We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, March 8. 2020
Word is that the theater/movie biz is having a drop in attendance. Restaurants and pubs as busy as ever. People vary in their vulnerability to fearfulness. I refuse to be among the fearful. It's just not my way.
My church this morning was packed, as always. No more sipping the wine from the same cup, though. I never liked that idea anyway.
My gym is as busy as usual. They claim they do a special cleaning every three days. Whatever.
What about travel plans? Cruise lines are dead for a while, and northern Italy is shut down. I feel bad for their businesses. It's a Black Swan event. If you plan for Black Swans, you go nuts.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Stanford cancelled this quarter (virtual classes)
Preschool uninvited parents for Purim.
Two kids at local high school tested positive and sent home.
There are some real bargain air fares out there. Will they go even lower or is now the time to book flights.
Jet fuel demand has fallen off a cliff. One would think that should help bring other fuel prices down.
We are traveling in April regardless of the Coronavirus scare.
Local farm diesel price lowest this week since began tracking daily price offers last summer. Closest recent low was early Feb.
But car gas is still up about .25 from recent low memory last few months.
To do right now.
Stock food and supplies for at least 2 weeks of isolation if not already done. Prepare for shortages of supplies and medications since most US medications are made in China (one medication I tried to refill is already "out of stock").
Stay or work at home as much as possible. Go to the market or shopping as little as possible. We are waiting for businesses to tell people to stay home, the banks have also warned that they could largely shut down.
Do not go to social gatherings or anywhere where there are large amounts of people. That includes church. Churches are already sending out notices to be ready for notice they are stopping services and will try to do something online instead.
Keep business meetings to a minimum. Conduct meetings by phone, skype etc.
If you have masks, wear them. This whole business about you don't need a mask is ridiculous. It's because the US like most western countries has a totally inadequate supply (most US masks made in China). Talk to any medical professional in Asia they will say wear a mask, in fact it is illegal in most places not to be wearing one in public. However, masks are almost impossible to find now (and have been for weeks). The best hope is the government will commandeer existing factories and start having them make masks 24 hours a day and distribute them, although again the US is in bad shape on this. If you try to buy masks on the internet they are at price gouge prices and they may just take your money and you will never see your masks.
Hand sanitizer on the other hand is of limited value. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water every time you have an opportunity for 20 to 30 seconds. Avoid touching anything in public. That will need breaking of a lot of subconscious habits, like automatically holding handrails on stairs and escalators.
If you feel sick don't just go to the doctor. You don't want to be spreading the congation. Call them first and see how they want to handle. It is possible this will become a paramedic response situation, although we are going to get into all sorts of issues about who is actually going to respond to ill people at home.
Get your legal and business affairs in order if you can. Make sure your family have or can get access to things like your durable power of attorney, health care directive, information regarding accounts, PINS, etc. Leave instructions on how bills are to be handled, etc.
I agree with doing some prepping, but disagree with wearing masks, yet. To a large extent, this is a bad flu virus, nothing yet to consider declaring we're in the end times. (And then, as I've asserted since my teens, life is fatal.) Dwight Longenecker (what a cool name) has a good, Christian, insight into this drama. In short, we're so used to our coddled lives, any possible significant risk equates to the end times and adds some impact to our otherwise dull, cell phone and perfect drinks and meals, filled lives.
Coronavirus is an issue, but not one to panic about. Just consider the impact of CV compared to the"real" epidemic that occurred in 1918. I have a son and pregnant daughter-in-law in Italy, serving with the US Navy. I'm far more concerned for them and my 92 yr old Mother, than I am for my borderline obese (someday I'll listen to BD on his "get fit and healthy you fool", excellent advice) self. In short, I think much of this concern is because of who the President is, rather than a real existential threat.
She is correct. Influenza is a different group of viruses to the Coronavirus.
You are correct about healthy people not wearing masks. Only the people who feel sick should wear the cloth type masks that help keep their germs inside the mask. A relative works at a local ER and was told those cloth masks might trap flu vapors or COVID vapors from other people between their face and the cloth masks. The relative said they have to be fitted annually for the N-95 masks because the size and the shape of faces sizes vary and the N-95 mask must be properly fitted. After their recent annual fitting, they ran out of N-95 masks, and the hospital can't locate any new ones.
How do you manage to type so much while you're curled up in a fetal position?
Haven't noticed any difference around here, but I went to Wal Mart and stocked up on beef jerky and toilet paper just in case. Some shelves mostly empty at Wal Mart, but its been like that for a couple years. they can't find enough people to keep the place stocked.
What is it with toilet paper? Is it all made in China so we're going to run out?
We were already out, so I had to buy some. It's gotten to be pretty expensive.
We make our own toilet paper in the U.S. yet. The Chinese haven't figured out how to fit more in a shipping container for as cheap as we can make it. (I have a neighbor that operates a machine that makes T.P. , The parent rolls are like 10 ft wide and 8 ft across , that's a lot of but-wipe! ) ANY lack of T.P. is on the purchaser at whatever retailer you are at.
