A little more corona madness

C-Town Storefront on Avenue C

I was downtown in the East Village this afternoon. I was a little excited to see what was happening down there. I also had to get a power cable we need for a work monitor and I wanted to drop some stuff off at my Mom’s place.

I keep going outside with this expectation that the city is going to look completely deserted, like it did in downtown Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy. It was creepy as hell at night back then because there was no power downtown. We had to use flashlights to get around and one night, it looked like my wife and I were the only two people on 14th Street for two blocks in either direction.

Today, though, you wouldn’t think anything out of the ordinary was going on. It just looked like a typical afternoon. Maybe a Sunday afternoon instead of a Tuesday afternoon, though. And there was noticeably less traffic on the road for a weekday. But there were plenty of people out and about and only a few of them were wearing masks.

I wore an N95 mask while outside today. It was kind of nice because people gave me a lot of extra space on the train bench, platforms, buses and on the street, just in case I was sick I guess. I might keep wearing an N95 mask for a while after this thing dies down!

It’s hard to reconcile what I’m seeing on the street with what I’m hearing in the news about Italy. Who knows how bad this will all get here, though? I read that cases of corona virus more than doubled to over 1200 between last night and this morning. I doubt things have even come close to peaking in terms of the virus running its course.

I went with my Mom over to C-Town on Avenue C. I think she asked me to come with her just in case the crowds were more than she could handle on her own. It wasn’t too bad when we got there but it’s like the crowd followed us.

The near-empty bread shelves at C-Town

The shelves were just about wiped out of pasta, fresh cut meat, bread, tortillas, canned soup, and some varieties of cooking and olive oils.

The tortillas were wiped out at C-Town

I still can’t understand what the hell people are thinking down there. I didn’t bother to check to see if they had liquid hand soap or toilet paper. We don’t need any.

Toilet paper and paper towels at Key Foods in the Bronx
Hand soap at Key Foods in the Bronx

In the Bronx, by contrast, the stores are still relatively well stocked. The shelves at my two local groceries were empty of bottled water and some hand soaps, but there is plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, and more importantly fresh fruits and vegetables.

Plenty of tortillas available at Key Foods in the Bronx too

I’m a little curious to know how this is all going to play out. I mean, Trump is saying this corona virus situation is going to continue through July or August. New York City is limiting gatherings to 50 or less and pretty much all venues are closed. Restaurants are limited to take out and delivery. Gyms are closed.

Can businesses afford to be closed until August? Can people who work in the service industry afford to be out of a job for 5 months?

I saw on Twitter than the government is talking about dropping some cash on the masses, but the figure they’re throwing around is $1000.00. For a large portion of the country that might be ok if the situation only lasts 2 weeks. In New York City that isn’t even rent, even in the bad parts of town. It certainly isn’t going to do anything to help people who suffer from underemployment or unemployment for 5 months.

Not that I’m surprised, but with the economic situation this dire, most people are losing their minds because Trump referred to COVID-19 corona virus as the Chinese Flu. So what? No one cries that the 1918 flu is called Spanish Flu. And we all know it came from China. It doesn’t even matter what it’s called. If people want to be ignorant and abuse Chinese people, they’re going to do it regardless of what you call the virus.

People seem to like getting themselves bogged down in minor battles over ideological purity. They lose the forest for the trees. And I think Trump does this stuff just to troll people. I think he trolls people just like other trolls troll people and for the same reason. Imagine the rush you would get if you could make millions of people have fits over a word choice that isn’t even offensive because it might, maybe, possibly, cause someone to be mean to Chinese people.

I don’t even care. I’m going to ride this out and then I’m going to head to Chinatown and pig out.

BTW, here are some pro-tips for people out panic buying:

  1. You can wash your hands with bar soap
  2. You can wash your butt with water

Corona Virus Update – Bronx, New York City

I went outside today for the first time since Thursday. It was quiet. Unusually quiet. There wasn’t even much traffic on Jerome Avenue, which was strange for that time of day. It was just me, a guy in a mask and gloves in front of the liquor store, and two people begging for money by the train stairs.

I think the bubonic plague could hit New York City and that woman would still be sitting by the subway stairs asking if anyone has a quarter, though. She’s something special.

Antillana on Jerome Ave has toilet paper. It has paper towels. There are plenty of canned goods too. But there’s no bottled water, which I thought was weird because even in China, Italy, and Spain, the hardest hit areas of the world, they never cut off the water. At least, I never heard that they did. I don’t understand the obsession with buying toilet paper either. Toilet paper isn’t going to save anyone from the virus. And you can wash your butt in the shower if you run out of TP.

Antillana was pretty empty. It felt like an ordinary Sunday evening, though the customers seemed a bit edgy. They had everything I was looking for except bananas. Their bananas were there on display but they were all brown and rotten. Not sure why they left them out. I figure even people who are panic buying aren’t going to buy something that’s rotten. Probably.

Key Food up the hill was quite a bit busier than usual, but still not all that crowded. Not like how I expected it to be. I found some nice bananas there. They seemed to be low on red onions, which struck me as strange. I bought a sweet onion. Not because I was panic buying. We’re just low on onions.

I’m not sure what I expected. You’d think the world was ending based on the images of empty store shelves, fights over toilet paper, and all the closures. I got an update while I was out saying that the public schools are going to be closed through the end of April. The libraries are closed too. I had this feeling while I was on the street that at any moment, a zombie horde might show up and start chasing me. I’m not used to seeing the streets that empty.

I guess this is all about “flattening the curve”.

I saw a politician on Twitter saying that all the restaurants and bars in New York City should be ordered closed, but I don’t see that happening. Not unless the city agrees to discount every business a month’s property taxes or reimburse a month’s rent, plus lost income. And the city would have to agree to reimburse all of the employees for lost wages or something.

