A Bloody and Treasonable Doctrine: Further Reading

Dear Readers (and Listeners)

As I mentioned during the four episode podcast series on the Draft Riots, I wanted to give you some sources for further reading in case any of you were interested in reading more about the incident. I will caution you, however, that not all sources are accurate and a lot of “urban legends” about the riots still get passed around on blogs, websites, etc. Just know that going in.

The Second Rebellion by James McCague is probably the most readable of the accounts about the riots as is it told in narrative format. It can be difficult to get your hands on though as it is no longer in print. Used copies can be found, though it may take some searching.

For those of you who prefer monographs, I would point you to The Devil’s Own Work by Brad Schecter and The New York City Draft Riots by Iver Bernstein. Though short, The Greatest Lynching in American History by Samuel Mitcham delves into issues of race and racism in Northern cities, as I referenced in my podcast. Charles Rivers Editors also have a slim volume on the Draft Riots which includes a pretty good bibliography.

The story of the volunteer fire companies in NYC is well told in a weighty tome entitle Our Firemen by A. Costello. He had the benefit of being able to talk to some of the firefighters who worked during the riots and he recounts some of their stories in his book. If you are interested in fire service history, period, this is a must have for your library.

If fiction is more your thing, check out Paradise Alley by Kevin Baker as the entire book is set during these four days. I also highly recommend Banished Children of Eve by Peter O’Quinn. The drafts riots are part of his story, but not the whole story.

Now, if you truly want to get an eyes on the ground view, you need to go to the newspapers. Read through the Times, Herald, World, and Daily News (all NY) accounts. These are available at most university libraries on microfilm and your local library can probably get them via ILL for you. Just request the rolls that include the July 1863 papers. Reading through 19th Century newspapers is a lot of fun!

There are some good articles written for various historical journals too, but I’m not listing them here because you’d need JSTOR access to get them. If interested though, email me and I can send you some titles.

Until next time, Dear Readers, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.

The End is Nigh!

No, I don’t mean the end of the world, though with the way things are going, that wouldn’t surprise me much. 13 months ago to be exact, I wrote the first words of what would become Molly’s Song. The heavy substantive edits are finished as of a few days ago. I have to make a couple of more passes over the manuscript to clean up a few things, but it’ll be off for the copyedit in September. So it is getting closer to being finished. From this point on, things move fairly quickly. Soon enough, it’ll be time for me to tackle the dreaded query letter/synopsis. I find it amusing that I can rattle off a 104K word novel with ease but suffer paralyzing writer’s block when contemplating a 500 word synopsis.

Looking back over the 13 months that have passed, I have to say quite a lot has happened. Last summer, I lost a cousin in July unexpectedly. In August, I had a flare up of pain that lasted for a couple of months along with some mental health issues. Still, the fall semester was a good one for me, despite all that. I finished the first draft to Molly’s Song the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas Break was good, but then came the spring semester and The Rona. If you followed my “Journal of a Pandemic Year” posts, then you know all the craziness that ensued with us during that time. When I was a kid, my mother once threatened to slap me into the middle of next year. I’m tempted to see if that offer is still on the table.

Now I am going to leave you with some music connected with the novel. The first is a song that I think would make a perfect theme song if the novel is ever made into a Netflix/Amazon/Hulu series.

Molly sings a piece of this song at one point in the novel.

An Irish language song referenced in the book.

Is Molly a Fenian? This song should answer that question.

And here’s one that is a recurring theme, if you will, in the book.

Lastly, though this exact lyrical version of this song wasn’t around in the 1860s as near as I can tell, it still evokes the spirit of the book quite well.

So there you have it, Dear Readers.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.

An Interview With All Bad Things!

Dear Readers,

I have a special treat for you today. I was able to conduct an interview with my favorite podcasters, Rachel and David from the All Bad Things podcast. If you like stories about disasters, both natural and man made, you HAVE to follow ABT. They have new episodes out every Monday and also have a lively Facebook Discussion group full of some really cool people.

