,100 new deaths.  Virginia had 1,500 new cases and 17 more deaths. 

Another project I’ve been working on today is upgrading Central’s webserver at GoDaddy.  We had an issue several weeks ago and when I contacted GoDaddy’s technical support they commented that when the renewal is up we should ask them to move our website to a newer service.  So I called today to see about getting this done.  One thing I don’t think anyone else knows is that Central’s website fees have always been paid by Lynn and me.  I found out that to upgrade our service would cost about $400 for three years.  I think we’ll go ahead with this.  Today was a costly day for the Hills!  Fortunately, we’ve got the funds to handle this.

This was a busy day but we still worked in a way to get to Smiley’s tonight so Lynn could get a milkshake.  For a change, I didn’t get ice cream.  I got a Reading Soda which I had noticed that they had in their refrigerator.  Our family got a tour of the Reading Soda company when we were in Reading PA two summers ago.  It was very interesting to see how they bottle their soda and it is quite tasty!

November 13, 2020

Today was an all-around good day.  The weather returned to being great and it was a very productive day. 

I started out early at Central with QuickBooks.  I finished one more section of my manual and now only have two more to go.  I also paid a bill and still managed to get back home by 11:00.  By the time I got here, Jim had already arrived and was ready to work.

He and I (well, to be honest, mostly he) got the yard in much better shape.  We spent about four hours trimming shrubs, cutting grass, weed whacking, and basically cleaning up.  All of this was in preparation for the family get-together which takes place here tomorrow afternoon after Mrs. Hanger’s funeral.

Jim was very helpful as he always is.  He brought some of his outside tools which helped a lot.  We got everything trimmed up and then made a run to the dump.  The only thing left to do is to blow the sidewalk and back porch off which we’ll do in the morning.  The family is coming over to eat and it will all be outside.  The nice folks at Central are providing lots of food and several other friends are, too.

Several other things got taken care of today.  I had reworked Mrs. Hanger’s obituary to make its appearance nicer.  Lynn took it to Staples and got it printed and laminated for all the children and grandchildren.  And, I was able to take care of Central’s website upgrade at GoDaddy.  The CUMC website has been on GoDaddy’s server for years and years.  It needed to be moved to a newer platform.  The GoDaddy representative I worked with was able to get the migration at no cost to Central. 

Lynn has also been working on making pink masks today.  All the family women are going to wear them at tomorrow’s funeral to honor her mother.  Lynn posted her Mom’s obituary on Facebook and 69 people send her sympathy comments. 

Tonight was hamburger night at the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  Jim, Lynn, and I each enjoyed a burger and fries. 

With the most recent projections of Arizona and Georgia for Biden, and North Carolina and Alaska for Trump, ABC News has now projected winners in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

The final projected Electoral College tally stands at 306 for Biden, 232 for Trump.  So, after all, it was a landslide.  Of course, Trump still refuses to concede even though more court cases brought by his cronies about voter fraud were thrown out today.  And, Pennsylvania will not order a recount.  Trump is toast!  By the way, the electoral count this year is the same as it was in 2016 with Trump over Hillary Clinton.

The news is unchanged on the coronavirus front—cases continue to explode throughout the US.  Here are the numbers:

November 13       Infected                   Died

World               53,729,641           1,308,563

US                     11,061,796              249,973

Virginia               199,262                   3785

Augusta County          847                       10

Another 1,200 new cases in Virginia and 27 deaths.

This was from ABC news:  Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced new measures aimed at combatting the spread of coronavirus in the commonwealth. They include:

-All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.

-Expansion of mask mandate to all Virginians aged 5 and over, down from 10 years and older.

-Tightened retail requirements for physical distances, face coverings and cleaning, now enforceable as a Class One misdemeanor.

-On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery or tasting room.

Virginia is averaging 1,500 newly reported COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May.

November 14, 2020

Today was the fourth and final time for Lynn and me—attending the funeral of one of our parents.  On the one hand, everything went well today.  The weather was fine for a mid-November day.  The funeral was well-attended by family.  Mrs. Hanger’s next-door-neighbor, Rev. Kenneth Price, did a superb job in leading the short graveside services.  Most everyone came back to our house where there was food and fellowship a-plenty. 

However, it would be wrong to call this a good day.  It was a sad day.  Mrs. Hanger lived a very long and good life but it is sad that Lynn and her siblings no longer have her in their lives.  All three of them visited her, almost every day, at The Legacy.  All were very close to her.  She was never a cranky old lady and they were never children who complained about taking care of their mother.  Her mind was sharp to the end.  She always treated me well and was the glue for her large and semi-diverse family.  So this day was not a beautiful one. 

Jim and I spent a couple of hours this morning getting the yard ready for the 20 or so who came to our house after the funeral.  He was super helpful the past two days.  I am so proud to have a son like him.

So many people helped out the Hanger family.  Cheryl Kent came to our house while we were at the gravesite and helped get the tons of food that the Central UMC Nurture Committee had provided.  They had sent lots of country ham biscuits, two fruit trays, three of Millie Brown’s delicious cakes plus her cookies including some eggless ones.  Central also sent ice tea.  Ann made lots of cupcakes.  Donna Morris made sugar cookies just like Mrs. Hanger used to make them.  Kay Carter brought individually wrapped salads.  Mary Gooden had left a veggie tray and egg salad sandwiches.  Unquestionably, we had a feast.

COVID-19 has made it hard to grieve.  We maintained our social distance and nearly everyone wore a mask the entire time both at the funeral and at our house.  Hugs were almost non-existent.  Such a shame!

With good help from everyone who was still here at the end, cleanup went quickly and it wasn’t long before Jim and Kay both reported making it home safely.  We are so blessed—blessed to have had Mrs. Hanger in our lives for so long and blessed to have such a great family of our own.

I’ve commented before that I spent more years with Mrs. Hanger in my life than with my own mother.  It was almost exactly 40 years ago that my Mom died.  Now Lynn will have that hole in her heart that I’ve had since 1980.  Yes, the hole seems to get smaller over time but it never goes away.  There’s just no way you can forget your mother. 

This evening I relaxed by watching the WVU – TCU football game which was on earlier and I had recorded.  When you watch a game that way, fast forwarding through commercials and halftime, it doesn’t take that long to see the game.  This game was fun to watch as WVU dominated, 24-6. 

During the game I penned a Congregational Prayer that I am scheduled to give tomorrow at Central.  This will be the first time I’ve attended a morning worship service since we resumed services last month.  I don’t plan on being there for the entire service—the prayer is after the sermon so I may just watch the live stream from the parking lot and come in when the sermon is over then leave.

The COVID-19 uptick is worrisome for our Thanksgiving plans.  Many national and state officials are encouraging people to stay home this year.  We’re committed to going to Athens and Butch has gone to a lot of trouble to prepare for our coming.  I’m hoping conditions improve over the next ten days but it doesn’t look like they’re headed that way.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 14       Infected                   Died

World               54,318,729                 1,318,

US                     11,226,038              251,256

Virginia               200,779                   3799

Augusta County          859                       10

I had a nice surprise in the mail today.  Sybille Jobin and Pastor Won apparently got together and decided to send me a gift for my work on the church’s books.  They sent me a $100 gift card.  Wow!  Lynn and I are so blessed to be surrounded by nice people.  She has received many, many sympathy cards in the mail.

November 15, 2020

Two days in a row I have worn a tie now.  This is the first time since the pandemic hit that I’ve had on dark socks and a tie.  I wore a suit at Mrs. Hanger’s funeral yesterday and today had agreed to do the Congregational Prayer at Central.  I was hesitant to be there for the whole service so I just showed up in time to do the prayer then left.  I had forewarned Pastor Won I’d be doing that.

