Pandemic consolations

March 31, 2020 • 4:40 pm

We all have reasons to be frustrated during this pandemic, though all frustrations pale before the illness or death of a loved one, or of losing a job or defaulting on a mortgage. But every one of my friends has complained about a different minor burden that the new restrictions have placed on them. Feel free to kvetch below.

My biggest frustration is not being able to travel. I was supposed to go to Florida, and that was canceled, and then lecturing on a CRUISE (oy!) to Gibraltar, Morocco, and the Canary Islands in April. That, too, is now defunct. I hope only that the fates may allow me to return to Antarctica this winter.

My consolations are these, in no particular order: ducks, good books, and wine. Tonight I’m making a honking big steak and will accompany it with a 14-year-old Rioja—a great steak wine. Under the philosophy that great wines are meant to be shared, I always try to save my fancier bottles to split with wine-lovers or those who want to learn about good wines, but such people are going to be few for a while. So I’ve decided to crack some of my good bottles, like the one below, to treat myself. I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s supposed to be very good.

It’s not a substitute for penguins, but it’ll do, pig. . . it’ll do.

What are your biggest frustrations? And are you giving yourself any special treats as a palliative?

166 thoughts on “Pandemic consolations

  1. My complaint is that the trump supporters out my way (rural northern new england) have decided this pandemic is ample opportunity to drive their big, loud, ugly-ass trucks in excess of the speed limit whenever they want

      1. I suspect it’s because they can, because gas is cheap, because they like the noise.

        I’ve lost faith in this country,

    1. I’ve noticed in our town that drivers in general, everything from minivans to redneck dream “bulldog” stance trucks are driving damn near lawless. There are less on the road but the ones out there make up for it by driving complete idiots.

      I usually ride a motorcycle. On Monday on my ride home from work, a mere 4 miles, one idiot overtaking me in the left line suddenly decided to occupy my right lane. I dodged them but it was so close that my left arm actually touched their passenger side front fender.

      Then no more than 1.5 miles further on another idiot turning left out of a community on my right pulled out in front of me as I was going down a main road at 45 mph. Now, this is a pretty normal incident for a rider, happens all the time. Any good rider is always on the look out for just this thing. And I was. But this person pulled out so late it wasn’t a misjudgment in distance or closing rate, they just didn’t look at all. Missed their bumper by no more than a foot. Crushed my “family jewels” on the tank and had the rear wheel a foot off the ground.

      It’s like Mad Max out there.

      1. Sounds unsafe. Nothing short of a rotating beacon on a beany cap would help. I’m sure you had your headlight on.

        1. Yes indeed. On motorcycles the headlight is always on if the key is turned to the on position. The only switch for the headlight is a low/high beam switch.

          If you ride on the road and survive long enough you learn to mostly avoid incidents before they fully develop and to constantly update “what do I do if this happens” escape plans as you ride along, but no matter how good or safe you are it only lowers the probability of getting creamed. So far in my life I’ve avoided being hit on the road except for one time. And that one time was another motorcycle! Creamed me from behind as I was slowing down to turn into a gas station.

          1. I’m a chicken. Wouldn’t be caught dead on one…so to speak. You seem to be living on the “wild side”. Best of luck.

            1. 🙂 Thanks.

              Not so much on the wild side any more. With age comes better impulse control. Not perfect mind, but better.

      2. Yeah I drove to my parents’ to drop off groceries last Saturday in the dark. A person in a van got so close to my bumper I thought they planned to ram me & mug me. They turned down a side street thank goodness. I’ve heard people were racing on the highway as well & were arrested for it….driving 3 cars across. For this reason, I avoided the highway driving there & back. I did think of Mad Max as well.

  2. Enjoy the wine, and the piece of dead cow, if it does honk it may think it’s a goose and you probably didn’t cook it enough 😉

    I have no significant complaints. My trip to Nice last week was cancelled, of course. And the friends that we were going to visit are still stuck there, but as they said they might just as well be locked up there as in Chicago. But there is real suffering going on around us, so I guess the main frustration is the refusal of the federal administration to properly address it. At the state, local and institutional levels there has been a lot of professionalism that would have been good to see at the very top. But I’m largely preaching to the converted here.

  3. btw: consolations:

    Ameraucana chickens

    Homemade albemarle cider

    Kindle w/ Diamond’s “Collapse” on tap

    (every bit of this is true)

  4. I’ve got some weed, so I’m okay.

    I did have vague plans to visit Paris during the summer, but now that’s not gonna happen.

  5. That looks wonderful.

    At the risk of being a party pooper…since the drinking alcohol things is raised in this post..

    I have a few nice beers and spirits somewhere in the house and have occasionally wanted to crack them open.

    However I’m cognizant of how alcohol tends to depress the immune system (even if temporarily). Even my anecdotal experience agrees: every time I’ve ever been sick at all, with a cold or otherwise, if I drink (and I drink very little) I ALWAYS wake up more sick the next day, like the sickness was given the toe-hold it needed in my system.

    So I’m concentrating on exercise and good sleep and eschewing drinking at this point.

    (And I really don’t know if the immune-suppressing qualities of alcohol are significant in a bottle of beer or glass of wine, but the occasional expert I read has said it’s playing it safe to not drink at this time).

    I wish I were less paranoid and could enjoy a glass of wine!

