While I’m relieved this is being studied and taken seriously, I remain uncomfortable with the idea that our COVID-19 vaccination programs could be undermined when humans infect industrially farmed animals, who then return the favor with new variants.
If you’re interested in an overview of the animal-to-human-transmission – zoonosis – situation with COVID-19, you should read the WHO summary that focuses on mink farms and related infections, below. (When last I visited, it was updated in early November 2020; additional cases have occurred since that time: you can see more recent case counts just by running a search for COVID mink. Ick.)
Since June 2020, 214 human cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Denmark with SARS-CoV-2 variants associated with farmed minks, including 12 cases with a unique variant, reported on 5 November.
STOP WEARING ANIMALS, HUMANS!(Yes, I’d be supportive of humans discontinuing all industrial farming of animals. It will be great when swine flu, bird flu, etc., aren’t human pandemics brought about by these crowded and unsanitary industrial practices.)
This is not the news I wanted or needed, but it jumped out this morning.
Johnson U-turn leaves nation’s plans for Christmas in tatters
Spread of new Covid strain forces lockdown with a ‘stay home’ alert for London and south-east Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage
The key quote is:
In a major U-turn that prompted an immediate backlash from his party, the prime minister placed a third of England’s population under new tier 4 restrictions to counter a Covid strain believed to be up to 70% more transmissible than previous variants.
SEVENTY PERCENT?!?!? Yikes. Just when vaccines were starting to tilt the news in a more hopeful direction…
Weblog by A. Elizabeth Graves. iPhone photography and links to science-y and foodie topics.
I decorated today. For the solstice/Xmas holidays, I mean.
I’m usually visually understated about this time of year. I have simple tastes, leaning toward one or two colors (gold, red, green, white, OR silver) and some sparkling visual calm. This isn’t rebellion, but I’ve had loved ones who needed ALL THE XMAS THINGS all the time, which was too much for me. As in: if the soap in the bathroom wasn’t Xmas-themed, the world might end. I’ve swung HARD in the other direction.
A solid, pagan solstice/northern European-themed Christmas for me is: a really good, gluten free cake or pumpkin pie, a fresh-smelling wreath, cozy pajamas, feasting on favorite winter foods with loved ones and chatting most of the day away, curling up in front of a fireplace (or bank of candles), and some light entertainment.
This year, all the social elements of Xmas are unsafe, so I’m going a bit out of my range to do something cheerful with lights that is NOT monochromatic (gasp), cycles through MANY colors (gasp!), and is even visible outside.
I’m afraid I’ll get so used to them, I won’t want to take them down. 🙂
It’s… as bad as was predicted by people who are good at predicting epidemics. Who knew?
This is still a really difficult time, and even with the vaccines being authorized, it feels like relief for most people from all of the dread and risk management and logistics and economic despair is still a long way off.
We all need to find some sparks of joy to keep us going, but it’s tough knowing how hard it is for everyone right now. Even if my phone hadn’t blared this loud reminder.
There are times when I want to read a book, there are times when I won’t do my chores if I have the option of a reading a book, and there are times when one of my neighbors shouts her conversations immediately outside one of my windows, distracting me from my reading. The solution to these awkward circumstances is: listening to an audiobook.
Libro.fm is the first audiobook company to directly support local bookstores.
Audiobooks aren’t a new idea: even in my childhood (geologic ages ago), there were books on record or audio cassette (now you know my age) that were like radio story programs. They relied entirely on dramatic readings and cool sound effects! There were also tapes I could play along with children’s books, with child-appropriate character acting, and a chime when it was time to turn the page, to give tired parents a break from reading the same story in dozens of voices YET AGAIN. (I still have songs from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and Jungle Book memorized… ) Current publishers have the author or other skilled voice actor read mainstream, contemporary books, either condensed or full (unabridged), in an up-to-date, relying-on-the-words way. I still love, purchase, and collect BOOKS, of course; audiobooks are just a nice way to enjoy a book once eye fatigue from work has set in. Audiobooks can be well-produced and enjoyable as an experience in their own way.
I don’t really know what to do with this information. It’s… difficult to process 190,000+ new COVID-19 cases daily, or over 1,000 deaths daily just in this one country. It feels important; I hope to survive to look back on this time and recognize how remarkable it was; it is the context that affects every day of my life currently; but it is also terrible and haunting and difficult and sad.
I received a gorgeous postcard in the mail today from Norway; it’s a card from a retrospective art show in Sweden of the artist Märta Måås-Fjetterström. She’s famous for her amazing carpets, which have been used in Nobel Prize ceremonies, and are in design collections of museums around the world.
I was delighted to search for her, and see some of her work. Her studio is still active and producing her designs, and so there are MANY search results!
