>The legendary antics of phone phreaks in the 70s are as numerous as they are unverifiable. There's the story of a couple of phreaks — of which one was allegedly Draper — who called up the White House, dropped President Nixon's secret codename 'Olympus' and were soon put through to the President himself — only to tell him of a 'national emergency' that was occurring because Los Angeles had run out of toilet paper.
>We had the code word that would summon Nixon to the phone. Almost immediately, another person was starting the process of dialing the number. I stopped them just in time and recommended that they stack at least 4 tandems before looping the call to the White house. Sure enough, the man at the other end said "9337", my other friend said "Olympus please!", the man at the other end said "One moment sir!"... About a minute later, a man that sounded remarkably like Nixon said "What's going on?". My friend said "We have a crisis here in Los Angeles!", Nixon said "What's the nature of the crisis?", My friend said in a serious tone of voice "We're out of toilet paper sir!". Nixon said "WHO IS THIS?" My friend then hung up. Never did learn what happened to that tape, but I think this was one of the funniest pranks, and I don't think that Woz would even come close to this one. I think he was jealous for a long time.
>To the best of my recollection, this was about 4 months before Nixon resigned because of the Watergate crisis.
Happily, we were reasonably well stocked before this all hit the fan, but I'm a little surprised to still see empty shelves after a week. How long does it typically take to restock non-perishables?
We have enough food and supplies. We have the distribution to get it to stores. We have the capability to sell it in store. The only scarcity we have is because of the hoarders. That hoarding and resulting scarcity is creating more hoarders.
It's textbook illusion of scarcity.
It doesn't seem like a problem that will be solved until, gradually, everyone has plenty and most stores are stocked. That seems to be how things abated in 1973, over a few months.
Few things suck so much time away as having to go out for X because you've run out.
In other news I've got fourteen pounds of beans if anybody wants any.
Just-in-time manufacturing succeeded because supply chains became reliable enough that factories didn't need their own stockpiles. If you're out in the country and you have a big pantry then sure, stock up, but those of us living in the city may not have space. And even if you do have space, if everyone realises they have no stock and decides to buy up a month's supply, that has pretty much the same practical impact as hoarding.
I have a 44sqm apartment with 2 adults, an infant and a cat, and we've managed to fit a month's worth of supplies in a single wardrobe. I don't think space is a problem (weight is, OTOH).
Suddenly stocking to up to 6 months of everything? That's hoarding. Building a month's worth? That's a minimum if you want to stay safe in case you and your family get quarantined, and your normal buffer should be around that anyway, regardless of the pandemic.
Indeed FEMA is now asking that folks only buy a weeks worth of groceries: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/03/23/coronavirus-new-guide...
Over here in Germany the recommendation has always been to have supplies for 10-14 days at home. Seems like a more reasonable number than a months worth - especially for city dwellers.
> the recommendation has always been to have supplies for 10-14 days at home. Seems like a more reasonable number than a months worth - especially for city dwellers.
That's a nice recommendation for a calm time, but a bit short for the pandemic. If you get quarantined, you need to stay put for 14-21 days. Add a bit of padding to account for undersupplied stores (and to add a margin for error), and you arrive at 1 month's worth.
(The truth is, JIT supply chains simply aren't designed to survive events like a global pandemic. They're control systems overtuned to extract the last bits of efficiency from trade, and fall into bad oscillations when disruptions happen. As we can see today.)
Let your neighbors know, and be sure to tell them that there is no condition to wanting to eat them. Many people are going to go more hungry in the coming weeks or months, and helping those around us is one of the best ways to apply surplus.
but maybe our world is not structured for maximal rationality.
Since The Thing is exponential there is a worst-case-scenario that everyone on the entire planet will have it by the middle of May, if not before.
So correctly assuming that you are the last person to get it, then you will need eight rolls of bathroom tissue. This will see you through to the calamity and through two weeks of self isolation to either recover or die.
If living in a house of two adults with two point two children, one dog and two cats, then you are going to need four of those nine roll packs to see The Thing through.
This has some contingency for problems of localised flooding in your bathroom, a stomach bug or children that are secretly selling your supplies.
Plus this allows for extra supplies in case vulnerable locked-down Baby Boomers run out in your neighbourhood and need the folding stuff.
Given that the hoarding mentality is growing at an exponential rate and that every tree on the planet could be cut down for bathroom tissue in a month's time, the people buying dozens of rolls are arguably behaving in a rational manner.
Most ordinary people don’t have the luxury of a house with a pantry. And many people can only afford what they need each week so can’t stock up even if they had somewhere to store it.
A lot of bottom dollar apartments wind up having unintentional pantries because they wind up dividing a floor of an existing building in such a way that you wind up with a closet in the kitchen.
