Where The F Is That Waiter And  Other Things I Haven’t Said In Ten Months

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Where The F Is That Waiter And  Other Things I Haven’t Said In Ten Months

“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things. “ Frank A. Clark

Remember what normal  used to sound like. Here are some things I have not said in ten months.

I think our seats are right over here,.

Can you believe this traffic?

Check please.

There’s this new place I want to try for brunch. 

Can we meet for a coffee and talk?

The plane is late.

Airport security hates me.

Are you packed? 

I’m getting my hair blown out. 

Where’s my passport?

I’ll pick up milk on my way home.

I will be in Beverly Hills today – Do you want to have lunch?

The gym is so crowded.

See you in class.

i have acupuncture at 2:00. 

Did you shut your phone off?

The movie starts in five minutes.

I’m going to the spa.

I’m at the nail salon.

One large popcorn no butter.

Do you have change for the valet? 

Where do you feel like eating tonight?

Let”s grab drinks. 

Can we meet for a coffee and talk? 

Does this look good on me?

Here, taste this.

I want to see that new exhibit at MOCA before the ballet.

When can we have dinner?

I’ll  pay cash.

I hate the mall.  

Where’s the restroom?

Sorry, I’m germaphobic.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Pandemic – Nine and Half Month Check-In

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Pandemic – Nine And A Half Month Check-In

“In the end, everything will be okay. If it isn’t okay, then it isn’t the end.”Unknown

The Bf bought me a beautiful necklace for Christmas. It’s not the kind of thing you can throw on in this pandemic casual world. I looked at it and wondered when I would get to wear it. For a moment I thought of how much protective gear I could get if I returned it. My presents to him were much more practical things that he could use now. 

This made me think how much the pandemic has already shaped my life and how it will continue to shape it.  Luckily, human beings have the ability to bounce back. Covid 19 highlighted the mess that the US is in. If we had been better about standing together and helping each other, we would be in a much different place now – mentally, physically, and economically. 

I have lived in LA for many years and the landscape has changed greatly.  It has become more gentrified, crowded, and expensive.  Many of my favorite stores, restaurants and bars have closed. 

But what if the change happens all at once? 2020 has been unprecedented.  At the moment restaurants, gyms, bars, hair and nail salons, theaters, and dance clubs are all closed. Small businesses are open but people are not supposed to go to them. 

There are many places in LA that have closed during the pandemic and many more will continue to close. I have tried to do takeout a couple of times a week throughout the pandemic to support local restaurants – even though in the beginning it was scary.  There has been no reason to buy clothes or accessories. I do my own nails and have wash and wear hair. I don’t have much need for dry-cleaning. I exercise on Zoom.  I order everything on Amazon. When I do go out, I drive by more and more for lease signs on small businesses and stores. I see more homeless camps on streets that did not have them before. 

We need to make more of an effort to support our local businesses or they won’t be here when we come out of this.  Here are some things we can do.

 Delivery apps like Grubhub and Uber charge large fees to restaurants that are already losing money. Curbside pickup is usually available and safe. Try to pick up your own food directly from the restaurants. Don’t forget to tip. It’s not just restaurants – local farms are struggling as well. Sign up for a local farm box. It will mean less trips to the store, less  people handling your food and fresh healthy produce to help your immune system. Order from Gold Belly. Many closed restaurants are shipping all kinds of food products throughout the country. 

 Shop local.  Depending on your risk factor, put on a mask and go into a store that follows safety rules, or call and do a curbside pickup. Buy gift cards to use later. Many small businesses have put their stuff online and you can do that as well. Give businesses a shout out on social media. It’s free and helpful. 

Donate to a cause or help prepare food for those laid-off workers and their families during this time.

Above all stay home when you can. You will be protecting yourself and others. The pandemic won’t end when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve but help is on the way -Hang in there and Happy New Year.

Stay safe,

JAZ

 Ten Countries With The Best Response To Covid 19

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   Ten Countries With The Best Response To Covid 19

“The virus is cleverer than us, the virus is running faster than us.”  Dr. Li Ailan 

The one thing that the countries that seem to be doing better at controlling the virus have in common is that their governments, healthcare, and science are working together. Early action, testing, and contact tracing were key steps in controlling the virus. It is a very different approach than the countries with leaders who are using the crisis to accelerate their authoritarianism by blaming the “others”, demonizing journalists, and blanketing their countries in “I will never leave” darkness. Here are some countries in order from most to least cases with success stories. The numbers are from December 26.

