Blinded by the Light

A painting by Caravaggio on the conversion of Paul

Today is Friday April 29th 2022. Kia ora.

I slept well last night, and it’s been a good day.  The weather continues to be fine and warm, although it’s cold in the nights and mornings. I changed the sheets and towels, and then went with JD for an appointment in Thorndon. After this we had lunch at La Cloche, where I had a salmon and leek tart with salad, and we shared a beautiful cake with an almond flavour.

In the afternoon someone came from Access to do some cleaning. I’m enjoying reading my new Anne Tyler novel, French Braid.

Today’s Covid 19 report is so-so, with 8,242 new community cases, and 14 deaths. There are 480 people in hospital and 15 of them are in Intensive Care.

On Friday night we watched a strange film called Windfall on one of the streaming giants. The female lead was the woman who starred in Emily in Paris (a series I found extremely annoying).

On Saturday, another fine day, JD had an appointment in Karori. Afterwards, we enjoyed a very nice lunch at the Gipps St Deli.  I had quiche and salad. Normally I’m weary of quiche, but this was really nice. I also had a chocolate caramel slice, also delicious: I took most of it home to finish later. Then we went to the Warehouse in Porirua. There was a special on woollen slippers, which I need, so I tried some on, and JD tried some on too, since it was two pairs for $18 – an unbelievably low price. We move to the checkout, only to find we had too queue up for self checkout. The slipper special turned out not to apply – we’d got the wrong things. I didn’t want to go back – there were many people by that time, and I was very tired, so we let it go, but I was angry about the misleading signage.

The Covid 19 report wasn’t too bad, with 7,043 new community cases, and 7 deaths.  The Washington Post reports that formerly unvaccinated older adults were dying, but now the vaccinated elderly are dying too. I couldn’t read the rest of the article, so don’t know any more than that. I’m not sure how many people were in hospital, but as I recall there were 15 in Intensive Care, down from previous numbers.

On Sunday morning I went to church. There would have been barely 30 people there, but we had the organ, and it was marvellous. We sang Immortal, Invisible, This is the Day, Come Thou long expected Jesus, and There is a Redeemer. One of the texts was the famous story in Acts of Saul/Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.  There is that wonderful bit where Ananias, sent to him, says Saul, brother; and this was a zealous young man who actively sought out Christians in order to destroy them, and had sat by while Stephen was stoned.

 Afterwards I caught a bus back to Johnsonville.  Later this week my Thursday morning singing starts up again, after cancelling term one.

Today it’s reported that there are 5,646 new community cases of Covid 19, and 6 further deaths. There’ve now been 750 deaths from Covid 19 (or with Covid 19). It’s also reported that someone from overseas has tested positive for an omicron sub-variant BA.4, not hitherto found in New Zealand. There are 466 people in hospital, including 16 in Intensive Care.

Case numbers in each DHB were as follows: Northland (139), Auckland (606), Waikato (341), Bay of Plenty (175), Lakes (116), Hawke’s Bay (149), MidCentral (202), Whanganui (64), Taranaki (149), Tairāwhiti (99), Wairarapa (58), Capital and Coast (360), Hutt Valley (152), Nelson Marlborough (222), Canterbury (931), South Canterbury (118), Southern (625), West Coast (74), Unknown (6). There were 62 cases at the border.  The numbers are certainly taking a while to wind right down; while New Zealand is well past this peak, it’s taking ages for the numbers to dwindle right away.

With regard to the war in Ukraine, I’ll try to condense the facts that have made an impression on me in the last few days. The head of the UN, Antony Gutierrez, went to Kyiv, after visiting Putin in Moscow, and the Russians shelled Kyiv while he was there. I guess it’s a good thing that he went, but I’ve heard it said he didn’t condemn the war forcefully enough. There are also issues over whether the Ukrainians are grateful enough for the support they’re receiving, mainly from the US, where President Biden continues to ask Congress for large sums of money to support Ukraine, both militarily and from a humanitarian perspective. There is discussion about offensive as opposed to defensive weaponry. It seems the US has now accepted that Ukraine may “win” this conflict – although what winning means has not really been defined. It made a big difference for US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin to go to Kyiv; also, many countries, including the US, are setting up embassies there again. It seems the Ukrainians are still having victories in small skirmishes, but heavy fighting continues in Donbas and the Donbas regions in the East of Ukraine.  It also seems that the Russians have captured several more small towns and deported more Ukrainians into Russia. Several people have commented on Putin’s brutality, comparing it to that of Stalin. The threat of nuclear war is ever present.

