Saturday, April 25, 2020

Grim statistics

Over the last month I’ve developed a grim fascination with figures. Trying not to let it become a compulsion - but what the heck! - Ali watches news briefings, I watch graphs. In these trying times I think a little short term madness is essential for long term sanity.

I discovered the Worldometers site which captures a whole raft of world statistics, including tracking the daily progress of the pandemic.

At the start of April, experts were suggesting the US might see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths. At that time, when the tally was still only a few thousand, such figures were laughed at and quickly downplayed by politicians. A week or so later, the expected toll was revised down to between 60,000 and 80,000.

Now, the US is heading for a million cases by Monday and should exceed 60,000 deaths by Tuesday. On current trends I fully expect that original estimate to be realistic - if not optimistic.

I know it’s not really scientific to compare one country with another, when each has different demographics, different healthcare systems, and different approaches to handling the pandemic. But those are the only pointers we have to go on. So looking at countries that are further ahead in the outbreak, places like Italy and Spain reached a plateau in the graphs of daily new cases and daily deaths, followed by a slow decline. The US and Canada are still on the early part of that plateau. In fact, they haven’t really leveled off in a significant way. This tells me that today’s figures will likely at least double or triple over the next month.

While I’m making dire predictions, looking elsewhere in the world I am keeping a worried eye on both Brazil and Russia. With all the attention on China, then Europe and Iran, followed by the USA, they haven’t really been prominent yet. But just looking at the recent rates I can see them both joining the “100,000 club” by the end of the month and mingling with the hard-hit European nations soon after.

Finally, it sickens me to see the protests flaring up in some countries. These figures are bad enough, and they’ve only been kept at this level (I was about to say “this low” but there is nothing low about them) by the measures being taken. Healthcare systems have been stretched, but not completely broken. That will all change drastically if we let down our guards too soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The new normal

How are your self-isolation measures going? In the last week there’s been growing unrest down in the US, and increasing demands to open up for business again. Up here in BC we seem to have escaped relatively lightly, with strong public awareness of and support for the need for caution, but without the more stringent measures many countries have adopted.

Of course, schools, pubs, restaurants and many business are closed. But much of life continues, albeit in considerably altered form. Ali is home, but helping her students through remote one-on-one tuition. Grocery stores are essential businesses, so Megan is still working in the bakery. Matthew, of course, is in his element. He spends his days gaming online with friends and this is just an extended summer for him.

My office is still open. Although most of our services are online, we take in mail and couriered documents, and for some things there is no online alternative. So although we have a full complement working remotely there is a skeleton staff still physically present, and it’s important for at least one or two of the leadership team to be present for moral support. But the office is a ghost town these days. On a typical day there might be half a dozen of us there, in an office that is normally buzzing with seventy or more people.

I can mostly work from home, but I find I work better in the office. The mental switch that comes with the change in scenery is important for me, as is access to printer, scanner, and a handful of physical files. So I’m commuting in most days, and enjoying the silver lining of little traffic on the roads.

Many people in the branch are enjoying working from home, and even report better concentration and productivity. The government IT infrastructure has had a real workout these past weeks. Still some network capacity challenges, but they are still making improvements.

Grocery shopping is getting more organized. There are subtle changes each week. They’ve improved the one-way system around the aisles, especially through the produce section, and put up more screens at the tills to separate lines of customers so now they can open all the checkouts again instead of every second lane. The line-ups are manageable and the store has been fairly quiet the last couple of weeks, even on a Saturday morning.

And I noticed they even had toilet paper on the shelves this week. Things must be looking up!

Finally, I also managed to buy art supplies this week. I’m completing a major round of edits on The Long Dark and am looking ahead to cover art. The art store is closed to foot traffic, of course, but they are taking orders by phone. The store is just a couple of blocks away from my office, so I was able to pop out and collect my order that same day.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

It’s not COVID, honest!

Standing in line this morning, waiting to get into the grocery store, I coughed.

I glanced around, self-conscious, to see if anyone was giving me that judgmental “you should be self-isolating” look. But the lady ahead of me just smiled. “Allergies?” she asked.

This is my car after standing idle in the driveway for a day and a half.

Why, I wonder, would she think anyone would be suffering from allergies right now?

Saturday, April 4, 2020

An introvert’s paradox

Social distancing is a phrase nobody had heard of a few weeks ago, but it’s the order of the day now.

You would think that these times would be ideal for a profound introvert like me. How wrong you’d be!

I use the Myers-Briggs definition of introversion, which means that social interactions take energy from me, rather than me being energized by them as an extrovert would. In other words, dealing with other people is tiring. I need quiet time to recharge before I become too drained to function.

But that does not mean dealing with other people is unpleasant. In fact, paradoxically, I find that being around others is essential to my mental health. I just need to manage the balance.

I liken it to exercise. A lot of people enjoy exercise, and it’s necessary for physical health. But you need to expend energy along the way and you can’t keep it up indefinitely. Other people’s company is my mental exercise.

And without it, without a certain level of ad-hoc in-person interaction and simply being around other people, I am starting to feel the effects.

How are you all doing out there? How is social distancing affecting your lives?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...