Quarantine Notes: 4/14/20

I jumped into the shower first thing this morning and discovered that instead of buying a new shampoo and conditioner the other day, I had bought two conditioners. 😒 So that’s how my day is going.

Quarantine notes – updates through the day.

📈 A bunch of FiveThirtyEight writers and Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal got together to write this excellent comic that explains why modeling for the coronavirus pandemic is so weird and hard.

📈 Johns Hopkins University put together another COVID-19 dashboard. This one is specifically for the United States. I guess we get our very own dashboard because we’ve sucked so spectacularly (on a federal level) at dealing with the pandemic. You can read about it here and see the dashboard here.

🍊 I mentioned yesterday how Oregon, Washington, and California had banded together to decide jointly when to re-open their states, basing their decision on science and health, and how New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware and Massachusetts on the East Coast are doing something similar. Well, as you might have guessed, Trump’s got his panties in a bunch over it. He tweeted this morning, “Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!” If you’re not familiar with the history or the movie, the captain that got mutinied there was a giant dickhead. He was the bad guy, and his attempt at bringing the mutineers to justice was only nominally successful. Of the 25 crew that remained on the ship after he was kicked off, only three of them were convicted and hanged. So, y’know. That’s about par for Trump’s course, I guess.

🇺🇸 Speaking of these states forming super regions to deal with the pandemic… Um. Makes me a little nervous, guys. I mean, on one hand, yay, sensible leadership! On the other, coming from a person who thinks that the United States is just about thiiiis close to breaking up into smaller nation-states, it makes me think I’m one step closer to needing a passport to go visit my folks in Michigan.

💰 “Steepest downturn since the Great Depression.” The economic impact of COVID-19 is going to kick the world right in the teeth, you guys. I don’t say that to be like, “OMG, we gotta get places open and people spending money again.” It’s just the price we’re going to pay to save lives. And I’m fine with paying that price. I will point out that, if Trump had been capable of leading, we probably wouldn’t be facing something quite as nasty as this.

📚 Authors who’ve written pandemic books are probably all feeling mighty uneasy about things right now. I know Chuck Wendig, who wrote Wanderers, and Stephen King, who wrote The Stand, have both said as much. Here’s another account from Naomi Kritzer, who wrote So Much Cooking. What stood out to me about Kritzer’s account was a few paragraphs talking about how much trouble she’s having getting groceries, and how much her local stores have been out of. We’re not having that problem (as much) around here, and I’m pretty grateful for it. Prices are nuts on some stuff, but so far everything but toilet paper has stayed in stock.

💩 This article is a month old, but it’s still worth your time. One thing that has struck me about the pandemic is that it’s underlined not just how much of our society is complete bullshit, but how badly we let our government and corporate overlords treat us. It’s one of those thing I knew, but didn’t really grasp how fucking bad it is until now.

🦠 Trump’s decided to blame WHO for his own failures in dealing with the pandemic and has halted funding to the organization while he investigates them.

☀️ Ending on a little ray of sunshine, here. One of the things that keeps me going as we grind our way through this mess is the folks at home working together to solve problems. People who rally groups to create PPE, makers using their 3D printers to make gear for health workers, and these hackers who are figuring out how to use plentiful, cheap CPAP machines as ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

Quarantine Notes: 4/13/20

Not being a religious family and not having kids around basically means Easter is just an excuse to get together with everyone and eat way too much good food. And since obviously we can’t get together with everyone right now, we settled for eating a bunch of Indian food and watching TV.

We do need to go forage for perishable supplies today, so maybe we’ll pick up some eggs and do deviled eggs for this week. That’ll make a nice Eastery little treat for the week.

Notes below. Updates through the day.

🐖 Now would be a good time to find your local meat farmers and figure out how to order direct from them, if that’s at all possible for you. One of the biggest pork processing plants in the US just closed down due to a COVID-19 outbreak among employees, and I’m willing to bet that’s not going to be the only one.

🍊 Trump tweets (1, 2), “For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect…. ….It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!” Just a general FYI, this is bullshit, legally. Governors issued the shelter in place orders, and governors are the ones to lift them. Trump can’t do that. Well, let me rephrase that: Trump can only do that if we let him get away with it.

🦠 Quick reminder for y’all, re: last note: Trump would really prefer if we all just quietly fucking died and any survivors meekly went back to making his numbers look good, so he can get re-elected.

