Not all marriages are bliss and happily ever after and virtually all “teen marriages” end in doom and disaster. I understand that we are not the norm.
Barb and I have been married since August 22nd, 1981. She was 18, I was barely 19. We had a 6 month old baby boy(Josh). We were best friends for 3 years before that. At 15 years old, I fell in love with her. I never questioned our friendship. It just was. That’s how love started and continues today for me.
And so, Barb and I are celebrating another anniversary today. Perhaps there is a formula for this type of success. I’ve always been asked what our “secret” is. I don’t have an answer. Perhaps there are things that we “do” that could be contributing factors in long term successful marriages.
And so, I’ve compiled this list of things that may be important or not. These are purely from my perspective. I have not consulted with Barb for consensus. She may have an entirely different list.
I think the most important thing that is especially relevant in our marriage is: Marry your best friend.
Be cool, good looking, smart, funny, creative, ambitious and healthy.
Marry someone who recognizes and even requires the above in you but doesn’t mind that you may sometimes lack in some or all of them.
Do your own laundry. You don’t want to shrink her sweaters and you don’t want her to shrink your jeans.
Randomly tell her you love her throughout every day.
Play a musical instrument. If you are entertaining and she is easily amused, well……that’s pretty much a YAHTZEE!
Date Night. Leave your friends and/or musical instruments(same thing) out of it. If you don’t, date night will take a turn away from you.
Money. Only one of you can do the books, if you share this task, there will be arguments.
Don’t complain about her cooking. Unless it’s threatening to burn the house down.
Learn to bake and cook really well and bake and cook as if you are the best baker and cook on the planet and keep telling her that you are. She will soon believe this as truth (and it just may be) and meal time will be forever special.
Get a dog that is cute enough to sleep with in your bed.
Avoid asking permission for everything, or anything.
Respect each others opinion. Consensus is not necessary.
Surprise her frequently. Good or bad, it keeps her interested. Worst case, she is mad or disappointed, best case, she is so happy, she cries. You can’t control this.
Minimize rules but flow with routine.
Don’t tease her when she’s mad. All other times are ok.
Give in to her flirtatiousness. Always. Don’t ever feel embarrassed.
Give her a back scratch once in a while.
Married – August 22, 1981(Barb-18, Jon-19)
At this Jazz jam session in Boulder Colorado USA, Mark Diamond would always introduce each player before they came on stage. Being from Fort Collins, for me, he would typically say something like, “tonight, we have a special guest, all the way from Fort Collins, (an hour drive from Boulder) Jon Long on Trumpet”.
I remember on Nov. 3, 2013, at the Boulder Outlook, a hotel bar, after Mark and crew finished a smoking set, and I’m next to sit in on “the list”. I’m sitting there, valves oiled, trumpet in hand, “known” songs ready to call, nerves under control. Then, Mark says over the mic: “Tonight, we have a very special guest”….me getting ready to go up and play, banging my valves, blowing warm air in my trumpet, walking toward stage…..”world renowned saxophonist”….wth?!….”RICHIE COLE!!!”
What?! I go back to my seat in the darkly lit bar, sheepishly abandon my trumpet and sip on my wine. Then get a 3 song set of killing bebop in stereotypical Richie Cole style, super fast bebop with crystal clear articulation.
Now, I’m thinking I don’t even want to sit in. My nerves were in high gear, even though at that time, I was probably about as good as I ever was at trumpet. But, sure enough, as all jam sessions go, Mark Diamond ends the set and announces my name as Richie is leaving the stage. I go up, call “On Green Dolphin Street”.
As I played the head, I notice Richie Cole sitting right in front of me listening and staring right at me. I felt like a grade school kid. I could barely play. All I could think of was, “RICHIE COLE IS SITTING 6 FEET IN FRONT OF MY BELL”!!
I ended up talking to him afterwards and he said he moved to Boulder. I let him know how much his playing inspired me as a musician.
That was my Richie Cole moment.
If this pandemic were a war, Coronavirus is simply the ammunition. The reality of this twisted irony is that humans are the enemy, soldier and quite literally, the weapon.
Is this pandemic our generation’s Vietnam?
