Sleepless in LaLa Land…

monalisa-4893660__340I am not pacing up and down fretting the possibility of COVID. I am respectful but not a fanatic. My wife is still talking to me, so divorce is not imminent but not out of the question if we are cooped up much longer. Yet the race thing and the concept of White Supremacy do cause me to toss and turn.

Both are volatile concepts which upon introspection are far more prevalent than we might admit. I will be judgmental just toward me so we can take any animosity out of the equation. Am I a racist? Probably. I don’t do so intentionally but my lifestyle and lot in life make it a subtle form. White supremacist? I hope not but there are inklings. 

 I have been lucky to have been brought up under wonderful circumstances. I have never had to worry about food or a place to live. I have been dead ass broke but worked my way out of it. If you keep your mouth shut and stay out of trouble you and your kids will be just fine. I am white and the world works to my advantage. Is this fair? In the long run probably not.  

This thing called racism is actually a misnomer. Race is a word that is difficult to define. Today we think it is white vs black or brown vs yellow. Ironically we all belong to one race…the human race.istockphoto-1063652314-2048x2048.jpg Aside from body features and skin color we all operate the same way. There is no difference in how our hearts beat or our brains operate. Some would debate the last, especially with me but please work with me. Suffice to say we all bleed red.

The origins of our civilization are in Africa. People migrated hither and yon but the Dark Continent was where WE ALL started if ancestry.com could go back that far. As societies grew in different climes our bodies adapted to surroundings. If you lived in a sub tropical region your body tanned to protect itself from the constant heat and sunshine. The closer to the Arctic Circle the less sunlight and colder temperatures made us paler or as we would like to say “fairer”.

The Fertile Crescent is defined by the Middle East and Egypt and Turkey.Unknown.png By all accounts it is the genesis of farming, science and trade. If we compared apples to apples our wunderkind world today might blanch in comparison. Now I am not trying to give a history lesson but demonstrate how many of our ideas of hierarchy are somewhat questionable. I guess as time wore on we got good at keeping score as to who was smarter, stronger, richer, poorer and by putting others down, we raised ourselves up. 

This is a social construct that is formed by opinion or subjective observance rather the actual fact. By happenstance some became entitled by birth right and aristocracies flourished. All along we must maintain the bloodline and not let inferior beings ruin the gene pool. Differences are exaggerated and you are suspect by color, manners, occupation, religion that are different from the ordinary, whatever the hell that is. In a word we became legends in our own minds. 

The US was founded by white Anglo Saxon snobs. Northern Europe was nirvana and anywhere else was tolerated and used as means to an end. Throughout our history we are rife with prejudice against not only blacks but Irish, Italians, Jews, Asians, Poles et alia. The big difference is for the most part, almost everyone  assimilated and crossbred and those differences subsided. For one group they didn’t. 

Black male hidden by handsLike it or not if we are honest with ourselves, blacks have been dealt a shitty hand. I am not gong to self flagellate but it has been difficult coming to that conclusion even though it has been staring me right in the eye for a long time. Other groups can claim indignation and to a large degree they are right. Yet if you honestly study the last four hundred years, blacks have been summarily put down and kept down by our so called equal system. 

That is why there is such outcry today. They have had it. We have a white world. I have watched so many recountings by decent people who have been stopped for no reason. We yell, you don’t belong here. If two are equally qualified for a job we pick the lighter shade of pale. We say we are not racist but what if one or two or three or four move into your neighborhood or join your club?

You will come back at me and say they don’t know how to act or talk or dress? I have two responses. The first is, How do you know? Have you ever really sat down with a black person? Yes you can watch the amped up news clip and assume that is the way everyone is. But are they? Secondly, I guess I ask is who gets to set the rules? In your club that can be us but in the city county or state who gave you and me the right?

It scares me to write this. I am not concerned about recoil or retribution. I am just plain and simple uncomfortable. I don’t know where to start or even what I am trying to accomplish? What do I say or to whom? It is just something that keeps eating at me? When I read another article on the maelstrom we are in, do I dare keep going and let my thoughts go outside my comfort zone?  When I claim to be a Christian can I really walk the walk and embrace, not turn my back? 

These are all good questions and there are plenty more. I am starting on some sort of journey. I may fail miserably and just figure it is not worth it. Then again it may open a whole new world or at least my perception of it. And this kids is what keeps me sleepless in LaLa Land. It is what I do. 

As always 

Ted The Great

Factoids:

In contemporary usage, the term white supremacist has been used to describe some groups espousing ultranationalist, racist, or fascist doctrines. From the 19th to the mid-20th century the doctrine of white supremacy was largely taken for granted by political leaders and social scientists in Europe and the United States According to 19th-century British writers it was the duty of Europeans—the “white man’s burden”—to bring civilization to nonwhite peoples through beneficent imperialism. Several attempts were made to give white supremacy a scientific footing, as various institutes and renowned scientists published findings asserting the biological superiority of whites. Those ideas were bolstered in the early 20th century by the new science of intelligence testing, which purported to show major differences in intelligence between the races. In such tests northern Europeans always scored higher than Africans. (Encyclopedia Brittanica) Judge for yourself.

Hitler espoused Nazism. It incorporates fervent antisemitism, anti-communism, scientific racism, and the use of eugenics into its creed.

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In the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Jesse Owens won four gold medals and 18 black athletes participated and won medals also. The Fuhrer never quite explained how that worked. I do know it pissed him off.

The name, Dark Continent is derived from early explorers only discovering the east and west coasts. The thick jungles were foreboding and images of savages ran wild in their tales of their voyages. In actuality there was over two thousand years of history but it didn’t quite fit the narrative.

 

 

Writer’s Note: I was cited for my errors on the timing of the Dred Scott decision in my previous blog. My apologies to my readers for that. I try to cross-reference but sometimes I get it wrong. Mea culpa.  . 

Let’s Start At The Beginning….

As the song goes, a very good place to start. I have been trying to sift through the drama, the personalities and the name calling to try to figure out how the hell we got here. If you are not emotional you are from another planet. But rhetoric and vitriol do not find a solution.

I am going to ask you to get in my time machine and go back about 400 years. The continent of Africa was an active one. The Dutch some 200 years earlier had found some very advanced societies in play. There were also wars aplenty. Prisoners were traded back and forth and they became a source of free labor. The Europeans started trading arms for bodies and the slave trade was born.

