In Which I Am Figuring It Out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

What Did We Do To Help?

Nicole & Maggie asked people to share what they've done to help since the pandemic/ police rioting/ general disaster.

Mine isn't much but here it is:

  • Lobbied against gerrymandering
  • Gave $4500 to the food pantry, DV shelter, nature center, and library
  • Translated 50 pages of academic articles for asylum cases that a non-profit is doing for Muslim immigrants
  • Gave my university science based feedback on their opening plans whether they wanted it or not (no, you can't put flammable partitions in the chemistry labs, nor can you compel me to a weekly medical test...)

Friday, June 12, 2020


You will be shocked to hear that, as I am a scientist, I am also an intolerable pedant- I mean, deeply invested in scientific correctness.

This pandemic is going to make me have a stroke.

Between the WHO repeatedly screwing up their public messaging - which is literally their job!- and the CDC screwing up everything from testing to symptom definition to drug trials - plus our sociopathic government- it's all on fire all the time. (I should note that once you have the amount of community spread that was already present in Seattle in February, a large scale epidemic is extremely difficult to prevent, and contact tracing will not save us, my friends.)

And then on top of that! The amazing credulity displayed by medical professionals, journalists, government officials, and the general public! (I suppose the last is not actually surprising.) I told people the first week of March that this was primarily airborne droplet transmission! Also that HCQ was never going to be a widespread treatment because it's too toxic for a disease with a single-digit mortality rate.

Today's two pieces of Wrong, which I will not link, are this:

1) ZOMG this virus causes clotting problems! We thought it was respiratory but it does OTHER THINGS! See also: so many other viruses, Guillane-Barre syndrome, every postviral rash in the world....

2) The utterly bananas right-wing conspiracy theory that deaths are overcounted because "people were going to die anyways." Look, if my grandma, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, is T-boned by a semi, did she die of breast cancer? No, of course not. Amazingly, infectious disease works the same way as other acute events.

I'm going to go take a walk until my irritation level subsides again.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Existential Questions

"What did you do during the pandemic?"

 "Exercised every day, learned tai chi, and published two papers. You?"

 "I made forty-seven different kinds of fancy jello and did three years' worth of acrostics. Also, I weeded my garden a lot."

 (I'm the second one.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Current Pandemic Status

Excited that tomorrow I have to drive an hour each way to get my allergy shots (for reasons) because I get to be somewhere ELSE, all ALONE, for a whole afternoon.

What brought you joy lately?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

In Which I Am Once Again Cranky, Now About Masks

Before I descend into snark, here's what I think SHOULD happen: Congress or the president should invoke the DPA or a new cousin; masks should be widely distributed for free; adaptive masking should be available for persons with disabilities; stores, schools, and buildings of all kinds should require mask wearing, enforce it, and hand them out to anyone not wearing one.

Moving on!

Today I went to the store and dutifully put my mask on. About 15 minutes later I took it off. Why? I was starting to feel woozy; I probably already had coronavirus (I will get an antibody test as soon as someone can manage a clinically relevant level of accuracy); and less than 30% of the people in the store were wearing masks.

Masks are a nonpharmaceutical intervention to slow- not stop - viral spread. There are all kinds of modeling studies out now about how good a mask has to be and how many people have to wear one to make it effective. Friends, I assure you that when the second number is 30%, the effectiveness is near zero.

Monday I will call the governor's office and encourage them to institute mandatory masking indoors (outdoors is likely okay if you're not around others! Also I live somewhere with 68,000 square meters per human inhabitant [which is 16 acres], so don't envision a NYC street here.)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

In Which I Bemoan How Bad People Are at Math

As of today, there are over 300,000 reported confirmed covid cases in NY State. Let's assume, extremely conservatively, that only 9 cases go undetected for each person tested.

That is THREE MILLION. Please, tell me how you will fund, and then accomplish in a timely manner, enough contact tracing to make one iota of difference. In a state where public transit ran throughout.

I know it sounds good and makes people feel better, but can nobody do arithmetic?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Stuff I've Baked While Stuck at Home (with a side of FEELINGS)

I should preface this with an acknowledgement that, while, yes, we are bored, we are also so, so lucky: both the adults in our household are getting paid; we live in a very rural area and can go hiking as much as we want; our yard is almost an acre and features a stream; we've (probably) all had covid-19 already and are okay; and the kids actually play with each other.

Nonetheless! I am permanently pissed off that our terrible government response has defaulted to 'let's quarantine everyone and then have Lots of Bad Ideas' combined with "It's totally practical to test-trace-isolate something that started community spread almost three months ago even though our testing system is in shambles and we would need a bare minimum of 100,000 tracers and also tracing is useless with this much community spread".

So I've been baking!

Previously featured:

Pumpkin pie bars

Coconut macaroons

Chocolate torte

Since then:

King Arthur Gingerbread Bundt Cake.  (I make all these with a GF flour mix which I concoct, but without the tapioca, since I'm allergic.)  Friends, I was out of both molasses and cinnamon, so I made this as a kind of spice cake with raisins, candied orange peel, fennel, and cardamom.  I thought it was delicious but my spouse refused to eat it.  10/10, would bake again.

King Arthur GF Cinnamon Rolls.  These were so good that I made them twice, though the second time I tried to cut back on the sugar and they were less delicious, so I fed them to the kids for breakfast.

King Arthur Carrot Cake. (look, I'm very suggestible!)  Made it for Pesach in a giant sheet pan.  It was delicious even with pear butter swapped in for a lot of the oil.

David Leibovitz's Mint Chip Ice Cream.  Made two batches, one with half and half, and one with coconut milk.  (I grow mint and also it grows wild by the creek; you need a giant amount for this).  Delicious, with a delicate mint flavor.  Halved the sugar and added a little cornstarch.

Banana Cream Pie... Jello Mold.  Kind of like this recipe, only with Greek yogurt and without following it in any conceivable way.  Also, featuring half and half, since I forgot that a half-gallon is eight cups.  Very popular with the family; the latest features a chocolate stripe in the middle.

Jello Roll-Ups, by request from the kids. You would think a recipe involving only boxed goods would be impossible to screw up, and yet, you would be wrong. It was strange.  The kids ate it anyways.

Fish Quiche.  Don't.  Just don't.

Turkey sausage, riced cauliflower, and potato quiche.  Tasty!  Would have been less work if I just scrambled it all together.

That's all for this installment of Stuff I Baked While Bored!  Tune in next time for whatever random things I've cooked while everyone else played D&D!

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