Friday, April 30, 2021

Z: Zip Books, Zoom, Zombies, Z Titles

I can't believe that we have now reached...


Zip Books, Zoom, Zombies, Z Titles

I was hesitant to download Zoom, even though our writers lab began meeting that way once Covid hit. I miss the group, but Zoom just wasn't cutting it for me. I still have it on my computer just in case, but am not sure if I will ever be using it again, since I don't have to worry about school or work over Zoom. This video and cartoon are pretty much how I felt about Zoom:




And there was the lawyer with the cat filter on a Zoom meeting.

I found it funny how people likened Zoom to The Brady Bunch:







And someone on Facebook posted a meme about Zoom the PBS series from the 1970s (later remade in 1999): 




I have already said many times how when the library shut down for two months (before beginning curbside pickup). During that time, the Zip Books program was still operating, and I was glad for that. The Zip Books program allows patrons to request books not currently available through the library. The book is ordered through Amazon, then sent to the customer, who then has three weeks to return the book to the library. It will then be added to the library's catalog. While the library was shut down, people receiving books via Zip were instructed to return them when the library reopens. I accumulated about six books this way before curbside pickup was started. On the day I first requested books to go, I was able to return the Zip books. I'm still getting them this way, for titles I can't already find. I now return Zip Books along with other books borrowed from the library in the drop boxes (Those were also closed before curbside pickup).


One day in January or February 2020, pre-quarantine, while at the library, I spotted this book, Ziggy, Stardust, and Me. I was tempted to borrow it then, but didn't, thinking I'd do it another day. But the lockdown began and before curbside pickup, I was s tuck on finding a Z title for last year's A to Z Reading.  During the closure I searched Overdrive for a Z title, punching in the word "zombie" and comic across this title: Zombie. I put it on hold, but thankfully it wasn't a long wait. The A toZ reading doesn't have to be done alphabetically, but Z was the last letter I had left by mid-May. For the A to Z reading this year, I finally checked out Ziggy, Stardust, and Me. 




And speaking of zombies:






With kids home for a year, worrying about the "smartphone zombies" (kids on their phones while walking to and from school) was not an issue. Once the kids started going back to in-person classes, I knew I was going to have to watch out for the "phone zombies" on their way home from school.  I have seen some kids walking to and from school, but not as many as before the virus. It's likely because they are only going to classes a few days a week, and still doing the online thing--hybrid learning. (I am so glad I don't have to deal with this stuff!) 

I kind of felt zombie-like each day, with little to do and getting tired almost all day long. And the repetitive days made me feel a bit like a zombie as well. I'm sure this happened to a lot of people. In a way, we did get zombies!

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And that's a wrap! An A to Z reflection post will come next week. Meanwhile, I'll be back to regular blogging. Hope you have enjoyed my A to Z posts.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Y: YouTube, Yacht Rock, "You" Titles, Yard Sales

 

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Y


YouTube, Yacht Rock, "You" Titles, Yard Sales

As I have already said, I watched a lot of YouTube videos while cooped up this past year. This included finding some 80's songs I had forgotten about, watching old commercials and discovering the many parody videos I have shown in previous A-Z posts. Two music videos from the 80's I watched a lot were these:



A term I saw on Facebook sometime last year was "Yacht Rock." I had never heard any such thing until then. Most likely since I have never gone sailing (just not an interest of mine; not an outdoor person). One of the Holderness Family's quarantine videos was yacht rock song parodies:



I then searched YouTube for yacht rock songs and among them was this one from the 80s that I had not heard in years (and here is a link to the YouTube search results for yacht rock):




Once we got back to meeting at the center, we began playing (and still do) videos from Youtube. I introduced the others to the Holderness Family's channel and have played the videos above many times now. And others have had favorites to play as well--too many to list or even think of!


When it came to finding book titles starting with Y, I was in luck that I already had a copy of this book. I read in in April while I was still unable to get books from the library. And one day while at Target, I saw a copy of this book, which I wanted to get, but didn't. I did later order it from Amazon, which was cheaper. Note that both being with the word "you." And the second one is written in second person. On a side note, I've also been doing a Color Coded Reading Challenge for years now and yellow is one of the colors I have had trouble finding in titles lately. I've had to settle for using titles with "gold" for this requirement (shades and variants of the different colors are acceptable). 