These poor souls were put in irons and loaded on ships for the New World. They faced wretched conditions and if they died or became ill they were merely disposed of overboard during the long voyage.images-1 An interesting fact is one of the first slave marketplaces was in Massachusetts. All the colonists saw great opportunities in this new land but not nearly the manpower to tame it all. Slaves were the answer. Entrepreneurship at its best and worst. 

Now we can view all this from the comfort of our arm chair while perusing articles on the internet as I have, but if you have the guts to think about it, their plight truly becomes abhorrent. You are not human by any standard. You are chattel to be done with as the owner wants. You are whipped and thrown into a dark abyss. You have no idea where you are. There is no way out. 

As time goes on the process and principle of slavery becomes enmeshed in the fabric of our country. Plantations in the South bring a lot of wealth to the landed aristocracy. Towns, counties and states take hold and people come to realize the ancillary livelihoods of the butcher the baker and candlestick maker are totally dependent on the success of this evil venture. Everyone looks the other way until it literally becomes normal if you can call it that. 

Back on the farm slave women are there to resupply the stock, entertain the dalliances of the boss man and then go back out in the field. Kids don’t get an education because daytime is work time and there is no sense in schooling. UnknownMen are valued for their brawn until they can no longer work. Medical care? Give me a break. You will get over it. Were there nice people? Of course. But they were still owners. 

Fast forward to the Post Civil War era. The downtrodden finally got their freedom only to be taken in by sharecropping. The Southerners in the new Constitutional Congress saw a chance to profit once again off their former chattel’s new found freedom. With all those residents they would be able to get a lot of representatives in Congress. The Northerners cried foul and it was decided that a black man only counted at 3/5 of a white man. What a wonderful country. 

All throughout is intertwined that blacks are subhuman or as we like to say, animals. We don’t want you despoiling our gene pool. So let me get this straight. As a black I am not a full white. I can’t go to school. I really don’t have access to medical care because I don’t have insurance because I don’t have a job that pays me anything. I have to live in a particular part of town but other than that I am free at last. Just pick yourself up by your bootstraps boy and hard work will get you through. 

Roadblocks were many. Many others including the Irish, Chinese, Indians and yes women were considered lesser and should be kept in their place. But their plight was over a period of time and not sewn into the fabric of our society. And still there was this overriding sense of contemptible acceptance not capitulation. After all as white males we were superior in all ways. 

I remember as a kid looking at the news from Little Rock or Montgomery. The German shepherds and red neck cops with a wad of chaw in their cheek. images-5The beatings and the fire hoses. I watched women screaming racist slurs and spitting at a little girl in a pretty dress and pigtails. Just like my granddaughter who was just here.

How did we get here? The above is part of it. The Civil Rights Act is a little over 50 years old. I didn’t believe the stats but they are true. A black is just as likely to be using and yes dealing marijuana as a white  person but he gets thrown in jail more often for it. If you convict a black and a white of a same crime the man of color does a lot more time. 

The lot of the black person today is a sorry one and yes they are in some ways to blame. The Great Society was an abject failure and rife with scandal and waste. Black fathers are absent. But can you look me and probably more so yourself in the eye and say we are all equal? Part of the problem is admitting to the problem. I think both sides have to be honest. 

To solve this problem you have to feel it. You cannot accept the grist of either side. You have to read stories and incidents of both protest and looting. You have to imagine what it is like to be black…and white. You have to get so confused with the words and emotions, you don’t know which end is up. It’s where I am. I just had to start at the beginning. Here’s hoping there is an answer in there somewhere. To be continued….

As always,

Ted The Great

Factoid

There are more than three million differences between your genome and anyone else’s. On the other hand, we are all 99.9 percent the same, DNA-wise. 

The thickness of the epidermis varies in different types of skin; it is only .05 mm. The color of one’s skin is due to long term changes to exposure to sunlight by inhabitants throughout the world. . Yes it is that thickness that separates black for whites or browns or yellows. It is fascinating we all like to have a tan.

The New York Times 100 page “1619 Project” was assailed by the left and the right. Noted scholars said they got it all wrong. The idea was valid but the facts did not fit. How am I (we) supposed to figure this out?  

Only a little more than 300,000 captives, or 4-6 percent, came to the United States. The majority of enslaved Africans went to Brazil, followed by the Caribbean. A significant number of enslaved Africans arrived in the American colonies by way of the Caribbean, where they were “seasoned” and mentored into slave life and then brought to the states.  25% of Southerners owned slaves. . 

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Back To The Riots….

What a range of emotions. We watched in awe as once again man was able to tame the forces of gravity and launch ourselves into outer space.Unknown-6 That was the apex. Then we panned back to rioting as we looted and burned in rage and frustration. That was the nadir. Somewhere in all of this we share the same elements of humanity. That is so hard to compute. 

Some will deny we have anything in common. We throw around terms like genius and trailblazer on the one hand and animal and ingrate on the other. It seems we have no perception or realization of what life is like outside our own personal bubbles. It plays both ways. 

George Floyd’s murder was a bit of a wake up call for me. Sure I was saddened by previous deaths of black men and women but for some strange reason it was miles away. Whether it was the unflinching camera angle or the slow agony of a man’s life slipping away right before my eyes, it slammed me right in the gut. 

There was no mincing of words. There was no possibility of misinterpretation. That white cop put his knee to the prisoner’s neck and then rearranged his position mid flight to make sure he was getting the desired effect. And not one of the other three even whimpered for the man’s mercy. That is unconscionable. I can’t believe we have stooped so low. 

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We have seen an explosion of hatred and contempt on both sides. It’s our nation and possibly our world’s dirty little secret. We hate anyone who is not one of us.

 Lash out at the infidels. The fact that some are black makes it even easier. Men in blue? Just target them. Jews? Asians? Middle Easterners? We find it so satisfying to paint with a broad brush. The poor hate the rich and the rich find the poor contemptible. Even if I can stand you I want you to remain in your place. No more. No less. 

We cannot even come close to understanding what it is like to be black. The violence, the poverty, and criminality that is exaggerated by a hyper vigilant society are ingrained in you from birth. College students are stopped and frisked. A member of the board of the New York Audubon Society gets called out in Central Park. Black Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina has been stopped and questioned several times in his tenure. This isn’t an honest mistake. It is part of our culture. 

