Our Pearl Harbor… And Some Pearls (Plague, Day 33, April 5, 2020)

Things are going to get super bad this week. Some officials are saying that this is going to be our generation’s Pearl Harbor. I thought 9/11 was my Pearl Harbor, but I was wrong.

I’m in the nation’s hot spot and I’m hearing the whispers from people who are close to medical workers or policeman. I’m hearing stories about dead bodies left in apartments, because no one will touch them. I’m hearing nurses calling their hospitals “war zones.” And these aren’t some far off places. These are hospitals that I drive past every day. One was a hospital that Ian and I were in just three weeks ago.

And this isn’t going away for a long time. If Bill Gates is thinking long term, we should, too. And wait until this virus gets to sections of the country that have already been ravaged by drugs and bad diets. The Tiger King parts of the country aren’t going to handle this well.

I urged Steve to triple the production of little seedlings this morning. We’re looking at various corners of the property with the best sunlight to massively expand our backyard garden. I’m thinking about building a new raised garden bed using railroad ties. I’ll share pictures of that project as we go along.

My mom begged that we stay away from the supermarket this week. I have to do one last shop tomorrow, because my boys are powering through gallons of milk too quickly. We have to rethink our shopping system, so we can avoid that place for as long as possible.

In the meantime, we’re cooking, hiking, running, writing, studying, gaming, chatting, and even watching streaming Palm Sunday mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. All this is surreal.

So, here are my pearls in this midst of Pearl Harbor:

A Weekend Hike

Chicken soup cooking…

Be well, be safe, everyone.

25 thoughts on “Our Pearl Harbor… And Some Pearls (Plague, Day 33, April 5, 2020)

  1. Have you gotten to know your neighbors? If so, you could work something out to take turns and paying by venmo. My neighborhood is doing that.

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  2. Weirdly, my boys (the 17yo and the 53 yo) don’t eat crazy amounts.

    Very nice pics. Was that today and did you have sun? We didn’t. 😦

    My husband worked on setting up some raised beds and containers today. And he bought a sewing machine (online). OMG. I don’t even know where we would *put* a sewing machine. It’s not like we don’t live with 2 ADD people, one of whom is a borderline hoarder. Me, I’ve been grading. Ugh.

    I thought this was a great thread: https://twitter.com/ASlavitt/status/1246541858383319040

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    1. Hike was yesterday. And cool about the sewing machine. Might is from the 1940s and was turned into a decorative item. I’m not sure I could make it work again.

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    2. Wendy said, “My husband worked on setting up some raised beds and containers today. And he bought a sewing machine (online). OMG. I don’t even know where we would *put* a sewing machine.”

      He’s going to love having a sewing machine. We bought a nice used Pfaff for our oldest when she was 10, but at some point my husband annexed it.

      We gave our 9th grader raised beds for his birthday over spring break. It’s a nice outlet for him.

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  3. Laura wrote, “The Tiger King parts of the country aren’t going to handle this well.”

    Things they’ve got going for them:

    –Schools, businesses and large events shut down earlier relative to local outbreaks than in coastal areas of the US. Crossing fingers, but our medium-sized town numbers have been ticking up (rather than exploding) as testing ramps up, probably because of this timeline.
    –Greater testing availability at this point.
    –Lack of density.
    –Fewer mass events.
    –Low use of public transportation.
    –Lower mobility (it’s been very noticeable that airport hub cities have exploded).

    On the other hand, cute little resort towns with lots of outside visitors have been taking a beating.

    https://www.uchealth.org/today/outbreak-coronavirus-colorado-ski-areas-communities-very-serious/

    “We have to rethink our shopping system, so we can avoid that place for as long as possible.”

    We really can’t manage to stay out of the store, but have replaced one weekly visit with Aldi’s delivery.

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  4. I’m trying a pickup order at our Safeway this week. I have to schedule and I don’t know how it will work if items are out of stock. But it’s a way of staying out of the store.

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    1. bj said, “I have to schedule and I don’t know how it will work if items are out of stock. But it’s a way of staying out of the store.”

      We had a (somewhat avoidable) Aldi’s misfire today.

      We thought we ordered 4 cans of kidney beans and 4 cans of garbanzo beans, these being essential items for our family’s staple cooking, which involves a jar of Patak’s curry sauce, a couple cans of beans, and chicken or sausage or whatever.

      Husband accidentally ordered more than that. Furthermore, Aldi’s was out of the beans we wanted and our shopper substituted mostly pork ‘n beans type beans, so we wound up with probably a dozen cans. Husband didn’t catch the texts from her (they ask you about substitutions), so we wound up with a big surprise. Under normal circumstances, I don’t think our family could eat through that many of that type of beans, but I think we’re up for it.

