The airwaves, both broadcast media and ham radio, have had dominant Pandemic coverage & conversations for two year now.
So often the message is “The World Is Ending,” but being that same message has been running 24/7 for like forever, many of us have tuned that droning out and are looking for what hope has survived the “pity-party” of woe?
We there are some absolutely great things than have emerged, and I hope to touch on a few that you might have seen yourself.
Seeing people whose pre-pandemic view was “if it isn’t broke, ignore it” refocus on a bit of their own health. It is amazing the people who talk to you about their Vitamin D-3 levels, whether their diet might contain enough trace minerals, or talk about the glycemic index of various foods. In the past those discussions were the health-woe discussions where comparisons of major infirmaries dominated the dialogue. Now they have become pretty matter of course, or perhaps we’ve all aged so much quicker due to the pandemic that we’ve quietly arrived in a different phase of life unawares?
The pandemic created more staycations, more at-home time and reintroduced us to more time on our own. People have enjoyed a portion of their lives being more reflective and perhaps less harried. A friend regularly goes further and parks his smartphone for periods of added solitude.
Pastimes from the Past
During the Pandemic I’ve done more jigsaw puzzles and board games. I’ve been particularly interested in more cooperative game versions, and family won’t even look at the Catan boxes lest I suggest we play. I know people who have started daily cribbage games, and I’ve tried my hand at a Sheephead app to relearn that card game.
As my performance groups went on hiatus and if they have returned have been hampered with silly rules (like No I am not wearing a mask with a hole cut through it to play baritone saxophone, at least not going do it as a volunteer), I’ve had my dulcimer back out and acquired a Hurdy-Gurdy with the idea of doing my own music. That I have a bass voice and mostly have played similar pitched instruments has made this exercise rather weird. I’ll figure it out somehow, but right now the low voice with higher instrument is fairly odd.
The XYL who in addition to being highly educated has a life long interest in Fiber Arts, took her skills to new levels. One historic Nålebinding, a Scandinavian form of knitting that dates back nearly 3000 years! Another was doing what she often does, but with lots of flourishes and fancies. She reports that pushing personal limits seems to be common among the professional ladies during the pandemic.
We entered the pandemic with enough inside equipment that I could do my daily exercise when the pools & gyms were completely shut down. It has been inspiring when others recount how they have developed their own ways to exercise. The Pandemic even got me introduced to Reformer Pilates, which looks like next to nothing while being very effective. On days where weather allows the road that passes our house has many more walkers per hour than it has in a couple days before the pandemic. Very awesome!
Hams on the Air
Yup the pandemic put a lot of hams on the air for more time spent working QSOs. Nets seem at times to have more check-ins than ever. Many folks are doing like I have, with running an instance of digital HF while working. If I was working remote, you can be sure my breaks we evaluated for whether I could do some SSB HF QSOs. Lots of folks doing POTA (Parks on the Air) and other activation programs.
People seem to have returned to the old standby reading. Some friends seem to be doing a couple books at a time, often one “fun” book, one personal improvement book or something technical, and perhaps yet another history or current affairs book. I’m averaging almost one book finished per week presently, though I have two I’m reading that will take significant extra time that will bring the average down. One is a business leadership book a graduate school classmate released, which I want to do a deeper dive to let his words teach me what he has picked up over the decades, and the other is a near current history and affairs book that is very content rich, rich enough that I often get sent off on a tangent forcing a regroup to read another section with its tangents…
Wanting to keep to a healthy diet, which in my case benefits with careful salt management, I have worked at learning new cooking techniques and recently at adapting less healthy recipes into healthier versions. When I adapted an Amish style breakfast bake for someone who needs to avoid the egg yokes it normally would have used, a process which took a couple tries to get it to work out as full flavored as the original, I learned that there are a lot of others doing the same sort of thing. Current project has been to recreate some classics in a healthy and simple form, which I’ve so far have gotten a handful of tweaked recipes pretty well sorted out. The Amish-style bake I have even photographed the ingredients, the steps, and done a costing. I’ll do a nutritional evaluation before I write it up to share. Oh those cooking tips from some of the well qualified cooks that are up on YouTube are really a benefit.
About the Biggest Positive – Sick People Staying Home!
For some years we had a guy in our office who brought every bug going around the schools into our office. Seems if his kids got Pinkeye, that through him we all got Pinkeye. Every bug nearly every time.
Well he isn’t in our work team these days, and the Pandemic further taught all of us the importance of staying home if we are ill. Not if we felt so bad we couldn’t work, but as a precaution. That so many people can work remotely helps in marginal cases. A bit under the weather, you ask to work from home and while your work gets done you keep the germs out of the office-wide circulation.
This alone is a huge positive – reversing the “I’ll drag myself into work no matter what” idea into something a bit more responsible. Where in years past I dreaded the expected spread of winter “crud” when the first of my colleagues caught something, as it was almost certain to spread through the office, I am now glad that they stay home until not “catchy” and well enough to be in the office.
Net out on lost hours compared to pre-pandemic years, once work remote hours are added back in, is also trending positive.
Better Use of Technology and Less Windshield Time
Much of the club interactions have a remote-meeting option that can save a person a lot of time. True you do lose out on the meeting-after-the-meeting that can be pretty important, but you save so much travel time. Professionally the time recovered by conversion to online meetings from in-person meetings is significant. Estimating in my particular case 4-6 hours weekly or well over 200 hours a year – like getting four weeks extra work in the bargain.
On the downside all the phone calls I would make while driving do not happen. In my case they were significantly courtesy calls, as purposeful calls usually require access to documents and web that I do not have while driving.
On the ham side I have attended more meetings online than I would have in-person, as the online is just so darn easy.
New Family Habits
Because family could not travel, not even as far as to go see those in assisted living, which we would have found closed to us if we had gone, we created some new family rituals centered on the use of a phone conferencing service. At certain times bi-weekly or weekly, we would call in for a family chat. Some people tell us they used FaceTimed/Zoomed/Meet/Skype to add video, but as we wanted to make the new family ritual super accessible, whether you were presentable, driving where you could use hands-free, outside walking or sat next to your fireplace, it wouldn’t matter at all with a phone conference.
As restrictions disappeared most of the meet-ups changed to in-person, except the ones where distance or personal quarantines interfered. The ones over distance continue, and the more local ones get dusted off to be used if someone is on quarantine or isolation. Hopefully the new habit of better communication continues for all of us.
Appreciation of Being Alive – the Top & Biggest Positive
The pandemic experience has led many people to a more personal deep appreciation of their lives. Even those in one’s world who are prone to moan about the world, now seem to finish up their complaints with “at least we are here” as a understated appreciation of life.
While plenty of hype goes on about what separates us, it feels like the man in the street is more appreciative of life, their family, especially of their children (and grandchildren if of that age), and looking for a bit of sunshine to be joyful about.
Be certain not all has been good playing pandemic shutdown and with disease. Friends have died, people have been real sick, and some have been upset enough to have mental challenges. Few are very happy about what we were asked to do, especially the ever moving goal posts and end goals.
Being demanded – mandated – by those who we were pretty certain were just “winging it” (or worse) did not go down well. The backlash on that front will continue and the damage to mutual trust will take years to scab over. I doubt that the broken trust will truly be “healed” in our lifetimes.
But we all did find some positives – perhaps that is what happens when lots of good people meet a challenge head on together?