Nesting Nesters Who Nest (Plague, Day 141, August 10, 2020)

With schools resisting opening and viral rates climbing in parts of the country, we’re going to be stuck in our homes for quite a while. Our homes have become more than just places that we crash at the end of a long work day. With limited places to visit — no gyms, vacation spots, parties with friends, no schools — these structures have become our own little worlds.

So, people are fixing up these little worlds. It’s been very hard to get contractors here to fix up the water damage downstairs. Cable guys are working double time to fix wifi connections and upgrade bandwidths. Anybody who works on houses is making money hand over fist right now.

Corporations know that this is the new normal. Facebook is giving employees $1,000 for office equipment and building their new offices in New York right next to the commuter hubs.

That downstairs room that was trashed last month was not fabulous before the flood. It was covered in cheap, aging linoleum. The laundry room had holes in the wall. The main room was a dumping ground for the kids’ music instruments and old furniture. We didn’t really use that space much.

But with everyone home, we need every square inch of real estate in here. so I’m upgrading that space with nice tile and flooring. The whole place is getting a fresh coat of paint. We’re building out a wall to hide all the electrical wires/cable box/modem/router/massive power strip behind the television. I’m selling the old sofas, putting in a better one for the TV watchers/gamers, and putting in a “work from home” long table for laptops. I’ll share pictures when I’m done.

Meanwhile, people are fleeing Manhattan, where crime rates are skyrocketing, and stores are still boarded up after the protests this summer. Real estate agents are cold calling us to see if we’ll move. I’m hearing about bidding wars for very modest houses. Manhattan might become a place where people zip in for monthly group meetings, instead of a bustling business hub with a thriving middle class community. All the reasons that we used to go into Manhattan – museums, shows, concerts — aren’t happening, and might not happen again for a year. Sad.

Since the pandemic shut everything done, I have been enjoying watching professional cooks in their home kitchens doing stuff. Not originally a huge fan of Rachel Ray, I am convert, because of her adorable videos of her and husband making fun meals in their very cluttered kitchen. So, I was sad to hear that their home burnt down this weekend. She’s become a “friend” these past few months, along with Jacques Pepin, whose videos magically appear on my Facebook page. (I really want to try his crispy chicken thigh recipe.)

Google search terms show how lifestyles have changed, perhaps permanently. People aren’t looking for tickets to shows or going to restaurants. They are searching for home workout equipment and crafting tools.

Have you thought about how we’re going to socialize when things get colder? We have. We’re already worrying about how we’ll have a Thanksgiving dinner that is safe for my parents. Should we get heat lamps for the back patio?

We are in the midst of a massive change in society. This may be the biggest change in human society since the industrial revolution. Please keep diaries. This is important.

19 thoughts on “Nesting Nesters Who Nest (Plague, Day 141, August 10, 2020)

  1. I’m a big believer in reversion to the mean and tend to think the long-term changes will not be as dramatic as some people think. i like this article – because it makes the case for change, while recognizing that it may be wrong.

    As to store still being boarded up, it really depends on your neighborhood. I live in Lower Manhattan and nothing is still boarded and the streets are full of restaurants doing outside dining.


    1. I don’t go out much, so I don’t have first-hand knowledge, but I asked a friend what she did this weekend and she went to the downtown area of the city she lives in (Providence, RI) and she said “Downtown was depressing. No one there and full of sketchy people and the homeless.” I’m glad my beloved NYC seems to be rebounding. I have a millennial friend who lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, who has been instagramming pics of her visits to local outdoors dining spots (wearing a mask, of course!) during the last month (her first time out was late June, ftr).


  2. We’re definitely doing lots of house work here. Finally got a tile guy in to look at the loose tiles in our bathroom – that’s basically turned into a nearly full renovation of the bathroom.

