Clouds

Today is Friday January 14th, 2022. Kia ora!

In today’s Covid 19 news there are 18 new community cases, and 43 at the border. The Stuff website reports the new community cases as follows: in Auckland (11), Waikato (four), Bay of Plenty (one) and Canterbury (two). The Canterbury cases were announced on Thursday, but officially added to the tally on Friday. The border cases are from all over, no one specific area. Apparently 266 omicron cases have been detected at the border since the beginning of December 2021. That’s quite remarkable, seeing that our much-maligned MIQ system has kept them out of the community. There are more locations of interest, of course; the only Wellington one is the Myrtle Bakery and Café in Mt Victoria.  It’s become apparent that any venture to a café, supermarket, or gas station is potentially a risk. Kiwis do get around, too, often being tested in one place but turning up as an infection in a different location. There are 34 people in hospital, including 2 in Intensive Care.

The relative calm here is deceptive. Of course, there are voices in the press claiming the New Zealand government is not taking Covid 19/omicron seriously enough; I guess there always will be. No one is calling for greater freedoms, though, and just look at what’s happening in Australia.  Numbers are through the roof for infections, hospitalisations and deaths. I heard on the coronacast podcast that they’re no longer doing genomic sequencing for tests; the whole issue of testing is fraught, as some testing stations have closed down, and RAT tests are hard to come by. There was a joke going round saying how do you get a quick test result? Play England at cricket, that’s how.  Australia is reporting well over 100,000 new cases today. That’s probably severely under-reported.

It’s evident that the “let her rip” approach is a disaster, with numbers of sick people continuing to increase; even though the rules around self-isolating have been relaxed, there are still not nearly enough “well” people to care for those who need care. Once again, the elderly and the disabled are at risk. One epidemiologist explained that omicron is not a delta variant; that there is no assurance that this will be the last.

In the UK, it transpires that there were 2 more parties at 10 Downing St the night before Prince Philip’s funeral. Who can forget the picture of Queen Elizabeth II sitting, masked, on her own at his funeral?  Strict rules of social distancing and limited numbers in attendance were followed by Her Majesty, at a time when she could perhaps have been forgiven for relaxing the rules.

And, today, Prince Andrew has been stripped of the right to be HRH, and of his royal patronages.  I guess many of us, myself included, regard him as a pompous ass who has failed to find anything useful to do, and has behaved in a seriously bad manner, being friends with Jeffrey Epstein, whoever he slept with and however old they were. It’s evident that his attitude towards women is both archaic and awful, and it contrasts markedly with that to his odious friend, Epstein.  It’s to be marvelled at that his and Fergie’s daughters have turned out as nice as they have. Evidently the Queen has a soft spot for each of them. Prince Andrew will fight Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit as a private citizen.

Prime Minister Johnson has made a carefully worded apology for something – perhaps the May 20 party.  He’s under even more pressure than before, as Covid 19 disgraces keep emerging.

In the US, the head of the Oath Keepers has been charged with sedition (“seditious conspiracy”), the first such charge for people who offended during the January 6 2021 insurrection. This is momentous. First I heard there was one such charge; Rachel Maddow reports that several people (11) are involved.

This morning we took our grandchildren to the Destination Mars exhibition/experience at Te Papa.  I had booked tickets online, and what a mission that turned out to be.  A booking for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) cost $70 plus the booking fee. I thought this was for an hour, but it was only for ½ an hour.  The cost for a family was the same as for 2 seniors and 2 children. When we got there, I got the tickets printed as although I’d opted for having them on my phone, I couldn’t find them there.  We arrived a few minutes early, and queued up for what seemed like ages in a kind of plane boarding/customs queueing arrangement. Eventually, they let us in. It was sit where you like – at stools around a horseshoe shaped bench. Each seat had its own console, which was pretty easy to operate.  The operation did rather fill me with horror, seeming to combine extreme ineptitude and carelessness, of the kind you’d expect to see in a spoof movie. Spoiler alert – I doubt if it was worth $70, but you did have to see it.  My granddaughter needed some help, and I needed some help from my grandson.  We sat at the end of a row, and there was quite a big gap next to me, so I felt quite safe.

Afterwards we went to the café downstairs. The children had chips. I checked out the cabinet food, but there wasn’t much there, so I had an avocado stack. It was very good. There’s plenty of room there, so again, we felt quite safe. I am so glad to have some hand sanitiser in my handbag.

It’s now Sunday January 16th.

