on the edge of the pandemic recession
Sunday, March 15 2020
I took a 150 milligrams of pseudoephedrine to help power me through a Sunday that would end with an episode of non-social-distancing. Typical for March, it was just a little too cold to be outdoors, though the sun was strong enough to keep the house reasonably warm. I spent much of the day in the laboratory obsessively following the latest coronavirus news. I'd been finding the unfolding pandemic disaster with a kind of almost jubilant exhilaration, but today I started feeling a bit anxious about how bad things might get, particularly after reading an account in Talking Points Memo from a Bay Area doctor. Somehow that seemed even more ominous than the news "from the future" (of the J-curve) in places like Italy and Iran.
Meanwhile, I managed to successfully shrink a Raspberry Pi volume using PiShrink.sh, which means I can now clone volumes onto small SD cards (up until now, I'd been limited cards of 32 GB or greater, since that was the size of the volumes of the first images I'd made). In order to use PiShrink, I had to have a working Linux computer. Fortunately, I'd made one of my many Elitebook 2740ps into a Debian laptop.
The original plans for tonight was to celebrate Nancy's birthday at Tubby's, the hipster vegan-friendly bar in Midtown Kingston. But a lot had changed since those plans had been made and Tubby's had closed down due to the galloping pandemic. So this afternoon the plans changed: Nancy and Ray would be coming over for dinner. Gretchen would be making the same thing she'd made for Jeff and Alana, but instead of soup there would be vegan hot wings.
After we'd had that meal, we all went upstairs to watch tonight's debate between the only two Democratic Presidential candidates left: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Due to the pandemic, the debate was held without an audience and the septuagenarian candidates were kept about twelve feet apart (also: they elbow-bumped instead of shaking hands). The silence that enveloped their responses had an antiseptic quality, as if the audio had been scrubbed clean of all possible microbes. Gretchen in particular really enjoyed this format for the debate, though I mostly ignored it and noodled around on my Chromebook. It's increasingly looking like Joe Biden will be the nominee, so it was good to see him tonight talking mostly coherently and not being the gaff machine he often can be.
While we were watching the debate, Ray got a message telling him that the restaurant where he works would be closing down for the coronavirus. This implied it probably wouldn't be reopened for months. This represented a sudden major loss of income. Gretchen asked if Ray and Nancy would be okay, and they both agreed they were "fuct." Their health care costs had cut into their budget so much that they'd managed to run up credit card debt (which, as we all know, is not a sustainable budgeting technique). The only silver lining to this turn of events was that it probably means that Ray is suddenly eligible for Medicaid, which would remove a huge recurring cost from their budget. Ray would also be getting unemployment, which would give him a modest base income as he pursues his art (he's been prolific lately, painting numerous increasingly-amazing vaguely-figurative abstract acrylic paintings).
Speaking of paintings, I'd made a small one of Ray & Nancy's cat Francis as a gift for Nancy. I occasionally enjoy making paintings reflect the events happening when I paint them, so I'd painted a crown (with each spike topped with a red glob, just like in depictions of the coronavirus) atop Francis' head. I also painted in a white-light radiance shining from Francis, perhaps an indication of infectiousness.
Francis with a crown.
Four Francises with crowns.
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