Haskell met Nyxie today. At first, Haskell was rather apprehensive. Admittedly, that may be reasonable given half of the etymology for the cat’s name comes from the Greek goddess Nyx. The other half? Nixie Tubes (because we’re nerds), but the name Nixie may come from this kind of nixie. We have a habit of naming our animals in our own ways. If you hadn’t noticed, we named our dog after a programming language.
Nyxie took to the house as one would expect her namesakes to take to their domains: she owns it. As for how Haskell is taking the new addition to our family? He is confused and jealous.
Nyxie is not scared of Haskell, nor is she threatened by his presence. She has not hissed at him once, nor has she swatted at him. This is impressive given he has not behaved in the most reasonable manner toward her, but we’re doing everything at her pace here. By the end of the first 24 hours Nyxie and Haskell have spent several hours in each other’s company peacefully, under the same piece of furniture, sniffing each other.
Nyxie has a healthy appetite and is not showing any signs of stress. Haskell gets agitated if we show Nyxie affection and has learned her name faster than she has. He’s working through his only-child-syndrome.
Many jokes will come of this:
As in the Universe if for all Matter there is Anti-Matter then there too must be Dog and Anti-Dog.
Ceiling Dog and Basement Cat
Haskell is not very effective for Nyxie interactions
Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope this brought a smile to your face. Without you this would be bits of data stored somewhere and recalled only when someone stumbles on it by mistake. Maybe that’s you – Thank you anyway if that’s the case.
Disclaimer: The following story is based on true events, but the names of people, places, dates, and other identifiers have been changed to ensure anonymity. The only name left unchanged is my own.
I stared at Bea’s lips as they moved, half-registering the words as they vibrated the air molecules between us. The kettle clicked off, and she turned to the teacup and licorice tea. Her soft pale skin and hazel eyes glowed beneath a halo of an artificial burgundy pixie cut. I’d never had a crush like this before.
“Here now, this will help.”
I smiled as Bea passed me the piping cup, my sleeves pulled up over my hands as I wrapped my palms around the vessel and felt the warmth through the porcelain. Sitting dazed on her dorm bed with my eyes fixed into the cup of tea, the back of her hand pressed gently against the side of my face and forehead.
“Have you been to the clinic?”
I tried to speak, but my voice, entirely shot, sputtered; no words came out. Defeated, I shook my head instead.
“You’re sick, Lo.” Her head tilted, and she let out a sigh, raising half of her mouth in a way that I found more beautiful than any other woman I’d met in my life before.
I looked up at her, unaware of my facial expression that resulted in her busting out laughing. It must have changed because she sat next to me on the bed, her own face changing in a way that I couldn’t quite understand. It lost energy – the expression fell into that chasm my brain can never quite figure out. Above us loomed a framed black and white image of The Cure – a gift from her absent mother. It had been a fun past time to look at the poster and try to guess if one was her dad based on her chin and height. Raised by her aunt and grandmother, she knew her mother had been a roadie and had gotten pregnant on their 1992 US tour.
“I’m leaving at the end of this semester.”
Pain blossomed in my chest as I forced myself to make eye contact and stare into the peaks and valleys of her hazel eyes. Bea contained an internal sun that could only be seen upon close examination of her irises. Around her pupils and radiating out were flecks of golds and greens that emerged from a stormy brown-grey sea. I memorized her eyes as I waited for her to continue. When she began to speak, I focused on the bridge of her nose to try and appear as though I maintained eye contact while my attention shifted to my ears.
“I need to go home to Lennoxburg. My grandmother is sick, and,” she paused, “I don’t know if college is for me anyway.” Turning her head away from me, she stared at her door and lowered her head. “I’m not smart enough for this. First person in my family to try – first person in my family to fail.”
Inside my head, I screamed at myself, DO SOMETHING. Instead, I sat there with Bea in silence as I sipped my licorice tea next to the most beautiful woman in the world. Attempting to will my body to do anything to tell her, a panic rumbled beneath the surface. What if she doesn’t like you back?
