We never learned the lessons from 2008

Considering this is a travel blog, and right now, travel has all but disappeared. I am not planning to travel until my son travels to Colorado in July. I am writing about more pressing issues that are on my mind.

I’m glad I didn’t send this post out when I originally wrote it earlier last week. It was profanity-laced tirade that meandered and wasn’t coherent. It was how I felt at the time but didn’t make for very informative or decent writing. So let’s try this again, and please be aware of where this is coming from. It’s coming from a place of caring about my fellow human beings. 

The response by the state is both brutal and swift to squash uprisings

I am extremely concerned if the current economic situation in this country continues on its current path, it will lead to social unrest. In other words, riots, to put it in different terms. Inequality has been a significant focus of Bernie Sanders’ campaign as well as major news outlets. In history around the world, anytime there are huge disparities in income and wealth, you will commonly see social movements but may see riots. In turn, the response by the State is both brutal and swift to squash these uprisings. The levers that have been put in place from the Bush Presidency through to the Obama Presidency allow the State to infringe upon our rights in ways that have never even been thought of before.  

We cannot go back to the time of Lord and Serfs, and that is precisely where we are heading. For us to move forward as a healthy society, we need to involve as many people as we can in the economy. It’s not rocket science if we structure our society the way we currently have it where only a tiny fraction gets to enjoy massive benefits at the expense of the many only that fraction move forward. However, if we structure our society where the majority of the population enjoys the benefits, we can have a healthier, happier society.  

The current symptoms of a sick, diseased society: pornography, gambling, rampant drug use, and suicides. Pornography has almost become mainstream. Gambling has corrupted our way of living. I don’t need to go into the details of the current drug use situation in this country. A subject close to my heart are suicides are going up in this country at an alarming rate:

A healthy society doesn’t need to medicate its way out of feeling

[On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years]. I lifted this from Wikipedia. But I also researched several other sites, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and they all say the same thing, the suicide rate has skyrocketed in the last 20 years. The bottom line is this is a significant problem along with the other things I mentioned. A healthy society does not need to medicate its way out of feeling. It does not need to resort to get-rich-quick schemes like gambling. And finally, we are not even close to a healthy society when one-third of the population is considered pre-diabetic, and the mortality rate has actually increased in our country for the first time in modern recorded history since the industrial revolution.

Switching gears; to the latest bailout of the economy are coming in around $2 Trillion. I know that politically it was imperative to get relief of some kind to the general population very quickly, but the sheer non-oversight of the whole bill is astounding. Republicans, of course, got what they wanted to give almost $500 Billion away via Steve Mnuchin to corporations that will need help. But you have to put strings attached to the corporations to help out the people that desperately need it. You can’t just say here are billions of dollars do what you want. There are restrictions but can be rescinded if deemed appropriate(???) Are you serious? Again, this is massive government interference. Corporate welfare without strings attached is the bottom line. It’s infuriating. And you know who stood up to vote ‘No.’ No one. Not one member of Congress voted ‘no.’ Only one member of Congress has spoken out against it- and he is a fuckin’ Republican. To his credit, Representative Thomas Massie. The Democrats, including the Progressive faction of the Democratic party, didn’t stand up because they bundled the relief package with the corporate bailout.  

It’s not profitable to produce masks, ventilators, tests and beds

We have (are) experienced three crashes of the economy since 2000. The Dot-com crash, the housing/mortgage crash, and now the crash is coming with the Coronavirus. With all these boom and busts. We didn’t learn about the problems of the past. It’s not profitable to produce masks, ventilators, tests, beds, and then stockpile them for the companies that we permit to produce these items. In addition, the Government didn’t offset the lack of preparedness that the modern Capitalist system failed to do to fight a pandemic. ‘They’ are trying everything to get us through this crisis without changing the underlying problem. Which is the modern Capitalist system is incapable of getting us through these crises without throwing the mass of people out of work. It didn’t learn the lessons from the past. 

 The current situation isn’t the first time a virus has disrupted our lives. SARS, MERS, Ebola, and the most catastrophic was called the “Spanish” flu- which most scientists agree it started in Haskell County, Kansas. The only reason it’s called the Spanish flu is that Spain was neutral during WW I and they had a totally free press whereby they had reported much more honest about how the flu was spreading through their country.  

The Corporations and their idiot minions have captured our Government. Our Government is not the problem. The problem is the fact that they are willing to do the bidding of the Corporations at any cost. We have a Congress that is BOUGHT and paid for by Corporations. And nothing is going to change until we change that one simple fact. Democracy takes work and an engaged public. We have to take back our Government at any cost. Because if we don’t, the ramifications will be catastrophic.  

