The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Separation Exhaustion

Rich Galen

Friday June 12, 2020

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  • Three months ago, March 10, the company Mullings Director of Standards & Practices works for announced they closing up shop until further notice. That notice is not coming for a while.

  • I work out of my den and am mostly retired, so a stay-at-home order is just another day being in the house.

  • But, the MD of S&P had been going to her office every day.

  • Over the past three months our out-of-the-house travel has included three trips to her office to bring home necessary files and associated items (which now own the dining room table), to the grocery store about every two weeks, and about a once-a-week trip to one of our regular restaurants on King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia to pick up dinner.

  • For decades we have shopped in the European style - decided what we were going to have for dinner then we stopped on our way home from work and bought whatever we needed.

  • Shopping every two weeks not only required some advanced planning on what we were going to want for dinner a week from next Thursday, but while at the store mentally calculating how much more room we had in the freezer for frozen veggies, pot pies, loaves of bread, and whatever else beckoned to me from the freezer cases at the store.

  • It was clear, early on, that old people were much more likely to die if they got it, so not getting it became the central theme of my daily routine.

  • We dug her car out of the garage for one of the Into-The-District trips just to charge up the battery.

  • Earlier this week a friend texted he was getting gas for the first time since February. Someone Tweeted they were measuring fuel efficiency in Months per Gallon.

  • Like most people - at least in the National Capital Region - the early days and weeks of the pandemic were terrifying. Although we knew where it came from, no one seemed to be certain how the virus spread. There were daily updates on how long the virus lived on which kind of surface.

  • And changing guidance on whether, then when to wear a mask.

  • At the first whiff of what we now call COVID-19, my fingers flew over my computer keyboard and I ordered 100 facemasks of which 50 showed up. But that has gotten us through the extreme shortage until I could order more.

  • Every day we watched two hours of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's briefing followed by two hours of Donald Trump's briefing. When they weren't on we watched the moment-to-moment developments on CNN and MSNBC including the ever-increasing number of deaths.

  • We listened to private and government organizations we had never heard us give us their best guess as to what that number would be by some artificial date. On or about May 27, the virus claimed its 100,000th victim in the U.S.

  • We watched the stock market fall as unemployment figures rose. Within days it was clear that there were multiple dimensions of victims: Dealing with the medical issues attending to the virus was along two dimensions: Got it, or haven't got it. More important, to more people, the difference between those for whom money was an issue, and those who had ample reserves.

  • The government hasn't done a very good job of dealing with any of them.

  • Toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizing wipes, and masks were all in short supply or, in many cases, no supply.

  • As the days and weeks and months have gone by, much of the terror of being anywhere on the surface of the Planet Earth has been replaced by a gnawing fear of having avoided the virus only to walk into a second-wave "hot spot" like Arizona, Arkansas, or Utah.

  • Or, Northern Virginia.

  • We're still pretty careful. We're not ready to sit at - much less in - a restaurant, we still plan shopping trips like an Apollo launch, and I can go for days without ever going farther than the dimension of our deck allow.

  • But, just yesterday we had a new dishwasher delivered which meant someone not named "Galen" (or Miss Kitty) was in our home for the first time maybe all year.

  • The best part of this whole thing has been the virtual happy hours using FaceTime or Zoom. Cuts into my watching reruns of The Incredible Dr. Pol, but that's a fair price to pay.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to Dr. Pol and a time line from the U.K. Guardian.

    The Mullfoto is the product - or produce - of our fortnight's shopping trip

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