Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Friday, February 28, 2020

Virtual Reality and the Coronavirus



I’ve always wanted to explore virtual reality---you know, where you put a gismo on your head and you walk around looking stupid because you’re seeing things that others in the room can’t see. A walk in space, a visit to Buckingham Palace, a roller-coaster ride, taking part in a boxing match or driving in the Indy 500 are just a few examples of things you can do in virtual reality. I finally got my chance to try it out this week. Our senior hall sponsored the event and it was so popular they added two encore sessions. Translation: I wasn’t the only one who wanted to do this, the RSVP wait list was so long they were able to book slots for sixty of us instead of the expected twenty they thought would signed up. Unbeknownst to me, there’s a business in town that books parties where they hook up all your guests to virtual reality. How cool is that! Now, for $30 an hour I can travel and never have to leave the city, never have to worry about getting a passport or being held hostage at the airport by a terrorist or a coronavirus quarantine or worse yet, a terrorist coughing coronavirus germs all over the place.
We didn’t get the full menu of virtual reality choices like you’d get if you went to their place of business but we did get to “visit” the Basilica of Notre Dame, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Taj Mahi and the Palace of Versailles. If I ever do it on my own I’d go to space in Apollo 11 or to the bottom of the ocean or try Google Earth. When I got my haircut yesterday I was telling my hairdresser about the experience and she said she’d want to play Blade and Sorcery or Space Pirate Training. Who would have guessed that a pregnant little thing like her would be a blood thirsty little thing who is going to quit her job in April and leave me searching for someone else to cut my locks? She said quitting her job to be a full time mom is bitter-sweet. “Yes,” I told her, “sweet for you and bitter for me!” I hate changing hairdressers but I’m going to try another girl in the same the shop. I knitted her a hot pink pussy hat back a few years ago when Trump was elected. She was thrilled and personality-wise we’ll get along great. Wow, did I get side-tracked here!

Back to virtual reality. When they first handed out the head gear it reminded me of an old stereoscopic from the 1890s that I sold recently with its viewing lens lined up with two separate images of the same scene on its viewing cards. But the VR viewers actually have two feeds/images per eye (one set hidden behind the other) and you’re viewing videos that were photographed with cameras that can take 350 degrees photos. Utterly fascinating how they can make you feel like you’re actually walking around inside the places that are being fed to the VR head gear viewers from a computer. 

And VR is not just for entertainment. An article I found on the web said: “Virtual Reality is widely utilized in both mental health and medical training, and is used to treat post-traumatic stress, anxiety, phobias, and depression. Both medical and dental students have taken advantage of this technology, as it enables them to practice surgeries and other procedures…Military forces use VR for flight, battlefield, and vehicle simulations, as well as medic training and virtual boot camp. It also helps them reduce training costs and recreate training conditions safely.” Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! And I might get the chance someday at the continuum care campus where I’m moving. Their last newsletter had an article telling about how they are using virtual reality in their memory care building. 

Speaking of bringing the coronavirus to the U.S.A.---yes I was, a few paragraphs ago---one of my Gathering Girls pals who I have brunch with twice a month is on a cruise to the Mediterranean and will be in the area where a hotel has hundreds of people on lockdown because of the coronavirus. I can’t say I’m looking forward to having brunch with her when she gets back. Do you think anyone would notice if I wore a face mask and drank my lunch through a straw inserted in a hole in the mask? Would it be wrong of me to hope she self-quarantines for two weeks after she gets back? The world of germs is a scary place. I ought to know, I’ve been a bit of a germaphobic starting in this century when I had to spend so much time around medical facilities after my husband’s massive stroke and it ramped up big time the winter of 2019 when I got the flu so bad that I literally thought I’d die all alone and no one would find me until the stench got so bad a safety officer from the police department was called. That episode and the five day power outage that same winter lite the fire under me about moving to the senior friendly community where someone will check on me if they hear moaning through the walls. Ohmygod, I hope my future neighbors wear their hearing aids more often than I do! I can't even hear myself pee when I'm not wearing mine. ©

47 comments:

  1. What a lot of experiences, emotions and observations you have packed into this one post! Love your writing. I'm wondering what the mood is like on that cruise ship and if they are being allowed off the boat in their ports of call. Perhaps you can quarantine yourself from her for 14 days once she is back!

