Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘coronavirus

Almost Normal

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As one who chooses to settle for only being able to see televised sporting events broadcast free over the airwaves, I miss out on watching a lot of local events that only show on subscription services. As a result, on the rare occasions when the opportunity arises, I savor the moment.

Last night, it was the second game of the MLS Cup Playoffs for the Minnesota United FC Loons on FOX. This was my first opportunity to see the Loons play this year, so I was really looking forward to the game. Unlike trying to survive the drama of the most recent NFL Vikings game, the soccer competition against the Sporting Kansas City team was much easier to endure.

For a moment, it felt almost normal to see players and coaches entirely focused on the game, showing no sign that there was a pandemic raging unconstrained throughout the country. (I have no idea how that many people in such close proximity to each other have been able to avoid an outbreak.)

After two scares for the good guys that required impressive saves to keep the ball out of our net and hold off the favored home team, Minnesota United built a 3-goal lead that lasted until the final whistle blew.

Now it’s off to Seattle for one of the semi-final matches. Unfortunately, that game will be shown on a pay service network.

It was a treat to forget all the frustrations of real life for a couple hours and enjoy a fine performance by my local club. It’s enough to leave me longing for a chance to see them in the finals, which will be broadcast on FOX where I can view it on Saturday, December 12.

All the Loons need to do is pull off another upset and defeat Seattle on Monday.

Oh, and avoid getting exposed to the coronavirus for two more weeks.

Please, don’t anyone breathe on our soccer team!

I like the part where we pretend things are almost normal again.

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Written by johnwhays

December 4, 2020 at 7:00 am

Dramatic Difference

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Despite those who continue to cling to a belief that the global COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax dreamed up to make the outgoing President of the United States look bad, the amount of impact on the world is unsettling. In our little valley in Wisconsin, U.S.A., I have yet to hear about anyone who has tested positive.

Of course, due to social distancing, I’ve not seen or spoken to our neighbors for about ten months. They could be sick and I’d never know.

For the first, oh… seven months of the pandemic, I didn’t learn about anyone I knew who had tested positive. In the last month, that number has jumped up to around ten. I’ve heard about two coronavirus associated deaths from people I know, but otherwise, the reports have all involved minor symptoms.

The dramatic difference in impact swinging from asymptomatic to causing death is perplexing. For the many cases of obvious underlying risks bringing about the fatal outcomes and the healthy people barely suffering, there are smatterings of too many descriptions of unexpected miserable results.

When my turn eventually comes, how will it affect me?

I may have written about the story that startled me from a doctor, when asked by NPR to share a personal example of one case that had a profound impact on him, in which he talked of preparing to discharge a patient who had recovered enough to go home but before they processed him out, his symptoms returned and he ended up dying before the end of that day.

Sure, a large percentage of deaths are occurring in elderly people in group care facilities, but kids and healthy adults are dying, too. Other healthy adults who survive are being walloped by weird and prolonged complications.

Meanwhile, most people I know take it easy for two or three days and then get on with their activities with no ill after-effects.

I’d prefer to be one of the latter, thank you very much.

I guess this dramatic difference will be one of the main memories I will carry from this pandemic. Particularly because the economic impact of the outbreak looks to be similarly disparate. While many have lost jobs and are facing incredibly difficult financial challenges, others have actually profited and are in a stronger position than if the pandemic hadn’t happened.

A global pandemic is one thing, but its impact is innumerable.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2020 at 7:00 am

Oh December

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The onset of the coronavirus pandemic seems like a long time ago. As the year dragged on and another person of color was murdered by police, triggering protests around the world, and the U.S. election disinformation machine kicked into “high-fraud” gear, the year 2020 cemented its place in history as one of great collective disdain. The end couldn’t come soon enough.

We’ve now reached the twelfth month and we’ve got COVID-19 vaccines within sight and the election is decided. The Christmas season is upon us. There are sprinkles of hope the year might finally come to an end.

I can’t guess what the New Year’s Eve celebrations are going to be like. In this country, we’ll probably still be trying to slow the community spread of coronavirus, but the collective sigh of “good-riddance” to 2020 will likely be palpable.

In the flood of retail marketing efforts aiming to grab my attention, my email inbox is under constant bombardment with messages of massive savings to be had. I’ve turned it into a game where I zap the messages as fast as they come in, trying to set a high score of deletes in a day.

My shopping method is more of an “I’ll come to you when I want something” mode than wanting to be lured in by supposed deals.

