Saturday, May 9, 2020

Day 3789

Saturday is my day to observe the rest of the world. It's the only day I get in the car and go anywhere. Some things I see astonish me, but I'm not going to be judgmental. The post-pandemic world is complex, and humans don't deal with complexity well. We crave a simple answer. I think most of us have a reason for what we are doing, even if it ultimately proves to be wrong. So far, there are very few answers about the virus, so there is a natural tendency to interpret anything we hear as evidence that our existing beliefs and theories are correct. This is called confirmation bias.

I see no point in telling you what to do, but I do notice things. Traffic is already back to pre-pandemic levels. I'm having trouble getting out of my driveway again. I wonder where everyone is going? I see little shops in the neighborhood with signs in the window saying that they are open, but I don't see any customers. People are still afraid. I don't think everyone is afraid of the same thing. Some people wear masks at the grocery store because they are afraid of getting sick. Others wear them because they are afraid of being shamed. I'm becoming afraid of people who feel compelled to go around saying "I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing this for you."

We walked Dawn very early this morning because we knew the park was going to be crowded. It was  a beautiful Spring weekend and the park is always crowded on beautiful Spring weekends. At sunrise the only people out are the most dedicated runners and cyclists. We had a pleasant walk before breakfast. When I went out later in the day, the park was a zoo. It was still easy to keep your distance, but people were playing volleyball, the ice cream truck was making its rounds, the kayak rental store had resumed business, and there were hammocks tied to every available tree. Most of these activities didn't really bother me. The small group throwing axes did make me a little nervous though.

Kids have been hanging out in the park since the pandemic started. They just hang out with their friends and never seems to mix with other groups of kids. Maybe if you are a certain age, these small groups of friends are considered a family unit. At any rate, these kids have been hanging out together for several months now. I see some of the same ones almost every day. If what they were doing was that risky, they would all be dead by now.

I believe the experts who say that it's important to keep your distance. Most of the virus deaths have been in extremely high density areas. People work right next to each other in meat packing plants. Few people own a car in New York City. They all travel by subway. It's no surprise at all that cruise ships quickly became infection factories. Wearing a mask isn't a long-term solution. Moving to the country might be.

I know changing behavior is hard, but it's actually pretty easy to keep your distance. I've been doing it for years. I think the solution to the coronavirus problem and future pandemics that might be even worse is obvious. We've got to reduce population density. Why are we still living in cities?  Cities are obsolete. We spend so much time and money trying to make cities work when they have never really worked. Maybe it's time to embrace technology and spread out to the vast empty areas of this country. There's plenty of room.

Janet and I were saying today that we both feel healthier at 70 than we did at 60. Maybe if this virus causes more people to become conscious of their own health and make some necessary lifestyle choices, it will ultimately be a good thing. I applaud the people I see out running early in the morning. You guys who are still sitting at home watching Netflix, you've got work to do.

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