Category Archives: Health

It’s a wonder we have any trees left at all

boxes

It’s been perfectly fine with me to order even more stuff from Amazon during the pandemic, rather than going out to stores. I’m far from alone in this, of course. Completely sensible, and defensible.

Except for one thing: The packaging.

Today, we broke up some boxes as we prepared to put out the recycling. They come on Tuesday, normally, although we’re not entirely sure they will this time, on account of the holiday.

What you see above, in the midst of being dismantled, is the packaging for one item we ordered from Amazon — a new lightweight vacuum cleaner. We hadn’t bought one in quite a few years, and the old one had worn out. So, you know, defensible.

Except for the blasted packaging.

The machine was in the broken-down white “Shark” box at right, wedged into place by the shaped-cardboard thingies sitting atop it.

That box was in the one to its left, which was only slightly larger.

That one was in the huge box at far left, with additional packaging to hold it in place.

Not so defensible, I suppose. It’s a wonder, after all this pulp, that we have any trees left…

The word I couldn’t remember for days

I had no trouble remembering "Acme," although I initially thought of "Ajax." Don't know why...

I had no trouble remembering “Acme,” although I initially thought of “Ajax.” Don’t know why…

I’m embarrassed to confess this weakness. After all, words are my thing. Something I’m good at. I’m not much of a basketball player or a musician, and for that matter there are plenty of wordsmiths who put me in the shade, who utterly dazzle. And not just Shakespeare or Twain, although I find it hard to believe they were merely human.

But years and decades and more of everyday use have shown I’m better at words than, I don’t know, 90-plus percent of the population. However badly this blog post is written, I know that is generally the case. It’s been tested too many times.

It’s not much, but it’s something. And it bothers me. So I hesitate to share it, but I’ve got this journalistic urge to document this thing frankly, so…

Anyway, it’s a thing I hate to see slip away at all. I’ve noticed my writing isn’t all that great since the stroke, especially on “fatigue” days (hence my self-conscious apology above for this post), but that’s a subtle, subjective thing that comes and goes. Not too worried about it, yet.

Not being able to think of a particular word is more definite. Feels more like a landmark — look what you’ve come to, dummy.

Usually, it’s not so bad. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with someone at ADCO about a press release I was putting together, and I couldn’t think of the word the folks at ADCO use for that blurb at the end telling about the company. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the structure of press releases, but at the end you’ll have a line that says, “About Acme Corporation,” and it will be followed by a paragraph of basic stuff you’d want the recipient to know about the company but didn’t mention in the main body of the release. (Like, “Acme is a worldwide leader in producing a stunningly diverse assortment of products that are not normally associated with killing or capturing roadrunners, but can be used for that purpose.”)

I thought of it as a “footer,” which is more of a newspaper word, one applied to those italic things at the end of a story that say things like, Staff writers Joe Blow and Susie Q also contributed to this report.

I confessed my problem, using the word “footer” to explain, and after a second Lora said, “boilerplate?”

YES! Boilerplate. Why was that hard?

Anyway, I’ve had a number of “boilerplate” moments lately. And I think they’re because of the stroke, but I don’t know that.

And occasionally, they’re way simpler, far less esoteric. For instance… there was this theme music to a movie that I had heard a couple of times recently, and something on the radio reminded me of it — something extremely repetitive, I suppose — and I wanted to mention to my wife that it had recently occurred to me that this song was the MOST mindlessly repetitive in human history.

And for a second I couldn’t think of the name of the song, which didn’t bother me. What got me was that I couldn’t think of the name of the movie. And this was bad not just because it’s an EXTREMELY popular movie that is currently back in the news, or because I’m kind of a movie buff. It’s because I knew the words were extremely simple. I knew exactly what they referred to, since they combine to form the nickname of a real-life institution that looms large in naval culture — at least, in a certain part of the Navy. (Not the part I grew up in, thank goodness — more Bob Amundson’s part.) I could remember scenes in which the name was used in dialogue in the movie, and how important it was to those scenes. I could see the captain telling the two heroes that he was sending them there, even though he didn’t want to…

Yes, I was trying to think of “Top Gun” (and that maddening song, “Danger Zone.” Really. Go read the lyrics, all the way through. Listen to the last half of it.). It came to me within, I suppose, a minute. But it was an excessively long minute.

A minute, however, is better than several days.

Twice this morning, I tried to think of a word that I’ve been trying to retrieve for, I don’t know, two or three days. I didn’t especially need it. It wasn’t important to anything I wanted to say. But it really bugged me that I couldn’t think of it.

At one point today, I was responding to a comment in which someone described his post-stroke symptoms, and it motivated me to mention how fortunate I was that most of mine had gone away. I no longer have a problem looking down. Of course, I still have this fatigue thing. And there’s the forgetting-words thing. And then I tried to trick myself by just going ahead and typing the word I’d been having trouble with… and it didn’t work. I had to admit, “Like… dang. There’s a word I haven’t been able to think of for days, and I thought if I just snuck up on it, it would come. It didn’t…”

At that point, I went out to my wife who was reading on the deck. I told her I couldn’t remember this word. It wasn’t something common like “top gun,” but it was common enough in political speech that I should have no trouble with it. Or at least it had been, within our lifetimes.

I said it was a word feminists had popularized in the ’70s — a time when we were both in college, and then I was starting my career as a journalist, and this word was huge back then. It had been colored by that use to the point that people started using it only in that sense, rather than in a broader way.

The word referred to being too loyal, or attached to, some group to which one belonged. To one’s country, or something else with which one identifies. It was about thinking too highly of that identity, and having a tendency to look down upon people who didn’t share it.

I said it had come to be sort of synonymous with “sexist” because of the way it was used in that period. People might use it this way: They might say, “(blank) pig” instead of “sexist pig.”

I also said, erroneously, that I thought it was very close to some other, far more common, word, only being different by a letter or two. (There were two other things I was thinking but didn’t share with her. I thought it was from French, which was more or less correct. I was also thinking it started with a J, which was wrong. I kept straining to see the word, and I was seeing something that looked kind of like “jeune.” I don’t speak French, but I knew that meant “young.” I also knew it wasn’t the word, but I erroneously thought it was close. Maybe I was reaching for “jejune,” but I don’t know why because I’ve never used that one.)

My wife couldn’t think of it, either. I went back in, still trying to come up with it. I had thought about Googling for it, but I knew that would be tricky. Finally, I Googled “word that people use to mean sexist.” The first link I got was a page that offered offered 25 synonyms including “bigoted,” “discriminatory,” “dogmatic” (dogmatic? really?), “intolerant” “intransigent,” “one-sided,” “opinionated,” “racist,” “xenophobic”…

Completely useless. I’ve always wondered why some people find a thesaurus helpful. I never have. But then, I usually use fairly common words, and I think of them myself (I’ve always sort of thought that if I couldn’t, they were too obscure to use)…

I scrolled down on the page, though, and saw a separate list of words associated with “bigot,” and there the stupid word was: chauvinist.