“You look so rough. Here – I’ll grab some of these tea bags and walk you back.”
Walking through the cold December air of that Friday evening, the world disappeared. At the front of the building, she insisted on walking me up to my room. Outside that door, she faced me and lifted both corners of her mouth and tilted her head.
“Feel better, okay?” She hesitated, waiting. “I’m leaving Tuesday, so you probably won’t see me again.” And with that, she attempted to give me our first and last embrace before I retreated into the room, confused and hurt by it all.
At the beginning of April 2020 Missoula Animal Control picked up a little black cat on MacDonald Ave. On 12 May 2020, I brought her home. Her name is Nyxie.
She had been sitting since 7 April 2020. All of the cats need homes, but in a time of stay at home orders, for once pet adoption is on the rise. A once over crowded cat room was practically barren, save the older cats and the little black cats. Another little black cat, Wade, in the kennel above Nyxie, also sat waiting for a home since 29 February 2020. There’s one cat named Dumpster with a laid back personality, but he needs a home with no kids for the long run because he gets irritable around high energy, unpredictable environments – so his owners surrendered him at the age of 5.
Nyxie so far has a strong, independent personality. She is curious and brave. I like that about her. She is precious and I cannot sleep because she is determined that she wants to explore the house, not be kept in a bathroom! She’s yowling, but she purrs so loudly the moment we’re in there. I worry she’s lonely, but she will settle in and sleep.
Why did we get a cat? Because I finally got an allergy test that said I wasn’t allergic to them and she chose us when we opened the kennel door and walked out to head butt our hands immediately, then proceeded to investigate us and decided she wanted to go home with us.
In my personal life, I’m trying to focus on sanity and reframing my life in light of new information. I’m not ready to disclose this because the world circumstances caused a lot of things to take a nosedive into the land of waiting in uncertainty and self examination. For those within the #WritingCommunity that know more, I appreciate the privacy and support you have provided. I’m sure I will open up in time once more things come to light.
What stage of Social Isolation Insanity are you at?
In response to this picture a couple people asked if I’m okay. I promise this is me having a great time while alone and is a preview to an upcoming shenanigan.
This other picture, however, is talking about something else. I recently started feeling homesick for where I grew up. I replay the echoes of seagulls laughing off the Chesapeake Bay as skates taste my feet with confusion as they glide along the sandbars while I rake clams. As the warm waters returned with the shift in the gulf stream, so did the early morning rituals of waterman life. Standing on the back of an aluminum boat, bracing myself against the wake, I dropped crab pots off the side, each one tied to their own neon float with our family name and number marked. As we returned to the creek, the sulfur smell of estuaries warms the chest and the sea spray settles in to the early stages of sunburn this time of year. Oh, there’s that sticky, nasty, painful emotion again. I think I’ve felt it since 2011 when I moved away from the area permanently. Since then, I beat it down until I couldn’t hear that inner voice anymore and thanks to isolation it’s bubbling up. I kept following “opportunity”. Then I got married. For some reason, up until now, I always thought I’d go home.
Now, I live in Missoula, Montana in the middle of a global pandemic. Living in the middle of nowhere is a blessing. It means that besides working from home and isolating, our family spends a lot of time on our property or out and about. Montana never closed the hiking trails or parks and the campgrounds have reopened in most places. Heck, We tried to go camping this past weekend and Chief Looking Glass campground was packed!
Montana is requiring a 2 week quarantine for everyone entering the state, plus we’ve been social distancing since before it was “cool”. We are one of the few states that seems to be holding things together pretty well. We have 21 active cases in the whole state and we have expanded testing. That 1 new case is in Jefferson County.
So what happens next? Well, hopefully I’m going to post fun content that will make people smile and laugh. Maybe I’ll post something that will upset someone and that will either make me care or it won’t. We’ll see. I’m a little weird when it comes to detecting the emotions of others – sometimes they confuse me more than anything else and I need help. With that in mind, consider explaining to me what you find upsetting before jumping down my throat. I may be completely oblivious. I’m not saying you have to do this – it’s a suggestion because I promise I don’t intentionally go out of my way to upset anyone. Be gentle with each other in a time of social isolation – we’re not getting a lot of practice interacting when we live alone or live with a limited set of people.