📮 If you need something to do today – and let’s face it, you probably do, it’s hella boring out here in the pandemic wastelands – today is a damn good day to call your electeds and tell them to get the lead out and pass some financial relief for the United States Postal Service. The USPS is a Constitutionally mandated institution that is required to be self-funded (IE, it’s not supported by your tax money), and the only reason it needs help right now is because Republicans neutered their ability to self-fund deliberately. The Post Office is a source of excellent jobs, especially for minority workers and veterans, and it elevates employees into the middle class. It’s one of the most efficiently run services the government offers. It is the only service that could knock on every single door in America in one day. It’s been a tent pole of emergency services plans in America nearly since its foundation. It is vital to American life. The GOP would love to shut it down because they want to part it out to private companies (which do not serve rural Americans), and because they’re terrified of vote-by-mail. Call your state and federal congresscritters today, folks. #SaveThePostOffice

🦠 I haven’t done one of these in awhile. As of Monday, April 13, 2020, we have 577,842 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, with an appalling 23,232 deaths.

As of Monday, April 13, 2020, we have 577,842 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, with an appalling 23,232 deaths.
Via the Johns Hopkins dashboard. Click to enlarge.

🇺🇸 Oregon, California, and Washington have formed a pact to only “re-open” all three states jointly – IE, they all have to agree to it – and they’ll make their decision based on health information from experts. A bunch of East Coast states have signed on to a similar deal.

💭 I’m really tired of the “If a Democrat did this people would freak out” takes. It was a mildly useful comparison in 2016, but at this point you’re just comparing human beings to sociopaths, so obviously the difference is going to look wild. That’s like if after Hannibal Lecter peeled the guy’s face off and escaped his cell, everyone in the movie said “Well if Clarice did that y’all would lose your minds.” Well, yes, because Clarice is sane, rational, and moral, and Lecter’s a fucking psycho. I don’t expect any better from him, so I’m not surprised when he does that.

🍊 Apparently Trump’s presser was just balls-out insane today. He aired what was basically a campaign commercial chock full of bullshit, which… isn’t that illegal? Didn’t think you were allowed to do that from the White House? Also attacked the press, had a temper tantrum, all the hits. Dude’s losing his damn mind.

🇺🇸 Here’s a fun one to wrap things up: So Wisconsin forced people to vote in person for their primary last week, which is going to result in an explosion of COVID-19 cases next week, which is going to result in deaths. The Wisconsin GOP forced that to happen because they had a state Supreme Court seat up for grabs that was also on the ballot, and they figured if they suppressed the vote by threatening to kill people for voting, then they’d win the seat. This afternoon, we’re finding out that the GOP did not, in fact, win the seat. It appears that Jill Karofsky, the liberal challenger for the seat, has won the race.

Quarantine Notes: 4/10/20

Happy Friday, folks. Today’s notes. 👇 Updates through the day.

🦠 So, basically, things aren’t going to get back to anything like “normal” until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine, which is at best a year and a half away, and probably more like two years away. Until we have that vaccine, the only way back to something approximating “normal,” involves aggressive testing and contact tracing.

🦠 Speaking of testing, the Trump regime started shutting that down on the federal level. And then stopped when they faced extensive backlash.

🦠 There was a study making the rounds the last day or two talking about how running, etc., was spreading COVID-19 around wildly, only it turns out it wasn’t actually a study. It was just a simulation a Belgian scientist ran and then talked about in a newspaper. He hasn’t even written a paper about it yet.

💬 “maybe if we called it CERVIX-19 they would have made more of an effort to control it” – @EvilGalProds

🍊 While I was busy getting work stuff sorted for the weekend, Trump apparently did a marathon 3-hour presser full of bullshit. I didn’t listen to a single bit of it, and I feel I’m probably smarter, better informed, and less enraged as a result. I highly suggest everyone else do the same.

All right, here’s some quick hits before I wander off for the weekend.

🐈 And, to send you off on a high note, this awesome cat.

Quarantine Notes: 4/9/20

This morning we woke up at the ass end of dawn to zip over to the local grocery store, because they told us they’d be getting toilet paper in stock at 7 a.m. They lied. There was no toilet paper.

We were fairly grumpy about this. Not at the grocery people, obviously, they have enough to deal with. Just, like, in general. I did manage to secure some toilet paper via Amazon, finally, so that’s something.

Notes. 👇 Updates through the day.