There’s some doubt being cast now on the Ohio Thanksgiving.  First, we learned last night from Butch that the Ohio Governor has threatened to close all restaurants on Friday if their infection rate doesn’t improve.  No restaurant would kill our Thanksgiving plans, for sure.  Also, he told us that he would going to get tested so we’d know if he was healthy or not.  But then came the news this morning that cousin Kit was pulling out.  She said that one person at her dental office had tested positive and she was fearful of having to close the practice.  Of course, without the Danglers coming my sister won’t be there, either.

We’re not sure yet what to do and will likely wait a few days to make a final decision.  If we don’t do the Thanksgiving dinner this month perhaps we’ll do some other kind of celebration in Ohio in 2021.

Lynn and I went to Costco this afternoon just for a few items.  Then we stopped at Smiley’s for an afternoon treat.  Today was the last day we could redeem the $1 off coupons she and I had a slew of from back when we took the family to the corn maze adjacent to the ice cream store. 

After dinner we decided to watch a Netflix original movie called Jingle Jangle.  It was a musical fantasy.  The kids would like it.

This was the bad news on the ABC news site tonight:  The United States surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases Sunday, less than a week after it reached 10 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.  The U.S. leads the world in both cases and in deaths, with 246,006 fatalities, according to the data.  Saturday marked the eleventh consecutive day with over 100,000 COVID-19 cases recorded, health data showed. In the last week, the U.S. has reported a new weekly record of cases, with 989,825.  That means approximately one in every 331 Americans tested positive for COVID-19 this week.  The U.S. case number crossed the 10 million mark on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins.  The country is currently averaging over 141,000 new coronavirus cases every day, which was a 38% jump in averages from the last week.  Since Nov. 1, the U.S. has reported over 1.7 million new cases.  The U.S. is currently averaging over 1,000 reported COVID-19 deaths per day, with 7,708 American deaths recorded this week, and 14,634 deaths in the last two weeks.

Here are the numbers from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

November 15       Infected                   Died

World               54,804,194           1,324,025

US                     11,365,052              251,832

Virginia               201,960                   3800

Augusta County          861                       10

Virginia had over 1,100 new cases but only one additional death.  Not sure those figures are correct.

The weather has returned to more typical November weather, unfortunately.  Today was rainy for a while with lots of wind which made it seem colder than the 60o thermometer reading.  This coming week is forecast to be dry but not nearly as warm as last week.  

November 16, 2020

ABC had some good news today about another COVID-19 vaccine:  In another promising medical development, the biotechnology company Moderna has announced its COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 94.5% effective.  This puts them roughly on track along with Pfizer for possible limited authorization by the FDA as soon as December. Moderna is expected to have 20 million doses to go along with Pfizer’s 50 million for global distribution before more can be made in 2021.  Moderna also announced promising data Monday about how the vaccine can be shipped and stored. According to the company, the vaccine can safely be stored for up to six months in a normal freezer, and up to 30 days in a normal refrigerator.  Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at around -94 degrees Fahrenheit — far colder than a typical freezer can accommodate. Because of these temperature requirements, the company will ship vaccine doses in special temperature-controlled thermal boxes packed with dry ice.

The recent announcements about vaccines just add another layer of difficulty in making a decision about having Thanksgiving in Ohio.  It would be a shame if we all went and some got COVID-19 with an effective vaccine just a couple of months away.  Butch exchanged several chats today with Lynn.  He said he could back out from the dinner reservations he has made at Ohio University Inn as late as next Monday at no cost to him.  The Ohio Governor is supposed to make an announcement this Friday as to whether he’ll institute more bans on restaurants.  So we’ll likely wait until his announcement to decide.  Certainly, if the Ohio U restaurant is not allowed to be open then our plans will be canceled.  But even if they are allowed to continue, Lynn and I are starting to have some doubts about going, thinking that a postponement might be in order.  At any rate, we’ll wait until Friday to decide.

I spent nearly the entire day at Central today.  I started out by doing my twice-monthly job of counting the weekly deposit along with Sam Richardson.  After we finished it, I gave Savannah Murrin a quick lesson in making QuickBooks deposits by letting her do this week’s.  By the time I had paid a few bills, I had to hustle home to pick up the truck for Food Pantry delivery. 

I picked up the food from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and delivered it to Central.  Though the load was so large it took two trucks to get it all, it didn’t take that long to get the trucks unloaded.  So I headed back to the Treasurer’s office to figure out how to pay the federal and state monthly taxes which were due today.

As I figured out how to pay these, I took screen shots at every step, then wrote the directions in my manual.  Likewise, I did the same for what are known as other Payroll Liabilities such as Health/Dental Insurance for the Pastor.  It took an enormously long time to get all of this done.  For example, just on the federal tax section alone I took fifteen screen shots.  I left Central after 5:00 which didn’t please Lynn at all because I had promised to pick up pizza for us in Penn Laird. 

Indeed, I did get the pizza and got home at 6:30 but she had already fixed herself something else to eat and was very displeased with me.  This has happened to us so often:  I underestimate how long it will take me to complete a task at work, then come home much later than I had told her.  By the time I get home, she is understandably “hangry.”  I can’t begin to write how many times this has happened to us.  I am not blaming her; I am at fault for not postponing my work until the next day.  I just keep thinking “Five more minutes and I’ll be done” over and over again.

The entire job of being church treasurer takes more time than I thought it would, especially now that I’m writing the how-to manual for future bookkeepers.  There are a few parts that I still need more understanding of.

COVID-19 has not let up.  ABC reports that nearly 70,000 people are currently hospitalized due to complications with COVID-19 as intensive care units around the country run out of space and supplies. The number of hospitalizations shows no signs of slowing down after the seven-day average of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 23%, according to an ABC News analysis of the trends across 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., using data from the COVID Tracking Project. The U.S. is now averaging almost 145,000 new cases a day — nearly four times the daily average from just two months ago. In the last seven days, the average number of new COVID-19 cases has increased by 35%.  \

Here are today’s numbers from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

November 16       Infected                   Died

World               55,335,013           1,331,698

US                     11,533,598              252,632

Virginia               204,637                   3806

Augusta County          870                       10

The Virginia Department of Health had this note on its website:  The 2,677 case count reported on Monday, November 16 is due to a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades for a few hours over the weekend. 

November 17, 2020

The temperature today was in the 40’s and low 50’s but the wind was awful so it felt like the 30’s.  Weather.com says it is now 38o but feels like 32o.  Brrrr!  I hate to be cold. 

I only spent one hour at Central today after spending all day yesterday.  I was able to print and hole punch my manual.  It ended up being 58 pages long.  I also paid a few bills. 

Today was errand day.  I ran an errand for Lynn on my way to Central.  Then, when I got back, I went to John Bauman’s house and dropped off some things that had been given to me by Bill Bushman to deliver to him.  I went to the dump and got rid of about 15 bags of leaves which I had taken from Central yesterday.  Then Lynn and I went to Dollar Tree in Staunton before getting back in time for Freddie’s bus.

Poor Freddie—it was so cold outside and he again wore shorts.  I don’t know how his little legs can stay warm on such a cold day.  Lynn worked with him a little on reading in our kitchen and basement but he still insisted on going outside to play in the cold.  It took Ann a while to get here but we enjoyed his company.

