Today is Friday October 8th, 2021. Kia ora.

I didn’t write yesterday, but there were 29 new community of Covid 19, I think. Five of these were in the Waikato, prompting an extension to the south of the then current Waikato boundary from midnight Thursday. Today there are 44 new cases, 3 in the Waikato and the rest in Auckland. Yesterday it was reported there was a case in Northland, specifically Whangarei, who was originally a weak-positive, being in the early stages of the disease, but this does not appear to be included today. After the death of a man who belonged to the AOG Church in Mangere, the church is encouraging people to get vaccinated. It’s very disappointing that so many need to be encouraged.

Yesterday there were upsetting reports of three rooms being trashed at the Jet Park quarantine facility, where you go if you have been diagnosed with covid 19. This was very distressing for the staff there, who work in a very risky environment.  As I recall, gangs were not involved in widespread infection during previous lockdowns; they are certainly causing trouble now.

Today it’s reported that a patient at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital has tested positive, and a significant number of other patients (42) and 18 visitors (are patients still allowed visitors? Are they visitors to the ED?) are regarded as contacts. He went there, to the ED twice for something else, and on his second visit tested positive for Covid 19. Several people (25) are in hospital with Covid 19, including 5 in ICU.  The Waikato cases are all close contacts of existing cases, so that’s good.

Everywhere there’s confusion and anger, all spurred on by media spin. We’re hearing testimony from the US about part of Facebook’s business model being to encourage anger; there’s plenty of it around, without FB’s help! We’re also hearing more about Trump’s strenuous efforts to claim that he’d really won the presidential election

I guess fundamentally we’re all angry about Covid 19/delta wreaking havoc on plans, bookings, our coming to terms with being “locked in” and making the best of it, and, frankly, having a wonderful Prime Minister in Jacinda Ardern – we were, justifiably, proud of our success in New Zealand’s keeping Covid 19 at bay, and although we’d had several near-misses, we’d been very fortunate here. The government has managed this situation rather well, in many respects.   Granted, we can’t plan overseas trips, or have overseas loved one come here, but within our limits, we were managing quite well.  Fear was almost eliminated. We could get back to worrying about getting anything fixed, getting through the day/week/month, and the queue for health treatment, given that many of us are older, living longer, and thus can expect things to wear out, as we slow down. Should I be concerned about that strange new symptom? Let’s see if it happens again.

Now there’s huge confusion. Will Covid 19/delta spread, and, if so, where? There are terrible reports this morning of Victoria having 1,838 new cases and 5 deaths, and reportedly calling the military in to help. NSW has 646 new cases, down a bit, but 11 deaths. Scott Morrison has decided that lockdowns don’t work, and they’re reopening, tra la. I think the lockdown in Melbourne has been far stricter than that in Sydney, but Covid 19/delta is now running rife in Victoria, whatever the reason. Evidently there is a new strain of delta in NSW.

After seeing the desperate scenes in India when Covid 19/delta was rampant there, I don’t think this can be “lived with”, as many people recommend. I think it must be limited, and I’m sure restrictions are preferable to having an overwhelming epidemic, where health care is rationed, breathing assistance is scarce, ambulances are queueing up at hospitals, and people cannot get care for all their other ailments that normally tie up Emergency Departments.

Here there is great uncertainty as we debate and make daily decisions about what risks to take, and what to go to, given that some activities are operating again.  I have been having discussions with singing folk, over whether we have to sing wearing masks (not an attractive prospect); how many people will be allowed at my new tai chi class; and whether one should go and see the new James Bond movie (I rather like Daniel Craig), or save up any exposure until it’s really necessary. It’s strange how eating becomes so important. One is always tired, and hungry, and surely one more biscuit or another piece of chocolate won’t make much difference? It doesn’t, of course, until you try to wear some item of clothing that doesn’t fit anymore.

Early this week my copy of the Listener arrived. It’s now being delivered by DX mail, like the bank statements, rather than NZ Post, so that’s a relief. I think it came last Monday.

We’ve been watching more episodes of The Newsroom on Neon, with the rather good Jeff Daniels. There are three series of this wonderful series, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin in 2021.  We are watching it now, and it was filmed during Obama’s presidency, which was, one has to admit, itself rather amazing.  Well, this series has all the major issues of the time, as I’ve noted previously. One may have thought America was going to hell in a hand basket during Dubya’s presidency; believe me, although Obama served two terms as president, it hasn’t gotten any better. And now…The news anchor, a republican who strongly disagrees with many republicans, gets into major hot water for likening some republicans (the Tea Party) to the Taliban. (Remember Rick Santorum and Michele Bachman?) He then asked if it was the Taliban who were upset. Well, I did not realise that Sorkin had beaten me to it, but I do recall writing about the Taliban-like mediaevalism of American attitudes towards women, with particular reference to the recent Texas abortion law (nwt temporarily shelved by a third-circuit judge). Actually Michael Moore wrote about it too. They’re both men, by the way.  Anyway, this series is my current drug of choice. It’s quite absorbing, and seems very prescient.