    We’re also looking to buy a hot tub – we’re not taking a vacation, and my husband is a serious exerciser, like several hour bike rides multiple times a week. Pretty confident we won’t feel comfortable getting a massage any time in the near future, so backyard upgrade it is. Turns out EVERYONE else is doing it too, so best case scenario is we can get a hot tub in October, but probably won’t be able to get anyone to hardscape the yard any time soon.

    It’s such a strange position to be in, but we’re trying as much as possible to get everything from local businesses to help put money in the local economy.


  3. For some reason, this weekend, I needed to clean up my email. Refused to get to 30,000 emails in the inbox. So I’m down to 23,000 now. That was reliving a whole decade.

    Otherwise, there’s so much I could be doing, but I seem to be exhausted (your last post). The gardening isn’t getting done. The hot tub that fortunately went in two years ago, still has no landscaping leading to it (just tore it all out to get a digger in).

    I realized that I mostly go see people That is, I work hard here teaching online at home, and then every month or so, I’d go to my family in Chicago or my daughter in NYC, or to Israel. With all of that off the table (though my husband is in Israel now as his mother was hospitalized in July), it seems like a long stretch. Not sure what’s next.

    Swimming at the Y felt very vulnerable. So I ordered a work station bike that my brother recommended:

    And school starts in two weeks. So those classes need to be prepped. Not a whole not of energy.


    1. kris wrote,

      “For some reason, this weekend, I needed to clean up my email. Refused to get to 30,000 emails in the inbox. So I’m down to 23,000 now. That was reliving a whole decade.”

      At some point during the spring shutdown, we were all supposed to get gmail accounts in order to do google classroom. I did that, not realizing that the accounts that I created for myself and my youngest were filling up with mail, despite the fact that I didn’t give that account out to anybody. Readers, I got through the entire spring without looking at a single one.

      At some point in the next week or two, I need to pop those open and see what’s inside.


  4. Current home stuff:

    –Husband put up homemade mask airing racks for himself and the 10th grader.
    –Husband has been taking down some of our gutters, repairing rotten spots in the siding near the gutters, repainting those spots, repainting and putting down splash blocks to direct the water away from the house. We’re going to have some minor gutter work done soon by a pro.
    –Husband is gearing up to do something about the tiles in our front entry that have been bulging and creaking and that we’ve mostly just been avoiding this spring. His plan is to remove the tiles and reset them with thinner lines of flexible grout. The foundation guy we talked to said that this will be a temporary fix (as tile is BAD in our area given soil conditions and the flexible grout doesn’t have enough flex), but husband wants to do it.
    –Husband took down part of a small tree that was hanging over our house.
    –I’ve talked to a guy about doing $300 worth of brush whacking in our yard, which really wants to turn into a jungle.
    –Down the road, we need to replace all of our downstairs tile with something a bit more forgiving–I’m not sure what, though. I’d also like to do HardiePlank on the exterior, as well as do something about our door frames, which have suffered a bunch of rot. My husband goes around treating it with plasticky stuff that turns the wood to resin, but at some point we need to do something more systematic.
    –The big optional project that I’d like to start next year is to put better (built-in?) storage into our living room, as we have a mishmash of bookshelves/media storage, no cabinets, and cables all over the place. We’d paint, etc. I also want to do something to the adjoining playroom (originally a formal dining room). I need to thin down the 7-year-old’s stuff and we need to figure out what we want to do with this room. At the moment, I want to put a desk in there for me (my papers currently occupy one end of a long kitchen table), keep a small toy/art corner, but also move some exercise equipment there–which may be too much to ask of a room. We currently have foam matting on the floor. It looks pretty bad after 7 years of use, but we really like the functionality of foam matting. So we probably need to paint the playroom, put in new foam matting, and then Marie Kondo it into a multi-purpose family room. A big part of the process is going to be our youngest aging out of the stuff in the playroom enough that she will part with most of it. But, at the same time, I do want to keep a small stock of toddler/preschooler friendly toys for small visitors.



