Ready (or not)

Coffee beans: essential for survival

It’s now Sunday January 9th, 2022. Kia ora!

I haven’t written since Friday morning. A lot has happened since then.

On Friday we had an Covid 19 update. Local figures for Covid 19 community cases are not too bad at 35, with 18 in Auckland, 1 in Waikato, 13 in Bay of Plenty, and 3 in Lakes. There were 24 new cases at the border; most of these are believed to be omicron. I remember when 10 cases at the border was a cause for alarm. There are 37 people in hospital.

On Saturday (yesterday) there was no official update. But I learnt that a person with Covid 19 who had left self-isolation before they were supposed to, and were travelling south to catch the Cook Strait ferry; the Ministry of Health asked the New Zealand police for help in apprehending this person. Apparently he gave himself up, but he had been through Lower Hutt and Wellington.

Then I learnt that there are 2 positive cases in Wellington, thought to be connected to a music festival in Taranga. A list of locations of interest has been published; they include the Countdown supermarket in Newtown. These people do get around!

JD and I had our booster shots yesterday, at the Johnsonville Shopping Centre. Apart from a sore upper arm, I feel fine and thankfully seem to have no other ill effects.

Overseas, omicron numbers are still climbing and causing some devastation – amongst everyone, really, to say nothing of the consternation here. In Australia, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg has tested positive, as has former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.  NZ’s epidemiologist Michael Baker’s son has tested positive in Sydney. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been diagnosed positive. The Crown Princess of Sweden and Sir Keir Starmer have tested positive. In the UK, there have been 150,000 deaths from Covid 19 – officially. That’s more than any European country.

Australia, the omicron cases continue to rise, and the Novak Djokovic saga continues (apparently he has had Covid 19, but his story is complicated). I won’t go into the details. Here in NZ, a National MP has taken part a  second anti-lockdown and mandate protest.  A headline asks something along the lines of When will we let Omicron in? Now I know they have to sell newspapers, but I find this ridiculous.  No one wants the omicron variant, and it’s accordant devastation, but I strongly suspect New Zealand cannot keep it out indefinitely. It’s already at our borders, and there’ve been three community cases, so far.  I think the best strategy is to try and manage it, and limit its devastation. It’s school holidays at present, and nothing much really happens until after Waitangi Day on February 6, so we can be thankful that the children aren’t back at school yet, and most normal activities like singing and exercise haven’t resumed yet for 2022. At present many of us are just choosing what  risks we are prepared to take. There’s conflicting information about whether school openings should be delayed beyond Waitangi Weekend.

Overseas, sad things are happening: the commemoration of the January 6 insurrection in the US. Remarkably, the only two republicans to appear in Congress were Liz Cheney and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. Now I am not at all disposed to think well of Dick Cheney, but this appearance was remarkable, and I value Liz Cheney’s position as deputy Chair of the Select Committee investigating the shocking events of January 6 2021. Other sad events include the abasement of Senator Ted Cruz in front of Tucker Carlsen on the animal channel; unexpected snow in northern India and Pakistan; a dreadful rock fall on a lake in Brazil (something you’d expect to see in a Hollywood blockbuster mover); protests in Kazakhstan, put down by shooting to kill; and the very sad death of Sinead O’Connor’s 17 year old son, Shane. Whatever one may think of Sinead O’Connor, her son’s death is surely a tragedy.  And then there’s the ongoing saga of Prince Harry’s family in Montecito.  More and more I think that if I were one of his children, I would want to be part of the Royal family, and part of all that wonderful tradition. I think I should resent very much being kept apart from that.

I remember when my children were small there was an offer to send one of them to the US, where they’d be brought up by a wealthy family.  Neither I nor my husband would think of it; we’d worked very hard to have our special children, but questions were asked by them, later! JD and I thought it both shocking, and amusing and ridiculous, that we’d part with any of them. We were very appreciative that we had them, and I realised too that none had chosen to be born.