There is a story in the Staunton Newspaper today about a COVID-19 outbreak at a Staunton rehabilitation center.  Here is what the paper had to say: the rising tide of COVID-19 is becoming deadly for Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation in Staunton. The facility has 117 certified beds and 106 patients have COVID-19, leaving the facility — and its residents — wading through the infection.   The Virginia Department of Health’s long-term care task force currently states that there are 106 active COVID-19 cases and eight deaths. However, the COVID-19 related data through VDH doesn’t have a specific date that new COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred.

That rehab center was next door to The Legacy where Lynn’s Mom lived for several years. 

The Staunton paper reported that the number of cases in Augusta County Public Schools just hit a record high. There were 16 cases in Augusta County Public Schools between November 9-13. It’s the second week in a row that the division set a record after having 15 cases the previous week.

Since students returned to school in a hybrid format Sept. 1, Augusta County has had a total of 78 cases. The 31 in the past two weeks represents 39.7% of the total cases this school year.  For the schools that our grandchildren go to, Fort Defiance High School has had 6 student and one faculty case thus far this year; Stewart Middle has had 3 student cases; Clymore Elementary has had 1 student and 1 faculty positive case thus far this school year.

The paper also reported that COVID cases are on the rise again locally, even as testing is down.  With 277 new cases reported in November, the area is heading for a record-breaking month of over 500 cases of the novel coronavirus.  And testing is down: if the current area rate holds, there will be 1,600 fewer tests in November than October.  More cases and less testing means a higher positivity rate. The 6.2% positivity rate in the area in November is a full third higher than last month.  The paper reported that eleven Augusta County communities have a positivity rate higher than the state’s most recent rate of 8.2%.   One of those was Fort Defiance.

The paper also hinted that the Augusta Health hospital was experiencing an outbreak of COVID though they have been tight-lipped about this. 

ABC news tonight said that Pfizer announced that as soon as the FDA gives them emergency authorization people will have their vaccine within hours.  Cases are on the rise in every state; November is already the worst month since the pandemic began.  Hospitalizations are rising in 49 of the 50 states.  Over 73,000 are now hospitalized with COVID-19.

I wonder what percentage of my 325 pages of blog that I’ve written since April 20 have been devoted to news about COVID and/or Trump.  I’ll bet it’s near 90%.  Actually, there has been little news of importance about anything else in the past nine months. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 17       Infected                   Died

World               55,913,754           1,342,613

US                     11,680,102              254,085

Virginia               206,762                  3,835

Augusta County          914                       10

Wow, Augusta County’s one day total increased by 44.  The VDH site reported that there were currently 35 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Staunton has 22 currently hospitalized and has had 11 deaths.  Of course, Rockingham County and Harrisonburg are much worse.  Together they have had over 5,000 positive cases and 67 deaths.

Virginia’s daily total increased by over 2,000.  That’s the most I can recall in all the time I’ve been writing this. 

November 18, 2020

Today was a busy and productive day for me.  Lynn and I left early for Harrisonburg this morning so we could shop at Costco during the Senior Hour.  We had several things to get including an iPad for Central UMC.  We were able to get everything on our list including hard-to-get Chlorox wipes. 

As soon as we got back, I put on long underwear and an extra sweatshirt because I spent the next four hours outside on a very, very cold day.  The temperature was initially in the high 30’s and eventually got into the low 40’s.  But, to be honest, I didn’t get cold because the wind wasn’t blowing and the sun was brightly shining despite the cold temps.  I worked with four other Central men on a mission project at a house in Verona.  The lady there, Janet Nuckoles’ sister-in-law, had a storage shed that was leaking because it badly needed a new roof.  We started at 10:00 and by 2:00 the shed had a new shingled roof.  The other men were much more skilled than I, of course, but I managed to pitch in and help.  I was tired this evening after having done physical labor for so long which I wasn’t used to. 

When I got home I posted some pictures of our work on the Central website then headed to CUMC to do a few small jobs including delivering the iPad and disinfectant wipes.  I had done the Congregational Prayer at Sunday’s service which was live-streamed, but the audio quality on the stream was terrible.  Supposedly this was because an old iPad was used for the stream and that’s why the church wanted a new one.  In the meantime, Pastor Won asked me if I would re-record the prayer which I did this afternoon.

Lynn cooked a really nice chicken casserole tonight for dinner.  She had found a new recipe that included chicken breasts, black olives, cheese, green peppers, sour cream, and corn tortillas.  Yum!

Tonight was our weekly Zoom meeting but no one joined us.  I guess they all had busy evenings.

I wish I had different news about COVID-19 but the news is more of the same.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 18       Infected                   Died

World               56,544,327           1,353,906

US                     11,869,528              256,206

Virginia               208,833                  3,860

Augusta County          938                       11

There were significant changes to every statistic above.  Virginia saw more than 2,000 new cases in one day and 25 new deaths.  Augusta County had an increase of 24 cases and one death.  The US saw a whopping 180,000 new cases and more than 2,000 new deaths.  Boy are we heading in the wrong direction!

Last night we started watching a new Netflix series called Emily in Paris.  It was recommended to us by Sandy Porterfield.  We watched five episodes last night and will likely watch a couple more this evening.

November 19, 2020

We fell asleep before watching more episodes of Emily in Paris last night.  As I’ve gotten older, the more sleep I seem to need each night.  We go to bed usually by 9:00 PM and don’t get up until around 6:00 AM.  Part of that time is spent watching the news—usually from 5:00 – 6:00 AM.

I had very little on my schedule for today.  Ann asked a favor if I could take Henry to the neighboring farm where he sometimes works so I did that first thing this morning.  I believe he was going to work there all day.  It was another cold day, windier than yesterday, so I hope he was able to stay warm.

Lynn, on the other hand, had a busy day.  Her two Cheryl friends came over this morning and the three of them sat out on the back porch in 30o-40o weather for two hours.  I guess they were bundled up well.  She and Cheryl Kent then did a few craft things inside before lunch.  Then she and I took a two mile walk.  Though the temperature outside was higher than it was yesterday, I still got colder today because there was a steady cold wind.

Her foot is just about healed now, I suppose.  After walking with me she went into Staunton and walked again with her friend Pat Collins.  I stayed here so I’d be here when Freddie’s bus arrived though Josh was here on time for it.

Before she went in to walk, Robin and Ronnie Brown stopped by to bring her a flower and card in sympathy for her mother.  The four of us sat on the pergola and talked for a little while.  We have gotten much more use out of the pergola than I would ever have imagined, mostly, of course, because of COVID-19 and not wanting to have people inside.  I’m going to see if I can name all of the people who have swung with us since it was built in July:  Ann’s and Kay’s families, Jim, Bee and Janet Myers, Cheryl Kent, Cheryl Wright, Lynn’s friend Carol Mitchell and her husband Shawn, Tom and Connie Davis, John and Ginny Bauman, Bill and Martha Bushman, Donna Morris, Dave and Terri Grembi, Mary Gooden, Pat Collins, my brother Butch, Robin and Ronnie Brown.

Lynn’s Cricut machine is an older model and couldn’t do some of the things she wanted to be able to do so I convinced her we should order a newer model.  It arrived today.  I’m sure she will put it to full use.  This one can even engrave. 

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be the best day in quite a while.  I’ll need to do some outside work.  Plus, Pastor Won has a few chores he wants me to do on QuickBooks so I’ll probably spend some time at CUMC.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 19       Infected                   Died

World               57,191,500           1,364,481

US                     12,048,552              258,085

Virginia               210,787                  3,896

Augusta County          954                       11

Augusta County has 39 people currently hospitalized with coronavirus.  That seems like a lot.  Virginia had almost 2,000 new cases and 36 new deaths.