So lets get to the interview!

(My comments in italics).

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your feline co-hosts.

. David is from the fine area of Massena, New York, which is basically Canada. In his adult life, he’s lived primarily in both of the Carolinas, with some additional time spent back in New York in Rochester. He works in amino acid production, which is not particularly easy to explain (I still don’t know exactly what he does). I am Miami-born and (mostly) raised, unconventionally homeschooled (read: I didn’t really “school” between elementary school and college) and own my own tax practice, which I started right around the same time as we started the podcast. We both love music; David’s a drummer and I’m a bass player. Our cats are Jesse Pinkman (the elder statesman) and Demetrius. Jesse is a tuxedo-pattern Maine Coon and Demi is a little ginger tabby. I picked out Jesse just after David and I started dating. I went to a local cat shelter, where they put you in a room of cats roaming free so you can see which one you like. Jesse was the only one who kind of ignored me, which I appreciated, because I wanted an independent cat. It was a complete ruse; he follows me into the bathroom and whines when I don’t pay sufficient attention to him. As for Demitrius, we went on vacation during the summer about four years ago, and when we returned – even though we had hired a pet sitter to come around twice a day – it was clear Jesse had been quite lonely. We decided what he needed was a brother (we did not consult Jesse on this, I’m sure he would want that noted). This one would be David’s choice. We went back to the shelter, and the second David sat down in the Room o’ Cats, Demetrius jumped right into his lap, as if to claim him. He continues to do so to this day. We love them both very much, but they are both total brats we affectionately refer to as the “little shittles”.

(note: Demetrius is Anastasia Colleen Hutchison’s long distance boyfriend)

What made you decide to get into podcasting? And specifically disaster podcasting?

We’re both morbidly interested in disasters, so I pitched the idea of doing a podcast to David. At the time, we couldn’t really find many/any disaster-related podcasts (we’re pretty sure Jennifer started Disaster Area a little before we launched, but we didn’t find her pod doing our initial research in spring 2017). There was one (apologies, I don’t remember the name or the person who did it) that was very technical and well-done, but we were looking to do something more in a comedic vein a la The Dollop (which we’re both fans of) and My Favorite Murder (which I’m a fan of). Turns out there’s a reason people don’t generally do a comedy podcast about disasters: we get a lot of shit for it.

(They do get shit for it, but I love hearing them roast 1 Star Reviewers!)

Given that you both have jobs outside of podcasting, what goes in to preparing and producing an episode? Do you record on certain days of the week? How do you decide about which disasters to cover?

. We pound out a new episode every single Monday (at least! we’ve done some minisodes in between), so our research isn’t weeks-long deep dives, especially since this is 100% a hobby. That being said, we do put several hours into it each week. Some episodes we’re prouder of than others, but we’re also proud of our consistency. The research is really the most work-intensive part of the process, as the recording is – especially after three years – just us reading the research and being ourselves. We don’t really put any time into “production”, to be completely honest. Listeners hear 99% of everything we record in the released episode (the 1% being the dead air at the beginning or end we trim off). It didn’t start that way; we edited the hell out of our first episodes . . . that quickly went by the wayside. As for the topics, I’m basically the one who just decides what topics to cover and when. There is a method to the madness; I try to vary the subjects, locations, types of disasters, etc., to keep things interesting.

What’s the favorite episode you have produced? Have you done an episode or episodes that was/were particularly difficult due to the subject matter?

David’s favorite episode is Action Park! because it was a fun, bonkers diversion from the usual mass-casualty, dark topics we cover. I’m a fan of the episodes I know I worked really hard on, like Hillsborough, Grenfell Tower, and the HIV/AIDS series. Most of our topics are difficult on a psychological level (that’s why we do a comedy podcast; we’d get too depressed otherwise), but Hillsborough and the Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash were the saddest to us personally. We do try to find any possible silver lining or lesson learned, if only for our own psyches.