YES! No J, but definitely French! And definitely the word I’d been looking for.

I went and told my wife. She objected that it wasn’t used to mean “sexist,” and that the common usage she remembered was quite correct: Back in the ’70s, a lot of people said “male chauvinist.”

Yes, I agreed, that was correct, because it explained the type of chauvinism being described. But I’m sure that during that period, chauvinism got to be so tied up with the male variety in a lot of people’s heads that it became common to use it for “sexist.” And when I tried to proved it by Googling “chauvinist pig” and telling it to leave out “male,” I got 284,000 responses. Millions would be better, but I think it backs up my memory.

Which is good. Because a memory that can’t remember “chauvinist” is a memory worth worrying about, if you value words.

 

 

I could be wrong about that, of course, but I’m not wrong about “top gun”…

Turn the danged lights down!

dilated

Had an appointment with an ophthalmologist today to check my eyes out after the weird thing they did when I had that stroke.

Not to go through all the details again, but basically, for two days, I could not look down. Yeah, I told you it was weird. But I’ve been mostly fine since then.

I checked out OK, but of course we had to do the dilate-your-eyes thing. So today has been sort of unreal. Good thing it was cloudy.

By the way, I cropped that selfie above (sorry about the poor quality) to zero in on the eyes.

Uncropped, you can see that after these months of working from home and not getting haircuts, I’ve got a little bit of a Gandalf thing going on.

You shall not pass!

uncropped

A header from another time

another time

Just noticed this at the top of the blog.

Obviously a header image from another time.

At least, I HOPE the beach doesn’t look like this. This was taken several years ago in front of the Conch Cafe, located where Surfside Beach and Garden City come together.

And then there’s that ad — does Sting have Alzheimer’s? (No, he doesn’t. I can’t click on those ads — Google Adsense would have a fit — but I looked it up.)

 

You anxious to ‘get back out there?’ I ask because I’m not.

Maybe I'm kind of like the guy in the Hardy novel...

Maybe I’m kind of like the guy in the Hardy novel…

Sounds like a stupid question, doesn’t it? It seems like everything I read and hear is based on the assumption that we’re all anxious as all get-out to, well, get out again.

Even the sensible folk who tell us it’s too early — and it is — seem to assume that we all want to get back to our usual routines as soon as possible. Hence all the news stories and features about folks who want to get back to their gym, or get sports started back up, get the kids back to school or see our streets busy again, or whatever.

Not because they’re worried about the economy or people’s jobs — although they may be concerned about those things as well, and understandably — but because they and other normal people want to be normal again.

I don’t claim that I was ever normal, of course, but I thought I’d speak up as a guy who’s in no hurry at all, just to see if anyone else is as messed up as I am.

I’m anxious to do one thing — be able to see and hug and spend time with my grandchildren. I miss that a great deal, and only a return to normal will fix it. But the rest? I can wait.

I realize that several factors contribute to making me this way, and some of them are what some might call privilege-related. Not from being a white guy or anything obvious like that, but from the fact that due to what I do in my post-newspaper career, my ability to bring in the same amount of income as before the pandemic is more or less unaffected. It would be way different if I were, say, a waiter. Or, for that matter, if I had any of those newspaper-editor jobs I had over the years, especially given the technology we had then.

That’s huge. But there are other factors as well, and here are a few of them:

  • I’m an introvert. Like seriously, extremely. I’ve been tested. I’ve never felt that deprived by a lack of physical contact with most of the human race. Being alone in the company of words feels fine to me. Occasional quick Facetime meetings, with phone and text and email, more than meet the need for the interactions that are needed to get work done. I spend essentially zero time getting to work and getting home — since I do all my work at home. This is more than awesome to me. The time I spend, for instance, not shaving is greatly appreciated.
  • I had a stroke, right in the middle of all this. I told you about that. I tell everybody, in case someone missed it. It’s helpful. I say “I had a stroke,” and people are willing to tolerate all sorts of things, maybe even my lack of interest in getting back out there. I recovered from the overt symptom (my strange inability to look down) almost immediately, but I do have days when I’m weirdly tired — actually, sort of every day, but some days are worse than others. Everyone has been enormously patient with me as I deal with this, but it would be harder for them to do that, and life would be a LOT harder for me, if we all felt the expectation to get up early and shower and shave and drive through the traffic and get breakfast and figure out lunch and meet with people and stop at the store on the way home … I get really tired just thinking about it. I found the PERFECT time to have a stroke, I figure. I’ve never been known as a great time manager, but sometimes I’m smart like that.
  • All of that last bullet said, you should go back to the first one and remember that stroke or no stroke, I like almost everything about working like this better than doing it the usual way. Things get boiled down to essentials and you just do the work. The stroke thing has just heightened that. (I’m not doing quite as much as I was, due to the stroke, but I’m building back up and I think I’ll soon be there. And doing it this way helps enormously in meeting that goal.)
  • There’s just my wife and me, and other than my stroke, we’re both doing pretty well, and we get along great. Like the guy in the Thomas Hardy novel said, I like knowing that whenever I look up, she’ll be there, and vice versa. I’d honestly rather be stuck on a desert island with her than with anyone else, and this is a reasonable rehearsal for that. (Don’t ask her if she feels the same; I’ll be happier assuming that she does. But not shocked if she doesn’t. The fact is that she is very tolerant of me, so hanging with her remains very pleasant — for me. And for her, I very much hope.) Having to spend all my time with her is a huge plus. If we could get back to normal with our kids and grandkids, things would be perfect.
  • Maybe this, and all the rest, boils down to that first bullet, but I have never, at any point in life, been someone who is looking for the world to entertain him. (As a newspaper editor, I was always flummoxed by conversations about the Weekend section and when it should be published and what it should contain — I could not imagine being a person who needed a published guide to tell me what to go do. My life was full.) As you know, I can take sports or leave them alone. Yes, if I’m going to miss a sport it’s baseball, but I figure it will get rolling again at some point, and whenever it does will be soon enough. I’ve always found books, TV and movies to be more diversion than I have time for in my life. I would have to have the rest of my life off from all work and spend 18 hours a day reading (which would be awesome) to make even a significant dent in the books I want to read and have not yet — even if I denied myself the pleasure of rereading the books I already love, which to me is one of life’s best things. Why, if I had enough time, maybe I’d even write a book myself in addition to reading them — but I’d need much more time than this pandemic is thus far giving me.
  • I live at a perfect time for all this. Not only is the kind of work I do easier with today’s technology, but the ways I like to spend any free time I have — books, movies, etc. — are all easily within reach. Ebooks, streaming and whatnot. This would not have been the case, to this extent, even a very few years ago.

