Quiz #78. A Broken Promise

Why am I apologizing for something I wrote in March? Fulfilling a broken promise and trying to save 2020 in Steve's Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz for August 2, 2020.

I am sorry.

I broke a promise.

A promise to you, the readers of this quiz.

I am a man of my word--and in this quiz, I’d like to turn back the pages of time and make things right.

But first, let me tell you about my journey to realize that I needed to make amends.

This Sunday morning, August 2nd, started like most others during this pandemic.  A too-early wake-up followed by coffee and a morning read of emailed newsletters and Twitter.  With the weekend, most of my newsletters are on a break, but Twitter again provided me with solid insight and dark humor in five separate threads.  The last of those Twitter threads prompted my regret and the need to make amends.

TWITTER #1: What happens in Vegas...

The first Tweet thread that struck me came from Andy Slavitt (@aslavitt), a former Obama health care official, concerned about Las Vegas as a spreader for coronavirus.

It’s a deadly serious thread that’s well worth reading, but it was one of the Replies that made me laugh out loud. It came from Rex the TV Terrier (@rexthetvterrier).  I’ve been following Rex for more than a year now on Twitter.  His walks with sticks are fun to watch--the controller of the account has always provided an interesting account of Rex’s stick selection under the hashtag, #stickoftheday.

Like a lot of us, Rex and his owner seem to be spending a lot of time indoors these days--and Rex’s Reply to the Las Vegas tweet from Slavitt was dark Twitter shade at its best.

TWITTER #2: Cookies and Milk

Slavitt also had some good (and amusing) insight into mask wearing.

TWITTER #3: Crying “foul” about the extra-inning rule

My morning Twitter journey continued with two interesting videos from two of my favorite Twitter Follows on baseball.

The first was from Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser), baseball reporter for Yahoo Sports. As you may know, MLB has put in a new rule this year that’s been controversial, especially among baseball purists.  To make sure extra-inning games don’t go too long, each extra inning begins with a runner on second base.  Keyser had a great take on a very different way to make extra-inning games both interesting and shorter.  If you’re interested, you will need to watch her 1:27 video.

TWITTER #4: Catcher love

The second baseball Tweet that caught my eye was a short one from Jomboy (@jomboy_).  A small moment that he captured and highlighted in a game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  A reminder that we are all in this together.  To understand the :12 video, you need to know that it’s what happened after the Yankees catcher inadvertently hit the Red Sox catcher in the head during an at-bat.

Sadly, in the pandemic world, someone replied, “I just yelled at my TV, ‘Stop touching each other!’”

TWITTER # 5: Your dumbest thoughts about the pandemic back in March?

And finally, the Tweet that got to me realize I had broken a promise to readers of this quiz.

The Tweet came from Caroline Moss (@CarolineMoss) with a simple question: 

What was the dumbest thing I thought about the pandemic back in March? 

The first thought that came to my mind was advice which I had given to my step-mother Judy over the phone at the very beginning of the month when we spoke on my birthday, March 1st.  At age 95, Judy had long targeted June, 2020 as the year in which she would attend her 70th reunion from Cornell.  In March, one of her biggest worries about the pandemic was that she might not be able to go to that reunion in Ithaca come June. I told her that I did not think it would be a problem--and I didn’t think for a minute that I was wrong.  From what I knew,  the virus had a two-week window between when people were exposed to it and when they developed symptoms.  I reasoned--and assured her--that when there was an outbreak in an area or region, it would simply be shut down for two weeks.  When those two weeks were up, the virus would be gone and they would open back up again.  Of course, I was completely wrong.

But it didn't stop there.  I’d actually written down what I was thinking about the pandemic when I started writing this quiz. So, I went back into the archives of this quiz to see what I was thinking and writing about the pandemic a few weeks after that March 1st phone call with Judy.  On March 16th, I wrote Quiz #3. Two Weeks. March 16th was the day that San Francisco made headlines as the first American city to issue what they then called a “Shelter in Place” order.  New York and New Jersey were still open but that would soon change.

In writing Quiz # 3. Two Weeks, I highlighted a Tweet which I had seen from Tom Bossert (@TomBossert), former Homeland Security advisor to the President.