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    1. I'm not proud to say this but I'm thinking of taking her name off the email reminder for one brunch only. She'd never remember to come without that reminder. She is a fearless traveler and a decade older than me. When fear of the virus was mentioned to her at our last meetup she said she'd be alright on the Mediterranean. Duh, Italy has a huge outbreak and those Mediterranean ships hire a lot of people from that region. I know I can be a little paranoia about germs but its too "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-ish" for my comfort.

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    2. Great blog Jean. I feel the same way about being exposed to travelers. Just my two cents.

      BL

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    3. BL: in her email yesterday she said she was headed to AZ on Monday. I thought this was the Mediterranean cruise so I must have mixed up the dates of her two trips. When she actually does go on that cruise maybe we can ask her to self-quarantine and miss one of our brunches when she gets back.

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  2. Darn it! I just realized I published this a day too early! If I put it back to a draft and republish it tomorrow it won't show up in anyone's blog roll. Oh well!

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    1. With the coronavirus news changing daily, it's probably going to be outdated soon, so sooner is better. LOL.

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  3. Well, I'd sure be avoiding that returning traveler at all cost. I can't imagine that ship isn't going to have some people with coronavirus on it, and she sounds a bit heedless to me. :(

    The virtual reality sounds like great fun, but the hairdresser quitting sounds awful. But someone else in the same shop might work out. My hairdresser just took a long maternity leave, and I think I actually liked her sub a bit better. But she's back and I'm back with her - I like her and have a long history with her. That said, she is working way less as a mom, and my next appointment is now with the same woman who did my hair while she was gone. They're both young moms and they have short schedules. So it is all working out. I wish the same for you! :)

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    1. Not heedless, just at peace with her life and believes in living it to her fullest and her kids encourage her to go as often as she wants to.

      I really hate getting a new hairdresser. I knew I'd have to after I move but I'm bummed to do it now, too. The girl who has been doing it is the best I've had in decades.

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  4. Jean, I find that moving while extremely stressful is still less stressful than finding a new good "feels right" hairdresser. At least in all my moves it has been like that.
    I am so interested in the VR. Did you really feel like you were "there"?

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    1. It's been 7 years since I've had to change hairdressers and I'll just get used to this new one and have to do it all over again at the other end of town.

      Ya, it feels real but weird at the same time. You know you're not in the palace, for example, but no matter how you turn your head or walk the images keep up. I 'walked' up to a painting and could look at all the details as if I was standing in front of it, then look down at the tile floor and up to the domed ceiling and the VR keeps up with you no matter how fast or slow you turn.

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  5. Well, I understand your concerns about meeting with people who have been traveling.I think the only way to deal with your discomforts about germs is to stay home more, yourself.This is not so pleasant to think about and certainly puts a damper on mental health.. social isolation is not fun! But we can learn to skype one another I guess???? . At least till things calm down? It all depends on your fear levels. My husband and I are able to stay home a lot, and avoid crowds, so we are. I also have a month long spply of foods in the pantry and we could stay home if need be. I want to avoid grocery stores for a while.. But, we do have a trip plannend to Mexico in late March. (Paid for already.) We'll see what' s happening then.Life is a tightrope of risk and benefits..have to move at our own comfort levels. Oh, regarding VR: I loved my experience with it. 'd love to be able to have all that VR equipment and go scuba diving or "traveling" right in my own living room!! Just found your blog recently.. enjoying it a lot!!

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    1. I stay home too much as it is so until the flu hits my county, I won't adjust that. As for Skyping, I'd have no one to do it with. Most of my gal pals have enough trouble just doing email. But it sure is a technology that would be great for grandparents with the kiddos who live long distant.

      Having paid-for cruises does present a dilemma doesn't it. By late March you'll have lots more information to guide you.

      Wouldn't it be great to do VR in our own home! I have no clue what that stuff costs but it would be worth it.

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  6. I need to find a new hair stylist, the woman I've gone to for years seems to be losing her skill. It's odd, like her mind isn't all there which worries me. Perhaps she needs to use a VR device as a way of remembering how to cut hair again.

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    1. I do think sometimes the long we go to someone the more they get careless cutting our hair. Bored, maybe no challenge. By then we've become friendly enough that leaving becomes a difficult choice.