Denmark 151,167 cases 1,153 deaths

Denmark’s response to the pandemic was “act fast and act with force.” Denmark is a peninsula and only shares one border with Germany. It was still one of the first country’s to close its border and have a national lockdown. Denmark immediately banned large public gatherings, closed down all unnecessary venues across its cities, heavily discouraged the use of public transportation and all manner of travel unless absolutely essential. Daycares, schools, and universities were very quickly shut down and air travel was severely restricted. Their entire free health care system was able to prioritize and reorganize medical departments, isolation wards, and hospital beds, as well as doctors and nurses, to be optimally prepared to isolate and treat admitted patients. The Danish people have complete trust in their government and politicians. There were no conspiracy theories or widespread panic surrounding the virus. They acted responsibly and followed the rules.

Singapore 58,519 cases 29 deaths

Timely preparation, aggressive testing, tracing of carriers helped limit the impact of Covid-19 in Singapore. The city-state’s comparatively small population of 5.7 million people and experience of SARS in 2003 gave it the upper hand against the encroaching virus. The government tightened border controls almost immediately after the disease first erupted in China – while also providing a clear public communication strategy. 

South Korea 56,872 cases 808 deaths

The government of South Korea has been able to keep the disease under control without paralyzing the national health and economic systems. The critical factors in South Korea’s public health administration and management that led to success include national infectious disease plans, collaboration with the private sector, stringent contact tracing, an adaptive health care system, and government-driven communication.

Australia  28,308 cases 908 deaths

 Australia put their faith in science to get the pandemic under control. They formed a National Cabinet comprised of the leaders of each state and territory and the Prime Minister to resolve differences and put the necessary restrictions in place. National cooperation was further enhanced by working with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. In March they closed their borders and issued a two-week quarantine. Australians were quick to comply. 

Uruguay 16,218 cases 147 deaths

Less than two weeks into his new job as Uruguay’s president, Luis Lacalle Pou acted promptly when Uruguay’s first case of covid-19 was confirmed in the capital of Montevideo on March thirteenth. Unlike most Latin American presidents, Lacalle Pou shut down schools and businesses but asked rather than ordered people to stay at home to protect the population, the oldest in Latin America. Subsidies for small businesses were financed in part by a reduction of politician and executive-level public servants’ salaries, as well as by contributions made by business and social organizations. The swift action of the government slowed the spread of the virus and bought the country vital time to prepare its hospitals and testing system, says the team of scientists advising it. It also meant they could stop the virus’s spread before it became exponential as it did in the hardest-hit nations. The alignment of decision-makers, scientists, and national health authorities was perfect and clearly with great timing,” says Gonzalo Moratorio, a virologist directing Uruguay’s covid-19 testing unit. Early testing and contact tracing were key. The strategy of appealing to citizens’ sense of responsibility with measured restrictions has proven successful. 

  Iceland 5,683 cases 28 deaths

Although it is a small country with a population of 360,000 people, Iceland emerged as one of the leaders in controlling the virus. They immediately had a regiment of testing. contact-tracing and isolation, as well as genetic sequencing of the virus. On a per-capita basis, no country has done more testing They started screening in January a month before the first case arrived for high-risk people and anyone else who wanted to test. They took samples of the virus from every person infected to check for mutations.  The widespread screening helped them pick out asymptomatic people who might have been spreading the virus.

New Zealand 2,144 cases  25 deaths

New Zealand started in February 2020  to identify cases and chains of transmission of the virus before it infected vulnerable populations. They did widespread testing, contact tracing, isolating infected cases, and quarantined their contacts. New Zealand has strict border control policies for produce and plants and immediately implemented them for people as well. They had a very stringent five-week lockdown in March. Rapid, science-based risk assessment linked to early, decisive government action was the difference between New Zealand and the countries where the virus spreads out of control.