I could go on, but that’s probably enough to give you the idea.

Do I feel guilty not being in a hurry to get back to “normal?” Yes, if you talk about the pain suffered by people who really, truly hurting financially or otherwise. I am extremely mindful of how lucky I am in this regard. And if we need to get back to it in order to help those folks, then let’s do it.

But I thought I’d be honest about the fact that from my perspective, I’m enjoying this while it lasts. I figured I ought to admit it. The Bobs will understand, won’t they?

Toilet paper: The surest sign that we’re back to ‘normal’

The toilet paper aisle at Walmart in early March.

The toilet paper aisle at Walmart in early March. And pretty much every day since.

Right now, there is a lot of debate going on about when we should return to “normal” as a society. This debate takes two forms. One is the usual stupidness that is the particular genius of Donald J. Trump. You know how that goes: If you’re a sensible person, you want to continue the social distancing. If you voted for Donald Trump and would do so again, or want people to think so, you might tend to scream until people let you resume doing stupid things.

There’s another debate going on, but it’s harder to hear because the first one is so loud. In this one, more or less reasonable people try to figure out how to determine when it is safe to go to work, to go shopping, to get a haircut, etc., the way we used to. This debate has a reasonable basis, because we know those things will happen someday. Even the Spanish Flu ended. So how will we know when that day has arrived, or for that matter, when it would be safe to step carefully in that direction?

Well, I’m going to tell you right now that the day has not arrived, and it’s not even close.

I could use all sorts of standards for this. I could say, the day will not be here until we’ve gone several days without a single new case of COVID-19 in South Carolina.

But there’s an easier standard than that, and I think it’s perfect in every way. You don’t have to monitor the entities keeping count of the sick, or pay attention to the frequent briefings involving governors or you-know-who.

If you or someone in your family is making periodic, careful trips to buy groceries — and I think most of us are covered by that, or else we’d starve — you’ll know when it happens.

I’m talking about the day that you go to Food Lion, Walmart, CVS or wherever, and the toilet paper shelves are full. Like, the way they were six months ago full. And they continue to be that way. Then they take down the signs that beg you to take only one package.

All sorts of factors go into this, and a lot of it has to do with something like crowdsourcing. When the A-holes who bought all the toilet paper to begin with stop buying it, and the rest of us stop making a practice of buying ONE package when we see one, it will indicate that everyone is pretty sure we’re safe. It will also indicate that our commercial distribution systems have caught up and are again able to do something that — compared to all the way more complicated things our modern economy does all the time — ought to be pretty simple: keep the supply of a basic, simple commodity that doesn’t rot or otherwise lose value while sitting on a shelf flowing.

When we can manage all that, we’re ready. The public is ready. The economy is ready. We’re clear.

Until then, we need to maintain our distance. It doesn’t matter how badly you need a haircut — if we can’t keep toilet paper on the shelves, we’re still too messed up. Use a comb, creatively.

Anyway, there’s your standard.

How to sell some plastic chairs during a pandemic

The six we ended up with.

The six we ended up with.

My mom wanted some plastic chairs. My brother and his family were coming through town, and she had discovered from past visits from grandchildren and great-grandchildren that she and my Dad didn’t have enough backyard furniture to accommodate such gatherings.

So I went to Lowe’s to get some. The stackable kind that are easy to deploy and to store. I was to get six. That was as far as my instructions extended.

I first tried late on Wednesday, arriving about 7:30. I found that the store had closed at 7 — quite a bit earlier than the 8:30 I had expected from my last such expedition. Employees on hand told me they’d be staying open until 9 again starting Friday. This prompted two thoughts: 1) Why would they be resuming normal hours then? and 2) What good did that do me?

I returned on Saturday, after having contemplated seeking such chairs at Walmart. But I didn’t. I went to Lowes. This proved to be a mistake. First, I tried to find them on my own, pushing about a large flatbed cart for most of the time. I did this for maybe half an hour before noticing some chairs LIKE what I sought in the area where they put online orders waiting to be picked up. I pointed to them and asked an employee where I might find more. He copied the info from the bar code and we started to look together. About 20 or 30 minutes later, we had hit every area that I had previously visited by myself. We consulted with a number of his fellow employees. With some, we entered into deals where my guy would help them find something if they’d help us find the chairs.

After we had exhausted all these possibilities, we were back where we had started, when I suggested something: Might they be outside, in front of the store? I seemed to remember having seen such chairs in such a position on a previous occasion. I was not alone — the employee stopped, looked and pointed at me in a way that said, “You, sir, are a genius.”

He was right, because I was right. There they were, no more than 100 feet away when we stepped out and looked. Loads of them, in all sorts of colors. The employee had to return to what he’d been doing before, but he left me with advice: I would need to decide which ones I wanted and go in and find someone to get them, because they were all chained together.

I took a lot of pictures, and texted them to my mom — mainly for color guidance. I knew from previous experience that she wouldn’t like the Adirondack-shaped one. I agree. They look great, but are never comfortable. And I counted out the rocking-chair style. That just left a few.

But I was unable to report on how sturdy or steady they were. Because I would have to bring out another employee to help with that, and I wanted to narrow things down first. Also, she was not pleased with the pricing — running between about $20 and $25 for likely models. She had hoped they’d be more like $15.

I said I’d go see what Walmart had, but I warned her not to expect $15 chairs.

I was wiped out at this point. I get that way since my stroke. I felt like I’d been wearing that mask for a year. I called my wife and said I’d be home soon if I didn’t get a LOT luckier at Walmart.

I was home about 15 minutes later.

Things had not started well at Walmart. I parked near the garden center entrance, and found it was locked from the outside. I uttered some choice words — actually just one (no sense getting creative when no one could hear me), but I said it several times. Then I walked around, and made my way back to that department, where I found the following:

  • There was a stack of chairs exactly like the most suitable ones at Lowe’s.
  • They were all one color. It was a nicer color than any at Lowe’s — a quiet neutral gray.
  • They all looked perfect, but I pulled one off the stack to check. It was, indeed, perfect.
  • They were way cleaner than the ones at Lowe’s, being inside.
  • You know how many there were? Six. Not five, not seven. Six.
  • The sign stated the price: $14.94 apiece. (The exact same model at Lowe’s was $22.98.)