Weighing heavy on our minds today is the decision about Thanksgiving.  We’re going to make the final decision tomorrow as to whether we’ll go to Ohio next week or not.  There’s a lot of pressure from state and national authorities to stay home this Thanksgiving.  The CDC is pushing hard for Americans to stay home.  They forecast another 46,000 could die by December 12 at the current rate.

Dr. Fauci spoke today from the White House.  He said the vaccines will be safe.  The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine is becoming the third one nearly ready for distribution.  But for many it will be too little, too late; there are nearly 80,000 people currently hospitalized. 

Where is Donald Trump with all this resurgence of COVID-19?  He’s nowhere to be found.  He is doing absolutely nothing.  One Facebook post said it would have been nice if he had spent as much energy on stopping coronavirus as he has on trying to undercover voter fraud.

One thing I accomplished today was enrolling Lynn and me in new Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plans for 2021.  The government has a very useful website at medicare.gov which allows you to consider all of the plans available to you.  You enter the prescriptions you are currently taking and where you want to get these and it will present you with many options for plans.  Sorting these by price, we chose the cheapest ones which should save us lots of money next year.   I did this last year for my own prescriptions and was able to latch onto a good plan for this year but my current plan now is not the cheapest one for 2021.  We made a big mistake by not reviewing Lynn’s last year.  She had stayed with Humana for years and its premium had tripled, unnoticed by us until it was too late.  When you enroll in a Part D plan you do so before mid-December for the following year then you must stay with that plan for the full year.

November 20, 2020

Sadly, we pulled the plug on our Thanksgiving trip today.  I called Butch and informed him that we just didn’t think it was a good idea to come to Ohio.  He had made so many plans for this occasion but the facts were overwhelming to stay put.  Not only would it have been hypocritical of us to have ignored the scientific and health community, 100% of which have said to stay home this Thanksgiving, but truly we could be putting ourselves or others in jeopardy.  With the vaccine on the horizon, we elected to cancel our reservations at the Ohio University Inn.  I am disappointed, to say the least, because I’ve loved our family get-togethers over the years.  I told Butch that we were postponing, not canceling, our trip to Athens.  Once we’re all vaccinated let’s hope that we can have a big family gathering there.

This just comes at a bad time for him, for sure.  Ann has been gone for two months now.  His birthday is tomorrow and their anniversary is on Monday so a Thanksgiving family dinner would have given him something positive to think about.  Like so many other families, we’re just going to have to put our emotions on the back burner for a while and give way to science.

Today was a beautiful November day in the Shenandoah Valley with temperatures reaching the low 70’s and plenty of sunshine.  Lynn and I managed to get in a walk this afternoon; she earlier had walked with her friend Pat.  I did something I’ve never before done this early in the year—put our Christmas lights on the outside bushes.  The weather was so good that it made sense to do it now instead of waiting on cold weather to get here.

I also spend some time at Central this morning and got some good work done on QuickBooks.  Then I came home and had another treat—Lynn cut my hair.  We had borrowed the Gutshall’s clippers.  Afterwards I loaded up our trash in the truck and we took their clippers back as we picked up their garbage.  Lynn went with me; this gave us a chance to check on Gus, Freddie, and Betsy, who were doing fine by themselves.

Today is Friday which meant tonight’s supper was our new-tradition hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  They were delicious, as usual.  For dessert, I had some tasty apple turnovers that Cheryl Kent had given to Lynn this morning.  I am so lucky!

Lynn unpacked her new Cricut machine today and has already put it to good use.  She did some craft work for Cheryl Kent.  The machine is a neat invention; you design your project on the iMac which connects to the Cricut which then cuts the material in the design you’ve created.  It’s like miniature robotics.

We got several more sessions of Emily in Paris viewed last night and may finish it tonight.  I’d give it a B rating; not the best but not the worst show we’ve seen this long pandemic season.

ABC reported that there were 186,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.  Half of all states in the US are reporting medical staff shortages. 

On the positive side, Pfizer submitted its request to the FDA for emergency use authorization but the FDA isn’t set to meet until December 10.  Why do they have to wait so long?  Make no sense to me.  The US has stockpiled 40 million vials of Pfizer’s vaccine ready to be shipped out once the authorization is given. 

Georgia certified its election results today, making it official that Biden is the winner.  Yet Trump again today told the press he had won the election.  Trump even invited Republican leaders of the Michigan legislature to meet with him, hoping that he could somehow get the Michigan voter results thrown out and have the Republican legislature appoint its electors.  The man is crazy!

The Central UMC Food Pantry has lately been handing out much more food than previously.  This coming Monday, for example, three of us will be picking up food in pickup trucks.  Prior to the pandemic, one truck was all that was necessary.  The load this week is around 2,500 pounds.  But the number of people who now rely on the Food Pantry has shot up a lot recently.  Before last month, only once per week was food distributed, on Wednesdays.  Now it is handed out on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 20       Infected                   Died

World               57,875,958           1,376,624

US                     12,261,458              260,187

Virginia               213,313                  3,912

Augusta County          985                       11

The worldometers.info site reports that the US had over 212,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  That’s even higher than what ABC news said.  There were over 2,000 new deaths in the US, too.  Virginia had more than 2,500 new cases.  Is it any wonder that we’re staying home at Thanksgiving? 

November 21, 2020

Today is Butch’s 73rd birthday.  Happy Birthday, brother.  I called him this afternoon and apologized again for bailing on his Thanksgiving plans.  Sure hope we can visit him en masse this spring.

I set another timing record today.  Never before have I gotten down our Christmas decorations this early in the year.  But the weather was superb again today and it was much easier to get them down without battling a cold garage.  Truth be told, I carried down all the Christmas wrapping paper, bows, tissue paper, tree decorations, tree stand, outside tree that Jim made from a wooden pallet, stockings, stocking holders, Christmas cards, and a few other incidentals—about twenty boxes.  These twenty boxes represent approximately 25% of the number of boxes of Christmas decorations that reside above our garage. 

This year Christmas will be so different…no family party (which would have involved at least ten more of the boxes), little inside decorations since no one will be visiting us during the season, and maybe not even an opportunity for family to open presents around the tree.  For most of the season, it will just be Lynn and me.  We’ll see no Christmas shows at the Barter Theatre.  Probably the only Christmas shows we’ll see will be Hallmark TV shows. 

Thanks goodness Lynn and I get along well.  I can’t imagine how tough it would be to have to live through this pandemic with your main daily contact not being someone you care deeply about.  I know there are plenty of people who are in this situation and I feel for them.

Lynn and I are best friends, for sure.  Today she wanted to go to three different Dollar Tree stores and Michael’s in Waynesboro.  I volunteered to be her chauffer.  Like a good chauffer, I stayed in the car the entire time.  I had a marvelous time.

When we got back we took a walk in the neighborhood.  It would have been sinful to have not taken advantage of this beautiful weather.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a good bit colder.

She worked with her new Cricut machine today and turned out two items that look very professionally done.  Two of her former colleagues at Fort Defiance High School lost their spouses during this past year and the retired teacher group of which she is part wanted to provide a basket of presents for each of them.  She made a mug for one with the FDHS Indian emblem on it and a lettered a large bucket for the other one, a former coach.  Lynn is so talented!

After dinner tonight we decided to enjoy the good weather by going to Smiley’s.  As always, the ice cream was great.

I’m not sure what entertainment Lynn and I will find on Netflix tonight; we finished the Emily in Paris season last night. 

