Log: Unpredictable Moods

The moods are unpredictable.

For the past couple of days, it’s been more or less good news. It sounds like the infections have leveled off. They might even be going down. The worst of it could be over.

You learn to be careful of good news. We’ve heard good news before. The last time we heard good news we were told that ‘the worst is over.’ The Worst Yet started the next day. It’s a bit like a baseball season. You can’t live and die with every pitch.

You hear good news and you’re hopeful about it but you have to remain guarded. The news can change. Another cluster can rear its head, another outbreak can break out. The news will change. You don’t want to get caught up in incident after incident. Like baseball, you have to look at the bigger picture. The fundamentals and the process. If Matt Chapman is in a slump, you don’t pull him. If he goes 4 for 4, you don’t expect it every day. It’s best to avoid getting too caught up in the news. You can’t get attached to any of the news. The news will change. Especially the good news. The last thing anyone needs to do is to hear that it’s getting better and think everything is back to normal. It’s not.

Like my dear old Nan used to say “Never kick a man when he’s down. Unless he’s trying to get back up.” And this bug is always trying to get back up. So let’s keep kicking.

But even good news might have some good news in it, if you only know where to look. At the very least, this leveling off of infections shows that the measures taken in Korea are working. The bug may not be arrested but it has been slowed. And this has been accomplished without anything so draconian as a complete lock-down. It’s been slowed while letting people go about their business. It’s been done with generalized trust.

With the Chinese example so fresh in everyone’s minds and often celebrated for its alleged effectiveness, it’s important to model a different experience. The model of an an open and democratic society. Doctors, nurses, testing, science, and medicine. The tools of an open society mobilized through its institutions and guided by people’s basic care for each other. This is better than censorship and clampdowns. It’s not perfect but it seems to be working. It’s important for everyone that it does work. Openness needs to make its case and its making that case here. Let’s just knock on wood and hope transparency and a functioning healthcare system keeps making a good case for itself.

Even more importantly, we’ve learned that when this bug is caught early, its mortality rate can be greatly reduced. We know this now. It’s a good thing to know. Mass testing is vital.

Being a bit of pessimist though, I worry about what can happen in a situation such as this if another crisis is added. An earthquake, a flood, a fire. Something else that would be a problem at any other time can be a much worse problem now. These things feed off each other. Like, this isn’t a worry that keeps me up at night but it’s something that should warrants some professional concern from the professionals. Expect the best, prepare for the worst. That sort of thing.

The day started with some cautious optimism. (Honestly, cautious optimism is about as much optimism as I am ever capable of.) Wife and I decided to head out on a nicotine run. We’ve been planning this for about a week and, today, it couldn’t wait any longer.

On the way home from market.

It was very empty out there. The insides of shops were even emptier than the streets. I’ve never seen the Starbucks or the Baskin Robbins or the Olive Young so empty. But the stores were open. We all owe these workers a debt of gratitude. They keep the city running. None of these places, especially the small businesses, can be making much money but, if you need them, they’re there. That’s important. Duty works better than the free market in a crisis.

Because our nicotine shop is close to the fish market and because we were out and about anyway, we decided to drop by to pick up a few things. I wanted some squid, ginger, and tofu. There’s also some snacks that we like. (I don’t know what they’re called, only that they’re delicious.) Market was really quiet –it seemed like the workers outnumbered the customers– but the market was still there. It was really good to see the fish ladies again. Our favorite squid lady even gave us a free squid. That sort of shit is really touching.

I’ve really missed the market.

And it was good to see the market functional if not populated. The last time I went, which was over two weeks ago, it seemed to be having some trouble. Some vendors were missing (including my favorite squid lady) and the food selection looked a bit hurt. This time, the fish looked as fresh as ever. The supply lines to the sea seem to be working.

This all put me in a pretty good mood.

But, coming home, I looked at the Internet and saw a picture of an empty Myeongdong. I’d heard that everyone should expect an “OH MY GOD” moment but I hadn’t yet had one. I’ve had plenty of “oh wow” moments and some “oh shit” moments but not an “OH MY GOD” moment. This photo knocked the air out of me. I gasped. I’m not even sure why.

It might be because the first time I visited Korea, I visited Myeongdong. It’s maybe one of the busiest places I’ve ever been. It was disorienting. I could get lost crossing the street.

I hate cyberpunk or Bladerunner comparisons to East Asian cities –I think they’re pretty lazy– but you know that scene where Deckard is chasing the lady replicant and the whole intense chase is just happening across about a half an information rich block? It felt like that.

Seeing that place vacant? Even just a picture? It made me gasp. I was not expecting this feeling from a photo. But I felt that “oh my god” moment. I did not care for it.

So I put on some Aphex Twin and cooked some squid. I feel a lot better now.

Moods are unpredictable. Our friend, the squid helps.

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