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March 15, 2020


I've been working from home anyway, so I'm not being impacted there.

I did end up doing the ICANN conference last week remotely. (As did everyone else. We managed it pretty well, considering it was a new deal and implemented on the fly.) Extremely thankful that we were on a Cancun (that is, Eastern time and no Daylight Savings) schedule, so I was only looking at 7 AM (Pacific) meetings. If it had been in Europe or East Asia (as this summer's is scheduled for), things could have been more of a struggle.

We haven't succumbed to the hording frenzy. So the only impact there is if we make a normal trip to the grocery store, there can be huge lines. Or, depending on the day, nobody in sight. The volatility on that is reminiscent of the stock markets.

It's the weekend before finals, so we are grading student ePortfolios and doing our best to figure out how to teach the next quarter online while fielding a flood of questions from international students who need to know if classes are going to be streaming synchronously or if we are going to go asynchronous. Some of them have to decide whether to stay here in a partially empty campus or go home and try to attend a 2pm class here at 4am local time if the class is synchronous.

We're doing a crash course in further online teaching possibilities. We've been teaching hybrid courses for years, so it's not too bad for us, but we are still looking at 8 additional hours of work so far that we will likely never be paid for.

And I've been reading pedagogical articles from the 1990s and wondering if I might be able to create a course that uses a MUD client at some future point. Would be less of a tech burden on my at-risk students for whom connectivity is a dicy thing and would be an asynchronous solution for geographically displaced students.

I bought a no-concert t-shirt from Insomnium/Omnium Gatherum [Insomnium Gatherum] to help them with the costs of their cancelled NA tour.

We went to our favorite brewpub on Friday and tipped extra well. Yes, it's bad social distancing, but gift certs don't much help people who pay rent on tips.

Local Trader Joes is pretty much wiped out. We have enough food for a few weeks anyway, even without any hoarding.

My journal of the plague year.

I'm accustomed to working at home, and retired from my paid work anyhow. So this situation hasn't made a huge difference to me so far.

I've been to the grocery store once a week as usual, and in the process I've backed up my usual backup supplies a bit further. I'm debating whether to stop going entirely for a while, but in that regard I'm lucky because my son lives nearby and would get groceries for me if need be.

The most vexing supply question is about water. Our well water has more arsenic in it than I'm willing to drink -- all the more since I don't drink anything but water, and tea made with water. So I get water for drinking and cooking from a reverse osmosis machine at the grocery store. I have eight glass one-gallon jugs, which is less than a two-week supply at best. I don't honestly think a few weeks of drinking the tap/well water would kill me, but I'd rather not find out. My son has bought a couple of 4-gallon jugs for backup, but that's not a long-term supply, and I can't lift them anyhow.

As to the jugs -- for some years I bought store brand spring water in plastic gallon jugs and then reused the jugs practically forever. But when the word started coming out about the chemicals in the plastic, I went searching for glass jugs. I eventually found them here.

Those jugs are the best conversation piece I've ever had, even better than my fiddle back in the old days. I often get stopped in the grocery store by people who wonder where they can get them, or what's in them (moonshine?), or why they don't have any labels on them. One day I turned back to my cart from the produce shelves and found a guy taking pictures of them. (A little rude, but funny too.)

I've got a bunch of those jugs that I use for brewing mead, JanieM. Have a batch in the cupboard right now that needs to move to a second jug to get it off of the dormant yeast at the bottom.


Heh, my daughter's fiance was deep into brewing mead when they met a few years ago. He's moved on to other things lately (he had a bread-making phase in between, in fact), but he can talk up a storm about brewing. He's a biochemical engineer, so he comes at it from his own particular angle. :-)

And speaking of yeast, when I started making bread again 2.5 years ago I made a starter from commercial yeast. I used it for a year and then something contaminated it. Then I took a few months off for a number of reasons. But I couldn't stay away, so now I've got a starter that I've been using for over a year, and enough white and whole wheat flour to make bread for a few months, if only I eat it, or less if I share (which I do). Even if the starter goes bad again, I've got a good supply of yeast that I use for other kinds of bread, but that I could use to make another starter if the need arose.

