Tag: pandemic

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An Independence Day Reflection

I can’t attest to other San Diego neighborhoods, but University Heights has undergone dramatic, observable changes since start of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March 2020. Many of the older, long-time residents sold their homes during the bubble boom and much younger folks—many of them couples with small children—moved in; more new renters can be seen than buyers, and a good number of the arrivals are Northern California escapees.

The question: How much does the demographic shift affect observable patriotic behavior—and, perhaps, installation of a more liberal administration in Washington, D.C. diminishing Donald Trump’s brand of rah-rah Americanism? I ask because this Fourth of July noticeably differs from every other seen since our first here in 2008. Most notable: The significantly smaller number of U.S. flags hanging from houses or multi-unit dwellings and absence from Park Blvd, which is the main business street. Other reasons may include progressives’ success spotlighting the country’s racial wrongs. Dunno, but I can say that this year’s celebration is muted—more so than even during pandemic lockdowns. Also observed: A surge in rainbow flags, which considerably outnumber the Stars and Stripes—that, too, diverges from all previous years.

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California Reopens

But explain to school kids what’s different, because they have to wonder. While establishments of all types are open at full capacity, the classroom routine is little changed: Students must continue to wear masks—a requirement that baffles the frak out of me. Is it possible reason that most of them have not been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19? For adults, the mask-mandate is only lifted for those people who have had the shot(s). Children are extremely unlikely to be infected, manifest the disease, become seriously sick, or die. So why muzzle them?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 0-4 account for 2.1 percent of U.S. COVID cases; 10.4 percent for 5-17 year-olds. Deaths: Zero percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. Citizens ages 18-49 account for 4.7 percent of total deaths, so teachers are probably pretty safe—especially if vaccinated. So, again, I ask: Why muzzle the kids? This morning, my wife and I passed by Birney Elementary as students arrived; they all wore masks, and parents, too!

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Decisions, Decisions

On June 15, 2021, California will largely reopen—fifteen months after Governor Gavin Newsom shut down most businesses and institutions, also instructing citizens to stay at home, in an attempt to slow spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. This sidewalk sentiment seems oh-so appropriate for near-normalcy returning. Granted, inflation rises, the housing market is insanely competitive, supply shortages increase cost for goods like lumber, and many reopening businesses struggle to hire enough employees—among other oddities. So normal isn’t nearly enough.

Newsom will free Californians four days before the traditionally celebrated Freedom Day/Emancipation Day—also known as Juneteenth. How ironic—or arrogantly preemptive—is that? But he is not relinquishing the emergency powers used to close down the state. How will that decision affect his chances during the special recall election that could, in a few months, remove him as governor? Surely some people will respect his maintaining authority, while others will say that he oversteps his gubernatorial powers. We’ll see soon enough.

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The Question is Why?

If I rightly recall from past signage, the same neighbor also believes that the U.S. government was behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Looking at this simple statement, perhaps he is among conspiracy theorists convinced that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 vaccines also inject nanites. If I could be so bold to suggest: Should Deep State operatives really want to track you, the 4G or 5G smartphone already carried would be more than sufficient. My question: What makes you (or me) so important that anyone would bother?

We already live in a surveillance society. If not cameras from any other house, it’s Facebook, Google, your Internet Service Provider, or a host of other online entities watching—and creating profiles about you. Because bungling bureaucracy is so certain, I would welcome government snooping over the efficiencies of high-tech money-grubbers committed to turning you (or me) into a profitable commodity. Suddenly, writing this paragraph, I am convincing myself that “No 4G/5G Here”—or any Internet access—has merit. Or maybe it’s time to install the VPN software that I licensed long ago but never activated. 🙂

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Where Will Apple Store Go Next?

I should write a long missive about Apple Store’s 20th anniversary. But my essay from five years ago today serves up the core information. Please read that one for my reflection on the grand opening and what then CEO Steve Jobs meant the retail operation to be and what it actually became.

More significant than being a singular event, Apple Store’s opening represented one of four risks taken in 2001 by the fruit-logo company during a devastating recession. While competitors massively pulled back, such as Gateway shuttering stores, Apple made investments that culminated in release of the first iPhone six years later. Besides retail: iTunes (January); Mac OS X (March); iPod (October). From them evolved the logistics and manufacturing infrastructure, research and development, sales, services, and software that culminated in the smartphone that transformed Apple from a struggling PC company into a tech titan.

