How I Survived 2020

Even though 2020 will forever be connected to the COVID-19 pandemic and remembered as one of the worst years in the history of the country, perhaps even the world, those of us who were fortunate enough to survive, indubitably have stories to tell.

Like many, or maybe even most, my life was disrupted in ways I could never have imagined pre-pandemic. As a professor, my teaching practice abruptly shifted from in-person instruction to remote teaching in a matter of two weeks. It was the Wednesday before spring break that I learned the campus where I’ve been working for the last 6 years would be indefinitely shut down. Students, staff, and faculty were told to pack up and leave campus by the end of the day on Friday. Faculty got some Zoom training during spring break and our classes resumed remotely the week after spring break. I’ve now be teaching all my courses on Zoom for the last 30 weeks. Distance learning has become the norm and will continue to be the norm for me for the foreseeable future as all of my classes for the spring semester 2021 will be on-line again, and I will not, in fact, cannot, return to the campus until the virus is no longer a threat.

How have I adapted to working from home? For starters, I get up much earlier than before. In fact, most of my classes are in the morning. I have even been teaching a course that starts at 6:00 am for international students who live in different time zones; in some cases, there is as much as a 13 hour time difference. On most days, I’m done teaching by 10:00 am. Rather than go back to sleep, I lesson plan, grade papers, attend meetings, and then, weather permitting, I go for a walk to clear my head. In the spring and early autumn, I also went fishing nearly every day at a local pond. I eat all my meals at home and occasionally pick up some take out. Since I am up so early, I eat lunch late morning and dinner in the late afternoon. I may watch a little TV, mostly news programs or car shows, read some, write a little, and then hit the hay by 9:00 pm. It has been a somewhat boring routine, especially during the winter months when it’s more difficult to get out.

And while being holed up in the house for large stretches of time has been frustrating, I have used the time to explore new interests, which have included following a vegan diet, learning to play the guitar (still just playing chords and scales), putting together jigsaw puzzles, podcasting, and writing haiku. Except for veganism and fishing, I doubt that I would have pursued these interests if it had not been for the pandemic, so there’s a silver lining there. And speaking of silver linings, here’s one I just now wrote in the form of a haiku:

armed with a vaccine

the virus will run its course

by the new year’s end

Limericks for Dems

From the poetry desk of Ribbie’s weblog.


“Elizabeth Warren”

Elizabeth Warren from OK to MASS

For some in the field she’ll be hard to surpass

She frightens Wall Street

Biggest foe they will meet

The cure for D Trump’s raving bombast.

“Kamala Harris”

Oakland to San Fran then Capitol Hill

Senator Harris is full of goodwill

For the people

Treats them as equal

Medicare for all an all but signed bill.

“Cory Booker”

The great Cory Booker of Jersey

Won’t show 45 any mercy

So when on the stump

He rails against Trump

To bring back our DEmocracy.

“Pete Buttigieg”

This is the story of a young Mayor Pete

With solid credentials to fiercely compete

At the helm of South Bend

With wisdom to lend

A practical polyglot who cannot be beat.

“Beto O’Rourke”

Guitar playing Dem from West Texas

Live Streaming Midwest for breakfast

Although he does smile

We won’t know for a while

Whether Beto’s appeal is infectious.

“Bernie Sanders”

He’s a force is the Bern from Vermont

A voice in all CAPS who can taunt

Appeals to the left

With considerable heft

Got lots of loyal Berners to flaunt.

“Amy Klobuchar”

Tough Amy K from the great state of Minn

To centrist ideas she is more than all in

A graduate of Yale

Not running FROM jail

Were she to catch fire she surely could win.


Dank Montevideo and Pink Freud

Back in Montevideo

2014-07-22 19.37.12

Cool Bleak Dank Dark.

Smoking smokers and the strangely pleasant smell of diesel fumes.

Snarling dogs growling the night away.

Sassy birds and prancing donkies;

No need for alarm or alarms except whatever you doo watch out for dog poo.


Small ones. Mostly

Of European persuasion – Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, VW and Fiat –

All shapes and sizes from micro cars and tiny toy pickups to vans and trucks.

An occasional Chevy Spark and some strange unknown models to the U.S. and perhaps unwanted too. And over there – on the other side of 1961 Fiat 500 sits the confident and nimble Nissan March.