There were no carts nearby, but I stopped an employee who had just unloaded a pallet on wheels. He said he didn’t see buggies, but maybe we could use his vehicle. Being careful not to say it with any sarcasm, I said that had been kind of what I was thinking when I stopped him. He wheeled the chairs to the self-serve area, peeled off a barcode and scanned it six times for me. He then wheeled them outside while I went to get my truck. I had meant to shop for some other stuff while there, but didn’t want to mess with the way things were going.

Driving the truck over, I looked in my wallet and found only two dollars. I was embarrassed to offer him so little for being so awesomely helpful, so I just thanked him profusely, and drove the chairs to my parents’ house. They were exactly what my Mom wanted.

I should have given him the two dollars, I decided later…

Why do things go like that sometimes, but too often they don’t?

The chairs at Lowe's.

The chairs at Lowe’s.

(Almost an) Open Thread for Monday, April 27, 2020

Yeah, you know -- like the Spanish Flu, right?

Yeah, you know — like the Spanish Flu, right?

Thought I’d throw together one of these for you…

  • Graham expects recurrence of coronavirus cases in the fall — I only posted this for one reason: Doesn’t everyone expect this? I mean, I’ve been hearing this as long as I’ve been hearing about the “novel” coronavirus, so since… I don’t know… maybe January? I’ve heard, over and over, that we should get ready for a pattern like the Spanish Flu, where it landed for a while, went away, and then hit much harder in the fall of 2018. But since I don’t see a lot of headlines saying this, and sometimes I see things that seem to be obviously avoiding it, maybe it’s news to some people. So I include it here, in case…

And you know what? I’m tired now. And that one’s enough for a conversation. And I need to save energy for work, of which I need to do some today. If you have other subjects, bring them up…

My vacation from the coronavirus

As I sat in the empty waiting room, I shot this over my shoulder. You can see one of the first line of outposts, there to keep people with the virus out. Or so I assume.

As I sat in the empty waiting room on April 11, I shot this over my shoulder. You can see one of the first line of outposts, there to keep people with the virus out. Or so I assume. To that person’s left is a table, with another person seated at it.

Actually, I thought I was plunging head-first into the mysterious, much feared land of COVID-19. A day after the weirdness had started, I decided that I felt “off” enough that maybe I had it. There was no fever, and no dry cough or any of that. But my taste and smell (which are the same sense, of course) weren’t all they should be, so maybe I had it. And I just didn’t feel right. Anyway, my kids were insisting, from across town, that  I go in to be checked. And, as I said before, my primary care doc sided with them when I reached him that Saturday (the 11th, for those keeping score).

So I went in, thinking this would give me something interesting to write about. And things were different from the start. First, some people were camped out about 20 ft. from the entrance to the Emergency Room at Lexington Medical Center (see above). Like they were the expendable ones, there to make sure no one with the bug actually came in. I talked my way past them, before my wife went back to wait in the car. Inside, there were more people with masks on greeting me as soon as I went in. After a brief time with the triage nurse beyond the wall, I was sent back out to sit in the waiting area — alone. The pic below proves my tale.

Eventually, I was shown into the ER proper, and given a room. I knew I would be there for several hours, whatever happened. I’d been through this routine with others. Oddly, they didn’t test me for the virus. From the start, they were only interested in a symptom that I barely mentioned, because it was so odd to tell anyone about — the fact that I couldn’t look down. I could look at things at eye level, but my muscles simply could not make my eyes turn downward. My eyes would quiver with the effort, but I couldn’t do it. If I HAD to look at something lower down, my brain had to work it out again each time — I had to press my chin to my chest and look under the thing, then allow my eyes to drift upward. Which seemed like a lot of work, each time. Hardly worth it. I only bothered to do it a couple of times.

That’s what interested them. That’s why they did the CT scan, which produced nothing. I knew that if the CT produced nothing (and I wasn’t curious enough to ask what “something” might be), I’d have to get an MRI. Knew I’d be there that long. Anyway, about three or four hours into the ordeal, perhaps a bit more, the doctor in charge came to see me for the first time since the very beginning. I realized later that she was very conscious of having to break bad news to me, although it didn’t strike me at the time. She got right next to me and leaned in on the railing that kept me from falling out to that side. We were friends now. She was really close when she told me I’d had a stroke.

The news didn’t really register. All I noticed was that, instead of letting me go, she was telling me I’d have to stay at least overnight. I asked a question or two about the stroke thing, as it seemed the thing to do (you mean a TIA? No, a real stroke; it’s definite — we can see it), but I don’t think if fully registered on me until I saw how others reacted to the news on social media. (People there were all like, “You had a what…?”)

So I asked whether they were going to, at the very least, test me for coronavirus since that’s what I’d come for — and she said, well, no. And she explained: Sure, they could test me, but here was the thing: If they tested me, they’d have to treat me differently. Completely differently. I’d get moved to another part of the hospital where everyone either had the virus, or was assumed to have it. As opposed to being in the normal part of the hospital on a floor with stroke patients, where everyone would assume I didn’t have it. Which would be better for me.

I agreed that would be better. But I didn’t let go of the idea. I asked if I could get a test whenever I left. She said sure, whatever.

Two days later, when I was finally about to go, I asked someone else for my test. He looked at me like I was nuts. They had been observing me and monitoring all my vital signs for three days. They knew I didn’t have it — or at least, that I wasn’t exhibiting symptoms. Which means they knew more about me than about 99.99 percent of the population. I thought it would be cool to know even more, but I took his point. I never got the test.

So, for three days (counting the ER day), I was in a place where officially, no one had the coronavirus, and no one was concerned about it.

Which was nice, I realized later.

Returning home a week ago today, I was sort of startled to notice that everyone was still going on about the virus. When I read my several newspapers each morning, it was all the same stories I’d been reading since I quit going to work back in March. You know the stories — about Trump’s lie-filled daily briefings, about how hard it was for certain people (not me) to deal with the tedium of isolation, what to binge-watch, yadda-yadda.

Now, those stories seem even more boring than they did before. Now, I have had a stroke, which is officially more interesting than not having a virus! That has had little effect on me, but it has had this effect: I’m no longer tolerant of the boring coronavirus stories. Does this mean I’m anxious to get out there and do something? No, far from it. I want to do nothing, each day. I’ve given in to the fact that for the first time in almost three years, I’ll fail to average more than 10,000 steps a day this month. And once I’d given in to that, I didn’t care to do anything else.