🦠 The White House has issued new “guidance” for when folks who’ve been exposed to people with COVID-19 can return to work, and the new “guidance” is wildly irresponsible. “The guidance pertains to essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. For those individuals, the guidelines advise: 1. Take your temperature before work. 2. Wear a face mask at all times. 3. Practice social distancing in the workplace as work duties permit.” Considering what we now know about asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread, these guidelines seem like a recipe for continuing the outbreak, to me.

📈 17 million people have filed for unemployment due to the COVID-19 quarantines. (NPR)

💭 There’s a bumble bee buzzing around the eves just outside my window. It’s either a bumble bee, or a hornet on steroids. I suppose it could also be a carpenter bee. Either way, it’s out there, buzzing around, and that is Not Okay.

🍊 People seem to be noticing that Trump sucks at… well, I mean, he sucks at life in general, he’s an incompetent, damaged man who’s gotten by on bluster and bullshit his whole life. But in particular, he sucks at handling pandemics, and folks seem to be noticing that.

🦠 Trump is using ventilators and PPE that he stole from states who ordered it as rewards for states that kiss his ass. I’ve mentioned this story before, but seriously. The asshole forced state governments to bid against each other to buy PPE and ventilators, and then he stole those PPE and ventilators, and now he’s handing them out to his besties as party favors.

🦠 The projected death toll of COVID-19 may be trending downwards. Those on the right (and other dumbasses) are using this trend as proof that “the experts” were wrong about how brutal COVID-19 is. Obviously, this is incorrect. The projected downward trend is proof that social distancing and quarantining measures are working.

💭 The bumble bee from before turned out to be wasps. This is extra Not Okay. Stupid beautiful summer-like weather.

All right, I was up too early and it’s been a hectic day, so I’m gonna save anything else I stumble across for tomorrow.

Quarantine Notes: 4/8/20

Welcome to Quarantine Day 24. For me, anyway.

This morning started with an everything bagel from a local place, which my boyfriend went out and foraged for, and it was perfect.

I have both cats and the pupper keeping me company while I do the WFH thing this morning, and they’re all napping, so I guess today’s going to be an extra coffee type of day. I don’t know how I’m going to get anything done with all the snoozies happening in the home office.

Today’s notes below. I’m publishing first thing, but this’ll update throughout the day as I find new stuff.

🇺🇸 Bernie Sanders is out, which means Joe Biden is our guy. This is not my favorite result, but no matter what I think of Joe Biden as president, he’s a damn sight better than Trump, so let’s get all in. #Biden2020, folks.

🚀 Hey, nobody told me Star Trek: Enterprise was good. We watched the pilot on Netflix last night and it was amazeballs. Everybody said this was the worst Trek when it aired back in the day, and you were all wrong.

🦠 So it turns out they might have been using all those ventilators for COVID19 when maybe they shouldn’t be? This is kind of a developing idea, so grain of salt. Update: Here’s some more reporting on this issue. It’s at TPM again, but this is actually an AP wire story reprinted at TPM, so it’s reporting from a new source.

🇺🇸 Drafting off the #Biden2020 swing, here’s a story from Washington Monthly, “What If Trump Wins?,” detailing some of the hellishness we might be in for if Trump gets a second term. I personally don’t think America will survive a second term of Trump. Like, literally, I don’t think America will exist after 4 more years of Trump’s degenerative lunacy. I think we might Balkanize.

💭 I’m seeing a lot of local places come up with some really interesting ideas for keeping their restaurants open during the quarantine. For example, a local catering place switched to doing dinner orders Freshly-style. You call up and pick your favs off a menu, and they’ll deliver you five days worth of heat-and-eat dinner. Several other local places are doing fancy Easter dinner specials for delivery or to pick up. You call your order in and get dinner for four. It’s all a little on the expensive side, though. A lot on the expensive side, if you’re part of the millions who just lost their jobs and such. I wonder how popular all that is, and if any of it will stick around after the quarantines are over?

🦠 Talking Points Memo has been on this story for a few days now, but finally the big papers are picking it up. The Trump administration is seizing medical equipment that states have ordered, and redistributing it based on their own whims. (“Their own whims” are likely driven by profiteering and which GOP states have kissed their ass the most lately.)

💬 “if you’re falling into despair, just remember that over three years later, the dude who punched richard spencer still never got caught.” – @rininear

🍑 This has nothing to do with anything, but FYI, the G-spot is not real.

🦠 “Oregon: Good news (with a caveat)! We are starting to see the curve of new COVID-19 cases in our state flatten out, which means the STAY HOME order is working. If that continues to hold true, it will be a big step forward for the safety of our communities.” – Sen. Jeff Merkley

🍊 Meanwhile, Trump’s bloviating about opening the country back up again so he can kill more people. Really, Trump’s main problem is that we just aren’t dying fast enough.

