John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: March, 2020

Blood Donor

In times of trouble, the New York area blood banks spring into action to appeal to the public for donations. This time Convid-19 is the reason. If I could donate, I would, and this is the reason why. 

I didn’t donate blood until I was well into my forties. It wasn’t that I was averse to the idea of giving blood that prevented me from becoming a donor earlier or fear that I would lose it, faint, or otherwise embarrass myself.

Rather, I led a world wind business life throughout the 80’s and 90’s with frequent travel to domestic and international destinations. I had places to go, flights to make, people to see to negotiate big deals, put out fires and keep my customers satisfied. Needless to say…  I lived in the fast lane.

A few things about that life, admittedly, it didn’t suck, but the risk / reward quotient was constant and without end. To describe what it was like, I have always taken pleasure in recounting a story told to me by the mother of my son’s best friend.

Diane explained, “I had picked up Mark and your son, Michael, from PYA, (our local little league association.) Driving home, Mark asked Michael: ‘Your father travels an awful lot; what does he do?’

Michael replied: ‘I’m not sure but he gets on airplanes, goes to different places, tells people what to do, and when they do it, he comes home.”

I kid you not, his version beat the hell out of reality.

My ignorance about giving blood ended the day my boss, Hobey Lockett, walked into my office to tell me that our colleague, Chuck, had terminal cancer and was receiving transfusions at Sloan-Kettering.

 “How can I help,” I asked?

Hobey replied: “Come with me tomorrow to donate blood in his name.”

I signed on and we donated the next day. Chuck didn’t survive but we continued to donate until his blood transfusions were paid back. Good deed done; I now knew that giving blood was a can-do event for me. I gave at office blood drives, at our local parish and a couple of one-off blood drives.

One day I received a call from the New York Blood Bank informing me that my A- blood was in high demand. They explained that it was especially needed for premature babies. Of course, I signed on and became a regular donor. As soon as they cleared me for my next donation, I would make my way to the blood bank’s facility located in the basement of Citicorp’s New York headquarters.

When someone would ask why I gave blood so often, I’d reply: “The blood bank folks have determined that my blood has an ingredient vital to premature babies, (wait for it) –  (wait for it): Alcohol.” Ha-ha.

One day, when I arrived for my appointment, a crew was filming a public service commercial for blood drives. Asked to participate, I agreed, and my pretty face ran on local TV ads for almost two years.  

But times change. Late in the 90’s a new question appeared on the list of restrictions that would prevent me from continued donations. At first blush, the question appeared to be innocuous: “Between 1975 and 1995, how many days did you spend in the United Kingdom?”

I read the question a second time. Now somewhat in shock, I called one of the nurses over and asked: “What is this question all about?”

After reading it, she explained: “Mad cow disease. The World Health Organization has decided that if a non-UK resident has spent over a year in Britain during those years, they are no longer eligible to give blood.”

“Kind of arbitrary, wouldn’t you say?”

“Perhaps, but that’s the way it is.”

Instinctively, I knew I had exceeded that time limit by my extensive travel to London during that very period. Reluctantly, I excused myself. Later, I called Rita C, the wife of one of my contacts at Exxon and a former UK RN. Rita simply said: “You have to obey the rules.”

Spoken like a true professional and someone I respected. Still, I felt the pain. Damn, I was doing good but, through no fault of my own, I had become unclean. Damn…and so it goes.

Oh well, I had my time at bat and life is good.

 Please GIVE BLOOD-It’s an absolute feel good thing to do and America needs your donation at this time of crisis. Understandably, blood banks reserves are at an all- time low as giving blood requires a huge leap of faith. You must abandon sheltering in place,  get into your car to reach your nearest blood bank, enter a strange building, wait with other strangers for a nurse, fill out a form, answer lots of questions and then take a blood test.

Only then will you be able to accept the needle and give blood, that is, if I didn’t miss a step.

Before the fact you will be nagged by friends and family not to do this and afterwards, you will be made to feel foolish, or simply a moron.

Nothing about giving blood in this time of National Emergency is easy. It is hard, very hard, hence the shortage of blood. No nagging from me. If you can, as the Marines’ recruiting slogan commands: THE FEW, THE PROUD…

And yet, to your own heart be true.

The Perfect Time to Buy a New SUV

Good God Almighty, if I listen to the President of the United States, the Governor of the state of New York, Comrade Mayor Bill DeBlasio or other prominent politicians, scientists from the CDC, WHO – all I hear is blah, blah, and blah. By their accounts, both Mary Ann and I will probably be infected, maybe die – as- collateral casualties in the war against COVID-19!

We are told the purpose of their broadcasts is to express caution to protect us. Alas, their daily doom messages spread fear and panic. Meanwhile, more draconian measures are introduced daily reducing our freedom of movement. Each day, restrictions and prohibitions increase.

