Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pandemic

Near You

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This morning, I took my temperature again, just like I have every day for the last week. A clear pattern has developed that gives me confidence I will recognize if/when a change starts to occur.

Even without the threat of infection from the current pandemic, I regularly notice odd aches, pains, or unexplained weird sensations that have me noting a possibility of illness visiting my body. Almost always, nothing comes of it. Headache? Maybe I didn’t drink enough water. Throat feels scratchy? There’s probably an allergen in the air.

A day later, I’ve usually forgotten about the previous days’ malady that caught my attention.

Of course, now my first impression when something feels amiss is that I am getting the COVID-19. Although, in that regard, I’m equally inclined to suspect that I’ve already been exposed and haven’t developed any symptoms.

Wouldn’t it be great if officials could get their act together and widely release the increasingly tantalizing simple blood test to check for COVID-19 antibodies that will clarify who is able to get back to life as normal? I’d be one of the first in line after they give us all permission to go out together again.

There is another way I am trying to contribute to a greater understanding of this pandemic. In the US, it is possible to provide your health status to a team at Boston Children’s Hospital to help them map the COVID-19 outbreak. The brilliance of their project is that it doesn’t simply focus on who has been tested, it seeks to collect information from everyone by way of user-submitted reports to fill out the picture of both who is sick and who is still healthy.

COVID Near You is a sister tool of Flu Near You already in use to help communities track cases of seasonal flu.

How are you feeling?

Go to covidnearyou.org and answer that question. Contribute to the map of everyone, both ill and well.

I can’t think of any easier step to take toward contributing to a better world for all, except maybe pausing wherever you are to conjure up some love for the rest of the world.

What the heck, might as well do both.

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Written by johnwhays

March 29, 2020 at 9:00 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

New Identifier

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One of the most common initial checks being made to assess someone’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic is the measuring of their temperature. I rarely take my temperature, partly because I rarely have a fever. When I do develop a fever, I tend to notice it right away, without needed to measure it. Only after it feels a little extreme do I tend to dig out the thermometer for an actual measurement.

A week ago I had no idea what my normal healthy temperature usually ran. I do now, at least my morning temperature, anyway. Since the primary symptom being checked in the current coronavirus outbreak is body temperature, I decided to self-monitor my temp to determine a baseline reference for comparison, in case I do get sick.

Isn’t the normal body temperature always just 98.6°(F)? Not exactly.

I’m finding my normal morning temp is around 97.4 degrees. I think our current daily temperature should become attached to our names as a new identifier. Use it in the same vein as academic suffixes.

John W. Hays, 97.4.

We will all begin to sound like our own FM radio station frequencies.

Think about it, though. You would know right away if someone was coming down with something by the number in their greeting.

“Hi, I’m 101.2.”

Whoa! Back off there, fella.

I think my temperature probably went up a little bit yesterday afternoon on my walk through the woods with Delilah. Apparently, there might be an ostrich loose in the area. If those were turkey footprints in the snow, that beast must be bigger than Ms. D.

Those brown circles are Delilah’s paw print and that giant boot in the bottom corner is mine. The bird that walked along our trail must be half my height.

I should probably take up wild turkey hunting. Get it before it gets me.

97.4, …signing off for now.

Stay a safe distance out there.

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 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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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

Say Something

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Have you received a lot of unexpected emails from businesses recently? There is a common format you may begin to recognize. A communication professional, Karen G. Anderson, offers tips for organizations that want to email their primary audience with assurances in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

  • Say Something
  • Talk About Customers (Not the Organization)
  • Send Links
  • Make Sure People Can Contact You
  • Message Should Come From Individual

This morning I received this very message from a business I made one online purchase from years ago for a replacement bowl to match a long-discontinued tableware pattern. It struck me for it’s classic adherence to the recommended guidelines for prudent good practice in times of a national emergency.

It was the 5th or 6th such message to show up in my inbox in the last few days. Being a natural contrarian, my mind quickly jumps to concern about all the entities that haven’t contacted me yet. Why haven’t I heard from them? Are they not all on the same side when it comes to taking all the precautions to keep everyone safe?

Well, let me just assure you, my dear readers, I am fully aware of the risks and ramifications that have materialized from the worldwide spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and I am taking specific steps to control the spread. Before I started writing this post, I sanitized my keyboard and made certain to maintain plenty of space between myself and Cyndie, Delilah, and Pequenita.