Analogies aside, there’s nothing factual that anyone can say about this pandemic that sounds anything but an exaggeration.
Looking back in history, all wars have tolls, economic and otherwise. Our freedoms are always threatened or amended during a war. How is this war different?
Is it the economy? Is it the elusive denominator? Is it the number of tests? Is it the number of deaths? How many have to die for us to see that it is not panic that keeps us home and wearing masks in public, just prudent and necessary actions against this horrible pandemic. Is 40,934 enough? Because that’s how many US soldiers were killed in action during the last horrible war in this country, the Vietnam war.
A grim milestone in this pandemic:
By the end of today, deaths by Coronavirus will surpass those killed in action during the Vietnam war. https://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty-statistics Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration.
Trying to wrap my head around the situation that we all find ourselves in, I can’t help but think of the roles we all play in this ongoing debacle. Regardless of the costs to our economy, freedoms and mental and physical health, what is the purpose, accountabilities and tactics of these roles? And, since we all have the choice to fill these roles or not, how does that choice contribute to the success or failure of this war? How do we define success or failure? Is the collapsed economy and lack of freedoms already definition enough? Have we already failed and now it’s just a matter of letting go of our accountabilities and accept our fate in a victim role? If so, are we then part of the inevitable spreading of the virus, like a suicide bomber?
The way I see it, the entire world is the battlefield. Our tactics are to social distance, wear masks when appropriate, wash our hands and just stay home as much as possible. When we do go out for food, or errands, we are literally in the line of fire.
In past wars, brave soldiers fought for our freedoms. Ironically, in this war, the only way we can win is to sacrifice some of our freedoms, at least temporarily.
During the Vietnam war, as the death toll increased, so did the protesting against the war. While this war against a wildly misunderstood virus is hardly similar to the Vietnam war, it gives me some form of substance to grab onto in my mind as I struggle to understand my roles and how to energize them for good. And, it gives me perspective for understanding others with differing perspectives.
The roles and accountabilities of the front line health workers is clear. They are responding to the wounded and dying. But, our roles, as stay-at-homers, as clearly defined as they are, apparently don’t seem to be as necessary to everyone, even as the death toll soars locally and globally. This is evidenced by the protests against the stay-at-home order.
These are folks who think they don’t have a role in fighting this pandemic. They think the few accountabilities that are expected of most of us are over-reactions and against our constitutional rights. If you define success in this war as, “save as many peoples lives as possible”, they are the enemy. They are like suicide bombers, spreading the virus, literally with their presence at these events and philosophically with their behavior and actions.
What is going on in the minds of these protestors? Why are they questioning orders from the Governor of the state that are meant to fight this virus? Why don’t they see that we are fighting an invisible enemy where anyone can be assumed to be firing ammo everywhere in public? It’s a global pandemic affecting 7 billion people and everyone on the planet is a soldier fighting. The only tactics we have involve our mask, soap and home.
“Bring home the troops”, indeed. We need you here to help fight this enemy.
Is it necessary to comprehend the scope of a tragedy, during a tragedy? Is our biological ability to dull the pain of the moment, a gift of survival? Years later, will we pity the naive and mislead? What does it matter? Will it save one life if we could come back in time and shake all our friends, family and others into the reality that millions will die if we don’t act?
It took two and a half hours for the Titanic to sink after hitting an iceberg in the mid Atlantic. During that time, decisions were made. Musicians were playing to ease the panic stricken passengers. Chaos triggered bad decisions. Even with a lack of life rafts to fill all of the hapless passengers, they were not filled to capacity, ultimately dooming many more souls to a miserable death in the ice cold water.
In this great pandemic of 2020, toilet paper started disappearing from shelves and online retailers around the end of February. 1 week later, the NBA announced the suspension of the 2020 season, just as the tip off of the Thunder/Jazz game after a Utah player tested positive for Covid-19. Before tip off, the players were sent to the locker room and the thousands of fans sent home with not much information. Little did they know this was the last time they would be around so many people for who knows how long. This, to me, was the defining first contact with the Pandemic. You can view the surreal moment here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOX_CZEwVuM
That moment was the point in time when normal was gone forever for the US. At that moment, there was a single death in the US.
