Thursday, April 23, 2020

Still invisible

I spend almost eight hours some days on video meetings. And I still feel as if no one sees me. Still, it is sometimes nice to turn off my camera and be invisible because no one notices. I was in a meeting yesterday afternoon with a bunch of Web developers and none had their cameras on. Apparently it is an IT thing. But as they jabbered on about techno stuff that didn't mean anything, I didn't say a word and I was invisible.

Even when I take one of my many walks, some people approach you as if you are not there and I inevitably am the one to step off into the road to let them pass. I don't wear a mask much when I walk because it seems to be unnecessary. I never come within six feet of anyone but my wife or children. But I think I actually think I would prefer wearing a mask. Because then, although not truly invisible, I become faceless. And then it doesn't matter whether I smile at the passing people or not.

We made fun of the people who wore masks in the beginning. Now it is becoming more common to glare at the ones who don't. Because, locked up in our homes with NPR and constant digital news about the latest on COVID-19 is creating a paranoid nation. Hell there was news of two cats testing positive for the virus yesterday (but on the positive side the news said both are recovering nicely). But I wonder how many people are now avoiding their pets.

The sadly ironic thing is that we are all afraid of something that is also invisible. It is everywhere and no where. You can even have it and not know it. It is the ultimate bogeyman. 

I walked through a park with my daughter the other day and a mother was sitting in front of a sign saying the playground equipment was closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The woman was watching her two children as they climbed all over the equipment.  

Maybe the woman has never heard of the bogeyman.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Walking the walk

I walk a lot these days. There isn't much else to do in the way of exercise. I see a great deal of people jogging. I hate to run. There are no gyms open to go to. I'm not standing in front of the television and doing yoga or aerobics. So I walk.

I have an app that tracks my walks and tells me how far I've gone and how many calories I've burned. You have to walk a long time to burn many calories. So I walk about four times a day.

You see a lot when you walk versus when you drive. You notice more. Like I live in a community that has a great deal of wealth and not lots of diversity. And some people weed more than others.

I generally walk with my wife. It is a time for her to talk about her work. We take our first walk at noon. I then walk with my son at 5 p.m. We walk the the dog. My son doesn't talk much. When he does, it is about YouTube influencers and gamers. The dog doesn't talk at all. She just sniffs at spots I assume other dogs have peed on and poops a great deal. I carry a bag of dog poop on most of those walks.

When I return from walking my dog and my son, I then go on a walk with my daughter. We often go to a nearby large park that is more of a forest preserve with lots of trails. She has been in day camps there during the summer and knows it well. She talks much more than my son. She points out skunk cabbage and other plants she has learned about. 

After walking with my daughter, we usually have dinner. After dinner my wife and I walk again. 

It is a surreal world we walk in. All of the businesses are closed except for several restaurants who have figured out ways to sell take out food and cocktails. Apparently liquor laws have been relaxed in the era of COVID-19. We have kept to our routine of going out to eat every Friday night. Except now we take out and eat in. It's not the same. The food is usually cold by the time we get it home and it loses much appeal once it has been thrown together in a box. But still it is a break from the quarantine we have been forced into.

Other than not having to get up at 6 a.m. and commute to downtown, nothing much has changed for me other than walking all the time. I spend all day in meetings. I end my nights binge watching programs on Amazon or Netflix. And each day it starts all over again. 

A pandemic is a bit like I imagine purgatory would be.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Week five

I was going to call this post, "Week five and still alive," but I thought it might be too morbid and it would force me into a challenge of finding something to rhyme each week. Week six, I pick up sticks sounds stupid. Though I did spend lots of time Sunday cutting out a dead Rhodie on my wild hillside and picking up sticks. 

It was Easter weekend and other than having to work for five hours Saturday morning, it was a fairly normal Easter (given the circumstances). We ordered take out from a greasy bar food type of place on Friday night and learned a lesson as to why you don't order take out bar food during a pandemic (or any time for that matter). By the time we got it home, it was pretty cold and fried food loses its appeal once it reaches room temperature.

I am still walking about three times a day. And I still struggle to find a good mask that doesn't cut off oxygen or pull my ears off. Since I don't go in many stores anyway, a mask seems pointless most of the time. 

I made the mistake of reading a New York Times article about the top ten symptoms of you having the COVID-19 virus other than fever and dry cough. Pretty much it read like the side effects list from most prescriptions and I am sure fueled the paranoia most people feel already about anything out of the ordinary about your body. I question the wisdom of publishing such an article. It just seems to panic more than inform. But there seems to be a lot of this going on.

My wife and I were out walking and stopped at a Gelato shop that is apparently an essential business because they are still open. We purchased a pint of gelato for my son and I noted the girl scooping out gelato didn't have gloves or a mask. She exchanged pleasantries with us as I paid and we walked home. Later that afternoon I took my daughter for a walk and we returned to the same gelato shop. The same girl was working. She didn't recall selling me a pint of gelato about an hour earlier and she exchanged the exact same pleasantries. She still wasn't wearing gloves or a mask.

So I am still invisible, pandemic or no pandemic. Some things never change.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Social distancing down the bunny trail

I was tempted to post an image of Jesus on the cross wearing a face mask, but I figured that might be too much for any nut job that wandered in here by mistake. It has been quite awhile since I had any trolls flame me, but I'm just not in the mood. 

I have stated unequivocally stated on many occasions that I am not a religious person and do not believe in a god. The current pandemic has confirmed my disbelief in one. I have considered the current state a wake up call from nature that we haven't heeded any other signs including global warming, hurricanes, tornadoes or Donald Trump so maybe we'll pay attention to a killer virus.

Though I can't help believe that once this has more or less passed, people will talk big about how they've changed, then shrug and get back to mass consumption and ignoring their neighbors. Even pandemics don't seem to be able to change most people's inherent natures.

We plan to dye Easter eggs on Saturday and try to keep some semblance of normalcy for the kids. They are past the age where they want to attend mass Easter egg hunts and get their photos taken with the Easter Bunny anyway. And not being church going people, not being able to go to a Sunday service has absolutely no impact on us. 

I remember the congregation at church when I was a kid singing, "Every day will be an Easter" (a Christian Scientist hymn) and thinking if every day was an Easter we'd get sick of all the candy. I'm not sure that's what the author intended, but it was basically what Easter meant to me, dyeing Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. These days I don't even eat chocolate so dyeing eggs will be the highlight.

Other than walks, I don't really go out anymore. I went with my wife to the grocery store last weekend and got stressed out by all the people going the wrong way in one way aisles that I agreed to stop going.  My wife reminds me that I am over 60 and take medication for high blood pressure so I shouldn't be taking any chances. I even broke my tooth on an unpopped popcorn kernel the other night and chose to forgo a dentist visit until late in May just to avoid the risk of going to downtown Seattle. Fortunately the tooth was a crown and doesn't hurt.

How does that relate to Easter? Well I broke a crown and Jesus wore a crown of thorns. 

Thought you had me there, didn't you? 

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Masked man

There has been a lot of debate lately about whether or not a face mask can help protect you from the COVID-19 virus and that the whoop de do filtered masks should be reserved for medical staff. Most of it is a moot point because, like toilet paper, most of the masks were swooped up early in the frenzy. You can order disposable masks on Amazon, but they all seem to come from China and won't arrive for a month and a half. Plus they are the ones that only filter out dust and pollen anyway.

So the do it yourself versions have become popular. Most are fashioned from bandanas and people basically look like they are going to rob a train or bank. fortunately very few trains are running and no banks are open so there haven't been any misunderstandings that I know of. 

The first mask I wore in public was a prop from a surgeon costume I'd worn in a skit at work many years ago (don't ask). It seemed like a legitimate enough mask, but I think it is actually made of paper that looks like cloth, so I don't think it will make it through many washings. Next I just tied an old Seahawks bandana around my face cowboy style. Works in a pinch, but it kept sliding off my nose, so not sure how much good it does.

I tried another mask using a method from the web where you fold the bandana around hair ties that slip over your ears and keep the mask over your face. The hair ties unfortunately folded my ears down and made me look like something out of Lord of the Rings. And they kept popping off. So I finally just found some cotton fabric with a pirate print and hand sewed cloth ties onto. The result is a crude but effective face mask. By effective, I mean it covers my nose and mouth and, if nothing else, keeps me from sneezing and coughing on people. 

Not that I have been within six feet from anyone but my wife and kids for weeks. I have ventured to the store with my wife a few times and it is almost comical to see people try and stay distant from each other while trying to find canned goods. Our store even created one-way aisles (that most people ignore) to keep people from trying pass each other in the tight space.  But Americans can't seem to self regulate. Just as people ignore speed limits and don't use blinkers, we encounter people who just push up the wrong way in the grocery aisles and seem oblivious to the six-foot rule. I want to get a t-shirt made that reads, "Better six feet away than six feet under." But someone would probably take it the wrong way.

I think having a sense of humor during these times puts me in the higher risk category.