Tuesday, May 26, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 74


Dear Old Blog,

In this space, on Day 65, I wrote that one of the Paulist Fathers had been hospitalized in Washington, D.C., with COVID-19.

I am sad to share today that Paulist Fr. Richard Colgan entered eternal life on Monday night, May 25, 2020, at 11:45 p.m.

Fr. Rich, 68, was the first Paulist Father to die of complications from COVID-19.

In my role with the Paulists, one of my duties is to write the missionary society's death announcements and obituaries. 

Having been an obituary writer in my late teens and early 20s at the Observer-Reporter, it's a part of the job that normally comes easily to me.

But, writing Fr. Rich's obituary did not come easily. He was a friend. And the kindest and most gentle of men.

The writing process was helped by this profile video and audio interview with Fr. Rich that my office produced about a year-and-a-half ago:


The too early passing of this wonderful man leaves a void in our world.

Fr. Rich, from what I hope is a new heavenly vantage point, pray for us!

Love,
Paul

Monday, May 25, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 73


Dear Old Blog,

My book club in NYC (now meeting via Zoom) is reading Anne Lamott's 2018 book "Almost Everything: Notes on Hope."

I'm listening to the audio book version read by the author herself. I love Anne Lamott's voice. My better half here in the house is not a fan.

(In fact, I generally prefer audio books when they are read by their authors. It's usually more authentic)

Here's a tiny bit of inspiration from "Almost Everything" that struck me:

"Ah, prayer. In all of the excitement, I'd sort of forgotten to pray. Make me a channel of Thy peace, that where there is hatred, let me sow love, or at least not fertilize the hate with my dainty bullshit."

Note to self: Don't fertilize hate.

Love,
Paul

Sunday, May 24, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 72

Dear Old Blog,

Well, we bit the bullet.

On Saturday evening, Eric and I gave each other haircuts. It had happen. I was starting to look like a mid-career Kenny Rogers.

Eric went really short with my cut:



Sitting on the steps of our house in Lake Nona, FL, on an overcast day.

Maybe a little shorter than my normal! But, it will grow back quickly!

Regarding the cut I gave Eric, it turned out OK. Short on the sides and his usual length on top, with some blending in between.

Love,
Paul

Saturday, May 23, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 71

A tree next to the bench on which we sat during our little picnic

Dear Old Blog,

Every Saturday for the past several weeks, Eric and I have gone for a short drive in the late morning or early afternoon. This always involves going through a drive-thru for a bite.

It's often the only time we move the car all week.

Today, after picking up some breakfast items via the local Panera Bread drive-thru, we drove into the adjacent neighborhood called Northlake Park. We got out of the car (a first for these Saturday drives during quarantine) and ate our lunch on a park bench next to a pond.

It was our first time in a park in months.

There was only one other human being in sight, a fisherman on the far side of the pond. But, we had masks at the ready were other people to come near.

As it was, the only nearby life forms were an egret, a squirrel and a lady bug.

(I kept a close watch for alligators. None were seen.)

Eric looks up into the trees during our little picnic
Love,
Paul

Friday, May 22, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 70


Dear Old Blog,

I will vote for Joe Biden for POTUS in November.

He was not my first pick in the Democratic primary. But he has my full support now.

On Thursday, I made the largest political contribution of my life to the Biden for President campaign.

That's how much I want to ensure the current occupant of the Oval Office is not reelected in November.

Love,
Paul

Thursday, May 21, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 69

Dear Old Blog,

This afternoon, during a Busted Halo Facebook Live broadcast, Paulist Fr. Dave Dwyer referenced the 1997 song "Tubthumping" by the band Chumbawamba.

It proved to be decent motivation for yet another day in quarantine:



Love,
Paul

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 68

Dear Old Blog,

This is a few weeks old ...

And it's not a Sunday ...

But I kind of needed it today ...



