COVID-19, physical separation, grocery shopping and children


COVID-19 is here, though so far our family are doing ok - it has been eight days since our last venture out of the house and we're not showing symptoms, so it's so far so good.

We've actually been wondering how to handle a scenario where both my wife and I become ill, and how to manage grocery shopping and food preparation for our three children. There's potential for us both to fall ill and be unable to cook for everyone for two-ish weeks.

There are a few aspects to this.

Firstly, COVID-19 can take up to two weeks for symptoms to show up. Every time we go out we want to wait two weeks to ensure we weren't infected from our last exposure.

Secondly, many people (including some folks I know) have full-on symptoms for two weeks, or longer, where they're unable to do anything, never mind if you need to go to the hospital. If we fall ill towards the end of a two week grocery period we could be out of action for another two weeks.

Put together, that sets us up for wanting to shop every two weeks but having two additional weeks worth of food, so that if we both fall ill by the end of a two week grocery period there's still food in the house for the kids to eat.

Towards that goal we've started focusing more on cooking fresh food instead of processed food, with the goal of freezing half-or-more of it per batch. We're labeling everything that goes in the freezer with the date so the food can be eaten in order.

So we're going to focus on cooking fresh food while we have it, try to freeze some of each meal, and then if/when we're ill our kids have something they can take out and heat to eat.

Ultimately I'd like us to have four weeks of of food between the fridge, freezer and pantry; we'd favor cooking fresh when available, then cycle through frozen stuff while leaving a two-week buffer of "mom and dad are both ill" time.

This is made all the more complicated because of my wife's ongoing health problems. She has been nursing her gall bladder for two years and is currently trying to improve it. Part of this process involves juicing vegetables and fruit to make them easier for her to get the nutrition (and throwing the pulp/fiber left over into chicken broth). Because so much fruit & veg only lasts a week-or-so she found a technique to prolong their shelf life by putting them in baskets of wood shavings, separating each item so that if one starts rotting it won't affect the others. This has been helping so far, e.g. instead of one rotten apple in a bag causing the rest to rot, when one apple started showing signs we could spot it and the others weren't affected.

Even so, fruit and veg can still go off fairly quickly, some items only lasting a few days before they start going off. As a result, it becomes hard to only shop once every two weeks and keep fresh fruit & veg in your diet. To help with this we signed up for Misfits Market a company that ships you a box of fresh veg & fruit every week. They're super busy right now so our first delivery won't be for two weeks, but it looks like deliveries will start on our grocery week off, so I think it'll help.

I should also note that we are in a very privileged position of being able to do this. I work from home and still have a job, and thankfully we're able to fund these efforts. I know lots of people who aren't as fortunate, hopefully the government funding will be able to help people.

Anyway, be safe, stay home if you can, and take care of yourselves.

Never thought this would be the scenario I wouldn't be able to travel for


When my nephew Elliott's health started taking a turn for the worse, my first thought was to start preparing for the possibility of needing to make a trip to Ireland to be with my family. Unfortunately with the COVID-19 pandemic uprooting the entire world, flying is both not recommended due to the viral load component of virus transmission, and also not easily achieved because so many airlines have stopped their flights. Even if I was to make it back to Ireland somehow, the Irish health board has requested that "Everybody flying into Ireland from overseas should self-quarantine for 14 days". There was not going to be any chance of completing that in time, which would run the risk of me transmitting the illness to my parents or others, should I pick it up along the way (if I don't already have it and am asymptomatic); alternatively, I could pick it up from someone in Ireland and bring it back to the US to share with everyone I was in contact with between the airport and home, never mind my family.

So instead my brother and I have worked out how to use the conference call system Zoom to stream the funeral to family and friends across Ireland and the world. While I won't be able to comfort my family, we'll at least be able to say our farewells to Elliott.

Historically when people from Ireland emigrated to the US family and friends would hold a party for them to send them off. This was traditionally called an "Irish wake" as it was from a time when it was not expected that the emigrating person would ever be seen again. When my wedding 22 years ago became a makeshift Irish wake for me, I never in my wildest, worst dreams believed I would be unable to return home because of a pandemic, with the ease of travel across the Atlantic I assumed I would be able to pop over with short notice, as happened in 2016. The timing this year really is atrocious, and gut-wrenching.

Now the best I can do is tell my family in Ireland I love them, do everything in my power to keep my family here health so that when the pandemic subsides we'll be able to travel. Because there are so many hugs to be shared, and tears to be released.

RIP my nephew Elliott Seamus Patrick McKenna Roddy

Elliott smiling while listening to music being played for him


My wonderful sister and her husband lost their child after a long uphill battle against the odds. Dearest Elliott Seamus Patrick McKenna Roddy passed away quietly in his mother's arms on Saturday, March 21st, with his dad at her side and his two grandmothers in support. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Why the "Lost in Space" is a huge Meh


I've watched both seasons of the "Lost in Space" reboot on Netflix and I've found it to be monumentally meh. While it is true that space is life in "Hard" mode, IMHO there were several pieces that made me think the show runners / script writers either just didn't either think things through, or were told to really dial down the realism.

The first thing that stood out was how at the beginning of season 2 they had enough resources to start farming, and they picked corn as their first crop. Corn is one of the least nutritious crops you can grow, so did they choose it because they didn't know any better (and didn't bother spending five minutes on google) or were they told to pick corn because people would recognize it?

The second thing was the garbage pickup. They had garbage collection like is done today where there's negligible consideration for reuse, recycling, composting, etc - everything was just bundled into huge garbage bags and dumped in a waste disposal section. With the minimal amount of resources they have in space, why wouldn't they have a significant effort to make the absolute maximum use of everything, including all waste products? Did they either not think it through, or again did someone tell them to make it match life today so people would understand?

The Mandalorian


The (kinda) new Star Wars show The Mandalorian is all kinds of wonderful - great acting, great story telling, great incidental humor, great special effects, it's just what the Star Wars universe needed to revitalize itself after a more staid final trilogy in its Skywalker saga. IMHO it's worth subscribing to Disney+ just to watch this one show.


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