(My favorite episodes they have done were on the Grenfell Tower Fires)

The podcast has a lively following with an active Facebook group. Did or does it surprise you how many people are interested in listening to stories about bad things?

We’re not so surprised that people are interested in disasters, but we are surprised people are interested in hearing about them from us! Disasters seem true crime-adjacent, and true crime is HUGELY popular, so the topic itself being popular isn’t too terribly surprising. Though, admittedly, disasters probably don’t carry as many interested followers because of how grim they get so fast, and how little vindication, justice, or blame there is to mete out. Sometimes an accident is just an accident. I think our Facebook group is pretty active because we don’t worry about censoring too much. Nothing’s really off topic and our only rule is “don’t be a dick”.

(The ABT Facebook Discussion Group is my favorite Group on Facebook.)

What advice would you give someone wanting to start out in podcasting?

That’s a tough one! We don’t monetize, so we don’t have any advice at all for someone wanting to make money. Just do what you want to do; you can run yourself ragged trying to please people, but why? Make it what you want it to be, be good to the listeners who reach out to you, and fuck the haters.

(As an author, I second this. As long as you are happy with your product, then go for it. There’ll always be naysayers, but they can go make their own podcast or write their own book if they don’t like yours).

Are there any podcasts that you recommend (disaster related or not)?

SO many! David’s more a YouTube follower, but here’s a list of two we both like plus a bunch I like: The Dollop, Last Podcast on the Left, My Favorite Murder, Moms and Murder, Factually! with Adam Conover, Criminal, True Crime Island, Sawbones, Code Switch, Office Ladies, Uncover, They Walk Among Us, Swindled, Pretend, and, of course, Civil Wargasms! And, for good measure, David’s YouTube recommendations (sports and politics): FivePointsVids, Urinating Tree, SB Nation, Jimmy Dore, Secular Talk, the Humanist Report, and the Rational National.

So be sure to check out their podcast, friends! And until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Ten

Dear Readers,

Though I have made posts over the past six weeks, I have not done an actual journal entry, so I figured I would get everyone caught up on the goings on over the past month. My state, Texas, is in the middle of a major outbreak of The Rona, and my county, Harris, is the epicenter of it, so there’s no going outside and doing anything for me, so I have time to write a little. (Not that I was going out or doing much before that. You can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually been somewhere since March 6th).

When I made my last pandemic year post, you may recall that I said that we had secured the funds to re-wire the house. The job took seven days to do and the master electrician said that we had the toughest house he’s every worked in given its age and the thickness of the walls. Now, all of our wiring and our panel is up to code. Trying to work in the middle of having your house re-wired is challenging. We ended up having to go one night without a/c. I left and went to stay at my mother’s house since I have an auto-immune disease that makes me susceptible to rapid dehydration if I am not careful. Plus, I couldn’t lay on my ice packs either since we didn’t have power. But we survived it, which was the important part.

After the re-wire, we had to do some other work, mostly replacing some sheetrock that was taken down in the kitchen. As of today, July 4th, all major repairs have been completed. Now, we are just slowly getting everything put back where it belongs. The insurance denied our appeal for the roof damage, so we’ll have to get an attorney and file suit. I’m not looking forward to that. But it is what it is.

June passed very quickly, given all the “excitement” we’d had in April and May. I really got very little of value accomplished, which kind of sucks. I admit that I have not made the best use of the all the time at home. It’s been difficult to concentrate and I’ve also dealt with major flare ups in pain too. But now I am deep into edits to Molly’s Song and hope to be finished with the bulk of it in about a week or so. On that note, I have the perfect theme song for the Netflix/Amazon series about her, should she ever appear on screen. You can listen to it here.

I hope to have the next episode of my Civil War podcast out sometime next week. I just have to decide on a topic first. I’m also suffering through major withdrawal having recently given up the cigarettes. When I quit before, in 2012, it was a breeze. I stayed quit for about a year and a half. Now, it isn’t so easy. But it is what it is. I keep telling myself that if Molly can get through all the trials and tribulations that I put her through, then I can get through this.