Life is just not very exciting in this COVID-19 era.  I play a LOT of Whirly Word, Sudoku, and Solitaire.  Boy, I will be glad when we can go out to eat again, travel wherever we want to, have friends and family over, go to movies and shows, yell at football games, and watch our grandchildren play sports.  All of that has been missing from our lives for over nine months.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 21       Infected                   Died

World               58,466,183           1,385,708

US                     12,437,869              261,751

Virginia               215,679                  3,938

Augusta County       1,018                       11

Augusta County has 39 currently hospitalized with COVID-19.  In the past 24 hours, 33 more local residents have been diagnosed with it, putting the total over 1,000.  Virginia had over 2,300 new cases in the past 24 hours with 26 new deaths.

November 22, 2020

I discovered something interesting this morning—I no longer have a “worry window.”  I’ll bet you there are lots of Dads who have a worry window—the window from which you can look down the road to see when your teenagers are coming home when they’re out.  My “worry window” was always the one in the living room which faced toward Fort Defiance High School.  From it, I spent many a time looking down the road while waiting on one of the kids (or even Lynn on a snowy evening) to return home after an evening out.  From that window I could see almost a mile and would follow all approaching headlights hoping the next one would be one of our cars. 

How did I lose that window?  Well, I didn’t, I just lost the view.  A tree which separates our property from neighbor Danny Link’s has grown much higher and now its branches block the view.  Plus, Danny built a large storage building which further blocks that view.  It had been years since I went to that window intending to see if a car was approaching.  I can still do this from the kitchen; I just hadn’t noticed that my view from the “worry window” was no longer available.

I went there hoping to see the newspaper man this morning.  Last week I noticed that he approached from the FDHS area.  Today Lynn wanted our newspaper and it hadn’t arrived.  I went outside to the box four times with no luck so I thought I’d return to the window to see all approaching cars.

It would have been a futile effort anyway; the paper never did come.  We used to get three newspapers each day:  the Staunton News Leader, the Waynesboro News Virginian , and the Harrisonburg Daily News Record.  The Staunton paper had all the local news in it.  The Waynesboro paper had the best coverage of high school athletics and the DNR had the best coverage of the Rockingham County School system where Lynn and I both worked.  Over time we dropped the Waynesboro paper then the News Leader tripled its price, was purchased by an out-of-town firm and doesn’t even get printed in Staunton any more.  Plus, it became such a small paper that you could read it in two minutes.  So we dropped it though we kept the Sunday only paper plus online access.  We kept the Sunday paper because we kept the DNR subscription because it didn’t have a big price increase but it is a Monday – Saturday paper.  Plus, this year we were informed that no longer would it be delivered in the morning but instead would be mailed to us with same day service.  So we do get the paper but not until early afternoon.  From three papers delivered to us each day we now get only one which is delivered via US mail except for Sundays when we are supposed to get a Sunday Staunton paper.  Not today!

Today was another boring Sunday.  I did my usual playing piano for Sunday School via Zoom.  And we did have a little fun when Jim, Faron, and Coen made a Facetime call to us this morning.

Lynn and I did manage a short walk this afternoon.  The weather was in the 50’s, not as nice as it has been but at least it was dry and not too windy.  Interestingly, as we headed out I noticed the Gutshall’s car at Don Link’s former house.  Don’s daughter Deborah Sheffer had told us they were going to put his house on the market and we told them Ann and Josh would probably want to have a look at it.  It turns out that they liked the house fine though I’m not sure if they will make an offer on it or not.  It is not ready for the market yet.

The news is unchanged on the coronavirus front.  Cases are up in all 50 states.  Here are the numbers:

November 22       Infected                   Died

World               58,965,650           1,393,190

US                     12,584,501              262,691

Virginia               217,796                  3,938

Augusta County       1,036                       11

The FDA did approve regeneron, the drug that Donald Trump took, for emergency authorization today.  And reports are that Pfizer will be able to treat patients on December 11, given approval of their vaccine by the FDA on December 10.

Today a Pennsylvania judge tossed out a case where the Trump’s lawyers tried to invalidate the votes of millions of Pennsylvania voters.  The judge also blistered the attorneys for bringing a baseless case to the court.  CNN said this was essentially the last major case seeking to throw out or block enough votes that could swing a key state in Trump’s favor, and the judge’s decision on Saturday is at least the 30th loss or withdrawal of a case from the Trump campaign and its allies since Election Day. There have only been two wins in court for Republicans, about very small numbers of votes.

November 23, 2020

COVID-19 hit a little closer home today.  The Jimenez family is one that Lynn has been close to for years.  She tutored Nathan and Emily as part of the Migrant Education Program several years ago.  Then she got to know their parents, Elizabeth and Gilberto.  We have been somewhat surrogate grandparents to Emily and Nathan for the past couple of years; they have been to our house often.  Emily is the same age as Betsy so the two of them have been friends.  Today Elizabeth left a message on Lynn’s phone that her husband Gilberto had been diagnosed with coronavirus and was in the UVA hospital.  She told Lynn that he initially tested negative several days ago but his symptoms kept getting worse so today she took him to be re-tested and it came back positive.  The doctors told her they would like to keep him at UVA for a few days and are giving him oxygen now.  He is a young, fit man around 40 years old so I hope he’ll make a full and speedy recovery.

Today was another CUMC day for me as I did multiple jobs associated with the church.  First, I counted and made the weekly bank deposit.  Sam Richardson and I always do the 3rd and 4th Sunday counts each month.  Actually, this month we’ll do the 5th Sunday count as well.  When that was over my duties returned to being bookkeeper/teacher as I helped Savannah record the deposit in QuickBooks and write one check, also.  I also set up the payroll for November 30.  Then I returned home for lunch before heading to Verona to be one of three pickup truck drivers to haul the CUMC Food Pantry’s order to church and help unload it.

My CUMC work wasn’t over; I got e-mail notice that GoDaddy had started the progress of migrating the Church’s website to a new server as I had ordered ten days ago.  There were some things I was supposed to do during this process which I didn’t understand so I called their tech support, which has always been helpful.  The guy I talked with was very polite and said it would take about an hour to 90 minutes for them to shut down the old service which had to be done before they could start it on the new server.  The files had all been copied so he told me to call back after an hour or so.  In the meantime, he told me I could tell if the shut-down process on the old server was done by seeing if I could rename the server to its original name, centralumcstaunton.org from the new name GoDaddy had temporarily given it, newcentralumcstaunton.org.  Well, for four hours I unsuccessfully tried to do this renaming task.  I called tech support again and this time I was told it might take 24 hours for the process to complete.  Once the renaming has taken place there were several more steps to be done in this migration which tech support was supposed to help with.  In the meantime, our website is down.

ABC news reported tonight that the General Services Administration has informed the Biden camp that he has been determined to be the apparent winner of the election.  The GSA’s head, a Trump political appointee, had previously blocked this process from starting.  Hopefully, this will signal the end to the Trump presidency.  His lawyers have now lost or vacated 30 court cases where they tried to claim voter fraud.  He’s toast!  But has he conceded?  Of course not.  What has he done—played golf six times since the election.  He has ignored the pandemic and everything else except his hopeless claims of voter fraud. 

The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine has become the third promising one near ready for distribution.  It has been shown to be up to 90% effective and is cheap, easy to manufacture.  It doesn’t need to be stored in special environments. 

The Staunton Newsleader reported that the COVID-19 positivity rate for Augusta County was more than twice the state average.  The County rate was 20% compared to the state rate of 8.1%.  In other words, one out of every five county residents who tested had a positive test.