It’s similar to 9/11 when I watched a massive airplane pierce the north tower. I was watching the news 15 minutes after it happened after my wife called me and said, “turn the news on, a plane hit the World Trade Center, gotta go, got a meeting, talk later”, googling for updates, changing channels, wondering if this is an accident or something more nefarious.
Within 30 minutes of the NBA’s announcement, Tom Hanks and his wife reported they had tested positive for Covid-19, the NCAA season was cancelled, India cancelled their Cricket season, global travel restrictions were starting to take place and I found out my daughter in-law was being tested for the virus due to symptoms associated with Coronavirus.
The following Monday, the entire world shut down. This, to me was the second plane hitting the south tower. Now, we know. Now, the shock set’s in.
The difference from my reaction to 9/11 and the Pandemic is, the first weeks after 9/11, we weren’t shut down. The only major change was in travel, fear and confusion. I remember walking in the foothills and not seeing a single plane for a few days.
Unlike 9/11, the pandemic is a global event. Every country in the world was shutting down, closing schools, restaurants..everything non-essential. Within days, we were learning that masks were much more complicated than we ever thought. We learned new phrases, like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve”. These are the types of new things that are accepted when you are in shock.
Experts were starting to explain new models of viral spread. For every expert, there have been contrary opinions, every single one being proven wrong with every passing hour. This is the most frustrating thing for me.
What I’ve learned since is that there are 4 types of people, those that aren’t infected with the virus and spread positivity, caution and common sense, those that aren’t infected with the virus and spew rhetoric about how we are over reacting, spreading false information about how this is “just like the flu”, those that are infected and scared, and those that are dead from the virus.
I remember the first time I saw someone at my local retail store with a mask on and wondered, WTH? Then, the first time I wore a mask in a store and saw someone without a mask and wondered, WTH? Still in shock
In India, they hit people with sticks to get them off the streets. In the US, marijuana and liquor stores are still considered essential and are open. They say the curve is flattening, but, Tuesday, over 6,000 people in the US lost their lives in just one day. Everywhere you look is misinformation. Today, they say they want to “open America back up”. Meanwhile, the entire world is shut down. Hourly, we are pummeled with news that is conflicting, partisan, political, ignorant and grim. We are just characters, living in a precarious, dystopian horror movie, none of us but the “experts”, daring to admit we know the ending. And, if you do try, you will be shamed or ridiculed and insulted with citations from the experts, who are just characters as well. In fact, it seems as if the experts are the villains in all of this. Even our world’s leaders are behaving like villains.
The new normal hasn’t even started yet. Staying home is all we are asked to do. 45 Days later, today, there are 35,000 lives lost to this horribly misunderstood virus.
By now, the shock has worn off and what remains is stress, a pit in my stomach and knots in my throat when I read the stories, from 7 billion people.
I’m an Expert
No, I’m not. But, they’re more prevalent than a virus and I’m tired of hearing them spew their expert drivel across the internet during this Pandemic. How expert are they anyways? I mean, here we are in a Pandemic. Where were they when we had time to prevent this? Now, they have all this expert advice on washing hands, masks and flattening curves.
Experts can be dead wrong. Experts have exacerbated this calamity. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, they are digging us deeper into a rabbit hole of indecision, confusion and panic with their fake news based on facts, or lack of facts and twisted logic in the case of a denominator to predict the fatality of this deadly virus. In a Pandemic, we have to make decisions sometimes without all the facts. We are allowing a dangerous precedence when we allow these type of experts to advise our president, influence our people and confuse the press. At the very least, it’s arrogant. At worst, it’s killing people. And, I’m sick of all the expert citing on social media by well meaning people, some of them my friends. The naysayers, trolls and non-snopers spread that crap literally at the speed of light.
In the last 3 days daily deaths have doubled to 8K per day globally. And people are still citing experts that say we don’t know the fatality rate relative to the Flu yet. They say, “we really can’t know for sure because we don’t know how many are infected”. True, the number or deaths, divided by the number of infected, the denominator is the fatality rate of the virus. The Flu is .1% in the US. For Covid-19, this won’t be known with 100% certainty for a while, if ever, and at the moment, it doesn’t matter. We don’t need to know.
