The Phases of Quarantine

So now we get to the part of quarantine where everyone is starting to get into the swing of the way this new life is going to go. We have gone through the phase where we couldn’t concentrate on our daily tasks from obsessing about the virus and whether our attempts to avoid it were going to be successful. We’ve made it through the first wave of cabin fever where we have discovered that, either we are more disciplined than we had feared, or we discover that when it comes to social distancing we can’t avoid a cheat here and there.

I’ve been pretty good. I have managed to restrict all of my trips to essential ones. We paid for year long free grocery delivery so the only reason I’ve had to go to the grocery is to get prescriptions from the pharmacy. It’s the one item they won’t allow third party shoppers to deliver.

I had to make a trip to Lowes. My toilet seat broke at the hinge where it attaches to the toilet. I bought a sturdier one. I also bought a set screw so that I could reattach the kitchen faucet. While I was there I bought sunflower seeds for the birds and the squirrels. And I had to buy some tomato plants or there won’t be any tomatoes later this summer. While no one of these purchases necessarily constituted an essential trip, taken together I think that they did. They made our lives considerably more pleasant anyway.

And then there is the stage that we are coming into now where it is becoming obvious that we are going to be practicing most of these preventative practices to some degree or another for the foreseeable future. I plan to wear a mask when I go out, stay home as much as I possibly can, and continue to work as long as possible, being thankful that I have a job in the first place.

As for my writing, I’m going to start scheduling my time more carefully so that I can write more while continuing to work full time at my day job. Maybe in a couple of years when the market has recovered and I’ve saved some more, I can start thinking about retiring from the day job and writing full time. Or maybe not. In either case, I will keep working to grow as a writer.

In this latest phase, we are forming into small pods of people whom we are willing to accept into our quarenteam. These are people that we trust to take the virus seriously and isolate from everyone not on our team. It has turned out a lot like the situation that one faces with venereal disease. When you sleep with someone you are sleeping with everyone they have slept with and all the people that those people have slept with, etc. It makes monogamy start to make more sense.

In the same way, when you add exposure to one more person to your team, you inherit exposures of everyone they have been exposed to. It’s actually quite scary, but at this point we have to take calculated risks. We have to have human contact. Zoom and texting and telephone calls can go a long way to treating our need for human company. But the closest friends are different. You have to find a way to see them, keeping social distance, of course. But sitting in the same physical space is important to the mental health of everyone involved.

That’s not to say that you should see them every day. It is a special dispensation that you ration like your last bottle of German sherry that you can’t find anywhere in the area. You use the quarantine experience to sharpen your appreciation for the things in life that it denies to you. You grow closer to the people near to you and try to be kinder than you’ve ever been before.

And in the end, you turn the quarantine into an opportunity to become a better person. As the world seems to fall apart in a chaotic mess around you, you focus inward and contemplate your strengths and weaknesses. You resolve to maintain this self awareness after the chaos starts to resolve into a new stability.

Wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, stay at home as much as possible, tell those that you love that you love them, and be well.

Rambles on Writing

I have been thinking about why I want to be a writer. Actually, I am a writer. I write every day. I just haven’t figured out how to take what I write and polish it up so that anyone would pay me for it.

Part of being a professional writer is figuring out who your audience is and what publisher has made it their business to serve that audience. I say this because when I think about self publishing it makes me shiver. It sounds like way too much work that consists of lots of things other than writing.

In the conventional publishing paradigm, you provide a sufficiently sale-able manuscript and the publisher hires an editor and a copy editor and a book designer and a publicist and an army of other professionals that contribute to making your book a product that people will buy.

If you self publish, you generate a manuscript and then you either have to do all those other jobs your self or independently contract with people to do them for you. And they want to be paid up front. They don’t draw a salary like all those professionals that work for a conventional publisher.

Truth be told, I’m getting the cart before the horse. I haven’t learned to write well enough to worry about getting anything published. I know that the only way to learn to write is to practice. I’ve written fifty thousand words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on several occasions thus, nominally, writing a novel.

But the truth is, those so called novels weren’t complete. They didn’t have a beginning, middle, and end. They didn’t have an engaging plot or well developed characters. They each were better than the previous attempt though. I guess that’s why I keep doing it.

So, why do I want to be a published author? I want to earn enough money from it so that I can do it full time. Is that it? I keep thinking that it isn’t about money and it isn’t. But I do have to eat and feed my family. I thought I had a plan that would do that. Then the stock market dipped and my 401K lost a lot of its value.

