City Mouse / Country Mouse

On weekends we have been driving out to some of the forest preserves around the city to get some fresh air and do a little hiking. We’re not going far, usually a 30 – 40 minute drive from our house, but you’d be surprised at how many places there are within that zone once you start looking for them.

There is a wide range of what you find at these places. I don’t really understand the rhyme or reason as to why some of them are extremely crowded and some are desolate. I guess it just depends on the neighborhood around them.

Anyway, this last weekend we went to one that was relatively crowded (though only on the paved parts; we were all alone on the unpaved trails!). So we show up all decked out with our hiking gear and our masks, but I was absolutely *astounded* to see it was mostly only us. In the few hours we were out there I saw easily over a hundred people without masks, versus when I’m in the neighborhood at home I would almost never see someone without a mask visible on their person. It made me feel….weird. Uncomfortable. Like I just dropped in from outer space. I wanted to say things to people we were passing, like, “Oh, we’re from the city. Things are different there.” I just felt very out of place.

As we drove home I was just noticing how crowded the parking lots were (and at a pool supply store of all places!). I’m sure if you were from around there it might seem different than normal to you, but to me it just seemed like…business as usual. It was very disorienting. And here we were only 30 minutes or so outside of the city! How different must it be downstate, to say nothing of the middle of Montana or something.

It really is crazy, even with the internet serving as the great equalizer, how different things are here in the city.

Thinking about Death today

The initial estimates for Covid-19, if left unchecked, were around 1.4 million deaths in the United States; the total cumulative deaths in the US from ALL wars, all the way back to the Revolutionary War, is about 1.35 million*. Even though we are no longer looking at that worst case scenario, the fact that this had the power to kill more people than every war combined is really messing with my head right now.

The most current, much more conservative estimates (which include social distancing measures), still have the US exceeding 93k deaths. That’s nearly twice the US death total from the Vietnam war (56k), and almost 3 times the death total from the Korean War (36k).

It does not take much imagination to think we might exceed the US death total from World War I (116k).

I think about those wars and what a profound effect they had on the US, and on the world. Titanic shifts that changed everything about our country, our politics, our industries…we are currently experiencing something that is potentially several times larger.

WWII was ~400k, so we may or may not get there, but it’s just….wow.

Stay at home, kids.


*Numbers come from here; I am using the Total US Deaths number, rather than the Total US Casualties number, because those numbers also include the wounded.