Saturday, June 27, 2020

Snapshot of COVID-19 headlines

It's been almost exactly three months since I wrote my second of two posts about The Stand and shared a snapshot in time of news headlines and tweets related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is, of course, going to be the most-documented crisis in history. I know people who have already filled multiple personal journals about life in 2020. Content about this moment in history, which now includes a seismic and necessary movement to end police brutality and racial injustice, is omnipresent. Future historians should have no trouble finding more eyewitness sources and accounts than they will possibly need.

And yet I still feel my own personal need to document 2020 in small ways — ways that are unique to how I've always hoarded bits of history and daily life. I've been filling envelopes with emails, printed tweets, magazine articles and other ephemera of note. Much of it relates to my job at the newspaper, offering an inside-baseball glimpse of how journalists are navigating 2020.

As I did on March 25, I'm putting together another aggregation of tweets and headlines from this week. It's hard to ascend to 40,000 feet and examine all the changes of mindset and priorities we've had in the past 100 days, but perhaps there are some comparisons to be made.

  • Live updates: Florida, South Carolina and Nevada hit new highs in daily coronavirus cases
  • Ana Cabrera (CNN): CA Gov Newsom: “We are in the midst of the first wave of this pandemic...We are not out of the first wave. This disease does not take a summer vacation.”
  • Young people are driving a spike in coronavirus infections, officials say
  • City of Lancaster: As we enter into the green phase today, remember that COVID-19 is still in our community. Please continue to take precautions like wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer or washing your hands often, and maintaining social distance.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer: Masks are now mandatory in Philadelphia.
  • DOJ warns against fake face mask exemption cards
  • ProPublica: Positive cases are not increasing just because there is more testing, as the president has claimed, but because in many states the virus is simply spreading more.
  • Texas governor says he let bars reopen too quickly
  • Texans must ‘dramatically change’ behavior to stop hospitals from being overwhelmed, hospital executive says
  • Ana Cabrera: At least 11 states have currently paused or rolled back their reopening plans
  • Contact tracing is ‘a disaster’ in hard-hit Maricopa County, Arizona congressman says
  • MODEL: Phoenix could see 28,000 new infections a DAY!
  • CT, NJ, NY implement mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from hotspots
  • CUOMO: Police will stop cars with out-of-state plates
  • EU prepares to ban American travelers as borders reopen on July 1
  • Dana Goldstein: In some regions of the country, state officials will allow districts to reopen without strictly following the guidance for distancing, masking and sanitation. In all regions, I expect that school attendance will *not* be compulsory, meaning you can choose to keep your kid home.
  • Pence tries to put positive spin on pandemic despite surging cases in South and West
  • Zeynep Tufekci: VP Pence today did not emphasize the need to wear masks. Masks are the *one* thing most everyone can do, but if conservative leaders don't lead on it, it will disappear down the polarization rabbit hole. They must know this. And yet.. 2020 is the true end of the American Century.
  • Making men feel manly in masks is, unfortunately, now a public-health challenge of our time
  • Biden says he would use federal power to require masks
  • Johns Hopkins doctor suggests politicians should put aside personal opinions and wear masks (Fox News)
  • 'Herd immunity music festival' set for July
  • Coronavirus infection rate spiking in California, a troubling sign of community spread
  • Ana Cabrera: #URGENT: U.S. sees highest single day of new COVID-19 cases, with 40,173 cases reported Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Mystery RPPC: Trio within oval

Time flies! Somehow, this is the first Mystery RPPC since April 18.

I think we can assume this trio to be a mother and her two sons dressed up for a nice backyard portrait. It's an unused AZO postcard with a stamp box that dates it to between 1904 and 1918. So, at some point, this family — more than a century ago — went through its own pandemic. Did they get sick? Did they wear masks in public and wash their hands often? Or did they agree with bozos like the Anti-Mask League of San Francisco? Or perhaps this family had the means to move to the country and wait out the worst of the pandemic.