To travel or not to travel- Coronavirus

I started writing this blog post 2 days ago and meant to finish it before all hell broke loose. Apparently, I’m a little too late. I just came back from work where I was awestruck at the destruction of the Club I work. My 9 to 5 job is a forklift driver and bakery clerk at BJ’s Wholesale Club in South Central New Jersey. My co-worker sent me a text yesterday, alluding to how busy we were, and she shot me a picture. It was a picture looking out from the bakery to a line of customers that wrapped around our tables. This picture included our completely bare bread racks. People started panic buying Thursday at my store and have continued through today, Friday the 13th. It was absolute mayhem. With that in mind, I wrote the following a couple of days ago.

I’m just an individual with no specialized degrees or special qualifications to espouse advice on this subject. However, I think people need to hear how other people are handling the crisis and to state some facts. Make no bones about it, it is a crisis, or soon will be. The only reason we haven’t seen more cases of COVID-19 in the US is that there hasn’t been the level of testing that there has been in South Korea or the United Kingdom. South Korea was testing upwards of 10,000 a day, and the UK is testing around four thousand a day.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the beginning insisted on developing their own kits, instead of adopting those provided by the World Health Organization. So they lost out on precious time and to get ahead of this virus. The President’s response is best described as malevolence tempered with incompetence. Instead of letting the experts, i.e., Doctors and Scientists, take the lead, our President has pushed himself and his V.P., both politicians, to take the lead on the response. This tactic is dangerous at best and irresponsible at worst.
At this point, our country is not prepared for this crisis. As of Tuesday, around 4300 people have been tested according to the Atlantic magazine and their independent team that’s studied each state’s reported numbers.

According to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal government may have finally ironed out the difficulties: He announced on March 8 that “around 4million tests” would be sent out by “the end of next week.” Irwin Redlener, a physician who studies public health and disaster preparedness at Columbia University, condemned the federal government’s response as “the most egregious level of incompetence in an administration that I think we’ve witnessed at least in my memory…It’s actually stunning.”

This country is in no situation to weather the storm of a full-blown pandemic. The shocking number of bankruptcies each year, 530,000, due to healthcare bills also exacerbates the misery of society at large. The lack of paid sick leave for regular ordinary persons. There’s already talk about bailing out the cruise lines and providing a stimulus package, so Wall Street doesn’t freak out any further. The ordinary person is supposed to obey the rules and not get for any help, but when it comes to our corporations, they get all the help they need from the federal government.

On a personal note, I took a $3000 pay cut the year that my health insurer started implementing co-insurance deductibles in addition to co-pays. That was about five years ago, and it has progressively gotten worse. So any “pay increases” have been woefully too little to offset the enormous pay cut I endured five years ago.

I currently and still work in a retail environment at a 9 to 5 job four days a week. I have witnessed our store blow through at least 30 pallets of water last weekend alone. Sales are up across the board from cleaning supplies to perishables, to storage bags and all “end of the world” type items. The people around me, including myself, have convinced ourselves that this is not as bad as the 14 to 46 thousand people who die from the influenza virus each year. But because the full scope is not yet visible, we don’t know the mortality rate of this virus. From what I am reading, in Italy, it is hovering around 5%. That’s a little different than the flu.

I hope this article doesn’t scare you from taking any vacations this year. Quite the opposite, I hope it empowers and informs you to make the correct decision for yourselves. I flew, with my wife, a week after 9/11 to Colorado from New Jersey. Yes, the plane was empty. I have a strong foundational belief when it’s your time to go; it’s your time to go. So I’ve lived my life with this ethos and have taken risks that I know other people would call foolish. After the coronavirus had already taken hold in February, I traveled to Australia for several workshops concerning my Digital Marketing business. I never once thought about canceling the trip. I was not alone. Everyone showed up that had booked their journeys, and both classes were full. Granted, it was early on during the coronavirus outbreak.

I believe this virus should subside and hopefully disappear during the summer months, but it’s summer down in the Southern Hemisphere, and the virus is spreading down there as well. I have the opportunity to go to Disney World in late October, early November of this year, and we took the plunge. Last night I booked our plane tickets, and my wife previously booked our rooms at Animal Kingdom lodge. I also have a trip planned to Colorado this summer with my son through Boy Scouts that I hope doesn’t get canceled. I tell you this because I want you to realize that even though I’m extremely concerned about what could happen in the coming year, but I still will continue to live my life to the fullest. Now, after I’ve stated this, I do have a line in the sand for my family and me. I will not under any circumstance, go on a cruise until this virus goes away. I just learned my mother and father-in-law are currently booked to go on a cruise this summer. I have full intention of talking them out of it. I desperately want to cruise out of New Orleans, which my wife and I have never been to, on Disney Cruise Lines, but until a vaccine is created or by some miracle the virus subsides entirely, I will not book a cruise. I believe the US State Department stated we should avoid going on cruises.