One thing I was surprised to see a lot this year was signs for yard sales. I also passed by some yard sales while driving through town. It seemed a little risky to be having such a thing at a time like this, but it should be all right as long as  the customers follow social distancing rules at the yard sale. I must admit that this is not something am into, but my mom and I stopped at one that some old friends of hers were having this past August. We went mainly to see them, and when we arrived only about two other customers arrived thereafter. Meaning the yard sale wasn't busy. Our friends mentioned two others who had come earlier in the day, before Mom and I arrived. Whenever my mom has a yard sale (it's been years since her last one), people can come in droves or very few at a time. It obviously varies with different yard sales.  And contrary to what people have said on the Internet, I have not seen signs for yard sales misspelled like in these photos:




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End for today. Yay! Only one day left now!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

X: X Titles, eXhausted, Drawing an X

 

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter X


X Titles, eXhausted, Drawing an X

I knew there would not be a lot to put under this letter. Some of what I'm about to say hardly seems pandemic-related, but it occurred while I was cooped up, so  I feel that is good enough.

One was something that occurred on Facebook sometime last year. It was a personality quiz based on how you draw an X. For me, it's #5. I had never given much thought to how I tended to draw an X until I saw this. 



Titles beginning with "X" are hard to find, and last year before the pandemic forced the library shutdown for two months (before curbside pickup began), I had managed to find one. This was for my A to Z Reading Challenge. I took it out on the first day of March and returned it within that same week. It was The XYZ Factor, not something I was eager to read, but just happened to find in the library's online catalog by punching in "XYZ." I had a self-help book prompt last year, so this fit that as well. I was done with this book in only one night. I did not really need to know what was in this book! I was happy to have found an X title, but was stuck on Q (see here) and Z (more when we hit that letter, of course), once the shutdown of the library occurred and was able to find titles for both on the Overdrive digital library.

When trying to find an X title for the A to Z Reading thing this year, I mentioned this on my blog at the end of March, and someone pointed out the title Xingu by Edith Wharton. I checked the physical library catalog and both Overdrive and Cloud Library for this one, but to no avail. I'd almost forgotten about Project Gutenberg, and when I tried them, it was there! I just had to download it to my Books on Apple. It's very short and I was done in less than a day. Coincidentally, one day, during a curbside pickup at the library in March, I saw some books on display in the font window of the library (near the glass doors). One had a title beginning with X, The XX Brain. Again, a book I was not eager to read. I was considering getting this one, until someone pointed out the Xingu tile. But now I'll have this title for later. 

FYI, since Q, X, and Z can be tricky, the letters may be found anywhere in the title, meaning a title beginning with "eXhausted", for example, would count. 

I used "eXhausted" as an eXample because that was how I felt most days during the pandemic. No matter how much or how little I did each day, I was sure to be tired before I chose to go to bed. Boredom and depression were sure to cause eXhaustion as well. I just cannot eXpress how eXhausted I'd be day by day!

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End of today's post. Only two left now! 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

W: Writing, Waking Up Anytime, What to Do Today?, What Day Is It?, Water, Work, Welcome Back


 

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter W


Writing, Waking Up Anytime, What to Do Today?, What Day Is It?, Water, Work, Welcome Back

One thing I had hoped to do more of when cooped up at home last year was writing. Unfortunately, I did not do as much as I had hoped, but did get one piece done. So far, no one has been able to read it. I miss our writers lab meeting and the virtual ones just weren't doing it for me. Now I don't know if they're still doing it. I tried emailing my piece to the leader, but did not heard anything. Once we got back to meeting at the center where I work, my creative writing class resumed every other week. Now that's some practicing. One of the reasons I chose to do the A to Z was as a way to practice writing. 

When the center was closed in March through May, I stopped setting my alarm, since I did not have to be anywhere at any time. I would then wake up whenever I wanted. Even then, however, I could not stay in bed all day and not get dressed. There were times I did not get dressed until 10AM or later, but that changed once I had to return to work at the center. Though only once at week at first, then twice, I had to get used to setting the alarm again. There  are still some days when I get up and am dressed between 9 and 10AM.


But 
before work started again, I not only had to decide when I wanted to get up but what I was going to do each day. I stuck mostly to reading, Internet surfing and doing laundry every other week, and going to the otters or post office when needed. Often I wanted to write or do art, I could not come up with any ideas. I was getting drained of creativity, likely from depression and exhaustion brought on the coronavirus.





