How Santa Barbara Is Handling the Pandemic

A Quick Mid-Term Exam on Instant History

Credit: John Darkow, Columbia Missourian

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1. Grocery stores in Santa Barbara set aside early hours just for senior citizens to shop. As a result:
a)   The black market in toilet paper is now controlled by senior citizens.
b)   People have had to actually admit how old they really are if they want to go shopping.
c)   No one has paid by check after 9 a.m. in a Santa Barbara grocery store in three months.
d)   Probably all of the above.

2. While other beaches in California have been forced to close because of crowds, Santa Barbara beaches have managed to remain open because — except for volleyball players — locals pretty much take their beaches for granted, even forgetting they have them, and only go to the beach when they want their dogs to see other dogs, or if they have relatives visiting.
a)  True, and most of the time the relatives go on their own.
b)  False, I play volleyball every … oh, wait. You excluded volleyball players. Then, True.

3. The explosion of sidewalk chalk art in Santa Barbara, most of which contain messages such as “Stay Healthy” and “Love Each Together” or “Jump Here and Follow the Dots” is a result of:
a)  Children being handed a bucket of chalk and told to get out of the house … now!
b)  Recent and extensive street repairs which have uncovered ancient Paleolithic drawings (the age is suggested by the frequent use of arrows and animals in the pictures).
c)  Artists who came to town for the I Madonnari Festival but found out it had been cancelled.

4. Since the lockdown began, we have seen more squirrels and birds and even a mountain lion in our city because:
a)   We’re at home more, we look out our windows more, and we see more of our surroundings. And we show more — isn’t that right, Bob?
b)  There are fewer cars to kill squirrels, there is less air pollution to kill birds, and our zoo looks like a tasty buffet to a hungry mountain lion.
c)   The answer is both a and b — and keep your curtains closed, Bob.

5. There are no more rescue dogs to adopt in Santa Barbara County because:
a) Every female dog in the world has been spayed, and there are no more abandoned dogs.
b)   All the dogs have been moved to a ranch in Wyoming to wait out the pandemic.
c)   A lot of people thought it would be a good idea to have a companion to walk with and talk to, as well as pet and hug during the pandemic. I guess these people thought they’d be staying home for the rest of their lives because dogs who start off as 24/7 companions don’t like to be suddenly left alone all day, and some will become mad enough to pee all over your stuff.  So, people, put your shoes on a high shelf when you leave for work.

6. Pre-pandemic, when you went to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, you could wander in and out of every booth, touch and choose how much produce you wanted, talk to your neighbors, and it began with the ringing of a bell at 8:30.  Now the Market has an entrance and exit, you must buy what you touch, your mask makes it hard to talk to anyone, and the Market starts at:
a)   7:55
b)   8:05
c)   8:15
d)   8:30
e)   Any of the above, depending upon which booth you go to first.

7. All of our colleges, including UCSB and SBCC, have begun utilizing online courses. This is changing how people think about attending college. Some say that we no longer need to meet in classes, but others maintain that we still need campuses in order that:
a)   We connect to and learn from the abilities and camaraderie of our peers; we witness and partake in the exchange of ideas and innovations from generation to generation; we aspire to be, and to be inspired by, mentors.
b)   We learn first hand about beer pong, exorbitantly high rents, and sexual exploitation.
c)   a or b.  This is obviously the college-educated answer.

8. That is the real voice of our California Governor Gavin Newsom explaining what we should do about the pandemic on KCLU.
a)  True, he swallowed a rasp file when he was a child.
b)  False, the microphone he speaks into is the same one used by Thomas Edison.

9. Many organizations that had served Santa Barbara’s homeless have been forced to shut down during the pandemic — and you can’t shelter in place if you don’t have a place —– so our homeless sleep in tents in our parks without access to food or places to wash. Part of the city’s response was to put up six porta-potties and hand-washing stations. This is akin to:
a)   Seeing that someone’s hot air balloon has a rip in it, and handing them some scotch tape.
b)   Seeing that someone is drowning, and handing them a rubber ducky.
c)   Seeing that someone has run out of gas in the desert, and handing them a shoe.
d)   None of the above.  The city’s response was worse.

10. In Phase 1 of Santa Barbara’s belabored response to the pandemic, State Street has finally been turned into a pedestrian mall in order to:
a)   Widen the downtown space for businesses and people to practice social distancing.
b)   Make business owners on side streets really angry.
c)   Set up Phase 2, in which the city plans to push the ocean back 15 feet in order to make the beaches wider.

Extra Credit (Answer True, False, or Mostly False, to the following statement):
“Reopening in Safe Environment” was apparently written by the same person who came up with the awkward sounding “Be Best” campaign. The acronym for this phrase is RISE, a guide developed by Santa Barbara County on how to safely re-open businesses. Its scope is similar to the county’s SINK, a guide that tells you what to do when you have a hole in your boat.

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