We don’t know what it is like to be a cop. To be called”Pig”. imagesTo deal with the seamier side of life all day long and be pelted with rocks and garbage when you are trapped in a cruiser. How about a Hispanic that just wants something more for his family than gangs and drugs? A woman still facing glass ceilings or the leering and cat calls of a city street. Everyone gets beat up in their own way. Sometimes you have had enough and your rage boils over.

We decry activists. Don’t you know how wonderful America is? How good you have it? Unfortunately Kool Aid doesn’t quench a desperate thirst. The haves aren’t necessarily the rich but ones who have made it into the gated community of middle class. They would like more but are not bereft. 

The under trodden don’t have lobbyists. Those are the rich people’s vessels of influence. You might even call them activists for the good life.  This word or phrase or bill gives Morgan Stanley and its clients a very lucrative write off. A little prodding here and there gets you a defense contract. They are not demonstrating but then again maybe they are in a totally different way. Subtlety and back rooms breed an air of innocence. 

People demonstrate because it is the only way to make people listen. Sure it is brash and in your face. It won’t go away. Unknown-3Looting and torching places give us the cover to justify our indignation. But deep down you know something is wrong and boy does it feel uncomfortable to think they might be right. 

We have been going over this since I was a kid in the fifties. It has gotten a little more complex with women, Hispanics, gays et all thrown into the fray. We have spent trillions on the Great Society with nothing to show for it. We have not figured out immigration since 1987. Women are making a dent but it is still just a minor recalculation in our male chauvinist world. And cops are still beating the crap out of black people at a moment’s notice. 

Depressing? Yes it is. I have never felt worse for our country. Not economically but the humanity side of the equation. We have a ruling class that is clueless and ineffective. We can land on a flying tin can 250 miles above the earth but we can’t agree on proper way to educate our kids. We throw away 35% of our foodstuffs while 25-30% of our population is food insufficient. 

I am sorry I am not more upbeat. Reality sucks. Here in LaLa Land, I should probably just shut up and practice my golf or curl up with a good book. I will try once again to drink my feel good elixir but for the moment I can’t get this out of my mind. I keep going back to the riots. They are telling us something. Will we listen?

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids;

There are instigators on both sides of the spectrum in riots. You have far right White Extremists and far left Anti Fascists. In between are looters and burners. A majority of demonstrators are law abiding who get swept up in the fury and as a result get arrested. Both federal and local authorities have yet to identity specific groups. 

Because of unions, labor contracts and the Blue Wall cops are rarely disciplined. In Minneapolis over the last eight years over 2400  cases of abuse are reported. Unknown-412 policemen were found in violation. The harshest sentence was losing 40 hours of pay. A vast majority of cops are good if not great. Unfortunately the bad apples don’t get rooted out. 

Conflicts are a natural part of relationships. They usually arise out of people’s misunderstanding of an issue, their needs, or their desire to be understood. Because conflicts involve perceived threats to our well-being and survival, they stay with us until we face and resolve them. It’s as simple and complex as that. 

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Kerfuffle, Enigma, Addled….

Words are fun. I especially like the ones that describe emotion or a state of mind. With COVID 19 I have been put to the test. There are so many conflicting points of view and definitions, there are times when I really wonder where the hell I am at. 

Over the years I have loved and actually made a living out of solving problems or just figuring out different ways to do things. It is not necessarily contrarian but just another set of eyes. Not prescience but just not willing to accept a certain solution as the only one. I have met my match this time in even trying to define the problem before solving it.

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At first glance, it is a disease and we have to look to medicine to cure it. As a country and a business we have spent a lot of money trying to eradicate this or that malady. Right now we have the world’s greatest scientific minds racing for the cure. I wish it was a more cooperative venture but for the moment I have given up tilting at windmills. Right on cue the Chinese are hacking into our research to see if they can beat everyone to the punch. Yikes!

While waiting for panacea we need assurances. Where else would one go but to the  federal government? Kids, unfortunately this has been a dismal failure. Stockpiles, disaster plans, supply chains, even the lack of a synchronous response, all point to chaos and infighting. It makes you wonder what all these agencies are doing? First we need ventilators, then we don’t. This drug works. No this one does. Field hospitals and mercy ships go wanting for customers. No one is singing out of the same hymnal. 

Let’s turn to Congress. World War II, 9/11 and even the financial meltdown got everyone on the same page. Not this time. Each side has a shopping list and an agenda for the next two or three trillion. Chastise the other side as being un American because in our perfect storm this is an election year. I don’t know who I abhor more, Pelosi or Uncle Mitch in front of the microphone. His Hairness? Don’t go there. 

Failing all else, we may have to just rely on ourselves. We have a newly retired emergency room doc here in LaLa Land, who just got back from several weeks of volunteering his time at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. The number of people who just “Do It” is astounding. Some have contracted the disease and died. Something about no greater love. Our hats are off to them in spades. 

But what about you and me? It has been shown that social distancing and masks work. I don’t really want to wear my bandana to Publix but I do it out of courtesy for someone’s else’s fear. images-10You son of  bitch ,TTG ! You are taking away my rights as an American. If I want to stand wall to wall with people at a bar or on a beach I am going to do so. It is my legacy. The other side wants to lock down forever. Is there a happy medium we can all agree on? Sorry, poor choice of words. 

I fear we are painting with broad brushes. As of press time we have 90,000 deaths due to COVID. 39,000 were in two states, New York and New Jersey. Nationwide 80% of the deaths have occurred in patients over 65. A large majority have been in nursing homes. For just a minute imagine if we just locked down the populace by age. Sure younger people are going to get it but they will recover. We old farts make up 15% of the population. Has anyone asked why we have to sequester the other 85% ? Am I willing to do it? Yes for the sake of my kids and grandkids. I won’t like it but I will do it. Would you?

The lockdown has instilled fear in every part of our society as buyers of stuff. People swoon at the idea of going to the mall again but are reticent. Cars, boats and other toys are languishing on lots and on shelves. Depreciation is almost as bad as corrosion. Is it just me or does the fact that 75% of our economy is based around consumables finally hit home? 

