End of Holidays and Sticker Shock

Another holiday season has come and gone. And we are now in full winter. Supposed to get some snow in my town tomorrow night. Makes me glad I have enough supplies I don’t have to go out.

This was kind of a let down holiday season. I spent Christmas alone as I told my parents I didn’t think it was safe for them to travel several hundred miles when the pandemic was picking back up. The case numbers have skyrocketed in my country. So I stay close to home most days. I haven’t seen my family since Thanksgiving. I can hardly wait for this pandemic to burn out.

I drop in on a couple neighbors at least once a day. Found I have a new neighbor a couple doors from me. She seems nice. Seems like we’re getting more and more younger people in here all the time. I was the youngest when I moved in 15 years ago. There are plenty of residents older than me but only a handful who have been here longer than I.

Found out my internet bill went up this month. Cancelled my cable several months ago because of price increases. Cancelled Netflix too. I watch mostly youtube and Amazon Prime. I get most of my news reading free online journals and newspapers. I definately suffered some sticker shock the last time I bought groceries. I’m looking for ways to cut expenses. I can’t really increase my income without social security disability cutting back on benefits. I definately do not want to lose Medicaid right now. I’m sure my three week stay in the hospital would have cost a fortune if not for Medicaid.

I keep myself occupied by reading books, watching educational videos on youtube, and reading online journals. Currently working on a Ray Dalio book. I’m not sure what my next project will be.

December 27 2021

Another Christmas has come and gone. I spent this one alone as I was afraid of having my elderly parents travel several hundred miles to see me on Christmas. First time in my life I spent Christmas alone. My cleaning lady was kind enough to drop off two plates of traditional Christmas dinner. She does this for all of her clients who are shut ins. I stayed home, listened to Christmas music while playing computer games, and watched the old movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ It could have been worse. I friend of mine and her spouse spent Christmas sick with the flu while their neighbors suffered from covid.

This month has been warmer and drier than usual this year. We’ve had snow only twice in the last eight weeks. So it’s been drier too. Supposed to get cold this weekend. New Year’s Eve has always been one of my favorite holidays. Something about the old ending and the new beginning has always appealed to me. I used to go to local concerts on New Year’s Eve. I always made a point of leaving well before midnight to avoid drunk drivers.

Still lifting weights three times per week. I’m starting to sleep less too. Most nights I go to bed around 9:30 pm and wake up at 5am. I got a new cpap machine so I’m good to go on that for at least several years. I’m still losing weight as my clothes are looser and my endurance is increasing with each passing week.

I still talk to friends, neighbors, and family at least once a day. Even though I spend most of my time at home, I’m not lonely. I drop in on my neighbor across the hall once a day on average.

Been lazy about reading the last several days. I guess it comes and goes in cycles. I’ll probably start back up by the end of the year. I still have the Audible account. I probably won’t give that up anytime soon.

Been more paranoid than usual the last several days. Probably from the lack of sleep. My illness seems to get worse when my sleep patterns change. Sleep has always been good therapy for me.

December 12 2021

Started lifting weights again a few weeks ago. I’m starting to notice a difference. I’m taking vitamin C and fish oil suppliments. Still fighting off a cold but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was last week. I can stand for longer periods of time without pains. It’s easier to do chores around my apartment than even three months ago.

Changed up my diet some. I’m eating more burritos these days. I hadn’t been getting much for fiber in my high protein diet lately. I was needing a change as I was getting tired of the same routine every day. I’m going to go easy on restaurant delivery. That stuff is getting expensive, like everything else.

Sleeping in my recliner for the time being. My cpap machine finally broke down and I’ve been having chronic stiffness in my legs most mornings. I’m currently trying to get my machine replaced. But I’ll probably have to sleep in the recliner for at least the next few days until I can get a replacement.

Haven’t had bad flare ups of my mental illness in months. I’ve had a few minor ones and sometimes get kind of irritable. I’ve been stable for the most part this year. I see my psych doctor every two months via teleconference. I still spend most of my time alone. I still contact friends and family on a daily basis. But a lot of people are on edge lately, more so than usual. I just try to avoid the drama. Kind of sad it feels like I’m hiding out. But what’s the point of socializing with people who are going to make you feel bad? I no longer have time or patience for drama and nonsense.

Listen to audiobooks at least one hour a day. I’m getting close to finishing a couple of my recent purchases. For some odd reason, it’s just easier for me to focus on audiobooks than traditional books anymore. This wasn’t the case until a couple years ago.

