This is something that I started writing on April 1st of 2020 but never turned into a full post. I think it was shortly after this that I started working full time for the 2020 Census and I got sidetracked. It’s nothing unusual, but still interesting to see what I was thinking about back then, during the height of the pandemic in New York City. Unsurprisingly, I was concerned about toilet paper.
Coronavirus Journal: Day 28 – Impact areas and hoarding in the city
People in poorer neighborhoods are being harder hit, but they’re also less likely to hoard.
Cheap toilet paper in stock. Everything isn’t being immediately wiped out. It’s amazing, because this area is one of the harder hit areas of the city. It’s an area where people are still boarding the train every day to head to work because they work in essential services. They’re being infected in the trains.
I live in one of the hardest hit areas in the city and the country for COVID-19 and I think it’s because most of the people that live in this area work in industries that kept going during the pandemic, so close contact in public transportation and at work kept transmission rates high.
According to current CDC data, transmission, hospitalizations, and deaths are down, despite people mostly giving up on masking and the lack of interest in booster shots. I imagine the numbers are trending downward because more people are developing some level of immunity. I’d also read previously that viruses tend to evolve into less lethal forms to ensure their own survival as well, so maybe that has something to do with it.
I have a feeling COVID-19 is going to be around for the long-haul now, like other serious illnesses. We’re going to have to figure out how to mentally accommodate that knowledge while we get back to living our lives.
At this point, vaccine mandates are just about control.
We don’t live in monarchies or dictatorships. People have a right to make their own choices about medical procedures. Let them make their choices and deal with the consequences.
COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. The sooner we stop pretending it is, the sooner governments have to stop abusing their authority.
This is just the new PATRIOT act. Soon, they’ll want to track everyone’s movements 24/7. For safety.
We live in Europe and don’t have such a thing…
Like said, the government isn’t some monster or alien.. It’s people chosen by us.. Why is this an issue? It’s also the law you need to wear cloths in public right? Or is that also a first step to TOTAL control about every single aspect of your life..?
Sorry but I really don’t get this way of thinking. What do the vaccine and tracking people have to do with one and another? There’s microchips in the vaccine? Sats can track vacinated people? What?
The issue at stake is bodily autonomy. The State shouldn’t be able to force you to undergo a medical procedure that you don’t want.
Even if nothing else is in your control, you at least should have rights to your own flesh and blood. That’s not the same as putting on pants before going outside.
And the tracking is in the Vaccine Pass apps that are mentioned in the article that you shared. I see this as a first step towards governments normalizing this level of surveillance.
And with this precedent, what’s next? It’s ok to jail people who don’t get an annual flu shot? The State gets to say who is allowed to have children? That sounds absurd, but in the US, we fought that fight already.
The only business the government should have in healthcare is in providing access, not in demanding compliance.
A little follow-up:
The conversation ended there, but just to clarify one thing, in the US it has previously been illegal for those considered mentally handicapped to have children. It has also been illegal for mixed race couples to have children at different points in the past here.
When you let the government start dictating what medical procedures you must undergo to take part in essential activities (work, shopping, being in public spaces), you open a door for the government to take further liberties with that power. It sets a precedent.
Every time the government says it just wants to do one thing related to one group of people for a specified time, that’s never the end of the overreach of power. The US was founded on the principle of limited Federal government. All powers not specifically set forth in the Constitution are reserved to the States that make up the Republic. The government is going to constantly look for ways to accumulate more power.
That’s why there are constant calls for more regulations, restrictions on gun ownership, and demands for backdoors into encrypted communications networks. It’s about control. Controlling citizens. Anyone that’s been paying attention should know by this point that no matter who gets into office, it’s always more of the same. That’s why nothing meaningful gets done even when one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. That’s why money keeps getting dumped into pet projects instead of programs that would actually improve quality of life for average citizens. There’s the government and then there’s the rest of us.
Demanding on pain of job loss, homelessness, and starvation that citizens get vaccinations is unconstitutional and illegal. It’s also immoral. Demanding that children get a vaccine that has a higher rate of harm than the virus it protects against is evil.
