A penny for your thoughts.

The Bump

Today, March 26, the headline in my Google newsfeed, tells me that Global cases reached at least 416,686 and Global deaths about 18,589. Here in the USA, the Center for Diseases Control, claims that total cases of infected individuals is 54,453 with 737 death.
Of course, the nation is still short of tests kits and the numbers of people tested is still very low. When more testing is available, we can expect the curve on the covid-19 graph to rise considerably, just as it did in China, Italy and Spain. That curve on the graph will continue to rise until folks really take this illness seriously, or, when scientists find a vaccine or a cure. So far, there are no projected time when that will arrive. We have no vaccine and we have no pill. The healthcare community is despondent in face of this pandemic. Our President, who I am pretty sure has no training in medicine, advances hopes that a medication for malaria could well work against covid. It has already lead to one death, a couple on hearing the name of the drug decided to self medicate with a bacteria killer used for Koi’s, because the product shared similar ingredients with the meds mentioned by the president. The wife lives to tell us that they got the idea watching the daily briefings from the White House. Her husband died. The daily briefings continue, although a couple of news networks have dropped them from their broadcasts on account of the blatant lies and the propaganda the President of the United States is delivering us. His constant hyperbolic rhetoric, and the grim faces, some often looking at their shoes, of the various experts on the podium with him, together with the body language, shoulder down or hands held prayer like, is anything but reassuring that this epidemic will be gone in two weeks, as he is inferring. Most experts warn us that it’s not so and from the ways some folks are acting, literally putting the community in mortal danger, this lockdown will eventually last much longer.
So here we are , waiting for the bump, we are watching the covid graph, the chart with the curve determined by the health data generated by the spread of the virus. The important curve, the one on the graph pertaining to the number of folks infected, must reach its apogee before we can expect any sort of grasp on the disease. We are looking for the bump on the graph and hope it will show up sooner than later.

Another day, another chore, today is shopping. Usually Carolle does the shopping, she knows what she wants and practically do all the cooking, and even if I tag along from time to time, I am not a savvy shopper and I need a list. As it turns out, making a list of the items you need before leaving the house is what is recommended to do, as a precaution. The gist is, if you have a list, you can zoom to the item, grab it, place it in your caddy, and go on to the next item on the list, saving store time exposure. That’s pretty good in theory, the practice is chancy.

Shopping requires special precautions like gloves and a mask. It’s uncomfortable but I believe very prudent. In this environment, real Monk would not go out without a hazmat suit. The gloves are utility gloves that I sanitize with alcohol after use. Call me crazy. Perhaps. Anyway, here I go, list in hand, to the big box store up the hill. As a club member, I am greeted by two employees, one with mask, the other not. I zoomed to the first item on the list and went on according to a well laid plan. It turns out the list probably cost me more time in the store. I really had no idea where anything was and had to wander around aisles, two or three times, before I could spot the item I was looking for. Then I spotted an item on the list, tucked in on a refrigerated shelf in one corner of the store, the chicken section. I was looking for chicken thighs to complete my list, and had to hold back on account of five or six people definitely not six feet apart, taking their time in that rather confined space of the store, a corner. It’s the last item I laid in the caddy that by that time, was already full of stuff. I didn’t not spent anymore time on the carrots Carolle asked for, small and with the leaves still attached. I did not opt for the finger like orange plugs that stores bag as carrots, never trusted they were, and really never enjoyed eating them. I did not get the soup either as I could not fit anymore in my caddy. I could have, if I had a larger caddy, or if I had shopping bags, but I forgot to bring bags. Could have had more room to spare if the items I was buying were not family sized. Six chickens were sacrificed for the only size package left on the rack, the two dozen eggs package and the two double size cereal boxes practically filled the caddy with little room left.
Most shoppers tried to stay away from each other, with various amount of success and sometimes caught in a spot, like it did by the chicken shelves. There was a young man wearing a construction mask, often on the phone and probably asking advice, shopping, and seeming as disoriented as I was. I saw a young couple wearing latex gloves. I had already seen them in the parking lot, cleaning the store cart handle with wipes. I saw an older person do the same on my way back to the car. Otherwise I did not see other folks taking extra precautions. It was time to pay and I chose the far self register. It turned out to be an annoying automat, sometimes repeating several times instructions that you understood perfectly well the first time you heard them, and, because the encumbrance  gloves and mask of my hazmat outfit, it made it difficult to scan each item in a timely matter. The silly machine asked to place the item on the adjoining table after scanning. Could I do that without knowing that surface was clean? Who knows really, seeing the lack of concern of some of the shoppers. I asked (nicely) one of the idle cashier to  clean it before I would proceed. Yes, call me crazy. At first she dismissed me saying that it was clean. When I insisted, she obliged, altogether telling me that she was pretty sure it was clean. I told her I was not that sure and thanked her for the cleaning. Not only was I Monk, but I was becoming a pain in the ass Monk. Nevertheless, I felt better when I saw the spray squirt out of the cleaning bottle and the disposable wipe the nice lady used, altogether wishing the spray was adequate.