I still do computer games some every day. I love the Civilization and Total War series of games. I’m also spending some time on Cyberpunk 2077 and Skyrim on my PS5. I still can’t believe my brother found that console. There are still shortages from what I’ve heard.

My clothes are fitting really loose these days. I’ve even had cases where I get snagged on dresser handles and door latches because of how much more loose my clothing now is. I have simple tastes as I prefer t shirts and sweat pants. I like hoodies but don’t wear them unless I’m outside as I’m more sensitive to heat than most people. Colder weather doesn’t really bother me, at least not as long as I have central heating, fleece blankets, and hot coffee. I’m going to start saving my money so I can buy new shirts and sweat pants. The ones I have right now are getting real loose. I know I have lost at least 80 pounds between December 2019 and October 2021. If the way my clothing fits is any indication, I’ve lost some more since October.

Christmas is coming in a couple weeks. The big thing I want this year is a new microwave. The PS5 was my blockbuster gift last year. As much as I appreciate my brother being able to find it, I appreciate spending time with family and friends even more. Christmas is more about spending time with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus anymore. Even though I haven’t regularly attended church services in several years, I think there is a great value to things like spirituality, community, and just treating other people with kindness and empathy. There will probably always be aspects of the cosmos and human experience that can’t be explained by even the best science.

In spite staying close to home and keeping physical contact with people to a minimum, I’m doing alright both mentally and physically. 2021 has been better for me than 2020, even with spending three weeks in the hospital. That time in the hospital allowed me to address health issues I neglected previously.

November 3 2021

We are well into fall right now. My town had it first’s snow of the season two days ago. I’ve adjusted to my new medication routine. I still occasionally get spikes in blood pressure. I still occasionally have moments of depression and anxiety. Been able to avoid paranoia since I got out of the hospital.

My best friend had covid in October. Had to miss some time from work. She’s recovered now. She said it was one of the worst sicknesses she ever had. I’m due for a booster shot sometime around Christmas.

Had an appointment with my general practice doctor via Zoom last week. The public transit in my town isn’t very easily accessible. So Zoom appointments, grocery delivery, and Amazon Prime are godsends for people like me.

I no longer sleep twelve hours a day. I’m now around 8 hours or so. Most nights I’m up in the middle of the night for a couple hours. I still get stiff and sore, especially in the mornings. That first get out bed and walk to the bathroom is always the worst. After I stood up a couple times, I’m usually pretty good to go. The stiffness comes back if I sit for more than a couple hours at a time.

September 18 2021

Last weekend of summer is officially here. I turned on my furnace for the first time a few days ago. It get chilly at night now. Corn harvest is beginning. It will be in full effect in a week or two.

Been having more aches and pains these last few days. Probably the constant change in weather. I’ve noticed I’ve been eating less the last few weeks. My clothes are looser now and I am a lot more flexible than even last spring. I’ve been having issues with bad sleep. I’ll fall asleep but won’t stay asleep for long. I usually get my best sleep now after 5 am. For most of the summer I woke at sunrise. I no longer keep a clock in my home as I have my phone, computer, and game console for that.

I like fall. It’s my second favorite season behind spring. I love being able to climb out of bed on Saturdays and catch college football games all day. Baseball playoffs will be starting in a couple weeks. Basketball and Hockey will be starting soon. I’m glad baseball season was able to go with fewer problems from covid than I thought. I still remember last year when most games were played in empty arenas. It not only wasn’t the same, it was eerie. So glad I got vaccinated a few months ago. I got the Johnson and Johnson one shot and done deal.

Been having issues with congestion in my lungs and throat. The throat congestion clears with a sip or two of apple cider vinegar. I usually mix it with a cup of water as it has a very strong bad taste and can be rough on my stomach. I think apple cider vinegar helps with lots of things, but I certainly don’t recommend it without a cup of water or tea. I still have my senses of taste and smell. When I do cough, I cough up gunk and not dry coughs. So I doubt it’s covid. Besides, the congestion, aches, and insomnia are the only issues I’ve had lately.

When I do have guests, I wear a face mask. The only regular guest I have is my cleaning lady once a week. It feels good to get my place scrubbed down and she doesn’t mind my conversation. While she works, I usually read science and news journals. I’m particularly fond of the free versions of the Washington Post, Financial Times, and FutureTimeline.net

Looks like another summer has come and passed. I’m ready for some autumn again..

Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

July 11 2021

Been quiet the last few days. Staying close to home as it’s been really hot when it hasn’t been raining. Looking forward to fall again. Only 50 days until the first college football games. It was so strange last year watching games in empty stadiums. I see the Olympics won’t allow spectators this year. I hope we can get enough people vaccinated that we can open up all over the world again.

While covid hasn’t been as rough for me as most people, it has been quite lonely at times. Glad I can do my psych doctor appointments by teleconference. I haven’t been to a general practice doctor since the pandemic started. I managed to get vaccinated in early May. A home health service sent two nurses to my home, had me answer some questions, and gave me the Johnson & Johnson shot. I didn’t even have to leave my living room. So thankful such people and services are out there. Internet shopping has been a godsend for myself. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be had this happened back in the early 1980s. As far as loneliness goes, if my grandparents’ generation had to fight a world war, the least I can do is stay home.

Still lifting weights three times a week. Noticing some of my strength starting to come back. I force myself to stand up at least once an hour. If I sit for too long my muscles get sore and I have issues walking and doing chores.

Haven’t read much for traditional books lately. I am watching the Dune mini series that came out in the early 2000s. I’m not normally much of a science fiction fan, but this series is done alright. A friend of mine has been talking up the Dune and Foundation series for years. I read the first Foundation book last summer via audiobook. I have grown to love audiobooks. My college roommate’s dad was a truck driver who used to listen to audiobooks when he was on the road. I can understand why he liked those so much.

Don’t have much planned for the next few weeks. Cruise Night (a rally for classic cars) will be in my town later this month. And one of the main routes run right by my home. Since I’m on the top floor of my complex, I get an amazing view and I don’t even have to brave the hot late July temperature or the large crowds. It should be a huge deal this summer as the country is opening back up. I’ll just watch out my window and have the American Graffiti soundtrack playing, like I do most years. For my Independence Day, I replayed the Revolutionary War on one of my computer games.

I think I’ve finally gotten over my coffee addiction. I’ve had only five cups in the last month. For the first several days I was sleeping more and kind of irritable. I was probably going through caffeine withdraw. I am back to more normal sleep. Most days I’m up for good by 6:30. I usually go to bed around 11pm. Was up until 3 am a few nights ago. Haven’t stayed up that late in months.

I’m doing well overall even if I stay close to home. I usually have visitors in my cleaning lady and a couple neighbors a couple times a week. My neighbor is kind enough to help me with chores like laundry and mail once a week as long as I provide laundry soap and change for the machines. I guess after years of helping out others, I need the help now.

November 21 2020

Stayed up late again last night. Been listening to audiobooks quite a bit lately. Bought some groceries yesterday. Looks like I’ll be spending the rest of the month at home. My town passed a mask mandate through late February 2021. Glad I bought a box of masks last week.

The loneliness gets to me sometimes. I’m not irritated or paranoid about it. Just kind of sad. 2020 is going to be a year for the history books. And in almost every way imaginable. I’m still amazed workable vaccines were developed in only one year. I just hope enough people use these vaccines and practice preventative measures enough we can end this pandemic soon.

I doubt we will have a complete return to the normal ways of previous years. I don’t plan on doing much shopping in person anymore. I’m completely at ease for having doctors’ appointments online. I already got rid of my car last year. I had grown to hate driving the last few years before I gave it up. I have gotten pretty decent at cooking my own meals. I enjoy watching movies in my own home with my own snacks and no one kicking the back of my chair. I have thought for years that doctors, nurses, scientists, engineers, etc. don’t get the recognition and respect they deserve. I think the same way about delivery drivers and minimum wage workers.

Progress didn’t stop during 2020. It actually sped up, often out of necessity. I read a couple days ago that now over 65 percent of the world has internet access and over 90 percent now has electricity. The change over to renewable power is going faster too. Read another article a couple days ago that over 90 percent of new electrical generating capacity is now clean energy like wind, solar, hydroelectric, etc. Politicians can talk all they wish about saving the coal and oil industries, but even the economics of cheaper renewables are working against this. It is now profitable to install green tech. I don’t think some of my friends would have seen the free market as ushering in green tech. Maybe we will head off the worst of climate change because the finances now make sense. Pity the tech wasn’t there twenty years ago.

As far as other progress goes, I read some places are now experimenting with flying drone taxis. Supposedly Dubai is supposed to have this service within the next two years. So everyone complaining about no flying cars can finally keep quiet and fly off. Personally I think a person born in the late 1800s, if they saw the world today would probably be more impressed with internet access than anything flying.