That actually feels good, to think I can at least keep making bread for a while. I have friends who raise chickens, from whom I will soon be getting eggs again....hopefully.

If only we had a cow! ;-) (I love cheese.)

If only we had a cow!

Nothing beats really fresh milk. But unless you invest in equipment (which isn't really reasonable for just 1 or 2 cows), milking twice a day is a grind.** Does great things for your forearms, though. Mom had a grip you wouldn't believe while I was growing up!

** Commercial dairies milk at 12 hour intervals, which gets you the same volume both times. But we discovered that, if you ease into it, a cow is just fine with getting milked after breakfast and again before dinner. Far easier on whoever is doing the milking.

mowed the lawn today! we have warm season grass (goes yellow in the winter) and i had to cut off all the dead brown stuff so the new stuff growing underneath can stretch out and do its thing.

making a big pot of 5-chili chili. drinking a Corona Familiar. listining to Coltrane.

Green tea mead is in secondary fermentation for the duration of the social distancing. Trader Joes had eggs and bacon and frozen peppers, so we are set.

Planning classes and playing guitar is on the menu. Oh, and coffee and Magic: the Gathering during breaks with my awesome wife (who had to cancel a book talk at UC-Riverside, but who may be benefitting from the panic reading that is going on. Though having to re-plan two courses is cutting into her editing time for the second book coming out in October, so...).

I am working on the outline and music for a documentary on my life. It's a fascinating process to start recording the stories of key moments/periods that are always associated with certain songs.

It's a personal, not commercial, project.

Marinating with a bottle of Jameson.

As for the chicken thighs and drumsticks, they will have to settle for marinating in maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, black pepper. And toasted sesame oil.

Have a black bean salad and a slaw with a peanut based dressing from the other day as sides.

Writing and composing an opera based on my life.

The performance will last as long as my life and the entire piece is an aria with years-long Philip Glass silences to break the monotony plus tape loops, of Daffy Duck, Beatle recording sessions cross talk, and Bob Prince play-by-play of the Yankees-Pirates 1960 World Series, along with readings from Walker Percy and James Joyce and Casey Stengel with Julie London doing the readings.

I'm bringing in Yoko One to yodel during the three and half year period of my life since November 2016.

I plan to outlive the audience.


Not much different, really.

Cancelled a trip to a North American Bridge Championship scheduled to start this week, only to have the tournament itself be cancelled a few days later.

Wondering whether my Crete visit - Hi Tony - in mid-May is going to be a casualty as well. Probably.

Spent a delightful two-plus hours on the phone today dealing with getting prescriptions delivered. Astonishing problem. CVS, where I have the prescription, is offering free delivery. So I call to get it.

I'm told my insurance "doesn't authorize delivery." Well, since it's free, what difference does that make, you ask, or I did, anyway. "The only way to get delivery is to pay the full price yourself." To her credit, the pharmacist agreed with me that this was insane, all the more so when it turns out the full price is $500, generously reduced to only $200 by a coupon that is available. The regular copay is $3.00.

She agrees to call BS/BC to see what it's all about. Calls back to tell me to call them and talk to Margaret, who can help. I can't get Margaret, but get another agent and explain the problem. She thinks it's nuts too, calls someone and then informs me that the issue is as follows: BC/BS runs the prescriptions through an outfit called ExpressScripts, which, if you use their pharmacy, mails you your meds. They won't authorize delivery, even for free, unless you order through them.

So, a number of calls later I'm bullied into moving the prescriptions over. All this took more than two hours, and that's with, may I say, a very helpful pharmacist at CVS and a very helpful agent at BC/BS.


This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with.....unnecessary red tape.

I tend to be rather hermit-like and self-isolating anyway these days, except on the rare and joyous occasions when I see (as opposed to talking to) sibs and friends. We've already been doing some of that by Skype, and are set to do a whole lot more (with people who weren't previously on). I'm drinking a bit (strong vintage cider, or amontillado sherry), and cooking for myself, and now getting pretty much all of my groceries delivered. Otherwise: reading, TV, Netflix. And lots of sleeping, having defaulted back to my old rockstar-like circadian rhythm of staying up late reading most nights, and sleeping til lunchtime.

staying up late reading most nights, and sleeping til lunchtime.

