Quarantine: Year One

This shit is bananas!

Just so you know, I have a dark, absurdist, and sometimes irreverent sense of humor. So, you know. If you don’t appreciate humor, more or less, amidst tragedy, I’m probably not your cup o’ tea. I understand. Take care of you and yours and be well. And on that note….

We’re doomed.

It seems like this li’l pandemic is revealing all the structural weaknesses of our global and national ecosystem and its structures and pillars.

First of all, we’re a bunch of assholes, which would explain the hoarding of toilet paper. Mystery solved.

My rule #1 is: don’t panic. Be anxious, even afraid, at a loss. That’s natural. But don’t panic. We have to look out for each other and not just ourselves. Granted, we could use some firm but not completely totalitarian leadership.

China is able to lock things down because they will lock your ass up if you step out of line. They don’t mess around, which is a strength in times like these when you’re fighting a viral contagion and human nature. Of course, if that same big sickle and hammer energy is directed toward keeping things on the down low — welp. Oops.

Leadership

The good ol’ USA, on the other hand? Well, I often say that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. Freedom. Rugged individuality. Sandwiches with donuts instead of bread. Long haired mellow bro patriotic Jesus. We do what we want even if it’s bad for us, even if it’s bad for our communities and country, because we have rights and we can, thank you very much.

This outbreak is clearly going to test our resolve and character. Gulp.

I’m glad that law enforcement is going after hoarders and price gougers. I don’t understand why grocery stores don’t put a cap on the number of essential items people can buy. For one, it’s not good for the community if half of the community is unable to get essentials. Two, the false shortages cause panic and make everyone’s lives harder, including the stores, catalyzing a vicious cycle.

Mayors and governors are suggesting that people maintain social distance and stay indoors. Suggesting. Encouraging. Asking. Obviously, that doesn’t work with us. It seems like we’re at a stage where instructions need to be given in no uncertain terms. I was wondering if it’s possible to let a seventh of the population out for each day of the week based on — I don’t know — the last digits of our address? Street names ending in certain letters? The best porn names (based on your first pet’s name and the street you grew up on, of course) ranked from 1 to 7 by a congressional subcommittee? A national online vote?

The President seemed to finally be getting on board with the medical and scientific community for a while there. But I think the business community has been buzzing in his ear about prioritizing the economy.

Gotta love the rabid capitalists. Not to say that they’re wrong to be concerned. This is serious and it’s going to take a while to recover. People will be financially hurt. Some communities who are climbing the ladder of economic class will take another blow to any wealth they’ve accumulated and will be knocked down a few rungs. How’s that 401K doing? Some businesses that have closed down will not be reopening.

My political leanings aren’t socialist — maybe leaning toward European democratic socialism a little — or communist, by the way, but I have a lot of s—- to talk about our form of capitalism. It’s literally killing us. We’re at the endgame where just about all of the real wealth is in the hands of a few, whether people or companies, global conglomerates, or private equity firms. We’re not a manufacturing economy any more. Okay, the world has changed. Fine. But we don’t manufacture essentials?

Grocery stores and retailers used to store items; now it’s all just-in-time. So our health care providers are running out of masks and gloves and are getting sick. But we don’t make masks and gloves. Or ventilators. Or pharmaceuticals. We don’t make our own medicine. We don’t make the parts that our infrastructure relies on. We import them, which is fine and cheaper until the global supply is disrupted by a butterfly’s contrails or whatever.

Do you see what I’m saying? Our whole deal is catawampus. It is not and has not been sustainable. There are so many lessons we could learn. There are so many things we could address. We may have an opportunity.

The Great Outdoors

A week ago, the message was to go outdoors, enjoy nature in these stressful times, and practice social distancing. Now the message is, outside is too crowded to be in the outdoors responsibly.

Outdoor Meccas Are Not a Social-Distancing Hack

Last week, I went to Great Falls after work. There were a fair number of people there. Nowhere close to solitude. Families, couples, groups of friends. The parking lots near Angler’s Inn were completely full, cars lining the street.

On Saturday, which was a beautiful day, I heard on the radio that park police closed down the road to Great Falls because the parking lot was full. Since then, Old Rag, White Oak Canyon, Berry Hollows and other trails were closed, or at least the parking areas to access them.

I went to the tidal basin to see the cherry blossoms on Saturday. I did. There were too many people out. Definitely not wall to wall, but still too many. Streets were closed, apparently in an effort to discourage visitors so traffic was a nightmare. But at the Wharf, there were crowds and lines. I don’t know what people were buying, but a lot of black folks were there. It stressed me out a little. Not the black people part. I mean, people being packed in lines together.

In other words, there’s nowhere to go outside that qualifies as responsible. I know some out of the way places, but it seems like the best way to get outside is to take a little adventure stroll around your neighborhood. But let’s face it. We need to get out. Good luck finding anything close to solitude while staying regional.

Minimize risk, I guess.

The Great Indoors

Ironically, this is how I usually live my life. It’s a lot like being in quarantine. Personally, I was just shaking off hibernation and ramping up just in time for this novel experience. So if you’re going stir crazy maybe I could give you some tips on how to embrace the existential turmoil of quarantine.

I’m teleworking for a few weeks until the government decides that I’m not. I do like teleworking, but I wish I were in a house with a separate office area. That would be ideal. You know, when you get sick of sitting, and sick of looking at screens, and sick of being inside, and your motivation to do anything evaporates. What you gonna do when it comes for you.

So I figured I’d take it easy and enjoy some light fare to get my mind off of the constant Coronavirus coverage. In other words, I watched “Contagion”.

It could have been made in September of 2020. The point is that this isn’t our first deadly virus, by any means. But you know how it goes. All of this interconnectedness and travel and what not ups the ante. We still haven’t quite accepted that it’s happening to us.

Other than that, I guess I’ll just sit here with nothing to do. Just me and eight hobbies worth of tools and toys. How ever will I entertain myself?

Oh, and if you have kids. Wow. I wish you luck. That’s got to be intense.

If you have pets … lucky.

Hang in there, ya’ll. We’ll be alright if we keep our wits and look out for each other. It’s going to be rough. There’s going to be pain, suffering, loss, disruption and a long recovery, probably with setbacks, but we’ll be alright.

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