As of last Friday, my little slice of the hemisphere ended the COVID lockdown.
I am not sure what sort of reaction I expected. Perhaps a level of jubilance that we managed to get 85% of country vaccinated, or an economic sigh of relief, but frankly it seems I am not alone in feeling like life still remains in a state of flux.
Naturally the ability to go out “as normal” has been pleasant, and I am pretty chill regarding public transportation these days, but then again the pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse.
It has illustrated the value of good preps and pointed out the fault lines within the self sustain movement.
Many of us have discovered new hobbies and paradoxically let go of bad habits.
It seems to me that my entire visible world shuddered in unrestrained projects as the lockdowns persisted like clockwork.
Every neighbour started painting their houses, I saw non-stop construction, and broadly speaking, it looked to me like a fabricated opportunity to make the most of a shitty situation.
To be fair, I did much the same thing. Made my garden an oasis of solace, purchased far too many tools, including a metal lathe, lapping machine, and the list goes on.
I also pounced on my neighborhoods doing renos by going on daring excursions with the girl to rescue poor succulents & other plants that were axed and discarded in their prime.
Many yuccas and jade plants, and even a couple already-potted sword ferns, found sanctuary in my garden.
I recently spoke with a friend of mine concerning the past year. I summed it up as a year of my life that seemed to endure in a vacuum, with my existence simply existing.
He rolled his eyes and we left it at that, but it is a discomforting feeling to acknowledge the frailty of our system and what this all means for the future.
What preparations can we possibly undergo to maintain our links to the broader world whilst remaining independent from the fallout of another pandemic or other existential crisis?
I honestly have no idea.
I know that being fully off-grid isn’t viable based on the people who did it and after doubling down realized that homesteading is a full-time job in itself.
I know that I can’t live without people in my life, but I also know that my environment is subject to change, outside of my control.
At the start of this shit show, I didn’t give much advice beyond, “Hoard your money and knuckle down.”
I stand by what I stated.
My blog has always had a consumerist bias, but due to the nature of what we faced, I avoided writing about anything that would entail my readers having to spend money.
There is no all-in-one kit that will insulate you from bullshit. No magic knife will make you a hunter-gatherer should society default into lawlessness. No stockpile is infinite.
A whole year of flux has illustrated that we need to be cautious with our plans and our funds.
Prepping isn’t spending recklessly, it’s knowing when to drop Benjamin’s when you need to, and when you can stand back and access your situation from a position of power.
The girl and I have kept our food supplies at the rough 1 year mark (with rationing).
We didn’t do anything but hunker down when the first wave hit Italy (albeit a little panic, logically, we knew we were going to be fine), and then hunker down again as we saw hospitals being overwhelmed and the casualty rate being far too high for us to take risks.
So yes, I would say that my recommendations and loose predictions basically stood the test of time.
The only thing I regret was not having the tools on hand to work on the house independently, but these days it’s all rectified, as well as having a better understanding of the sort of person I am, and the sort of unit the girl and I make, what we need to be happy, and what is superfluous to our life.
I am aware as I type this that some people have had far worse experiences than me.
I know that having a decent size garden basically saved me from insanity during the worst of the lockdown, but nonetheless I still think it’s important to have this discussion despite coming from a place of relative privilege.
On that note, how did you hold up during this mess, what did you learn about yourself & what would you advise others to do or have done differently yourself, had you known what was coming?
Kent McManigal says
I never experienced any lockdown. The only inconveniences were mask mandates and stores that were closed for a while (and some that went out of business). So beyond the minor annoyances– which were still annoying– nothing changed too much.
I live right on the state line between Texas and New Mexico. Texas has been done with all the coronapanic for quite a while, but New Mexico keeps trying to fan the flames and currently has mask mandates– which are ignored by most businesses and their customers in this part of the state. Still, I’ve been choosing to do more in Texas just to avoid any problems.
Honestly, if it weren’t for the media and government overreactions I wouldn’t have noticed any pandemic. The only difference I saw was due to media and government.
Thomas Xavier says
I think its easy to disregard the impact of this virus until it affects you. I have quite a few elderly people in my vicinity and I have seen too many ambulances and people die to be indifferent to this sadly. Living 5 minutes from the main hospital in my city also makes the situation hard to ignore. Like many things in life, we internalise them when its often too late. Hopefully no new variant that can bypass the vaccine and the world goes back to some vague semblance of normal.
Kent McManigal says
I know of a few old (or chronically sick) people who were said to have died of (or “with)”) Covid, but everyone I know who got it– even those like my dad who is 80 and morbidly obese– recovered just fine. If I hadn’t been told this was Covid, it wouldn’t have looked any different than any other year, with yearly colds and flu and some old or sickly people dying.
One person I know who has never been very healthy was told she had “long-haul Covid”, but in reality, she had the same problems she’s always had and was no sicker than before; they just had a new label for it after she had Covid. And she’s been over that for a while now, too.
I think the perception is largely due to however it is portrayed by those you pay attention to.