It’s now Tuesday May 3rd.

Yesterday on Monday I got a lift into town with JD and went to see The Duke, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. Actually I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected: it seemed really slow-moving to start with, and the desperate poverty and living conditions and general cruelty seemed very sad.  It was diverting, however, and nice to get out. There were only 3 other people in the theatre, so I felt quite safe.

It’s reported that there are 9,109 new community cases of Covid-19 today and 20 related deaths.  There are 481 people in hospital, including 10 in ICU.

One person was from Northland, one from Auckland, two from Waikato, two from Bay of Plenty, four from Tairāwhiti, four from the Greater Wellington region, five from Canterbury and one from Southern. One person was in their 50s, three in their 60s, three in their 70s, eight in their 80s and five were aged over 90. Of the people who have died, 12 were women and eight were men.

The locations of today’s community cases are Northland (266), Auckland (2678), Waikato (547), Bay of Plenty (280), Lakes (167), Hawke’s Bay (283), MidCentral (365), Whanganui (121), Taranaki (249), Tairāwhiti (88), Wairarapa (89), Capital and Coast (437), Hutt Valley (433), Nelson Marlborough (332), Canterbury (1586), South Canterbury (161), Southern (947) and the West Coast (78). The locations of two cases are unknown.

The 481 cases in hospital are in Northland (30), Waitematā (75), Counties Manukau (70), Auckland (90), Waikato (33), Bay of Plenty (27), Lakes (two), Hawke’s Bay (11), Taranaki (four), Whanganui (one), MidCentral (eight), Wairarapa (one), Hutt Valley (five), Capital and Coast (13), Nelson Marlborough (nine), Canterbury (70), South Canterbury (three), West Coast (one) and the Southern region (28).

Meanwhile, 128 Covid-19 cases have been detected at the border. 128!

Yesterday there 6636 new cases in the community and seven people died with the virus – this brings the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 757. There were 480 people in hospital, including 12 in ICU or HDU.

In Ukraine, some people were able to evacuate safely from Mariupol, but the Russians started shelling again as soon as they were gone.  Reports are conflicted, as ever; the Ukrainians are having success with preventing Russian forces from achieving their war aims, whatever they are; but Russian troops are still inflicting lots of damage and doing lots of harm. It seems some Ukrainians have been forcibly repatriated to Russia.  Who are they, and where have they gone?  It could be very difficult to track this down sometime in the future. Nancy Pelosi has made a visit to Kyiv, and promised more aid until the job is done. Some in the US are saying it was a good thing for her to go there, but it should have been bipartisan.  The EU is trying to draw up a plan to get agreement to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas.

In China, a mass evacuation centre has opened in Beijing; evidently wanting to avoid the protests in Shanghai, the government has closed restaurants and schools and limited access to some facilities, but has thus far avoided a complete lockdown.  You have to show evidence of a negative test to use public transportation. Facilities in evacuation centres aren’t great – no one wants to go there.  It seems many people diagnosed positive are asymptomatic, which is perhaps unusual.  There hasn’t been much of it here. Apparently cases are surging again in South Africa (and in New York). South Africa has seen variants of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The two people diagnosed here with the BA4 subvariant both flew here from South Africa. Should we be more afraid, than we already are?  We are reassured (for now) by Those Who Should Know about these things. Are we ever going to be free from the coronavirus? I doubt it, now. Initially I said This Too Shall Pass; I have my doubts, now. It has totally changed our lives.

In the US, a document leaked by Politico claims that the US Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe vs Wade, thus ending legal abortion in the US, unless individual states elect to make it available in their own state. In Georgia, a long-awaited grand jury is being convened to look into Trump’s phone call to Brad Raffensberger.

That’s it for now Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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