It's also possible, if this photo was taken at the early end of the 1904 to 1918 range, that these two boys served the Great War. Meanwhile, the passage of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote for women, didn't happen until 1920. So, when this picture was snapped, Mom couldn't vote.

They, as we do, certainly lived in interesting and transformative times.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Oh, that's what a mourning dove sounds like

I've been thinking recently about my grandmother's vinyl records that featured nothing but bird songs. She had about a half-dozen of them, and would play them on the living room record player cabinet that was about the size of a refrigerator turned on its side. They were probably from the late 1960s through early 1980s. I don't remember the exact titles — we got rid of all them during the house cleanout — but they were surely like the ones pictured above, if not those exact ones.

The record formats were similar. A Very Serious Man's Voice would guide you through different bird calls and songs. So it would go something like this...

Man: The Hoary Puffleg...

Bird: Chit-chit-chit-chit.

Man: ... The Hoary Puffleg.

(The Hoary Puffleg is not actually native to North America and would not have been featured on my grandmother's records. But I didn't want to miss the opportunity to get "Hoary Puffleg" on Papergreat.)

We've been doing a lot of bird and wildlife watching during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept us in our homes and neighborhoods for 98% of our existence since mid-March. (And we've been documenting our observations in the "What I Know About Flower Arranging" blank book I mentioned in 2014.)

Our backyard has three bird feeders, a bird bath and a tiny picnic table for squirrels and chipmunks (and the occasional bluejay) to dine on peanuts and sunflower seeds mere inches away from the four cats. Our wildlife roster includes birds, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and a pudgy field mouse. I make sure all the feeders are full at least once a day, sometimes twice, and the backyard has truly become a haven for all of this half-tame wildlife. Chipmunks scurried back and forth near my feet the other day as I was outside talking to Dad. The birds, especially one catbird, are slower to fly to safety each time I venture outside.

And I've been observing more of the wildlife interaction, too. The cardinal couples that are most inseparable. The bold robins. Birds the size of a salt shaker that dart in and out among larger animals with seemingly zero fear. Birds that aggressively knock seed out of the bird feeder and onto the ground below, because apparently they prefer it that way. Or they're just jerks of the bird kingdom. And doves. So many doves. I think those ground-feeding doves are getting the bulk of the food I put out, because they're always there.

But I didn't put 2 and 2 together. I recently found myself wondering about an especially common bird call I'd been hearing throughout the day. It must be some especially cool bird, I thought. It almost sounded like an owl. Nope, Joan informed me, it was just those silly doves. I guess I would have known that if I had listened more closely to my grandmother's records.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Real Heroes Wear Masks (that cover the mouth and nose)!

I love everything about this hand-drawn poster, which has been in the door of Comix Connection in York throughout the spring and early summer. (The artist's name is Nicky.) The message remains important for everyone during this still-ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. It's great to see Nadia van Dyne, Lunella Lafayette and Kamala Khan among those reaching out to comic book fans with this guidance. Baron Von Papergreat would, of course, also always properly wear a mask in public.

Further reading

Mystery snapshot: Pavilion atop hill

This undated snapshot is just 3⅝ inches wide (which includes a quarter-inch white border, which I cropped out, all the way around). It's a moody, contrasty shot of a pavilion and some well-dressed folks at the top of a round hill. The shadows cast by the tree branches are wonderful — perhaps even slightly forboding. One might guess this is early spring.

Who are these people? What is their event? Did they know they were being photographed? I come across a lot of old photographs like this that have only a number written on the back. I'm guessing these are proof photos and the number refers to the negative, so that people could decide which photos they wanted as proper prints? In many cases, I would think the proof photo is the only one that was ever printed. (How nice it would have been, though, if they had stamped a date on the back of each proof, too.)