My son graduated high school on June 1st and they actually had an in-person graduation, though there was at least an attempt at social distancing. My wife and I wore masks and stayed well away from everyone else. The Friday before that, I had an in person doctor appointment and that was my first time out of the house since all this began. I was nervous because it is in a medical office building and I knew there might be sick people there, but I escaped without getting infected. I don’t have another appointment until August, so I really don’t have to leave the house unless it is an emergency until then.

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

С Днем Рождения, Машка!

Мой ангел

Dear Readers,

Today is a special day! My history crush/guardian angel Mashka turns 121 in actual years, but she is eternally 19. In honor of her birthday, I decided to do a special post that links all of my previous posts about her. So if you are new to discovering my history crush, this post will explain it all. But first, I have to share the birthday tribute video that I made. Previously, I had made a long tribute video but the YouTube Nazis took it down. So for her birthday today, I made an even longer one! You can watch it here. But hurry, they may take this one down eventually too. I included a couple of my funny edits in this video. You’ll recognize them when you see them.

If you are wondering where my love for Maria Nikolaevna comes from, you can read these two pieces, but make sure that you read them in order. First, read this one that tells you about how I first discovered who she was. Then read this one, where you can learn about the time she saved my life and thus how I know she’s my guardian angel.

I like music, and so I also made an epic Mashka playlist on my phone. You can see what songs are on it here and also learn about what it is in each song that I relate to her.

In case you are wondering, yes, my office at the college is basically a shrine to her. (Though I haven’t set foot in my office since March 5th, thanks to The Rona). I also sleep with a picture of her next to my bed. And a photo of her is a screensaver on my computer and my phone. Though I do have a lot of photos of her on my author page on Facebook, I also have tons of them on my phone.

So happy birthday to my blue-eyed angel, Mashka. Я тебя люблю.

Sadly, Maria’s remains along with those of her brother have never been buried and have spent the last twelve years in storage. The Russian Orthodox Church refused to accept 25 volumes worth of scientific reports indicating that the remains found in the original grave were the Romanovs, minus Maria and Alexei. And when those remains were discovered in 2007, tests proved conclusively that they were the children of Nicholas and Alexandra. The Russian Orthodox Church rejected all of that documentation and demanded more testing be done. It was, and no surprise, it should the same thing. So then the Church rejected those tests results too…the ones they asked for. In fact, none of the Romanov remains ever received a full Orthodox burial, but at least the others are united. For f–ks sake, why don’t they reunite Maria and Alexei with their parents? It all comes down to petty politics and the Church being upset that they were kept out of the loop when the initial grave was discovered. This is their stubborn, petty revenge. Enough is a enough.

L.H.

Civil Wargasms: A Podcast

Dear Readers,

After many requests and much cajoling, I have started a podcast. It will focus on the Civil War and I am calling it: Civil Wargasms. You’ll notice a new tab by that name on my website homepage and from there, you can access the weekly episodes. Or you can subscribe to it via Apple Podcasts or Podomatic. And…I have also made a Facebook page and a podcast account on The Twitter.

It is not for the faint of heart or those with no sense of humor, as it will focus on some of the salacious and gory aspects of the war. This is history as it really was and not as we wished it was.

So until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

Imagine a Catchy Title…

screaming man

Dear Readers,

I struggled to even come up with a title for this post. It’s been a rough two weeks for me. I woke up in the day after Memorial Day and knew right away that I was in for it. Typically, I know how rough a day I’ll have within ten minutes of waking up. For a solid week, I battled horrific back spasms, neck spasms, and pain in my shoulders. It all stems from my injuries, so there is nothing new wrong with me. Friday, I had a toradol shot at the doctor that didn’t even make a dent in it. Then, on Monday, June 1st, I woke up feeling better. Back to normal, really. (My normal pain level is a 4 to 5/10). It was my son’s high school graduation and I made it down for the ceremony and was able to stand for the whole time (because I can’t sit on metal bleachers). I went to bed that night thinking that I’d put the latest flare up behind me. Tuesday started off good too. I was confident that I’d turned the corner.