Here are today’s statistics:

November 23       Infected                   Died

World               59,470,584           1,401,380

US                     12,752,174              263,578

Virginia               221,038                  3,942

Augusta County       1,059                       11

Virginia’s Department of Health reported that the reason they reported more than 3,000 new cases today was due to a catch-up of some data that hadn’t been entered over the weekend.

It has been a while since I printed a reminder of how this virus has spread by referring back to the statistics when I started this on April 20:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                     8,990                     300

Augusta County22                         0

Isn’t that eye-opening?  Augusta County now has 50 times as many infected as it did seven months ago.

I wrote on that first day that I was like a reporter writing about a baseball game that had already begun but that the issue was that I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  I’m hoping that we’re in the 7th or 8th inning now with vaccines about to be released.  It will still take months before enough people can get vaccinated to really cause this pandemic to be under control.  We’re no where near controlling it today.

I can understand why some old people move to Florida.  I never liked the cold but now I particularly despise it.  I just hate the feeling of being chilly.  Even though it wasn’t unbearably cold outside tonight (around 40o and dropping), I sat in the kitchen in front of our gas insert with the flame roaring behind me.  I haven’t turned the oil furnace on yet; we’re still relying 100% upon our heat pump to heat the house.  It still gets the house to 70o but hot air heat just doesn’t feel as warm as hot water heat does.  I love having Lynn’s 98.6o next to me when I get in bed.

November 24, 2020

I forgot to write yesterday about a neat experience I had.  When I taught at Bridgewater College, I posted approximately 50 YouTube screencasts so my students could review how to do certain things both in the fields of educational technology and math education.  When I retired, I had no reason to take them down so they are now linked from my website.  Indeed, many are still viewed but not just by Bridgewater College students.  One of them has had over 180,000 views.  It shows teachers who grade using Excel how to have the letter grade (A, B, C, etc.) automatically assigned by Excel from the numeric average.  Two days ago I had a comment on that website thanking me for posting this.  But later the same person said he had a problem he couldn’t figure out related to it.  I saw the comment and asked him to e-mail me his spreadsheet so I could see what the issue was.  He did and I discovered that this teacher wanted to convert both ways—numeric averages to letter grades but also letter grades to numeric values.  He wanted to assign A+ the value 5, A the value 4, B to 3, etc.  I figured out the solution to his issue and sent it back to him and received his thanks again.  It turns out that he’s a teacher in India!  That made my day.

The US had its fourteenth straight day of record hospitalizations due to COVID-19 yesterday.  ABC news said tonight that there have been 170,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  There are more than 85,000 people currently hospitalized.  Some people waited as much as five hours for test results. 

Apparently, a good percentage of Americans aren’t following the unilateral recommendations to not have a large family Thanksgiving gathering.  The airports had the busiest day today since the pandemic started.  So many families are going to have a large family dinner which could easily develop into a super-spreader event.  Not the Hill family—our Thanksgiving has been canceled and our annual Christmas party isn’t even being planned this year.

I spent about six hours outside today with the high temperature of the day 41o.  The four of us from Central who put the roof on the storage shed for the sister-in-law of our Church custodian were back at it today, putting a roof on her second shed.  We started at 10:00 and finished at 2:00.  I was well dressed for the cold but frankly I never was uncomfortable.  The sun was shining and there was no wind.  Plus, I’ve discovered that the face mask (which I wore 100% of the time) helps keep your face warm.  The work was tiring, though, and I’m feeling sore tonight. 

After working on that re-roofing project, I came home and called GoDaddy again because our website migration was still not finished.  It supposedly was finished near 3:00 today after a long phone call with their tech support.  Yet I spent another hour on the phone tonight with a second the support person because our website still isn’t being presented properly by GoDaddy and the backups they are supposed to be making for us are failing.  I was told that our issue had been assigned a high priority and transferred to a security team to resolve.  Supposedly I’ll get an e-mail later tonight that they’ve fixed all the issues.  Based on my experience this afternoon and evening, I’ll be surprised if that happens.

Freddie rode the bus here as he always does on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  He loves to play outside so I stayed outside with him for what turned out to be a lot longer than I had planned.  Ann was very, very late coming home from Broadway High School; Josh ended up picking up Freddie up around 5:30.  Freddie spent the first two hours here outside with me.  We played soccer and football.  I am very sore from our touch football game!  He played Wii in the basement the last half hour.

My weight is up about five pounds since mid-pandemic.  At dinner time I am just so hungry I can’t say no.  Plus, I haven’t walked much compared to what we did mid-sunmer.

Here are today’s high numbers:

November 24       Infected                   Died

World               60,073,345           1,413,686

US                     12,945,905              265,828

Virginia               223,582                  3,979

Augusta County       1,072                       11

Virginia’s cases increased by 2,500 since yesterday; there were 37 new deaths.  Scary!

November 25, 2020

The CUMC website is finally back up and working well now.  The tech support at GoDaddy fixed the issues we had the previous two days so now it is visible to everyone and being both protected from viruses and hackers and backed up regularly by GoDaddy.

Lynn and I were designated shoppers today.  We went to Costco during senior hour and bought items for ourselves, Ann, Kay Carter, and Cheryl Wright.  We were successful in getting everything on our list.  We stopped by the house then went to Staunton, stopping at Cheryl Kent’s, Kay Carter’s, and Kroger.  So we spent all morning shopping but got everything we intended.

We walked in the afternoon.  The temperature was in the 50’s but there was a cold wind.  It felt good to walk, though.

Both of us have been very well during this pandemic.  Of course, we’re rarely around other people now so we haven’t caught colds, stomach bugs, the flu, etc.  I hope this continues until we can get vaccinated.  I can make it through a cold or stomach bug but I’m not so sure about COVID-19.

I’m back to worrying about one of our electrical circuits—the one that connects to the outside outlet where our Christmas lights are plugged in.  Tonight, the circuit was down just like it did before Butch came and replaced the breaker on that circuit.  Actually, only part of the circuit goes down—the outside outlet, porch, and outside light.  There’s a kitchen outlet on the same circuit but it doesn’t lose power.  There isn’t a short on that circuit; at least the breaker doesn’t trip.  It’s as if a connecting wire somewhere on that circuit loses connection.  Tonight I flipped the breaker on and off several times and power was restored.  Then it went out again and is still out.  Very strange.

The weather forecast for tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, is excellent with highs in the upper 60’s in the afternoon.  So Ann’s family is coming over but we’re having our Thanksgiving dinner outside. 

Today was the 15th consecutive day of record hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  Despite the pleadings of Dr. Fauci and many other medical experts, America seems hell bent on having big Thanksgiving celebrations.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 25       Infected                   Died

World               60,715,719           1,426,734

US                     13,137,962              268,219

Virginia               226,300                  4,008

Augusta County       1,091                       11

Virginia has 2,800 new cases in just one day and 29 more deaths.  I wish the news were better.  It just gets worse every night I write this.  By the time the vaccines get here most everyone will have had this thing….

November 26, 2020

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  We’re thankful for our health, wealth, and family but wish we could gather together.  Two years ago, we were in Altoona with fifteen of us doing a Turkey Trot in 4o weather.  Today it was almost 70o here in Virginia.

Lynn and I were up before 6:00.  Actually, I was watching a basketball game that had been recorded as WVU won its first game of the season against South Dakota State but we both got up, ate breakfast, and were at Dollar General in Verona at 7:00 AM when they opened. DG had its family pajamas on sale and we needed some for Jim’s boys.  She had bought some for them earlier at Kohl’s but they were too big.  We were successful with our early morning outing.