 Viet Nam 1,440 cases 35 deaths

Viet Nam shares a border with China and moved quickly. With the help of the World Health Organization, Viet Nam already had an emergency health plan in place. They had 16 cases in February and imposed a three-week quarantine in those places. There were no more cases. In March a case came in from the UK. They closed the borders. Both the military and local governments were mobilized to provide testing, meals, and amenity services to all and quarantine facilities which remained free during this period. There was never a nationwide lockdown, people were advised to stay home and some restrictive physical distancing measures were implemented throughout the country. Masks were mandatory.  The Vietnamese public had been exceptionally compliant with government directives and advice, partly as a result of trust built up thanks to real-time, transparent communication from the Ministry of Health, supported by the WHO and other UN agencies. A COVID-19 song was released, with lyrics raising public awareness of the disease, which later went viral on social media with a dance challenge on Tik Tok initiated by Quang Dang, a local celebrity. (I love this)

Taiwan 783  cases  7 deaths

Taiwan was hit badly with SARS in 2003 and so as soon as a few cases of Covid 19 were identified in January, they were wearing masks. They had a public health response mechanism already in place to respond to the next pandemic.  Taiwan has a world-class health system with universal coverage which moved quickly to respond to the threat. They immediately implemented a travel ban to China. Medical officials held daily public briefings with instructions to prevent the spread of the virus. They were able to stop the spread of Covid 19 without a lockdown because they started in January when the Western World did not.

 Cambodia 363 case 0 deaths 

In the first few months, Cambodia detected and managed 122 cases and avoided widespread community-level transmission. With the support of WHO and partners, Cambodia has made important investments over the last ten years in its health security system that allowed it to successfully respond to the initial outbreak of COVID-19. A whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, along with vigilant surveillance, laboratory, rapid response teams, and good collaboration between the Ministry of Health and technical partners have all contributed to Cambodia’s successful response. They are better prepared for the second wave than they were ten months ago but like everywhere people have pandemic fatigue and need to work.

Today alone Los Angeles recorded 30,000 new cases and 150 new deaths. I am so angry right now. Nations as poor as Cambodia and Viet Nam moved quickly and listened to the science and health care professionals and the greatest country in the world did not. All this death could have been avoided.

Please stay safe,

JAZ

Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

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Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

“Only if we end the pandemic everywhere, can we end the pandemic anywhere.”Unknown

The world has the same goal – to end this pandemic and go back to whatever normal is. Viruses don’t respect borders. These countries share the fact that at the start of the outbreak, they tested little relative to their size. Our healthcare systems are not equipped to handle thousands of people getting sick at the same time, so more people are dying in these countries. The governments in all these countries downplayed the severity of the virus, fumbled lockdowns, and instead of science used magical thinking in the hopes of ending the outbreak.  The numbers change rapidly but at the moment, here are the countries with the worst outbreaks in order. The numbers are from December 21.They will be higher by the time you read this.

10. Iran 1,164,535 cases 53,816 deaths

The difference between Iran and other countries experiencing a surge in the virus is the “maximum pressure” sanctions put on them by Donald Trump.  The Iranian government and doctors insist they don’t have enough medicines to fight the virus. Though the sanctions technically exempt food and medical supplies, human rights reports from Iran have repeatedly emphasized the impact of sectoral sanctions on gaining access to essential medicines and medical equipment, including respirators and protective equipment for health-care workers. Experts say US sanctions on Iran are indeed hurting ”foreign reserves, foreign currency abroad to purchase the necessary medical equipment — masks, anything that it might need to take care of its population,” Sanam Vakil.

9. Mexico 1,320,545 cases 118,202 deaths

One quarter of Mexico’s population has been exposed to Covid 19. The government thinks the real number is even higher than the reported numbers. The blame is on the country’s under funded health care system, lack of adequate testing,  and complicated effort to track the disease and coordinate the response. There was a voluntary lockdown from March to June but because of Mexico’s high poverty level many had to work and so the numbers went up. There has been no mask mandate. Some say it is to downplay the pandemic and some Mexican States have imposed their own mask mandate.

