Day 2: I am Angry

Spoiler Alert: This is not a happy post. It is, in fact, a rant.
😠 Angry Face Emoji

I have a history of not being angry.  I learned to suppress my anger as a child, and it's taken me years to learn that's it is okay to feel anger.  Which is useful now, because I am extremely angry at how our government is handling this entire pandemic situation.

First, the local government.   Okay, I think my local government is actually doing okay.  The county commissioners have held a few publicly broadcast meetings about the pandemic and our local response.  And a few of the commissioners - Lisa Cupid, Mike Boyce, and Bob Ott - seem to get the magnitude of the situation.  But the commissioner for my area - Joan Birrell - seems confused, at best.  She doesn't really contribute, except to want to allow people to burn their yard leftovers longer.  Because breathing isn't really necessary, right?

But at least the local government acted in a more timely manner.  Governor Brian Kemp is at best inept, at worst a liar who seems willing to trade lives for a "better" economy.  The entire country needs to be in lockdown, but he reopens the beaches??  Really?  And he "didn't" know that viruses can spread before someone has symptoms.  Again, really?  I don't believe that.  I think he knew and just didn't want to hurt the state's economy for a "silly" reason.

But the biggest offender is the federal government.  Back in January, advisors from the CDC and WHO were warning Trump and the White House about this pandemic.  And what were the American people told? Nothing, to begin with.  Then we heard rants about a "Democratic hoax"; how there is no problem; COVID-19 isn't a problem; people just want to make Trump look bad.  When people started to get ill in New York, still no real information or direction from the very people whose jobs are to make the country safe and secure.

Do you feel safe or secure?  Because I certainly don't.

Then we learned that the country needs to "reopen" by Easter.  Because only 15 people would get COVID-19 and would recover with no problems.  This is just like the flu, why panic?  Everything seems fine, right?

First off, when an epidemic (or pandemic) hits, everything does seem fine.  Right up until you are so screwed there is nothing you can do to make it better.  I assume that the White House and Congress has access to experts who can explain this, but for the rest of us, here's a great video that explains why everything seems fine.

You will notice that none of this is rocket science or brain surgery.  It's well known information that's been available for years.

But did that mean that we had competent governing?


In fact, it wasn't until a study done by a British organization came out predicting that 2.2 million people will die if we do nothing that the federal government decided that maybe we need to do something.

And what did they do?

They printed $2.2 trillion dollars to help out large corporations.

It took a public outcry for them to even consider what this means for the population of the US who aren't billionaires or multi-millionaires. 

So a stimulus package finally passed.  And some American adults will receive a check worth than less one month's salary if you work a minimum wage job.  As for all the college students, high school seniors over the age of 16, and other young 20-somethings trying to make it in an absolutely crap economy?  They are completely screwed.  Because the rest of the stimulus needs to go to the large corporations.  Oh, small businesses do get some free money if they don't lay anyone off.  But that merely encourages small businesses to reduce their employee hours, so that the people can't qualify for unemployment benefits but also don't get enough money to live off of.

And that just covers some of the economic problems caused by the pandemic.  While mortgage companies, banks, and utilites are "graciously" agreeing to postpone payments, what happens when the pandemic is over?  Now people have more debt, people who couldn't afford the debt. 

But don't worry, all those "job creators" in the private sector will help out, right?

Sorry, but no.  Jeff Bezos, one of the richest people in the entire history of the world, told his employees that they needed to pool together their sick leave so that if someone gets COVID-19, they still get a salary.  But that they only get company time off with a positive test.  Oh, testing not available?  Sucks to be you.

He also asked people to donate to a fund for Amazon employees. 

It's mind-boggling.

And now other problems are coming to light. 

People in domestic abuse situations are stuck at home with their abusers.  Charities who help out can't because of the pandemic.  And the shelter in place orders make people feel out of control, triggering more abuse.

Grocery stores struggle to keep certain items in stock, because people are still freaking hoarding toilet paper. 

Our schools won't reopen to in-person education again this year.  That means that all the high school seniors are missing out on all of the senior year events that people talk about: prom, senior picnic, graduation...

