Chapter 61: COVID Chronicles

By Karen


Am I Showing Signs of Addiction?

Max has been hanging out with me today and now it’s his turn to say hi…

I’ve been proofreading like mad since early this morning an unexpected large project from a client who needed it “yesterday” and whose work always tempts me to put my fist through a wall. It’s as specific as I can get about that. I’m thankful I finally got it out of here, but I feel like I should soak my eyeballs in bleach. Or maybe vodka.

Consequently, nothing else has been happening today. But I’ve been meaning to share how the pandemic has forged this new bond between me and my smartphone.

In the “before” days, I’d sit here three feet from my landline and people knew to call that number because my smartphone was in my purse, off. It could go for weeks untouched and I didn’t miss it. I’d pull it out occasionally to see if it needed a charge. It existed solely for me to make a call in a pinch, not to make me available 24/7 to anyone wanting to interrupt whatever I was doing. You know, like the twits who take calls in Target or at the Food Lion checkout because they’re SO important.

And I’d use the phone occasionally if I was stuck in a waiting room with lousy magazines because I could continue reading a book from my iPad. I have an original iPhone SE, which is small, and I don’t think Apple considered it much of a success.

But now Apple sells a new phone they also call an SE. Why recycle that model name? Did they run out of alphabet? Or creativity?

But I digress. Since I’ve been cooped up, this phone is on and with me in the house every waking moment. Mainly to catch pics of the cats being cute, but I also use it to text my yard guy and handyman because that’s how they roll. Lugging it up and down stairs takes conscious effort because few of my clothes have good pockets.

Come to think of it, the only time I’m not staring at a screen now is when I’m in the kitchen cooking, in the bathroom doing whatever, or sleeping.

I read newspapers first thing on the laptop. I work all day at a desktop. At night I watch TV, that’s another screen, while looking stuff up and ordering cat food on the iPad Mini. Now my phone is attached to me like a fifth limb.


BONUS: Turns out MSNBC Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell is a fan boy of Sarah Cooper’s Donald Trump lip-syncs. Last night he showed several of her clips when he interviewed her. This is the first time I’ve ever heard her real voice…

DOUBLE BONUS: I hope you can make out this fantasy New York Times front page. You only need to read the headlines; the articles are fake. It gives us something to aspire to come January 2021…

14 Responses to Chapter 61: COVID Chronicles

  1. Anita says:

    Karen, first of all Hi Max! He’s such a cutie. And thank you for posting the Sarah Cooper interview. I love her! I saw she had been on there but I don’t watch Lawrence. That’s 8pm on the West Coast and my husband and I have finished dinner and it our own play list of recorded shows. Although if we are travelling (like before) and we were in our hotel room we would watch Lawrence. He’s wonderful.

    Where did you get that front page of the NY Times mockup? Did you do that? It’s brilliant! I was able to save a copy of it. I have some friends I have to send it to.

    And speaking of, I have a home line and an iPhone line and a desktop and a TV all in my office. During the day MSNBC is usually running in the background, but 3 hours of Chuck Todd is 2.5 hours too much. I usually turn him off like right now!

    But yes, my iPhone is for the friends I have that only text and don’t email. Plus I use Twitter on my Phone. I have a case that I can prop up the iPhone so it sets at an angle and I can watch it all day long. And sometimes my husband will text me from the garage like a few minutes ago because he needs my help.

    is it an addiction? Maybe. But it’s just another communication tool. I do draw the line at smart watches. No way I want to be that tethered. I also have notifications turned OFF for everything accept texts. I do not want breaking news or breaking weather on my phone. Although if there were breaking news about Trump dying I would want to be the first to know!

    My stepson decided for us to wait a few weeks to travel and see them so that’s fine by me. We were a little nervous about it so we probably won’t go until mid-July when the baby is hopefully totally out of danger. And in six weeks we can see how things are going with opening up.

    Lake Tahoe area is opening up next week and we talked about going up there and my husband said “no” because he is afraid all the idiots that could be spreading around the virus. There is already a small town in Northern California that had to shutdown again because so many out of towners brought the virus to them. Until now they had Zero.

    We are in this for a very long haul, aren’t we? Well, I will cheer myself up by looking at that NY Times front page every day!

