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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Social Distancing



Funny, what a difference a few days make.  Last week I said I had not made any major changes in my life, in light of the Coronavirus.  Then on Thursday, everything changed.  Sports practices for the weekend were canceled.  Two separate overnight trips my kids had planned were canceled.  Religious services for the weekend were canceled.  Wait, what?  Then, that night, I finally received the cancellation my family had been watching for.  I got a text from my kids' school district.  It instructed me to check my email for an important update.  The email was curt and pointed.  It read:



Dear Parents,
As a precautionary measure, Ridgefield Public Schools will be closed until further notice. Additional information will be forthcoming.
Sincerely,
JeanAnn C. Paddyfote, Ph.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools




And that was that.  We were homebound from there forward.  We are now trying to figure out how to deal with Social Distancing.  One of my boys asked me how long school would be closed.  I told him, "Indefinitely."  He asked what that meant.  I told him, "Forever and ever."  He did a Fortnite dance and bounced out of the room.

Fortunately, we were prepared.  I am a bit of a Prepper.  We have staples, including toilet paper.  We also had the milk, bread, and bananas Mrs. M. and I bought last week.  We were low on eggs, though.  I made cheesy omelets on Saturday but then made pancakes on Sunday so we could make four eggs feed five people.

The weekend was quiet.  There was nearly zero traffic on our road.  We watched TV.  We played video games.  One of my kids and I took the dog for a long walk around the property.  Then we played HORSE for an hour.  It has been cold lately so we could only stay out for so long.

Home Schooling with Coronavirus


Our plan for this week is to hold classes for the kids in the morning and then find something fun to do in the afternoon, each day.  Mrs. M. is a teacher.  She will handle the academics.  She has been home from work for a week, now.  She provides support to her students, online.  Her school district is next door to the first virus case in Westchester County and close to New Rochelle so they were one of the first districts to close.

I am the one who always practices sports with the kids.  I will be the gym teacher.  Lifelong friends of mine who read this will find that ironic.  I was extremely uncoordinated as a kid, all arms and legs.  Picture the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, when he first comes down off the post.  I sat the bench in Little League baseball and in high school soccer.  In pickup sports I was always picked last.  But these days I work out and run several times a week.  I am an expert skier and snowboarder.  I practice each of my kids' chosen sports with them.  I will be their gym teacher for the next few weeks or months, however long we have to do this.

Rule #18 Limber Up
Rule #18, Limber Up
We were fairly well stocked on supplies before this thing hit.  No need to run out and buy 80 rolls of toilet paper.  But we did run out of eggs over the weekend.  Also, my wife wanted a cabbage for Saint Patrick's Day.  We are not Catholic (though we each have one Catholic parent) but Mrs. M. grew up eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's every year so that is what she does.  Also, people say, "Everyone is Irish on St. Patty's Day."  I do not protest this.  Who can say no to a nice corned beef?

Caraluzzi's Parking Lot
Lotta cars for 8am at the Mom & Pop

Coronavirus Food Shopping


I ventured out of the house, just before 8:00 a.m.  Traffic was lite for a Monday morning.  People seemed to drive faster than normally - about 15 miles (24km) over the limit rather than 5-10 miles over.  I went to the "mom & pop" grocer rather than the big chain store grocery.  It is closer.  I also thought they may have a better selection, with all the hoarding going on.  Since it was early I thought there would not be many people.  I am not very good at predicting the future.  (If I was, I would have won the Powerball a long time ago.)  The parking lot was packed!

There was one open parking spot.  Someone had left a shopping cart in it.  I pulled up to the spot to block it so no one else would take it.  I got out and moved the cart to the side.  I parked my car.  I walked out into the parking lot.  On the ground were two blue surgical gloves.  I may not be able to predict the future but I am pretty good at reconstructing the past.  A self-centered person raided the store.  They loaded up their giant SUV with toilet paper.  Then they ditched their personal protective equipment right on the ground for someone else to deal with.

Blue Surgical Gloves
Really?  Slobs...

As I was taking pictures of the gloves, a guy walked up and offered to return the shopping cart for me.  I told him thanks but I was going to use it.  Those were probably his gloves.

Despite the scene in the parking lot the store was not as crowded as expected.  The shelves in the produce section, as you walk in, were fully stocked.  I had no problem finding a cabbage.  I also picked up some bananas - they are very popular in my house.  I got them green because I did not want to clean them with bleach.  I figured I would just put them in the sun on the counter at home and tell everyone not to touch them for two days.

Beaucoup produce
Beaucoup produce

I walked to the back of the store, where the cold stuff is kept.  That was where I began to notice we are in a pandemic.  The sushi cooler was almost completely empty.  This is Fairfield County.  The store had tons of red meat that no one was touching but the sushi cooler looked like the toilet paper aisle.  There was something packed on the left side of the cooler - probably California Rolls.  Why do they always make so many of those?  And there was some seaweed on the right side.  I am always dubious of seaweed, since Fukushima.  But sometimes I close my eyes and eat it anyway.  It is delicious.

No Sushi
Where all the sushi at?

