Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Journal of the Plague Year, Part the Eighth - Notes from Lockdown

1. We’re among the elite few for whom lockdown actually means more freedom, having just completed our quarantine period.  We can actually leave the house to do essential things now.  Errands are surprisingly nice.

2. Lauren and I went grocery shopping this morning, for example – the first grocery run I’ve done in over two weeks.  We were well supplied for our quarantine, and our friend Eric made a couple of deliveries to us for things we’d run out of during that time, so it’s not like we were suffering.  But it was nice to go to the supermarket ourselves.

3. The grocery was not the Mad Max experience that I have been led to believe it would be by social media, which is a valuable lesson on how seriously one should take social media.  Most things were in stock.  A few things were low or rationed (I get why they ration things like toilet paper, since people are idiots and hoarding the stuff, and peanut butter or canned tuna, since those are shelf-stable protein, but why ration frozen bagels?  Seriously – this is the most goyische place I have ever lived and they’re rationing bagels?) but for the most part it was like shopping before quarantine only everyone stood further apart and the cashiers have giant plastic screens protecting them now.  You know, folks, if everyone just calms down a bit and stays home unless they have to, we’ll be okay.

4. Lauren was a bit taken aback at being reimmersed into a giant American supermarket after spending seven months in Europe where the salty snack aisle in most grocery stores is not literally a hundred yards long, as it is in the supermarket here in Our Little Town.  She took photos to send back to her host family.  It will only confirm their stereotypes.

5. We also stopped for gas, since we hadn’t done that in a fortnight and we’ve been running back and forth to the barn to feed the chickens.  Gas prices have, um, cratered?  Seriously?  I don’t remember the last time the tank was below half and it cost me less than $10 to fill it.

6. I have been trying to avoid politics as best I can because it just makes me want to run outside and do things that will not end well, but I have to admit when the President of the United States openly brags about letting American citizens die unless he gets his ass kissed, any responsible American needs to spread the word about the sheer soulless evil of that shriveled little man and his minions, cronies, lackeys, and enablers.  It is long past time for Trump to be torn down and replaced by a human being.  This is no longer really even politics at all.  It’s basic humanity.  If you still support him after his actions over the past month you have serious moral problems and need to reevaluate your life choices.

7. Seriously folks – stay the hell home unless you really need to go out for things like food, medical care, or an essential job.  Don’t listen to any elected or self-appointed nutjob who tells you otherwise.  Those dimwits don’t have your interests at heart and most of them will be dead soon if they follow their own advice.  Some of them already are.

8. One of the odder consequences of having to teach from home has been the fact that I had to do a thorough cleanse of my computer desktop.  I record my compressed video class in Kaltura, which does a nice job of showing both the speaker and the computer screen in the final recording.  But this means my desktop is always going to be showing in these videos.  So I had to clean up the several thousand icons that were on there (something I do periodically anyway, and then they build up again and the cycle repeats) and choose a much less personal photo to be the wallpaper.  I ended up choosing a street scene in Stockholm that I took a couple of years back, because it is a lovely photo and reminds me of better times.  I’ve also been doing a better job of cleaning up new icons as they appear rather than waiting until they hit critical mass.  My computer desktop is eerily empty now, but at least I can pretend I’m walking down a quiet street in a country that hasn’t gone insane over the last decade.

9. Speaking of eerily empty, one of the other tasks today now that I’m no longer quarantined was to go down to Home Campus and get all the files I need to keep doing my job from home.  It’s a strange thing to be on a college campus in the middle of the semester and see only two other cars there.  I’ve read too many post-apocalyptic novels to be comfortable with that.

10. I’ve actually managed to watch some television now that I’m mostly home these days.  I haven’t done much of that for years – not out of any great moral objections (there’s a lot of great stuff on these day) but mostly because I find that it all makes me antsy and I have to leave, no matter how good it is.  But Kim and I managed to watch an entire season of The Great British Baking Show (as it is called in this country to avoid the Pillsbury folks from getting all lawyery at them) last week.  It was one of the older ones, with Sue and Mel still on it, and it was a lovely way to spend time.  There aren’t any villains, really, and you find yourself cheering for them all. 

11. Of course, at the current rate of change in a few years that show – and any show that treats food as superfluously abundant and expendable – may well be regarded as a form of pornography.

12. It’s starting to feel like spring, though.  The rabbits are outside in their hutches instead of cooped up in the basement, the chickens are at the barn, and today there have been thunderstorms because that’s just how things are in Wisconsin. 

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