Who’s desperate and who’s whining?

Hawai’i is not immune from people clamoring for government to “open up” the economy again, but if you look and listen, their arguments are pretty foolish.

“I’m out here to protest and let the governor know that he needs to open everything back up,” said Rafael Soto, an Ewa Beach resident and pastor at a Baptist church in Hawaii Kai.

“We’re tired of him suppressing our freedoms. People need to get back to work. The churches need to open up. People are hurting, people are hungry. It’s ridiculous, open it back up, what’s the point?”

Protester Jack De Feo called the warning he got from police “fascist and Communist to the core.”

One said that “extending the lockdown is worse than the virus itself.”

Pastor Soto, if you don’t understand the point, I suggest you go look at the number of Americans who have died from COVID-19. It’s over 66,000 today. Mr. De Feo, get it right: fascism and communism are incompatible political systems and getting the equivalent of a traffic warning is hardly representative of either. To that anonymous person: economic hardship is very difficult and no one denies it, but death is pretty damned permanent. An economy can recover.

None of those protesters look very desperate to me; they look like whiny children who aren’t getting their way.

Notice that the people who are truly desperate are not protesting. No, they are waiting in lines for food distribution. They don’t have time to march on the State Capitol. They’re too busy trying to feed their families.

Week Five? Six?

They all run together in my head. How about you?

I’ve now gotten into the habit of shopping during what local groceries are calling “kupuna” hours. That’s a Hawai’ian word which means ancestor or grandparent. They’re typically the first hour or two hour block of time after the store opens in the morning. In my case that means I’ve been going down the hill at 6:45 AM to be at Safeway when it opens. I just do that on Thursdays, which is quite a change from what I did pre-COVID-19, when I’d make a daily trip out of the house to run errands, usually including a stop at the market.

Hawai’i has been both lucky and obedient: we’ve had a relatively small number of cases of the disease and most of those who contracted it have recovered. Here are the statistics:

Confirmed
618
Recovered
526
Deaths
16

I’ve been collecting pictures of my high school classmates wearing masks as a way of continuing to display the group’s lives since 2010 when I first had the idea to create a photo album for us. Here we are nearly ten years later and still (mostly) going strong. I have roughly ninety names on the mailing list, from a class of perhaps 300 in 1968. Not bad, huh?

Delivery delays

Anecdotally we’ve heard that Amazon has been swamped and its shipping slowed, its supplies slow to replenish. I can now attest to the first part of that. On March 16, five days after the NBA abruptly ended its season and the same day Trump said “If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for any place in the world. … I was talking about what we’re doing is under control, but I’m not talking about the virus” I ordered some CDs (one; t’other). They were originally projected to be delivered on or about March 25. That didn’t happen. When I went to the “Orders” page at Amazon I found a notice saying the shipment had been delayed and now the target delivery date was sometime between April 1 and April 8.

It arrived last night, April 7, around 7:00 PM. I unwrapped it, tossed the envelope and scrubbed my hands thoroughly. The actual CDs are resting unopened and will remain so for a couple of days in hopes any possible virus on their shrink wrap dies off.

What would normally take a week or ten days took three weeks. I suggest if you want anything that’s not health-related from Amazon, either pay for expedited shipping, resign yourself to delays or just hold off on ordering.

Eating under Stay-at-Home conditions

About two years ago I was planning to go on a trip to the East Coast for my 50th High School Reunion. We planned to have household help (normally here twice a week during the day for a few hours) here at suppertime and overnight to make dinners and keep Mom company. To that end I started keeping a log of what I was making for dinner. The thought was that our helper could get some ideas for what we ate at night.

As it turned out, I don’t think a single one of my menus was used while I was gone in September of 2018, but by that time I’d gotten in the habit of writing down what we had for dinner every night, and I’m still doing it.

Here’s what we ate every evening from late March through yesterday.

Hawai’i virus statistics

Since I went grocery shopping last Thursday I’ve been out of the house once, yesterday to go to my sister’s house where she had some masks for me and for Mom. Safeway is between here and there, so I ran in to see if there were any of the items I want — TP, facial tissues, Tylenol, wipes, bar soap. Nope. However, I did grab a couple of loaves of wheat bread for sandwiches before heading on up the hill to see my sister.

Hawai’i now has 224 cases of COVID-19 and we have had our first death, an older gentleman with multiple health issues, we’re told.

Other factoids:

  • Hawaii’s case count has more than doubled in four days. The first Hawaii case of COVD-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, was reported March 6.
  • …at least 58 people have been “released from isolation.” That means it’s been three days since they’ve exhibited symptoms or seven since they first got sick, whichever is longest.
  • There have been more than 9,000 coronavirus tests conducted statewide.

Grocery shopping

The Safeway store I usually go to has instituted “senior hours” from 7:00 – 9:00 AM Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is certainly more convenient than the 5:00 – 6:00 AM hours some of the other grocery stores have put in place. Since I was unable to find any meat on Monday I decided I’d try Safeway this morning. I got there at about 6:50 AM; only one of its two doors was open (they were monitoring how many people came in, I was told). There wasn’t any hamburger immediately available, but I saw one of the butchers who told me he was grinding it as we spoke. I hung around for five minutes and got 4 packages (I could have gotten more, but I’m not gonna cook anything with ground beef more than once between now and next Tuesday when I’ll have another chance to shop there).

