7 Quick Takes: Mount St. Helens Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

The source of these Quick Takes. On Saturday afternoon, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across this picture:

The Mount St. Helens eruption had idiots too!

I generally don’t share stuff from Occupy Democrats because while I agree with them a lot of the time and they are mostly accurate, they get really mean-spirited about things. (I will admit that my first thought when I saw the wording was that the way they worded it was a bit catty.)

However, this piqued my interest enough to fact-check it. I mean, did people *REALLY* want to do something as stupid as go near an active volcano?

— 2 —

Did it check out? Surprisingly, it actually did! I found a newspaper article talking about cabin owners being salty about the ban on people coming near the mountain. There was also this one reflecting on it 40 years later. I found a Twitter thread from Washington Emergency Management (basically the Washington National Guard) that provided a basis for the text in the Occupy Democrats picture and another one from USGS Volcanoes that provided information that backed up the text in the image with the name of a book containing eyewitness accounts of this.

This episode of the old A&E series “Minute by Minute” even has interviews with at least one person who professes anger at not being allowed into the area:

— 3 —

Fabulous webinar. This is the webinar that I watched on the night of May 18th that I *REALLY* recommend watching. They have professors from Oregon and Washington talking about volcanoes, Mount St. Helens, and the Cascade range, including the seismologist who was tracking Mount St. Helens at the time as well as the current seismologist/scientist-in-charge of the Cascades Volcano Observatory.

— 4 —

A couple of important things to take away from the webinar. Steve Malone (the seismologist tracking Mount St. Helens at the time) made some points that were worth sharing.

Parallels with today.

He also made an interesting analogy with this picture here:

Malone's analogy

Scientists tend to have a lot of models and data types and inputs that they are using to try to figure out what is going on. Civil authorities who are having to make these decisions want a yes/no answer. It’s why governors who are putting their trust in scientists and medical authorities are not able to give a specific answer as to when things will go back to “normal”… especially since we are looking at an entirely new normal now!

— 5 —

Where I am seeing a parallel. Governor Dixy Lee Ray did sign an order to keep people out of the “red” and “blue” zones around the mountain, but she allowed Weyerhauser trucks in for logging purposes because logging was a big part of the economy. Among those killed in the eruption were members of at least one logging crew. Had it not been a Sunday when the mountain erupted, more logging crews would have been in the area, and the death toll would have been much higher. There was a volcanologist named David A. Johnston who was killed in one of the pyroclastic flows, and that was a bitter pill for the person for whom he was standing in and the UW researchers monitoring the volcano. (Johnston Ridge Observatory is named after him.)

There’s also kind of a sad story about a man named Harry R. Truman who refused to leave the lodge he owned on Spirit Lake. He became a folk hero of sorts because of it, and his body was never found. They think that he was killed in a pyroclastic flow and that his lodge and his body and his cats are all buried under something like 150 feet of ash. His attitude reminds me of some of the people protesting in states to get the economy reopened. I look at them and ask myself “why???” because what they’re doing is endangering themselves, but it’s their decision to put themselves in danger.

This kind of thing is why I’m getting so salty about those who are more concerned about the economy than actual human lives. We can take steps to put the economy back together, but we can’t bring people back from the dead. I’m hearing on my local news about states that have “reopened” reporting the highest COVID-19 case count ever for that specific day while I’m watching the curve flatten out in Washington and in my own county where we’re still sheltering-in-place. It’s a balancing act for sure, and it irritates me that some people are trying to make it into a simplistic issue because their situation is merely one of inconvenience.

— 6 —

A really cool story. There’s a photographer who goes to Goodwill and finds exposed film from old cameras to develop. She ended up finding some that had pictures of the Mount St. Helens eruption. Even cooler is that the grandson of the person who owned the camera now has pictures of himself with his parents and grandmother that he didn’t know existed.

Seriously, this is a happy story.

