Posts Tagged ‘Pandemic’

Service of “I Couldn’t Live Without It” Until I Did Post Pandemic

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

There were plenty of things I thought were essential to my happiness and survival that have changed since the pandemic.

Meat

I am not a vegetarian. I usually eat a traditional dinner consisting of a little meat or fish, potato or rice and a vegetable. But I hesitate to pay $6.50-$15/lb for garden variety hamburger. So I will be eating a lot of other things until prices readjust if ever they do.

Photo: seriouseats.com

Unfortunately my diet isn’t healthy if you consider the fettuccine Alfredo and ice cream that lace my dinner menus instead. I sometimes divide a pound of Alaskan salmon into four meals while ignoring the price because I know it’s healthy.

Work Colleagues

Since March I’ve not seen the people who share office space with me. I love going to an office. I enjoy the camaraderie and I’ll miss the banter. Like many who aren’t comfortable sharing closed space these days with others for long periods I’ve just moved my office home.

Large Handbag, Lucky Star

Because I no longer go to an office, a friend’s house, out for a meal or to meetings I don’t need to leave home with the paraphernalia I’ve deemed essential my adult life that required a pounds-heavy handbag to hold makeup, fat wallet, pens and so forth and often a tote bag as well.

I don’t miss a handbag though I’ve run into trouble without it.

  • Early on in the pandemic I pulled out my phone from my jeans pocket with clumsy plastic gloves on and my credit card came out too. The black card fell on the dark brown carpet by the elevator in my apartment. I didn’t notice until I went to pay for groceries. A neighbor returned it. Two weeks ago I was on an empty street and found a $20 bill in the gutter. I am sure that bill came out of the owner’s pocket just as my credit card did.
  • To avoid a reprise I graduated to a small purse [photo above, center] just big enough to hold essentials: credit card, keys and a little cash. You may have read my Facebook posting this week about the wonderful New York Department of Transportation construction workers who returned it to me. I thought I’d slipped it into one of the giant TJ Maxx bags loaded with groceries and planted on my shoulders but instead, it landed on the street. I attribute this mistake to a mask that acts like a horse’s blinders, a sweaty hand in gloves that remove feeling from my fingers and my attention focused on social distancing and what’s going on around me.

 Have you realized that you can live without anything you once thought was imperative?

Photo: Pinterest.com

Service of the Impact of Alarm From a Pandemic: Are Your Prominent Personality Traits Magnified?

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Photo: yourstory.com

Most people I know appear to be adjusting to the pandemic. What’s no surprise? Stress and anxiety are magnifying some personalities. The attempt to readjust can happen after any shock such as the death of a spouse and I’ve noticed this in some of my acquaintances lately. If one is usually generous, she tends to go overboard; if nervous, he freaks more easily. Hoarding is another tendency that has impacted a few.

Some with enough capital to support three families for a lifetime, if chronically anxious about money, become crazed over a perceived delayed pittance. The resourceful are ingenious in supplementing dwindling incomes.

Photo: ksat.com

Our chronic political divide isn’t helping keep lives in balance. Know anyone who waits until now to cut off all contact even though differences in political philosophy have been clear for decades?

Some dig in their heels to extremes refusing to face scientific evidence. “Masks can save your life” and the lives of others NY Governor Cuomo said again at his news conference on May 23, echoed by governors–both blue and red–Dr. Deborah Birx and countless others. Nevertheless doubting Thomas’s proudly prance around unprotected in public mimicking the exposed mouth and nose of a peacock-proud president. Even the “New York Tough” moniker doesn’t dilute the inference of weakness to those who interpret being told what to do as unmanly. Experts can’t convince them that their reasons are faulty–actually dangerous–if they think that “real men don’t wear masks.” [There are still drivers who won’t engage seat belts and parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids.]

Have you noticed in yourself and others behavior that represents an extreme personality trait?