    1. I’m cognizant of the same thing. I don’t know if my situation is relevant to you but I’ll tell you how I fixed it (without giving up the alcohol). My diet was crap too, and I wasn’t exercising very much. I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, a lot less pizza, pasta, stuff like that, and started to exercise more. The exercise regime is still pretty hit and miss because of work, but with a better diet I find that I can drink and don’t get sick.

      Everyone’s different though. I don’t think I ever woke up feeling sick after one glass. So it could be that for you. Or maybe you have an alcohol allergy?

      Anyway, it does depress the immune system. So if it causes you other problems and it’s an easy thing to drop, this is a great time to drop it, no question.

      1. Hi eric,

        Fortunately I’m in good shape these days, good diet, but would still be tentative about any alcohol.

        I don’t get sick particularly often, but I hate being sick so much I worry about it more than, for instance, my wife who being a doctor is around sick people all day long.

        When I’ve had a cold I’ve looked through the “is it ok to drink alcohol when you have a cold” stuff on the net and have occasionally tried even just one beer and it’s never failed to make me feel worse. (Makes me feel better while I’m drinking it…symptoms almost seem to fade in to the background. But the cold always seems to have jumped to a higher level of severity the next day or later that night).

        How much could by psychological I don’t know.
        (I don’t have an allergy to alcohol btw).

        I’m keeping up my exercising also with the mind of having good lung capacity – figure it’s good to at least start with good lung capacity if I’m gonna get this damned virus.

        My friend in London who has COVID is absolutely miserable. He’s my age – 56 – and it’s come back on him 3 times…each time he feels he’s getting better it boomerangs and hits him worse. Last 6 days he’s been confined to bed with fever, chills, pain etc, says it’s hard even getting to the bathroom and back.

        So nasty reading all this with the mind that, if predictions are true, you’re gonna get it.

        (Also, his wife had it but had an easier time, seems fully recovered, and his 12 year old son has been asymptomatic despite being isolated with his two sick parents. So that seems to conform to the pattern of the virus hitting men harder than women, and children even less so).

  6. I dunno. I think this isn’t that far off from my regular life because I get a lot of migraines and fatigue from the migraines so I spend a lot of time at home. My feet being messed up added to that. Funny enough, my feet started improving enough that I could walk a bit more just before all this hit. I haven’t had a migraine in almost 3 weeks! That’s a really long time for me and this included getting through a severe barometric pressure drop with a storm. So maybe I’m meant for this but I think the answer is more likely that office work doesn’t suit me somehow.

    Mostly, what I struggle with is the bouts of anxiety (again I have anxiety anyway) where I worry about the virus, it killing people that could include people I like & me, the dropping crude prices & what that could mean, & the economy.

    1. I’m having major issues with my R) knee (which requires surgery) and also issues with my L) shoulder (which requires a steroid injection). Neither can be fixed at the moment because of the lockdown. My knee in particular is extremely painful. I tried going to the supermarket on the weekend and was in agony before I even got in the door because of waiting in a long line in the car park.

      My home help (which I get through the health system because of my mobility issues, pain, etc.) was told by his boss he wasn’t allowed to come to my place because people like me weren’t important and they could get someone else to help them. But I have absolutely no one who’s in a position that I could call on them. My friends and family are all either out of town or have issues of their own which mean it’s especially important that they stay home right now. Luckily, my home help is a great guy and he’s decided that he will keep coming to my place.

      My biggest frustration though is those countries that are doing a crap job of managing the situation. We’re doing a good job I think. Canada is too, along with several others. China is starting to return to normal because they eventually did a good job. Our lockdown is currently due to end in three weeks. However, I have no doubt that it will have to be extended because countries like the US still don’t have it under control. Management should be done at a federal level, not state by state. ALL states should be on lockdown NOW, not just those like NY. The virus obviously doesn’t recognize borders. All I see is a president tweeting about how good the viewer numbers are for his daily press briefings!!! A countrywide lockdown would save lives and take pressure off the health system.

      1. Sorry to hear that, Heather. Here in Germany your home help would count as essential. I work with kids with behavioural problems, usually in schools, but can do at home too where necessary. The Child Welfare Office sent me a document exempting me from the lock down, and left it entirely to my judgment whether it’s necessary or not (and is paying me as well, for the time being at least).

        I hope NZ works something out quickly!

        1. I’ve just been arguing with someone who works for the company. She said the govt had forbidden it, then admitted they had left it up to the company’s discretion. It’s the company who’s being difficult. The workers don’t get paid for clients not receiving care, so all of them are on reduced wages, and they didn’t get much to begin with. I think the company is claiming the wage subsidy, which is a standard amount, and profiting out of the situation.

          1. Ugh nasty company. Out PM here just warned everyone not to try to game the system or they will face stiff penalties. I’m glad your care person is ethical despite his employer.

          2. That sounds familiar. Here the state is quite sensible in that area, in general, but the private companies they give the contracts to have a lot of free room, and plenty of conflicts of interest built in as well. And the state has little direct control once they’ve awarded a contract.

            The company I work for initially tried to force me to work (even though that would have been an unnecessary risk and without any pedagogical need), and claimed it was the Child Welfare Office’s idea. When I asked specifically which person there had ordered it, they admitted it was their own idea. Then they threatened to cancel my contracts completely, leaving the kids without even the option of assistance should it be necessary. I told them to go jump, and they backed down.

