House arrest day 42 / update 2: Monday we start to get back to business

The City of Memphis, Shelby County, and other county municipalities have announced that phase 1 of the Back to Business re-opening plan begins Monday, May 4. Restaurants can re-open at 50% capacity (no buffets). Non-essential businesses can open at 50% capacity. Libraries, gyms, and places of worship can open at 25% capacity.

I will post details of the re-openings of Downtown businesses as I learn about them. Keep in mind opening the 4th, the first day of Phase 1, is merely an option and some business owners will choose to wait longer.

About a month ago, I predicted that my final House Arrest blog post would be numbered 52. The city and county are on track to make me wrong by a week, and I love it!

The Downtown Walgreens is now requiring all who enter to wear face masks, due to governmental recommendations. The aisles are now one-way. In non-COVID-19-related news, the discounted Easter candy is gone.

Ironic for this “holiday” to occur while salons and barber shops are closed:

Glad I don’t drive on the roads in Georgia:

The Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards go virtual Sunday at 4 PM on Facebook and YouTube.

Reports were circulating yesterday that the minor league baseball season has been canceled. The MiLB organization, having conferred with MLB, has released a statement deeming this rumor false.

Mental Floss has tips for negotiating to get credit card payments deferred during the coronavirus outbreak.

Chris Brogan with the best tweet I’ve seen in the past 42 days:

From Gizmodo: Movie theaters are screwed, because COVID-19 is changing the model (maybe permanently) by which movies are released, to what outlets at what times.

Capriccio Grill at the Peabody has published its Mother’s Day at Home menu. Orders must be placed by 5 PM Tuesday, May 5. Pick up Saturday, May 9 or Sunday, May 10. Order here

NCAA news:

What this means is, it’s highly unlikely transfer Landers Nolley II will be available to play basketball for the Tigers for the 2020-2021 season.

Back with a third post today if I come up with significant additional news to report about the coming end of the house arrest. Otherwise, look for a new post tomorrow.


House arrest day 42 (Thursday)

Shelby County is said to be “very close” to announcing a date for Phase 1 of re-opening. Yesterday during the noontime press conference, County Mayor Harris advised businesses to go ahead and get ready regarding matters like stocking inventory, rather than waiting for the day the announcement is made. Soon we shall be liberated from this house arrest.

Send some of Memphis’ finest food to the front lines:

Southwest Tennessee is offering free online course from now and June 30 to you can learn something while you wait to be liberated from the house arrest.

All classes are self-paced, so you can balance them around your other time commitments.

Who else out there learned to appreciate self-paced classes because of Dr. Cloar?

3rd and Court Diner is back open for business, in a limited way.

The University of Memphis has announced options for season ticket holders should the fall 2020 football season be affected in any way by COVID-19.

Malco Theaters and Cerrito Trivia will host Star Wars trivia on May the Fourth on Facebook Live. Win prizes from Malco.

Burn calories & win prizes:

Damn… Drake is off the air for the first time in many years. He sounds excited about his future though. His statement kind of reminds me of the ones Calkins, Herrington, and Biggs issued when they left the Commercial Appeal, saying big things are on the way but being vague about exactly what.

Health care company Prospero Health is doubling its space in One Commerce Square, taking over the 14th floor in addition to its current digs on the 13th. They provide in-home care to elderly patients with health complications, and COVID-19 has accelerated outlook for growth.

Bridal shopping in South Main:

New Orleans’ mayor says canceling Mardi Gras for 2021 is something that has to be considered. The last time the celebration was canceled due to public health was the yellow fever outbreak of 1879.

I’ve always appreciated Daylight Time in the evenings, but as someone who has trouble sleeping once the sun is up, I’m starting to appreciate it in the mornings too. If we hadn’t sprung forward last month, the sun would have come up at 5:09 today. UGH and no thank you.

The Rusty Pieces are live tonight at 7. I plan to tune in.

