Sixteenth Entry


(click photo to enlarge)


Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

The morning news reported that hospitals updated their ethical guidelines to “maximize life.” I recently heard the word “lottery” referencing access to limited hospital equipment and related care, often the difference between life and death. Who should decide the fate of patients?  

For several days, the projected number of deaths in the US stayed at what seems to me a near-mythical number, “100 – 240,000”. It seems like a large range. I have heard those figures on the radio and seen them in the newspaper, always stated the same way.  Later in the day, I heard that this projection is based on a single model—which model, no one says. The news increasingly seems to be one voice.    

Toilet paper is still in extremely high demand; some stores are limiting purchases to one roll per customer.

A positive aspect of quarantine has been taking stock of my larder; surely, I am not the only one doing that. I usually buy dry beans, but spending time with younger people with a taste for convenience has inspired me to buy more canned beans. They are certainly quicker to prepare, but not that much easier. They are more expensive, worse for the environment, and less nutritious than dried beans.

My childhood home had a bomb shelter, just the basement, but with radioactivity measuring devices, reserve food, and a big generator in the garage (my father was an electrical engineer). Perhaps as a result, I have always kept enough food, especially canned goods to eat and feed others for many days – not weeks. As I stocked up on everything but toilet paper, it occurred to me that I should use what was in the back of the cupboard first. 

Isn’t canned food supposed to last forever, or at least for a very long time? I tossed a tin of smoked oysters, packed in China, that had “expired” more than five years ago. How about the kippered herring, packed in Maine, now eight years past the “use by” date? 

As a kid, the only disease I feared was botulism. Happily, none of my cans had expanded. An oversized can of organic garbanzo beans lurking in the back was stamped: “Best by 2/2014”. I simply could not throw it away. I opened the beans, boiled them, to be sure, and have been eating them for days. Certainly not the best I have had, but they seem not to have killed me.     

One cannot live forever.