All the best people keep those hours. When we can . . . which unfortunately isn't often for anyone who hasn't achieved retirement.

It's semester break at the university anyway and with museums and my favorite program cinemas closed, I naturally hang around at home. I will invest some time in my (fake*) mosaics. Perusing youtube (lots of interesting doumentaries and old movies) and delving a bit deeper into my library of still unread books.
Maybe trying again at the collected Latin works of Jacopo Sannazaro since I know that will be on the menu next semester.

*i.e. only on the computer. I have neither the space nor the financial means to do actual stone and mortar mosaics.

I've been a subscriber to the Digital Concert Hall on and off for years - it's very good artistically - well duh - but also technically.

Work from home, do chores, listen to music, read. Look at funny animal stuff on facebook.

Except for not going into the offic a couple days a week, really no change. I do have to dig a little deeper to find the motivation to change out of pajamas in the AM.

I was a failure this weekend. My planned avoidance of crowded public places went by the wayside when we went to pick up our allotment from our wine club at a local winery. It's an open, breezy sort of place, and I figured it would be empty, given the circumstances. When we arrived, it looked like Wine Woodstock. We did manage to seclude ourselves in an outdoor spot for a couple glasses, but I wanted to get the hell out of there. I can drink wine at home just fine.

My kids started "distance learning" today. There's talk at my office of working from home, at least 3 days a week, which I expect to happen very soon.

staying up late reading most nights, and sleeping til lunchtime. (...) All the best people keep those hours. When we can . . . which unfortunately isn't often for anyone who hasn't achieved retirement.

Yeah, good old days, kids don't help... :)

I thought long walks in the park - among my favourite past times - (does that mean I'm middle aged?)- were ok, but:


Guess it depends on what you do in the park...

I work retail. I guarantee we'll be open until and unless the governor orders all nonessential businesses closed to the public.

I support the whole self-quarantine thing for public health reasons, but I have no idea how people who make a living from other people gathering are going to get through the next couple of months.

Waiters, bartenders, musicians, actors, performing artists in general, people who work in live and movie theaters. Tour guides, hotel staff, people who work in gyms.

People who don't get paid if they don't go to work, and who won't be going to work because work is not going to be open.

Unclear when all of that work will return, unclear how those folks are going to pay rent and eat for the next few weeks and maybe months.

GoFundMe only goes so far.

Some kind of unemployment insurance thing would be good, but I don't know how many of those people qualify, or how much money is in the kitty in the first place. I've been out of work once in 40 years, for three months back in 2004, and the benefits didn't come close to covering mortgage payment, basic bills, and food. Not remotely, not even semi-remotely.

I think I'm worried about all of that, and the difficulty it will cause, as much as I am the health issues.

This is going to press the big reset button for a lot of people financially, many of them people who are just getting back on their feet from the 2008 debacle.

It's going to be a hard year, for a lot of people, in a lot of ways. Regardless of where you think the responsibility for dealing with that lies, it's something we're gonna need to deal with.

The whole situation is getting a lot of under-the-gun experimentation on what jobs actually can be done remotely (even if the supervisors would prefer to be able to see people working . . . or not), and which simply must be done physically present. I have the impression that the number of office jobs suddenly getting done from home is shooting up. It will be interesting to see how supervisors adjust; management by objective is a rather different skill set than most are accustomed to.

However some jobs simply do require staff to be present. Things like manufacturing will, I suspect, just continue along. Retail, on the other hand, is likely to see substantial cutbacks as the number of potential customers drops; see the reduction in office workers. (Web design, specifically of retail sales portals for individual businesses, seem like a major growth industry. At least temporarily.)

This is frightening:


Brainstorming pertinent to russell and wj's comments.

Also frightening.

"The novel coronavirus is shed in the feces of infected people, which may help explain why it’s spread so fast, according to Chinese researchers.

The finding of live virus particles in stool specimens indicates a fecal-oral route for coronavirus, which may be why it’s caused outbreaks on cruise ships with an intensity often seen with gastro-causing norovirus, which also spreads along that pathway. More than 600 Covid-19 infections were confirmed among passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess, the ship quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan.

