Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Personal and Partial Pandemic Update to Wrap Up This March In the Spring of Our COVID-19 Catastrophe -OR- 1st Month Down, 2 - 3 To Go

View of Lafayette Square from the intersection of Connecticut Ave and H Street NW on a gloomy day, Washington, D.C., 2:54 p.m., March 31, 2020

The spot photographed here actually marks the start (or end) of Connecticut Avenue -- at H Street by the northwest corner of Lafayette Square. Connecticut Avenue runs, with the initial, brief interruption of Farragut Square, all the way up to Aspen Hill, Md.

Lafayette Square on a gloomy gray, cool, early spring day, Washington, D.C., 2:59 p.m., March 31, 2020

As for the pictures in this entry, the bulk of them (it's obvious which ones) were taken by myself earlier today while walking to ... and several hours later, from ... my office down at L'Enfant Plaza. I've been walking either to or from or -- as I did today, to and from -- in the mid-afternoon and evening after teleworking in the morning from my apartment near Dupont Circle.

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Row houses at the corner of 21st and O Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 2:24 p.m., 
March 31, 2020

I took this picture because it features a Yoshino "Japanese" cherry tree -- with a few of its spring blossom petals remaining -- next to my favorite type of flowering cherry cultivar, the Kanzan (or "Kwanzan"), which, like clockwork every year, blossoms 10 to 14 days after the Yoshino blossoms.

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Yes, another image of the ornate corner house at N and 21st Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 2:26 p.m., 
March 31, 2020

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OK, I need to post a new entry.

For starters, I need and want to post an extensive update on the COVID-19 pandemic situation including both the national and global health emergency and the flash economic depression in which the country finds itself.

Looking south along 15th Street at Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 3:04 p.m., March 31, 2020

Another view of three-quarters deserted downtown Washington, D.C., in the time of the Great Coronavirus Pandemic (and Economic Depression) of 2020.

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I would also like to discuss / opine on the politics, including Trump's pathologically depraved behaviors (making it all about ratings and settling endless scores, of course, which makes it problematic that reporters are even risking their health to go to the White House to listen to his solipsistic, sociopathic ramblings).

This image -- admittedly badly out-of-ratio -- from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) COVID-19 COVID-19 projection site available at: https://covid19.healthdata.org/

The above curve is based on a forecast of a peak daily fatality number of 2,600+ by mid-April (declining sharply thereafter) and a total number of fatalities of 94,000 by August. This has informed the current White House Coronavirus Task Force forecast of 100,000 to 240,000 fatalities. These numbers will change as in the days ahead.

COVID-19 daily new cases in the United States,
15 Feb - 31 March 2020

Updated 2:46 a.m. 4/1/2020

The number of fatalities on March 31st spiked to over 900 with 24,000+ new positive cases. This brings the total number of fatalities in the U.S. through March 31st to 4,000+ and number of cases to nearly 189,000. New York continues to have the lion's share (1,700 and 76,000, respectively), but this is expected to change as hot spots shift. Globally, the figures are 42,300 and 860,000 -- except nobody believes China's bogus low numbers.

COVID-19 statistics for top 15 U.S. States by reported cases for the 24 hours ending 00 UTC March 31, 2020

End of Update

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Yes, I was two weeks ago, briefly, against all the extreme social distancing -- and thought maybe Trump had a vaguely rational point -- but I understand that this was very misguided on my part. As for Trump, he can't help himself. He's just antisocial personality disordered or otherwise malignantly narcissistic.

The trouble, of course, is that it takes much too long to compose these entries, although this one turned into a sort of a hybrid personal and partial pandemic update.

Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, at the March 31, 2020 daily briefing with the IHME chart.

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About the fact that I am still going into my regular workplace as part time in this period of extreme social distancing and mandatory teleworking for most white collar office jobs, my work situation is such that I can still go into my office.