To be doubly cautious, you might consider wiping the surfaces of your devices before you read my posts.

There is a discussion conference in my online community where members write their life stories. Yesterday, I posted this:

I was alive during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. At first, it was a news story about an illness that was spreading in China. At that initial phase, the impact on my life was zero. At work, we wisecracked about the possibility of our supply chain experiencing some future delays.

After the spread of the illness reached other countries of the world and increased at alarming rates in some of them, the reality set in that eventually we would be impacted more directly.

When the financial industry started to fall at a record pace, the idea set in that we were at risk of suffering from not just our health but from economic pressure, too.

Then, billion-dollar professional sports leagues canceled their seasons and shit got real. Just as quick, concerts and plays were canceled, schools closed and life fell apart before anyone I knew had been positively identified as having the virus.

By the middle of March that year, I was in a waiting game for the moment when I might feel the first sensation of having a fever. Each morning when I woke up, one of the first thoughts I had was to assess how I felt.

Since the belief at the time was that the incubation period was between 5-days and some undefined larger span of time, I never knew if I might have it and be contagious, or not, let alone whether those around me were.

Cyndie’s brother wasn’t able to take advantage of the tickets his brother finally scored for them to go to a major golf tournament for his 60th birthday celebration. Our friends had to cancel their long-awaited family trip to one of the Disney resorts in the last year before their daughters grew out of their prime childhood fascination with the idea.

At that point in March, it wasn’t the fear of illness that burdened our minds, it was the disruption of life as we knew it and the complete uncertainty over how much worse it could possibly get and whether or not there was any hope of it all being just a temporary disruption.

I remember the time as feeling like a moment of historic milestone, but without any ability to measure it adequately against some comparable reference.

I didn’t think about it while originally writing those words, but just now it gave me the impression I might have been composing that now in case I wouldn’t have a chance to do it later. That was not my intention. I just thought it would be interesting to mess with the time frame and write about the present moment as it might be perceived in a distant future.

Maybe that came from my recent writing about what my parents’ lives were like 75 years ago.

I’m not just social distancing myself, apparently, I’m time-distancing, too.

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Written by johnwhays

March 15, 2020 at 10:36 am

Another Way

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There is about as much information being blasted into the world right now as there are virus germs and sanitizing spray. It’s all a bit mind-boggling, but the crackpot theories are a particularly fascinating dose of lunacy. I suppose all human conditions tend to amplify in times of global crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic sure has taken attention away from the equally global threatening planet-warming that industry and fossil-fuel dependence has hastened.

The Associated Press provides clean reviews of falsehoods around the virus and politics that serve to expose some of the deviously manipulated claims that then get shared and reshared on social media so many times they gain believability points among the less astute.

Even within the credible reports about which surprisingly common underlying health conditions are making the coronavirus more severe, there is such a vast amount of pertinent detail it gets overwhelming. As much as we assume it’s lungs that are taking the primary hit, evidence reveals the heart is being damaged from within.

As often happens, I find myself thinking about things in another way. As we begin to take a more focused look at how the virus can spread by our actions, it reveals how often we’ve already been sharing. Think about how many contacts we have had without getting incredibly ill. All those sporting events we attended, the concerts and plays, lectures, public transportation, shopping carts, and doorknobs grabbed.

The number of germ-phobic people who hyper-sanitized their way through daily activities was minuscule compared to the majority of us who took our chances and tried to remember to occasionally wash our hands after touching anything publicly shared.

It’s a wonder the time between pandemics was as long as it has been throughout history.

Here’s another way to think about this pandemic. Don’t be gullible to every crazy thing you see or hear. Recognize your emotional response and reasonable fears, and then check and contain them. Seek credible sources of factual information over and above the entertaining drama of wild reports and survival-of-self-above-all-others mentalities.

Participate in and demonstrate actions that are part of the solution to this pandemic and not part of the problems. Don’t become a pawn in the panic-buying dysfunctional human response.

Even though we may not be able to know if undiagnosed people around us are shedding the coronavirus, they still all deserve to be loved just as much as we do.

Yes, even if they believe crackpot theories that have no basis in scientific fact.

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