In a Mood

Sorry: I set out yesterday morning planning another non-virus (also non-viral) topic, but coronvirus is pretty much omnipresent despite not being (I hope) in the house, and I just couldn’t put virtual pen to virtual paper.

mood ring 0320

I met Kara, who is 20 years younger than me, when she was in the fifth grade and I was working at the newspaper. The school district had come up with HAMCO, High-Ability Mini-Course Offerings, and I taught a few of these mini-courses at the school right across from the newspaper office. Kara was one of the students in the class where we produced a single edition of the Blackstock Flyer-Inquirer.

After that — I don’t really remember how it came about — Kara and one of her friends (Emily or Courtney; I always guess, and it’s usually wrong) started delivering copies of the Gunnison Country Times around downtown Gunnison. Without any discussion from anyone at the newspaper, I ended up as the default point person for dealing with any of our young newsgirls and boys.

I have no idea how such a thing could happen, other than perhaps because I had a deskful of toys. (I still have a deskful of toys.) Kara and Friend liked coming into the newspaper, heading straight for my desk and opening the top drawer where several of the toys were stored. One day they latched onto my mood ring, and all the other toys went by the wayside.

[I can’t tell you where my toys come from. I think I buy very few of them, but I certainly accumulate them in bulk. I doubt I bought myself a mood ring, but it’s definitely true I owned one.]

The first thing the two of them had to do, before gathering up any of the newspapers or barely even saying “hi,” was determine their moods based on a novelty ring. If you missed the mood-ring craze, I don’t know exactly how it worked, but the “stone” in the middle of the ring changed through an assortment of colors, all of which depended not on your mood but the temperature of your finger.

If your skin was cold, the ring stayed black; if it was really warm the ring would turn a dark blue. I think there were yellows and greens in-between, and it’s entirely possible I still own this ring, although I have no idea which of many toy containers it would be in.

My mood the last several days has shot from deep blue to black and back over and over again. One minute I think my business is going to be allowed to remain open; the next, someone is delivering a pronouncement that makes that possibility more precarious.

I listen to one health expert say one thing, while another says perhaps not the opposite but something close. I hear the Colorado governor as he can’t contain anger at the lack of an overarching national plan, and then I hear that a plurality of Americans (at least those who are polled) approve of a national response that — I’m in agreement with Governor Polis — doesn’t really exist.

I read how Hong Kong, which imposed strict controls and successfully fought covid-19, relaxed those controls when it seemed all was well, and within a week cases skyrocketed, followed by an announcement that the U.S. president, against the advice of every single one of his medical advisers, may try to send the country back to work in a week.

The governor on Sunday ordered every Colorado business to keep 50 percent of its workforce at home, starting this morning, although there was a caveat in there that if you can certify that everyone at work can maintain a six-foot buffer, people can stay on.

Do you know how nice it would be to know right now if James and/or Fortino, both back at work yesterday, had coronavirus? The current thinking seems to be that those who have had the virus may be immune from re-infection for at least several months, and then we could worry far less about buffers.

We didn’t have any problem with distancing yesterday. Kara, who like me can’t decide from day to day if the sinus issues are a cold or allergies, stayed home. Gilly, whose brother-in-law in England has covid-19 in a bad way, stayed home as well, partially out of exhaustion from worry and helplessness. Jeff has been told by Six Points, an organization that he is a client of, to stay away from his job.

Vann, whose father-in-law has not been diagnosed (like so many Americans) but who has a very bad case of something that may or may not be the virus, needs to stay home with his daughter while his wife helps out at her mother’s medical practice.

So we are self-selecting to that 50 percent maxim, not necessarily by choice. And several employees have offered to cut back on their hours if that will help us stretch our money.

In the “innovation” department, we collectively brainstormed an idea that parents with kids stuck at home could e-mail us their child’s artwork, which we can put on a t-shirt for relatively low cost. And Vann produced his first “commercial” for us, featuring his puppies in Star Wars costumes.

So that seemed good — and then our supply chains started breaking down. E-mail after e-mail sent word from company after company. It turns out ours is not an industry critical to survival, and as states roll out “shelter in place” edicts, companies with made-in-America products are closing. Because so many events have been cancelled, Gildan, a major t-shirt brand, has shuttered its factories, almost none of which are in the United States.

We can still — for now — get their shirts (our preferred brand) that are warehoused, but the distributor we frequently order them from has closed several of its locations, including the one in Denver. For now we need Dallas, our default location, to stay healthy.

By evening the City of Denver had announced a “shelter in place” order [another one I don’t get: the mayor said he made his decision after seeing all the crowds in the city parks over the weekend, but one of the few things left open are those same parks as he encouraged people to get out into the air, which is rarely fresh in Denver in the best of times], and now Boulder has followed suit.

So far the governor seems to be deferring to local control for measures more stringent than his own, since two-thirds of the state is much less densely-packed than Denver, and we can keep working. For now. For this minute.

So my mood ring would be working overtime, if I knew where it was, but the real reason I thought of it was because several of the distributors in China are back up and running. Almost every last one of them is touting the newest acronym you should know: PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Masks and sanitizer, they are ready to sell it. (I did see one vendor in the U.S. get really defensive when it tried to sell hand sanitizer for $1/ounce, insisting furiously that the company had paid a premium on the open market and then bumped the price up “a little” to make a profit.)

But one Chinese company upped the game late yesterday. I regret now — why do I never recognize blog fodder when it hits me in the face? — that I consigned it to the trash bin without reading anything beyond the title, which promised covid-19 test kits, results in 15 minutes!

I imagine these test kits “work” about as well as mood rings, but I have to admit, the temptation to do whatever it takes, including falling for scams, is certainly there. If only I knew where my mood ring was.

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