      There’s an 8 can maximum at HEB for beans, and the last time I shopped, I couldn’t find what I needed.

      Aldi naan is very good, by the way, very inexpensive, and it freezes well.

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  5. Most railroad ties have been treated with creosote or other harmful preservatives; do not use them for raised beds anywhere near food crops. Try for cedar, which doesn’t have to be treated in order to resist rot.

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  6. And what do I say to the family member that posted this on FB this weekend? Sigh.

    Here in the rural Midwest people are getting antsy. We aren’t seeing COVID. Yes, the numbers are ticking up, but it’s still an “other people’s issue”, the government is ruining the economy because of a an illness no worse than the flu, it’s a nursing home issue.

    Social media is showing grandparents and grandchildren getting together regularly, my students are mentioning hanging out at friends’ homes during the day when parents are working…I don’t know. Maybe it won’t hit the rural areas as bad. But my personality has always followed ‘better to be safe than sorry’.

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    1. It may not hit rural areas as hard, partly because it helps if even some of the people are social distancing (and I have rural relatives who are doing that). But on the other hand, their health care infrastructure is very weak. Looking up the hospitals in the huge region where my in-laws live, what I saw was 8 hospitals for an area that contains far less than a congressional district’s worth of people, but only one of them has critical care capacity. The rest are what is called “critical access hospitals,” with fewer than 25 beds, an MD on call, attached to an outpatient clinic. You could have to drive over 100 miles to get to the real hospital.

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      1. EB said, “The rest are what is called “critical access hospitals,” with fewer than 25 beds, an MD on call, attached to an outpatient clinic. You could have to drive over 100 miles to get to the real hospital.”

        I’ll add that rural ER is often not great at the best of times.

        My family has had a number of bad experiences with their small town WA ER the past few years. It’s just not very good and is often at capacity just dealing with normal stuff. Sis says that where they shine is chainsaw (!) accidents or similar–if it’s not a traumatic injury, they’re probably not very good at treating it. Just about anything major requires a Seattle hospital, which is problematic right now, although you can get tolerable care for moderately serious stuff about 60 miles away.

        That’s why I was such a Debbie Downer on the subject of Alaska. When you have a healthcare system that is just barely managing to function, anything could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

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      2. When my kiddo was a baby and not feeling well, my doctor said we should delay our trip to the WA peninsula. Having always lived in urban areas, I was shocked — that the hospitals were a place he wanted me to avoid.

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    2. Can’t watch the whole thing, but is this one of videos the visiting parking lots of hospitals and saying there’s no problem? I continue to be flabbergasted by the communication in different subsets of the community. While people in some communities are freaked out about contamination of packages coming in the mail, or frozen foods, others do think there’s no big problem going on, and are spending their time talking about blaming China (which, in my mind, is irrelevant to how we need to react now, even if it was entirely the fault of Chinese Communism).

      I really don’t know how we cross those communication divides and the breakdown of community connections that tries to start with the premise that we are in this together.

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      1. bj said, “While people in some communities are freaked out about contamination of packages coming in the mail, or frozen foods, others do think there’s no big problem going on, and are spending their time talking about blaming China (which, in my mind, is irrelevant to how we need to react now, even if it was entirely the fault of Chinese Communism).I really don’t know how we cross those communication divides and the breakdown of community connections that tries to start with the premise that we are in this together.”

        Some thoughts:

        –If the general public is tuning out experts, the media, and government, part of that is those institutions’ fault. Look at NYC and how Bill de Blasio handled COVID-19 until the last possible minute. There was so much happy talk from NYC officials, so much encouragement of dangerous large events, so much reluctance about closing the schools and the subways. It’s also been like pulling teeth for the CDC to come round to the idea that, yes, face-coverings are helpful and the public should be encouraged to do so. Consider what a long period of time we were told to just wash our hands to avoid COVID-19, as if it was reasonable to think that a bit more hand-washing would have saved Lombardy and Wuhan.
        –For at least a month, most messaging on this was stupid and terrible. Experts, public officials and media can’t do a 180 and expect the public to hang on their every word.
        –China is still relevant. For one thing, people have been relying on and publishing Chinese stats as if they have any relationship to reality, saying that our US outbreak is worse than China’s and suggesting that we learn from Chinese suppression methods. The thing is, we have no idea what China’s total number of coronavirus deaths has been, we have no idea what their current situation is, and we have no idea if their methods were actually more effective than, say, Italy’s. Also, the Chinese seem to have largely subverted and corrupted the WHO as well as a lot of our elites (I know that sounds nutty, but look around). Also, these viral outbreaks keep coming out of China, and people are (very reasonably) getting tired of it. There’s only so much time and energy that we have available for pointing the finger at China right now, but it is worthwhile to a) put a pin in it for later and b) mock any American who wants to carry water for China.
        –There’s a lot of weirdness surrounding the US’s relationship with China, as we saw during the NBA stuff last year. There seems to be deep corruption both among US elites and in international organizations, and when we get on the other side of this, it’s going to be time to clean house, because it’s literally killing us that China is a bad neighbor and a bad partner.
        –It’s actually kind of goofy that the anti-China stuff is part of how Trump became president, but now that he is president, he obviously can’t wait to jump in bed with them. I suppose part of that is his hospitality industry training…