“This virus has many routes of transmission, which can partially explain” its rapid spread, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Saturday."
Fecal Transmission May Be Behind Coronavirus’s Rapid Spread: Chinese researchers find live virus particles in stool samples

Bulk transmission of COVID-19...

One suggestion from the Balloon Juice article Janie links to:

A period – maybe three months – in which mortgage and rent payments are not due
Now the benefits of that are obvious. What is less obvious is the downside. Yes, there is one.

Consider my brother. He is "retired", but his work history was such the his Social Security payment is around $15 per month. And no IRS; just some regular savings. He makes ends meet by renting an in-law unit on his house property. Implement a rent holiday and he suddenly has the income of a waitress whose restaurant has been shut down. Except that "unemployment" isn't an option either.

I guess what I'm saying is that our steps to mitigate the first level problems need to be looked at for unintended consequences. Not unlike the rerouting of flights from Europe to just 13 US airports caused lots of people to have to stand in lines next to sick, and potentially sick, people for hours. Oops!

What is less obvious is the downside. Yes, there is one.

Not that I expect anyone, including myself, to read BJ's comments sections with any care or faithfulness (although when I skim them, sometimes I learn a lot) -- but that question is raised more than once in the comments to that thread. The problems are complicated, the ways to address them will/should be as well.. That's why it's a brainstorming thread and not a "teacher teacher I have the answer" thread. That's why it's a world-historical disaster that we have the apotheosis of green running the country (and I don't mean just Clickbait).

Ack! That's IRA, not IRS.

I used the term “shock doctrine” to describe the brutal tactic of using the public’s disorientation following a collective shock – wars, coups, terrorist attacks, market crashes or natural disasters – to push through radical pro-corporate measures, often called “shock therapy”. —Naomi Klein

And government. 9/11 for example. And some politicians are trying to use the current crisis to push through things they've wanted all along.

green -> greed

Also, the apotheosis of simple-mindedness.

I gotta go get some work done.

And some politicians are trying to use the current crisis to push through things they've wanted all along.

Well, we've needed certain things all along, and now we need them even more. Duh.

Yes, we've needed the TSA all along to help spread viruses.

Yes, we've needed the TSA all along to help spread viruses.

You're right. I was just about to come back and qualify: we need some of them even more.

The ones we need we are not likely to get with the chinless one in charge of the Senate.

Yes, we've needed the TSA all along to help spread viruses.

My view would be that TSA used to be a useless waste of time. But there was no chance of replacing it with something quick and sufficient, because the inconvenience and theater was the whole point.

But now that it is a visible threat to everybody's health, it may be possible to implement something diffetent. Which provides as much security as necessary, but without the lines. Here's hoping.

In a similar vein, we may be looking at universal (or at least universally available) vote by mail. Hard on the vote suppression enthusiasts, of course. But when the alternatives are a) crowds of people (in particular old people) at the polls or b) cancelling elections altogether? There isn't time to roll something like that in for the primaries. But for November -- I think it's inevitable.

I am currently in Finland, working as usual. The coronavirus has spread here only moderately, but naturally, I have some elderly relatives who might get it (parents and parents-in-law, and a host of uncles and aunts). Happily, the virus is mild for children, so I don't need to worry about kids.

My own job is in an industry vital to the nation, and my work rather essential, so I don't worry too much about my own income. It is quite unlikely I could get fired. On the contrary, we are actively planning how to maintain our workforce at acceptable levels to maintain production despite the unevitable sickleaves.

More widely, though, things are exceptional indeed. The Finnish government just gave the motice that they will be declaring emergency for the first time since WWII. This is not small potatoes. Calling emergency powers allows the government a very large freedom of action. Fortunately, we have a wise prime minister, supported by an excellent president, so I am quite sure we will weather the storm. Currently, the government's action plan seems responsible and very non-panicky.

"And some politicians are trying to use the current crisis to push through things they've wanted all along."



And some governments will fail and their countries fall completely into chaos and savage violence.

We're high on the list.

Hide conservatives and libertarians.


But don't you fucking dare hide behind any form of government.

Under the title of STFU or be STFU forever:




She's wasting her God-given freedom on a meal at Red Robin? They rebrand with a new name: Last Meals.