— 7 —

Why I have this fascination. Well…

1.) Both sides of my family are geology junkies. My maternal grandfather was a geology major before he had to leave college due to illness and World War II, and my paternal grandfather enjoyed the geology classes he took as general education credits. I have a cousin who majored in Geology and did graduate work in it (digging dinosaur bones in Montana and working with Jack Horner), and my parents both grew up getting roadside geology lectures from their fathers. As a result, we’re full of amateur geologists, especially on my mom’s side. (I think my mom’s family keeps the Roadside Geology publishers in business.)

2.) My entire family is from Oregon and Washington originally. This was a big deal.

3.) My mom went into labor with my twin brother and me as Mount St. Helens erupted. We were born 24 hours later. Twin births are often complicated, and mine was no exception. My brother was almost twice my size, and my heart stopped mid-birth. I required resuscitation and spent my first week of life at Stanford Children’s Hospital, 45 minutes away from my parents in San Jose, before being transferred back to Los Gatos Community Hospital for another two weeks to get bigger. My brother came home after three days. I came home after three weeks.

My family always makes jokes about Mount St. Helens and our birth. We have newspapers from Yakima from the day of our birth talking about all the ash falling. When we were 25 years old, my dad got some ash from the volcano and sent it to my brother and me. (Mine is sitting on the bookcase next to my desk.) My parents visited the volcanic monument that year and took a picture of themselves at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. My brother and I were photoshopped into the picture (along with their cats), and it was used as the Christmas picture that year. 🙂 Because of my connection to the mountain, I tend to geek out on documentaries on it at this time of year.

And yes, I did just turn 40 years old this week. 🙂 I had a quiet day, my dad made me one of my favorite meals, and my parents got me a carrot cake. We did candles and presents with my evil twin over Facebook messenger. It wasn’t what we usually do, but it was pretty fabulous.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Odds and Ends Edition

7 Quick Takes

Head’s up: any Amazon links are affiliate ones.

— 1 —

Called it. A friend shared this news story with me after seeing me be cranky about protestors who weren’t wearing masks and were eschewing guidelines about social distancing…

72 COVID Positive After Attending Large Event

I know I’m a horrible person for saying this, but… CALLED IT!

— 2 —

Update on the broken tooth. Some of you might remember that I broke a tooth about 2 1/2 weeks ago. Well, word of it got to a parishioner who manages a dental office, and she offered to get me seen PDQ. I went in today, and the tooth was apparently not worth saving by root canal or crown, so I let them extract it. Getting my mouth numbed wasn’t pleasant, but the extraction process wasn’t too bad. They were able to get it out in one piece, and I got to see what an adult tooth looks like, root and all. I have to wait five weeks before they put in a bridge because my jaw needs to heal properly first.

— 3 —

COVID-19 close to home. I’m glad that my local community choir’s tragedy can do some good.

— 4 —

Some beauty for today. This is amazing.

— 5 —

New hobby? I got a Mother’s Day gift card from Daniel, and I used it to get this book and this pen set. I can’t wait to start practicing hand-lettering.

— 6 —

Lessons from “Live PD” #1. If you have anything in your car and the police ask if they can search it, just confess it. The dog WILL find it, and your car WILL get torn apart. I have yet to see anyone get away with having stuff on them and the dog not finding it.

— 7 —

Lessons from “Live PD” #2. If a police officer turns their lights on behind you, just pull over where you (or where it is safe to do so). Do not just continue on home. They WILL take you to jail for fleeing, and the reason they were pulling you over was probably for something minor. Stopping in your driveway does not mean you are “safe”.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Things Keeping Me Going Edition

7 Quick Takes

Washington’s stay-at-home order is being extended until the 31st, which is reasonable as we were the first hotspot and we’ve seen our curve flattening in the right direction as a result of the order. I thought I would share what is keeping me functional right now because maybe it might help someone else who is having a hard time?

— 1 —

Putting my bullet journal together. I put my May bullet journal layout together last week, and I am officially hopelessly addicted to making my layouts artsy. 😀 The post about it is here.