It was partly my fault. I was still investing aggressively in an attempt to make up for not investing enough when I was younger. That was because I was never taught how to invest. I was taught very little about finance. That’s why, when I think about self publishing I shudder. I don’t have the business skills and I don’t know how to get them. I don’t even know if I want to get them. I’m a bit obstinate about things like that sometimes.

I used to think I wanted to be a professional musician. Thank goodness I came to my senses about that. I also flirted with a career as an actor. I discovered I didn’t have a big enough ego for that. I’m not saying all actors have an over inflated ego, just a lot of them. Most of the more successful ones do. The ones that have more reasonable egos often end up directing or producing instead of acting.

I never planned to be a programmer. It was just something that I enjoyed. I was good at it. I was in the right place at the right time. I got into the business before there were many colleges that offered Computer Science degrees. By the time there were, I had already established myself as a programmer. I had a degree. Eventually, I had a degree in Computer Science. I don’t think it ever got me a job.

So, back to the question at hand. Why do I want to be a writer? I want to be in charge of my own destiny. I want to leave something of myself for future generations. I have an overly romantic image of what it means to be a writer. Maybe all of these things. Maybe reasons I just haven’t been able to put my finger on yet.

One thing is certain. I will keep writing. It is a compulsion. I sit down at my computer and words come out of my fingers. I am still learning how to shape them into something that I can sell but that will just take practice.

Be safe. Stay home. Wear a mask when you have to be close to other people. Keep social distance when you can. This virus may be over soon but I’m afraid this is just the first of many. We need to learn how to keep ourselves safe from them.

Stormy Weather

Since we’ve been sheltering in place I’ve gotten an opportunity to observe the world outside of my office window. There is a Crepe Myrtle that serves as a staging area for the birds and the squirrels as they prepare to make a lightening raid on the bird feeders that we’ve placed in the front yard under it. I’ve learned that the birds actually like the rain. I guess it’s their opportunity to shower.

I also get to watch as the neighbors go on walks or mow their lawns. I suppose they watch me as I fill the bird feeders or drag the trash bin to the curb the night before trash day.

Occasionally, something out of the ordinary will happen. Like the other day when a man in a truck and a woman in a car pulled up across the street, got out of their vehicles, and messed with some boxes that were sitting on the curb. I later discovered that they were salvaging the broken water heater that the neighbor had set out at the curb for the monthly garbage pickup.

Another day, a young man was standing in the street looking at his phone. I didn’t recognize him as anyone from the neighborhood. I looked away for a minute and he was gone. That had me baffled until about fifteen minutes later he came down the driveway of the neighbor across the street.

I’ve recently realized that there are a couple of things that I need to do to become a better writer. The first is to read a wide range of books, both fiction and non-fiction. The other is to pay attention to the details of life as it unfolds around me. It’s those details that make a story sing with sincerity.

I am slightly chagrined to admit that before we were stuck in isolation, I often was oblivious to the small details of things that were happening around me. It’s only now, when I have a very limited palate of details to observe, that I realize the value of doing so.

I’m also using it as an opportunity to practice how I plan to live when I retire. That is a trick statement. Although I plan to retire from the job that I currently hold, eventually, I don’t intend to quit working. Instead, I’m going to use it as an excuse to step out on faith and start a second career as an author.

That was the plan anyway. Until I realized that my 401K had taken a dive in value due to the economic devastation caused by the pandemic. Now it is totally up in the air when I’ll be able to execute my career change maneuver. I feel like the proverbial prisoner with golden handcuffs.

So now I have resolved to keep working on my writing skills. Keep participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) every November. Keep attending my weekly Write In every Wednesday night. Keep on meeting with The Downtown Writers Group, my critique group. We’ll keep publishing our annual short story collection and I’ll keep contributing at least one story to it. And each year I’ll look at what I’ve written and realize that I am slowly but surely getting better.

Fairly early in the process of learning to write someone gave me some good advice. They said, and I paraphrase here, “The only difference between a writer and an author is that an author has published his work commercially. A writer writes. If you write, you are a writer. If you want to be an author, write every day, read widely, and finish things. “

I thought this period of isolation would give me more of an opportunity to practice writing. It has helped me keep the goals that I already had in place but I haven’t been able to significantly increase the amount of writing that I get done. It turns out that after spending eight hours or so sitting in my office working, I find there are other things that need my attention around the house. Not the least of which is my darling wife, two dogs, and cat.

