Hair today, gone on Monday

Is it Thursday? Yes, it’s Thursday. The day, in 2011, that nothing happened.

The Globe provides tips for taking road trips this summer. You’re going to need a big trunk for all the stuff they think you should bring. And apps to find decent bathrooms.

Spencer Buell, writing in Boston Magazine, wonders whether it’s safe to get a haircut when barber shops open on Monday. I think the real question is whether you’ll be able to get an appointment.

Antibody tests and viral tests are two different tests. In simple terms, one checks whether you have the virus, the other whether you have developed antibodies as a result of having previously had the virus. Both are important for calibrating reopening plans and we should be testing for both but, as The Atlantic reports, test numbers released by the CDC have the two all mixed up. “This is a mess,” the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute told the magazine.

There weren’t many republican lawmakers in the Massachusetts legislature and now there are even fewer.

And the Apple/Google contract tracing framework was released yesterday in a software update for your phone. Three states are already working on apps for it, Alabama, South Carolina and North Dakota.

Down the rabbit hole

It’s Wednesday. Happy World Bee Day!

One stimulus check isn’t going to stretch for three months of mortgage/rent payments. The Washington Post looks at what’s in store for New England as peoples’ savings draw down.

This is why I love reading Universal Hub. A mystery photo post gives rise to a discussion thread about everything from the ice cream wars (with all the expected bad puns) to a victim of the Boston Strangler to a fight over anti-war buttons in the 60’s.

A judge is allowing a salvage company, over the objections of NOAA, to remove the Marconi set from the wreck of the Titanic. Other than describing it as a historically important artifact, it’s unclear why the company wants to bring the equipment to the surface. The entire wreck is a historically important artifact, after all.

Bob Locher writes about photography as a religion. It’s a nice essay. I’m not as spiritual about it as he is, but I do share his view that there’s something special about using a camera to capture a moment in time.

And Farhad Manjoo, who usually writes about tech, has turned pessimistic about the world. Some days I can relate but mostly I’m hopeful about the future. In any case, Manjoo wants to talk to readers on the phone about what they think. It’s an interesting approach.

The beginning of Start

Today is Tuesday. It’s also the day Anne Boleyn lost her head.

Welcome to the world of post-civility politics. It’s too bad. I’m old enough to remember a time when adults acted like adults and public figures at least attempted to appear gracious.

The Globe gives us the key takeaways from Baker’s incrementalist reopening plan announced yesterday. Reaction-wise, most business owners are cautiously optimistic but there are also some complaints, especially from gym owners.

Ken Osmond, the actor who played Eddie Haskell, has died.

Apparently it’s not a good time to buy a bicycle. Most places are completely sold out. But if you’re already out there on your bike, it’s a lot easier to get around, especially in the city.

A PERF analysis found that during the lockdown crime went down in many places, but not all. In Boston there were fewer arrests but in reading Universal Hub, there seems to be a lot more violent activity in the last few days. Maybe it’s just spring.

And Matthew Gilbert takes us down to blooper town.

Slow and steady

Monday, May 18. Today’s word is Exiguous.

Good preliminary results on vaccine development from Moderna. Fingers crossed.

Governor Baker is expected to announce the details of the first phase of the economic reopening sometime today. Leaked information indicates that big retailers will be allowed to open first, which some are saying is unfair to the small guys. But we’ll know more later in the day. Then we can gripe.

Getting married is complicated in these times. Zoom officiated weddings aren’t legal but you can still pull off a ceremony if you check all the right boxes. Boston Magazine walks us through the process.

Running the engines and rotating the tires is just one part of the maintenance plan for a $375 million dollar depreciating asset. Kent German looks into how airlines are keeping their grounded fleets airworthy.

And Astrid Kirchherr, who photographed the Beatles in the early days and was reported to have designed their mop-top haircuts, has died at 81. Pete Best sent his condolences in a tweet. (Yes, Pete Best is still around -and tweeting.)


It’s a beautiful spring Sunday morning. Happy birthday to Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, also known as Taj Mahal.

Hey, let’s all go to Iceland this summer!

Sunday morning reading: Dan Balz on the long decline of competence in the federal government, which has accelerated in recent years, and how it got us into the mess we’re in now. Politico has some inside baseball on a key administration appointment. The Times bemoans a lack of leadership and unity at a time of national crisis. And conservative Bill Kristol is interviewed about where the country is now, how we got here and what’s next for Republicans.

Property managers are preparing for a new world of work. Separation tech is becoming a thing. But not all the technology rushing to market is worthwhile.

Opening New York City to tourists, post-Covid, is not going to be an easy task. Just imagine the line to get to the top of the Empire State Building when only 6 people can get into each elevator.

And it’s not all doom and gloom. We are making progress. Granted, distancing restrictions are now being lifted, but let’s hope the trend continues nonetheless.

An onslaught of second-guessing

A sunny Saturday. The leaves are coming out.

A barber in New York who had been illicitly cutting hair now has Covid. Contact tracing of neatly trimmed neighbors is now underway.