I do some work each day. There’s enough for me to do, and I know I’m lucky to have the work, so I feel I must justify myself to that extent. But I feel no urge to exercise, or to post on my blog, or to do anything, really. I’m reading a couple of books. I had recently watched, again, “In Harm’s Way” — the 1965 John Wayne picture, not one of the many, many other things with that title. Curious about the overuse of the title, I found that I could download the novel the film was based on for free from Kindle. So I’ve been reading that. Slowly. I’ve also been reading a novel I had put on my wish list years ago — I think I had read a favorable review in The Wall Street Journal when it was first published — and received as a gift sometime during the past year. It’s set in Spain in the 16th century, when ex-Moors who had been forced to “convert” to Christianity were still called “moriscos” — and mistrusted by the Old Christians. The protagonist is a judge/prosecutor investigating a series of deaths in rural Aragon. It’s pretty interesting — more so than the one about the Navy in 1941 — but nothing really grabs my interest right now.

Someone called asking me to do something for work, so I’m going to stop and go do that. Be back soon…

OK, done with that — huff, puff, etc.  Back now, and thinking I should say something about how fortunate I am. I mean, I have had a stroke, and that means I’ve survived something that could have been a whole lot worse than it was — especially since it was bilateral. I haven’t seen the actual MRI yet, but I’m told that is remarkable. And yet, I have nothing to show but a symptom that’s been almost completely gone since the morning of Sunday the 12th (I say “almost” because occasionally my eyes refuse to focus on something low in my field of vision). That, and the fact that my desire to do anything, even something that will burn basically zero calories, is gone. I want to rest all the time, even though I’ve done nothing to tire myself. The last few days, I’ve taken a walk each afternoon that gets in between three and four thousand steps, and that’s it.

In fact, it’s time to do that, so I’ll be back in awhile…

That walk around my large block — just under a mile — is done, but I’m not moved to tell you about it. My capacity for rest is in fact the only remotely interesting thing about me in this particular state of being…

I’ve possessed this gift since Sunday the 12th. I was awakened in the hospital by the arrival of food from my wife. The night before, the hospitalist hadn’t decided I was staying until late, and there was nothing available from the mess hall that I could eat, so my wife brought something to the sentries outside, and it got relayed in to me. This pattern continued with my move to the 8th floor. The staff seemed even to welcome it. They looked at what she’d sent Sunday morning and announced that there was enough for two meals, and that they would be happy to refrigerate the large serving of soup until lunchtime. I concurred, and ate my breakfast. Then I prepared to watch Easter Sunday Mass in Spanish on Facebook. That is, I sat the iPad on my lap and put the earbuds in my ears, and slept sitting up. (I would later be told that sometime around this time they ran tests on my carotid artery, but I have no memory of that).

Then, I caught a ride downstairs to get a very closely detailed scan of my heart — essentially the background for an even more-detailed look from another camera stuck down my throat the next morning (by this time my staying another day was meekly accepted) — after which I went back to sleep, then ate my soup, then took another nap. That’s the way I remember it, anyway.

I say I was in a place where no one cared about the coronavirus. It wasn’t ignored completely. The people doing all these tests wore masks. But it seemed so routine by this time. I was living in a land consisting almost entirely of young women, and they all seemed terribly attractive in part because of their faces being covered. I’d wonder if their faces were as beautiful as the rest of them, and decided again and again that they most likely were. I was, after all, in a magical place.

Anyway, the pattern continued. I again forgot my own mask when taken down for the camera-down-the-throat test. But everyone else wore one, and no one remarked on the fact that I didn’t. The young woman in charge of me was stunning — at least, her brow was and so were her ears, and I’m certain the rest was the same. We decided that even though I technically may be allergic to the anesthesia they were going to use for the test, we wouldn’t worry about it. And it was all fine. We were in the magical place.

After that, and after another nap, it was time to get serious about leaving. I asked each person I met when I could go. At first, it would be after the next doctor who saw me did so. Then, it was decided I’d have to see another doctor after that one — the doctor I’d thought was the last one came back, somewhat breathlessly, to tell me that. Fine. Then someone took out the IV feed I’d had in my left arm ever since the ER. That was removed and I put on my long-sleeved T shirt, and the nurse left and moments later, I realized that the reason why my shirt was warm and wet from my elbow to my wrist was because the IV was bleeding quite liberally and with no sense of propriety. So I strolled down the hall to the charge nurse’s desk and advised her regarding my condition, then strolled back to what would soon be my ex-room. Normally, this would have seemed an emergency. But in this place, we didn’t sweat things. I got the shirt off, she bandaged me a lot tighter, and we decided this sort of thing would happen regularly now that I was taking anti-coagulants every day and would for the rest of my life. A statin, too.

I was told a nurse would have to accompany me to the exit where my wife would pick me up — the opposite end of the hospital, as it turned out. I walked all the way — the nurse asked me if I wanted a wheelchair, but I said no. It would be several days before I got that much exercise again.

After I got home, I took another nap, I think. And ever since then, I’ve slept at will at least a couple times a day, and at least nine or ten hours a night.

Until yesterday — on Sunday, I actually had an hour or two in the afternoon when I tried to nap, but failed. But I was unperturbed at staying awake. It didn’t even bore me.

Anyway, I’ve been home a week at this hour late on Monday the 20th, and I’ve really never gotten over the feeling of being in a place where the coronavirus doesn’t matter as much as it did.

Which is an added benefit of having had a stroke — which seems to impress everyone — but having virtually no lingering effects of a stroke. Aside from being tired all the time. At some point, I’ll have to come to grips with that, I’m guessing.

But not yet. And I thank the Lord for these numerous blessings.

It’s late now, but I might just get in another brief nap…

See? The ER waiting room actually WAS deserted.

See? The ER waiting room actually WAS deserted.and

I’ve got something. Don’t know what it is. The virus? Don’t know.

WIN_20200410_16_59_05_Pro

Hey, look! The camera on my laptop works. Never tried it before.

Something’s wrong. I’ve got something. I don’t know what it is.

Could it be the coronavirus? Maybe. I don’t know. Probably nothing. I’ll laugh about this tomorrow.

I woke up just after eight this morning. I realized I had turned off the 7:30 alarm yesterday when we went to Food Lion at 7.

I got up and felt very dizzy. OK, I thought. It’s that thing I’ve had for several weeks. I seem to have developed the other form of Ménière’s syndrome.

Look! My phone knew how to spell that. I don’t feel like I can type. So I’m dictating to my phone. It’s working.

Anyway, I’ve had vertigo when I first stand up when I wake up. After a moment, it goes away. Feels worse today, though.

I got up. I was way too dizzy to walk around. Decided to take a hot bath sitting down, instead of a shower. Next thing I knew, my wife was calling me from far away. I looked, and it was a little after nine. I closed my eyes. She called again.

I forced my eyes open and said OK, and flipped open the water with my foot. I closed my eyes…

I woke up again. It was after 9:30. I knew something was wrong.

I managed to get up. Very dizzy. I dried off, got dressed. I went to the front door, because I saw out the window that my wife was outside.

