COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 10 – 16

Apparently I am now terrible at making a plan and sticking to it… I meant to update this thing every day, but I’ve just dropped the damn ball. Probably really because there’s not that much happening when you’re self-isolating that would make a good blog entry… I wake up, I log in to work, I work for 8+ hours, I log off, I make something for dinner, play some Fallout or World of Warcraft (or both), then I take a shower and go to bed. That’s my day.

But, I guess it’s worth mentioning that about a week ago Hillsborough County was put under a stay-at-home order. Today, the entire state of Florida followed suit. So it’s like being grounded… I never got grounded as a kid, so this is a new experience for me. I think if I had been grounded as a kid I probably would have been allowed to go to school and church and, since I now don’t go to either, I guess going to the grocery store is a lot like going to church – it’s the one reprieve I get from staying at home. And that’s fine… I’m an introvert with anxiety. I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want to have to worry about being sick… and since no one really enters or leaves this apartment except for me, it’s unlikely that I’ll get sick just by staying in here, three floors off the ground, working, playing games, binge watching Criminal Minds, making sourdough bread and patching up an old blanket that’s been in my life since I was a very small child. It could certainly be worse.

And I am glad I spent the first few months in this apartment diligently unpacking and putting things away and really making this place home-like (to me). I’ve got my Star Wars toy collection all over my living room, my big oak bookshelves bursting with books in the bedroom, enough toilet paper to last about three months if I’m careful, and a much larger kitchen than I’ve had since we left Louisville for Florida. And in that kitchen I am now making sourdough bread – partially because it’s a nice thing to do (and I like cooking) but also because bread can be tricky to find right now and I thought that if I made my own, that’s one more loaf at the store that would be available for someone who maybe can’t make their own bread.

This whole thing is seriously making me wonder if I really should just get it over with and buy a house in the country, get a milk cow and some chickens, plant a garden and just live off the land. I mean I doubt I’d do half of that… the garden is more realistic for me, because I actually know how to raise one of those. Cows and chickens… not a clue… but it’s an interesting thought.

Daily Developments:

  • This is Day 4 of the Sourdough Starter. It should be ready to bake with tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll have time and energy to do that after work.
  • I managed to sew up one of the big holes in the blanket that used to be on my parents’ bed when I was a kid. This thing is older than dirt and I could probably just get a new one and be done with it, but this one has sentimental value to me and it’s so freaking soft after all those years of use. So I’ll keep sewing it up until there’s nothing more to sew.
  • Florida declared its own shelter in place order today. It lasts until April 30. I think restaurants are still delivering, but several of my favorite ones have closed to give their workers a chance to stay healthy.

Things I’m Happy About

  • I’m back to giving webinars for the first time in nearly six years. It feels good to be back in that field again and I’m always excited when I do it.
  • I unlocked flying in Legion. Finally. One more day and I should be able to unlock the “Now I Am The Master” cooking achievement too.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 7-9

Been a little busy here the last few days. Work is going well… I get to start training people again via webinar… something I haven’t gotten to do since I left Tampa back in 2014. I’ve been trying to get back into it ever since and, despite many twists and turns and a series of moves that took me away from Tampa and then brought me right back and sent me down a rabbit hole career-wise (for a bit), it looks like I’m heading back into the direction I wanted to go. I give my first webinar tomorrow… and while I am (understandably nervous), I am also pretty at ease… I know the materials pretty well, and I’m good at improv for the stuff I don’t know.

But enough about that. The virus continues to spread. Most of the Florida beaches are closed… I know that some of the spring breakers have gone home (but not all of them… some of them decided to stay… I’m not sure what they’re really doing since they can’t DO anything around here except go grocery shopping now that the bars, clubs, and restaurants are closed). New Yorkers are also apparently flying into Florida to escape their stay-at-home orders and the governor finally mandated that anyone getting off of a plane that comes from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut has to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Because the governor doesn’t want to issue a stay-at-home mandate for the entire state, some local governments are taking it upon themselves to issue their own. Honestly I don’t see how that can be effective because it’s not like the virus is going to come up to certain county lines and say, “Oh… I’m banned here… I’ll go somewhere else.” And also, especially in counties that comprise big regions like Tampa Bay, it would be difficult to enforce when you have a community that depends on its ability to commute to other counties for work. Is someone living in Hillsborough county who works in a non-essential job in Manatee county (which is technically outside the “Bay” area) supposed to sacrifice their job to stay home, or are they supposed to illegally leave and risk a fine so that they can keep their job? I get the need for effort, I do, but there has to be some kind of consistency or it simply doesn’t make sense.

But… I digress… the county I live in has proposed instating a stay-at-home order AS WELL AS a curfew. It hasn’t passed yet, but I expect it to tomorrow, which means there is likely more WoW and Fallout time in my immediate future.