And with that, I’m going to wrap this personal update. Thank you for reading. Without you this would be text sent into the void of space. If you haven’t heard it today: you are loved. You are a human of value and you deserve to be here. You have something to contribute no matter what that mean voice in the back of your head says and I hope you share it with me someday.
An organization called Masks Save Lives is currently calling out a link between “low mask acceptance cultures” and how badly COVID-19 outbreaks are affecting these areas and their failures to flatten the curve once outbreaks began. Research potentially supports this division, a 2009 study in Australia found that the data could not be assessed for if cloth mask usage reduced seasonal infections in the public due to low compliance by participants.
The CDC now recommends wearing masks and numerous websites have come out with instructions on how to make a cloth one (here’s one!). However, is there something to the cultural divide? We’re going to look at the United States specifically (though the next Tweet is from the UK).
Why Do People Not Wear Masks?
Mask acceptance is not as easy as mandates and public health advisories. Beyond the scientific and home care acceptance, it must not be seen as a threat. Previously the lack of compliance in the Australian study may have been related to an element of social acceptance, however this was not studied at that time. If someone is uncomfortable wearing a mask they won’t. One community that may feel this impact are ethnic and racial minorities in the United States. One 2010 study investigated the barriers to mask wearing among urban Hispanic households in cases of upper respiratory infection. The findings concluded that these communities required higher risk perception scores before adopting face mask usage. This lead the researchers to conclude that face masks are unlikely to be effective for this community in the case of seasonal or pandemic influenza like conditions. The participants voiced concerns about social acceptability of masks within their communities – if they would be viewed as the source of illness – while others mentioned potential embarrassment.
§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions.
It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment or other activities and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon (a) the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary and providing a brief description of the device, or (b) the declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency where the emergency declaration expressly waives this section, defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver. The violation of any provisions of this section is a Class 6 felony.
Code 1950, §§ 18.1-364, 18.1-367; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1986, c. 19; 2010, cc. 262, 420; 2014, c. 167.
I was unable to find documentation online of how those with disabilities that inhibit the use of masks are handling the situation or even recommendations for these individuals on how to stay safe. If you find anything, please tell me.
-If you must go outside or to a place where you are not able to practice social distancing with an infant, cover the infant carrier with a blanket, which helps protect the baby, but still gives them the ability to breathe comfortably. Do not leave the blanket on the carrier in the car or at any time when the baby and carrier are not in direct view.
-Children who are considered high-risk or severely immunocompromised are encouraged to wear an N95 mask to best protect themselves.
-Families of children at higher risk are encouraged to use a standard surgical mask if they are sick to prevent the spread of illness to others.
In terms of the minimum effectiveness and materials? An Experimental Study of Efficacy of Gauze Face Masks published in 1920 the researchers concluded that cloth masks had basic minimum requirements that had to be met in order for a mask to have a “restraining influence on the number of bacteria-laden droplets possible of inhalation”. Part of this involved a balance between the number of layers, thread count, and breathability. If the mask is too dense as a result of the layers and thread count then “breathing is difficult and leakage takes place around the edge of the mask”. That leakage of air is what they proposed caused the reductions in efficacy observed. Research such as this resulted in recommendations of a minimum of 300 thread count fabric still used today.
Cost Prohibitive / Unable to Obtain
We’ve talked about poverty before. This can impact obtaining supplies, time to make a mask, and many other life factors that are none of my business and we need to be understanding. Others are unable to sew or are unable to put a mask on for themselves (see “modifications” above).
Do Cloth Masks Really Help?