— 2 —

Posting mask selfies. I was originally doing it to snark about Mike Pence not wearing one at the Mayo Clinic, but it has gotten to just be fun now. Having had a COVID-19 test last weekend, I will *JOYFULLY* wear masks in public for the rest of my life to not have to go through that again. Yeah, my glasses fog up, but that is so much easier than being stuck in an isolation room or being intubated, not knowing if I would wake up from sedation alive. I also am happy to do it if it has even a remote shot of protecting others from getting infected. It’s not an imposition if it contributes to public health, and I fail to understand why people are being so pissy about companies like Costco requiring masks. There are a bunch of patterns online for even us who can’t sew, and it’s a craft you can make with kids, or you can google “masks for sale in [your area]” and give money to someone who might be using this to make ends meet right now.

Kitty mask selfie!

There’s also this opinion piece that just has an interesting title.

— 3 —

Volunteering for my church. Even once the state is opened up again, I will probably still have to wait a few weeks to be able to join the folks at St. Paul’s again. This is why I’m really happy that I can help make Sunday worship happen for us on Zoom, and also help make our postponed “Lenten” book study possible.

— 4 —

Watching YouTube. My guilty pleasure is “Live PD”. I’m sorry to admit that I really do enjoy watching being tracked by K9 officers or tased. (My cousin, who is an ex-sheriff’s deputy up here, would be rolling his eyes at me.)

— 5 —

Working. I am thankfully blessed with a job I can do online, so I’m working with students ~12 hours a week. I don’t have any Accounting students for a change (it’s one of my specialties), but I have gotten lent out to the entire campus, so I am working in departments as diverse as Human Services (basically, social work) and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The reason: I’m a Microsoft specialist, and I’m apparently good at working with English Language Learners. (I love my English learners fiercely. I’ve only had two students among them who haven’t been people I want as coworkers someday, and I’m continually blown away at how well they’re doing their classes in their second or third language.)

I also have an amazing boss and really fun co-tutors. Tutor-training meetings are actually pretty fun, even on Zoom.

— 6 —

Reading. I was trying to bring my Target cart up to $25 so an order of cleaning wipes would ship, and I added a mass-market paperback murder mystery that looked kind of nice to it to bump my order to the right amount. I ended up reading the book in one sitting and ordered the other seven in the series. I think that what I need to get me reading again is something brainless because my daily life requires a huge amount of serious thought.

— 7 —

Writing letters. I’m making a dent in my correspondence pile. Woo.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

I Was Tested for COVID-19 Today

**UPDATE** I got my test results back yesterday morning, and they were NEGATIVE for COVID-19. I saw the dentist today and she gave me a referral for an endodontist. Now to find one that takes my Medicaid and who is actually performing root canals!

Background: I broke a tooth this past week and planned to just suck it up until things calmed down with the pandemic or until my filling appointment came in July. (Yes, I know I’m an idiot and that I don’t have the sense God gave geese.) It got so painful on Thursday that I called the community health clinic to see if they could get me in emergently. I checked their website and saw that they were only seeing emergency cases… which I was. They couldn’t get me in on Friday, but they made an appointment for me this morning at 10:15. I was unnerved about going in because

I arrived at 10:00 wearing my medical-grade mask and one of the receptionists stepped outside to do the screening. (There was nobody in the waiting room, which I was heartened to see because the clinic usually serves a part of the population who doesn’t believe in COVID-19.) I made the mistake of being honest and told them that I was having allergy symptoms… because I am and someone was cutting grass near me, so I was getting a bit sniffly. That set off their red flags, and the dental part of the clinic refused to see me until I could be medically-cleared. The medical staff told me that in order to see me, I would have to become their patient and transfer all my care to them. (The big hospital system in town takes my Medicaid, so I’m their patient. They just don’t have a dentist associated with them.) My alternatives were to wait until Monday and go to the drive-thru testing at the college or to go to the Acute Respiratory Clinic run by the hospital system. I opted for the Acute Respiratory Clinic, so I grabbed coffee (because I hadn’t had any in a few days) and headed there.

