November 28, 2021

Dateline – Seattle, Washington

Still more gray and dreary up here in the Pacific Northwest. It works out OK as it makes sure that I stay in and get the various things I have to get done this long weekend actually done. First and foremost is cramming all fine pages of Comet’s monologue from The Eight: The Reindeer monologues into my brain. I am no longer of an age where memorization comes easy. I’ve been working on the piece for a bout two weeks now and all of the bits are there but I can’t yet make them come out in anything approaching the right order without some sort of a prompt. I have three more days before my next rehearsal and two weeks before an audience so I should be OK but everyone, please remind me not to take a part requiring this amount of unprompted memorization in the future. I am no longer thirty, I am now twice that.

I also broke the back on the sermon I need to deliver on the 5th which is about the role of serendipity in my life and how it ended up leading me to write the book. Speaking of the book, very nice meeting with my editor/publisher this afternoon. We’re going to start prepping my 2021 writings as if there’s going to be a volume two but be ready to pivot based on what actually happens over the next few months, which again feels terribly unsettled. Those of you on my publisher’s email list may get a query asking what you would like to see me write next. If you’re not on that list and want to me, drop me your email in a DM and I’ll make sure you get added.

I did a Q and A talk for my father’s senior living facility residents this afternoon for an hour or so. A significant portion of the resident population turns out for these and they seem to enjoy them. I find them a good way to hone my improv skills as I don’t do a whole lot of preparation in advance. The questions I field are usually fairly basic as far as geriatric medicine goes and I’ve been answering their like for decades. The fact that I get so many similar questions so often shows how poorly the American health system educates both its practitioners and its patients in the basic realities of the aging process. Maybe I should put it on my theater resume. Improv training – Spolin technique with Jeanmarie Collins and Geriatric technique with senior living facility audiences.

I’m still trying to understand the Omicron variant and what we really know versus speculation and hype during a slow news cycle due to a long holiday weekend. The CDC has been very quiet other than a rather terse and generic statement issued on Friday. Anthony Fauci appeared for a lengthy interview this morning on Face The Nation and, in reading the transcript, while a wide range of subjects related to Covid were covered, the developments with omicron were pretty much omitted from the discussion. This leads us with a population, on edge after nearly two years of pandemic news, being fed sensationalistic headlines but with little in terms of real response from the government other than Biden’s South African travel ban which is only going to stoke fears. South Africa is feeling a bit miffed as their very careful monitoring of testing caught this variant early before it had spread significantly and now they think they’re being punished on the world stage symbolically and economically.

As I said yesterday, there is no objective evidence that in a fully globalized society, banning of commercial air traffic is a helpful containment mechanism. There are just too many other ways round those transportation routes. I guess it’s what happens when you try to solve the problems of a 21st century global society pandemic with the tools of 19th century nation states. The problems we are all currently facing: climate change, the pandemic, wealth inequalities, and the like are global challenges and really will require global solutions of some sort. Unfortunately, when our political systems are feeling threatened, rather than reach out in an expansive way to other societies, we tend to withdraw into our own selves and to seek solace in the traditions of our tribe, likely one of the root causes of right wing authoritarian impulses across the globe. These trends are going to make the pandemic more difficult to control over time, rather than less. Will omicron push more people towards vaccination? Will it prove to be a rapid spreader like Delta? Will it cause any differences in clinical presentation, seriousness of disease, or new sequelae? Inquiring minds want to know but it’s going to be a while before we find any of this out.

It’s been interesting being in a blue state these last few days. The majority of people wear masks on the street (although this may not be necessary for public health given what we know about coronavirus spread in open air and well ventilated places). I have to show my vaccination card to enter a place where people congregate. No one takes off their mask indoors in public space unless seated and eating and drinking. None of that happens in Alabama. I follow those rules about masking there even though there is no governmental entity requiring it as it’s what makes the most sense given what we know about the spread. Alabama covid numbers, on my most recent check, continue to remain low. The Washington numbers are actually a bit higher. Is this because of climate differences? It’s warmer in Alabama so more outdoor activity and less gathering indoors. Is it the lower population density in Alabama? Is it slight differences in circulating strains? I have no idea. I can but observe. If indoor activity and gathering is still a major trigger, everyone’s numbers will start going up again in two to three weeks due to the behavior changes of Thanksgiving. I’ll be watching that with great interest. In the meantime, everyone knows the drill. Mask up, keep your hands washed. Get your vaccines. Don’t crowd up too much on those you don’t know.LikeCommentShare

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