The rain, it raineth (almost) Every Day

A slip on Wellington’s The Terrace, causing evacuation of 8 houses

It’s now Monday August 8th. Kia ora!

Last night there was rough weather, and it’s continued throughout the day. It has got very cold, as forecast. I am happy to be nice and warm tucked up inside. The predicted snow and cold temperatures have come.

Early this morning I listened to a podcast with the American podcaster (Hardcore History) having a conversation with Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland. They ranged across a range of subjects, but the one which really caught my attention was their discussion about the use of nuclear weapons, and the threat by Putin of their use in the conflict in Ukraine.  Dan seemed to me more terrified of their use than the two British historians, and I am inclined to side with him; I remember well the CND marches in Wellington; the French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific Ocean (and the Rainbow Warrior’s efforts to stop them); the Labour Government’s intention of making New Zealand “nuclear free”, thus sparking an international incident when they said that a US  nuclear-powered submarine would not be welcomed here; the near-misses; and then the disaster at Chernobyl.  The ANZUS treaty between the US, New Zealand and Australia, became ANUS. The area surrounding Chernobyl is still very dangerous, and the sarcophagus covering Reactor number 4 causes fraught discussions about its effectiveness and need for replacement.  This part of the podcast brought to mind the Raymond Briggs animated book called When the Wind Blows.  Nuclear was our huge fear, before climate change and its threats started to loom even larger in our terrors.

Once again, I am stunned by Toms Holland’s immense and awe-inspiring knowledge.  With some of his podcasts, I have to admit I have trouble following them, his knowledge is so vast.  Even when I know something about his topic, I feel I have to do  some revision first to bring myself up to date. Spoiler alert: many historical figures did not actually exist, in his opinion.

Today The Rest is History podcast is about the Empress Theodora. As usual, it is very interesting, and Tom Holland’s knowledge again astounds. How can one person know so much?  He seems to be an expert on everything.

Today’s Covid 19 report is almost encouraging.  There are 4,006 new community cases, and there have been 13 deaths, including a child under ten. There are 654 people in hospital, and 16 in Intensive Care.

Five of these people were from Auckland, two were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Canterbury and one person was from the Southern region.

One of these people was aged less than 10 years old. One person was aged in their 60s, three were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Six were female and seven were male.

Today’s 654 people in hospital are being treated at Northland: 36; Waitematā: 61; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 75; Waikato: 60; Bay of Plenty: 30; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 32; MidCentral: 21; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 22; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 5; Capital, Coast: 23; Hutt: 13; Nelson Marlborough: 20; Canterbury: 107; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 27; Southern: 35. The average age of current Covid hospitalisations is 63.

It’s now Tuesday August 9th.

It was very cold last night, and pretty wild. I was glad of my warm pyjamas. Today things have quietened down, with respect to the weather, but it’s still cold and rainy.

In the US, the FBI have raided Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida club and home. He reports being “under siege” but did not specify what was taken. Actually he was in New York at the time, and the FBI notified the secret service, who facilitated access to Trump’s Florida home, although they did not take part in the search. A new book discloses that Trump wanted his generals to be more like Nazi generals; in particular, to be loyal to him, rather than being apolitical. Actually, some Nazi generals hatched a plot to assassinate Hitler, and they didn’t do so well after some early military successes.  Hitler’s orders were baffling at times (and not always obeyed). Ultimately, the Germans lost the Second World War – does Trump not know this? It’s also disclosed that he tried to flush documents down the toilets – at the White House and overseas. I saw some photos on CNN. The use Trump’s black sharpie pen is evident on a document that blocked a White House toilet.

Here in New Zealand the Nats poster child for its Tauranga seat (recently vacated by former leader Simon Bridges), a guy called Sam Uffindel, is now in a spot of bother, having physically assaulted a thirteen year old at Kings College, when he was sixteen. He was asked to leave the private school after this incident. Apparently he disclosed this a year ago, and apologised – a year ago.  While most if not all of us did some things in our teen years that we later regret, physically assaulting a much younger student has to be way out there in terms of things one shouldn’t have done. Nonetheless, he’s still being supported by the National Party’s leader, Chris Luxon.  It seems he wasn’t captain of the First Fifteen, or in any leadership role.

Today’s Covid 19 report isn’t so bad; there are 13 new deaths, strangely that’s a good low now; there are 5,939 new community cases, and 634 cases in hospital, including 15 in Intensive Care.  New Zealand is to remain at the Orange setting, which, I think, limits the numbers of people you can have at gatherings. There were also 203 Covid-19 cases at the border.

An ”expert”, a computer science lecturer (make of that what you will), said the following: unlike the eradication of the earlier Covid-19 variants in 2020 and 2021, Omicron would stay in the community until it was superseded by a new strain. That meant it would probably fall to around 3000 new cases a day until the next wave arrived, he said.  Advice to be taken – or discarded, perhaps. Note this prediction wasn’t made by an epidemiologist, or an infectious disease specialist.

It’s reported that so far, Māori and Pacific people have accounted for more than a third of hospitalisations with Covid-19 – and nearly two in 10 deaths where the virus was the underlying cause. Another clear risk factor in hospitalisation and deaths remained age. All but 46 of those who’d died from the virus were older than 60 – and two-thirds of deaths were recorded among people older than 80. Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist, made these pronouncements. Again, we’re not told whether, or to what extent, these people were vaccinated, or how many of them had underlying medical conditions that may have affected their immunity. 

It’s reported that today’s cases in hospital were in Northland: 34; Waitematā: 65; Counties Manukau: 49; Auckland: 80; Waikato: 54; Bay of Plenty: 26; Lakes: 15; Hawke’s Bay: 37; MidCentral: 20; Whanganui: 15; Taranaki: 22; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 7; Capital, Coast: 18; Hutt: 17; Nelson Marlborough: 15; Canterbury: 97; West Coast: 5; South Canterbury: 25; Southern: 31.

The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago has sparked intense reaction from republicans, and a threat from Kevin McCarthy, advising Attorney General Merrick Garland to preserve his documents and keep his diary free. Republicans are incensed that the law may be catching up with Trump, although he and General Michael Flynn repeatedly called for Hillary Clinton to be locked up when she was the Democratic candidate for president in 2016. 

Tonight we watched a three part documentary on Netflix called Trainwreck Woodstock, about the Woodstock music festival held in Rome, New York state, in 1999. It was held in a now-closed air base, so there was plenty of room, but lots of concrete. What a disaster this was! The organiser, Michael Lang, who had been at the original Woodstock festival in 1969. He claimed afterwards that a few “bad apples” had caused any trouble that occurred.  It seems that it was a chaotic occasion; the music seemed to be mostly heavy metal, if you can call it music; personally, I have never wanted to go to a music festival of any description, I much prefer classical orchestral music, and sometimes opera. 

While the original Woodstock festival was about “peace and love”, they did have many great artists there; I don’t doubt that there were sex, drugs and some nudity, but perhaps young people were different back then? 

This was really badly organised. The organisers had outsourced the catering, and no one was allowed to take water into the venue (I think entry cost $150 US, and there were 200,000 or 400,000 people there, depending on whose figures you believe), so a lot of price gouging went on. I wondered just where people kept their money, or their eft-pos card, given the nudity and how revved up people were.  The bands just stirred the crowd up more, rather than calming them down; security was totally inadequate; the port-a-loos were disgusting; there was mess everywhere. On the third day several fires were lit, and anything dismantled that could be dismantled. Some people had already left, disgusted by the mess, but not enough to make a difference. It was really, really hot. What a shambles. Photos of Michael Lang suggest that he didn’t do badly out of this. He died in 2022.

Afterwards we watched a Youtube clip of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show, which showed, among other things, some film of the CPAC conference in Texas. This featured a clip of a prison cell with an actor inside, pretending to be one of those imprisoned as a result of the January 6 insurrection (this guy had dobbed in others in order to stay out of jail himself). So while he was pretending to cry, Marjorie Taylor Greene entered his cell to pray (with the actor), and people threw money into the cell. Really.

It’s been nice to hear so many people now praising President Joe Biden for the great things he’s done, and he’s had covid 19, and recovered, and now tested negative. Along the way he managed to take out the head of Al Qaeda.  He has achieved so much.

I’ll stop now, because there’s so much to say, and it really applies to Wednesday’s blog. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Limbo

It’s now Saturday August 6th. Kia ora!

The biggest things on my radar this morning are (Saint) President Joe’s (Biden, this time) climate legislation, which has many benefits; Alex Jones has been ordered to pay the parents of the Sandy Hook massacre; and China is retaliating against Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit to Taiwan. I listen to The Bulwark Podcast, where, now Charlie Sykes is singing Joe Biden’s praises. This makes a pleasant change. The podcast is now advertising a weight-loss (weight control?) product, after a wrinkle treatment cream, and cigars. Really, what’s next? I dread to think.

There are 4,790 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 5608 – last Saturday, it was 7405. It comes as experts warn Covid-19 has joined forces with colds and flu to disrupt workforces across the country this winter. There are 648 people in hospital. Of those in hospital, 19 are in ICU.

As of today, 1638 deaths in New Zealand have been confirmed with Covid-19 being either the underlying cause or a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is 14.

It’s now Sunday August 7th.

I had another difficult night last night; I went to sleep, and soon had a dream, which woke me up. Perhaps I had a dream on waking – who cares. Anyway, I thought I’d lost something, and was about to get up and look for it, and the decided to search in the morning. In the morning, I realised it had been a dream. Boy, I do have some realistic dreams.

It was predicted to be very cold this morning: we’re told a cold front is sweeping up the country, with warnings for snow, road closures, and a cold blast. Duly warned, I wore my fleece pyjamas, ones I keep for really cold nights.  Suffice to say I threw the bedclothes off, and by Sunday morning I was way too warm. It’s a balmy 14֠C at present – far from the 7֠C that was predicted this morning. Is the cold still coming? Well, it hasn’t come yet. Actually, it’s winter – cold is normal, but it’s quite mild today, and not raining. That’s another thing that annoys me; it’s rained consistently for weeks now, raining almost everyday, and heavily at nights, but evidently there’s a water shortage in Wellington. The Wellington Regional Council is responsible for the water here, but the Wellington City Council is responsible for sewage; perhaps with all the geysers we’ve had in Wellington, a lot of water has been wasted. I really can’t imagine that the reservoirs aren’t full.

This morning I zoomed into a church service. It was back in the church, where the sound is better, although not for the hymns.  The sermon was about faith, and about God being close to us, and the need to hear Him by doing his commandments and by praying.  This afternoon we are to go shopping.

Last night we watched a move Dan in Real Life, mainly because I didn’t want to watch Shadowlands again on Whakaata Maori, or Fame on Eden. I was reminded again how TV Three has the worst advertisements, in my opinion. It was a romantic story about a charming widower (played by Steve Carell) who ends up marrying the character played by Juliette Binoche (I’m a fan of hers). It was a feel-good story, once you got past the awful Americanisms. Being a few years old, it wasn’t quite as disgusting as more modern movies.

On Friday night we watched Billy Elliott on Bravo. That was another feel-good film, although one remembered the dreadful strife during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister over the coal mines and coal miners’ union strikes.  Julie Walters plays a magnificent role as Billy’s dance teacher.  It’s quite a story, and well worth watching again.

My life revolves around watching the occasional film on television, and watching some rather good series on TV On Demand: This is Going to Hurt, Sherwood, and Passport to Freedom. I’ve written about Sherwood before; it also demonstrates the serious violence and policing during the miners’ strike, and the division caused between the union and “scabs” who decided, for whatever reason, to go back to work – deep down in the mine, dirty and dangerous work. It doesn’t parallel the dreadful fates meted out to Jewish people in Germany in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, but coalmining feels pretty bleak, nonetheless.

Passport to Freedom is set in Hamburg in the Second World War era, and centres on a woman working at the Brazilian Consulate and the Deputy Consul. Of course, they have a romance, but we get plenty of pictures of the desperation of the Jewish people, who, at first, cannot believe that the dreadful things that are happening to them are really happening, and then family members are sent to concentration camps, and some even die. One Jewish woman singer collaborates with a high-ranking member of the SS, thinking he will save her, but she’s under pressure from her family, and from the Jewish resistance; her Nazi boyfriend is under pressure too from a sadistic colleague who has been promoted. He’s also conflicted: when he was a baby, his mother was ill, and a Jewish woman fed him and saved his life. He has a debt to pay. It’s all ghastly, of course, and there’s much secrecy and ploys, but the beautiful Aracy is very brave indeed, and not only obtains visas for Jewish people who would escape to Brazil, but manages to save their jewellery too. Of course the consulate comes under enormous pressure not to assist Jews, and that’s a source of conflict too. This beautifully filmed series is based on true events. I am wowed by the beautiful old buildings of Hamburg, with their extraordinarily high ceilings; the apartments are large and spacious; the wide staircases seem to go on for ever.  In Hamburg, however, the Nazi takeover is very evident, with the sign of the swastika everywhere; uniforms everywhere; big black cars everywhere. It’s both sinister and impressive, at the same time, but the Nazi stain is everywhere. It’s as though Hamburg is a poster-child for Nazism: the Fuehrer comes to speak there, and then Goebbels and his wife visit. This series is well worth watching, in a kind of morbid way.

