Off the Top of My Head
March 31. This week, we'll have one big chunk o' prose goodness–everything served up all at once. I thought I was going to do a thoughtful piece, but that may have to wait, as I have to think about it a little more. Too much thought involved–three in the last two sentences–I'm all thought out. In the meanwhile, you get the same tasty stew of silly to sillier. Not real nutritious, but boy o boy, can we pack in the useless calories that go straight to the brain!
Totally unrelated: I have some new poems on the Poem page. Take a look!
In the fall of 2018, almost as a joke, we bought a 3 cell box of cauliflower plants at the garden store. We planted them, with no expectation of their ever amounting to much of anything. One plant lived up to expectations–it disappeared almost before we got in the house. The other two, however, not only survived, but thrived in their own way. We saw the distinctive white floret form in the center of the plant. Unfortunately, we had a touch of cold weather that was enough to ruin our crop. Tne plant stayed healthy, though, and we just sort of left it there. In the spring, it was gone.
That is, in the spring of 2019. In the fall, we saw the cauliflower plant growing again. The leaves have a nice gray-green color, so we left it. Then, this spring, we saw another vegetable forming. We left it alone, as it was too small and also had a slightly unappetizing yellow color (not that I find cauliflower of any color appetizing) Then after a bit of warm weather, we suddenly had this lovely three foot tall flower in the yard. If nothing else, I found out why it's spelled cauliflower and not cauliflour, my preferred spelling. Very pretty. That's it up above. top
The CDC Says
We got this card from the CDC last week. Without getting into the politics of the CDC apparently stumping for the President's re-election campaign, and considering some of the contradictory advice that the President and his coronavirus panel had been giving, I was very interested in seeing what those guidelines were.
I was really surprised when I read Number 1:
Listen and follow the direction of your STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES. Numbers 2 through 6 were variations of
stay home,, numbers 7 through 10 were
stay away form other people, and finally, we should always practice good hygiene.
Final card takeaway: No news is not always good news. Sometimes, no news is just no news. Nothing to see here. Move along.
I was wondering why I was thinking
Uncle Scrooge when I've seen pictures of hospital workers recently. Turns out one version of the facemask is called the
duckbill, apparently the choice of health professionals everywhere when fighting a pandemic, or even just a nasty virus (I made that up. Sorry). No explanation why it's shaped that way, although the shape can be traced back to 1619, and was used during a plague in Italy in the 1600's.
I've also seen people wearing masks that cover their mouths but leave the nose exposed. That's a waste of a perfectly good mask in so many ways.
Let me add my thanks (again!) to all those from hospital workers to grocery store clerks who are working to keep us safe and fed, especially those working without protective gear.
It's surprisingly hard to get simple, clear information about the progress of the coronavirus. The CDC has tons of information, which is navigable only by CDC statisticians. I keep forgetting that at the end of the day (and the beginning) the CDC is a government agency. They let us know how hard they're working by putting everything out there. More data than information.
So in looking around, I came across a couple of news sites that provide accessible information about the spread of COVID-19. My favorite site is this one, apparently some subsidiary of Gannett/USA Today (CNN also has a good map). The infographic shows the locations of the virus by state. The size of the orange circles shows how severe the contagion is. Hovering on a circle results in a pop-up box telling the number of total cases, active cases, recovered cases, and deaths. The CNN map also has a table that shows cases per 100,000 population, a useful statistic. No matter how you slice and dice, New York and New Jersey are way ahead of the pack in cases per 100,000 people.
It used to be that if you expanded the map, it would show cases by county. No more. I don't know if it was too hard to keep up, or if I'm looking in the wrong place. Overall, though, still handy for a quick comprehensive look.
As of when I looked at the map last (when it still had county information), Penobscot County in Maine (I used to live there, so I check) had six cases of Coronavirus–three were active, and three people had recovered. I think of all the places I had looked, that was the only one that had any recovery rate, much less a 50 percent recovery rate. Good news indeed. top
Scaling the Heights of Useless
There's lots of collateral damage to coronavirus. Restaurants close, but we don't think of all the suppliers and small local wholesalers who supply them. We don't think about the florists and photographers who derive a big chunk of their business from weddings. And all the sports reporters who now have nothing to do since there are no sports to report on.
Such is the case of Harry Lyles, Jr., of SB Nation, a large sports blogging conglomerate.. In our curious times, Harry is reduced to more frivolous pursuits, such as reordering the alphabet. It's kind of stupid, totally without any redeeming social value, and I can see Harry's tongue in his cheek from here even without squinting. I sympathize–I've been there.
Spoiler alert: The #1 letter is
R. Personally, I always found the capital R a little top heavy. I refuse to speculate if that tells us something about Harry's preference in women, too. top
Good Stuff to Read
I've recommended (and linked to) The Oatmeal for quite a while (quite a while: at least two weeks). To celebrate its tenth anniversary, the writer came up with a very useful and entertaining post, which you can see here. it's almost a must read, a show and tell for creative types. As Ferris asked,
What are you still doing here? Go read some good stuff already! top