Saturday, July 11, 2020

A Report from a Very Different Vacation (and a Few Links)

We're still "vacationing" so this will be another short post. We had a good week, but while vacationing at home during a pandemic is nicer than working at home during a pandemic, it is not as good as a real vacation.

We went to the zoo and the beach. We went kayaking, and we spent a couple of hours fishing off the rocks at the bay. We put up our pop up shade and had a lazy day in our backyard on Wednesday and yesterday we had a water gun fight in our backyard. We've ordered in dinner almost every night, and I spent a lot of time reading in my hammock. But we still had to do dishes and the days weren't packed enough to get that "easy to sleep" vacation effect on Petunia.

It was weird being out and about so much, but mostly we saw other people being careful and felt pretty good about the things we decided to do. The San Diego Zoo has a 100% mask policy. I would say that about 75% of the people we saw at the zoo were wearing their masks properly. The other 25% had exposed noses or had pulled their mask under their chin. But the Zoo is also pretty much 100% outdoors, and it wasn't super crowded (they're limiting the number of people they let in) so it didn't feel unsafe.

The beach we picked was not crowded, and there was a nice breeze. We saw several groups wearing masks as they arrived, and only taking them off once they found their spot in the sand. Since it wasn't crowded, people did a good job of spacing out on the sand. The kayak shop had a good set up where you scanned a QR code to fill out the release form online, and the staff that helped you get the kayaks were all masked.

The riskiest thing we did was probably our lunch after kayaking. My husband had convinced me to try an outdoor patio restaurant next to the kayaking place. It is a new restaurant in that spot. He had scoped it out while on a bike ride and really wanted to try it. He was right that they had a pretty good set up - all outdoors, and with a nice strong breeze off the bay. There was only one other table occupied when we wandered up so we decided to give it a try. For the first little while, it was great. The food was pretty good, and the sea breeze felt nice. But then a group of ~10 young people came up. They stood near our table for uncomfortably long without masks on, debating whether to come in. We'd pulled up our masks once they came near. One or two of them noticed that and pulled masks out of their bags, but didn't put them on. They finally wandered up to the counter to order and saw the large "no mask, no service" sign and the rest of the group dug disposable masks out of their bags and they all put them on. However, they took them off as soon as they walked away from the counter. Instead of sitting on the opposite side of the patio, they sat down at the table between us and the other customers and the table next to it. They started talking loudly across the tables. I heard the other customers behind us ask where the group was from. They were from Paradise Valley, which is a suburb of Phoenix.

We were almost done with our lunch, so we hurried up and finished and left. As I left, I saw that the two men at the other table had pulled their masks up, too. The big group were technically following the rules, but were not being as careful as they could have been.

I think there is a lesson in that experience. Whatever set up you design, you have to design for the most clueless people who will encounter it. I don't think the group of young people at the restaurant were trying to be a problem - I think they're just not used to the mask and distancing norms that we've developed here. From what my parents tell me, there are very different norms in play in Arizona (which also has the worst outbreak in the US right now). The restaurant could have helped by putting their "mask up" sign at the entrance to the patio instead of at the counter, and they should probably remove a couple of tables so that it would be impossible for groups to seat themselves too close to other customers. I think it is like the masks at the zoo - 75% of the people will do the right thing on their own. You should design things so that the other 25% are steered to doing the right thing, too.

I tried not to spend a lot of time on Twitter this week, so I don't have many links for you.

But here's a big write-up in Science about opening schools, which I've bookmarked to read later.

And here's a great picture of the NEOWISE comet:

Here's some rabbit art:

And here's some real bunnies for you:

Have a good weekend everyone! I will be back to "normal" - whatever that means right now - next week.

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