Photo: youtube.com

Service of Shortages During the Pandemic

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Photo: nycurbed.com

We’ve heard ad nauseam about TP, paper towel, mask and disinfectant wipe shortages in retail stores–I haven’t seen a container of Clorox wipes in weeks nor will I unless I’m there when they are delivered according to a Wall Street Journal article–but now there’s a bicycle shortage and hints of an impending scarcity of meat as well.

Ironically the pandemic might create a healthier population just as it has cleaned the air and waterways in cities worldwide. According to an @CNN tweet, the journal Nature Climate Change reported global carbon emissions dropped 17 percent between January and April.

Bicycles Built for Two

It’s not just in NYC that some anticipate riding their bikes to work instead of taking a subway. Christina Goldbam wrote “Thinking of Buying a Bike? Get Ready for a Very Long Wait. The United States is facing a shortage of bicycles as anxiety over public transportation and a desire to exercise has sent the demand surging.”

Portland Photo: bikeportland.org

She reported in her New York Times article, “Some bicycle shops in Brooklyn are selling twice as many bikes as usual and drawing blocklong lines of customers. A chain of shops in Phoenix is selling three times the number of bikes it typically does. A retailer in Washington, D.C., sold all its entry-level bikes by the end of April and has fielded more preorders than ever in its 50-year history.”

Goldbam wrote: “Today fewer than 1 percent of New Yorkers commute by bike. In Portland, which has the highest percentage of cycling commuters of any American city, only 6.3 percent of commuters ride bikes. By comparison, in Copenhagen nearly half of all trips to work and school take place on bicycles.”

During the 1980 NYC transit strike I rode my bicycle from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge was jammed. It will be interesting to see how social distancing plays out at rush hour if bicycle transportation really becomes a thing in cities.

High on the Hog

Photo: safetyandheathmagazine.com

As for meat, according to Saloni Sardana of businessinsider.com, the shortage is one of workers and of transport to stores–not of beef, pork, lamb etc.

Some analysts anticipate consumers moving to plant-based alternatives. Sardana also reported: “Kevin Beasley, chief investment officer at VAI, said: ‘By incorporating analytics and AI, meat companies will be able to ensure essential products are available in the right place at the right time and proactively identify breaks in the existing supply chain.'”

In addition, as the nation’s pocketbooks shrink, so their choices of cuts of meat will navigate to less expensive ones.

What shortages are you experiencing? Are you tempted to travel by bicycle? Do you think that a significant number of commuters will opt to bicycle to work once offices open up? Have meat prices increased in your grocery store?

Photo: cookingclassy.com

Service of Symbols III

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

1918 pandemic. Photo: designyoutrust.com

I wrote about religious and tourist symbols in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Some symbols, like the heart, dove, and owl that represent love, peace and intelligence, achieve their associations naturally. For 12 years I wore a school uniform–another form of symbol. We were asked to behave when out and about in NYC because we represented the school.

Masks in spring 2020 inadvertently have come to represent a range of things well beyond what the Center for Disease Control [CDC] attributes to them such as respect of the medical community that’s limping from overwork. It’s also a sign of cooperation with the effort to arrest a pandemic that is faced by the nation in some places more than in others.

1918 pandemic Photo: pinterest.com

Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Senate hearing on May 12 that “the mask should be a very regular part of preventing the spread of infection.” Note: He did not say “it’s more important in New York than in Oklahoma or North Dakota.”

The same day, at his daily news conference, New York Governor Cuomo said the mask means: “I respect you, your health, your privacy. And out of respect for you I wear this mask. This mask says I respect the nurses and doctors who killed themselves through this virus to cure people. I don’t cause more stress on nurses and doctors. I respect essential workers who drive the bus, train, deliver the food and keep lights on so I can stay home and safe. So I respect others.  The masks represent community unity.”

The CDC wrote on the nuts and bolts of mask use during this pandemic:

1918 pandemic Photo: tampabay.com

“In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings (grocery stores, for example). Medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.”

I am surprised by how many people in NYC wear masks. We’re a maverick bunch. Most don’t like to be told what to do–for example we jaywalk and cross against the light much of the time. An incentive is that most stores won’t let people inside without a face covering. Only in a potentially crowded situation are New Yorkers asked to wear a mask which may be why some still don’t wear them walking in the street.

