log: wave 3

WORMDATE: L 1.5: 343-29,654: 2-498

With cases into the 300s, highest they’ve been in months, Korea enters its third wave. The alert level has been raised to 1.5 in some areas and looks to rise again shortly. The government has gone from “mulling” to “seriously considering” to finally raising the level. I kind of wish that the moment we hit the “mulling” stage, we’d just take our medicine and raise levels. By now, we all know what’s going to happen and what needs to be done. We all know what “mulling” means. It means we’re going to be above 2 pretty soon.

But there might be some psychological need to go through the “mulling” and “seriously considering” stages of this process. It, at least, indicates that these decisions aren’t being taken lightly and gives everyone a moment to take a breath and adjust. That might be important. It’s hard to say what’s important. There’s a few things that I think are important but have been a little underplayed. Might be because they’re hard to describe.

One is the idea of normal. I believe that a really important part of the to-date successful response here has been the rapid acceptance of rapid change. The idea of “getting back to normal” was never really put out there by the authorities or treated as a desirable outcome. Pretty much, right from the jump, it was like – things have changed. This will be difficult but it can also be an opportunity. But, make no mistake, things have changed. Normal is gone.

That puts the emphasis on adaptation, which is really important.

Another thing, and this one is more subtle, is how time is being treated. Early on, we were given two week blocks. It was always, we’ll see where we are in two weeks. Now, I’m not sure of this, but it seems to me that in the anglosphere, the blocks of time were much larger. It seems like there’s announcements like: We’re shutting down for a month. Having already felt the repeated sting of disappointment when these two week blocks of strict new behaviors was to be extended for another two weeks, stretching that into a month or making any guarantees always seemed like a bad idea. You can wrap your head around two weeks. Two weeks just doesn’t seem like a long time. You can do most things for two weeks. It’s a bit like the difference between “one day at a time” and “I quit forever.” One feels a bit more manageable than the other. Especially when you know the results you need.

It felt like doing sets. Like, instead of being like, I’m going to do fifty burpees, it’s easier to do five sets of ten. It’s not fun but it makes it easier. Time frames as big as a a month seem destined to create a pressure to open when that month is up. But a month by itself doesn’t mean shit. The calendar doesn’t really matter on this. It can’t be treated like it does. The date is not the important number. There’s no cookie for passing a date.

It’s like the focus is on time and time is the wrong thing.

Let me try this. The boss makes you stay after work. Would you rather they say “you can leave when this job is done” or if they say “you need to stay for another hour” and then keep making you stay until the job is done because that job does need to be done. I’d prefer to just be given the job. That’s more how things were done here. I like it.

Here, time was always just two weeks and we’ll see with the emphasis on the “we’ll see.” The emphasis on this is what we need to get done. Then a couple days before the two weeks were up, it was always just another two weeks. Then, eventually, one day it wasn’t. We’d got the job done. We saw the numbers. It worked. We could resume daily life in changed conditions. In two weeks, maybe do it again. But the focus was on the job.

I get the impression –not sure how accurate it is– that in Canada, for example, that time is being treated as more important. That time is treated as The Big Clock. That time, does something. Those rare moments when I hear Canadian news, it seems like things are often being discussed like “One month of this and we’ll be able to ____.” That’s not really how it works. Time is not the clock. Time is the case numbers. Here, it’s more like, “if we get below this level of cases for these many days, then we might be able to ____.”

It’s a subtle difference but, I think, an important one. It makes you want to hit your targets as opposed to just playing the clock. The clock doesn’t really matter. The clock is not a target.

And even in a shutdown, you can and will have bad things happen. You still get outbreaks. You still get sent back to square one. You can still get another two weeks. This virus doesn’t really give much of a shit about schedules and the like. It just likes to replicate.

The stressful aspect of this particular wave, the thing that has the authorities concerned, is that there’s been no outbreak. Previous waves were touched off by outbreaks. In churches, mass gatherings, clubs, that sort of thing. That’s sudden and frightening but it’s also easier to deal with. You can pretty easily shut down and control those sorts of things. But this wave is different. It’s insidious. It’s a bunch of small transmissions that are proving really difficult to trace. These cases are emerging out of day-to-day life. They’re much harder to control.

This is the sort of situation where personal responsibility starts to play a much larger role.

Satan help us.

As for me. I have some sort of ZOOM fatigue. I like online classes but these lectures . . .

The lectures just exhaust me. I feel like they are a lot of effort and not much reward. They just suck the energy out of me and by the time they end I feel like I’ve learned very little. Some of that is probably the lectures themselves –a lot of these have just been offline class styles imported into the internet– some of it is probably just the medium. The result is an erosion of focus on my end. More time staring at the ceiling waiting for it to be over. Just disengaged. And I shouldn’t be. I have every reason to be engaged. I like the subject and need to learn it. It’s all fine. Everyone is doing their best. I’m just having a hard time with it.

Anyway, I’ve got math homework to do, so I should get on that.


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