Did any of you forget what day it was? I tried hard to not to. And I usually got it right. I had to remember when it was Thursday, since Friday is our garbage pickup day. And to remember when my favorite networks shows were on. Even so, I did get confused at times. I nearly forgot it was Memorial Day, as I tried to get my prescription at the Safeway pharmacy that day, then saw it was closed. A sign at the pharmacy said it would be closed for Memorial Day reminded me that it was that holiday then. Each month felt like a month of Sundays or like one long holiday.



Bottled water was one of the items people were said to be hoarding at the start of March. But unlike toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I cannot recall not being able to find 24-packs of water at the stores. Apparently, water-hoarding wasn't necessaryBut thankfully we have a water jug holder at home, and even though the store was closed, the outside water vending machines were still open. We had to save quarters and nickels for the water machines.

In the middle of May, one day after I got out from a run to the bank, I found a voice mail from my boss about meeting at the center to discuss our gradual reopening. Our first meeting was on the last Wednesday in May for one hour. Then the fist week of June, we began our one-day-a week, two-hour work days. We then expanded to to days in September. We had to sit six feet part, of course, but it was great to be back. A welcome back message appeared on one of our walls, and is still there.

And over the past two weeks, kids began going back to school, though only for so many days and hours a week. I began seeing signs at the various school yards in town, which had been empty for a whole year.  Even though I have no kids, I live nearby some of the schools so I am used to seeing them walking to and from school. It was weird not to see this for a whole year. Signs welcoming the students back to campus have been appearing. 
 
But we still have to distance, and I await the day when that is over....

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Ending for today. Only three days left now.

Monday, April 26, 2021

V: Virus, Variants, Vaccine, Virtual, Voting

 

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter V


Virus, Variants, Vaccine, Virtual, Voting

One of the scariest words heard this past year was "virus," one that had to do with people. I began to panic even before the pandemic was declared. Just coughing was enough to confuse me, and sometimes after I'd gone out in public, I'd take my temperature. Just my anxiety setting in. Never once had a fever. And then came the variants of the coronavirus. I panicked once the variant was discovered in parts of California.



I chose to include this video as the first song parody is on the variants. And another is on allergies, which I seemed to have a lot of once Covid hit. I was coughing a lot in early spring, when things were starting to bloom. As I said, if I got too anxious, I'd take my temperature. This season, however, I seemed not to be coughing as much.



 

Yeah, I could not wait to be able to get the vaccine.

 


Once the vaccines were developed, I was eager to get one. But at first it was only 65 and older, and essential workers of any age. My cousins, who work at a restaurant (though one is an accountant) were able to get theirs in March, and my mom got hers then as well. Each had their second shots this month, and all had the Pfizer, which I had wanted to get, though I would take what I could get.  As I said in this post, I kept looking for appointments  in my town once the vaccine eligibility age was changed to 50 and older. It was days before I found an appointment. On the first Monday of the month, I got one for the following afternoon. I did not see until I had signed up that they were giving the J&J one, but was glad I was going to be "one and done." My cousin had wanted to get the J&J, but had been unable to. Of course this was before  what happened to some of the people who'd gotten that vaccine. I did start to panic and was tense all over with anxiety. But it has been over two weeks, almost three now, since I got the vaccine.

The vaccination site was at one of our town's two middle schools, which I once attended. It was the only one at the time, and did not have a gym then, but it does now (though only a small one), and that was where the vaccines were administered. The line was already long when I arrived before my appointment time. About a hundred people seemed to have shown up that day. Several vaccination stations were set up, so several people had appointments at nearly the same time. After getting the shot, which I barely felt, patients were instructed to give their names to a worker at another station, and then sit down for 15 minutes. The worker then let us known when we could leave.  There must have been nearly a hundred people that day. The line began to stretch into the school parking lot and beyond, to a nearby building structure.

As for side effects, the most I felt was soreness in my arm where the shot had been injected, which was to be expected. And I did feel a bit tired the next day or two, but that seems to happen a lot, especially under the current circumstances.



Among the things that went virtual last year, one was my writer's lab. I downloaded Zoom and logged into about two meetings before I decided it just wasn't for me. Again, I don't know how I could have handled virtual learning, since most of it was over Zoom. More on Zoom when we hit Z.

