Pandemic Journal, Day 460

We had a quiet Father’s Day, starting with our usual Sunday trip to the Farmers’ Market. Summer fruits and vegetables are in abundance – we bought our first corn and blackberries of the season and enjoyed them today, along with our usual salmon. I made steaks on the Traeger, too, but they came from Lunardi’s.

It was the first Farmers’ Market since California loosened the Covid restrictions – not only were masks not required (or even requested), they’d gotten rid of the 6-foot markings on the lines where people wait for vendors. It was still a little less crowded than it would have been before Covid, and people did still queue up instead of milling around in front of the booths, but it felt odd!

This evening, we watched Rod MacDonald’s concert on Facebook – it was a nice way to enjoy the holiday. The concert is available here; you don’t have to log into Facebook to watch. Skip ahead by 6 minutes to get to the actual start of the concert.

Pandemic Journal, Day 459

We started the day with a walk in the cool of the morning and ended with a walk in the cool of the evening (“cool” is a relative term). In between, we were mostly dealing with travel.

This morning, we drove into Los Gatos to meet with Michael Hyman at Travel Advisors of Los Gatos – he’s the agent for our late-year Antarctica trip, and it was time to make the final payment. We also wanted to discuss travel insurance (no decisions yet – we are torn between a comprehensive policy or one which only covers health issues, and since we haven’t bought airfare yet, we still have options) and he had books to loan us and photos to look at for our upcoming Iceland trip.

This afternoon, we heard from our other travel agent about two of next year’s cruises – her company had gone through major reorganization during the pandemic, and our cruises had been assigned to a different agent on the other side of the country. We’d like her to continue to be our agent, and she’d like the business – but the other agent has to agree to release the reservation, and that hadn’t happened, so she asked us to call Celebrity to see if we could ask for the change. Calling on a Federal Holiday (happy Juneteenth National Independence Day!) didn’t seem to be a great idea, so I’ll do it on Monday.

We also watched a short video from our other other travel agent about next year’s Porto trip. And we watched the final episode of Life at the Waterhole in preparation for the upcoming South Africa trip that he’s organized.

And while I was catching up on the Summer Reading issue of the New York Times Book Review, I saw a review of How Iceland Changed the World. It looked very interesting – and I was able to borrow the ebook from the San Francisco Public Library. It’s a fun read – I’m not sure that it’s going to materially improve my knowledge of the island when we go there in a few months with National Trust Tours, but I’m enjoying it.

Pandemic Journal, Day 458

Another hot day – not as hot as yesterday, but it didn’t get as cool overnight as it did Wednesday night, so we had to use the air conditioning earlier in the day. And, even though we raised the thermostat setting to 78 from 4-9pm, the A/C turned on several times during that period. It’s supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow; I hope so!

One of the projects that Toastmasters offers these days is “Create a Podcast”. You have to create at least an hour of content – each episode has to be at least 10 minutes long. I haven’t tackled that project yet, but one of my fellow club members, Priya, interviewed me for the first episode of her podcast. She took me to lunch today to thank me – it was the first time we’d met in person! She’s continuing to create episodes of the podcast even after finishing the project, so I think it was a success for her.

Despite the weather, Diane and I took our usual walks today – early in the morning and just before sundown. We took a little bit of a detour this morning to walk the length of Jacaranda Way (two blocks) and find out if there were any jacarandas there. There were two – here’s a photo of the nicer one.

Shabbat Shalom!

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!