Before 7:30 AM she had the turkey cooking and I had the potatoes peeled for the mashed potatoes.  We didn’t eat until 3:00 so we had all day basically to get the food ready that we were preparing:  turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, and green beans.  Ann brought sweet potatoes and dressing.  We had apple pie which had been provided for us by our Edward Jones consultant, Justin Rexrode.  Our table looked good with the flower arrangement Butch had sent.

The day was so beautiful!  Lynn and I took a 2.8 mile walk on Leaport Road and to Mount Pisgah and back.  Lynn also watched a Hallmark movie this morning, which goes to show how pressure-less this Thanksgiving was.  Everything was ready hours before Ann’s family got here so we weren’t rushed at all.

It was a superb Thanksgiving dinner.  Everything tasted great and the weather was so nice outside.  Shortly afterwards we had a family Zoom with everyone joining in.  Although we couldn’t be together in person, it was nice to be able to get together via Zoom.

I got to watch a second WVU basketball game today—they played VCU in the second round of the tournament they played in at South Dakota.  The Mountaineers are currently ranked 15th in the country and are 2-0 after the win today over VCU.  They still can’t shoot well but they frequently rebound their own misses until they finally get it in.  They aren’t easy to watch because of their poor shooting but they clearly have a lot of defensive and rebounding talent on the team.  They are the type of team that can beat anyone on a good shooting night but lose to a nobody on the next.

With today being Thanksgiving, I am feeling very thankful this evening for many things.  Here are four F words I’m thankful for:  Food—I know that many people are hungry tonight.  Food Banks are busier than ever.  Yet I have been blessed with great food, especially today.  Fortune—I am lucky to have all the money I need.  Lynn and I are at a time of our lives when it appears that we have enough money to last us the rest of our days unless something really bizarre happens.  Faith—I know that what I have wasn’t earned.  I have been graced by God with more than I deserve.  Family—the highlight of my life.  I am most thankful for each and every member of our family.  I am especially thankful for Lynn who has put up with me for over 44 years.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

November 26       Infected                   Died

World               61,281,235           1,436,844

US                     13,245,589              269,520

Virginia               228,900                  4,029

Augusta County       1,142                       11

Another 2,600 new cases for Virginia in the past 24 hours.  I was hoping to see this increasing trend stop sometime soon but it doesn’t appear to be doing that.

November 27, 2020

Today was Black Friday but this year’s is quite a bit different from previous ones, of course.  Nonetheless, Lynn and I were out bright and early.  Our first stop was at Lowe’s where Lynn bought poinsettias as she always does on Black Friday.  Then we went to Walmart followed by Dollar Tree in Staunton.  We were also looking for Christmas trees and had decided that we wouldn’t be going to a tree farm this year.  We had hoped to get a tree at Lowe’s but they looked poor there, especially for $50 or more.

Our next stop was at Kroger and, surprisingly, we liked their Christmas trees and they were only $35 so we bought ours.  We were scheduled to meet Ann and Betsy at Lowe’s at 9:00 to get the Gutshall tree but we called her and suggested they meet us at Kroger which they did.  They were also able to find a nice $35 tree so, with both in the truck, we headed home, stopping to drop the Gutshall’s off first.

Once we got back home, I unloaded our tree while Lynn unloaded poinsettias.  I managed to get ours in our normal tree stand and in water.  It wasn’t easy because our stand has at least one of three screws stripped.  Lynn wanted to go back out so this time we went to Dollar General in Weyers Cave where she returned some items then to her friend Terri Sumey’s house who had left some boards which Lynn plans to turn into porch signs.

After the busy morning, I decided to try to put lights on our tree.  This is a job I do every year and one that, quite frankly, I hate to do.  I’m never able to get them on the way Lynn likes them despite taking hours to do so.  And the tree in the wobbly stand is always an issue.  This year was no exception.  I ended up going back above the garage and found a second tree stand we had from years ago when we had two trees.  I swapped it for the one we’ve used for years and it actually worked OK.  Two hours later, I had lights on the tree.  I admit that I grumbled the entire 120 minutes.

Part of my grumbling was because I knew I was missing the WVU – Western Kentucky basketball game, the finals of the South Dakota tournament.  But I had set our DVR to record it so when I was finally able to get to it I could fast forward through the time outs and halftime.  WVU got behind by ten points early in the second half but rallied to take the championship, 68 – 62.  It is always good to see the Mountaineers win but, as I said yesterday, this team is hard to watch because they shoot so poorly.  Today they shot just well enough to pull out the victory.

Lynn had scheduled a family meeting with her sisters, Kay and Jane, and her brother, Bill, this afternoon.  They had agreed to meet so they could divide up some of the items that Bill found in their parents’ safety deposit box including numerous old silver dollars.  I did not join in on the meeting since it was a Hanger family discussion.

Today was Friday so that means that dinner tonight consisted of a trip to the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike to get hamburgers.  After eating turkey for the past five days or so I was fine with having a burger and fries. However, our plans got foiled when we got there and it was closed. So we headed for Staunton and had take-out hamburgers from The Depot. Yum!

Yesterday on Thanksgiving Day I had called my sister to see how she was doing.  She informed me that she had symptoms of a bad cold and was very lethargic.  Furthermore, she said that she had been close to a friend of hers who now has tested positive for COVID-19.  Mary K. is going to be tested tomorrow.  She was in good spirits but I can’t see how she wouldn’t be worried.  I am for her.  She won’t get the results back until 48 hours or so after her test.  She did cancel all of her Thanksgiving Day plans which had previously included working at a soup kitchen and having dinner with her daughter Kit.

I didn’t watch the news today so I don’t know what’s going on in the COVID world but at least here are today’s statistics:

November 27       Infected                   Died

World               61,953,473           1,448,163

US                     13,447,868              271,008

Virginia               230,444                  4,044

Augusta County       1,151                       11

Lynn has been in touch with the Jiminez family today about Gilberto’s condition.  Apparently it took a turn for the worse today and he is now on some kind of breathing tube at UVA, perhaps a ventilator.  Our prayers are with him, Elizabeth, Emily, and Nathan.

November 28, 2020

We started the day with a trip to Harrisonburg for Costco’s early opening at 9:00 followed by a visit to the drive-through at Wells Fargo Bank to deposit some of the money Lynn had gotten from her parents’ safe deposit box.

The news today from the Jiminez family wasn’t any better—today Elizabeth told us she was feeling poorly and would likely be tested herself for COVID-19.  Of course, she, Emily, and Nathan are quarantined now since Gilberto was tested positive.  Elizabeth told us that Gilberto was on a ventilator at UVA now—doesn’t sound good.  To help them out, we took several things to them this morning:  a chicken from Costco, trash bags and shampoo she told us they needed, some cookies and cinnamon rolls also from Costco, and a box of crafts Lynn put together for the kids.   We didn’t go anywhere near any of the family—we left the items we bought on the top of one of their cars and talked to Elizabeth from 25 or more feet away.  Tonight Elizabeth texted Lynn that she had found out that Gilberto was a little better today but would likely have the ventilator for the next week.

Today was trash day, as usual, so that’s where I went after we got back from Elizabeth’s house.  The Mount Sidney dump was a busy hub of activity with people lined back onto Route 11 to get in. 

I did a bunch of small chores today.  I cut some boards for Lynn and then cut some branches from a pine tree on the lower edge of our property so she could make some swags for our windows.  Then, with her help, I took the swings off the Pergola and transported them to the shed where we hung them from the rafters for the winter. 