I am lucky to have a job that allows me to work from home. I am lucky to still have a job. I count my blessings. But I still strive for more. You have to have a dream to get up in the morning.

Stay safe, maintain social distance, wear protective masks for the sake of others, and appreciate every day you have.

Coping

There is a menagerie in my front yard. It is mostly comprised of various birds, a pair of Cardinals, a pair of Robins, the occasional Blue Jay, and an assortment of Finches. The squirrels have made a nest out of cardboard and cellophane tape in the Crepe Myrtle next to the feeders. One feeder holds small seeds that are gravity fed into a small tray around the bottom. The other feeder is a square shelf that holds corn, peanuts, and sunflower seeds for the squirrels and larger birds.

Our front yard faces northwest so we have plenty of shade in the afternoon. It makes bird watching a calming and relaxing endeavor. Our cat likes to sit on the table in front of the window and watch the animals frolic. We tell people he has pet squirrels that he keeps in the front yard. He is not amused. But he is entertained.

Every time we open the front door, our youngest Maltipoo decides she wants to explore. The front yard, however, doesn’t have a fence like the back yard does. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac so there is not a lot of traffic, just enough to worry us greatly when she runs blithely into the road.

In general, I don’t believe in punishing animals. In this case, I have to make an exception. The dog thought we were playing with her. I had to sternly scold her and pat her on the butt to let her know that this was not a game but a serious situation. She started behaving immediately.

I am getting a feel for how it might be if I were to retire. It might be slightly different after we get the current pandemic under control but I have the impression that we are going to be wearing masks in public and social distancing for quite some time. But then being a writer doesn’t necessarily call for doing much more than sitting in front of a keyboard and putting one word after another.

The anxiety in the air is tangible when we venture out for necessities. Here in the Deep South we have our share of ignorant people that refuse to wear face masks. The rest of us scurry around trying to stay as far away from them as possible. I’ve noticed that the discount stores, where the poorer people tend to shop, seem to have a larger percentage of their customers that don’t wear masks. For that matter the cashiers aren’t even wearing masks. It is enough to make you totally rethink how necessary that bargain bird seed was after all.

When we get home and refill the feeders, it is immediately clear that bird seed was a necessity. We just don’t need to shop at the discount store for it. There are plenty of shops that observe prudent health protocols.

On the one hand, I understand that I am lucky to have a job that allows me to work from home. But that doesn’t mean that I can ignore safe health practices when I do go out. Both me and my wife are sixty five and we both have extenuating medical circumstances. We need to be particularly careful not to come down with COVID-19.

Be safe, wash your hands, and appreciate the little things.

Introspection in the Time of Coronavirus

I’ve been thinking lately. It’s not that I haven’t thought regularly before. It’s that I’m thinking about different things. I used to think incessantly about things computer related. I was obsessed by computer hardware and programming. I still am very interested in the subject but my obsession has cooled a little bit.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with writing and becoming a published author. I have consistently polished my prose writing skills. I have exercised my imagination. I have practiced determination by making commitments to write and living up to them. This blog is the evidence of my commitment to write at least a blog post a week for the entire year.

As far as becoming a published author goes, I’ve been reading advice from other authors. I’ve talked with local authors and heard their stories of how they got published. I’ve come to the conclusion that every writer walks their own path to getting their work published.

Then, as far as making money from my writing, I have a bunch of new skills to either develop myself or hire someone to do them for me. Since I don’t have a lot of money to invest in starting my writing business, I guess I’ll have to start by doing these things, like publishing, promoting, distributing, etc., myself.

Or, I could look for a job writing for hire. I’m less enthused by that option. It might be good discipline and provide insights into the publishing process. My biggest concern is that I don’t want to spend a lot of time learning a process that isn’t what I want to pursue in the long run.

Another concern is that at my age I don’t want to take too slow a pass at the runway and end up dying before I get into the air. I’m not concerned about dying in the near future but at sixty five I probably have another ten or twenty years at most to achieve this goal.

In any case, I have made more progress toward this goal than either of my parents. They both wanted to write but found little time to actually sit down and do it while raising two boys on a school teacher’s salary. I recently found my dad’s journal and discovered how much of a financial struggle he had.

My parents were children during the depression. They had plenty of experience with how to survive hard times. My mother was adept at whipping up delicious meals from a seemingly empty pantry. My dad managed to pay the bills and keep a roof over our head in spite of his paltry salary and enormous debt.