View down Pennsylvania Ave NW of the U.S. Capitol from Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., 3:07 p.m.,
March 31, 2020

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I can do this because even though I'm a federal contractor, I'm not onsite with the federal client (which, like most agencies, is presently under strict teleworking requirements for both feds and contractors). Instead, my workplace is a tiny office -- typically, there are only three of us in there -- located in the 470/490 L'Enfant building. This is the building that houses the Hilton Hotel (which now appears closed) but in a suite of offices on the 490 side. Now it is true that 470/490 went on permanent weekend hours on Monday until this is over-- but I have a key card to get up to my office.

Passageway between courtyard between the Wm. J. Clinton Federal Building and the Ronald Reagan Building and Constitution Ave, Washington, D.C.,
3:11 p.m., March 31, 2020

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Anyway, I walked both to and from the office today -- a round trip of about 5 miles, I would estimate given the different routes I followed. Concerning walking, I've been trying to avoid the Metro as much as possible because it is just too weird and unpleasant in this time -- nearly deserted except for the usual riffraff, homeless, cracked out, and/or pot-addled, plus a number of people who have no choice but to commute to their non-teleworkable and essential jobs.

Washington Monument as seen from Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 3:13 p.m., March 31, 2020

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For that matter, it's the same situation at street level -- clearing out the city streets and sidewalks of most of its people just leaves the homelessly schizophrenically insane and random bums and shady characters -- but you're not trapped in an enclosed space.

U.S. DOE headquarters, Washington, D.C., 3:21 p.m.,
March 31, 2020

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So far during this societal shutdown period, when I take the Metro, it's just the Blue/Orange/Silver "crosstown" route between L'Enfant Plaza and Farragut West or Foggy Bottom. Certain stations -- such as Smithsonian and Federal Triangle -- are closed "until further notice," as are certain access points of stations that remain open, such as on the northbound side of Connecticut Avenue to Farragut North.

Grounds of USDA headquarters along the National Mall, Washington, D.C., 6:57 p.m., March 31, 2020

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Honestly, I do not like walking outside after dark -- even along Connecticut Avenue -- because the city is SO deserted, at last outside. To clarify, it's not that the city itself is deserted / abandoned.

Rather, I refer to this extraordinary situation in which only a tiny fraction of the usual people from the suburbs are coming into the city, there are virtually no tourists here (right through peak Yoshino cherry blossom season), and many people are staying inside for extended periods. You are technically supposed to be inside except for "essential" activities such as grocery shopping and, yes, exercise (walking and jogging).

Deserted 14th and 15th Streets as they traverse the National Mall, Washington, D.C., 6:59 p.m.,
March 31, 2020

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I should also mention that my lunch, such as it is, has been coming either from Subway shops -- of which there are numerous ones in downtown Washington to include at least four on a direct SE/NW route between my apartment and office including in L'Enfant Plaza.

I've given the person who makes my sandwiches a tip (amount ranging from $2 to $10, depending on the friendliness of the individual) since the whole situation is so awful, and I feel so badly for them.

Empty streets around the John Paul Jones Memorial, Washington, D.C., 7:06 p.m., March 31, 2020

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Anyway, on my route home, I walked down the Mall at misty, gloomy, cool, overcast gray dust to the Lincoln Memorial and thence up 23rd Street and over to the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods, where I went grocery shopping, and then home by 8:10 p.m.

The mostly empty Reflecting Pool with a bicyclist along the interior rainwater pond edge, Washington, D.C., 
7:13 p.m., March 31, 2020

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As I mentioned in a recent entry, the Reflecting Pool between the World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial has been drained of water for a while now (possibly since last summer) because there is yet another re-plumbing project underway.

Empty Reflecting Pool, 7:23 p.m., March 21, 2020

Recently, it was nearly empty (maybe because of dry weather), but we've had about 1.2 inches of rain in the past week, and on this evening, it was about 20 percent filled. The picture directly above shows the Reflecting Pool as it appeared 10 days earlier from the preceding one.