Has any Memphian written and recorded a song about the quarantine? I mean, Memphis Minnie recorded a song about a 1927 river flood that went on to be covered by one of the biggest rock bands of all time. This is the first major pandemic to hit Memphis since the ability to record music became a common thing. We need a song.

The DM has a piece on the effect of the quarantine on Jack Pirtle’s Chicken. It will give you an idea of the bind in which small business owners find themselves. The Pirtles love their employees and would do anything for them, yet they’re limited by the fact that it’s fast-food chicken with an average purchase in the single digits.

That’s the news for this morning. It’s possible I’ll be back in the noontime hour with a second post. Otherwise, tomorrow.

House arrest day 41 (Wed) / update 2

From the Daily Memphian coronavirus blog: Only 45 new cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County today. That is less than a 2% increase in the number of new cases. Also, recoveries now exceed active cases, and no new deaths were reported today. You know how there’s usually a BUT… attached to any good news regarding coronavirus data? I don’t see a BUT in today’s Shelby County numbers.

Not much for the “I’d be perfectly okay with it if we quarantined for the rest of 2020” crowd to crow about today…

Midsouth Makers invites you to help supply PPE to the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. If you have a 3D printer, you can help produce masks. You can also produce masks if you have a sewing machine. In any case, you can donate supplies, or money for supplies to be purchased.

More opportunites to contribute to the fight against the virus:

Felicia Suzanne’s is bringing back Fried Chicken Friday this week. Order here. Must preorder by 5 PM Thursday for a 4 PM to 8 PM pickup time Friday.

The Millennium Tour, featuring Omarion and Bow Wow, originally scheduled for late March at FedExForum, has been rescheduled for Sunday, July 19. All tickets and meet & greet passes for the previous date will be honored for the new date.

The NCAA has taken steps to allow student-athletes to be compensated by third parties for their name, image, and likeness. Third parties would be allowed to mention the student’s sport and school, but would not allowed to use trademarks or logos. This is a necessary change if the NCAA wants to retain any chance of staying relevant in the world of big-time sports.

United States GDP fell by 4.8% in the first quarter, first decline in six years and worst since the Great Recession of ’07-’09. Not good news for El Trumpo.

ONCE AGAIN the fire alarm is going off. This happens too damn much. Going to hit Publish. Apologies if typos.

House arrest day 41 (Wednesday)

The Daily Memphian reports this morning that local mayors were looking to May 1 as the day to begin Phase 1 of re-opening, until the spike in the number of cases discovered this past weekend. Now their plans are on hold again, but this still seems like good news, an indication that the house arrest will be over sooner rather than later.

Here’s a recap of WMC Action News 5’s Road to Reopening Town Hall. I was extremely impressed with every mayor and health official on the panel. Every one of those people was concerned with striking the best balance between protecting public health and minimizing damage to the economy. They were all working together and there was no one panel member pushing his/her own agenda ahead of the best interests of the entire community. Any time you get a panel of 8 people from this area together and not one of them is a kook, that’s a mighty fine accomplishment.

Channel 5, however, does become the latest news outlet I have to call out for their reporting. They had a story about how re-opening at 50% of capacity could hurt small restaurants. For the story they interviewed Chef Kelly English, and people in charge at Babalu and Central BBQ. Where are the “small” restaurants there? I don’t know the capacity of restaurants city-wide. Speaking for Downtown, though, I’d interview Pam and Bill from River Time Market & Deli, the owners of Little Italy on G.E. Patterson, and Max from Max’s Sports Bar.

Virtual Voices returns to the Orpheum’s Facebook feed this Saturday:

Might wanna start your car if you haven’t done so in a while.