And then, I reached for something and my entire back locked up again. And on Wednesday, my right knee decided to join the party and it locked up too. I live in constant pain, but I’m used to it being a certain level that I can manage. Protracted flare ups like this scare me because I don’t know if it is the new normal. If so, I don’t know how I can cope with it. It’s the kind of pain that forces everything else from your head. I’m used to working through pain. I’ve written two novels standing up because I can’t sit down, but right when I was wanting to start writing my third, this hit me and I haven’t been able to put so much as a single word on paper yet.

There’s nothing that can be done for me that hasn’t already been done or tried. The damage is too significant to my spine and more surgeries just risk serious complications with no chance of improvement. We all have our crosses to bear, and this one is mine. This is my reality. There is a point in my second and forthcoming novel Molly’s Song where our young heroine says, “The world is just a prison without walls.” I channeled my own frustration into her voice because that’s exactly what it feels like to be me. But that’s life. You hope in one hand and sh-t in another, and see which one fills up first.

L.H.

Restoration Update

SideNew

Friends,

Last week was…crazy. We had the house rewired. They are 98% done and will be out tomorrow to take care of a few smaller things left to do. While that work was going on, we uncovered some interesting things about the house. And did some other restoration work in two rooms. It’ll be a while before we are completely done, but we have some ideas on how to return it to its original 1930s appearance inside. I think when we are done with all the work, I’m going to write the whole story of how we came to buy the house, what work we’ve done to it, and what we’ve learned about it while living here. It’ll be short story length, most likely.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend.

Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

Human Trafficking Awareness

Hutch

Friends,

As those of you who’ve followed the progress of my novel Molly’s Song (hopefully out this winter), you know that it touches on human trafficking in the 19th Century. As a firefighter, of course I knew a little bit about human trafficking, but we weren’t provided with much training at all back then. As a person with an academic background in history, I knew a little bit about the historical context, especially in the 1800s. However, I had no idea how prevalent and pervasive an issue it was until January of 2018. It was my first semester at the college and we had a professional development day prior to the start of the semester. One of the sessions I attended was on human trafficking. I had no idea that the area that I had lived for the past several years was one of the major hubs in the country. It was taught by a colleague who, apart from being a professor and a truly kind and caring human being, is also the President of the Restoration Life Project. You can find more about the organization here. It is dedicated to helping survivors of human trafficking rebuild their lives. This is such an important mission. Survivors need advocates like this who are willing to extend a helping hand.

And lest you think that trafficking is only an urban problem, please understand that it happens everywhere. It happens in rural communities. It happens in upscale neighborhoods. It happens in the suburbs. It is all around us and if we don’t know what to long for, or if we are willing to turn a blind eye, then it will persist forever. The victims are not nameless, faceless entities. They are our sisters, our brothers, our husbands, our wives, our sons, and our daughters.

So what can you do? Get involved. Educate yourself about the issue. Learn the signs to watch for. But how can I do that, you ask? The Restoration Life Project offers awareness sessions that are now online due to the ongoing issue with COVID-19. I’m going to quote from the email below:

“Restoration Life Project is still on its mission!  Sadly, even a pandemic is not enough to put an end to human trafficking. Therefore, we are moving our awareness chat sessions online until at least August 31st, 2020. If any church, community organization, employer or family would like to schedule an online chat session to learn more about human trafficking to be provided by RLP members, please send an email to therestorationlifeproject @ gmail.com (just remove the spaces). Chat sessions are free, but donations are needed and appreciated.  Stay safe and remember the RLP slogan… Love restores!”