8. Spain 1,817,448 cases 48,926 deaths

Spain has been in a state of emergency since the end of October. The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has asked people to drastically curtail their social lives and limit their movements for the common good. Silvia Calzón, Spain’s secretary of state for health, urged people to act wisely and avoid large crowds. Spain is reluctant to blame its citizens for early on having the most cases in Europe, but they feel the increase is do to young people partying and socializing. Spain has a similar problem to the US where the Covid safety regulations have been left to the different regions.

 7. Italy 1,964,054 cases 68,099 deaths

At the moment Italy holds a record that no-one wants – the most corona deaths in Europe. Italy was the first country in Europe to be slammed with Covid and had the benefit of time and experience to be better prepared for the second wave. Italy waited too long to reimpose restrictions  and reinforce its medical community. Nearly 80,000 Italian health care workers have been infected and 255 doctors have died. Instead, on Nov. 3 the government divided the country into three risk zones with varying restrictions. But by then infections had been doubling each week for nearly a month and hospitals were already overwhelmed in Milan and Naples.

6. Turkey 2,043,704 cases 18,351 deaths

As with all the countries where the virus is highest, Turkey waited too long to impose Covid 19 restrictions. Now children under the age of 20 can go outside for three hours a day and have school on Zoom. People over the age of 65 can go out for a different three hours. The elderly and the young are banned from public transportation. There is a curfew. Many are angry about how the government mismanaged the crisis. The government played down the virus and sugar coated the numbers not counting the asymptomatic ones which were high.

5. UK 2,073,511 cases 67,616 deaths

The four countries of the UK are trying to avoid a spike over the Christmas holidays. They want to ease things up between Dec 23-27 with rules like only a single person household can visit another home. People living in the UK will be allowed to form a Christmas bubble of up to three households. Households can only be in one bubble and may not switch. London has moved from High Alert to Very High Alert and bars and restaurants will remain closed. Outdoor groupings must be limited to six people. The virus is accelerating and the hope is not to lose more and more people as the vaccine is being rolled out. 

4. Russia 2,877,727 cases 51,351 deaths

As Russia struggles to get the virus under control, videos released of morgues piled high with bodies and hospitals that look like war zones, suggest the numbers are much higher than released. The way they count the Covid deaths, are different than the World Health organization guidelines which states that all deaths related to Covid-19 should be counted. Though the government portrays a country in full control of the pandemic, the strain on the medical facilities is becoming obvious to the Russian people. 

3. Brazil 7,241,612 cases 186,818 deaths

Fueled by the untimely political disputes, Covid 19 spread like wildfire in Brazil. Amid the controversy, Brazilian research disproved the theory that hydrochloroquine was helpful in treating the virus. Brazil was unprepared for the second wave of the virus and the hospitals are full with queues of patients lined up outside for beds. Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the novel coronavirus as a “little flu” and said recently was at the “tail end of the pandemic.” Sound familiar? Brazil has the second largest death toll in the world from Covid 19.

 2. India 10,075,036 cases 146,134 deaths

Tens of millions of migrant workers were stranded without work or food after Prime Minister Narendra Modi  imposed a lockdown in March. By spring and summer, these workers were so desperate that the government provided emergency trains to carry them back to their home villages. They became virus trains and due to lack of testing and social distancing these trains brought the virus all over India to places where it had not appeared before. The government never adequately contemplated how  shutting down the economy and quarantining 1.3 billion people would cause desperation,  panic and  chaos for millions of migrant workers at the heart of Indian industry. Experts agree that the spread in rural areas, home to more than half of the population, is a challenge to both fight and monitor. The health infrastructure in these areas is weaker, making it harder to treat patients and testing isn’t easily available in many small towns and villages. 

1. US 18,312,007 cases 325,187 deaths

We are number one – in both deaths and number of cases. Few countries have been as severely hit as America has. The world watched as the US – once a model for government competence and health care, fumbled the response to the Corona Virus. Despite ample warning, immense resources, medical and scientific expertise, it floundered. The world listened in shock as our President talked about drinking disinfectant. When people in third world countries emerged from lockdown and began partying, they saw that Americans in certain states did the same. Almost everything that went wrong with America’s response was predictable and preventable.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Countries US Citizens Can Travel To Now

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Countries US Citizens Can Travel To Now

“Being smart was key; being careful was critical. Being lucky didn’t hurt.” Kate Brady

The United States has more confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths than any country in the world, so its no surprise that people don’t want to come here or want us to visit their countries. Tourism has plummeted so some countries are letting us in with restrictions. Here they are.