Love,
Paul

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 67

Dear Old Blog,

Quarantine TV report:

I started watching "The Great" on Hulu today. It's a spin on the story of the rise to power of Russia's Catherine the Great.

It's awful. Simply awful.

I know it's not meant to be historically accurate. But, the creators of "The Great" aren't even trying.

The number of factual mistakes is mind-boggling.

Love,
Paul

Monday, May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 66


Dear Old Blog,

Since the quarantine began, one of things that has been bothering me is the possibility that people may no longer shake hands.

As a one-time politician who shook thousands of hands on the campaign trail, I find this really disturbing. A good handshake is such an important part of political life.

A few days ago, I watched an interview on Bloomberg TV with Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, in which he said:

" ... I must say handshakes are over. ... "

I hope this does not prove to be true. We need human touch.

Love,
Paul

Sunday, May 17, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 65

Dear Old Blog,

One of the Paulist Fathers is now in the hospital in Washington, D.C., with COVID-19.

He has been intubated for his breathing.

Dear God, get him through this.

Love,
Paul

Saturday, May 16, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 64


Dear Old Blog,

Quarantine TV report:

This weekend, Eric and I have been watching "Hollywood" on Netflix.  We finished episode five tonight. Two more left.

It's cotton candy. Compelling. But still cotton candy.

Love,
Paul

Friday, May 15, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 63


Dear Old Blog,

My maternal grandmother, Dolores Vincenti Hoag, is seen in the great old photo above.

She in the front row, at right, with her right hand in her left hand.

This photo likely shows a First Holy Communion class (or perhaps a joint First Holy Communion class / Confirmation class) in the 1940s at our hometown parish, St. Alphonsus Church in McDonald, PA.

Our family friend, Wendy Greza Lundstrom, sent me this photo in April.

Wendy's mom, Joan Alexander Greza, is in the second row, behind grandma's right shoulder. Grandma Hoag and Joan were lifelong friends until Joan's death in 2003. When they were in their late 60s, they went together on a bus trip through Europe, with notable stops in England, Belgium and Italy.

Grandma hasn't been doing so well lately. A few months ago, she had a fall and broke her hip. And, in the past two weeks, she has been exhibiting signs of strokes. This is in addition to the drug-induced Parkinson's disease that she has lived with for more than a decade.

As of this writing, grandma is out of the hospital and being cared for in Room 306 of Townview Health and Rehabilitation Center in Canonsburg, PA. Townview is located in the "Old Canonsburg Hospital" building, where grandma gave birth to two of her three children.

My mother (grandma's daughter) died at Townview from lung cancer on November 12, 2019, at age 61.

No outside visitors are permitted there now, of course, due to COVID-19. It's not ideal but I'm glad they are taking this precaution.

If you are a praying type, please say one for my grandma, especially for her peace of mind.

This coming Wednesday, May 20, will be her 87th birthday.

Love,
Paul

Thursday, May 14, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 62


Dear Old Blog,

Today in quarantine TV, I watched the documentary "Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story" on Netflix.

I enjoyed this touching and well-told story of the lasting Hollywood marriage between Harold Michelson and Lillian Michelson — behind-the-scenes figures who made contributions to some great 20th century films.

Love,
Paul

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 61


Dear Old Blog,

Since I've been sharing some details about our quarantine TV in this space, I probably also should report on quarantine reading.

Well, not really reading — more like listening — as I consumed this particular volume as an audio book.

"Baseball as a Road to God" was my pick for my old book club in NYC to read and discuss (we rotate book selection for the group). It was written by John Sexton, who served for many years a president of my alma mater, New York University.

This book was more "baseball" than "God" than I would have preferred. But, it was a worthwhile listen nonetheless. At its heart, "Baseball as a Road to God" makes the case for appreciating the transcendent parts of life and their comforting rituals and rhythms.

For instance, many a passionate opera fan likely could write a similar book with the title "Opera as a Road to God."

