COVID-19 DIARY – OUR FIRST HOUSEGUESTS

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My brother-in-law celebrated his birthday ANZAC Day.

I am fond of calling him my brother from another mother. I say this because he really is a brother to me.

He was born a Sikh in India, fell in love with an Australian girl while studying here and that was the end of that.

Life hasn’t always been easy for him as an immigrant but I’ve never met a man who works harder, is more resilient and more loyal.

He is a wonderful husband and to his family in India a dearly missed son. Having a sister living in the UK means I know a little of how they feel.

We went over to where he and his wife lived and sat in spaced apart chairs out the front of their place. We just talked but gosh it was good to see them.

Municipal workers disinfect health workers after their visit to a containment zone in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Saturday, April 18, 2020.

 

April 26

The next day the whole family skyped to celebrate his birthday.

The same day four of the largest airline planes in the world A380s landed in the centre of Australia in the very dry Alice Springs.

 

27 April

Working from home Monday morning I read an e-mail mentioning we had a few people sick in our team from my supervisor.

I sent him an e-mail asking if there is anything I could do in support and he replied yes – could I read the text message he had sent me almost an hour prior.

After reading the text sent earlier I got in my car and spent the day working in the office.

That night Karen and I spoke to an old friend of our’s. An accomplished academic it seemed like a lifetime ago when we had heard she was getting a gig working at HARVARD!

Based there for almost a year she was one of the early few sounding the alarm on social media about the danger of this disease.

As things got worse in America she saw footage of international travellers returning to Australia bundled together with no social distancing.

The days passed and she relayed hearing sirens go past outside her residence throughout the day. She finally arranged a flight coming back to Australia, worried about her American friends who she was leaving behind.

When we spoke she was in the midst of the 14 day quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. A yoga practitioner and a marathon runner she had no complaints about her confinement.

Her thoughts were with all the people confined to ventilators breathing their last breaths.

She had come through and we were glad to hear she was all right.

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30 April

Thursday.

I ended up only working from home that Wednesday grateful to be back in the office for most of the week. Traffic was still not so bad and I was so happy to be with my colleagues again even most of us were still working from home.

One of them was going on maternity leave, someone who I had worked with last year during my secondment.

Somebody who will be a great parent.

Someone who is so amazing in everything she does that I refer to her as lightning in a bottle.

We wished her well in a skype morning tea that I was lucky to attend.

The Queensland Premier had announced that week that come the weekend you would be able to travel 50kms from your place of resident.

One of my work colleagues said she was driving to Fernvale that weekend.

Another asked, “What’s in Fernvale?”.

“Don’t know but that is as far as we can go so we’re going there,” she replied.

Last year I had flown over Fernvale at a height of a few hundred feet.

20190802_065347
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

02 May

We don’t entertain a lot in our house.

It’s too hot for most of the year and we never got around to having the place exactly how we want it for entertaining.

But on Saturday the 2nd of May, Karen told me her brother and his girlfriend was coming around and that was that. So they brought tacos for dinner and we had a wonderful time.

This night along with seeing my brother from another mother were our first social engagements in almost two months outside of phone calls and skype.

I may have erred on the side of caution if consulted but once the train was on the tracks I really didn’t want to take this away from my wife. She lets me have my way on most things.

I realise a lot of people around the world have gone without socialising even longer and will even longer still if their governments show any sense.

So I know I have been very fortunate it had been only a few weeks but I must admit it was really nice to have the dinner.

After the main I offered some port for everyone and while I don’t often drink I decided I would have some more port. Galway Pipe.

It was really nice to have the dinner.

Best Funny Drunk GIFs | Gfycat

In most parts of the world things were only getting worse but here in Australia things were getting just a little bit better.

 

On the 2nd of May, the World Health Organisation reported globally there were 3,272,212 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 90,578.

The death toll 230,107 with a daily increase of 5,805.

We reached 1 million confirmed cases on the 4th of April, 2 million on the 17th of April and 3 million on the 29th of April.

4 million was reached on the 11th of May and 5 million on the 23rd of May.

Knowing how fast this thing can spread, either the measures we’re putting in place are working or some of the numbers coming out of countries aren’t accurate.

On the 2nd of May the WHO reported 6,767 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of five. There were 93 deaths with a daily increase of one.

In Canada there were 53,657 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,601. The number of deaths 3,223 with a daily increase of 141.

158 Canadian soldiers died in the war in Afghanistan.

In India there were 37,336 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,293. There were 1,218 deaths with a daily increase of 71.

527 Indians died in the Kargil conflict.

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In the United Kingdom there were 177,458 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,201. There were 27,510 deaths with a daily increase of 739.

In World War II during The Blitz from September 1940 to July 1941 it was estimated 40,000 civilians died from the bombings.

On the 30th of April the United States of America reached over 1 million confirmed cases. On the 2nd of May there were 1,067,127 with a daily increase of 31,774. The number of deaths 57,406 with a daily increase of 2,069.

58,318 American military personnel died in the decade long Vietnam war which shook the country to its core.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ANZAC DAY

File:Simpson and his Donkey statue in Canberra.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Every country has a myth that informs its people and culture.

In Britain it was Empire. Now I think it’s Michael Caine, Twiggy and The Beatles.

In America it is the taming of the West.

In Australia it is a failed military campaign far from our shores against men fighting to defend the territory of their nation from a foreign invader.

We served alongside British, Indian and French soldiers who made up the majority of the numbers in the fighting force and in the casualties.

It is known as Churchill’s blunder of World War One – the Dardanelles campaign.

In Turkey on March 18, they remember fighting in the port of Canakkale from the same campaign where the Royal Navy was repulsed with similar reverence.