There was something wrong with my eyes. This had not been the case before I got in the tub. I could not focus on anything lower than eye level. I realized this meant I couldn’t write at the computer. I couldn’t read a book. I couldn’t even watch TV. If I wanted to look at something, I had to hold it up above my eyes.

I wouldn’t be able to work. I had so much to do. After about 20 minutes, my eyes got better. I was so relieved. I went to get a package of coconutmilk yogurt. For a smoothie. When I came back, my eyes were messed up again.

I made the smoothie anyway, feeling my way, my wife standing next to me.

It didn’t taste right. The coffee my wife had made for me didn’t taste right, either. This was the first thing that seemed to be a virus indication. There was nothing else. No fever.

I called Lora from ADCO and told her I could not work today. She was very understanding. I was not. I had so much to do today. But I couldn’t. About this time my eyes got better again. I was able to glance down at my phone.

A few minutes later, my vision was messed up again.

I tried sitting in the TV room in my recliner for a while. It was all right, but I wanted to go back to sleep. I went back to bed a right at noon. Got up to use the bathroom at three.

My eyes were still messed up. Very dizzy. Went back to bed. Fell back to sleep immediately.

At four, my wife called me awake. She was sitting on the bed. Gradually I got up and got dressed.

It’s 4:39 PM as I dictate this. I’m upstairs in front of my computer. My wife told me not to come up here, because I would try to do something with my eyes. But I came in anyway, holding onto the rails with both hands.

Is this coronavirus? I have no idea. My eyes were messed up when I woke up, but right now I can look at this,. Good.

If I can, I’ll keep you posted. Probably nothing. i’ll try to watch the TV now. We’ll see how that goes.

This is probably nothing. Tomorrow, I’ll feel ridiculous. I’ll set it to post later, and stop it if I feel better…

How do you define ‘stay-at-home?’ What are you doing and not doing?

Sunday's dance recital in my parents' backyard.

Sunday’s dance recital in my parents’ backyard.

What does Henry McMaster’s sorta, kinda stay-at-home order really mean? The P&C has a fairly helpful explainer on that. When I read it, it seems like mostly stuff I thought everyone had quit doing weeks ago.

I have my own interpretations of what I should be doing, of what is socially responsible. I suspect each of you do, too.

So what does that mean in your daily routine? Here are a few glimpses of what it means to me:

  • Early this morning, I went to Lowe’s while my wife went to Aldi. I did so anticipating that when Henry’s order went into effect today, I wouldn’t be able to go to Lowe’s. I was wrong. Anyway, I put on a mask and rubber gloves. Of course, of course, of course I was the only male in the place doing so. Several women had on masks, but none of those contractors did. I kept expecting some of the guys to give me the business (to use the “Leave it to Beaver” expression), but no one did (in my hearing). I just shrugged it off because I’m determined not to give this to my parents. Why did I feel I needed to go there? Well, you know that deck project I’ve been working on for much of the past year? Well, I finally tore down the old wooden steps a couple of weeks back, and I’m anxious to build the new ones. So I got everything I still needed to do that (mostly additional lumber). Then I picked up some seeds and pepper plants for my wife the gardener, since Park Seed was out of what she needed! I also got several bags of raised bed soil for my own okra bed I wrote about earlier. I thought it might be too late to plant by the next time I could go there. This was, to my shock, a $150 trip.alert
  • When I got home, I stripped off everything and left my clothes in front of the washing machine to await the next load, then showered. I do that whenever I go someplace like that.
  • My wife and I still take a long walk in our neighborhood every day. Others are doing the same. We veer away from people we encounter to maintain at least the six feet of distance. We don’t wear masks or gloves. We see WAY more people than we’re used to seeing. Speaking of Leave it to Beaver, in one respect I’m seeing the neighborhood revert to my own childhood. LOTS of kids are riding their bikes all over the neighborhood, and I didn’t realize how relatively rare that is now until they started doing so in numbers that rival the days when Boomers were kids. No really cool bikes like Pee-Wee’s, though. We’re watching spring progress. We’re wondering why the rabbits aren’t out yet. We are seeing LOTS of squished turtles and frogs in the streets. It’s good there are so many, but bad that they’re squished. We did find one live baby turtle a couple of days ago. See below.
  • What are these churches that Henry’s talking about that are having Easter services? Are you kidding me? Our masses have been streamed and we “participate” from home. Our bishop called off all in-person masses weeks ago. And seriously — a First Amendment issue? The freedoms of speech and the press aren’t absolute, and neither is the religion clause. There are considerations that override. This is a political exemption, not a constitutional one.

    We've been doing Mass from home for weeks.

    We’ve been doing Mass from home for weeks.

  • Of course I’m working from home. I think it will have been three weeks on Thursday. I’ve been extremely busy, or I’d blog more. Still expecting that to slow down, but it hasn’t yet. By the way, I like it. I find I’m getting more done. It will be hard to go back to working at the office — if I ever do. If we need to meet, we do Facetime. Seems to me like we’re getting everything done fine.
  • The one hard thing for me is I can’t hug my grandchildren. But we see them, at a distance. On Sunday, the twins went over to my parents’ (their great-grandparents’) house to perform some of the choreography they did during a recent recital my folks had missed (before all such things were canceled). They did so without music, but it was still great. They wore face masks they had made themselves. They are wonderfully smart, talented, capable girls.
  • My other two in-town grandchildren came over yesterday to stand in the front yard and say “hey.” As I say, it’s hard not to hug them. They brought their several-month-old puppy, Lucy. Lucy went straight for my wife, who was sitting on our front steps, and enthusiastically licked her face. This made me worry, and I urged her to wash her face after they left. Don’t know if she did or not. Good thing Lucy’s not a tiger. My granddaughter and grandson were very grownup about keeping their distance while we chatted. Sort of wished they hadn’t been, but I was proud of them.
  • My elder son’s band, The Useful Fiction, was supposed to have had a gig Friday night. So since that was out, he streamed a solo acoustic set from his front porch on Facebook. He did a mix of his own original songs, which I think are great, and some covers — Dylan and such. Everyone who reacted enjoyed it. Hope he’ll do it more.
  • I feel guilty that except for the occasional delivery of groceries or takeout (or to watch the girls dancing), I’m not visiting my parents. But I’d probably feel worse if I thought I was endangering them. I check on them by phone daily, but formerly I used to go every day and do little things around the house, and stand by to be a lifeguard while my Dad took a shower, in case he fell. They’re getting by OK without all that so far, I think.
  • I haven’t seen my in-town son and daughter who don’t have kids in a week or two, although we talk. I miss them, too. And of course, we watch the coronavirus situation closely in Dominica, where my youngest lives.

Those are sort of random, but I suppose they kind of give the flavor.