            Then the Child Welfare Office sent me a document giving me permission to travel to work if necessary — trusting me to decide whether I should work or not.

            1. I’m glad the Child Welfare Office came to the party. I bet there are a lot of similar stories to yours and mine out there.

        1. I drink it with or without the “e”. Right now I am inebriated, literally and figuratively, with the best American rye whiskey I can get my hands on. Must be at least aged 12 years. I don’t know how much longer my pocketbook will last.

          1. I recently discovered Rye and was pleasantly surprised that I like it — a lot. This was a surprise because I do not like American Bourbon. Pretty much at all. I can drink and even enjoy things like Maker’s Mark; but it’s still not really great to me.

            So, my question: What do you consider to be the “best American rye whiskey [you] can get [your] hands on”?

            Bulleit is my primary rye (I mainly mix with rye, often a modified Toronto Sunset (I’m not a Canadian Whiskey fan)).

            I drink Scotch, Cognac, and Armagnac straight (or occasionally with one small ice cube — I like the evolution from warm and full strength to cool and slightly diluted), although this is heresy to some.

            1. Depends on how much you want to pay. For special days I like Colonel Taylor small batch. Complex, spicy and darn expensive. My everyday rye is Russell Reserve. Best rye in its price range, IMO. Tried Whistlepig but too dry and expensive for my taste.

            2. Masterson’s 10 Year Straight Rye is very good stuff.

              For a few dollars less, Russell’s Reserve Rye is also very nice.

              For a few dollars less than that, you can’t really go wrong with Woodford Reserve Rye.

              But if you want something special at not too bad a price try the Masterson’s. Total Wine has it at a good price right now.

              1. I just added it to my cart, too. Normally reserved for Scotch whisky, but a good rye is a welcome diversion.

              2. This evening I went and bought myself a bottle of 14 year Glenmorangie aged in bourbon and then Port barrels that I’ve been meaning to try.

              3. It is really quite good. I’m a bit surprised how good given it was only $56.00. But I definitely recommend it. A hint of port does come through. Its got some fruitiness and bourbon-wood to it. Very smooth but a nice warmth. The color is gorgeous too.

              4. I have a bottle of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 open at the moment. Well, not this exact moment… but one of last night’s moments. 😉

                There’s a hazard I’m noticing… a tendency to imbibe more frequently during this pandemic than I normally do. One of these days I’m going to need to slow it back down again.

              5. GBJames,

                I was looking for the 12 year based on reviews but only found the 14 year Quinta Ruban.

                I’m normally happy with a single drink in the evening if any, be it beer or whisky. But the past couple of weeks I seem to be having a 2nd as often as not. Last night it was 1 beer and 1 whisky. Like you I feel I need to back off.

              6. No delivery options here in Milwaukee. We do have curbside pickup, though, so distancing can be maintained.

              7. There’s a hazard I’m noticing… a tendency to imbibe more frequently during this pandemic than I normally do. One of these days I’m going to need to slow it back down again.

                Exactly. The alcohol helps me tune out my worries right now.

  7. My wife and I originally were planning trip to somewhere in Europe this year. I fear that even next fall it will not be possible. I took part in 6 to 8 Irish traditional music sessions each month and really miss getting together with all my friends to play.

    That wine looks like a nice consolation. Mostly we stay home and eat normally. But, I have been thinking about picking up a nice bottle of Pauillac (Bordeaux). With my underlying health conditions, I am not a good candidate for survival should I get this virus, so I might as well splurge a bit.

    1. this I can identify with, only, not Irish sessions but american old time. the group is trying tonite via remote video. I said count me out. somehow sawing a fiddle in front of a laptop just doesn’t appeal to me

      1. I know what you mean Mike. It lacks what we call in Irish sessions, the craic. Not to mention that most of our sessions are at brew pubs. There is a program called JamKazam that supposedly lets you have an online jam. Not appealing to me at all.

  8. No swimming. Almost 50 years of life and this is the longest I’ve ever been out of the water in my life. Hardly sounds like an inconvenience in the grand scale of pandemic.

    Thank goodness for wine.

    1. Little things like that are really important in our lives. Most of us have things like that that aren’t big in the scheme of things, but make a huge difference on a personal level. I feel for you, and everyone else missing out on such stuff.

    2. Me too. Missing my normal exercise, that is. Not swimming but weight lifting. Though the gym I lift at was still open at the time I decided to stop going about 10 days ago. It’s doubly a shame because my son and daughter had been lifting with me for the past few months, the first time ever they’ve shown interest in it, and they were both doing great and liking it.

      I’ve been trying to come up with alternative exercises at home. Some ideas have been pretty comical. It’s not really cutting it though. I’m sure to lose significant ground and at my age that’s a real pain to gain back.

      Last night I tried a routine made popular by a Navy SEAL whose name I can’t remember. It starts with a 1 mile run. Next is 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats done round-robin like in 20 sets of 5, 10 and 15 respectively. Then finally another 1 mile run. I substituted bicycle riding for the running. 1st ride I rode hard for 15 minutes, 2nd ride I rode hard for 19 minutes.

      This was a good work out but it just can’t replace weights. The pull-ups are great, I’ve always done them as a primary exercise anyway. But push-ups and body weight squats just weren’t cutting it. I could have kept on doing them all night.

