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Thread: Meandering during a pandemic

  1. #1
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Meandering during a pandemic

    Popped half a chloroquine pill (= 125mg) this morning. Damned bitter. I got socially intimate - in a pandemic-era manner of speaking - with some 20 people at the fiesta drink-a-thon last night. Not talking orgy, far from it. Handshakes, hugs, busses (those cheek to cheek, kisses in the air type greetings) without whipping out my alcohol-gel hand cleaner all night. Patas of FdC got gone. Latinos live for fiestas. By the time everyone started sing-shouting along with ranchero songs I went inside. Besides, the LED disco light lamp was a bit too much.

    I rambled on TRN til I lost coherence. I wanted to share details of my life in Guayaquil. No, not while sloshed I told yo. Now the morning after, I spill my guts (you have been forewarned). During the election that put Carter in office (I voted for Perot), I joined the Peace Corps. Belize was my first choice, Sierra Leon third; they sent me to no.2 Ecuador. We staged in Miami where I learned my first Spanish sentence, “Cuando la mierda tenga el valor del oro, los pobres nacerán sin culos.” The guy who taught us that sentence was also a PCV, an older man from Puerto Rico, a ringer. The only foreign language I’d studied in school was German - much of it came back to mind in Guayaquil. Half of ‘our group’ left after 3 months of intensive language lessons and sightseeing before going ‘onto the job site’, Southern boys, business majors who scammed the gov’mint for a paid vacation to Quito. Not me. Not that I had an Albert Schweitzer complex. I more or less had burnt bridges behind me.

    In a suburb of Guayaquil I lived with 2 other PCVs, who also taught at the Politecnica, and a kinkajou. One night after carousing downtown I crashed alone in the small PCV office (they had a shower, but no bed). There in their paperback library was a worn copy of Agee’s “Inside the Company: CIA Diary”. It detailed operations in Ecuador and named operatives in the appendix, where I found the name of my site boss Pablo, an Ecuadorian lawyer that we almost never saw. It meant nothing much to me. The gov’t works in mysterious ways. On the job, we were on our own, but went to the office (Pablo was never there) to get our subsistence checks (a PCV must not flourish). My work at E.S.P.O.L went well. After 2-3 ‘romances’ I hooked up with another prof who had just returned from a sabbatical in Japan.

    She had earned her masters degree in chemistry in Moscow; written and defended in Russian. One date after another and boom, she was pregnant. My old-fashion sense of honor told yo, “Marry that gal.” I later learned she’s the daughter of the most popular communist mayor in Ecuador. (Five consecutive terms in office, at which point the military threw him in jail and beat him up, until his wife pleaded for his release, so he left the country and died of internal injuries in Chile.) Politics didn’t matter to me, people did. Our wedding was a formal affair in a classy hotel with a big band. Besides many of my PCV buddies and her extensive immediate family, guests included personnel from both the US & Soviet consulates and others. She (her family) knew all the VIPs in Guayaquil. After a sumptuous feast waiters put bottles of whiskey on the tables. And replaced them as soon as they were emptied. Music and dancing (not the PCVs) in the ballroom continued while she went thanking guests for their gifts. The PCVs went through so many bottles, her brother (also a mayor) decided they couldn’t afford for it to go much longer. So it ended. We honeymooned in Machu Picchu and Cusco (I was breathless).

    We got a 3-br. penthouse apt. with maid’s quarters and elevator overlooking the stinky Guayas river. We were just 3 blocks from the Politecnica. ‘Working’ from 8-noon & 3-7 we’d walk home for a big meal, after which I’d nap in my hammock. When my 2-yr hitch with the Peace Corps ended I took the free flight home to look for a job. No luck. I missed my wife & daughter, so I went back to work for the school (3X PC ‘salary’) and also got an under-the-table job setting up a lab to analyze for the protein content in chocolate at a big factory in town. I had an Ecuadorian ID, like a green card, but I wasn’t allowed open employment. ESPOL had wrangled a bye, through my wife’s deep connections. After another 2 years I decided to go to grad school, to get a Ph.D. (BS = bull shit, MS = more shit, PhD = piled higher & deeper).

