Tag: pandemic

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What the Past Means to the Present

Strange sometimes are the things tucked away—and forgotten. Our gas stove is acting oddly, with the clock resetting and occasional, but different, error codes flashing from the control panel. Surely something is in the process of failing; perhaps a fuse or circuit.

Appliances were new when we rented the apartment five years ago, and the owner’s manuals came with them. We stuffed the folder containing each in the cupboard above the range, which is from where I retrieved the lot today. How foolish of me to expect meaningful troubleshooting that reveals what are the codes. Instead, the manufacturer instructs to call for service should one of them appear. Oh yeah? Thanks for nothing.

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Sonic Boom of Behavioral Change

Around lunchtime today, when walking home from Von’s supermarket with cheap canned cat food, I got a hankering for a Sonic burger. We rarely eat out and the fast-food place was one of my father-in-law’s favorites. I thought to simultaneously see how the take-out experience has changed and to venture down memory lane. Surprise doesn’t enough express what I found or—stated differently—didn’t.

I stepped inside the restaurant to see chairs stacked on tables in fashion to cordon off most of the dining room. The menu screens were dark, as was the overall ambience. I could enter because roller-skating servers (e.g. carhops) exit through the same doors to deliver meals to parked vehicles. I vamoosed.

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Does Anyone Care Enough to Comply?

While my household has ample supply of masks, including environmental and medical N95s, I have absolutely no plans to cover up should mandates return—and looks like they will; in Los Angeles County, at least, and possibly here in San Diego, too. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention returns both areas to the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 high-risk category, which could lead to resuming face-covering requirements.

As of yesterday, according to official public health data that excludes Long Beach and Pasadena, 1,107 people are hospitalized in LA County—up from 606 about thirty days earlier. One-hundred twenty-nine are in intensive care, or about 11 percent of capacity. Daily Coronavirus deaths: Four, which is down from six on June 14. And that’s a health emergency enough to bring back mask mandates?

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Let the Music Begin

This evening, after a two-year hiatus because of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns (and fear), Friday-night Trolley Barn Park musical concerts resumed here in University Heights.

I passed by minutes before the players took the stage and while people settled in for a pleasant evening shared listening and commiserating. Temperature was a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius (72 F). Even now, as I write, 20 degrees (68 F) refreshes park-goers.

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Comic-Con’s Crazy COVID Conniption

To close out the month, and first half of the year, we connect the somewhat distant past with the not-so-far-off future. San Diego Comic Con returns July 21-24, 2022 with Preview Night on the 20th. The show floor, or break-out sessions, will look nothing like the Featured Image, taken seven years ago.

SDCC apparently didn’t get the memo that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 is endemic and no longer pandemic. Locally, people move freely about without being required to wear masks, be tested, or verify vax status. Based on the official tally, the cumulative-calculated case fatality rate in San Diego County is 0.64 percent. Meaning: Your chance of surviving Coronavirus is better than 99 percent, while more than 85 percent of those infected likely show no symptoms.

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Teachable Murals

If there were alternate realities, in another my wife and I would have purchased what we call the Schoolhouse nearly five years ago. Location, nearby Alice Birney Elementary, was one of the appealing attributes—that and misguided speculation San Diego would never allow any type of overdevelopment nearby the kids.

A block-long, multi-residence high-rise is under construction across from the school and SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 restrictions kept away students for more than a year. Both are ambience-killers. We’re better off with the decision made in this reality.

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We All Need a Smiley Break

Flashback two years, to May 2, 2020: SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns compelled Californians to avoid anyone and to otherwise practice so-called safe social distancing. The seeming hardship would pale compared to racial riots that would erupt weeks later.

One of my neighbors literally put on a happy face—among several encouraging, or funny, street decorations to adorn this University Heights property and/or the sidewalk straddling Meade Avenue. Seems like every time I walked by something different greeted. Thank you.

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WHO Dunnit? Sweden or the United States?

Yesterday, my wife and I read an essay that praised Sweden’s approach to combating SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. The prescient tome published two years ago, only about a month after World Health Organization declared a pandemic. The country chose not to shutdown, unlike many others across Europe, North America, and parts of Asia. Outside health officials, assisted by the news media, lambasted the plan: Keep the economy and society stable while letting viral spread quickly achieve herd immunity.

I wondered: How well did Sweden fair and how does the outcome compare to the United States? So, today, I moseyed over to the WHO’s website for a look. As of April 22, 2022, in Sweden: 2,498, 388 confirmed cases (e.g. infections), from which there are 18,689 deaths. Divide one into the other and you get a case fatality rate of .75 percent.

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The Angry Birds

Somebody is unhappy about all the talk that avian flu will lead to poultry shortages in the worst scenario and soaring selling prices in the better one. Look at those grim faces dominating the Featured Image captured on April 14, 2022 using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 10:39 a.m. PDT.

You can panic, and be sure smug prognosticators of doom are correct, when Costco rotisserie chicken sells for more than the long stable $4.99—or simply is unavailable.

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Pop Goes Another Housing Bubble

The current housing bubble—and there absolutely is one—bears only modest resemblance to the previous catastrophe, which I warned about in a lengthy August 2005 analysis. Rising mortgage rates already are deflating the 2020’s-decade bubble, but the pop is unavoidable without fundamental changes in the actual market or the myths used to explain existing dynamics.

Since before anyone heard of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19, which economic and societal disruption super-inflated the housing bubble, I had warned about a dangerous trend that ignores common sense observation of national demographics: Among the two largest segments, Baby Boomers are dying off and Millennials aren’t having many kids. As population growth stalls, there will be less demand for housing because there will be fewer people to buy. Meaning: All the babbling about not enough inventory has set into motion an overbuilding frenzy that is sure to deflate home values in the not-so-distant future. Before pandemic lockdowns, I had thought within 10 years. I now expect less than five—if we’re lucky.

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The Cats of University Heights: Leo, Too

The series‘ second Leo is housemate to Wilbur, whom we met yesterday. I have only seen the ginger once, on Jan. 31, 2022, and continue efforts to clear up a surprising backlog of photographed but not yet published kitties.

About 52 percent of San Diego’s housed residents rent, and with monthly rates rising there has been tremendous turnover during the past 12 months—spurred in part by Silicon Valley tech employees relocating now that they can work at home. You can either blame or credit SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates for the migration—also explanation for fresh cat sightings.

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In the Windows

In a sudden, surprising retreat, Microsoft announced the closing of all 83 retail stores, on June 26, 2020. Yes, it’s reasonable to wonder if SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns played part in the decision. During normal times, the location at Fashion Valley Mall was never as busy as Apple Store, but the shop served vital brand, sales, and services roles. I am disappointed to see Microsoft Store gone.

I used iPhone 4 to capture the Featured Image, looking inside the San Diego location, on April 19, 2011. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 80, 1/125 sec, 3.85mm; 3:30 p.m. PDT.