We began asking this question a long time ago. In a 1920 study on gauze masks looking retrospectively at the data from the 1918 influenza pandemic regarding the infections contracted by healthcare workers, authorities’ primary criticism was that the weave of the fabric was too loose. Though the study still concluded that masks did not demonstrate to have a degree of efficacy that would warrant their compulsory application during an epidemic, they argued that masks should not be abandoned entirely. I’ll leave it in their words:
Studies made in the Department of Morbidity Statistics of the California State Board of Health did not show any influence of the mask on the spread of influenza in those cities where it was compulsorily applied, and the Board was, therefore, compelled to adopt a policy of mask encouragement, but not of mask compulsion. Masks were made compulsory only under certain circumstances of known contact with the disease and it was left to individual communities to decide whether or not the masks should be universally worn.
The reason for this apparent failure of the mask was a subject for speculation among epidemiologists, for it had long been the belief of many of us that droplet borne infections should be easily controlled in this manner. The failure of the mask was a source of disappointment, for the first experiment in San Francisco was watched with interest with the expectation that if it proved feasible to enforce the regulation the desired result would be achieved. The reverse proved true. The masks, contrary to expectation, were worn cheerfully and universally, and also, contrary to expectation of what should follow under such circumstances, no effect on the epidemic curve was to be seen. Something was plainly wrong with our hypotheses. We felt inclined to explain the failure of the mask by faults in its application rather than by any basic error in the theory of its use. Consequently, Bulletin No. 31* of the Board of Health brought out the fact that where it was sought to control influenza by compulsory wearing of masks certain obstacles developed. These were:
First, the large number of improperly made masks that were used.
Second, faulty wearing of masks, which included the use of masks that. were too small, the covering of only the nose or only the mouth, smoking while wearing, etc.
Third, wearing masks at improper times. When applied compulsorily masks were universally worn in public, on the streets, in automobiles, etc., where they were not needed, but where arrest would follow if not worn, and they were very generally laid aside when the wearer was no longer subject to observation by the police, such as in private offices and small gatherings of all kinds. This type of gathering with the attendant social intercourse between friends, and office associates seems to afford particular facility for the transfer of the virus. If, as seems probable, the virus is droplet-borne, this form of contact, where people are conversing with one another, would, of course, be much more dangerous than crowd association of strangers, even under the circumstances of gathering in churches and theatres. We were not satisfied, however, with this seemingly perfectly satisfactory explanation. We felt it to be imperative, if the mask were not to be permanently discredited, that more definite information be obtained concerning its uses and limitations. If, as we believed, the gauze mask is useful as a protection against certain infections, it would be unfortunate if its uncontrolled application in influenza should result in prejudicing critical and scientific minds against it.
A 2011 review of “Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses” found that …
Respiratory virus spread can be reduced by hygienic measures (such as handwashing), especially around younger children. Frequent handwashing can also reduce transmission from children to other household members. Implementing barriers to transmission, such as isolation, and hygienic measures (wearing masks, gloves and gowns) can be effective in containing respiratory virus epidemics or in hospital wards. The more expensive, irritating and uncomfortable N95 respirators might be superior to simple masks. It is unclear if adding virucidals or antiseptics to normal handwashing with soap is more effective. There is insufficient evidence to support screening at entry ports and social distancing as a method to reduce spread during epidemics.
…meaning that isolation, hygiene, and barriers like masks were effective.
On a lukewarm note, a 2013 study found that they were “better than nothing” against droplet transmission during an influenza pandemic.
Cloth masks resulted in significantly higher rates of infection than medical masks, and also performed worse than the control arm. The controls were HCWs who observed standard practice, which involved mask use in the majority, albeit with lower compliance than in the intervention arms. The control HCWs also used medical masks more often than cloth masks. When we analysed all mask-wearers including controls, the higher risk of cloth masks was seen for laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infection.”
With such mixed reviews being published, why wouldn’t we be hesitant to recommend masks when they’re being advised as only a last resort?
When is a mask not a good idea?
Masks can lead to inhaling your own infectious droplets from a sinus infection and spread it to the rest of your airways.
Here’s an anecdote. I am having trouble finding papers to support this, but this is the current hypothesis my immunologist and I have as to how I got that month long pneumonia in March 2020.