When I got there, a nurse in a face shield, Tyvek suit, mask, and booties was screening people in the parking lot. When I told her the situation, she cleared me to enter the clinic and commented that she was glad I was wearing a mask. Another nurse dressed similarly went down the hall to see if the doctor wanted to swab me, and they did. (The rationale was that they wanted to make sure I could get the tooth taken care of, and this would serve to clear me.) I was escorted to an exam room, my vitals were taken, and the nurse laid out some gloves and hospital-grade disinfecting wipes so I could disinfect my purse in the car. A doctor with a cheerful face checked me out, and she ordered the test after joking that we really need to talk to the pandemic council about scheduling pandemics during allergy season. (To nobody’s surprise, I had no fever, my vitals were excellent, and my lungs sounded incredibly good for someone with allergy asthma.) Another nurse took me outside to the tent where she did the swab.

This is the swab, by the way:

Yes, that is really what happens.

She had me lower my mask to access my nose but cover my mouth because she said it would make me cough. (She was right.) It was an incredibly unpleasant and peculiar sensation. Unlike the uncomfortable tickly feeling of an influenza swab, this one feels like intense pressure but not pain. (If I had to pick between the two, this one was less horrible, mostly because they only have to do one nostril and it doesn’t feel like you want to jab something into your nose to stop the tickly feeling.) I was told that my results would be back within 48 hours, told not to leave the house until I get them, given my after-visit summary and information on the test, and sent on my way.

When I got home, I cleaned my purse, my coffee cup, my steering wheel, my car’s seat, and my cell phone with the hospital-grade cleaning wipes before getting into the house, washing my hands (OBVIOUSLY!), and taking a shower. I’m going to toss my flip-flops in the trash because it’s not worth putting them through the washer on hot (like I did with my clothes and towel), and I’m keeping my distance more from my parents until I get the test results back. Getting tested put me at greater exposure to COVID-19 than my regular life did, but I’m glad that the community health clinic is taking this seriously. It makes me feel better about having to have them work on my mouth and (likely) extract the tooth.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Sea Mar Dental for taking this so seriously as well as to Dr. Nona Hanson and the team from Skagit Regional Health that was staffing the Acute Respiratory Clinic today. Everyone was incredibly professional and positive today, and that really made a difference.

7 Quick Takes: Making the Best of a Hard Situation Edition

7 Quick Takes

Word in Washington is that our stay-at-home order is being extended, and we will find out how much longer tomorrow. (It was supposed to end on May 4th, but we’re not nearly ready to reopen the state according to Governor Inslee and the doctors, scientists, and public health people he is trusting to advise him.) It’s not great, but this was about saving lives, not my own personal happiness and convenience.

I didn’t know how I was going to deal with being home with my crankypants child for six weeks while trying to work… and it has worked out. Here are some things I’ve learned.

— 1 —

I’ve learned that teachers deserve to be paid two to three times what they earn. I mean, I had mad respect for Daniel’s teachers before as well as my teacher friends who are severely underpaid. Then, I watched the reaction of teachers in the room at Daniel’s IEP meeting when the announcement came down that schools were closed for six weeks. I then watched Daniel’s teacher work her tail off to find class management software to fit each one of her kids when it was announced that schools would be closed for the rest of the year. When my kiddo had a problem dealing with learning over Zoom (because autism = routines and places MUST remain constant), his teacher just hung out and played tablet games with him until he was used to it. She puts together a YouTube video for her kiddos to watch on school mornings so they can do calendar time and News 2 You together. I’ve seen teachers at other schools post “We Miss You” signs in the windows for kids to see when they come to pick up food for the day or go for walks, and the bilingual immersion program teachers got together to make a massive collage of them spelling out a message of love to their students in English and Spanish. Others have masked up and gone to visit students in their homes to troubleshoot laptop issues.

I am definitely making a contribution to his current teacher’s classroom next year, even though Daniel will be at a different school. She loves her kids like her own, and I’ve seen others in the district here who are the same way.

