Coronavirus briefing notes

COOKING UPDATE

Some days are so boring that it’s hard to write about them. However, on Tuesday I started cooking a lentil soup in my electric pressure cooker when it fused. There was that smell and it stopped working. I transferred the ingredients to a slow cooker and ordered an Instant Pot (used by van life dwellers and now available in an Australian version) from Amazon. Incredibly it arrived on Thursday, coming from a warehouse in Melbourne. I ordered the smallest size as I want to be able to take it with us when we travel in the van. I’ve also found that the large one took ages to build up pressure before starting the cooking process and was hoping that a smaller size would result in faster cooking.

I’ve used it to cook a meat meal, steam vegetables and cook rice, all of the things I’d want to use it for on the road, and it is, indeed, somewhat faster in building up pressure. The only thing is I am needing to be aware of the much smaller pot and not try to cook such large amounts. All good, it’s simpler to use than the other one, much lighter in weight and uses less power, only 800W, and I’m happy.

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MATT’S NDIS MEETING

On Friday afternoon I went in person to a meeting at Matt’s villa about his NDIS funding. If the techology had been working I could have had the meeting using NDIS software, but just as well I went in person because we ended up talking to our NDIS contact on the phone. They are wanting to convert over to NDIS by June 1st, so it was important, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone. Matt was happy and relaxed, I don’t think he minds that we just talk on FaceTime, although he loves home visits with us.

I felt about anxious about contact, but didn’t need to touch anything, apart from getting a homemade poppy from Matt, and an anzac biscuit (handled with gloves I was assurred). I will not be managing Matt’s funds, but do need to appoint someone as a sort of go between with NDIS after the present person hands his case over. That’s in addition to the contact person at the NDIS. Thank goodness Ability Centre are handling all of the difficult stuff, like working out just what funding Matt needs, tricky as so many of his costs are shared. The meeting was a positive experience.

ANZAC DAY STREET SERVICE

I didn’t prepare (download the app) for getting up for the streetside dawn service yesterday, but went down to the end of the drive to see what it was like. I could hear the Last Post softly in the background and realised that our neighbour was standing behind me. There were about three couples standing out in the light rain. It was so light that moving under a tree gave shelter. I liked the experience – perhaps we should do this every year. It didn’t feel over hyped and jingoistic to stand at the end of the driveway silently, with others visible up the road, all of us silent.

ROADS THAT END IN TREETOPS

I had two possible activities today, to meet with some friends for our regular monthly walk, with adaptations to meet the criteria for only two people togethere and the fact that our cafe would probably not be open and even if it was, we could not sit down to chat. I thought of taking the van so that I could prepare coffee and a snack when we finished the walk as the plan was to around at a distance from each other to have morning tea. I even made a list of what to take and packed my backpack.

However, the second thing we had planned for the day would have needed to happen in the morning. We were thinking of going down to the Manning foreshore for a walk. We have a grocery pickup from Coles, Carrawa in the afternoon and it would kill two birds with one stone. However, in thinking of the logistics of it, we would have had to go in the morning and take our lunch, which would have conflicted with the Gwelup walk. I switched off the alarm at 6.00 a.m. and slept for two hours instead. I dreamt I went on the walk and then volunteered to drop one of the other people home. It turned into a nightmare journey and far more stressful that actually going on the real walk. Roads I’m driving down don’t end up in tree tops, as happened in the dream!

What ended up happening is that Stephen still has a headache this morning and isn’t feeling very well. He had a slight headache yesterday though was still able to go for an evening walk. Everything is off (apart from my exhausting dreaming walk) and I will simply drive over this afternoon to pick up the shopping. I was worried about contamination in the van anyway – we normally use the car and don’t worry too much because everything is in the rear of the wagon. There were ways around it, like taking a large plastic tub to put the shopping bags in, but it will be easier this way. Stephen was able to eat breakfast and said he no longer feels he will stay all day in bed.

HOW LONG WILL THIS GO ON…

I was early for Matt’s meeting on Friday and drove down to the Dog Swamp Shopping Centre to check it out. The car park was crowded with people coming and going. Hardly anyone had gloves and a face mask. Given the low rate of cases in here in Western Australia I can only conclude that there is little or no circulation of the virus. We have sort of lockdown lite here anyway, but the low numbers of infections and deaths seem incredible compared with other parts of the world.

