This week has been a lot of prepping for my mother’s arrival on Sunday. Monday morning it rained. It was wonderful. I loved it. It made all the ground soft. Just right for pulling weeds in the afternoon. So in the morning I got to the cobwebs on the ceiling and in the afternoon the wild oats in the garden. Yeah, I’m a live and let live kind of gal.
Tuesday was quite blustery, but blue and brilliant with lovely fat cumulus clouds drifting by. In the morning, I smogged Gran’s car (it’s a 1997 Chevy, and it passed! on the first go) and got tags. She hasn’t driven in 15 years or had a licence for 5. But she likes to think she’ll drive again. I don’t mind. It’s a back up vehicle, in case.
In the afternoon, I ordered her some summer night gowns. And an iron. I accidentally broke hers — making face masks. But let’s not mention that to her. Later that day, during 5 o clock “rush hour”, someone stole a white SUV and went on a wild tare up the freeway at 120 mph. I made myself a Mary Pickford and settled in.
If you come from So Cal and specifically around the LA region, you understand. There’s a summer tradition, that someone will steal a white SUV and drive up the freeway during rush hour. Every local news station drops everything – everything! – to cover it live, sometimes for a couple hours, via their choppers.
People are always concerned about their commutes, so it’s guaranteed high ratings. I thought, hmmmm? A “return to normal” sign. I texted a friend right away. And typical of So Cal, he replied, “No, it’s just someone got stir crazy. It’s not Friday night.” That was such a So Cal answer. Because it’s true, it is a Friday thing.
In LA, it’s critical to the stolen white SUV at rush hour tradition that it be on Friday so it gets maximum coverage and there’s maximum chance of getting caught in the typically dense traffic, which requires really wild driving. So this guy? In light traffic? On a Tuesday? Where he could easily get up to 120 mph? Sorry, no. He was just stir crazy. Not a sign of things returning to normal.
It made me laugh. Or maybe it was the rum. Or maybe it was the girlfriend at the end. A woman who claimed to be the driver’s girlfriend was at the scene when he got caught. “I love you! I’ll bail you out,” she yelled as he was escorted to a patrol car. Welcome to LA.
Weds I picked up Gran’s meds, and shopped to fill the cabinets with essentials so my mother wouldn’t have to for a week or so. And, at that point, sitting in a wal*mart parking lot, I stopped and looked — for the first time since March — at my gas gauge. It was just under half full. Still.
And then I looked up and around the lot at the people and trees and I realised, I hadn’t been more than 5 miles from the house in months. And in a week’s time, I was going to get to drive for hours. I was going to see new places, new things, new people! It seemed exciting, daring, even a bit risqué.
I spent the evening pulling out all my documents, making sure I had everything I needed to cross the border. Even that seemed filled with peril. The border closure was set to be lifted May 21, but was then extended to June 21. I know I have all the right documents, and a place to quarantine. I should be allowed to cross. But I’ve heard stories.
As a PR (permanent resident, think green card), with a place to Q it up, I qualify to cross. But if the Border service decides on the day I’m a foreign national (true), and I don’t have an essential purpose (a job, or enrolled in school, or in the medical profession, etc), then they can keep me out. I guess I’ll cross that bridge (or not), when I come to it.
Family reunification isn’t considered essential. This has upset a number of people. I understand their upset. But the government is making decisions out of an abundance of caution. People crisscrossing the border in a pandemic is crazy. Allowing crisscrossings from a country where the outbreak is the worst in the world? Oh, hell no. So I get it.
I woke up early Thurs in a cold sweat. Not about crossing the border. I realised when I leave, exciting as that will be, I might never see my Gran again, this side of heaven. Or my parents. Or my friends here. Before I spiraled out, I took a breath, and threw all those thoughts into File 13, the cylindrical file. It was all False Evidence Appearing Real.
I decided to meditate and then do something practical. I went out early to tend the bird feeders. Things got interesting quick. I found a long battered piece of grey-pink string in the bird bath. Then I noticed greyish strands of something once cotton-ish? Decayed coconut fiberish stuff? I watch too much The Curse of Oak Island.