Is the converse true: Does not wearing a mask symbolize indifference and disrespect in addition to creating potential danger of spreading a deadly virus? Do you say anything to people who don’t wear one? Do you think wearing a mask–or not–has taken on political significance?

Photo: sciencealert.com

Service of Collateral Damage: Who Picks Up the Pieces?

Monday, May 11th, 2020

We are all collateral damage to this virus, some more than others.

For starters restaurants, airlines, retail and small businesses of all kinds, museums, theaters, consequent furloughed/fired employees and retired citizens living on savings all suffer. In addition to and as a result the country’s mental health has taken a terrible blow. Heading the list: substance abuse; domestic violence, alcoholism and suicide. The headline from a Well Being Trust & The Robert Graham Center Analysis: “The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide.” People are understandably desperate.

Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam at The Washington Post reported last Friday that April job loss at 20.5 million with unemployment rate at 14.7 percent is “the worst since the Depression era.”

Policymakers have to make Russian Roulette-like decisions, the most difficult of their careers: Life loss over jobs? Jobs over potential sickness and death? The data on which to make decisions and forecasts of where this unpredictable tornado-like virus will go is mercurial: Every week we learn of new twists and turns as experts struggle to recognize symptoms and cobble together remedies. And too many interpretations appear to be political which doesn’t feel right in a crisis.

Between the squabbling and posturing I’m not sure who is leading the charge which is troubling. The president tossed the ball to the governors. CDC standards to determine when it’s wise to reopen businesses are followed by some but not all governors and nothing is done to enforce them.

Some governors on the east coast are coordinating the acquisition of personal protective equipment so they don’t compete and achieve the best prices but that seems to be it. They are not in sync when it comes to opening beaches, businesses and restaurants which Governor Cuomo has previously said is essential due to their proximity and the fluidity of citizens armed with cars.

  • Connecticut expects its restaurants to welcome patrons–with restrictions–on May 20. Whether town beaches are open depends on each mayor according to ctpost.com. For example Greenwich beaches are open to residents and Norwalk’s on a “case-by-case basis.”
  • New Jersey’s sun lovers will visit its beaches Memorial weekend.
  • NY State parks and beaches are closed at least until May 31 according to a NYS parks website. In order for a region to open under Pause New York, which expires May 15, it must meet CDC criteria: “a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average. A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.” The NY State website spells out the priorities regarding business openings. In Phase I: construction, manufacturing & wholesale supply chain, select retail using curbside pickup only, agriculture, fishing. Only in Phase III do we see restaurants and food service that many other states have long opened. A crucial component: A region must keep an eye on data and be able to pull back and shut down again if the numbers of Covid-19 cases increase.

Do you feel secure that your state is interpreting the criteria for raising the gates to reestablish the economy while protecting workers, citizens–and you?  With the exception of NY Governor Cuomo, who has said time and again “hold me accountable; blame me,” the handling of this pandemic is like watching a child’s game of hot potato where some leaders don’t want to be holding the spud when the music stops. Who has a handle on the true full picture? How will the federal purse control/disperse life and worker-saving funds when regional criteria differ so drastically? Will exacerbated mental health issues be given their proper due by government and insurance companies?  And most important, who will ultimately determine which comes first–the economy or risk of death?

 

Cats sheltering in place in a neighborhood pizza parlor, hungry for company.

 

Service of Competition Taking a Back Seat

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Photo: cdc.org

Competition is the lifeblood of American business. We’re capitalists: It’s in our DNA. It may explain our addiction to professional sports. According to one survey six in 10 Americans identify themselves as fans.

However, under unusual circumstances such as this pandemic we need to put aside the traits that spell success in a free market system.

The other week on Face the Nation Margaret Brennan asked Scott Gotlieb, MD if we or the Chinese will be first to discover a coronavirus vaccine. I’m as chauvinistic as the next person but if it works, I don’t care who comes in first. Currently Oxford University, in partnership with AstraZeneca, has its medical focus turned to a promising front-runner vaccine–let’s hope they are on to something.

