Category Archives: COVID-19

What day is it? And raccoons.

This morning I woke up and really had no idea what day it was. I was sure it was a work day but that was about it. So I made this:

I have also been working in the yard. I said that the raccoons tore up part of our yard looking for chaffer beetle larva. The right half of this photo, the dirt, is all the lawn that the little trash pandas pulled up.

They are cute… but a total PITA. But, this is spring and the seeds I scattered are coming up. It is a mix of grass and flowers called Fleur De Lawn from Portland Seed Company. I am adding some other flowers to the mix this year (Alyssum, Dwarf Lupin, Crimson Clover, and others). It is really lovely to sit out back amongst the daisies, clover, baby blue eyes et al. And, bonus points, you only mow it once a month.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.

5 ½ Weeks

Hump day of week 5 of working from home. It has been sunny and lovely in Seattle so that helps. I put a lounge chair out back in the sun for Ena yesterday afternoon and she spent an hour recharging her solar cells. With Ena being on crutches, her outside time has been practically zero for the past 2 weeks.

Ena’s surgery spot is healing well. She has a couple of more weeks on crutches. We heard from her cardiologist. She thinks Ena has a blockage but it isn’t high risk at this time. There are drugs in the mail – a statin that will reduce blockages. We will try that before something more invasive like an angiogram and stent placement or angioplasty (do they still do angioplasty?). All this is taking me back to my time at Target Therapeutics developing catheters for interventional neuroradiology.

Things that get me through the day: I use the Calm Blog’s – Take Deep Breath to do a 10 to 20 minute mediation each morning. I go for a brisk 30 minute walk before I sit down for the day. I have spending more time in the garden. We have an area that the raccoons tore up getting to chaffer beetle larvae that I had to replant. The very first sprouts are starting to pop up.

I take heart in the fact that Seattle’s early intervention seems to be paying off. There are vaccine trials under way.

I have really enjoyed watching Adam Savage’s Tested YouTube channel. He is like a close friend who is funny, cheerful, smart and insightful. It is a really joyful thing to watch him answer questions or to watch him build his various (and I do mean various) projects.

I leave you with a quote from Adam, quoting Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, about these times: “I think we find our moment of sadness terrifying because we find ourselves standing in a place where we cannot remain standing. The past has left us but the future has not yet taken hold.” You should really listen / watch Adam tell this story.

Stay healthy and stay well.


Besieged. /bəˈsējd/ adjective

(of a place) surrounded by armed forces aiming to capture it or force surrender. “the besieged city”

Ena asked how I was doing, how I felt. “Besieged” was the answer to came to mind first. I feel like the packages on the front step are little armies waiting to invade. The groceries I’m try to sanitize and unpack have tiny assassins hidden within. When I go for a walk, the people on the street are secret agents for the enemy empire.

She is recovering from surgery – still on crutches – and doing well. Our GP called to say that she looked at Ena’s chemical stress test (cardiac test) and that the results looked normal to her. We talk with the cardiologist tomorrow afternoon (by phone). In the mean time, she is lounging with her leg up, helping where she can, and plowing through novels otherwise.

Our very lovely and fun neighbor, Maggie, sewed face masks for us. It is awesome to have great neighbors. I have promised that when this is over, we will gather at our house and I will open some lovely Blanc de Blanc and we will breathe a great deep breathe.

All that said, besieged is how I feel. Watching over Ena’s recovery, and running the house, while trying to keep SARS-CoV-2 at bay, while managing my anxiety is making me a bit nutty (at best). So I look for some external rational help.

I look at the numbers for Washington and we are doing well. I take solace in that. We have had 338 deaths (at the time of this writing). If the fatality rate is 1% (1% of people who get the virus die), then we have had a total of 33,800 infections overall. If the fatality rate is 2%, then that number is about 17,000. We have had about 8,000 positive test results which, if you take that 50% of people who get COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms, lines up with 17K total cases.

All that means that there aren’t actually that many people out there in the whole population of Washington who are contagious at any moment in time. On Saturday (April 4th) 28 people died. That means (following the math above for 1% and 2% fatality rate) there were 1,400 to 2,400 infected people on Saturday. Washington state has 4.8Million people. That is pretty low odds of running into an infected person. If I am thinking about this right.

The other interesting number is the number of positive tests out of total tests. Given that we are testing only people with COVID-19 symptoms, the positive rate is less than 10% (just over 91,000 tests administered, just under 8,000 positive). Chance are good that if you have flu like symptoms, you have the flu.

With all this said, I hope for summer-time slowing of the disease and quick development cycle for a vaccine.

We did a brilliant thing with a whole chicken. Maybe I’ll write about that next time. Until then, stay well.

P.s. I love this from Das Frank. It is available on their site.

The trips we take and those we don’t

Back and forth to Kaiser again yesterday a couple of times. Ena had cardiac stress tests done starting at 7:45AM. We are waiting for results. This is an odd situation. They will call Friday if there is anything really troubling in the results… otherwise, we wait until her appointment with the cardiologist early next week. So no news is good news? I guess? Seems like a call with good news would be welcome at this time.

We picked up dinner from Piatti’s last night. I’m trying to help our restaurant friends out durning this time. Really sad news from the Seattle restaurant scene (which was amazing). Tom Douglas, who owns and runs 13 restaurants including our favorite The Dahlia Lounge, says that his restaurant group is broke and he doesn’t know how he will come back from this. We try to help the others we like by buying gift cards (like at Ray’s and Cantinetta) .

There is a ritual when we get home with takeout food. I transfer everything out of the to-go containers into clean bowls and bring them in the house. The containers and packaging goes straight into the trash. This is a lot of fussbudgetry trying to keep everything decontaminated through the whole process. If Ena wasn’t on crutches, it would be a bit easier. Here is hoping that we are turning the corner on Ena’s health issues and we will just be back to the current crazy situation.