The problem as I see it is twofold. First we have to find a vaccine or at least therapeutic drugs to help us get through it. Let’s hope we are on it. Secondly we have to reinvent ourselves from top to bottom. Just take government, education and infrastructure to start with. The latter is both the physical highways, airports etc and the nation supply lines. It is a total absurdity and embarrassing that livestock are being euthanized and crops left to rot in the field while food banks go wanting. It is almost Orwellian. 

We are smug in our world. I know there is poverty but a vast majority of us are doing okay. Most of the jobs lost will come back. We preen ourselves in the mirror and say we will come back better than ever. images-4That might be right depending on your version of contentment. I would rather keep looking and searching. We have problems that are systemic and need more than a vaccine. I will continue to be flummoxed and addled amidst the enigma that has me in a kerfuffle.It is just the way I am 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

3.7 million gallons of milk daily are washed down the drain every day. Farmers in Washington state have a surplus of one BILLION potatoes.

There are 700,000 pigs across the nation that cannot be processed each week and must be humanely euthanized.

Congress has authorized roughly $3 trillion in coronavirus relief in four separate measures over the last two months. The new $3 trillion bill would greatly increase monies to states and municipalities. 

A  study by SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute found that over four years from 2015 to 2018, New York taxpayers paid $116 billion more in federal taxes than the state received in federal funding. During the same period, Kentucky received $148 billion in federal funds more than Kentuckians paid in federal taxes.  Imagine that! 

Over 100,000 volunteer medical workers have gone to New York. Many of them have been stymied in their efforts to go by bureaucracy or lack thereof. One nurse in North Carolina want to donate her time. No one would call her back. She called a hospital and they said she would have to go through their recruitment agency. She wanted to do it for free but they pay her $3800 per week…..which of course New York State taxes her on.  I can’t make this stuff up. Unknown-3

Chinks In The Armor……

When you are young you are invincible. As a small child you don’t know fear. As you supposedly mature, you know it but consider yourself Superman or Woman in oh so many ways. Unknown-1.jpegGrowing older older still, you find sanity replaces stupidity. You put on a coat of armor to face the world and it seems to work. 

No one in their wildest dreams could have imagined the havoc that has been wrought on us not only as a young nation but an entire globe as we know it. That incredibly microscopic COVID virus has brought powerful nations, billionaires,  manufacturers, store chains and the average resident of this planet earth to a complete halt. Bravados have been silenced and fingers are being pointed. We are all fraying at the seams. 

Our beliefs and attitudes are being challenged. Where did we go wrong? How do we pick up the pieces. I will try to give you a few on my hit list. How about yours?

Globalization, cooperation and common markets were supposed to be our panacea. Unknown-2.jpegConnected by land, sea and the web we were intertwined without national boundaries. The biggest mover of these was China who posed an unlimited marketplace for our goods and a cheap labor force to drive down prices and maximize profits. They could make anything. 

To get all this business done, we created larger, faster and cheaper modes of transportation from gigantic jets to bullet trains. Cross country or cross global was a necessity not a convenience. And places like Wuhan, that no one ever heard of, were very much a part of our narrative…like it or not. 

China became a player because we were begging them to do so. We created a stage for a country that wanted to regain its international status and before we knew it they were stealing the show. We welcomed them with open arms but failed to remember the lesson of the Trojan Horse. They play our game but not by our rules. Unknown-4.jpeg 

In spite of the virus we have the world’s greatest pharmaceutical brains to combat anything. If you can implant hearts and other body parts, how is a stupid microbe going to bring us down? Those brilliant scientists have cured Restless Legs Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. What else is there as we sleep snug in our beds? 

We have taken education as a whole for granted. We insert our kids in one end in kindergarten and in sixteen or seventeen years out comes a finished product to enter society. Nobody really thought about teachers. No one questioned the syllabus. Just get it done. But I ask you how many of us would now question a college education costing $50-75,000 per annum as to its efficacy? You can get the same lecture on line all over the country. What do Ivies, Buckeyes or Trojans really cost? Have we got to rethink all of this?

We don’t think a thing about putting an order in on Amazon or the like. The guy rings your doorbell the same day in many cases. Yet we have the total dysfunction in the process of getting food from the field to your table.blog_complexity.jpg People are seriously challenged at food banks all over the country and we have farmers plowing under entire plantings because either they have no one to pick it or transport the goods to were they are needed. That ad from UPS about “Logistics”  keeps ringing in my ears. 

For decades there has been an exodus from rural America and even the suburbs to the conveniences of the big city. Close to work, entertainment, restaurants and mass transit all were part of the siren’s call. Now people are leaving like rats deserting sinking ship. Country homes are being scooped up outside of big metro areas. So much for mingling with the masses.  

The local paper here in LaLa Land is heralding an upcoming golf match with four PGA pros for charity. Rory McElroy commented on how much demand there was for the public to view live golf once again. And he is right. Golf aficionados would love to curl up on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to watch shot after shot. Ditto football, baseball et al. 

Without getting too heavy duty, this to me is one of the biggest chinks and believe me, the hole in mine you could drive a truck through. How much time do we spend on totally inane things? Kids with cartoon and action games. Adults with mindless hours binge watching the latest stream. Facebook, Instagram and emails. For some crazy reason we will spend hours on the above but can’t find the time for writing a letter or just meditating. 

Right now I am sidelined with the remnants of some surgery on my eyelid. I am out of commission for anywhere from 4-6 weeks. No discomfort just waiting for the healing process which is a pain in itself. No golf et al. But I do walk four to five miles a day. In a strange way I get into a “Walker’s High” and think as the paths and landscape roll by. I will pick a topic and try to think it through. Today’s was the blog I am writing. 

What kept ringing in my poor brain was this concept of how jaded I have become. Life on automatic so to speak. I have my Kevlar on and no one can touch me. images-2.jpegIf you have ever donned any sort of body armor you realize there are spots you can’t cover. Arms, ankles, neck and parts of your face. No matter how smug you feel, you are vulnerable. 

I finished my walk thinking that the armor is my way of coping and saying everything is alright. But when you get right down to it there is a lot as above in this world to screw up our serenity. I think that is called reality. We better get used to it.

As lays

Ted the Great 

Factoids:

There will be very little campaigning for the presidency and the there is it will be at a distance. This is encouraging except for the fact that TV and Internet advertising will be on steroids.

Netflix, Disney and Amazon Prime are running out of new shows to stream. Seems the sheltering in place even affects even movie sets. 