One of the things about absorbing films or series is that they take me out of myself, they distract me.  I still feel very weak from Covid; things were a struggle before; and recovery still seems some way off:  every week I assure my friends that next week I’ll be back – to visits, or singing, or shopping, but every week I think that perhaps the following week I’ll feel up to doing any of those things.  It’s ghastly kind of limbo. On the one hand, things could have been worse: I might have been hospitalised with Covid 19; on the other hand, I feel even worse than “usual”, fearing to go out, and fearing to get covid again.

Turning overseas now, in the US, Vice President Kamala Harris has used her casting vote in the Senate to pass Biden’s climate bill; it’s now being called the climate bill (before it was inflation busting);  evidently Krysten Sinema had accommodations made so that she could join Joe Manchin in supporting it; now it goes on a “vote a rama” to get it to the point where President Biden can sign it into law. It’s being done under an arcane term known as reconciliation (hence no filibuster), but it has to get past the Senate parliamentarian too. Oh dear, what a strange constitution, where it’s almost impossible to get anything done, and yet someone like Trump, as president, could wreak enormous havoc – without breaking laws. There’s debate currently going on as to whether he did break the law in the events around the January 6 insurrection; US lawyers are wrangling over that one too. It’s doubtful whether he’ll ever be prosecuted.

Former Vice President Disk Cheney has come out boldly to the effect that Trump was a coward, in not accepting that he had lost the presidential election; he called him the greatest threat to the republic.  While that advertisement is indeed impressive, broadcaster Mehdi Hasan has said that Cheney senior helped create the conditions that led to Trump being republican nominee and then president. Certainly I remember after the dreadful events of 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, many of us thought that US politics had reached rock bottom with Dubya Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld and their actions: “the end of the hegemony”, someone called it. Sadly, we were wrong: it could, and did, get so much worse.

In the UK, Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie had a wedding party, where she apparently wore a gold mini-dress. They have two children, and were married (during Covid restrictions) in the catholic Westminster Cathedral. Make of that hypocrisy what you will. There was also much hypocrisy in the party’s rural setting, with street food and no tables and chairs (to save on the carbon footprint), but also some distance away so much driving and some helicopter travel to get there. The party was held not at Chequers, but at the country estate of a major Tory donor. The guests could sit on hay bales, apparently.  It seems there was some confusion as to the purpose of the party, given that the hosts are already married (and Boris has been married twice before). It’s reported to have been “cringeworthy”.  Ah well, Trump has a lasting influence, and I guess Boris will too.

In Taiwan, China is still showing extreme anger over Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit. Methinks they’re over-reacting, but who knows what will happen there?

Today’s Covid 19 report was – encouraging; numbers of new cases continue to fall (although I’m very cynical about that), but people keep dying – 19 deaths were reported today. RNZ says 18. It’s thought that one in every six or seven deaths is due to Covid 19.  Officially there are 3,302 new community cases, and 606 people in hospital. 16 of them are in Intensive Care.

The 606 people in hospital are across Aotearoa: Northland 29, Waitematā 57, Counties Manukau 46, Auckland 75, Waikato 67, Bay of Plenty 28, Lakes 10, Hawke’s Bay 24, MidCentral 27, Whanganui 6, Taranaki 22, Tairāwhiti 3, Wairarapa 3, Capital & Coast 16, Hutt Valley 15, Nelson Marlborough 18, Canterbury 100, West Coast 6, South Canterbury 23, and Southern 31. The average age of those on hospital is 64.

The 18 people who have died from Covid-19 and are being reported today include one person in their 50s, two in their 60s, two in their 70s, nine in their 80s and four aged over 90. Eleven were women and seven were men. Eight were from Auckland region, one was from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, four were from Wellington region, one was from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury.

The Al Blacks lost their first game to South Africa 26 10. That’s a decisive loss, but, hey, it’s only a game. After reading all the stories about concussion, I have to say I’m a bit relieved if the game of rugby loses its mystique.  The National Party has held its annual conference in Christchurch. Luxon (looking very like Rob Muldoon) goes in for a bit of dole-bludger/beneficiary bashing. So predictable. Prime Minister Ardern’s Labour is slightly up in the polls.  Actually before I thought Luxon looked like Todd Muller, but now I think he looks like Piggy Muldoon. 

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

Too Many Deaths

Today is Sunday July 31st, 2022. Kia ora!

It’s yet another grey day. Today it’s raining again; it rained a lot during the night. This morning I listen to the opening episodes of The Commune, the podcast about Bert Potter’s Centrepoint commune. It’s shocking, but not really surprising – an extreme extension of the feelings many people had about defying convention, living communally, amid dissatisfaction with the “nuclear family”, and traditions of religion or sexual mores. There was also the supposed need to let go of “hang ups”. The freedom afforded by effective contraception (with all its downfalls), and women’s liberation, extends into sexual freedom, where ideas of commitment, or propriety were thrown aside. Some conventions, I do believe, were stifling and annoying, and we threw many of them aside. Now people do have conventional weddings (after living together for several years, buying a house, and having set up house together), and parties.  Although, having said that, parents of the bride no longer put on a wedding for their daughter (expecting the groom’s family to pay part of the cost), but they organise wedding themselves (then expecting parents to pay, nonetheless, despite having little if any say in the arrangements). Funerals are less conventional. Are they for the living, the offspring or the dead? Not trusting my whanau, and wishing to make things easier for them, I have set out my own instructions. I know how difficult this can be, especially when there are lots of people to be taken into account. I now need to change my instructions, but that’s by the by.  Listening to this podcast, I can see how ideas of “freedom” were extended into “free love” (at what cost?) and a peculiar kind of selfishness.

This morning I zoom into a church service, again without video.  The sound is very poor, but the sermon is about storing up wealth in this world, to the detriment of one’s soul. There don’t seem to be many people there, and those whom I see are masked.  I can’t hear the hymns, so can’t join in.

There are 4238 new community cases of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health says. There are 806 people in hospital with Covid, including 12 in intensive care. There are now 1502 deaths that have been confirmed as either directly attributed to Covid, or with Covid as a contributing factor. An average 19 additional deaths have been attributed to Covid each day over the past seven days to Saturday.

So that’s that, for now. There are fewer new cases (reportedly), but more people in hospital.  The number of deaths is not announced yet.

The total 806 Covid-19 cases in hospital are in Northland: 18; Waitematā: 88; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 139; Waikato: 96; Bay of Plenty: 31; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 39; MidCentral: 52; Whanganui: 14; Taranaki: 20; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 6; Capital & Coast/Hutt: 36; Nelson Marlborough: 18; Canterbury/West Coast: 120; South Canterbury: 16; and Southern: 43. The average patient age is 65.  One wonders how many of those hospitalised have been vaccinated. We’re not told that information.

It’s now Monday August 1st.

This morning it’s very cold, and there’s a heavy frost. There’s condensation inside, of course, in spite of heaters being left on overnight.  It’s fine and sunny, too, but still very cold.

Last night we watched The Post on Eden. I hadn’t realised it was directed by Stephen Spielberg.  It took a while to get interesting – really, who cares about Tricia Nixon’s wedding? But eventually it did, as it represented a kind conflict between the paper’s ownership and the journalists – over publishing the Pentagon Papers.  The Post, of course, is The Washington Post, which competes with that other famous American newspaper, The New York Times. This is a kind of prequel to another famous move, All the President’s Men. This movie ends with the burglary at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate building. Ultimately, it’s about the freedom of the press, something to be treasured, if annoying at times. It was a good movie.

The previous night we watched Gifted, a remarkably fine movie about a gifted girl being raised by her uncle, after her conflicted mother had taken her own life. The movie centred around a custody battle where the girl’s grandmother wanted her to have different educational opportunities.  The movie is about the conflict between offering a genuinely gifted child advanced educational opportunities, and teaching her other values that might make her a more rounded personality, better fitted to cope with life’s swings and roundabouts. Does understanding matter more than intelligence?  I thought about my own sons, some of whom are seriously intelligent, and ultimately I’m glad that they’ve turned out to be wonderful human beings, despite having gone to school locally. I still believe the best school for your child should be the one down the road, and if it ain’t, then one should get involved and make it so – and not just best for one’s own child, but best for all the children attending it. They all should have great opportunities arising from their education. Two of my sons applied for, and received scholarships to do PhD’s at overseas universities.

Today’s Covid 19 report continues a trend, of fewer new community cases, at 5,312, but still quite a lot of deaths – 28. There are 759 people in hospital, and 16 of them in intensive Care. Some of the infections are re-infections.

Four of these death were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, one was from Tairāwhiti, three were from Hawke’s Bay, three were from Taranaki, two were from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, four were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury, one was from the Southern region. Two of the deaths reported today were aged in their 50s, three were in their 60s, four were in their 70s, nine were in their 80s and 10 were aged over 90. Twelve were women and 16 were men.

The location of the cases in hospital is Northland (13), Waitematā (86), Counties Manukau (79), Auckland (79), Waikato (102), Bay of Plenty (29), Lakes (15) Hawke’s Bay (34), MidCentral (49), Whanganui (11), Taranaki (22), Tairāwhiti (three), Wairarapa (five), Capital & Coast (25), Hutt (seven), Nelson Marlborough (19), Canterbury (124), West Coast (one), South Canterbury (17) and the Southern region (39).

The weekly rolling average of Covid-19 hospitalisations is 799, while this time last week it was 768. The average age of the cases in hospital with Covid is 65.

Of the 5312 community cases reported today, 269 had recently returned from overseas.

So that’s that – not too much change there. At least this disease isn’t killing children, and I guess we must be thankful for vaccinations and boosters. New Zealand’s borders have fully reopened today allowing anyone from around the world to enter.

It’s now Tuesday August 2nd.

Last night we watched a documentary about Dior; while I admire Dior, I didn’t find this nearly as exciting as the one on Alexander McQueen, which was shown the previous Monday.

Today we went out for lunch. We went to a very nice restaurant in Days’ Bay – we had been there before but it had a different name then. Anyway, it was very nice, and exciting to go out again.  It was quite roomy – I got brave and had an Aperol Spritz cocktail (Prosecco, Aperol and Soda), and a smoked salmon salad – with lentils, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, as well as lettuce leaves and two dressings.  JD had waffles, and a glass of chardonnay. We shared a dessert: dark chocolate mousse with cherry compȏte and honey fig ice cream with our coffees.  Meantime, we watched the ever-changing weather across the harbour to Somes Island; we watched the ferry depart, and then return. I did not faint, or fall over, but I am pretty tired afterwards.

Today’s Covid 10 report is mixed: numbers of new community cases are up from yesterday at 7,113, which was a Monday; there are slightly fewer people in hospital, but there’ve been 33 further deaths. Yesterday there were 28.

On the deaths being reported today, four were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, five were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, two were from Nelson Marlborough, five were from Canterbury, three were from South Canterbury and six were from Southern. Two were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, 12 were in their 80s and 14 were aged over 90. Of these people, 15 were women and 18 were men.

There were now a total of 1563 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor, the ministry said.

The seven-day rolling average in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is now 22. 

It was also reported that there were 738 people in hospital with the virus, including 15 in ICU.

The locations of the hospitalisations were in Northland: 16; Waitematā: 77; Counties Manukau: 76; Auckland: 91; Waikato: 109; Bay of Plenty: 22; Lakes: 11; Hawke’s Bay: 38; MidCentral: 44; Whanganui: 9; Taranaki: 21; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 5; Capital & Coast/Hutt: 32; Nelson Marlborough: 19; Canterbury/West Coast: 117; South Canterbury: 16 and Southern: 33.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 6683 – last Tuesday, it was 8335. There were also 275 new Covid-19 cases at the border. So we’re still in deep trouble, I think.

It’s now Wednesday August 3rd.

