Moving Outdoors for Social Distance

The Corvallis Indoor Farmer’s Market was mostly outdoors today. Why? Well, obviously, if you want to maintain social distance during the coronavirus epidemic, the outdoors is where all the distance is.

Of course, farmer’s market customers are used to having the market happen outdoors: we only have an indoor market at all because of all the pesky winter rain in Oregon. But the weather’s a lot better now.

Karen had me come in with more frozen chicken, since she sold out, so business was brisk. Not just with us, either. Lots of empty bins, baskets, and crates in the vendor booths.

Not everyone moved outdoors. There were a few booths inside, just around the perimeter of the space, widely separated. All the doors were propped open, too, for maximum ventilation and to keep people from having to touch door handles other people had touched. We’re getting the hang of this stuff.

Lots of emphasis on hygiene, of course, with plenty of hand sanitizer and spray bottles of 70% isopropyl alcohol in evidence, and people weren’t afraid to use them. Lots of signs saying, “You touch it, you buy it.” and fairly nice versions of, “If you’re sick, get outta here.” The crowd was cheerful enough, and why not? It’s been pretty cabin-feverish over the last few days.

Few masks were in evidence, but Karen wore one, from a stash of dust masks we found in the house.


I think the Powers That Be are being unnecessarily confusing about masks. Everyone should wear masks in public. Not the good n95 masks, which you should donate unless you’re at unusually serious risk yourself. Karen’s a Blodgett Volunteer Fire Department EMT, and they expect to have to reuse their n95 masks if they have to go on more than a tiny number of medical calls before the mask shortage eases.

The point of wearing ordinary masks (or bandannas over your face, for that matter), is partly that whether you get sick or not, and how sick you get, depends on how many viruses you’re slapped with at once. A big gob of someone else’s virus-loaded sputum hitting you in the face is a bioweapon that delivers a metric zillion viruses into your system. A few free-floating viruses wafting into your system won’t make you sick. Masks on both the infected person and their potential victims convert most of the weaponized droplets into something far less dangerous.

But the Powers That Be take the mask shortage for granted and have decided to say they aren’t necessary. The instant masks become available again, they’ll suddenly become mandatory: see if they don’t. This apparent contradiction will anger and confuse plenty of people.

Me, I’m digging out my bandannas. I kinda like the Old West bank robber look. Apparently there are a lot of patterns for homemade masks using materials you probably have lying around. I haven’t looked into that yet.

Free School Supplies

A consortium of local churches that distributes free school supplies every year was at it again today in downtown Philomath. I stopped to take a look. Note the use of plenty of outdoor space: wide distances between tubs of supplies. With the schools all closed, all the kids are unexpectedly home schooled, so what could be more timely and appropriate?

(I wish I’d waited a couple of minutes before taking the picture, because a bunch of parents with kids showed up just as I was leaving. Kids make every picture better, don’t you think?)

Ventilation: Contagion and the Great Outdoors

One of the books I’ve published under my Norton Creek Press label is Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, a book from 1924 that beats the drum for highly ventilated housing for chickens. Ventilation prevents a wide variety of ills, especially air-quality and airborne pathogen issues. Instead of being concentrated in a tightly shut house, the villainous airborne particles are wafted away, to be dispersed and diluted by pretty much the whole Earth’s atmosphere. And it’s important for people as much as for poultry, and probably more so.

I also read Betty MacDonald’s The Plague and I. She’s the author of the infinitely¬† more famous The Egg and I. Also the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. Anyway, Betty came down with tuberculosis and spent a long time in a TB sanitorium, where she eventually recovered. Every window in the place was kept wide open year-round to minimize the danger to both the staff and the patients. This is standard stuff, but it’s largely forgotten these days.

The Miracle of the Lawn Chair

The volunteers were making good use of that unsung weapon in the war against COVID-19: the common lawn chair. They set up their chairs a respectable distance apart but still within easy conversational range. The lawn chairs do a lot to put the “social” into social distancing. And there’s something about lawn chairs: they seem to magically turn any situation into a tailgate party.

Karen and I learned this on Thursday, when we got a take-out lunch at Local Boyz Hawaiian Cafe and met some friends for a tailgate party in their half-empty parking lot, maintaining an appropriate distance and all that stuff. It was delightful; perhaps the most pleasant lunch I’ve had this year.

That’s how things look on a beautiful spring day. We’re gonna enjoy it while it lasts, since this is Oregon, not California, and the rain hasn’t finished with us yet.

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this issue. Most of my posts are based on input from people like you, so leave a comment below!

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, is an expert on free-range chickens, and is a semi-struggling novelist. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years. In addition, he holds down a day job doing technical writing at Workspot.

Leave a Reply