I received this card from the people at New York City Relief for my birthday. It was a nice gesture that I appreciated. New York City Relief is an organization that tries to connect people in need with essential services.
I spent some time volunteering with them in late 2019 and early 2020, before the pandemic really set in, when they used to provide services out of the Bowery Mission. I don’t see the location listed on their calendar anymore.
It was a valuable experience and I’d like to continue, but I’m waiting for the pandemic to die down first. It’s kind of a shame, but we don’t live in a country with a universal healthcare system, and I want to minimize my risk of getting sick with something that is likely to lead to hospitalization. The city is getting busy again, but I think that’s more the result of lockdown fatigue than an actual improvement in the situation.
I was just thinking to myself that I’d like to go to Georgia to visit family. Especially some of my family members that are starting to get a bit older. I’d like to see them while I still have the chance. I’ve been meaning to go see them for a while now.
I looked up the cost of a bus ticket. $106 one-way. Then I checked the price of an airline ticket. $126 round-trip. Wow. What a deal! But then I remembered that I’d heard about needing a COVID-19 test to be able to travel. I wonder how much that costs?
And then I realized that I’ve probably been exposed to the virus and that my desire to see my relatives before it’s too late really isn’t in their best interests, health-wise.
Plus, there are quarantine requirements there and here if I remember correctly.
The ability of the average person to freely travel is really being locked down. How much of these precautions are legitimate? How much is government overreach? Why was there never a huge bump in numbers after the closely packed protests and riots? When do things go back to normal? Next year? Next month? It’s really amazing and fascinating how questionable reality has become in the last 4-5 years.
It’s a testament to the power of the media to shape our understanding of the world. And probably a testament to the dangers of building profitability for a “news” site around ad revenue rather than subscriptions. Things probably went truly wrong with Facebook and Twitter, though. It became too easy to boost misleading and untrue narratives into the national consciousness.
Anyway, I’ll have to put off my travel for a bit longer. Until I’m sure I’m not going to ride into my relative’s homes on a white horse.
I was thinking about the ways that the COVID-19 experience has changed the way we live our lives in New York City. Beyond the obvious continued closures I mean.
As a kid, when I would come here to visit family, the crowds and noise were part of the appeal. Staying up late and seeing and hearing the traffic outside was exciting. It felt alive and a little dangerous. It felt like there were endless possibilities waiting for you as soon as you hit the concrete outside your building’s front door.
Not so much now. A lot of businesses are reopening, but a lot will never open again. Businesses that are open are limited capacity. Same with restaurants. You have to book reservations for something you used to just walk into at will. You have to provide your name, ID, and contact information to dine inside. It feels arduous and invasive and kills the vibe.
To be honest, I never really did much shopping in person before, but I did like to wander around book stores and comic book shops. Old record stores sometimes too. And there was something fun about just sitting in a cafe, talking and people watching. You can’t really do any of those things now. You’re corralled and then rushed through the experience to accommodate occupancy restrictions. So, why bother? If I can’t enjoy the experience, why make the trek down to the store? With all of the traction that online retailers got during the lock down, I wonder how much in person retail shopping will come back in New York City over the long term?
Will people fall back into old habits or maintain new ones? I read somewhere that moments of change in people’s lives are the best opportunity for companies to change shopping habits. That’s why expecting mothers get bombarded with ads for example. The COVID-19 pandemic and lock downs were pretty big moments of change so it was a great opportunity to cement new shopping patterns.
With the lack of restaurant dining and easily accessible amenities like museums, art galleries, and theater performances, with being shut up at home all the time or going from home to work and work to home, it was like a curtain was drawn back. New York City without all of the extras is pretty unpleasant. High rent for a shoe box apartment to live constantly surrounded by high crime and filth isn’t that appealing when you can’t justify it with amazing dinners out and the ability to just pop in at a world class art gallery on a whim.
Movement control orders. Lock downs. Quarantines. Flying restrictions. Travel restrictions. I’m reminded of a book I read about the development of the passport in Europe during a time when travel beyond one’s own village was extremely uncommon and made a person suspect. It feels like we’re going back in time. It’s becoming ever more difficult to simply travel to another State or country after a long period of increasing mobility.