Sometimes I lay awake at night and have to mediate to relax enough to sleep, because I feel angry both at the situation and at how helpless we are to do something and make a difference. And for the record, I absolutely and completely hate feeling helpless.


Day 1: Life in Quarantine

We are living in historic times right now.  The U.S. is basically closed down, with companies furloughing millions of employees and a medical system that is struggling to cope.  In the future, I hope that people will look back here and wonder what it felt like to live in such a tumultuous time.  In the interest of future historians, and for my own mental health, I decided to document my life here.

Cool Beans marked their floors with blue squares to let people know where to stand to maintain the proper distance.

During the week, I develop phone apps to (hopefully) help people.  My current project is called Just Another Shopping App, and I finally have version 1 in beta testing.  That means that my wonderful son is using it to go grocery shopping and telling me what works and what doesn't work.  Focusing on programming helps me to ignore the rising panic inside of me every time I hear something from the federal government.

Before Trump became president, I listened to the news and read the Washington Post regularly.  I like knowing what is going on both locally and internationally.  I've cut back on my news consumption considerably because I need a break from the complete selfishness of the current administration.  But with the pandemic, I feel the need to learn as much as possible to about COVID-19 because knowledge is power.  Plus I feel the need to separate the facts as we know it from the fluff that people are spreading in panic and fear. 

For example, ibuprofen does NOT cause worse symptoms, no matter what people on Facebook say.

My dog after a lovely walk outside
Back to my daily routine... I'm also taking my dog, Titan, outside on walks in places other than my neighborhood. Why? Because my neighborhood has a lot of people with dogs and small children who are walking around all the time.  If I take Titan somewhere that sounds more social (like the trail in downtown Marietta), I actually run into fewer people and there is more room for social distancing. 

So I spend an hour or so every day walking around, talking to my dog, listening to either music or an audio book, and enjoying the sunshine.  It's a nice mental break as well as a good way for me to get some exercise.

It does feel strange.  Until quarantine started, I spent my days alone at home, with only my dog for company.  Now my husband works from home and my daughter schools from home.  I am getting accustomed to this, which means when the quarantine is over I will miss them both.  Well, I'll miss my husband.  The school system is finishing the year online, so no more in person school for us. 

You matter.  Unless you times yourself by the speed of light squared. 

Then you Energy.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
 That's all for today.  I hope that you are doing okay. Remember, take care of yourself.

Living in Uncertain Times

I know that no one can see the future.  I know that life throws curve balls at odd times at, basically, everyone.  But there is the normal uncertainty that we live with everyday, and have lived with everyday.  And then there is now.

The uncertainty about tomorrow, next week, next month.... is so much greater partly because that uncertainty is being forced into our conscious thoughts, but mostly because no one with an ounce of common sense really knows what will happen by the time the pandemic ends.  The only certainty is that the American landscape will be different, probably vastly different, from what it is now.

Most Americans will have less money, less stability in their lives, and more loans.  The wealthy will still be wealthy, but the not-wealthy will be much, much poorer.  The economy will have gone through turbulence, with even more fluctuating stock markets, small businesses closing, in-person businesses losing money, and even online businesses having problems because people won't have money to spend.  Our current economy is based on the ability of the masses to buy stuff - what will happen when the masses can't buy stuff?  Or won't buy stuff to save money?

Economic instability tends to lead to social instability.  Social unrest and riots are not that far away, and the worst in terms of the pandemic hasn't hit yet.  What happens when hundreds of thousands of people lose a loved one because the government didn't handle the situation correctly, and the people died needlessly?  What would you do if someone you love died for a lack of hospital beds and essential supplies (i.e. ventilators and respirators)?  What would you do if you are not allowed to work and have no money to buy food?  Or diapers for your baby?  These types of situations bring about discord the likes of which we haven't seen yet, with consequences that will be recorded in history books.

As for politics, well, my ability to even has been compromised.  Two different representatives used insider knowledge to sell their stocks before the first big downturn, while lying to the public about the situation.  Our current president used two weeks to call the pandemic a "Democratic hoax" before even acknowledging that this is a real problem.  Even now, he doesn't seem to understand the scope of the pandemic.  Local officials are trying to do what's right, but have to fight against the lies spread by Washington officials that "this will blow over".  And this is an election year.  I fear for what this will do to the presidential election this fall.