We don’t need a denominator to come to a relatively certain projection on what’s going to happen in the next month or two. Worldometer.com and CDC are reporting all the data we need to see that there will likely be 240K deaths in the US alone by the end of this month. Globally, Covid-19 deaths are already close to 10 times what the actual flu deaths are this year at a minimum. No denominator required. WTH? I’m no expert and I know this using common sense.
So, how can an expert say today that “we don’t know if this is deadlier then the flu”. Of course it is. Shut up!
On Feb. 29, 2020, the US Surgeon General said this on Twitter….”Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching coronavirus”
It’s April 4th, 2020 and we still can’t even agree on whether a mask is bad or good. C’mon! That is a misconception created by “experts”. We’ll look back on this argument decades from now with absolute ridicule. It’s a mask!!! It works like a mask. It works. Shut up!
In the 2nd century BC, Eratosthenes projected the circumference of the earth using a simple observation of a shadow from a rod sticking out of a couple wells. His accuracy was within 10% and was only made more accurate centuries later by “experts” with better technology. All these Pandemic experts saying it’s “just not possible” until we have a denominator is BS, endless gibberish leading to nothing informative. Because of all the experts and their hang-ups on perfect science, perfect data and denominators, most people will never believe the numbers, even years from now.
If experts can’t make predictions because they’re too hung up on exact variables, they should stop criticizing those that make predictions based on simple observations and step aside so those that are bold enough can speak up and inform, advise and influence faster and smarter, decisions.
Use simple observations. That’s what the rest of us do. And when your advice doesn’t make sense vs common sense, we lose trust in experts, further paralyzing our species from making the correct life and death decisions. I guess common sense isn’t so common amongst experts.
This is my first week of doing this Vegan thing for real, not foraging while traveling. I’m wrapping up 3 weeks with a pure plant based diet with no sweetener except fruits and honey. Honey isn’t Vegan, but that’s what my doc told me to use as a sweetener, over maple syrup even. I have the honey sourced locally and hardly use it for much. I’m also not eating dairy or eggs. If it comes from a plant, I can eat it. If it’s made in a plant, I can’t.
My weight bottomed out at 139 and is now hovering at 143 from being 150 for years. I’m 5′ 8 & 3/4″ on a good day. I feel great. I seriously think my mind is firing on all cylinders. I think smarter. The hardest thing was eliminating sugar. I did have withdrawals for about a week. And I didn’t realize how much crap has dairy and eggs. I love dairy and eggs!
I have had luck traveling, but, it takes a bit of work, like Ubering to a Vegan restaurant in a foreign city, settling for tasteless limp greens at airports, foregoing a proper meal for a powerbar and cooking in a hotel lobby microwave with food that I prepared in my room without proper plates. Another thing that annoys me is that room service always takes my utensils, I guess they think they’re theirs.
Here is my menu for the week.
Pea Mint Soup and “Crabcakes”
I consider myself a foodie and a great amateur home chef. I’ve been a world class professional baker in a previous career. Because of a challenge from my wellness provider, I’ve been vegan for 2 weeks. My goal is 60 days of vegan with zero sugar, no bread, unless home made with fresh ground grain and no dairy.
What I’ve experienced so far:
1: I lost 11 pounds and I only weighed 150 to start.
2: It’s almost impossible to find ANY vegan food when traveling for business, especially at hotels, even 5 star hotels.
3: Indian restaurants have some of the best vegan food I’ve eaten, including the recipes I’ve tried.
4: From my research on the web, most vegan web hits are full of surprisingly pretentious hateful people spewing their arrogant attitudes towards non-vegans.
5: I LOVE the way I feel.
6: My senses are on overdrive.
7: My appetite is super active.
8: I can smell scents I’ve never before been able.
9: Eating is more enjoyable than ever before in my life
10: I love dates ( I’ve always hated them )
I saw the kids, all Indian boys and girls between 8 and 10, as we went through security at the Coimbatore airport, a bunch had their bags re-checked manually, careless packers, obviously. They had some type of uniform on. I saw them again at the gate. I wondered where they would be sitting. They all seemed super excited. I didn’t really pay attention after that and since I was in row 1, didn’t notice where they sat.