It's been interesting to see what gets sold out, there is still plenty of canned tuna etc, but no lemon juice (but there is lime juice). Didn't realise people used lemon juice so much.
This. TP consumption is unchanged per day. But the proportion of consumed TP that is consumed at retail must be up 30-50%. Nearly nobody is using their work/school/restaurant's TP that comes in giant rolls or in a cardboard box without a UPC code.
Same for tomato sauce: Most people don't want the 10# cans that food-service used to buy. Or the barrels that a pizza shop would buy. Grocery stores probably don't have a SKU for those. Could be a different packaging factory entirely.
Supermarkets have introduced limits on the number of toilet roll packets you can buy (which is sensible).
However, last weekend I was at the supermarket when it opened, and I observed something I haven't seen noted elsewhere.
Manufactures seem only to be shipping enormous packages of toilet paper (24 packs). This means people buy 1 packet of 24 rolls, because that is all that is available. These huge packets also take more shelf space, which results in more shortages.
Some smaller, independent supermarkets have taken to re-packaging the rolls into smaller packets, which is a win/win for both the shop and the consumer.
But the manufacturer behaviour is interesting and unfortunate.
People are happy to buy anything at the moment. Making sure each household can get supply seems like it should be a priority.
I think that happens, but from observation it's a downstream event usually in reaction to shortages one of the friends is having.
What they're doing is shifting production to focus on large bulk sizes and more TP instead of other paper items.
A checkout girl told me they restock overnight and every day it's gone within two hours of opening (although that was before they brought in the dedicated AM shopping hour for the seniors/disabled to get their supplies).
I'm not sure if that was meant to be a deliberate pun or just a fortuitous typo, but it fits here.
Which is amazing because bidets are very far from being a thing in the US.
It never did. It's poorly soluble in water, that's what the gin was for. If it's not pre-mixed, your tonic water has a negligible amount of quinine.
Also, I thought the gin was for making the tonic water palatable. The tonic water I’ve had is pretty awful by itself and the gin definitely brings something to the table in terms of moderating the flavor. I have to imagine that any tonic that actually worked would taste even worse.
Others with the disease strongly recommend them.
While these are very visible events, do they actually have a significant contribution on the shortage compared to all the other shoppers having a slight increase in desire to buy toilet paper. It is possible even the visibility of the panic buyers loading up as much as possible has more of an impact than their actual purchase. Take someone who buys 8 of those mega packs. Plenty right. But the picture going around might convince hundreds that they should pick up a single pack when otherwise they would have waited until their existing stock was lower before restocking.
I'm guessing only someone with access to the actual store records would be able to pull a report to clarify one way or the other.
Both concepts would seem to apply, and to be different people, but a rice manufacturer would usually be called a farmer.
More relevantly, it's not at all implausible for a farming operation to be selling rice on another continent, and to schedule shipments several months in advance.
Your supermarkets are probably restocking this stuff every day, and possibly multiple times a day, but it doesn't take much change in buying patterns to cause temporary shortages.
Statewide Shelter In Place was, what, Thursday AM the.. 19th? Bay area was Monday the 16th? I've been working from home since the 6th. At least a week before the 6th, my wife made a Costco run to make sure we were topped up on non-perishable stuff, and bought another "case" of TP even though we had almost an entire full one on hand. (usually we buy it once we get below 50, because we don't go to Costco very often). That was the extent of our "stocking up", but I think it happened in late Feb, and we were almost immediately hearing of others doing the same in the region.
Costco lines have been a thing for weeks. Which I didn't get; I popped into my local grocery store a few times (granted, in the morning) the week of the 9th, and it was always quite well-stocked, even as I was hearing of lines and chaos at Costco.
Granted, I went back on the afternoon of the 14th or 15th and it looked like it had been ransacked :) but until then, I thought the strategy was JUST DON'T GO TO COSTCO.
I'm something of a bidet evangelist, even in non-invisible-war times. A coworker mentioned the other day that bidets had long shipping delays.
I just looked on Amazon. There are no prime options, some are out of stock + the model I have is priced at least 2-2.5x higher than when I bought it a year or so ago.
The run on bidets must have started around the same time as the run on TP.
While there are some panic buyers who are buying far more than just 1, I wonder if they are making as much an impact as all the non-panic buyers who are just picking up one just in case.
Maybe not, I could be off on the impact, but it does seem reasonable at first glance and explains why even purchase limits can have a hard time combating TP shortages in the short term.
These people must not be regulars because they weren't using the scan and go app and were waiting in the huge lines for at least 30-40 minutes minimum. Many of them had nothing else in the carts.
