Greetings to you during the 2020 pandemic

Greetings to you during the 2020 pandemic

My heart goes out to you and yours. Some of you have experienced the worst possible outcomes, losing those you love. Some of you are sick right now, or you know your family, or friends, are sick. Others are impacted in other ways: you’ve lost income or lost your jobs. You’ve had to change the way you think, the way you interact with your community. Still others are working even harder than you ever did before: in many cases, risking your lives, to help others, in big ways and small…even just by trying to keep things as normal as possible. It affects every single one of us. 

We are physically apart, but we are not alone.

One thing which has always united people in isolation is literature. It is something which takes place inside your own head, but began in someone else’s. Books are, perhaps, the ultimate human (very human) bridge.

Thank you for all that you have done and all that you have given up during this time of challenge.


I wanted to share with you some of how Amazon (both the devices and the service), and e-publishing, have impacted my family. I know it will seem frivolous to some to even talk about anything other than the most serious parts of what is happening, but enjoying life is not counterproductive to coping and recovery…it’s part of it.

The first thing I’ll say is that I’m not reading as much, and that is hard. As many of you know, I work in healthcare. I don’t provide direct patient care: I train those who do. That means I’ve been working more: I may not take a lunch break, for example. I have higher risk factors than the average person, and my company has, I think appropriately, set it up so I don’t interact with other employees in person…it’s done remotely. I may have three devices going at the same time for work: my laptop & two phones. My

iClever folding keyboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

has been a great help during that. While we are supporting a doctor presenting to a group of other doctors, my team and I can chat about the technical issues on our phones.

So, I don’t have as much “leisure time” to read.

My commute, which could sometimes amount to hours a day, is now about twenty steps down the hall. 😉 During my drives, I would most often listen to books through the Echo Auto, available here.

Alexa and Echo devices page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That cuts down on my reading a lot.

Last year, recovering from major surgery, I had a gap…there was some social distancing, in a sense, at that point. I spent a lot of time at home, even in one room. When I went out with my walker, I never really got close to other people (besides my Significant Other).

I still read every day, but it might be twenty “pages” or so.

An Amazon device which has been even more useful than before has been our

Ring Doorcam (at AmazonSmile*)

We actually have two now: we got those before this novel coronavirus emerged.

The camera alerts us to someone coming up to the door, which is perfect. If we get a delivery, we know it. We can see what’s out there. We could even talk to someone there, although we haven’t used it for that yet.

I will say it was interesting. The other night, for the first time, a raccoon was captured coming right up to our side door. It was one of the most overweight raccoons I’ve ever seen: I suspect they are emboldened to get into a lot more things than they were when there were more humans around more often.

Speaking of deliveries, Whole Foods (owned by Amazon) has been amazingly good for us! We try to go out as little as possible now (we both have an extra risk factor). Getting a “delivery window” has been like trying to get a bargain on the first Prime Day: I just keeping refreshing the screen, maybe while exercising, until one shows up. Yesterday, though, I didn’t have to do that. We put in an order and it was at our house within hours…it’s usually been the next day (once we got a two-hour window).

They put the (closed) bags down, then leave. In addition to the camera, I get notification on my phone (and of course, our dogs may bark as well).

We also tried Instacart from another grocery store, and we won’t do it again. I know there may be individual and regional variation, but it cost a lot more, which is one thing. Worse, though, was that the delivery person handed the open bags to my Significant Other…while not wearing a face covering or gloves. It was unfortunate that my SO had opened the door that quickly, and it’s my best guess that the driver wasn’t violating company policy. That’s why we won’t try it again.

That does change what we eat. My favorite vegetarian breakfast protein isn’t carried by Amazon at Whole Foods (well, they did have a giant bulk package, but we couldn’t store that and it was very expensive per item). That means I’ll switch, but that’s a minor problem.

I did hear that Amazon has temporarily stopped adding new customers to Whole Foods delivery: they are overwhelmed. They are even cutting back hours on the physical stores being open in some places, to devote more time and personnel to delivery. I think they’ll get that worked out pretty quickly.

This will happen to many manufacturers, but I was also introduced to a product I’ll continue using after I have more options: foaming soap. I’m very careful about hand hygiene (I’ve been complimented by doctors on my technique 🙂 ), and have, in the past, used an antibacterial liquid soap. I found

J.R. Watkins foaming hand soap (at AmazonSmile*)

You get your hands wet, squirt it on, then lather your hands (not under the water). That saves water, but more importantly to me, I can tell exactly where it is going. I lather for 30 seconds (I don’t sing a song, personally, I count seconds). I start with my thumbs, then the palms, then the fingers and wrists. I pay special attention to my nails, and make fists to make sure I can get into all the folds and wrinkles. The foaming soap does that beautifully. Then, you rinse it off.

I’ll continue to use that soap: it’s not terribly expensive and I like that way it works.

That’s a plus for that company: others may unfortunately fail during this period, but some may find new audiences.

Overall, we know we are super fortunate. My job is secure. We have the technology to download books and enjoy other forms of entertainment. We can talk with our adult kid across the country and we have done a video meeting with family. Importantly, I know that what I’m doing matters: patients, and healthcare providers, are better off because of what I do. It actually gives me some “survivor’s guilt”. We do try to help others: we’ve donated food, for instance. We continue to contribute to non-profits: some, especially those that educate the public, will be very hard hit during this, and may not be able to make it through to the other side.

That’s the last thing I’ll say on this: if you haven’t been using

Smile.Amazon

please consider it. It doesn’t cost you anything more and Amazon contributes 50 cents per $100 you spend on qualified purchases (which is the vast majority of them). You may be spending more than usual at Amazon and the non-profits need it more.

Feel free to share thoughts you have with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Best to you and yours…


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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

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