Then I saw it, a tiny pristine, white, lower jawbone of a rat, with a complete set of teeth. Ok, I thought, this @ just got real. My assumption was that, because it wasn’t there yesterday, an owl had caught a rat last night and dined here. We have loads of owls around here. They love to nest in the tall palm trees. You can hear them echo locating in the night. It’s amazing. I love owls.
I thought about keeping the jawbone, because the natural history illustrator in me loved it. It was already super clean, and had been soaked. Score! It would be easy to hide. But if my Gran caught me cleaning and preserving a rat jaw in her kitchen? I’d be one the dead in the bird bath next. So I dumped it out, regretfully.
I decided to keep with the science-based theme of the day and took the Coursera Covid-19 Contact Tracing course. I don’t want to be a contact tracer, although I’d volunteer if needed. I was interested in the process. Wow, I learned so much I didn’t know! I think every American over 12 should have to do this course before they return to school or work or “normal” life. Or at least the part on quarantine.
This morning in the bird bath I found a rat leg, R, denuded except for the pink foot, and an open packet of Mild sauce from Taco Bell. Since TB is over a mile away, I’m thinking owl sees rat eating hot sauce packet in trash and … take out? There was also some rice in another birdbath but I’m thinking that was the crows. They soak anything white before eating.
I’m doing this post while doing laundry. I do lots of laundry, Gran’s laundry every week — 15-20 loads. I usually do it early morning or late at night because of energy conservation rules, and we use a clothesline when it’s sunny. So getting up at dawn in summer to launch a raid on the washer? Pretty typical.
I never catch a chance to do my own laundry though. Seriously, I’m wearing jeans that haven’t been washed in a month. I keep a set of clothes for “public appearances” but they hardly get used with the pandemic, and another set for gardening. I really must prioritize that before I leave, or my mother arrives.
And speaking of priorities, I’m going to advance forecast some things for you. Feel free to stop reading and skip to the end if prognostication isn’t your thing.
I expect US schools to close again in the Fall. And that’s okay. Children repeating a grade is not a tragedy. Children not being alive or being orphans, that’s a tragedy. The most important thing is that you and your children, and all your family members, survive the pandemic. That’s all that really matters.
One of the things science shows us is that children are the main vector for the spread of flu because they are good carriers. They have strong immune systems, but don’t tend to take basic hygiene seriously. Add to this fact that school is a daily, huge public gathering and…. outbreak.
Fall’s outbreak is going to be driven in large part by common flu, with SARS CoV2 piggybacking it, circulated by children who are back in school. I don’t think it has to be that way in the US. But steps to prevent it happening, are — in the US — not happening.
I suspect a lot of Western European nations will face outbreaks, but because of better health care systems, health care for all, comprehensive, enforced policy plans, and strong testing, isolating and contact tracing that had the virus beaten back and contained before the children even started school again? I think they’ll have minor outbreaks compared to the the US.
We don’t train children in the US to do the needful things to avoid spreading disease the way children in Asian countries have been trained for years, because of the last SARS outbreak. I find it really weird we don’t train children to protect themselves.
We train children to look both ways to cross a street. To say “no” to drugs. To be on guard for “stranger danger.” How hard is it to train them not to touch their face? Or wash their hands? Or wear a mask? Or social distance? US children (all children) have to have this kind of stuff ingrained, before they ever reach a classroom.
Denmark is considered to have dealt very well, and responsibly, with the virus. I’d agree with that. Denmark has 97 cases per 1M pop. I admire Denmark. But look at the picture above. Well cared for white kids. Not overweight. Not riddled with preventable disease from lack of access to health care or quality food.
In the US we don’t a) have cases under control, b) have systems in place to get and keep cases under control, c) have a government that cares about anything but the political visuals. Nations like the US and UK want citizens to believe that social distancing is all you need. Because of nations like Denmark. But they aren’t Denmark.
Once the weather turns and flu season starts, lack of control, lack of PPE, lack of testing, tracing, isolation, and lack of a nationwide, science-based, coordinated response, lack of training kids? I think it’s all going to come home to roost.