    Choosing Florida, I more or less gave wife no.2 an ultimatum, join me here in married housing with my skimpy stipend or we split. Her position at ESPOL was prestigious with lots of perks. They came and daughter no.2 was born in Gainesville. UF brought in a chaired prof from England and my wife became his top assistant overseeing a number of his grad students and supplementing our income nicely. Those were very pleasant years in central Florida, esp. rafting & snorkeling in the cool, clear, aquifer-fed streams & springs thereabouts. My wife would occasionally call her sister in Moscow. It was perestroika time. Her sister, a doctor married to a doctor, did well, had a dacha, but the bread lines made the situation worrisome. Our phone would click and buzz with many delays, but she always got through - it must have driven NSA nuts that they spoke in Spanish. Politics didn’t mean diddley-squat to me then, I was too busy studying and doing research. Effectively I missed the whole shebang about Reagen, the Contras and the Sandinistas. Later I remember being slightly surprised when Ortega turned the reins of gov’t to Chamorro; LAm strongmen normally didn’t do that sort of thing, voluntarily step down. (Much later I’d learn why. And I was here when Oliver North was in Managua to warn against (re)electing Ortega.)

    It was a shame to see how many fellow grad students drugged out then - Americans. All foreign grad students were diligent and hard working, usually there with families. We had many Koreans, Iranis and Chinese. Profs in seminars would even joke openly about how cheap and phenomenally productive the Red Chinese postdocs were. We had a number on our research floor and one grad from Taiwan - she’d put up the flag just to torque those red Chinese. I visited where those postdocs lived - unbelievable slum conditions there in Gainesville, a shack off street with a door that barely closed, a dozen of ‘em inside of two rooms with tabletop hotplates. How desperate these poor men must be, I’d think, but nothing phased them. I remember one very thin guy, especially quiet, who walked fast and took big steps. On campus I’d step aside for the big football players, entering or leaving the chemistry building - he never, in fact, seemed to make way for him.

    Before graduating I got a job with Eastman Kodak in Tennessee, which turned out to be a great place to raise the girls. We arrived penniless from Florida. My faculty adviser had screwed me: after 4 years, he cut off my stipend to push me out, and me with wife and 2 kids, the bastard. So my 5th year was lean and intense. I took out a loan from the Eastman even before my first day of work. The first year we rented a small house by the railroad tracks going into the company. It jiggled with each of the 30+ coal cars passing by night & day. We loved it, for 6 months. I could walk to work. When the car broke down, it turned out to be critical. And I had the space to pull the head and replace the gasket after work. My wife desperately wanted to work, but it was no go in those small towns. So she tried chemistry grad school at nearby ETSU. All in English, she struggled, but it was Chinese grad students that throated her out. Out & about she’d meet various other latinas in that corner of East TN, and before long she organized the so-called Club Ibero-Americano. Their get-togethers were over 200 strong with BYOB + dinner, music & dance; people would come from a ways away to party latino-style. About the time I got downsized, along with a thousand others, we got divorced. Twenty-two years after the shindig in Guayaquil.

  2. #2
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    There's a book in there someplace!
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    There's a book in there someplace!


    At least one. I was thinking more The Alexandria Quartet


    I had those same musings of mortality when I got infected. Perhaps a symptom ? Or an effect of the people dying around us.

    And aren't you supposed to be taking an Azith with the chloroquine ?


    It's 3AM in Tucson, a time for musings. I came out of this well,, if not stronger,, at least a few pounds lighter. Shelley , it's dragging on. I worry more about her than I do about myself. I've never been afraid of dying. We walk,, we'll be in the foothills tomorrow,, beautiful time of year here, and there are endless trails and bike ways. But, Shelley gets dizzy, and still can't go very far. She is afraid to ride her bike.

    I slept in every morning, such luxury, until recently. Now I'm back to up at 4, and craving a nap in the afternoon. And why not? Shelley is still sleeping until 7AM Still recovering,, or a reaction to years of nurse hours ? Up at five to be gowned and ready to work at 7AM? She's past the point where the virus would turn to ARDS, but it's hanging on like a bad cold.