Big Changes:

Tourism. People will want to vacation but getting there is the problem. People will be very averse to taking trains and planes. It will take a hearty soul to take a cruise anytime soon.

Working from home could have serious impacts as companies won’t need as much office space, there will be a curtailment of business travel and even business clothing being less needed. 

The age of telemedicine may be upon us. The advent of monitoring devices for everything from blood pressure and heartbeat have been around but now will be connected to the physicians office. Unknown-5.jpeg

A triple convergence of Brexit, the U.S. China trade war and now Covid-19 will reshape the world’s manufacturing supply chains

  

The Sum of Our Fears….

The Sum of Our Fears…

As I mentally wander through the days between essays I am constantly on the lookout for things that interest me and hopefully you. I will jot down a note or a thought to come back to later. The latest list fills several dozen Post-its.Unknown-2.jpeg

I could address conspiracy theories, emergency equipment shortages, food supply chain screwups et al but a quick review of all things journalistic says I would have little to add to the fray. I am amazed at how many “experts” have popped up and how so many are contradictory to one   another. I think we can call that grasping at straws. 

Looking to myself I keep coming back to this thing called fear. In limited communication with my fellow men and women it is the thing I am most curious about. This varies greatly based on age and I guess personality. 

Fear is good if rational and dangerous if irrational. We size up a situation and decide if it is safe or not, or at least if it is worth taking the risk. Do I walk the long way around or do I run across six lanes of I 95 to get home quicker? That’s rational fear. Some of us even like the thrill of challenging the odds and the resulting adrenaline rush. Good for you. Unknown.jpeg

Irrational is a fear of something that does not exist or its possibility is so remote that it is of little actual consequence. You are afraid of rhinos. Cool, but how many times in your life will you run into a rhino wherever you call home. 

The key to understanding all this is knowledge. You determine a set of facts, lay them out in columns for and against and make a rational decision to avoid or deal with it. Sometimes facts are increasingly hard to find. 

It seems one of the great fears of life is groundlessness, a life careening out of control. We crave some sort of order and predictability. If there is indeed a danger, there is some sort of time frame during which you will have to endure discomfort. Ergo the perceived relief today that life may in some respects get back to normal. But does it?

Our world seems hell bent on taking all the uncertainties out of life. We have come up with predicted scenarios where you can fall off a bike, spend too much time in the sun, hedge your portfolio, eat poorly…yadda, yadda, and we will fix it. 150 ounces of prevention. images-9.jpegI am not saying this is wrong but we have also become somewhat obsessive.  

Constant fear is plain and simply bad. Adrenalin is nice once in awhile but constant stress can rip your insides to shreds. As we proceed down the COVID highway we actually get used to it. We figure out ways to deal with it. The numbers blur and we become numb to the gory photos. There is a sense of contentment in that in some strange way we are getting back the control over our lives that we crave so much. We are making do.  

The ultimate fear and maybe what drives all of this is that of death. Preserving one’s mortality is a worthwhile cause but to what extent? Prior to Wuhan we waxed eloquently about the possibility of living to 150. We will do anything and everything to continue on, but what is that life like?

 I enjoy a cocktail and an occasional cigar. TTG, don’t you realize you are shortening your lifespan by up to 3 years? Yes I do and I have decided the prospect of living to even 90 in a hermetically sealed and totally nutritious state sucks. I will not be profligate but I am going to have some fun. Do I really want my grandkids to look lovingly at me while I am somewhat comatose and drooling? Spare me. I am just not that afraid. 

We were convinced we had a perfect world. The world of AI and self driving cars have made our dreams come true. We wanted everything delivered to our door in two hours but now we yearn to go to a store. We have Skype, Zoom and FaceTime to facilitate our interactions but it does not  come anywhere near pressing the flesh. I want you to respect my space but it would be fabulous to give you a hug. Be careful what you wish for. 

Whether it is addressing fear or our daily routine we have to take a look at our lives. Somewhere we will be getting back to normal whatever that might be in the future. There is a marvelous outcome that could occur, but I am not sure it is in us. 

9/11 shook us to our core.reuters39_RTR2LVZB.jpg We looked around at the wasteland and took stock. We went to church and flew Old Glory from every eave and parapet and windshield. We were one but it was so fleeting. We created barriers as moats and the TSA, however imperfect, gave us a sense of security. Then we retreated for the most part to our old ways. Happy Day Were Here Again.

We have been hit once more. A super terrorist microorganism has brought the entire world to its knees. Guards in PPE gear will replace airport security as they search our bodies instead of our luggage. Thermal imaging will be the new body scanners. They will pull you out of line for further screening and questioning. All in the hopes of making people feel safe. 

I don’t have a particular fear of all this. Respect yes, fear no. I am not particularly heroic but I also do not consider myself a wimp. Maybe it is my age but maybe those years have brought me just a touch of wisdom. Think of the bullets we all have dodged. We are incredibly lucky to have gotten this far. So many never did. 

Enjoy life even if isolated. Call a friend or write a note. Read a book or listen to music. Life as we knew it will come back in some form. Maybe that is what I am afraid of .

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

I have done a bit of research on the  figures of 30%-80% of people on ventilators dying. We just don’t know and anecdotal evidence should not be considered scientific. 

South Korea has been very successful in preventing the spread of COVID19. People on the streets, subways and stores pass through thermal imaging to determine if they have a fever. They then get further testing. This type of monitoring would never be allowed in the US. Should it?images-12.jpeg

Herd immunity. If a large percentage of people in a city or state have antibodies against Corona, from prior infection, then the virus is less likely to spread. This is why antibody testing is the theory of the moment. 

There is no cure for the Corona virus. It is hoped that therapeutic treatment as exists now with AIDS will help people live with it. 

There is a distinct possibility that a tech at the Wuhan center for virus research contracted the COVID 19 sometime on November and then spread to others. This would disprove the conspiracy theory as well s the “Wet Market”  but make China complicit in hiding the knowledge of such a contagion. 

Ethically Speaking…

The Coronavirus gets you thinking in so many ways. At first it is something from another part of the world . Even when it comes home to roost it is something in Washington state or New Orleans. Then little by little it shuts down just about every aspect of your life. You play by the rules, but why? 