I wonder what your take is on the multitude of perfectly healthy folks who caught COVID and perished from it? Many had no preexisting conditions, had Flu in the past totally recovered, now dead! Regardless of personal perceptions or media bias, I believe the Scientific Community wouldn’t be screaming deadly pandemic if this wasn’t overall very serious. Of course we all only have our little slice of immediate perceptions based on social community and contacts. Look at the big picture and I think you’ll see this is not a virus to downplay in impact or severity. Do as you will, believe what you want, it’s your life. Me, I’ll continue following mitigation guidelines and We are getting our Moderna booster shot tomorrow.
Kent McManigal says
Every “perfectly healthy” individual I saw presented by the media as having unexpectedly died of Covid “with no co-morbidities” had plainly visible co-morbidities. Usually obesity.
My dad got it and recovered with no problem. At age 79 with (what looks to me like) morbid obesity. Yeah, he probably got lucky, but this isn’t what the media and government-connected “scientific community” are presenting.
Covid is NOT a flu. It is a cold virus. That’s what coronaviruses are. Is this one more dangerous than most? Probably. Is it rational to treat this like the plague? Not even close.
FROM THE CDC—-What is the difference between a cold and flu?
Influenza (flu) and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses. Seasonal coronaviruses should not be confused with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Because flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose than people who have flu. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have serious associated complications.
Kent, not to flame you but you should check fatality rates for perfectly healthy individuals who died from COVID-19 with no other presenting issues. Just research before you make assumptions.
Hi Guys, it was nice to get a email and link to your site.
It’s great to hear that things are improving for you.
Our biggest City here (Auckland) has just dropped a level from total lockdown past seven weeks.
Three of us were standing in Marina carpark having a chat, when one chap came back from shop smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Somebody made a comment about that, He replied “I’ve just splurged and bought a tomato for dinner” it wasn’t a very big one for $1.75 either..
Funny the things one finds hilarious when times are hard..
Me, well, being crew on a Eco. Tour boat who has had no work for 6 months, I gave up Alcohol in March.
Becoming too much of a habit and over Winter , way too expensive. So that is a good thing.
Only time I really, really wanted a drink and was climbing the walls, was for about a week after having the Pfizer vaccine nearly two weeks ago. Weird, maybe the hallucinations (yep) or pain kicked it off.
Glad I got it, as it is now pretty much “No jab, No job” here and definitely no International travel on our Airline, and possibly no Domestic travel, (to be confirmed).
Anyway, I hope everybody is coping and things Worldwide do seem to be improving (mostly)
Thomas Xavier says
Yeah, it definitely seems to be improving, even if marginally. Sucks about the lack of jobs in your field- is this only due to the tourism issue or is it maritime work in general?
Funny, I thought about you when I saw your Country come out of lockdown. We had a short time period before Delta smacked us where everyone was like Whoopee, we’re free at last which lasted until the CDC changed its mind again and said vaccinated or not, take precautions. Then we started to see “breakthrough infections” of fully vaccinated persons. Although we didn’t go back into lockdown mode our two person family unit continued to take precautions, still are. After all I haven’t heard anyone say the Pandemic is over regardless of vaccination percentages. Since the last week in Sept till today our infection rates have fallen dramatically. However we’re waiting for approval for our booster shots for the Moderna vaccine as we’re both over 70.
Overall what’s kept us sane is reading, the internet and being able to get all necessities delivered or using non contact curb side pickup. I’ve noticed people including myself are less patient, more angry, and less trusting in government. Supply wise we didn’t yet have to use any long term preps. We continue to be cautious, follow recommendations for mitigation, and unfortunately I’m personally waiting for the next wave of a new variant to hit us here in the USA due to our overall vaccination percentages being low still. It is what it is! Glad to hear your doing fine, but be cautious regardless.
Thomas Xavier says
Yeah, Portugal has excellent vaccination rates so I am not as frazzled as before. Lockdown is effectively over beyond social distancing and masks and whilst the long term direction of the country remains to be seen, I think most people have gone back to their way of life- I agree that patience amongst the populace has withered, I am not surprised but its still sad to see. Hopefully we don’t get a more dangerous variant this winter as that would be really problematic.
Tom Reigle says
Basically, being the outdoorsman that I fancy myself to be [or have been], this Covid circus was difficult for me in a couple of areas of my life at present. I have always been almost totally independent in my day to day life but, for the past 5 years or so, I have had to curtail many of my outdoors activities due to recurring medical problems which seem to be worsening as I grow older. I have been more or less housebound by choice because of the apparent lack of concern to how dangerous this Covid pandemic has grown as it spread from sea to sea and border to border here in the USA. No matter what the government did to try to contain the Covid spread, it seemed to me that it was a “day late and a dollar short”. Most of the citizens here were very adamant about the entire subject of Covid and its potential for life threatening results from not taking very basic precautions such as masking and allowing a reasonable amount of space between you and strangers who may just be very positive Covid carriers and not realize it.
I have been battling a terrible level of lower back pain which emanated from an accident I had while in the military years ago, and was not properly recorded in my military record, and it has been a real struggle for me to stay positive. It is very discouraging that, before I can rise from my bed many mornings to use the bathroom, I have to sit on the edge of my bed and reach for a combination of pain killers and muscle relaxers before I can take care of myself or take the dog out for his morning “tasks”. So I have made some adjustments in my own lifestyle either for medical reasons or to protect my personal health from possible Covid carried by those around me in public, some of which who don’t have a clue that they are breathing out viral Covid germs which could kill someone of my age within weeks.
