Time to huddle alone in my man-cave

Now that COVID-19 cases have been reported in 28 states, I think we can say that efforts to confine it have failed. We have our first case here in Minnesota, a person returning from a trip on a cruise ship (Why do people do those cruises anymore, anyway? It’s like jumping into big bottle of culture medium and getting stirred around for a few weeks.) My university has sent out information to all faculty about what to do if cases arise — we’re referred to this Safe Campus website for updated info. Ironically, the email about this also says, “Our Emergency Management team—made up of individuals from across campus—is meeting weekly”. Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? If someone on the team is infected, the whole damn lot of them will go down.

My wife is off in Colorado, and as it turns out went through the Denver airport at the same as an infected but asymptomatic traveler from Italy was walking among the oblivious herd. She’s coming back in about two weeks through the same mob of disease-ridden cattle. We old, frail people have been advised to avoid all social contact, which sounds like a fine idea to me — I’m a denizen of the internet, that’s where I do all my socializing — but I have a job that involves talking with lots of people all the time. Fortunately, I don’t touch students…but I do get piles of papers handed to me. Maybe this will motivate me to adopt all electronic submissions.

We’re also advised that, instead of crude handshakes, we should adopt the Vulcan greeting. I can do that. I’m all for it.

“Live long and prosper”

However, this recommendation rarely comes with the necessary warning: do not, I repeat, DO NOT ever greet someone with a Vulcan mind-meld. This is right out, even if it would be a great teaching technique.

“Do you actually…understand…epistatic interactions in genetics?”

I was planning on going out for a nice walk in town today, but I think I’ve just talked myself into sitting at home alone.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    I can only do the salute with my left hand, which is odd since I’m a righty.

  2. komarov says

    Paper submisisons? There are a lot of opportunities for homework excuses here. “I’m sorry, professor, but I accidentally dissolved my essay in a vat of sulphuric acid while trying to disinfect it.”

    On another note, if you do any teaching on contamination etc. (not sure how relevant that is in evolutionary development when you’re not working with microscopic things*), now you have a good excuse to move that forward. Depending on their personality, the students will either be much less or much, much more worried aftwerwards. Either way they’d probably be very attentive.

    *I assume zebrafish are easy to contain and that with spiders there’s no point in trying. They’re already everywhere.

    P.S. It’s a pity but I doubt the Vulcan greeting is going to catch on. I’d be happy enough if the handshake went away – it was at best annoying even before Covid-19 – but even that would seems unlikely. Maybe I should just scream at people trying to shake my hand – that’ll stop them from trying.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’ve got a few errands to run this morning. After that, I’m hunkering down in my house, binging the new season of Castlevania and puttering with my 3D printer.

    Oh, not because of the Coronavirus. Because, an introverted anxiety case with no friends who live close by.

  4. billseymour says

    Why do people do those cruises anymore, anyway? It’s like jumping into big bottle of culture medium and getting stirred around for a few weeks.

    I had some meetings to go to in Belfast the first couple of weeks in November, and this geek thought it would be Really Cool to make the trip entirely on the surface. That involved taking the Queen Mary 2 both directions across the Atlantic.

    That was before I understood what horrible polluters cruise ships are; and it hadn’t even occurred to me that a ship might be a good environment for spreading disease. Fortunately, I seem to have completed the journey unscathed.

    I have no desire to repeat the trip.

  5. Matt G says

    Accompanied, or course, by “live long and prosper.” The traditional response is “peace and long life.”

    This puts me in mind of another Vulcan saying: “only Nixon could go to China.” But let’s hope The Donald doesn’t try it.

  6. Larry says

    Some people are saying that the Wuhan Shake is the new greeting in this time of Corona virus:

  7. asclepias says

    Nothing in Wyoming yet, although I’m in Cheyenne–pretty close to the Denver International Airport. However, virus be damned! We’re in the middle of a few days of false spring, the weather is gorgeous, so I’m going to go for a long bike ride before winter comes back.

  8. nomaduk says

    That’s the so-called Vulcan death grip, from ‘The Enterprise Incident’, and it was just a ruse, anyway.

  9. evodevo says

    LOLOL epistatic interactions….
    The virus just showed up in a small town here in KY a few miles from my house. Not looking forward to the next few months, that’s fer sure…

  10. dianne says

    You do know that a lot of places that don’t have documented coronavirus simply don’t have test kits yet, right?

