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AH, AS, AF

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know from smoke.

And I’m not talking the cannabis type.

Recent years have educated us about the quality and character of smoke from wildfires, but these past two weeks have been like a full-on mandatory in-your-face master-class from an extremely pissed-off Samuel L. Jackson. (more…)

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This is a time for heroes, a time for us all to be heroes. And we can be. We can be heroes.

How?

Work from home (if you can).
Postpone gatherings.
Keep social distance.
Don’t travel.
Wash your hands.

For some, these recommendations seem ineffective, and government actions like closing borders, shutting schools, and banning events seem like panic or media hype or massive overreaction. Others complain that these restrictions are completely impotent in the face of COVID-19’s spread, and if they’re not going to stop it, why bother?

No one says that these recommendations will stop the spread of COVID-19, and we’re well past the point where containment strategies are effective. What these guidelines are trying to do, though, is mitigate the spread, slow it down, and give us time to prepare.

COVID-19 is spreading, and it’s doing so exponentially. Millions of Americans will get this virus, possibly over 100 million. Of those millions, while most cases will be mild, about 15–20% will require care, and if all of those come in a clump, they will exceed our capacity to assist them.

Check out the graph above or the article from which it was taken. The tall red blob and the flatter blue blob represent the same number of cases, but over different timespans. The red blob caseload rises fast and quickly overwhelms the capacity of our healthcare system. The blue blob is what the same number of cases looks like if we all work together and adopt these mitigation strategies: we slow the advance and keep the caseload to a level that we can handle, which means fewer people die.

And that’s the bottom line: when the disease caseload overtops our capacity to care for the sick, people die who don’t have to.

By adopting these mitigation strategies, we save lives. It could be a friend or a co-worker, the elderly neighbor, your nana, your spouse, or you.

We need time, time to make masks, find supportive strategies, understand the virus better, and develop a vaccine, but most of all, we need time so the tsunami that’s heading towards us can flatten out and not inundate us all.

So put on your cape.

It’s time to be a hero.

k

 

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When learning that some Seattle schools have closed down in response to COVID-19, and some companies (like mine) have asked that all employees who can work from home do so, an online contact wondered if this was overreaction caused by “blind panic.”

It isn’t.

Seattle is in the crosshairs. (more…)

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Winter.

A lot of complaining gets done in winter.

lot of complaining.

People around here are summer junkies. They spend months of the year pining for the sunlight, the warmth, the outdoors-y camaraderie of our twelve weeks of summer. They look back on July and August with a nostalgia bordering on delusion, as if it was a different era, a time out of legend when life was simpler and everyone smiled. Lost from their memory are the sleepless nights spent buffeted by the manufactured wind of oscillating fans, and of dodging from air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices in order to avoid the “unbearable” temperatures of 90+ degrees. They remember only the hikes, the cookouts, and those pleasant short-sleeved days when birds sang the sun from its bed, when the breeze brought a hint of salt from the Sound, and when wine-infused evenings lasted until tomorrow. (more…)

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Today is the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake and, once again, I am in San Francisco. I did not plan this visit to coincide with the anniversary of that event—a shallow 6.9 temblor that brought down bridges and freeways, tumbled hundreds of homes, and turned large sections of expensive land into quivering jelly—but here I am. With the anniversary top-of-mind here, it hasn’t helped that, since my arrival on Sunday, we’ve had two minor quakes (registering 4.5 and 4.7). Put together, it’s made the locals a bit . . . jumpy. (more…)

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My cathedral is made of trees, but it has seen the downslope of my attention. Its pillars are still sound, standing strong through storm and summer heat, but the branches and leaves of its soaring roof have become crowded, ragged, thick with deadwood and duff.

Its nave and transept, too, once clear and open, are now overgrown as the plantings set down in years past have grown relentlessly upward, reaching out, filling the vaulted space.

The reason for this deterioration has been my inexhaustible neglect, piled year upon year, as life and events sapped me of my faith, my devotion, my love for this quiet place. Leaving nature to do as nature does has only compounded the situation, as self-sown volunteers sprang up in open spaces, and Seattle’s often rough sea-borne winds snapped off limbs twice as long as I stand tall, dropping their five-stone weights from the canopy down onto the hapless undergrowth below. (more…)

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Across the Sound there is a place where, when the day is young, I can walk the forest trail and emerge, my shins wet from wading through ferns heavy with dew, and climb the concrete steps to ramparts set high atop a bluff overlooking the steel-grey waters of the Salish Sea. (more…)

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