Märta Måås-Fjetterström | Artnet
Märta Maas-Fjetterström was an influential Mid-Century Swedish textile designer. View Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s artworks on artnet. Learn about the artist and find an in-depth biography, exhibitions, original artworks, the latest news, and sold auction prices.
Somehow, the WSJ has one of the best-illustrated article on the operation of her studio in the present time.
The Enduring Appeal of Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s Modernist Swedish Rugs
At 100, the Swedish rug firm still produces covetable designs
I learn so much from my friendly postcard senders!
It’s been a while since I read an expansive sciency, future/past work of fiction, so I am delighted to have found this book, the first in The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. There’s a lot of sciency stuff to geek out over, and I need to tell you just enough about it to tempt you, without spoiling anything about it.
In a future or alternative earth, humans and much other life on earth has nearly been wiped out by extreme seismic and volcanic activity. Periodic volcanic winters that last from years to decades have dramatically limited human habitation and survival, and people lead relatively simple lives while forever preparing for the next time ash blots out the sky. Civilizations have risen and fallen, over and over, scattering technology that no one remembers how to operate around the remaining large continent where people scrape by.
Some of the surviving humans have inexplicable skills in managing or controlling seismic activities. Those who can be trained and controlled by the dominant empire are exploited to minimize earthquakes for society, but are killed if they become too independent; those who aren’t controlled by the empire are killed by mobs, even if they are just children, due to superstition and fear surrounding their abilities.
The story follows the adventures of several individuals, but especially a woman who secretly has these seismic energy powers. She returns home to find the body of her murdered toddler, and pulls herself together just enough to begin a quest to avenge her son and rescue her daughter; this happens shortly after a major seismic event may have set off potential mass death across the earth again…
The characters, who are organized into three groups, are engaging and interesting enough that I got misty over what my favorites experienced; the societies we see are superstitious and nearly feudal, but the powers that trained seismic experts wield are advanced; there are subtle technologies that people can’t interpret as such; there are non-humans present that people likewise can’t interpret or perceive correctly; the many abandoned structures and mysteries of prior civilizations have me giddy with curiosity, even while people are almost completely disinterested for practical (if misguided) concerns about their immediate survival. And, as a multi-racial person, I am delighted with the descriptions of the characters, most of whom have brown skin of different shades, and kinky or curly hair. The fact that they have these characteristics is completely normal, as it should be.
This is an engaging, FUN, gloomy, interesting book! I recommend this book for other people who also have a go-bag ready for earthquakes, who generally object to empires, who wish people weren’t so suspicious of education, and who desperately want to know what the abandoned tech lying (or HOVERING ) around is for! I’m looking forward to the next two books in this trilogy.
One of the seemingly-minor-but-requires-too-much-logistical-planning adjustments in my cautiously restricted, sheltering-in-place-from-COVID19 daily life is managing food. How to get it safely; who/where to get it from; whether any one supplier meets my needs; whether suppliers or delivery services are socially benevolent or exploitative toward their workers; when to get deliveries, and how often; how much to pay for them…
I’m a “foodie,” and food is a daily joy. Food plays a central role in my health, and enjoying food is central to my positive outlook and self-care. My food choices align with my Buddhist philosophical beliefs, my environmental concerns, and unexpected medical restrictions. (A gastroenterologist (!) helped me learn that wheat and other high fructan foods don’t work for me now.) As a native San Franciscan, I’ve enjoyed the City’s amazing restaurant and cafe culture, which has emphasized fresh, California-grown produce being cooked by chefs/cooks from cultures around the world. As a cooking enthusiast and the primary cook in my household/relationships, I’ve developed a range of expertise, favorite dishes, recipes, and even used to food blog about seasonal local produce, farmer’s markets, AND the pleasures of eating.
In normal times, I would buy groceries in person twice a week on foot, plus pick up specialty items around town while out and about. I would make special trips monthly-ish to a glorious, worker-owned, fully vegetarian cooperative supermarket (yes, of course it’s Rainbow Grocery) to obtain specialty items I couldn’t find easily elsewhere – vegetarian (gelatin-free) vitamins, vegan cosmetics, hippie soaps, spicy veggie spreads from Calabria, local pomegranate juice, Ethiopian specialties, local gluten free sourdough breads, dry-farmed tomatoes, and organic ANYTHING. Farmer’s markets are a special pleasure, and local produce is always abundant (hello, California!). I would dine out with friends in restaurants and cafes at least twice weekly. If I ran out of anything that wasn’t on my usual shopping list, I would normally pop into a store on the walk home for it.
But we are not living in normal times.
The current pandemic impacte my food access and habits. Even someone as lucky as I am – I can work from home and remain employed – must make an extra effort to get food that meets my needs.
If you had told me that a pandemic would cause the U.S. to suffer from a shortage of TOFU (no, really, TOFU), a core protein source in my diet, I would not have believed you. And yet:
Tofu sales skyrocket during the pandemic, as consumers search for affordable meat alternatives
Tofu makers attribute the spike to an interest in healthy, plant-based protein sources in the wake of meat-supply disruptions and an economic slowdown.