My list of the possible temperature/precipitation ranges yesterday for the rescheduled Music Fest led people to ask if I could do the same for BBQ Fest, now scheduled to be held September 30-October 3. I was also asked if I thought BBQ Fest would happen. Let’s start off with the climate data:

  • Normal high 80 (30th-1st), 79 (2nd-3rd); normal low 59 (30th-2nd), 58 (3rd)
  • Hottest: 96 (30th and 1st), 97 (2nd), 98 (3rd). The October 1-3 record highs were set last year.
  • Warmest lows: 77 (30th and 3rd), 75 (1st), 76 (2nd)
  • Coolest highs: 56 (30th), 53 (1st), 60 (2nd), 59 (3rd)
  • Coldest: 36 (30th), 40 (1st), 39 (2nd), 38 (3rd)
  • Rain (inches): 2.1 (30th), 2.64 (1st), 1.77 (2nd), 2.98 (3rd)

As for BBQ Fest happening, here’s my prediction:

  • If the Redbirds play in front of fans (can be less than capacity/socially distanced) at AutoZone Park July 4, there is a 50% chance or better BBQ Fest will happen Sept. 30-Oct. 3
  • If the Redbirds play without fans, or at another location, or if there is no baseball July 4, there is less than a 50% chance BBQ Fest will happen Sept. 30-Oct. 3

In other words, I see the Redbirds as the groundhog of BBQ Fest. Mmmm… groundhog… I need to suggest that for the “Anything But” competition.

Crosstown Brewing Co. has virtual general trivia tonight at 7:30. Click the “Tickets” link on the event page to join in on Zoom.

There will be an Opera for Animals on Facebook Live tonight at 7. Kacky Walton of WKNO will host.

That’s it for now. I’m going to keep my eye on the Shelby County number of new cases to be released around 10 this morning. A growth of 3% (which would be about 70 cases) or less would be encouraging. Back tomorrow with more news, later today if I see the need for a second post.

House arrest day 40 (Tuesday) / update 2

I am a huge fan of The Daily Memphian. I think that publication does a better job of delivering the local news which matters to me, in a format that is well-written and not drenched in pop-up ads, videos, annoying GIFs, etc. than any other media source in town. A proud subscriber, I can think of few better uses for 7 bucks a month.

However, I’ve got to take the DM to task on the subject of an email that arrived in my inbox a few minutes after 10 this morning:

BREAKING NEWS: Testing falls dramatically; new cases rise and one additional death reported

Well, that sounds like things are not going well at all, huh? Sounds like we should expect to be in quarantine for a long, long time before we’re even ready for Phase 1 of the joint city and county Back to Business Framework. However, when we dig deeper, we find

  • Number of tests went up this weekend because new testing sites were opened, sites which saw long lines.
  • Number of tests went up this weekend because tests were administered in clustered areas including the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center (AKA 201), youth facilities, and nursing homes.
  • With the weekend over, testing went back to normal as it existed the weekdays of last week. Therefore not as many tests were administered. Testing may have fallen “dramatically” but that was to be expected. In no way is this a sign of inadequate testing capability.
  • New cases rise – if even one new case is reported, yes, the case numbers rise. The number of new cases, 38, was very consistent with the number of new cases reported Sunday-Friday of last week, on which days said numbers were considered good news. The 38 represents a growth of 1.64% in all known cases. Earlier in April we were looking at days when the new case number grew by double-digit percentages. (In her daily briefing at the noontime hour, Dr. Haushalter said some of those 38 were from the weekend and weren’t reported until today, so the number of truly “new” cases yesterday is even lower.)
  • One additional death reported – this is certainly one more death than any of us prefer. However, one death from COVID-19 in a county of 927,644 (as of the 2010 census; have you filled out your 2020 census yet?) is hardly a cause for panic.

To be fair, the article the email linked to was the usual well-written, accurate coverage I have come to expect from the DM. I just think the headline was a bit clickbaity, more what I’d expect to see from the local TV stations and our daily printed newspaper. Many people did not have time to read past the email subject line and could have been left with the impression that we’re doing a bad job fighting the coronavirus here in Shelby County.