I also put out more external Christmas decorations and cleaned the leaves off the front yard with my mower.  It was a busy but productive day.  Lynn and I also got in a two mile walk.

For dinner, Lynn made a turkey pot pie.  We’ve turkey in about every way it can be fixed over the past week!  Her pot pie was delicious.

I’ve been writing this blog for 222 days now.  The document in Word is now 341 pages long. 

Here are today’s coronavirus details:

November 28       Infected                   Died

World               62,542,335           1,457,366

US                     13,605,047              272,247

Virginia               233,617                  4,054

Augusta County       1,161                       11

Wow, Virginia’s daily number infected just went up by over 3,000.  That’s depressing.  At least Augusta County’s numbers didn’t increase dramatically.  On NBC news tonight, it was pointed out that there have been one million new cases each week lately.  Many municipalities have reinstated tougher guidelines. 

Interestingly, in anticipation of FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine, United Airlines has already started distributing Pfizer’s vaccine, embedded in dry ice, to various locations.  The FDA hasn’t announced yet who will get the vaccine first.

November 29, 2020

Today was Sunday but Pastor Won was on vacation so we didn’t have Zoom Sunday School class.  That meant I was off the hook for playing a hymn on my piano. 

We spent the morning completing our home Christmas decorations.  We put up our stockings, decorated the tree, and put swags on the window sills.  The house looks quite nice and will likely stay decorated until well into January.

Lynn met Cheryl Kent at Central in the early afternoon and picked up some food from the CUMC Food Pantry for her Waynesboro student, Juan Pablo.  While she did that, I created a birthday card for Freddie whose seventh birthday is on December 10.

I wasn’t sure I’d be doing in the afternoon when the phone rang.  It was Jim who suggested that today would work for him to meet us halfway between here and Roanoke to swap trucks.  I had offered to him that he could use my Toyota Tacoma for a while.  Of course, his truck was the one I gave him when I bought the Tacoma, a 1996 Ford Ranger.  Jim needs a dependable truck for some of the outside work he does.  The Tacoma has 4-wheel drive; the Ranger does not.  When I worked at Bridgewater College I bought the Tacoma.  I needed the 4-wheel drive for those days where Bridgewater had class but the weather was snowy.  Now that I’m retired, I only use the truck to go to the dump and do pickups for the Food Pantry.  So it made sense for us to trade trucks for a while.

Neither truck is new.  The Tacoma has nearly 157,000 miles on it.  The Ranger has more than 187,000 but now its odometer is broken so I don’t know how many miles are on it.  When he drove up, I chided him because the inspection expires on December 31.  He said not to worry because in 2021 the truck would be 25 years old which qualifies it for an Antique license plate which doesn’t require inspection!

We drove home entirely on US 11 because Interstate 81 was very, very busy with Thanksgiving traffic.  Driving south to meet him, we saw several places where the northbound lane was backed up.  So, we drove to Staunton on US 11 where we had the road to ourselves.  The truck ran like new. 

Lynn’s latest project is making bow ties from old, wide ties.  She made them for each grandson and great-grandson from her father’s old ties.  Now she was given some of Josh’s grandfather’s old ties so she is making them into bow ties for the males in Josh’s family.  Lynn is so talented!

I read an ABC news article which said the counts we see about coronavirus infections may take a dip over the next week but this is not because the virus is infecting fewer people.  The number of tests prior to Thanksgiving were much higher than usual as many people sought to be tested before they traveled.  These people won’t be testing this coming week which means fewer tests.  Fewer tests means fewer positives, thus, cases reported.  Here are the numbers for today:

November 29       Infected                   Died

World               63,048,631           1,464,743

US                     13,743,489              273,053

Virginia               235,942                  4,058

Augusta County       1,166                       11

For sure, the above statistics are cause for questions.  Virginia had over 2,300 new cases but only 4 new deaths.  Augusta County had only five new cases.  I hope this is true but I’m doubtful that the statistics are accurate.

Tomorrow is the end of November.  If I were to look back through my November posts, I’d see two themes repeated over and over.  First, of course, COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire just as several vaccines are being released.  For over 270,000 Americans, they will be too little, too late.  The other is Trump’s refusal to accept the reality that he was thumped in the election.  Even today in an interview he kept saying, without proof, that there was widespread fraud in the election and even suggested his own FBI and Justice Department were in on the fraud.  His lawyers have now lost over 30 cases related to the election.  Today’s news was that the partial recount in Wisconsin was completed, at a cost of $3 million dollars to Trump’s backers, and the result was 87 more votes for Biden!  Yeah!

Lynn and I have been watching the Netflix series Virgin River again.  We watched the first season of the series in September and early October.  Season 2 has now been released and we’ve watched three episodes each of the past two nights. 

November 30, 2020

This was a wet and cold Monday.  It dried up in the afternoon but remained cool.  Lynn and I bundled up and took our two mile walk between 4:00 and 5:00 but it was very chilly.  The high tomorrow is supposed to be 39o.  Brrr!  So far this winter I’ve relied entirely on our heat pump to heat the house but I’m thinking of turning on the boiler when I go to bed tonight.

I spent the morning at Central counting the weekly deposit and double checking as Savannah entered it into QuickBooks.  So far all I’ve had her do is the weekly deposits and a few checks.  But with the end of the month comes some of the tougher tasks such as bank and credit card reconciliations.  So I’ll probably be back there for a while tomorrow.

This afternoon I tagged along as Lynn did some shopping in Waynesboro then went to meet her student, Juan Pablo.  He has been a real pain in the rear, not going to school or doing his assignments, not answering her calls or texts, but he finally did answer her today and met us at his house.  Lynn had brought a box of food from the Central Food Pantry.

“Anyone in the US who wants a vaccine will have one by June” says one of the members of Operation Warp Speed, the President’s task force on coronavirus.  Today Moderna applied to the FDA for its emergency authorization so its vaccine can be immediately distributed.  It is touted as being 94% effective and 100% effective against severe cases of the virus.  It could be out to Americans by December 17; Pfizer’s is set to go by December 10 if its emergency authorization is given.

There were 4.1 million new COVID-19 cases in November, around 1/3 of the total since the pandemic began.  Today there are almost 100,000 Americans hospitalized with it.  Included in that number is our friend Gilberto Jiminez.  Elizabeth said she was told today that he was doing some better, breathing on his own though he is still intubated with a breathing tube.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 30       Infected                   Died

World               63,549,184           1,473,123

US                     13,900,272              274,143

Virginia               237,835                  4,062

Augusta County       1,177                       11

This is such a familiar story:  nearly 2,000 new cases in Virginia though only 4 more deaths.  The US number increased by more than 150,000 new cases and over 1,000 more deaths.  Augusta County has 43 people currently hospitalized according to the Virginia Department of Health site.  The Staunton Newsleader reported that Staunton alone had 221 new cases reported today.  Staunton’s November total was 1,182 so that means 1/5th of the monthly total came today.  I guess it is somewhat good news that Augusta County’s percentage of those who have died from COVID-19 is less than 1% of those who have been infected.

Tonight, Lynn and I will likely watch the final two episodes of season two of Virgin River.  This show has many subplots involving many people in the small town it is set in.  The scenery is beautiful.  Supposedly the town of Virgin River is a northern California town but I read that the show is shot in Vancouver and British Columbia.  There is no real town named Virgin River.  I did see one bridge scene that must have been filmed just outside of Vancouver because Lynn and I visited that bridge when we were there.  It is the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  It is very high and scenic.  I walked over the bridge and back but Lynn only walked a short way onto the bridge.