The panic-buying that emptied shelves early on in the COVID-19 pandemic first wave shocked me. The first wave of hoarders-to-be skipped over my staples: they emptied the shelves of wheat pasta, but skipped the gluten-free pastas that first time; they bought all the eggs, but bypassed the vegan scramble I purchase… Eventually, they returned and cleared out my dried and shelf-stable staples for a time.
In spring and early summer I had to radically change my meal plans, because I couldn’t get my usual ingredients. I could always get fresh produce at my nearest market, thankfully, but that still required standing in line to get into the store and the complex personal-spacing dance that never entirely works, because anywhere you stand is close to something someone else needs.
SF streetcar service is SUSPENDED, including the line which would (without transferring) take me a short walk from Rainbow. My rare trips to a Japanese specialty grocery in Japantown are obviously ruled out, even if the reduced core bus service (which we are discouraged from using) could get me there. Car-free living has been so easy, until this!
Due to exploitative restaurant delivery platform pricing, several restaurants I support changed to more sensible platforms which imposed smaller delivery areas, ruling out delivery to my home. (I don’t drive, so I can’t just switch to picking orders up.)
Fast forward to now, many months into the pandemic and related precautions. I’m working very long hours at my job. All while the food supply chain struggles to keep up with irregular demand; it takes longer to grocery shop in person; my options are limited by transit suspensions; and restaurant delivery is restricted.
I expect that each of these challenges will remain in place through most of 2021. (It will take a long time for the first approved COVID vaccines to roll out, and even then, we’ll be operating under precautions indefinitely.)
I’ve made some (likely) permanent changes to my food supply management. After being turned down by other local services that were ramping up to meet demand, I now subscribe to an anti-waste produce subscription service called Imperfect Foods, which supplies me with a crate of surplus or oddly sized/shaped produce (carrots that are too big, potatoes that are too spotty, peppers that fold in on themselves) and off-spec dried goods (such as tri-color quinoa what has too much white quinoa, or brown basmati rice with too many broken grains) each week. I can opt in/out of certain items in advance each week on their website, and can add things like off-spec chocolate covered nuts (yum!) or California almond milk from a reputable maker.
Grocery Delivery for Organic Food, Fresh Produce & More
Imperfect Foods delivers groceries on a mission. Shop produce, groceries, and snacks up to 30% less than grocery store prices. We deliver to the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Midwest, East Coast, and South. Coming soon to the Southwest and Southeast.
The crate is delivered to my front steps, and the contents are the core of my meals. Yes, this has meant more zucchini in my diet than I would have chosen otherwise; yes, I make more kinds of lasagna as a result, plus a wider range of curries. I started making celery soup because of their blog (and abundant celery deliveries), and now have a customized recipe that really works for me. I enjoy carrot juice from their odd-looking carrots with limes blended in every week now.
There have been unexpected shortages of staple items I order through their effort to cover non-surplus household needs, or occasional, awkward substitutions that I can’t eat (I can only express ONE dietary preference, so I can’t tell them I need vegetarian AND wheat-free products, and so sometimes receive an unordered wheat-thing), but their customer service is polite and responsive, and they are under strain like all the rest of us. Also: having heavy groceries delivered by wheeled vehicle rather than carrying them up the hill on my back makes sense. I have justified it for exercise, but there are limits to that justification! If the produce quality remains high, I’ll continue using this service.
They don’t supply tender leafy greens like spinach, fresh herbs, or enough fruit to get me through the week: they stick to sturdier items that can sit in a crate. Now that my wonderful grocery coop tolerates third party shoppers, I order nearly all other items I want from them every 2 – 3 weeks. I’m okay with their delivery menu markup – I am willing to pay extra to support my favorite local co-op. (Their prices are comparable to other, non-coop grocery stores in my area.) I’m also keen on properly tipping my shoppers who need to cross town to get these items to me ($20-30/trip).
The few things I can’t get through those two methods, such as my favorite locally-roasted coffee, gluten- and fish-free gojuchang from Korea, or bulk volumes of specialty tea, I order on-line, and do my best to keep my spending local whenever that makes sense.
Summary to a long post: the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired hoarding, supply chain disruptions, store access restrictions, and delivery restrictions, making a regular chore much more of a chore! After struggling with whatever I could get and feeling increasingly uncomfortable shopping in person, I’m lucky enough to be able to pay for a cost-efficient, eco-friendly core food subscription (60% of my needs), supplement that with delivery from a worker-owned co-op (30% of my needs), and pick up the stray items from primarily local businesses on-line (10%).
The cookbook that this may or may not be resulting from all of this is coming along very slowly, however! 🙂