March 15th, 2020

#7067: So, what's the next step?

I'm wondering now how long it'll be before they declare a general quarantine.

Having bought a good hunk of chuck roast today I put it with the usual other ingredients into the crock pot; and realized that I have like two onions and no carrots or potatos on hand. So I expect that in a bit, I'll go take a shower, then go to the store for carrots and onions and potatos, and perhaps a couple more sixers of pepsi and mountain dew. And, depending on how I feel about it, hit WalMart for my pills.

Nothing more than usual. I know that no one is going to have bread; but the only reason I would go today rather than waiting until tomorrow is that I don't know what our government is doing nor what it's planning to do next, and I don't want to be caught completely flat-footed by a general quarantine. I don't think things are nearly bad enough to warrant that, but I was also thinking things weren't bad enough for the fat, tax-dodging sloven to declare that all of Illinoistan's schools would close until the end of March.

I'm hoping to be able to buy a couple--two, not six or eighteen--loaves of bread tomorrow. Even two is double what I would normally buy; I get maybe five, six days out of a loaf, but bread also gets moldy, and pretty fast, so I don't stockpile it. I don't know why other people do. What do they do, freeze it? Blech!

All of this over a viral rhinitis strain that's moderately worse than the usual one.

Meanwhile: at my offsite visit to the further facility--one is a round trip of twenty miles and the other is a round trip of forty, almost exactly--I heard the management there talking about their preparations for various scenarios. Their meeting had ended, but they were standing in the office of one of them that's opposite the training conference room (which is my usual base of operations there) and discussing it, and they were talking about the very real possibility of having to shut down operations entirely if a plant in Texas had to shut down. Further, one of them had a phone conversation in which he told the other party that if some person or another was sick, that he was to stay home, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Me: Wow.

I have no doubt that similar discussions are taking place at my home facility, but I have not been privy to any of the output from them. I'm supposed to get gloves and wipes but haven't.

I don't know what the plans are if someone at a facility gets sick with the thing. They make useful things at these plants, things which other plants need to make what they make; you can't just shut one of them down because someone got the sniffles. (See above about the plant in Texas.) It's not like this is the Classical Languages department at a university; those people can do almost everything via computer, and even if they couldn't, having to sit at home for a month isn't really all that much of a problem. But when your plant makes an essential ingredient in, say, toothpaste, then the plant that makes the toothpaste cannot make their product without the stuff your plant makes. And getting a substitute supply on short notice? Ha! Just hanging around the periphery at this place, I've seen what happens when someone decides they want to buy a carload of your product.

This isn't like retail, where you put a few more people on to handle a rush of customers. You need to have a spare reactor vessel that's ready for the process, which is equipped to handle it and its reagents. All the stuff coming in and going out is doing so in industrial quantities, and some of it has to be stored before it can be used. None of it is stuff you keep extra on hand for, "just in case we need it," because that costs a lot of money. So you need to coordinate with your suppliers to get more of the stuff, and you need to have the production capacity to handle the extra output, and-and-and. It takes organization and it takes lead time.

If so-and-so says, "Hey, sell us 80,000 gallons of XYZ compound so we can see how we like it," that's a big deal. It's not a couple of extra guys working overtime in a different department.

But even if you do pull that trigger, you can't shut the thing off overnight. Some of this stuff will go bad if it's just left in the reactor. Some of it can be held indefinitely without trouble. But generally it's better to finish whatever you're doing, put it into the appropriate storage tank, and then hit the "off" button. That takes time.

Now, multiply that across all the industry in the state. That's why I don't think a general quarantine is very likely; that represents an enormous cost, not just to industry but to the state government itself, because all economic activity is taxed. But before Friday, I was prepared to say that--absent a serious threat--schools would not be closed, for pretty much the same reason: they get money from the federal government when butts are in seats.

The outbreaks in Illinostan, so far, have been limited and narrow in scope, and only one of them involved a school. But reportedly, our fatass governor is considering a total shutdown of bars and restaurants. There are now 66 cases in Illinoistan, spread across the state, most in Cook County; a week ago it was about a third that much.

So, what do you do? Which way do you jump? There's no way to predict what happens next but I'd wager that Pritzker will close the restaurants and bars, which means I'm going to have to cook more--and which means I'd better go to the store and buy carrots and onions and potatos, and maybe some more chicken. *sigh*

#7068: Yep, closing restaurants and bars

Takeout will still be available, as will delivery and drive-through, but otherwise, restaurants and bars are closed.

What annoys me is how Fatass Pritzker framed it. "I told everyone to stay home this weekend, but you went out and partied for Saint Patrick's Day! So now I have to do this!" He sounded peevish when he said it, too.

You know what? In 2009, we had the Swine Flu. Sixty million people ended up infected and some fifteen thousand died. Remember it? No? I'm not surprised. That's because the press hardly said anything about it. That one wasn't as infectiuous as the Wuhan virus is, but the Wuhan virus isn't as deadly as the Swine Flu was.

Hey, all you "health care is a human right" asshats? This is the endgame of THAT shit.
Italians over 80 'will be left to die' as country overwhelmed by coronavirus.
Because the socialized medical system of Italy is overwhelmed, the death panels are making a conscious decision to withhold care from the elderly. Which they need to do, because socialism aggravates scarcity.

In dire circumstances, triage is all you can do because resources are limited. That's what triage is for: it lets you prioritize the expenditure of resources where it will do the most good. It's heartless, but by design it is the most compassionate and pro-civilizational way to handle a dire situation. It's why "women and children first" is the rule on a sinking ship.