As we taxied to takeoff at 11:15 AM IST, it was just another flight. Except I had an aisle seat with an empty seat to my left, very rare for a domestic Indian flight that was fully booked. I guess someone didn’t make their flight for some reason.
Anyways, the plane accelerates for takeoff and I heard the entire back 10 rows erupt in oohs and ahs and whoas and wows and screams. Then it reached peak decibels as we took flight. I didn’t look, but I’m sure all the kids had their hands in the air waving them with as much enthusiasm as they sounded, like they’re on a rollercoaster.
Gotta love the kids. They remind us how boring we get as we get older. I looked around and everyone was smiling.
When we landed in Hyderabad about an hour later, I was first in line to get off the plane. When the door popped open, a dude was there asking if I was Mr. Jon William Long, “going to Dehradun?”. He then escorted me to a bus void of people except the driver, then to a makeshift security table on the tarmac, back in the bus and straight to another plane. Same seat as the last flight. I walked up the steps from the 110 degree tarmac into a plane void of passengers.
The Indigo flight attendants, a step up from the Spice Girls on SpiceJet, have buttons on their sleeves that say “Girl Power”. They greeted me on board like a prince, then gave me a bottled water. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but I never get boarded first in India, and never have been offered a beverage anywhere in the world before takeoff, when not in first class. So, this made my day.
The first person that boarded, 15 minutes later was my friend and colleague, Syed. I haven’t seen him since April, so it was great to visit with him before we took off for Dehradun.
I feel much better today than the past week. I even ate an entire cucumber, lettuce and cheese sandwich on white bread. That is something I never do.
Now, doing Doon for a week or so.
For my Mom who asked for a thorough account of my experience.
I remember the last time I went to an Indian hospital. It was today.
Here’s the story as I weave in and out of real-time and past tense, since I’m not that fast of a typer on my phone.
On the way, I saw an elephant painted like a gypsy, Hindu signs on its forehead, led through the busy rubble filled streets and gutters by its owners. Cars, bikes, carts, kids, goats, dogs and cows competing for the same path thru the rubble as if it’s on a regular. This is just a typical Indian street in the middle of Coimbatore, a typical Indian city. Nobody seemed to notice the elephant but me, on my way to the hospital.
This visit is the 3rd to a hospital in India on the 14th day of my 6th trip to India in the past 2 years. 3 days to the hospital in over 160 total days combined in India? That’s about my average in US
Indian hospitals are nothing like you would see in the states, not even in Montana. The crowds of the streets don’t recede at the hospital campus entrance. In fact, it seems to increase.
In many ways it seems as if time has no effect on India. This is especially apparent in hospitals. I can imagine going back in time one hundred years and not being able to see any difference, except cell phones. The check-in counter and lobby look like something from Ellis Island.
We stumbled ignorantly into the cancer and “bad stuff” ward. There were signs with disfigured faces and people there that actually resemble those depicted on the signs.
Finally, at the respiratory ward, we were given a form to fill out, but nobody could find a pen. A sign read like a menu for rooms: Room with bed 8000 Rupees, Room with bed and A/C 12000 Rupees. There were lines to the different types.
Luckily, I’m just here for a cough. I’ve had a compromised breathing problem since I owned a bread company in the 80’s. I once bought semi loads of wheat berries from Montana, ground it with a large stone grinder, breathing in the gaseous flour as we blissfully baked our bread. Bam, asthma, duh!
So, here I am, India, 100% humidity, wrong preventative inhaler, my fault, and sitting in a queue of actual sick people waiting for my turn. I didn’t get an option for an A/C waiting room, at any cost.
I’ve smelled urine many times, but these were smells I’ve never smelled. Smells on the spectrum that can only be contained by a live body. Fresh urine maybe. I’ve heard death is a smell you never forget. I’m thinking some of the smells I smell are that.
Saravanan was in the hospital the day before yesterday passing a kidney-stone, his second in two years. Now he is here with me navigating me through the Indian maze of medical bureaucracy as convoluted as the architecture of this place.