The Ministry of Health is reporting 6440 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, and 704 hospitalisations including 11 in ICU. 28 deaths. Nothing much happened today.

It’s now Thursday August 4th.

I showered, dressed and walked up to the store and back today.  That was weird – I have that dislocating feeling like after one’s had a baby – everything has changed, and one sees the world in a whole new light, while doing very mundane things. I bought some croissants, coffee beans, Havarti cheese slices, and pasta and sauce. They have no rhubarb and no raspberries.

So what’s been happening? In the UK, Liz Truss (aka Doris is to replace Boris Johnson) and Richie Rich Rishi Sunak are slogging it out, making outrageous promises of  tax cuts, and seemingly blind to the circumstances around them. But then, they’re both appealing to a very small audience of elderly rich white men.

In the US, the conservative state of Kansas in a referendum voted that the state shouldn’t impose abortion restrictions: it was a very strangely worded referendum, and I suspect some anti-abortionists were confused by the question. Anyway, I gather they had a turnout of over 50%, in the hot sun, and this outcome is seen as a victory for pro-choice folk and the Democrats. In primary elections held across several states, Trump-endorsed election deniers won many of their state primaries, although of course that doesn’t mean they’ll win office in the actual elections. The odious Eric Greitens (who advocated RINO hunting with a gun), lost his primary, thankfully. The odious Kari Lake narrowly won hers in Arizona.Beyond that, I’m not overly interested.  Charlie Sykes of the Bulwark was amazed to be asked by a Scandinavian reporter about these elections. He marveled that people outside America are so knowledgeable about US politics. Well. Yes, we are; it has a huge effect on our lives here or wherever. Would the war in Ukraine still be going on if Trump had won the Presidential election and/or been inaugurated again?

Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker, has made brief visit to Taiwan. The Chinese premier Xi has overreacted. Was it a good idea to go there? Who knows.  It’s one of those issues where you could argue both sides. One should show support for Taiwan whatever pressure China exerts; on the other hand, one shouldn’t rark them up. Well, the West tried very hard not to annoy Putin, and look where that got us – a dreadful war in Ukraine.

Talking of the war in Ukraine, some prisoners of war were killed by the Russians in another confusing, yet dreadful incident. The war grinds on; a ship carrying grain has got away; it’s said that the Russians are not coping well with a large number of casualties and fierce resistance from the Ukrainian forces. But there’s no denying it’s a hard slog.

Today’s Covid 19 report is mixed again, with fewer infections, but a large number of deaths at 45. Who is dying from this, I wonder?  There seems to be an ever-widening gap between the general population where new case numbers are going down, and the number of deaths is horrific. I know emotive terms are overused in the media, but there must be a bot of a cleanout going on.  I still get symptoms which come and go – sore chest, difficulty  breathing, head ache, muscle aches and nausea, and difficulty sleeping.  I gather these are not unusual.

The Ministry of Health is reporting 6440 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, and 704 hospitalisations including 11 in ICU. It has reported 45 deaths. I read later that it wasn’t so many deaths, I couldn’t find the original report.  It’s still too many, whatever the number is.

It’s now Friday August 5th.

Someone from Access came this morning to do some cleaning. I nearly cancelled, having had a truly awful night beforehand, but I didn’t, and managed to change the sheets and bedlinen, clean the sink, and do some general tidying up. It was good to see her again, but I was exhausted afterwards.

The Covid 19 report showed numbers declining, but there were still 19 deaths.

That’s it for now. I still get a bit headachy, short of breath, and am tired, although I can’t sleep. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

.

Over Another Peak

Wellington Free Ambulance

It’s now Thursday July 28th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night I slept a bit better, waking after 2 am but going back to sleep until 6 am.  Today it’s raining and overcast.  I have a headache again; it’s not a good day and I don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. I don’t feel as though I’m getting better – I feel stuck; this should never have happened to me. But it has. Somehow I don’t see myself going on any of my previous “adventures”.

The Ministry of Health says there are 7627 new community cases today. There are 827 people in hospital with the virus, including 24 in intensive care. Nearly 100 people have died with Covid in the past three days as this week shapes up to be the deadliest of the pandemic to date. Since Monday the Ministry of Health has announced the deaths of 99 people with yesterday proving one of the grimmest days of the outbreak with 45 deaths alone.

I listened to the second part of the Battle of Stalingrad podcast on The Rest is History. I found it very affecting. No doubt it was a dreadful time, even if it has been somewhat mythologised.

It’s now Friday July 29th.

Yesterday was not a good day. Last night I had a racing heartbeat, feeling as though I’m on steroids, which I aren’t, any more. I’d had no caffeine either. This morning I leave a message for Access, cancelling my scheduled “cares”.  I actually slept all right last night; this morning I listened to the Bulwark podcast, where Charlie Sykes was talking to Admiral Stavridis; I have a lot of time for “Supremo”, it was interesting to hear him talk – about the war in Ukraine, for the most part.  I also listened to The Rest is Politics, where Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart answered some listener questions; there was more talk about “charter cities”, which are, you’ve guessed it, another right wing idea for wealthy people to escape the clutches of the tax department.

I also listened to a Lawfare podcast about the Secret Service and the missing text messages.  President Joe Biden’s poll approval is even less than Trump’s (which never went positive, by the way), but as I see it he’s a simply wonderful president, and Americans are lucky to have him. Even democrats don’t want him to run for President again!  So who’s going to beat Trump, then?  It will be interesting to see how the famous mid-term elections go, and whether Democrats will increase their mastery of the Senate.  It seems to me that Biden is an outstanding president, and the views of the severely right-wing Supreme Court should give Democrats another advantage.  

The polls universally ask is America on the right track?  No one ever asks what the “right track” might look like. Really, somebody or something should knock some sense into these folks.

This morning a dear friend drops off some beautiful daffodils and chocolate cupcakes.  I shower and dress, change the towels, and put two loads of washing on.  Earlier I had tidied the kitchen and put the dishwasher on. Later, I have crackers and cheese and quince paste and a cupcake with a cup of coffee for lunch. I fear that Covid 19 has caused my heartbeat to be rather erratic, but there’s a fat chance of getting anyone to check it out.  I am still very weak, and extremely unsteady. In bed, I think of things I should be doing, but then I get up and they’re way beyond me.  I can taste and smell, however, I guess that’s something to be thankful for. It’s fine and sunny now, too, and this week’s Listener has turned up – for television listings starting tomorrow! One of the front page headings is Blue Blood: How Luxon pulled the Nats out of a toxic tailspin. It’s accompanied by pictures of John Key, Simon Bridges, Judith Collins, and Chris Luxon; no mention of Bill English or Todd Muller, then. Luxon is probably their most effective leader to date, but already some of his public statements have irked many people, not just me. And as for pretending to be in Te Puke while he was on holiday in Hawaii: inevitably comparisons will be drawn with his erstwhile Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison (recently defeated in an election), and US Senator Ted Cruz going off to Cancun in Mexico during the severe Texas snow storm and power crisis, when some people froze to death..

It’s weird: I feel as though I’m in a strange kind of bubble, where everything passes me by, and further things are scraped off the list of things I would very much like to do.  I’m trying to lose weight (the covid curve), but will I ever dress up again? Wear a pretty dress? Put on makeup?  Life was an effort before this happened, i.e. before I caught Covid 19.  Now I feel it’s almost over.

The Covid 19 report today is terrible, again, with 7,605 new community cases, and 799 people in hospital. 25 of them are in Intensive Care. But there’ve been 41 further deaths reported today!  That’s horrendous, during the earlier phase we had less than 60.  Dr Bloomfield makes a final statement, telling New Zealanders to keep up their good work. Ha! Nice one.  I tried, desperate to avoid this plague, and now I’m in a hole.

There are now a total of 1479 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. We’re not told where the deaths occurred. Actually we are told – sometimes you have to search the various websites to find this information.

Of today’s 41 deaths, one was aged in their 50s, one was in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, 12 were in their 80s and 19 were aged over 90. Of these people, 22 were women and 19 were men.

Fourteen of these people were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, three were from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, two were from Whanganui, two were from Wellington region, seven were from Canterbury, three were from Southern.

Cases in hospital include: Northland: 21; Waitematā: 100; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 93; Waikato: 97; Bay of Plenty: 35; Lakes: 16; Hawke’s Bay: 44; MidCentral: 48; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 21; Tairawhiti: 5; Wairarapa: 7; Capital & Coast/Hutt: 45; Nelson Marlborough: 17; Canterbury/West Coast: 129; South Canterbury: 13; Southern: 44.

This afternoon I have a coughing fit – something I haven’t had for a while. I’ve also had a bit of a runny nose. It’s disconcerting to have symptoms, like a headache, or an irregular heart beat, reappear. Will I ever be free of this scourge? I had pneumonia several years ago, and it took me weeks to get over it.  Although “community spread pneumonia” is infectious, it’s much harder to catch than Covid 19, I think. I still feel really wary about going out anywhere.

It’s now Saturday July 30th, and I am determined to go shopping.

This morning there were 3 big things on my “radar”: Joe Manchin’s about-turn on Biden’s big Act to combat inflation and take some climate measures, amongst other things. Then I look up the NZ Herald website, which claims that Brian Tamaki drove dangerously, crossing the centre line and crashing into a car and injuring two elderly people. The other item is a very shady real estate deal, where a LIM was doctored, removing leaky building information, and then an auction was brought forward, meaning that the successful bidder did not have time to call for a building inspection. The buyer only discovered the omission when he went to sell the property, and again obtained the LIM (which contained the deleted information).  The fraudulent seller became a real estate agent for Barfoot and Thompson; the original real estate agent has gone to Australia. The couple, who originally owned the house, may go to jail for up to 10 years.  This looks bad for all concerned, but especially bad for Barfoot and Thompson, wo, I think, would claim to be one Auckland’s more honourable agencies.

I listen again to The Rest is Politics podcast about David Trimble, and the part he played in the Northern Ireland Peace Accords (for which he shared the Nobel Peace prize). Then there is an obituary in this morning’s Dompost. What a remarkable man, and what an amazing agreement, ending years of sectarian troubles. I still marvel at this achievement. There were enormous challenges involved.

I shower and dress, and make a shopping list. Then I wait for JD to have his shower, I wonder if I am up to this trip, but we head off to Thorndon, and it goes quite well. The New World supermarket is very busy, but the crowds lessen off as we move through the store. There are no raspberries, and no potato-topped pies, but I get most other things on my list. Tomatoes are $15.99 per kilo, so I give them a miss. I did get some pre-cooked meals, coffee beans, tonic water, salads, cheese, yoghurt, soup and bread. We don’t have to queue up to check out; I have plenty of bags, but I’ve spent so much money that I have to enter the PIN on my pay-wave card. Fortunately I remembered it correctly. We drive home in the rain, and eat pies for lunch.  It was nice to get out, but boy, I am tired afterwards.

Today’s Covid 19 report is better, in that there are fewer new cases (6,232), and fewer people in hospital (769, with 18  in Intensive Care), but there are 67 deaths reported, including 6 people in their 20’s. 67!  That’s crazy. Apparently New Zealand is over the peak, say the experts.

In a statement, the Ministry said the 67 deaths include people who died between 12 May and 30 July, and only 25 were in the past week.

The 67 people who died with Covid-19 included six who were in their 20s, as well as three in their 30s, five in their 40s, four in their 50s, six in their 60s, 10 in their 70s, 22 were in their 80s and 11 aged over 90. Twenty-seven were women and 40 were men. Nine were from Northland, 16 were from Auckland region, seven were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, one was from Hawke’s Bay, four were from Taranaki, six were from MidCentral, three were from the Wellington region, eight were from Canterbury, one was from West Coast, seven were from Southern.  Covid 19 seems to be like what used to be called “old man’s pneumonia” – you’re close to death, but Covid 19 adds the finishing touch. And you may have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order on your file, which is then obeyed. I think you have to have one when you enter a rest home. At least this plague is knocking elderly people, in the main. It would be truly horrific if children and more young people were dying. Thankfully, there’ve been few so far.

On that cheery note, I’ll end; once again, I feel that so many more things I would like to have done are removed from my to-do list.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

In a Doom-loop

A doom-loop representation – here it’s used in a financial sense

It’s now Tuesday July 26th, 2022. Kia ora!

Several things come to mind, as we circle in a kind of doom loop of despair. Last night I didn’t sleep well; it rained heavily, but is dry here now today and a bit warmer; I finished my course of prednisone this morning, and I still cough, have a sore chest, and shortness of breath. When I use an inhaler, I struggle not to cough, not really inhaling the necessary medicines.  It’s not a good day for me. JD wants to take me out to lunch, again; I quip that perhaps next month on our wedding anniversary might be a good date to aspire to. That’s still several weeks away.