They had milk.  I probably should have gotten some, just in case, but I know that dairy cows are not getting the Coronavirus.  There will be more milk.  The same could not be said about the eggs.  I do not believe that chickens will be contracting the virus either but eggs keep longer than milk.  People must have bought up as much as they could carry.  Maybe that is what they are buying all the toilet paper for - to protect forty dozen eggs on the way home.

There were a few cartons of egg whites on the shelf.  I did some quick math and figured the amount of food in one of those cartons was equivalent to less than a dozen eggs.  However, it costs 4-10 times the price of whole eggs, depending on what kind of eggs you get - organic, free-range, college educated non-smoker, etc.  I took one carton.  I briefly contemplated getting two but thought I would leave the rest for someone else.  We can eat other food for breakfast for a day, or two.

Brontosaurus Steaks
Brontosaurus Steaks?

The checkout line was stretched all the way across the store.  All the shopping carts were overflowing.  More quick math - looked like a 30-45 minute wait to get out.  I am the kind of person who always looks for a better way.  Usually this causes me to get in the checkout lane behind the person whose debit card stopped working, or they need a price check on something, or the cash register just ran out of receipt paper.

This day was better.  I walked the length of the store looking for an express lane.  I only had three items.  There were no express lanes.  There were plenty of lanes with short lines - I guess the people at the back of the long line did not realize that on the other side of the store other people were making there own lines.  I got in a line with only a few people, with overflowing carts.  Then a store manager told me I could go to the Customer Service counter, with my three items.

No Eggs
The one thing I went out for

The woman behind me overheard this.  She ran ahead, essentially cutting me.  I let it go.  If it was a man I might have called him out.  But it really was not worth it.  Also, I was trying to avoid close contact with other people.  I was already exposing myself more than I had wanted to.  I will definitely wear a mask and gloves, the next time I go shopping.  I will not discard them in the parking lot, though.

On the way back home I stopped at a pharmacy to look for eggs.  Some pharmacies have coolers for milk and eggs - not sure why milk and eggs go with cheap "cheater" reading glasses and men's diabetes compression socks.  But then I also do not understand why folding lawn chairs and thneeds go in a pharmacy either.  These stores are turning into mini flea markets that seem to sell whatever they can get a deal on.  At any rate, the moment I walked in, the cashier called out from a distance of thirty feet (10m).  She asked what I wanted.  Eggs!  Sorry, no - maybe later, when the milk comes.  I left.

Check out line
Check out line at the Mom & Pop

As I approached my house I rolled up behind the chain store delivery truck.  It was bringing groceries to one of my neighbors.  I wondered if they would deliver just eggs...

I returned home and wiped down my carton of eggs and cabbage (the cabbage was wrapped in cellophane) with a Clorox Wipe.  I washed my hands for twenty seconds.  I told everyone not to touch the bananas.  Later in the day I saw that someone had moved them from the counter to the island.  We are all going to die.  On my gravestone, please write, "He tried.  Someone moved the bananas."

Grocery Delivery
Grocery delivery by my house



It is now Tuesday.  The first school day had some ups and downs but went mostly well.  I took the kids out for "gym" class.  We started with three laps around the pond.  The pond is about 3/4 of an acre.  I am guess-timating three laps is about a half mile (800m), the route we took.  We have one neighbor whose house is close to our property.  His dogs went nuts when the four of us ran by.  He was jovial, as always.  We have nice neighbors.

I let the kids take turns leading.  I kept telling them to slow down.  It is not a race.  They are not used to distance running.  They did not listen.  I think they also thought, "Listen to the old man, telling us to slow down, ha ha!"  Halfway through, the older two were tired out.  They began walking.  My little guy and I kept running.  Ha ha!

I had each kid practice their primary sport with one other kid while the third kid helped me with yard work.  They all switched off, every fifteen minutes.  My daughter plays travel softball, my middle son is crazy good at football, and my youngest son is getting into basketball - he is also a fantastic wrestler but the ground was wet and it was cold - just below freezing.  Also, he could hurt someone.  I did not want to go anywhere near a hospital.  We finished with another three laps around the pond.  All in all, gym class went well.

Math class was... animated today.  One of the kids kept asking our Google machine the answers to math questions.  This was supposedly because they are not allowed to use scrap paper.  My wife and I both shouted BS at the same time.  We said to use scrap paper.

I am feeling a little sick today.  That is likely just springtime allergies.  We have all felt it for about a week.  If this is the virus then it is not too bad.  But I highly doubt that.  None of us have fevers.  Most likely, it is just from the pollen.  It will get worse in April.  I will have to get some new filters for the heating system and turn on the blower for a few minutes every day.

I spent the rest of the day yesterday doing some business and catching up on email.  I got a fire going, in the fireplace.  It was a fairly normal work day.  Mrs. M. asked me to go out and grill some chicken.  I would have liked to pour a martini and sip it outside, in a heavy coat, but I had a meeting with the Finance Committee for an organization I volunteer for.  We did it online for the first time.  The technology worked well.  Then I played Minecraft with my daughter while eating cold chicken and rice.  I had my martini here at my desk.


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