How about y’all? What are you doing and not doing?

My wife holds up the one live baby turtle we encountered.

My wife holds up the one live baby turtle we encountered.

Henry finally steps up; makes SC last Southern state with ‘stay-home’ order (sort of)

henry

Editor’s note: I pulled the trigger pretty quickly on this post yesterday, before realizing that Henry’s was a “sorta kinda” stay-at-home order, and maybe I was giving him credit for doing more than he was doing. So I added the “sort of” in the headline…

As recently as Friday, Henry McMaster was saying we didn’t need a “stay at home” order from him, even though every other Southern state had one, on account of the fact that we are “unique.”

Hope that made all y’all feel special.

Anyway, I’m grateful that today we are somewhat less, shall we say, singular, as he has finally done the thing we’ve been waiting for him to do, and which it seems to me he had to know he was going to have to do eventually.

The order takes effect Tuesday.

Let’s hope he’s done it in time to prevent SC infections, and deaths, from increasing exponentially…

Thoughts?

I found this image of the coronavirus on Wikipedia.

I found this image of the coronavirus on Wikipedia.

A Q&A with David Beasley, who is recovering from COVID-19

Visiting as head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley is welcomed by the villagers of Koundougou, in Burkina Faso.

Visiting recently as head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley is welcomed by the villagers of Koundougou, in Burkina Faso.

Recently I reached out to our state’s most prominent coronavirus sufferer, former Gov. David Beasley, with some questions about what he was going through. It took him a few days to get back to me — he naturally waited until he felt up to it. But he sent me these replies on Friday (and I only saw them in my woefully neglected inbox today).

To update y’all, these days the former guv serves as executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme. Mr. Beasley felt ill after returning from a trip to Canada in mid-March, and self-quarantined for several days before testing positive for the coronavirus.

Here are his answers to my questions:

Q: How are you feeling?

A: I am definitely at the end of this now, with several days in a row feeling good. I feel stronger and much better. I took a walk of about a mile on the farm yesterday and it felt great. While I am doing good now, there were days when I had fever, aches, sore throat, congestion and was very tired. But never felt just awful, nor did I have extremely high fever. Just a general blahhhh.

Q: Are you at home?

A: Yes, I am at home and self-quarantined. Mary Wood is bringing me food through a door!

Q: Is the rest of your family well?

A: Thankfully, as of today, everyone is doing good.

Q: How did this come on? When did you suspect you had the virus? Where were you at the time?

A: I began to feel bad when I returned from a WFP trip a little more than three weeks ago. At first I thought it was just allergies. I had been tested twice before and both were negative. But this time, it was positive.

Q: As head of the World Food Programme, how do you see the coronavirus affecting food supplies around the world? And what should we be doing to address those effects?

A: This is a complex issue, but I’m very concerned about the overall impact the virus and this crisis is going to make on those who are hungry around the world in a number of areas. First, I’m concerned about the health impact. People who have to struggle every day to feed themselves or their families aren’t able to stockpile a couple of week’s worth of food while they stay at home to protect themselves against the virus, and at the same time their immune systems are weak. So they are very vulnerable to disease and, at the same time, they are out there, working in their fields or doing what it takes to find food. If the virus spreads to their communities, they will have much fewer resources to stem its spread and a much weaker immunological system.

Secondly, I’m concerned about the economic damage this is doing or going to do to countries that already are struggling or that are unstable politically. And, to get to the heart of your question, one of the areas that could sustain damage is the complex global food supply system. There’s no doubt that that supply system will be tested and strained in the coming weeks or months. As of now, the good news is that disruptions appear to be minimal. But April and May could get a lot worse. We’re worried about transportation restrictions and quarantines that could make it even harder for farmers to get access to markets, which is already an issue even in the best of times in places where we work. And we could see labor shortages in production and processing of food, especially in labor-intensive crops, and that could make a real impact on countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

To get at what can be done, you have to know where the problems are, and this is one place that WFP does extremely well — collect and analyze data. When you operate in more than 80 countries and feed 87 million people on any given day, you get pretty good at knowing what’s happening on the ground. So when it comes to food supply chains, we know close to immediately if there are food shortages, supply chain breaks and rapid increases in prices. We’ve already established our early warning system, so we can move right away, doing things like pre-positioning food in areas where we anticipate shortages or other access challenges. Right now, we are working with governments to speed up nearly $2 billion in contributions so we can do those things now, such as pre-position food and pre-purchase buffer stocks of food and cash so we have at least three months of assistance available for the most fragile places. We’ll also need additional resources for logistics, such as air transport. WFP is the main logistical arm of the United Nations — when you see planes taking aid workers to a place that needs help, they’re on one of our planes. We’re delivering needed medical equipment for the World Health Organization, for example. The entire world is now relying on WFP’s logistical network to manage the humanitarian and health response to the coronavirus.

Third, I do want to say that am concerned about the tremendous fiscal pressures that WFP donor governments are going to be under over the next few months. I am hearing encouraging signs from all our donor governments, including the United States, about how important our work is and that they continue to view it as a priority. But I do know many leaders are going to be under tremendous fiscal pressures over the next few months and years. And as for what individuals can do, you can donate to our work by going to wfp.org or wfpusa.org. You can also continue to express to your elected leaders that you believe it is in America’s economic and national security interests to support the work that the World Food Programme does. When countries make progress against hunger, they are more peaceful, more stable and there is less forced migration. That’s good news for all of us! If there’s one thing this virus has taught us, it’s that we are all connected in good times and bad ones.

Q: As a former governor, do you have any advice for Henry McMaster or other leaders on the state and local level?

A: I am certain they are listening closely to the advice of health experts and others, as they should. I’ve been in that position and they have some tough calls to make. I’m sure they are all doing their best to take public health and safety into account as they make decisions about our personal and economic freedoms.

Q: Simply as a person suffering from the virus, what advice do you have for the rest of us on a personal level?

A: This is a serious illness, so take the warnings from health experts seriously. Of course, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, stay at a safe distance from others, do all the other things health experts say to do, use common sense and take plenty of vitamins that will help your immune system. Trust me, you do not want to get this virus, and you don’t want to contribute to its spread.

Thanks, governor. May your recovery continue at full speed!

Who would take coronavirus advice branded this way?

Trump card 1

Seriously, what use is this postcard I got in the snail mail the last couple of days (I forget which day now — probably Saturday or Monday)?

What is its practical purpose, other than as a campaign mailer? The point seems to be the “President Trump’s” part. Look! The Donald is looking out for you! You know, the guy with the great ratings!

Who, among those of us who are not suicidal, would turn to this quarter in a desperate bid for useful advice? This is the guy who, after this card was mailed, was assuring us we’d be back like gangbusters by Easter.

