I had to replace my car battery last week. Like many people, I have been staying home for long stretches and I don’t go out as often. I don’t tend to drive that much in non-pandemic situations, so you can imagine how little I drive in these times.
About two weeks ago, I actually did need to go somewhere with my car and when I went to go start it, my car did not respond. I immediately knew it was my battery. I’ve been having trouble with it before in the last few months and I only had me to blame for this. I used a multimeter to measure the voltage of my car battery and it barely registered above half a volt.
I could have tried to get a jump but I knew the better solution was to get a new battery. Normally, this would have been just a minor inconvenience. There would have been numerous ways to get a new battery home: get a friend to drive me to the store, Uber/Lyft, or even public transit. We are, however, in the midst of a global pandemic so my options were limited somewhat.
I settled on patronizing one of my coworker’s husband’s auto repair service. It was cheaper than any of the other battery replacement services that I found online. I was charged the cost of the battery and it was just another $40 for him to come directly to my apartment and into my parkade to replace my battery and take the old one away.
My car now starts but this whole lesson taught me a valuable lesson. In an emergency situation or during a pandemic, you need a reliable vehicle. In my case, I was lucky I didn’t need my car for a critical reason. If, however, if an alien invasion was occurring or if zombies were overrunning the city and I needed to get myself or my parents out of town, I would have been screwed. That day that I went to start my car, if I had really needed it to go somewhere, that would have been the end of the movie for me.
Now, for better or worse, it seems like I wasn’t alone in neglecting my vehicle. BCAA reported this week that calls for roadside assistance specifically for car batteries were up 50% this month. Many others had cars that were not exactly in tip top battery shape and the pandemic exposed our lack of preparation.
I’m running low on groceries, so for dinner, I decided to get some Boston Pizza. It’s not the greatest food in the world but it’s close by and they offer 15% off take-out orders. Also, if I may be honest, any food that I get to consume that I don’t have to make or prepare is a winner in my books.
I got a garden salad, medium meat-filled pizza, and a baked pasta jammed with spaghetti, cheese, and sausage. Even with the garden salad, it wasn’t even close to being a healthy meal and I did not mind one bit. I believe this might have been only the third meal I’ve had since the middle of March that I did not prepare myself. It was the first good pizza I’ve had since the beginning of the pandemic. After forcing myself to be an adult and eating the salad first, I then proceeded to eat almost half the medium pizza. I was stuffed but then decided I want a bit of pasta before tapping out. It was easily the largest single meal I’ve eat in a month and a half. It’s been almost seven hours since dinner and I still feel full.
As soon as I finished the meal, I felt super tired and lethargic. It’s almost as if my body is draining energy from me to digest this meal. It’s very true that during this pandemic, my meals have become smaller in portions. I eat enough to fulfill my nutritional requirements and not a whole lot beyond that. Tonight’s meal was more akin to a meal in the “before times”, where it was much easiest to just gorge yourself because the world was a lot different.
While I still have leftover pizza and pasta, I think I’ll be eating these in much more reasonable quantities going forward.
Since all of this craziness started, all my grocery shopping has been focused on the basics and staples: meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, bread, potato chips, and so forth. It’s come to the point though that I desire a plethora of condiments for my kitchen. I have been cooking the same items and dishes over and over again because they’re easy to make, healthy, and palatable for the most part. The easiest way to shake things up is to add some condiments to these meals.
I had an example of this last week. I made “Hamburger Helper”, which I love for its simplicity and deliciousness. It’s always tasty but I yearned for a bit of hot sauce on it to give it some variety. Unfortunately, I had no hot sauce in my apartment. I also made a steak last week. I usually season it with some kosher salt and ground pepper. Normally, this is great but as I ate the steak, I really wondered how it would be with some steak sauce. Again, I have none of that in my apartment. The same goes for some oyster sauce that I would have put on my bok choy. I technically have soy sauce but it comes in the form of these takeout packets which is a pain in the butt to deal with when you need a whole bunch for marinating or applying it to something larger than a California roll.
So, when it’s time for me to grocery shop this week, the bulk of my purchases maybe just condiments.
Before I go any further in this post, I want to say that I totally recognize that I am very lucky to be still working right now. Many people and small businesses have been hit hard by the global pandemic and are facing real challenges and hardships.
Now, having said that, I remain very much dissatisfied by work. I often find it remarkable how my employer has an uncanny knack to put people in positions without any regard to their interests and passions. It’s very late right now but I could write a massively long post about why I could be so much more productive and motivated right now as an employee but my employer has chosen to put me where I am very little use to my current team. I don’t have the time to write that post but I maybe I should in the near future.
I would say on most days, I feel very little motivation to do the things I’ve been assigned. Most people wouldn’t write such things so publicly but I don’t really care right now. Both my manager and my engineering lead know my feelings about my current predicament. They have been surprisingly very supportive but have no power to change things for me until perhaps the late summer or early fall.
It’s another start of a work week and while I don’t dread doing my job, I certainly don’t look forward to it either. If I could list one motivation for doing my tasks, it’s that I’d like to continue to get paid. That’s pretty much the only thing that gets me out of bed in the mornings.
I was feeling slightly optimistic about how things are proceeding in the province of British Columbia when on Monday, it was reported that at least twenty-eight workers at a Vancouver poultry processing plant tested positive for COVID-19. More than one worker at United Poultry admitted they went to work sick because they felt like they had to, otherwise they would not get paid. It’s unclear at this point if management at United Poultry actively made workers think this way or not. You’d think that if they did want sick workers to stay home, they’d go out of their way to make it crystal clear to all their employees. I know I don’t have all the facts but it doesn’t look good for management.