Yesterday’ Covid 19 news wasn’t too bad: 29 new community cases and 25 at the border. 29 are in hospital, 5 in North Shore, 8 in Auckland, 12 in Middlemore, 4 in Tauranga. Two cases are in ICU. There are more locations of interest, an MIQ worker has contracted Covid 19, and a care home worker at the Selwyn Retirement Home has become infected. On Friday we were told that 1/60 people coming into New Zealand have the omicron variant of Covid 19.  I guess that’s meant to be reassuring.  In Australia, there’s ongoing devastation and deaths as omicron works its way around. While some are foolishly attending Covid parties, there are fears that “long Covid”, i.e. the after effects that may never go away, need to be treated too, where they can be; if, say, there’s been heart damage.  You really don’t want to get this disease.

The main news from last night is of a severe underwater volcanic explosion near the Pacific Island of Tonga, which has caused devastation in Tonga and tsunami warnings for Northland in New Zealand, and for Australia and the US.  We’re quite a long way inland, and higher up, so we’re not worried for ourselves but in Tutukaka in Northland the marina has felt the force of extra high waves and boats have been smashed up.  New Zealanders are warned to stay away from the beaches. We’re also warned about the approach of Cyclone Cody from Queensland. There is no contact with Tonga, and it’s feared that these beautiful islands have sustained major damage. Prime Minister Ardern is to give an update at 3 pm. (On Wednesday I learnt that three deaths have been confirmed so far).

This morning it was quite cold early on, but it’s a beautiful hot sunny day now. I went to church in Ngaio this morning. Interesting.  It was very different, but almost everyone kept their mask on. I was just starting to enjoy my coffee and a cheese scone at a local café when the chauffeur arrived. You can’t do anything quickly these days, once I’d scanned in and shown my vaccine pass.

On Sunday there were 25 community cases of Covid 19 and 43 at the border.

It’s now Monday January 17th.

Today there are far more cases of Covid 19 at the border (43) than community cases – 16.  The good news is that all the tests of close contacts of the infected MIQ worker have come back negative.   The not-so-good news is that there are many locations of interest – in Auckland. Children from 5 – 11 can be vaccinated from today.

Brian Tamaki has been arrested for breaking his bail conditions, and will spend a few days (10) in prison. He claims he’s not a criminal.  Djokovic has been sent home from Australia, and now the Tennis Open can continue under very strange circumstances.

It’s now Wednesday January 19th, and I haven’t written for a while.

To catch up, an MIQ worker was diagnosed positive with Covid 19, and it was later confirmed that this case is omicron. A close contact also has Covid 19, although most close contacts’ tests have come back negative. Yesterday one of the community cases was a Wellington one – I don’t know where that was from. Today we learnt that a worker at Auckland Airport has been diagnosed with Covid 19; it’s feared that this is omicron too. Today again there are more cases of Covid 19 at the border (56!) than community cases (24). The MIQ lottery system for March and April has been paused. That probably puts paid to my son’s visit from the UK.  The Black Caps proposed tour of Australia (they were due to leave in a few days’ time) has been postponed, due to lack of certainty about their return – no spots in MIQ have been booked. The Big Gay Out has been cancelled for 2022 – this was due to be held in Auckland on 13 February. Meanwhile, we are making plans to travel to Hawkes Bay, and a son is making plans for a granddaughter’s birthday party. Will these go ahead? Hopefully, they will.

This morning someone came to do some housework. She was very good, and I hope she can continue. They haven’t sent anyone since a week before Christmas!  That’s been very frustrating.  I have tried to explain to JD that while I may summon up the energy to go to church, or to visit a friend, or go to a movie or an exhibition, changing sheets and towels and emptying rubbish bins is work I would greatly prefer not to have to do. My dear friend who died last year advised me to save my limited energy for doing things I really want to do. I would gladly give myself permission for just that, were it possible.

In Australia the omicron surge shows no signs of peaking as yet. They are having 70? Perhaps 100? Deaths each day. Omicron may not be the last variant of Covid 19, we’ve been warned.  For myself, boring as it is (Will I ever go overseas again? Would I be able to afford the insurance?), I guess I’m glad to be here, where the government is doing its best to make sure we’re not overrun by Covid 19. That’s appreciated. Overseas, cruises are in trouble, and more and more operas are being cancelled. In the US, Rudy Giuliani and other Trump lawyers have been subpoenaed by the January 6 Committee. Sadly, General Mark Milley has been diagnosed with Covid 19. In China, there are fears for the Winter Olympics due to be held in Beijing after one case of Covid 19 was found, and a drastic lockdown ensued.

We’ve been watching series 3 of Afterlife on Netflix.  While I was disposed not to like Ricky Gervais, he’s rather good in this series.  It’s extremely well done, as were the previous two. It’s been very thought-provoking.  The final episode had Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now playing in the background. What a beautiful song it is. That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
Looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and they snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way that you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
And you leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know love
Really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say, “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

Oh, but now old friends they’re acting strange
And they shake their heads and they tell me that I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

It’s life’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know life
I really don’t know life at all

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