Yeah, I’ve got it. The idea of this card is entirely defensible, even laudable in the abstract. Any president has the duty to give out information that might protect someone from this national threat. And no doubt some folks, particularly among the most vulnerable, still turn to snail mail as a source of timely information.

But why does it have to be branded “President Trump’s…?” That’s almost like saying, look to almost any other source of information, not this one! If it said “Dr. Fauci’s…,” it might do some good.

This is dated March 16, but it feels like it must have been mailed sometime in February.

“IF YOU FEEL SICK, stay home. Do not go to work.” As of tomorrow, I will have been working from home for two weeks. You? (Admittedly, that was after the date on this card. But it feels like years ago.)

There was one bit of good news in this:

“Avoid eating or drinking at bars and restaurants — USE PICKUP OR DELIVERY OPTIONS.”

Bars deliver? Why has no one told me this? I could have used that information.

Anyway, perhaps the card was sincerely meant to help, even to reassure, making us think a benevolent entity had things well in hand.

Perhaps I’m just the wrong audience for it…

Look, the card recommends we go for more information to CORONAVIRUS.GOV. I recommend that, too. There’s probably good advice there, timely advice, advice that doesn’t bear the taint of “President Trump’s”…

Trump card 2

 

I couldn’t believe even Trump did this

Look at me! I have the most popular show on TV! Isn't this great? I'm a hit!

Look at me! I have the most popular show on TV! Isn’t this great? I’m a hit!

My wife showed me this last night, and I assumed it was a joke. It looked like a real Tweet, but I figured it was from The Onion or something like that, spoofing Trump’s obsession with his own popularity.

I thought it was carrying things a bit far, suggesting even as a joke that he would brag about his TV ratings when he’s giving national briefings about something that could kill 200,000 Americans.

But then I looked. And there it was, in his Twitter feed:

Even after I saw that, I figured something was missing that would explain it. I started looking around for news stories about it, and didn’t find any right away — although there was a lot of buzz about it on social.

This morning, I found some coverage, buried way down below other stuff. But basically, they treated it as routine.

This is how far we’ve fallen in normalizing his behavior. The president of the United States puts out something you would only expect from a profoundly maladjusted child, bragging about how everyone’s watching him while thousands of people are dying around him. In the world we knew before 2016, his aides would be trying to gently maneuver him into a padded room, and preparing to invoke the 25th Amendment…

How many people do YOU know who have it?

David Beasley, marching with Joe Riley to get the Confederate flag down in 2000.

David Beasley, marching with Joe Riley to get the Confederate flag down in 2000.

There are still people out there who don’t see the pandemic as real, as anything other than an abstract concept. And they don’t get why we’re all staying at home and economic activity has largely ground to a halt.

Some of them are saying some phenomenally stupid things, and I don’t just mean the president.

Well, I don’t know about you, but to me this thing is not abstract. It’s real. It affects people I know:

  • I think the first victim I actually knew, personally, was former Gov. David Beasley. That news came last week. I won’t say we’re close, but I’ve known him since the early ’90s — maybe the late ’80s. When he came in for an endorsement interview in 1994, it was a milestone for me: the first gubernatorial candidate I had ever interviewed who was younger than I was.
  • About the same time, I heard about my second cousin, an Episcopal clergyman out in Texas. He had been horribly sick with pneumonia for three weeks before he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He is now recovering, I’m happy to say.
  • Just yesterday, I learned that my sister-in-law’s brother, who lives in New York, has it. He has had significant health problems in recent years; he didn’t need this, too.

Getting closer, members of my immediate family have been exposed to people with the virus — that we know of. Probably all of us have. So we’re just hoping and praying we all stay healthy.

Of course, we all know of famous people who have it, from Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson to Prince Charles (who I hope has not been close to Her Majesty lately).

Oh, by the way — Charles is, near as I can tell, my 16th cousin twice removed. I say that not to impress you — you’re probably more closely related to him than I am — or bore you with my genealogy mania. I say it as a reminder that we are ALL related in some way to someone who has this, however distant they may seem. Do not send to ask for whom the virus tolls.

Whom are you close to who has the virus? I think we should share notes, to help each other wrap our heads around this. You don’t have to provide names — you see I didn’t, above. I just thought I’d ask how close it’s getting to y’all, at this still early stage of the crisis….

 

Watching things close down, a step at a time

library

Each day, on my walks around the USC campus and downtown area, I’ve watched things change. Each day, I encounter fewer people. And I watch as things close down a step at a time.

For instance, last week I could still walk into the Thomas Cooper Library, get a sip of water at the fountain, use the rest room if I needed to. Maybe walk back to the Hollings annex to see what collections are on display.

Monday, there was the above sign — only students, faculty and staff would be admitted. IDs would be checked.

Then today, the below sign — closed down completely.

When I got to Main Street today, it was the first day that I felt a bit like Rick Grimes entering Atlanta. Blocks of open curbside parking. Businesses all closed — or sufficiently curtailed that they looked closed. Go ahead and cross the street without waiting for the light, because there’s no one coming.

Passing maybe one person per block, each of you veering away sideways as you approach, so you don’t come too close. Careful. You might get “bit,” and become one of them

I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

closed

Are you doing ANYTHING now that’s not related to COVID-19?

Today's headline of the day.

Today’s headline of the day.

I’m not. Even when it’s something I would normally do, the way I do it is affected by the pandemic.

I’m still going in to the office (for now; I might work from home tomorrow), but everything I do there is about the coronavirus. Starting last week — I’d say from Thursday morning on — all I have done is assist clients with virus-related communications. I’m writing press releases, social media posts, eblasts and the like telling people who normally interact with these clients things they need to be told relating to the pandemic. Closings, cancellations, or how to continue to do business remotely.

Even blog posts I’m writing for clients’ websites are about the coronavirus, and how it’s affecting that particular client’s industry and so forth.

My personal life is the same. I just came back from a lunchtime trip to the Five Points Food Lion to see if they had some items I was unable to find at the store nearer my house, on account of hoarding. (They did! And no, I’m not talking face masks or hand sanitizer. Nobody’s got those. This was some frozen vegetables I was looking for.)

My daily walks (got to get in those 11,000 or 12,000 steps a day) may look the same outwardly, but I’m listening to podcast about, you know, the pandemic.

When I go to check on my parents, I wear a face mask. And I urge them to stay in, and let me go out to get whatever they might need.

Pretty much all conversations with the rest of my family have to do with this or that detail of our new mode of life. And checking to make sure folks are OK.

We didn’t go to Mass this past Sunday. And now all Masses are cancelled. Don’t worry, the bishop has granted dispensation.

Anyway, how about you? Does your life in any way retain any normalcy?