I wonder if there’s anything to that? Accustoming people to being ordered to remain in place in spite of Constitutional guarantees of free movement. Getting people familiar with receiving food rations. Making people feel like it’s ok to have their privacy invaded in exchange for a seat inside a 33% capacity restaurant. That’s a lot of extra government control of our personal lives.
And I get it to a large degree. It’s a trade-off between personal autonomy and collective well-being. There has to be a balance there. But I wonder if the amount of rights and information we’re being asked to give up is greater than the threat we’re facing? Are we doing good or creating an un-legislated set of PATRIOT Act style COVID-19 rules?
I keep coming back to how there was no spike in COVID-19 deaths after the riots and mass protests that started in June and have continued unabated in some areas of the country since. Shouldn’t all of those people congregating together have caused COVID-19 rates to skyrocket, if not among themselves then in adjacent vulnerable populations?
I understand that this is conspiracy theory territory. I know the virus is real. I’m not going to subscribe to the idea of the government using COVID-19 testing to insert microchips in people’s heads or bloodstreams, or to the idea that COVID-19 testing is actually COVID-19 infecting, but I can’t help but wonder if this was overkill.
The virus was in New York City since November or December of 2019 at least. Our numbers were high because the virus had time to spread before we started testing. If it was going to spread like the plague it would have caused a lot more damage before the city shut down in March, but it didn’t. Why were we fine on March 1st, but we suddenly needed refrigerated trucks for the deceased on March 31st?
Anyway, a lot of people are fleeing New York City or changed their minds about coming here in the first place. Unless things improve drastically in the next few months, I’m going to start looking at moving to another part of the country. I’ve been hearing news about COVID-19 spikes in Brooklyn and Queens and different news sources have been telling us for months that the virus could spike again in the Fall, leading to another round of shutdowns. I don’t know if I want to go through that again. Things haven’t been normal in the city since January already.
I’m all for social distancing, but I couldn’t figure out what the point was of having people line up outside of stores inside of the mall.
I had to make a run out to Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, NJ this weekend. I had to drop off a return at the Amazon Books store in the mall. It was something I ordered online but that just didn’t work out quite how I wanted it to and I figured I could kill two birds with one stone: drop off the return and then drive 5 minutes over to IKEA and pick up a few things I’ve been looking to get since pre-COVID.
I figured there would be people in the mall, especially on a holiday weekend, but the crowds were massive. It was so packed in the common areas that I often had to walk slowly behind people or veer wide around large groups. There were often bottlenecks caused by lines of people trying to get into stores next to kiosks. It was often shoulder to shoulder. Keeping people in lines outside of stores was actually increasing instances of close contact.
I’d never been inside that mall before. It’s almost ridiculously big. I don’t really like shopping in person anymore but I’m interested in going back, hopefully when it’s not as crowded. I guess it’s because of how empty the city has been recently, but I actually started to get agitated by the crowds. It became uncomfortable and I had to get out of there.
I never made it into the IKEA either. Earlier on this year when IKEA first opened up again, I remember reading about long, long lines of people waiting to get into IKEA stores. Months later, they’re still a thing. There must have been 250+ people waiting to get into IKEA and the store was scheduled to close an hour and 20 minutes later. Half of the people there waiting weren’t even going to make it in the door, so I just kept driving and went on home.
I keep wondering when things are going to get back to normal. Will it be right after the election? Will it be next year sometime? Never?
And does it really matter anymore? I’d like to go back to the museums, but I’m not going to give myself the headache of trying to prepurchase tickets at tourist rates for specified time-slots. Other than that and the lines at IKEA, my day-to-day hasn’t really changed that much. Though, thinking about it, it would be nice to sit down at a restaurant again too.
There’s a whole lot going on in the US right now but I’m at the point where I’ve started to tune it out. I’ll probably drop some rambling posts about the social unrest and venture into fringe conspiracy theories later, but not right now. It just gets so tiring, you know? Like, why should I try to carry the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders (or in my head) 24/7? It’s a constant burden and it can weigh a person down.
