A long wait for my brolly

Way back on June 9th I ordered a fancy new umbrella. The vendor created a shipping label that very day, and sent me a tracking number. For reasons (perhaps among them, as they claim on their website, precautions in the warehouse against COVID-19), it was six days before they actually handed the package over to the shipper.

As soon as I’d ordered it, I looked ahead at the weather forecast, wondering if there’d be some rain to use it in, but it looked like a full week of dry weather. Of course, after it took a week to actually ship the package, things had changed. Happily, the package was on-track to arrive Saturday—I’d have my new brolly in hand just hours ahead of forecast thunderstorms!

But then the package followed a mysterious path on it’s way from Wisconsin to Illinois:

  • Jun 9 2020 Shipment information received
  • Jun 15 2020 Shipment tendered to UPS MI BELLEVILLE, WI
  • Jun 15 2020 Package received for processing Avenel, NJ
  • Jun 16 2020 Package processed by UPS MI Avenel, NJ
  • Jun 17 2020 Package transferred to dest MI facility Avenel, NJ
  • Jun 19 2020 Package received by dest MI facility Kansas City, MO
  • Jun 20 2020 Package enroute to USPS for induction Kansas City, MO
  • 20 Jun 2020 22:29 Shipment Acceptance at PO Hazelwood, MO

In what way is this a sensible?

I mean, I’m willing to cut the vendor some slack for taking six days between sending shipment information and then actually tendering the package. I’m sure precautions against COVID-19 reduce their efficiency in shipping things out of their warehouse. But sending the package from Wisconsin to Illinois via New Jersey and then Missouri? They spent 5 days getting the package to a different adjacent state, to a city only 72 miles closer than where it started!

Now that the package is in the hands of the post office, I figure it will actually get here in a couple of days, just about the time the wet weather ends and it gets sunny and dry for a few days.

2020-04-16 08:32

This article makes a good point:

“Ultimately, we the public will decide when the economy reopens, not the government.”

If people decide not to fly, not to stay in hotels, not to eat at restaurants, and to wait and see how things work out before making major purchases, it doesn’t matter if the “stay-at-home” orders are lifted or not.

Source: It’s Ugly Out There | Tim Duy’s Fed Watch

A month-ish of distancing

It’s a little hard for me to settle on a start date for my personal social distancing. The formal stay-at-home order from the governor didn’t go into effect until March 21st, but the last thing I did that was really inconstant with proper distancing was on March 12th when I attended an aikido class (you really can’t remain distant and practice aikido). So, I’m calling it a month-ish of distancing.

I think of myself as semi-retired (because I am still writing and was still teaching my taiji class), but as a practical matter, I’m really actually retired. I’ve been drawing my pension for something like 5 years now, and Jackie has started drawing her social security.

So our financial circumstances as far as income goes are pretty much just as they were. (It may be that I won’t get paid for the last session of teaching taiji, since I only taught two of the planned eight weeks, but the actual dollar amount in question is pretty small.)

I assume my stock investments got crushed in the early reaction to the pandemic and have since recovered some, but to be honest I’ve not paid much attention. I had lightened up on stocks a couple of times in the past couple of years, and am pretty comfortable with my asset allocation. (I actually checked with Wise Bread to see if they wanted me to pitch them an article on “Investing in Plague Time,” but they said they’d completely shut down commissioning articles due to how the pandemic was hitting their income. I’ll recast the article as a blog post and put it up here pretty soon.)

As far as spending goes, we’re spending quite a bit less. We’re still trying to support local businesses—we’ve been buying groceries during geezer hour at Schnucks, and we restocked our liquor cabinet at Friar Tuck’s, taking advantage of their curb-side pickup scheme—but I’ve stuck to my new policy of only buying prepared food or drinks from businesses that provide paid sick time to everyone who might come into contact with my food, and so far I haven’t heard of any local restaurants or bars that do that. (If you know of any, let me know!) The upshot is that 100% of the food we’ve eaten this month has been prepared by Jackie or by me, which means it’s been both delicious and healthy.

I don’t have many pictures of the great dishes that Jackie has cooked—most recently khema made with grass-fed beef and served with chapatis—and it seems that I failed to get a picture of the lingcod seasoned after the fashion of Kerala roadside chicken (garlic, ginger, fennel, garam masala, turmeric) that I fried in coconut oil in my big cast iron skillet. However, here’s a few recent dishes:

Besides all the great food, we’re also enjoying (perhaps a little too much) our daily cocktail hour—often on-line with my brother and our mom. The folks I meet for coffee on Tuesday morning have been keeping things going by doing that on-line as well.

I’ve been very pleased with my success at maintaining my workout regimen, despite the closure of the fitness room. I’ve been making use of my kettlebell and my jump rope. I’ve been getting my runs in. I’ve been using my new gymnastic rings:

I do my workouts outdoors to the greatest extent possible—runs around the neighborhood, setting the rings up in Winfield Village’s basketball court, jumping rope and swinging the kettlebell in our little patio. Our neighbors all seem to be pretty good about respecting proper distancing practices, so it’s working okay so far.

While I’m on the subject of exercise, I wanted to mention in passing this hilarious tweet:

Just to say that, although getting ripped is perhaps not in the cards, I’m having a great time making the attempt.

Finally, I’m meaning to get back to getting some writing done, and to that end I spent all morning tidying up my desk:

At this moment (a couple of hours later), it is still just about that tidy, and I’ve used it to write this blog post. This afternoon I’ll use it to write a letter to my congressman and senators, urging them to support the post office. And then, I’ll see if I can’t get to work on some fiction.

2020-04-10 11:43

Always true, just now laid bare by the pandemic:

In transit conversations we often talk about meeting the needs of people who depend on transit. This makes transit sound like something we’re doing for them. But in fact, those people are providing services that we all depend on, so by serving those lower income riders, we’re all serving ourselves.

Source: In a Pandemic, We’re All ‘Transit Dependent’

2020-04-09 16:43

Always nice to see the workers leveraging circumstances to their advantage, as I expect them to do over the next year or two.

emperor Justinian railed against scarce workers who “demand double and triple wages and salaries, in violation of ancient customs” and forbade them “to yield to the detestable passion of avarice” — to charge market wages for their labor…

Source: How Will the Coronavirus Affect Workers?

2020-04-04 10:45

Boy are these guys in trouble:

Over the past 40 years, schools, particularly less selective ones, have fought ever harder to attract students. The conventional wisdom held that the best way to do so was to upgrade facilities, build new dormitories and student centers, and provide increasingly luxurious amenities. The result has been a flood of debt…

Source: Coronavirus: U.S. Colleges and Universities Reach Breaking Point