There are several issues arising from the January 6 Committee hearings:

  • The missing Secret Service texts. It is really hard not to see a sinister sub-plot here.
  • Josh Hawley running away from the rioters, after cheering them on – to the Benny Hill theme, or Chariots of Fire. This video has been widely circulated online. I think I prefer the Benny Hill theme.
  • Mike Pence’s imminent danger, increased after Trump’s tweet; I have yet to hear a republican voice concern about his life, although I think someone did in giving testimony;
  • Trump’s refusal to act as Commander-in-Chief, raising questions about who was in charge: did Vice President Mike Pence (still alive) have authority to call out the National Guard?
  • Are republican minds being changed about Trump?  I heard a very depressing line on Sarah Longwell’s Focus Group podcast, from Wyoming: “If these were Trump supporters, where were the guns?”  Where indeed? Many of Trumps supporters came armed and prepared to Washington DC on January 6, and Trump urged for them not to be screened by the magnetometers.

In Ukraine news, Russia agreed that some exports of grain could go ahead, and then went and bombed Odessa, meanwhile assuring African allies that grain exports would go ahead. In Myanmar, the junta has carried out some executions. In southern Iran, there’s been flooding again. Wildfires are still raging in parts of Europe; it’s a naughty, selfish and very upset world.  Thankfully I’m here, and whatever my problems, I’m not in a refugee camp, or on Manus Island.

I am also listening to readings of Tom Bower’s book Revenge read by H G Tudor. These are annoyingly addictive.  They come up in a piecemeal fashion on my Youtube feed, not in any particular order.  I really should stop listening to them. But three particularly salacious revelations stand out to me. Just saying.

What else is happening? In the UK, the Tory leadership contest is between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, an unsavoury combination if ever I saw one. They both favour Home Secretary Priti Patel’s solution of sending unwanted immigrants, i.e. desperate boat people crossing the English Channel, to Rwanda.  I believe this policy was recommended by their Australian friends, the Manus Island solution for boat-people having worked so well for them (for whom, I wonder?). I posit that Truss will win for now, and then when she inevitably fails, Sunak will take over.  I trust this gives the boring Sir Keir Starmer some joy; it surely ought to. Certainly he lacks magnetism, but he has a fine name, and he’s much more electable and less toxic than the odious Jeremy Corban.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, it’s another sad day, with flooding in parts of Christchurch, and wild weather in the South Island.  In the North Island, several school have received bomb threats, and some are in lockdown. This is New Zealand!  Crazy stuff, crazy actions, and crazy protests have taken over here, as is predicted after a plague.  And I’ve held out for two and a half years, and have it Covid 19 now. It feels like a doom-loop of crazy things happening.

JD alerts me to a video by Dr John Campbell, who, in his credulous way, has taken on board a horror story of a woman whose father died in hospital. She claimed he was euthanised.  I am very disinclined to believe this story. While elements of it may be true, some of what Dr John says comes across as quite untrue. I resent our being compared to Australia, and seen as doing worse than them. Covid is soaring over there again, too, and while our health system is undoubtedly under pressure, I guess it’s coping as well as it can under the extreme circumstances.  We still have a lot of people sick with a very contagious disease, but no one is on a ventilator; and I think if an ED were short-staffed, and a choice was to be made as to dealing with me first or a much younger person in good health, I’ve have no doubt about who should get priority.  As for funeral parlours and cemeteries being under pressure, the number of death notices in the daily paper isn’t any more than usual.

Today’s Covid 19 report is pretty dire. The Ministry of Health has reported 9,256 new community cases of Covid-19 and 822 current hospitalisations, including 24 in intensive care or high dependency units. In the past seven days there have been an average of 17 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19. Wastewater testing indicates there are probably far more cases of Covid 19 than reported. There were 430 cases of Covid 19 at the border. We aren’t told how many deaths are being reported today. Meanwhile, the travel vultures are out in force again, advertising cruises, locally and overseas, bike riding tours, walking tours, and trips abroad; the cost of flying has increased on pre-Covid 19 levels. Will I ever go overseas again? I doubt it somehow; my last trip to Napier was exhausting. To be honest I don’t feel like going anywhere right now, not even in New Zealand.

Cases in hospital include: Northland: 19; Waitematā: 99; Counties Manukau: 60; Auckland: 89; Waikato: 100; Bay of Plenty: 41; Lakes: 12; Hawke’s Bay: 35; MidCentral: 49; Whanganui: 14; Taranaki: 14; Tairāwhiti: 3; Wairarapa: 15; Capital and Coast: 28; Hutt Valley: 27; Nelson Marlborough: 14; Canterbury: 149; West Coast: 1; South Canterbury: 12; Southern: 41. You’d certainly expect those numbers to be coming down, but they’re not. In the US, Joe Manchin has tested positive for Covid 19. Here in New Zealand, students returning to school for Term 3 are advised to wear masks.

Today I take a shower and change my pyjamas, but I do not get dressed.  It’s a great saving on clothes, anyway! I get emails from my favourite cinemas, the Penthouse and the Lighthouse, telling me what’s on. I won’t be going there for a while, either.

Last night we watched a documentary on Te Whakaata Maori (formerly Maori Television) about the late Alexander McQueen. What an amazing and innovative designer he was!  How sad, too, that he was so talented, but then got into drugs, got Aids, and took his own life.  What a splash of talent he was! And how sad that once he got on the bandwagon of success, he found that he couldn’t get off. It wasn’t for want of admiration, or encouragement.

It’s now Wednesday July 27th.

Again, I didn’t have a great night. After listening to several podcasts, I put on a long Youtube recording of the beautiful voice of late great Sir John Gielgud reading Brideshead Revisited. This has the convenience of not stopping: while I often go to sleep through podcasts, I tend to wake up when they stop. Some of the podcasts on Apple keep going, but not all, and you want them in the right order. I wake up and wonder just where we are in the story (which I’ve read more than once, and watched the sumptuous television show).

This morning I zoomed into a Stroke group session which had two young people speaking about their personal stroke experiences. I find this quite depressing. I don’t ask anything (!) It strikes me that over 10 years on, nothing much has changed in terms of anyone taking you seriously. The two young people who spoke were very eloquent: but many of the things they were experiencing echoed with me, things like losing one’s ability to concentrate, getting very tired, being unable to run after young children, losing some movement in odd places although still looking pretty normal. Unlike these two brave souls, my eyesight and speech have been affected. Some advice from recent stroke patients was to pray, and keep trying; older folk might advise acceptance, since in my experience things have got worse, not better.  It also struck me that everyone experiences stroke differently in terms of ability to read, write, use a computer or a mobile phone, while looking pretty “normal”. Another frustration is losing one’s friends, since one now lives in such a totally different world: it’s as though your former friends don’t understand the new world you inhabit (as you don’t either). Everything has changed, and basic “recovery” can take six months, or up to two years.

There’s wild weather across New Zealand, but not in Wellington; there’s been flooding in Christchurch and some houses in Dunedin have been evacuated, and many roads are closed. I remain safe and warm, if very frustrated, as I continue to cough and feel quite weak.

Today’s Covid 19 report is predictably bad. There are 8730 new cases of Covid-19 today and 808 people are in hospital with the virus, including 25 in Intensive Care. There’ve been 45 deaths! The total number of people who have died with Covid-19 is now 1427. They’ve stopped initially publishing the daily number of deaths recorded. Apparently there were 38 deaths notified yesterday – no wonder they’ve stopped reporting them; I think that’s the highest daily total yet. Dr Ashley Bloomfield gave his final media update.

Of the 45 people whose deaths were reported today, three were from Northland, eight were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, three were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, three were from Whanganui, four were from Wellington region, five were from Nelson Marlborough, eight were from Canterbury, three were from Southern.

One was in their 40s, three were in their 50s, five were in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, 12 were in their 80s and 16 were aged over 90. Of these people, 25 were women and 20 were men.

Today’s hospitalisations are in Northland (14), Waitematā (114), Counties Manukau (54), Auckland (108), Waikato (89), Bay of Plenty (38), Lakes (13), Hawke’s Bay (35), MidCentral (51), Whanganui (14), Taranaki (14), Tairāwhiti (four), Wairarapa (11), Capital and Coast (26), Hutt Valley (14), Nelson Marlborough (18), Canterbury (137), West Coast (one), South Canterbury (12) and the Southern region (41).

In Ukraine, the HIMARS are making a difference to the Ukrainian forces. Putin has threatened to greatly reduce the gas supply to Europe, mainly affecting Germany. In the US, the Department of Justice is investigating Donald Trump’s actions around the events of January 6.  In the UK, David Trimble has died – one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement (signed at Leeds Castle) settling the ghastly political and religious violence in Northern Ireland.  There’s a good podcast on this on The Rest is Politics.  This was Alastair Campbell’s proudest moment, and I don’t blame him – it was a huge achievement, now, sadly, largely forgotten. I have been to Leeds Castle in Kent; it’s well worth a visit. A proud moment for me too.

In the northern hemisphere the heatwave continues, and in Europe and Great Britain they try not to use air conditioning, for fear of its effect on the environment. As with any crisis, those most affected just try to survive.  Meanwhile, some continue to deny the effects of climate change as it sweeps the earth.

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

It’s Wild Out There

The slip in Lennel Road, Wadestown, Wellington – a main thouroghfare

Today is Thursday July 21st, 2022. Kia ora!

I’m still coughing today, despite using cough mixture and inhalers. This morning JD manages to sleep through it.  I ring the medical centre soon after 9 am, but my GP is fully booked today and only has one appointment free on Monday. I arrange for someone I’ve never encountered before to ring me at 1:15pm. No, you don’t want me to come in – I have Covid 19.

Meanwhile, it’s wild and stormy in Wellington, although you wouldn’t know it here. There aren’t planes flying overhead, thank goodness. It rained heavily during the night, and it was still raining when I went up to get the paper – I had to put a raincoat on over my dressing gown.  There are big swells I find when looking at the photos: a high tide in Lowry Bay, in Oriental Bay, at the Petone Foreshore, and all flights in and out of Wellington have been cancelled. A Bluebridge ferry cannot dock, and is circling the harbour. The train line between Johnsonville and Wellington is affected by a slip (again!), and trains have been replaced by buses. Roads are closed around New Zealand. I am thankful to be warm and cosy here, if a tad frustrated. We are not cold here. The heaters have been kept on, we are warm and comfortable, and I hope there’ll be no power outage.

I listened to a Guardian Australia podcast about recent damage to Australian ecosystems – this environmental report, although received, was not even tabled by the outgoing Coalition government. We all knew Australia was very lax about the environment; this report is even worse. The new Labour Government is facing an uphill battle getting environmental concerns addressed; there’s a lot of support, but a lot of opposition too.  Meanwhile, they continue to export Kiwi-born criminals here, and consequently there are shootings here more days, especially in Auckland, and the level of crime is up. As well as shootings, there are ram raids, and some knife violence.

After 1:15 pm a doctor rings me – I don’t know his name, but eventually agrees to prescribe me a course of prednisone, and fax this through to the chemist in the Johnsonville Shopping Centre. He does not ask about my peak flow reading, or if I’m running a temperature. He does ask if I have a sore throat, which I don’t, thankfully. I will get JD to pick it up later on this afternoon. I did manage to find a peak flow meter reader, but I don’t have a spacer, which I am supposed to use with this particular inhaler.

Today’s Covid 19 report is out: there are 9,953 new cases, and 32 further deaths. There are 767 people in hospital, and 20 of them are in Intensive Care. There are 383 cases at the border.

In the US, the Arizona republican party censure Rusty Bowers!  He’s the dude who testified to the January 6 Committee, and defied Donald Trump. So what was he supposed to do? He still intends to vote for Donald Trump – unaccountably. (Later I learn that Bowers does not intend to vote for Trump in 2024 if he’s the Republican Party’s nominee for president).

It’s now Friday July 22nd.

I felt much better during the night, but not so good this morning, with lots of coughing.  I duly started on the prednisone, but don’t see much difference as yet. I do another RAT test, and it has a second faint red line. Access woke me up with a call early this morning, but I didn’t manage to answer the call, and they didn’t leave a message.  After my RAT test, I left a message for Access to cancel today’s help.  On looking up the site, I was the carer was “to be announced”, so perhaps the usual person was unwell. Anyway, it’s cancelled for today. Even if I’d tested negative, I don’t feel up to doing the usual things I do for preparation. I still feel very weak.