A lot of people in New York City and, I imagine, the rest of the country, live paycheck to paycheck. That’s probably especially true here where rent is about $1500 a month even in poor neighborhoods.

You close a business for a month and you make a bunch of people homeless or at risk of homelessness. You cause people to default on credit card payments and miss an electric payment or car payment.

Corona virus hasn’t even hit New York City that hard but it’s already emphasizing the wealth disparity that exists and how dangerous it is for the economy as a whole. You can’t hoard wealth at the top if you want to keep making money. Money has to flow through all segments of the society to keep the economy moving. That’s just how it is. Does it matter how many yachts you can buy if your actions tank the country’s economy and your money no longer has value?

Anyway, I’m going to be heading downtown tomorrow. I’m excited to see how things are in Manhattan.

January 2016 Winter Blizzard

Earlier, 6:55 PM:

So, we’re moving into a blizzard weekend. Two weeks of laundry to do, groceries to get. I thought we had until tomorrow afternoon, but now I’m checking the weather channel (online of course) and I see that we’re going to start getting snow around 11:30 PM here. Whiteout conditions, until sometime tomorrow. 24 hours of snow. 14 inches of blizzard apocalypse. Can a guy get laundry done during a blizzard? I wonder what things will be like on Sunday?

I have to prioritize food. I don’t want to rely on food deliveries that might be cancelled tomorrow. I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere either. Maybe we’ll just lay around and watch TV. That’s not so bad, as long as the heat stays on.

Now, 11:51 PM:

Going to the grocery store was like walking into madness. It looked like everyone in the neighborhood was jammed into Key Food on 172nd Street. We got there just in time to grab a jug of water. They ran out while we were in line. We figured it would be best to stock up, just in case a pipe broke and repairs couldn’t be done for a while. Mostly we just got regular food and some snacks. The lines snaked around to the back of the store and people were constantly squeezing past each other or bumping into each other. Something that we noticed was that no one was losing their temper or acting crazy, though. Everyone was pretty friendly, in fact. Camaraderie in suffering, I guess.

Anyway, we’re home now, relaxing, and ready.

A case of Stella Artois.
Stella Artois

Excuse Me. Have you seen these droids?

Stormtrooper Mask at Toys R Us
Have you seen any droids around here lately?

The missus and I have been so busy over the last few weeks that it seems like we’ve hardly had a moment to just sit down and stare relax.  I think about it sometimes.  Just going out to the park, sitting down and watching people walk by, watching the squirrels, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city.  I think fondly about the time we spent wandering around in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  But then, I start thinking about the long list of things that just have to get done, and I put aside thoughts of having fun and relaxing for another day.  Except for last Saturday.

Last Saturday, we decided that we needed some time to just relax and have fun, so we went to Times Square, stuffed ourselves with the all-you-can-eat shrimp dinner at Red Lobster and then spent about two hours wandering around in the Toys ‘R Us store, also in Times Square.

It was a lot of fun!  Some of the toys were pretty cool, like some Hex Bug things I saw.  If I had the time and space, I wouldn’t mind setting up one of those tracks myself.  Some of the toys also sparked some good conversations, where my wife and I reminisced about the toys we had as kids and how they’ve changed.

I’ve always enjoyed games, puzzles and video games.  That was a great way to spend the afternoon.

As for the picture above of me in the Stormtrooper mask, well, I put it on and asked a store employee if he’d seen any droids in the area.  He said it was funny, but his eyes weren’t laughing.  They should have been laughing.  No, seriously though, he didn’t seem as amused by my lame joke as I was.  That’s ok, though.  The joke was more for me anyway.

The Limelight Market

The Limelight Market, New York City

The Limelight Market, New York City

The Limelight Market, located at the corner of 6th Avenue and 20th Street, is a pretty interesting place, but mostly because of the building it occupies.  As you can tell from the exterior, this building used to be a church.  When you get inside, you’ll see that the chapel has been converted into a series of small stores.

A yogurt shop, inside the Limelight Market, New York City.

This is a yogurt shop.  I didn’t try any, but there was a constant stream of people going to the counter, so it must be pretty good.  Around the corner to the right is Jezalin’s, where I got the kopi luwak arabica.

Inside the Limelight Market, New York City.

Turn around the other way and you see one of the boutiques.  I didn’t pay much attention to what was being sold in the boutiques.  It all looked a little too pricey and useless for my taste.  Through the door in the back there I think there was a pizza restaurant.

Inside the Limelight Market, New York City.

If, from where I was standing in the previous picture, you were to walk forward and go to the left you’d wind up in this area, which looks like it used to be the main sanctuary.  You can walk up onto the second level using stairs hidden away on the sides.  There were more display cases up there and what looked to be a coffee bar that had shut down.  I have a feeling the rent in this place is pretty high, which might be why Jezalin’s was trying to drum up more business by offering the Groupon discount on their kopi luwak.

Stained glass window in the Limelight Market, New York City.

I couldn’t get a straight on shot of the stained glass window because the area was blocked off by a register and some merchandise.  There were smaller stained glass windows in some of the stairwells, but they weren’t completely viewable.  The railing they’d built into the original structure to support the second level and the stairs blocked the windows partially.

Like I said, this isn’t the type of place I’d shop at for myself.  I’ll probably go back just to look around again, and maybe to get another cup of that coffee.  For me, the real fun was waiting outside:

The Rescue Rover, parked outside the Limelight Market.

I love when I see these vehicles, because it’s an opportunity to go inside and play with cats!

Rescued cat, looking for a new home.

Rescued cat, looking for a new home.

I wish I could take them all home…