Scanning the items with my hazmat suit proved to be a laborious process. With impaired vision because of the mask, in competition with my glasses that fogged up periodically, the gloves and the size or shape and weight of the item, made it difficult to scan according to my plan: not having the item touch the sku reader plater. The more time it took for each item, the more the robot cashier felt it should remind me that it I was done scanning, I ought to choose a form of payment and finish my transaction. Let me tell you that’s downright annoying. And it happened every two items , or so it seemed. Anyway, once done, I placed the purchases back in my caddy and headed to the parking lot and home. The greeter at the door kept her distances and let me through without foraging through my caddy. I was glad for that and wished her well.
Wagner’s Valkyries was still on the tube (isn’t that very twentieth century, my hey boomer moment), four and a half hour of a pretty intriguing plot that includes incestuous twins, brother and sister. Wagner is complicated. From the singing, one feels great drama for the gods and the various characters, their wife’s or daughter’s. Besides the entertainment and the background music, it’s not easy to stay focused for such a long time, specially for me, but it’s comforting to see that gods have bigger problems than I have.

A long due walk to the post office, after the opera played its last note and the credits scrolled down to the bottom of the screen, gave us the chance to exercise and get some fresh air. When we visit Nice, we walk everyday everywhere, or we use transportation. Here, we use the car to go everywhere. The walk from the Mill to the Post Office takes about 15 minutes, straight down Main Street then left past the Police Station. About a mile long, the walk is easy and pleasant. The sidewalks, some neglected and showing it badly, are otherwise walkable. Once arrived at the P.O., I told Carolle to stay put outside, as a matter of prudence, forty feet away from the entrance, and I went in to collect the mail, and gloves on, placed it into the shopping bag I had brought for the purpose. I would later on, in plain air, separate the junk mail to recycle, and keep the important mail to bring home, about three to one ratio. Perhaps this pandemic will make advertisers think twice about stuffing our mail boxes with junk mail. That goes for political mail as well. Describing my triage process would be too tedious and frankly just boring. Just imagine Monk doing the task…
Returning home, we took a different way, continuing past the Post Office to the next street and turned left towards home. The walk through the street gave us a glimpse at spring finally waking up, and the first blooms of the year. Crocuses in full bloom and daffodil leaves are trying hard to break the monotonous bland backgrounds of winter cityscape. Their scarcity still bring us joy at the sure sign of a warmer weather to come, dissipating the angst we share about the pandemic if just for a moment. Walking a neighborhood opens your eyes to more details than driving by. The mostly Victorian houses, vestiges of a more opulent era when the town was a hub of industries, line up the streets in different states of  grooming. Some not quite blighted, most decently kept and other pampered and quite beautiful. The later usually have more bloom showing in the manicure yards. The streets crosses a couple of small streams, most likely small confluents of the East Branch of the Naugatuck, the mighty small river flowing along side of our Mill. I have becomed attached to that river. The house we owned on Main Street had a large back yard with 150 feet frontage to the river. When we bought the house, one of the first chore (actually a lot of fun to be wadding in the water), was to clean my stretch of water of debris. Shopping carts, half a dozen of them, in various shapes of disrepair, tires, plastic bags, cans, bottles and whatever gets dumped up steam. I call it a mighty small river because I have witnessed its strength. In five years I witnessed a four hundred pound granite stone travel fifty feet down the river bed. In very cold winters, the ice engulfing these large stones and boulders literally gives them buoyancy when the river level rises, inching the blocks of granite along the river bed.
The walk did us a lot of good, when we returned home, I noticed the ornamental cherry trees, growing outside our ten foot tall factory windows, were showing buds. Mother Nature does not give a dam about covid, no lockdown planned for Spring!