EKP

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Walkie-Talkies

It seems like what you really need is walkie-talkie technology in a watch form factor. I'm kind of surprised I've never heard of such a thing.

The Cost of a Sixth Seat

Those are only useful while the kids are in boosters or carseats though. They don't really add an extra seat in a general sense.

The Cost of a Sixth Seat

Another relevant childhood memory: my parents added an additional lap belt to the back bench seat of our minivan in around 2001, making a 7 seater into an 8 seater legally. We fit four accross a few times (mostly kids/tweens 6-12 YO, no booster seats). Also not the most comfortable but also an adventure. I would be curious what the cost is to add a seatbelt to a 5 seater car nowadays, as it would likely need to be a shoulder belt. With kids in boosters to a much older age it would be more complicated to fit 4 across and I wouldn't do it in a Fit, but there may be other cars where this would be an option. 

The Cost of a Sixth Seat

I got put in the middle front seat fairly frequently growing up (1990s). It wasn't comfortable, but it was an adventure and for half hour rides it sure beat there having to be two trips which would have been the only alternative. Comfort isn't everything. 

I presume safety standards have a lot to do with the decline of smaller 6-7 seaters. Today I don't think it would be legal for me to be in the front seat at all at the ages I was sometimes sitting in the middle front seat (5ish-10ish) due to passenger-side airbags that can't be turned off*. The minimum size of a front crumple zone has gotten steadily larger in recent years (ie the distance from the furthest front point of the car to the furthest front point of a passenger) - I imagine rear crumple zones also have some sort of increasing minimum requirement. I also imagine that new standard safety features like side-curtain air bags are difficult to implement in many of the older car configurations.

On a completely different note, I am very curious whether, Jeff, you will amend any of your thoughts related to parking and zoning after you get a car. My understanding is you will now have 3 cars at your house, and 2 off-street parking spaces, meaning your house will require an on-street parking space. I think you've had your house about 5 years, and have said you plan to have it a long time. If even your family previously car-averse is likely to have a car for half or more of the time you are in the house, some of your assumptions about the correct car: housing ratios seem to need revisiting. I feel that the parking situation in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville generally supports that parking and housing are not yet ready to be as decoupled as you've proposed.

*My understanding is that in a 5 seater car with a driver and four 6 year olds, it's perfectly legal to put one in the front passenger seat today - and you still can't turn off the passenger-side airbag!

Vaccinated Socializing

I have yet to see anything convincing me that a vaccinated person is unlikely to give me COVID, even 2 weeks after dose 2. Especially because right now, the vaccinated people are the ones most likely to be exposed to COVID (e.g. nurses, grandparents living in group facilities). I would not be comfortable being unvaccinated and unmasked around a vaccinated unmasked person for this reason. I am eagerly awaiting information to change my mind on this, but I have not seen it yet.

If I were also vaccinated, I would feel reasonably good that even if I got COVID, I would make it through OK. There's still some uncertainty about long term effects from mild cases that worry me, but I haven't seen anything on long term effects from asymptomatic cases. So, at that point I would probably be OK being unmasked around other vaccinated people who were unmasked, and possibly around unvaccinated lower-risk people who were unmasked. 

Dancing With Covid

Those two options are part of a much larger picture, that seems really simplistic. Most places aren't doing any real contact tracing right now - the white house certainly isn't. We might be 'saved' by a vaccine, we might not. I don't think that any of us thought, two weeks in, that we'd still be here seven months in. I figure it's 50-50 that dancing is a significantly lower risk (say a factor of at least 2) two years in than it is now. There's no coherent plan, no coherent timeline for how long you have to endure this. Right now it's people's employers that mostly decide what risk they get stuck with. Seems reasonable to me that people should get some say themselves, too. Some people may choose to live very careful lives for as long as it takes, others may not. 

Dancing With Covid

First, I am very curious what the results would have been with enforced mask-wearing.

Second, at what point in the pandemic to we start accepting that to some people, risks similar to this may be worth it and should be their choice? It's been seven months and it's about to be winter. If safe options for socialization aren't available or aren't meeting people's needs, they are going to go for unsafe options. I expect that by two years into the pandemic I will be ready to go to a dance weekend and then do my due diligence to quarantine strictly for two weeks to make sure I don't expose anyone who didn't choose to be exposed. Now, at 7 months, I would consider the same for an outdoor event with compulsory masks but no distancing. Some people cannot find what makes them feel human through virtual events only. 

Leaving Things For Others

Alright, I'll push back a little.

I think your numbers are off. My understanding (mostly from this NYT piece) is that WIC also renews the first of the month, at least in many areas. Many people were hit extra hard in March (less income, less support available from community orgs, less food from work or supplies from daycare). I would expect that on Apr 1-2, it could easily have been 1 in 25 shoppers who were WIC-eligible, or even much higher. And, making up numbers, I am going to say that for any given WIC-eligible SKU, maybe half of WIC participants and 10% of other shoppers would want that item. So of people who might buy that can of kidney beans, I could easily believe 1 in 5 or even 1 in 3 were WIC. WIC products are often *more expensive* than similar non-WIC options, because they have built-in, non-price-sensitive demand.

Yes, it would probably be better if we could set aside 3 hours on Apr 1 for WIC and EBT shopping only. It would come with tons of its own issues, but it is at least theoretically possible. But, I think individual actions those couple of days, in parts of the country where those were the relevant days, have more impact than you are guessing.

I do think that it can be a problem when the government or grocery stores try to determine who 'deserves' masks, or delivery slots, where there isn't a litmus test like WIC or EBT. The availability of these things have not been able to keep up with demand, and there is no way I can see to allocate them appropriately short of some application process that will take a lot of time to set up and probably still miss-allocate.

Should all masks go to medical workers? As a first priority, probably yes. But what about our friend whose kid came out of the NICU a month ago? Does that family not 'deserve' masks to try to keep their baby alive, too? What about immunocompromised and asthmatics who are performing essential jobs outside of healthcare? Or those that take care of senior citizens? At some point 'think twice, and then a third time, before ordering masks that might save someone else's life' starts to look like about as good as we can do at allocation.

Similarly, I would love it if there were a system where when doctors order a quarantine, they can put that person's name in a database for delivery priority. Same with high-risk individuals. As it is, many folks under medical quarantine are relying on friends and neighbors - often elderly friends and neighbors - to deliver groceries. Or in some cases they aren't eating well because they can't get groceries for weeks.

Until these shortages are over or these systems are set up to address them, I do think there is non-negligible marginal benefit to pushing a 'to each according to need' mentality. Many people are looking for small ways to help those hardest hit, and I think this falls into that category.

When accurate, of course. If someone posts encouraging action based on information that is not locally valid, there is no reason not to gently correct that!

When to Donate Masks?

It seems very likely that in 2-4 weeks the critical bottleneck to care won't be PPE or ventilators, both of which have some hope of increased availability in that time frame, but skilled medical professionals who are still healthy enough to work, whose number is infinitely harder to scale up in a month. Shouldn't we be doing everything we possibly can to protect our medical professionals now?