Daily Developments:

  • See above information about the curfew… will probably pass tomorrow.
  • Milo likes to play fetch during the day. I cannot always play with him, but he makes a point of throwing his little toy around on his own (then staring up at me pathetically) when I can’t participate.
  • I finished the book I was reading in two days. It’s not because I have a lot of spare time (though I kinda do), but because it was a page turner and I didn’t want to put it down.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • Oddly, this virus is the reason I’m getting to start doing webinars again, because our other trainers are too busy to handle them all. Believe me, I wish that there was another good reason for this, but I told you, I’m trying to see the positives in this.
  • Slept pretty decently the last couple of nights. This is a true achievement for me.
  • Only about 1-1.5 more days until I’ll have unlocked flying in Legion. This is something I wasn’t going to do because honestly it takes forever to do now, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time but that, obviously, has changed.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 4-6

On Friday, I drove down to Bradenton to see Lord Ormsby. We practiced social distancing from within his apartment, except for when we used my car to go get him some supplies so that he doesn’t have to take his motorcycle for multiple trips to the grocery store (since it doesn’t haul as much as my bug does).

What’s nice about Ormsby’s place is that it is right next to Bradenton’s Riverwalk so, while the beaches were closed, we could still get outside and take a walk and enjoy some of the sunshine. I had no idea how nice that strip of walkway was… water on one side, landscaping and benches on the other, a marina so that you can look at all of the yachts that you’ll never be able to afford (and think how effective it must be to social distance on one of those things). We also discovered that he lives super close to an ice cream/smoothie place. We didn’t get any that day, but it’d a nice little tidbit of information to have in your back pocket for a later time.

The grocery stores are civil – some are more crowded than others – and depending on what time you go, different things are available (but not toilet paper). I finally found the rice I was looking for today when I went on a whim. Also got some deli ham (they’re putting it in regular ziploc bags now because they are out of their other ones) and some salad mix. The ham and cheese sandwich I had today hit the spot.

Tampa’s mayor was reported to have said that she is considered a lockdown of our county if the governor doesn’t lock down the state first. I expect that will likely be announced sometime tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. I told Ormsby that if there is a state lockdown and if he is not expected to work, then he is welcome to come here for the duration – since it will be a LONG quarantine for him to be stuck in a place with no internet or cable and a handful of dvds. I also told him to bring his own toilet paper.

Lots of domestic disturbances at my complex today… and I live in a nice area of town. People haven’t been stuck inside for even a week and they’re already starting to lose their shit. I can’t imagine what this is going to be like if things really do lock down, and sincerely hope this does not become some new nationwide rendition of “The Shining.”

At any rate, I got one more (large) bag of cat food today – they aren’t going to need food for another five months at this rate (which is fine with me… better safe than sorry, since I can’t get their food at a normal grocery store), and there’s not much else that I can do to be prepared at this point, so I guess whatever happens, happens.

Back in my good old Kentucky home, my parents’ church suspended its services for the first time in living memory. Their minister apparently delivered his sermon (like so many others have) via Facebook – this was a big deal, though, because their congregation is older and slower to change (though I think by now even the oldest ones have a Facebook account).

Daily Developments:

  • Ohio and Louisiana are the latest two states to enact the stay-at-home orders, joining a handful of other states.
  • Many of the Florida beaches are finally closed.
  • Miami Beach hotels are supposed to close on Monday.
  • The Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos here in Tampa finally made the decision to close – that’s the biggest deal because they probably had the most traffic now that Disney and Universal have been closed for so long.
  • Grocery store shelves are still pretty picked over when you go there, but they are better in the morning.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • I am playing a ton of World of Warcraft – more than I’ve played in years. The servers are getting populated again, now that no one has anything else to do, and I’m getting achievements that I’ve “not had time” to try for in a while… also I’m unlocking all the flying that I said I’d never actually do on principle because it was too difficult (but you know… now I have time… so…)
  • I have rice.
  • The book I’ve been wanting to read since the summer (“The Phantom Prince” by Elizabeth Kendall, about Ted Bundy) finally came off hold for me today… I’ve been on a list for freaking ever to read this one. This could not have come at a better time, since I am now stuck home for the foreseeable future.
Bradenton Riverwalk – Butterfly Garden
Bradenton Riverwalk
Bradenton Riverwalk

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 3

About three months ago, I moved from the apartment complex that I’d lived in during my entire Florida tenure to a nicer, newer complex that is only about three miles from my office.  It is much safer and quieter here (for the most part), and cheaper than what I was paying (at least for now – since they always get you in at a low rate, then increase prices every year you stay thereafter). 

Last night, due to the virus, they sent four identical emails to the community to let us know that, due to the virus, they are closing the doors to the main office and will only be communicating with residents through email, their portal, or by phone.  They are really bad about answering the phone, and I try to have as little contact as I can with them anyway, aside from getting air filters and picking up packages the delivery people are too lazy to leave at my door. 

