A Month for Disaster

There is a meme running around that relates all too well at the moment…

Smoke Over Waikoloa
Smoke from an approaching wildfire stains the skies over Waikoloa

Worst month ever!
What do you mean this is only the 1st?

Anonymous social media meme

This month is only four days old and we are quite ready to agree with whomever coined that meme.

Sunday, August first started out peaceful enough. I was looking forward to a relaxing day with a few chores about the house. The only nagging worry was keeping tabs on the large brushfire raging towards Waimea, though it was many miles away. As the winds picked up this worry also intensified, to where I had to the local emergency radio feed streaming on the computer speakers.

When the fragmentary radio chatter from the fire units indicated that the fire had jumped Highway 130 I knew what was coming next… An evacuation of Waikoloa Village.

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SARS-CoV-2 Negative

For now.

SARS-CoV-2 Test Results. Negative... This time.
SARS-CoV-2 Test Results. Negative… This time.

All last week I was suffering mild respiratory symptoms… Sore throat, stuffy and hoarse, mild muscle aches. Of course one immediately considers the worst case, that somehow despite being careful I had contracted COVID-19.

Not out of the realm of possibility, after a long summer of almost no cases our island has had a rash of infections over the last few weeks including a few deaths. The virus is clearly here and in the community.

I got swabbed on Saturday, and after a weekend of wondering I finally got the results on Weds evening.

Oddly enough I found the result while on the phone with my parents. I had told them about the symptoms and testing a few days earlier and they were calling back to hear the results. While I had not gotten an email notifying me of results, I checked the lab web portal anyway while on the phone. Two simple words… Not Detected.

All clear… This time.

While that was a relief to me and my parents they passed on family news.. My brother has tested positive and is now quarantined for a few weeks. While he has shown no symptoms and is fine, I am glad to hear he is taking the diagnoses seriously.



Comfort Food

Eating habits in our communities have drastically changed. The most obvious evidence of this is the consistently bare shelves in the local supermarket.

Empty shelves in the baking goods aisle
Empty shelves in the baking goods aisle

Going out to do our weekly grocery shopping I wander the isles and make note of empty store shelves that were never empty before. There is a theme in those empty shelves, a pattern that reveals that how we eat has changed in substantial ways.

One of the first things to disappear from our local grocery were what I consider comfort foods… Boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, tins of biscuit dough, and that Hawaiian favorite SPAM. In those early days of stay at home orders people bought foods that were familiar from childhood, offering a reassurance of normalcy, at least in the kitchen.

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Social Distance Measured in Light-Years

Social media is currently full of advice on what to do while stuck at home waiting out a pandemic. I find I need no advice… A dark sky and a telescope? No problem.

The observing notebook fills with notes beside the telescope
The observing notebook fills with notes beside the telescope

Awake at 4am this morning I pulled the Astrola from the garage and observed until the dawn lit the sky.

Once the evening clouds dissipated I again pulled out the telescope and observed for another two hours this evening.

Following the advice of staying at home I have been observing alone from our driveway. This weekend would have been our normal club dark-of-the-moon star party at Ka Ľohe, getting together with other observers. Obviously this was cancelled.

This period of social isolation is measured in pages of notes on stars and nebulae, measured in the light-years I cross while peering into the universe.