The week that was

An elderly and reluctant Frenchman was ejected from an Air Force fighter during a retirement day outing. I promise you, this isn’t clickbait.

As with every news outlet, Footwear News, looking for their coronavirus story, found it.

“We are literally making electricity out of thin air.” Almost by accident, Yao noticed the devices he was experimenting with were conducting electricity seemingly all by themselves.

An evangelical pastor in Virginia who vowed to keep preaching unless he was “in jail or the hospital” succumbed to Covid-19. Florida declared professional wrestling an “essential business” so matches could continue.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci is everyone’s hero. A Connecticut toy company is making a Dr. Fauci plush doll. As of this writing, the petition to name him People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive had over 18,000 signatures.

Thousands protested Michigan’s stay-at-home laws and marched on the capital holding signs that unironically said Live Free or Die.

In Kenya, the Governor of Narobi said that they will be tucking a small bottle of Hennessy into the care packages going out to its citizens.

Stimulus checks from the US Treasury went out with the expected mix-ups. Scores of deceased received a check and one firefighter in Indiana was shocked to find himself $8.2 million richer instead of the expected $1700.

Just in time for the afore-mentioned stimulus checks, Apple announced the iPhone SE at a $399 price point. Meanwhile, if you were the proud owner of a top of the line Mac, a set of wheels would put you back $699.

The pandemic has postponed many trials winding thru the judicial system, including one for Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes.

Land o’ Lakes butter decided it was time to retire the Native American “maiden” from their packaging. The new package just has a lake.

Looking to spice up your next Zoom call? Invite this farmer’s lama or goat and totally confuse your colleagues.

The National Guard was called, in Vermont, to build a hospital, in four days.


The week that was

Nudists sunbathing in the Czech Republic were reprimanded for not wearing masks. “Citizens can be without clothes in places designated for this purpose, but they must have their mouths covered,” said the police spokeswoman.

As the novelty of the daily presidential briefings wore off and we grew weary of hearing the president boast of his accomplishments, the nation found solace and sage advice in the twitter account of a frozen meat product.

A university in Japan is giving graduates the chance to walk the stage to receive their diploma, via a remote-controlled robot.

What’s weirder then playing professional sports to an empty stadium? Playing a professional sports to a stadium of robot mannequins.

While preparing for the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congo was hoping to be able to announce the end to the Ebola outbreak. Then someone got Ebola.

An Australian astrophysicist was admitted to the hospital after getting magnets stuck up his nose while inventing a device to stop people from touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak. “My partner took me to the hospital that she works in because she wanted all her colleagues to laugh at me.”

Due to the pandemic, the US Postal Service is suspending delivery of international mail to nearly two dozen countries including the Cayman Islands, Honduras, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Botswana. Oh, and the US Postal Service is nearly out of money and it may impact their ability to deliver ballots in the upcoming election.

Tesla shared a prototype of a functional ventilator using spare parts from its automobile production line.

The New Zealand sex toy industry reported a spike in sales in the days leading up to that country’s lockdown. The largest retailer, the Adult Toy Megastore has been deemed an “essential business” by the government and allowed to stay open.

Honolulu police will use aerial drones to keep people off the beaches. A loudspeaker on the drone will announce “Aloha, the stay at home order is in effect. Please do not gather or sit on the beach.” No word on if there will be a Hawaiian music accompaniment.


The week that was

Field hospital tents were set up in New York City’s Central Park in anticipation of an expected surge of Covid-19 patients. The last time this happened was during the Civil War. Later in the week, the naval hospital ship Comfort docked in New York harbor.

Comfort’s sister ship, the Mercy docked in Los Angeles harbor and was later attacked by a reality-challenged individual who attempted to ram the ship with a train.

The National Symphony Orchestra was let go by the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Their last paycheck will be on April 3.

Kobe Bryant’s used towel from his last game with the Los Angeles Lakers sold at an auction for $33,000.

Home from school and stuck in social isolation, students from UPenn, BU, UCLA, Northwestern, Oberlin and other schools worked together to re-create their campus, online, in Minecraft. Many of these projects will now serve as a virtual stage for commencement ceremonies.

