serendipitous reflections

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The cost of society

There was a thought weighing on me today as I toil away at work. Thoughts of financial burdens are occupying my mind in the downtime -- not just my own, but the financial stress many are facing right now. 

You work hard, sacrifice your time, your skills, your physical health, all for your job so you can earn a wage and afford the perks of life and society. For some, that's a home, food, and a phone. For others, it may be travel, a reliable car, or a night out every now and then. 

We like to think that there is a symbiotic relationship with our job -- we work hard so the business is successful and, in return, we get a good wage. But we are all becoming more aware that our jobs are devouring us, feeding us just enough to keep us here, but not enough for us to grow and be able to do more. We're like the cattle on the farm. They think the farmer is feeding them because he cares about them. But he's really feeding them to bulk them up so the cows are worth more at the market. Sure, our jobs might do little things to make us feel appreciated. But at the end of the day, we are just cattle to them. 

It's just like stores like Wal-Mart. Their product isn't what they are selling. The customer is the product. The inventory they are selling is just the bait to attract you in. But at the end of the day, the product they are generating are customers, and ultimately, your money. 

It is draining to our soul when you realize that everything out there, almost every interaction you have, is someone trying to figure out how they can benefit from a piece of you. It might be a piece of your time, or your talent, or your wallet. But more and more it feels like everything is picking away, like carrion picking at road kill. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Quarantine journal -- those we have lost

Life during COVID-19 has been a challenge, facing the reality of death on a daily basis. I'm fortunate to not have to deal with death frequently in my work, As a chiropractor my patients tend to be healthy and health-oriented. About a month or so ago I learned that one of my favorite patients had died (apparently from a heart attack). She was one of the kindest people -- always with something nice to say. You could be covered in mud and she'd remark about how the brown brings out your eyes. Then a few weeks later I learned that a husband and wife who were patients had both died: the husband from cancer, the wife from COVID-19. It all starts to hit home.

The first COVID-19 death close to my family was a friend of my father's who he worked with. The guy was 74. Then a resident on my dad's aunt's floor at the retirement home died. Then the brother of a high school friend of my brother's died. Then my friend's father died. If we were playing the Kevin Bacon Game: COVID-19 Edition, I'd be two separations away from these people -- a little too close for my liking. So when people try to minimize the virus and blow off the precautions as being overkill, I just start listing these people.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Quarantine journal -- from the beginning

I really should have done this a while back because so much is happening and it might be good to keep track of everything. I'm not going to pretend that I was Johnny-on-the-spot when all this started to go down. The "over-reactors" at the beginning may have proven to be the smart ones. But we didn't know.


As the cases were starting to multiply and the threat started to grow, we were in the midst of doing the play Belles at Workshop Theatre. I was running sound and Jeni was working in the Box Office. We were heading into the final week of the show, but the outbreak of COVID-19 hadn't been prevalent in Columbia yet. A few cases were starting to show up in neighboring Kershaw County, but none in Columbia. One of the ladies in the show though she may have come in contact with a "presumed positive" and came in wearing gloves and a mask for one show, then dropped out of the remaining four performances. Fortunately our stage manager was ready and able to step in and save the day, doing the shows from Thursday to Sunday. We almost cancelled the remaining shows after Thursday but decided to power through. The format of the show actually worked with distancing precautions, since each actress was in her own "room" and never directly interacted (only through phone calls).

Heading into the closing weekend of the show, on Saturday, March 14, was when social restrictions started to become a factor. Events were limited to 100 people or fewer, which worked for our space. The janitorial staff would come in a fumigate the theatre between shows. We had hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes at the box office, and were constantly washing our hands. The space even allowed for patrons to spread out and not sit near each other. We were fortunate to be able to finish our run of the show. Other theatres in town were just starting, and got in two performances before going dark.


From there, Jeni started working from home. She's been self-isolating essentially for five weeks now, with the exception of the weekly trip out for groceries. We started by just wearing gloves (we lucked into some packs of gloves at Sam's Club on March 23) and starting April 10 have been wearing masks at the store. I started wearing gloves in the office on March 24 and masks in the office on April 6. The hunt for gloves is never-ending. We were fortunate that we bought paper towels and toilet paper just before the panic buying started. My first mask was a homemade bandana mask using hair bands to attach to my ears, and a coffee filter inside, following the CDC recommendations. Our friend Hans 3D printed an ear saver for me, and we sent an extra to Jeni's cousin Amy who works in a pharmacy in Ohio. Those are lifesavers (well, ear savers). I'm lucky, because a patient brought me extra gloves, another brought me an N95 mask, and another brought the office a 50 pack of surgical masks. Many people don't have this, and are having to do the best with what they have (or doing nothing at all).


It has been difficult being socially cut off. The weekend after our play closed two friends had birthdays (Saturday and Sunday) and Jeni made little individual birthday cakes for them and we delivered them to their front porches. We would leave them on the front porch, then stand about 10 or 12 feet away and visit briefly. This was important for Jeni. Her nature is to give, and provide, and make people feel special and remembered. And the thought of friends missing out on birthday traditions was difficult for her. We've done a few birthdays over FaceTime (my nephew Liam's first birthday, Jeni's Dad, Lisa, Jackie).