As bad as this pandemic has been, it could have been so much worse. Even if this would have hit back as recently as the 1980s, it would have been much uglier. I’m still amazed at how much work can be done from home. Couldn’t have done this without reliable internet. With vaccines set to be mass produced, I can start to see the end of the pandemic is in sight.

Quarantine Journal: April 22 2020

Got my lease renewed for another year this afternoon.  The land lady knew I was paranoid to be out and about during this pandemic and was kind enough to bring the necessary paper work to my apartment.  Took about fifteen minutes to fill everything out.  I should be finding out my new rent rate by June 1st.  One of the things I like about my current apartment complex is that, since we have mostly disabled and senior citizens here, most people understand why I don’t get out as much as I used to.

My neighbors hosted a cookout yesterday.  While I didn’t attend, they were kind enough to save me some smoked chicken.  It was exactly what I needed.  Having good neighbors and understanding management at my complex has made this pandemic easier to navigate than it would have been in most places.

Bought two pairs of sweat pants through amazon yesterday.  They should be here within a few days.  Probably should order some facemasks soon.  I hope those are available.

Been having a hard time finding frozen meat lately.  I’m glad I can still find soup mixes, oatmeal, peanut butter, etc.  I’ll be real happy when this pandemic burns out.  Talked to an old friend last night.  I think the quarantine is starting to get to him.  I understand.  It got to me and I had a short lived breakdown last week.  So glad it got over quickly.  It is annoying I can’t be out and about.  But, as I’m immune compromised with my mental illness and weight problems already, I have to leave that to a different time and place.  I understand the quarantine recommendations.  I just hope this mess passes soon.  It is encouraging that places hit hard early in the winter like China are starting to reopen.  I think most places here in USA are right in the middle of it right now.  Could be rough sailing for another couple months.

Saw on the news feeds this afternoon that human trials of a covid 19 vaccine are supposed to start in a few days over in Germany.  Sure hope it works.  It is good to know there are already a few possible candidates for a vaccine even after only a few months of this outbreak.  If I heard the term covid 19 a year ago, I would have guessed it was the name of some obscure punk rock band.  I wouldn’t have guessed it was a new virus that would infect a few million people by April 2020.

So far I haven’t shown any of the symptoms.  I did have a bad cold back in December that made me feel rough and sluggish for a few days.  So far, staying home, washing my hands several times a day, avoiding touching my face, and doing what I can to boost my immune system seem to be working.  We’ve had at least a few dozen cases in my hometown already.  But I think Nebraska is going to hit it’s peak later than most cases.

I’ve been on quarantine for almost six weeks already.  I have lost track of the days.  I don’t usually socialize in person much besides my neighbors.  I still talk to family and friends almost every day.  This pandemic is easier to bear as I have easy access to communication and internet.

Self Quarantine April 6 2020

Woke up shortly after sunrise this morning.  Talked to mom for almost an hour.  Wrote to some friends but haven’t gotten any responses yet.  Talked to a college friend last night.  He’s a school teacher and said that teaching online classes and watching his two year old daughter keeps him busy most of the time.  Found out a friend of mine in Omaha and her husband are now both working from home.  She said the only time she leaves her house is to get groceries and go to the pharmacy.

Still working on some classic literature.  I try to read for at least an hour every day.  Have gone easy on the coffee and tea for the last few days.  I am usually less irritable on days I don’t have a lot of caffeine.

Ordered some groceries that are supposed to be delivered this morning.  Meat is getting tough to find these days.  I’m having especially hard time finding pork and chicken.  I’ll probably be eating more soup until this crisis passes.  I was able to find ice cream.  Haven’t had ice cream since last autumn.  Been craving sweets lately.  So glad I have a jar of honey to cover this.

I still don’t watch much news.  I do search youtube a little every day for videos with the theme of positives that are coming from the pandemic.  One positive is that more places will be offering more work at home options.  Another is that we, as a society, are realizing just how important people like grocery store workers, truck drivers, nurses, doctors, etc. really are.  And the reason I’m able to stay calm in this crisis is largely due to internet and easy access to communications.  I mean, I live on poverty level wages (at least for American standards) and I’m still able to weather the worst pandemic we’ve seen probably since Spanish Flu one hundred years ago.  My life would be much harder if I couldn’t keep in contact with old friends, family, and order groceries for next day delivery.