Thursday, March 12, 2020

On Reading "Station Eleven" During the Coronavirus Pandemic

We really do live in interesting times, don't we?

This seems to be the week that people in the U.S. are finally starting to realize just how disruptive to daily life the Coronavirus is going to be. The last 24 hours has seen things like the immediate suspension of the NBA season, the announcement that Tom Hanks and his wife are being treated for the virus in Australia, the acceleration of the already rapid decline in the stock market, the closing of the U.S. capitol to tourists, the European travel ban, and the decision of several U.S. lawmakers to self-quarantine themselves after learning they had shaken the hand of someone who later tested positive for the virus.

Closer to home, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, an event that has a huge impact on the economy of this city, has been cancelled after only a few days, and local universities are extending this year's spring break for a few extra days while school administrators try to figure out what to do when the break ends. There are panic-driven shortages in essential items like bottled water and bathroom tissue to deal with as people try to find enough of each to last them the next 4-6 weeks. Shelves are literally empty in most stores, and the only way to find the products is to be lucky enough to be there when a new truckload of the stuff has been placed on the shelves overnight. 

And that brings up the impossibility of finding hand sanitizers anywhere in this city (country? world?) Last weekend I decided to brew up a batch of sanitizer based upon the formula found on the internet: 1/3 Aloe Vera gel mixed with 2/3 70-91% Isopropyl Alcohol. But that's not easy to do if you have neither of those ingredients on hand. Although it took me four stops, I finally did manage to find enough alcohol and gel to brew up a good-sized batch of the stuff that I bottled up and gave to members of my family. But home-brewing is no longer much of an option because it is impossible now to find alcohol anywhere that I've looked.

It's rather amazing how much time all of this has taken, and how little reading I'm being able to work into my schedule these days. Even more disappointingly, I was really looking forward to attending the San Antonio book festival on the first weekend in April, and that is not going to be happening now, even if the festival is not cancelled, because I'm in that age-group most susceptible to dying from the virus. Just not worth the risk, small as it actually may be.

Oh well, back to my current book, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Fittingly, that's the 2014 novel about a terrible flu pandemic that practically wipes out the planet, leaving only scattered communities of survivors. This should be fun. Maybe I'll learn something useful from it.

10 comments:

  1. Happy reading! I just got back from taking my mother to the grocery store and apparently, now that all the toilet paper is gone, it's paper towels that people are stocking up on. So crazy! Stay well in Houston. :)

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    1. Ha! Well, at least we still have plenty of paper towels on the shelves.

      But since I've posted this, the local school district has just announced a shutdown until they can get a grip on how serious an exposure they've already had to the virus. Apparently, the parent of a student/s has it and they are just finding out.

      And my grandson's high school, which is on the campus of a junior college, just notified us that they will be shut down for at least another week.

      And Texas A&M is going on-line-class only through the end of April, which will really mess up my granddaughter's student teaching that has to take place in a live classroom.

      What a mess.

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    2. It is a mess. Events are being cancelled left and right here, and our stupid county mayor just decided to close all the libraries to avoid exposure. EVEN THOUGH NO ONE IN SALT LAKE COUNTY HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR THE VIRUS! It's so stupid. Sigh. I don't know what I'm going to do without my library. :(

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    3. Wow, I was hoping that libraries would not have to shut down. That's disappointing to hear.

      I was at my local branch this morning and it was practically empty. There are usually children's programs going on in the morning, but nothing today, and the parking lot was practically empty. I even checked my watch to make sure that I wasn't arriving way before opening time or something.

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  2. What a strange couple of days. The Governor just announced that Louisiana schools will be closed until April 13. In a week, cases here have gone from one to thirty-three. What a mess!

    I really liked Station Eleven, Sam. Hope you do. :)

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    1. I don't remember things ever changing so rapidly in my lifetime. Every day is a new world, it seems.

      I'm about 70 pages into Station Eleven and I'm enjoying it. For obvious reasons, I'm finding it difficult to concentrate on my reading right now. My head is spinning about things that maybe I should be doing instead, and I find myself spinning my wheels for large portions of the day.

      For instance, my wife asked me to pick up some russet potatoes this morning...simple enough, you would think. But two grocery stores later, still had no potatoes. They were not to be found. I think we are fast losing our collective mind.

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  3. Our area has shut down schools also. Library programs are all canceled but they're still open for circulation. I think I will focus on my personal collection instead, right now. I've had Station Eleven on my TBR but I just can't picture reading a book like that in a time like this. I follow the news, but need some totally different subject matter for my personal reading.

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    1. I checked out Station Eleven from my library 5 weeks ago and it's due back on the 20th. That's really the only reason I'm reading it right in the middle of all of this mess, but I have to say that it's a little spooky to be reading it right now.

      Our libraries are open for circulation purposes right now, but I'm wondering for how long.

      Yesterday there seemed to be a massive run on the grocery stores around here. The parking lots all looked like the mall parking lots look during Christmas week. But today, things are a lot quieter. The streets are even emptier than normal - far emptier. I'm hoping people have finally gotten that initial panic out of their systems.

      I'm really finding it hard to stay home and concentrate on reading right now, and it's been that way for at least a week.

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  4. My husband went to the store yesterday and of course the shelves of disinfectants and toilet paper were empty, but of all things so was the bins of onions. No onions. Why did people buy all the onions? I can't figure.

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    1. Here we seemed to have plenty of onions of every type, but no russet potatoes.

      Lots and lots of pineapples, though. LOL

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