Friday, April 24, 2020

April 2020: Month Two of COVID19 in Southern California

Just dropping off some photos from my various essential trips out of the house (we are still under 'Shelter In Place' order, and so are to stay home except for short essential errands or to exercise in the immediate neighborhood).

The last week of March and the first week of April saw us hit with a series of soaking rain. Our road ways have gone quite holey, and the bike lanes full of gravel and other debris. There are a lot of downed trees, and not enough city public works crew around to get them all quickly fixed up.

Social distancing with people staying at least 6 feet away from each other is the rule, so stores are marking their floor with tapes to help people visualize how far a distance 6 feet (or about 2 meters) is. Many stores have also marked their narrow aisles for one-way traffic flow. I'm afraid not a lot of people are paying much attention to it, though, and there are a lot of salmoning against traffic.

It's also curious to observe that a lot of people seem to think that the virus can only go forward or backward, but not sideways, since they aren't staying 6 ft away from the people on their left or right... just in front and behind.

The paper products and the disinfectants shelves are still mostly empty all the time, of course. But now, so are the ones for pasta, rice, flour, and even eggs.

I'm grateful that I had a haircut in March, just before all the salons were shut down. It is now mid-April, and my hair is still short enough to not be too annoying during our first heat-wave of the year. Most of us are growing quite a mop over our head, though. I've really got to remember to beat everyone to the phone to schedule a haircut when salons are allowed to open again. Everybody will be wanting a hair cut at the same time!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

COVID19 time - Southern California

It's been raining on and off the last few days, a late season storm that somehow arrived to town just as I finally stopped coughing after 3 weeks of quarantine.

We are in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, of course, so when I started having sore throat - the usual first-sign-of-the-flu for me - back on March 20th, I went to the doctor and tested positive for influenza B. COVID19 test wasn't available then, as test kits were in severely short supply, and they were only testing people sick enough to require hospitalization.

It was a very strange 'flu', though. Usually I'd go down hard the first 3 days or so, and then get better once the fever breaks. This one just stayed a sore-throat bug with hardly anything else for 3 days, and then it went boom in my lungs and I became a lean and mean cough-'til-you-drop machine for 14 days. No fever, not much aching, but pretty hypoxic. Somehow, tho, it didn't manage to turn into another pneumonia (I had one from a true flu back in January, so I really wasn't keen on a repeat). I spent the entire 3 weeks mostly in my room and only came out to use the kitchen and the restroom when my roommates weren't in. A few doctor friends were keeping tab of me via email and private messages, though, so I was pretty well looked after.

Paper product and cleaning supply are still flying off the shelves, 3 weeks into CA shelter-in-place.
Anyhow, California seems to be doing quite well in sheltering in place and social distancing early on, so hopefully we'll avoid the sort of medical system overload like those that have been taking place in Italy or Spain or New York. Hopefully the many small businesses that have been mostly shut down (or scaled down more to doing only 30% or so of their normal business volume, like a lot of the restaurants are, can somehow survive the length of the shut down.

Special thank you to all the essential workers that are keeping the rest of us safe and fed and able to survive (the medical professionals, for sure, but also the sanitation workers, public transport operators, delivery folks, etc), and to everyone who are doing their part, and encouraging others to do the same, rather than indulging in paranoid conspiracy theories spreading and politicizing the shut down. It's times like this that we get to see how people act under pressure. I'm very lucky that most of my friends have been wonderful!

Oh, I've been asymptomatic for 3 days now, of course, and finally ventured outside for a short hike today, in between bouts of rain. Will hopefully get COVID19 antibody tested when it becomes available (I sure hope that this 'flu' was it, 'cause I really don't want to get another lung bug in a long long while). In the meanwhile, I'll keep operating as if I'm a carrier until proven otherwise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Not Coveting the COVID

Well, folks, even if you are super macho, have an impenetrable immune system, and don't care about spreading an infectious disease that can kill others (either because they have compromised immune system, or because they can't get access to life-saving medical procedure because all the ICUs are full and all the ventilators are already being used by critical patients) you still should practice social isolation now if only out of pure self-interest.

See, this is nothing like ebola zaire. Ebola has a hugely higher death rate, yes, but it is far easier to contain ebola than to contain this novel coronavirus. You can walk around with ebola in your system for up to 21 days before you show symptom, but during that period, you are not contagious and can't pass it to others. (I do hope you don't catch ebola, tho, that thing kills anywhere from 25-90% of the people that contracts it, depending on which strain you get). And, once you show symptom of ebola, everybody knows it and don't need to be told to run the heck away from you.

