Getting sick. Wait. Never mind

A not-so-serious -- and then a serious -- look at SF in a time of coronavirus

I got the sniffles.

Panicked immediately.

‘Cause that’s how you do it in these days of coronavirus and thunder.

Actually, it provided a little humor when my wife offered to take my temperature. We had a little trouble locating the rarely-used thermometer. It was behind the butter churn. I hear they are digital now.

Once found it was ready for use. Wait, did that look like the one we used to use to take our kids’ temperature? Inserted in a very different place? Oh well.

It was under my tongue for two minutes. As a rule I’d be cautioned not to peek ahead of time, but she knows I can’t read the stupid thing. Those tiny numbers, a thin line of mercury. Or is that just the silver tube?

Anyhow, the reading was essentially normal. Which naturally led to an obvious conclusion — there’s something wrong with the thermometer. Wife went to Walgreen’s to buy one that didn’t arrive in San Francisco on a covered wagon.

She texted me from the store. She’d asked a clerk if they had any.

“She laughed at me.”

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So that was a nice interlude. There’s certainly plenty to worry about in this crisis. Health, obviously. And protection. Obeying the new rules of social order.

But what scares me is how abruptly things are changing. Two weeks ago when I saw someone wearing a mask I thought they were Chicken Little. Now I go out without a mask (they are on order) people look at me like, “Don’t you even care, man?”

Those were the days when bringing a recyclable bag to the store was a considered an admirable and responsible thing to do. Now: What are you trying to do, get us all sick?

Last week the San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly gave their employees partial furloughs. The entire sports staff of the San Jose Mercury has been furloughed for two to four weeks.

And no, this isn’t just about the loss of journalism. It is happening everywhere, across the economy. So abruptly.

Don’t mean to set the bar too low here, but I have reached the point where I will read anything even mildly entertaining. Which brings us to this newsletter. Think someone else might be interested? Click here to send it to them.

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People have been talking for years about the United States needs to transition from a manufacturing and agricultural to a service economy. Well, as this crisis is showing, we may have been more successful than we realized.

This prescient 2017 story in The Atlantic proposes that “Restaurants Are the New Factories.” The author details the restaurant boom across the country, including some urban centers where 50 percent of the work force is employed at a restaurant/bar.

Unlike the factory, food service is the classic demand market. People are willing to pay you to cook and serve them a meal. If the people can’t leave their homes, the whole model collapses. And that’s what is happening.

Again, that’s across the spectrum. Lower income people suffer most, but this Chronicle story says doctors, general practitioners and even medical groups, are suddenly underwater financially because of staff, rent and equipment. Doctors live in a demand economy too.

What kinda shook me up was a down Market Street. Even at the cable car turnaround, arguably the busiest gathering spot in the city, there was hardly anyone around. Here’s an earlier view down Powell.

I guess expected that. And I figured the stores would be closed.

What I didn’t foresee was that they were not just closed, they were barricaded with sheets of plywood. The storefronts at the Westfield Mall were all boarded up. Even the main entrance to the mall was a wall of plywood.

This place says it is open, but it sure doesn’t look like it.

Those stores are taking the long view. They have made the calculation that this may go for months. And it may get ugly.

It might. Some stores were broken into in our neighborhood this week, including a harmless little guitar store. C’mon.

If I had a thermometer I’d like to take the city’s temperature. I’m concerned.

Go ahead and hold the NFL draft

I wrote a Santa Rosa Press Democrat sports column about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insisting on going ahead with the NFL draft in two weeks.

As a rule, I would disagree with Goodell if he announced that the sky was blue. He’s made plenty of dumb calls.

But in this case, I agree. Go ahead and hold the draft.

It is not going to be a medical threat. Players, coaches and breathless commentators will appear in virtual form. No one will be touching.

Who is it hurting? Is it — as many well-respected NFL writers have suggested — unseemly to be watching a sporting event during this critical crisis?

OK, so I guess you haven’t watched any of the Warriors or 49ers replays that have been filling up the sports channel? Right? Why is that any better than a live event?

Besides, the NFL draft would be a safe, harmless diversion into sports for a moment. We could use that.

Here are the movie/video picks you asked for. What? You didn’t ask?

We’ve been averaging a movie or two episodes of a series a day. And people seem to keep asking each other if they are watching anything good. Which was all the opening I needed.

Assume you’ve already done “The Americans.” If not, stop reading and watch that immediately if not sooner.

Also, we’re zipping through the program guides for HBO etc. to see if there is something we can record. That’s how we ended up watching “Bridget Jones Diary” (surprisingly uplifting after a slow start and everybody is smoking) and “Live Free or Die Hard” (the plot makes as much sense as the title and Bruce Willis’ character knocks a helicopter out of the air with a police squad car. Wildly entertaining.)

If you aren’t watching it, our go-to recommendation is “Ozark.” This is season three and I’d opine that #s one and two were better, but it is still excellent, violent, smart and creepy. Also dark. Literally. I thought the TV was going out.

Here’s the trailer.

Jason Bateman is underrated, but Laura Linney is the one you can’t stop watching. #Emmy

Now we are watching “The Fall,” a cop drama/murder mystery set in Belfast. We are on the third season and it is just getting weirder and most interesting. For Giants fans a bonus is that the serial killer (not a spoiler) looks just like Brandon Belt.

Last, we are wincing through “Little Fires everywhere, which forces you to confront some tough choices — both by the characters and by how you respond.

Kerry Washington is an artist and a single mom. Reece Witherspoon is very “Big Little Lies” as an entitled and clueless mom who rents a house to Washington’s character. My favorite exchange so far is when Witherspoon’s character hears that kids have been mocking her daughter by calling her “Ellen,” as in Degeneres.

“Because she’s funny? Witherspoon asks.

No because they think she’s gay, mom.

Lots to unpack there.

We can get together next week. Stay healthy. Get a new thermometer.

Contact C.W. Nevius at cwnevius@gmail.com. Sub-stack emails somethings get lost. Best to send directly. Twitter: @cwnevius