Life: innocent airline ads

An airline (whose initials are BA) is sending me charming promotional messages, suggesting that I book 2021 travel to Europe right away.

But… but…

2021 is just a couple months away, while a compelling treatment for the COVID-19 pandemic is likely a year or more distant, and not at all certain. Also, citizens of my COVID-leading country are not especially welcome anywhere right now; tests are hard to come by in many parts of the US, while many countries require them; and the destinations on sale are not all considered especially safe to visit at the moment, or are only open with strange restrictions that would make for an odd trip.

I LIKE the idea of travel, of course, and a lot can change in a few months to a year. But… but… I just don’t see giving them a thousand dollars or more that I’m unlikely to get back on the assumption that everything will be sorted out that soon. Not until something changes significantly for the better. I mean, even if a vaccine happened to be proven safe by the end of the year, it would take months to even GET it, and it isn’t clear the protection would last very long… So… Travel in the future, if and when I do it, will be… different.

Just a few years ago, I was traveling on business for work very regularly. It was a great experience (though costly to my personal life), and those kinds of trips wouldn’t even be POSSIBLE now. I’m glad I had that opportunity when I did: it may be a very long time before anyone can just get on a plane and go to one or two other countries to work with colleagues in person!

My photo software reminds me of this every so often, showing photos from this day in my life 1 year, 3 years, 5 years ago… I have fond memories of my colleagues and those locations. But… I wouldn’t go right now. It doesn’t make sense. I just wouldn’t.

I don’t even do my own grocery shopping regularly now: getting on a plane is just beyond my imagination at the moment.

I read yesterday that my own city and county currently has a test positivity rate of under 2%. Why leave a place that is getting it right??

Nice try, airline!

News/Humor: Foraging Under Stress

I had another one of those trips to the grocery store that made me never want to set foot in it again. There are no delivery appointments available, so it is THE option if I am trying to obtain food within a short distance of my home. It is a risk, because there have been more than 160 confirmed COVID-19 cases in my zip code, which means that neighbors have been, and perhaps continue to be, exposed. Each visit seems slightly worse than the previous one in terms of waiting to get inside (longer), existential dread (more), awkwardness in reaching for an item near other people also reaching (constant), and a lack of accommodation for a minor wrist problem (paper handle bags are a ticket to unavailable physical therapy for me; yes, repacking my groceries outside without touching any environmental surfaces or standing near anyone else in public on a busy street is icing on a sand-based cake).

The staff are hard-working and polite; the rules are well-intentioned. Yet, it still feels like the ordeal dial will turn up each time I go, and my next visit may somehow involve needing to defeat a video game villain in hand-to-hand combat for the right to purchase a pineapple that may or may not be in stock. [Imagine the little 8 bit video game victory song here, with a sad sound if there are no pineapples…]

I’m posting this perspective piece because I find it relatable:

I am doing okay, and I know how lucky I am to be able to keep myself well-supplied: I just hadn’t expected that needing fruit could ruin my day, that I would be rationing oranges in 2020 to avoid going outside, or that my blood pressure would creep upward whenever there’s only one banana left on the counter.

Waking up to… advice about not injecting disinfectants?

My alarm went off; I picked up my phone, and… failed to understand what it was trying to tell me. What it was trying to tell me didn’t have to be said.

Lyson warned me not to inject disinfectants into my body.

We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).
– a spokesperson for Reckitt Benckiser, the United Kingdom-based owner of Lysol (NBC news link)

Well, right. But… why would I need to be TOLD this?

And then I read the Guardian article (above), and received a terrible reminder that someone who doesn’t know what disinfectant does to living things routinely proposes BAD, BAD, ignorant actions (such as drinking poison) in news conferences where mass fatalities are played down and conspiracy theories are celebrated, and that these unfortunate spectacles should never, ever, ever be carried live on television.

Oh my

Pandemic news is so dire 
that *positive comments* by YouTube users (!) 
encouraging us 
to be cautious 
so we can live to see 
*the whole new season* 
of Killing Eve. 

On a prior episode of [this]

I’ve had a pleasant shower, coffee is brewing in my French Press, and I am full of words.