It also means that if something breaks around here, I’ll either have to wait until this is over or fix it myself, since the maintenance crews aren’t doing any in-home repairs right now that aren’t absolutely urgent.  I’ve had a house before – I can do a lot of things on my own.  But this makes me (almost) glad that my furnace had a clog about three weeks ago and I asked the maintenance guy to look at my shower issue too while he was here (the hot water didn’t work properly).  This whole self isolation thing would be eminently worse I did not have hot water in the shower.

Not having the benefit of knowing that if something breaks it will be fixed promptly for who knows how long is kind of a pain, but I’ve taken the steps I need (like calling Amazon this morning and telling them to ship things directly to my door instead of delivering them to the leasing office) to get the things I have to have without needing to go in there so I’ll be ok.  Bonus Points: Publix sells the apartment-sized air filters that fit my unit if I have to replace it again before all of this is over.

Speaking of Publix, it wasn’t exactly packed, but the shelves really were bare… like where, just last week, I could go get groceries and had plenty of choices, now it was more difficult to find what I was looking for.  I am really, really, really glad I started doing this stocking up thing a long time ago.  It would be hell to try to find all my groceries right now – at this point, like I wrote a couple of days ago, all I have to worry about is replenishing the stock I already have with a like (or similar) item. 

Trying to avoid food delivery and drive-thru as much as I can… I am sure they are safe, especially since basically every restaurant I patronize has sent me an email over the last several days saying they are going to be shutting down their dining areas, but there is absolutely no reason to buy what I can cook on my own.

Working from home is still going well.  They’re going to start letting me facilitate webinars next week, and while I’m a little nervous, I kind of can’t wait.  That’s what I used to do every day, three times a day, and it was pretty great.  Also, I love the team I work with.  I mean I wouldn’t cut my arm off for them (but I wouldn’t do that for anyone), but there’s not a lot that I wouldn’t do to help out where I’m needed to, and I’m pleased that I get the opportunity to branch out a little and show them what I can do.

Daily Developments

  • They’ve shut down all the apartment amenities.  So no gym.  No pool (but I didn’t use that anyway).  No leasing office.  I’m going to have to get creative about exercising, but this is a nice area, seems to be safe, maybe it’s time to start walking in the late afternoons again like I used to. 
  • Publix was empty.  Like… the only thing that was really, truly stocked were the pickles and the supplies for baking.  I am eminently glad that I know how to bake.  And to cook.  My mother did me a true solid when she taught me that skill.  What used to just be a selling point… a novelty item for the dating market has now become a survival mechanism.  Breads, desserts, crackers, snacks… there’s so much that you can do with a little bit of those basic things, and I always keep a lot of those things on hand.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • I have a four day weekend.  I requested PTO ages ago, and kept it so I could take care of some things. 
  • I’ll go down to see Lord Ormsby tomorrow (we no longer live together due to our work situations).
  • My patio is set up nicely so that, if I can’t go out and hang out outside too much due to needing to stay away from society in general, I can sit out on the patio read.  It’s really quite homey.
  • Streaming television.  And cable.  It’s been nice to be able to have Seinfeld and Friends on during the day when I’m working – even if I’m not really watching it that closely.

COVID- 19 Chronicles: Day 2

Spent some time today going over my quarantine rations, taking stock of what I’ve eaten (so I know what I need to replace) and what is in the weekly Publix ad.  I’ll probably go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Work was mostly business as usual, but had some fairly moderate computer issues throughout the day.  Nothing I couldn’t resolve, but I definitely got tired of putting in my Multi-Factor authenticator throughout the day.

I think I’ve found my “background noise” routine – Bay News 9 in the morning, followed by the daily Friends marathon on TBS in the afternoon.  I don’t really watch it, per se, because I am actually working, but it was especially helpful today since the only other ambience was the sound of the leaf blowers and lawn mowers outside, cutting the grass in the complex. 

There’s not a lot of news to report today on my front – I mean for the most part, I get up, I work from home, then I log off and think about what I’m going to have for dinner.  I have a lot of chicken that I need to use, but I don’t really want chicken tonight.  I’ve been considering freezing it, actually, so that it’ll keep longer and I can thaw and use it as I need it. 

At any rate, there’ll probably be more to report tomorrow since it’ll be the first time I’ve left my house since Monday night.  I’m curious to see what the stores look like now.

Daily Developments:

  • I am pretty sure my cats have no idea what is going on, but they seem to be over the moon that I no longer get up in the morning only to leave the house for the whole day.  They take turns sitting in my lap and “helping” with my work duties.
  • The government is talking about implementing a stimulus of some sort.  Compared to the amount of money people are losing on a daily basis as jobs are cut and new work in skilled fields (such as the AV/Entertainment industry) is hard to find, whatever they send out will be a drop in the bucket, but it will help a little… probably.