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Be Ready for Face Mask Discrimination

Before the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, my wife and I were devout Trader Joe’s shoppers. But we lost faith during the months when long lines of people waited to be blessed entrance into the small stores. Our attention turned to humbler grocery cathedrals Food4Less, Grocery Outlet, and Smart & Final, which welcomed our presence and provided as good (and often better) sustenance for considerably lower cost. But with California slowly reopening, we occasionally return to Trader Joe’s—more to reminisce while grabbing a couple bananas.

We also go there for rolls of quarters, as I did this morning. The previous two trips, when getting cash back and casually telling the cashier about my plans, I was told: “We no longer give out quarters”. But when I traipsed over to the service desk, the gracious employees willingly exchanged a Twenty for two rolls. Last time, the gentleman even opened their new cash storage safe—installed sometime during last year’s coin shortage and after the nearby Wells Fargo branch closed, and never reopened, because of the pandemic.

Something changed today.

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Pandemic Pollution

What a difference a year makes. In April 2020, when SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), which causes COVID-19, seemed so dire and face masks were so difficult to find, I wrote about the perils of not wearing one—illustrated with a rare, discarded protective covering. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks, or social distance, in most situations—meaning: “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance”.

Long before the unexpected change to pandemic public policy, just two days ago, face masks could be found littered all about the County. San Diego Union-Tribune spotlighted the debris along beaches in July 2020; early last month, ABC News reported that “discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life“; the local CBS affiliate, reporting about the April 24, 2021 “19th-annual ‘Creek to Bay Clean-up'”, explained that there has been a surge in ‘single-use plastics”— and the “biggest offender? PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], especially masks”.

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State of the U.S. Pandemic

Because I have seen a couple news stories claiming that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising among the young, a look is warranted. According to the CDC, the trend is dramatically downward for all age groups from a recent peak during the first week of the year. For example: 496 cases per 100,000 for 18-24 year olds on January 2; 390 for 55-64 year olds. May 1: 33 per 100,000 for 0-5 year-olds; 65-79 year-olds; and those 80 or over. Number dropped to 89 for those 18-24.

But the death rate, what a plummet! For 80+ year-olds: 67.86 per 100,000 on January 2. Next highest: 17.08 per 100,000 for ages 65-79. Comparatively few people under 35 were dying then—even less on May 1: Zero per 100,000 from those 6-17 and 25-34; .01 per 100,000 for 0-5 and 18-24 year olds; .11 per 100,000 for the 80 and over group.

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Are You Coming, or Going?

New month, and I see lots of people moving in, around, and out of San Diego—and considerably larger numbers than any time during the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic year. Perhaps partial reopening of California and imminent lifting of the eviction moratorium (in about 60 days) are factors.

Citizens certainly are fleeing the Golden State. Crime, governance, homelessness, high housing costs, single-party politics, and taxes are among the reasons. Slowest population growth since the Great Depression era means California will lose one Congressional seat. All that said, many movers are staying in the state, and San Diego is one of their more popular destinations.

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The Fence Line

Since shooting the Featured Image on Nov. 11, 2020, I have edited and cropped numerous times, trying to get the right look. Nothing suits me, and I cannot explain reasons for finally publishing other than perhaps good example of failed attempts.

I had hoped the decaying fence, set against shrubs and trees, would produce feeling of being back in another era. Eh, no. The woman’s presence is happenstance, and her contribution to the composition is timeless only because of context: SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 had pretty much everyone wearing masks—nuttily even outdoors. But not this lady, whose uncovered face prevents the moment from being dated.

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What’s Your Definition of Temporary?

I captured the Featured Image on March 18, 2021, presuming to never need to publish. How mistaken. As of today, more than 13 months after California Governor Gavin Newsom issued his first lockdown order and nearly a week after San Diego County moved into the (supposedly) less-restrictive Orange Tier, the Wells Fargo in Hillcrest is still closed.

You got to love that “branch temporarily closed” sign and wonder why it all seems so permanent. For anyone banking there or thinking that the state really is opening up, don’t be a fool: the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 misery is far from over—and I don’t mean you ever becoming sick.