He held my water as I used the rest room. The man at the sink was washing his whole upper body. There were no towels. I didn’t wash my hands. As I came out of the rest room, Saravanan was apparently swallowing water from my water bottle. Now, I’m no germaphobe, but, NOW I AM! Of course, he assured me, he didn’t actually drink from my bottle. It was all in my head.
I’m now remembering a story my brother Jay told me about a time on a chairlift while skiing with his son Deane. Jay offered his water bottle to Deane who took a swig, when he stopped swigging, Jay saw a swirl of Deane’s saliva slither down into the bottles remaining water like some type of macro level amoeba.
Don’t want that!
I have a secret germ killing trick, Isopropyl, better known in the US as Rubbing Alcohol. I put it in these TSA approved spray bottles and use it to spray anything and everything that may be compromised. I may even spray the air. You know it kills all germs and odors. Unfortunately, I left my bottles in the room. Here I am in a most vulnerable place without my Isopropyl! And so, I will hold my breath during this visit. It’s my only option. I’m screwed.
A few trips ago, another unfortunate forgetful moment, while roughing it in jungle huts. I went horse riding with shorts thru thick jungle, with a barely bandaged gash on my leg. Now that is another story, but, we rode out of the horse coral and into the jungle. That’s when I realized I didn’t have bug spray. At one point, I must have had 50 bugs on me, none of which were mosquito’s, but these mini fly like things. Luckily, they didn’t bite. And they didn’t land on my Indian friends. WTH?
I googled Malaria and Chinese Encephalitis for weeks after.
The last time I was in an Indian hospital, the doctor was very good, very smart and very exact in treating me for thrush. He said to get a better inhaler med for asthma prevention. I didn’t. That’s why I’m here AGAIN. Symbicort apparently doesn’t agree with me. I’m hoping I get a different med inhaler after we finally get to see Dr. Binu.
And, it turns out it was Dr. Binu’s assistant. She was very nice. Said I likely have some type of infection in my upper respiratory area. Now we wait for the Doctor Binu.
I really don’t feel sick. I just have a cough.
Last time when I had Thrush, I went to the ER at MIOT hospital in Chennai. Mosquito’s are about as prevalent here as in Colorado, at least before they spray, and relative to where I’ve been in India. So, I was really surprised how many mosquito’s were in the ER, more than I’ve ever seen, dozens at a time, hovering like tiny drone clusters coming in to get me. It wasn’t comforting that the nurses would frequently sift the room with their tennis racket zappers while I laid defenseless on the gurney. I did finally put bug spray on.
I always liked that Monty Python bit where they are pushing carts of human carcasses through medieval England streets shouting, “BRING OUT’CHER DEAD, BRING OUT’CHER DEAD”. A gurney was just rolled by me as I wait. The old man on the gurney didn’t look dead yet. Everyone around me is coughing. I’m coughing more. I’m starting to feel actually ill.
The other day we got lost driving back to Coimbatore from a temple and ended up driving thru what looked like an ancient cemetery, when in fact it wasn’t that old. I asked about a smoldering pile of rubble and one of my friends said it was the smoke from a cremation. It was right there in front of us!
That dude they rolled by earlier? They just rolled him out of the room. His IV had been removed. He must be dead. He looked dead. I think he is dead. Definately dead.
I’ve seen many dead bodies on my trips to India. They parade them thru the streets throwing truck loads of flower petals in their wake as a marching band blares over the wailing, grieving loved ones left behind.
And here I sit, one of the hapless, one of the wretched, one of the miserable sickos at the mercy of others, in the thick, smelly heat, coughing and thinking about dead people.
“Only 8 ahead of us” Saravanan said as he woke me from my dead thoughts, making my writing finger cramp up just a little.
Three hours and less than 600 Rupees ($10 USD) later, I have 5 prescriptions that will help me recover and a non-inhaler oral asthma preventative that will replace my inhaler.
Diagnosis: Infection due to Symbicort not working properly, triggering an overdose of emergency inhaler, which caused lack of sleep and appetite from the overdose of the steroids in the ProAir emergency inhaler.
I feel better already. But, I feel like a delicate flower for sure. What a wimp.