Choose901 has a list of who’s selling face masks in Memphis. Primas Bakery + Boutique in South Main was selling them, but ran out of material; they expect to have more in stock soon. Very cool to see that Moziah Bridges, the mind behind Mo’s Bows, has expanded into the world of masks.

Live at the Garden’s 20th anniversary concert series has been canceled.

Follow @Mandi_Thomas13 on Twitter. She’ll be a contestant on the new season of The Voice starting next Monday, May 4.

Get a family meal for four delivered Downtown:

From Sports 24/7: Precious Achiuwa discusses NBA draft, career at Memphis and best moments

Useful: Use an iPhone to scan your documents into PDF format, without having to install third-party apps:

A $10 donation will send someone on the front lines fighting COVID-19 to a future Memphis Redbirds game.

The Westin Hotel is partnering with local restaurants to make sure guests have a wonderful experience dining in during the quarantine. Partner restaurants include Flight, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Alfred’s, Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, Dyer’s Burgers, Pig on Beale, Rum Boogie Café and Spindini. The Westin has an “Ease & Comfort” program to help essential workers recharge, with rates as low as $89 per night.

The Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management has a Hospitality Employee Assistance Program to assist employees in that industry as they deal with the challenges of COVID-19. Those selected for the program will get care packages of groceries and household supplies that will last a family for about a week. Business owners and managers, fill out this survey and submit the names of up to 10 employees who could use assistance. Have more than 10? No problem, you can submit the survey multiple times.

Max’s Sports Bar now has a Facebook thread set up where you can pre-order crawfish and shrimp from this coming Saturday’s boil. You can add a 6-pack, a slushie, or one of their new poptails (frozen pops) to your order. Please read the pre-ordering and pickup notes on Max’s Facebook page. These boils are quite popular and they want to keep things running as efficiently as possible.

That’s it for now. Time for a walk to South Main Grocery at Spindini to see if any of that yummy lasagna is available in the to-go fridge. Back later today or tomorrow with more news.

House arrest day 40 (Tuesday)

Now that I’ve had a little time to study it, I have to say that I am a big fan of the Back-to-Business Plan city and county mayors and health care officials drew up. Loosening (or tightening) the restrictions is based on the data, not a hunch someone has. A person, you can disagree with, but you can’t disagree with data.

A little over a week ago I was surfing Twitter, and a prominent Memphian was speculating that we should just bite the bullet and resign ourselves to being under house arrest until August 1. “UGH.” I thought at the time. I couldn’t imagine not being out with my friends for months. Yet if August 1 is indeed the amount of time that passes before we get to Phase 1 of the plan, I can take comfort in the fact that it was dictated by data, not an opinion.

On the other hand… let’s say that the data says we can enter Phase 1 earlier… just to pick a random date, let’s say May 22. If that’s the case, I will know that I can, at that point, go out and support my friends’ small businesses, while feeling reasonably comfortable about the safety of my own health and others’.

I really like it. It’s a system that takes away people’s ability to complain. It takes away the anger, and I have seen plenty of that on social media, especially Twitter. Some of the preachy, lecture-y, on-their-high-horse tweets I have seen the past month about COVID-19 have made me long for the days when Facebook got its panties in a wad because someone mentioned a Baconator on a group meant to promote locally-owned restaurants.

WMC-TV Action News 5 will hold a Road to Reopening Town Hall tonight at 7 PM. Click the link if you want to submit a question to mayors and medical leaders.

Interesting thought that just crossed my mind… what would this quarantine have been like had we elected Mongo rather than Strickland?

Memphis Made Brewing Co. is teaming up with 98.1 The Max and the Ajax Distributing Company to support hospitality industry workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Memphis. They are packaging some of their Fireside beer in special 98.1 The Max cans, with a portion of every sale going to a Memphis hospitality workers GoFundMe set up by Edible Memphis.