Albania has a health screening upon arrival.

You must present a negative Covid screening test taken up to seven days before arrival in Antigua. Visitors are subject to monitoring by health officials for 14 days and another Covid-19 test may be required, which could mean quarantining while waiting for the result. Masks are required in public spaces.

Aruba requires a negative Covid test before arrival and another one, on arrival. You must also purchase specific Aruba visitors insurance. Aruba also has a list of US states it considers higher-risk, and people from those states will require additional testing. It changes so check the listing for your state.

Visiting the Bahamas involves a negative Covid test within five days of arrival. You will be given another rapid test when you arrive at the airport in the Bahamas.

You must complete an online health screening and have a negative Covid test within 72 hours before you arrive in Barbados. As the US is designated a high-risk country, you must still quarantine for 14 days at an approved hotel or resort and you’ll be monitored daily for symptoms. After five days of submitting the entry test, visitors can take a second second Covid-19 test and be released from quarantine with a negative result.

There are no restrictions other than a temperature check to visit Belarus but they are having mass protests against the government so you might not want to go.

You must down load the health application and have a negative Covid test within 72 hours or take one when you get there for fifty dollars to travel to Belize.

Bermuda requires a negative Covid test and a travel authorization fee of 75 dollars. Upon arrival you must submit to an additional Covid-19 test and quarantine until the results are ready. More tests are required on days 4, 8 and 14 of your visit.

You can just go to Brazil as long as you show proof of health insurance. They are also having big surge in cases of COVID 19.

Traveling to Cambodia is possible if you bring a deposit of 2000 dollars and a negative Covid-19 test result taken with 72 hours of arrival. You must also take two more Covid-19 tests, on arrival and day 13 of a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

Colombia requires a negative Covid test within four days of departure.

You must fill in an online form, have travel health insurance and a negative Covid test within 48 hours, to travel to Costa Rica.

Croatia wants a negative Covid test within 48 hours of arrival.

Curacao is reopening to US citizens from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut but only with a valid state ID and negative Covid test within 48 hours. The rest of the states are way too high risk now for them to take a chance.

Dominica requires a valid negative Covid test within 72 hours and visitors from the US may require further screening as we are an at risk country.

The Dominican Republic will give a few random breath tests and everyone must fill out a health screening form.

Visitors to Dubai must have medical travel insurance to cover any Covid-19 treatment and present a negative Covid-19 test result within 96 hours of arrival. You must complete a health declaration form before departing to confirm you are not experiencing any coronavirus symptoms.

Ecuador requires US travelers to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 10 days of arrival to avoid quarantine. Testing is available on arrival for those who don’t have a negative result. You must quarantine at an approved facility while waiting for results.
The Galapagos Islands require visitors to take another Covid-19 test and present negative results within 96 hours of arrival in Ecuador.

Visitors to Egypt need to show a valid negative Covid test within three days of arrival.Travelers must present paper copies not digital.

Ethiopia requires a negative Covid screening test within five days of arrival and a two week quarantine.

French Polynesia (Tahiti and Bora Bora) requests a 72 hour negative Covid test on arrival.

Guatemala requires a negative Covid test within 72 hours.

You must have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result that’s 72 hours old or less to travel to Ghana. Arriving passengers then must take a second test that costs $150. There’s also a temperature screening.

Grenada wants a negative Covid-19 test result within seven days of travel. you need a minimum four-day reservation at an approved hotel for quarantine. You must take a second test to be allowed to move about or remain at the hotel for the rest of the vacation.

Arriving passengers in Haiti must complete a health form and self-quarantine for 14 days. The Ministry of Haiti will check in on you three times for symptoms.

Honduras requires a negative Covid test and a quarantine for anyone exhibiting symptoms. You may want to reconsider Honduras as there is a travel advisory from the state department for other reasons.

Ireland requires a two week quarantine on arrival.

Jamaica requests a negative Covid test within ten days of arrival, an online “travel authorization” and the possibility of being tested upon arrival.

