Did 2020 Really Happen???

😷 Reflections and Remembrances 😅


Now that it’s over, I think we can all agree, it’s been an absolutely crazy ride this past year, with more negatives than many people see in a lifetime. The obvious top story being the COVID-19 pandemic but quite honestly, as much as the numbers and related impacts were the news story, I’m over it, as I’m sure most of you are, and even though the threat of it is still very real today, I’m going to focus on not talking about COVID any more than I have to.


Let’s get the typical News Media negatives out of the way first so we can focus on the positives. Fire was a predominant issue in 2020 as the West, predominantly California, had an unusually active wildfire season and Australia also experienced a tremendous amount of brush fires, predominantly near the end on 2019, but the impacts were certainly still prevalent this year, having a serious effect on this relatively small island nation.


Typical negative news, for example. The News reported that the stock market CRASHED on February 27 and again on March 16 as two of the largest declines in history occurred; the March 16th one being even bigger than the “REAL” stock market crash on 1929. However, within days, the Market had recovered and now, even as we begin to recover from the thick of a major COVID second wave, the market has been breaking record highs. I’m sure those who suffered through the “REAL” depression in 1929 would have passionately welcomed and embraced a depression which only lasted a few days or a few weeks, versus the 1,461 days it impacted all Americans from 1929-1933 and the even worse 3,653 days it impacted many Americans until it officially ended in 1939.


We had our typical political wrangling this year as our grown men and women, who are elected to represent all of us, couldn’t agree on a budget, as usual, nor much of anything else for that matter. However, they did come together to agree on the initial pandemic-based relief packages, which were critical to address the first wave of unknown criticality and impact. Oh yes, and they did create quite the dog-and-pony show of trying to impeach President Trump, TWICE, just like they “tried” to impeach President Clinton 22 years ago on DEC 19, 1998. It still amazes me why politicians seem to feel they are above the people they represent and carry on such childish events like these impeachments. Seems to me the Constitution requires two thirds of the Senate to impeach a president which is a majority neither party possessed in the three afore mentioned witch-hunts. But they wasted their time and our money chasing that pot of gold while real issues, in this country, were left unaddressed. Enough about Washington.


The United Kingdom and Gibraltar FINALLY formally withdraw from the European Union, beginning an 11-month transition period. This too amazes me but it is political in nature so I’ll only make a couple of comments. This process took just short of four years to accomplish and reminded me of our friends in California, as the only government I know of that votes on a solution and then is so unhappy with the results that they need to vote again and again. I don’t know which is worse, keep trying until you get the result you want or the people not taking their civic duty and responsibility of voting as serious as it needs to be.


Transitioning to the positives. The pandemic saw record number of people returning to the Bible and seeking out God’s love and wisdom. Even though an April survey found that more than 90% of regular churchgoers, in the United States, stated their churches had closed their doors to combat the spread of the coronavirus, with the vast majority saying that worship services had moved entirely online. Social hours and church suppers are a thing of the past, at least for now. On the surface this initially seemed negative but it has caused many pastors to intensify efforts to stay in touch with members of their congregations and maintain their church communities and create more digital worship services and prayer meetings.


"This crisis has actually caused us to do a better job of picking up the phone and checking on our members," says Randal Lyle, senior pastor at Meadow Ridge Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. "It's made me refocus on connecting individually with people. I have our staff checking on every elderly person in the congregation every couple of weeks to see what they need and how we can serve them. So, there are some connections that are probably stronger now than they were before." The shift to online communication on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Teams, has also introduced some new efficiencies.


Claire Anderson, 45, a devoted member of North River Church of Christ in Marietta, Ga., had been attending worship services at least twice a week with her family, plus leading Bible study sessions with other church members. Under the shutdown, she says, she's been able to do even more. "I don't have to drive an hour to sit down and read the Bible with someone," she says. "I can do it all from home. There's no running to meetings. There's no strain on my kids. There's no strain on my husband. I'm not always rushing somewhere."

Anderson's spiritual life, she says, may even have been strengthened during this time. "It's almost like God is sending everyone to their room for a time out," she says. "With all the business taken away, I can just be still and really focus on my relationship with God." In all, most Christians have found more time to spend with God and nature and have closer, more meaningful, time spent with family.


It's a shame a pandemic would be the driving force that would influence many of us to spend more time with God, but as they say: “he works in mysterious ways” so, if that’s what it takes to renew our faith, and seek out his word, love, and guidance, then praise the lord!!!