But: the threshold at which you must take such dire measures is drastically lower in a socialized system than it is in a capitalist one. Britain's NHS is already at that point, and they don't even have a major breakout of anything there.

"Free health care for all" eventually means almost no health care for all because it's economically impossible to provide a scarce good and/or service free of charge.

* * *

I can't argue the point here. Again: person who self-identifies as a Boomer here, having shared parents with three siblings who are within that age cohort, and I don't know why I would be excluded from it when I got the same kind of parenting etc.

I'm going to promulgate my theory again, because it's my blog and I get to do that.

Our parents spoiled the shit out of us, for one reason: theirs is the generation that invented the Bomb. And for quite a long while they were pretty confident that the world was going to blow up, that the Bomb would get used in job lots, and our civilization would end (if not our species) and so, what the hell, let the kids live it up. Give them a hard pass on civic responsibility and let them go crazy, sure.

Back to the Future, in 1985, encapsulated our parents' feelings in one line, uttered by Doc Brown. The 1955 Doc Brown, upon seeing video of himself, in 1985, in a radiation suit, says, "Of course! To protect me from fallout from all the atomic wars!" Everyone was convinced that it wasn't a matter of if there'd be an all-out nuclear war, but when. So? Let teenage rebellion run rampant and allow them to change society to suit themselves, because it's all going to end tomorrow or next week or next month and there's no point to it.

...except it didn't. We're now sixty-five years from Doc Brown's (fictional) observation and the only two bombs used in combat are still just the ones at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Like all doomsayers they failed to take into account that humans adapt to changing conditions. The mere fact of the Bomb's existence has been enough to raise the barrier to declaring total war. We find other ways to fight wars now, and the world's propensity for war has lessened overall. (Okay, twelve wars taking place right now, eleven of them due to internecine islamic conflicts.)

...but the Boomers were given something their forebears had not had: a free pass on defending their country. While the US government retained the right to institute a draft if it was deemed necessary, it nonetheless relegated the requirement to "only if needed" and discontinued it. (There are some real benefits to an all-volunteer military, but there are also some real benefits to conscription--and deciding which is preferable is above my pay grade and beyond the scope of this document.)

Our parents reached out and got the Moon for us. They built the machines that could take us there. We were more worried about the breakup of the Beatles.

...I could write paragraph after paragraph, dripping with disdain, describing the fecklessness of my generation and it still wouldn't be enough. It's why I sympathize with every "OK, Boomer" story I hear.

* * *

I ran out of energy for that stuff. Suffice it to say that every time one of my generation opens their mouth to complain about how we're all regarded, it makes me want to puke.

Anyway, the point is simple: Boomers are getting old. They had their hour upon the stage; in many ways they've had two hours or even three. They left the stage in a shambles and soured the audience, and even now they're insisting that the next act to come on doesn't know how good it has it and "All you have to do is TRY but you're too busy with video games!" even as they resist the pull of the hook trying to drag them off.

Their refusal to retire from center stage is emblematic of their self-centeredness.

* * *

Anyway, on to other things.

Friday I had to go to my farther off-site, and--as happens with startling regularity, since the site is surrounded on three sides by railroad tracks--had to wait for a train. My policy is to wait about fifteen minutes, then seek another route; because of how the area is laid out there's usually a fair chance that the alternate ways in will also be blocked. The route of last resort is one step superior to a cow path. My GPS thinks it's a road, but in reality it's about a half-mile of deep potholes in what was once a gravel road but now is mostly just coarse dirt.

Anyway, sitting there, waiting for a train, listening to Limbaugh, then listening to whatever idiot it is that comes on after him, watching the train move, then stop, then move, and then a stupendously long unit train of ethanol cars goes the other way.

The ethanol train rolled past at a steady speed; it came and went and the first train was still doing its start-stop-start thing. The last couple of times it stopped, I noticed something. When it would stop, the whole thing would pogo back-and-forth a few times. The train would stop; then it would start to move backwards (making me wonder if I'd be doing another crawl down the cow path) but the backwards motion would ease to a stop and it would roll forward again.

The coupler on a train car isn't bolted right to the frame; there's a little bit of shock absorption built in there because a bad jolt could otherwise rip the thing right off. (And it still happens, sometimes.) And so what was happening was, this long-ass train would stop in such a way that the cars' brakes weren't on (WHY NOT?) and the natural spring action of all those couplers would cause it to rebound like that. Anyway, eventually the end of the train went past: a "slug", a switch engine, and a road engine, all linked together, chug-chug-chug-chug at about a medium walking speed.

The slug was a cut-down switch engine. It's basically a frame with locomotive trucks and electrical connections, and some sheetmetal to cover the mechanical bits after the engine and generator were removed. It gets hooked to a cabbed locomotive which powers and controls it. It's there mainly to provide more tractive effort. It's different from a "B" unit in that a "B" unit has its own engine and generator, but no control cab.

Anyway, the way that combo was moving the train was pretty cool. I'm not sure what was going on with the pogoing, but it was something I'd not seen before and that was pretty cool, too.

Ordinarily, when you stop a train (especially a long one) you use the brakes on the cars to do it. Because the brakes are set, though, once they stop, they stop and can't jiggle back and forth much. So either the engineer wasn't using the train brakes, he was not using them very much, or something else was going on that I don't understand. The fact that he was pushing the train (rather than pulling) may also be a factor. But when starting or stopping the thing, there wasn't a lot of slack action (banging of couplers)--in fact, there was almost none of that--so I have to assume the guy driving the thing knew what he was about.

* * *

10:30 Sunday night. Another week ahead of us. Whee!

Guess I'd better start winding down.