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      2. The communication at the Washington state level has been a good model (in opposition to the misleading, obfuscating, un-directed information at the federal level. WA state started attending to and providing information at the state level when the first community transmission was discovered here (inc dentally, because of the Seattle Flu Study). When the first deaths occurred, we started reacting, Major tech companies restricted travel and started cancelling conferences. In less than a week, the major tech employers had told their employees to work from home. Emerald city Comicon was cancelled. The information was measured but also as clear as it could be. I am supportive of how Inslee has handled this crisis and pleased that he stepped up to the challenge. I’d have called him neutral, and, frankly, he had a reputation for being a pretty face, but he has taken decisive action based on the advice of others with expertise.

        I think it’s important to be looking forward (not worth spending too much time on Trump’s statements underplaying the crisis except to the extent that we need to consider them to interpret current statements). The same is true for China’s coverup. It’s not worth expecting it to different (unlike Trump, who has a responsibility to the American people, China doesn’t, and our BATNA is poor).

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      3. bj said, “Major tech companies restricted travel and started cancelling conferences. In less than a week, the major tech employers had told their employees to work from home.”

        “Emerald city Comicon was cancelled.”

        That was very good.

        “I think it’s important to be looking forward (not worth spending too much time on Trump’s statements underplaying the crisis except to the extent that we need to consider them to interpret current statements). The same is true for China’s coverup. It’s not worth expecting it to different (unlike Trump, who has a responsibility to the American people, China doesn’t, and our BATNA is poor).”

        Part of going forward is that we don’t have to cite Chinese numbers credulously and journalists and opinion people need to stop unfavorably comparing Western governments’ responses to China’s response. Journalists are still doing this. It is fair and appropriate to compare stats, methods and outcomes among reasonably transparent, reliable developed countries (whether in North America, Europe or East Asia), but treating China as a model and a normal country is misleading and dangerous.

        Here’s an example from this morning:

        https://mobile.twitter.com/NBCNews/status/1247484280529395712

        NBC tweeted: “U.S. reports 1,264 coronavirus deaths in over 24 hours. Meanwhile in China, where the pandemic broke out, not a single new coronavirus death was reported.”

        That is not informative.

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  7. Just read a George Takei tweet that makes sense, especially if you’ve seen Chernobyl, which you most definitely should see if you haven’t:

    “Sorry. This isn’t our “Pearl Harbor” moment. That was a surprise, dastardly attack by an enemy nation. This is our “Chernobyl” moment: a preventable catastrophe that was denied, downplayed and mismanaged until tens of thousands were dead.”

    My sister’s nephew just tested positive. Both his parents have been very sick but not hospitalized. My BIL had a test done yesterday because of someone he was exposed to at work a few weeks ago. That’s how long it took for him to get an appointment (on Long Island).

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    1. My BFF on Long Island just recovered. She was super sick for a week, and never bothered to get tested. I think it’s all over Long Island.

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  8. Well, looking at this article reporting on the estimates of a Harvard research team, in general this is and will be more devastating for the coasts than for the rural midwest: https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/covid-hospitals

    And it doesn’t help when governors like Cuomo promise (threaten?) to send the National Guard to remove respirators from hospitals upstate: https://dailygazette.com/article/2020/04/04/editorial-cuomo-risks-upstate-lives-with-order-to-take-ventilators

    That rather removes the incentive, going forward, for any hospital, anywhere, to make prudent preparations for pandemics. Why bother, if it will be looted by politicians?

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    1. Cranberry said, “And it doesn’t help when governors like Cuomo promise (threaten?) to send the National Guard to remove respirators from hospitals upstate”

      I’ve seen a similar point made about Trump, the Defense Production Act and GM. GM volunteered to start making ventilators and now I believe they are being compelled to make ventilators. Had they just kept their mouths shut and not volunteered initially, nobody would have even thought of them.

      https://fortune.com/2020/03/30/gm-ventilator-plan-trump-praise-doghouse-coronavirus/

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