So, I’m trying to get back to focusing on things that I actually enjoy, like manga, movies, studying Japanese, and cats. And I’ve been working more now that things are starting to get back to normal in New York City, which is nice.
This past Monday, businesses started opening back up. There’s still no dining in, which is a good thing honestly, but it was super nice to be able to get the car washed, drive downtown, and get takeout from Thai Terminal and Veniero’s. I really missed their food, especially Veniero’s cheesecake. It was so good that I didn’t even bother to take a photo of it before gobbling it down.
Hopefully, COVID-19 doesn’t spike. I’m not really interested in another shutdown, but with all of the protests and rioting, it could happen. I wasn’t really prepared last time, so if there’s going to be another shutdown I’m not going to get caught with my pants down again. I picked up my Mom and we went to New Jersey to shop at Walmart. My cart was overflowing. LOL. I didn’t hoard TP or paper towels, but I picked up quite a few canned and frozen items along with olive oil, honey, canned soups, and other staples.
We stopped by Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater and the grocery was open (which was great because we needed Yakult) but the food court was still closed. Daiso was open and we wound up picking up some nice dishes with cat designs:
So, I’ve moved on to memorizing Japanese kanji. It’s actually more fun than I expected. I’m starting to remember the component parts of the kanji and it’s making it easier to start guessing at the meanings of other kanji. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I can read simple kid’s books in Japanese.
Speaking of Japanese, if you haven’t read Dungeon Meshi / Delicious in Dungeon, I highly recommend it. The last chapter was especially good. It’s probably the best chapter in the manga.
And speaking of reading, I’ve plowed through about 50 books so far this year, including the entire Witcher series. That one is really hit or miss and The Last Wish, which the Netflix series is based on, is definitely the best of the bunch. It was worth the time, though, as someone who really enjoys fantasy novels. I’m reading a book about Israeli history right now and it reminded me of why I was so fascinated with Middle Eastern history while I was studying it in college. I’ll probably go on a run of books about modern Middle Eastern history next. I also want to get around to reading The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ve been putting it off, even though I’m really interested in it.
Last thing I want to mention before putting things away so we can eat dinner is that there are new kittens in the apartment. Here’s one of them:
So, last week was pretty low key. That in itself is something to be grateful for given the circumstances. We’re still in one of the worst outbreak areas of COVID-19 in the world and no one in my family has gotten sick yet, thankfully. I’m a little concerned about how things are going to go with that. We’ve been having warmer weather so more people are congregating and other States are relaxing restrictions already even though they’re still on the upswing of the outbreak.
Some highlights for this week:
After many months, our cast iron skillet is finally developing a significant non-stick layer. We’ve baked chicken in the skillet with good results and also made filet mignon (stovetop + oven) that turned out amazing.
The filet mignon. We hadn’t had any since last year.
Got a lot of work done on last year’s taxes. I should be done with them by this weekend.
Got to actually binge watch a series for the first time in a few years. We found a show called “Into the Night” on Netflix that was really good. It has a lot of edge of your seat suspense that kept us reaching for the “Next Episode” button.
We finally found out when our stimulus deposit will hit our account.
Sitting at home all the time, I’m not doing a lot that’s exciting. I was thinking the other day that I haven’t posted anything to Instagram in a while because I haven’t been out to see anything that I felt was worth posting. But I’ve been using the time to read more, study foreign languages more, and to try to finish video games that I bought years ago and never got through.
For example, I’m about 60% of the way through “Grand Theft Auto V”. I bought the game about 7 years ago, got about 37% of the way through it and never finished it. I’m having a lot of fun watching Michael and Trevor’s bromance unfold.
So, I was sitting at the dinner table, trying to get some remote work done and I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye, out the window. I looked over and saw a black bird, a crow, standing on the antennae of the neighboring building.
Ok. Great. A crow. I felt like it fit really well with the current mood in the city and the country. We are the new Italy. We are the new global epicenter of death and coronavirus related destruction, so a crow seemed really appropriate. Hell, the scientific name for a crow is even “corvus”. Coronavirus.