I'm on a plane pretty much every week. Haven't noticed any drop in passengers these past two weeks, and my flights haven't been affected (reschedules, cancelled). Traffic seems a little lighter. Not a mall shopper so can't say how that's going - weather around here (northshore of Boston) has been lovely for getting out and about.
Most people I interact with express bemused annoyance at the press' handling of the virus situation.
I surprised myself this morning. Living in a rural area, I haven't been too worried about COVID-19 so far but, as I see it unfold, am becoming moreso. I live out in the woods and don't have any close neighbors. Being retired, the only time I'm exposed to the great unwashed is when I go to Wal-Mart or the supermarket, or fly somewhere for lunch. Today was the first VFR day in about a week, and the forecast is for rain and clouds for the next week. I had planned to hop down to Spartanburg, SC for lunch. After I thought about it, though, I decided not to expose myself to a crowd of possibly contagious city folks in a restaurant. We already have plenty of food in the pantry/freezer and a running stream on the property. So I feel like I'm taking precautions that seem reasonable (to me). Unless any cases pop up in my area, I still plan on shopping at the supermarket but will take extra care to use hand sanitizer afterwords.
Shoulda gone to The Beacon. Coronavirus can't swim in grease.
If this does not turn out to be the second coming of the Spanish flu then no worries. But every day it is looking more likely that this is the big one, or if not "the" big one certainly a big one. What this means to everyone is that someone you know and love will get seriously sick from covid-19. Some of those serious sick people will require hospitalization. The hospitals won't take them in. How could that happen! you ask. Because our hospitals don't have enough beds for them all once this becomes pandemic and bringing them top the hospital where others are confined with different illnesses is a recipe for disaster. It is likely that your city/county/state will set up "hospice" centers where you can take your seriously ill loved ones... "to die". Yes, "to die" because it won't be a hospital it will be a gym or convention center and if they can find anyone to attend the ill they will not be doctors and nurses. Basically you will bring your seriously ill loved ones to a terrible environment where you will not be allowed in with them and likely never see them again. The other option if you are smart enough to see what is going on is to keep them at home and care for them. However if they are old enough or have other health problems they may well die in your care. Are you ready for that? I saw this happen twice in my life when I was a child. A very sick family member sent home to die and my mother cared for them until they died. Seriously are you ready for that???
IMHO if you aren't worried about covid-19 then you are ignorant of what lies ahead. Still, I and many experts could be wrong and we will get this under control. But as the body count rises it looks more and more like the experts are right.
I'm not ignorant of history, but what good will worrying do? If I, or my wife or kids, get it the odds are very low that anything will happen besides being mildy sick for a week or two. Likely, we have no idea how many people have it because who goes to the doctor for flu symptoms? I never have. The only thing you can do is ride it out. 1q
Do you have parents or grandparents? Are you prepared to see them die because our hospitals cannot handle an epidemic? Are you prepared to take them into your house and take care of them and have them die in your bed? Or are you just going to ride it out?
My mom is 73 and if she gets it then the odds are that she won't make it. I'm prepared for that in as far as I know she's not going to live forever. What am I going to worry about it for? What good does that do? It's not like I'm going to stop bringing my kids over to her house or stop seeing her because we're afraid she's going to get sick. You can't stop living because you're afraid of dying. This Wuhan virus could be here permanently.
When the time comes for it I'll consider myself blessed and lucky if I can bring my mom home to die surrounded by people she loves. I don't know how to prepare for that, but I plan on doing everything in my power to make that possible. You really can't ask for more than that.
I don't even think about it when I go to the grocery store. I don't want the Wuhan flu, but I don't want the regular flu either. Yet I still don't get a flu shot. I doubt very much if it's as deadly here as in China. China probably has better medical facilities than Italy, so I don't think Italy is any indicator of how it will play out here either. We probably have thousands of people in the US with the covid virus already, and only a few elderly or already-sick have died.
I'm not going to stop going to Mass, even if we have an ebola outbreak. I don't fear death, but I do fear for my soul. Our parish did stop with the chalice this week, also the sign of peace with shaking hands.
I assume people wearing face masks are either a) going through chemo or something else that weakens the immune system, or b) total morons. Either way I steer clear of them.
We now have a confirmed case in the Tulsa metro, and they came through my place of work when they got here from Italy. I haven't given it much thought.
Driving on the highway everyday is still the most deadly thing I ever do.
I saw just at the gym this morning. There seem to be slightly fewer people than before, but still plenty active. The restaurant we ate at yesterday was still mostly full.
We live in Vancouver, WA, right next to Portland.
I'm taking Echinacea/astragalus, Vitamin A, and Zinc as prophylactic. My work travel plans have not changed yet. I have several work related trips planned for the spring. These could change with quarantine situation of course.