President Trump announced that Navy ships will be deployed near Venezuela to beef up counter-narcotics operations. A Venezuelan Navy offshore patrol vessel sank after ramming a cruise liner in the Caribbean Sea. The cruiser, which had a reinforced hull to sail through ice-filled waters, suffered minimal damage.

The coronavirus has taken out of commission one of the largest ships in the US Navy. The captain of the ship was later relieved of duty.

Tragedy struck as a truck carrying thousands of rolls of precious cargo crashed and burst into flames.

The New England Patriots flew their team plane to China to pick up a load of 1.2 million N95 masks and bring it home to hospital staff in Massachusetts.

A New Jersey paper delivery man took it upon himself to bring more than just the daily news and is now taking orders to deliver much needed groceries to his homebound, at-risk clientele.

The Pentagon confirmed that it’s working to provide FEMA with 100,000 “pouches to address mortuary contingencies.”

A group of MIT scientists have designed a ventilator that can be made from readily available hospital gear for about $500. Open Source communities are sharing designs for ventilators and masks.

A 104 year-old World War II veteran from Oregon became the oldest survivor of the coronavirus.


The week that was

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were officially postponed to 2021 – which presents a problem for those in charge of branding.

Air traffic coming in and out of Chicago Midway was shut down when three staff members tested positive for Covid-19. During the shutdown, “student pilots took advantage of the situation and began taking off and landing at MDW for fun.”

As the situation in Florida started to get worse, a correspondent for the Canadian magazine MacLeans picked up and left for home and wrote about it in Escape from Florida: My 2,400-km drive back to the sanity of Canada.

Things are so bad that even Waffle Houses, that stalwart institution of the South, is closing down under a Waffle House Index Red conditions.

With air travel dried up, the major airlines had to look for places to park their grounded planes. Delta took over several runways at Atlanta airport to park some of the 600 planes they put out of service.

Stuck indoors under a citywide shelter in place order, residents of San Francisco are delivering rolls of toilet paper by drone.

Faced with a world without live sports, casinos are scrambling for new things to bet on. In the “this will not end well” department, a Las Vegas casino is filing paperwork to take bets on the outcome of the presidential election.

Other businesses had to retool themselves including the movie theatre that is now in the popcorn business, the hockey equipment company that is making face shields for hospitals, and the sail maker that has redeployed their industrial sewing machines to make medical masks.

With the streets of San Francisco empty, this drone pilot saw an opportunity.

As more people are working from home, dress code only applies from the waist up for the videoconference. Walmart shared that shirt sales are up but pants and skirt sales are down.

By the end of the week, after many were finishing a second week of sheltering in place, with the pandemic overwhelming NYC hospitals and looming over New Orleans, Today show host Hoda Kotb (a Nola native) broke down after interviewing New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees who just donated $5 million to help feed Louisiana during the crisis.

Hoda, in this moment, became all of us

In that brief moment, Hoda let out the gasp of raw emotion we’ve all been holding back. The sheer magnitude of the growing disaster we know we will face in the coming weeks must be met with acts of courage and generosity that we hope will be just as infectious as the virus we are fighting.

We can only beat this by working together like never before. More than any war, this is a global fight against a common enemy. More so than global warming which is abstract and distant the coronavirus is not only global but immediate. If there is any silver lining on the horizon, it’s that this threat to our way of life is bringing us together, around the world, to work as one, like never ever before.

Stay safe everyone.


The week that was

A law limiting a trucker’s driving time was suspended nationwide for the first time since 1938 to allow for emergency transport of medicine, supplies and food.

California issued a statewide “shelter in place” to slow the spread of the coronavirus. All but essential businesses were ordered to close. The San Francisco Department of Public Health was quick to point out that cannabis is an essential and marijuana delivery service Eaze noted a 38% jump in orders.

More traditional New York, also under a statewide shelter in place ordinance, will keep its liquor stores open. People are drinking something called a quarantini.

Lines were epically long at Costco and other supermarkets as households went into full on panic-buying mode. If you’re wondering where all the toilet paper went, you might want to go to North Carolina.

Other businesses sadly suffered including Powell’s Books in Portland and the Boba Guys in San Francisco.

A lawyer has decided to sue China for $20 trillion for causing the global COVID-19 pandemic.

