Does it feel scarier than it’s ever been? That’s because it is–but it’s 100% doable

Michele Huggins shared this, which does an excellent job explaining  the “why’ and worth knowing about PREVENTING this getting further:

“For those that still do not understand social distancing. This is as simple as it gets:

So much confusion, misinformation and denial is bouncing around on social media about the coronavirus this is in plain language, why the experts see this as such an emergency.

MB900301060You will see the claim online that this virus is a lot like the viruses that cause colds, and that if you get it, it will probably just seem like a bad cold and you are very unlikely to die. Depending on who you are, these statements are probably true. But they are incomplete, and the missing information is the key to understanding the problem.

This is a coronavirus that is new to the human population, jumping into people late last year from some kind of animal, probably at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. It is related to the viruses that cause colds, and acts a lot like them in many ways. It is very easy to transmit through the respiratory droplets that all of us give off. But nobody has ever been exposed to this before, which means nobody has any immunity to it.

The virus is now moving explosively through the human population. While most people will recover, about 20 percent of the people who catch it will wind up with a serious disease. They will get pneumonia that causes shortness of breath, and they may need hospitalization.

Some of those people will get so sick that they cannot be saved and will die of the pneumonia. The overall death rate for people who develop symptoms seems to be 2 or 3 percent. Once we have enough testing to find out how many people caught the virus but did not develop symptoms, that might come down to about 1 percent, optimistically.

This is a large number. It is at least 10 times higher than the mortality rate for the seasonal flu, for instance, which in some years kills 60,000 or 70,000 Americans. So just on that math, we could be looking at 600,000 or 700,000 dead in the United States. But it gets worse.

Older people with existing health problems are much more vulnerable, on average. The mortality rate of coronavirus among people over age 80 may be 15 or 20 percent. It appears to have 7 or 8 percent mortality for people aged 70 to 79. Here is the terrible part: If you are a healthy younger person, you can catch the virus and, without developing serious symptoms yourself, you can pass it along to older people. In other words, as the virus spreads, it is going to be very easy to go out and catch it, give it to your grandmother and kill her, even though you will not die yourself. You can catch it by touching a door knob or an elevator button.

MB900337348Scientists measure the spread of an epidemic by a number called R0, or “R naught.” That number is calculated this way: for every person who develops the illness, how many other people do they give it to before they are cured (or dead) and no longer infectious? The R0 for coronavirus, in the absence of a control strategy, appears to be a number close to 3 – maybe a bit higher or lower, but in that ballpark. This is an extremely frightening number for such a deadly disease.

Suppose you catch the virus. You will give it to 3 other people, and they will each give it to three others, and so forth. Here is how the math works, where you, the “index case,” are the first line:
1
3
9
27
81
243
729
2,187
6,561
19,683
59,046
177,147
531,441
1,594,323
4,782,969
14,348,907

So, in just 15 steps of transmission, the virus has gone from just one index case to 14.3 million other people. Those 15 steps might take only a few weeks. The index person may be young and healthy, but many of those 14 million people will be old and sick, and they will likely die because they got a virus that started in one person’s throat.

The United States is not at this point yet, with millions infected, as best we can tell. We don’t really know, because our government has failed us. We are many, many weeks behind other countries in rolling out widespread testing, so we don’t really have a clue how far the thing has spread. We do know that cases are starting to pop up all over the place, with many of the people having no known exposure to travelers from China, so that means this virus has escaped into our communities.

We do not have approved treatments, yet. We do not have a vaccine. The only tool we really have now is to try to slow down the chain of transmission.

This can be done. In other words, R0 is not fixed – it can be lowered by control measures. If we can get the number below 1, the epidemic will die out. This is the point of the quarantines and the contact-tracing that you are hearing so much about in the news. But the virus is exploding so fast that we will not have the labor available to trace contacts for much longer, so we have to shift strategies. This has already begun, but we are not doing it fast enough.

It is now likely that the majority of Americans will get this virus. But slowing it down is still crucial. Why? Because the healthcare system has limited resources. We only have about a million hospital beds in America. We have well under a million ventilators. If millions of Americans get sick enough to need treatment, we will have a calamity on our hands. What will happen is a form of battlefield triage, where the doctors focus on trying to treat the young and allow the older people to die.

This is not theoretical. It is already happening in Italy, where people over 65 are being left alone on hospital gurneys to suffocate to death from pneumonia. They basically drown in their own sputum. There is simply not enough medical capacity to take care of them. The United States appears to be about two weeks behind Italy on the epidemic growth curve.

person washing his hand

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

What do we need to do now? We need to cancel all large gatherings – all of them. You have probably seen that the N.B.A. has postponed the rest of its season. Other sporting events, concerts, plays and everything else involving large audiences in a small space – all of it needs to be canceled. Even if these events take place, do not go to them. No lectures, no plays, no movies, no cruises – nothing.