Our county fair was part-virtual, part in person, with carnival rides eliminated. Like many county fairs across the county, it was nearly cancelled completely, for the first time since World War II. (I have not been to the fair for years now). Plenty of other things went virtual, too many to name. The high school did not want a virtual graduation, though, so a social-distanced one was held. I don't know all the details, but it was done over several days to avoid large crowds.

Some events just couldn't be done virtually, so they had to be canceled completely. I'm still wondering when they will be back, if they ever will be.



I'm already used to voting by mail, since I am an absentee voter. Many who do not vote by absentee ballots were worried about having to vote by mail. And because the pandemic slowed down the vote counts, the election was a week long. I had received my ballots on the second Thursday in October, then mailed them the following week in one of the ballot boxes in my town. I'm always glad to get it over with quickly as a result of absentee ballots.

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Ending for today. Four days to go!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

U: Unemployment, Unprecedented, Uncertain, Upgrading, "Unique Leap Year"



#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter U

Unemployment, Unprecedented, Uncertain, Upgrading, "Unique Leap Year"

Upon learning I would not be working for a while, I had to file an unemployment claim for the first time in years. I was not aware at first of the extra $600 a week which lasted until the end of July. We now get debit cards for unemployment, and I wanted to deposit mine into my checking account. This meant going into the bank more often than I had in the past, since I have always gotten direct deposit for my paychecks. One of the essential business I had to deal with this past year, besides the stores.  




It was a unique year indeed and it did seem like all the months were blurred into one. Legal  holidays often feel like an extra Sunday under normal circumstances, but the events of 2020 made every day feel like a Sunday.  

Two more words used to describe 2020 were "unprecedented" and "uncertain." This was the first pandemic in more than a century and the first in the lifetimes of most people currently living. It was uncertain what was going to happen as each day went by. I was also uncertain what I would be doing each day, and I'm sure others felt the same. The repetitive days, weeks and months were unprecedented.

I had been seeing warning on websites saying my browser was outdated, urging an upgrade. This was something I put off a lot, as it takes so long to complete. But I know I had to do it. Even with nothing to do most of the time, I still got impatient waiting for the upgrade to complete. But it was done at last, and I no longer saw the "outdated browser" signs. 

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Only five letters to go now. Back on Monday.

Friday, April 23, 2021

T: Toilet Paper, Telephone Appointments, Twitter, Texting, Trump Hating, Tik Tok, Tiger King

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter T

Toilet Paper, Telephone Appointments, Twitter, Texting, Trump Hating, Tik Tok, Tiger King

It was hard not to mention toilet paper and how it made news last year, disappearing from the store shelves for the first month or so of the pandemic. I still don't know why people thought hoarding toilet paper was so necessary. Did  people really think it was going to save them from Covid?

I was fortunate to have bought a six-pack of TP at Safeway on the Saturday before the pandemic was declared. And at the end of March, a nurse friend stopped by with some stuff to give me and my mom, which included two 12-packs of Charmin. And my cousin next door still had some of the toilet paper she'd gotten at Costco and let us have some. We just had to use a little at a time. 

Toilet paper humor photos emerged like these:









I kept expecting to hear a "Royal Flush" joke on this one.





And there were toilet paper costumes for Halloween, things I was glad not to have seen in person:



And the Christmas ornaments:







I cannot say how much I hated Trump and was glad to see him voted out of office.  I agreed with this blogger's nickname for the former president, "Mango Mussolini."  He was also called the "Orange Menace" and someone also said "The Orange Orangutan." These cartoons and videos say it all:










I was also glad to see Trump get banned from Twitter, though I stayed away from his tweets. I mainly avoid political stuff on Twitter. Basically, I only stay on Twitter for a while at a time, a little longer if there is a topic of interest. Don't remember exactly, but I'm sure there were plenty of tweets about toilet paper last year, and about two other topics I avoided this past year.

Those two things I avoided this past year were Tik Tok and Tiger King. I really did not see what was so great about either of these. And both just had to inspire costumes for Halloween. I was glad to have to stay home on Halloween this year, so as to avoid seeing costumes like these and possibly Trump ones as well.  And that's all I want to say about this.