I had a sinus infection and I was wearing a mask. Then, I aspirated droplets from my sinus infection leading to a lung infection. This lung infection eventually developed into a pneumonia. This is an instance of when a mask is not a good idea. Circumstances when you can aspirate your own droplets from a sinus infection or from an oral infection would be while exercising, crying, or dealing with temperature or humidity swings that would result in a runny nose.
Other people who should not wear masks? The CDC recommends against masks for anyone with breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, children under the age of 2, and “Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
Wear a cloth mask if you can and assume good intent for everyone wearing a mask. They aren’t doing anything suspicious. Don’t call the police.
Masks work more than nothing. Please wear them, but wear them smartly. They do not make up for poor hygiene practices.
Some people can’t afford the supplies to make cloth masks, or they need modifications for their unique needs, or they cannot make the mask themselves. There are resources for that.
Children’s masks need consideration based on your child’s needs.
Masks are not always a good idea. Inhaling your own droplets can lead to pneumonia not related to COVID-19.
Thank you for reading this. Without you I am shouting into an ether. If you enjoy and want me to write more of these please share this or comment below with what you would like to see me write next.
I started writing this article on 8 April, 2020 and stopped because I needed a break from writing about coronavirus related topics.I will be continuing to update this post-publication.
Visualize an object in your mind, or better yet, look for something “weird” you own.
Nana’s embroidery project from three summer’s ago that she gave you for your birthday? Perfect!
That Betsy Johnson cat locket ring you picked up for 50 cents at a yard sale? Golden!
That polaroid you found on the sidewalk while jogging last week? Best one I’ve heard yet!
Grab it, mentally or literally. Now, forget its past. That object is now foreign to you. Write 250+ words of new, completely fake information about that object and how it relates to a story. Think about the setting transitions the object goes through. What characters handle it? What experiences does the object witness (though it has no eyes)? To follow up with the previous examples:
Who were the people in the polaroid and how did it end up on the sidewalk?
Who bought the cat ring for who? And what was put inside?
Why did that embroidery project go terribly wrong and what shenanigans did that embroidery circle get into?
Who bought the cat ring for who? And what was put inside?
How To Use An Object In A Pre-Existing Story
In every story there are objects that characters interact with and often we forget how critical we make objects for the progression of a story. Be it a quest for buried treasure (object) or the consequences of a cursed [object], there are objects that come into play each with its own unique role. To use this exercise, you could consider one of these objects in your story as your object of focus.
Arthur is not king until he has his sword and unites the Britons (every King Arthur legend ever)
The one ring to rule them all must be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom. (Lord of The Rings, JRR Tolkien)
Trisha uses her Walkman to survive the Maine wilderness. (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Stephen King)
Arts & Crafts
I have found that in severe cases of writer’s block a physical representation of the object is very helpful. In this case, break out the arts and crafts. No matter how bad the representation, having something you can physically interact with while brainstorming will help immerse you in that world. The act of creating the object can be its own helpful therapy. Also, the models that you make bring your story to life in your own mind, and could help ease writers block on their own. Put them on display in your writing zone.
Collage & Antiquing
Some authors will hunt for objects in antique stores – in the time of quarantine, antiquing is not really an option (except online). Pinterest albums and other collaging methods are much friendlier. Finding an image to create a sketch from or even print out as your representation is useful!
Write Around The Object
Now that you have the object, physically, mentally – whatever way works best for you – start thinking. Sometimes, I prefer thinking of minor objects in a particular scene I’ve been trying to write because it helps lead me into writing the scene I’ve been blocked on. There are many ways to flex your brain around the existence of objects within a story and how they are playing a role. This allows the object to be written around – it’s there to help break down the mental block.
Do I Leave It In The Story?
It’s easy to edit out anything once it has served you, but a writing exercise can get you writing when you’re struggling. I have based entire short stories on objects, and I have cut entire objects out of stories. The choice is up to the individual author and what they want out of their writing.
Exercise 1 Summary: With an object related to your story, either physical or imaginary, write at least 250 words about that object fitting it into a scene you are trying to write or relating it to your story.
