Living in a SwH1N1e Flu Disaster Area

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I hate to even bring this up, knowing that several of my readers survived Hurricane Hugo. Others helped in the cleanup and rescue after the Indian Ocean tsunami and a handful are veterans of last year’s Sichuan earthquake. However, my county in California has been officially recognized as a disaster area. I would tell you the common name of the disaster, except that leadership of both WHO and US (boy, doesn’t THAT sound like Abbot and Costello) decided the long-standing name was slanderous, and replaced it with a moniker that will never catch on. Fortunately, the virus itself mutates rapidly, raiding DNA from its unwitting hosts. Thus, I’m suggesting we mutate the name of this pandemic and call it the SwH1N1e Flu of 2009.

This morning, I peacefully over-slept, but then hurried around to get the trash can to the curb before leaving for work. During the day, I proctored some tests, corrected some papers, and tried to explain the causes of the American Civil War to several groups of 8th graders. It was eerie.

Eerier yet, the kid we sent home yesterday with fever and a suspicious rash was back in class today, looking healthy.

Some of the 8th graders have gone to mimicking the masks they see in newscasts. They wrap lengths of paper towel around their faces (well, it does help avoid the causes of the American Civil War). They are mostly disappointed that an after-school dance was canceled, but school itself was not.

Coming home, I visited several stores in hopes of buying alcohol-based hand-sanitizer. Finally, I found some symptom of disaster: Hoarders had beaten me to the squirt-bottles of Prell. In the midst of times like this, it is the human kindnesses that stand out: The manager of PetCo remembered that he had a package in the back, designed to fit a wall dispenser they no longer used. He gave it to me for free.

The big question in the press (Google shows it has generated 3,344 news stories) is what Vice President Joe Biden said (or meant to say, or would have said if the lobbyists had properly briefed him) about flying in airplanes during the pandemic. What he seems to have said is that he would advise his family not to. (We were warned, as far back as the convention, that he is sometimes capable of this, or worse.)

Um. Texas is closing down entire big-city school districts.

The difference, however, is that school districts are tax supported while airlines need paying customers. So the spokespersons said first that Biden meant he would tell his family not to fly to Mexico. Later they said Biden meant he would tell his family not to fly if they suspected that they might be carrying the disease, were contagious, and constituted a likely danger to other passengers. (This is also the administration that believes condoms provide an adequate barrier against all the pertinent viruses, so there is precedent.) Personally, I’m glad that—for other reasons—I had already decided not to fly anywhere in the next several months.

But I do plan to keep going to school, until the health department recommends closing it. I will squirt hand-sanitizer on my students and hope we can look back on this official disaster as a fizzle. If that should come to pass, I will take off my hat, admit WHO’s on first, and let them call this virus anything they want.

Sunset @ Muir Beach Overview

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This sunset is brought to you by a bad Google Map that sent me eight or nine miles past the motel where I had reservations, and out narrow Highway 1. Fog had already hidden the Golden Gate Bridge, and was closing quickly on this scene, to the low moans of fog horns and the whistle of wind in the moss-draped trees behind me. I stood it as long as I could and then hurried back to the car and its heater. Then I drove back in the direction of cell-phone reception. The desk clerk's Urdu flavored English was difficult to decifer, but I caught that the motel could be seen near a Walgreen's. I'm in Marin County doing research (on the inland side of the peninsula) for my novel. (Note to Google: no Walgreen's up this stretch of Highway 1.) Note to self: Thank Google for one serindipitous bad map.

Shock and Awe

Sunday, April 12, 2009

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead...'"

(Matthew 28:1-7a NIV)

Oh happy day! Jesus, the Christ, has shattered the gates of Hell.