With this new coronovirus we're dealing with, people have had it and are now done with it without even knowing. You can walk around for up to 14 days being very contagious to others while feeling and looking completely normal. But, did you give it to someone who hasn't got the robust immune system to fight it in the meanwhile?

So, the self-interest part has to do with... getting this shut down over with as soon as possible. Because as long as new case of community spread of this thing keeps showing up, they're going to have to keep extending the shut down another two weeks... to be sure there's no asymptomatic coronavirus-thyphoid-mary's still walking around spreading the disease. The longer you keep not being helpful about avoiding contact with others so it can no longer spread and just run out of host, so to speak, the longer the shut down goes on.

We all want to go back to our normal social life. Help us all get it back soon (unless you fancy spending months rather than just a couple of weeks without concert, sport, shows, dine in dinners, bar scene, big wedding, yummy buffet, casino, library, etc).

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

It's the last Thursday in November, and the one holiday I really quite like in the USA - Thanksgiving Day. Being grateful for what one's got should be a daily rather than an annual thing, of course, but it is nice to have a full day off work to really reflect on how not so empty my glass is, even without comparing it with ones belonging to others.

It wasn't so many years ago that good health was not something I could take for granted. I still remember not being able to walk a city block without stopping to lean on my cane and gasp for air, having all the joints going thermonuclear at all hours of the day, and being so tired that getting to the safety of the opposite sidewalk while crossing the street felt like the last mile of an ultra-marathon in the waterless Sahara.

My health isn't perfect now, and I have to really force myself to exercise when I don't want to (and that is more often than not). But I've finished two consecutive Belgian Wafer Rides, ridden 4 solo rando permanents, commute everywhere almost exclusively by bike, cycled up both the highest and the steepest paved roads in the county, hiked many rugged miles with my buddy, and even given a good impression of an Energizer Bunny at my workplace. It's all a lot of work that isn't always even slightly pleasant, but every bit of it is worth it.

Use it or lose it, my oncologist mom used to say. And, darn if she isn't right. I may bitch about things, still, but at least I do have the energy left to bitch - for which I am very grateful!

Luck, has also been on my side so far. No, I haven't won the lottery or anything. But, to be on foot or on bicycle in traffic almost everyday in the USA for 8 years now and still haven't gotten hit by any car yet takes just about as much luck as it does constant vigilance and skills. 2019 has been a terrible year in my cycling family accident-wise. You can do all the right thing, and still get broadsided by inattentive driver. A few of my friends separately ran out of luck this year. Now one is dead, one paralyzed, and another still recovering from spinal fracture.

When people take their eye off the road while going 55 mph, they cover just over 80 feet every second completely blind to where their car is heading. That's over half a football field every 3 seconds. There isn't much I would be able to do if a driver drifts into me at that speed, even if I see them coming in my helmet-mounted rear-view mirror.

Needless to say, though, being situationally aware and taking all possible caution decreases one's chance of being hit, or hitting something on the road. But sometimes it is just down to luck to not be in the path of a car that isn't being carefully driven, or to not have a suicidal squirrel squirrels into your front wheel and sends you flying off to who-knows-where when it locks up and does an impromptu endo.

There were also a lot of luck involved in running into these lovelies with the camera ready to shoot.
I'm also very grateful for all my friends and family, and even to people I'm not friendly with. The former are amazing support in good and bad times. The latter keep me humble and challenge me to consider different viewpoints, and, in some extreme cases, really increases my appreciation of the more ethical human beings. Contrast is important in life. As Satan/Woland says in one of my all time favorite books;
What would your good do if evil didn't exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows also come from trees and from living beings. Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? - Mikhail Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

There are many mundane little things, and many more substantial things that I am grateful of, of course, but who has time to read this when there are turkeys and green beans and stuffing and many other things in the oven and on the stoves to keep an eye on today? This has already gone on long enough, so I'll just stop now and wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving with many things to be grateful of all year long.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Real life fairies

A couple of weeks ago my roommate's dog and I ran into a mom and daughter pair of local artists out painting an electrical box nearby on our morning walk.

We stopped to say hello and admired their work a bit before resuming our search for more hills to burn some energy off.

I didn't see them last week, but passed by again yesterday, and here is the finished work.

It's amazing what a touch of artistry can do to a formerly dull street corner. Thanks a bunch to the volunteers out cleaning up and beautifying the town. They're like a quiet army of real life fairies that makes good things happen for everyone!