    Somethings I've learned:

    La vida sigue, siempre. And it's full of surprises.
    Life is a journey, never a destiny. And the detours are the most interesting part.

    You can only take with you what you give away.
    And, it's not just material goods. Ariana has remarried,, Carlos is a really nice, motivated guy from Chiapas. Sebastian is doing so well. It hurts that he doesn't need me any more. But, out of the blue he will start talking about the 3 week trip we made,, from Nicaragua to Tucson. The beaches, the swimming pools. The kid is tan listo.

    Relationships are difficult, if there is a big age difference. I rented a house in Estelí this week,, so Krisnia will have a solid base, to live and study. What we are attempting next year is a stretch.

    The house was a school, used to teach English to children. A friend enjoys support from some group in the UK to this end. The classes are free. Arielka was living there as well as teaching, but she and her dentist husband built a house over the last year, and finally moved to the new house. The school hosts a class in the morning, and one in the afternoon,, an intercambio on Friday afternoons of more proficient , older English speaking students. All this will continue.

    It will all end someday. Covid brought that home. More for some than others.
    But,, for the moment,, its a good life and Nicaragua was a good choice,

  4. #4
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Interesting life story, DY! I attended UF from ‘82 to ‘89, I may have seen you amongst the 35,000 other Gators.

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    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    KWP, did I miss it that you and Shelley had The Rona?

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    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Looking back, it seems that while China was becoming a world economic power and pulling hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty, Americans were becoming fat. lazy, debt ridden people whose main sport was killing Arabs.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

    ...with a 6 foot stick and mask and gloves....


  7. #7

    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonh View Post
    KWP, did I miss it that you and Shelley had The Rona?


    Yes I'm ten days + recovered, Shelley a week.
    We're both waiting for the antibody testing,, maybe next week.

    Doctor on Mark Levin claiming "we did this wrong" ,, but antibody testing will tell the story.

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    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    I add two footnotes to my ramble:

    1. After our fancy wedding in Guayaquil my token PC boss Pablo got replaced with an intellectual from Langley, VA. (That’s what I remember he said, but it may have been a town nearby.) He’d left his native American wife and 10 kids (he didn’t look that old, but it’s what he said) there in VA. He was always around, mostly parked in the consulate. He was reading Don Quixote de la Mancha in the original Spanish; had a leather bound copy on his desk. The wife & I had made a trip to the States and bought a bunch of stuff that I air-freighted back. Included were a big refri (side-by-side, ice & cold water dispensers in door) and dual oven stove (rotisserie on top, self-cleaning below), both new, priced to steal, from an Italian out of his garage, no questions asked. My new PC boss helped me move the appliances into the apt; it surprised me how strong he was.
    2. When our daughter was born, my mother (a lifelong Republican) flew down to help out. She stayed at a very nice hotel just a couple blocks away. But it was a bad time. Every year crickets swarm by the millions in Guayaquil, such that you can barely see pavement or asphalt. You couldn’t walk without crunching bugs underfoot. They’re in your hair, crawling on your clothes. That plus everybody speaking Spanish, together with the simmering-below-the-surface realization that her new daughter-in-law was a communist, all combined, got to Mom. Growing up I never saw her drink, but there & then she spent most every afternoon in the hotel bar.

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    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    KWP....Did you see a doctor and / or did you self medicate?
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    KWP....Did you see a doctor and / or did you self medicate?


    We just stayed home and took care of each other. Luckily,, there was a lapse between times of infections. I got it first, 4-5 days later it hit Shelley.

    Shelley's BIL in Florida also thinks he's had it,, but nobody knows for sure until we get the antibody test end of month.

    See the doctor ?? They don't want to see you,, it's go to the emergency room, if you think you need help.
    Most doctor's offices did not have any testing capability.

    I used muscle relaxers to blunt the horrible muscle aches,, and mostly naproxen and excedrin to deal with the fever and headaches.
    Just a couple of Norco split in half to get through the night. The worst was over pretty quick. The cough is very distinctive,, not like any other you've had.


    But, hey,, they can't do anything for for you anyway,, unless: you feel a tightening in the chest and have difficulty in breathing.
    Then you need help,, NOW!