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Western edge of the Reflecting Pool, Washington, D.C.,
7:17 p.m., March 31, 2020

This is the "deep end" of the Reflecting Pool in which the bottom slopes down from about 18 to 24 inches in the rest of it to about three to four feet. This part had stagnant water and bottom litter in it -- but with the new rainwater, it seemed cleaner, although with a fringing patina of yellow tree pollen.

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It was still possible to walk in / along the bottom of it. Given that the bottom was cleaned -- none of the dried dirty sediment, goose or duck shit, or likely thousands of dollars in grit-covered coins -- and it was just rainwater, the shallow lengthwise pond down the middle was surprisingly clean.

American Pharmacists Association headquarters, Washington, D.C., 7:23 p.m., March 31, 2020

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OK, that pretty much brings me to where I am right now: Home watching my nighttime-to-really-late-night comfort TV on MeTV, Antenna TV, and Cozi TV.

About that night hours comfort TV, there's nothing like viewing, or at least having on in the background, Green Acres, Hogan's Heroes, The Carol Burnett Show, Perry Mason, and The Twilight Zone to take one's mind briefly off of a pandemic. Ditto Murphy Brown, Designing Women, and The Nanny.

I should note that Antenna TV adjusted its weeknight schedule. Thus, while Becker is still on, Dear John and Wings no longer are ... BOO!

Regarding Wings, actor David Schramm just passed away on Saturday at age 73. The cause of death was a heart attack.


As Schramm's Wikipedia article states: "He was best known for playing the role of Roy Biggins, the portly, curmudgeonly rival airline owner in the TV series Wings." Or as his Washington Post obit describes him, "the blustery, unscrupulous owner" of the fictitious airline Aeromass.

This Wikipedia article on Wings (not the same as the one linked above) gives a nice overview of Roy Biggins.


Another great show is Alice. I had forgotten how good it was -- at least in its first few seasons with the original waitress trio of Alice, Flo, and Vera, along with Mel and Tommy.

The show in its early days was darkly funny, a bit gritty, and attention-holding. Alice's life as a young widow and single mother who ends up working in Mel's Diner in Phoenix is a difficult one. It's a shame about Philip McKeon passing away earlier this year. Only Linda Lavin, age, and Polly Holliday, age, are still with us.

Oh, needless to say, the commercials are all unwatchable and thank God for mute.

Turning to the weather ...

The weather today was actually kind of ideal for me: Overcast with puffy (not featureless), somber gray-white clouds, with highs in the 53°F to 56°F range. This included 56°F at KDCA, 55°F at KDMH, 54°F at KBWI and KIAD, and 53°F at KNAK. By evening, temps were around 50°F and there was a chilly, damp east / northeasterly flow and drizzle that morphed into rain showers. 

It was a great day to wear darker clothes and a hoodie.

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in standard base reflectivity looped 10:22 p.m. - 11:04 p.m., March 31, 2020

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We're actually getting some rain tonight -- which is good because we have both a monthly and year-to-date deficit and a pattern for the next two weeks that isn't really favorable for much significant weather (thus continuing the pattern of, well, the past six months).

Tonight's rain is associated with a quickly intensifying coastal low -- presently near Wilmington, N.C. -- but forecasted to move rapidly off the Outer Banks and out to sea, even skipping the usual New England rendezvous. As the system is just grazing us, rain fall totals are likely to be only around 0.1 inch whereas 1.0 to 1.5 inches would really be ideal.

NWS/WPC/NDFD U.S. surface weather map forecast looped 06Z 01 April to 12Z 03 April 2020 showing fronts, precipitation type, and likelihood

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OK, I'm signing off for now. I still need to cook dinner -- the usual, I guess, of pork chops from, according to the package, a humanly raised pig and steamed broccoli. My next planned entry will be late Thursday.

--Regulus

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