Friday, July 31, 2020

July 31

Last day of July. It has been a chaotic year so far and looks to be for the rest of the year. All we can do is roll with what ever happens and hope we don't capsize. Can y'all swim?

We did our shopping on Wednesday because the local power company planned upgrades for yesterday that they warned us might cause an interruption in power. Mom got e-mails indicating our power had been shut off a couple of times but we didn't notice any interruption. We thought they might have decided not to do the work because we had rain starting and continuing for two to three hours of the time they specified for possible shut off. An interesting encounter at the drug store: the clerk we usually see was wiping down the handles on the carts grumbling that she was looking forward to the pandemic being over in the next month or so. I asked her if she knew how long the 1918 flu lasted. She didn't so I told her--2 years. Stunned she bleated "Oh, I hope not." One of the problems with our response, on both the political and the broader social levels, has been a short term focus. We simply don't plan for things that might last longer than the next three months. Not many took Fauci seriously when he said, in February or March,  he didn't expect a vaccine for the next 12 to 18 months. Watching the situation spiral in New York I said that this thing wouldn't be gone any time soon and wouldn't be at all pleasant. Considering the resurgence of the virus in various countries where it was thought to be contained, I think this doctor might be right that we might have to live with this thing for decades to come. After all we still have HIV, MERS, SARS circulating and no vaccines for any of them. Although researchers have a couple of hundred possible vaccines under development but a lot of questions that won't be answered quickly: how effective, what possible side effects, in whom is it effective, and how long does the immune response last. So far, from preliminary studies of people who acquired the disease and recovered the data indicate antibodies disappear in 2 to 3 months. And there is some indication that people might be able to contract the virus a second time.

I was flabbergasted when I heard #45's announcement that he is going to start the process of bringing manufacturing back to our shores by "loaning" Kodak a huge chunk of our tax money to establish a "start-up" company to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients. I think this piece at Epsilon Theory covers this bit of insanity very nicely. The kleptocracy is running smoothly even if everything else is falling apart.

Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By has a pot that reflects my thoughts exactly. A couple of the comments also hit home. I had a very low opinion of George W. but said after #45 was "sworn" in (with his fingers crossed, I am sure) that I miss him. When the news came out that Reagan had Alzheimer's I asked how anyone could tell. Frankly, I miss him also. Those are the two I considered the worst of the list from my life time from Truman, who I don't remember, through Eisenhower, who I vaguely remember and continuing on.

Once upon what feels like a very long time ago, Americans didn't know who won presidential election on election night. They would know who won the vote in their own town or county. They might find out within a week or two who won in their state. But many wouldn't find out who won the Electoral College vote until Inauguration Day. Since 1936 the date when the Electoral College would vote was set by law for the middle of December and the Inauguration date was moved from March to January. We have become used to almost instantaneous electronic communications. None of us really remember how slow communications once were. This year might be a bit of a trial for those of us raised in a culture of instant gratification. Election Day is becoming an Election Season with early voting, mail-in (a.k.a., absentee) voting as well as in person voting. We may not know who wins this contest for several days, perhaps even a week+, after November 3. Just like so long ago.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

July 28

Well, we are nearly at the end of July and the current death toll from the coronavirus is a shade above 149k. We will definitely be over 150k by August 1. I wonder if anyone in this country is untouched by this pandemic. We haven't had to change much of anything because even before March we avoided crowds--simply don't like being in them. We did enjoy going out to eat but found that fewer and fewer restaurants were worth the cost and time. We miss that far less than we would have thought before. We did add masks to our wardrobe which was very casual since we are both retired and don't go to dressy affairs. We are two degrees separated from someone who tested positive but we haven't heard how that went. We don't get much info from that part of the family. We haven't seen any family members since March. Many of them are hunkering down even more than we are because they have more conditions that would make getting the virus really, really bad.

I finally got out to do a bit of gardening and harvesting. Picked two trays of peppermint and four of spearmint which are drying now. Got a bit of a surprise. I thought I had planted woad but the plants didn't look quite like I expected. Since it is the first time growing it I let it go. It is trying to bloom and looks exactly like the plants I know are indigo. I probably grabbed the wrong packet. Oh, well.  I will try woad again next year. The indigo won't survive the frost so before it gets too cold I will harvest and dry the leaves for future use. I will definitely put in indigo next year.

Reading today:

John Feffer at Tomdispatch. He lays out The No-Trust World very neatly. And what he lays out is only the tip of the iceberg.

Axios has a couple of good pieces today including this one. This puts some numbers on what we see in the news: some (few) of us are doing pretty well and haven't lost much while some (many more) of us are sinking.

And also at Axios a story that reinforces some of our experiences with the virus.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

July 21

Watching the events in Portland and wondering: "When does #45's Sturmabteilung become his Schutzstaffel?" I saw a comment yesterday in a post that said #45 has Pinochet'ed America. I have seen that in a couple of blog posts also. I won't link because you can google it yourself. 

I remember reading about the FDA relaxing the food labeling rules because companies were having trouble with their supply chains thanks to the pandemic. This is a bit of an update and provided me with a couple of surprises. I never knew that adults could develop food allergies. And I didn't know that some peppercorns are related to cashews and can trigger tree nut allergic reactions.  We read labels because we don't want certain ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, or a lot of preservatives. We also choose items that are least processed. We have also gone back to cooking most of our food at home from scratch. But we have to recognize that we are probably not getting all of the information we thought we were getting or that it isn't reliable when so much are covered by the innocuous designation "natural flavorings".

A longish story with a very sharp barb from Cassandra's Legacy.