Now it has lessened here in the area I call home and I am scheduled to get the 1st of a series of cortical steroid injections in the base of my back in hopes that they will stem the pain somewhat until the muckety-mucks decide whether they will chop around my back a bit or try some other kind of pre-operative drugs to help me get back to the outdoors again. [Little do they know that this old guy isn’t going to be doing “pre-ops” unless they are on my terms!]
Like you, I learned that I have made some good and some not so good decisions in dealing with my personal life and my friendships with those who may not have taken the pandemic seriously until it became so prevalent that there was no mistaking the severity of its danger and its power to spread quickly. I have not grown fearful or paranoid about our overall situation as it is paramount that every country on this planet must join together to find a way to stop this pandemic here and now, regardless of how we feel about each other politically or any other way. If we don’t, we all may win some “battles” fighting Covid but we may lose the war at the end of the day and there will be no winner to pat on the back and say “Good job, we beat the beast!”
Hi, I’m really sorry to hear about the hard time you are going through with the pain.
I’ve had a similar problem, but not as bad as you.
I’ll probably get flamed for this, but as a 63 yr old ex.military and LEO
I no longer care..
I have had fantastic results with chewing a small amount of cannabis.
Pretty much instant pain relief as can function normally, i.e. put my pants on and get out of bed without struggling.
I stopped taking it a while ago and now manage pain with yoga.
Just a thought..
Thomas Xavier says
Couldn’t agree with you more Tom, we have to stick together and not get lost in idealistic rhetoric- I did really miss hiking and going out but tried to not over think it. Best thing for me was to just keep busy and take the opportunity to work on the house/garden etc. Its a weird feeling to have essentially “lost” over a year of my life. No doubt worse for the younger generation that have never dealt with isolation before. Crazy times and it remains to be seen what the consequences of that will be be.
Fingers crossed that steroid injections help things, regarding your accident- have you spoken to an attorney specialising in VA issues? Might be worth looking into.
This was a really great read and sound advice. In the end, there are only so many variables that we can control. I also kept saving money and purchased less due to the pandemic. Luckily, I was still able to continue working. One thing that I did find solace in is enjoying the fact that life had seemingly slowed down. It was a much needed break from the normal pace of life that most of us live. Being forced to take a break from almost everyone and everything gave me the opportunity for some much needed self care. I hope that you continue to do well. I thoroughly enjoy this blog
Thomas Xavier says
Cheers Anthony, I definitely took advantage of the lockdown for some self-reflection and to adjust my priorities/work on the house. Focusing on saving is so important in times like this, it really rubbed me the wrong way to see other “bloggers” push a commercial tilt on all their articles- this is not the time to buy a $300 edc knife. Eugh.
I work in hospital maintenance so it was basically work, eat, sleep, repeat.
I had to use up some of my food stocks and I have travelled enough to know that there are hygienic alternatives to toilet tissue!
In the UK not working for our saintly NHS directly definitely made you a second class essential worker. You were subject to the ridiculous workload and risks of infection, in fact slightly worse as the NHS got all the ppe for weeks or months, but we were working in the same buildings.
All the discounts and extended opening hours were only for NHS staff, who might be admin staff working from home but nothing for workers like myself working on covid wards.
That felt very unfair. To be honest, those complaining about furlough payments of 80% for staying home got short thrift from me!
I learnt that people who care get on with it, and those that make a big fuss about things on social media etc really couldn’t care less about their fellow man.
Thomas Xavier says
Wow. I had no idea this was happening. It makes sense to me that if you work in a high risk environment you should be treated as such- regardless of your employer. Crazy.
Has the situation stabilised at least?
what would you advise others to do or have done differently yourself, had you known what was coming
1. I copied skills videos from youtube and put them on usb keys for when the internet goes down and electricity may still exist;
2. I ordered many hundreds of used books from thriftbooks.com for myself and relatives when the libraries and schools were closed. The next time around, I have about 60 used books in multiple languages to read. I give them away and do not save them when I am done. Finished the first Japanese novel written around 1000 a.d. this week and now reading an updated Mahabharata (6000 year old Indian tales). Beginning reading books to beginners. Geometry for Dummies and similar Dummy books to high schoolers.
3, Buy gallons of 70%isopropyl alchohol, the basis for sanitizers and make your own.
Thomas Xavier says
1. I have a crazy library (both hard copy and digital) as well as ebook readers. A kindle + portable solar panel will last effectively forever. Something to think about.
2. I frequently go to thrift stores and end up walking away with dozens of books each visit. Books on our shared history & culture are just as important as practical DIY manuals- gotta feed your mind and not just your body. ;)
3. In Portugal they started selling hand sanitiser in 3L wine boxes! Bought a couple for the novelty factor- frankly I don’t go out enough for me to really need it. I suspect what I have is enough for a solid 1-2 years as it stands.
Thanks for dropping by as always mate!