Facetime has been a blessing. We will do meals with Lou and Hans, and play games. We recently learned to play Exploding Kittens remotely (Quarantined Kittens) which is a lot of fun. And Jeni visits with Nikki and Tiffany remotely on HouseParty a few times a week.

We did sneak out and deliver Easter baskets to friends. We would leave them on their porch, then text them after we'd left. Chris and Kendal were the only ones to catch us in the act. That made us very happy.


I am very fortunate to still be able to work as a chiropractor, even though it is "close contact" work. The gloves and mask are a necessity, and we've spaced out the chairs in the office, and clean constantly. The patients truly appreciate us being here. It can be very stressful, and is mentally and physically exhausting. I have my good days, and I have my down days. But overall I'm glad I can be here. Sure, there's a little FOMO when I see people reading books, and starting new hobbies, and finishing projects. But then I have to remind myself that I'm working and getting paid, and they're not.


We make a point to check in with our friends often, especially those who live alone. Also, when going to the store we check to see what others might need that we can pick up for them. That keeps them out of the store and away from exposure. We're all in this together. Amber made masks, that  we traded Almond Milk for. It's the little things...


My daily routine now when I get home consists of changing my clothes immediately, washing my face and hair, and scrubbing my hands thoroughly (even though I've been wearing gloves all day). Jeni has been cooking some amazing meals. If one thing good has come from this, she's had time to cook again, which she enjoys.


As the governor continues to talk about re-opening stores and getting back to normal, our plan is to remain vigilant, do what we've been doing, and protect ourselves. We've had friends go through this (Joy and Kurt), and it's not pleasant, and we want no part of it.

I plan to continue to make posts to chronicle life during COVID-19 so when I look back I remember exactly what this was, what it was like, and what to do if it happens again. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Take care of each other.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Busy June

This past June was incredibly busy. Jeni's theatre produced the children's version of Disney's Frozen Jr. It was a great show, but it is a marathon weekend of eight shows running from June 13-16. As good as the show is, and I felt this was a very good show, come that eighth show in four days you are ready to take a break.

On the 17th, we loaded up and trekked up to Cincinnati. Dad was having a Whipple procedure done on June 18 to remove a tumor that was found on his pancreas. Fortunately it was not an aggressive tumor, but still one that needed to be removed. The procedure involved removing part of the pancreas, the gall bladder, the bile duct, and the duodenum. The surgery went well, although it was longer than anticipated. They had originally told us it would be six to eight hours but he was under 12-and-a-half hours while they continued to remove and check the pancreatic tissue. The surgeon eventually removed two-thirds of his pancreas, but was happy that he could leave the last bit of it because some is better than none. I stayed with my Dad in the hospital the first few nights, and once he was doing well we felt good about returning home that Saturday.

The following Tuesday my sister was in a car wreck. Her Toyota Sienna handled the accident so well, absorbing the force how you would want it too, but it was totaled.

I think it was the next day that we got the news that my 101-year-old grandmother was hospitalized because she was spitting up blood. It was an upper GI bleed that was handled and resolved over a few days, but at her age there is nothing minor.

And our friend Tiffany's step-mother passed away in the midst of all of this too. And a friend of my brother's from college.

We reached the point where we stopped asking what else could happen because we didn't want to find out. Once June ended things turned, and we had our scheduled annual Lakecation with our friends at Lake Oconee in Georgia. That four-day weekend was a much-needed respite from the real world.

In the grand scheme of things, everyone is doing well, Dad is recovering better than anticipated, Kelly and Liam made it through the accident with little trauma, Tiff's step-mother got a month longer than we had actually expected, Nanny has recovered. But those two weeks had us walking on eggshells.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Useful DHEC food tips

This is good information for food tips from DHEC. I'm dropping the link here so I can find it later. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Another year?!?

OK, that title is a copy of the one from two posts ago for a reason ... I can't believe I've slacked on blogging so much. Unfortunately, when I start to blog lately negativity starts to flow from my fingertips to the keys and I don't want to leave that as a mark on the blog. There's plenty of that around that I don't need to contribute to it.

I am determined to try to change my routine some, including reading more (I'm in the midst of Norse Mythology right now but struggling with the lack of vowels in these names), exercising more (I've been doing 10 pushups a day for a week now. I know -- it's not a lot, but it is more than I have been doing), more juggling, and more creating (I really want to draw more, and I have four stories percolating in my head that I really would like to see come to life). If I don't break the current cycle then the negativity will just continue (I started to mis-type that as nagativity which I like because it just nags away at you).

On the plus side, Jeni recently signed up for the Bike MS New Bern event, and I'll be signing up soon, so we have a goal to work toward. I'd love to get another 75 or 100-mile ride in, but 50 would be great too. And kayak weather will be here soon. I need to strengthen my low back some. I injured it in a fall off of a scissor lift last spring and I know I need to work at keeping it strong and stable so I can work it with the kayak. (It spasmed on me last summer at the beach after overdoing it in the kayak at the beach and I don't want that to happen again.)

There will be more blog posts. I'm determined to get this going again. And I plan on ghostwriting Jeni's kitchen blog for her.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Maps of the every building in the country

This is a fascinating article.