Now, we find ourselves in a similar situation. I’m lucky enough to be able to continue to work from home through the pandemic. But there will be unemployment and shortages while we work our way through this challenging time. It’s not exactly the best time to be thinking about changing careers. But I’m running out of runway. If I don’t figure it out soon, it’s not going to happen.

All of that being said, I am grateful for all the things that I do have. A good wife, a good job, a nice house, food on the table, the unconditional love of two wonderful dogs and a cat. Life is really good. But I still am striving to put the cherry on top of the sundae.

Contemplation on Social Distancing

How has self isolation changed my life? Not as much as I would have thought. I certainly don’t miss the commute. Since I am primarily working with a team at another geographical site, coordination is by Webex and Mattermost. Mattermost is an open source persistent team chat application somewhat like Slack. The actual daily routine hasn’t changed much. If anything, it’s gotten better since now everyone is attending remotely and observing teleconference protocols including keeping their mikes muted when they aren’t talking and depending on the meeting owner to call on them.

I like having lunch with my wife without having to take an extra hour out of my day to meet her somewhere and then drive back to work. I like being able to take my dogs for a quick walk in the back yard when I take a break. I certainly have a wider variety of healthier snacks.

Even my social calendar has managed to improve some. I attend a weekly meeting where we get together and talk for a few minutes. Then everyone writes for an hour and a half. Then we take turns reading three or four minutes of what we just wrote.

Before the quarantine, we met at the Huntsville Madison County Library Downtown Branch. I had to figure out something quick to eat for supper and then drive to the meeting. Afterwards, I had to drive home. Now, we use Google Hangouts, and we even have an attendee from San Diego that would never have made it to our physical meetings. And because there is no time pressure, we’ve started reading four minutes of what we wrote instead of three minutes like we used to at the library.

And doctor appointments have gotten easier. Instead of having to drive to the doctor’s office and wait in a waiting room until the doctor is ready to see you, you can just sit at home and wait for them to connect via Zoom or one of the other telemedicine video chat apps. My psychologist prefers the face to face meeting but I like the teleconference.

Don’t get me wrong. I like seeing people face to face. I like shaking hands and hugging my friends. I like meeting in physical meeting places sometimes. But quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind keeping up some of the social distancing measures even after we get COVID-19 under control. I’m not an introvert. I just think we can use our time more safely and efficiently. Driving around in rush hour traffic, exposing ourselves to whatever virus is making the rounds, eating unhealthy fast food because it’s convenient is not very smart.

The quarantine has been great for reducing the carbon footprint of the whole world. People aren’t driving. Factories aren’t producing pollution. What could we do to retain some of those benefits after the COVID-19 crisis has been managed? And the other big question is, how can we ensure that we don’t find ourselves in this same situation the next time a deadly virus breaks out? We need leaders that respect science and depend on expert advice instead of making things worse by trying to ignore the problem and hoping it will go away.

There are a lot of important questions we need to look for better answers for. We need to restructure our economy so that we can better survive the outbreak of a pandemic. This is not going to be a one time crisis. The next viral outbreak could come at any time and we need to be ready to deal with it.

And there are other crises we could plan better for. Things like hurricanes, tornadoes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, meteor strikes, etc. Planning is the wise thing to do. Having a plan in hand can save numerous lives and large sums of money instead of floundering around in the chaos that accompanies not understanding what has happened and how we should respond to it.

Wash your hands, keep social distance, stay home, and tell the people you love that you love them.

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

One of my writing groups meets once a week. We talk for fifteen or thirty minutes while everyone gets there. Then we write for an hour and a half. Afterwards, we take turns reading a three minute segment from whatever we have written. It is not a critique group so only positive comments are allowed. We all have other source of the kind of critique one needs to hone their work. This meeting is to give us a time and place to write uninterrupted and then share the victory of getting words on paper with like minded people.

Often, before we start writing, we talk about what we plan to write. Some people are working on novels, some on short stories. Sometimes, they don’t even know what they are going to write. That is the place I started from three weeks ago.

I started writing with no particular plot in mind. The character and setting faded in as I was writing like the beginning of a movie. I recorded what was happening as it occurred to me. Mind you, after I wrote the first segment, I went back and took notes. I listed all the characters and what we had discovered about them as the story unfolded. I even filled in backstory that I thought might be useful in later parts of the story. I also noted every location that appeared in the story.

The second week, I started where I had left off. I still didn’t have a clear idea of where the story was going. I had some ideas about the broad outline of the story that had begun to come into focus as I wrote. And the characters began to take on depth. Each week I discovered new, mysterious facts about my characters and their background. The main character was trying to figure out why he woke up ninety years in the past.