In Australia we remember the landings on April 25th at a place called Gallipoli.

Part of the 4th Battalion and the mules for the 26th (Jacob's ...

Despite Australian forces serving in the Boer War at the time of our Federation.

Gallipoli was seen as the blooding of our newly formed nation.

Despite success from General Monash on the Western Front with significant victories late in the war or the cavalry charges at Beersheba, Gallipoli has always been remembered first and foremost.

Appropriate given that it was a failure, all the better to commemorate what is lost in war by not revelling in a victory. Sometimes I worry if we are forgetting.

In World War II Australia had a population of 7 million people and 1 million of them were in uniform.

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Conscription saw many participate in Korea and Vietnam.

Now the military community is a very small part of the Australian population and yet its people have borne the brunt of long ongoing operational deployments in the past twenty years in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now the majority of Australians marvel at the myth of the ANZACs unable to fathom what they endured for us long ago and yet right now there are veterans who need their help as we lose more to suicide than we ever did to combat.

If it can be remembered for the right reasons, ANZAC Day still holds a lot of lessons for us every year and now more than ever as we face this global pandemic.

It is not without significance that ANZAC Day ceremonies were cancelled across the country.

There is no more sacred a day in this country.

Yet somebody got the bright idea for people to go down to the end of the driveway and the Light Up The Dawn campaign caught on.

I often don’t attend Dawn Services but this one I couldn’t miss. I got out of bed at 4:50am not too much off the mark from when the first boats were coming ashore in 1915.

Karen and I got dressed and made our way down to our driveway. It was still dark.

A woman walking by told us she was on her way to a nearby street where someone she knew was going to play The Last Post.

She said there would be plenty of room to maintain social distancing but if we stayed we could probably heart it from here. We thanked her.

Our next door neighbours came out with their young daughter. I saw him loading up something on a tablet and asked if he was looking for a service to play because I had one ready on my phone and was happy to share. We agreed but kept our distance.

Down the road I could see candles lit. A street over there were two families outside two houses.

I think in modern times we remain communities of people but on most ANZAC Days we travel many kilometres to be with those communities (family, friends, colleagues) together.

Now here we were engaging with our actual local community. It was nice.

Off in the distance a lone bagpiper played.

Then I hit the service to play on the RSL website on my phone prompted by a handy countdown clock on it.

Then we heard The Last Post being played that street over just like we were told we would.

 

I stood with my head bowed.

At the end we said good day and retreated to our apartment.

In our block of six nobody else had come out to join us.

On April 25 the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there wer 6,687 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20. There were 79 deaths with a daily increase of three.

In New Zealand there were 1,117 confirmed cases with a daily increase of three. The number of dead were 18 deaths with a daily increase of one. New Zealand had gone into lockdown on the 25th of March.

In Papua New Guinea as of 27MAY2020 there have been only eight confirmed cases and no deaths reported by the WHO.

In South Africa there 4,220 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 267. The number of dead 79 and with a daily increase of four.

In Germany there were 152,438 confirmed cases with a daily increase of  2,055. The number of dead 5,500 with a daily increase of 179.

In Italy there were 192,994 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,021. At this point 25,969 Italians had perished to COVID-19. The daily increase was 420. The number of days with increase of cases was thankfully becoming less and less.

In Japan there were 12,829 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 441. The number of dead 334 with a daily increase of 17.

In China there were 84,324 confirmed cases reported by the WHO with a daily increase of 12. The number of Chinese who had died at least 4,642.

In South Korea there were 10,718 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10. The number of dead 240.

The WHO have reported zero confirmed cases and zero deaths in North Korea.

In Malaysia there were 5,691 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 88. The number of dead 96 with a daily increase of one.

In Indonesia there were 8,607 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 396. The number of dead were 720 with a daily increase of 31.

In Vietnam there were 270 confirmed cases reported with a daily increase of two. So far no deaths have been reported.

In Zimbabwe there 29 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. Four deaths have been reported.

In Namibia there were 16 confirmed cases and no deaths.

In Cambodia there were 122 confirmed cases and no deaths so far.

In Somalia there were 390 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62. There were 18 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Rwanda there were 176 cases with a daily increase of 22. No deaths have been reported so far.

In Timor-Leste there were 24 confirmed cases and so far no deaths have been reported.

There have been zero cases reported and no deaths in the Solomon Islands.

In Afghanistan on the 25th of April there were 1,463 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 237. There were 47 deaths with a daily increase of seven.

In Iraq there were 1,708 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 31. The number of dead were 86 deaths with a daily increase of three.

In Turkey there were 104,912 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,122. The number of dead 2,600 with a daily increase 109.

There is a quote often ascribed to the first Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who served at Gallipoli.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore rest in peace.

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…

You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.

After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

-Lloyd Marken

Full Credits:

Travelin’ Soldier by Bruce Robison

Performed by the Australian Army Band.

Vocals – Musician Rachel MacCallum
Backing vocals – Lance Corporal ‘AJ’ Johnson / Musician Jade O’Halloran
Violin and Mandolin – Musician Evan Patrick
Piccolo – Musician Sam Hennessy
Electric and Acoustic Guitars – Musician Sam McDonald
Bass – Lance Corporal Mansell Laidler
Drum Kit – Musician Aaron Austin

Recording by Warrant Officer Class Two Peter Bell / Sergeant James Duquemin / Corporal Justin Kennedy / Corporal Jaiden Redman.
Edited / mixed by Warrant Officer Class Two Peter Bell.

COVID-19 DIARY – WHAT MATTERS

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April 20

On Monday the 20th of April, the bulk of staff at work had been away for two to three weeks. We now found ourselves back in the office to get our flu shot and get back to working from home.