In Wellington, the weather is milder today: aeroplanes are flying again, and many who live by the sea are assessing the damage from yesterday’s storm. In Lennel Road, Wadestown, there’s been a huge slip, causing the road to be closed. There is actually another (upper) road into Wadestown; perhaps this could be used in the meantime.

I listen to more excerpts from Tom Bower’s new book, Revenge. H G Tudor is now reading chapter sections, rather than abridged versions.  I had thought the January 6 Committee in the US was doing a presentation last night, but in fact it’s to be tonight – Thursday night in the US, so I still have that to anticipate perhaps, rather than look forward to.

Actually the hearing is on Thursday evening in the US, so it comes online here from early afternoon. It’s gripping viewing, as expected.

This afternoon I get a text from the Medical Centre reminding me of my second booster appointment on Saturday morning (tomorrow). I duly ring and cancel the appointment – how annoying that they don’t seem to have any coordination between their various systems. I’m advised to “get well soon”, not asked how I’m feeling.

It’s now Saturday July 23rd.

I’m still coughing, and weak. I realise it’s an achievement to take a shower, out clothes on, make the bed, go for a walk outside (once I test negative), and then perhaps go shopping, or go to church, and take up Term 3 activities.  While I am still coughing, I don’t dare go anywhere.  This is a peculiar kind of isolation – no one can come and visit, no medical people are in touch; the unknown doctor who prescribed me the Prednisone didn’t even ask what my peak flow measure was. I had dug out my two peak flow meters, but no matter. Covid has hit me very hard.

Last night I didn’t sleep. I listened to lots of podcasts – The Rest is History, the Rest is Politics; I also listened to We Have Ways of Making you Talk podcast about Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, and the war in the Atlantic. I try to listen to the complete latest January 6 Committee hearing, but it’s not available until early morning.  Chairman Bennie Thompson has Covid, but he does a very nice introduction via zoom to the latest hearing.

The hearing is riveting, of course, and I learn distressing new things, but I also learn that Steve Bannon has been convicted for his defiance of Congress.

In New Zealand, Brian Tamaki has organised protests – one of which is on the Auckland motorway. What is there left to protest, one wonders? These folk are protesting against the government. Goodness knows, there are plenty of things one could protest about – like insufficient measures to address climate change, the war in Ukraine, child poverty, pollution in our waterways.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows:

There are 7746 new Covid cases in the community today and 22 people have died with the disease. There are 759 people in hospital with the virus, including 19 in intensive care.

The seven-day rolling average of community cases now sits at 8703 – continuing a downward trend. It was 9984 on the same day last week.

Out of today’s new cases, 353 were among people who had recently travelled overseas. The 759 people with Covid in hospital are located in: Northland: 19; Waitematā: 94; Counties Manukau: 62; Auckland: 97; Waikato: 65; Bay of Plenty: 41; Lakes: 13; Hawke’s Bay: 32; MidCentral: 38; Whanganui: 11; Taranaki: 18; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 8; Capital & Coast: 33; Hutt Valley: 29; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury:137; West Coast: 0; South Canterbury: 12; and Southern: 35.

Among the 22 people who died with Covid: six were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, three were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from MidCentral, one was from the Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, two were from Canterbury, and three were from Southern. Two were aged in their 50s, one was in their 60s, five were in their 70s, six were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. They included 10 women and 12 men.

The seven day rolling average of reported deaths with Covid is 25. There has also been 1976 people who’ve died with Covid since the pandemic began.

I didn’t give yesterday’s report – to be honest, it wasn’t much different. We have no real good news as yet.

In the afternoon I showered, washed my hair, dressed, and then changed the sheets and towels. I found myself feeling much better than I had done for several days.

It’s now Sunday July 24th.

Last night I slept much better than I had done. I woke about 6 am, but went back to sleep.  I zoomed into the church service, again without video.  It was a lovely service – about prayer, and the value of the Lord’s Prayer – which we can say when we don’t know what to say in prayer. One of the hymns was What a Friend we have in Jesus. I joined into this, finding I can still sing, if weakly; what a sad life the writer had, and what a beautiful hymn it is. I feel quite heartened by feeling better – I hope it lasts.

Today there are 5535 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today – and a further 14 Covid-related deaths. It was reported that there are 720 people in hospital with the virus, including 21 in intensive care.

Of the 720 people in hospital with the virus, 18 are in Northland, 96 are in Waitematā; 63 are in Counties Manukau; 82 are in Auckland; 60 are in Waikato; 40 are in Bay of Plenty; 11 are in Lakes; 32 are in Hawke’s Bay; 40 are in MidCentral; 13 are in Whanganui; 16 are in Taranaki; two are in Tairawhiti; six are in Wairarapa; 61 are in Capital & Coast/Hutt; 11 are in Nelson Marlborough; 132 are in Canterbury/West Coast; 13 are in South Canterbury and 24 are in Southern. The average age of those with Covid in hospital is 66. I feel we are in a holding pattern with Covid 19: the news has been fairly steady for several days, if not weeks, mirroring my own situation.

I do another RAT test, and I’m negative for Covid 19, but still coughing, and still very weak.  I certainly don’t want to go to hospital, but where’s the care, I wonder? Let’s face it, you just have to look after yourself.

It’s now Monday July 25th.

I am feeling a little better today, but I am amazed when JD announces he’d like to take me out to lunch, or would I like to go shopping? I find his relentless positivity really annoying. I would like to go out for lunch, but I’m still coughing a great deal, and don’t feel well enough to walk up to the local shops. It’s cold today, too, so going out of the house is not a good option. Furthermore, it’s very anti-social to cough in public.

I am quite intellectual today. I finish re-reading Philippe Sands’ East West Street, centred around the city of Lyiv (Lvov) in what is now Ukraine. His Jewish forebears came from a small town outside of Lyiv, and suffered very badly during the Second World War, with most of them being exterminated.  How fascinating that Lyiv is now again a focus of Ukrainian conflict and culture. I would love to go there, but Ukraine is likely to be a dangerous destination for some time.

I also finish reading my last LRB, and find a review of a new book by Jonathan Parry very interesting: the book is called Promised Lands: the British and the Ottoman Middle East. The library don’t have it, but perhaps Unity Books do. I look forward to browsing there again.

I need to read more of Mikhail Bulgakov’s White Guard, which is due back at the library later this week.

I have been listening to more of H G Tudor reading Tom Bower’s new book, Revenge, although I’m finding it a bit boring and repetitive now. As with Trump, the more I hear, the more my earlier sentiments are confirmed; I haven’t heard anything to make me change my mind, just to confirm how awful some people can be.

I listen to a Guardian podcast about homeless people in Los Angeles being forced into the Mojave Desert, where it is far too hot for people to survive without basic amenities. In Los Angeles, there is a huge contrast between extremely wealthy people, using massive and scarce resources to water their lawns and gardens, despite a water shortage, and those who have nothing – not even a home. The city of Lancaster, north of Los Angeles, has a republican mayor, who has evidently called for homeless people to be arrested – and told not to loiter. Of course, some loiter, others don’t.

Then I listen to a new The Rest is History podcast about the Battle of Stalingrad. This is very interesting, too; part two will be published later this week.

There are 6910 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, and a further 16 Covid-related deaths. There are 836 people in hospital with the virus, including 27 in intensive care.

Of the people whose deaths were reported today, one was from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, four were from Taranaki, one was from Whanganui, two were from Wellington region, three were from Southern. Six were aged in their 70s, five were in their 80s and five were aged over 90. Of these people, five were women and 11 were men. IN the US, President Biden has Covid 19. He’s double-boostered, and is said to be responding well to Paxlovid.

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

Positively Coughing

4 year old Ukrainian girl with Down syndrome killed in missile strike

It’s now Saturday July 16th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night we watched the 2011 film of Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy.  John le Carré had a hand in this. To my way of thinking, you can’t beat the 1979 7 part BBC television series, but they certainly had an all star cast for this, and it’s a great movie, even if it takes some liberties with the book. To my mind it would be very hard to follow the movie if you didn’t know the story.  I can’t quite get used to Gary Coleman as George Smiley – I much prefer Alec Guinness, but the other actors, including Colin Firth as Bill Haydon, were excellent.

Today it’s fine, and I slept quite well, but I don’t feel so good today. My cough is annoying, and although I don’t quite cough up phlegm, my chest feels a bit tender and sensitive, and my taste is off.  I have that annoying post-cold feeling of being able to taste the phlegm; I felt better than I had done, but I’m not over it yet. I still feel ashamed, at having avoided getting Covid 19 for so long, and now having succumbed. JD should be clear on Sunday and me next Thursday (next Tuesday according to Access), but I’m wondering if I’ll feel up to zooming into my church service tomorrow morning. We are lepers, and we aren’t yet fit for human consumption.

Today’s Covid 19 report is out. There are 9,241 community cases, and there have been 29 further deaths.  There are 761 people in hospital with Covid including 15 in intensive care.

Of the people whose deaths are being reported today, three were from Auckland, four from Waikato, two from Bay of Plenty, three from Lakes, two from Hawke’s Bay, two from MidCentral, two from Wellington region, three from Nelson Marlborough, four from Canterbury/West Coast and four from Southern. Two were in their 60s, three in their 70s, 16 in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Nineteen were women and ten were men.

The 761 people in hospital with Covid are in Northland: 25; Waitematā: 130; Counties Manukau: 54; Auckland: 102; Waikato: 56; Bay of Plenty: 38; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 28; MidCentral: 30; Whanganui: 20; Taranaki: 16; Tairawhiti: 4; Wairarapa: 9; Capital & Coast/Hutt: 57; Nelson Marlborough: 8; Canterbury/West Coast: 118; South Canterbury: 11; and Southern: 38.

When we do get over this bug, and feel it’s safe to go out again and participate in the real world, how safe will we be? Will people shun us? Will we want to shun them, given that almost anyone could be the source?  I guess we’ll continue to be really careful (in my case that means limiting my exposure, touching as little as possible, and frequently washing my hands), and hope we don’t get it again – ever. 

JD has just taken another RAT test, and he’s still positive (and still coughing, by the way, with two red lines. Will he test negative tomorrow? The day he’s technically free to be released from hibernation (and performing some maid duties for me?)

I don’t feel well today, but I really need to change my pjs and the towels. I have a shower, and change the towels.

It’s now Sunday July 17th.

It’s not a good day for me. I zoom into my church service, without video, so no-one can see me. I read some more of White Guard, by Michael Bulgakov. I don’t quite have the intellectual stamina at present to really get into it. I watch more of Sherwood on my laptop. There are no more episodes.

Last night we watched the new movie Persuasion on Netflix. As a reviewer said, think cross between Bridgerton and Bridget Jones’ Diary.  Jane Austen would never have written much of the dialogue, and I fear she’d be turning in her grave at this movie. Having said that, it was quite fun to look at, and some of the more outlandish visual aspects reminded me of the recent film of Emma. It was fun to watch, although I really don’t admire the way so much current entertainment is just plain weird.

It’s now Monday July 18th.

Tom Bower’s book Revenge is almost (?) out, and some excerpts have been printed by the Sunday Times. They are conveniently read by one H G Tudor, an establishment voice if ever I heard one. Tom Bower is a British author, and H G Tudor is an expert on narcissism.  Already many commentators are picking over the entrails. It’s not looking great for team Sussex, but I find it quite diverting.

I’ve also been listening to more podcasts about the January 6 Committee hearings – still interesting and absorbing. It seems more are more that someone was coordinating the work of the two militias – the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers – advising them what to do and where to go. There’s a kind of prurient interest in how awful this whole set up was, comprising Trump’s huge efforts to stay in power.

And then there’s Boris Johnson’s (as Britain’s Foreign Secretary) meeting with Alexander Lebedev in Italy at the time of a NATO conference, after the Salisbury poisonings.  It seems that reporting on this has been hushed up. Here’s a link:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jul/16/carole-cadwalladr-boris-johnson-lebedevs-prime-ministers-defining-scandal

Today – I’m still coughing, I still don’t feel like doing anything. I feel kind of protected – no one dares come near me. I’m in my bubble; no medical people have rung or texted me since last Thursday, although I’d like a doctor to listen to my chest. It feels a bit tender and fuzzy. But how does a doctor listen to your chest in a video or phone consultation?  JD is a bit better than me, but won’t take a test. So here we are – doomed – for how much longer? I’m aware we have refunds for flights to Christchurch that expire on 31 August, but I certainly don’t feel up to using them. Will this ever end?