Another positive was oil prices. Although it certainly depends on your point of view, because if you invest in oil futures, this story is likely a negative to you. On March 30, the Russia–Saudi Arabia oil price war began as the price of Brent Crude falls 9% to $23 per barrel, the lowest level since November 2002. As they say timing is everything. This event, along with the unknown eventual impact of the pandemic, would begin a downward spiral that would see oil prices fall into the negatives by April 20 when Texas Intermediate’s prices fell to negative $37.63 a barrel. Yes, they were paying companies to take oil off their hands. This whole series of events reminds me of Steve McCroskey, played by Lloyd Bridges in the Movie Airplane: “I guess I picked a bad week to give up smoking,” or they picked a bad time to have a price war. The price of oil has since returned to somewhat “normal” levels due primarily to hope of the pandemic beginning to wane, but at least for several months, we saw the lowest prices in many many years.

2020 was a good year for space exploration:

  • NASA published a study of Arrokoth, the most distant body ever explored by a spacecraft, which New Horizons passed by on its journey through the Kuiper belt.

  • The ESA/JAXA space probe BepiColombo made its final gravity assist around Earth to begin to depart for Venus, where it will make several gravity assist maneuvers before finally arriving at Mercury in 2025.

  • NASA officially selected SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics to build its next-generation lunar lander to carry American astronauts to the Moon by 2024.

  • The first crewed flight of the SpaceX Dragon 2 was launched from Cape Canaveral on May 30, the first manned spacecraft to take off from U.S. soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.

  • SpaceX successfully launched and deployed 60 Starlink satellites into a low Earth orbit, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to 482.

  • NASA successfully launched its Mars 2020 rover mission to search for signs of ancient life and collect samples for return to Earth.

  • NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly touched down on Bennu, becoming the agency's first probe to retrieve samples from an asteroid, with its cargo due for return to Earth in 2023.

  • Finally, on November 15, NASA and SpaceX launched the SpaceX Crew-1 mission from the Kennedy Space Center, the first operational flight of the Crew Dragon capsule.


Other positives saw several cease-fires across the globe from various wars and conflicts. A number of elections also demonstrated democracy in action. Here are some highlights from across the globe:

As is always the case, we lost many loved ones in 2020. Just this past week, we lost one of my good friends from high school and many of us have lost family and friends, for various reasons, as they have left this world to go home to our father. On Christmas day, a good friend, teammate, and one of the best managers, who has ever worked for me, lost her husband, at the all-too-young age of 36, just 2 year after the birth of his/their first child. I know we, as a culture, like to celebrate celebrity, but it always angers me a bit when we make such a big deal about losing a celebrity and far less of a big deal about regular people like you and me. My high school friend, and that great teammate, both had wonderful caring and loving families and friends, no different than any celebrity, but what they did have was genuine for who they were, not possibly inflated or fake just because someone wanted to get close to or be associated with a celebrity. So, for those of you who have lost dear family and friends, our prayers, love, and respect go out to all of you!!! These loved ones were real, genuine, people who did their best every day to provide, love, and support to those around them. Every bit as important, AND MORE, than the celebrities our culture focused on. While these celebrities certainly had loving and caring family and friends as well, I want every living being to know that every living being is important and critical to all of our well-beings. None of us more, or less, important than the other. Everyone equal on God’s green earth!!! Every life is precious and we need to trust and respect this in all we do.


Now the obligatory acknowledgement of the celebrity’s we have lost in 2020. I know this seems hypocritical based on what was just stated, and I truly mean what I just stated, but I am reminded that many people want to know and remember these people too, so I list them by month, in hopes that some of these celebrities enriched your life in some manner:


January

· January 1David Stern, NBA commissioner (b. 1942)

· January 8 - Buck Henry, American actor, screenwriter and television producer (b. 1930)

· January 19 - Jimmy Heath, American jazz saxophonist (b. 1926)

· January 26 - Kobe Bryant, American professional basketball player (b. 1978)

· January 31 - Mary Higgins Clark, American novelist (b. 1927)


February

· February 5 - Kirk Douglas, American actor, director and producer (b. 1916)

· February 7 - Orson Bean, American actor, comedian and producer (b. 1928)

· February 8Robert Conrad, American actor (b. 1935)

· February 14Lynn Cohen, American actress (b. 1933)

· February 25 - Hosni Mubarak, 41st Prime Minister and 4th President of Egypt (b. 1928)

· February 28Freeman Dyson, British-born American physicist and mathematician (b. 1923)


March

· March 1 - Jack Welch, American business executive and writer (b. 1935)

· March 6 -