So please, friends, consider getting involved in the fight to end this scourge upon society. There are ways to get involved in every community, but it all starts with an email or a phone call. Let’s all work together to make this world a better place. And what better place to start than our own communities.

Until next time, friends, stay safe.

Lee Hutch

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Five

roof

“Rain damage according to the insurance…”

April 10th

 The adjuster came out yesterday and met with us and our roofing contractor. He gave everything a thorough going over and took a lot of pictures. We largely stayed out of his way and let our contractor handle it. When the adjuster left, the contractor said that the adjuster told him that he was going to recommend that our windstorm insurance pay to replace the entire roof. 90% of the time, they go with the adjuster’s recommendation, so our fingers are crossed that they will do that this time. We should know something by early next week. Later in the day, someone else from the roofing company came out to put a better tarp over the holes (they are basketball sized), but we had storms last night and severe weather forecast for tomorrow night into Sunday morning.

This morning while I was sitting on the front porch having my coffee, I saw a CNN article on The Twitter about people having what are called “pandemic dreams”…probably stress induced. I found this interesting. Other than my dream about the Alamo, I haven’t done much dreaming but that’s because I haven’t done much sleeping. Last night, I went to sleep at 11:00pm. I awakened suddenly at 11:59pm and I’ve been up ever since. I am typing this at 9:30am. I woke up because we had a big storm come through and I was worried about whether or not the new tarp on the roof would hold. It did, so far. However, they are forecasting heavy winds and severe storms and rain later this weekend. If we can get 72 hours with no further damage, then we will be okay as it is going to dry out next week. No sleep, of course, means that I’m stiff and in horrific pain today. Lucky me.

April 11th

 The lack of sleep on Thursday night meant that I actually slept okay last night. And now, Saturday, I have to admit that I’m struggling with a serious amount of lack of drive to get things done. I checked the stats on the videos that I had made for class and found that for the previous week, the most viewed video only had 14 views. (In my four face to face 1302 classes, I have around 140 students, just to give you an idea). So why spend hours putting videos together if no one watches them? I guess I can just use premade videos from other sources. That seems to be what a lot of faculty are doing anyway. It is frustrating to put a lot into a class and making sure the Great Online Course Migration doesn’t negatively impact students when they don’t give a shit.

I think instead, I’ll spend the day playing Silent Hunter Four and sinking the Imperial Japanese Navy. Incidentally, a few days ago I ordered a collection of World War Two era radio broadcasts, news program, and radio shows. It totals around 1,250 hours of wartime programming. It is coming on MP3 discs, but it is also available via digital download and so I’ve downloaded about 1/3rd of the material so far. It is kind of cool to listen to the news broadcasts in order and follow the war as it unfolded in real time.

Tonight, we’ve got major storms in the forecast which does not bode well for the tarp on our roof. I’m not sure it can stand up to the predicted strong winds, hail, and heavy rain. It might be another sleepless night trying to make sure we don’t spring any more leaks.

April 12th

 We got lucky. I feel asleep last night full expecting to be awakened by storms. Instead, I was awakened at 0245 by my bladder. I checked the radar and saw that the strong storms were staying well to our north and were predicted to do so through the morning on Sunday. When I woke up for good at 0645, I saw that the ground was dry and the radar again showed the heavy stuff well away to the north, though we may get the occasional stray shower this morning. So we dodged a major bullet. I’m hoping to hear from the insurance company tomorrow as to whether or not they will cover the repairs. With this past Friday being a state holiday, it no doubt slowed down their response and so I’m not sure if it will be Monday or not. It could be Tuesday/Wednesday. My contractor indicated that if the insurance covers it, they can start work very quickly and if it is Monday, it is possible they could be done with the roof by the end of the week. The less time with a tarp the better, but at this point, I’m honestly just hoping that the insurance company decides to cover the damages.