Be sure to listen in at noon and 5 PM, when the radio station will highlight the beer in a “Let’s Toast a Maximum Rocker” segment.

Yowie wowie! During a public health crisis, the last business I would expect to see making cutbacks is a hospital, but that’s what’s happening at Methodist-LeBonheur. They are furloughing employees and executives are taking pay cuts.

Max’s Sports Bar is extending its hours offering to-go food and beverages. Effective immediately they’ll be open 11 AM-9 PM Sunday-Wednesday and 11 AM-midnight Thursday-Saturday. Glaze posted that they will do a shrimp and crawfish boil again Saturday and as soon as I see the pre-ordering Facebook thread I’ll post a link.

Broadway trivia comes to Facebook Live this Friday, courtesy of the Orpheum and Cerrito Trivia.

The West Memphis entrance to Big River Crossing has been re-opened and is accessible 6 AM to 10 PM. The Big River Trail in Arkansas is still closed due to river levels.

The coronavirus could spell the end of buffets. The linked article is from The Daily Mail, a  UK publication, but it’s relevant on this side of the pond too. I sure would hate it but it’s the right thing to do. When I worked in Horn Lake, I would go to the Chinese buffet next to Target all the time. Where else you gonna get egg foo yung, a cup of blackeyed peas, pigs in blankets, and sushi for one low price?

Tweet from one of my favorite authors that I found worthy of copying into the notebook I keep by my computer:

Free e-book I saw on Twitter this morning that may be of interest to those of you in journalism: Verification Handbook for Disinformation and Media Manipulation. Topics include social media, recognizing bots, false information campaigns, deepfakes, messaging apps, and tracking actors across platforms.

This weekend would have been Memphis in May. The weather tends to get weird that weekend; I decided to pull up climate data for Memphis in October and see what we could be in for, for the rescheduled dates of October 16-18.

  • Normal high 74 all three days; normal low 54 (16th) or 53 (17th-18th)
  • Hottest ever: 87 (16th), 88 (17th), 90 (18th; latest 90 ever recorded)
  • Warmest lows ever: 69 (16th), 70 (17th), 71 (18th)
  • Coldest highs ever: 50 (16th and 18th), 55 (17th)
  • Coldest ever: 31 (16th), 30 (17th), 29 (18th)
  • Most rain ever (inches): 2.2 (16th), 3.4 (17th), 2.45 (18th)
  • Snow: none ever recorded on those days, although October in Memphis has seen a trace on the 19th, 28th, 30th, and 31st

Taco Tuesday at Sunrise Memphis:

A face mask resolution is on the agenda for City Council today. Originally set to require face masks when Memphians go out in public, it will now strongly encourage business to require all employees to wear masks while working. The resolution would not be binding and therefore would not result in a fine for violators. Thanks to my neighbors who had an extra mask and left it outside my door Friday!

Auto B Grillin, a team that competes in BBQ Fest, spent all last night cooking to feed 350 families in need today.

The trolls are ready to get back out in the world.

That’s it for now. Back later today or tomorrow with more news.

House arrest day 39 (Monday)

All the mayors of Shelby County are scheduled to be at the joint task force briefing at noon today. If you’re on Facebook and follow any of the local TV stations, you’ll probably get a notification.

I found these at the Downtown Walgreens yesterday and decided to give them a try.

Brown sugar cinnamon is my favorite Pop-Tart flavor, and I’ve loved the Good Humor strawberry shortcake bars on a stick since I was little, so I was excited to see the two concepts combined into one.

The verdict, though, was “meh.” I don’t regret buying and trying, but these things are vanilla ice cream bars with a very slight hint of cinnamon and some crunchies on the outside. I’ll certainly eat the remaining five bars, but I don’t see myself rushing back for more of these.

