Plague days diary 1


Computer down blues

Do I get my computer back? It will be not much fun if I don’t anytime soon. A hack aimed at me and my machine? A systemic hack? An old computer going out of whack at an inconvenient time?

It’s the evening of March 24 and  President Cortizo has just declared a near-total national quarantine. NEED to do my own troubleshooting here, and make it work.  I won’t be getting to anywhere where I might get a new computer or be able to take the machine to the shop anytime soon.

The dated MalwareBytes scan has been ongoing for nearly half an hour and is still in the initial “checking for updates” phase – no files yet checked.

So what subversive thing was I doing when the machine went into multiple fail mode?

I was plying myself with coffee, served in a way that I don’t think that anybody ever taught me – sweetened with manjar. Deadly unhealthy, that stuff. The doctor doesn’t recommend it, especially for gordos like me. It’s this sticky goo made of sugar, cornstarch and fresh milk. There is a hint of caramel flavor – it is, after all, slightly caramelized sugar. There is more than a hint of malted milk flavor, and I am one of those weirdos known to put malted milk in my coffee.

(Malted milk powder is a rare treat in my economic station. Most often the coffee is black, or with a spoonful of powdered milk and a bit of sugar or sucralose. If money is not too much of an object, it’s Palo Alto coffee.)

~ ~ ~

I went out early this afternoon, farther than I had wanted. Figured that I would pick up a roll of toilet paper, some kitty crunchies and some starchy staple – brown rice if they had it, otherwise noodles of some sort – but Mónica said they were not selling on this day. (Not at all? Just not to me? What I suspect was that some inspector had read her a riot act and she and her sons were cleaning and installing plastic sheeting sanitary barriers and signs before serving customers again. In any case the village was well nigh deserted.)

Turning away, I had gone only a few steps when I noticed a mini-bus coming and before I saw which one I flagged it down. It was the San Juan de Dios and Penonome bus, so I had to contemplate. Head west to Penonome, a dollar fare to a place where they have registered a verified coronavirus infection, or get out and board another bus headed east to Anton. The latter is slightly cheaper all the way around, involves a lot less walking and besides, I had walked out the door with my computer running, the aging Mama Dog guarding the inside of the house and $14 in my pocket. I had not planned to go into town for a significant shopping but needed to get just a few things.

Without walking away from the highway into town, I had half a dozen grocery stores from which to choose, plus a couple of little fruit and veggie stands. Plus a couple of bakeries. AND the vendor at the deserted main bus stop, hawking the manjar.

Got my toilet paper. No shortage, and the sign suggested that they were not going to let you clean out the store to create one. The meat and veggies looked kind of aged, and I was rationing here. The ramen noodles are a nickel a pack cheaper at this one, but with limited flavors. Grabbed some of those.

But a cat food shortage? Well, not for the flat cans of ground sardines – “atún seco” in the strange and biologically inaccurate local Spanish – but the crunchies were either in a big bag that would cost me most of what I had at the moment. OR, there were much cheaper little bags of puppy chow. Dogs should not eat cat food, especially older ones with vulnerable kidneys. Cats will eat dog food, but will even LIKE puppy chow, which also comes in smaller chunks that are easier for kittles to digest. Most of a dollar gone to get into Anton, $3.50 at the grocery store. The felines would be fed for a few more days. I have a Plan B for running out of toilet paper but would not have to use it just yet.

Then, three stops at micro-businesses. Three little tubs of manjar, a bag of tangerines and a bag of oranges, each a $1 purchase. More than halfway through my walking change, but plenty to stop in at the panaderia to buy two loaves of pan moña de queso for a buck each and board the bus home. But before the mostly empty bus took off toward the village and beyond, I did notice a couple of things. The busiest of the grocery stores has a security guard checking people’s temperatures before letting them in, and around the corner a sink and soap dispenser had been installed at the waiting area for local buses. Plague times, these.

~ ~ ~

Getting off the bus, three teenage girls were congregated at the bus stop with two bicycles by them. This was socializing, not waiting for the bus. And walking toward the caseta up the dirt road I was walking down toward my home in El Bajito, there was one of the usual teenage boys coming to join them.

What is to be done?’

I think a bit of quarantine enforcement, except that the formal declaration of the quarantine would only come later in the day.

These kids have this youthful expectation of immortality and no real concept of death. Them being infected and carrying the disease to others without actually getting sick is a concept that the schools dont teach so well.

Really, these kids need to be scared off.

As in, cops swooping in, leaning them against the paddy wagon or whatever, taking temperatures and swab samples. Putting anyone running a fever in cuffs and taking them off for closer medical examination. Leting the others see that, and telling them to go home and stay home, and warning that at the very least, the next time bicycles would be confiscated.

Something like that. Maybe with a good cop / bad cop routine, the more sympathetic one giving the quick biology lecture for the poorly educated, the hardass telling the one to be taken away that (s)he may not be coming back home right away. Maybe even coming up with a false positive for the show.


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