One of them, a particularly beloved colleague dropped off snacks for everyone which just speaks to why we love her.

While arrivals and departures were staggered you could feel it in the air. People were happy to see each other again if only fleetingly.

I was fortunate, I was there to work all day.

I enjoyed all the creature comforts of my office desk and but more so being around some of my colleagues whom I had missed. It was good to get back into the rhythm of working in the office and efforts were underway to see if some staff could rotate.

Nevertheless for the rest of the work I worked from home.

Across the State, Term 2 started and for many students it started remotely in the home.

There was a fantastic episode of the ABC program Four Corners that night that covered the early days and decisions from Australian governments at all levels to help their citizens through some dark days.

 

Image

April 21

Taken with Arnold Schwarznegger’s social media posts and his pets Whiskey (the minature pony) and Lulu (the donkey) I decided to buy a new hoodie he started selling.

All proceeds from the sale went to the charity he helped create – After School All Stars. It runs after-school programs for students across the country particularly in poor communities that need it even more.

There are 19 chapters helping over 90,000 kids across 468 schools in 60 cities from 13 states.

The charity had pivoted with the lockdown, knowing some of the kids involved in their programs get their best daily meals from the meals at school – they resolved to provide food for these families.

That was enough for me.

I belaboured figuring out what would fit me in US sizes trying several internet sources and it’s quite possible the Hoodie won’t arrive until September at which point temperatures will be rising in springtime Brisbane.

Doesn’t matter.

If one American child eats a meal based off my poor fiscal responsibility then that’s alright with me.

 

 

Of course if I had been completely selfless I could’ve just donated directly to the charity but I really wanted that hoodie. Although as restrictions relax I may look silly walking around outside with a hoodie that preaches to stay inside.

Some studies find that over 10% of America’s population live in food insecure households.

Kids can’t grow and can’t develop their minds if they’re lacking a balanced diet and it is estimated that could be as many as 16 million children each year.

America produces enough food to feed more than its population.

Food insecurity in America doesn’t come from a lack of food – it comes from people not having enough money to buy the food.

There are expectations that food insecurity in the country could easily double given the increasing amount of unemployed Americans.

30 million applied for welfare and unlike in Australia the amount of claims that will ultimately be approved and the length of how long they can be on welfare is limited.

On the 21st of April the World Health Organisation reported 751,273 cases in the America with a daily increase of 27,668. The number of Americans who died with COVID-19 was 35,884 with a daily increase of 1,681.

 

Closer to home in Australia the tertiary education industry was facing a daunting prospect with international student enrolment set to decline with a loss projected between 3-5 billion dollars.

I spent seven years working at the Queensland University of Technology on contracts and as a temp hoping again and again I might become permanent. Now permanent workers may need to worry about their jobs.

International students who have spent years studying here in Australia now find themselves struggling to pay rent and unable to afford flight homes. Over 500,000 international students were in Australia when COVID-19 hit.

On the 12th of April Education Minister Dan Tehan announced an 18 billion package for to shore up income from domestic students in universities. Yet a huge source of income for Australian universities were international enrolments with some projecting a decline between of 3 to 4.6 billion dollars this year alone.

Universities themselves were trying to assist students financially struggling due to loss of casual employment and unable to apply for support from the government. Up to $110 million dollars through hardship support funds.

Countries like the UK and Canada had put relief packages in place for international students.

In Australia the Prime Minister was suggesting it was time for them to go home and the price of a plane ticket would only be $10,000.

Those in the industry were of two minds.

It has once again been revealed how reliant we were on international student enrolment. Maybe this would push a reform where it was needed.

Yet universities carry out research and grow the minds and capabilities of our brightest who go out and work in industry and make innovative solutions. Could we really afford due to a loss of income to see our universities lose researchers, budding academics and students to the pandemic? Some of them international ones too.

Not to mention families overseas may remember how we took care of their children during this crisis.

After paying a lot of money for them to receive an education here, when they were cut off from them, when it was difficult and expensive to get home, when other countries provided for such students here we were shrugging our shoulders.

What would they think of Australia?

PhD Positions at Queensland University of Technology, 2016-2017

On the 12th of April, Universities Australia estimated 21,000 jobs could be lost in the next six months.

On the 21st of April, the Vice Chancellor of the Central Queensland University floated the idea of voluntary redundancies for some staff.

 

On the 21st of April the World Health Organisation reported Australia had 6,625 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 13. There were 71 deaths with a daily increase of one.

A guy I used to work with a few years ago in a part-time job I had was doing a push-up challenge to raise funds for mental health charity Headspace.

https://www.thepushupchallenge.com.au/pushuperer/65013?fbclid=IwAR3UCzdFCm5hvyW2Ud4w0rqBNeHpxoZVLUypX1NHusgdHtvMA8zTM9mQlz8

He set himself the goal of completing 3,046 push-ups over 21 days from 11MAY2020 to 31MAY2020. On day three he completed 326 push-ups alone. So I donated to his cause as well.

Headspace is foundation that helps young people and their families with their health in particular mental health.

 

I was also very inspired by the BuyThemACoffee initiative and got in touch with them. I was hoping to help out my local café at work Stellarossa Toowong but knew I couldn’t hope to raise as much as BuyThemACoffee. I asked them for advice which they very kindly gave and thanked me for my small donation. I got in touch with the Wesley Hospital near where I worked. They advised instead of delivering coffee for staff they would really appreciate coffee vouchers.

So I set up a GoFundMe Page to raise $250 to buy coffee vouchers from Stellarossa Toowong and have them delivered to the staff at the Wesley.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/stellarosa-coffee-for-wesley-hospital-staff

Work colleagues and friends immediately responded and over the next four weeks we were able to raise some money.

