out and about with my covid
Thursday, May 12 2022
My recovery to normal human capabilities happened yesterday, though there were still lingering symptoms of my covid infection: night sweats, occasional (though decreasing) coughing up of phlegm, and a highly-persistent sore throat. Today, all of those conditions continued to ebb away, though none of them (except perhaps the sore throat) ebbed away completely.
At some point today I got the results back from the covid test I'd driven myself to on Tuesday, and, no shocker, I was determined to be infected by covid. Gretchen's results came back positive too. Some woman from the Ulster County Health Department called me to deliver the news and then ask me a series of questions about my symptoms, my vaccination status, whether or not I work remotely, and who else in the household might have covid. As covid patients go, I'd been a fairly good one in terms of staying isolated. True, I'd probably infected Gretchen. But that was almost inevitable, and it seems I'd given her a much weaker dose than Powerful had managed to give me. (I strongly suspect I was infected while decommissioning the heatpump-powered hot water heater outside Powerful's room in the poorly-ventilated basement.) The woman on the phone concluded the call by saying that, since I was mostly recovered and it had been five days since my at-home positive covid test, I could end self-isolation (not that anyone had ever told me to begin it!). I was still urged to wear a mask in public for the next five days, which seemed like a reasonable (if completely unenforceable) request.
At noon, I drove the Bolt out to the abandoned bluestone mine to get more nice slabs of stone, mostly from the site of the most recent calving event from the mine's artificial cliff face. The weather when I was there was genuinely hot and even a bit muggy; it could've easily passed for summertime.
Towards the end of my workday, Joe the Lead Developer was brain storming with me on a private Teams channel about some sort of contest where people would conceal robots inside ordinary urban debris (such as hollowed-out bricks or even roadkill) and then try to survive (and terrorize) undetected. It was a fun conversation, but I needed to fix the problem with the solar controller, which (I thought) had a bad relay. I took a Chromebook to the basement so I could continue communicating with Joe while I did the tricky work of extracting the old relay and soldering in a new one. But the new one didn't fix anything, and, as I tinkered with it further, I must've shorted out the 24 volt transformer that powers all the valves, because I heard a pop and that was that, it no longer showed any output. The poorly-ventilated basement air was now filled with the smell of failed winding insulation.
I thought maybe I'd have a 24v transformer I could substitute in, but it turned out that I didn't. Since I needed a few other things besides that, I made a covid-recovery run into town. My first stop was at the Stewarts, where I went just to get a sixpax of beer. There were quite a few older white men in the store at the time, and not a one was wearing a mask despite the recent uptick in covid cases in the Northeast. One of the employees was wearing a mask, which seemed like a survival necessity to me. The men not wearing masks looked like the kind who might make fun of someone wearing a mask, and I was hoping one of them might. I could then reveal my face and say, in a froggy covid-abraided voice, that "Oh, I just had covid, I was trying to protect other people. Because I'm not a fucking sociopath."
I drove out to Home Depot and found the transformer I wanted ($36), along with a nice soldering iron ($20, all the ones I have suck), and two tubes of E6000 glue ($5 each), which Joe the Lead Developer had been extolling on Teams. There were a few more people than expected wearing masks in the Home Depot, but none of them were employees. Maybe getting covid is the ticket to otherwise-inaccessible paid time off.
My last purchase was two half-gallon bottles of gin, one for the laboratory (though initially it will be in the greenhouse) and one for the cabin. By the time I returned home, I'd started drinking and didn't think it was wise to resume work on the electrical problems in the boiler room. At some point I rode an electric bike up the Farm Road in hopes of photographing some birds, and I was finding it hard to control the bike with a beer in one hand and a camera in the other, particularly if I was shooting video while biking. There's a reason hillbillies are always asking someone to hold their beer.
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