Random Thoughts – Randocity!

What to write?

Posted in blogging, pandemic by commorancy on December 6, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I’ve found being a blog author has become extremely difficult. While I love video gaming (and I’ve written a number of articles on this topic), COVID-19 has put a crimp on being a blog author… at least for me. Let’s explore.

The Pandemic’s Effects

I love writing this blog. I do. However, it seems that every time I decide to write an article, the pandemic weighs it down like a wet blanket making the article trivial by comparison. It makes it difficult, then, to write articles that are either directly or indirectly about the pandemic. If the article is not about the pandemic, the content seems somehow trivialized by it. If the article is directly about the pandemic, then this blog has gotten off track of being Randocity… or random thoughts.

And, it gets worse.

As more and more people find themselves out of work, as the economy drops deeper and deeper into recession, as people find themselves homeless or evicted, writing these blog articles seems some how trivialized by all of this… which then makes it difficult for me to continue writing in the midst of this pandemic. Yet, I still want to.

For me to pretend that nothing is going on in the world, in similar form to our present illustrious orange President, is disingenuous or, worse, delusional.

I want to write about everyday things, but unfortunately this pandemic is making this difficult in so many ways… the first being that even heading out to the store itself is fraught with peril. In other words, every time I head out to the store, I place myself in peril of contracting COVID-19. For every store or restaurant interaction I have, it’s basically playing Russian Roulette. Eventually, one of those interactions will lead to a personal infection. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

This situation goes for everyone, not just myself.

Denials and Facemasks

I still see people every day denying COVID-19, its effects on the economy and on the country’s health. I see people espousing not wearing masks and claiming that it’s all a big hoax. That the pandemic is somehow fake and being perpetuated by fake news. This is extremely delusional. I understand the want to deny it all. I get it. To deny it means that people can go about their everyday lives without thinking about the pandemic. That’s very enticing, but not at all realistic or healthy.

Unfortunately, personally denying COVID won’t stop the broader and bigger economic effects. It also won’t stop people from dying from COVID. Those situations are already in play. Governors are enforcing mask and shutdown orders. Hospitals are seeing patient spikes to the point of breaking. These are facts that cannot be denied. Sure, people can bury their heads in the sand, like an Ostrich, but that will not stop the economic impacts already in play by our country’s leaders.

If this situation were fake, would hospitals be overrun by COVID? Would Governors be ordering systemic business shutdowns? Would people be dying from COVID in greater numbers than any other current disease within the US?

Topics and Trivialities

For this reason, writing a blog about topics that don’t acknowledge the seriousness of the present United States situation seems disingenuous. It also makes writing blog article topics extremely difficult… like discussing the latest, greatest Apple tablet or Wearable or PS5 console release. These are luxury items that, while they make our lives easier and better, do nothing to solve our current economic situation nor this medical crisis.

Even watching current TV shows where the fantasy of living without COVID still prevails also seems disingenuous. On the one hand, we all want to remember the days when we didn’t wear masks, where we could visit an amusement park, restaurant or social gathering without worry. We want those days back… and eventually we will get them back, but not before this purge is complete.

85% Herd Immunity

One question that is continually asked is when the U.S. (and the world) will see herd immunity for real? The answer to this question is when at least 85% of the population is vaccinated or has survived COVID-19. Only after this 85% number will this virus become a thing of the past for the United States and, indeed, the world. However, we are a LONG way off from that 85% number… way WAY off from that.

At present, the United States has seen maybe 4-5% of its entire ~330 million population infected. That means ~95% of the population of the US still remains uninfected. That’s literally a crap ton of people who haven’t become infected.

Some people contend that there’s a whole lot more infections that haven’t been included in the counts, perhaps as much as 10% of the population. If that 10% estimate were true, there would be a whole lot of dead bodies somewhere as COVID-19 kills between 4-6% of everyone infected. At 10%, that would be around 33 million people infected. At a 5% mortality rate from COVID, that 33 million worth of infections would mean 1.65 million dead bodies somewhere… in addition to those who have already been counted as dead.