Closing out on any given day a business like this at this time might have three or four hundred dollars in the til. 

There was a new owner/manager at the store and at this point she was having one staff member work a day.

Most of the employees are young and find themselves ineligible for jobkeeper or jobseeker in some cases.

They’re great at what they do.

The new owner knowing this was treating them all fairly and spreading the work to all of them but there was not a lot of work to go around.

Despite this one of the baristas even donated to the GoFundMe page.

 

East Timor, war, coffee and Australia's 'debt of honour' - ABC News

ANZAC Day was also coming up that weekend and collections for support services for veterans and their families were not going to be able to carried out like they had been for the past 100 years. So I donated some money to the ANZAC appeal.

I don’t want to create the wrong impression, we need money.

Maybe I should’ve saved every extra cent I had.

But I have had a few thoughts over the past few weeks.

One that comes back to me occasionally is simply this.

What you do now – matters most.

 

ABC’s Foreign Correspondent ran an episode that day following Emergency Responders and Healthcare Workers through New York City.

In a week where Trump spitballed using bleach to cure COVID-19 here was a program showcasing American heroes.

 

 

It showed the Naked Cowboy still hanging out in Times Square bringing cheer and goodwill to passerbys.

I will admit I thought there was something foolish in him not packing up his bags and trying to avoid putting himself at risk.

Yet something touching in his desire to remain and lift spirits and risk the potential consequences.

I thought how American, that level of optimism and foodhardiness, that mix of courage and absurdity.

He was not the only one.

In the program we followed veteran Ambos, retired cops bringing supplies to those still on the streets, volunteer nurses who quit their jobs to come take care of the sick and dying in greatest city in the world.

And people were dying. Many, many, many people.

Yet here were these Americans trying to help.

WHAT WE DO NOW – MATTERS MOST.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE NATIVES ARE STIRRING

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks at a press conference

 

On Easter Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had announced students of essential workers could come to school when Term 2 started up  20APR2020. It was planned for this to be in effect until the 22nd of May with them to be reviewed come the 15th of May. For the first five weeks of term, the majority of students would learn remotely.

When Term 2 started up in Victoria on the 15th of April the advice was as many students to learn from home as much as possible.

In South Australia the decision was left with parents to make with school set to resume on the 27th of April.

With the same term start date, NSW and WA were not yet to make a decision but NSW with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country was having teachers prepare most strongly for remote learning.

Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had the same policy as Queensland.

In the Northern Territory attendance of students at schools was expected from 20APR2020.

Post the long Easter Weekend I worked from home the rest of the week from the 14th of April to the 17th of April 2020.

I saw the narrative in the news and on social media shift.

People started asking how long until restrictions get loosened.

People would question the COVID-19 numbers which was fair enough. The old “Just as deadly as the flu.” belief from early March started making the rounds again. Do you know anybody who has it? If we’re allowed to go a supermarket, why can’t we got to a restaurant? How many active cases are there now in our state?! These and other questions were uttered. I understood the urgent need to get back to work for some.

However on the 14th of April I looked up the date of the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in Australia.

The date was March the 28th and it was 650 cases in one day.

It had only been two weeks since our daily increases had peaked in the country!

For the people seriously impacted by this financially I understood the need to go back to work.

However on the 15th of April there was a strong reminder of the need to make good choices in combating this virus.

New York City Mass Graves On Island Are Increasing Because Of ...

Just a kilometre or so away from the Bronx in New York City is Hart Island.

Known as Potter’s Field, it has been the burial site of those unclaimed by kin.

Stillborn, unidentified and the very poor are buried in Potter’s Field by prisoners and have been for 150 years after the city bought the land.

Those who died from the American Civil War, tuberculosis, AIDs and yes the Spanish Flu all rest here.

With morgues filling up, the time to claim bodies was cut from 30 days to 15 days.

Until recently prisoners from Rikers were burying the dead on an average of 25 a week. Contractors in safety hazmat suits have taken over in recent weeks and the weekly average of 25 has now become the number buried in a day.

On the 17th of April the World Health Organisation reported there were now more than two million confirmed cases globally.

There were 2,080,235 with a daily increase of 81,839.

139,507 people had died so far. The daily increase was 8,473.

There were 6,468 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 10. 63 Australians had died.

In Canada there were 28,884 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,344. There were 1,048 dead Canadians with a daily increase of 94 taking the death toll into four digits.

In the United Kingdom there were 103,097 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,617.  The number of dead in Great Britain was 13,729 with a daily increase of 861.

In Spain there were 184,474 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,400. The number of dead 19,130 with a daily increase of 551.

In the United States there were 632,781 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 28,711. The number of Americans who had died from COVID-19 tallied at 28,221 with a daily increase of 2.350.

I just hope that we remember that none of these numbers are acceptable, they’re not preferable to a larger number, they’re thousands of lives lost in a matter of days.

I realise I am very fortunate but I will always believe we needed to be safer rather than sorry.

As sorry as I am to see those bodies being buried in an island near the Bronx.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – HAPPY EASTER

The Light of the World | Art UK

 

April 10

Good Friday.

I was at home and realised unlike other Easter weekends, I would not be getting a free feed at family gatherings or going out to restaurants with friends. Fortunately Karen had already made plans, we survived.

A skype session has been arranged for my in-laws by my brother in law.

I skyped with my parents and then with my inlaws back to back in the afternoon. The difference a few extra people struck me immediately and I resolved to set up a skype session with all of my family including my sister over in England. We arranged it for Easter Monday.