My advice to myself and others is that everyone lay low for a couple of weeks and practice excellent hygiene, and we should come out on the other side of this, okay. I’m preparing for the worst but hoping for the best and praying for everyone else. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Jet Lag

Have you ever had really bad jet lag? For some reason, I don’t believe I’ve ever had jet lag. I flew from the East Coast of the United States to Europe three times. I really don’t remember having terrible or even mild jet lag. The savior, if it can be called that, is I don’t sleep on planes. On a 12 hour flight, I might sleep an hour or an hour and a half at the most. Then the rest is dozing off and on. So when I get to my destination I tend to take a nap when I get to my hotel. This is the important part, I set a timer so that I don’t oversleep from my nap. I usually go out have some dinner, watch some tv or do some work on my laptop then go to bed kinda early and sleep until I wake up the next morning. In the past, that seems to have worked. In my most recent trip across 15 time zones to Australia, I did this routine and I had no problems. However, when I flew back home I didn’t come home until the evening which gave me no time to take a nap. I went to bed kinda early but don’t remember when I woke up in the night. I remember the second night I woke up at 12:30 wide awake and got up and stayed up. The subsequent nights I wasn’t able to sleep through the night until finally, I had to go back to work after being home for 3 nights. For some stupid reason, I didn’t realize it was jet lag until the 3rd day back and I was reading about it online. The definition of jet lag is when you’re body’s internal clock is out of sync with cues from a new time zone. I wasn’t sleeping all the way through the night and then I was crashing and taking a massive amount of naps during the afternoon. Duh!

Again, I never experienced it before so I really wasn’t prepared for it either. I went back to work on Wednesday after coming home on Saturday night. It took me a full week to recuperate and get back to feeling 100% where I wasn’t ready to crash after I came home from work. I am up for work at 3:55 am and get home around 1:30 pm and every day that I was at work I felt like a Mack truck hit me. It was not a pleasant experience. Click on the link below if you want to read about how to get rid of jet lag. Personally, I think I like my version better.

https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/50099483/how-do-you-get-rid-of-jet-lag-try-this-app/?source=45568&u=CCQT5DAZOU&nltv=&nl_cs=51934340%3A%3A%3A%3A%3A%3A&mcid=21443https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/50099483/how-do-you-get-rid-of-jet-lag-try-this-app/?source=45568&u=CCQT5DAZOU&nltv=&nl_cs=51934340%3A%3A%3A%3A%3A%3A&mcid=21443

Please share any experiences you’ve had with jet lag in the comments below.

Traveling with a child that has severe food allergies.

The four of us on Northern European Cruise 2019

I love traveling with my family, it’s my favorite thing to do but traveling does present its unique challenges. My 14 year old son has severe food allergies, meaning he goes into anaphalaxis if he eats the wrong foods. Needless to say my son carries around his own Epipen, but his mother also carries one as well and when we travel abroad we carry around as many as we can.

It’s amazing all the stuff they sneak into our foods

Of course he’s not allergic to normal things. His allergies include tree nuts, beans, peas, carrots, legumes and all seeds like sesame and caraway. We also found out recently he’s allergic to the skins of all fruits and vegetables – however he only breaks out in hives for this allergy and his throat gets itchy Recently companies increasingly are putting sesame seeds in breads and I’m not talking about just the top of the bread either. It’s amazing all the stuff they sneak into our foods.

We love the way Disney handles food allergies

Our own story really starts and ends with Disney and how comfortable we are with the way they handle food allergies. As I’ve noted before we’ve been on a total of 6 Disney cruises, 5 with the kids and 1 without, and every time we always walk away very impressed. We’ve been to Disney World countless times over the course of time that we’ve had kids. The service is always impeccable and the food is incredible and they always make my son feel special. One time on a cruise for dessert they brought him out a humongous bowl of fresh fruit including the biggest strawberries I’ve ever seen. My wife had heard amazing things about the chef at the Fort Wilderness dinner buffet. They took such good care of him and when it came time for dessert hethe chef made him a special dessert just for my son. The dessert was so elaborate people were stopping by our table to find out where he got that. That’s why my wife and I primarily stick with Disney. It’s really a comfort factor.

On a cruise ship the Head Waiter is our best friend. He or she usually comes to personally take the order for the next day. We also take a sit-down breakfast and lunch that way his list of food allergies travels from kitchen to kitchen. The other option is buffets which we try to stay away from due to obvious cross-contamination issues. That’s not to say we never eat at a buffet on the ship but it’s taking a chance, and being in a foreign country or being in the middle of the ocean there’s no reason to take too many risks.