Some hard, straight talk about the pandemic both on the medical and the economic front from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism. We said back in January that this mess wasn't going away any time soon and it would not be any fun at all.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

July 18

We have watched the progress of the pandemic and its attendant economic depression (I believe in calling things by their appropriate name--we have gone beyond the tamer, gentler name of recession) with deep skepticism. We were firmly convinced early on that the pain wasn't going to go away any time soon and, since the economic catastrophe was caused by a health catastrophe, might wax and wane as the health crisis does. Mauldin has a post today with says pretty much the same with pretty charts and interesting anecdotes.

Not much to say about the gardens except the plants have exploded with the rain (supplemented with the hose every now and then) and the warm weather. The overnight temps didn't fall below 80F here and as I finished watering hit 90F this morning. I have several in mind for a good hair cut. And both roses and one of the morning glories are blooming.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

July 16

Found this at Infidel753 and it says about everything about coronavirus. Our state has halted its march toward reopening because numbers have gone in the wrong direction lately. Most people are wearing masks but some really aren't happy with it. At Walgreens the counter clerks were trying to find the masks they had for sale and not finding any--evidently sold out since yesterday. The one who checked us out grumbled that she didn't wear hers when shopping because she was exhausted by having to wear it at work all day. It might be easy to dismiss her sentiments as short-sighted self indulgence but I remember the pictures of medical personnel in NY with their faces blistered and raw and the skin behind their ears rubbed raw from continually wearing their masks during long shifts.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

July 15

Half past July already. I keep thinking that someone has sped up the clock and how I would love to strangle that someone. Full on summer now. I just finished up in the gardens. I could have done more but the temperature on the patio is already pushing 90F and I don't handle heat all that well. I did prune the tomato a bit and the catnip, staked the woad and indigo, dead headed the yarrow, rose, and bee balm and repotted the Genovese basil before watering everything. That was enough. I didn't realize that woad and indigo are vines but that is why I grow plants I haven't grown before--to find out what they look like and how they grow. I also harvested six ripe cherry tomatoes and two shishito peppers for our salad today. My experience with the tomatoes over the last few years isn't an aberration. The cashier at the dairy we frequent was stunned at how well her plants have grown after several disappointing years.

We had errands for the last two days so the gardens got somewhat neglected. Though a couple of pots looked a bit thirsty everything came through nicely. A couple of years ago when we got rid of some deteriorating large containers (originally large plastic storage boxes) I replaced them with five gallon buckets. Instead of drilling large holes in the bottom I punched several small holes (with an old ice pick) around the sides about six inches from the Botton. That provides a reservoir of water without leaving a sodden mess to rot the roots. So the system worked to keep everything alive even with the heat.

As usual on our errand days we look around to see how things are going and people reacting to the virus. At the medical center where Mom's doctor now has his offices everyone was wearing masks, of course. And most were maintaining a distance. Her doctor has only been at that center since January but, so far, things seem to go more smoothly than they did at the other medical center. The doctor and his staff had much more room and were able to move his patients through more quickly. Mom had her blood work done there and that went more smoothly and quickly also and all her data was in the computer including the order for the blood work. That medical center seems to have a better grasp of computer technology.

We generally wear our masks when we go into the stores and take them out after coming out unless there is a crowd. There almost never is because we choose times when fewer people are also shopping. Most people were masked and maintaining distance. The supermarket had a few empty shelves--mainly in the area of household cleaning supplies. No wipes and a limit of 2 per customer on the dish soap. But the baking aisle was almost fully stocked so those supply chains seems to have been repaired. 

I have said for some time that certain things should not be left to "markets:" medical care, education, police/prisons, e.t.c. This article clearly articulates why such "financialization" is a very bad idea.

I have seen several short stories that indicated that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and TB vaccines might prove effective against Covid-19 when given to adults. Naked Capitalism had this longer piece. Intriguing possibility. As noted in the story, children do seem to have a resistance to Covid. I wonder if those who came down with that paralysis had not been vaccinated.

Found this at Zero Hedge. I had heard a while ago that there was a coin shortage but hadn't noticed any problem here. Some of our purchases we do make with cash but for the larger grocery trips we use a credit card.

Friday, July 10, 2020

July 9

Well, the temps for the next 5 or 6 days should be a little cooler--mid to high 80s (F) vs mid 90s(F). We had to do some shopping yesterday so I didn't get the gardens watered because it was already too hot to be outside. I feel like a blogger I read who wrote she didn't want to dig the trench for her leeks as long or as deep as usual. She realized that she didn't need as many as she once did (smaller family) and, more importantly, "I'm old" she said. I am only a little younger than she is but I also look at how I can take a bit of the hard work out of gardening. At 71 what I used to do is way too exhausting. However, I soaked everything well and tomorrow I plan to harvest some mints and, maybe, basil and sage. And I can get a couple of other chores done as well. I will only water what absolutely needs it. I didn't see as much heat stress as I expected and didn't have to apply as much water as I expected.

Found this interesting article first off this morning. They keep finding new complications from the coronavirus and some are terrifying no matter how small a percentage of patients are affected. What most people forget is that a small percentage of a large number is still a large number. Those who argue that it is no worse than the seasonal flu aren't paying attention and, perhaps, they should look at the possible complications associated with seasonal flu.

July 10

It has been raining most of the morning so I didn't do any gardening. I did take a look at things and found three ripe chocolate cherry tomatoes. That was nice. Everything is doing nicely. I guess I will read for most of today. I spent about two and a half hours working on a cross-stitch table cloth and a bit more time playing with a trim on a neck gaiter--they work well as face coverings.

I don't think there are curse words strong enough to cover this shit. This story links the covid-19 and the accompanying recession to a significant loss of trust in government. I would guess that the pandemic and recession aren't the only factors involved. Who says the government is worthy of trust?