Today, I have to do some more work related to the edits on my novel in preparation for my meeting with my editor tomorrow. I want to have my plan put together to go over with her. It helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of, that’s for sure. Then I’ll probably give it one more week of not touching the manuscript before beginning my edits, one chapter at a time, on April 20th. I plan on editing at a rate of 10 chapters a week. That’s put me finished around May 3rd. At that point, I’ll set the book aside so that I can begin work on novel number 3, Dark Raven. Then, I’ll pull Molly’s Song out again for another pass around June 15th in preparation to send back to copyedits on June 22nd. Sometimes, I confess, I wish that I could write full time. My sales are nowhere near enough to make that a reality though, probably because I suck at marketing. The odd thing too is that all the awards that So Others May Live has either won or is up for haven’t actually translated to an increase in sales either. Kind of makes you wonder what the point of awards is if they don’t increase sales. I guess they are good for the ego, but perhaps not much else.

April 13th

 It’s a Monday that doesn’t feel like a Monday since every day is now a Monday or a Saturday, depending on whether or not you are an optimist or a pessimist. Yesterday evening, I got some material posted for my classes for this week. I did not shoot any videos myself though. Part of it is that I am suffering from a severe lack of motivation, part of it is that we are still dealing with damage to the house, and part of it is that my students weren’t really watching my videos anyway. I spent of most of yesterday doing very little of use apart from checking emails, working on my edits, and watching TV. Speaking of TV, yesterday evening, I watched an amazing movie called One Day. It’s based on a novel by the same name which I’ve read part of, but since I didn’t finish it, I didn’t know the ending until I watched the movie. It’s an amazing movie and I highly recommend it. However, if you prefer every movie to have a happy ending…you might want to give this one a pass. Personally, I think movies/novels should have realistic endings, which aren’t always happy. Lord knows, I’ve been chastised by several readers for the way So Others May Live ended. As far as that goes…World War Two did not end happily for tens of millions of people. So I’m not sorry for ending it the way I did.

I don’t have much on my plate for today apart from paperwork this morning and at 1400 hours, I have a video conference with my editor to go over my revision plan for Molly’s Song. It’ll probably be next week before I actually start putting fingers to keyboard. This morning, I listened to my favorite podcast while I drank my coffee on the porch with Cravat Cat, the feral cat who is trying to steal my wife. They are saying on the news that we are two weeks away from seeing our peak case numbers in Texas. I don’t doubt the accuracy of the statement but seeing as how we rank near the bottom in per capita testing and the governor wants to reopen businesses, I fear that this will go on far longer than people think. It has gotten to the point that I now know a couple of people personally who have been infected, though thankfully they are not in critical condition. Before all this is over, I think we will all be touched by it in some way.

April 14th

 I’m having an increasingly difficult time remembering what day it is. I always know the date, but I can’t remember the specific day of the week. This is the opposite of how I normally am. In non-COVID times, I always knew if it was a Tuesday or a Wednesday, but I couldn’t tell you the date without looking at the calendar. That’s rather amusing if you think about it. Isn’t it odd how quickly people can adjust to new circumstances? I think that in the aftermath of this virus, things will probably never go back to how they were before. There won’t be any “getting back to normal.” What I think will happen is that we will find a new normal. We will date things as pre-virus or post-virus, in much the same way as those of us that live on the Gulf Coast tend to use major hurricanes as benchmarks (pre or post-Ike, Katrina, Harvey, Rita, etc, etc). And, of course, until we have an effective vaccine, we face a risk of a resurgence of the virus thus necessitating us doing this whole thing all over again. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is what it is.

I’m Catholic, but I’m not overly religious. I tell people I’m a practicing Catholic…practicing because I’m not very good at it. I’d say I’m more spiritual than religious, though I still recite the Rosary from memory every night before I go to bed and, prior to the virus, recited the prayer to Saint Michael before leaving the house every morning. That’s more out of habit than anything else. In life, I’ve always taken comfort in music, including old hymns. Two that I find particularly comforting in times of trouble are Abide With Me which was a very popular hymn with British troops in World War One. “Where is deaths sting? Where grave thy victory? I triumph still if thou abide with me.” Go here to listen to it being sung at the 2010 Festival of Remembrance. The second one is the hymn It Is Well With My Soul. “Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.” There’s a tragic story behind how it came to be written which you can read about here. And this is the best performance of it I’ve ever heard.