It was a nice to see and speak to family while we were in social isolation. I had pushed for it with some foresight knowing how much her family means to Karen and her family had made it happen.

 

April 11

Easter Saturday

America overtakes Italy for the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world.

 

April 12

Easter Sunday

It was the reports coming out New York and their hospital system that made me take stock of nurses closer to home. I looked for something to do to support nurses here and came across BuyThemACoffee initiative through Weekend Notes which I have been published in over the years.

Sydney based Marketing Manager Kaylie Smith had been driven to do something and after consulting healthcare workers online she discovered all they really wanted was a cup of coffee.

Enlisting cafes that could use the business, during the downturn, she set about raising money on GoFundMePages to pay the cafes to make and deliver the precious java juice.

Since starting the initiative, it has spread to other cities across Australia and seen over 100,000 cups of coffee bought and delivered to our wonderful healthcare workers.

Kaylie Smith did not sit on the sidelines and critique from a social media armchair. She got involved, she dared to try and get an idea off the ground and she’s made a difference.

Well done Ms Smith!

Thank you also to prolific writer Nadine Cresswell-Myatt who wrote this great piece in Weekend Notes that caught my eye and allowed me to make a donation to the BuyThemACoffee initiative.

Fundraiser by Michelle Hogan : Buy Them A Coffee - Queensland

 

In the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson is released from St Thomas hospital and gives a speech in which he said “I have today left hospital after a week in which the NHS has saved my life. No question. It’s hard to find words to express my debt.”

And I hope they won’t mind if I mention in particular two nurses who stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way. They’re Jenny from New Zealand Invercargill on the South Island to be exact, and Luis from Portugal near Porto.”

And the reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night they were watching, and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed. So that is how I also know that across this country, 24 hours a day, for every second of every hour, there are hundreds of thousands of NHS staff who are acting with the same care and thought and precision as Jenny and Luis.

The 55 year old Prime Minister retreated to the county estate Chequers to recover.

His fiancée Carrie Symonds due to give birth in two months tweeted “Thank you also to everyone who sent such kind messages of support. Today I’m feeling incredibly lucky. There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones.

 

13 April

Easter Monday

Trump held a bizarre press briefing where he ran a powerpoint video of what a great job he and the administration was doing.

Trump had earlier retweeted a supporter’s tweet calling for Dr Anthony Fauci to be fired.

Dr Fauci has been a calm and consistent speaker during the crisis about what the risks may be and what suitable actions should be taken.

Dr Fauci was called to the podium earlier to explain comments in the press earlier where he pointed out quite correctly that if actions had been taken earlier there would have been a better outcome initially.

He labelled these comments a “poor choice of words.” 

“Hypothetical questions sometimes can get you into some difficulty,” Dr Fauci.

When asked by a reporter if he had been forced to make the statement.

The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shot his hands up and urged “Everything I do is voluntary. Please. Don’t even imply that.

For many Dr Fauci’s continued presence in tackling the crisis in America is reassuring and his courage to put ego aside and placate the narcistic Trump was one more measure of the man.

One day Dr Fauci will have quite the book to write if he wants to and I’d be very interested in reading it.

Trump has been anything but statesmen like in these press conferences held during a national crisis.

When asked questions he doesn’t like, he insults reporters and their networks while he still fails to answer the questions.

To provide answers for a country in need.

Struggling through prepared speeches he seems to barely comprehend and going off script with his usual patter at a time when only good and suitable advice should be conveyed.

On the 13th of April, one CBS reporter finally got one over him – her name Paula Reid.

 

I finished the day in a skype conversation that put me in touch with my sister on the other side of the world and involved four households. It was the closest I got to having my family over Easter and I was very grateful.

Many families have not been so lucky, many families have lost loved ones in the past few months. At the time of Easter I guess I took comfort in my faith, placed my faith in my God and tried to do good things and practice gratitude. I know many other people are doing a lot more and I thank them.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE NEW NORMAL – PART II

20200408_165255
Me with work colleagues 08APR2020. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

In the lead up to Easter I worked from home from the 06APR2020 – 09APR2020, raged against Trump’s behaviour on the news, anxiously watched the stats across the world but particularly in the UK and generally got on with it.

In Australia there were no more restrictions to put in place, we appeared to be flattening the curve but we needed to keep on doing what we were doing.

This was the new normal, I found myself calling friends more and definitely watching more news.

 

Scenestr was moving completely online for now and launching their new TV show (first episode debuted 26APR2020) following having produced videos for years.

I was grateful to have a job. People I know including Karen either lost work or lost their jobs completely.

With a rise in unemployment comes a rise in domestic violence and suicide.

While domestic violence also happens to men I did note that it was my female friends who first mentioned concerns about DV and suicide was on my mind with the rise of unemployment.

With no commute, a reduction in gym fees, fuel costs, no socialising, and no lunch at work I had a little bit more money available despite a recent parking fine sent to me.

So that payday I donated to the Salvation Army who help the homeless, those fleeing domestic violence or struggling to buy food.

 

Donate to the Disaster Appeal | The Salvation Army Australia

Many years ago a Sally man had come out of the jungle at Jacqinot Bay, New Britain during the second world war. He cooked for the Australians stationed there, their first hot cooked meal in weeks.

His actions ensured that members of a family ever since have donated to the Salvos.

 

06 April

In Great Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital.

In America Trump peddles anti-malarial drug sounding like a snake oil salesman saying “What do you have to lose?” despite the fact that such drugs can have dangerous side effects.

 

 

07 April 

Prime Minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson is admitted to ICU.

 

09 April

On the 9th of April, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there were 6,052 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 96. There were 50 deaths with a daily increase of five.

In Ireland there were 6,224 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 515. There were 235 deaths with a daily increase of 25.

