Sunday, March 22, 2020

Safely Home and Silver Linings

Rachel and Holly made it home safely from South Africa a few days earlier than planned. With things changing so much with respect to international travel, we were relieved to see they made it home with no problems along the way. Rachel is doing a 14-day self-quarantine to be on the safe side in case she's been infected. That makes good sense. The screen for the COVID-19 virus when they re-entered the country was not much more than a cursory once-over. We spent 45 minutes with her on a video chat yesterday. It was nice to see her and hear a little more about her travels.

Much of our country is sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 virus. Non-essential stores are closed as are restaurants however, most restaurants are open for either carryout or curbside pickup. Paper towels and toilet paper are in short supply as is hand sanitizer. A worker in a store recently told me that manufacturers aren't taking orders from stores for hand sanitizer at this time—it's all being sent to hospitals and other care facilities.

The group of guys I ride with from Northfield has suspended our Tuesday night and Saturday morning gravel rides to lessen the chance for passing along the virus to others. It's a smart move and one I was expecting. The guys out of Lakeville that I ride with are still getting together but I won't be joining them until we're well on the backside of this pandemic. It seems an unnecessary risk.

And speaking of risks—I'm still riding outdoors. I've been toying with the idea of parking my bikes and utilizing my indoor trainer instead to remove the risk for a riding injury that may need medical help. I'd rather not burden our healthcare workers any more than they already are but neither do I want to spend time in a hospital where exposure to the C-19 virus is (I would think) higher than most other places. It's possible that once our situation here turns dier (I'm convinced it will), I'll limit myself to indoor rides. It's not nearly the same as being outdoors but they're an excellent workout.

I try not to fret about the possibility of contracting the C-19 virus but I'd be lying if I said I didn't occasionally think about it. Would I be one of the lucky ones (one of the 80% who would have relatively mild symptoms) or would I be one of the more extreme cases? I came across this sobering tweet last night. The main takeaway from the video for me is that if we go the way of Italy (I tend to believe we will), only 1 person in 50 who is in need of a ventilator will have access to one. That's a frightening number. Most of us know people in the at-risk category. Take a moment to ponder that 1 in 50 number while being mindful that it's a conservative estimate.

For the longest time, I try and find the silver linings in the curveballs life throws; for many, tho, there are few in this pandemic—especially for those who will lose people close to them or who won't be receiving a paycheck, and those whose businesses won't be able to survive more than a week or two of being shuttered—if that. I truly don't know how we make this work without a good dose of that democratic socialism some of us on the left like to occasionally tout. I'm sure there are silver linings to be found, tho. I've seen lots of families with their pets leading the way walking past our house the last few days and I've noticed a lot less traffic on the road when I'm out biking. I'm noticing more neighbors than ever out chatting in the quiet neighborhood streets, making sure to keep a safe distance from one another in this day of social distancing—a term I'm sure very few of us had ever heard of until recently. Those are all small silver linings. They're a start.

I finally made it back down into my studio to knock out a stained glass project this past week. I'm pleased with how it turned out. The design was something I came up with a while back but I wasn't sure if I'd take the time to breathe life into it. I'm glad I did. Here's a link to it on my Etsy site where you can see additional photos of it.

The video below is from our first (and possibly last) Tuesday Night Gravel ride of the season with the guys from Northfield. I'm hopeful we'll get the green light to begin them once again toward the middle of summer but it's anybody's guess at this point. I'm going to miss those rides!

That's all I've got.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Point of Law, Rachel's Big Adventure, and Thoughts About Covid-19

When I was a boy in the late '60s and early '70s you could always find the AM radio on the countertop in the kitchen of our home in Bloomington, MN tuned to WCCO. It was the first thing turned on in the morning and the last thing turned off at night. The on-air personalities were all very familiar and to some extent, I suppose they felt a little like family. One of my favorite segments to listen to was Point of Law narrated by Charlie Boone in the late afternoon. The few-minute segment involved a brief synopsis of an actual court case followed by a commercial break before revealing the outcome of the case. I always found them fascinating to listen to as I'd try and figure out how I'd decide the case before hearing the outcome. Here's an example. Go to this link and scroll halfway down the page to find more than a couple dozen other Point of Law cases.

In the evenings I'd sometimes listen to Radio Mystery Theater on WCCO. It was simple storytelling entertainment where you allowed your imagination to create the image of the characters as you followed along. Here's a link to years of episodes of RMT.

As I write this Rachel is in the air and on her way to Johannesburg, South Africa with her friend Holly. They left Minneapolis Saturday morning with a several hour layover in NYC before leaving for Paris, France where they just spent the past three days. They'll be arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa at 3:20 CDT where they'll be staying with some friends for about 10 days.

Their trip has been in the works for months so they were reluctant to allow the Coronavirus to thwart their plans. Fortunately, there are very few reported cases of the virus in South Africa at this point. I did the fatherly thing and queried her as to whether she should consider canceling the trip but it's really not my place to say any more than that. I care for her safety but she's no longer my little daughter. As I go to publish this, Trump is giving a broadcast to the nation. He says he's suspending all incoming flights from Europe to the US for the next 30 days beginning on Friday. I'm not sure how this will impact Rachel and Holly as they're returning via Istanbul, Turkey. They may have to find another way home. I'm hopeful that there will be exemptions for Americans who pass a screen for the Covid-19 virus.

Talk of the Covid-19 virus and its potential to sweep across the globe is being covered extensively, much to the dismay of the Trump administration and conservatives who would rather it be downplayed in favor of not upsetting the markets and thereby threatening Trump's chances for reelection. It's a little late for that as the Dow has lost more than 20% of its value in the past few weeks taking it into bear market territory—in large measure because of a lack of leadership on Trump's part, evidenced by mixed messages and a flippant attitude toward the impact the virus poses.

I wouldn't think the Covid-19 virus could be politicized but it has been (in my opinion) by conservatives as they attempt to blame Democrats for hyping news coverage of the global pandemic. I can only assume then that Democrats are also responsible for Italians putting their country on lockdown and a whole host of other measures being taken by other countries as they try and stay ahead of the virus. It's hard to imagine not covering such an event. That would be the height of irresponsibleness.

You can't script this.  From the article: "Meanwhile, critics have noted the irony of prominent officials downplaying the outbreak even as the disease may silently have been spreading among the Trump administration’s own members and supporters."

The virus has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare facilities as people seek treatment and as healthcare workers are infected and forced off the job leaving not enough people to treat those in need. We're in the early stages of the virus here so it's anybody's guess how it will unfold in the coming weeks. My concern mostly lies with the elderly and those whose bodies may not be up for the fight the virus presents. It will be a death sentence for many should they contract it. With no vaccine and asymptomatic people unknowingly spreading the virus, it potentially poses a great risk to many.

If nothing else, I hope we take away from this how ill-prepared we are as a nation to deal with something so threatening to so many. I spoke in my previous blog entry about how the Trump administration has cut dozens of agencies whose job it is to be on the frontlines of detecting and fighting such a threat to not only us but to the entire globe. That's not leadership.

Again, I have to recommend the 6-part Netflix series titled Pandemic. It's a very important documentary for our times about people on the frontlines working to identify and thwart the next pandemic.

I've been on my gravel bike a fair amount lately. It's been nice. The video below is from last Saturday's ride with the Silver Cycling group out of Lakeville.

That's all I've got.