Sunday Coffee – Adapting to a New World

This week, I looked at the worldwide COVID19 stats for the first time in ages. It’s incredible that some folks think we’re doing okay and that it’s okay to open up the economy right now. The US has a third of the world’s confirmed cases (when we have less than 5% of the world’s population!), and six times the next-highest country’s level of confirmed cases (Spain). If you break those numbers into “per million people,” to take population into account, the worldwide figure is 531, whereas the US’s figure is 4144. Only Spain’s number, 4829, is higher. As for deaths, we have 28% of the world’s deaths as well, and 2.5x higher total deaths than the next in line (UK). This is just plain nuts. The US has done the very worst job in the world at taking care of its populations during this pandemic. How are there some people who don’t see this?

This has all gotten me thinking, particularly because COVID19 isn’t going away any time soon. It’ll be at least 12-18 months until a vaccine can be created, tested, verified, approved, and rolled out, and that’s best-case scenario. We still don’t know if people can catch the disease twice, or how its mutations will thwart vaccine-creation. We have to start thinking of this as a longterm situation and consider how to handle our lives beyond the immediate. Because no, of course we can’t shut down the country for the next year or two. We already know we can’t rely on the federal or state governments to help those in the most need. And we know that the people most affected here are the people we need crucially – essential workers like health care folks. Things can’t stay frozen, but they also aren’t going to go back to the way they were. They need to move forward into a new way of living that takes into account this virus.

That has been my focus this week. I picked up coffee from a coffee shop even though I could have gotten it from home, because I wanted to support that particular business, and they have been doing a good job with social distancing, and it was a fundraiser for the Battered Women’s Shelter. I went to my dad’s house and had an in-person conversation with my extended family for the first time in two months, sitting ten feet apart to stay safe. My husband and kids set up our fire pit on the driveway so we could roast hot dogs and s’mores, and generally hang out outside, saying hello to people who walked by and watching all the other neighbors out in their yards and driveways. I invited my mom and another friend to set up a yard hang-out time as well, which will hopefully happen soon. I began digging up my yard to xeriscape, knowing that I can get curbside pickup at my local nursery. Jason cut his own hair, because this may just be what we have to do to stay safe for the next few years. I donated blood in another community drive yesterday (pic below), and was pleased at how safe everything has been set up.

Jason and I have identified businesses that are doing a really good job to keep people safe, and which are flaunting the rules, and have removed all of our business from the latter. For example, in the past it has been easy for Jason and me to get most of our groceries and household goods from our local grocery store, HEB. Some items, though, weren’t available, and it was easy to pop down to Walmart for them. Walmart, however, has done a HORRIBLE job taking care of its employees. It’s never been good to them, of course, but we never changed our habits before. Now, we’ve removed our business from them altogether and gone to better stores, both local and national. We plan to continue to boycott them even after all this is through, plus any other businesses that are saying f-you to the safety of their employees and customers.

It feels like a good time to be very deliberate in our choices. Not only are we shopping more at local/small businesses and supporting only companies that are taking this seriously, but we’ve been changing our habits. For instance, we’ve been making more vegetarian meals to ease the pressure on the meat industry after they were required to stay open. And we’ve watched other people make similar personal choices as quarantine enters into our third month or longer. Not everyone can be deliberate, I know – unemployment and health and other factors will interfere – but it seems a good time to use whatever privileges we have (be that money, or sewing skills, or time, etc) to reach out and/or help others.

These are the things we can do – adapt to the technology available to us (ebooks, online ordering, curbside pickup, contactless delivery, VPN, Zoom, etc), pick up some new skills like cutting hair or cooking, get better at budgeting and meal planning and consolidating errands and time management. Find ways to socialize and attend to physical/mental health, while continuing to keep the community safe. It can be done. We just have to stop looking backward and start considering the longterm instead.

Some of my favorite new-world innovations:

  • mini greenhouse dining space in Amsterdam
  • Marco Polo, an app for text video chats with people
  • streaming movie releases at home (higher cost for earlier release in lieu of theatres)
  • tele-medicine availability (both Morrigan and Jason have had these over the last two months)
  • adaptations to more work-from-home choices, as a positive impact toward the environment and work/life balance without commutes
  • yard hangouts with family and friends (I know that doesn’t seem like innovation, but it certainly feels like it is!)
  • the Knight Bus feature and spell energy put on the map for Harry Potter Wizards Unite, to make play easier from home

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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8 Responses to Sunday Coffee – Adapting to a New World

  1. Megan S says:

    I think one of the good things about this time, if there are indeed good things about a global pandemic, has been seeing what businesses truly seem to value both their employees and their customers. It’s definitely been a time to step back and reassess what is really needed and to be really thoughtful about what businesses I’m supporting.