On Friday the 13th, President Donald J Trump declared a National Emergency to combat the COVID-19 virus giving our government dictatorial powers to do whatever is necessary to combat this virus.

Quarantine, is only a question of time. Slowly, but surely, the USA is heading to an emergency of biblical proportions where all normal activities cease by government mandate.

Oops, then comes the bad news news: Of course, the compromised and elderly are at extreme risk. “They should hunker down in place, avoid all contact with all organisms in the known universe. They should spend their lives washing their hands, live in fear and be prepared to bend over as far as their old, tired, arthritic bodies will allow to kiss their asses goodbye.”

A silly thought: What if the virus is part of a vast military / industrial /business / international Western governmental conspiracy to thin the herd by eliminating the old leaches who are sucking the system dry by our pensions, social security and socialized free medicine? We are their targets because we refuse to leave the planet on our own.  What if they developed this virus to take us out? Think about how much they will save by our elimination!

And what about our fearless leaders? For example, here in the USA, three old white men out of touch and living in the past are our only choices to be our next fearless leader. The Donald, the current and controversial president, Bernie the Red and sleepy Joe. Seriously, if you don’t believe this cabal of three are working under cover and in unison, you are playing into their hands. (Just a thought.)

What to do? Faced with this enormous crisis at 76, my only escape was to buy a new SUV. I picked out the brand-new Hyundai Palisade because I could enter it without banging my head and it had lots of bells and whistles at a reasonable price.

I enjoyed the fact that the salesman was oblivious to the stock market meltdown and the COVID-19 panic. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse so, what the hell, I took the plunge. I signed all the paperwork, put down a serious deposit on Wednesday, March 11 and took delivery that night.

Since then the world continues to implode. But what me worry? Hell no, I can stay in my new beauty of an SUV in quarantine until hell freezes over.

Since all of sports leagues and the colleges have voluntarily ceased for the foreseeable future, learning how to operate all these new systems will help me to survive our quarantine and I’ll have a complete understanding of my new vehicle ito escape Uncle’s wrath for telling the truth and spilling the beans.

Pick your poison; I picked mine. See you on the highway to freedom: Live Free or Die.

The Sky Is Falling

Here we go again. Err on the side of caution is becoming the general order of the day with interruptions, cancellations or restrictions multiplying geometrically and all because of the Corona virus or the COVID-19. American colleges and universities are banning travel and soon to come, cessation of attending classes replaced by virtual classrooms accessed on-line. Looks like University of Phoenix and like on-line colleges had it right after all.

In Italy all soccer games are being played for TV only, the stadiums being locked shut. Not just the one-percenter are abandoning commercial flights for private charters. So are the five, 10 and 20 percenters. If you got it, flaunt it.

Adios March Madness at least for fan participation, Pity the XFL. OMG, what about The Masters! And the ultimate casualty, the Tokyo Olympics. How do you say WTF in Japanese? Entertainment events like South by Southwest have been cancelled while passengers scramble to cancel overseas vacations and scheduled cruises. Chaos reigns supreme as the stock market vainly struggles to get it right opting instead for a daily rollercoaster ride to hell and back.    

Our fearless leaders demand that we don’t panic while they pour out news and statistics that broadcast doubt, anxiety and worry. Don’t panic, really? Instead, whistle a happy tune for twenty seconds while we wash our hands.

In the 70s we had gasoline crises. A good deal of the shortage was caused by hoarding. Today, folks are hoarding hand sanitizers, wipes, paper towels, nose and toilet tissues. One wag told us to use vodka but the folks at Tito’s reminded us that the minimum alcohol content should be 60% and their content is 40%. Even Smirnoff 100 is 10% short. Perhaps drinking it is the better alternative, especially Tito’s!

Meanwhile businesses announce plans to minimize employee contact with each other, customers and others. Bloomberg LLC intends to divide facilities to spread the risk. Others will push the exploding universe of working remotely. Our fake media broadcasts hysteria and panic. What a time for an infodemic, (an overabundance of information.)  A vicious tornado that tore into a suburb of Nashville didn’t have a chance to compete with the COVID-19 infodemic.

What’s a girl to do? Hoard antiseptic cleaner, toilet paper, soap and paper towels? Stock up on cereal, soup, Spam, fruit cocktail and peanut butter in expectation of an imposed fourteen-day quarantines that lurk around the corner?

Does Chicken Little’s battle cry: “The sky is falling,” have a familiar ring?” Or, has Homeland Security upped the terror threat to fire engine-red, albeit, a completely different terror threat – or, has NORAD issued a DEFCON Five alert? “The sky is falling; the sky is falling.”

