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The New Pandemic Normal
(from the archives, March 2020)
So mentally, I'm prepared for this. Financially, I will probably be ruined. Emotionally, I'm certain to get through it. Healthwise, I say I'm in better shape than most people my age, but you never know. I'm not the Omega Man. What's 3 or 4 Greek letters backwards from Omega? Upsilon? I'd rather be the Tau Man, so I can associate it with the Tao.
The aim here is to make use of some basic skills I have and do my part sitting at home and rapidly parsing through a mental landscape of data / information / knowledge / wisdom and present it with some common language commentary. I don't have many more than a couple thousand followers all told, but I do what I can. I hope I can keep my head when about me are losing theirs. I know I can't just data dump. So I'll do some fraction of a daily thing and interpret what it means to me, giving a sense of what I believe to be actionable and that which is just good to know. I kind of do this for a living - which is to boil down desires, aims and goals into systems that use data / information to help people turn it into knowledge. I can't get paid for assisting people with the wisdom part.
I'm going to start with helping you understand my perspective. So last year I suffered through what seemed my worst year in about the last 20. I'm 58 years old, and can write both essays and software. I took a salary cut and burned through 75% of my savings. I got kicked out of my apartment and started renting in a newer more expensive place. My son was hospitalized twice for mental illness. My mother suffered blood clots that could have killed her. I was diagnosed with depression, and I basically blew my top at a big family gathering. I gained about 17 pounds and I'm sure there were other things I can't think of at the moment that made it a miserable year.
On the other hand, about four years ago, my younger brother dropped dead (of a blood clot) and then my mother suffered a stroke. I then went through the agonizing processes of dealing with my son's mental illness, and the shaky financial position of my employer. So I had a couple years of tragedy and sorrow to prepare me for 2019. So things haven't been normal for me since 2016 or so. But even prior to that I was prompted to approach Stoicism. You shouldn't call Stoicism the hero of my story, but it is a nominee for best supporting actor. So if you wonder how it is that I've managed to John Wayne through a lot of this, part of it is my personality, part of it is Stoicism and part of it is that I've had a lifetime of ups and downs. Back in 1989 I studied the Tao. It helped me to understand how to live in the present. That's a part too. It's not about me. This just helps you know who I think I am not being a medical expert trying to be helpful.
I have a wife and two adult children who live with me and I suspect my wife will be the hardest hit if it comes to us getting infected and sick. So I am concerned for her. My father is 83 years old and has survived cancer, but is starting to be frail and forgetful. His wife has also had some serious medical issues over the past few years. I worry that they may not make it. I have an uncle who is the oldest of our family, and a couple aunts for whom I am concerned. I also have a cousin who lives abroad where things might not be so tightly wrapped. So a number of my family members are at risk, as are all of my friends who are around my age. I have watched my father see all of his dearest friends die (and one of his sons) over the past several years. I see what it's like to look backwards and not forwards in life.
I have Evernote and I started using it to keep track of this and that for years. This week I started taking notes about COVID-19 and now I have enough to make some kind of presentation. It started with the big reveal on Joe Rogan's podcast with Michael Osterholm. This is some of the best straight talk I've heard and it is my ground zero. Last Friday I purchased 200 nitrile gloves and sent an email to my local CERT alumni coordinator. That was the moment I started dealing with the fact that I'm going to have to deal with this. But the interview really kicked it off for me and straightened things out. I expect now that washing my hands will give me a 5% better chance of resisting infection, and adding gloves to that will add another percent or two. It's really about breathing.
Here is the tweet that got me a few bits of rec.
@mtosterholm @CIDRAP And see his interview here.bit.ly/3aNVOMI and his book is here: amzn.to/2TQpxNW
So I'm going to close this first post by making a parallel between Osterholm and the man who tried to warn us about 9/11. So if we know nothing at all, we know that there are people who know what they are talking about, who are working on the problem and have mastered the details enough to be able to see the big picture. I'm all about the big picture. All of everything I've written here in this blog over the past 17-odd years may add up to nothing during my life, but I took no money to say what I had to say. This is an unexpected turn, but I can do it. More people are going to die from this than from that terror attack. And we survived. We survive a lot. So much that most of us don't have to think about survival. I do, because I've had to deal with death, something I'm now mature enough to reckon with - even my own. So I'm keeping my head up and my eyes open. You can too.
More later. I want to expose more of my thinking, but this is enough for now. (It's about thinking through it, not just knowing stuff.)