Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Vacation planning is a pain this year.

I love New England and Atlantic Canada for vacation visits.  Sadly, Canada is closed off until America gets the virus under control.  As long as Trump is in power AND the GOP has veto power over any reasonable ways to deal with the mess the pandemic has caused, I will not be able to take a cruise to Nova Scotia.  Luckily, most of New England is still open to us New Yorkers.

On August 1st, Hawaii is open to visitors again.  However, people must have the results of a Coronavirus test taken within the past 72 hours - no testing will be done upon arrival.  This means that it doesn't yet make sense to schedule a Hawaii vacation.  Yet, I may consider doing the research to flying to Hawaii, stay in Honolulu for a few days, and then travel to the Big Island for some more exploring.  If I do it this way, I may end up spending as much money as I would have on the cruise, but have a more flexible schedule to work with.

If I schedule the cruise in the near future, I have a question yet to be resolved - would the woman I've been seeing still be with me at that time?  I plan to tell her about my bi-gendered nature in the near future, as she has a right to know this about me before we get physically intimate.  If this woman can accept me in both modes, this would be a perfect trip for us, as she has never been to Hawaii.

Right now, I'm assuming that the Census Bureau will start laying us off sometime in September.  If my employment ends around Labor Day, I'll try to make vacation plans for Provincetown, MA, and spend a few days there.  If it's a little later, I'll skip being near the beach and spend a few days in Upstate New York.  (I still want to get back to the Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as other museums that are open there.)  If Pennsylvania is off the 31 state New York quarantine list, then I might decide to see Fallingwater if that site is open.

TCL and I have discussed to trip to Cleveland a while back.  We'd stay with one of her friends, and then visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I would have to do all the driving on that trip, but it might be a nice thing to do if Ohio is off the quarantine list later in the year. There are may things we could see on the way out there and back, and we wouldn't have to worry about the expense of hotel rooms.

Hopefully, next year will be a better year for planning a vacation.  

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Socializing in the age of the pandemic

There is a certain loneliness in the above picture that I can not define.  Is it that of these boats waiting to be used?  Or is it that humanity looks so far away in the scene?  Either way, this image is a fitting metaphor for what is happening in the age of the pandemic.

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In Mid March, everything seemed to stop all at once.  Within less than a week, public activity went from "drive" to "park" - and the social engine was left to idle for several months.  It took New York State (with the exception of New York City) 3 months to "flatten the curve" to a level where most socializing could return to a new "normal".  Outside the city, restaurants were allowed to reopen indoor dining rooms at 50% of capacity, museums were allowed to  reopen with social distancing protocols in place, and public gatherings of 50 people (or less) were allowed to take place.  The isolation of those 3 months has put a fear into people which will be hard to remove when a vaccine for the Coronavirus is found. 

I've noticed that several meetup groups have reverted to online Zoom gatherings, as their members are still afraid of meeting in person.  However, the meetup group I've attended in person is maintaining social distance for its in person meetings, and I expect it to shut down for the winter when it is no longer feasible to meet outside.  I'll miss that venue.  But I'll find ways to get by.

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Even in NYC, I see gradual signs of reopening.  Some museums have developed protocols which will allow them to admit visitors again.  This is a good thing.  All too many people are acting out of fear than anything else.  However, this is a good thing when we don't yet have a vaccine for the virus.

In the South and West, the virus is still out of control. The Zoom meetup from Texas that I attend shows no sign of going away.  Ever since the virus starting spiking there, my pen pal friend is more reluctant to go out of her apartment.  (I can't say this for the rest of the group.) And the rest of the gang has gotten so used to these virtual meetups, that I don't think they will abandon this way of socializing anytime soon.

Over time, I expect that people in the South and West will see enough suffering that they will also get comfortable with the idea of another economic shutdown.  They will not like being told that they can't go to bars, restaurants, theaters, and other venues where people get together in close quarters.  But they will do so eventually - when the pain from having reopened their economies too soon gets too much to bear.

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You might ask - how is this affecting me?  Well, due to problems with an ex girlfriend, I will not be able to attend virtual meetings of "her" dinner group.  I can live with that, because I have developed other ways to meet my needs to connect with people in case of another stay at home order.  Luckily, I live in the Northeast, where the virus is being kept at bay. This means, I will be free to travel when my gig at the census ends sometime this year. Although I am limited to driving to some place in the Northeast, it's better to be able to do this now, than worry about being quarantined in the future.

Yet, the pandemic is affecting me more in subtle ways.  For example, I've never been able to hold the woman I've been seeing in my arms.  She lives inside NYC limits, and I have to drive her to Long Island, so that we can dine "normally".  People who would normally respond quickly to communications inside a dating platform are a little reluctant to do so, as they know that dating itself will be awkward until they have been vaccinated for the virus. 

As my readers know, I enjoy cruising.  Since Hawaii seems to have gotten the virus under control, it may be possible for New Yorker's to visit there without a mandatory 14 day quarantine. If this is the case, it might still be possible for me to take my Hawaiian cruise this winter.  Hopefully, this will be the case.  I really want to get Lei'ed in Hawaii soon!

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For the most part, all of this could have either been avoided, or the impact of this could have been much less severe.  We have our president and his GOP loyalists to blame.  We paid attention to science in the Northeast, paid the price to "flatten the curve" and are relatively virus free.  Outside the Northeast, they tended to follow the proclamations of power hungry politicians and reopened things way too soon.  As a result, residents of 31 states (as of this writing) must quarantine themselves if they enter New York.  If the Northeast was a separate country, we'd be able to visit most of the world, as our infection rates are as low as Canada, the UK, and most of the EU.  But this is not the case - we get hurt because the rest of America is not acting responsibly.

Hopefully, enough people will be sick and tired of the mess we are in, and vote the current dysfunctional regime out on November 3rd.  Then, starting January 20th at noon, we can get to the business of ridding this country of this virus, so that we can get back to normal living....

Was she dead or alive? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

  I hadn't seen Pat in months, and I haven't been able to reach her by voice or text.  Given that she's 84 years old, I figured ...