    Otherwise,, like Tom Hanks and a million others,, you just get miserably sick for a few days. Get better, and move on.


    We were both hiking in the foothills this morning,, tons of people but everyone trying to step off the trail to maintain 6 feet when passing. There is a sense that things are going to open up,, lots of traffic, and the odd outside patio open. You have to go inside and get your beer and food to go,, but a step in the right direction.

  11. #11
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Norco and naproxen aren't OTC are they?
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Naproxen is over the counter,, Norco is an opioid.
    I had a bottle left over from an operation in 2008. A little goes a long way.

    They used to hand Norco and Percoset out like jelly beans,, no more.
    Too many snowflakes killing themselves with overdoses. Ruined it for the rest of us.

    If I were expecting this, I would have gotten some dicoflenaco. It's a muscle relaxer,, anti inflammatory and analgesic.

    They use it for everything in Nicaragua.

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    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Diclofenac and Vic's Vapor Rub, yup; used for everything in Nicaragua.

  14. #14
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    And don't forget that barley and rijito drink :-)
    ==================================================
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    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Quote Originally Posted by bill_bly_ca View Post
    And don't forget that barley and rijito drink :-)
    Yeah, I've had that, can't remember the name. I'm not a fan of Rojito, it's too sugary for me.

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    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    So much for the herd--
    A study was done in Los Angeles County with the surprize results that more people had been infected, either with no symptoms or self-treatment, that they originally thought. They calculate 4% of the county has had covid. So, if herd immunity works for this bug and if you need 60% infection rate for herd immunity another 56% of the population needs to get it. Well, on a base population of about 10 million, that is well over 5 million. And if the 80/20 ratio of routine/serious cases holds up, that means that well over a million people need to get bad cases!
    The "Let's Kill Granma and get it over with" faction must be jumping up and down at the opportunity.
    Gunna be a rough year.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

    ...with a 6 foot stick and mask and gloves....


  17. #17

    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Quote Originally Posted by el duende grande View Post
    So much for the herd--
    A study was done in Los Angeles County with the surprize results that more people had been infected, either with no symptoms or self-treatment, that they originally thought. They calculate 4% of the county has had covid. So, if herd immunity works for this bug and if you need 60% infection rate for herd immunity another 56% of the population needs to get it. Well, on a base population of about 10 million, that is well over 5 million. And if the 80/20 ratio of routine/serious cases holds up, that means that well over a million people need to get bad cases!
    The "Let's Kill Granma and get it over with" faction must be jumping up and down at the opportunity.
    Gunna be a rough year.
    Another way of interpreting that exact same study is that the initial data that they used to create the percentages that you keep referencing were wrong. Obviously if way more people have already had the virus then they thought, then this changes the percentage of people who develop serious symptoms or die. With this study, those numbers come as low as 0.04% lethality. This is an order of magnitude lower then projected using the erroneous data.
    Soy el chele mono.

  18. #18
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    Obviously if way more people have already had the virus then they thought, then this changes the percentage of people who develop serious symptoms or die. With this study, those numbers come as low as 0.04% lethality.
    But again that is speculation until a significant percentage of the population is tested. Humans are a funny bunch - On one hand they will say "How the hell this happen, why did no one do anything to prevent it" While if the response is perceived to be too tight people start to say "well we all die anyways"


    No one even has a full data set, let alone time to distill its meaning with 2nd and 3rd order artefacts.

    The good thing is that it probably is not as bad as it was assumed to be - A damn site better than is there enough living to bury the dead in the Hollywood sense.

    The last time something like this raced around the world you were lucky to see 50 as the norm at that time...
    Last edited by bill_bly_ca; 04-22-2020 at 07:40 PM.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    A couple of things are clear:

    Any studies done have shown magnitudes of potential infection way beyond what was originally seen just from reported infections,, or more to the point,, Hospitalizations. A few fortunate,, connected, people managed to be tested. The majority of us didn't have that option. So there WERE a lot of infected people out there, and many were simply not aware of the infection. If the virus is as contagious as they say it is,, then multitudes more were sick, albeit at a very low level. We should know next month when the antibody test becomes widely available.