Kenya is open to US travelers with a negative Covid-19 test result taken 96 hours or less upon arrival and who pass a strict health screening.

All arriving tourists to the Maldives must present a negative result for a Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Passengers who transit via a “safe corridor country” that allows US visitors (like Turkey or Ireland) may enter Malta after they’ve been in that country for 14 days.

You can fly to Mexico. The land borders are closed.

Montenegro welcomes Americans with a negative Covid-19 test result or a positive coronavirus antibody test result, neither older than 72 hours . You cannot transit through a country that is not on the approved country list to get there.

You must have reservations with a  hotel or travel agency or be invited by a company for business to travel to Morocco.You must also bring a negative Covid 19 test and blood test within 48 hours of arrival.

Namibia requires a negative Covid 19 test 72 hours before arrival and you must be available for second test five days later.

North Macedonia is open. I have to look and see where that is.

Panama requires a 48 hour or less negative Covid 19 test on arrival.

Rwanda wants international travelers to have a negative Covid 19 test within 120 hours of departure. They also must take a second test upon arrival, shelter in a hotel and receive their results within a day.

Senegal is allowing US tourists to visit with a negative Covid 19 test within five days of departure.

Serbia requires a negative Covid 19 test within 48 hours of departure.

US travelers can visit South Korea, but you must take a Covid 19 test on arrival and quarantine for 14 days.

St. Barts visitors are required to show a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival. Those staying longer than a week will need to pay about $150 for an additional test on their eighth day.

US citizens traveling to St. Lucia must provide a negative Covid 19 test, taken within seven days of arrival. Visitors must also complete a travel registration form and arrive with a printed copy.You must have confirmed reservations at a Covid-certified property for the duration of your trip.

Travelers to St. Maarten must present a negative Covid 19 test within 120 hours of arrival.

You must present a negative Covid 19 test within five days of arrival to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.You must then quarantine at hotel for five days and take a second test after that.

Incoming passengers to Tanzania are required to fill out a health surveillance form and have a health screening. You might also have to take a Covid-19 test on arrival.

There are no restrictions for US citizens traveling to Turkey, although passengers must complete an information form and prepare to be checked for coronavirus symptoms. In addition, you will be asked to take a Covid-19 test if you show symptoms.

Visitors to the Turks and Caicos must provide a negative Covid 19 test taken within five days of arrival. Children who are nine years old and younger are exempt. Travelers must complete an online health questionnaire and carry travel medical insurance to cover any Covid19-related costs.

The UK requires a mandatory 14 day quarantine.

Zambia wants a negative Covid 19 test within 14 days of arrival. If you show symptoms when you arrive, you will be asked to quarantine.

Fly and stay safe,
JAZ

 

 

Elections And Protests Around The World

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Elections And Protests Worldwide 

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” Alan Moore

In Guinea President Alpha Conde amended the constitution from a presidential term of five to six years, to stay in power. 

In Uganda, 76-year old president Yoweri Museveni, previously too old to be eligible for reelection, changed the constitution to gain eligibility to run again in February 2021. 

Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned in November after weeks of protests and death threats. 

 Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced this week that he would disband  the  Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) which is part of the  federal police, following mass protests sparked by a video of the officers killing a man. SARS has also been accused of other killings, extortion and torture  especially of young people.

In Lebanon, protesters argue that while they are suffering under an economic crisis, the country’s leaders have been using their positions of power to enrich themselves, through kickbacks and favorable deals.

Namibia has been rocked with protests over the death of a woman in April. Gender-based violence and domestic abuse  are persistent problems in Namibia. Police responded to the SARSprotests with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and arrests sparking further violence.

Protestors in Iraq have also been calling for the end of a political system that they say has failed them.

The Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan plunged into political chaos and riots after opposition groups seized control of Parliament and released their imprisoned leaders in protests over parliamentary elections they called rigged.

Protests against alleged government corruption have also taken place in Egypt. 

In Hong Kong protestors demonstrate against police brutality and for universal suffrage. 