In India there were 5,865 cases with a daily increase of 591. There were 169 deaths with a daily increase of 20.

In Canada there were 18,433 cases with a daily increase of 1,384. There had been 401 Canadians die with a daily increase of 56.

In the United Kingdom there were 60,737 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,491. The death toll stood at 7,097 with a daily increase of 938.

In Italy there were 139,422 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,836. 17,669 Italians had died with a daily increase of 540.

In the United States of America there were 395,030 cases with a daily increase alone of 31,709! The number of dead rose to 12,740 with a daily increase of 1,895.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WE WILL MEET AGAIN

Queen Elizabeth II at 94: a look back at the life of the world's ...

I have to come clean with you about something.

I’m a monarchist.

Weird huh?

I mean the Royal Family is pretty rich and yet they receive taxpayers money?

They’re well off and probably look down at people like me. So why should I care about them?

I was 17 when Princess Diana died and I can tell there were a lot of people angry at the Royal Family then and wondering if they could survive.

Yet to paraphrase Julian Fellowes they are like any other family and like no other family. They reflect our times and hold up a mirror of ourselves going through them.

During the funeral in 2002 for the Queen Mother watching her grandchildren in naval uniform march behind her casket and hearing tales of the Royal Family during the war. I thought, “Yeah, I get it.”

At the Queen Mother's funeral, her grandchildren follow behind the ...

That need for pomp and pageantry may seem ridiculous and extravagant but it is needed. Look at America, they’ve been trying to replicate it with their Presidents and First Ladies but it seldom works the same.

Besides the Royals get to be above politics, part of how they endure and how they never quite seem to be important. But I believe they are and on the 5th of April Queen Elizabeth II proved my point.

A 94 year old who had lived through the times we were trying to draw inspiration from now summoned a new resolve and pride in us to come through this all too current and ongoing crisis. For her closing words the camera cut to a close-up that had been saved up until that point and the monarch eyeballed straight down the lens to the individual viewer.

With a steely optimism that spoke of our connection to her and the connection to our loved ones we were not able to be with she drew on words that evoked a famous World War II love song by Vera Lynn and she brought me to Goddamn tears. 

We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.

God Save the Queen.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE NEW NORMAL

Nightingale field hospitals were not built in error to tackle ...

 

03 April 

I had concluded my first week working from home completely. We were in the new normal. On Saturday several national parks were closed down, one more setback for people wanting to stay in shape. Also we were told we were limited to our own suburbs.

Also I became aware that we were not supposed to leave our suburbs without good reason. Midnight drives to get out and about may see you pulled over by the cops. This apparently started back on March 22.

As a southside boy I drove across town to get Thai nervously. Others I knew grew concerned as they passed police cars on the freeway pulling people over as they went to get fish outside their local area. When the lockdown had started police had used a common sense approach rather than handing out fines. As time went on and people broke police barricades to go to the beach or had to shepherded from public parks like in Sydney on the 31st of March – fines started to get handed out. There was also mass confusion for people who didn’t see the restrictions from a play it safe perspective. Instead of if in doubt, don’t do it! They wanted clarity on the maximum allowance.

I was staying in an apartment with wifi and my income remained the same as my job was not in danger. There were no children to take care of. No concerns about food, toilet paper was starting to fill the shelves again. I didn’t miss movies or exercise, I was happy to finally being saving money.

This was not the comfort millions of Australians found themselves in and I started to think more and more about what could I do to really help them. I remained worried about the third world that was also more vulnerable to COVID-19 if an outbreak occurred.

As NSW Premier Gladsy Berejiklian put it on the 1st of April, “I’m pleased to say today that people think we’re going too far because I don’t want to people to say we’re not doing enough.

 

In the United Kingdom the first Nightingale hospital opened in London’s Excel Centre.

Built in just nine days at ExCel Exhibition Centre with help of 160 contractors and 200 British Army engineers the 4,000 bed capacity hospital is designed to take in transfer of Intensive Care unit patients from other hospitals on ventilators.

Several others sites were well on their way at Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, Birmingham, Harrogate, Bristol and Manchester to build a surge capacity of up to 14,480 beds.

Thousands of airline staff from Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic have been approached to change beds, help doctors and nurses in non-clinical tasks.

Sounds like being a Wardie.

Airline staff were desired due to the security clearance, first aid training and likely would need the work.

A recovering Prince Charles opened up the hospital via videolink.

Prince Charles opened London's new coronavirus hospital by video ...

In America Jarred Kushner son-in-law to Trump and working as a Senior Advisor on the Coronavirus Taskforce advised “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states stockpiles that they then use.

He elaborated “”When you have governors saying that the federal government hasn’t given them what they need, I would encourage you to ask them, have you looked within your state to make sure you haven’t been able to find the resources?”.

04 April

Watching Planet America on the ABC I found out the number of Americans who had applied for welfare was 6.6million. A number that shrank all statistics from the previous four decades including during the Global Financial Crisis and the recession of the late 1980s.

Jobless

On the fourth of April the World Health Organisation reported the number of cases in the world had crossed one million.

There were 1,056,157 cases with a daily increase of 79,908.

The death toll stood at 57,130 with a daily increase of 6,716.

In Fiji there had been seven confirmed cases with no daily increase and even now, no reported deaths and rampant increase in number of cases reported.

In Cambodia there were 114 cases with a daily increase of four. There were no deaths reported in Cambodia nor since.

In Morocco there were 858 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 123. The number of dead 50 with a daily increase of three.

In Peru there were 1,414 cases with a  daily increase of  91. There were 51 dead with a daily increase of ten.

In Mexico there 1,510 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 132. The number of dead 50 with a daily increase of 13.