With everyone working or studying from home we’ve all been catapulted into the ReadyPlayerOne society that used to just exist in science fiction. Video conferencing software Zoom has become the defacto way to connect. People now joke that they now know what the “Z” in Gen Z stands for. Some creative uses of technology include:

Marvel introduced the latest group of super heroes and reminded us how much comic books have changed.

  • Screentime can see augmented reality and real-time maps, and can “instantly Google any fact.”
  • Snowflake is non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns and throws snowflake-shaped shuriken.
  • Safe Space can materialize pink forcefields, but he can’t inhabit them himself.
  • B-Negative is a goth kid obsessed with all the music and attitude of a “classic” long-past decades like the ’90s.

I’m getting old.

The feature image, a render of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, is by Kris Tremblay.


The week that was

Friday last week they canceled SXSW. I think at that moment something they may have been reading about started to impact their life. Silicon Valley collectively gasped.

There was other news, I had a few stories in the TWTW notepad. . .

An 8-year old in Canada entered a raffle contest at his local hockey league and won a gift basket of $200 worth of cannabis products.

Reporters Without Borders is using the online game Minecraft to distribute suppressed journalism past government censors.

A Ukrainian chess grand master and his girlfriend were found dead after inhaling too much laughing gas.

An Italian winery had a mishap with their water supply sending 300 gallons of their product into the town’s pipes. For a brief moment, water became wine.

As the week progressed, more stories mentioned the coronavirus.

Scientists used AI to develop an antibody that has been shown to be effective against bacteria that no existing drug can eliminate. They named it halicin after HAL 9000. Could it be used to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus?

Looking for their own coronavirus angle, lifestyle site, Askmen, did a piece on how to look presentable from the chest-up while working from home.

The TSA changed its rules and was now allowing up to 12 oz bottles of hand sanitizers on all flights. I took a flight and the Southwest flight attendant walked the aisle with a trash bag to collect used handi-wipes.

Mexico, worried about the spread of the virus from the US, is considering mechanisms to control the flow of people from North to South.

The International Antiviral Society conference in Boston was canceled because of the Coronavirus. The TV soap opera, General Hospital, stopped filming because of the virus as well. By the end of the week, over 70 TV shows had halted production. Perhaps in anticipation of growing interest in dystopian sci-fi, filming of the latest Batman and Matrix films are carrying on, without delay.

Other events were canceled.

On Wednesday night, the NBA postponed all games. The NHL and MLS and Champions League soocer soon followed and the MLB postponed opening day. The Boston Marathon was pushed back and the PGA Tour as well. The NCAA canceled the March Madness tournament and all other contests. 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is still scheduled to run as normal on May 2 but organizers are closely monitoring the situation.

The Phoenix Suns decided to play out the rest of their scheduled season online in the game, NBA 2K20 and stream matches via Twitch.

The Olympic torch relay has been delayed but Japan insists the Summer Games will go ahead as planned.

With many schools shutting down and teaching students online,m video conferencing company Zoom is letting schools sign up to their service for free.

In an abundance of caution, organizers of Sweatfest and Fluid Swap 2020 felt it best to hold off.

Los Angeles and San Francisco postponed trials in the courts. Apple closed all their stores and Patagonia shut down not only its stores but also it’s online business.

Louisiana and Georgia postponed their presidential primary elections (don’t worry, the president cannot postpone the general election).

England postponed their local and mayoral elections for a year.

Following in the footsteps of China and South Korea, Italy, Spain, and France all issued orders for a lockdown to limit their population’s movement. On the bright side, lockdown didn’t keep them from singing from their balconies),

I am hunkered down with the family; social distancing as they call it. Stay away from others, #flattenthecurve and lessen your chances of catching the virus at the same time as others so that our hospitals do not get overwhelmed. We’ve canceled dinners, went food shopping at the crack of dawn to avoid crowds, binged on HBO and Spotify. I will most likely be joining many others and working from home for the next few weeks.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and rest up for the days ahead.

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The week that was

New York City announced that the last few pay phones will be removed by the end of the month.

The crowdsourced science experiment SETI@home will pull the plug and stop scanning the skies for intelligent life. Maybe they found something?

Coronavirus panic hit Australia this week and the police had to be called in after a fight broke out over toilet paper. Rushing in to meet the need, a local paper started to include several extra blank pages for its subscribers.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society canceled its annual conference due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Research in England concluded that slow public transportation leads to poor school results.