In Massachusetts there’s suspense in the air as the governor keeps his cards close on the details of Monday’s reopening. One thing is clear. No matter what he does he’s going to get slammed by both sides. Some are calling for a broad economic reopening while others are demanding that he extend the stay at home order. Baker has been smart about this so far and I think he’ll do the right thing, which will, of course, piss everyone off.

Speaking of Bay State governors dealing with pandemics, Emily Sweeney talks to the folks from the Coolidge Foundation who are hosting a webinar about how Calvin Coolidge handled the 1918 flu outbreak. There were penalties for coughing, spitting and kissing out in public. And you could be fined for being a ‘big talker.’ I’m all in favor of bringing that last one back.

When it comes to defending Apple, John Gruber tends to have a hair trigger. But in this case he’s right on every point. That Washington Post story on the Apple/Google contract tracing software is wrong in all the ways he says it is. Glaringly wrong.

And Steve Earle has a new album, Ghosts of West Virginia, coming out next week. He can’t do promotion for it but this story in the Times won’t hurt.

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane

Friday. Expecting some stormy weather today.

There is one movie coming to theaters this summer. Probably. Maybe.

The Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act, working its way through Congress, would mandate cash refunds for airline tickets regardless of who cancelled first. It’s a good idea and it’s good business for airlines to just make the refunds without a law telling them to do so. My own experience with Norwegian Air was a good one. In late March, after I cancelled a flight set for April, they offered a quick cash refund or voucher +20% for a future flight. I took the latter because I trust and want to continue doing business with them.

Nils Lofgren vs. the Brookdale Senior Living facility. A musician takes on the good fight.

There’s a story behind the shapes of some of the buildings in the Leather District and Chinatown. Adam Gaffin looks into the history of the old Atlantic Avenue Elevated Railway and its winding path through the city.

The Dorchester Reporter reports that there’s a move on to merge two defining Dorchester parishes, St. Brendan’s and St. Ann’s. At one time they were both powerful and flourishing religious and social strongholds for their neighborhoods. Now both are struggling and hoping to join forces just to get by.

And, this is what happens when reporters run out of good story ideas.

A turbulent six months ahead

It’s Thursday. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is 51 years old today. Most of the songs were written in a single feverish day.

Billy Baker has been cooped up too long. File under: funny because it’s true.

The Financial Times published a long and damming account of the administration’s handling of the pandemic. (Short summary here if you hit the paywall.) There are some new revelations although much of what it details we already knew or suspected. But it’s striking to see it all laid out. “It is as though we knew for a fact that 9/11 was going to happen for months, did nothing to prepare for it and then shrugged a few days later and said, ‘Oh well, there’s not much we can do about it,'” one public health expert told the paper.

These days the planets are aligned for tech scammers. Brian Chen breaks it down.

The New York City Health Commishioner is under fire, and rightfully so, for a mean and stupid remark she made about NYPD officers’ need for masks.

And apparently if you work in tech and you’re 41 or older, you may as well just check into the nursing home. Or you could take this advice.

Blowing in the wind

Wednesday. It’s National Frog Jumping Day. Cancelled.

The Guardian has a profile of Ian Dury, the “Count Dracula of vernacular.”

What are the pandemic dangers going forward? This is one of the clearest and most informative articles by an expert that I’ve read so far on where and how the virus spreads and what you can do to avoid it. The author, Erin Bromage, is an immunologist at UMass Dartmouth. Here’s another article by Bromage on the importance of testing in reducing infection rates.

Grounded airliners are screwing up weather forecasting.

People are understandably tired of staying home and are beginning to move around more. Here’s a map that shows where it’s happening. This could explain why the Michigan governor has been so strict. In any case what happens today will impact the infection rate three to five weeks from now. So we’ll see what happens then.

Everything is made of fermions and bosons. At least that’s what we thought. Physicists are now exploring the existence of a whole new family of particles, anyons. Who ordered that?

And 2020 graduates are having a tough year. But there’s doughnuts!

The new, new normal

Today is Tuesday, May 12th. The great Exile on Main St. was released on this date a mere 48 years ago.

Football could still happen in the fall, without the fans, according to Fauci.

Massachusetts will get back to normal in four phases based on a plan announced by Governor Baker yesterday. The phases are: Start; Cautious; Vigilant; and The New Normal. Forget essential vs. non-essential. Instead, this plan is based on the ability of businesses to conduct safe interactions in the workplace and with customers. Makes sense. A more detailed description of what’s opening, and when, will be released on Monday.

Sometimes, as Marc Hurwitz puts it, you need to GTFO. Outside, that is. Places where you can stretch and get some fresh air. He provides a good list of destinations.

According to Bruce Mohl, MBTA ridership, although way down from pre-Covid levels, has been inching up recently, and apparently there’s nothing in place for handling distancing. It really doesn’t matter if people are separated by six feet in the office if they’re crammed into a sardine can on the way there.

And in New Orleans, you can get a mask with a hole in it. You know, so you can sip an adult beverage through a straw while social distancing.