This year, I think most wish lists start with “vaccine” and permission to touch again.

Will that be something Santa can deliver? Maybe if we all believe.

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

Virus Mania

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It’s as if there is some sort of pandemic or something. The coronavirus is everywhere. That invisible little bug that half the people think is being way over-hyped while over a million others are dead from and hospitals are being stretched beyond capacity is not magically disappearing in the way some hoped.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Radio on-the-street interviews capture a scary number of people who complain they are tired of the pandemic and frustrated with officials who are struggling to mandate protocols that can limit the spread. Not the proudest moment for the human race.

Staying home all the time is too hard. Really? How hard is it?

What if we had to practice avoiding others for a whole year? I don’t know. Maybe try imagining how hostages who are held for four times that long muster the ability to cope.

We have the promise of vaccines to look forward to, so the beginning of the resolution of the pandemic is within sight. It would be nice if people could rise to the occasion of not making things any worse than they already are while we work through the process of vaccine distribution on the way to achieving herd immunity.

Try pretending that it isn’t a hoax. Play along with us for a little while, for the good of the rest of the world population.

After it’s all over, maybe all the people who have lost jobs and businesses can be retrained to become firefighters or search and rescue EMTs to deal with the increasing wildfires and flooding hurricanes that global warming has continued to exacerbate while we have been distracted.

Just call me little miss sunshine this morning.

Forgive me. I’m just reacting sideways to the unending reports of GOP and White House lunacy stinking up the remnants of our democratic election here in the U.S.

I trust there is hope for a better day hiding out there somewhere. [Insert joke about expecting to find a pony in here someplace.]

I’ll keep digging. And staying home as much as possible.

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2020 at 7:00 am

Mysterious Pain

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Every morning for half a year now, I have taken my temperature to monitor for changes that might indicate an onset of illness. So far, so good. However, that span of time hasn’t passed without a variety of other curious symptoms popping up every now and again. Every odd headache, bout of exhaustive fatigue, unsettled digestion, or passing light-headedness trips the mind to wonder, …coronavirus?

Yesterday, I began to notice hints of something amiss. Curious twinges of unidentifed nerves deep within that kept threatening to fire off a shout of discomfort, but never quite did. Why would I suddenly be having pangs that defied logic and emanated from such a nondescript part of my body? Probably from the strange virus that is ravaging the entire planet. Seems like a reasonable conclusion to me.

I have already endured two of the most intense pains in my life from the center of my torso: a kidney stone and bulging/rupturing discs in my lower back, both of which originated in parts of my body from where I had never previously noticed any sensations. I’m now well-familiar with that first little warning sign that something is beginning to invade the space of my spinal nerve roots. I also know what it is like to get a stabbing pain from well within the body where my ureter travels toward my bladder.

Yesterday’s looming threat of pain caused me at first to fear my degenerating discs, despite having happily executed all of my daily morning strength and stretching exercises hours earlier. I adjusted my posture and did some walking and stretching in response. My movement wasn’t hampered at all, but later, while seated again, the mysterious attention-getting pangs returned, always stopping short of really manifesting as pain.

Maybe it’s a small kidney stone, despite my lifestyle of high-hydration and almost exclusively choosing to drink water in place of all other options. I can’t rule that out. It wasn’t a constant ache, though. It came in spurts that would grab my attention as a warning that something worse could follow at any second. But nothing worse ever played out.

Just in case, I’ve been trying to stay extra-hydrated without straying too far into water toxemia. Pedialyte, anyone?

Trying to age healthily is not for wimps. I’m trying to listen to my body, but I am having some difficulty understanding what it is trying to tell me at this point.

If nothing more comes of this, I’ll consider the message one of prompting me to pay closer attention to my whole body, inside and out. Message received!

If something more does develop, I guarantee you will read about it here. When have I ever failed to keep you all informed of my each and every ouchie boo-boo?

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

Just Love

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Certainly, there could be worse things to keep coming back to, but my mind has begun to develop a healthy habit of naturally settling on thoughts about sending and receiving LOVE amid the swirl of good and bad circumstances that wash over us with unrelenting regularity.

We learned last night of an unexpected death among our extended family, all too close to the time of Cyndie’s dad’s passing that has everyone already raw with grief. The increasing infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic is pressing firmly against the frustrations of being locked down for months and disrupting dreams of resuming some previous activity.