Two recent surveys in the US makes the problems here more apparent. When asked, 21% and 16% said they wouldn’t take a covid vaccine if there was one. If you need a 93% to 95% vaccination rate to protect people via herd immunity, the US is never getting to herd immunity. And that means the 5% of our population under 5, who haven’t got full vaccinations done, who need you to be herd immune to protect them, …. Oh well.
I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t get the vaccine either. And I’m pro-vaccine. I can’t trust the current FDA, run by the current administration, to approve a safe vaccine. Not that there will be one soon. Moderna’s announcement was short on hard science data proof. I suppose to it was done to give the WH cover to put Moderna execs on the WH Corona Task Force. Meanwhile, Gilead actually has a simpler to make, cheaper, actually effective drug. But no one’s talking about it.
So, what active measures can you advantage of now, in this window of calm before the storm, to be better placed for the fall? Co-morbidities are a big factor, with obesity and diabetes being the most prevalent. You could, this summer, lose some weight or get your diabetes under better control.
Diabetes Undone, by Wes Youngberg, was a program used at a church, with a lot of doctor members and a doctor taught the class, that some of my friends attend. They lost lots of weight and got their BP, AC1 way, way down. Plant-based diet, so….you won’t be supporting the deaths of meat packing plant workers or paying sky high prices for meat.
I was signed up to take it, even though not overweight or diabetic, but it started March 23 – the day California closed. There are videos on line. It’s relatively cheap. $99. I read my friend’s books. I’d say worth it.
This summer, you could exercise more just to increase your lung capacity and strengthen your heart. The stronger you are when covid hits, the better the chances you survive. You could learn to mediate, and up your ability to handle stress. You could take up a hobby and build a community online so when things shut down, you’ve got a social network still. You could try to boost your happiness levels through courses like Science of Happiness (on MOOCs like Edx.org).
You need to be able to open your windows for at least short periods each day, to get fresh air in this fall and winter. It’s a key to survival with SARs CoV 2. If you have windows that don’t open, get them fixed. At home, at your office, there needs to be fresh air happening. Fresh air lowers the viral load. It’s why the virus seems to disappear in summer and come back in the fall. People open windows. They go outdoors.
You probably have forced air heat. Consider buying an oil heater (electric-powered oil filled radiator). Oil heaters cost efficient to run in winter (cheap to buy in summer). They allow you to heat a room, while airing another. Having an oil heater also allows you to shut off a room if someone does get sick. You don’t have to keep their HVAC vent open and spread stuff around.
Consider a small HEPA filter air purifier. If you get a sickness in your household, you can put the air purifier in the ill person’s room to minimize the viral load. This is helpful for the people that have to care for the individual. You need to minimize exposure (time and distance) and viral loads (high v low) for the caregivers and the rest of the household.
Tending a sick person, means up close and personal. You can control the time you spend with them, but if you can control viral load as well, and throw in some PPE as well, maybe you and others in the house don’t get sick. Consider keeping some plastic sheeting around as well, to create a barrier over the doorway of a infected person’s room.
Too many people are blase about getting SARS CoV 2. They think it’s an old people disease. In my area currently 30% of the cases are people 45-65, but 40% are 18-44. For all those under 65 who think, “Oh, I’ll be in the 80% that has no or mild symptoms.” Okay, let’s say you are. Congrats. We know nothing about the long term impacts of the virus.
I’m pretty sure if you lose your smell and taste, that the virus did something to your brain. What’s the long-term impact on your brain? How many years before we see what the damage of SARS CoV2 really is on your frontal or occipital lobes?
The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls important cognitive skills in humans, such as emotional expression, problem solving, memory, language, judgment, and sexual behaviors. It is, in essence, the “control panel” of our personality and our ability to communicate.
I dunno. Maybe you don’t need a frontal lobe? Or maybe a virus like this increases having dementia or some other crippling disease later in life? We don’t know. Want to throw the dice on that? Wouldn’t it be easier to just take basic precautions against getting the virus in the first place?