On Thursday, April 30 at 2 PM, Memphis magazine will do an In the Kitchen webinar with Felicia of Felicia Suzanne Restaurant. Felicia will cook live while discussing the local restaurant scene and sharing some of her favorite recipes. Questions from the audience will be encouraged in a Q&A session. Advanced registration is recommended. Sign up here

Restaurant dining rooms in Tipton County to our north are allowed to re-open today. Restaurant dining rooms in Shelby County remain closed.

Memphis transfer Landers Nolley II has changed his mind about testing the NBA draft without an agent this year, so Penny can count on him in Tiger blue for 2020-21 – if the NCAA waives the year he would otherwise have to sit out. He had planned to test the NBA draft process with Penny’s blessing.

The Mississippi Emergency Management agency published a 1-877 number people could call to report violations of that state’s stay-home order – but it turned out to be a phone sex hotline.

For those of you who attend church regularly but who were unable to yesterday due to the house arrest, I invite you to tune into the USA Network between 7 and 10 PM Central time and hear the words of the Monday Night Messiah.

That’s the news for now. Back later today or tomorrow.

House arrest day 38 (Sun) / update 2

LUNCHBOXeats is doing lunches to go today:

Those Taste Bud Guys, two friends who love beer, whiskey, food, and music, tried a Wiseacre Adjective Animal Double IPA on their show this week.

JSTOR has an article on how the quarantine’s forced closure of hair salons is affecting butch lesbians.

NBA top prospects film sessions:

Another Orpheum volunteer recipe:

The Tigers’ newest commitment could be gone on NBA draft day:

Since the LUNCHBOXeats tweet is time sensitive, I’ll go ahead and publish this one. Back later today or tomorrow with more news.

House arrest day 38 (should have been Wine Race day)

Today was scheduled to be one of the most debaucherous days of the spring, for the Beale Street Wine Race. Featuring a beauty pageant, a grape stomp, a parade, and of course the signature wine relay as well as plenty of Big Ass Beers and Wet Willie’s Call-a-Cab daiquiris, Wine Race is always eagerly anticipated… but not this year.

First person who says, “We can still be debaucherous while staying home and observing proper social distancing” gets a punch in the throat and a Lysol martini.

Yo, Handsome Jimbo from Mempho (Strickland, not Valiant, that is), you think you might be able to make an exception for FedExForum in your order requiring gyms to be closed?

As your number-one source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my duty to link you to this article from the Daily Memphian about the former Commercial Appeal building on Union. It is being converted to a COVID-19 hospital and should be ready to go by May 16. At this point we’re likely to not need it, but isn’t it good to have there in case of an emergency?

From MakeUseOf: 4 ways to play board games online with friends during the quarantine

This is a good one:

People posting to Nextdoor indicate that dumping on the north end of Mud Island continues to be a problem. Items ranging from furniture to satellite dishes have been found there. If you need to dispose of large items, please take them to the landfill.

Don’t forget to check the Memphis Flyer music blog for a list of live music events streaming online. A new list is published every Thursday.

I found a useful site last week that I thought I’d share: Online OCR. You upload images of text, and it converts them into Word format. Other output formats are possible as well.

I found this site after re-reading several hardcover and paperback books I bought between 15 and 20 years ago. It was a pleasure to get back to them, but I realized they lacked two features I rely on in modern books (every book I’ve purchased the last 11 years has been done as a Kindle book): the ability to search the text of the book, and the ability to read them on my phone. So I’ve been using Online OCR to scan a few of my books page by page and re-create them as Word documents. I already paid for the books, and it’s not like I’m sharing them on a torrent site or anything; I’m just making them more useful to me as the owner.

The Rusty Pieces are back with a live stream this Thursday. I will be listening.

The Big Red Machine!

Tea Pain wins the Internet with this comment on Disinfectant Donnie:

It’s now being reported that Captain Clorox is considering canceling the daily White House coronavirus briefings. “What is the purpose?”

That’s it for this post. Back later today, or tomorrow, with more news.