Things I’m happy about:

  • I still have chocolate chip cookies.
  • I actually slept last night (without drugs).
  • I managed to fix some computer issues today and sent a report to our IT department, so they knew how to help people troubleshoot.
  • I may FaceTime with my nieces tonight.  😊

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 1

I realize that COVID has been a thing for months now… but it’s affected me, personally, very little, except that I decided early on that this could be really bad and that I should probably go out and make sure my stock of cold medicines and tissues was stable.  I bought one package of toilet paper then (but because I was basically out) and a little bit of food, but left it at that because things hadn’t blown up in the US yet and I wanted to see what would happen.

As the news got worse, and it made its way over here, I’ve spent the last four weeks stocking up on non-perishable food items (they’ll also last through hurricane season), stuff I’ll want if I do get sick, and food and litter for the cats.  I was comfortably prepared for this thing before it got ridiculous.  I am proud of that.

Two weeks ago, at work, the order came for us to start preparing to work from home – there was no word on whether we actually would, but they wanted us to test our connections and apps to make sure we could if we had to.  Yesterday the order came for us to begin remote-working today, so this is it.

Working from home is not so bad.  I made the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made in my life on Saturday night, with some left over to snack on (and they need to be – their shelf life is only about 5 days).  I get up and log in at my normal time (around 6:45), but I do it in my fuzzy socks and with one of the cats in my lap periodically.  I miss my work friends, but I am also really digging getting to hang out with the cats all day, so I guess it’s the ultimate trade off.

Social isolation is not difficult for a lifelong introvert… I guess you could say that, in a way, I’ve been rehearsing for this my whole life.  Granted, I’ve gotten better about my introversion over the years, but I also have absolutely no qualms about binge watching an entire television series or playing four straight hours of World of Warcraft and getting achievements that I just don’t have time to go for during normal periods of my life.

I am, of course, worried about my family – but, most of them live in a very small town in a rural area.  They are pretty social within the confines of that town, however, people in that town don’t travel much and it’s not a bustling tourist destination.  You could argue that they practice a less extreme form of social isolation all the time.  And I call them pretty much daily now so I know they’re ok.

At any rate, because I find myself with more “downtime” than I am accustomed to and because I am a historian (seriously, I have a degree in this) with a fascination for social history and change – and in a weirdly twisted way, I am flattered to be living in the middle of it – I’ve decided to chronicle this all here.

I’m not doing this because I’m anticipating getting a lot of hits… I would imagine WordPress (among other sites) is FULL of posts like mine right now… (probably from people that are a whole lot worse off and, by proxy, more interesting) but because I really want to be able to come back to this someday and read about it all. If you do decide to join me for this series, please note that I’m not going to be getting engaged in scientific discussions (I am not qualified), nor political ones (not qualified for that either).  I think the best thing we can do for ourselves now, and for each other, is to remain as positive as we can.  And that’s what I’ll be doing.

With any luck, I’ll be able to post daily (or semi-daily).

Daily Developments:

  • Florida’s Primary elections are still taking place.  This is a big deal because other states have changed the date of theirs.
  • Tampa’s bars and clubs are closed. Restaurants are limited to 50% capacity (and are urging takeout).
  • People are still coming down here for Spring Break, which I find odd, but y’all also help ensure we don’t pay state income tax, so thanks.
  • The Clearwater Pier was recently closed (but the beach is still open)… South Beach, I hear, is closed, though.

Things I’m happy about:

  • I have food… enough to last through hurricane season if I’m careful.
  • Milo spent a good half of the day in my lap. He spent part of it watching a webinar.  If this is my new “normal” for work, I’ll take it.
  • Grocery stores here are still pretty much stocked with everything (except toilet paper and hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap)… so I can easily replace what I consume. This is what I plan to do until this either ends or I get sick and have to quarantine myself.  If I have to quarantine myself, I have enough supplies to get by on until that quarantine period ends.
  • I still have a job – seriously… I’ve already seen one major recession in my adult life, and I was unemployed and basically homeless during that one. I am thankful, THANKFUL that I have work, and that my employer lets me work from home instead of forcing me on furlough, and also that my rent is reasonable since I moved to another area of town.

— ‘Till tomorrow.

Internet Dating Escapades XXXIV

I know it’s been awhile, but this came across my Instagram account today and I had to share.  Technically this isn’t really Internet Dating at all (and I’m not single, nor dating), but it kind of falls in line with the other 34 of these so I decided it needed to fall into this category.

There’s a lot here, but read through till the end. 🙂

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… And then… they went back and deleted all of these messages, not realizing that they have been screen-captured and are going to be posted online for posterity’s sake.

… Until next time, folks.