Archive: » 2020 » May

A Songbird App & Notes While Largely Sheltering

Further notes while largely sheltering in place: I ventured out of town last week to interview someone for an upcoming magazine article. Except for a brief visit to my brother-in-law’s yard outside Gilmer, it was the first time I have left the city limits since March 8. That’s when I made a quick trip to Austin just as things were starting to feel a bit shaky. This time I headed to San Augustine, about 90 miles away. The subject of my interview graciously agreed to host me in her beautiful backyard, at a safe distance. I showed up and went straight to the backyard — laptop, recorder...

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The Flu Pandemic of 1968

A friend recently sent a link to an article related to the 1968-69 flu pandemic. While I completely disagree with the author’s conclusion that the government’s reaction has been greatly overblown, it spurred me to research that 1968 pandemic. Mainly, because I have only a vague memory of a flu pandemic that began in Hong Kong, in July of 1968, and lasted approximately 18 months. I was not quite 13 when what became known as the Hong Kong Flu began overseas and entered the United States in California and through the Panama Canal zone, via American service personnel returning from Vietnam,...

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The Year of the Birds, & Warring With Squirrels

This has become the Year of the Birds. Glorious weather, and more time on our hands, finds us outside often when not working remotely at our respective jobs. We have several bird feeders set up along the deck and under the gazebo. A pair of cardinals have taken up residence in our backyard, flitting about the azaleas and crepe myrtles. They are appreciative of the newly installed feeder under the gazebo, stopping by several times for a snack. They chirp warnings when Tater and Tot are prowling outside. Cats are natural-born bird killers, so we keep an eye on them when they go outside to do their...

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An Epidemic, Depression & World War: My Grandpa’s Life

The week before our world largely shut down, and those of us who can remain sheltered in home, a friend and I were talking at the gym. We’re both Medicare age. Actually, I’m still a few months away. That means we both had grandparents who lived through some troubling times. “We’ve had it easy until now,” he said, as it became clear our world was going to change very quickly, and not in a good way. He is right, though that might be of little comfort to some. Until now, the most traumatic event that affected all Americans in our lifetimes was the Great Recession of 2008-2009, which...

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The Red-Headed Stranger Turns 87

Willie Nelson, our state’s greatest living treasure, turned 87 yesterday. I spent a chunk of the day, as usual, in front of the computer in my study, handling library interlibrary loans online and continuing to compile research while sheltering in place. In honor of Willie’s birthday, KUTX — the sister station to KUT, Austin’s NPR station — played his music all day and night long. That was my background music. Over the hours that Willie played through the speakers, the breadth and depth of his music stood out, as well as his virtuosity on Trigger, his well-worn Martin N-20 guitar with...

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