Yeah, I don’t think so. Logically, we are no where near the 10% infected rate because the dead bodies aren’t yet lining the sidewalks of major metropolitan cities. You can’t just hide 1.65 million dead bodies. These grim statistics are a sad reminder of the times we live in and how far we have not yet come with COVID-19.

The Count Rises and Vaccines Dawn

Considering the above, the present population of the United States is 330-350 million people. 5% of 330 million is 16.5 million dead bodies. But, you say, “What about the vaccines?”

The vaccines give us hope, but not necessarily answers… yet. The theory is that the vaccines and clinical trials have focused in having the body produce antibodies against COVID-19. The difficulty is that these vaccines were only tested against the antibody production. While some vaccine trial participants may have come into contact with COVID-19, the vast majority of these trial participants were not exposed to COVID-19 has part of the trial. Instead, the trial focused on having the immune system produce an immune response against the vaccine’s included foreign invader.

If the vaccine makers got it wrong, miscalculated or made even the tiniest of mistake in their assumptions, then the vaccines are worthless. We’re literally banking the farm on a vaccine that has not really been tested against COVID-19 for real… other than by accident. In other words, the clinical trials have provided mostly anecdotal evidence of efficacy.

The vaccine makers really don’t know how effective their COVID-19 vaccine will be against the real virus. Trial participants were not exposed to a live form of the virus, but were only tested for production of antibodies from what’s included in the vaccine. The presence of antibodies, or more specifically, the antibodies triggered by the vaccine, may not protect us from the actual COVID-19 virus. The assumption is that the generated antibodies will help reduce the severity of the live virus. This logical assumption is all “best guess” based on past virus behavior and that the produced antibodies will counteract COVID-19 when contracted.

In other words, vaccine makers really do not have any idea if the vaccine will be ultimately be effective or even minimally effective, let alone how long it may remain effective. The rush to get the vaccine out the door leaves gaping holes which would otherwise be filled by proper long term testing during clinical trials… holes that cannot be filled properly when this vaccine is being tested and released so rapidly.

Side Effects & Long Term Health Concerns

Going beyond the speedy nature of releasing the vaccines rapidly comes with other health concerns. The bottom line is, without long term clinical trials, there’s no way to know what longer term health effects might result from taking any or all of the vaccines. Do you really want to be inline for something that hasn’t been properly tested?

I get it, particularly for front line medical workers. Any protection is likely better than zero protection. But, which is more of a risk / threat, COVID-19 or the vaccine? This is a very difficult question to answer. I know that the drug companies are trying to do their level best to produce a functional and effective vaccine. However, cutting corners to get this vaccine out the door, particularly when it comes to long term testing is ripe for future health problems.

However, I’m sure the government will absolve all of these vaccine makers from all liability as a result of releasing these vaccines so rapidly. This means that should you end up with cancer or heart disease or organ failure as a result of taking the vaccine, you won’t have any legal recourse.

Rushing to produce anything, especially a drug, is ripe for health problems. We simply do not know what long term effects may arise from the use of these vaccines. Unfortunately, this virus is so prevalent and virulent and is causing so much economic havoc, the government may be forced to require every United States citizen to be vaccinated, thus ensuring all of the negative outcomes that arise from these rapidly released vaccines.

It all comes down to whether the vaccine works as advertised. We could find even after inoculating the entire United States population that COVID-19 still manages to kill millions… rendering the vaccine worthless. Ultimately, these vaccines are effectively the medical version of rolling the dice. It’s also not merely rolling the dice one time, however. It’s rolling the dice several times successively and hoping each and every time that we see a 7 or 11 with every single roll. What are the odds in that without using loaded dice? Just ask any craps dealer in Vegas.

The New Normal

Blogging in this new world reality makes it difficult, as a blog author, to come up with ideas that don’t seem trivialized and irrelevant by the world situation. I have found it exceedingly difficult to write about the latest Apple watch, the best new printer, the PS5 or even Hue bulbs without considering this new world normal. When I put keyboard to page and begin filling in this white space with words, with each and every word I write I have to consider the present disruption in our world lifestyle.

