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Pandemic humor forwarded to me by retired Sheriff’s Sgt. Weldon Travis, who patrolled West Marin for many years. 

What to do when we’re all supposed to stay home and away from each other during the coronavirus pandemic? The result, as has been reported in the press, is too often loneliness and boredom. I certainly miss Friday evenings listening to jazz at Sausalito’s No Name Bar, and I miss late mornings reading my San Francisco Chronicle over a cup of mocha outside Toby’s Coffee Bar. Much of my current social life evolved at those two locations.

While sheltered in place, I’ve tried to compensate for the loss of the No Name by starting to drink two or three rum-and-pineapple-juice cocktails every evening. I now read that I’m part of a trend. Newsweek reports that in one week after stay-at-home regulations began, sales of hard liquor were 75 percent higher than they were a year earlier. “Beer is the next most popular drink, with purchases up by 66 percent, then wine up 42 percent,” the magazine added.

Going to pot. Since shelter-in-place orders took effect, I haven’t had too many random conversations with townspeople, but I have learned that at least some folks are enduring the isolation by smoking more marijuana than usual. An Inverness Park friend a few days ago told me that while pedaling her bicycle into Point Reyes Station that morning, she’d noticed the smell of pot coming from a surprising number of car windows as they passed her on the road. Nor is this phenomenon limited to West Marin. A headline in The Independent Journal of March 22 confirmed, “Marin pot sales surge amid coronavirus lockdown.”

As soon as the countywide stay-at-home order was announced, the San Rafael-based marijuana-delivery company Nice Guys Delivery started getting 60 orders per hour, The IJ reported. Only essential businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, and hardware stores are being allowed to remain open during the countywide lockdown. As for Nice Guys, The IJ quoted Danielle O’Leary, the city’s economic development director, as explaining, “San Rafael has deemed cannabis delivery services an ‘essential business,’ and is allowing the companies to continue operating during the lockdown.” That is heady news.

 

A NASA model of Voyager 2, which is a small-bodied spacecraft with a large, central dish and many arms and antennas extending from it.

Scatological science: On Saturday, the Australian news service Happy Mag carried a startling headline: “Uranus has started leaking gas, NASA scientists confirm.” The news service noted, “NASA scientists looking back through decades-old data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft have discovered a mysterious gas escaping from Uranus. The data showed some mysterious force sucking the atmosphere straight out of the planet and into space.”

The Voyager spacecraft is still sending signals back to NASA 42 years after it was launched. From examining old data, it has now been determined that while traveling past Uranus in 1986, Voyager 2 passed through a “plasmoid,” a glob of ionized gases pulled from the planet’s atmosphere.

NASA’s enhanced photo of Uranus showing where atmosphere was pulled off.

“Did you hear Uranus is leaking gas?” I asked a friend. “I guess I’d better cork it,” he laughed. Not surprisingly, the easy play on words has been widely recognized. “Uranus, No Joke, Is Leaking Gas,” headlined Popular Mechanics last Saturday. “Bursts of atmospheric material,” that is “globs of gas,” in the magazine’s words, “are flung away from a planet by its magnetic field.”

Apparently Earth isn’t the only planet on which things are falling apart.