Plans for the fall are far from settled as to whether schools will be able to open safely and entertainment venues will figure out a way to host events.

It is almost becoming a physically painful thing to not be able to hug people, on top of the ever-awkward absence of a genuine handshake.

Still, we are showered with ongoing blessings that become more precious with each pause for acknowledgment. The gestures of condolence that have arrived in the last two weeks have warmed our hearts.

Last Sunday, Cyndie and I worked on preparing the brooder for the anticipated arrival of 12 new day-old chicks this month. As hard as the loss of birds is on my tender wife, she couldn’t stop herself from ordering more. New life is coming to Wintervale again!

Summer is in full swing in all its glory around our land, regardless of the recent loss of some big trees. We’re preparing to host travelers we’ve not met before from my virtual community, Brainstorms, in the days ahead. We offered a free parking spot for their small RV on their trek home that is taking them right past our neighborhood on the interstate.

I keep imagining how pleasant it would be if the news media took several days off from mentioning anything a certain person says or does and simply focused on news that matters without any distractions or fabricated drama. I do struggle to muster enough love to offset the disturbance that rolls out of the nation’s capital like the irritation of a lingering dead skunk smell.

The high heat and excessively oppressive tropical dewpoint temperatures are hanging around lately even longer than skunk odors, which is definitely exacerbating the angst of those who lack artificial cooling in their homes.

There is good and bad roiling around in a weird mix. What can we do to cope effectively but love?

Just love.

It sure can’t hurt to try.

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— special love goes out to Carlos today for his sorrow and loss —

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Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

Long Haul

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One-hundred years ago today the woman who became my mother was born. Elizabeth Jean Elliott grew up during the Great Depression and as an adult served in the US Naval Reserve WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II. She raised six kids. She knew about the long haul.

I wonder what she would think today about the way people are responding to the current coronavirus pandemic.

It’s hard to grasp where we are on the curve of the immanently approaching viral outbreak, both in terms of the risk to lives and the fragility of people’s financial well-being.

There have been comparisons to both the Depression and WWII. While some talking heads are trying to convince the citizens that we’ll get over this in a matter of weeks, health experts are struggling to prepare people’s mindset for disruptions that could last months.

Obviously, in the attempt to avoid the sharp exponential rise in cases that would overwhelm our healthcare resources, officials are trying to accomplish restrictions that will flatten that curve to a level the hospital workers and facilities can support. If that wise goal is achieved, the flatter curve becomes a wider curve, meaning a longer duration.

This past week has been a mind-numbing jumble of stressful routine disruptions that felt like it lasted twice that duration. If one week of having our lives drastically upended was this exhausting, how are we going to deal with months more like it?

Mom would know.

I’m pretty sure she was one to practice the philosophy of taking things one day at a time. She had a way of presenting a mental preparedness for the worst possible outcome while maintaining a hope that it might end up being better than that.

It’s a philosophy I am trying to apply to the oncoming mud season. Our snow is gone except for a couple small remnants of piles that were created when I plowed the driveway. Actually, I’ll miss those when they’ve completely disappeared because they happen to be a great place to clean the mud from my boots before going back into the house.

Our front entry is a cruddy disaster between dirty boots and muddy paws umpteen times a day. (I’m pretty sure I picked up “umpteen” from Mom.)

The trails in the woods are teetering on being unusable where the mud is so ferocious it threatens to keep a boot that steps into it. Yesterday afternoon and evening we received enough rain to take things to level-two messy.

I fear the month of April is going to be a long haul in more ways than one.

Stay home and space out.

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Written by johnwhays

March 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Pandemic Loneliness

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It is hard to predict what the situation will be 10-days from today but based on comparison with geographic locations where the coronavirus outbreak is that far ahead of here, it seems that people who don’t feel sick now may have symptoms by then. That really does make it feel strange to carry on with life as usual.

Sure, the odds go down if you only expose yourself to a handful of people every day, but what good does that limitation do if one of those people have the virus and don’t know it? So, the safest bet is to stay home entirely. All by myself.

It feels a little apocalyptic.

I’m going to build a bridge.

While Cyndie is hunkered down with her parents in Florida, I’m alone to pick eggs and walk the dog. Between tending to animals, I’m going to try solo construction and use leftover deck lumber to make a bridge over the eroding drainage swale. It will take some ingenuity to manipulate 16-foot boards into the chop saw all on my own, but I think I can figure something out.