      1. Wow, you are really fit and strong!

        I have never power-lifted; but I lift regularly for health reasons. Not big weights; but the effects on health (sleeping better, much less orthopedic pain, fewer minor orthopedic injuries, easier movement in general) are very good.

        When I was young and climbing mountains, I could sling my body around pretty well. But now, I just strain tendons, pull muscles, etc. I’ve always been susceptible to orthopedic injuries. I’ve had most of them.

        1. Thanks jblilie. Lifting has been a hobby for a good part of my life. Used to run regularly too until my late 40s. Gave up the running as it was breaking me down and causing damage that was impacting my lifting. Now I do things like biking and sprints instead of running.

          Mountain climbing is hard core. That kind of activity can be very hard on the body. As I’ve gone through the decades I have definitely gotten more fragile and recovery takes longer. I can’t work through injuries any more. I’ve long since learned to not “grip it and rip it.” Everything now is slow and controlled.

          Interestingly, strength-wise it is only in the past few years that I’ve started losing ground. Most noticeably lower body, which is sad because I used to excel there. Mainly due to a problematic lower back. When I push past a certain point it’s not long before I have and “episode.” But all the way up into my late 40s I was as strong as I’d ever been at any earlier point, just more fragile.

          With one exception. I can’t do Olympic lifts worth a shit anymore. I’m no longer capable of the explosivity and flexibility required to do them well. I recently started doing some clean and jerk again. I knew my form was, . . ., well, let’s say stiff. After a few months of adding it back into my workout I wanted to see how bad it was so I took some video of a lift. It was pretty bad. But if I don’t try too much weight it’s still a fun and very effective exercise.

          1. “As I’ve gone through the decades I have definitely gotten more fragile and recovery takes longer. I can’t work through injuries any more. I’ve long since learned to not “grip it and rip it.” Everything now is slow and controlled.”

            Right on. 100% with you there!

  9. What I miss is travel, and my wife and I also want to return to Antarctica and to visit the North Pole as well, so that we can claim to be genuinely bipolar! For any woke people out there I’m allowed to make this joke as I have overcome a mental breakdown!
    My consolation includes fine wines, especially Riojas, so I will be following Jerry’s recommendation if I can find it!

    1. Here another recommendation for those who enjoy good wines during this austere period: My experience is that in the US, because of storage during the high summer temperatures, good wines are often corked. I learned years ago from a winebar owner in Amsterdam how he remedied corked wine bottles: he used to ignite a piece of paper and allow it to burn inside the neck of the bottle, destroying the fungus that was deposited by the cork. I improved this method by instead using a piece of paper, I poor the gas from a lighter into the bottle by carefully opening the lighter without igniting the gas. The gas, heavier than air, flows into the bottle. After a few seconds you ignite the gas in the bottle, and it will burn the fungus. When the flame in the bottle dies, wipe the neck with a clean paper towel towel, and you will still be able to enjoy the wine. Don’t reuse the cork! Chin-chin!

      1. Wine is not corked due to heat (although heat accelerates most chemical reactions so it may make it worse, faster).

        The taste/smell called “corked” is caused by the presence of a chemical compound called TCA (2,4,6 – trichloroanisole), which you correctly identify as being caused by a fungus (the fungus generates the TCA if enough chlorides are available to it).

        I have several close friends who are professional wine makers. None has ever suggested a “cure” for corked wine, aside from prevention (mainly keep chlorine containing compounds out of the winery all together.)

        I’ve never tried these tricks; and they may decrease the corkiness (I’m skeptical).

        The TCA leaches from the fungus in the cork into the wine itself (otherwise, when you pour off the wine, the TCA would remain in the bottle/cork and the wine would be fine). The TCA transfers into the wine over a long period of time. So eradicating the fungus just prior to consumption of the wine does nothing to get rid of the TCA.

        Some combustion product could conceivably react with the TCA; but, again, I think my friends would know about this. The exact chemistry would be important. And one would need to blend whatever that compound is into the wine and allow time for the reaction to occur.

        Beware the placebo effect and confirmation bias.

        There are many other compounds that can make wine taste bad (Brettanomyces infection (some like this flavor), Acetobacter infection, dimethylpyrazine, mercaptans, etc.)

          1. Screw caps are coming on pretty well now. They are very effective; but they may not be appropriate for long-term aging.

            Corks allow for some very slight amounts of oxygen to get into the wine (like barrels do) and that is part of the traditional aging process. (I strongly recommend doing a vertical (or a partial vertical of some sort) of a new vintage of a wine you like and several vintages of various ages (back to as old as you can get that has been properly cellared). The effect of aging, if properly done, can be like magic.)

            Corks are very traditional; and it will be a long time before (for instance) first growth Bordeaux, top Burgundies, Chateauneuf du Pape, etc. go away from corks (if ever).

            There are very good plastic cork substitutes now as well. And box technology is quite good as well: For wines not meant to be aged.

            We recently ran an accidental experiment with some boxed Pinot Grigio (decent enough stuff when fresh). It sat forgotten in a pantry closet and we pulled it out after about 10 years. It was brown and very badly oxidized. The bag in box (at least that type, there are several materials) is not a great oxygen barrier.