That’s enough for one day. Go watch Enterprise, people, it’s good stuff.

Image credit: Joe Biden, by Gage Skidmore, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Quarantine Notes: 4/7/20

I’m just starting my 4th week of working from home, and I must say, I could get used to this. It’s quiet, people have to schedule a call with me so I’m not being pestered constantly, no one wanders aimlessly into my office looking for someone else… it’s pretty sweet. Also, there are pets.

Blogging has been difficult. The news is exactly the same except wildly worse every day, and it doesn’t seem like there’s anything we can do about any of it. The days are so similar that time blurs and runs together and it gets difficult to keep track of what’s happening when.

I’ve started taking little notes so I can keep track of things. Here are those notes.

🦠 Dr. Aaron Carroll writes in the New York Times, “How Will We Know When It’s Time to Reopen the Nation?” He offers four benchmarks we might be able to use to determine when it’s safe to start “reopening” the nation. They include, 1. hospitals being able to safely treat all patients without resorting to crisis care, 2. states being able to at least test everyone showing symptoms, 3. states being able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and their contacts, and 4. a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

🦠 New Zealand apparently wasn’t in the mood to fuck around with COVID-19. They slammed down a hella strict lockdown, and it seems to be working.

🦠 The New York Times buried this surprising-but-not-really-surprising nugget about five paragraphs down in this article about that malaria/lupus drug Trump’s so hot n’ bothered about: “If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.”

👀 There’s this, which probably everyone has seen by now, but just in case you haven’t, “Wildlife is finally returning to Britain’s streets. Nature is healing 😍✌️

🎞️ #AvengersEndgame was trending on Twitter today because it’s Endgame‘s one-year anniversary and folks were sharing audience reactions to Endgame‘s big moments. Here’s the Mjolnir scene, the “I am Iron Man” scene, and the portals scene.

🚢 So you might remember that there was a Navy ship stricken with COVID-19 and its captain put out basically a public call for help because no one would help them, and then he got fired, and then he got COVID-19, but at least the ship got help, then the captain’s boss called the captain an idiot. Well, the captain’s boss just resigned, which is what you call it when you’re important but you still get your ass canned for being a sociopathic dumbass in public.

🇺🇸 So Congress passed that two trillion dollar spending bill, and they specifically mandated an inspector general to keep an eye on it and make sure it was spent properly. They did that mostly so Trump couldn’t get his sticky little hands on it. Well, Trump fired that guy. I give it three days before Trump tries to steal the stimulus money to build his goddamn wall.

All right, folks, that’s enough for today. More Quarantine Notes tomorrow.

Quarantine Notes

The last time I posted COVID19 numbers, it was two weeks ago. At that time, the US had 25,493 confirmed cases and 307 deaths. Today we have almost 277,000 confirmed cases and 7,406 deaths.

Two weeks.

I haven’t had a lot to say in the last two weeks. I’m not experiencing anything particularly unusual or interesting relative to this fresh hell we’re all trapped in, and we’re all compulsively reading the same news, so there’s not a lot to talk about.

I’m doing the work from home thing. My boyfriend’s laid off. The dog is so bored you guys. One cat is thoroughly tired of us being around all the time, taking up all the good chairs. The other is ecstatic because his people are always home.

I did manage to get a little office space set up for myself. I got my hands on a super cheap, teeny prefab desk, and I swiped a spare office chair from work the other day. It’ll do.

We had to venture forth into the wastelands to swipe the chair, a quest that took us to our downtown area, which was a tumbleweed-strewn* ghost town. We took the dog so we could walk her somewhere new for a bit, and even she was weirded out by how empty it was. She kept stopping to look around or standing up to peek in dark shop windows, hunting for the people, but there weren’t any.

We’re watching a lot of old TV and movies. I’m binging through Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I haven’t seen since it was originally on TV. That’s been weird and fun. We watched Hudson Hawk last night, and we’d kind of forgotten how bananas that movie actually was. We’re also reading a lot and playing a lot of video games. Just kind of killing time, y’know.

We’re bored and restless, but, so far, we’re a healthy bored and restless (knock on wood), so that’s fine. I am perfectly happy being bored and restless until this shitty, terrifying disease fucks off, however long that takes.

Good Reads I Found

Image Credit: Screencap from the Johns Hopkins dashboard.

* There were no actual tumbleweeds. It was just extremely empty.