Planning Ahead

Given ALL that’s going on right now, you know, that whole “worst case it’s the end of the world” sort of thing, it’s often a serious roller coaster of emotions. It’s also tough to tell when you’ve come up with a truly funny idea or if you’re just borderline hysterical. (And about to slip over the border.)

Tonight, talking to a dear friend (as opposed to a “deaf rriend”) on social media I mentioned the new NEJM ethical guidelines that came out today. In short, when this COVID shit hits the proverbial health care fan in a few days (see Italy and Spain for example) there are going to be X number of ICU beds and respirators and X*Y dying patients, where Y could be a very, very large number.

It’s called “triage” and it means that the doctors and nurses will literally have to decide on the spot who lives and who dies. You. Can’t. Save. Everyone. So you have to figure out how to best utilize your available resources (time, ICU beds, respirators, drugs, medications) to save as many as possible as efficiently as possible.

It’s horrible. It’s not fair. It’s obscene. And it’s coming soon to an emergency room near you.

Having reached a certain middle age, I’m in a gray area at best when those decisions get made. To be blunt, if I’m a 64 year old with grown kids and I’m in a bed next to an otherwise healthy 24 year old who has young kids, the 24 year old is going to get a respirator and I’m going to get morphine to make me feel better, or not care.

(Time to really hop on that old hand washing routine with some enthusiasm, eh?!)

These thoughts and discussions in turn lead to filling out advance directives “just in case.”

So my thought was, “Where’s the box that says ‘either give me a fucking respirator and drugs or aerosolize me and spritz me into the HVAC system at the White House’?”

Maybe it’s the word “spritz.” Maybe it’s just been a really long couple of days. But that line is hilarious!

I’m not planning on going anywhere. But if I get dragged off by fate, I’m going to go kicking, screaming, and (hopefully) laughing. And wishing I could take a few of those evil GOP MFers with me.

No more fucks to give.

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Swearing

While the “President” was holding one of his “press conferences” today and demonstrating his complete and utter lack of any sort of humanity, intelligence, or leadership, I saw someone posting about how they were trying to cut down on swearing, especially online and in social media, but watching these pseudo mini campaign rallies masquerading as actual news events was making that difficult if not impossible.

Personally, ‪I have given up on even trying in these “special” times. If I’m not making sailors blush with my opinions of those responsible for bungling this situation so badly, the pressure would build up, my brain would explode, and who knows how many would be killed by flying skull shrapnel.‬

‪I consider cussing to be a public service at this point!‬

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What Will Success Look Like?

It’s been said elsewhere but I’ll put my own thoughts out on the topic for the two and a half people who read this site – if all of this economic and social upheaval around COVID-19 is successful, there will be tens and hundreds of thousands of people howling about, “Nothing happened! It was all a complete waste of time, a hoax, completely overblown!”

Those people will, of course, be 100% wrong and totally full of shit.

These are the same people who will still tell you about how the Y2K concerns were a waste of time, a hoax, and completely overblown. Because the banks didn’t crash, the electrical grid didn’t collapse, planes didn’t fall out of the sky, and countless machines that our day-in, day-out society rely on minute by minute didn’t fail in ways both subtle and spectacular. Life went on, and whatever effects there were seemed minor and trivial.

Yes. The banks, electricity, planes, and machines didn’t fail.

You. Are. Welcome.

They didn’t fail because hundreds of thousands of people (including me at the company I was working at then) spent millions of hours in advance of December 31, 1999 hunting down places where the systems and machines would have failed and we fixed them in advance. We saw well in advance that the freight train (analogy time? simile? metaphor? whatever!) that was society was barreling at the speed of light at the bridge that had been washed out over the deadly gorge filled with crocodiles and piranhas and the flaming wreckage of previous civilizations and before we got there we built a brand new superhighway bridge (a nice one, like that big white one in Boston that we keep going over when we shouldn’t be, but that’s another story) over that yawning chasm.

Ok, that paragraph sort of went off the rails but it’s been a really long weekend and I’m exhausted and it’s really late and I like it so I’m going to let it stand. You get the idea.

Y2K wasn’t a disaster because folks saw the humongous disaster coming and put in a massive effort for years in advance to make it be a hiccup instead of a catastrophe.

If the COVID-19 pandemic is more or less behind us (which, to be clear, in a best case scenario, will still involve tens of thousands of dead in just the US and possibly millions dead worldwide) in two months or six months or twelve months it will be because we took these drastic measures and spent trillions of dollars on the economic recovery, NOT because it was an overblown hoax.

If anyone tells you different, feel free to take it as proof that they have a single digit IQ, are members of the GOP/Trump cult, or both, and they’re not worth having anywhere near your life. And don’t bother to ask them about Y2K – I think we can safely predict where they’ll fall on that question.

