Off the Top of My Head
April 5. If I kept a journal, I would write
As we enter the second month of isolation... At least, it sure seems that way, but it's only been since March 10 or so that things got serious. Some places longer, some places not-yet, but soon to be.
Serious and Not.
In normal times, I'm kind of a stay-at-home kind of guy. I leave the house for one of two reasons: I've got to (need groceries, appointments, return books to the library) and need to. Once every other week or so, I have to get out of the house. Maybe grab lunch, go shopping, visit the library or other place of interest, just to get out. So pretty much what I'm doing now, with some slight exceptions.
But now that we're supposed/required to stay inside, and lots of places like libraries and museums are closed. I'm antsy, and really want to go to those places. I miss the library and other hangouts more than I thought I would. I'm pretty sure that once the restrictions are lifted, I'll resume my normal patterns, and visit as the urge strikes me.
As a sidenote, I feel bad for homeschoolers both forced and voluntary. The good ones incorporate a lot of community resources into the education of their kids, like museums and libraries. I know a lot of the material is online, but there's still something about experiencing an item in its natural surroundings. It's the difference between reading a Shakespeare play, seeing the movie of a Shakespeare play, and seeing it performed in a theater by actors, no matter how amateur.
Remember when as a kid you'd be having fun making silly faces, and your mother would come in and say,
if you aren't careful your face will freeze that way?
I was reminded of that when I saw the upteenth person walking down the street holding a phone to their ear. Knowing they've probably spent half their lives with their phones to their heads like that, I wanted to rush out and say,
Don't you know that your elbow is going to lock n that position someday and you're never going to be able to straighten your arm again?
I didn't because it won't. Plus, I didn't want to sound like Mom. We didn't pay attention to Mom because we didn't see any adults walking around with their faces frozen into silly positions, except people who perpetually scowled, who are sad, not silly. Something got twisted, but it wasn't their faces.
On Monday morning, COVID-19 cases in the US exceeded 330,000, or one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the population.
Meanwhile, according to the CDC, this flu season there have been 32,000,000 people with the flu, 310,000 hospitalizations, and 18,000 deaths (or 1.0%, 0.1% and 0.05%, respectively) as of the beginning of March. Remember we have a vaccine for the flu.
A number of people have asked me to not only wear a mask, but to wear a full face covering, like Arab women do, and to keep wearing the mask when the crisis is over.
I'm beginning to suspect that my health and well-being is not their primary concern.
Covidiana–A Continuing Series.
Rating the maps
I mentioned last week that CNN and USAToday were maintaining maps tracking the COVID-19 Uncertainty (I have been hearing semi-constant references to the
uncertain times we live in. Thus, the COVID-19 Uncertainty). The AP also has a map. This one is clear right from the first map that it's by counties. One thing that's worth noting is that the maps don't seem to agree. So it's time to play Who Do You Trust?
Even though the maps don't show it, apparently the recovery rate from coronavirus cases is much greater than the fatality rate. Recovery and healing are never the story. When did you last see a story about a gunshot victim leaving the hospital that was equal in prominence to the original shooting story? Anyway, part of the untold story.
Time for Introverts
Even though we introverts (a 76 on introversion in the Meyers-Briggs personality measure, if anyone has a problem with the
we just in front of the parenthesis) make up approximately 40 percent of the population, we always seem to be losing out to the
step up-speak out-push in-party animal extroverts. In the common perception we're shy, retiring, quiet, bookish, sensitive, moody types who would prefer to stay home instead of going out and mingling with others.
You got a problem with that, punk?
Anyway, with all this forced distancing and shelter-at-home and self-isolation, it's time for introverts to shine. We got this. Heck, some of us have been practicing self-isolation for years. Who would have thought we'd be trendsetters? We've already got our books, favorite shows, a supply of tasty shacks capable of carrying us to the next ice age, blankets and comfy sweaters, and of course, a couple of cats to keep us company.
It's hard not to say
Good Ol' Days
You would think that something that killed more Americans in the 2oth Century than all the wars combined would be noted, especially in these current times when it was the deadliest pandemic since the Black Death. But very few people remember the Spanish Flu, which killed 105,000 Americans in October of 1918 alone.