If you want to check out more mystery photos, this March 15 post is a good place to start. See the list at the bottom.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Great links: Homemade maps describing life during COVID-19

Irene Palko of Glasgow, Scotland, via Bloomberg CityLab

Bloomberg CityLab unveiled the results of a thoughtful and inspiring project on June 18. It's titled "How 2020 Remapped Your Worlds: Through homemade maps, readers shared perspectives and stories from a world transformed by the coronavirus pandemic" and was put together by Laura Bliss and Jessica Lee Martin.

The premise was simple but brilliant: "In April, CityLab asked readers to share homemade maps of their lives during the coronavirus pandemic. The more than 400 maps we received are so many windows into what people around the globe have experienced through this extraordinary crisis, as well as its sprawling social consequences."

I highly encourage you to scroll through CityLab's curation of some of the maps from across the world. It's quite the wonder, and also quite a historical document — one that I hope finds its way to a print format.1

Each map is "accompanied by the words of the mapmaker, edited for clarity and flow," according to CityLab. Those words are yet another window into this time. Just a few excerpts:

  • In Bolivia: "A lot has changed: We communicate more, we collaborate for food purchases and we are in solidarity with each other."
  • In the Netherlands: "I’ve retreated into my own world and drawn a map of the place I go to. My life has become more humane. More relaxed. It seems to me people tend to notice each other more, greet each other more."
  • In France: "The earth is not round anymore. I represented the single kilometer around my house where I can walk, run, ride my bike. Beyond this limit is the unknown. It is forbidden. I feel like I am in the Middle Ages."

Enough of the excerpts. Please take some time to browse the CityLab collection, and perhaps think about what your own map of 2020 might look like.

1. Tweet earlier today from Laura Bliss: "We're working on it :)"

Old postcard of Twin Oaks in Natchez, Mississippi

The only thing that piques my interest in this staid and stuffy bedroom is the blanket at the foot of the bed. This location is Twin Oaks Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi — a city named after Indigenous peoples who were violently erased from the region and then built up with the back-breaking labor of Black slaves.

Here is the info from the back of the undated postcard, which is also shown below:

  • A Deep South Card
  • Published by Deep South Specialities Inc. of Jackson, Mississippi
  • DS-674
  • Color photo by Dusty Rhodes (probably not the wrestler)
  • Mirro-Krome Card by H.S. Crocker Co. of San Francisco

The caption states: "Built in 1812 on Spanish land grant. Was occupied by Federal troops during the War between the States. Home of Dr. and Mrs. Homer A. Whittington. Twin Oaks is shown by Pilgrimage Garden Club."

The phrasing in that short caption is significant. Within the Confederacy, the U.S. Army were referred to as "federal troops." And, per Wikipedia, the nomenclature War Between the States "was rarely used during the war but became prevalent afterward among proponents of the 'Lost Cause' interpretation of the war." Furthermore, again per the concise and helpful explanations on Wikipedia, "the Lost Cause of the Confederacy ... is an American pseudo-historical, negationist ideology that holds that the cause of the Confederacy during the American Civil War was a just and heroic one. The ideology endorses the supposed virtues of the antebellum South, viewing the war as a struggle primarily to save the Southern way of life, or to defend 'states' rights' such as the right to secede from the Union, in the face of overwhelming 'Northern aggression.'" The Lost Cause ideology served to undergird nearly a century of Jim Crow laws that left Black Americans impoverished and incredibly disadvantaged in nearly every aspect of American life and society. "Nostalgia" for the Lost Cause around the time of World War I led to the erection of many of the Confederate monuments that are thankfully and finally coming down this summer.

Homer Alexander Whittington died in August 1996 at age 90. He had served as a doctor in Natchez for 56 years, according to his obituary in the August 16, 1996, edition of the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi. Further, Dr. Whittington was an Episcopalian and a member of many clubs and lodges.

Twin Oaks Plantation later came to be owned by popular chef Regina Charboneau, who turned it into a bed and breakfast and cooking school. The property is now for sale this summer — the original circa 1830 (not 1812) house and a six-bedroom guest house — for $889,000 (as of May 2). Full details and a set of lovely professional photographs are available at this Realtor link.