— 2 —

I’ve learned how to find the last commercially-available cleaning wipes. Granted, I did see the writing on the wall and grab a good supply from Amazon before everything disappeared from grocery stores, but I’ve also managed to find them on big box store websites as recently as LAST WEEK. (I swear… I got the last canisters available for shipment from Target before even their generic ones started being routed only to hospitals.) It has become a game for me.

— 3 —

I’ve learned how to facilitate worship on Facebook Live and Zoom. Since it will likely be a while before my church is back worshipping together and my governor isn’t exempting churches from the stay-at-home order, it’s good that I can at least use my gifts and talents to serve my congregation. We’ve gotten better at getting everything together with a few hiccups here and there (because keeping people muted appropriately can be like herding cats at times), but we’re making it work.

A benefit of having worship online is that we are making it accessible for shut-ins. Even when we can all come back to worshipping in person, we at least have a way to also put it online that we didn’t have before. I have some amazing people working with me on this, and I definitely know this will be a good thing for me as I have been that shut-in person several times in the past.

— 4 —

I’ve learned ways to get my needs met. Want food from your favorite local restaurant? Look online to see if they are registered with a delivery service. (We have a really good local one called Munchie Dude.) Need a cloth mask? Put out a Facebook message letting people know your need and maybe someone you know is making them for income or will make one for free. (I just went to Etsy so that my church ladies could focus on making them for nursing home. When I found out about a parishioner selling them, I put out the word that she makes them.) Have a Starbucks addiction? See if there’s a local drive-thru one. (Yes, I have an addiction. Shut up!)

— 5 —

I’ve learned how to survive being stuck around people. My parents and I are all introverts, but my dad and I like to leave the house on occasion. Because we’re all high-risk, trips are limited to grocery shopping (once a week per person), Starbucks (an essential service-shut up!), medical needs (a.k.a. physical therapy when Zoom doesn’t cut it and the possible emergency dental one for me tomorrow), and stuff that can’t be ordered online. We generally just head to our rooms when we start getting peopled out (which works unless Daniel is feeling needy), and both Mom and Dad go for walks or work in the yard. (I’m sadly allergic to “outside” at the moment. Allergies during a pandemic suck.)

— 6 —

We’ve started eating as a family again. During olden times (a.k.a. before the pandemic), we ate together only on special occasions because we all have our own schedules and needs. These days, Mom or Dad make a “company” dish and we’ll have dinner at the table. I still eat different food from them frequently even though Lent is over and I can eat meat again (part of my diet is for health reasons), but I’ll bring whatever I’m eating to the table and we’ll still eat as a family. Daniel is even coming downstairs to be near us on occasion.

— 7 —

I’ve learned that I can do anything for six weeks. Life will not be “normal” again ever because we are in a new place due to coronavirus, but we’ll all (as in, all of humanity) adjust to a new “normal”. Yes, it’s going to be inconvenient for the people who benefitted from the less good parts of the old “normal”, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. We have an opportunity to create a better situation, and I’m all in.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

Seriously, Mike Pence?

Full disclosure: I dislike Mike Pence. I think he is a horrible vice-president, and I can’t wait for him to not be one breath away from the presidency. Trump talks a big game, but Pence believes it all.

Some of the latest stupidity from the occupant of the White House and his puppets is Pence’s visit to the Mayo Clinic… where he refused to wear a mask. Yes, this idiot walked into a place where people are being treated for a highly contagious disease and didn’t mask up.

Here is his rationale:

“As vice president of the United States, I’m tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus,” he told reporters, saying he is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Nope. Stupid reasoning. Those people around you might be tested for the coronavirus, but they’re around other people who might be asymptomatic and give it to them. They, then, can give it to you. I’m also pretty sure that you’re ignoring all the advice on social distancing as well, given the pictures I see of you. For all you know, you’re a carrier and are infecting them!

Next!

“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.'”