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Waiting

When there are brush fires nearby, or even if it’s just really hot and dry and windy and they’re talking about “Red Flag” weather, there’s an ominous expectation, knowing that there’s danger out there. You’re probably going to be okay, although you may end up going through some real shit if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, but for the most part you go about your business as usual. You make some preparations and get ready “just in case,” but you still go to work and carry on with life as usual.

This has that same feel – but different. Sometimes a LOT different.

It’s the scale that does it. A brush fire, even one of the really big ones like they had in Northern California a couple years ago, can kill hundreds and destroy thousands or even tens of thousands of homes and businesses. But ultimately, it’s restricted to a relatively local area, maybe a few counties at worst. (The Australian fires earlier this year were obviously an exception to that rule and may be coming our way soon, but one disaster at a time, please!)

With the COVID tsunami approaching our hospitals, already overwhelming them in Italy and Seattle, ominously close in New York and the Bay Area, and now flaring up in Los Angeles, Chicago, DC, St Louis, Kansas City, and Dallas, and the worst case scenario potential for the death toll to be in the millions just here in the US, it’s simultaneously a huge source of anxiety and also numbing. It’s just too much to take in or comprehend at times.

So while we’re fine for the moment, with every cough or tickle in the back of the throat, the thought is there. “Is this how it begins?”

My job is secure (as secure as any can be these days, at least) and I’m actually working my ass off from home, juggling deadlines for both the office and the hangar. It’s a little bit odd working from home, but I have a decent home office setup and do a fair amount of hangar work here to begin with, so it’s not too huge of an adjustment. But then you think about the entire economy and what potentially could fall apart if we have to start grounding airlines for an extended period or the health care system starts to fracture and fail.

In short, staying at home is comfortable, but there’s a growing sense of impending doom. Will all of this disruption to our lives and the economy allow us to dodge the worst of this epidemic? Or did the utter failure of the Trump Regime to take the threat seriously for over two months lead us down a road that we can’t recover from and we’ll just have to fight our way through?

It’s a very odd sort of dichotomy. And not “odd” in a good way.

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No ISS Pass Tonight Again

It was solid overcast for the second night in a row (the pretty picture above is from a few days ago, it was MUCH cloudier tonight) so again we were unable to view the really tasty ISS pass that was going overhead.

Our next play at the Ahmanson got cancelled due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Our next concert at the Disney got cancelled due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Working from home is a disconcerting change which I could live without. It doesn’t help that, with our office (and city, and state) now completely shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workload and stress and deadlines have shut up.

I wanted to download and start playing Doom Eternal, but I find that my five-year-old computer, which works just FINE for what I use it for 99.9999% of the time, has a five-year-old graphics card that won’t even start to keep up with what’s needed for a new game. (Bad words were said.)

Yet we soldier on.

One foot in front of the other.

The only way out is through.

Truly – what are the other options? I’m open to suggestion.

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When I’m Sixty-Four

The Younger Daughter said that I was a Nintendo. I hadn’t thought of that. I just sort of was thinking about it terms of powers of two – I’m now 2^6 years old. What are the odds of getting to 2^7th? Less than stellar, even before this pandemic swept across the globe.

My brother was the first to point out the obvious. His email this evening was the first time that anyone had actually made the Beatles joke. Will they still need me? Will they still feed me?

Well, yes, to the latter. I just finished off a nice chunk of carrot cake in celebration and there was a lovely dinner earlier (at home, of course), so my status hasn’t changed there.

But it was during dinner that the phone started to light up. First it was the notices from the City alert system, telling us that the Mayor was putting a “shelter in place” order into effect at midnight. The banks, grocery stores, essential services (which is a pretty long list, really) all will stay open while exercising all of the social distancing that we’ve been practicing for the last couple of weeks. But shopping malls, other retail stores, offices, most other places are off limits and everyone should stay home for at least the next couple of weeks.

Then the Governor put an order into place for the entire state. California, which by itself would be the sixth biggest economy in the world, is on lockdown in an effort to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next month to eight weeks. And even if it “works,” we’ll probably still have thousands or tens of thousands of deaths here, with hundreds of thousands or even millions across the US.

Happy Birthday to me, right?!

Despite the low-level anxiety of this whole debacle (and the white-hot rage every time I start reading about the current resident of the White House and his cult) I’m feeling a bit numb to it all. Maybe I’ve just been exhausted by it all already.

Either way, we’ve done all we can to prepare, both at home and at work, and now we’ll just do the best we can. As will everyone else, for the most part.

Welcome to the next power of two! (Is there an actual term for that, the equivalent of “decade” or “century”?) I doubt it will be dull.

Now, go wash your hands! And stop touching your face!

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No Context For You – March 18th

Nibbled to death by ducks.

Did I make a difference? Did it matter?

Tough to tell.

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