I’m concerned that both the Prime Minister and our local Premier are putting teachers under pressure to teach students in classrooms, rather than with online learning and learning packages for kids not able to access lessons online. The numbers suggest that kids do not transmit the virus, but all of their stuff does (clothes, lunch boxes, backpacks) and having schools open means that many thousands of adults will be in contact through the kids. I don’t think that a few months out of school is necessarily bad for kids, although it will be hard on their parents who haven’t chosen home schooling by preference. It’s clear that many teachers are over sixty and would normally be considered ‘at risk’ and best to keep themselves isolated. However, we will see. I’m glad I’m not the parent of a school aged child having to decide what to do.

I’ve sent off another card to Mum. Even doing FaceTime sessions with her is hard work, given her problems, and I couldn’t face it this week. Although her nursing home is in lockdown, it’s never what you would call  a ‘hard’ lockdown. In other words, if I really wanted to see her, and didn’t mind the risk to everyone, they would let me. I wouldn’t have to cause a big fuss, just ask.

To people who want to end the lockdown now, without waiting for a vaccine, or better treatment options, I would say ‘make a list of all of your friends and relatives who you are prepared to lose to the virus’. Then have a think about whether it would be worth it to you. I have to say, my list is zero. Because even if your friends and relatives don’t die, the deaths you are happy to risk for the sake of more freedom to do things are the deaths of other people’s loved ones. We are still finding out how this virus kills people, particularly younger, healthy people with no preexisiting conditions. Can you really not wait? I want to go off travelling in our van really badly. But not enough to risk other people’s lives. Our lockdown isn’t harsh.

UPDATE

The lockdown has been eased from tomorrow. We still need to follow the 1.5 metre rule, but gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed, including 10 people at weddings. We can also indulge non contact outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, having picnics and camping. The word ‘camping’ positively leapt of the page for me. Of course, some people have been doing all of these activities in a discreet way, but at least now we won’t have to worry about being reprimanded.

I still plan to download the contact tracing app though keeping the data in the USA via Amazon is worrying. At least we can delete the app when the worst is over. Going to pick up the shopping reinforced to me that people are not keeping 1.5 metres apart in the shopping lanes.

We will still have the Australian border closed and it appears that regions within WA will still be closed to each other.

We should know within a couple of weeks if all of the changes result in new infections.

TRUMP IS SILLIER THAN USUAL (IF THAT IS POSSIBLE)

Trump really humiliated himself the other day, with suggesting people ingest bleach during his coronavirus briefing. It was dangerous as well. There are people in his country who have taken his silly remarks seriously. He doesn’t always sound so moronic and, like Trevor Noah, I thought he had a good chance of a second term before this crisis. The Republican Party let him go through his antics whilst they pass far right legislation to strip poor people of basic rights, including voting rights, women of the right to abortion, and other needlessly cruel measures. As much as they may cringe about his behaviour, it works for them, as well as for the Americans who feel left out of the good life enjoyed by the middle class, urban Americans. There are still people who believe Trump is on their side, however unlikely it seems to us.

PANDEMIC READING

An author I really enjoy is Peter May, a Scottish writer who now lives in France. He writes detective stories, basically, but with interesting backgrounds, including a series about a Chinese detective. Someone recently suggested that he write a book about a pandemic, which triggered his memory of a book he wrote about 15 years ago, before his books became popular, and had put away in a folder on Dropbox. The book is published as an e-book, with a paperback coming out soon. His virus story is called ‘Lockdown’ and set in London. One of the parallels with the present is that the Prime Minister contracts the virus. In the book he dies, unlike Boris Johnson.

The other book is Mary Shelley’s book ‘The Last Man’. It is about a pandemic set in the near future (relative to her) which gradually kills everyone in the world, except one man. The story is long and very convoluted, which messy flowery language in parts. I had to do a lot of ‘skipping’ which I did because the basic story was very interesting. Mary Shelley is famous for her book ‘Frankenstein’, which is also a blend of psychology and science fiction. However, she was a prolific writer all of her life and wrote lots of travel books as well as novels. I’d recommend ‘The Last Man’ if you are prepared to skip over quite large chunks in the second half of the book to get at the good stuff. She explores the positive and negative adjustments a society would make to cope with an ongoing pandemic and it is both hopeful, and terrible in it’s predictions.

 

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