If you ever get the chance try a DVC cruise on Disney Cruise line

I remember when we did a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida one of the stops was Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. The only option for lunch for us once we got off the ship was a rather large BBQ buffet on the island. The Head Waiter, Joyce, was fantastic she had a special plate made up for him in advance. Joyce took very good care of my son on that cruise.

I thought it was impressive that they took all this food off the ship and set it up so that people would have a scrumptious meal right on the beach! We got off in the early morning to set out to find a shady spot, swam quite a while, relaxed a bit and then could walk to an awesome meal under a covered eating area. If you like the islands and find yourself wanting to book a Disney cruise (first call my wife, she is a travel agent) you have to go to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Austin eating

As I write this post we literally just finished a 10 day cruise to Northern Europe on Disney. My son had no problems on the cruise itself. We had some minor issues finding food in Copenhagen, Denmark which is the city/port from where we started the cruise. Copenhagen had a very healthy vibe to it at all of their restaurants. Everything was whole grain, which my son is also allergic to, organic and lots of nuts. But other than that we were again lucky and had a fantastic head waiter, George from Romania, who took good care of my son. It also helps to have a waiter/waitress that works well with the head waiter.

Olexandra from 2019 European cruise with my son
Olexandra from 2019 European Disney cruise with my son

If you want to learn more about Disney Cruise line please contact my wife she can be reached at 1 (609) 618-1887. She is a travel agent and specializes in Disney.

A Middle-American living in New Jersey

early morning lake photo
Millville, NJ

I moved to New Jersey, where my wife is originally from, after the World Trade Center bombings in 2001.  We  visited the area twice before we decided to move here from our Florida apartment where we knew absolutely no one.  There was nothing to keep us in Florida, so we packed our bags and headed north.  On a side note and since this is a travel blog,  so I should mention we stopped overnight in St. Augustine, Florida.  I had never been there but my wife and been there several times.  I absolutely loved it.  It has an old-world European charm to it -which I love. 

I’d be willing to bet you’ve never realized the rest of New Jersey is as diverse and beautiful as any other state

When I visited Jersey, I was impressed with the people how friendly they were and the cleanliness of the area.  Let me first say most people when they think of New Jersey is the smokestacks, the urban blight, and the refineries in North Jersey.  We live in Ocean County in the Southern part of New Jersey along the ‘Jersey Shore’.  But I’d be willing to bet you’ve never realized the rest of New Jersey is as diverse and beautiful as any other state.  We live on the Shore about a mile from the bay and 30 minutes by car to the barrier island, Long Beach Island or Seaside Heights if you prefer.  The rest of Jersey is mostly farmlands and believe it or not horse farms in some central counties. 

I originally grew up in Northwest Missouri in a medium sized town an only child to two parents who had typical middle-western values and traditions.  My family was far from normal however, but I won’t go into the details in this post.  I will save it for my therapist.  If you really want to know more about my story click on the link below. 

https://lynnvanzant.com/about-me/

Missouri man living in New Jersey and likes it…..film at 11

I’ve always been highly adaptable to my surroundings:  I lived in Denver metro area in the 90’s and loved it.  I met my wife in Denver, and we moved to Clearwater, Florida.  I liked it okay except for the people, but my wife hated the heat and hated the people.  The area where we lived was highly transient and no one spoke to you.  The locals were fine but most everyone else was from somewhere else- mostly the Northeast (cue ironic laughing).   We left and never looked back.

Since 2001 I set roots down in New Jersey and am so happy for it

 

As long as I can remember I’ve had the wanderlust bug and it manifests itself these days in my love for traveling.  However, the older I get the more I get set in my ways and traveling becomes more of a challenge- which I never expected when I was younger.  Since 2001 I set roots down in New Jersey and am so happy for it.  The schools are exceptional, if we want to feel like we’re on vacation we can go to the beach and if we want a change of scenery, we have Philadelphia 1.5 hours away, D.C. 3 hours away and New York is 1.5 to 2 hours away depending on traffic. 

As with any place Jersey has its drawbacks.  First and foremost, the cost of living is very expensive.  Having said that we live in the cheapest area of New Jersey which is in Ocean County.  We have a nuclear power plant in our town (gasp!) and it keeps our taxes low compared to the rest of the county and state.  New Jersey is the most congested state in the nation, sooooo traffic sucks.  Jersey’s weather is not the greatest, although since we’re so close to the ocean we don’t get that brutal cold weather. 

This will sound corny but most of all I feel very blessed to have met such a wonderful person in my wife and to have found a place I can call home. 

Where do you live and what are the pros and cons of your area?