Today’s Covid 19 report is out. There are 7,612 new community cases, and 767 people in hospital, including 20 in Intensive Care. There have been a further 22 deaths. Five of the people whose deaths reported today were aged in their 60s, two were in their 70s, seven were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Nine were women and 13 were men. Five were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, three were from MidCentral, one was from Whanganui, four were from Wellington region and six were from Canterbury/West Coast.

The patients are being treated in Northland (27), Waitematā (135), Counties Manukau (54), Auckland (91), Waikato (64), Bay of Plenty (43), Lakes (19), Hawke’s Bay (32), MidCentral (31), Whanganui (20), Taranaki (13), Tairāwhiti (six), Wairarapa (seven), Capital & Coast/Hutt (55), Nelson Marlborough (13), Canterbury/West Coast (138), South Canterbury (10) and Southern (39).

That seems to be all we’re told today.  So it’s more of the same; keep on coughing and keeping on, and keep on waiting to rejoin the real world.

I worked so long – and prayed – for none of my immediate family to get Covid 19, and not to get it myself.  I’m thankful that it’s not worse, and that we’ve been vaccinated and boosted (once); but now two of my sons and their families have had it, and JD and I have had – and still have – it.  There’s a warning in today’s newspaper about getting it again, as it may cause organ damage. The criteria for being prescribed Paxlovid have eased, but the medics have reservations about it. So there we are. I’d love to see Benediction – the new movie about Siegfried Sassoon, but the last showing is on Wednesday. Even if I test negative for Covid 19 by then, I don’t want to be coughing throughout it, that’s very anti-social behaviour.

In the UK, the leadership contest grinds on, uninspiringly with a US-style candidate “debate”. In the US, some are still wondering if Trump can be charged, and when he might be. In Ukraine, the war grinds on – with the death of a beautiful little 4 year old girl with Down syndrome.

It’s now Tuesday July 19th.

I’m still coughing. I relent and take some cough mixture, which I’m reluctant to do, seeing I hate to swallow medicine.  Perhaps it helps – it’s hard to tell.  This morning I had a messenger chat with my son in the UK, where they’re experiencing an extraordinary heat wave: temperatures of up to 43 C are expected. I ask him if there is air conditioning at his university, and he says no – it’s part of their sustainability effort not to have it. Normally, you wouldn’t need air conditioning in the UK, but I quip to him that sustainability means sustainability of human life, as well.  You have to feel really sorry for people like Yeoman guards and those who wear bearskins in this weather.

JD has tested negative, so that’s good. Now I can expect so much more of him (ha ha!). Today the outgoing Director-General of Health, Dr Bloomfield (who can’t wait to get away) announces that deaths will be reported differently (again!). Today there are 10,772 new community cases of Covid 19, and 788 people in hospital. There are 21 deaths to report. One out of every 20 people reporting to hospital has Covid 19.

Dr Bloomfield said from public surveillance testing, including wastewater results, it was estimated that half of all positive Covid cases were going unreported.  I find it really annoying that reporting a test result does not give you any opportunity to enter the reason for testing – experiencing symptoms, isolating because you’re a close contact, going to a special event, such as a concert or a funeral, or testing to determine if you’re free of Covid 19, i.e. have recovered; or even if you have Covid 19 for a second time.

Case rates and wastewater rates indicated that cases were increasing across the country. The current surge is thought to be mainly the BA.5 variant. The Ministry of Health will now report Covid deaths as people who died because of the virus or as a contributor, rather than a death having occurred where the dead person is found to have the virus.  There seems to be some confusion in the way these information is reported, and we’re not told where the deaths are, or where the new case numbers are. I guess we’re all sick, isolating, recovering, or at risk of getting sick…It’s said the deaths for New Zealand would have been around 10,000 had not strict lockdown measures been taken.

It’s now Wednesday July 20th.

Today it’s overcast and raining, although not too cold. I have to be thankful, as in the UK and parts of Spain, France and Portugal it is swelteringly hot – up to 43 C recorded in the UK; I don’t think they’ve broken 40 before. Fires have broken out across London and parts of southern England; some planes can’t land; trains can’t run – it’s a case of survival. So at least we’re here, where it isn’t too hot, and there aren’t any alarming fires.

Early this morning I get a text telling me my isolation period is officially over. Tell that to the cough, I think; then when I get up, I take a RAT test and it’s positive – still.  I don’t even bother to record this result. I am still coughing – badly. I would go to my GP at this point, and my now-retired GP would have asked if I’d like a script for Prednisone? Which I would. But I can’t go anywhere at the moment. The thought of calling an ambulance, trying to justify that, waiting for it to come, and then waiting to be seen at the hospital (which is probably at least 30 minutes away) does not appeal.  I decide that if I’m still coughing on Sunday, (that will have been a week on taking my inhaler 2 puffs three times a day, and taking Prospan three times a day, I will ask for a remote consultation on Monday. Then I figure out it’s only Wednesday today, and I ponder whether I should ask for a consultation today. I look up Manage My Health to find which days my current GP works, but they’ve removed the option to make an appointment. So I’ll continue coughing. I find an old inhaler I was prescribed in 2019, and wonder if it’s safe to use this as well as Symbicort. Strangely, I feel awful, but I don’t wish to die – from an overdose, or being unable to breath. I don’t get wheezy in this situation, I just find it really hard to breath.  I am a bit shaky, very unsteady, and I have a sore chest. So be it.

Today’s Covid 19 report comes out. It’s not great: there are 10,320 new community cases and there’ve been 34 deaths; there are 744 people in hospital, including 17 in Intensive Care.

Today’s reported deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1,904 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 24. Of the 34 deaths reported today 12 were from Auckland region, two were from Waikato, three were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, three were from Taranaki, three were from Whanganui, one was from Wellington region, three were from Nelson Marlborough, one was from Canterbury, three were from Southern. Two were aged in their 50s, two were in their 60s, seven were in their 70s, 13 were in their 80s and ten were aged over 90. Of these people, 17 were women and 17 were men.

It’s reported that the gracious and gentlemanlike Bennie Thompson, chair of the January 6 Committee, has tested positive for Covid 19. Thank goodness he has a good deputy in Liz Cheney. One my not like her conservative policies, but she’s been masterful in any pronouncements she’s made. I hope Bennie Thompson recovers soon.

I have enjoyed watching two movies on Neon that I hadn’t seen (and I hope that Benediction, about Siegfried Sassoon, will come on one of the streaming services soon). Perhaps “enjoyed” is not the right word, but they were absorbing. The first was Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, and the second was Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. Both feature gay couples, and both were moving and well acted.

The war in Ukraine grinds on. According to the Telegraph’s weekday podcast, the Russians are doing rather well. According to JD, they’re doing quite badly. Whatever is happening, Ukrainian cities continue to be struck by missiles, with  several civilians being killed each day, as well as the casualties in the armed forces.

That’s it for now, she said, ending on a rather gloomy note. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

On the Mend

It’s soup time

Today is Thursday July 14th – Bastille Day. Kia ora!

Last night I slept a bit better than the previous night, but I had a pretty sore throat. I have a cough but I’m not coughing much at this stage. I took another RAT test this morning, and despite feeling a little better than yesterday, the two red lines are very visible on my RAT test recorder.  The most annoying thing is the feeling of nausea. My voice is more gruff – another sure sign of Covid 19.  I feel a range of emotions: frustration at having avoided Covid 19 for so long (2 ½ years), I succumb now; I’m very ashamed, of course; I guess now that JD and I both have it I don’t need to be careful about avoiding anything he may have touched. I think he’s had this far worse than me: he still has a heavy cough, and severe runny nose. Yesterday my son that tested positive last Wednesday took another test, and it was negative, so that’s good. I duly recorded my test result on the required website, but no one has rung me yet from Healthline. The only person who’s rung is my other son who lives locally, who has again offered to shop for us, and is going to make us some soup.

Just before midday I get a do-not-reply text from my doctor, advising me to get in touch if I need anything. She has been notified that I recorded a positive test result for Covid 19. So that’s nice. I will have to defer our booster shots on 23 July.

Having endured another night where there wasn’t much sleeping, I listened to several podcasts: The Rest is Politics, about the leadership contest for the Conservative party in the UK; The Rest is History, the Love Island final; the next episode in the British Scandal podcast about the Hitler diaries; the last episode in the American Scandal series about the WACO standoff – an interview with a reporter.  Then this morning I listened to Charlie Sykes and Bill Kristol on The Bulwark Podcast, which was a recap of yesterday’s evidence presented by the January 6 Committee. I found the sound bites at the beginning really scary, there’s so many expressions of violence.  Again, they, like me, are wondering why these folk did not speak out about Trump’s efforts to stay in power until they were compelled to. And apparently the dog has gone back to its vomit: Brad Parscale has gone back to working for Trump.

I listen to a Lawfare podcast, again doing a recap of the January 6 Committee evidence.  To my amazement, Ben Wittes does not rate this hearing highly, and his panel are divided about its effectiveness.  It does seem strange to me that a black man can be imprisoned for years on the basis of very flimsy evidence, and strange plea-deals, but the Department of Justice cannot seem to prosecute Trump for several instances of breaking the law, and encouraging others to do so. The Lawfare podcast deals, somewhat predictably, with the legal ramifications of charging a former president with having committed a crime. May I express my extreme frustration with American forbearance here (as ever). I think they’re looking for a “smoking gun”; I suspect that if Trump confessed under oath to his crimes, lawyers would claim he was an unreliable witness because of being a known liar.

Back to Covid 19. Someone from Healthline rang me, and when she heard I was asthmatic she got a nurse on the line. I was very impressed by how thorough they were, and how kindly they’d dealt with my frustration. They agreed contact tracing wasn’t appropriate in my situation, since when I went shopping last Friday I probably wasn’t infectious. I thought about the two Bluetooth alerts I got, and how frustrated I was by them!

Today there are 11,382 new community cases of the virus (although this figure is probably under-reported), and there have been 23 deaths, one of them being a child under 10. There are 765 cases in hospital, including 11 in Intensive Care.  Dr Ashley Bloomfield warns that case numbers could peak at 20,000 per day, with up to 1,000 people in hospital. The government is to make RAT tests and masks free – up till now, you could only get free RAT tests if you had symptoms of Covid 19 or were a close contact of someone who had it.  The traffic light setting remains at Orange, and I believe the rules for eligibility to the funded drug Paxlovid has been relaxed. Masks and vaccinations remain the best defences. There were 334 new cases reported at the border.

Of the deaths being reported today, four were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from Taranaki, one was from Hawke’s Bay, two were from MidCentral, one was from the Wellington region, two were from Nelson / Marlborough, seven were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury and one was from Southern. It was reported that a child less than 10 years old had died, while five other people who died were in their 70s, nine were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 11 were women and 12 were men.

We’re not told where the cases are located, or how many and which DHB’s have hospital patients.

Today I had a shower and washed my hair; it was exhausting, as expected, but it felt better to have done so.  Another of my sons dropped off some soup, some biscuits, more coffee beans, and some lovely fruit.  That’s so heartening, I hope I don’t relapse tomorrow. It’s good to feel a bit better.

It’s now Friday July 15th.

Thankfully I slept much better last night, sleeping through until a bit before 6 am. I didn’t cough, or not enough to wake me up, anyway.  It’s cool but not too cold. I was quite comfortable. My head is still clear – a far I haven’t had the brain fog that seems to be a feature of so much Covid 19.

Before having breakfast, I listened to several podcasts. The Rest is History had a really interesting episode about George Orwell.  Then I listened to The Rest is Politics podcast about the leadership race for the Tory Party in the UK; I realised I had listened to it before but no matter; I also listened to the question time episode following.  I find the leadership contest extremely depressing, as does Alistair Campbell; none of the contestants care about the Northern Ireland protocol, poor people, or the climate – or even the Rwanda migrant deportation scheme, to cite my major concerns. So it’s more of the same, with perhaps fewer scandals. The whole situation is very depressing. The UK had austerity, before Brexit and Boris Johnson; things in US politics were pretty depressing before Trump became president. There’s a lot of diversity (which means more non-white faces), but it’s upsetting how conservative these diverse folk, and how they’re prepared to be extremely hard on black refugees. No one votes for the next Prime Minister except members of the Tory party! How democratic is that?   It’s not as though going back to what they were before is any great achievement; not that you can go back. Hopefully there will be less corruption, more serious candidates, and more consideration for poor and struggling people. Sadly, there’s talk of making benefits even harder to get, as if people receiving benefits in some way take away from the millions lavished by wealthy people – often on luxuries many of us would see as not particularly useful.