Even watching QVC and HSN shopping channels, I see just how naïve these channels seem when trying to hawk jeans, leggings, nail polish or a Chromebook in the midst of this pandemic. Computers are useful, particularly to keep up with the news. But the rest? Yeah. The only thing that QVC and HSN can tout is contact-free shopping. Unfortunately, their deals are not always that great… meaning, you can get better deals at brick and mortar retail stores. The difficulty comes in having to enter a store and put your health at risk to buy one of these in-store deals.

Gaming

Taking this a step further, Sony and Microsoft have recently released new consoles, the PS5 and Xbox Series X, respectively. Unfortunately, it’s really a bad time to release these consoles. Game studios must rethink how to hire and manage their game development staff amidst the resurgence of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations. Companies must now retool how to hire staff, how to work on products and how to ensure these products function all while keeping their staff safe and healthy.

In fact, we likely won’t see the full effect of COVID-19 for at least 2-3 years within the gaming industry. The PS5 and the Xbox Series X are likely to have very slow starts as a result. The next gen games that usually hit the stores 2 years after a new console release may not hit stores for 3-4 years due to the pandemic. This means that to buy into a PS5 or an Xbox Series X now could mean a LOT of dead shelf time for these consoles. The PS4 had about 9 months of dead shelf time when the console basically had only a handful of games available. For the PS5, that dearth of games could extend to 18 months or longer. If developers can’t get together as teams and work to solve gaming problems remotely, then this new normal may mean extended development times by A LOT. In fact, COVID-19 may put some of these game studios out of business.

In a year or two, managers may be able to work through the kinks of a remote workforce, but in the few months since COVID-19 appeared, managers are just barely getting a handle on it. Even then, many managers intensely despise having remote workers and prefer to have people’s butts in an leased office chair and firmly sitting behind a desk.

Work from Home Policies

This remove working paradigm MUST shift or any company may perish, literally. COVID-19 can see to that. Companies can no longer force people to bring their butt into the office when that action may jeopardize the health of not only themselves, but the health of everyone they come into contact with. Worse, because many office buildings have toxic ventilation systems, these systems ensure the spread of COVID-19 throughout the entire building. Just one person, one sneeze and hundreds may become infected. Office building ventilation systems are some of the worst, most disgusting, most non-hygienic systems ever designed. Many office buildings are worse that you think.

Yet, office managers don’t take this complication into account when they lease their office space. Instead, they lease based on monthly spend and based on space required. They don’t take into account proper building ventilation or the health of the workers based on this.

Case in point, I spent the better part of 5 years in a 6 story building. In all of those 5 years being employed at that company, I’d contracted maybe 2 colds and no flu. In fact, I contracted most of those in my first year, with nothing during the remaining 4 years. Later, I accepted a new job in a 16 floor office building. In the first year, I had contracted at least 3 colds, had two separate bouts of bronchitis and the flu at least once. After quitting, I no longer got sick. The ventilation system was entirely toxic. In that building, it only took on person coughing or sneezing on the second floor and those droplets traveled throughout the entire building to infect someone even on the 11th floor. As I said, the building was basically a toxic petri dish.

As an employee, these are uncontrollable situations you are forced into when you accept a job in some office buildings. You simply don’t know how toxic your company’s leased office space is until you come down with illnesses frequently.

It also didn’t help matters that my company refused to offer paid sick time. Instead, if you needed sick time off, you were required to use your PTO. This meant people didn’t. It meant co-workers chose to head into the office with colds or flu and whatever other malady, which forced them to spread it around the office to others. Because the ventilation system in this building was already piss poor, it meant anyone susceptible would be exposed even if you were on the other side of the building (or even on another floor) from the sick person. It’s part of the reason I had to quit that job. The building’s toxic ventilation system left me with no other choice as, at the time, there was no work-at-home option and no way to rectify that toxic office space environment. Although, there were some manager problems that also could not be resolved, the constantly being sick played into my decision.

In a way, I’m glad I’d quit that job long before COVID-19 appeared. Otherwise, I’m fairly certain that I likely would have gotten it simply because of that toxic office building environment. In fact, I wasn’t even sure who I could have approached at that company to discuss this toxic building environment. It’s not like they would have made the decision to move office buildings strictly because of my single complaint.

