Read, watch, listen

I’m terrible about going online with intention and purpose. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. It’s only gotten worse during this plague. I jump around too much, going down too many rabbit holes. I need to change that. I’d rather read, watch, and listen to less and think about it more.

Here are some things I’ve read or seen recently that I thought were interesting.

Daniel Milnor’s “For What It’s Worth” podcast. Dan is, in his own words, a recovering photographer. Decades of commercial and documentary photography experience. He’s now the creative evangelist for Blurb. That’s how I started following him – I finally got serious about printing some work in zines, and his site has been a great resource. Print your photos.

A CNN article about Keith Macgregor and his documentary photos of a vanishing Hong Kong. Macgregor’s work spans 50 years or so. Now that is a long-term project. You can read more about Macgregor here. I’m grateful I got to live in Hong Kong in the early 2000s. My parents took a bold step in the late 1990s when they jumped on an opportunity for my dad to take a job there. In 2020 it might not seem unusual, but at that time, for two people in their late 50s, it was a bold step. I think they look back on it as one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Worked out great for me. I got my Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (or for adults?) at the British Council in Hong Kong and was able to spend some time with my folks. Win win.

The photos of P-A JÖRGENSEN. I’m just diving into his images after hearing Daniel Milnor talk about his work. He shoots a lot of food photography. But not just food shots. Shooting food is incredibly difficult, and I love seeing food photography, but I’m even more interested in the people behind the restaurants. I want to see all the photos of restaurant staffs sharing their family meal. On that note, if you’re looking for one of the best restaurant/food movies ever, watch Big Night. But don’t watch it if you haven’t got food on hand, preferably Italian food.

I’m obsessively following the stats related to the COVID-19 spread. I wanted to track them in a spreadsheet to see if I could get a sense of how well social distancing is doing in Washington. The Seattle area got hit hard early. I think a traveler took it back to Everett, and then we had a nursing home in Kirkland get overrun with it. I’ve read that the staff didn’t realize what they were dealing with, and even the first emergency responders were going in without protective gear. I’m not pointing fingers. Nursing homes deal regularly with respiratory issues, and it would have been difficult for anyone to see a link that early between a disease in Wuhan and a facility in Kirkland.

I think Governor Inslee and local governments sounded the alarm fast and quickly followed the advice of medical professionals. Our numbers increased, and Seattle was rightfully viewed as one of the nation’s hot zones. But I suspected (huge disclaimer: I’m a photographer who likes blogging – for actual science or health info, look elsewhere!) our numbers could be slightly anomalous, and that if people adhered to official guidance, our curve might start flattening or growing at a slower rate than other places. I wanted that to happen quickly enough for other states that were less affected to be able to copy some best practices.

Timothy Egan is a Seattle writer for The New York Times. He has an interesting piece describing how Seattle’s situation relates to other locations.

Seattle Is Living Your Coronavirus Future

This city is well ahead of the rest of the nation in the cycle of denial, panic, action.

I think a lot of us who have watched Contagion or read World War Z were looking at when not if COVID-19 was going to make its jump. I was still socializing throughout February, and I took a trip in early March that I stressed about and should have cancelled, but I’ve been social distancing since then. I’ve gone to the grocery store more times than I’d like, and that’s probably where I’ll get it. I think most of us are going to get it this first round – just hoping we can delay it long enough to not flood the hospitals and lower the risk to others.

Oh, the spreadsheet? Unfortunately, I’m not that organized or methodical, and the sites I’m following, while incredible, don’t offer the clarity this non-statistician would need to make sense of the numbers. The main site I’m following is the Worldometers coronavirus page. I don’t recommend it if you are, understandably, feeling very anxious about all this. I know I’m anxious and scared, but seeing the numbers helps me wrap my head around it a little. I think for others it could be unhealthy overload.

Ok, how about we end with something more uplifting, less gloom and doom. Sobering but also inspiring. “Jane Goodall is Self-isolating, Too”, by James Gorman in The New York Times.