But then he turned and looked at me and I realized the fucker was holding half a hotdog in his beak.
He hopped around, turning this way and that, as if he was gloating over his prize. He must have realized I was watching him because he stopped and starting eyeballing me. He tipped his head back and forth and then decided to move to safer ground, just in case I felt inclined to go out the window after him to challenge him for his hotdog.
The fact that the crow was holding half a hotdog in his beak just made the imagery better for me. Here was a representation of death holding a hotdog and chilling outside, the American coronavirus mascot.
I could almost hear him screaming, “HOLD MY BEER! USA! USA! WhooooooOOOooo!” as he flew up and away, out of our control.
I was downtown in the East Village this afternoon. I was a little excited to see what was happening down there. I also had to get a power cable we need for a work monitor and I wanted to drop some stuff off at my Mom’s place.
I keep going outside with this expectation that the city is going to look completely deserted, like it did in downtown Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy. It was creepy as hell at night back then because there was no power downtown. We had to use flashlights to get around and one night, it looked like my wife and I were the only two people on 14th Street for two blocks in either direction.
Today, though, you wouldn’t think anything out of the ordinary was going on. It just looked like a typical afternoon. Maybe a Sunday afternoon instead of a Tuesday afternoon, though. And there was noticeably less traffic on the road for a weekday. But there were plenty of people out and about and only a few of them were wearing masks.
I wore an N95 mask while outside today. It was kind of nice because people gave me a lot of extra space on the train bench, platforms, buses and on the street, just in case I was sick I guess. I might keep wearing an N95 mask for a while after this thing dies down!
It’s hard to reconcile what I’m seeing on the street with what I’m hearing in the news about Italy. Who knows how bad this will all get here, though? I read that cases of corona virus more than doubled to over 1200 between last night and this morning. I doubt things have even come close to peaking in terms of the virus running its course.
I went with my Mom over to C-Town on Avenue C. I think she asked me to come with her just in case the crowds were more than she could handle on her own. It wasn’t too bad when we got there but it’s like the crowd followed us.
The shelves were just about wiped out of pasta, fresh cut meat, bread, tortillas, canned soup, and some varieties of cooking and olive oils.
I still can’t understand what the hell people are thinking down there. I didn’t bother to check to see if they had liquid hand soap or toilet paper. We don’t need any.
In the Bronx, by contrast, the stores are still relatively well stocked. The shelves at my two local groceries were empty of bottled water and some hand soaps, but there is plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, and more importantly fresh fruits and vegetables.
I’m a little curious to know how this is all going to play out. I mean, Trump is saying this corona virus situation is going to continue through July or August. New York City is limiting gatherings to 50 or less and pretty much all venues are closed. Restaurants are limited to take out and delivery. Gyms are closed.
Can businesses afford to be closed until August? Can people who work in the service industry afford to be out of a job for 5 months?
I saw on Twitter than the government is talking about dropping some cash on the masses, but the figure they’re throwing around is $1000.00. For a large portion of the country that might be ok if the situation only lasts 2 weeks. In New York City that isn’t even rent, even in the bad parts of town. It certainly isn’t going to do anything to help people who suffer from underemployment or unemployment for 5 months.
Not that I’m surprised, but with the economic situation this dire, most people are losing their minds because Trump referred to COVID-19 corona virus as the Chinese Flu. So what? No one cries that the 1918 flu is called Spanish Flu. And we all know it came from China. It doesn’t even matter what it’s called. If people want to be ignorant and abuse Chinese people, they’re going to do it regardless of what you call the virus.
People seem to like getting themselves bogged down in minor battles over ideological purity. They lose the forest for the trees. And I think Trump does this stuff just to troll people. I think he trolls people just like other trolls troll people and for the same reason. Imagine the rush you would get if you could make millions of people have fits over a word choice that isn’t even offensive because it might, maybe, possibly, cause someone to be mean to Chinese people.
I don’t even care. I’m going to ride this out and then I’m going to head to Chinatown and pig out.
BTW, here are some pro-tips for people out panic buying: