Life Goes On

So, week six since the US went insane, and not much has changed here. I will admit to liking working remotely enough to have asked my manager what chance he thinks there is of the Boss of Bosses okaying work from home two or three days a week. His answer is somewhere near zero – it has to do with the dynamics of a company that grew from a control freak founder and still largely has the mindset that bums on seats equals productivity.

I suspect that attitude is going to come under a fair amount of pressure with a number of businesses that mostly do intellectual work discovering that yes, they actually can have most of their workforce on a remote basis and work will still get done at more or less the same level of efficiency. An awful lot of managers who have issues trusting their employees are going to be somewhat discombobulated, what with the gates being wide open and the horses truly bolted.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have distractions here, of course. I’ve just finished some essential Roomba-surgery, replacing what is officially known as the side brush but which I’ve always called the spinny doovie, and replacing the filter and main brushes while I was at it since all of them desperately needed it (the bundle of replacement bits which included the desperately-needed screw for the spinny doovie may have had a little to do with the timing).

Earlier today, Midnight decided it was time for attention, now Mommy, so I spent quite a bit of time petting him with one hand while trying to get photos of his astonishing cuteness with the other. I did manage to get a couple of decent photos, one of which showed off his gold eyes rather well. Alas, the expanse of fluffy black tummy that he kept showing off as enticement didn’t make it into a photo, despite my efforts. One day…

Midnight deciding whether to pester me some more

At least today I didn’t have the Dread Kitty Westley disconnecting the work laptop every time he stretched. That was yesterday, and very annoying.

By comparison, Her Highness Princess Buttercup is a positive angel – of course she’s also not a kitten any more, and the boys are. They’ll be one year old in early June.

The other nice thing about the work from home thing is that I don’t have to dress for work. What this actually means is that I’m living in jeans and t-shirt instead of jeans and nice blouse, and that I can wear sheepskin slippers instead of the hiking boots I wear to work. Oh, and instead of tying my hair back, I either leave it loose or braid it. That means the Buttercup doesn’t get to steal my hair tie within a few minutes of me sitting down, although she has been known to unravel my braid because my hair is supposed to be a kitty toy and having it plaited up is not Proper.

Things outside the house are not so simple, sadly. The Husband was telling me one of his clerks is now on bereavement after her brother died. Of a heart attack misdiagnosed by an over-stressed medical team as the virus. The normal part of me is thinking the poor woman must be in shock, while the cynical part wonders if the man’s death is going to be reported as being caused by the virus. Technically it was – just in a rather indirect and unusual fashion.

Thing is, when so-called “probable” cases are being reported as actual (and despite this, the numbers are still in “flu season” territory, albeit bad flu season), and it’s damn near certain the thing was in the USA before the first official case, the number really aren’t worth spit. I’m now seeing reports of anything and everything else as potential symptoms, as well as self-administered test kits being made available – really? At this point, the data is about as reliable as casting an eyeball over a hospital ward and guessing.

As far as I can tell, the US medical authorities are being conscientious and over-reporting rather than risk missing possible cases. I rather doubt that’s the case in other parts of the world – some would be sticklers for accuracy, others would be tempted to minimize the numbers to make themselves look better, and still others lack the infrastructure or the will do report anything accurately.

Not to mention, the US has so many different arrangements that it falls into the lattermost category anyway. Each state has different criteria, and different ways of deciding whether or not a given death should be “credited” to the virus.

There are times when I wonder why I bother checking the news at all, knowing the… issues with the data being reported. Then I remember that the data in question is what my state is going to use to decide whether to “allow” us all to return to a normal life.

Yeah. Sod that for a game of soldiers.


    1. He is gorgeous, isn’t he? And he know it, the little imp. Midnight is very much a Basement Cat – teh ebils is strong with that one.

  1. Beautiful cat.

    I like working in jeans and a polo (it’s casual Friday every day now) at work.

    It’s certain that the virus was here well before it was ever officially acknowledged. CA reported deaths a couple of days ago that happened in early Feb, meaning it was circulating amongst the population at least in early to mid-Jan. My guess is it was here in December, possibly November, and everyone just thought it was the nasty flu going around (that people were testing negative for). And the hospitals have a vested interest in coding everything they can as Covid-19 if they get paid extra for it. Our stats are worthless at this point.

    1. I’ve mentioned before that I suspect I got a mild version in January that lasted into February. At the time I shrugged it off as one of the multitude of lower respiratory viri that go around (and around, and around), but now I sort of wonder.

    2. He is beautiful.

      My lot don’t do casual Friday, so I’m happy to be in semi-permanent dress-down.

      I’d agree with you about when the thing got here. Relatively open borders plus flights crammed solid mean that any kind of infectious disease with an asymptomatic incubation phase is going to travel around the world before people realize it’s there.

      And yes, I agree that our stats are worthless. The different standards in each state plus the incentives to code the thing as at least a factor in each hospitalization is not going to produce accurate or usable data. GIGO is not just an acronym.

  2. “As far as I can tell, the US medical authorities are being conscientious and over-reporting rather than risk missing possible cases. ”

    Of course, the upgraded Medicare / Medicaid reimbursement for Wuhan Flu patients vs “regular” patients couldn’t be a factor…. /sarc

    1. OTOH, they can’t count the people who never make it to the doctor, whether they show no symptoms or not enough to call.