  2. catsworking says:

    Anita, I love Lawrence O’Donnell. He was the first one to start pushing the envelope on Trump’s lies and insanity. Usually during his first 20 minutes or so he does a thorough Trump bashing and it does my soul good to see it.

    Don’t even get me started on Chuck Todd. Why they haven’t kicked his useless ass to the curb, I don’t know. I can’t stand the way he’s always interrupting guests. But when push comes to shove in any interview, he doesn’t push back hard enough. Not to mention the hairdo. What’s up with those short bangs? A forward comb-over? Looks like me in first grade.

    I would never wear a smartwatch either. I feel naked without a watch, which I understand people don’t wear anymore because they get the time off their fucking phones!

    Right now I would not go anywhere touristy because you’re going to run up against all the Trumpers running around maskless, spreading it. Seems like a good call to wait until the baby is a bit stronger before you visit. Then you can really celebrate.

    Today, our Senator Tim Kaine (Hillary’s VP running mate) and his wife announced they’d both tested positive for antibodies. So he’s been exposed. All of Congress is probably crawling with it. If we’re lucky, the right ones will get really sick and die.

    I got the NYT front page from a friend of my parents’, but then I saw it on Twitter. I think it’s brilliant.

  3. Randi says:

    Hi to Max – he is so handsome!

    When my husband worked from home (illustrations and maps) I remember how irritated he was when often clients needed something done “yesterday.” So he had to work evenings.

    Ah, smartphones… I don’t yet have one, but later in the year I may get a second hand iPhone. I will most likely use it only for when I travel – just to say I’m in the airport/train station now, can you pick me up, please! I hate that you have to charge it all the time, and carry it around. Like you, I don’t have pockets in all my clothes and I already have enough in my bag! Also, I don’t like to walk around in the street speaking, with earplugs in even! When I write, I far prefer to use my ten fingers on a keyboard and see things on a big screen, or talk on a “normal” phone. In the early ninetees, I did have a Nokia for when I was in our allotment and I needed to arrange a time to meet my husband in town.
    I refuse to get addicted to it, so if people want to get in touch, they can send me an e-mail! We’ll see!

    Love the “New York Times” frontpage. 😀 I hope we’ll see something like that for real in December!

  4. Anita says:

    Karen, I saw that article about Tim Kaine and his wife and had the exact same symptoms. But my 2nd antibody test from Labcorp came back yesterday and it was negative.

    Since it’s only $10 I am going to get my husband in there Monday. He had a mild cough and fever around the same time I was sick. If he tests positive it might be that I don’t make antibodies. No wonder I am sick all the time! I caught the horrible bug on the cruise in September, then was sick again in January then whatever i had in March for four weeks. I haven’t been one to get a yearly flu vaccine but i will need to if that is what is going on. I’m also taking large amounts of Vit C and other things that are suppose to be helpful against Covid.

    After the riot last night and Trump’s shooting comment I just don’t know what today will bring. We are old enough to remember the Rodney King riots and many others since. I was working in Oakland during the Rodney King riots and the protests there had started so they let us leave work. I was terrified driving the 30 miles not knowing what that was going to bring.

    I’m ready for this year to be over.

  5. Margeaux says:


    The New York Times article is brilliant! Wow, we need to all send out our energies that this really happens!

    Well, I guess I’m becoming guilty of addiction then. I’m relatively new to the smart phone thing. If you can imagine, I just got an Android amidst the pandemic era about 2 mos. ago. I’d been using my little flip phone all this time. After much hounding by my husband who’s on his 2nd IPhone, I needed to do the upgrade.
    I too have always maintained I wasn’t going to text, look at emails, nor basically use the device much, out of my own protest at becoming addicted. But two things have been going on that thwarted me in the other direction. One is the fact that my computer is just too old, & I can’t access many programs, including my email anymore, on it. I don’t like using my husband’s either. So started looking at emails on my phone, plus internet searches.

    Amazing I can still access this blog site on my computer, as I’d rather type on a bigger keyboard, which I prefer.

    The other thing…. is that my husband is a control freak, and given this covid lockdown, he thinks that he’s going to control the things I like to watch on tv. I’m not real into soap operas, but there’s one I currently like on the latin channel. Rather than hearing his lip service about my choice of programs, I’m now using my phone to watch this soap. HAAH!@! He gave me such a hard time for still using my flip phone for so long, and being behind the times….that sort of thing. So now I just put my ear plugs in, and have managed to work out a system where I can even cook & watch my soap. It’s really interesting to observe the reaction I’m receiving from my husband; he doesn’t say zip to me about it anymore, & he better not either!!