Yesterday New York Governor Cuomo announced a coalition of states to help prevent price-gouging and increase market power. According to NBC, “Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are launching a regional purchasing consortium to jointly get items including personal protective equipment, tests, ventilators and other medical equipment.”  They are not all Democrats–the Governor of Massachusetts is a Republican.

We’re Americans. Coronovirus is an equal opportunity disease.

Photo: redskinswire.usa.com

And even though the country is more divided by politics now than in my memory it’s a good time for both sides in the rest of the country to follow the lead of the Northeast purchasing consortium and to desist from throwing down their gauntlets. It’s not the time for Democrats to point fingers and place blame nor for Republicans to recommend withholding funding from states that have sanctuary cities, larger numbers of coronavirus cases or that generally vote blue.

There’s danger in politicizing what science has proved to help mitigate the virus’s spread such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and sheltering at home. And if we follow these cautions it doesn’t mean we hope for a crash because it would reflect poorly on the administration.

Remdesivir shows promise of helping Covid-19 patients recover faster by four to five days.  In addition to a hasty vaccine discovery aren’t we all rooting for successful trials of drugs like this? Don’t we need each other to get out of this rocky boat?

Photo: thehill.com

 

 

Service of New Traditions

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Photo: facebook.com

I wonder how many new personal traditions have begun as a result of sheltering at home and how many will remain when the worst blows over. The most obvious: families connecting weekly via video conference companies such as Zoom.

I had to figure out a way to exercise without exercising, which I despise. New York, like many cities, is a place to walk–and I did in the normal course of a day–but I have cut down on my outdoor time. My solution has been to reserve an hour a day to dance. I say dance but more accurately I walk/march briskly with intermittent stretches in the compact space of my apartment. My first target is 10,000 steps. So far I’m at 9,400+–3.9 miles according to my iPhone. It’s quite a trick, weaving in and out of chairs and tables and down a short, skinny hallway, but when my hour starts, I don’t stop.

Photo: pinterest.com

A friend shared another example: “After breakfast my 3 & 5 year old grandchildren hug their father good bye and wish him a good day as he climbs the stairs to his office.  This helps the separation and they know he’s not available during business hours.”

Another wrote: “Two of my Beagle grandsons visited yesterday. My son brought a hot lunch.  He left my portion on the fender of my car. I picked it up with a disinfectant wipe and cleaned the  container.  He sat more than 10 feet away and I sat in my car. This is having lunch with a loved one in the new normal.”

I’ve begun to make French toast every Sunday as my mother did when I was a kid. Because it took me forever to wake up in the day, my pieces became hard as rocks without a hint of egg. That’s the only way I’ll eat French toast today.

Have you launched any traditions? Do you think any will outlast sheltering at home?

Photo: technologyreview.com

Service of Changing Taste: Is it the Pandemic?

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

Photo: store.usps.com

Photo: pinterest.com

I have always loved to shop or at least to look, but that has changed.

One new piece of clothing for summer and winter–a new blouse, sweater, pair of slacks, handbag or skirt–would make my season and me happy. I’m very good at finding bargains. A favorite pair of slacks cost $19 at TJ Maxx a year ago. Uniqlo has fun items to spruce up a mood for little more. And an online store, stylewe.com, was once a joy to peruse. It sends frequent emails all unopened.

These days I’m not tempted to look even if a store I like promotes drastic discounts. How could a lifelong passion disappear? Is it because I don’t foresee an occasion in which to wear something new, my savings have evaporated, I don’t want to face sanitizing another package–or what? A friend wrote: “When I open a package or letter I feel like I’m preparing for surgery.”

Have you noticed a similar drastic change in behavior?

Photo: theupsstore.com

Service of Irritations that Irk Now and Maybe Not Before

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Photo: houseplansandmore.com

Photo: nakedapartments.com

The pandemic has created a new set of frustrations that didn’t occur or rile as much or at all before.