The muddy effort we put in to re-establish the concerted flow of the drainage swale across our land appears to have paid off.

That provided motivation to get on with this bridge project sooner than later. Actually, I have a little extra time before the primary need arrives. During the growing season, I cut the grass along the strip just beyond the pasture fence to maintain a walking path, and the erosion blocked my ability to drive the lawn tractor beyond that point. The bridge is a solution to that barrier.

I won’t need to mow for a few weeks yet. Look at how little in the way of green growth there is to be found in our current landscape.

That will change real soon.

A lot like the looming intensity of a certain virus outbreak underway.

I wonder what our landscape will look like in 10-days.

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Weak Claim

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Just my opinion…

Claiming innocence when overtly behaving in a spiteful, mean-spirited manner that is so blatantly transparent to the entire world of intelligent people is sad enough for any individual, but downright criminal and deplorable for a head of state.

Who would do such a thing in today’s world? Can you think of any world leader who would boldly and unabashedly stoop to such boorish behavior?

… [the virus] comes from China.

He’s just stating the fact. Over and over again.

It’s a fact. Whaaat? What’s wrong with that?

If you don’t see what’s wrong and are able to allow yourself to ride on that greasy train and cling to that embarrassingly weak claim of innocence, then you are fooling yourself. You are not fooling the rest of the world.

Such behavior adds importance to my yearning to send love to everyone in the world. I don’t want to limit my love to only those receiving or sympathetically witnessing this kind of abuse, but also those who find justification in supporting said abuse. I love the people, if not the behaviors and beliefs.

But wait, the pandemic flu of 1918 gets referred to as the Spanish Flu. What about Zika Virus? Ebola? They are all named after the places where they originated.

There you go. You have a perfect justification for the heavy use of the term in official press briefings and written government communications.

Except you don’t. It’s called “diplomacy,” wherein you respectfully respond to international and domestic public feedback by changing your behavior. To forge ahead and even double-down on the usage is a total callous disregard for the responsibilities and aura of importance for the highest office in the country.

When the world is no longer in the midst of the financial calamity extraordinaire that is reverberating from the embarrassingly delayed, under-prepared governmental response to this scientifically-predicted pandemic situation, feel free to embrace that descriptor with all your mean-spirited resolve.

Maybe by that time, people will no longer recognize the subversive message oozing out with each repeated usage. That tilt of the head. That subtle emphasis on the word, “China.”

Chinese.

In a hundred years, go ahead and call it the Chinese Flu.

While untold thousands are currently suffering and loved ones are dying all over the world, maybe have a little respect and use the identifier the rest of the leaders of the world see fit to use.

Your sanctimonious innocence over the factual correctness of the geographic origin is weak, at best.

<end rant>

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Increasing Production

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It’s March 18 and I’m still symptom-free. I’m measuring each day that I’m not sick as a victory over the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to everyone who is heeding the call for social distancing. One graph I saw at worldometers.info last night indicated the daily number of cases identified in the US has been doubling every few days. Since that data only includes the number of people actually tested, I imagine the total number of cases increasing every day is probably much larger.

I have not quarantined myself yet, but I’m limiting my activity to commuting to work and then coming straight home. I will need to stop for gas twice a week, but I always pay at the pump so there is no need to go inside.

There are only ten people at work, so if we can all avoid exposure from others, the risks at the day-job should remain low.

It’s too bad the virus doesn’t provide obviously visible indications in a person when they get it. That would make it so much easier to avoid people who are spreading it.

While staff at the day-job are giving their all to keep up with the over-filled production schedule (there’s no indication our customers are slowing down at this point), the hens at home are just approaching their highest production rate.

Yesterday was the highest-grossing day of the new season. From our amazing eight hens, we got 7 eggs for the first time this year. I found the last egg out in the sand covering the floor of the coop, not in the nest boxes that all the others have been using.

It seems to me that the color of the eggs from the three different breeds is becoming more homogeneous. We used to get some that were very dark brown and some that were very light. Yesterday’s seven looked surprisingly similar.

The light ones are a little darker and the dark ones are lighter than usual.

Luckily, they are all filled with a brilliantly deep-colored yoke that makes for amazing breakfast dishes and wonderful baked goods.

With the head cook and principle baker living in Florida for a while, I will be stockpiling eggs for a later date.

If things get desperate during the pandemic quarantine, maybe I could trade some for toilet paper.

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Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2020 at 6:00 am