        1. I’ve begun making wine as a hobby and started with a batch of Syrah grapes. Unfortunately, the grapes were covered with fungus. After several months the wine tastes good except for an off-flavor which I’m sure is from the fungus. I consider it drinkable, but not commercial. So, I suspect TCA is a component of that. Lesson: start with good grapes.

            1. No, not in this case. The first step in controlled fermentation is to kill off the wild yeast and mold by adding sulfite, then adding commercial wine yeast which is tolerant of sulfite to do the fermentation. The off-taste I suspect comes from the fungal residue that remains.

        2. Normally, when the bottle is stored upright, and the wine is not touching the cork, you can limit the damage. Our friend in the Amsterdam winebar would only serve these restored wines after midnight. The important factor in this treatment is the absence of any residues left on the glass in the neck of the bottle. We spent most of our lives in Italy and France, and are used to drink wine with our meals. A French or Italian wine that has been “decorked” still beats Gallo.

              1. Well, you won’t have to worry, with its screw top. Anyway, corks have their advantages:

  10. My frustrations are limited and certainly no worse than anyone else’s — canceled travel, concerts, and plays. I’m fortunate to still have a job, though I’m not sure it’s worth the health risk. I worry about my elderly father, mostly. Consolations are many. I too enjoy good wine, and also good bourbon and cognac. There are daily live-stream events by my favorite artists, and technology allows virtual meetings with friends and family. My meditation practice is stronger every day, and I have more time to read. I’m doing a lot more cooking and baking than ever before, which I thoroughly enjoy.

  11. My husband and I both hit 70 this year and had arranged a week long family house party in Scotland – cancelled. Daughter’s wedding -cancelled. Can’t visit grandchildren on their birthdays. Can’t meet up with botanising friends for trips out – but hey we’re all still alive, washing our hands, not touching our faces and probably drinking too much wine. Enjoy your steak and fine red wine.

    1. I’m 70 this year, too. I rescheduled our Scotland trip for October. I’m hoping this all will be settled out by then.

      I’m following our itinerary in my head these days. Today we were to have driven from Kilmartin in Argyle to Portree on Skye.

      1. That’s a really nice route to drive (I live on Skye). I hope you’re able to visit in October, it’s usually one of the best months of the year weather-wise, and a lot less crowded. Though now it’s eerily quiet! Will you be continuing on to the Outer Hebrides?

        1. Yes. After Skye we will spend time on Lewis and North Uist.

          We were in Orkney and the Highlands in October of 2018 and had a great time. Great weather, except for one horrendously windy day as we drove from Fort William back to Edinburgh. 😉

          1. Great choice. I absolutely love the Outer Hebrides, we try to hop on the ferry every year for a brief visit. Lewis/Harris and the Uists are very different to each other so you get lots of different landscapes by travelling very little.

            In Scotland it’s always down to a lot of luck with the weather, but even rain and gales look beautiful here. At least that’s what I tell myself all throughout the soggy winter 😉

  12. One of many consolations; videos of penguins looking on in stunned awe, bewilderment, and wonder as they wandered around an aquarium empty of apes, the belugas and otters equally amazed and enthralled by their unusual visitors. I wonder what must have been going through those penguins minds. How, if they could, would they explain what they just experienced to other penguins?

  13. What’s bad is that my son-in-law got laid off. He’s a willing working man who likes to work, and it will be hard to fill the time. If he gets little gigs that bring in some money he will lose a sizable chunk of his unemployment money, so it isn’t worth it to fill time with little bits of work.

    What’s good is that the nursing home where my Sweetie is is having “window visits”. I can go to a window that is designated for that purpose, and he’ll be brought into the room in his wheelchair. I am to have my cellphone, and the aide will also have a phone so that we don’t have to shout through the glass. It’s been almost six weeks since the nursing home was locked down. It’s hard, but if it keeps these vulnerable old people safe, well, I’ll take it!!

    1. I would think an intercom system would be fairly simple to rig, so that the old folks don’t have to deal with phones.

      1. An intercom? I don’t quite know what you’re suggesting. My Sweetie can call me on the telephone in the hall, and he does. But to see each other through a window? Everybody but me has a smartphone, and everybody else can do these magical things with their smartphones. And I can use my obsolete telephone to visit at the window, which I will do. So it will happen.

        An aide will help with the phone, and we’ll have the visit.

        And if I survive this crisis I may go and get a new and not obsolete telephone once I can go back to the store.

        Meanwhile I have not just one but three old rotary dial phones that still work and which I still use. I know how to use them. But some of these kids don’t have a clue how to get one of those old phones to make a phone call.

        1. I hope that visits through glass are not going to be common in the future.
          But such visits would seem to be easier if there were speakers and microphones on either side, so that one could speak naturally, as if there were not a barrier.
          I was sort of thinking of my Mom’s trouble hearing when using her phone. It would be hard to communicate with her that way.

  14. Like many others, my frustration is that so many plans are cancelled or on hold. My father-in-law was supposed to be visiting from Spain next week, my sister can’t book her annual visit from Oregon, and our family summer holiday in Asturias via Madrid is looking doubtful to say the least.

    I’d have that wine with a small round individual loaf of bread. I know it’s only rioja and roll, but I like it… (My apologies in advance.)