Blogging amid COVID-19

Taking a full circle back to how this article began, I’ve given a few reasons why it’s now difficult for me to blog about trivial luxury conveniences amidst the seriousness of this pandemic. I’d love to write an article and offer a way to rid the world of COVID-19. I’d love to write an article that can solve the world’s ills. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is a virus that doesn’t have an easy or fast answer. Even masks offer limited effectiveness.

While I respect you as a reader and want to offer you interesting information and content, I don’t want to trivialize COVID-19’s effects on the world. I don’t want to write blog articles that ignore COVID-19 or make it seem like I’m not taking COVID-19 seriously.

I actually DO take COVID-19 seriously. I do wear a mask when shopping. I limit when I go out and how often. I only go to the store whenever it’s absolutely necessary. I try to stock up on food with each trip. When I choose to eat restaurant food, I do it infrequently, always take the food to go and make sure to wash my hands after each and every trip out. I also take a full shower after I’ve stepped back into the house for the day before heading to bed. I also wash my clothes if I know the clothes have come into contact with anything suspicious (chairs, tables, baskets, carts, etc). I prefer to wear gloves when I’m out and about, particularly at the grocery store.

Whenever I bring my grocery items home, I still wash them and sometimes allow them to sit for several days before using. With mask mandates in most stores these days, this has become less of an issue. But, I’d still rather be overly cautious than risk my own health and the health of those around me.

Future of Randocity

For now, I’m still planning on blogging, producing how-to articles, video gaming articles, movie reviews and various other information when it seems appropriate. However, I will refer readers to this article when discussing how seriously this blog author is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before I proceed with any further articles, I wanted to write this content to get this information out there and get this off of my chest. It’s difficult not to take this world situation seriously. Yet, I still see many who call it fake or a hoax or deny that it’s a problem. It is none of these. COVID-19 is a virus. It will attack the body like any other virus. It will kill people, like the Influenza. However, it’s much more deadly than any other virus we’ve yet seen. It is a serious virus and it should be taken seriously.

I won’t necessarily write about COVID-19 with each and every article. However, I will refer back to this article whenever someone comments that Randocity is not taking the pandemic seriously. The pandemic is a serious situation. It concerns everyone everywhere, even if not in the United States.

Considering the statistical numbers of infected so far, this virus has the ability to kill at least 5% of the United States which is 16.5 million people dead. At the present ~280k death toll, that’s just 1.6% of the potential 16.5 million dead. So, yes, Randocity takes this pandemic seriously. It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. It’s not a hoax.

When I write an article about a camera or Kickstarter or a Movie Review or a How-To article or a video game or any other topic that doesn’t discuss COVID-19, this blog is acutely aware of this pandemic and its affects on so many families and the economy. With that said, I don’t want this blog to become solely about COVID-19, however. I want this blog to remain focused on random thoughts and random ideas. I want to be able to discuss all sorts of ideas here, including COVID-19, when appropriate.

With that all said, I will continue to write about whatever thoughts come to my head including technology that’s interesting and products that I have tried.

If you’re reading this and you’re struggling to get through 2020, I completely feel for your situation. I realize that so many families may be on the brink of eviction because of the job situation. It’s difficult for all of us, including myself. My situation may be better than some, but don’t think that I’m not feeling the pinch from COVID-19, just as so many of us are.

End of the Year Thanks

I have to assume that by reading this article, you are a loyal reader. For those who have been reading this blog from when this blog began as well as any new readers, I want to sincerely thank you for following and continuing to read the articles I write here on Randocity. I also wish the best of health to you and your family for this holiday season.

If you enjoy Randocity’s articles, I’d like to ask you for a favor. Please like and share these articles with your friends and family. Since you like this blog, perhaps your friends and family will too. The more you share this blog, the more it helps me continue to produce content like this as well as future content. I love to write this blog and I want to continue doing so, but I need a little bit of your help to share the word.

Please consider sharing on on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. These are excellent locations to help me with getting the word out about Randocity. Again, I thank you for reading and here’s to a much, much better and brighter 2021. Happy Holidays!

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