Monday, March 9, 2020


Over the last few days I've had the peculiar experience of watching my job disappear out from under me. The job in question is reviewing classical music concerts, and along with other events, they're being cancelled.

The concert I attended at Stanford last Wednesday (review here) was prefaced by the director of the presenting organization announcing that, enacting the university's order regarding large gatherings, they were cancelling all their mainstage concerts for the next month. This one slipped in just under the wire. It was not very well attended, and that may not have been lack of enthusiasm, because it was a good show.

The concert I attended on Saturday (review here) actually was cancelled, and ingeniously (nobody else seems to have thought of this idea) was put out on webcast instead. As the only reviewer I was also, as far as I could tell, the only invited guest actually in the auditorium. The other half-dozen people in the audience were technical and production personnel.

I rather feel as if I was skipping along the edge of a crumbling cliff, or that I was Legolas in the Hobbit movies climbing up falling rocks. (That this image is locked in my head is not the least dismaying part.)

I was scheduled to attend three concerts this week (but only to review one of them). One was cancelled by order of the venue. One, by a less heavily-scheduled ensemble, is being postponed to a yet-unchosen future date. And the third, which is by a different presenter in the same venue complex as the first one? The presenter announced that, since they couldn't use that venue, they were looking for an alternative. It seems to me that kind of misses the point. Anyway, they didn't find one, so the question is moot.

Others are also going. Yet others, at least so far, are not. Or in at least one case they've issued an announcement but haven't bothered to put the news on their website. (By contrast, the previously-mentioned group sent 1) an e-mail and 2) an automated phone call, as well as 3) putting it on their website. That's more like it.) So I don't know what, if anything, I'll be doing this month. Or, if it's there to do, whether I should, given that I fall into a few of the risk factors for the virus.

The next question is, what if we're exposed and have to enter self-quarantine? Incubation period for the virus is said to be two weeks. If I actually get the virus I may be in bigger trouble, but apart from that, we have to eat. I've seen articles on how to pack enough food for a two-week period that you don't even know when or if it will begin, but they're not very helpful for us. They rely too much on storable staples which are too high-carb for us, and on more freezer space than we have.

But I went out today to the big grocer and got what I could. Only toilet paper had virtually vanished from the shelves. We have three favorite ground-turkey-based dinner recipes; I bought enough turkey for one of each and put it in the freezer, and made sure we had enough of the other ingredients, and nothing that would perish before mid-April. Along with various breakfast and lunch things that we won't draw on until they're needed, that will keep us going for three days, and after that we'll rely on food delivery services. Best solution I can think of.

The cat show on Saturday was cancelled by the venue. We were the venue for our book discussion group on Sunday, and we didn't cancel. Six friends, about as many as can fit in our tiny living room, came and we had a busy discussion. Nobody sneezed, or even much coughed. Today I resumed my pattern of having lunch in local Chinese restaurants. I was the only customer there at 12:30, which is not exactly usual. Maybe not a good sign. The period of the lockdowns is variously a couple weeks or a month, but I don't foresee this as being anywhere even close to over by then.

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