In Belarus, security forces used violence in an attempt to disperse protesters who were demanding an end to the country’s long term dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

And in America,  President Donald Trump has cast doubt on the integrity of the election and repeatedly refused to say that he’d accept the results if he loses. Police grapple with the threat of right wing militia groups and a president who has called for an “army of poll watchers”  placing an unprecedented strain on police for election day and the violence and protests expected in the days after the results.  The toxic political climate, combined with the COVID-19 crisis and the national reckoning over police misconduct, is putting a lot of strain on everyone. Gun stores in the US are empty. 

I never thought I would say this about an American election. Stay safe, be brave and vote.

JAZ

Drive Through Art In The Time Of Corona

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 Drive Through Art  In The Time Of Corona

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” Elizabeth Edwards

Drive through attractions are an innovative solution to the social distancing challenges presented by  Covid 19. Drive In movie theaters are making a comeback.

The Van Gogh Exhibit in Toronto, Gogh By Car, is an immersive drive through experience of art, light, sound, movement and imagination. It sounds like fun.

We had our first drive through art experience this past weekend. The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Hyundai, and the Hollywood Palladium got together and developed a plan for something special. Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration was free with online tickets.  

Now that the pandemic has closed public restrooms (not that I even want to use them),  going anywhere involves liquid intake planning. It did not help that it was 110 degrees in Hollywood and I could have used some water.

Our tickets were for 12:00 pm on the first day of the exhibit. I believe it was the first time slot. Lesson one about a drive though art exhibition would be don’t go on the first day so they can iron out the kinks.

It took us fifty minutes to get there after a large morning coffee. We then had to wait forty five minutes. Even though they said you cannot leave the car, I got out to try and walk my dog. At least one of us could pee.

When we finally got in there, it was really cool.

I’m a fan of Hispanic Art so the paintings were interesting to me.

The artwork was by Judth Hernandez, Denise Lopez, Steffano Alvarez, Carlos Almaraz, Diana Gomez, Patssi Valdez, Chiachio and Giannone, Norbert Rodriguez and Delmer Mejia.

There is a playlist that you can access on your radio while driving through the exhibit.

It was such an inspiration to see the way that the artists and curators have demonstrated resilience and creativity by pivoting to a drive-through experience during this challenging time.

. Drive ins are the perfectly distanced social events. I hope there will be more of these.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Road Trip In The Time Of Corona

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Road Trip In The Time Of Corona

“That’s why I love road trips, dude. It’s like doing something without actually doing anything.” John Green

The world changed in March 2020, when the country — and the planet — shut down to help slow the spread of Covid 19. For most of us, the pandemic signaled the first time we were asked to shelter in place, maintain our distance from our friends and family, forgo handshakes and hugs, and cover our faces.  

Being at risk, I have been home for six months. The California wildfires changed all that for me because I am violently allergic to smoke and was getting sicker and sicker from the air. We decided to drive to Arizona.  Venturing outside brought up very mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited to go on a trip to anywhere, have room service and eat in a restaurant.  On the other hand, I had adapted to being at home and felt safe there. The virus is still very active and it was scary to change what I was currently doing for fear this would lead to getting the illness. But I had no choice.

We jumped in the car the next day. When you’ve been inside for a long time, it feels strange to go out. Eventually we had to stop and get food and use our first public restroom in six months. We were armed with masks, gloves, alcohol spray and  hand sanitizer. As difficult as it was to get used to lockdown, it is just as difficult to come out of it. We drove by a crowded restaurant and decided no way.  We saw a Subway. It was not crowded and everyone wore masks and stood six feet apart. The bathroom was clean. I ordered my favorite-turkey on whole wheat with pickles lettuce and tomato and then I put potato chips in it to go. It tasted like the best sandwich I had eaten in six months.  I felt the sensory overload of being in a restaurant for the first time..The second rest stop was super crowded. Everyone wore masks and kept social distance. I felt so much anxiety about being around all those people. 

We got to the hotel in Arizona. The staff wore masks and gloves. Everyone had to wear a mask when indoors. There was an automatic temperature checker as you walked in.

Automatic hand sanitizers were everywhere.  We had our choice to carry our own luggage or  park our own car and a bellman came to the parking lot in a golf cart. We ordered room service.There are no checks to sign. 