I'm already used to talking to the psychiatrist via television by going to the mental health office, but this year, began speaking with the doctor over the phone. He phoned me at home. My first such appointment was in March, the first full week of the shutdown. I kind of liked being able to stay home for my appointments, as the appointments never take very long. My next appointment was scheduled for June, and the office hoped we would be able to get  back to the office by then, hoping the virus would be over. And of course, that ended up not being true, so it has been phone appointments since then. In October, I got the news that my psychiatrist was leaving, which was upsetting at first. I really liked him. He had left before, and then returned, but this time seems to be for good. He is in San Francisco. The new one is a woman and is in Orange County. She also communicates via telepsych, but I do not know what she looks like yet, since I'm only communicating via phone calls. She has been nice so far. 

And since the center was closed for two months, I began to miss the others there, and  texted them every so often to see how they were doing. I texted them more often than I had done previously. It was not long before we were able to go back and see each other, though for only two hours at a time, one day, then two days a week. One client has not been back, so I have been texting him every so often to see how he is doing. 

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Time to go for today. See U tomorrow.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

S: Social Distancing, Shutdown, Shelter in Place, Six Feet Apart, Superspreader, Shortages, Stimulus, Song Parodies, Sunflowers

 

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter S


Social Distancing, Shutdown, Shelter in Place, Six Feet Apart, Superspreader, Shortages, Stimulus, Song Parodies, Sunflowers

Once the pandemic was declared, people were forced to shelter in place and businesses not considered essential were forced to shutdown. Some of these shutdowns were temporary, but others ended up being for good. Some local  businesses were unable to stay open amid the pandemic. 

The old phrase "wouldn't touch someone or something with a 10-foot pole" became somewhat of a reality during the coronavirus, though somehow 10 feet got reduced to six feet.  When we had to be anywhere in public, there came warnings to stay six feet part, known as "social distancing." Some people began to think "physical distancing" might have been a more appropriate term, though people still say "social distancing." Signs for maintaining six feet distances in public were placed everywhere, and some signs got creative like these:



And the stores said to stay two carts apart when waiting in line for the cashier. It was worse when there was only one register open, something that happened more often at Dollar Tree than at grocery stores. 



Sadly, there were some people who did not listen to the social distancing, six-feet-apart warnings, throwing parties or going to the beach on holidays such as Labor Day. Some of these led to increased cases, and were known as "superspreader" events. Trump rallies were one of the biggest super spreader events. One occurred in my home town in the empty Kmart parking lot on Halloween. And later that that same day, there was trunk-or-treat event, one of the things people had been advised against doing. These were certainly not social-distanced events. Once again, I panicked at the thought of corona cases going up in my county because of these two events.

There always seemed to be a shortage of something, starting with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and disinfecting wipes.  And then came the coin shortage, and now there seems to be a shortage of canned cat food, an item needed in this house. What could be next?





The stimulus checks were one good thing that came out of this otherwise dismal year. My first stimulus check arrived during the last week of April, just a while before the first payments on my EDD debit card. I had to deposit these into my checking account, which meant going into the bank. For years now, I have gotten direct deposit for my paychecks, so it had been years since I'd gone into the bank. Lines to the bank were often so long that they stretched out across the alleyway that is behind our local Bank of America branch. And the bank was busiest on Mondays and Fridays.

One thing I did a lot while stuck at home was watch Youtube videos. One day, I came across the Holderness Family Channel, some of whose videos I have shared in previous posts. (See here, here, and here). A lot of their videos are song parodies, and many this past year were related to quarantine. There are far too many videos to share, but here are some I particularly liked (More will be linked in later posts, where appropriate):





And there was also this channel, from which I liked these videos:




I have also heard of Randy Rainbow, but have only seen a few of his parody videos. And Chris Mann, who did the "12 Days of Quarantine" video (linked in this post). And there are so many more, I can't link or name them all! Search Youtube and see what you can find 🙂 And check out other stuff on those already linked. All very hilarious.


Gardening has just never been an interest of mine, even with all the boredom that occurred last year. Though one day in May, I saw something that had been left on my front porch. It was a packet of sunflower seeds, potting soil, a plastic pot and and a newsletter from the center. My boss had dropped this off without my knowing it. Other clients got these as well. I was hesitant at first, but decided to plant the seeds. The pot was too small, so I used a larger one we had at home.  Here's how they turned out in the end:





I saved the seeds to plant them this year. Will let you know when I do 🙂

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Ending for today.