This morning my daughter rang on a video call to see how her dad is – I had told the SAMS auditors of the house where she lives that her dad had Covid 19. Unfortunately all I could do was cough! Every time I tried to say something, I coughed. She looked quite concerned, and I sent her a message on Storypark to say thanks for her call and that I was feeling better now.  I must ring her again when the cough has gone.

I also listened to a Bulwark podcast about Michael Flynn.  Journalist Bart Gellman posited that Flynn was demented; I suggest that he has some kind of dementia. He speaks badly, without a sense of pausing for applause. It seems he has been totally consumed by conspiracy stories. His brief period as Trump’s National Security Advisor (37days?) was spoken of, but there was no mention of Sally Yates’ warning, that the Russians had “kompromat” on Flynn.  Sally Yates was briefly Acting Attorney General – she lasted 10 days – before being sacked by Trump. Flynn admitted lying to the FBI, but was pardoned by Trump, and is now a darling of right-wing republicans. He was one of the attendees at the deranged meeting on 17 (?) December; there were reports that he had encouraged Trump to call for martial law. There was also no mention on the podcast that Michael Flynn’s brother Steve was at the pentagon on January 6 during the insurrection. Does anybody care? Does treason not matter any more?

There was a story in the Guardian about New Zealand being the 2nd worst place to move to. This upsets me. Certainly there are problems here, but we are fortunate not to be in the US or the UK. This is a much calmer country than many  – would you rather be in Russia, Ukraine, China, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Yemen, Ethiopia, Venezuela, or almost  any African country? At least there is a social safety net in place here. The health system here is overwhelmed; there is a mental health issue, bullying is rife, and there are terrible stories of abuse inflicted by churches and government agencies. As there are in many places. Bullying is continued, as people continue to criticise Prime Minister Ardern. Dr Ashley Bloomfield spoke recently of his concern for the extreme unpleasantness of anti-female slurs and insults. So yes, but where would you rather be?

Students are struggling to get by. Twas ever thus.

This morning I rang Access to cancel today’s home help session. To my surprise, a real person answered my call straight away.  I had wondered whether to tell them we had Covid 19; in the event, I mentioned it as a reason for cancelling what they like to call my “cares”.  The response, to my amazement, was along the lines of “whatever”.  I wasn’t asked if I’d like to reschedule, if I was coping all right, how sick I was, whether I was on my own, or whether I needed any help with shopping or collecting meds – which I do, as it happens. It’s just as well I’m not dying, then.

It’s after 2 pm now, and today’s Covid 19 report from the Ministry of Health has still not been issued. It comes at 2:22 pm. There are officially 10,470 new community cases today, and there’ve been 16 deaths. There are 773 people in hospital, with 14 of them in Intensive Care. While I am assessing this, someone from Access rings me, to check on my Covid status, what kind of help I usually receive, to see how I’m feeling, and to assure me that I should be all right for T to come next Friday as scheduled, and to ring 111 in need. She also makes sure that I’m living with my husband, and I relate the chain of events (a son testing positive, then my husband testing positive) to establish that I haven’t been in contact with anyone over the past few days. She tells me that based on my symptoms, I should be clear come next Tuesday. So that’s all good. I do have a bit of tightness in my chest today, but nothing too serious. Once again, I’m glad we’ve had vaccinations and our first booster.

It seems that although I nearly died, and my life changed completely when I was ill with an SAH ten years ago, I’m “impaired but not handicapped”, and not immune-compromised. That’s good to know, then.

It’s reported that today’s 16 reported deaths took New Zealand’s death toll to 1776. Of the people whose deaths are reported today, three were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from MidCentral, two were from Whanganui, five were from the Wellington region, one was from South Canterbury, and one was from Southern. One person was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, six were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, four were females and 12 were males.

The 773 people with Covid-19 cases in hospital are in Northland: 22; Waitematā: 141; Counties Manukau: 56; Auckland: 102; Waikato: 63; Bay of Plenty: 38; Lakes: 16; Hawke’s Bay: 24; MidCentral: 31; Whanganui: 18; Taranaki: 15; Tairāwhiti: 4; Wairarapa: 12; Hutt Valley: 29; Capital & Coast: 30; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury: 102; West Coast: 1; South Canterbury: 14; Southern: 42. We’re still in the grip of Covid 19 here.

I’m having big trouble with the computer today – everything’s extremely slow.

In Ukraine, the war grinds on, with more Ukrainian civilian casualties. The weapons supplied by the US are being used, and are effective, but it’s a long hard slog as nations that were dependent on Russian oil and gas try to figure out how they will keep warm next winter, and we all cope with inflation and rising prices – some of us more affected than others.

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

Kind of positive

“Not an impressionable child”

It’s now Monday July 11th, 2022. Kia ora!

It’s rubbish day here, and JD has put the rubbish out. It’s time for the crate of used glass bottles this week – after a break of two weeks, glass for recycling is to be collected again.

I do another RAT test, and it’s negative, thankfully. I don’t feel great, but then I hardly ever do; feeling well is not part of my brief anymore. I arrange for a doctor to ring JD at 11:30; his regular doctor isn’t in today. I send the other of my sons who lives locally a shopping list, with some helpful photos of things I’d like him to buy for me.

The doctor duly rings JD. He doesn’t qualify for funded Paxlovid, although I suspect a script would be written if he really wanted it. I’m pleased that he’s spoken to a doctor.  He advised leaving the kitchen and the bathroom for ½ an hour after he uses them, which is sensible advice, really.  Our kitchen is quite large, but has only a noisy range hood for ventilation. I am trying to persuade JD to shower downstairs: there’s a very good shower down there, although it doesn’t have a hand-held hose like the shower in the ensuite bathroom does. It’s still a great shower – I’ve used it several times myself.

I am looking forward to next Sunday, when we can officially come out of purdah, as long as I continue to test negative.  It is just so hard, trying to keep utensils separate! But then I really hope I don’t get Covid 19! I’m an asthmatic. So perhaps I’d qualify for Paxlovid. I listened to Kim Hill interviewing Dr Anthony Fauci on her Saturday morning show.  He said he had to have two courses of Paxlovid, and initially his Covid 19 symptoms were worse. So that’s given us pause. He was doubly boostered, and has completely recovered now, fortunately.  Kim Hill is such an intelligent interviewer!  What a joy she is.

With regard to Hōhepa, I can now see the huge value in keeping the house/the home covid-free. We have picked up our daughter from the gate to her house, the last few times we’ve been to Napier, instead of going inside the house. This continues to make such good sense.  While JD and I are “safe” in our bubble, there is considerable anxiety nevertheless about trying to keep as separate as possible. Yet again, I’m thankful to have a large house, where it’s much easier to keep separate. But really, I can’t go anywhere! I can’t take a risk by going shopping, or catching a bus; I’m stuck here, with my books and my podcasts, being thankful for what I have, and realising, again, that I have lived my life, and it doesn’t really matter if I get Covid 19. Who will look after me?  ah, that’s another question. If you have an infectious disease, nobody wants you. This is a situation that I hadn’t anticipated. Fortunately I’m a reasonably calm person, but it could drive someone mad, being isolated, yet not sick with Covid 19.

We get out of purdah officially next Sunday, July 17th, as long as I don’t test positive in the meantime. If I do, it’s “go directly to jail”, and don’t collect $200. Our purdah will be extended.  I have not experienced this kind of isolation before.  Lockdowns were very different from this – JD and I weren’t trying to keep apart from each other. At least I don’t have to clean up after him – thinking of diseases like cholera or bubonic plague.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 8,395 new community cases, and a further 17 deaths. There were also 28- cases at the border. There are 689 people in hospital. Including 13 in Intensive Care – a significant increase. These figures were nearing the record levels seen back in March, when there were 1000 people fighting Covid-19 in hospital. Those numbers were dropping steadily to about 300 last month but have since shot back up.

Today’s reported deaths include one from Northland, seven were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Taranaki, one was from South Canterbury, three were from Capital & Coast/Hutt and one was from Canterbury/West Coast. Five were aged in their 70s, five were in their 80s and seven were aged over 90. Of these people, 10 were women and seven were men. We’re not told where the hospitalisations or the new cases are located.

It’s now Tuesday July 12th.

I am so sick of this. I don’t feel great today, but I don’t feel like taking a RAT test either, although I realise the later I test positive, the later I’ll have to isolate.  It feels very cold today: it’s stormy, it’s raining, and actually I don’t want to go out. I just want to feel better, and not to have to be so careful about keeping distant from JD and anything he may have touched. And, of course, he can’t bring me toast, or even a cup of coffee!  My computer says it’s 10 degrees C today. It feels more like 3C.   The wild weather is wreaking havoc with travel arrangements, and its being school holidays makes it worse. Many roads are affected by flooding.

I am listening to the Persona podcast, about Gilbert Chikli; at the same time, information is being revealed about Uber and its unethical practices – the Guardian is doing a three part podcast on the Uber revelations. Truth to say, there are similarities, and at times I have difficulty keeping details separate.

The Covid 19 report is terrible today. It’s reported that There are 11,548 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today. There are a further 19 Covid-related deaths.

Of today’s deaths one was from the Auckland region, three were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Taranaki, two were from Whanganui, one was from Hawkes Bay, four were from MidCentral, one was from Lakes, three were from the Wellington region, two were from Canterbury, and one was from Southern.

One was aged in their 40s, two were in their 60s, three were in their 70s, five were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 10 were women and nine were men. The total number of virus-related deaths is now 1707.

There are 710 people in hospital with the virus, including 17 in intensive care. Those in hospital are being treated at Northland: 16; Waitematā: 141; Counties Manukau: 59; Auckland: 85; Waikato: 58; Bay of Plenty: 36; Lakes: 9; Hawke’s Bay: 25; MidCentral: 26; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 13; Tairawhiti: 4; Wairarapa: 11; Capital & Coast: 37; Hutt Valley: 27; Nelson Marlborough: 16; Canterbury: 78; West Coast: 2; South Canterbury: 17; Southern: 37.

I make a sandwich for lunch. I can’t be bothered to mash a hard-boiled egg, or cut up a tomato or an avocado.  After me, JD goes to make his lunch. I get an alarming text: he can’t smell the coffee; or the Dettol on the chux cloth, or the mustard. I joke that I can feed him garlic now if I can be bothered cutting it up.

He was feeling better this morning, but now feels a bit worse again. I am trying to fight off an imminent sore throat, sore chest, and a cough. I have these symptoms all the time, so I usually assure myself I don’t have Covid 19. Now I’m not so sure.

I read some outstanding LRB magazines, and then listen to the second part of the Uber files podcast on the Guardian’s Today in Focus. A senior executive of Uber has turned whistle blower, and is spilling the secrets of the sometimes aggressive Uber drivers.  We are learning some of the exploitative secrets behind the (formerly) cheap hire-car rides. I do have an Uber account, and I have used it occasionally, with mixed success.  Twice I had to cross our busy road to get in the Uber; however I do like the way it’s so easy to order, and I can see the progress of the car coming to pick me up.  In these Covid 19 times, there’s some risk with catching an Uber, or a taxi, or getting on a full bus or train for that matter.

It’s now Wednesday July 13th.

Last night we had cheese on toast for tea. I didn’t feel like cooking anything else. During the day yesterday I felt as though I was fighting off a sore throat, a sore chest, and a bit more coughing than usual.  Last night I feel I hardly slept at all. I had a bad headache, although not the type of headache when I had brain bleeds.  I do get headaches, so it wasn’t necessarily ominous.

This morning I took another RAT test. It was negative, to my surprise, but ID saw a faint red line after the requisite 15 minute wait. There is a faint red line, barely visible; it doesn’t show up in the photo I took, and I duly recorded a negative test on the website as required. I don’t feel like breakfast – I just have a piece of toast and a cup of decaf tea. JD makes me a cup of coffee, I guess I’m not being so careful about avoiding infection now. There are all kinds of implications of this result:  I don’t want to go to hospital, but I don’t feel at all well either. I don’t feel like doing anything at all.