    There are so many people suspicious of flu bugs they’ve had in the last 6-7 mos., myself included.

    The re-opening of many businesses really makes me & some of my friends and family members on edge. I live in beach community, and this weekend I took a walk to the beach.
    There were so many people congregating on the sand, many in large groups and no masks.

    Given what’s happening regarding the riots in several towns IDK….what we may be in for in a couple of weeks from now.
    All of this was really getting me down in the dumps this last week,
    I’m doing everything I know not to get in that funk!


  6. Randi says:

    Another thing… the young kids use smartphones all the time and they have all the “smart” apps, but half of them don’t know which apps mess up their phone, but more important, they know little about spelling… or how to use the advanced features on a computer program. Instead of walking around with their face clued to their “smartphones” looking to see which celebreties has done what, they might be better off learning other things.
    Sorry if I sound a little grumpy today. 😉

  7. Randi says:

    Sorry, I wrote clued instead of glued.

  8. catsworking says:

    Margeaux, I hear you. In Virginia they predict 5,000-9,300 new cases a DAY in late July — early August. After nearly 3 months of this, how much more can we take before we all run out screaming into the streets hoping to catch the fucking thing and get it over with, one way or the other?

    Senator Tim Kaine thought he had the flu and allergies in early March, then his wife got sick. They both now test positive for antibodies, so they really had COVID. Kaine said he never had a fever, cough or the third thing I’m drawing a blank on (headache? fatigue?).

    My sister thinks she may have had it early this year, too.

    If that’s the case, many millions more have been infected and we’ll probably never know. It was a thing here before anybody realized it.

    I can use my iPhone for email and Twitter and videos, but I seldom do because of the small screen. You are very clever to be getting so much use out of yours!

    I’ll use it that way sometimes when I’m visiting my parents and it’s all I have. I’d never try to write a blog post on the virtual keyboard. I use a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard and am so used it, I can hardly type on any straight keyboard anymore. I have ganglion cysts on both wrists that rub and get inflamed when I type a lot. The slanted keyboard has kept them happy for as long as I’ve used it.

    I started out with Android phones, but switched to iPhone after my last Android, a Moto G. It came loaded with useless Google shit apps I couldn’t delete. They maxed out its memory and I couldn’t get apps I actually on it. I bought it extra memory, but then it wouldn’t let the garbage apps be moved over to that. Google HAD to stay on the phone itself. So I switched to Apple, which is nice because it’s like having a mini of my iPad Mini. As long as Google can hijack phones, I’ll never go back to Android.

  9. catsworking says:

    Anita, I started getting a flu shot two years ago and (knock on wood) haven’t had the flu since. I’ve read that they “think” it “may” offer some “tiny” protection against COVID, but nobody really knows.

    I used to catch colds when cruising. Usually right after a cruise. Or if I was doing a back-to-back and left the ship in between sailings, I’d have a cold the second week. I always attributed it to flying, or coming back on land after being in the ship’s artificial atmosphere.

    I haven’t cruised now in nearly four years, which is by far the longest I’ve ever gone without. But it will never be the same. No cruise line could get me to set foot on one of those behemoths with 3,000+ passengers even if they paid me.

    Remember when norovirus was the thing we worried about on cruises? Seems so innocent and quaint now. A few days of diarrhea and maybe some puking.

    I forget which ship it was that actually had two rows of sinks outside the buffet area. I would wash my hands, but I never saw another SOUL using them. And they’d have a crew member spraying people’s hands with sanitizer as they walked in, but some people would even refuse to do THAT. I never turned down a squirt of hand sanitizer, even if I had just washed my hands.

  10. catsworking says:

    Randi, the project I had to do yesterday popped up last Wednesday afternoon with, “Oh, and can you get it done by tomorrow?” It was about 45 pages of text, with problems in nearly every paragraph.

    Yet, they never leave adequate time for proofreading because they don’t know what they don’t know. Don’t get me started.

    I usually do some work every weekend. The other thing people do is drop off a project late Friday afternoon, say they really need it first thing Monday, and then prance home with a nice clean desk while I work the weekend for them. But that’s freelancing.