When the good times are rolling we don’t give much thought to the outcomes of our daily actions. We don’t make life and death decisions except when you are going for the green in two..or three. You try to be a good citizen of your state and country and life goes on. Then in a matter of weeks all that changes. 

Unknown-2.jpegI got to thinking of the myriad of situations where ethics now enter into the conversation. What? Right here in LaLa Land? You bet and in every metropolis and burgh throughout our fair nation. How we react tells us a lot about ourselves and our country. 

It would be so easy just to hunker down and wait until this thing blows over. Sure I will see the nightly tallies and be concerned but it is still too far away to affect me. We are in a bubble both figuratively and physically. Yet open your eyes and look around you. It is closer than you think. 

In the simplest sense how do you handle social distancing? Do you play games about washing your hands? If there are supplies in the store do you stock up or think of someone else? images-3.jpegThe toilet paper thing is bizarre but this is the way some people think. I got mine. Hope you do too but it is every man or woman for themselves.

Let’s get out of the mundane and think about treatment. I spent the morning reading several articles on bioethics. Respirators are in short supply. When the rubber meets the road do you give it to a 30 year old dad with three kids or a failing septuagenarian, if all you have is one? It has been described as a war and it is. Do we use battlefield triage? We would love to be egalitarians but what if we can save more lives by meting out according to specific criteria? That’s a tough one. 

We have all witnessed the Captain of the Teddy Roosevelt aircraft carrier. Some will say he was a brave man and others will chastise him for not relying on his oath and the chain of command. It is ironic that he was just diagnosed with COVID 19 a few days after his dismissal. It is so easy to feel this way or that but is it really such a cut and dried situation? What if it were you? Unknown-5.jpegHave you ever been in the berthing spaces aboard ship with 5,000 guys and some even using “hot “ bunks? It scares me to even think about it.

We have a “Can Do” philosophy in the United States. I have no doubt that whether it be weeks or months or even years we will beat this thing. We have done the same with SARS, Ebola and the Zica virus. Years ago typhoid, tuberculosis heralded the end of humanity. But until then we have to maximize our resources. We can not make 250,000 respirators magically appear. If everyone is to wear a mask we would need 330 million a day. Is that rational?

Ethics is defined as a moral philosophy or code of morals practiced by a person or group of people. How do we want to live our life as a person and as a community?  I think it begs contrasts. Am I a hoarder of necessities or am I a doctor on the front lines risking my own safety for others? Should I get my ass out of the chair and give blood or do I just say that is for someone else. 

Can I really say non violent criminals should be locked up and let the chips fall where they may? What about a person with Alzheimers in a nursing home? A poor person is more prone to have diabetes and other comorbidities so I guess they are at risk and really don’t need to be saved or at least have priority for certain types of equipment. 

Sorry to be so heavy duty but these times are not for the faint of heart. You can look the other way and I probably would not blame you. I am also not going to tell you I have all the answers. This thing caught us with our pants down. It’s absurd to think we should have had 250,000 ventilators or a hundred million masks at the ready. It is even more unreal that we don’t have to face up to some moral and ethical issues. You can’t kiss this owie and make it all better. 

To be perfectly honest all this thinking is quite a wake up call for me. Heretofore my stock portfolio or lack thereof has been most on my mind. The social implications of all this are indeed hard to fathom. Does our whole way of life change? Have we exposed the banality of our politics and our social interaction? Yikes TTG, what has gotten into you? A lot, I am afraid to say. 

In closing I am stupefied by the Texas governor suggesting the we old folk sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the economy and our children. Not worrying about me as an old fart as much as the fact this enters into any conversation. I am bewildered by Pelosi, McConnell, Shumer and Trump trying to figure out how to turn a disaster into an opportunity.  We all and I mean all of us have to be better than that. It’s a matter of personal ethics or at least I hope so.

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Respirators cost up to $50,000. images-2.jpegThere are 160,000 spread throughout the country. There are 12,700 in stockpile. 336,376 have tested positive for the virus to date. You do the math.

 

There are:

1.5 million people in nursing homes

2.3 million people in jail

550,000 in homeless shelters. 

925 rental units in Hunters Point South in NYC

Unknown-1.jpeg6 million people normally ride the NYC Subway System. (Cheek to cheek so to speak)

Emergency Rooms

In normal times there are 136 million visits per annum (40 visits per 100 citizens)

By State per 100

• California: 38

• Florida: 44

• Illinois: 41

• New York: 37

• Texas: 49

I’ve Got This….

We are are mere mortals. We are up against the worst of our fears. There is this creepy virus that you can’t, see, smell or hear. The streets become quieter everyday. Days meld into other days without a TGIF or Sunday mass to differentiate. No closing days or opening days. Each one is the same. 

I got to thinking of the most insidious part to this whole mess and the best I came up with is uncertainty. If you understand a problem you can outline the obstacles and knock them off one by one. Unknown-3.jpegIf you are in the midst of a hurricane who know where the eyewall or southeast quadrant is located. It may be 24 or 48 hours but you know when it will end. 

Embattled citizenry in the middle of a blitzkrieg in WW II knew somehow, some way the All Clear would sound. 9/11 was horrific but we could look at the carnage and know where and how to rebuild. For the COVID 19 we read anything, anywhere looking for some sign of hope for a cure or at least a respite. There is none right now. 

In this age of information I wonder if our cyber connection is a friend or foe? Our phones ping constantly with updates or new revelations. Your governor, senator, president, local guru, or friend has this idea or has heard this rumor and passes it on. Each one has the gravitas of impending doom. No one is really explaining anything but adding  to the confusion. 

We all run into people who know everything. No matter what you say they are here to do you one better. That’s okay if you are talking sports or gossip but this has gone beyond the pale. “I heard” or “I read” makes everyone a noted specialist. It seems the longer the alphabet soup they have behind their name the more credible they and we think they are. I just don’t know. 

There has been a case made for quarantine or at least social distance and we abide by it. photo-1568302627345-86af56967a4b.jpegBut nobody can quite explain how South Korea has foregone this and seems to have matters under control. Ditto Singapore and Taiwan. We have shut down cities and nations on a wing and a prayer. With the billions we have spent on intelligence, pharmaceutical industries, think tanks and public health can’t we expect and even demand something a little more? Are we as a world this inept?