Bonus: Do some arts & crafts to make a physical representation of your object.
Objects can be useful for helping your brain overcome writer’s block
Think about the role objects play in your story and select an object from your story to focus on.
Physical representations of objects in your story are sometimes helpful in overcoming writer’s block – these can be made with arts and crafts.
Try to write at least 250 words fitting an object into a story to overcome writer’s block.
You never have to leave what you have written from a writing exercise in a story.
I would love to feature your writing on my blog!
Please let me know if this helps you in the ways it has helped me! I would love to read every single short story written using this methods (100% serious). Tell me about your stories and the best ones will be featured in their own posts – please submit using the subject line: Object Oriented Writing. I am planning on getting a group of judges other than myself to read these if people actually participate. This contest will be running through 30 April, 2020.
Word Count: 250 – 2000 words
grammar or spelling mistakes do not interrupt reading experience
Must be capable of being rated PG
Has the entire story written following the exercise above (Beginning, Middle, End, etc)
Please be sure to include your name or pen name, contact e-mail, and other identifying information in the body of the email.
Please submit your short story in a .pdf (an attachment that can be read by Google Docs) with a unique 5 digit number you pick at the top (do not include this in the e-mail). I will use these 5 digit numbers to announce winners on Twitter.
(Optional) include a picture of your object
The story cannot have been previously published elsewhere as it needs to be a new composition using the above method.
Author retains all rights beyond the printing of the story in a blog post on LoPotterWrites.com with any other promotional material the author provides for their writing. The author can request that the story be removed at any time should they wish by contacting me.
If the above rules are not followed your story will sadly be disqualified.
You will be notified if your story is chosen (or not) by 31 May 2020 (assuming there are not thousands of submissions).
Right now there is no prize besides having your short story on my blog. I am working on figuring out ways to improve this and how many prizes I can offer.
Thank you for reading – without you, this would be a shout into the ether.
Remember how we were projected to have 2.5 Million cases? We have reduced the projected number of infected Americans by 1.5 Million to only 1 Million. 1 Million is not great, but that’s a big change. That is called flattening the curve and everyone should be thinking that is really amazing (I know I am). They did not mention the number in the briefing (frustratingly). But forecasting has gotten a bad rep in the past.
For those who are math nerds – that’s a linear fit to 1,000,000 (switch from exponential), which some dude in the early 20th century proposed was when the growth in the number of reported influenza cases was hitting it’s predictable rounded peak forecasted the maximum cumulative cases (the limit). I’ve been trying to go through my notes to remember more about how this all works because I don’t remember the name of who came up with all of this and I’m trying to find the paper. I will update this and replace this rambling text when I do.
A vaccine would be able to address this by using adjuvants designed to induce helper T cell immunity in addition to antibody based immunity. Vaccines take time. Realistically a good vaccine will be on the market in March 2021 at the absolute earliest. Anything before that I will be floored if it has sufficient efficacy to help.
At each of these state clusters there is at least one urban center that has the dominant reservoir population. Once movement between urban centers (New York -> Chicago -> Houston -> Miami -> Atlanta -> Boston -> Dallas -> L.A. -> San Francisco -> Chicago -> Orlando -> Pittsburgh -> (etc. etc. etc.)) stops then there will no longer be additions of infected individuals into the populations. This is why non-essential planes need to be grounded.
I live in Montana. I am so blessed. I want to make it clear that we still need to behave. It only takes 1 person to infect 10.
My family and people I love live in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, California, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona and Maine. I’m terrified for everyone.
We’re going to gradually come to a new normal. Ask me questions and I’ll eventually address them in updates on these original posts.
As a change of pace, I’m going to stop writing about the coronavirus for a while unless there’s something people specifically think of graphs or other things that would be useful questions to be answered in something new instead of an update. I still have a backlog of a couple posts that will still get done though.
I will be starting to write short stories and weird little memoir style posts so people can enjoy my writing separate from the reviews.
Thank you for reading. Without you this is a shout into the void.