I’m starting this particular blog because the weblog format is the easiest way for me to post frequent, small-ish updates on an irregular schedule, and with relatively little effort.

I’ve had web pages forever, and they are quite satisfying. I am one of those people who insists on writing all of the HTML by hand, which makes spontaneous posting slow, and since I am prolific, my hundreds of pages become an effort to keep up-to-date as HTML evolves. So the one-HTML-page-per-thought model is great for persistent content that has a long lifespan, but is an obstacle for me to just ‘dash something off.’

While “social media” is a popular option, my experiments with it have been mixed. The people I am connected with through school or work don’t have the same interests I do. Sharing gushing reports on science-fiction books to people who attended school with me, but who don’t like science-fiction, feels pointless. I’ve had better luck connecting on topic-centric sites with strangers who share my affinities and enthusiasms, but the feedback loop there pushes me to be a single-topic poster (architecture/design), which isn’t a complete version of me.

Rather than cutting my interests up and carefully distributing them across sites to separate readers, I want a one-stop-posting-shop, and this is intended to be it. I enjoyed this approach with my original Blogger site, Things Consumed, which ran from July 2002 through April 2010, and on the Google+ platform, which has since shut down. This page is intended to be the next iteration of my all-my-interests posting place.


I am starting this blog in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s… an odd time. A difficult time.

Late in 2019, a zoonotic virus jumped from animal to animal to humans, and started spreading wildly in Wuhan, China. In a pattern that would soon be repeated in other countries, the authorities were slow to recognize the danger and take preventative measures. While China instituted a comprehensive and effective lockdown of millions of people, it came after travelers had already left; these travelers dispersed the highly contagious severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) around the world, and now, just a few months later, there are more than 2 million cases of COVID-19 (distinction between disease and infection clarification added 2020.05.07, based on WHO explanation here). Testing is not widely available, and there is no preventative medicine nor a cure available yet. The virus can be fatal to any age group, but fatality rates are low for children and highest in the elderly and those with “pre-existing conditions,” (which would mean most Americans).

In my region, as of the time of this writing, we are six weeks into preventative isolation-at-home, limiting our interactions to those within our households. This approach has been both wildly successful in preventing the spread of coronavirus in our region, and profoundly disruptive to ordinary life. Only “essential” businesses remain open: these include hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, pet food stores, post offices, and restaurants (for delivery/take-away only). Panic broke out early on, and it was difficult to buy food and basic household goods, because some people were buying MONTHS’ worth of it. Toilet paper is widely unavailable in stores, which had enough for everyone’s regular use, but not enough for stockpiles. Buying supplies is now an elaborate effort involving wearing a mask, waiting in a lines spaced out in six foot intervals, and trying not to frighten others while reaching for a bunch of bananas by coming too close to them.

The news every morning updates us on the confirmed-by-testing total of global infections (well over 2 M now) and deaths (over 100,000), which jump dramatically by the day due to each region/country’s belated protective measures, and which are acknowledged as a dramatic undercount, due to the lack of tests. Unemployment is also skyrocketing, as most of our economy not based on essential needs… which raises all sorts of conceptual questions, especially considering how poorly paid essential workers are. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, grocery store workers, pharmacists, and food delivery people are now heroes – yet healthcare professionals are suffering and dying in unacceptably high numbers because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and these unacceptable working conditions have not been remedied.

My beloved hometown is a city of 800,000+ people, yet it has the eerie quiet of a scene from a disaster film.

This is the context in which I’ll be writing, and it may affect my otherwise upbeat tone. It has been difficult to do things that make me happy while knowing how others are suffering, while knowing that I am not able to usefully intervene. I’ve been reading some great books and looking at lovely, fun, and sometimes even great art, however, – humans can make great things! – and I still want to celebrate those things in text. So, here goes!

Hello world!

I know, it feels so retro to use the traditional phrase. But it was AMAZING, once, to post things on the Internet pre-www and see your text out THERE. On my glamorous amber (monochrome) monitor. It was exciting.

This is exciting, the way a blank people of paper, or a new sketchbook, is exciting. New. Full of potential.