We or at least most of us have been nailed pretty hard on our investments. Buy and hold seems to suck pretty bad right now. Long term investors are defined by forty years instead of the usual ten or more. Not privy to what senators and congressmen or corporate bigwigs knew a while back we have seen losses in a day that might have taken months a few years ago. 

images-2.jpeg

Who do you trust? Who has it right? The sheer insanity of quant or machine trading can cost us thousands in minutes of trading. There is some guy in a suit who will tell you that utility adds liquidity to the market.
Somebody has to explain to me where a marketplace that is 85% machine driven with no human intervention is good for my financial health. TTG, you just don’t understand. 

If you are following me there seems to be a common thread throughout. How can we seek out  facts and come up with some sort of rational game plan? I have heard talks and read research and think I have a small handle on things. But then again a new day brings a new theory and I feel I am back at Ground Zero. Literally. 

I like to do my own thinking. That is not an ego thing but a product of my eight years of Jesuit education. Be the questioner and cynic. Look for flaws in facts and thinking. Not a chronic naysayer or doubting Thomas but one who can analyze and draw their own conclusions. I keep coming back to that desire for practical and unemotional information. Don’t sugarcoat it but don’t try to scare the crap out of me either. In sheer insanity we can’t find it in our info heavy world. 

032020_fauci1.jpgSomeone said they thought Anthony Fauci who is the head of our Center for Disease Control should run for president. I am pretty sure I would vote for him. He is forthcoming and concise. He has the guts to stand up and say when a politician or corporate bigwig is wrong. He has the brains to say when he does not have an answer. Of course he went to Regis High School in New York and the College of Holy Cross…fine Jesuit institutions. But I digress. 

All I can say in this maelstrom is to take a deep breath. Of course not too close to the person next to you. One of us or even most of us might contract this thing. A vaccine barring a miracle is 12-18 months off. But of all those that contract the virus, 80% will be no worse off than the ordinary flu. Many of us may have already had it. The spread is a product of our connected world. We, and I mean all of us have created it and thrived as a result of our globalization. 

We find it so hard to accept it. There has got to be some person, machine, chemical compound that can put an end to our misery. Right now there really isn’t and that is beyond disconcerting but it is also life. No, we don’t have all the answers despite our indefatigable  hubris. We would love to have someone stand up and say. “I’ve Got This! “  Unfortunately the only one that can, is staring at you in the mirror. 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

As of last week the nation of Taiwan(pop 24 million) had recorded 100 cases of Covid-19, a remarkably low number given the island’s proximity to China. Some 2.71 million mainland Chinese visited Taiwan in 2019, and as recently as January there were a dozen round trip flights between Wuhan and Taipei every week. Taiwan has managed, so far, to keep well ahead of the infectious curve through a combination of early response, pervasive screening, contact tracing and comprehensive testing.  Hmmm!

Deaths Worldwide Per Year

Suicide over 1 million

Car Accident 1.25 million

. 225,000

Hep C 400,000

Homicide 400,000

Corona Virus 18,000 in three months..this has ramped up considerably and will go much higher 

Most infections occur in families where people live in close quarters

The mortality rate seems to be less than 1% 

It is difficult for medical personnel to tell the difference between regular flu and COVID 19

Widespread Panic….

The Coronavirus has instilled abject fear in the populus. Facts and figures be damned, this is the Big One. I am not denigrating the seriousness of the situation but marveling at our immediate submission to the direst of forecasts. Is this just our nature or a fool’s journey?

One immediately goes to the flight or fight response. images.jpegHearkening back to the caveman we have an instinctive desire to survive. We size up the situation and figure if we want to slay this beast for dinner or become his. If we are the hunter gatherer we have to worry about the wife and kids also. The majority of the time we probably run. But why?

As in the above situation we have to assess it and take action in a relatively short period of time or face some dire consequences. There is not a lot of leeway. I have to swerve my car or crash. I can’t go through the snake pit but go around it. But there a number of times where you have to just sit down and take measure. 

Covid 19 started rearing its ugly head two months ago. Our first reaction is,well China is a long ways away. Then it starts crawling or running as the case may be, closer and closer to us. Now we have cases in the US. Yikes! I thought we were invulnerable. Now the mad dash for masks and foods etc. Are we being foolhardy or prudent?

We get ourselves pretty worked up. The government should be doing something. Shut down the schools. Cancel air travel.5bf9c21a114143b0922141dc19437948_8.jpg It might be a human response but is it rational? Last year there were 5 million cases of flu throughout the world and approximately 600,000 died from it. We have known about this for years. Is that a cause for denial of the threat or is this different? 

Inherent in all of this is information to make some sort of rational decision. If you look around there is a fair amount of doom and gloom. Our Information Age has made us privy to the latest but I daresay susceptible to half truths, rumors and innuendo. All to get the story out there first. Fear is such a visceral response, it is easy to get people going. 

Ebola was going to wipe out entire nations. We couldn’t  imagine anything more contagious. Yet all of our preparations had a twofold effect. It scared the crap out of people but it also made us vigilant. We took necessary steps to create isolation and a vaccine. Isn’t that what we are doing now? Sorry TTG, this time is different. What about SARS and hurricanes and stock markets? Let’s face it. Fears sells. It is a fine line between warning people and paralyzing them.

 It got me thinking about the whole fear thing itself. It is intrinsic to our nature so as to keep us safe. It is in a way healthy. But when it turns to sheer panic it becomes obsessive and irrational. Basic to all this is the right info. What is the source? Are they reputable? Odds, forecasts and projections are at best educated guesses. 

Take the stock market. Unknown.jpegThe Dow plunges 5% in one fell swoop. You get that pit in your stomach as you watch it dive. Not just one day but several days. You search in vain for rationale. Turn on CNBC. Let’s listen to the latest  pundits. Does this dude know what he is talking about when he says don’t panic? Or how about the guy that says the sky is falling? What is a guy to do?

I am afraid of heights. About five years ago I jumped out of an airplane. Huh? My daughter gave me  the ride  for my 70th birthday. I checked out the provider of said insanity. I knew the odds. I also took great comfort in the fact that a lot of other people were doing it that day. Ship of fools? I watched the preparation which I thought more than adequate. Let’s go.