People are getting SARS CoV2 and having strokes, kidney and liver problems, organ failures, all sorts of things. Unless you think the long-term damage of those events all magically goes away the minute you get a negative test result, take a defensive position.
You need to avoid the disease because our understanding of it, like your health care benefits package probably, is so limited. Your child gets Covid and develops a heart problem, maybe has a heart attack, that’s medical bills for you and on his record for the rest of his life as pre-existing condition, which he’ll then pay for in insurance rates for the rest of his life.
Perhaps you’re among those who, in the recent AP poll, expressed the notion that God would protect you from the virus. Um-hmm. I believe in God. If I’m standing on my rooftop with flood waters rising and a boat shows up, I’m getting in. If you will only accept a helicopter rescue, because your preconceived idea of what a rescue looks like, you get left behind to die. God did his job, you didn’t do yours.
My thinking is, God blessed me with brain, which understands science (the knowledge of nature that God has created), if I reject my god-given ability to think and the god-given revelations presented by thousands of years of science, it’s not God’s fault I end up dead. If I choose to willingly ignore revelations given, and my actions harms or costs the lives of others, I’m not loving my neighbor.
Weirdly, the poll reveals theses same people believe SARS CoV2 is God’s way of telling humanity to change how it lives. But not one person said what humanity was suppose to change. So, if God is trying to tell people to change, and what you have is a very sketchy, incompetent, conservative, anti-climate, anti-humanity, republican government….. okay, you want opposite of that?
You’d think that, but no. Apparently, 43% of people still feel the POTUS and his administration is doing an good job. See the problem? The people who strongly support the administration, strongly believe God has sent a pandemic to tell them to change the administration. Pick a lane people.
And speaking of indifference, pause and consider one of the following cities.
- Edison, NJ
- South Bend, IN
- Tuscaloosa, AL
- Kenosha, WI
- Vacaville, CA
- San Angelo, TX
- Clinton, MI
- Vista, CA
- Davenport, IA
- Renton, WA
Now imagine all the people in that city are dead. They’ve been wiped out. A bomb was dropped on them. Men, women, children, young, old, farmers, lawyers, butchers, bakers, oil rig makers, all gone. You’d probably think we should retaliate against the nation that bombed that city. I wouldn’t disagree.
If I told you a US company was running a plant there, and purposefully doing so in an unsafe manner because profit was all that mattered to them, and that’s why the city was blown off the map, you’d probably want that company shuttered, all its assets seized and all its executives jailed for life. I wouldn’t disagree.
Each of these places has about 100K people, about the current US total of Covid-19 deaths. But when I say, “There’s 100K Covid-19 deaths in the US,” you don’t see a US city destroyed. Why? Because we tend to box numbers up in “nursing home residents/staff” or “New Yorkers” or “prisoners” or “plant workers” or some type of other-ness.
It’s not wrong that people do this. It’s a number. It’s death in the abstract. And Americans have a deep aversion to death (even old age). They don’t want to see it, talk about, think about it, they just want to avoid the whole subject. But not looking at a falling bomb doesn’t help you avoid being blown up.
When you stop and think of a whole city being suddenly wiped out, these deaths become real to you. You understand that the whole 100K died of government incompetence, and that government has to be dealt with. You know you have to stop the people who keep pressing the button that allows the bomb to drop.
Honestly, I don’t grasp how anyone can say the POTUS and this administration are doing a good job, let alone 43% of Americans. Don’t they see the mushroom clouds?
End on some high notes? Beside’s my Gran’s ’97 Chevy passing the smog check? Or the Storks returning after 600 years? Or the existence of Otter Cams. Okay. Sure.
This week, the NG in London acquired a Jean-Étienne Liotard, masterpiece, and some Gainsboroughs. But I really care about the Liotard. It’s a portrait of a mother and daughter at breakfast. Curlers in hair, aprons on. Wonderful. A win for humanity.
This week’s love song from the Significant Other? Sway. I believe, given the number of miles between us are shrinking, the songs are now taking a turn for the passionate.
Steady on, man. The “magic technique” is still available – but only post quarantine.