April 2021: It Just Flew By!

All things considered, the month of April went by extremely quickly. It was nothing like the same month last year with its endless uncertainties and constant contradictory tightening of restrictions. A year later, we are experiencing much the same restrictions with this wave of the pandemic giving us higher statistics than the entire previous year but the officials are still giving us the illusion of concern and freedom. It is basically a lockdown without uttering those words; if we want to go ahead and get diagnosed with the virus running rampant, sure, go ahead and go outside! If you want to remain safe (and not risk being picked up on the street for a random “rapid test” that almost always shows “positive”), simply stay inside. That’s all there is to it!

Naturally, I am exaggerating a little. But not much. Given the prevalence of new cases (a mutant strain?) and the increased xenophobia towards the foreign population (that includes me!), I am truly afraid to venture too far afield. With my agency’s office closed and the start of the school year pushed back yet again, I don’t feel any real need to visit anyplace other than the nearby 7-Eleven or Tops mini-marts. I do my shopping every two or three days and then only in the evening just before closing time. It might mean that the shelves are a bit sparse but then so are the customers. (Last year, I managed to pull myself out of bed for 5 am 7-Eleven runs but I haven’t been able to repeat those early morning ventures as of yet.)

Changes from last year’s lockdown: I have a refrigerator that actually is large enough to hold more than four small cans of soda and does keep anything inside cold. I have a nice desk and side table that create a true home office atmosphere which is a vast improvement over my old tray table on the bed. I have blackout curtains that keep the harmful rays from entering my home and mask how dusty the counters are getting. It truly feels like the middle of the night when it’s time to eat lunch. I am not sure how well they will work when the monsoon season is over but I have noticed that it has been cooler inside since I put up these curtains. I purchased most of my cookware after last year’s reopening of the malls and I haven’t used them much lately other than the odd batch of frozen Fries in the toaster oven or an occasional batch of tacos. The true tragedy right now is that I have run out of tin foil and cannot find any in the nearby shops nor on the online grocery app. I cannot find cooking spray either so the fries become solidly attached to the cooking sheet.

As I provided updates through my (not quite) “Daily Phuket” articles, I don’t feel the need to add much else. I am surprised that I actually did 17 of those posts in April. By contrast my last “A Postcard A Day” and “A Cover A Day” articles both appeared back on 18 March. I want to write a few more of those in the weeks ahead. I only recently finished a big update to Philatelic Pursuits, namely a schedule listing EVERY STAMP worldwide released so far in 2021 (and a number that have yet to be issued). This was a major undertaking but I believe I set it up so that it will be relatively easy to update every couple of weeks or so. Finishing this project also frees me up to do some other things like continuing to write my New Issues articles for that site (I published nine this week which felt really good), work on my stamp collection (it’s coming up on two weeks since I last opened my big album covering 1840-1940 worldwide stamps), and perhaps even some household chores (I did do laundry this afternoon). Oh, I am also all caught up on scanning stamps, postcards and covers so now begins the task of editing the large images and cataloging them.

As you can tell by today’s featured image, I didn’t take any “real” photographs today but I am thrilled that I finished five books during the month of April. My favorite, by far, was the Anne Hillerman novel — Stargazer. There are so many passages in there that make me miss my road-trips through northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona, although much of this particular mystery takes place in the Socorro area of the state, south and west of where I used to live in Albuquerque. The Duane Allman biography (by his daughter) was quite interesting and emotional. I listened to a lot of his music while reading this one. Eat the Buddha helped inspire my planned trip for May 2023 (still working on an article to reveal the details) while I was pleasantly surprised by the John Gardner fantasy. Some awesome morals throughout this short work. The John Grisham novella was vintage Grisham. I don’t know how I missed it the first time around (it’s a prequel to another of his great legal thrillers).

As far as music, most of what I listened to in April — aside from The Allman Brothers and Duane Allman solo and session material — was extremely mellow. I fell in love with the Norah Jones live album, ‘Til We Meet Again, and went on a Taylor Swift binge, listening to more of her acoustic tracks than the more pop or electronica ones. I did download all of her albums, so I will get to those at some point as well. In all, I only listened to 333 tracks (down from 591 in March and 851 in February) but then there was no falling asleep while playing an album and then waking up at 3 am to find the music still blaring. I reset my player to stop after each album rather than go into shuffle-mode.

That’s it. Nothing more to say. I hope May is better and the COVID goes away in time for school to start on 1 June. I will receive my April salary about two weeks from now but it hit me today that I will not have any salary at all in June. In fact, I will have negative salary as they will still take out taxes and insurance payments. How does that work? Anyway, my plans for the immediate future are just more of the same with the addition of starting to write lesson plans for my upcoming classes. It will be nice to not worry about those once I return to school. There will be enough to deal with at that time anyway.

Cheers, and stay safe!

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