I listened to a podcast about Commander Hugh Dowding’s use of radar and Chain Home stations to manage the RAF during the Battle of Britain. It was called The Dowding System.  I was amazed at the intricacy and cleverness of this system, which I must admit I’d totally taken for granted. Well done, Britain! I also listened to American Scandal, which had the last episode about the Waco, Texas disaster; I must have gone to sleep during this because the podcast ran on into episodes about Watergate. In the early morning, news came through of the January 6 Committee in the US holding a live hearing.  There is more explosive testimony, needless to say. It’s all shocking. Once again I am impressed by Chairman Bennie Thompson’s old-fashioned grace, respect and good manners. I cannot imagine him shouting, swearing, or hurling insults.  This evidence focusses first on a strange meeting in the White House in December 2020, between Trump, Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and Gabriel Byrne; Giuliani was in a separate room; this caused alarm, evidently there was lots of swearing and angry voices. Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, rushed to be there. There was other evidence on Trump’s speech at the Ellipse, and use of social media to fire up his followers, especially the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys – these groups were heavily armed and had plenty of food, apparently.  It seems they were in it for the long haul. It was not a spontaneous riot, although it was supposed to appear spontaneous.

This evidence is alarming and explosive, and thank goodness some brave folk stood up to Trump, why ho why didn’t they testify earlier? It seems that Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony encouraged some others to come forward, like Pat Cipollone, but it seems to have been like pulling teeth to get this explosive evidence made public.

I listen to more podcasts about Covid 19/omicron. Cases are increasing around the world, not just in New Zealand and Australia.  The BA.5 subvariant seems to be very contagious.  If one does quality for Paxlovid, it’s quite hard on people, I gather. In the US, Chuck Schumer has tested positive for Covid 19.

Today’s Covid 19 report is out, with 11,464 new community cases, 29 deaths, and 729 people in hospital, including 18 in Intensive Care.

Of today’s deaths seven were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Tairawhiti, two were from Taranaki, one was from Hawkes Bay, one was from MidCentral, two were from the Wellington region, two were from Canterbury, two were from South Canterbury, and eight were from Southern. One was aged in their 50s, one was in their 60s, seven were in their 70s, ten were in their 80s and ten were aged over 90. Of these people, 15 were women and 14 were men.

The patients are being treated in Northland: 14; Waitematā: 145; Counties Manukau: 49; Auckland: 93; Waikato: 56; Bay of Plenty: 49; Lakes: 13; Hawke’s Bay: 25; MidCentral: 25; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 16; Tairawhiti: 4; Wairarapa: 10; Capital & Coast: 30; Hutt Valley: 29; Nelson Marlborough: 10; Canterbury: 90; West Coast: 1; South Canterbury: 14; Southern: 43.

So that ain’t great at all.

What is good news though is that my son who had Covid 19 is now returning a negative test result (one week later); his children are still showing faint red lines.

Having watched some of the testimony on Youtube, I am now watching digests of it, mainly on MSNBC. Several scary pieces of news emerge:

  • How did Powell, Flynn and Byrne get into the White House for an unscheduled meeting? This was a huge security risk. How did they get in here for an unhinged meeting that lasted several hours, where the shouting and expletives were audible outside?
  • The riot was supposed to appear spontaneous, but was in fact carefully planned.
  • The 2 right wing militia groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, had not previously worked together, but they came together for this. Trump spoke directly to them!
  • Trump was in touch with a witness after Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony;
  • People came to Washington DC because Trump asked them to
  • Steve Bannon’s prediction – “All hell will break loose” was true;
  • Mark Meadows knew that Trump had lost the election, and there wasn’t sufficient fraud to overturn the result of the election. He then searched for a constitutional loophole to keep Trump in power.
  • People Trump had pardoned, like Flynn, Bannon and Roger Stone, far from being abashed, were actively involved in the insurrection.
  • Brad Parscale was upset about people getting hurt and even killed, and felt guilty about having managed Trump’s election campaign (until he was sacked). I did not have great esteem for Steve Parscale, but his concern for human life, and feelings of guilt, are heartening.

I have a distressing cough – fortunately, not very often. That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Herd Mentality

Them’s the breaks

Today is Saturday July 9th 2022. Kia ora!

Today we (and many others) are digesting Boris Johnson’s so-called resignation, which is not exactly what many people were looking for. He has resigned as leader of the Tory Party, but he has not resigned as Prime Minister, until another leader is appointed. So there you have it. Shock, horror, and he’s not gone (yet). In his speech announcement, after almost a half-century of ministerial resignations, he was heard to say, without an ounce of apology, Them’s the breaks.  I have been listening to many podcasts – The Rest is History, The Rest is Politics, The Bugle, the Guardian’s Today in Focus with Jonathan Freedland, and they all condemn Boris except for The Rest is History podcast, where Dom and Tom don’t take sides, but you can read between the lines of their super-intelligent discussion. Then I listened to a NZ Herald podcast, I don’t remember what it was called, but it was narrated by a woman in a very pluty British accent with very right-wing views. That came as a shock to me, seeing as most people I’d heard were more than happy to see Boris go.

Trump and Boris are alike in many ways, as pundits have pointed out; as it turns out, getting rid of them is no easy task. When the self-styled leader has no shame, it’s everyone else that’s wrong, not him.  There are differences, of course, but both populists had an amazing ability to command a crowd (and many staff and would-be loyal followers) with their lying oratory; both somehow appealed to working class voters, although neither had the faintest experience of being unprivileged.  Family woes – ex-wives and odd relationships with just how many children – did not deter their loyal following, whether it be rich or poor, religious or atheistic.  They’ve each left an enormous mess – which they’re still influencing, as Boris remains Prime Minister (for now), and Trump is about to declare his candidature for the presidency in 2024, despite his legal troubles.  They leave an indelible mess, and I fear it’s impossible to put this genie back in the bottle. Trump has aroused huge division in the US; Johnson’s Brexit is proving to be disastrous economically for the United Kingdom; somehow to go forwards or backwards amongst such deep division is fraught with danger, either way. Totalitarian leaders like Putin and Xi have different problems on their hands, but they don’t have to deal with much internal division. It’s their way, whatever the cost.

Still and all, at least Johnson can’t be accused of cosying up to Putin, unlike Trump, although he can be accused of cosying up to his friend Russian oligarch Evgeny Lebedev, now a Lord in the House of Lords. He also met an ex-KGB agent, Alexander Lebedev, in Italy in 2019 after a NATO meeting. Despite London grad conflicts, whatever government is in power in the United Kingdom will reliably continue to support Ukraine, one hopes.

Former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has died after being shot while campaigning. The world is mourning his sad ending – shootings like these are extremely rare in Japan. Prime Minister Arden paid him a lovely tribute in an entry in Instagram.

And so to Covid 19 news here. JD tested positive for Covid 19 this morning; I tested negative, but I’m a household contact of his and so we’re pariahs until next Sunday (July 17th), according to Healthline (I reported JD’s result).  He’d had a heavy cold; in fact it turned out to be Covid 19.  My hands are pretty raw, since any time I touch anything he’s touched I feel bound to wash my hands.  So again everything is put off. At least it’s school holidays for the next two weeks, so term-time activities won’t be running.  I received a newsletter from Hōhepa, saying that seven of the residents they support have Covid 19. I know their staff (and their families) are badly affected with flu as well. Still, it was nice to hear from them.

Today there are 9,307 new cases reported, with 22 deaths (including a child under 10). 251 of these had recently travelled overseas. There are 570 people in hospital, including 9 in Intensive Care.

Of the people whose deaths have been confirmed today, six were from the Auckland region, four from Waikato, one from Bay of Plenty, one from Lakes, one from Hawke’s Bay, one from MidCentral, two from the Wellington region, four from Canterbury/West Coast, and two were from Southern. One was under the age of 10, three were in their 50s, three were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, seven were in their 80s, and three were aged over 90.

Of the cases in hospital, 11 were in Northland, 124 in Waitematā, 39 in Counties Manukau, 56 in Auckland, 57 in Waikato, 29 in Bay of Plenty, 14 in Lakes, 20 in Hawke’s Bay, 20 in MidCentral, six in Whanganui, 12 in Taranaki, three in Tairawhiti, six in Wairarapa, 59 in Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley, 13 in Nelson Marlborough, 62 in Canterbury and West Coast, 18 in South Canterbury, and 21 in Southern.

A new subvariant of Covid 19/omicron has officially been named BA.2.75, and nicknamed “centaurus”. The subvariant has been reported in 10 countries so far, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, the US and UK. The bulk of cases, however, have been found in India. As of yet, the WHO has not named it as a variant of concern.

It’s now Sunday July 10th.

This morning I zoomed into the church service. I found that I could throw a jersey over my pj’s, and have the computer on my lap in bed.  The sound was problematic, but eventually I could hear most of the service.

JD’s not feeling great. He’s had no calls or texts today, either from Healthline or the medical centre. I am wondering if he should be on Paxlovid, to treat Covid 19, but no one medical has been in touch. I presume a script could be faxed to a chemist, for my covid-free son to pick up the medicine, and drop it at our front door, but this has not happened. I am increasing fearful about touching anything he has touched, such as the fridge, the china cupboard, or the cutlery drawer. I asked him to put dirty dishes in the sink and run water on them; instead he put a mug full of water on the bench, which I then tipped over.  We have run out of chux cloths – I feel that I should use a second one, and so am re-using a washed one. I feel I need to wash my hands all the time, and they’re getting quite rough and sore. I’ve run out of decaffeinated tea bags. There are quite a few items now to go on my shopping list for my covid-free son. JD cannot make lunch now, as he normally does. I fear that if I get Covid 19 too, it will be hard for us to cope at home. Although if I get it too I won’t have to be so fussy about trying not to get it.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 7,461 new cases, 8 deaths, and 622 people in hospital – a significant increase. Of these, 13 are in Intensive Care.

Of the deaths reported today, four were from Auckland region, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Canterbury/West Coast, and one was from Southern. One was aged in their fifties, five were in their 80s, and two were aged over 90. Of these people, three were female and five were male. This brings the total number of deaths to 1,671.

It’s reported that those currently in hospital are being treated at Northland: 14; Waitematā: 137; Counties Manukau: 56; Auckland: 68; Waikato: 55; Bay of Plenty: 32; Lakes: 13; Hawke’s Bay: 31; MidCentral: 27; Whanganui: 10; Taranaki: 12; Tairawhiti: 3; Wairarapa: 7; Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley: 68; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury and West Coast: 74; South Canterbury: 20; Southern: 22. Hawkes Bay: 31!  That’s alarming. I think of all my friends who have surgery scheduled – I fear it will be cancelled, or postponed. We’re not told the locations of the new cases.

Church today was “Café Church” – in the Hall rather than the church itself, with coffee and croissants available. I have to say I don’t really agree with mixing worship with so-called carnal pleasures of eating and drinking;  it’s physically complicated for me to eat or drink, in any case. Looking on zoom, there didn’t seem to be a lot of people there, and many were wearing masks.  On trips to Europe, though, I loved the way church was part of everyday life in Europe: in Rome, in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and in a beautiful church in Barcelona services were going on as we visited. We sat down and enjoyed them – and enjoyed so much hearing Italian, French or Spanish, and having some understanding of what was being said. The church in Rome had the famous statue of Saint Teresa (and her vision); in Notre-Dame a black priest was saying Mass; and in Barcelona there was a baptism, where I recognised that “El Senor es mi pastor” was Psalm 23. It seemed very fitting as we began our journey back to New Zealand – and there’d just been a coup in Turkey. Having said that, I never saw anyone bringing a takeaway coffee or eating food in a church.

The unravelling over Boris Johnson’s demise continues, as the rest of the world looks on, as it did after Trump’s losing the presidential election, with a mixture of fascination and distress. How did it come to this? That Britain’s Brexit was carried out (and what a shambles that continues to be), and Trump was elected president in the US.  Both events were only just won, and were won on a series of lies. How sad, and what dreadful consequences they’ve both brought. Not only have they wrought huge changes in British and American society, they both handled the coronavirus pandemic really badly.  Now we’re all living with the consequences of both, and the deep divisions between right and left wing politics in every country. There seems to be no more of wanting what will be best for most of the people.

I find the newspapers so annoying here too. While I realise they want to shock, really some stories are just so silly.  People want to be happy – what has gone wrong with New Zealand? Well, you can be grateful to be here, for a start; it’s lamented that house prices have fallen – after saying they were much too high;  then people are complaining about there being more housing in their neighbourhoods.  New Zealand needs more housing, and, guess what, more housing is being built. So your neighbourhood is changing? And that’s a bad thing? I continue to maintain that we are so fortunate to be here. The health system is under pressure? When was it ever not under pressure? Some things don’t change.

That’s it for now. The world is indeed a strange and oftentimes a scary place. I’m thankful to be here in Aotearoa. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.