Living as I do in Manhattan I listen carefully to advice to protect myself from the virus and gripe when many suggestions depend on a person’s living in a house or fully equipped apartment without alternates. “Leave an Amazon package in your garage or in the trunk of your car for a few days,” is one or “when you return home immediately wash your fabric face mask in your washing machine.” I can count on one hand the number of NYC apartments I’ve visited or lived in that have their own washer-dryer. It’s not always a question of money or space: Some co-ops don’t allow them.

Photo: homedepot.com

The reason I love Bounty paper towel is how strong it is. Drives me nuts that after the many times I wash my hands I must toss the paper towel that dries them instead of subsequently wiping a counter or not wasting one at all as before. I formerly wiped my hands with a linen kitchen towel.  Insult to injury: finding replacement towels is still a challenge in NYC.

A Manhattan friend’s recent late night Tweet: “The streets are eerily quiet these days. So when a car with a CAR ALARM is parked nearby and blares for hours on end, it’s more infuriating than usual. Dude, how old is your car, and could you park it in NJ please?”

Another friend placed an online supermarket order for her suburban mom so her mom had only to swoop by in her car for pick up and run. Friend was disappointed to hear that there was only one box of tissues–they’d run out of the less expensive brand she’d chosen–and that the market didn’t automatically provide a substitute even if costlier. The whole idea was to cut down the number of trips for supplies. There should be an opt in box to check that clears the store to make substitutes.

Photo: twitter.com

In “Service of My Space: Am I Invisible?” I’ve written about the disrespect many pedestrians show others on NYC streets. Some shove in front of the elderly or disabled and cut them off not always because they are studying their phones–but because they can or don’t care. The streets in midtown are empty now yet there are those who walk in the middle of a sidewalk forcing anyone coming towards them to walk in the street or hide in a building entrance to keep six feet away. Have they not heard about the advice to social distance?

Because I must don a mask and gloves to leave my apartment–my building asks tenants to protect others and themselves in public spaces–I try to plan trips to the garbage room to coincide with a visit to the lobby for mail or a grocery store for supplies. Did I ever imagine I’d have to strategize tossing garbage?

What little irritations have you noticed that never came up before the pandemic and/or didn’t irk you? Am I even more thin-skinned than usual? Are you?

Photo: fluentin3months.com

Service of Pets in a Pandemic

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Georgie Rabinovitz. Photo: Helen Rabinovitz

Haisten Willis wrote this article in usnews.com: “Isolated by a Pandemic, People Are Stepping Up to Foster Pets–Shelters have been forced to close by COVID-19, but community support is helping animals find homes.”

He reported that on a standard month the Best Friends Animal Society’s Atlanta shelter finds 10 homes for dogs and cats while 62 were fostered in five days in March. “Elsewhere, its New York shelter placed 67 pets from March 16 to 20, compared with its typical 30; Salt Lake City placed 42 instead of the typical 12; and Los Angeles placed 166, up from about 45 to 50,” according to Willis.

On this blog guest writer Helen Rabinovitz previously reported her daughter’s experience in “Service of What the Public Must Learn About People with Disabilities.” She submitted the inspiration for this post and wrote the following:

Photo: wp.sbcounty.gov

During this time of isolation I find the companionship of my parrot Georgie is the key to my sanity. Georgie is almost 37.  I’ve been his mom since he was around a year old. He’s funny and really, really bad sometimes–but I love him.

Even though you can’t snuggle up with a parrot he’s great company. I’d probably lose what’s left of my mind if it wasn’t for G!

Most of my friends have pets. I’m the only crazy bird lady but there are crazy cat and dog ladies in our group. We talk all the time, mostly about our fluffy kids and how great it is to have them around. It makes me feel needed and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Someone to talk to…I speak parrot.

So for all of us who feel trapped in our homes, as long as we have our feathered and fluffy companions we will survive.

I miss hugging one of my long-deceased dogs or cats and wholeheartedly agree with Helen. Do you have a love-pet to hug? Do you know someone who adopted a pet at this time?

Photo: ultramodernpet.com

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