The NHL will use a new type of hockey puck embedded with electronics that should help fans keep track of the tiny thing while watching a game on TV.

Hackers have figured out how to break into a phone sitting on a table with inaudible micro-vibrations that communicate via the phone’s voice control.

Fed up with having to change their clocks twice a year, the Yukon Territory in Canada will spring forward one last time and then call it quits.

A San Jose woman was crushed when she realized the plant she had been caring for tenderly for the past two years was a fake.

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The week that was

A unsuspecting weather reporter in North Carolina gave us another case of a TV reporter getting unknowingly embellished by his Facebook livestream filters. Remember that Pakistani minister?

Homeland Security’s algorithm designed to keep out terrorists identified and denied a visa to a war crimes investigator.

What do you do when your country is overrun with a locust swarm? Release the ducks!

Scientists looking down have discovered a the first known animal that can live without breathing.

Scientists looking up discovered the biggest explosion ever. How big? 15 Milky Ways big. Oh, and apparently this is old news but the earth has a second moon orbiting the earth?

Despite his company owning over 5% of Apple, the famously frugal Warren Buffet finally traded in his old flip-phone for an iPhone.

It’s now a thing to snatch defenseless pigeons and glue tiny hats to their heads. Trump supporters in Las Vegas are forcing pigeons to spread the MAGA news probably inspired by someone who did this with sombreros last month in Reno.

A start-up in Denver has made a pill that you swallow that doctors can control over wifi to, as needed, remotely release medicine inside you. What could possibly go wrong?


The week that was

Supreme published its latest collection of branded goods including Ziploc bags, an Oreo cookie and even a Mac Tools rolling toolbox. The Oreos are already re-selling on eBay for $4000.

Do you miss the sweet smell of McDonald’s ketchup? What about the pickles or hamburgers? Not to worry, the golden arches will sell you a set of scented candles. Eater, points out the idea is to light all six candles to re-create the smell of a quarter-pounder. Ugh.

People in Mexico have figured out that they can get over Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall with about $5 of re-bar.

An Indiana man with a Crime Pays tattoo on his forehead was arrested, again.

The emotional support animal bar was raised yet again (remember peacocks and alligators?) when Ronica Froese flew first-class with her mini service horse.

The coronavirus scare has driven up the price of essential goods in Hong Kong, including toilet paper. So much so, opportunistic gang members held up a supermarket and stole 600 rolls.

Climate change has hit the European ski resorts hard. So hard some resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees are bringing snow to their slopes with helicopters.

Tesla cars are smart. They come with cameras that can read speed limit signs and set their speed accordingly. Telsas are dumb. Hackers used some black tape to fool the car to rapidly accelerate from 35 to 85.

Glen Davis drove a school bus in Minnesota since his graduation from high school in 1949. He enjoyed driving the bus so much, he asked to be buried in a lovingly custom-built, school bus casket.


The week that was

Aided by 200 MPH tailwinds, a British Airways flight set the record for the fastest commercial flight from New York to London. Flight 112 made the trip just under 5 hours, 80 minutes ahead of schedule.

In San Francisco, similarly strong winds blew the glass out of the 41st floor of the hapless and slightly-leaning Millennium Tower.

In a touching application of VR technology, a South Korean mother was able to play with her deceased young daughter.

A small museum in Pennsylvania sent out one of their older paintings for a routine cleaning and was informed that said painting was a 400-year old Rembrandt.

The Girl Scouts are out with cookies again so everyone’s got a story of the entrepreneurial ones setting up shop outside their local marijuana dispensary.

Prescription medication is so expensive in Utah one insurance company is sending its workers to Mexico or Canada to pick up medicine for its members.

Engineers in Hong Kong have figured out how to harness electricity from raindrops.

Modern Farmer reports that someone has invented an autonomous robot that can weed your garden.

Someone fell for one of those phishing emails. Unfortunately that someone was a worker for the government of Puerto Rico and they ended up transferring 2.6 million taxpayer dollars to a fraudulent account.

She thought something was funny about her date. He insisted she come pick her up in her car. He then asked her to stop by a bank for a quick moment. Her fears were confirmed when “he came running back, sweating with sunglasses, a hat, a gun and $1,000 cash in hand.”