Stay at home as much as possible.Stay out of restaurants. I would cancel any travel that is not absolutely essential. Work from home if you possibly can. You may have to go buy groceries and medicine, of course, but make the trips quick and purposeful. Wash your hands assiduously after you have been in public places, for a full 20 seconds, soaping up thoroughly and being sure to get between the fingers. Sunlight and alcohol will kill the virus.

And please stop passing around statements on social media claiming that the situation is not serious or is being exaggerated. This is a national crisis, and conveying misinformation to your friends and family may put their lives in danger.”

Making a place your own

Now that I’ve retired, I’m probably living in the last home I’ll ever own. It’s a mobile home, so most of the “decorating” is dictated by what’s built in and where, but we’ve added touches, etc.

But over the years, one of the things I have truly enjoyed is moving into somewhere new, whether it was a new home or a new office for my law practice. There’s something about taking an empty space and envisioning the possibilities that I just love. (not the packing up and moving OUT, btw. Just the new moving in).

So now that I drive Little Miss to her employment prep classes every day at Mission biltmore bldgHospital in downtown Asheville, I’ve noticed this small building on the corner.

It’s not for rent that I know of, and I’m certainly not looking to open a new office. But it’s just cute. I love the slanted windows and can just imagine filling them with an assortment of plants, creating a healthy and happy working environment. Even living on the left side and officing on the right? Could be very convenient, and a lock between the two would certainly make it safer than my last office, which was in my home. (Only one bullet hole in the windows, a potential bomb threat in a manila envelope,  and a dead deer in the front garden. Not too bad for 15 years.)

What about you? Do you enjoy transforming an empty space into one you’ll love to be in? Or is moving just another task of drudgery? Share the pictures and spaces you’ve loved–and hated.

 

Happiness is…

Back in the day….a day in the late 1980s, actually, we lived in a dream house. My ex knew a guy who knew a guy, and at that time THAT guy owned a house in the middle of a ten-acre grove south of Homestead, Florida, nearly to the Florida Keys.

It was a five bedroom turn of the century house with a screened in deck and fruitspool, and the grove had just about any tropical fruit you’d like to eat– mango, giant avocados, calamondin, tamarind, bananas, mamey, black sapote, lychees, a bunch more I never tried. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Of course, as long time followers of the blog know, this opportunity didn’t come without its down side. For one, it was just half a mile from the worst neighborhood in the lower end of Dade County. (see Shootout at the Mango Corral, above)

Also, it was in the middle of a fruit grove, so we had rats, and spiders, and even one night, a scorpion that nearly stabbed me when I was nursing the child.

But there were good times. Some of the best I remember were Sunday mornings, when the Miami Herald would come, we’d make a big pot of tea and take it out to the “veranda,” as we called our brick deck by the pool, and poolturn on Love94 Miami, which played Jazz in the A.M.

Full disclosure, ours was not nearly as fancy as this one, borrowed from Orlando Paver Pro, but with my feet up, reading the paper with jazz playing and the kids splashing happily in the pool, they were some of my best hours of the week.

It’s rare in this day and age to find a place that makes one feel content just being there, giving one an escape from all the other noise in the world. I know when I return to these mountains I now call home, I feel it, too.  What places make you feel like you are safe and content? Please share in the comments, with photos! blue ridge

 

 

 

The Missouri Compromise

No, not THAT one.

You’re thinking, oh this will be a boring discussion of slavery and American history. But it isn’t.

I’m drawing on the delineation of Missouri as the “Show-Me” state.

Those of us with loved ones on the spectrum often feel that we aren’t shown that affection that comes so easily to many of our NT kids and family members. For me, I sometimes think that Little Miss and I are on different planets, even though we live in 5518991291_8c8164c5cfthe same small home. We intersect at meals, sometimes. But even then, there’s often a screen in view and we’re absorbed in parallel play.

This existence is lonely-making, certainly. Not that she notices–she’s perfectly happy in her own world. If she’s sing-songing her imaginary stories in her head, she paces and exists beyond where I can see. If she’s absorbed in a screen, she’s elsewhere, too.

So I’m alone, but at the same time responsible for this woman-child, an adult by chronological age, but still much younger than her years from time to time.

She had a boyfriend for her last two years of high school, which worried me at first, as boyfriends do to all parents of girls past puberty. But I didn’t need to worry. She treated him much the same as she treats me–more as a thing to be checked off a list. As in, teenaged girls should have a boyfriend, now I have one. She didn’t worry much over the care and feeding of such a relationship, and eventually he approached me and asked why she didn’t want to be his girlfriend.

breakup-couple-vector-stock_gg64149870What followed was a messy few days when I explained how she is (he also has disabilities, but more physical than autistic), and assured him that it was likely the best he would get out of her. We were both sad, and then he broke up with her on social media. UGH.

She immediately decided she had to have a boyfriend and had logged herself onto OK Cupid before I even knew what she was doing. I panicked and at least put her onto Autistic Singles–who knew they had that?– but I shouldn’t have worried. Within a few days, she was reabsorbed in her own world, and I haven’t heard anything about it since.