Memo to file: Delach, get your ass to Total Wine, chop-chop to stock up on two weeks supply of Jameson’s, Johnny Walker Red and Kettle-One. Hell, make that a month’s supply!  And don’t forget mother’s hooch too. After all, THE SKY IS FALLING!

Truth be known, most humans, especially those of us who live in the free world, in my case, the USA, be us Trumpers, Bernie addicts Joementumers and everything in between are insecure and believe that we don’t deserve what we have. Instead we secretly believe we are under attack because we are blessed. Linda Ronstadt reminded us in “Back in the USA:”:

I’m so glad I’m living in the USA:

Yes, I’m so glad I’m living in the USA

Anything you want we got it right here in the USA   

Many of us suffer from the feeling too good blues. In our hearts, we believe we have it coming which is why we buy into Armageddon: Sooner or later something bad will happen: War, a natural disaster, a plague, a climate catastrophe, or attack from outer space are but a few examples.

If only we just relax and: Don’t worry, be happy. Valium or a stiff drink can help.

Once COVID-19 runs its course, and it will, we’ll go back to normal and leave the unpleasant memory behind. This too shall pass; that I can guarantee.

Certain changes will remain. The work-place and university structure will never be the same. Virtual and remote will be the legacy of the COVID-19.

Can We Lessen the Noise?

Something remarkable happens when I sit down at my computer to begin the process of creating a new piece like this one. I am alone with my thoughts. In the background I can hear the soft purr of Mary Ann’s sound machine. Her pleasure is to go to bed between 9 pm and 9:30 to catch up on social media comings and goings and to read her latest e-book.

Part of my motivation is to escape the noise of talk TV. The noise began with the Bush – Gore disputed election of 2000 especially Florida and the “chads.” Since then, it has multiplied beyond belief.

Some may point out that it’s my own fault that I am electronically challenged. Perhaps? Yet I deliberately decided to avoid any and all social media forums. It’s bad enough knowing that my name and countless things about me are bouncing around the internet but, at the very least I can refuse to participate in the process. I don’t care what others think when I have a birthday, start something new, eat a meal or go to the toilet and I certainly don’t care to know about others’ birthdays, eating or bathroom habits.

My resolve several years ago when I received a message from a friend asking me to become one of his Facebook friends. Having already heard horror stories of innocent victims being sucked in by Facebook’s siren song, I deleted his invitation and replied to him via an email message that went something like this:

Dear Friend,

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but, if Jesus Christ himself asked me to be his Facebook friend, I’d tell him to f***-off.

Your loving friend,


Yes, I have an iPhone and an iPad, but, to the best of my knowledge, I am not a member of any social media outlets which is not an easy thing to accomplish. As of last June, there were approximately 65 outlets. The top site remains Facebook with 1.59 billion monthly users. Second, Whats App with 1 billion; third, QQ with 853 million; fourth, WeChat (697MM); fifth, QZone (640MM); sixth, Tumblr(555MM); seventh, Instagram, (400MM) and Twitter (320MM), eighth. Baidu Tieba, Google and Skype filling out the last three each with 300 million users. One could point out that this means I miss out on a significant amount of information but consider that it also means that I have successfully lessened the amount of noise directed at me.

Like Custer, I fear one day it will overwhelm me. Am I fighting a losing battle? Already our political polarization has poisoned the radio and television airways, great newspapers have lost their way and the entertainment industry has gone bonkers in their support of a progressive agenda. In the process civility has been obliterated as collateral damage by these out-of-control clashing ideologies.

Even the ultimate safe harbor of professional sports reporting is under siege thanks to the Houston Astros rigging their first World Series win. The 2020 baseball season will be a horror show, that is of course if there is a 2020 baseball season.

The Corona virus may go pandemic taking the all organized sports with it from Major League Baseball to the Tokyo Olympics. The stock market has already fled the scene in full panic mode while efforts to protect the Heartland are crushed under insanely partisan noise. Even when the virus runs its course the noise will find new sources. 

Five G will enable more and more noise that will be thrust upon us by amazing, addictive and sophisticated devices. Don’t get me started about my thoughts on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Through no fault of my own, we secured a single device now occupying our breakfast room. I assume it’s a Google product since to get it to talk, Mary Ann begins her request with: “Hey Google.”

Mary Ann requests basic things, phone numbers, movie times, etc. Her success rate is about 50%. This AI machine is a first generation: “A Tin Lizzy” of its species. I don’t look forward to witnessing the future of this brave new world

I have only had one interaction with this machine. One morning, while I read the print editions of Newsday and The New York Times, over a second cup of coffee, my radio barked an ad for its own broadcast with the command: “Hey Google, play WABC.”

As if by magic, the AI device began to broadcast the station. Stunned, I shouted out: “Hey Google, shut the f*** off.”

It did! I suspect, in the future its successors will have me eliminated for my anti-social behavior… I’ll be waiting: Live free or die.