At the moment, it feels like the entire country is holding its breath, waiting for the other shoe to fall.  I fear that the WHO director was correct to say that the US will be the next big epicenter for COVID-19, and that the falling shoe will be the deaths of 2.2 million people.  But no matter what, America will never be the same again.

A New Year with Old Problems

Like many people out there, I felt surprised by how this year began.  On January 1st, the Pope slapped a woman's hand, an action that I feel was completely justified.  The woman grabbed him aggressively and he responded fairly but unexpectedly.  Then on January 2nd,  the U.S assassinated an Iranian general.

Gun Target

(Side note:  I spent some time on Friday, January 3rd, wondering what would happen next.)

I read the headlines a few times before learning more, because my brain could not comprehend that our country brazenly assassinated someone.  Especially someone from a country with which we are currently not on good terms.

I realize that I've been in a funk since then, worrying about when a new war with Iran will begin. (Sadly, I think it's a 'when' question, not an 'if' question.)  I wonder why Trump picked out this particular man to kill.  I know that American media portrays the victim as a "bad" guy, but I also know that American media is extremely biased.  Even if the victim was a bad guy, how does that justify murder?  How do the people who claim to be Christian accept this action?  Isn't "Thou shalt not murder" part of the Ten Commandments?  I know for a fact that none of the commandments has an asterisk to list exceptions.

Going down this thought path leads to depression and anxiety about the future.  Will any of my relatives in the military die because Trump wanted to distract the nation from his impeachment?  Will anyone in the military or civilian installations die?  How is this morally acceptable?

Instead of looking for answers to these mostly-unanswerable questions, I decided to look for the silver lining.  It's a technique I learned long ago when faced with bad/unhappy/terrible situations.  I know that there is no silver lining to this situation that makes up for the chance of world war 3 happening, but what I'm trying to do is find some peace of mind while waiting.

I spent several days thinking about what good can come of this situation.  Will the assassination wake up some of Trump's supporters to the truth about his presidency?  No, not really.  Someone who drank enough of the kool aid to still support Trump isn't about to change their minds now.

I finally conceded that there is no silver lining to this situation.  The U.S. will not, in all probability, face any real consequences other than a worse reputation.  Iran is gaining a better international reputation, but has no way to get reparations for the damage.  The United Nations won't censure the U.S. because we're on the Security Council.  The World Court system can't do anything, because the U.S. will pressure our allies to support us.  And our allies are smart enough to plan for the future.

The situation plays into the hands of smaller countries who feel like that larger countries can do anything and get away with it, while holding the smaller countries to stricter standards of behavior.

Yes, this is depressing.  So I ask you, do you see any good coming from this?

Thoughts about Birth Control: Female vs Male

Opened condom

While the abortion debate rages on and on, I wonder why we don't talk about birth control more.  Why is the topic of condom, pills, IUDs, and such controversial?  I mean, it seems to me that preventing pregnancy is a good way to know need abortions.

But even this topic is not without strife.  
"Why do women need to worry about birth control and take the pills (get an IUD,...)?" "Why don't we have male birth control (that's not a condom)?"

Here's the thing.  It's easy to control women's fertility because women have a built-in pause and stop mechanism.  Women don't have periods during pregnancy and have a limited number of fertile years.  When scientists wanted to control a woman's fertility, they just had to figure out how to utilize the already existing system.

But the same is definitely not true for men.  A boy grows up, hits puberty, and BAM!  Instant sperm factory!  The testes begin to work, producing something like 1,500 sperm per second each, every second of every hour of every day.  That's millions of sperm per day.

But men don't have a built-in pause or a built-in stop.  In fact, any given man can father a child up until death.  That's why there's exactly one temporary male birth control option is a barrier, such as a condom, and one permanent option - a vasectomy.

To be honest, there's research ongoing into creating other options for men.  But I don't know of any that are ready for prime time yet.

Just a thought...