The third week, I again took up where I had left off the previous week. The main character started making short term decisions about how he was going to survive in this strange yet familiar environment. It was while writing this segment that I realized that unlike so many things that I had written, this felt more akin to watching a story unfold in a movie, like someone else was writing the story and I was just observing.

At some point I am going to have to step in and tighten up the story. Cull out things that don’t move the story forward. Add exposition where it isn’t clear exactly what is going on. But that will all have to wait until I find out what happens in this story. Where it ends up. What happens along the way. How the main character changes as a result of what happens to him.

This is how I’ve imagined writing to be. I have always been too anxious about figuring out the plot and describing the characters. It is refreshing to relax and let the characters tell me about themselves and the story to unfold as it wants to. I have a vague fear that I am pulling a delicate thread out of my subconscious and if I pull to hard it will break and I won’t find out how the story ends.

I’ve been having a lot of anxiety dreams centering on the overwhelming bulk of news that is flowing through our daily experience. You can’t seem to escape it. It’s all that is talked about on the news and on the phone or social media when you talk with friends. I used to have trouble remembering my dreams but here lately, they last longer into the day. Even longer if I tell them to someone or write them down.

I’m wondering if the reason that I’m having such luck with the story I’m writing is that I want to think about something other than the pandemic that is dominating so much of our waking, and dreaming, hours. In either case, I’m thankful for it.

Be safe, wash your hands, maintain social distance, and wear a mask if you have to go out.

I Blog Therefore I Am

I didn’t get my blog post written last week. Now it is time to write a post for this week. I’m going to try to write last week’s post, this week’s post, and at least a first draft of next week’s post this afternoon. That is about three hours work and it is almost two o’clock as I start writing. I tend to work better under a deadline. The key is, I have to hold myself to that deadline. I gave the members of my weekly writing group the URL for my blog. Maybe that will help make me accountable for posting my entries on time.

I made a commitment to myself last December that I would post a blog post a week this year. Until last week, I managed to keep that commitment. I intend to do better starting today.

It’s not that I don’t know how to do something on a regular schedule like this. I write a minimum of 750 words a day in my journal. That is a place for me to record private thoughts and to develop ideas that may later become stories or essays in more public venues. I have written 750 words a day in my journal for 1449 consecutive days. Now I just need to make time to write a blog post every week.

I blog for several reasons. First, to practice writing in a public venue where other people can read what I’ve written. This tempers what you write. Some times, I find, it tempers it too much. I have opinions. I should not hesitate to say what I think. If someone disagrees with me, they are welcome to write what they think in their own blog. But there is the fact that I want people to read what I write and enjoy it. It is a difficult balance to hit, being honest about what you think and believe without being offensive about it.

Another reason I write is for practice writing on a deadline. It is obvious that I need more practice at that. The other benefit of practice is it helps you improve the quality of your writing. I write much better now than I did a year ago and much better than I did ten years ago. I’m to the point now where I’m concentrating more on improving the more abstract issues of plot and character than I am on the fundamental quality of my writing.

I also write to leave my mark on the world. In science there is a truism that if you don’t publish a result, it might as well not have happened. In the case of writing, if you don’t publish your writing, you have no proof you ever had those thoughts or even existed. It’s a flawed attempt at some sort of immortality but it is the best I can do right now.

I am beginning to doubt whether the Singularity will happen within my lifetime. I had such high hopes of achieving what I call function immortality, that is you live as long as you don’t destroy yourself in a catastrophic accident. Even then, if you have made a sufficiently detailed backup of your mind, you may potentially live again. You will have a discontinuity between the time you made the last backup and the time the backup is restored into a new body.

Such is the way my thoughts flow in this time of deadly pandemic. It can’t help but inspire thoughts of mortality and dreams of immortality. Besides, what else do I have to occupy my time while I am practicing self isolation? Stay well, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask if you have to go out and stay home if you don’t.

Mission Accomplished

We were sitting at home one weekday morning fairly early in the self isolation period and the power went out. I looked at Pam and she looked at me and we had the same thought. All of our cooking devices are electric except for the fireplace. Now I am sure that we could manage to cook in the fireplace in a pinch but it got us talking and thinking about alternatives.