As we soared to 17,000 feet into the clear Colorado sky, I had a strange sense of tranquility. I was joined at the hip with Sean who was my tandem partner. It felt good to know that he had already jumped five times that day. We stood in the open door and then we were off. It was a feeling of euphoria and resignation because there was nothing I could possibly do to turn back. I just enjoyed the ride. IMG_1441.jpeg

It taught me a lot about fears. I learned all I could and set things in motion. As far as Covid 19 I am assessing it as a danger but not insurmountable. The chances of catching it are remote and by whatever I steps I take I can improve my chances of dodging the bullet. Sure things might get out of hand but there are certain things I cannot control. Ditto hurricanes, tsunamis and locusts. Do your best and live your life. 

It brings me to simple conclusion. No matter what goes on in my life it has nothing to do with the occurrence itself but how I react to it. The world hasn’t changed. The sun comes up and goes down. The world can be incredibly beautiful or a torture chamber. You are the one that controls that. No one else. Don’t worry. Be Happy! 

As Always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Most Common Fears: Acrophobia(heights, Claustrophobia( small confined spaces) ddfd-photo-u1.jpegAracnophobia(spiders), Ophidiophobia(snakes),Agoraphobia(fear of being alone. 

Two of the great fears of achieving our goals are fear of failure and ironically fear of succeeding. Both lead to procrastination.

A phobia is an overwhelming, irrational, and persistent fear that leads to avoiding the object or situation. It can be a fear of a specific thing or of a social setting. These lead to anxiety disorders which affect around 40 million Americans. 

We love forecasts, predictions, forewarnings, fortunetelling et al. We want to know what is coming but there is very little chance of that.  

Numbing Down….

On our recent trip to the South Pacific, there was one aspect that was fascinating. We were not privy to the constant barrage of late breaking news. Trump tweets, Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire, daily polls, cheating at America’s pastime. Yadda,yadda,yadda. It is not that the Aussies are uninterested in public affairs. They just seem to have a different focus on life.  

Our tour guide announced that Aussies work hard, pay their taxes and have fun. Not a bad game plan. I can’t verify the accuracy of her statement as it relates to paying the piper but the rest seems pretty accurate. We happened by downtown Sydney at 9:00 AM one workday morning and everyone seemed energetic and excited about the day. On the way from the airport there were several amusement and water parks

 

in proximity to one another. All seemed pretty busy. 

At various quays there were collection of outdoor restaurants. There are a panoply of huge umbrellas lining the wharves providing cover for the patrons.images-3.jpegThey take lunchtime and after work drinks seriously. The sheer numbers probably attest that no one was eating at their desks this noonday.

Now this does not demonstrate any disdain for the US and its ways but rather a glimpse at a different way of doing things. I drive one of my buddies crazy when I suggest that we change this or that here in LaLa Land. Ted, why can’t you just let things be? You are always trying to change the status quo. Of course I am, but hopefully with good reason.  

It occurs to me that we might becoming numb to our surroundings. Trump’s absurd tweetings are now a way of life. Mass shootings? We should just accept them as a byproduct of cities getting larger and the availability of 300 million guns. What is a few trillion more in the National Debt. Look at what it is doing for the economy. In lockstep private borrowing has reached historical highs and beyond. Things are just fine.

I attended a presentation by one of our members this afternoon. The topic was Human Trafficking. It was part of a series of which I am part, where we research a particular subject and report to the attendees the results of our findings. As my buddy went through a Powerpoint of facts and figures there were noticeable gasps from the crowd. Human_Trafficking.jpgThe instances of child sex slaves was appalling. Now one can dismiss these as aberrations but this is the world we live in and accept by our silence or dare I say ambivalence.

The Houston Astros have been accused and found guilty of stealing signs electronically, thereby giving the batter a distinct advantage. I have read the responses to a variety of articles. Some express outrage while others claim boys will be boys or let’s just wait this one out. The noise will die down and we can move on. What do you tell your kids? 

I am not the moral police and can’t say I have always avoided titillation. But did anyone find the half time show of the Super Bowl over the top? Were my grandsons watching or even my granddaughters seeing this as the type of gyrational performance that they should aspire to? Where do we draw the line? Unknown-1.jpeg

We see absurdities and atrocities every day and just shrug our shoulders. It really is so easy to do. Why do we accept it? Do we really want to recoil but are afraid of looking silly? Or do we feel this only adds to the divisiveness of our current genre? We don’t want to make matters worse so we say nothing in the hope it will go away. 

His Hairness has done one thing. He has pricked every pimple of controversy and disagreement. I hate to admit it but I am in a perverse way happy he has done so. He has literally turned the world order upside down and knocked diplomacy back to the stone ages. We are a world is disarray. The trouble is where do we go from here?

Some will cite our forefathers as the seers they have been over the centuries. They did a great job of putting in the I beams and flooring  but now we question if the facades may need some renovation. God was a part of that early vision. His name is called upon in the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and countless professions in times of stress and devastation. We have taken Him out of oaths in testimony  or benedictions because someone might be offended? Have have we changed as a country and a people to accept this and other departures without a whimper?

We all rise up on one side or the other. The middle is no man’s land like the 49th parallel in Korea. We have numbed ourselves into submission to this side or the other without making any room for nuances or compromise. We pronounce we have always thought this way and will never retreat. Our intransigence is just as bad as the other guy. And we blithely wander down life’s highway waiting for the other person to blink. And for the foreseeable future it will never happen. You are wrong and I am right. 

Don’t be such a pessimist, Ted. Look how good we have it. Luckily I have more than most and am very thankful for that. I get it. But I just can’t sit idly. I speak out to the chagrin of many. I am a lover, not a fighter but I have to take issue. images-6.jpegThe novocaine has not gotten to whatever cortex makes me uneasy. I hope it hasn’t gotten to yours either. Stand up and be counted. I will be there with you. 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Writer’s Note:

People have always wondered why I am so arrogant to consider myself Ted The Great. Truth be told it is a spoof on those that think too much of themselves. Years ago I was on Wall Street and many of my rookie friends wound up in high places over the years. As is my style I would call their office and some officious secretary would announce,”Mr Lynch’s Office” in a most imperious way. I would make some smart ass comment while I inquired where the bum was?  One time she fired back,”Who is this?” with every ounce of indignation she could muster. I said,”Ted”. She demanded,”Ted who?”  Without pause I said,”Ted the Great” and the rest is history too many years later.  .