April 15th

 Still no word as of yesterday evening from the insurance. Part of me is of the mind to think that no news is good news, however, the pessimist side of me thinks that the longer it takes, the more likely it is that they are trying to come up with a way to deny coverage. After all, there’s no profit for them in paying claims. But maybe that is just me being cynical. Today is a Wednesday. I double checked on my phone before I got out of bed. In the pre-COVID days, I’d get up at 0630. By 0745, I was on the road headed to the Sugar Land campus. I’d arrive around 0900 and have an hour in the shared office space (my actual office is at the other campus). At 1000, I taught a 1301 class. At 1100, I had a 1302 class. Then I had an hour off in which I would eat lunch and check my emails. Then I would have another 1302 class at 1300. After class, I’d go upstairs and check my emails again, then I’d be on the road for home around 1415. Fun times. Now I don’t have a set schedule and I think that is part of what is causing me such problems. I allow my body to dictate my tempo and schedule rather than forcing it to adjust to one. I think starting next week, I might start setting my alarm for 0630 or 0645 and trying to work on a similar time system as before The Rona. Of course, that is all well and could to type that now. Come Monday morning, I may have a different opinion.

My wife is in the other room running a department meeting on Zoom. She’s the chair. It is amusing to listen to her run her meetings. Very German. “You vill listen to ze information und den you vill do ze the verk!” (She doesn’t have that accent, but it still basically goes like that). This morning, I have the 1952 John Ford film What Price Glory on the TV. It stars James Cagney and the lovely Corinne Calvet. You can watch it on YouTube here. I think it is one of the better World War One films, especially from the American perspective, but it is largely forgotten today. Speaking of James Cagney and World War One films, The Fighting 69th is another classic. The best documentary on World War One, a multi-national project which was released for the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, is 14: Diaries of the Great War. It is phenomenal. It was on Netflix for several years, but is no longer. Likewise, it isn’t available on YouTube either, at least not in a watchable format. It hasn’t been released on DVD anywhere but Australia either. I was able to get an Aussie copy and, since I have an all regions DVD player, I can still watch it. It is frustrating that such a great documentary isn’t widely available. I’m not sure why I am on a rambling World War One rant this morning. Probably because I’m planning on finally watching 1917 tonight on Amazon.

April 16th

 My hunch was correct. The insurance denied the claim. They say it was water damage and not wind. The fact that the wind lifted the shingles which then caused the water intrusion was conveniently ignored. And they also claimed that water dripping from an electrical outlet does not cause electrical damage. Since we live on the coast where insurance companies won’t write windstorm policies due to hurricanes, we have to have our windstorm coverage through the state risk pool. This means you cannot appeal their decision. All you can do is file a lawsuit, but you have to give them advance notice of your intent to sue. In the meantime, we still have holes in our roof and now, if another storm were to come before it is fixed and it suffers more damage, they will refuse to cover it and claim it is due to the pre-existing damage. Furthermore, with the damage, our roof is out of compliance with windstorm codes and I’ll give them about a week before they start threatening to revoke our coverage completely. I fucking hate insurance. Medical. Dental. Homeowners. They are all evil bastards. After all, you don’t make a profit and CEOs don’t get million dollar bonuses if you are paying out claims. Keep in mind, the premiums we’ve paid for windstorm coverage in the twelve years we have lived in this house are more than enough to cover the cost of a new roof with a tidy profit left over for the company, and that’s not even factoring in our $1900 deductible. Part of the reason they are so stingy on claims is all of the lawsuits they’ve lost.

In the meantime, let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

P.S.: I ended up not watching 1917 last night.

L.H.