COVID effects

Australia reached 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 today, and the precautions and responses have begun to affect me. Firstly, this morning I received email from the organisers of That Great Market, where I was to have me second stall tomorrow, selling my photography prints. They have decided to cancel the market, citing both the virus precautions and also forecast bad weather, with wind and rain that would make the outdoors stalls tricky.

A knock-on effect of this is that I had booked a car hire to transport my goods to the stall (since my own car isn’t large enough). So I had to cancel the car hire, less than 24 hours before pick-up. According to the hire terms, that means zero refund – I still pay the full rental amount. So rather than making some money at the market stall to cover costs and make some profit, I’ve now had an expense with no chance to recover the outlay. The market stall booking fee is being rolled over to a later market, although honestly I can’t see next month’s one going ahead either at this point.

Next, I decided I should cancel Monday’s visit to Brookvale school. I should have gone to talk to kids about science, and run the Science Club, but for the safety of both myself and all the kids in the school I decided it’s probably better not to go ahead.

That meant I didn’t need to spend today preparing for the visit, and I used to time to finish off making the last batch of Irregular Webcomic strips that I photographed on Monday. I still need to write all the annotations, which I’ll do over the next couple of days.

For dinner tonight my wife and I went (with Scully) to a new pizza place we hadn’t tried before, 10 minutes drive from home. It’s a small place in a tiny cluster of shops surrounded by houses, and it was bustling with local business. It was good, and inexpensive, and the owner came out to have a chat with us as we ate. Our sort of place! We’ll definitely go back again.

New content today:

Ethics and rain

Rain came in overnight, and it was still heavy this morning. We’re still at a point where when the weather person on the nightly news says it’ll rain, the main newsreader replies, “Good news!” SO although it was pretty heavy, it was most welcome.

It meant I had to drive to my Ethics class though, instead of walking like I usually do. I mean, I could have walked, but I would have been pretty wet by the time I got there and that wouldn’t have been fun.

Because of last week’s Year 6 camp, this was only the second week of lessons I’ve had with this class, and I was still busy learning the names of the kids. I think after today I have about half of them memorised and matched to faces. I remember the distinctive individuals first, and end up struggling with the last few who look somewhat similar.

The syllabus repeats every two years, so I’m now teaching the same material I did in 2018 (to kids who haven’t done it yet). Years 5 and 6 get the same material, so Year 5 classes are also learning the same stuff this year, and both years get the odd-year syllabus next year. I think this class might be a little more challenging behaviour-wise than last year’s students. There are a few boys who are chatty when they should be listening.

One of the girls looked rather sick, with what looked like a pretty severe cold. I asked her a couple of times if she was okay, and she insisted she was. But honestly if I was a parent and my kid looked like that before school, there’s no way I’d send them in. After class I informed the front office and asked them to notify her regular class teacher and keep an eye on her for the rest of the day.

Before heading home I popped into the supermarket near the school to get milk and bread. I was amazed to see that several items had sold out or were close to – a result of the near-panic levels of buying that people here in Sydney are doing to stockpile supplies in case the COVID-19 coronavirus gets to a point where people need to start staying home for weeks at a time.

Panic buy: toilet paper

Toilet paper seems to be the number one item that people want, for some reason I can’t quite fathom. Paper towels and tissues were also completely sold out.

Panic buy: rice

Rice makes more sense at least – at least it’s edible.

Panic buy: long life milk

Long-life milk. There was a little bit of skim milk and goat’s milk left.

Panic buy: canned vegetables

Canned vegetables.

Panic buy: flour

Flour. There’s mostly just a bit of bread-making flour left. I guess most people don’t bake bread at home. Although maybe they should consider it.

Panic buy: bottled water

Bottled water I don’t understand. There isn’t going to be a disruption to the water supply. Some people seem to be preparing for nuclear war or something.

Panic buy: eggs

Most puzzling: eggs. Who’s coming in and buying 8 cartons of eggs today, thinking they’ll last for two or three months???

It’s interesting because there aren’t any actual shortages of any of these items. All these shelves will be restocked overnight, and will keep being restocked for the foreseeable future. At some point people will realise they have a spare room full of toilet paper and rice, and there’s still plenty of both on the supermarket shelves. They don’t need to hoard tons of the stuff – they just need enough supplies to last a couple of weeks of self-isolation if they get the virus.

Interesting times…

New content today:

Coronavirus spooking

Not much to report today. I worked on some comics. And I did some shopping.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreaks around the world seem to have spooked the Australian public. Since the weekend there have been increasing reports of people panic buying various items to stockpile. Health authorities here have been suggesting that it would be prudent to add a couple of cans of vegetables and a maybe an extra bag of flour or pasta or something to the weekly grocery shopping, but not to go overboard.

Today some of my friends reported that at their local supermarkets, there were no supplies at all of toilet paper, long-life milk, rice, hand sanitising gel, and a few other products. In Sydney face masks have been in very low supply for a couple of months already, because so many people bought supplies of those during the bushfire emergency when the smoke pollution was out of hand – so there’s none of those to be had anywhere.

I figured a little prudent stocking up would be sensible and went to my local supermarket today. The only signs I saw were that roughly half the toilet paper and half the rice shelves were empty, but I still easily managed to get a bit of each. But things are distributed unevenly across the city.

I also heard from a neighbour that in another suburb he’d seen people standing by the side of the road selling rolls of toilet paper at inflated prices. So someone’s trying to profiteer from this. It’s crazy that this sort of thing is happening in a first world country like Australia.

What also staggers me is the fact that of all things toilet paper seems to be the thing that everyone wants to buy enormous quantities of. I would have thought, you know, food would be more important in a survival situation.

New content today: