Category Archives: Pandemic Diary

Virtual Waiting Room

Waiting at home for a link to a video call is, in some ways, better than waiting at the doctor’s office. You’re home, after all! You can use your most comfortable chair. You don’t have to worry about getting sick from other people in the waiting room. You know where the bathroom is, you can bring your coffee in, you have all your own reading material.


There’s always that nagging suspicion that the email with the conference link has been lost, and they’ve been waiting for you to connect for the last 10 minutes and will just move onto the next patient.

Which I’ve had happen.

Over the last few months we’ve dealt with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, several in-browser apps and at least one app that couldn’t figure out landscape orientation. Between school and health, we’ve had some setups where we log into an account and the system connects you to the right person, some where each meeting has its own code, and some where a week’s worth of classes will use the same code. Some send the code or URL by email, some by text message, some through a portal. A lot of them send it out right at appointment time.

None of them just, you know, call on the app when they’re ready.

I actually had to reschedule one appointment after checking in. The front office called me on the phone to do the check-in, and at the end they asked if I knew how to get onto their portal to get the Zoom link. I logged in, and waited…and waited…and waited… No new messages, and nothing in the appointment info about how to connect, only that it would be sent in a message. By the time I called back, they’d marked me as a no-show. It turned out they’d sent the link buried in a message (in their portal, of course), back when I’d made the appointment. “But it says you read this message!” Yeah…not recently.

I’ve got to wonder — if someone who does tech for a living has trouble keeping up with this stuff, how hard is it for people who aren’t used to it?

Only a Test. (Whew!)

A couple of days ago I developed a cough and measured a fever. The cough has been very intermittent, and the fever went away after a couple of hours.

Still, I went for a Covid-19 test after measuring the fever, and we all went into lockdown mode just in case. No errands or walks. Just picking up the mail. Extra hand washing. Keeping physical distance at home. It could easily be a false alarm, but with cases surging, it seemed like a good idea to be certain.

All the drive-through centers in the area seem to be closed and I had to go to an urgent care. Instead of letting people in the waiting room, they were checking us in at the door, taking a phone number, and having us wait in our cars. An hour and a half later, they called me in. After checking vitals and symptoms, they actually had me swab my own nostrils with a q-tip and put it in a sample vial.

I got the results two days later through the network’s online portal: negative!

So with the cough and fever gone, and the coronavirus test negative, we can at least return to…well, whatever this is. It’s certainly not “normal.”

(This year has brought it home that “normal” doesn’t really exist – the world is in a constant state of flux, and what we consider “normal” are just local circumstances in time and space.)

But I can go back to daily walks (masked), drive-through and curbside pickup for errands (masked), and only having to keep my distance outside the house.

Individualism: Healthy vs Unhealthy Varieties

I’ve been thinking about individualism, and how there are healthy versions and unhealthy versions. For instance…

Healthy: If you can take care of something yourself, do it, so you don’t have to rely on someone else to do those things. Self-reliance is valuable, but it’s only one tool in the toolbox, and you recognize situations where cooperating with other people is the better option.

Proverbially, teaching a man to fish helps him develop self-reliance.

Example: I’ll make my own masks out of material I already have.

Unhealthy: Don’t ask for, accept, or offer help, because if you or the other person can’t do it on their own, they’re less worthy a person. Self-reliance is treated as an end in itself, and cooperation with others is inherently suspect.

And why would you teach a man to fish? He should know how to do that by now!

And definitely don’t trust someone who wants to teach you to fish. What the hell do they know?

Example: Why should I wear a mask to help someone else? Whether they get sick is their business, not mine. (Even if they get the virus from me. Which they won’t, because I’m not going to get sick, even though I’m not taking any precautions, because I know better.)

One of these attitudes can help us deal with a pandemic virus. The other will help the virus deal with us.

Still Here

OK, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to stop posting for almost two months during a global pandemic. (May 6, really? Time feels like it doesn’t mean anything anymore.)

Though I have still been active on Mastodon. And occasionally I’ll share a link on Twitter, or sign on to look at something, get sucked into the vortex, and retweet a dozen posts before I drag myself back out.

But for the most part I haven’t had anything long-form to say, or that hasn’t already been said better by someone else that I could be boosting on social media. Short comments, photos, links, and retweets/boosts. Things that fit better on other sites in the moment, though I’ll probably import some of them here as the site of record.

Anyway, we’re all still here and haven’t caught Covid-19. Yet. The state and county and cities have been slowly re-opening over the past month, except for all the curfews during the first week or so of the Black Lives Matter protests after police killed George Floyd. We haven’t been out ourselves, but we’re listening, and reading, and thinking, and signing petitions, and amplifying other voices, and donating.

Cases are still rising as businesses and gatherings ramp up, though. And it’s been politicized to a ridiculous degree. People are going to die because their neighbors believe politicians telling them what they want to hear instead of experts telling them what they need to know.

We’re still mostly staying at home. Socializing online and on the phone, or from one patio to the next. Shopping online for delivery or store pickup. Working from home, doing school over Zoom video calls. Takeout maybe once a week. I have been going into the grocery store to buy produce and refrigerated items, but I’ve been trying to stretch it out to two weeks when possible.

I still try to get out for a walk in the neighborhood at least once a day, unless I’ve got an errand to run. That way I only need to deal with a mask once.

Sure, masks are a pain to deal with. But they’re better than staying shut down, and they’re better than letting a pandemic spread exponentially because you can’t be bothered to do the bare minimum to protect people around you. (I was appalled at reading how people in Orange County harassed their public health lead out of office for saying they should wear masks. It’s a state mandate now, but FFS people…grow up and accept some of that responsibility you’re always yelling about.)