In Thailand there were 2,067 cases reported with a  daily increase of 89. The number of dead 20 with a daily increase of one. Thailand and Cambodia’s numbers have remained steady according to the WHO since.

In India there were 2,902 cases with a  daily increase of 601. There were 68 dead with a daily increase of twelve.

In Russia there were 4,149 cases with a daily increase of 601. There were 34 dead reported with a daily increase of four.

Three days earlier Russia loaded an air force AN-124 cargo plane with PPE equipment and other medical equipment flying from Moscow to New York. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he hopes the US will reciprocate as it increases its production capacity should Russia need help.

It followed a similar shipment to Italy from Russia some of which had been reported to be mostly useless. It came under criticism for how it made America look taking aid from Russia, was seen as collusion, a preliminary move to relax sanctions that had been enforced following Russia’s actions in Crimea.

This was following a week where New York Governor Cuomo had pointed out he was bidding for ventilators online against other states.

When asked in a press briefing if he would he accept more help from Russia President Trump said “If they send things that we need, I’d take it. Sure.

In Norway there were 5,208 cases with a daily increase of 273. There were 44 dead with a daily increase of two.

In Australia there were 5,454 cases with a daily increase of 104. There were 28 dead with a daily increase of two.

In Sweden there 6,078 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 612. The number of dead 333 with a daily increase of 51.

In Brazil there were 7,910 confirmed cases with a daily increase 1,074. The number of dead 299 with a daily increase of 58.

In Canada there were 11,732 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,618. The number of dead 152 with a daily increase of 25.

There were 38,172 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom with a daily increase of 4,450. There were 3,605 deaths with a daily increase of 684.

In Iran there were 55,743 cases with a daily increase of 2,560. The number of dead were 3,452 with a daily increase of 158.

In France there were 63,356 cases with a daily increase of 5,209, The number of dead were 6,493 with a daily increase of almost a third at 2,003!

In China the WHO reported 82,875 cases with a daily increase of 73. The number of dead 3,335 with a daily increase of four.

In Germany there were 85,778 with a daily increase of 6,082. The number of dead were 1,158 with a daily increase of 141.

In Spain there were 117,710 confirmed cases! with a daily increase of  7,472. The death toll climbed to 10,935 with a daily increase of 932.

In Italy there were 119,827 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,585. 14,681 Italians had died with a daily increase of 764.

In the United States of America there were now 241,703 confirmed cases with a daily increase alone of 28,103! The death toll in total 5,854 with a daily increase of 1,061.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WHEN WILL THE WEST CREST? – PART III

Who Is Navy Capt. Brett Crozier? Hear In His Own Words - Task ...

April 1

I continued working from home, happy to have a job and as mentioned in the previous post Karen started putting the teddy bears out.

April 2

On Friday in Guam, a US Navy Captain relieved of his command walked down the gangway to cheers of his 5,000 crew.

Captain Brett Crozier, a 28 year naval veteran who had flown F/A-18 Hornets in the Iraq War had taken command of the 104,000 tonne aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt 01NOV2019 and all of its 4,500 souls on board.

On deployment in the Pacific, crew stayed at a hotel in Da Nang where coronavirus broke out on the 5th of March.

They returned to the ship, the first reported case onboard was the 22nd of March and not any of the sailors who stayed at the Vietnamese hotel tested positive. Evacuations by flight took place as more sailors became sick.

The number of cases climbed into the dozens, the ship was ordered to Guam and docked there 26MAR2020 with most crew restricted to the ship and pier as more evacuations of sick sailors took place.

On the 30th of March, Captain Crozier sent an e-mail to chain of command urging that all but non-essential crew be evacuated and the ship be sanitised.

In the e-mail he wrote, “I fully realize that I bear responsibility for not demanding more decisive action the moment we pulled in, but at this point my only priority is the continued well-being of the crew and embarked staff. I believe if there is ever a time to ask for help it is now regardless of the impact on my career.

There was a letter attached in the e-mail too where the Iraq war veteran wrote.

WE ARE NOT AT WAR.

SAILORS DO NOT NEED TO DIE.

IF WE DO NOT ACT NOW,

WE ARE FAILING TO PROPERLY TAKE CARE OF OUR MOST TRUSTED ASSET

OUR SAILORS.

The e-mail was leaked and published in the media on the 31st. At this point, 100 crew had tested positive.

Crozier got his wish on the 1st of April, the ship was evacuated except for essential crew to maintain the nuclear reactor and quarantined.

 

 

On 02APR2020 he was relieved of command and by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly believing he had shown poor judgment in sending the e-mail either aiming for it to be leaked or taking not proper protocols to ensure it would not leak.

Three days later Modly would travel to Guam and address the crew over the public address system denigrating Crozier’s actions.

On a ship where hundreds were still onboard believing their Captain had acted to save their lives he scolded them for cheering his name as he left the aircraft carrier. Modly told them ironically “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer” if he did not realize that his letter would be leaked to the media.”

Modly over a PA system that could be heard throughout the ship had his “tirade” recorded and subsequently leaked to the press.

07APR2020 Modly resigned.

 

 

Crozier has been reassigned to San Diego as special assistant to the Naval Air Forces chief of staff. Reinstatement of command to a dismissed USN Captain would be unprecedented.

By the 17th of April most the crew had been tested and 660 had tested positive for COVID-19 with the majority asymptomatic. Positive result of about 14%. These numbers were lower than was originally feared would end up happening. Possibly a result of the actions of the Navy on the 1st of April. Captain Crozier himself tested positive for COVID-19.

As low as the numbers were, there is at least one family that wish they had BEEN lower.