    On the other hand, I can cut out to go shopping or to a movie mid-week (in the “before” times) without asking anybody’s permission or pissing off the boss.

    I think smartphones have made many of us stupider. People don’t think they need to know anything (like even the time) because they can look it up. They don’t know how to spell or capitalize or punctuate because they don’t “have to” with the crude way they communicate by text. One day a war will start over an illiterate text (or tweet). After many people die, grammar will make a big comeback.

  11. Anita says:

    Karen, yes our cruise had the hand sanitizer squirt and we always used it, even more after I and most of the ship caught the whooping cough. I don’t know what that was but I never coughed more in my life. I almost wondered if it was an early version of Covid. Venice was the port embarkation and was packed with Asian tourists. And most people spent a couple of days in Venice before the cruise. Who knows. I just know i will get a flu shot next year.

    Back to the iPhone, I didn’t become addicted until I upgraded to the iPhone 8 Plus a few years ago. My iPhone 6 battery died and it was never the same again after a replacement. This phone is wonderful. The camera clarity and videos are amazing. I think the new iPhone SE has that upgraded camera and faster processing chip.

    My husband still has an iPhone 6 and it seems so small now. i can’t even put the passcode in. Haha. But he doesn’t use his as much as I use mine.

  12. catsworking says:

    Anita, I think my iPhone SE came out about the same time as the iPhone 6. I just bought it a few years ago from Consumer Cellular, and it must have been one of the last ones sitting around. It’s very small compared to what came after it, probably about the same size as the 6. My Moto G was much taller and wouldn’t fit into the phone pocket of my purse. When phones are so big they’re basically tablets, they’re too big for me to want to lug around.

    I guess the sickest I ever got on a ship was that translatantic I took from Lisbon. I was actually fine, but I made the mistake of kissing a guy one night who told he he’d picked up something in Lisbon, but said he’d gotten pills from a druggist that cleared it right up. But he was still contagious.

    I ended up at the ship’s doctor with a terrible sore throat, fever, feeling like shit. Can’t remember now what he prescribed, maybe antibiotics.

    The more we learn, the more I think COVID has been around for a while but nobody realized it until it morphed into a killer.

  13. Randi says:

    Karen, you said “I can prop up the iPhone so it sets at an angle and I can watch it all day long.” I can just imagine you sitting there, looking at it for hours on end. 😀 But I know you don’t, you have better things to do.

    I was looking at the history of iPhones, the SE came out in 2016, so it’d it’s that old. 🙂 The one I may get, is the C5 from 2013. You can see the list of them all here:

    And there’s a youtube with the history, too:

    I started using Mac’s when my husband started buying them in 1989. One of the first he had was a Mac ll. Much later, in 2003, we got a G5, that I still have and use for some things, like Photoshop. Anyway, I had to use Windows at work, but that was OK. Word was/is a good program.

    What I don’t like, is that new versions keep coming almost every year, and you have to upgrade all the time! You even have to subscribe to use all the good programmes, and that is expensive. 😦 I will use the version I have until it is absolutely necessary to upgrade… only because I’m not rich.

  14. catsworking says:

    Randi, I think it was Anita who said she could watch her phone all day. I never watch anything on mine except an occasional brief clip. She watches TV shows while she’s cooking.

    That was a fascinating list of iPhones. I’m shocked my SE is only 4 years old, tops. It was discontinued when I got it, so maybe in 2018? I only paid $125 for it, where I see it started at $399 new.

    I’ve never heard of a C5 iPhone, so maybe they give them different names in Europe?

    I just bought Word 2019 because Microsoft is discontinuing support for Word 2010 in October. I use Word all day, every day. So far, I HATE the 2019 version and still use 2010. But since they’re both loaded on my computer now, 2019 keeps trying to dominate unless I specifically launch 2010 and then open documents from there. Otherwise, they will default to 2019.

    I hate the way Microsoft changes things just to change them, not to improve them. I find saving documents in 2019 a multi-step pain the ass for no reason. I haven’t used it much, and will put it off as long as possible. So far I have resisted the subscription Office 365, which I think is $99 a year to maintain. Anything for a buck with Microsoft. And don’t even get me started on Windows. Biggest ripoff ever foisted on mankind, bar none.

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