Melanoma and Modern Dance

Well, Contemporary Dance but I digress. Good news on Ena’s melanoma. It is Stage 1 meaning it hadn’t metastasized (that took me three times to spell correctly). There is no further treatment. Now we just need to get the wound on the back of her calf healed up so she can get off of crutches.

We will know more about the cardiac issues by the end of the week. The fact that the cardiologist isn’t saying, “OMG, get to urgent care immediately” makes me think that this isn’t instant death threatening. Which is kind of reassuring. Though, we would like to know what and why and what’s next.

As I said before, the things we usually do that help us get through the gray Winter (dinners out, season tickets to Seattle Rep and the Meany Center’s World Dance series) have been cancelled. Which is sad for us and heartbreaking for both of the arts organizations and the performers.

Last night we dug through YouTube and watched some Grupo Corpo. Grupo Corpo is a (are a) Brazilian contemporary dance group. Their choreography is a mix of traditional afro-brazilian dance, ballet and contemporary dance. It is very accessible. Technically, they are stunning. When the whole ensemble dances in unison – they are in unison. Skirts all settle at the same moment.

Onqotô has a laid back tango feel. Sensual and lovely. Sem Mim brings the afro-brazilian beat and rapid movement together. The physicality, fitness and energy of the dancers is amazing. Grupo Corpo is posting dance performances on their site.

Take some time out from the crazy and enjoy a world-class contemporary dance group and lose yourself in art for bit.

Stay well.


Edit: corrected the spelling of Grupo Corpo. JP

So Sunday… and the ever resetting 5 day clock.

Last week was… challenging to say the least. Ena had surgery on Tuesday to remove a melanoma from her calf. She is now on crutches. During all of that, we discovered she has a cardiac issue too. So now we are dealing with that.

On Thursday, I had just gone to the grocery store in the hopes of not leaving the house for two weeks. Instead, we seem to running to Kaiser for tests and follow-ups every few days. When we get back from the clinic visits, we put our clothes and coats in the wash, wash our hands, then put on clean clothes.

I have set up a sanitation zone in the garage. All groceries and packages come into the garage. They sit for 24 hours if possible, then I unpack and sanitize things. If we don’t need them immediately, they sit on a shelf (dated of course) for 5 days. I’m willing to wait this out.

Every time I go out with people, I start a 5 day clock in my head. “How about today. Any symptoms?” At this rate, I never get past day three. We are back to Kaiser tomorrow morning.

From the amazing file: King Arthur Flour is out of flour and oats. There must be people who haven’t baked in 20 years who are now sitting on 50 pounds of All Purpose flour wondering if you put milk or water on it. They have it stacked in the back room on top of their 20 cases of toilet paper. Or maybe the US of A is discovering baking along with guns and beer.

There is an interesting trend according to this article. Baby chicks and seeds are sold out too. To quote:

“People are panic-buying chickens like they did toilet paper,” said Tom Watkins, the vice president of the company [Murry McMurry Hatchery].

People are heading back to the land and self-sufficiency. As the article says, “a new Victory Garden era”?

Finally, there is some light at the end of tunnel, at least in Washington. It appears we are bending the curve and getting towards a constant rate of new cases. We are NOT done with SARS-CoV-2 but we are getting out of crisis and more into maintenance. According to this prediction, the peak will hit us around April 17th. That doesn’t mean the end but it does mean that we can keep up the good (stay at home and 6 feet away from everyone) work and not have this get any worse.

To use a baseball analogy, which Brian McDonald of MOR Associates say I should never do: It is a home game. The visitors scored seven runs in the top of the first inning. We scored 4 runs to get back in the game. The games not over but at least we have a swinging chance.

Stay and healthy. Have a video conference dinner with friends. Buy some chickens and plant some seeds.


Talking with a friend, it helps!

Yesterday, we went to the grocery store in the morning. The store workers look frazzled and worried (like us all). I love our store and the workers there. When this is all over, I can’t wait to go up to each and everyone one of them and tell them how much we appreciated them.

After shopping, and using hand sanitizer, and washing our hands a bunch of times; we decided to get out of the house and go for a walk a Magnusson Park. It is a large open space but it was full of people. We were trekking off the paths to try to stay away from other people. That was probably the last time we do that for quite a while.

I swing between “OMG, We should have bought 6 dozen eggs and enough food that we won’t have to leave the house for 6 months” to “the risk to Ena and me personally is fairly low and we are doing what we can do… all we really can do is let this pass… what will be, will be“. I can do this switch several times in an hour. It is crazy making. [Did I mention that I was thinking that my next house would also be a giant autoclave?]

Yesterday evening, Christy called. Sometimes you don’t know what will help until it happens. It was great to chat with her. She is the CIO at our Bothell campus. Christy has been in full-time fire drill since this started trying to get the Bothell campus switched over to on-line learning – suddenly hearing from faculty who said (only recently) that they would never, in their life, teach on line.

She asked bluntly why was I so freaked out. I had to say, “It is just a perfect storm for anxiety”. Which is an admission that anxiety is running around being irrational… not me. I have a name for my anxiety when it is getting problematic. I call it Loki – the Norse God of Trouble. When anxiety pops up, I will say to myself, “Shut up Loki. Your not helping.” Guess I need to say that more.

Maybe we will follow the best case scenario in this NY Times article. COVID-19 might mutate and die out like SARS. It might go into seasonal reduction like flu. There are some promising anti-virals out there that might help the sickest survive. We might be back to something more normal by June. I hold onto this vision of a possible future (while planning for the worst).

Chris Hadfield has good advice. After all, the guy has been isolated in a dangerous environment before.