OK… this is even stupider. These researchers and health care personnel are all wearing masks. You can see their eyes. Your mouth might be covered, but that doesn’t prevent you from speaking to them. I know this from personal experience as I have a kid who likes to hang out in children’s hospitals. (Seattle Children’s, by the way, is the best.)

Me in a PICU bay at UCD Medical Center during one of Daniel’s RSV hospitalizations where I wore a mask, gown, and gloves all the time unless I left the room:

Me in the PICU at UCD Medical Center

Daniel’s medical people and I communicated just fine through masks, and there was *PLENTY* of eye contact.

Me in my surgical bunny suit when I was helping with anesthesia in the OR for Daniel’s g-tube procedure:

G-Tube Surgery

Me today in my gorgeous cloth mask made by Katusha75 after going grocery shopping:

Me today.

If it’s good enough for the health care workers and your security detail, you can do it too. You’re just too self-centered to do it.

Loser.

56 Days

Some perspective from Governor Andrew Cuomo:

Somebody said to me, “I can’t do this anymore.” People are feeling the stress on a number of levels. They’re not getting a paycheck. Their life is on hold. “Is my business going to come back? Do I have a job at the end of this? My whole life has been disoriented. I just, I can’t take it anymore.” I get it. I get it. I really do fundamentally get it. This has been a God awful situation on many, many levels.

God awful situation on many, many levels. And many people I’m sure are saying this in their own way, so who said it to me is not important, but it was one of my daughters, I won’t tell you which one though. Just to protect their privacy.

I get the feeling. Today is day 56. It’s been 56 long days. Generations are called upon to deal with high levels of difficulty. We are called upon to deal with this crisis. Day 56. 1918 pandemic went on for two years, we are in day 56. World War one went on for four years, the great depression went on for four years. You want to talk about economic anxiety. You want to talk about people losing homes, not being able to feed themselves. People living in camps, people living in cars, world war two, six years, Vietnam war, that intensity every night, every night have to hear about the tragedies went on for eight years.

I get 56 days is a long time and I get it’s the worst thing that we have experienced in modern history. I get that. But just a little perspective, not that it makes our situation any better, but it gives you a sense of perspective. Yes, in life, things happen. On an individual level and on a societal level, things happen. And you have to deal with it and it’s hard, but on the other hand, that makes us who we are. You get shaped by your experiences. This is a terrible experience to go through, but we will manage it, we will handle it, and we will be the better for it.

56 days of this inconvenience, yeah, think of it this way, what you’re doing is actually saving lives. That’s not rhetorical. That’s not overly dramatic. You are saving lives. What we have done here has saved lives. Every expert, every expert, CDC, white house task force, Cornell University, Columbia University, McKinsey, the group that Bill Gates funded, every one of them projected that there would be at least 100,000 more serious infections in the state of New York, 100,000 more serious infections, more hospitalizations. What happened? We did what we had to do, which was hard and is hard. Well, what did we accomplish? 100,000 fewer serious infections. That’s what 56 days of our relative living through hell has accomplished. And that is a heck of an accomplishment. So yes, it’s not for naught. 100,000 fewer infections.

And look, “Life is better than death, even if it is not your own,” A.J Parkinson. Even if you’re 22 and you’re 25 and you’re strong and you’re healthy and you say, “Well, you know what, even if I get coronavirus, it’s not going to affect me because it doesn’t affect the young.” With a little caveat there, except when it does, and your life might’ve been the one that it did affect. But even if you’re right, I’m 22, I’m 25 I would’ve been just fine. Yeah, but who could you have infected? And maybe they weren’t going to be fine because they weren’t 22 when they weren’t 25 because they were 65 and because they had diabetes or they had hypertension or they had an underlying heart condition, or because they were recovering from cancer and a cancer operation, and you infect that person and that person dies because you got infected. That’s the reality of what we’re dealing with. 56 days of pain. Yes, yes. Relative to the past and what other societies have gone through, bad but not the worst that people have gone through. What did we accomplish? 100,000 fewer infections in the state of New York. And we actually saved lives. That’s what we did and that’s what we’re doing and that is inarguable.

(Source)