A couple of days later I was surfing the internet and found a nice gas grill for a very good price. We talked it over and ordered it and a cover for it. This wasn’t our first grill and our old grill had died an early death due to exposure to the elements. It came with free shipping. So, Friday morning, the UPS truck pulled up and delivered it.

I asked the delivery driver to put it in front of the garage on the driveway. I have been building a lot of gardening apparatus for Pam and have learned that putting things together with small parts is better done on concrete than grass. I finished working from home and even mowed the yard before I got down to the business of putting the grill together.

The first thing I noticed was that the box was a lot heavier than I expected. I finally decided to cut the corners of the box and leave the cardboard as a padded surface to work on. The next thing I discovered was that there were a lot more parts than I expected. I found the directions and discovered that I needed a Philips screw driver and an adjustable wrench. After securing the tools, I started sorting the parts.

At this point I have to say that the thing was very sturdy but simply constructed. I followed the instructions meticulously and only had to back up and redo my work on a couple of occasions, once when I put a piece on upside down, and once when I didn’t understand that a piece was supposed to be bolted in place between two other pieces.

The box said it should take forty minutes to put together. After an hour and a half of assembly, I was only half finished and it was getting dark. I gathered the unassembled pieces together and rolled the entire thing into the garage to finish up the next day.

The next day, I was so sore and it was so hot outside, I decided to put finishing assembly off until Sunday. Sunday afternoon I rolled everything out of the garage and after another two hours and a skinned knuckle, I finally got the thing together. I didn’t strip any bolts. I didn’t have any major parts left over. The manufacturer had kindly provided one spare of each kind of nut and bolt. I had exactly one of each.

I had this wonderful sense of accomplishment. And the new found security of knowing that if we had a long power outage, we would be able to cook on our new grill.

Lockdown

I’m a day late posting this blog. I’m giving myself a break and hoping my reader(s?) will forgive me. We’re all a little bit overwhelmed right now. I am amazed that I’m managing to be more productive at home than I had been at the office before social distancing started. Part of it is that I have learned to focus on the task at hand better in my office. Part of it is that I don’t want to be seen as a slacker by my coworkers. But the most important reason is that it is something constructive that I can do in response to this situation.

I’m afraid that most people don’t understand how long this campaign is going to take and how bad things are liable to get. I saw a video back on March 11th explaining the exponential nature of the growth of the COVID-19 spread. I’m not a doctor. I’m not even a mathematician. I’m a Computer Scientist and I understand the meaning of exponential growth. I went to work the 12th and told my boss that I needed to self isolate. On Friday the 13th (apropos, eh?) my company announced that everyone who could work from home, must work from home until further notice. I guess there are those in management that understand the meaning of exponential growth too.

I don’t plan to spend every blog talking about the pandemic. There are other more interesting topics to write about. It is, however, the elephant in the room right now. I want to take this opportunity to express my reaction to the way our nation and its leaders are failing to make responsible decisions about how to address it. The actions of our president is tantamount to manslaughter. He has no interest in anything other than how to secure a second term in November.

I’m considering the various possible outcomes from worst to best. In the worst case, Pam and I will both come down with the virus and die. Short of that, one or the other of us will die and leave the other to deal with life alone. Barring those dire circumstances, there will be more or fewer of our family and friends that don’t survive. This is the most likely outcome. We’ve already had deaths and will continue to have more deaths until we can stop the spread of this virus.

That is going to take discipline and sacrifice. I don’t think many people realize that. I know it has been slow dawning on me. I find myself going to the door and opening it when the delivery person brings a package. I need to start waiting until they get back to their truck before I open the door. We have ordered delivery more than I’d like to admit. It occurs to me that every time we do, we risk infection from some symptomless food preparation person. I’m not blaming them. They are just trying to make a living. I’m blaming me for taking unnecessary risks of infection.

In recent days, we have been cooking more. I have been eating more than I strictly need to. This is one of my reactions to anxious situations. There are several bad consequences of this. First, I’m diabetic and it tends to keep my blood sugar higher than it could be. It also tends to increase my weight. And it reduces the contents of our pantry faster than need be. We need to stretch the ingredients in our pantry as far as they can possibly go. There may come a time when replenishing the pantry is difficult if not practically impossible.

I doubt the worst cases I’ve described above will occur. But they are possible and I want to take steps now to prepare for the eventuality. I’ll be back with less bleak observations and topics in the future. It has helped me understand my current state of mind to write this post. I hope it has helped you consider your situation.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Wash your hands frequently. Maintain social distancing. And most importantly, stay home. Help save the lives of our medical professionals.