Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Everything will change forever

When I interface
Difference erase
Nothing will remain
Everything will change forever
Viral subdivide
Target and align
The message will survive
Everything will change forever
Boohoo, haha

“Virus” by Duran Duran

Way back in the Days of Yore (2008), I wrote an entry about the 1918-19 Influenza pandemic (
AKA the Spanish Flu). 

It dismays me to know that the Covid pandemic has now surpassed the official death toll of that pandemic. The counts from then are underestimated; they undoubtedly are for this pandemic, too. 

I’ve been predicting a pandemic for some time now. I take no pleasure in being right. I was wrong about it being a possible deadly strain of influenza. Instead, it was worse: a completely novel strain of virus that is highly infectious in humans. (Coronaviruses are not new. This strain is.) 

I knew this was going to be hard to write and it’s making me too sad. I’ll take a break and come back to it. 

**The next day**

I apologize for pulling a Scarlett, but today really is another day. Like...well, pretty much everyone...I find myself very emotional about the whole thing. I’m a listmaker, so I’ll make a couple here. First, the sad stuff. Things I feel that we’ve lost. 

  1. First and foremost, almost 680,000 Americans and over 4.5 million worldwide. These are staggering numbers. Those people are not coming back. A relative of ours was one of them. I’ve had friends who have gotten terribly ill and those who survive run the risk of “long-haul” syndrome, which sounds awful. What was the potential of those who were lost or have long-lasting disabilities? What might they have accomplished in their lives? What did the world lose?

  2. So many have lost their livelihoods and/or their homes. Thanks to the Covid stimulus package (thanks, Joe!), unemployment has dropped. 

  3. Numerous businesses have been shuttered. We’ve seen plenty in our own community. We’ve done our best to support as many of our favorite places as possible, including ordering carryout, buying gift cards to be used later, etc. But there are some that were just unable to weather the shutdown.

  4. Time. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not getting any younger and there’s a lot of things I miss and want to do again: concerts are the main thing! That goes two ways, too. I watched an interview today with my beloved John Taylor of my beloved Duran Duran, and he said that they were all jonesin’ for concert dates. For a lot of performers, it’s not just a matter of revenue. For some, it’s what they DO. It’s how they get their creative energy and what makes them want to keep doing that thing they do. 

  5. One of the things I mourn the most is that we seem to have lost our sense of societal good. The misinformation campaign on the part of some outlets (and yes, I’m looking at you, FOX “NEWS”) and the absurd politicization of this pandemic is utterly dismaying to see. I honestly have no idea what happened to the concept of being a part of a civilized society and doing your best to help others. If some of these jerks were on the Titanic, they’d be pushing little kids overboard in order to get their spot in the lifeboat. This is abhorrent to me and goes against everything I’ve learned in my life and in my career in healthcare.

  6. This relates to the previous item. I feel like we’ve all lost a sense of boundless optimism and the feeling that we could meet any obstacle and overcome it...if we all worked together. Maybe even a sense of innocence, in feeling that the majority of people are innately good and will do the right thing when they are called to do so. I know that I certainly feel more jaded and cynical than I ever have in my life. And that’s sad to me. 

That’s a short list, really. There are so many other things, but I try not to dwell on those things for too long. (#5 is one that can make me terribly angry and that is not a good place for me to be right now.) So what can I possibly find in all this that is even somewhat positive? I can always suss out a few. 

  1. Telecommuting/Telemedicine. This will change commute times at least a bit and that’s better for people’s well-being as well as for the environment. If your job isn’t a hands-on one, chances are good that you can work from home at least one day a week. A doctor’s visit for non-threatening maladies is probably not needed (sorry, hypochondriacs) and it frees medical staff up to attend to those who are in more serious need of care.

  2. A greater appreciation (at least for many of us) of workers who still had to go to work. That includes my fellow lab people, all medical workers, people like my stepdaughter who works retail, her boyfriend who works in delivery, and Cousin Shane who goes in every day to the Post Office to deliver all the crap so many of us started ordering online! All of them have to put up with stupid customers who flaunt mask rules and get downright belligerent. I would have snapped long ago. 

  3. Related: higher wages for minimum-wage workers. This up-ended the market and there are plenty who have chosen to say “take this job and shove it,” or have demanded a higher wage and better benefits. Good for them! Others have stayed home out of necessity for childcare. Some will have you believe that the lack of staffing has to do with the unemployment benefits that were extended by the federal government. The data show that was not the case, so don’t toss that crap my way.

  4. Some people have a greater appreciation for and understanding of science. Let’s focus on them rather than the dumbasses chowing down on anti-parasitic veterinary drug canap├ęs, okay? For Pete’s sake. What the hell is wrong with these people? 

  5. Okay, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Some days I feel more optimistic than others. Uhh...binge-watching! Lots of good TV and movies to catch up on. Also (for me) getting totally absorbed in various bands. For a while, it was Steep Canyon Rangers, and it’s currently Duran Duran. Music is often my salvation and I’ve certainly been feeling that more acutely the past couple of years. Oh, and online concerts. Did a few of those. Also a few online lectures from Notre Dame. See? Several good things bundled into one!

  6. Gardening/Cooking. Tending to my little deck garden this summer and getting good stuff from it was very therapeutic. I wasn’t super adventurous with my cooking but when you mostly stop eating out, it’s fun to try a few different things and see how they work out. I don’t think I had any massive failures in the kitchen (except for eating quite a bit later than planned—learning how to use the Instant Pot!), and comfort food levels were off the chart at Nutwood. 

Look at me! Six items for both good/bad lists! It’s not like I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on things. [eye roll] I’ve always had a contemplative bent and that has been a blessing and a curse during this whole thing. 

I don’t know how all this will play out. I do know that because of a minority of the population, this is going to continue for a while and that more people will die. I wish I could slap the recalcitrant ones silly, but I’m too busy doing my best to NOT SPREAD COVID. I remain hopeful for next year. We’ll start getting kids vaccinated (vaccine mandates are a story for another day) and those who refuse to get it? Well, I guess we know what will happen to a lot of them, don’t we? But what’s maddening is that they pose a risk to others. Also a story for another day, and a rage highway that I don’t want to travel down right now. 

I’ll post this Duran Duran video (some of the lyrics are quoted at the start of this entry) and the irony is not lost on me. The lyrics are eerily accurate. As President Joe would say, “Here’s the deal.” Viruses don’t give a fuck about your political alignment. Their prime directive is to infect as many people as possible in order to proliferate. “Difference erase.” If you refuse to get the vaccine because of whatever dumb freedoms you feel you’re entitled to or whatever misinformation you’ve been fed and that you have stupidly believed, the virus says, “Boohoo, haha.”