Manual transmission and automatic internet for the people.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Onward to Barra 7 for some veggies as Jimi plays Monterey on the big screen. Pink Freud on the wall staring us down, frowning upon the Patricia beer never to be ordered to sound like Pilsen. For Particia is not Pilsen nor is it soap in a bottle of Coke. A cistern and a stern warning. Student patrons with a gift of art hanging freely as the fruit juices blend and the pizzas mend the soul.

The Walls of Barra 7

The Walls of Barra 7

Last and Final stop:  La Inglessa.

Ode to Organic



Range free and cageless eggs

Atop heaps of rare grass fed beef

Resting on a bed of quinoa

Peppered with chia seeds

Superfood of the Aztecs and the Mayans

And perhaps the Incas too

Beckon me to supp

And I dine

Sipping wine

Made from organic non-GMO yeast

 As Guatemalan fair trade percolates

And my mind briefly drifts to the

Snickers bar I have tucked away in my dresser drawer

That could secretly complete the feast

AirTran and Kyoto – What’s the Link?


I was mindlessly watching a ridiculous AirTran commercial in which two marketing assistants or maybe interns were trying to come up with an idea for a promotion. They were randomly selecting dictionary entries. This got me thinking, weeks later, because I was certainly not at the time, that I should do something similar as a post or even a series of posts for my blog. Inspired by this insipid commercial, I grabbed my copy of Webster’s New Explorer Dictionary (yes, I have one and refer to it from time to time when too lazy to log on to my slow computer) opened it to a random page and with eyes closed pointed to an entry on the Heian period, page 546 in between Hegira and Martin Heidegger. I would prefer to write about Hejira or Heidegger but must respect the integrity of the challenge…and so the Heian period.

Did you know the Heian period named for the capital city Heian-kyo (Kyoto) spans the years 794-1185 of Japanese history? This epoch is best remembered for its aristocratic culture committed to “aesthetic refinement through poetry and calligraphy”. I would have been an outcast in this culture. My calligraphic skills do not exist – my handwriting is a frenetic mix of cursive and print. My poems, if you can even call them poetry, lack refinement.

The Kyoto Protocol, a treaty designed to combat global warming was ratified by most countries in 1997, but not the US of A, the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide emissions. Thanks to the Bush administration and pressure from the U.S. Senate, the USA officially does not take global warming seriously, that is until now. The Obama administration has made climate change a priority, along with health care, immigration, national security, the economy, cash for clunkers, Afghanistan….and has pledged to work with international negotiators to craft a new treaty that would be more effective than Kyoto.

Hey, maybe AirTran will be the first commercial airline to power its fleet of planes with plug-in electric batteries. And why not have poetry slams and calligraphy lessons aboard all domestic flights.  Can you picture the flight attendants handing out free AirTran quills and inkwells to deboarding passengers?

Thank you for choosing AirTran
You know we really care
Fly us again if you can
The most refined bird in the air

Road Trip Chichen Itza

Kukulcan Pyramid

Pollo seco and a bottle of coke light

All you can eat or all you can leave behind

Scraggly tress with green leaves

sway gently in the sweltering breeze

Bobble headed tourists

rest comfortably on the

air conditioned Mercedes Benz bus

as our tour guide announces

that the Mayan were thought by some to have

come “from out of the space”

A faint smell of diesel peppers the air

Onward to Chichen Itza


Santiago, Chile


The Andes, bold as Everest

Encircle the sprawling city


The sterile French made Metro

Deposits to all parts

Lo Vial to Quinta Normal

Dos en Uno

No need to rush

mote con huesillos

Mote con huesillos

Everywhere you go

Mote con huesillos

Gracias pero no

Darkness sets in

La Cordillera erased

Ambient Sounds

Instant fix

No worries for now

Ambient sounds of Eno at midnight

Subliminal relaxation

Brian Eno - Discreet Music

Soon a computer

The Leading Edge

Must gain control of my mind

Thoughts on a floppy disk

Not to self-ostracize

Only to organize



Bounced a check today

Or was it yesterday

Doesn’t matter anyway

Slimy beans in the fridge

Eat them out of the can

No dishes to clean

Clean beans

Saw Halley’s Comet again

Exploding snowball in the air

Had to stop and stare

Eno at midnight

Discreet as can be

Good grief it’s morning again

And the Spartan blows reveille


Denton Blues

NTSU 001

Yet another day

To my dismay

109 above

Sunset of smoldering lava

The twilight ablaze

Looms in the west

It’s the sunbelt way

Here on Bonnie Brae

Slept well into the new day

Up for Jazz at 1 o’clock