I Was Just Thinking…

. . . about all the people who ask me how I’m “doing.” It’s a question I ask friends, as well, and we all know that means, “How are you doing with this Covid-19 thing?

I’ve always answered that I’m doing fine, and I am. I’m accustomed to working at home so have no officemates to miss. Bank account is OK. And I have enough work to do so I’m not counting flowers on the wall.

But I do notice one thing: I cry more easily.

I’ve always been a softie. I get dewy eyed when I describe my granddaughters to a friend. I used to tear up at old AT&T long-distance commercials. Like the one in which the dad on business in Tokyo calls his young daughter back home in the States to say good night. (That was a radical thing back then.) Or the one featuring the single dad raising his daughter.

I mean, really. I can see feeling sad watching an SPCA commercial about abused animals shivering in the snow. But AT&T? A company that last year had $181 billion in revenue?

I realized this week that there must be something in the background of my mind I haven’t acknowledged when I happened to watch a YouTube video of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performing Beethoven’s 9th symphony. It’s a great performance, and as I watched camera shots sweep over the multi-cultural faces in the orchestra and chorus, I started to tear up.

It was, I think, a combination of powerful music (love music director Riccardo Muti’s floppy hair during the energetic parts), the uncertainty of Covid-19, and our country’s current wrestling with race relations and immigration issues. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty got it right, and you can see it in the different faces in the Chicago orchestra and chorus. Made me think of Rodney King’s plea, “Can we all get along?”

It seems to be a simple proposition, but obviously not a simple task to accomplish.

So, thank you for asking. I’m just fine. But I’m just getting a little emotional too easily.


Short Takes

  • The US State Department this week lifted a five-month advisory that recommended Americans not travel internationally. Now, we just need other countries to let us in. And as I write, the US is considering a ban on allowing Americans suspected of having Covid-19 from returning to the US from Mexico.
  • The date that cruise companies can resume sailings from US ports was pushed back again—this time to November 1st–by the industry’s trade group, Cruise Lines International. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had banned sailings through the end of September.
  • You may be happy to know that if you visit New York state now, liquor-infused ice cream is legal if it doesn’t contain more than five percent alcohol. Wine, beer, and hard cider-infused ice cream have been legal for a while. But now the hard stuff, such as vodka and bourbon, is allowed, though you must be 21 to purchase it.
  • A submersible Uber in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef? A flying Uber taxi in Melbourne, Australia? Yup, all true, report the Lonely Planet folks. More details on the underwater Uber here. And the flying Uber taxis here.
  • United Airlines revives rock-bottom award tickets for as few as 5,000 miles on short flights. Read all about it at The Points Guy site here.
  • American Airlines returns hot food to the 15 airport lounges it has open.
  • Your odds of catching Covid-19 on a two-hour airplane flight are one in 4,300. If the middle seats are empty, odds improve to one in 7,700. That’s the finding of an MIT professor of management science, Arnold Barnett, who considered all kinds of factors—are you seated next to someone who is infectious, for example?—for his findings. Read all about it here in an article on Bloomberg.com.

 

Lovers Win One In the Season of Covid

If you long for someone far away you haven’t seen in five or six months, I know the feeling. And so, apparently, does someone in the German interior department.

On Monday, Germany decided romance is different than tourism, and couples who are in love but not married may reunite. This applies to people who live in countries whose citizens are currently banned from visiting Germany. Like Americans, for example.

In other words, if you’re an American in love with a German citizen, you can now visit Germany. You both must sign a sworn statement you’re in a relationship. And you must be able to show airline tickets or passport stamps proving you’ve visited Germany at least once recently. (In order to see your significant other, presumably.)

The European Union last week suggested all member countries relax entry rules to admit unmarried partners of European citizens, and Germany joins Austria, Norway, and Denmark in doing so. Lobbying via social media (#LoveIsNot Tourism, #LoveIsEssential) may have helped the issuance of “sweetheart visas.”

Wunderbar!


 

A Couple of Travel Quotes to Live By

“To travel, above all, is to change one’s skin.”

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, writer & aviator

 

“Never eat in a restaurant that features men in sombreros.”

—Thomas Swick, travel book author


 

One of America’s most wickedly funny writers, Miami Herald columnist & author Carl Hiaasen, joins me to discuss Florida weirdness & his new novel, Squeeze Me, that involves a couple of Sunshine State pythons.

And what the heck is happening in Australia? Even with a low rate of deaths, Australians can’t travel around their country. Melanie Anderson, CEO of Tourism Noosa, joins from the Sunshine Coast with an on-the-scene report.

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My past interviews with guests such as actors Andrew McCarthy & Kurt Fuller, writers Phillip Caputo & Max Brooks, journalist Jonathan Karl, Tim & Nina Zagat of Zagat Guides, travel hosts Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, and Phil Rosenthal can be found on YouTube. Just click here. 

—Rudy