    If the virus is as contagious as they say it is,, eventually everyone, unless they self isolate forever, will get it. It hasn't burned out,, far from it. People are still going into the hospital, and people are still dying. And the virus is slowly making its way around the world. There will be pockets of this virus around forever. It will seep across the southern border forever.

    WHO is this virus killing ?
    Outside of nursing home populations, who are one day away from a death due to influenza or pneumonia anyway, we really don't know. I suspect that this information IS available,, it is just not being disclosed.

    We WILL eventually be able to contain it,, after a fashion. There will be less of it,, we can isolate small outbreaks. We'll have a better idea of where the infection originated, and we will be able to trace contacts. With luck we will have some therapeutic protocol to mitigate the worst of it, avoiding hospitalization, and eventually we'll have a vaccine.


    None of this is new. We've lived with outbreaks of measles,, polio,, and recently too. There were 1282 reported cases of measles in the US in 2019. And just about everyone in the US is vaccinated against measles. Just about . . . . .

  20. #20
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Word from the Island is a half dz or so "Pneumonia" cases in Hospital, so it is near capacity, is another 15k people on island. If this breaks out in the barrio where the Indians are packed like sardines, will be a Corn Island Cleansing and the Creoles may rule again.

    Think it was 2nd yr or so I was here full time I got Dengue, well that is what we all assumed, of course no testing, it went all over Island, Barrio by Barrio, few months later was reflecting on it, was either a really mild strain of dengue or was something else, have friends that have had it elsewhere and they describe the bone break fever, what I and others around me had was like a really bad flu, was unpleasant but not out of hand. Last decade seen so many mystery sicknesses here that the Corona Virus may get it's ass kicked here.

    People are going back to normal here, saw fewer masks yesterday than 2 weeks ago, saw places that were closed reopened. saw tons of kids in schoolyards side by side.

    I figure is still a few weeks away from here just watching timelines, but who knows. Costa Rica seems to have done a pretty good job on this, not read about Northern neighbors. Panama seems to be a wreck, COPA says June 1 now, and that seems optimistic. CR extended their border closures until mid month at least. Nicaragua was the last to close and then will be the last to open, always late to the Party. We will never know the true numbers here, Hell they have not released results of last Census, so these numbers sure will never be seen.

    1 month and rains begin and the Country becomes a Petri dish, especially the Coast.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
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  21. #21
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Given human nature and the difficulty of knowing true statistics even in the most "scientifically and medically enlightened" of times, how can we be so sure of the statistics of the 1918 pandemic?

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    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    I keep thinking of the neighborhood Italian restaurant in AZ that I have been frequenting for 30 years. The tables are too close together and I think that from now on the health department is going to be watching occupancy levels. There bathroom is closet like and a 1-seater. I go to the midweek senior tightwad special but suspect Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon it is really packed to the gills with tourists.

    If they spread out the tables they will not have have as many customers. If they spread out onto the patio area they will incur costs to add a roof and some wind protection and it will be seasonal for lack of
    ac. Even for to-go sales their cash register area is too small but would squeak by during the week.

    Living healthy may shut them down.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

    ...with a 6 foot stick and mask and gloves....


  23. #23
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    Quote Originally Posted by el duende grande View Post
    I keep thinking of the neighborhood Italian restaurant in AZ that I have been frequenting for 30 years. The tables are too close together and I think that from now on the health department is going to be watching occupancy levels. There bathroom is closet like and a 1-seater. I go to the midweek senior tightwad special but suspect Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon it is really packed to the gills with tourists.

    If they spread out the tables they will not have have as many customers. If they spread out onto the patio area they will incur costs to add a roof and some wind protection and it will be seasonal for lack of
    ac. Even for to-go sales their cash register area is too small but would squeak by during the week.

    Living healthy may shut them down.
    If it's like Florida, they need 150 seats to have a liquor license. And many restaurants need to sell booze to make a good profit.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic


  25. #25
    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: Meandering during a pandemic

    And the building codes often say that remodels/additions on old buildings will trigger bringing the entire building up to current code.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonh View Post
    If it's like Florida, they need 150 seats to have a liquor license. And many restaurants need to sell booze to make a good profit.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"

    ...with a 6 foot stick and mask and gloves....


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