The most confounding aspect of this health scare is that we don't know nearly enough about the pathology of this disease and its impact on the general population, because it is brand new - but as a species we nevertheless are fully capable of broadcasting every potential terror associated with it. I've been ignoring the network news accordingly.
There's no reason to panic, and ample reason to take whatever reasonable precautions you are comfortable with. And there is every reason to find a resource online that can give you good information as it becomes available - one good one I found, Google: "Youtube coronavirus epidemic medcram".
When major corporations and hospitals start cautioning their senior staff that they don't want them traveling because they are marshaling resources (my doctor friends told me about this today), and when westernized societies start quarantining masses, it starts getting important to pay attention. But also: across all of history, on the strength of our technology, there has been no better time to understand and fight an epidemic than now.
First, if you’re an Aggie of the Texas variety, then howdy. Class of ‘88 here.
Second—and I am genuinely curious, not argumentative—what do you think we can do to fight this?
The problem is, the disease is new and our 'experts', even the real ones, are still feeling their way. This uncertainty tends to sow panic responses within the general public: they've become accustomed to Knowing Everything, Right Now off the internet. The disease appears to be a good bit more contagious than flu or colds, even if its lethality is not well understood yet (looks like it hits old people the worst, and young people maybe hardly at all). Being more contagious will mean that lots of compromised people have a higher chance of trouble. People with lung problems, any kind of cilia-type issues, could be one of the higher risk categories.
As far as society's role, we can fight this by not becoming panicky, not hoarding, and not over-reacting. Using our head, Keep Calm and Carry On. This isn't Captain Trips. Find out what risk category you and yours are in (age, infirmity) and take this into account. Find out what you need to know for contingencies by asking around yourself and doing a little leg work, plug in to your community and brief yourself on what is available.
Finally make a plan for what you will do if you or yours get sick. I would tell anyone they should think about being ready to hunker down and self-quarantine for a period of time - you evaluate what that period is - and stay aware of its likelihood in your particular vicinity as the disease spreads.
All of this can be done with a little effort and maybe some upfront expense that will just be buying some things you use a little earlier than usual. And knowing this information about your community resources is something you should be aware of anyway. None of it is wasted time, just a re-ordering of priorities.
Sunday mass. Empty fonts. No touching with the sign of peace. Host by hand and no wine.
Gym was packed. Met friends for dinner Friday, restaurants jammed. Had to do a late dinner at a packed local pub.
Streets, however, were empty. Very few people out and about in general. Drove down the long strip of malls nearby on Saturday and the traffic was down considerably, but Costco was overwhelmed.
I take the threat seriously, but I'm not panicking nor am I thinking this will be much more than the previous freak-outs of the past....
If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I just don't see it.
For anyone looking for calm and factual, I have followed Dr Seheult on Medcram and John Campbell for weeks now. Chicagoboyz.net has an ongoing debate on the seriousness of a coronavirus epidemic. Hearing both sides is helpful. We should bear in mind that the WA care home was a perfect storm and really skewed the numbers and public perception. This has been compounded by the bureaucratic snarl up in useful, real time testing. It would be nice to know if one is infectious or not. I havent heard if the CDC is working on an antibodies test, has anyone? It would be great to know if you have already had it. Then, you would know it is safe to visit with your elderly, or help them with shopping, errands etc.., or that you are safe to go back to work. How is the public supposed to make informed decisions?
The bureaucrats are supposed to have been anticipating and establishing protocols and contingencies for decades now. What happened?
Is Italy a perfect storm too? I don't think the pundits and experts have a good enough handle on this to speak with confidence. I can appreciate that the doctors and politicians are trying to prevent panic but understand that this means "lying" to us.
Let me give you an example: My history goes back to the cold war when I was in the heart of the national air defense system. We could with confidence know 30 minutes ahead of a nuclear attack that it was coming. There was absolutely no intent to tell the citizens. We knew it would create panic and probably end with more people killed not less. This is the kind of decisions governments make. Tell the people and they panic and tens of thousands die or don't tell them and tens of thousands die.
IMHO what the government is now doing is trying to limit the speed of the spread of the virus to extend it our over the longest period so that a large peak of cases doesn't overwhelm our hospitals. They don't have control of it this is a last ditch effort. If they came out and said this there would be panic. So instead they say things like, this should be over soon and we suspect it isn't as bad as the data makes it look. The bottom line is they cannot tell us the truth because then they lose what little control they have.
Subway was not packed, it could be from CV or just fewer customers. Some people were wearing masks but this is not unusual. I ride the 7 train several times a week and cannot recall when I first noticed people wearing masks. Several stops have large asian populations and they make up most of the mask wearers.
Except for Spring Breakers, travel is done for a couple of months and most of the summer travel is by car inside the country.
You may be able to snag some bargains, but that means late this year or next year and Fake News will have something else to go ballistic about.