Friday, March 13, 2020

Day 3732

It's definitely Friday the 13. We're currently under a tornado alert and we just learned that McDonald Observatory is being closed because of the coronavirus. All visitors and non essential staff will meed to leave by tomorrow morning. The visitor center has already been closed and there are no more star parties. The Astronomer's Lodge will be closed as well. Essentially, my visit is over.

I got one of those severe storm alerts on my phone a little while ago, but have no idea what I'd do if there actually was a tornado.  I"m not  even sure there's anybody in the building right now. The engineering team who is staying here is still up at the telescope trying to finish their work before they have to leave as well. I actually think the severe weather is north of us, but what do I know? My weather radar coverage is pretty spotty up here.

I did work a full day today. The three tours we did seemed pretty normal. That's why the sudden decision to close the observatory came as a surprise to almost everybody. We started hearing rumors that the University of Texas might do something like this yesterday, but I didn't believe them. I was still planning on having a star party tonight. The star party activities are outdoors and visitors aren't packed closely together. Could some of the visitors to my telescope be spreading the virus around? Possibly. I think spreading fear is even worse though. I'm sure this virus is serious, but so is mass hysteria.

I'm disappointed that my visit has been cut short. I've really enjoyed my time here. I was really hoping to have another chance to spend an evening observing with the 36" Dall-Kirkham telescope, but the situation is what it is. Pretty soon, everything in the country will be closed. Personally, I think the cat is already out of the bag. This virus has such a long incubation period that chances are high people were being infected here in the United States well before we started hearing about a pandemic.

I think the best thing you can do is try to stay healthy. Eat nutritious food. Get lots of exercise. Go outdoors and don't spend you day cooped up with a lot of other people. Basically, I'm doing this already. I can't see that a home quarantine would change my life all that much. I've been social distancing for most of my life.

I'd much rather stay up here on this lonely mountain than return to Dallas and join the ongoing panic. It's kind of ironic that they are sending us home. I have a much higher chance of catching the coronavirus in Dallas that I do here. It is what is is though. I'll be packing my bags and leaving in the morning.

The coronavirus is definitely a Black Swan event. I didn't see this coming. SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola, H1N1, HIV Aids, and many other nasty diseases never caused this type of mass panic. Either the world has gone mad or somebody knows something I don't.

I don't look forward to the drive home tomorrow, but the traffic probably won't be all that bad. Nobody is going anywhere these days.

Wyatt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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