Terry Sarten

Singer Songwriter

Stay Home in your bubble

The word for today is ‘exponential’. In the way that Covid-19 now means ‘stay home in your domestic bubble, exponential has become a term we cannot ignore. It is an important concept to understand.
Clayton Dalton, an emergency medicine physician working in Massachusetts General Hospital, provides a useful way to picture how exponential effects function. “If you took 30 steps from your front door, with each step twice as large as the last, how far could you get? The answer might surprise you – it’s 26 times the Earth’s circumference”. Apply the same doubling steps to how contacts can spread a contagious disease and it is easy to see why reducing contact between people can slow the rate of infection. Dr Dalton believes it is people’s inability to understand the powerful dynamic of exponential growth that is undermining attempts to halt the spread of Covid-19 in America.
Another word that has entered the lexicon with a new meaning is ‘bubble’. It has a touch of magic and captures beautifully the notion of being inside your own little universe. Your bubble might be quite small at two metres in size to fit around you or as big as your house - an extra-large bubble containing a family or flatmates. Keeping your bubble protected so it does not burst is, as all who remembers blowing bubbles as a child, does require care. Bubbles do not travel well so limiting this to the supermarket or pharmacy is ideal. Anything further than that would be unwise and trying to smuggle your bubble out of the district is not a good idea.
As much of the world goes into lockdown mode and people stay home the natural world has decided to go out. There is a wonderful set of pictures from a small town in Wales of mountain goats wandering into the streets, nibbling at hedgerows, clambering over stone walls into people’s gardens while locals watch from their windows. It is an interesting reversal of a zoo in which the animals have come to look at us inside our enclosures. All that is missing is the usual signs warning against feeding the animals and some information on the species being observed named as ‘homus stayingus personus’.
I work in a health role and like many people I am doing part of my day working at home. There are advantages to this – coffee and music are within easy reach but there are drawbacks. As others have noted, a dog barking while doing a phone call can be a hassle. Telling the dog to be quiet could be very disconcerting to the person on the call.
Doing a video link up can be tricky if said dog comes inside and wants to join in. A cat on the lap might be cute unless it decides to wander across the keyboard.
Then there is the battle with the technology that seems to somehow sense the urgency of the moment and goes into a sullen sulk, refusing to cooperate. Swearing at such times may be irresistible but unwise as it is easy to forget that in an online conference call, other people may be able to hear you. This is the moment when finding the mute button can bring redemption.
But don’t let such things burst your bubble. The computer can always be rebooted so stay calm, stay home and look after yourself and those you care about.

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