Greetings fellow isolation ward inmates. Sorry about the alliteration in the title. Don't let the Groucho quote fool you. I am feeling fine (97.2) and am hoping you are as well.
A lot is happening. California issued orders to stay at home last night. Beach party people in Florida are being shooed back to their homes, many likely bring the virus with them. I am glad my mother decided to forego her trip to the hairdresser this week. She is in the highest risk category and we need to keep her completely unexposed. Hey, I give my big dogs regular shampoos. I think I can handle this. It will be a welcome relief to finish such a washing and not have the subject suddenly shake off, creating a geyser effect that covers me as well. I know dispensing with her weekly visit to the hairdresser is a big change for her. One of the high points of her day is when I bring our Yorkie to visit. We will keep that up as long as we can and I am trying to get her to learn how to Skype in case the authorities limit my access to her.
There is a palpable change in the level of panic. Last evening I heard a disturbance outside and went out to assure that my beloved mutts were okay. Two of the neighbors were in a spirited "debate" that was escalating past the mundane and boring cussing to a genuine potential for fisticuffs. It was very much a primate display of dominance (stick waving and feces throwing). The genetics in all primates that use such displays as a way of blowing off steam kicked in and the two would-be combatants retreated to their own territory while petitioning higher powers to bring their wrath upon each other. This minor affair was another evidence that the panic of the moment is causing people to lose it. Frank Herbert would write "Fear is the mind-killer."
Voltaire reminds us "The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude." We would do well to view the social distancing not as a prison but as an opportunity. Okay, it can be a low-quality recreational experience. Find new things to do. Read books. Most of us have done very little in the realm of dealing with stressed supply systems and protecting ourselves from the ravages of the pandemic. Here are a few hints.
1. Take a detailed inventory of the resources you have on hand and consider ways you can make those resources go further.
2. Keep yourself in shape. You can't prevent catching the virus but you do have things you can do to prepare yourself to weather the assault. Watch your nutrition and exercise more. Deciding to empty the liquor cabinet on a several week bender is not a good idea. If you are a smoker... it's a hell of a time to taper back or quit. Get enough sleep.
3. Do something to improve your situation. This varies from person to person. For myself, I have started to manufacture face masks similar to those our ancestors used during the Swine Flu epidemic of 1918. I have attached an image of the ugly thing. At least it hides most of my ugly face. I have no illusions that my masks are as effective those used by our brave health care workers, but the multiple layers of gauze should suffice to keep me out of trouble when I need to go to the pharmacy or the grocery story. Given the lack of tangible and visible response from my various levels of government, it felt good to do SOMETHING. I feel better for doing it and for a few moments I was taking control of my destiny at a time when it is really in the hand of so many others. If you don't have something you need, can you build it yourself or improvise?
4. Help one another. If you have a friend who has difficulty dealing with the isolation... use these wonderful technologies to reach out to them and brighten their moments. Watch a show or listen to music "together". Most of all turn off the weepy-whiney poor-poor-pitiful-me into your own version of a comic genius or self-help guru. Mainly just remember people are different when they're scared. We all need to cut each other a little slack and help where we can.
5. Keep informed but don't overdo it.
6. Choose to be your better self. Panic and misery spread like fire. Give the fuel a spark and stand back. Don't be that spark. We are going to get through this together.