  11. F.O. says

    Lombardia, the region around Milano, second city in Italy, has just officially forbidden anyone from leaving.
    My brother, my mother, my grandmother are there.

  12. nomdeplume says

    I keep watching as the death rate for my age group keeps going up and up. But I do have to keep going to medical facilities for my other health problems. Catch-22?

  13. madtom1999 says

    Catch it asap. If you survive then you can take advantage of the chaos as the epidemic reaches its peak!

  14. dontlikeusernames says

    @1 Akira MacKenzie

    I can only do the salute with my left hand, which is odd since I’m a righty.

    That’s pretty sinister. Are you sure you’re right?

  15. raven says

    But I do have to keep going to medical facilities for my other health problems. Catch-22?

    Yes, it is.
    .1. The local hospital now has a Covid-19 planning meeting every morning.
    I asked them the same question.
    “We are taking it one day at a time right now.”
    .2. That isn’t really an answer.
    It means they don’t know yet.
    .3. It’s going to be a problem for many people, including those who have sudden emergencies such as auto accidents etc..
    .4. Ask your doctors and health professionals right now, while you still can.
    If and when the pandemic hits, they are going to be way too busy and frightened to think things through very carefully.

  16. raven says

    Passengers stuck on the Grand Princess cruise ship because of coronavirus share photos
    By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN
    Updated 5:41 PM ET, Sat March 7, 2020

    I’m sure most people have seen this story.
    This cruise ship off of San Francisco has 21 known cases out of not very many tested and 3700 passengers.
    We know from the other Princess ship in Japan that these are incubators for virus spread and death traps.

    So what is the plan here???
    There isn’t one.
    They know they have to dock the ship, get everyone screened and off, and quarantine and treat the infected.
    They have no idea when or where any of this will happen.

    I’m seeing this same scenario play out every where I look.
    People and institutions think they are planning but we’ve never encountered a situation quite like this.
    It won’t take many more Covid-19 cases before chaos sets in.

  17. says

    Anyone seen a reliable report on the cruise ship off Japan?
    I’ve seen a report that it is comparable to a bad seasonal flu outbreak.

  18. wzrd1 says

    (Why do people do those cruises anymore, anyway? It’s like jumping into big bottle of culture medium and getting stirred around for a few weeks.)

    How else does one get the newest strain of norovirus to culture and analyze before the inevitable modest pandemic rush?

    As for the Vulcan salute, can do it with either hand and have been known to place my thumb before my nose in some noisome cases.

    I agree, the image is the Vulcan “death grip”, which was supposed to trick the Romulans that Spock killed Kirk. It was quite effective, as the writers had insisted that it was so.

    We’ve two new cases in Pennsylvania, one just north of Tobyhanna, one in Delaware County, where our families are.
    One side, quite GOP afflicted and proclaiming that the virus will go away when it gets warm. No idea where that craptrap came from – oh wait, yeah, I do. From the Epidemiologist and everythingologist in Thief, Dumb Donald.
    So far, the Harrisburg area is free, which means that it’s probably still incubating, with a few subclinical and asymptomatic cases spreading the joy. Trump will then insult our Democratic party member governor, while ignoring the Republican majority in the legislature and local governments, then he’ll wonder about the next landslide…

    Our plan is the same, when the new job start date arrives, I go to work, then work from home when and if they close the offices down. Given that it’s a DoD facility, they’re not shy about closing for worker safety.
    If something weird happens where I need to decontaminate a fair area of home and household items, 0.5% sodium or calcium hypochlorite has been shown to be effective against this annoying virus. It’s also not extremely harsh to skin, in case of exposure to it.
    Beats 60% ethanol, as given my luck, I’d use that and walk by someone frying bacon…

  19. madtom1999 says

    In the UK the government (if you can call it that) seems to have realised this think could possibly kill enough older voters to allow the left a chance at the next election.
    I can imagine Trump cancelling yours due to an emergency like this.

  20. whheydt says

    Re: raven @ #22…
    Apparently they’re going to dock the cruise ship in Oakland.

    On alternates to handshakes…just got back from a small (200+ SF con) where one of the more popular variations was touching elbows.