    “White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci that the chances of scientists creating a highly effective vaccine — one that provides 98% or more guaranteed protection — for the virus are slim.
    Scientists are hoping for a coronavirus vaccine that is at least 75% effective, but 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable, too, he said. The FDA has said it would authorize a coronavirus vaccine so long as it is safe and at least 50% effective.”

    “A 50% effective vaccine would be roughly on par with those for influenza, but below the effectiveness of one dose of a measles vaccination, which is about 93% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

    That has some implications for school-reopening. If Fauci is correct, it’s not going to be possible to reopen schools perfectly safely by waiting for a vaccine. The vaccine will just reopening things safer, not safe.


  6. New Zealand has just had another small outbreak:

    “New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that authorities have found four cases of the coronavirus in one Auckland household from an unknown source, the first reported cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days.”

    “Ardern said Auckland, the nation’s largest city, will be moved to Alert Level 3 from midday Wednesday through midnight Friday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home, while bars and many other businesses will be closed.

    ““These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have widespread contact tracing so we can find out more about how this case arose and make decisions about how to respond to it once we have further information,” Ardern said at a hastily called news conference late Tuesday.”

    “She said that traveling into Auckland will be banned unless people live there and are traveling home.

    “She said the rest of the country will be raised to Level 2 through Friday, meaning that mass gatherings will be limited to 100 attendees and people would need to socially distance themselves from each other.”

    Here’s a really interesting detail: “New Zealanders have never routinely worn masks, but authorities have been urging people to buy them just in case.”

    I think we may be overestimating to what degree people outside East Asia have been wearing masks.


    1. New Zealand is in another world from us as far as Covid is. It’s safer to lick the noses of 1,000 random strangers in New Zealand than go get takeout while wearing a mask at a Burger King in most U.S. states.


  7. I just saw a clip of Aucklanders rushing a grocery store.

    I can’t find it right now, but just about nobody was wearing a mask, even though the reason for the panic shopping was their new lockdown.

    Related: Hawaii shut down really hard and was doing well for a long time, but they are currently experiencing a new COVID surge.

    “COVID-19 cases are spreading in the tropical state at a rate of 1.6, which means every person who gets sick is infecting at least one other person on average, Hawaii News Now reported.”

    “Meanwhile, the next-worse states are South Dakota, at 1.2, and Texas, which is at 1.16.”

    That’s not half bad, actually.

    “More than 3,600 Hawaiians have become sick with the virus despite strict 14-day quarantines for all visitors and returning residents, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.”


    1. New Zealand’s death rate from Covid is less than 1% of ours. They can, because so few people are infected, track down and test everyone in an outbreak like this. This is a better option that masks, but it’s not possible when you have 56,000 new cases in the past seven days like Texas does. Or even when you have 5,000 new cases like Pennsylvania.


  8. I think it is very important to follow the outbreaks in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, . . . . But, not to learn a lesson of futility.

    New Zealand has few enough cases that masks might not have been necessary. We have lost control of the virus and are hoping that we can suppress at least some spreads and death with masks.

    should they be worn running to the grocery stores? probably, but that they didn’t doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.


    1. I saw that. I had been about to buy one. The one I was looking at was wool, but I’m still going to hold off unless later reports come in with more detail.


    2. The description of the device seems like it might be buildable in some households. Hmh, maybe a project for my dad and son (and for Amy’s spouse?).

      I’m wondering about using surgical masks (and maybe KN95’s) in more intense situations (i.e school, if ones school was opening, like in Texas). You can buy them now, and if you air out and cycle their use, They do get dirty (even if they aren’t contaminated), because you breathe into them. Bit even if they are are dirty if they are infectious agent free, maybe they would actually have value at stopping spread, anyway.


  9. ” Should we get heat lamps for the back patio?”
    At least in our suburb, old Webers get put onto the street. Get a couple of those and burn firewood – we’ve done that in the past and people liked it


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