    We definitely need to figure out a way to move forward with a new reality since this is for sure going to be a long term thing. I hope people are able to rise above fear/anger/rhetoric so we can end u with a way of life that is both safer than before but allows for the reality that life must go on….even if life going on involves some level of calculated risk.

    I’m happy this week that the northeast has finally gotten warm enough to allow for those outdoor gatherings where we can be together and still a little distanced at the same time. I’ve definitely enjoyed taking advantage of those opportunities!


    • Amanda says:

      My son was talking about why Japan has adapted to the masks and stuff much easier than us, because apparently it’s part of their culture already to wear masks if sick. It certainly seems a good policy to adapt generally. We need to be more focused on what we can do for our community rather than what our community can do for us.

      Ironically, the northeast getting warm enough means that it’s starting to get tricky-hot here for meetups, heh. At least we have some good shade in our front yard!


  2. Michelle says:

    I am so curious to see how much of this slower pace lifestyle will extend beyond the immediate pandemic. Jim just told me that even though his company is allowing people to go back to the office, no one wants to do so for at least another month. Plus, at least one entire department asked whether they ever have to go back to the office to work. I obtained my masters’ degree via an online program over ten years ago, so I have been a huge proponent of remote work for that long. Will other companies see the benefits now and extend that ability to their employees? So many little changes which could have a tremendous impact on health and happiness once we are through this pandemic.


    • Amanda says:

      I had a yard meetup with my friend Stephanie yesterday, and she was saying that her employer might just keep people working from home because their productivity and profits have seen massive improvements. Ironically, the same employer previously had a giant chunk of folks working from home, and in January they began requiring most people to come into the office so that it would be “worth the cost of the building.” Stephanie had been working from home since 2016 or something, and suddenly she had to figure out what to do with her dog the whole day and how to deal with the migraines she gets from florescent lights etc. She’s much happier and more productive back at home. Some people seem to prefer the in-home work, and others to go in to work, and I think that if a business can distribute its workforce to be either/or, its good to let people work wherever they’re most productive!


  3. curlygeek04 says:

    I love this description of how you’re coping and what you plan to do going forward. So many people are terrified that this won’t change, and I think that’s pushing us to act out of fear instead of being sensible. You have some really good ideas here and a great outlook. Also I happen to feel that a lot of the changes in our lives are for the good – slowing down, focusing on home and family, cooking and eating together, etc. I know that depends a lot on what your home and economic situation is, though. I also think we’re learning so much about making things available online and accessible to more people, I think that will have a lasting impact.


    • Amanda says:

      It’s funny, because in our household, we’ve always put an emphasis on cooking as much as we can, eating together, etc – and we keep things slow. Not much has changed other than everyone being home rather than at school/work, and of course the commute time. But Jason prefers working in the office most of the time, he’s more productive there, though he hates the commute. I’m not sure what he’s going to decide one he has the choice. His team has no reason to go in to the office as software developers, and probably they’re going to be put on WFH permanently. He might go in to the library or a Starbucks or something just to stay more productive. At home, he’s more inclined to work longer hours, to take naps, to get distracted by things, etc.


  4. I’ve been rather bemused by pictures of people queuing for 2 hours when the first McDonald’s takeaways reopened here in the UK – is anyone that desperate for a Big Mac! – but am trying to support local cafes. People have worked so hard to build up their businesses, and now this horrible virus means that a lot of places might never reopen. Here’s to takeaway drinks!


    • Amanda says:

      It’s really unfortunate! About a month ago, my family was had a celebration night and wanted to get curbside pickup from one of our favorite local/small-business restaurants. We’d already done this once during quarantine with our favorite Mexican place, and they’ve actually been thriving on curbside pickup so I’m not worried about them going out of business. But this night we wanted to visit a place called Pestos, which has really great Italian food but it’s a VERY small business. They weren’t open for curbside. They don’t have a website, so there’s no info on if they’re ever going to be able to reopen, because it’s not really going to be worth it for them with a 25% capacity or even the 50% capacity that’s now open to restaurants. They’re literally so small that there are only about ten seating areas to begin with. I’m worried they’ll never reopen, along with so many other small businesses. I don’t fault the shutdown, it was necessary and frankly Texas is opening things up WAY too quickly (we’re about to have a second wave of cases/deaths), but there needs to be more help for small businesses and individuals who have lost jobs. If we can get billion-dollar bailouts for cruise and airline companies, maybe we can send $50k to the restaurant that won’t make it otherwise. (sorry for the rant)


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