      1. Which is probably a ridiculously high percentage of the population. Unless of course they’re making an assumption based on those who are seeing a doctor.

        1. At least in Oregon, not much testing is going on for non-critical cases. We kept the CDC guidelines a lot longer than others, supposedly because a key reagent was in short supply.

          The CDC guidelines had: Must test if foreign travel or close contact with known case. May test if symptomatic and admitted (both with negative flu tests). In mid-March, “may” equated to “good luck getting test kits for those patients, doc”.

          After all that, I just started paying attention to the death rates. We don’t have so many* that TPTB can fiddle much with the results to juice the numbers.

          (*) 83 for the state. Doesn’t look like I-5 is a major corridor for virus transmission, too.

          1. When I talked with a doctor at the end of March, he told me that with symptoms, I should call so they could give me a flu test.

      2. Funny you should mention.

        I saw yesterday that they’re doing a study in NYC and in greater NY state for COVID-19 antibodies. Findings were reported that about 21% of those tested so far in NYC had antibodies. Which means one in five New Yorkers ALREADY caught the virus and got over it, most of them without knowing.

        Of interest also was the 14% in Westchester County and single digit percentages in rural counties. Like 3%, roughly.

        This correlates with other studies from Iceland and Italy showing ~40% of cases are silent. The people don’t know they have COVID-19.

        One in five, my friends. IF that is the case, which is still an IF, I hasten to add, then some interesting conclusions flow from this discovery.

        First, and most important, this virus (so far) is not very virulent in most cases. That might change with re-infection, but to date most people don’t have a bad disease course. (BUT SOME DO, so don’t get cocky.)

        Second, if that many people in NYC have had it already, then Social Distancing doesn’t do jack in NYC. Which is a no-brainer, really. Everything moves on the subway, there’s no way to stay uninfected in a subway car without heavy-duty PPE and decontamination.

        Note the -much- lower rate of infection in rural counties, where there are no buses, subways, and no brutal crowding generally.

        This implies that locking down NYC was a waste of time because it didn’t work at all ( I know, surprise, right?), and locking down the countryside was an even bigger waste of time because it didn’t need to be locked down.

        BUT THAT IS JUST A COUPLE OF STUDIES lets not forget, and if there’s one thing we’ve all learned about medical studies done and reported in a hurry, they can easily be bullshit.

        However, that being said, mildly encouraging news. ~:D Yay!

  3. Technically it was – just in a rather indirect and unusual fashion.

    *looks at New York*

    I hope it’s unusual.

    1. Well, yes. So do I.

      Sadly, stressed people who are being pressured to effectively see everything as a nail are going to see a lot more things as nails than they would under normal circumstances. It’s human nature: if you’re looking for something, you’ll see it everywhere.

      So, medical staff who thanks to the panic and the assorted – usually well-intentioned but often very perverse – incentives to see the virus everywhere wind up doing just that. It’s the same reason people who have spent their entire lives believing that excessive freedom is a problem see excessive freedom as the cause of anything that goes wrong. No matter what the facts say.

      (Also the reason why you always get more of what you actually reward, not what you think you’re rewarding)

  4. No, this stuff is like Blacklight, and we are overdue for nuking New York.

    One thing that is in hindsight more apparent from this is how ridiculous the Prototype scenario was. No way things got shut down in time to prevent the whole of New York City from being infected, and with subway commuters, parts of other states. Of course, looked at realistically and seriously, the whole thing never passed the laugh test in the first place.

    1. Honestly? It was _never_ going to be stopped (not talking about the game, either). The only way to stop the thing would have been 4 – 5 week quarantine for every person entering the country. Period.

      Of course, with China playing footsie with the facts, we didn’t know about the bloody thing until it was already too late. And imposing a quarantine on incoming travelers? Never going to happen.

      1. Yeah, I’ve been making a lot of obnoxious comments in the form of proposals.

        The serious take is that this has exposed a bunch of difficult questions, and there don’t seem to be a set of good answers without tradeoffs.

        The sensible things to actually do are for other people, or me at a different time. But I’m frustrated now, and want some way to address the matter.

        Since I’m slow, I have only now realized that I was making myself crazier with those unexamined assumptions. Venting is temporary, the better fix is not getting trapped in the urgent sense that I must address this. Easier said than done, but not thinking to even try leaves me relying on other people getting their stuff in order.

  5. Beautiful kitty.

    I’m in jeans and a t-shirt every day now. I love it. I’m waiting for warmer weather to finally show up so I can be in shorts and a t-shirt every day. Woot!

    1. He is beautiful.

      I live in jeans and t-shirt. Although at the moment mornings are cool enough that I’m adding a light sweater until the house warms up enough.

  6. My wife is the Roombatech. I provide parts and tool support.
    Over the years we’ve learned to avoid working in one area of the kitchen counter, as it seems that area might be a sort of Bermuda Triangle for tiny screws.

    1. I have unfond memories of a lab table in High School that had a gravity vortex. Anything set there, no matter how stable, would tip over and spill the moment a teacher or student turned away to take notes or reach for a piece of equipment.

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