The Pandemic Diary: May 1

Like everyone else I am having trouble thinking about anything other than the coronavirus pandemic and the shockwaves it has sent, and will continue to send, through the system. As it began to unfold I found myself thinking, talking, and posting about it fairly constantly. In an effort to try to keep it confined to a given time and place, both physically and psychologically, I am keeping a diary of it all.

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May 1: The other day I mentioned that Allison’s boss and his wife — Jim and Kristie — were making pizzas for people from the office in their home pizza oven. That was this evening. I went over at about 6:30 and got mine.

For an operation run off of their back porch, it’s pretty professional-looking:

The oven:

The final product, once I got it home:

 

It was fantastic. Restaurant quality. If the whole accounting/dental marketing thing doesn’t work out for them, they could definitely fall back on this.

I didn’t realize it until I was on my way back home with the pizza that the few minutes I sat and talked to them — from a safe distance — while waiting for it was the first time I have really talked to anyone outside of my family in-person since this whole thing began.

 

I’ve sort of been connecting with some other people lately too.

Long time readers may remember that last year I spent some time doing a little half-assed genealogy. The big takeaways were here, such as they were. An offshoot of that was one thing I wrote about my paternal great grandmother’s brother, who owned a locally famous restaurant/nightclub in Detroit from the 1940s through the 1960s. That was fun to research and write, but as I have zero connection to anyone on those branches of the family tree I just wrote it, put it out there, and kind of forgot about it.

This past week, though, some descendants of that nightclub owner — no doubt as bored out of their gourds as the rest of us — stumbled upon it and began sending it around to one another, after which several of them reached out to me. I haven’t talked to any of them too deeply yet, but a couple of interesting things spun out of it.

One random thing: one of the direct descendants of my nightclub-owning great-great uncle is 1988 Olympic gymnast Phoebe Mills. She won a bronze medal on the balance beam and she’s, apparently, my second cousin once removed. As are her brother, Nate Mills, a speed skater in the 1992, 1994, 1998 Olympics, and her sister, Jessica Mills, who won the 1989 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. I can only assume that their mother — my first cousin, twice removed — married into some athletic genes, because God knows my end of the family doesn’t have any.

I’ve been emailing a bit with one of the older people in that family who told me that “we have been looking for Dora for years,” referring to my great grandmother and her descendants, which include my grandmother, my dad, and me. She was quite a bit older that her nightclub-owning little brother — and, following a stroke, was in a nursing home for the last decade of her life — so I imagine losing touch is pretty understandable. Either way, I suppose that makes me all of these people’s “long lost cousin.”

It’s not at all unwelcome — one of them plans to call me soon and I’m rather looking forward to it — but it’s all kind of odd.

One of them told me that her side of the family “is so large, there are so many of us, so many cousins, we almost lose track.” As I noted in my genealogy writing last year, my extended family — at least the parts one would normally keep connected with — is almost non-existent. All the grandparents are long dead. There have never been any real family rifts or arguments, but my own family’s itinerant and independent nature has basically put us off on islands on our own. My parents live near me and I keep in contact with my brother in California, but that’s basically it. I have an aunt and a couple of first cousins on that side of things I haven’t seen in years. My kids have no cousins in my family. Our branch of the tree is not dead, exactly, but if it was a real tree they probably would’ve pruned off this odd little shoot of it many years ago for aesthetic purposes.

I don’t think too much about that outside of my irregular dips into genealogy. And I don’t have any problem with it when I do think about it, really. As I’ve written many, many times, blood — and the obligations people assume by simple virtue of blood — is overrated. Relationships are what matter. But it’s still rather strange to realize that there are a shitload of people banging around out there who share some of your DNA. Some of whom, I presume, who don’t say “oof!” and “oy!” every time they stand up or sit down.

 

As for the rest of the world:

U.S. Senators are returning to Washington next week, but they’ll be taking their health into their own hands. Politico reports that, during a conference call with top GOP officials yesterday, the Capitol physician said that they don’t have the capacity to test all 100 senators for coronavirus.

Again, a reminder, that on March 6 — pushing two months ago — Trump said “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” Folks, if U.S. Senators can’t get a test, you aren’t getting one either. And, as every expert has noted, the shutdowns cannot responsibly end unless and until there are massive numbers of tests available. 

At this point, though, I’m starting to think that they’ll just end the shutdowns irresponsibly. Even in places where one would’ve thought resolve to do the right thing was generally higher. Check this out:

They generally weren’t wearing masks or keeping their distance, so I’m guessing we’ll be reading soon about how that protest became a super infection vector.

Allison grew up in Orange County and I’ve talked about how I wouldn’t mind moving there after the kids go off to college. That’s mostly for the weather and stuff, but an added bonus would, apparently, be that we’d be in the 99th percentile of intelligence in that neck of the woods and, hey, it’s sometimes good to be a big fish in a small intellectual pond.

Anyway, some infectious disease experts just released a report saying that the coronavirus pandemic is likely to last as long as two years and won’t be controlled until about two-thirds of the world’s population is immune. Given that it’s been less than two months and people have already started to lose any sort of patience with all of this I don’t think there’s any hope that they’ll be able to get their minds around two years of altered existence, even if that doesn’t entail lockdowns. It seems that we are just pathologically opposed to engaging in concerted behavior that serves the greater good.

 

Normally, in such instances, our leaders would rally us toward that greater good, but as I’ve noted time and again in this Diary, they don’t seem to have the skill and, in many cases, the basic desire to do that. Even the ones who, until now, have been lauded for doing a good job:

Under mounting pressure to lift the state’s stay-at-home order, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said that he will make an announcement as early as next week on his plans to begin to ease restrictions on Californians to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Before that, Newsom had talked about it being a matter of “weeks” before restrictions could be lifted. Now he’s talking “days.” They’ll all likely cave soon. Even if some of them do a better job of making it look like they’re not caving.

In related news, here’s a fun chart:

World War I may only be third in death toll, but for my money it ranks #1 for senseless death toll, and I suspect we’re gonna take its place by both measures pretty damn soon.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the national baseball writer for NBCSports.com. He writes about things other than sports at Craigcalcaterra.com. He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.