Reading what I wrote in that quiz was sobering--and almost embarrassing.  I was proud of the fact that Sara and I had begun stockpiling groceries at the beginning of March--a few weeks before others did the same.  We were stocked up and ready.  My only regret?  

So, looking back into my time capsule, is there anything I wish I’d done two weeks ago that would have better prepared me for today?  Truly, the answer is not that much. When Sara and I were stockpiling, I bought 6 cans of evaporated milk as a lark--sort of a “Why not?” purchase.  I wish I’d bought more. Milk is already getting hard to find.

I closed Quiz #3. Two Weeks with this promise.

Where will we be in two weeks?  Again, the advice from the CDC experts is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  Just last night, there was a new warning to cancel all gatherings of more than 50 people for the next 8 weeks.  If I’ve made any broad mistake so far, it was thinking that things would be safe after a two week quarantine. Flattening the curve will help to lessen the impact, but it won’t be over in two weeks--not by a long shot.

I hope that writing regular installments of this quiz will help me remember what was going on and what I was thinking “back then.”  I’m also putting Bossert to the test, trying to take this crisis two weeks at a time. I’m doing things to get ready for the next two weeks. In two weeks, I’ll check back to this time capsule to see how I did.

And that’s the promise I broke to you—and I’m sorry about that.

Two weeks later, I did NOT look back. I do not remember why I didn’t do my promised two-week look-back in March, but I am guessing it was because things had gotten so much worse that looking back two weeks later just seemed like it would not have made a difference.

Two weeks after March 16th was Monday, March 30th.  On March 30th, there were still fewer than 3,000 coronavirus deaths in this country, but on that day, the news of the day was that the White House was putting out advance word of the awful death toll that was soon coming with models predicting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths.

A day later, on April 1st, the White House acknowledged those numbers with grim charts in their (then) regular briefing with health officials.

Back then, those numbers seemed unthinkable.  

Not possible. 

Beyond belief.

Today, they are our grim reality.  

As noted back on July 16th in Quiz #70. Twitter-, experts predicted that in two weeks, with the time lag between hospitalizations and deaths, this past week would see record numbers of deaths in the hard hit states of Texas, Arizona and Florida.  That two-week prediction two weeks ago was spot-on.  

But the reality now is different than the end of March. Those numbers have lost their shock value.  They remain staggering, but they now feel mind-numbing.

What’s the dumbest thing I thought back in March?  In two weeks, I thought this could be over--or on its way to being over.

I don’t think that any more.

And yet, I do not want to leave you with such a grim way to end your weekend and start your workweek.

First, I’d welcome your own thoughts (and confessions) on the dumbest thing you thought back about the pandemic in March.  Please leave them here.

Second, I’m changing the format for the final question in this quiz.  Instead of asking you to speculate on “What did NOT happen?”, in this quiz, the final question focuses on figuring out what DID happen?

On Sunday morning, I got a text message from my daughter, Annie.  It read, “This is amazing!” She was reacting to something she had received from Sara and me.  In a later text, Annie wrote, “Thank you for saving 2020.”


What DID we send to Annie?

A. A care package from Amazon Pantry which included 8 cases of Diet Coke;

B. A care package from a local liquor store which had a combined big box of CheezIts and wine. (Maybe you saw them on Facebook.);

C. A Lego set of a can of Diet Coke;

D. A Lego set of the Liberty Bell;

E. An adult coloring book with scenes from the TV show, “Friends.”

Want the answer?

Answer #78. A Broken Promise.

If you’re a subscriber, the answer will be sent to you as a separate email when the question is published.

Want more?

Here’s the next quiz in the series: Quiz #79. Power.

Here’s the previous quiz in the series: Quiz #77. “Some Pig.”

Here’s the first quiz in the series: Quiz #1. Stella and Social Distancing, March 13, 2020

Here is an archive of all the quizzes.

The quiz is explained here: Steve’s Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz.

Want to let me know how I’m doing with this quiz?

Please let me know about any typos or misspellings.

Comments, corrections and confessions welcome.

Thank you and good night.

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