          1. I nearly went with “Gimme, gimme cheddar or I’m gonna fade away” by that was too cheesy even for me…

  15. At least you have good wine. My consolations are cats, good books, and Budweiser—well. your blog is in their too.

  16. My COVID-19 frustrations are fewer than most, I suppose. Being retired on a mini-“ranch”, there’s plenty to do outdoors. My big beef (figuratively speaking) is I won’t be visited by my daughter anytime soon. I don’t see her that often anyway, but just the knowledge that we are constrained is a bit of an irritant.
    I also enjoy an interest in wine. The Rioja is an interesting one. It is from Northern Spain and is made up of several varietals. Tempranillo, Garnacha tinta, Mazuelo (also known as Cariñena) and Graciano. It’s guaranteed to raise a smile. I’ve been drinking a little higher up on the price scale just lately, and I’m sure it’s out of a desire to feel less cut off from life’s little enjoyments during the zombie apocolypse.

  17. I’m making good use of the time. There has never been such a lack of vibrations due to traffic past my house. The house and teh small mountain it sits in is, for the first time, absolutely still. This gives me a rare window of opportunity to do all the microphotography I can; these are normally ruined by vibrations. Unfortunately this kind of photography fills hard drives very quickly (each finished photo generally consists of a stack of hundreds of individual photos) and I don’t have any empty ones. That and the lack of good food are my only frustrations.

  18. We were at Oaklawn for four days of racing culminating in the Rebel Stakes when they closed the track to patrons and chivied us all into the casino to bet the sports book. That’s my major disappointment. My daughter, who now works from her home, has the additional duties of a 5th grade teacher. Today she learned she will continue teaching until May 4th, at least. I would go help her, but at 77, wonder if it’s wise to travel to Austin.
    I always love your food and wine posts, so please continue. We’re having roast chicken and a sauvignon blanc tonight.

  19. My largest frustration by far is not being able to enjoy a pint of real ale with the old boys down the pub. There seems to be no palliative other than what the grape provides from a good bottle.

    1. I did my last week just before France got locked down. I was sitting in a restaurant at the ferry port waiting to come back to England when they announced the closure of all restaurants and bars and the ski resorts were closed the next day.

  20. Today is my 60th birthday. My beautiful wife is cooking a filet, some shrimp and vegetables. She went out this morning and brought home a stout beer sampler pack. I’m still exploring beers. We’ll have an angel food cake (my favorite) with fresh strawberries for desert.

    One downside is we won’t be able to travel to see our beautiful 1 year old granddaughter as we had planned. She FaceTimed us yesterday. Next best thing. I hope the internet holds up.

  21. At 5:30 everyday, a group of us walk our dogs in the local dog park. For some students and retirees, it is their only (6 foot) face-to-face contact with the outside world. I am not sure if the mood of this group is typical but the first week was fun and now there is more of a melancholy air of resignation.

    It has really messed up my daughter’s college soccer recruitment. We had a recruiting tournament canceled and she will probably never see some of her teammates again (she is a junior and most of her teammates are seniors who live an hour away.) We had plan our summer vacation to go to her top choice but who knows what will happen?

    I do realize how lucky I am. We had some coronavirus scares but everyone has recovered or had something else.

      1. Depending on the park, that could make sense. The park I go to is a 40 acre field. There is a small one with a fence that could be more a problem if it gets too crowded.

  22. Mostly, I feel undeservedly lucky on a lot of things:

    Got my hip replaced, wouldn’t have happened now had it been scheduled a few weeks later.
    Arthritis wasn’t exactly good fun.

    Some inactivity for two reasons, hip and virus, is happening at more-or-less the same time, so ‘2 birds with one stone’.

    Leg is getting better extraordinarily fast for a 78 year old it seems.

    I’d do it anyway, but can walk, cycle and rollerski on a nearby trailway, not unlawfully, and it’s almost deserted anyway.

    Planning to return to nordic ski old-fart racing, so having that as one of a few goals for activities just above. Maybe that makes one wish time went more slowly to get more chance to regain fitness.

    Bought a (unaffordable!) place away from the city 34 years ago, 9 acres and very good for isolating ourselves, not just indoors–and we’re both more accustomed to isolation than most are anyway.

    So the time seems to be passing almost too quickly.

    There are social negatives of course, quite apart from the horror of the general situation of humankind right now.

    1. Paragraph inadvertently zapped:
      Infinite interest in math, and basic physics (latter at dilettante level), and books on Inuit-type aboriginals, and arctic/antarctic exploration, many unread books to read at my slow pace.

    2. Roller-skiing at 78? Brave man! You’ve got over a decade on me, and I put mine away about 5 years ago. (But maybe you have brakes on yours, which would make things safer.)

      Are you any relation to Noah Hoffman (US Olympic skier)?

      1. No, not that I know of. It’s a rural Hoffmann from near the Black Forest originally, seven generations back. He’s possibly down through Jewish Hoffmanns, a pretty common name. We also have Mennonite Hoffmans near here. ‘nn’ in Germany before. I have no natural aerobic talent at all, but technique allos me not to be the one who keeps the volunteers out there shivering at the end! Noah obviously has it in spades.

        I don’t roller ski where it is especially steep (esp trailway!), but particularly downhills only where I’m very familiar with any driveways or roads coming out and have an escape route. So a half-assed ‘snowplow’ suffices. A guy I knew from the big Gatineau race (geologist from Syracuse U. whose name escapes me) said some top old guys from Norway would train for their (original) Birkebeiner ripping up and down mountain roads all day in awful weather seemingly oblivious to road rash.