I’m also watching Scenes from a Marriage (on my own, now) and the fourth series of New Amsterdam – a rather silly medical soap, although the flawed characters are quite interesting. I’m looking forward to new series of The Crown and Succession. I may have to do lots of watching in my bedroom.

Isn’t it strange how things change. Everything’s a fashion, of course; movements that seem so certain at the time (I’m thinking back to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s) have changed for formality, some excess, and a new and different way of bringing up children.  I thought I was a good mother!  But my children all do it differently.

I thought we had eliminated sexual assault, paedophilia, and cruel practices in the workplace; but no, The MeToo movement is alive and perhaps not so well; porn is a big issue, being now quite unrealistic and readily available; cruelty to children continues; and bullying is rampant, not only in online media, but in many workplaces.  I remember when we went to Atlanta in November 2017, and three big things had just happened (in addition to many not-quite-so-big things): the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the arrest of Harvey Weinstein, and forest fires in California.  That was after three hurricanes (Harvey, Irma and Maria affecting the southern US and Puerto Rico), and an election in New Zealand.  After this election, Winston Peters with the New Zealand First party held the balance of power.  After what seemed like weeks, he decided to form a government with Labour (who had won fewer seats than the National Party). That is how we got the rather wonderful Prime Minister Ardern. That’s by-the-by, however. After Weinstein was arrested, a mother at my granddaughter’s school said ”I thought we were past all that”. Indeed, I had thought so too, but attitudes towards women in many countries have got worse, not better, and the US, which calls itself Land of the Free, is one of the worst.

It does seem weird, that now people are outraged by things we took for granted, back in my day. I never felt I had a deprived childhood, but bullying at school was endemic, dogs were scary and not tied up, physical punishment was expected, and children were left for long times on their own (or at least, I was).  Things were different – not better, necessarily, not always worse. I certainly did some hair raising things that I would be scared for my children to do. I feel now that we were really slack about car safety, but we obeyed current rules and recommendations at the time. We certainly were a lot more careful than our parents seemed to be.  Everything changes. Allergies were coming into vogue, but gluten free-ness and the issue of gut health were ahead of us. With the crisis of climate change now being recognised and addressed, to some extent, I remind our children that back in the day the fear of nuclear war and nuclear radiation was our climate crisis; we also “dealt with” the Vietnam War (the New Zealand compulsory draft was only abolished just before we were married), and the Aids crisis. There is still no vaccine for Aids, although it’s no longer a death sentence, but there is now a vaccine for malaria. This is great news.

Unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic has set the world back some in terms of human struggle and exploitation, child brides, and persecution of some minorities such as the Uighurs in China, and some in Myanmar, and Muslims in India. On the other hand, it ma have curbed some excesses.  The worldly struggles between good and evil and the grey areas in between continue.  I remember having it pointed out to me years ago that most new things have elements of both good and evil, viz. the internet, the discovery of nuclear fission, the right to free speech and religious liberty. Everything needs to be done with discrimination and judgment – after all, you have a brain!

The media continue to spin news stories: here, the Reserve Bank was reported to have hiked the Official Cash Rate. They raised it by ¼ of 1%, from 0.25% to 0.5%. That’s hardly “hiking” it. Similarly Prime Minister Ardern is said to have abandoned the strategy of elimination with regard to Covid 19. She never actually said that, although it’s been widely reported, both here and overseas, that she did. I know newspapers have to print something, and the more hair-raising the story, the better for sales, but I find this “spin” really annoying, and as for outright lies….The Bible has a lot to say about those who “love and make a lie”. It’s right up there with other sinful behaviour.

Shortages abound – of precious metals, aka computer chips; of goods and fuel in the UK, water in the West of the US, and of power in China. In addition to this, fuel prices are rising in the EU, and widespread floods, heat and earthquakes are causing disruption.  We are fortunate to be here in New Zealand.  I had thought (in my naivety) that one could expect a degree of civilisation:  clean running water that is fit to drink; a fairly constant supply of utilities such as gas and electricity; a supply of fuel and food at reasonable prices, and good paved streets and nice footpaths and a reasonably efficient public transport system.  It seems in many places of the world these expectations don’t apply, and these things are often missing. 

In New Zealand, the area of Northland goes back to level 3 at midnight tonight. A woman has tested positive for Covid 19 in Whangarei, having (allegedly) falsified documents to allow her to go to Northland.  In Auckland, a policeman has tested positive, after coming in contact with a Covid 19 sufferer during a welfare callout.  There are new locations of interest: two in Whangarei, and more in Auckland. One feels for the contact tracing team, who must have their hands full.  At least Northland is north of Auckland; I’d like to see the new James Bond film but most sessions in Wellington tomorrow are fully booked! Presumable they’re fully booked allowing for social distancing. I hope we’ll be able to see it in the not-too-distant future.

That’s it for now. Delta’s had quite a busy day. We remain on high alert.   Ngā mihi.

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