Take the Governor's children away him by force from and place them in protective custody and vaccinate the crap out of them.


Any shit that Kramer shits from his mouth.

If I get this virus ... if any of my loved ones get this virus ... there will be terrible vengeance.

Denver just closed all restaurants and bars, except for takeout and delivery in some cases, until May 19.

I suspect 25-30 of the restaurants will never reopen. No doubt Red Robin will still be around, judging from the class of asshole that stuffs their gullet there.

Take care everyone.

25-30 percent.

Must maintain standards. ;)

In the San Francisco Bay Area, 6 counties have ordered "shelter in place". For the next 3 weeks.

The order limits activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs.
The order defines essential activities as necessary for the health and safety for individuals and their families. Essential businesses allowed to operate during the recommended action include health care operations; businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals; fresh and non-perishable food retailers (including convenience stores); pharmacies; child care facilities; gas stations; banks; laundry businesses and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence.
It's not, technically, martial law. But the thrust of it is: If you don't absolutely have to be out, don't go. It's OK to go if you must, e.g. for grocery shopping -- not that there is much of anything on the shelves. And that's not much, compared to last week, which was already seeing panic buying.

I just got back from shopping. Trader Joe's was very busy and when I was done there was a line out the door. Shelves were far from empty, but a few items were totally gone (eggs, for one). Then on to Molly Stone's where alas, I could not find any jalapeno peppers. But everything else was fine. Long lines at checkout but very orderly, no panic.

King County, WA, is pretty well shut down. Schools closed. Restaurants and bars closed. Traffic light. Spent weekend napping in easy chair (recovering from nasty cold). Boss set me up to use the "cloud" from home...and here I thought clouds were only good for yelling at. Would have mowed the lawn as sun was shining, but temps were in the 30's and the wind chill had to be below freezing. Owners have shut down two of our construction projects citing the revenue fall off due to the virus.

Looks to me like an economic free fall is going to take hold very soon. Countering will require getting money directly into people's hands, not diddling around with interest rates or subsidizing the banking industry. People gotta' eat. People gotta' pay the rent.

Fuck the bankers.

From JDT's link upthread, Miss Nevada State explains why she will be dining out at Red Robin, in spite of recommendations for social distancing :

Because this is America. And I'll do what I want.

Every nation has it's own form of national insanity. That is ours, in a nutshell.

Looks to me like an economic free fall is going to take hold very soon. Countering will require getting money directly into people's hands, not diddling around with interest rates or subsidizing the banking industry.

Hard to disagree with this. I doubt most restaurant and hotel workers, for example, have comfortable savings accounts. People are going to need help soon.

Miss Nevada State explains why she will be dining out at Red Robin, in spite of recommendations for social distancing:

Because this is America. And I'll do what I want.

And here you thought suicide was illegal! Apparently not.

That's not suicide, that's serial murder.

A Wall Streeter today said nearly all airlines around the world will go out of business in a month unless socialists step up.

Can anyone offer a (serious) theory why there are currently such long queues at gun shops? Have just been watching on C4 news...

You need guns to defend all that toilet paper you bought.

CharlesWT beat me to it.

If only it were a joke.

This is what some of them have been waiting for for a long time. Or at least, they think it is, though it's hard to sort out who believes what. The Limbaugh crowd is still blathering on the radio about how this is all a hoax. But I suppose even if you believe that, you still want guns to defend your supplies from the people who do.

Bottom line, you want guns. Any excuse will do. What was wj saying last night about how hammers and nails?

If there was an average of half a brain in each head in this country...oh, never mind.


...even if you believe that it's a hoax, you still want guns to defend your supplies from the people who think it's real.

JanieM, you have me looking up Dan Quayle quotes. Ah, what a waste that is.

I can see wanting to defend TP. After all, what else makes life worth living?

More seriously, I think it was more that this is a disaster, one which arrived from overseas. Therefore it is an invasion. Therefore you need something with which to repel an invasion: guns! QED.

Stockpile edible guns:


Warning: YouTube is seizing up. I think we'll lose the internet before this shit goes much further.