This one outbreak alone at the poultry processing plant was pretty much responsible for a spike in positive cases in the province. This just underlines the importance of not letting up and that putting your guard down for just a moment can lead to serious consequences. Everyone needs to be vigilant and see this through to the end.
As for this particular company, both provincial and federal authorities are now investigating their operations, as they should. I feel like they won’t be escaping any scrutiny for a long time.
I had to clean up and consolidate some of my recycling today and I found a whole bunch of plastic containers that, at one time, held half a dozen muffins. I found four such containers. So by my limited math skills, this meant that since the quarantine started, I had consumed twenty-four muffins over the course of about thirty days.
I’ve tried my best to have a balance diet since I was forced to stay home. I wrote about this earlier but one of my indulgences has been french fries. The other has been muffins. Previous to the quarantine, I rarely bought muffins. I didn’t think they were a healthy choice since you can only buy six at a time and since I live alone, that automatically meant I had to eat all six if I didn’t want to waste food.
The quarantine changed my thinking a bit. I wanted something delicious and a bit indulgent. The muffins were also a practical choice. There were six of them, which meant I could eat one a day and they would last me almost a week. In times like this, it made sense to buy foods that would last several days. The muffins have also been made part of my routine. After I have my daily Zoom call with my team in the morning, I go and grab a muffin, split it in half, apply butter or margarine to each side, and heat it up in my toast oven. In a few short minutes, I have a warm, buttery muffin for breakfast. It’s a good way to start the day.
There are four empty muffin containers in my recycling container right now and another container in my fridge that currently holds five blueberry muffins. I’m not sure if I’ll be eating muffins daily when all of this is over but I sure am going to continue it while we’re all hunkered down.
My mortgage is up for renewal at the end of June. I’ve approached mortgage renewals with a lot of anticipation. I view it as a great opportunity to get a better deal and save a lot of money over the long run. I recognize though that in the ten years or so that I’ve had a mortgage, it’s been relatively cheap to borrow money. Interest rates have been low compared to pretty much any time frame before this last decade.
I always receive the mortgage renewal offer from my lender with a bit of skepticism. My thinking is that there is always a better deal out there to be had and I should do my research before signing the offer. So, when the renewal offer arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago, looked at it, and then had a few mortgage brokers offer their opinion on what my lender had sent me. Now keep in my mind, I hadn’t looked at mortgages in great detail for five years when my last renewal was up. I was aware of the interest rate that I was paying but I didn’t know what mortgages were like now and I especially didn’t know what mortgages were like during this pandemic.
So, I had no idea what my renewal offer was like in the context of the current mortgage market. As I began to contact mortgage brokers, each one pretty much said the same thing. The renewal choices that my lender had sent me were exceptionally good for me and that they would be impossible to meet, let alone beat, with any current mortgage offer that they could get their hands on. I was told that the pandemic had made most lenders a bit apprehensive about mortgages in the current world situation and that rates weren’t as competitive as they might have been just a few months ago (when the prime lending rate was even higher).
All of this was quite the education for me and I felt very lucky that my lender had sent me some awesome options for renewal. I wonder now that if my renewal had been set for later in the summer, would these offers be the same?
In the end, I went with a 5-year, variable rate mortgage, with the rate set at prime lending rate minus 0.90%. At the time of this writing, assuming the prime lending rate doesn’t change, starting in July, my interest rate will be 1.55%. I’ll have to check the records but I believe that is the lowest interest rate I’ve ever had for a mortgage. I had to do the math on this, so it might be wrong, but that translates to bi-weekly payments of around $260.
I feel extremely lucky during these difficult times that I still have a job and that I was able to renew my mortgage with such favourable terms.
So, as some of you might recall, I encountered computer problems almost exactly the same time as when I started working from home and when governments at all levels were urging residents to stay inside. Specifically, Windows 10 would not start on my desktop computer. I use this computer for work, since it can be hooked up to two monitors. This is also my gaming machine. While I love using my laptop for general use, my desktop does all the heavy lifting in terms of work and gaming.
Over the last month or so, I have tried fixing this problem to no avail. Approximately once in every thirty times or so that I start my computer, Windows will miraculously start. It’s a very time-consuming process and I can’t figure out what I’m doing differently between attempts that eventually gets Windows to start. I’ve resorted to letting Windows sleep rather than completing shutting it down. This is a stop-gap measure however because eventually I will need to reboot my computer again.
Since I’ve exhausted all my resources on how to fix this, I am, for the first time in my life, considering bringing in my computer to a shop somewhere that can hopefully help me diagnose what’s wrong. There are a few things though make this a bit more difficult than it might seem. First, I don’t know who I could bring my computer to. Geek Squad at Best Buy? Are they any good? Would they know how to diagnose a problem like this? Or maybe a local shop like Memory Express or Canada Computers would be better. I’m leaning towards the more local shops as they seem to serve the more enthusiast crowd. Second, we’re living in difficult times now. I think it’s still possible to drop off computers for repairs but both the customer and the shop both need to follow safe practices. Are they gonna need to sanitize all the parts in my computer? I wouldn’t blame them if they wanted to. Lastly, having my computer gone for an indeterminate amount of time makes it difficult for me to work at home. I could use my laptop and hook up a second monitor to it but its screen is small and not ideal as part of a two-monitor setup. I suppose I could survive for a week working like that.
Perhaps I could wait until all this blows over but who knows when that will be!
I just realized today that for over a month now, I have only peed or pooped at home. Over thirty days of my personal waste has been dealt with exclusively in my only bathroom. This isn’t the norm for most people. When I was at work, I frequently pooped there. Almost everyone pees at work too. Think about all the times you’re out at the mall or at a restaurant and you go to the bathroom there. All of that has stopped for most people.
Now our bathrooms at home have seen a major increase in use. I bet some of them are pretty gross right now. I think I might go clean my toilet tomorrow.