The next day we hiked and we were shocked that no one wore masks.

We decided to venture out to the restaurant for lunch.

The tables were eight to ten feet apart and the restaurant was not crowded. There were individual ketchup packets and individual water bottles. I forgot how it felt to sit in a restaurant and have someone serve you. What a treat that I used to take for granted. (first waiter in six months!!!)

We were upgraded to a room with a small swimming pool and large outside area so I was totally fine to hang out there. (the view)

We went to the restaurant for the rest of our meals.

I changed clothes for every meal.

Being in sweatpants  for six months  has made me appreciate my clothes.

If you are like me, and worried about safety and the virus, The Four Seasons in Scottsdale is a great place to start going out again.I felt very safe and was able to relax and heal. 

There has been a lot of talk of a ‘new normal’ – but normal is changing and uncertainty, and managing risk, is going to be the reality for the foreseeable future. New normal’ for most of us will mean ‘what we need to get through today, or this week – it’s going to be very difficult to predict what the course of the rest of the year will look like.

Stay safe,

JAZ

No Travel For Americans

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No Travel For Americans

“I don’t believe there’s any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can’t completely ignore.”
George Carlin

If you are planning to travel to Europe this summer and you happen to be American, you might want to make other plans.  The European Union opened their borders on July first and America is not on the list of countries allowed to visit. The decision to exclude certain countries is based on the number of Covid 19 cases and how well their governments are doing to control the cases.  China, Vietnam, Uganda. Russia, Brazil and the U.S. are all being seen as unworthy of inclusion. Are these the “shithole countries” now?

We also cannot travel to Asia, the Middle East, Africa  and South America. There are some countries which have a two week quarantine before you can enter but that is as long as an average work vacation.

To rectify the situation, Trump has cut the funding for Covid 19 testing. According to him, if there are less tests than less people have it. It’s sort of like less pregnancy tests, less babies. The United States has the highest death toll in the world from coronavirus.The U.S. death toll is more than 132,000 and there have been more than 2.9 million cases.The U.S. accounts for more than a quarter of all deaths worldwide.

In March, Trump banned travel from Europe, the Uk and Ireland. Since then, Europe was able to flatten the curve and our numbers continue to soar. The countries that were able to control the virus had national policy – not  each state doing something different.

You can’t blame Europe. Why would they want a bunch of Americans infecting them now that they have the disease under control. You can blame Trump. If he had realized the seriousness of this early on, had a strict quarantine in all states like Italy did, and wore a mask, we would be back to summer vacation travel by now.

Stay home, stay safe, and please wear a mask when you go out,

JAZ

Returning To The Places You Love

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Returning To The Places You Love

“I believe that each person has a favorite place, a tree, a mountain, or a beach which they want to come back to, even if the return can only take place in the boundaries of their imagination.” Sana Szewczyk

I’m always afraid to return to places that I love. There’s a danger for me that comes with returning to these places. There’s always an underlying fear that on a second visit, it doesn’t feel the same; that either I’ve changed or it’s changed or maybe both.  There are so many places in the world to see, how could I justify a return visit?

 I have revisited countries but I focus on different cities and I just spend a short time in the cities that I have been to. I often find that second and third time visits are much more relaxed, spontaneous and enjoyable. Going back to a place lets you dig a bit deeper and uncover another layer of the place.

I’ve already done the famous sites and waited on the long queues. The nice thing about return visits is the I can concentrate on exploring the off the beaten track parts of a city. I don’t feel bad about spending an entire day shopping, eating and drinking since I did the museums and tourist thing on the last visit. 

If I visit during a different season, the city can have a whole different feeling. Many cities are transformed for special events like festivals or holidays at certain times of the year.. Bad weather, bad luck and bad choices can turn you against a destination that might deserve a second chance. 

I cancelled two trips over the last few months in quarantine. I don’t know when i will actually be able to travel again. Researching trips, which is something I do extensively when I am home, is not an option right now. When the world feels so uncertain, maybe it is just  easier to reminisce about the past than to plan something new. Istanbul, Venice, London,  Sydney, Tel Aviv  anywhere in South America, Portugal, Croatia and Japan look pretty great to me right now.

Stay Safe,
JAZ