        I assume you’re no relation of our Becky. There are lots of Scotts, inc. that Antarctic guy of course. He couldn’t ski!

        1. No, no relation to Becky (that I know of) or to RF Scott. My father traced the Scotts back quite a few generations in Scotland without finding anyone particularly notable.

          I live on a fairly steep hill, and often see the local college XC ski team (including many Scandinavian imports) roller-skiing up the hill and then descending at speeds that scare the bejesus out of me. (OTOH, I did hit 50mph on my bicycle yesterday.)

          1. I’ve got to 70kph, but never 80=50mph. Tour de France (as opposed to Tour de Frank in Larson’s Far Side) is TV drama at its best and most truthful on the descents in mountain stages.

  23. I am retired on a comfortable pension and content to be at home alone with all my books. I only chafe at the loss of liberty to run errands at will and to be with friends and family on occasion. Today’s ray of sunlight is the sight of a bottle of fine Rioja in JAC’s hand, the wine soon to be savored with good simple food (albeit in solitude). Pairing the Rioja with duck would be akin to cannibalism.

  24. In 2009 I spent 3 months housebound after a bout in hospital, mostly sitting in a chair reading and not feeling well.

    The current social distancing imperative feels like a holiday by comparison. I’m well, exercising, enjoy solitude and am playing guitar at least 4-5 hours/day. It’s not too onerous.


    1. I can identify! In 2017 I spent five weeks in a wheelchair in a house that is not wheelchair-friendly.

      Never want to do that again! This is much easier to deal with.

  25. I miss my local arthouse cinema. They have four screens there, and show first-run fare, but also weekly series featuring classics and foreign films and screenings by local filmmakers. Plus simulcasts of opera and ballet and concerts from the Met and the Royal Opera House and La Scala. Just a two-block walk from home and office. I’d get there two or three times a week, more during the annual film festival or when a special program was showing.

    I’ve got a firestick so have been getting my film fix on the big-screen tv back at the crib, but it ain’t the same. I always sat third row center, especially in the largest of the four screening rooms, the one with the high-end sound system and a section of seats removed from the middle of the front row to accommodate wheelchairs. Most showings there wouldn’t be any wheelchairs, so there’d be nothing and nobody between me and the action on the screen — like Hemingway watching the bullfights in Pamplona from the arena seats sobre puertos.

    Nothing beats watching a great film in a darkened theater, among fellow cinephiles, gazing up at a big silver screen — the way God, Pauline Kael, and Vilmos Zsigmond meant Man to do. 🙂

    1. A few months ago, my oldest son and I ran a bunch of wires through the walls and ceilings to rig up a Dolby Atmos sound system. That investment is really paying off, since every night is now “family movie night”. The sound system really makes a difference for those films that take advantage of it.

      But we are just fine. We are out in the country, and have plenty to do and lots of food. As long as my wife does not bring the red death home to us, no worries, really.

      Hopefully, we are all thinking of our elderly or high-risk neighbors, and doing what we can for them.

  26. You (and many readers) could click up a virtual dinner with any of your friends around the world, adjusting your meal time for time zones…matthew?, tim and betsy?, A and M?…. our girls did a videocon birthday champagne toast with my wife from three different cities this past saturday. It was very real and very nice. Thisevent reminds me that It is time for many of us to enjoy our better wines and while we cannot share tastes electronically, we can share the enjoyment in a virtual flight.

  27. I’m certainly worried about my wife’s health (she’s a Doctor), my kid’s future (finishing school…what will the economy look like and for how long?) and other things.

    But on a personal note, I don’t have tons to complain about (except being out of work, but it should come back eventually).

    Part of what’s bumming me is this: I’m a big city guy at heart. Just love the hustle and bustle. I’ve really liked how my city, Toronto, has been growing…the population, the amount of nightlife, and it’s a great restaurant city (I’m a “foodie”).

    So I love going out, socializing, eating, walking around, soaking up the vitality of a bustling city.

    And now…it’s just going down the tubes. (Like most places). It’s shocking seeing just how fast businesses and restaurants are closing down. I mean for good! Shuttered.
    “For lease” signs. And after hopefully escaping death from the virus, we probably have a major recession (if not depression!) to look forward to for I dunno how long.

    So, it’s just a real “wind taken out of the sales” time in many different ways.

  28. Nice wine! I’m hoping you will finally adopt a gorgeous kitten to share your solitude. It would bring you so much joy, and keep your readers happy too.

  29. No real frustrations. I’ve been freelancing for the last year, so I’m used to time off. Unfortunately, I now have no excuse to not complete all my various household projects. So far I’ve cleaned the garage and half finished a complex drywall patch.

    My kids, 11 and 13, basically love it. They already had some classwork online, now it’s just expanded and they’re free to work at their own pace. Once finished, they have unlimited internet. I actually have to drag them out of the house once a day for exercise. My wife asked them “Don’t you miss your friends?” The younger shook her head “I just got off a video call with them!”

  30. I started working from home two weeks ago before last week’s lockdown (I’m in Melbourne). The little teaching I’m doing has moved online and all my work meetings are done on Zoom. The main things I miss are travel (all of my work and pleasure travel for the year has already been canceled or is likely to be canceled) and the gym. I don’t have a big enough apartment to make a home workout appealing (I like the psychological separation that the gym provides, as well as the equipment) and I take the bike out for a spin when the weather is nice, but I never feel the same ‘high’ that I get from a good gym workout. My main consolations are that I can continue reading and writing for work, reading for pleasure, lots of stuff to watch online or on DVD, and the local Dan Murphy’s (for non-Aussies, it’s basically a booze supermarket) has a good selection of wine and gin.

