It’s February, it’s Tuesday, and we all know what that means. Time for another T-SQL Tuesday post. Our host today is Mikey Bronowski (b|t), who asks us to write about tools we use to make our jobs easier.
This looked familiar. And when I checked, I found out that I did, indeed, talk about tools before.
That post was specifically about tools for work. I could of course now write about new tools I discovered, or tools for other areas in my work such as presenting or recording videos. But since Mikey doesn’t restrict it to work-related tools only, I have decided to grab this opportunity to talk about some of the tools my wife and I use to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I have been rather vocal on Covid-19, the regulations put out by various governments, and the level of adherence of the population. There’s a reason for that. And it’s not my own health.
My wife has an underlying condition. She suffers from rheumatism. Due to gross medical negligence, her condition has been undiagnosed for much too long/ This has already caused severe and irreparable damages to her joints. Luckily, she finally got the correct diagnosis before the damage had progressed to the point that she would need a disabled trolley.
The reason I bring this up is that rheumatism (or at least the variety my wife has) is a condition where, simply put, the immune system is out of control and attacks healthy tissue of your own body. Cartilage, in this case. There is no known cure, but there are ways to contain the condition and prevent it from doing further damage. Those ways are not very specifically targeted … basically, they simply disable the entire immune system from working properly. The good thing is that her immune system then no longer attacks her cartilage. The flip side of the coin is that it also won’t try very hard to fight the coronavirus, should she get infected. This means that she is at high risk of death is she attracts the virus.
So when you see me go to great lengths to avoid possible sources of Covid-19, that’s not because I am afraid of getting sick myself. It’s because I don’t want to bring the virus home to my wife.
The visitor tent
We do not allow anyone in our house. Period. The only exception is if you self-quarantine for a week, then travel (in a closed car) to a registered test centre, have yourself tested, and then travel straight on to our house. (And yes, our son has done that during the school’s two week Christmas break).
But we still like to see people every now and then. In a safe way. Here’s how we fixed that.
We bought this party tent last year, when we realized the pandemic wasn’t going away any time soon. It’s large enough that my wife and I can sit on one side, and up to two visitors can sit on the other side, which is over 1.5 meter distance. Plus, it’s outside, so we have ample air circulation. It’s frigging cold, but at least we can see people face to face and catch up.
Our daughter visits quite regularly. Our son unfortunately far less often, partly because his school schedule doesn’t leave him a lot of spare time, partly because … well, let’s just say that he reminds me of myself at that age. My parents have visited once in the past half year, and my wife occasionally receives one of her friends. It’s still not a lot of socializing, but at least it’s better than nothing.
In case you are wondering why it’s slanted, that helps water fall off when it rains. If we schedule a visit, I raise the back side in advance. And in case you are wondering about the cutlery, that’s because our daughter visited yesterday and we served some drinks and snacks. Everything she has touched remains outside for at least two days before I take it back in, put it in the dishwasher, and then disinfect my hands.
Yes, we are that careful.
I haven’t been in shops for many months now. Neither has my wife. We now get all groceries delivered to our house. I ask the delivery person to put the groceries in my garage, where I let them sit for two days; then I get them and stow them in our cupboards.
This impacts our lives in many ways. My wife usually does the cooking. She was used to being rather spontaneous. Go to the shop and see what they have to get inspired for the meal for today. Now she needs to plan a whole week of cooking ahead when we enter the shopping list for the delivery. Similarly, I now no longer just stop by the shop to buy something I want and then eat it. It is all planned. If we mess up the planning, we need to improvise to figure out what we can eat until the next delivery.
And, frankly, it costs us an arm and a leg. We used to do most of our shopping in discount stores. They don’t deliver, so we now buy from a much more expensive supermarket. And they then still add a surcharge for the delivery. We also can’t pick the best fresh fruits, vegetables, and other perishables, so sometimes we get things that don’t last as long as we hoped.
All in all, our cost of standard groceries has gone up by, by estimation, over 50%. And I consider ourselves lucky that we have enough money, and enough income, that we can afford this. If we had been in the position of living pay check to pay check, as so many people do; or if we had lost our income due to Covid-19, as also a lot of people have, then I’m not sure if we could have afforded to stay safe in this way.
My wife and I hardly ever go outside. But we cannot avoid it completely. Sometimes I have to go out.
And when I do, I always wear a mask.
I know masks don’t do much to protect the wearer. I know masks primarily serve to protect others from the wearer. And based on how my wife and I have lived the past months, I’m pretty sure I’m not carrying anything others need protecting from.
And yet, I wear masks. In locations where it’s mandated, obviously, but also in locations where it’s not mandated.
I can’t force others to wear masks. The only thing I can do to protect myself from others is to avoid them. By staying inside whenever I can. And by keeping a lot of distance from everyone if I really can’t avoid going outside.
But what I can do is contribute, even if it’s just a tiny bit, to normalizing mask use. I can lead by example. Show people how easy it is to wear a simple piece of cloth, knowing that this keeps people around me a bit safer.
If I inspire just a single person to follow my example, then it’s been worth all the annoying damp glasses.
I could go on. There are many more things I do to as “tools” to keep the coronavirus out of my house and away from my wife. But I think you get the picture.
I don’t think this was really the kind of content Mikey was looking for this T-SQL Tuesday. But I think it’s important to keep reminding the world of the reasons why it is so extremely important that everyone adapts. I know it sucks to have to stay inside, to have to wear a mask, to have to keep your distance, and so on and so forth. I know we’re all eager to return to some sort of normality.
But if we do that to soon, people can die. Including my wife. That makes this pretty personal to me.