My only real criticism was that President Sexton didn't read the audio book himself. The voice of the narrator of "Baseball as a Road to God" was too perfect. This offering would have benefitted from Sexton's New York sound.

Love,
Paul

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 60


Dear Old Blog,

I went into a storefront today for the first time since I began the quarantine.

It was the UPS Store near us on Narcoosee Road. I had to go to the store to pick up a delivery that required a signature.

I wore as mask in the store. First time doing that, too.

Love,
Paul

Saturday, May 09, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 57


Dear Old Blog,

Quarantine TV report:

Over the past two evenings, Eric and I binge-watched the HBO documentary series "McMillion$" on Hulu.

It was intriguing. I had forgotten this news story from 2001 (if it was even on my radar then).

I would say "McMillion$" is required viewing for anyone with a stake in consumer marketing, especially those who entrust major functions to outside vendors.

"Trust but constantly verify" should be our motto.

Love,
Paul

Friday, May 08, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 56

Dear Old Blog,

Andrew Sullivan describes how he feels about the current occupant of the Oval Office — and his supporters:
" ... He is an incoherent, malevolent mess of a human being. I used to be disgusted by him. I am now incandescent with rage at him and the cult that enables his abuse of all of us."
I co-sign that emotion.

Love,
Paul

Thursday, May 07, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 55


Dear Old Blog, 

My two cents:

We need a Constitutional amendment to make the U.S. Attorney General and the Justice Department independent of the POTUS and the White House.

The integrity of both are now under attack by the current POTUS.

Along the same lines, the POTUS should not have the power to fire the Inspector General of any federal department or office.

We cannot trust that good people will be at the helm. Permanent structural change is needed to preserve the rule of law in our nation.

Love,
Paul

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 54

Dear Old Blog,

The death toll is horrifying:


How do we get our minds and hearts around these numbers? How do we process this?

Love,
Paul

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 53

Dear Old Blog,

Personal experience does not equal fact.

As illustrated by Nathan Pyle:

Love,
Paul

Monday, May 04, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 52


Dear Old Blog,

Being the fourth of May, Eric and I turned to Disney+ after dinner.

We watched "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which we had missed in the movie theater.

It's always wonderful to be in the "Star Wars" universe. And I do like the character of Rey. But "Rise of Skywalker" didn't knock my socks off. It's good but not great.

Love,
Paul

Sunday, May 03, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 51

Dear Old Blog,

For the Church, today was "Good Shepherd Sunday."

Hence my ear worm:


Love,
Paul


Saturday, May 02, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 50


Dear Old Blog,

It's Day 50 of my quarantine. It's still hard to get my brain around it all.

Eric and I went for another Saturday afternoon drive today.

Like last Saturday, we did not get out of the car.

We went through the Panera Bread drive-thru and ate our lunch in the parking lot.

Then, we drove around the adjacent Moss Park neighborhood. It was one of the few neighborhoods in our part of Orlando that we had not yet explored.

We even briefly drove into the actual Moss Park, a county park. We stayed in the Nissan.

When this pandemic is over, I look forward to taking our Saturday lunch there for a picnic.

Love,
Paul

Friday, May 01, 2020

COVID-19 Diary: Day 49

Dear Old Blog,

A few days ago, the father of my friend Helena died.

Helena wrote in a Facebook post:
"The worst thing about losing someone to this virus is it robs you of the ability to mourn properly. There’s no bedside goodbyes or kisses to let your loved one know they’re not alone and somehow, that makes it feel less real. So this is my attempt at closure. It’s been a few days and I experience moments of complete normalcy mixed with waves of intense grief. I’m completely heartbroken and so unbelievably angry. I’d give anything to have you call me to ask what time the Yankees are playing today or to hear “madoneeee” just one more time. RIP Dad. I miss you."
I pray that Helena's dad, and all those who have died, are now in God's warm embrace.

I pray, as well, for Helena, her family and all those around the world who are now mourning the death of a loved one.

"Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted." (Mt 5: 4)

Love,
Paul