  31. The silence when I go for a walk-no cars, no planes and unusually for Wellington virtually no wind for a week. Only the birds

    1. I heard that the original settlement was in Hutt Valley but the wind was so bad they moved across the bay. Also, they used to complain that the whales were making too much noise.

    1. No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

      – HG Wells, War of the Worlds. I think a lot about that book lately with how the aliens met their end.

  32. The best thing is that my granddaughter was sick just before this happened so she came to us so her baby sisters wouldn’t catch it

    She’s still here, fully recovered and making Nana very happy

    Worst thing is not being able to get cat food in our usual large quantities, we have 5 cats and most places were rationing to 2 cans… Which doesn’t go far.

    But it’s better now, the feline overlords are happy and well fed

  33. Frustrations: Not being able to visit my wife’s family, who are 5,000 miles away. We’d planned a summer visit this year, but even a Christmas visit is looking unlikely now.

    Consolations: Spending more time with my wife. Not having to sit in traffic for an hour on the commute to work, and another hour on the way back. Being able to work from home, and to be a part (albeit a small one) of the scientific fight against coronavirus. Seeing how people are coming together at a time of crisis.

  34. I so wish I could go to a pub or bar and have a pint of beer. I never realised before how little “going fore as beer” is about the beer and how much it is about the social interaction.

    I am also a bit annoyed about how heavy handed some of the social distancing enforcement is. There was a story here earlier this week that retailers would not be allowed to sell chocolate Easter eggs because they are “not essential supplies”. Really? Have you ever tried denying chocolate to a six year old at Easter?

    Some officious officials seem entirely too happy to be draining all enjoyment out of everybody’s lives.

  35. We have the same Rioja in the wine cabinet, but a 2005, it should be excellent. But I’m pregnant so can’t be drinking it for consolation now… Lambing will begin soon, little lambs always bring lots of joy.

  36. Well, I had hoped to pick my own time to retire from work. Now it looks like my family business of one hundred years standing is going to end due to Covid19. I’m still paying my staff, of course, but am not confident about the outlook.
    All good things …

  37. As of yesterday, I am on a one-year sabbatical. I was planning to spend it in China, mainly in Shanghai, but also doing a slow trip along the Silk Road, surveying depictions of music making in the wall paintings of the Dunhuang grottos, etc. But those plans have been shelved, and I will be spending my sabbatical year at home in Tokyo. I suppose I will have time to do more writing, but it is a great disappointment to have to postpone (probably cancel, I imagine) what I had planned to be my last great adventure.
    Otherwise, I’m missing swimming at my local gym/pool. Walking just isn’t enough. Perhaps I need to get my bicycle back into good use. I haven’t ridden it since a badly broken bone in my left foot required surgery three years ago. The foot’s better now, so perhaps that’s the way to go. A year’s training for the six or so that I have left before retiring.

  38. We have a pretty extensive wine cellar. (I’ve been cellaring since about 1994.)

    We have decided to open many good bottles (they are good!). I’m in the mood of: WTF, drink ’em up! Memento mori.

    Isn’t this why I bought them and laid them down?

    Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die.

    1. Definitely.

      Same sort of situation, but with glass / crystal. Through our 20s and 30s my wife and I slowly collected a good variety of nice drink ware from fine beer glasses to crystal cocktail glasses and everything in between. It always sat in cabinets, only rarely being used for things like Christmas dinner.

      About 5 years ago I suddenly decided, “%$#* this!,” as I was getting a beer out of the fridge. Now any time I have a beer, glass of wine, cocktail, aperitif or fine distillate it is always in a fine piece of drink ware. What else is it for?

      1. Us too. When they break (and they do), it’s oh well, that’s why we have them. The right glass definitely can enhance the taste and smell experience and it makes a small “occasion” of the event.

        My wife particularly likes “special” glasses. Easy decision point there!

  39. Canary Islands? Oh my! Was it going to be only a cruise stop, or were you going to make some lecture or whatever?

    In any case, you have to come some other time, I would have to show you around, specially good places to eat.

    Let know!

  40. It’s definitely an unfortunate time. It’s like our livelihood is being disrupted. Even going to the grocery store now is disheartening.. I love to travel myself. So not being able saddens me. And I feel stuck. What I try to do is to remain as calm as I can. And try to remain positive during this time. Which can be hard. I’m also taking care of things that I have been putting off for quite sometime. I also have increased my bible reading. That definitely helps. Because the bible gives us a wonderful sure hope for the future.

    Philippians 4:6,7-Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.

    Jeremiah 29:11-For I well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you,’ declares Jehovah, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.

    Psalms 37:11-But the meek will possess the earth, And they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.

  41. Tbh I haven’t reached that level of frustration, but yes staying at home is definitely annoying for a college student! But I have kept my spirits high and I am trying o stay as productive and positive as I can! 🙂

  42. Today I was to be heading on a life long dream trip to Peru, I have been obsessively planning for years. Have a bottle of that good wine for me, cheers to better days a head. Following

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