But yeah same, I would've expected things to have calmed down by now - how much toilet paper can people hoard? That's not even the main issue, we're still having problems finding fresh produce and meat and the like. I mean sure, some (like bread) can be explained by more people working from home (we like our lunch sandwiches), but people should still be eating dinner as normal.
The statistics are that grocery shops are seeing 35% more revenue, bigger even than around christmas.
But again, I hope things settle down a bit once people realize they can't physically cram more supplies into their house. After this I think we'll see a big decline in e.g. toilet paper because people have stocked up on so much.
I would only actually cook maybe 1.5 meals a week at home before this- lunch was served at my job, Friday/Saturday we would go out to eat, I would cook on Sunday and snack on whatever during the week.
At least that's the way here in Germany. While flour, toilet paper, some sorts of canned food and random other stuff is sold out in most super markets, the small turkish shop down the street has everything in stock.
Non-Asian people haven't been raiding them because a) they either never knew or simply forgot these stores even exist or b) because racists think they're more likely to catch covid from anything Asian.
I grabbed all the sliced mild cheddar cheese, which was only about ten half-pound packages. We could go through that in 3 to 10 days, depending on what people feel like eating. The cashier took away all but two packages. I don't even have enough to make toasted cheese sandwiches for my family.
I was planning to buy 6 gallons of milk, which is pretty normal for me. It might last 2 days at my house, so it really isn't much. The limit was just 2 gallons! This means I have to keep going back to the store, sometimes more than once per day, risking virus exposure each time. I managed a small violation by putting two gallons on the checkout conveyor belt and then, a full cart and hundreds of dollars latter, two more gallons. The argument over cheese probably helped the cashier to forget the 2 gallons already bagged.
Fortunately, there didn't seem to be any limits aside from dairy and bread. I got a couple large whole turkeys (each good for one meal plus a bit for soup), a whole chicken (lunch), and a large pork roast. I got a 19-pound jackfruit.
Newspaper will clog plumbing, and it is not fun to deal with.
I used paper towels, newspapers, and magazines all the time as a kid when we ran out at home and never once clogged anything as far as I can remember.
There is also the option of throwing the used paper in the trash. This is standard practice in Mexico and I assume many other places with poor water pressure.
The "answer", at least for those with space, is to keep and rotate three or six months of it, even though that sounds ridiculous. Or, alternatively, do the bidet thing or even have a standby outhouse in back.
But unlike other inelastic things -- say, critical healthcare -- it's so cheap that its demand/supply behavior comes seemingly out of nowhere.
I don't think it makes sense for toilet paper manufacturers to ramp up production -- sales now mostly just cannibalize your future sales -- but bidet manufacturers should ramp up in order to take advantage of the situation, and maybe tp makers should ramp up just to avoid that that.
Right now, bidets are expensive / out-of-stock on Amazon. If you can make enough to keep them available and the price low, it could finally get a serious foothold in the US, rather than being some extremely niche product. A culture shift in bidet acceptance could finally open up the US market.
Only to the extent you are a monopoly.
Toilet paper right now effectively is at a very steep discount relative to its true market value. Hoarding could be stopped, or at least mitigated, by price increases. Shortages could be avoided that way.
However, the prospect that toilet paper prices might rise is more worrisome to regulators than there not being any toilet paper to buy at all.
People survived for thousands of years before TP was invented.
The worst of the worst is when there is nobody to run the power plants. How do you shower without electricity? There will be no water.
That said, how come people stock up on toilet paper for months, but they don't have enough food to ever survive to the point of last leaf.
As you say, food, water and living essentials are far more important in a real survival scenario.
It's a meme, alright, but how do you know they don't?
(BTW. a month's worth of food takes less space than a month's worth of TP.)
I can just barely imagine a month's worth of food fitting in the space of 3-4 TP rolls, but it would be some extremely calorically dense stuff, and if that was what I ate I likely wouldn't need much of the TP.
In other words, I can't see how this is possibly true unless you have digestive issues one way or the other.
I have questions... that I guess I don't really want to ask.
I once did an inventory of the durable food supplies we had around the house, itemizing each product category to account for energy and macronutrients, and then boxed them all up for storage. In the end, I was surprised just how little space a month's worth supply for two takes, even allowing for a balanced diet. I recommend the exercise - especially now, as you'd probably like to know whether your buffer will last as long as you think, and whether it's balanced.
It's not the volumetrically small amount of food you're using that strikes me as curious, it's the spectacularly large amount of toilet paper. Holy shit!
Right, so, let's say 2 cans, one roll; two days, one roll. One month, 15 rolls? No. "Halfway on the scale"?" One month, 7 rolls? Maybe more likely, but I'm rounding up at every stage here, and granting you're eating only mayo.
The math just doesn't come close.
Less isn't zero, though, and lots of life forms live on the output of others. Dung beetles, for example.