This morning I went to church in Johnsonville. There was a good turnout, and some beautiful singing, but no decorations!  There was a very interesting sermon. It questioned the actual reporting about Jesus’ birth, as opposed to the Christmas myths that have grown up around it. It was about the Epiphany, which occurred on January 6.  The Epiphany (I should have known this, but didn’t) is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12). The preacher thought that the Magi may have been Babylonian mathematicians, as opposed to Kings. The sermon, which was quite academic (covering mathematics, philosophy, astronomy and astrology), managed to link Jupiter as being the planet which stood over Bethlehem when Jesus was born, with the Southern Cross, which mirrored his death. Bethlehem was predicted by the prophet Micah (5.2) as the place of Jesus’ birth. This has been timed according to the eclipse that occurred at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.  I had not heard anyone make that link before. The preacher claimed that God had put his thumbprint in the heavens on the birth, and death of Jesus Christ.  I found it quite remarkable and very thought-provoking. I have since found a recording of this reflection called Star Gazers.  The person delivering the reflection was Rev Reg Weeks. Bishop Barron in California also spoke about the use of science to determine details about Christianity.

The 1 pm Covid report is now in. There are 64 (!) Covid cases at the border, 85 community cases, and 31 people in hospital (2 of them in Intensive Care). It’s been reported that 57 of the cases were in Auckland, seven in Waikato, 16 in Bay of Plenty, and two in Lakes and two cases announced on Saturday in Wellington. Covid 19 has been detected in wastewater from the Coromandel town of Whangamatā in the weekend, and an additional testing site has been set up there. Most of the cases detected at the border are expected to be omicron.

NSW has its deadliest day yet with 30,062 new cases and 16 deaths.

It’s now Monday January 10th.

There’s been no more Covid 19 news here overnight, but it would be fair to say that we’re all very apprehensive about the coming of the omicron variant. It’s said to be a matter of when, not if.  Meanwhile, Brian Tamaki addressed an anti-vaccination protest in Christchurch, possibly breaking his bail conditions. I’m sure God didn’t want him to be disobedient to the police as agents of the government. The WHO says there have been 10 million new cases of omicron in the last week. It’s spreading with shocking speed, and doesn’t seem to have peaked yet.

In Australia, states are continuing to break records with new covid 19 cases; the Governor General has tested positive; there are shortages in the stores. What’s more concerning is that essential workers must go to work, even if they’re Covid 19 positive. “Let it rip” is really letting it rip. How can you ever stop infection spreading if infected people are required to continue working? In China, over 11 million people are being tested for Covid 19 in the city of Tianjin since 22 cases were discovered.  In Kazakhstan, order has been restored (whatever that means) and 164 people have been killed as a result of the shoot to kill order.  The three men convicted of killing Ahmed Arbury have been effectively sentenced to life in prison.

Probably the scariest news come from Cyprus, where a variant of Covid 19  combining delta and omicron has been discovered. It’s known as Deltacron, and 25 cases have been found.

Before the 1 pm announcement I walked to the local store

It seems quite well-stocked, but I buy coffee beans (which are scarce), just to be on the safe side. It’s not busy. Then the announcement comes. Today there are 27 new community cases of Covid 19, and 33 at the border. Of the new community cases, 16 were in Auckland, five in Waikato, two in Bay of Plenty and one each in Rotorua (covered by Lakes DHB) and Wellington.  My judgment is that this news is not the worst, but not the best, either. It’s very scary that most of the border cases are the omicron variant. They come from all over the place. The government has shortened the amount of time required to have a negative test before travelling to 48 hours of departure, instead of 72 hours. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to have made a difference. I remember when there were around 10 cases of Covid 19 in MIQ, from mainly flights from India (during the beginnings of their delta wave); those flights were banned for a time. I fear it’s just a matter of time before the omicron variant is rampant in New Zealand.

Last night we watched the movie On Chesil Beach on Māori television.  It was beautifully acted, but what a frustrating plot!  How come this beautiful, intelligent couple couldn’t get it together? What a contrast to many films and series. I did enjoy the Bach Cello suites and the Chamber music, though.

That’s it for now. I have a good supply of coffee beans and toilet paper. I’ve had my booster jab; it wasn’t to bad; I had a sore upper arm and shoulder for a couple of days, but I’m over that now and ready for omicron (not). Ngā mihi.

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