6.27.2020

We came for the Corona Virus. We stayed for the Saharan Dust Cloud. Some much fun in Austin right now....NOT.

The last of the blue skies for days....

That movie, "A Perfect Storm" seems to have had one of the most prescient titles. The whole point of the movie is about when everything goes wrong at once --- making everything worse. 

Austin, and Travis County are now among the four areas in the state of Texas that are experiencing explosive, near exponential increases in Covid-19 cases this week. Seems we opened up the bars and dens of iniquity way too early which sent a signal to everyone under 50 years old that we've entered the "ALL CLEAR" period of the pandemic which would allow them to sit inches away from each other, guzzling down White Claw and tequila while shouting in each other's faces to be heard over the loud music. Now they're all coming down with nasty symptoms and positive tests... So much for flattening the curve.

I think the "careful re-opening" was all a secret I.Q. test and I hope we get a prize for being in the group that kept our masks on outside our homes, made infrequent, quick and careful runs for groceries and spent the rest of the time either writing photo blogs or reading books. 

Of course, spending time at home or in my private and secluded office means more time to watch on the web as the U.S. economy continues to collapse and to listen to commentators discuss what might happen when all the unemployment money starts running out. Or when the evictions of renters will begin. Which can't be good for my mental health. 

So, on top of all this we're being visited by a giant, miles thick cloud of dust that's blown over from storms across the Saharan Desert. According to my local weather service we're experiencing very unhealthy air quality --- right now. The air quality index is normally 10 here in Austin. It's why we're usually outside running and swimming and taking deep breaths. Right now the air quality index stands at 166 and the advisories are warning people at risk of respiratory problems not to leave their homes, and for the rest of us to limit/curtail our outdoor activities. Bummer. 

The ominous cloud presence been here since yesterday (Friday the 26th) and should be hanging around tormenting us until past Wednesday. I probably won't go to swim practice tomorrow morning since I think the tiny particulates being sucked into my lungs will probably offset any aerobic benefit. Hoping by Tuesday that we have some relief...

The crappy (or good) thing about this particular hardship is that there is no one in government or on the other side of the political divide that can be blamed. Ah, the dust storm that united us...

I've got electrostatic filters and HEPA filters in the A/C system and I'm wearing a mask while I'm sitting here typing in my less rigorously pollution-controlled office. Can't remember if dust storms call for drinking more red wine or more white wine, or just defaulting to that bottle of Ben Milam Whiskey in the pantry...

One thing I've figured out though is that this is not the time to take a long stroll with an expensive and adored camera and lens. Dust is probably the second most pernicious thing for photo gear. I think I'll give all the optical stuff the week off and let them sit in their dust free storage areas. It's the least I can do for good gear. 

Reminds me of Biblical stories. Book of Job anyone?





10 comments:

Rick said...

My sympathies Kirk to you and your fellow citizens. We can relate. During the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, CA, our AQI hit a dizzying (literally) 318. They had to dig up a new color for the regional air quality map to displaying the highest concentrations.

Because I cycle-commute it made for some interesting decisions on how to get to the office, as the smoke lingered weeks. Masks were sold out (sound familiar?) and I wondered if I could just go slow so as not to breathe deeply. Ugh.

Think of all that new exotic topsoil! Best of luck, maybe it will rain.

Eric Rose said...

Ah yes the "End Times". Must have been some locust involved too I would expect. Maybe like what's happening in Delhi right now. https://cnn.it/3i93NZb

It upsets me greatly that I only see around 30% of the people I run into wearing masks. Statically you are highly unlikely to run into anyone with active Covid-19 here in Calgary. Yesterday we only had 15 new cases in a population area of around 1.3 million. However that dynamic can change rapidly if you hang out in areas frequented by those between the ages of 20 and 45. Mainly skewed towards the younger demographic. Being an old fart I don't get invited to the beer parties by the river so I'm pretty safe. An additional observation I have made is that it's mainly non-white people who are taking the wearing of masks seriously. Maybe those poo-poo'd studies were right, they are smarter than we are.

You get dust from Africa, we get choking smoke from forest fires in BC. Just can't win can we.

Stay indoors with your sweetie. Doesn't sound half bad now does it!

Eric

Gato said...

I never do sunset photos -- there are way too many -- but tonight I looked at the color of the sky, grabbed a camera, and drove out to the country to see what we would get.

Yes, a guy from the Texas Panhandle drove 5 miles to look at dust -- like we don't have plenty of our own native dust. And I did photos.

As to the camera (a Panasonic), if it can't handle a little dust it's not the right camera for my part of the country.

Anthony Bridges said...

The air quality in Dallas is moderate with the forecast being good in the near future. So, that's promising.

And White Claw sucks. Just saying. :) I haven't figured out a cocktail yet to make it tasty and I bought a case of it to try it out. I can see how some people may enjoy it. It has character. I'm just not of those people.

Agnieszka Mikołajczyk said...

There are many suffering people at this time but this time is for us to take care of ourselves. Whoever is at home tells about his health, he has time for himself. Nice picture.

JC said...

Speaking of the corona virus, there's a report in the Washington Post this morning (Sunday) that the Texas Medical Center in Houston, which is the largest in the state, has removed ICU data from its website after reports that all the ICU beds were full.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

JC, I swam with a nurse anesthetist this morning. She works at one of Austin's larger hospital groups and mentioned to me that ALL of the Houston hospitals are at capacity. It's a dire situation. Made more frustrating when I see the chart showing the comparison with EU results and our US clusters#ck. Don't get sick now in Texas, you'll end up in a tent in a hospital parking lot...

Sad thing is that it never had to happen this way. GOP has officially become a death cult.

Jason Hindle said...

Photographically, keep an open mind when it comes to the Saharan dust. I’ve been in Lanzarote (Canaries) when this has happened and you can get some sunlight, weird yellow skies and difficult white balance (keep a grey card handy). Oh, hopefully the distance will kill them, but you might have more flies than usual...

Chuck Albertson said...

White wine - dust shows up on top of red wine. I sensed a whiff of panic watching Abbott's newser today, did he really say that hospitalizations are up to 5,000 per day?

I'm sticking to the 90 for street shooting for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Keep save and be prepared for a few months.