Most state and local authorities acted quickly, one city going so far as to fine people $5 for not wearing a mask in public. Other cities and state governments took a different approach. The New York City School Superintendent decided to keep children in school because they would be closer to nurses. The May or Philadelphia let a war bonds rally continue that drew 200,000 people. Overall, 275,000 in a population of approximately 100 million died in the United States . Over 50 million people died worldwide. About 25 percent of the world's population was affected by the virus.
So why is the pandemic so unknown? It was competing with World War I for attention. The effects of the influenza was considered classified information, and newspapermen could get up to 20 years in jail for reporting on it. The outbreak became known as
the Spanish Flu because Spain was a neutral country, and so accurate numbers could be reported there.
Nothing to see/learn here. Everyone move along.
It used to be that bankers were the envy of the business world. Nobody else had a block of time named after them. They worked
bankers' hours, starting around 9:00-10:00 and ending around 3:00-4:00, from Monday to Friday, much shorter hours than the rest of the world. There was even something called
bank holidays, special days off that nobody else had that seemed to follow the lunar cycle of a moon circling the planet of a far-distant star. This was all before drive-through banking, ATMs, extended hours, Saturday banking, direct deposit, online banking, and in some states branch banking. So it was quite a chore for most people to get money in or take money out of the bank, usually requiring taking time off from work or at least adjusting schedules to complete a financial transaction. Once you got to the bank, there were lines there worthy of big-box stores on Black Friday.
Of course, everything broke down and people expected, demanded even, that bankers act like normal people and work the kind of hours normal people did. They didn't think they were normal, rather a superior species, but with new competitors offering expanded times and becoming service oriented, most of them followed along.
I just got an email from Wells-Fargo, announcing that, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic requirements like shelter-in-place yadda-yadda, those banks that were remaining open would have lobby hours of 9:30-4:00. My guess is that while they're saying
Take care, we care like everybody else, they're thinking
it's about time we can resume our proper place in the order of things and that the peons are reminded who has the power.
I remember that immediately following 9-11, all commercial flights were grounded. I lived in Houston at the time. I was really surprised how quickly the sky got blue, because all the contrails and leftover water vapor dissipated, to say nothing of auto emissions being reduced. Better skies at night, too. I haven't really seen it here yet, but I hear that some places have much cleaner air now that there's less driving around, and residents are seeing things they haven't seen in years, like the Milky Way.. top
Have you ever noticed how, in movies and TV shows, when the bad guy has a gun on the good guys and he's about to shoot them, he tells the good guys to
Turn around. And they always do?
End O' The World.
My wife is an avid reader, and comes from a long line of readers. There are always stacks of books and magazines around the house. Recently, she's been on a
fat-book series read-a-thon, featuring Outlander and Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson biography. The reading was accelerated by the stay-at-home phenomenon.
The problem with books like that is you think the books and series will never end. But as I found out with Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, they do. Yesterday, not only did my wife announce that she had finished the available books in both those series, she had nothing on the
next up pile of books. She was reduced to looking through the stacks of books she put in
book reading zones, like next to the bed. I'm guessing it's the same feeling that smokers who quit have when the urge strikes again, and they go rooting around for tobacco, even in ashtrays.
I really hope Amazon has
Books as one of their essential categories of things they are still delivering. In the stay-at-home world, books are as essential as toilet paper. I also hope that those authors with unfinished series (we're looking at you, Donna Gabaldon and Robert Caro) get on the stick and get those next volumes out.
I used the phrase
get on the stick in that last section, and realized that I had no idea what it meant originally or where ti came from. Nobody wants to be definitive about it, or provide a reference to the first use, but it generally seems to be consensus that it comes out of early aviation (or automotive) days. The stick was the primary means used to control the airplane (or move the car forward) and be on the stick meant
to be in charge, or alternatively,
to move things forward.
Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with witches riding around on broomsticks. I don't know why. Maybe it's better imagery, or the idea of mischief and mayhem being a goal doesn't resonate with squeamish types, or it's too exotic. Witches don't get on broomsticks to get a loaf of bread and quart of milk.
Where do witches get their groceries, anyway?top