So in a way, that’s great. No huge emotional scenes, no pining, no starving to death, etc. She’s happily back to ignoring me.

concert4

pic by Sandora JW Brown

But every once in awhile, a ray of light comes through. Last night we went to a STOMP! concert, and she propped her elbow on my shoulder for the show. It was definitely a “together” moment.

So we don’t push -much- and wait for those moments, those actual expressions of affection and gratitude and empathy. We live for those. Please, kid, SHOW ME. Just once in awhile. Thank you.

 

autism hugs

 

If we don’t change, maybe we don’t deserve to be here

I’ve been waiting breathlessly for the return of Babylon 5, a science fiction classic I got into belatedly. I even co-opted one of its characters, Lyta Alexander, when I was in an online RPG 20 years ago. Sure enough, it came on Amazon Prime finally, and I’ve started watching it. I hit a wall, though, watching the seventh episode in the first season, called “The War Prayer.”

The 1994 show, for those who don’t know, tells the story of a space station constructed after an interplanetary war in the year 2250, built to allow humans and aliens to interact in a hope of achieving peace.

This particular episode deals with a group on Earth called the Homeguard. These folks oppose dealing with aliens at all. Their chant and watchwords are “Earth First.” They terrorize aliens in an effort to scare them away and keep the station and Earth’s resources for humans only.

The station commander and security advisor discuss the situation, wondering what will happen if they release information about this “Earth First” group. Commander Sinclair bitterly points out that most who know about it are already fervent supporters, “and most of the rest just don’t give a damn.”

So, 24 years ago, we see the exact theme playing out that we see in today’s “Murrika.” Except here it’s a little more sinister. The leader of the country and those who support him in the government are pushing “America First,” not just random extremist groups.  We are terrorizing members of American cultural sub-groups, instead of Centauri, Narn and other aliens. Blacks, LGBTQ, immigrants–anyone who is not part of that specific WASP male culture risks being made second-class, losing their rights, or even being terrorized and killed at rallies or on the street.

Women are losing rights over their own bodies, due to recommendations made by committees of white men. Is it any wonder that The Handmaids’ Tale is so dark and frightening for us to watch? How long until we reach that point? In the show, the women’s rights slowly disappeared, one by one. The right to a job. The right to handle their own money. The right to read and write. The right to choose to have a baby. The right not to be raped. We see in the current government that while major brouhahas are going on in one place, calling the attention of the media and activists, that in Washington, Congress is quietly whittling away at other laws–many of which the majority don’t even read.

Not to mention the amendments and special interest-bits that get tagged on.

Clearly, this whole “Me and the people like me First” campaign is not new. It didn’t start with the current administration. it didn’t start with the last administration. It didn’t start back when the Republicans came right out with the policy of opposition, no matter what was on the table. (George Voinovich, 2002).  “The Other” is always something to be confronted; but should it be met with hatred and fear, or with a welcoming hand?

The hatred and fear continued in the Babylon 5 episode, as once the bad guys were caught and charged with the terrorist acts, the leader turns to his former friend on the station, and says this:

Malcolm Biggs: I can’t believe you did this to me, Susan. What kind of a human are you to side with – [looks at (aliens) Delenn and Mayan] *them* ?

Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova: I find many of these people to be more human than you and your kind. But I don’t suppose you’d understand that.

“I can’t believe you did this to me.”

“I can’t believe you made me do this.”

“Look what your parents made me do.”

The New Yorker on June 11, 2018, points out that the Trump Administration uses the language of domestic violence. It sure does. As someone who’s worked with domestic violence victims and survivors for over 20 years,  what I read in the news makes me sick.  And it doesn’t look like it will end any time soon.

The sickness isn’t just one man. It’s pervasive in the system.

Maybe–just maybe–there are enough people willing to put themselves on the line to change things in fall 2018, in spring 2020. But we’ve been wallowing for a long time, living with all those who “just don’t give a damn.” When good people don’t engage, whoever’s loudest gets to control things, truth and justice be damned.

So I’ll go back to my nice fictional space station, where I expect this won’t be the last time we hear the Earth-Firsters. Because this is us. And we deserve what we get.

Some things are worth keeping

On the inside of my front windshield is this smear:

It says “Tasha.” It has been there since fall of 2014. Yes, I have not washed the inside of my window for four years. And I may not.

This is on the driver’s side. On the passenger side are a bunch of toe prints, mostly, because Little Miss likes to ride with her feet up on the dashboard, but also a very faint “Mom.”

We were sitting in a parking lot in Meadville, across from the movie theaters, waiting to give my sons a ride home. It was steamy inside the car, and I amused myself by writing her name with my finger. The usual response to such an act was a snappy, disgusted answer–she’s pretty serious most of the time and doesn’t understand teasing.

But this time–THIS TIME–she saw what I did, and voluntarily wrote “Mom,” with a smile for me.

It was a moment that I’ll treasure always. An actual connection of intent and mind. It hasn’t happened often over these 18 years, believe me. But when it does, it’s glorious.

So no, I haven’t washed the window, and I might not.

Ever.