On the 13th of April, a 41 year old Chief Petty Officer of the crew having been hospitalised passed away from COVID-19.

On 05MAY2020 1,156 crew had tested positive.

On 15MAY2020 five sailors developed symptoms, tested positive and were removed from the ship along with some of their contacts. The five sailors had completed a 14 day quarantine and tested negative at least twice before reboarding prior to showing symptoms.

On the 21st of May, the USS Theodore Roosevelt returned to sea.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger Shared His No-Gym Workout Routine Just In ...

While this drama was unfolding within the United States Navy, I was also taking comfort in celebrities taking to the social media.

I discovered Arnold Schwarznegger’s social media presence and quite enjoyed his posts.

He raves on about his kids, showcases speeches he does and work he is doing in the community.

One could be cynical about these things.

He’s found two cute stars in his miniature pony and donkey Whiskey and Lulu. His much younger girlfriend doesn’t feature anywhere.

Yet in difficult times, we need people who inspire, people who display a go to attitude or give us a little levity. I am finding that with Arnold Schwarznegger so here are some gems.

 

I even dusted off my old dumbbells thanks to Arnie.

 

 

 

Many other celebrities have been amusing us too. Closer to home there has been Sam Neil.

 

 

 

 

Final parting message from Arnie which I took to heart.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE TEDDY BEAR LADY

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Pia who came all the way from Guangzhou airport with me in 2018. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Ladies and gentlemen we have a very special guest writer on my blog today. 

My wife Karen was a published freelance writer long before I was.

A speech pathologist by trade she once wrote to national magazine New Idea as part of a competition.

The gig was to write about a dream coming true and the winning submission would be published in the magazine.

Karen shrewdly wrote that her dream was to be published in New Idea.

Karen won and was published and it was not the first or last time she has featured in such magazines or won big competitions. 

But I digress, here is my wonderful wife and a much better writer – Karen!

-Lloyd Marken

Bear2
Just some cool dudes chilling. Copyright Karen Marken.

 

Bear Blog- Bears Out on a Limb

 

Please bear with me…I am not the usual blogger. My wonderful husband Lloyd has kindly invited me to be a guest contributor on his Covid-19 diary and share with you our involvement to date in a community unifying event called Operation Bear Hunt.

On the 31st March 2020, I learned via social media of a wonderful joyful iso craze sweeping the US. All across the States, people were placing teddy bears in their windows as a show of solidarity.

The idea, based on Michael Rosen’s popular children’s book Going on a Bear Hunt, was that children and parents out on their daily walk would keep a look out for teddy bears and count how many they saw.

Well, I thought, I have a few bears. I could do that here.

Turns out I have more than a few teddies and other stuffed toys. At last count I had 46 and as I declutter I keep unearthing more! It is nice to finally have a good use for them. Our house is on beautiful tree lined street next to a set of shops so there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. In addition to displaying bears in our windows, I utilised the fig trees and brick wall in our front yard by placing bears and other animals of varying sizes and colours in positions that small children will be to spot easily. Not all my bears made the cut. Some were too precious or fragile. For example, due to his polystyrene innards, Fernando the bull (pictured) was deemed not suitable for fig tree duties. Instead he has taken pride of place on our balcony where he chills out daily enjoying the lovely fresh air.

20200403_130642
Fernando the bull. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Once I had placed the bears, all we had to do was sit back and wait for the fun to begin. It was not long before excited shouts of “Ooh look there’s a teddy! There’s another one!” filled the air (and that was just the adults). Our initial success continued on Day 2 of Operation Bear Hunt with delighted people of all ages admiring each bear and taking photos to share on social media. I don’t know who was enjoying it more: the children, their parents or me. No wait.. it was definitely me!

Being involved in Operation Bear Hunt has been so much fun and I heartily recommend others become involved in whatever capacity they can. My teddy bear displays are not quite as imaginative as some we have seen on the internet involving elaborate and topical setups. However we are consistent and have hopefully inspired other more creative teddy bear arrangers in our suburb.  Every day, for about 6 weeks now, the bears go out early and stay out late to catch the first and last pedestrians of the day. I’m not sure if or when we will call it quits. Our appreciative audience shows no signs of getting sick of us.

Overall community feedback has been resoundingly positive.  The sole criticism came early on day 3 when a little boy was overheard to shout “What are these bears doing here? Who has put all these stuffed toys everywhere?”  He sounded most indignant!  I couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily his parents explained the function of the bears. Ever since, this particular little boy has been our biggest supporter and an ardent teddy fan counting and describing each bear in detail as he whizzes past our house on his scooter.

Participation in Operation Bear Hunt has not been without it’s challenges. Weather is a factor. Occasionally gusts of wind have turned the teddies into famous Aussie drop bears ready to suddenly jump out of the figs and onto the heads of unsuspecting tourists. One day “the teddy bears” slept in and I felt like the biggest meanie in the world as I overheard a child sigh to her father “No teddies today”. Both parent and child looked so dejected I resolved to put out even more teddies the following day.

Bringing the bears in at night has become quite the covert operation. One evening I ventured out at sunset. After looking both ways, I collected half the bears then heard a family approaching. Quickly, I ducked behind a tree then ran around the side of my house hiding from view until they had passed by and I could safely resume my collection. Despite my best attempts to retain an air of mystery though I have had a couple of neighbours stop and ask me if I am the teddy bear lady. When I reply that “yes I am”,  they then let me know how much they are enjoying the teddy bears and how much all the children in our neighbourhood love the teddies.

Well that is about all from me for now so on behalf of the teddies I wish you all a Beary Good Night. Peace and Love, Karen aka “the teddy bear lady”.

-Karen Marken