Let's hope those jackass pigs lining up at the gun shops (any sane government would close every gun merchant in the country until further notice) forget which hand is which and try to kill with roll a of toilet paper and shoot themselves in their fat republican conservative asses trying to wipe their butts with the semi-automatic.

I don't mind liberals purchasing weapons now. We are the hunted in this fucking shithole.

I really fucking hate 49% of the population that is filth in this country.

We need a reset and I mean a vicious one.

Under the heading of Whatcha Doin, I've just been reading the following article which could conceivably be of interest to anybody concerned with the Hobby Lobby evangelical billionaires, and the arcane subject of their acquisition of dodgy antiquities (or perhaps it would be more correct to say their dodgy acquisition of antiquities)....


If we were serious people, which we are not, David Clarke and his fellow fascist travelers would be shot in their heads on sight:


I never thought I'd live to be a law and order liberal.

Wussification, Clarke, is a bullet into your brain stem.

Not calling anyone out, I've got the same thoughts, but let's try some quarantining here


Apologies, lj, for contributing to the deflection by biting the hook about guns. Of all things.


Mea culpa, also.

Sorry, it was my fault, although not intended to be a hijacking I guess it was bound to be one!

First week of Spring Quarter classes will now be a soft rollout with actual instruction starting in week 2 of 10.

My wife, who follows NextDoor, reports this:
People are seeing a 90% reduction in spam phone calls.

For every cloud, a silver lining.

spam calls:

Monday: 6
Tuesday: 7
Wednesday: 2
today: 0

I don't get it. Have the robo-call machines got a virus or something?

in my daily development team meeting today, the topic veered into discussions of bidets and Japanese toilets that will raise their lids when they sense a human is approaching.

400 or so years into the modern era, and we have achieved intelligent toilets.

Oh brave new world, that has such gadgets in it.

My sis and I both got scam calls in the last 24 hours from purported Life Insurance companies, which made us wonder whether people are panicking about dying, and therefore easy meat for scammers.

Oh brave new world, that has such gadgets in it.

Some parts of the world aren't so brave or new.

My daughter looked at me like I had lost my mind once when I walked out of a restroom in the Barnes & Noble near Elmira NY muttering about how we've had indoor plumbing for two thousand years (the Romans, IIRC), and we still can't get it right.

The reason was: the shape of the bowl was so flat that the paper from the previous user just sat there instead of getting flushed down, even after three or four tries.


I'm sure that particular brilliant design was invented by the cousin of the twit-brained idiot who invented disappearing scroll bars in Windows apps.

sounds like a German toilet, with the 'examination plate'.

[ but why would such a thing be in Elmira NY (would this be the Arnot Mall?) ]

would this be the Arnot Mall?

Near it, but I don't think it's technically part of it. It's across the highway and a bit to the west. It's one of my standard pit stops when I take that road to Ohio. There's a Country Buffet next door. Buffet food, but convenient.

As far as "a German toilet, with the 'examination plate'" goes, I had never heard of such a thing. But a little googling suggests that the answer is no, because the shallow "plate" part of the toilet in the B&N was in the front of the bowl, not the back. It was the TP that was getting caught there, not the other...stuff.


heh. wild. there was nothing there but farms when i grew up around there.

try Aniello's pizza in Corning sometime. :)

Aniello's -- jotting it down for next time.

I used to go that way on almost every trip, since I-88 and I-86 are, on balance, so much quieter than I-90. I got stuck in traffic once in Buffalo: 2.5 hours. I don't like the circuit around Albany, either, and I'm getting more cranky about it every year as I get older and less accustomed to driving in traffic. Now I go a lot of different ways, oftentimes on relatively "back" roads, through little towns, just moseying along, not in any big hurry.

I spent two summers in Ithaca during college, and I remember it as a fairly peaceful little village. I drove through it again a few years ago, thinking I might stop at Moosewood, and was utterly lost in the congestion. So I get it about the farmland. That area near the Arnot Mall is hugely built up.

But you can still see a lot of beautiful country out that way....

Well, "village" isn't quite right for Ithaca, even in 1970, but it was nowhere near as congested as it is now.

Great line of the afternoon (for those who are working from home for the first time):
Productivity is not measured by the number of emails sent.

Gotta love it!

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