I've lived with babies using cloth diapers. After changing a diaper, it went into the toilet. After settling the baby, you swish the diaper around with tongs, flush, and then repeat rinsing and flushing. Then you hold the rinsed diapers in a pail, for a few days, until there are enough to wash.
But sometimes you forget. And then someone gets surprised when they go to use the toilet ;)
Also, you only need one per trip that way, and you won't risk fouling the washing machine. Saves water, too.
I've been doing this unintentionally. The top of my linen closet isn't good for much else; it's awkward to reach up there so it's only good for lightweight, bulky things.
Given that I'm only gonna use it for TP or paper towels, there's no reason NOT to keep it completely full; there's nothing else I'd be doing with that space anyway. And actually I have the paper towels stored somewhere that's more convenient to the kitchen and garage, where they get used, so the closet top is all TP.
If my girlfriend moved in, it would probably be a 3-month supply. As a single guy, it's closer to a year.
Her store and others were caught in a flurry of buying. Her daily sales were double or triple what they normally should have been and her shelves became empty because they didn’t anticipate it. It caused multiple days of empty shelves because they order on Wednesday for the Friday and Saturday for Monday, so basically they got hit hard Wednesday evening and then they could only order for Monday. So the shelves were empty from Wednesday to Monday. That creates fear.
However all the stores were hammered so the warehouse was empty. Since then she has been getting half orders and the further shelter orders caused more buying. So it hasn’t abated yet.
She has been sold out of masks since January and hand sanitizers for weeks. Only recently did she get sold out of rubbing alcohol and cleaning products. And then after the Wednesday she started selling out of basically everything. It hasn’t stopped yet but she is getting shipments of sanitizer and cleaning products but they are getting bought up immediately.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › pmc
The effect on mortality of antipyretics in the treatment of influenza infection: systematic ...
The current medical advice is take paracetamol, but not ibuprofen. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/paracetamol-for-adults/
It helps to understand what you're talking about before writing in such an authoratitive tone.
They lamented that there weren’t any good trials in humans available to review, so the impacts of antipyretics on influenza is still an open question, but the animal models aren’t looking promising.
In other words: should you take antipyretics for the flu? Dunno for sure, but I’ll avoid it based on the data that we do have.
In most parts of Asia, people use water, in combination with TP. Western hygiene standards seem to be lacking in this area.
For most its the unfamiliarity with the idea which prevents the rational thinking behind it
I like to live in reality and not a world of what-ifs. About 50% of my shits are immediately followed by a shower. As far as I (or anybody else so far) can tell, whether or not I followed the toilet paper up with a shower has absolutely zero impact.
Again I ask, exactly what issues have you had that stemmed from using toilet paper instead of a bidet?
* Adding shifts at overtime pay to meet demand (lower profit/unit, but more equipment utilization and total profit)
* Potentially higher freight charges (entirely unsure how freight rates are going these days compared to normal)
* Calloffs from employees from illness, exposure, or fear
* Lacking supply if they're working on a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) system - where the supplier owns inventory until pulled by a customer, at which time the supplier gets paid. These agreements often have parameters about stocking and forecast levels, which are typically fine, but then Sales talks about the "customer relationship" and wants to make drastic changes to how the factory runs (sub-optimizing production) to keep $bigCustomer happy.
Per the manager, the grocery store near me averages 10 units/day of toilet paper sold (good size town in the Midwest, with many grocery stores). One day about 2 weeks ago they sold 3,000 units. They have ~75 feet of shelf space (4 shelves high) dedicated to toilet paper. Literal semi's full of toilet paper flying off the shelves. They now have a limit if 1 unit per trip.
I've been to the store twice since then and always check the toilet paper aisle as a gauge of how they're doing. Still completely empty when I visit after work.
COVID-19 doesn't show GI issues as a symptom. Consumption isn't going up notably, but demand has been bonkers. Everybody will have months of toilet paper in their inventory at home, causing demand in the coming months to drop significantly. They may need to reduce the number of shifts or eliminate overtime at the factories.
Shelf space at grocery stores is expensive. If the toilet paper companies pay for less shelf space, they may not get it back. Grocery stores won't be excited to use that much space for a product that's moving at <50% of previous volumes.
It really is a weird issue and I don't envy the people figuring out how to deal with it.
Why? Because spiking supply now will hurt them later. Usage hasn't/doesn't actually go up. In fact, usage will go down by whatever percentage of the population succumbs.
From reading I did earlier, GI issues may be more common in older groups.
Johnny Carson jokes about it and then people rush out and buy toilet paper causing a shortage.
There are limits on pasta, canned goods, meat etc. as well.
The same amount of toilet paper - all of it - gets sold either way.