I also got some frozen pizzas, some taquitos (forgot the prepared guacamole, dammit!), some frozen TV dinners, some fruit and some cookies. There were few paper goods available at Safeway: no wipes, no TP, no paper towels. There were some packages of napkins which were on my list. The store was also out of Tylenol, bar soap and hand-soap refills.

The store had taken some precautions: there are now big plexiglass shields between the cashier and the customer, maybe 2 feet by 3 feet. They have also decided customers should bag their own purchases, presumably on the theory that any bagger might have the virus. Now, the cashier has to handle each package and scan it, so I’m not sure the logic is consistent, but whatever. It took me right back to the summer of 1968 when we lived on Guam and I bagged groceries at the Navy Commissary before I left for college in the fall.

I imagine I’ll be back next Tuesday to see if the paper supply has been replenished.

Precautions against coronavirus

Yesterday I had to go to the local Straub Clinic. Those folks are taking serious precautions. Ordinarily there’s an automatic sliding door which opens when you get close to it. Not now. Now there are memos taped to each side of the door listing the coronavirus symptoms. In order to get in you have to speak to the front desk through an intercom box on the wall. The receptionist asks you to read that list and then asks if you have any of those symptoms; then you’re asked whether you’ve traveled recently. Once you answer those questions you’re asked why you’re there — appointment, blood draw, whatever. Only then will they release the automatic door and let it open for you.

If that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will.

Shortages

Day before yesterday I had to go to a local supermarket/pharmacy to pick up a prescription for Mom and picked up some of the items on my list. I was there about 1:00 PM, and the entire stock of paper goods (TP, facial tissues, paper towels) was gone. In the packaged meat section there was no beef or pork or lamb. There was a fair amount of chicken and I grabbed some, but I really wanted some ground beef and couldn’t get it.

The shipping companies have assured us that they plan to keep to their schedules, so I’m not sure whether this is hoarding by customers, a bottleneck between the docks and the distributors, or a glitch (shortage of truck drivers?) between the distributors and the stores.

All the local groceries have initiated “senior hours” for their older customers. The idea is that the most at-risk population can shop then without worrying about mingling with all the younger crowd which might carry the virus. I applaud the goal and plan to take advantage of it, but the times are generally the first hour after store opening, which is often 5:00 – 6:00 AM. I recognize the logic but wish it were more convenient. On the other hand, presumably the stores re-stock overnight; if they’ve got the stuff I need I have to get there before it sells out, so dawn is the best time.

Pandemic!

It was arguably not until March 11 that Americans started to take the coronavirus illness seriously. It first appeared in Wuhan, China in late December of 2019 (hence the 19 in the COVID-19 name), but most Americans (and their politicians; the public health and intelligence people were raising alarms but not getting any traction with elected officials) likely thought of it as something “over there.”

When Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus on that date, everything changed. The NBA immediately suspended all its games. It was followed in short order by Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer. That got Americans’ attention.

Unfortunately, it did not get the President of the United States’ attention, except as a hindrance to his re-election campaign. President Trump tried to suppress mass testing of the population for the virus because he didn’t want “the numbers” of sick people to reflect badly on him. That, coupled with a misstep by the CDC which caused its first batch of tests to fail, put the US behind and it has yet to catch up. Even at this late date, due to the shortage of tests, with over 42,000 known cases of COVID-19 and over 600 dead, the US has probably not scratched the surface of the number of Americans who’ve been infected.

In addition, the delay in taking the pandemic seriously meant that hospital and clinic stockpiles of masks, gowns and other gear (PPE — Personal Protective Equipment) are woefully inadequate. President Trump has been dilatory in demanding that factories begin switching their output from widgets to PPE gear and ventilators. He has “invoked” the Defense Production Act which gives him wide latitude to do so, but his Republican ideology requires that he not “tell business” what it should do.

He is now making noises about lifting Presidential guidelines which suggest that Americans “hunker down” and stay home because he’s fearful that a poor economy will hurt his re-election chances. He doesn’t seem to understand that if he proved to be a competent leader through a national disaster that would reflect very well on him.

Here’s a timeline updated through today.

Baseball is a funny game

There are a lot of ways to make an out on the basepaths in a baseball game, but getting hit by a batted ball is one of the rarest. I saw it happen once.

The question: How can a game end on a base hit by player on the team that is trailing without the ball being touched by the defensive team?

Here’s how:

With Brave runners on first and third and two out in the ninth inning, Atlanta’s Ted Simmons hit a line drive off Dodger starter Orel Hershiser that was seemingly headed into right field to easily score Trench Davis with the tying run.

Instead, the ball hit Glenn Hubbard, the runner at first base, squarely on the shoulder and then trickled into shallow right field. Hubbard slumped to the ground, as if shot, and Dodgers players momentarily mulled around the field unaware that the final out had been recorded.

But first base umpire Gerry Davis singled Hubbard out, giving the Dodgers their third straight one-run win.

For those scoring at home, give Simmons a single and also make the game-ending put out by first baseman Franklin Stubbs, who never actually touched the ball.

There’s a cliché that says “Every time you go to a baseball game, you see something you’ve never seen before.” This was certainly true of me that night.