Pandemic Journal, Day 457

It was hot today – the official San Jose temperature topped out at 95, but the thermometer outside our house went well over 100. I took a walk right after my Toastmasters meeting, where I saw this industrious bee.

We turned off our air conditioning at 4pm to honor the California ISO’s Flex Alert (after cooling the house to 70!), and it was tolerable inside until we could open up again about 10pm. We had Kimchi Tuna Salad for dinner – it didn’t require heating up anything, and it used up the rest of the kimchi before it could go bad!

Pandemic Journal, Day 456

Tonight was my first Shir Hadash Board meeting – my term starts July 1, but this was the orientation for incoming members. It was also the first Board meeting to be held on-campus in 15 months – and it was inside, in the Oneg Room. There was even food!

It was almost surreal to be in a room with so many other people for more than an hour. Surreal, but very pleasant.

My laptop even took its first trip anywhere tonight – when I put it in the laptop sleeve I’d bought on our Galapagos trip in 2018, I was surprised by how much room there was. Then I remembered that I’d bought the sleeve for my old 15” MacBook Pro – I replaced that computer with a 13” MacBook Air right after we started shelter-in-place last April, so of course there was plenty of room in the sleeve! There are rumors that Apple will ship a 16” laptop with Apple Silicon soon – I hope it will fit in the sleeve, too.

Pandemic Journal, Day 455

Today was the day that California officially reopened completely – the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” was retired and its page redirects to the “Reopening California” page. Masks are only required for vaccinated people in a few circumstances (including health care), capacity limits are gone, physical distancing is gone.

But businesses aren’t all jumping in with both feet, at least not the two I visited today. Lunardi’s had new signage: masks aren’t required of vaccinated customers, but they did request them – and we complied. And I gave other customers more room than I would have given them before the pandemic. Chipotle still had signs on the door requiring masks, so I put mine on before going in.

I know that the science says that vaccinated people are at very low risk of catching or transmitting COVID, but it’s going to take a while before I feel perfectly comfortable going maskless inside a busy store.

Pandemic Journal, Day 454

Not much to write about today – the new air purifier arrived, but I won’t use it tonight because we’ll have our windows open to cool down the house. Given the weather forecast, I will be using it overnight soon, though!

Pandemic Journal, Day 453

We stopped at Lunardi’s this morning to pick up a couple of things (it’s nice being able to go to the grocery store more than once a week again, though I want to avoid going as often as we did before the pandemic). While we ware there, I suddenly started to smell something (probably the inside of my mask).

When we got home, I could smell things fairly clearly – for about an hour. Then it went away. I’m guessing that the antihistamine I’ve been taking the last few days kicked in for a little bit and shrank a polyp – it’s an encouraging sign.

I also ordered an air purifier for our bedroom in hopes that it will help reduce the allergen load in there – we ordered a Blueair 311, which should be here tomorrow. Blueair’s model numbers are weird – the 211 is a bigger unit than the 311, which is bigger than the 411.

And Diane ordered a new camera for our upcoming trips, an Olympus TG-6 to replace her TG-4. The new camera is supposed to do much better in low light; they’ve also revamped the user interface, which is always a scary prospect.


Pandemic Journal, Day 452

We attended services this morning via Zoom – it was fine, but not like being there in person.

Photo of Zambezi Queen

I have a credit card which offers 3% back on travel and restaurants (4.5% if you redeem through their travel portal). It has had a quiet pandemic. But things are looking up for it.

Our Africa trip that didn’t happen last year has been rescheduled for a few months from now, so we had to pay for it and buy the airfare; I also bought the airfare for my upcoming 50th High School Reunion.

My card is exhausted from all the sudden activity – I will have to feed it before asking it to take on the Antarctica trip we also have planned!

Pandemic Journal, Day 451

Tonight was Board Installation Shabbat at Shir Hadash. I’d been looking forward to the service since accepting the position of Ritual Committee Chair, and I expected to attend in the usual way – on Zoom. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, tonight’s service took place on campus (outside), with a relay on Zoom. It was wonderful seeing people in person again, even without the bottom halves of their faces being visible – there were hugs and handshakes, too.

We always start services by singing “Hinei Ma Tov” (from Psalm 133), but the music that we sing changes from week to week. Tonight, the music was Elana Arian’s version – the English lyrics are:

  How good it is (How good it is)
  How sweet it is (How sweet it is)
  To be together on this day.

And it was SO good and sweet and pleasant to be with other people, singing together (quietly, with masks) on this day.

Shabbat Shalom!

Pandemic Journal, Day 450

We spent quite a bit of the day dealing with medical providers. Both Diane and I needed to get some images to bring to doctors who aren’t in the Stanford network – she’d found the right form on Stanford’s website, but it wasn’t clear where we’d have to go to pick up the images. Calling the phone number on the form and trying the obvious menu choice (“Medical Records”) was a dead end, but I kept going and found a way to leave a message. A few minutes later, the image librarian at San Jose called and said we could drive over and pick up a disk with Diane’s images.

I’m still waiting to get my images – it turns out that they aren’t kept in Stanford’s central records, but I’ve been trading phone messages with the ENT’s nurse, and I should have them tomorrow.

My allergist also wanted me to get a blood test and some chest X-rays, and I was able to do that late in the afternoon, going to both places just before they closed for the day. So I’m all set on that front.

This evening, we gave Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh a second chance. We’d made it back in July and weren’t thrilled, but we had kale to use up and this seemed like a good option. This time, I added a little more pepper and we put some mandarin orange slices on at the end – that made the dish more colorful and definitely tastier.

We also tried a new-to-us cocktail recipe from the New York Times, a Watermelon Margarita, using Trader Joe’s Watermelon Juice instead of doing the work ourselves. It was quite tasty and not too alcoholic – it’ll be better on a hotter day, though!

Pandemic Journal, Day 449

The last time I visited the ENT, he recommended endoscopic sinus and turbinate reduction surgery to try to improve my sense of smell – he described it as “putting a Roto-Rooter up your nose”. That seemed drastic.

Since he’d also talked about allergies as being a probable cause of the sinusitis and nasal polyps he saw, I asked for a referral to an allergist before making a decision on surgery, and I visited him today.

I probably could have chosen a better day – the practice had just started using a new system for electronic medical records yesterday, and EVERY person I interacted with greeted me with “sorry, it’s our second day on the new system.” But we persevered and the session was worth the effort. It turns out that I am VERY allergic to dust mites and feathers (the doctor described it as “off the charts”), so we will be taking steps to reduce my exposure to them at home. They gave me a brochure about dust mites with lots of useful information on what steps to take – I was not surprised to find that it also had ads for allergen-proof pillow cases and the like!

The doctor wants me to get some bloodwork and imaging done before suggesting any other treatment. My next appointment is a couple of weeks away – by that time, I hope they’ve figured out how to use their new system!

Of course, Diane and I also took a couple of walks today – on the walk this morning, we saw a hummingbird enjoying some lantana.

If I’d had the big camera, I would have been able to zoom in more…but I might well have missed the hummingbird completely. Life is a series of compromises!

Pandemic Journal, Day 448

One year ago today I set a new personal record for a continuous span of days with blog entries. That day, I wrote about buying 3 kilos of coffee from Doka Estate in Costa Rica and wondering if I’d still be blogging every day when I finished it. I finished that 3 kilos a long time ago – these days, I’m buying 5 half-kilo bags from them every few weeks, and I’m still blogging every day.

There’s only one week left until California discontinues its “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” and relaxes almost all of the restrictions on businesses and masks – when that happens, I guess I’m going to need a new name for the daily entry! And who knows…I might even miss some days!