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  7. I have always been curious about virtual reality and now you have made me want to "make it so", as John Luke would say.
    Know what you mean about hairdressers. I either lose them to marriage or pregnancy. Hope my older one will be content to hang around.
    The trouble with most masks is that all they do is to protect others from you. Can't say I didn't tense up today when someone in the next aisle over started hacking away. I didn't really need peanut butter anyway.
    Got a real giggle out of your last sentence.

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    1. I'll bet most towns of any size have virtual reality rec places.

      I know the masks don't do any good if your the well person but I didn't it would do any good to ask her to wear one just in case...LOL

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  8. I would love to try VR sometime!

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    1. It's worth the they charge. If you go with a group of friends or family you can play games together but I'd prefer be the armchair tourist.

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  9. I would avoid her like the plague she may or may not have. If that means staying home, I'd stay home. In fact, I'm somewhat self-quarantining. Not manic about it yet (and yes, I'm going to My Fair Lady Sunday). But today I stocked up on everything I will need to be homebound for at least two week. I figure if I get sick, I'll be in the hospital. Note to self: give Rick all my passwords. And I'm serious. This is big deal stuff and to those of us with either pre-existing conditions or age, it's a bigger deal. I'm probably hitting publish on my post on this within the next couple of days. I don't usually panic. I didn't think twice about Y-2 K or whenever that rapture thing was supposed to be. Even Ebola. But this one? The lunatics are in charge of the asylum right now and we are woefully unprepared. (VR sounds cool!)

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    1. That's the scary part, isn't it. The people in charge can't be trusted to tell us the truth or to be prepared properly.

      I'm stocked up well for flu supplies but I'm going to the grocery store tomorrow and will get a few extras in case the virus starts showing up in our State. My friend on the cruise is a perfect example of how that virus can spread.

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  10. I feel your hairdresser pain - after I move to Vancouver Island I will have to find my first new hairdresser in THIRTY SIX years.😫
    You made me laugh out loud when you extrapolated your fears all the way to a terrorist coughing in your face🤣🤣🤣.
    Thanks Jean,

    Deb

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    1. That's my mission...to make someone laugh.

      Oh my gosh! Thirty six years with the same hairdresser, I'd have a meltdown over that.

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  11. I would love to try VR! If this latest pandemic (or the next one) gets too bad, maybe that's the way we'll "travel" in the future. No airports, long flights, or crowds of people... sounds pretty good to me!

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    1. The places we visited with VR were so huge it made me think of how tired I would have been had I actually have been there in person to walk around. The no airport is a plus, too, isn't it.

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  12. I have never tried virtual reality but what you described sounds like fun. I would love to do the travel and I'm sure once I understood what all it could do, would find more to interest me. Good for you. It would be great if they have more sessions at your new place.

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    1. The VR's place of business is only two miles from where I'll be living so I ca see me buying an hour here and there. The CCC uses VR in their memory care unit which is for dementia patients so I don't want to so there if I can avoid it. LOL

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  13. I love the idea of VR for memory care. It's intriguing. Hits home since my mother has Alzheimer's

    I do think that, after a while, the relationship with a stylist can become too comfy and can lead to complacency. That happened with me, and I wasn't getting good haircuts. She was taking advantage--taking calls, talking to vendors, etc--and my hair was sort of showing that. I finally stopped going there altogether. She kept giving me the same haircut, no matter what I asked her to do.

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    1. From what I read they use VR in memory care units to visit hometowns using google street software and vacation locations people have been to, tailored to each person's life experiences.

      You nailed it on the complacency that some hairstylists fall into after awhile. Mine hasn't done that but I've had others who did. I'll miss her!

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  14. The virtual reality sounds like great fun. I would love to give it a whirl.
    I am glad to hear you bring up the important topic of the Covid 19 coronavirus. I have been reading the daily posts from Dr. John Campbell on YouTube for well over a month. Factual information from a reputable, non partisan REAL DOCTOR. I have spent all this week filling in my prepping gaps as best I can and planning on self isolating from here on out with the exception of two more errands next week. And I have never been happier to live in the back of beyond Montana. But like you said, folks travel, so you just cannot be too careful. I took a sort of a survey while running my errands, asking friends if they were concerned. Only one person was slightly worried. One quoted Rush Limbaugh and said its just a Democrat thing. I was horrified. One well to do "friend" said the stock market crash will level out next week. ????!! Ignorance is going to kill us all. Stay safe, my friend.

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    1. Ignorance and greed. Greed is the only explanation for being more worried about the stock market than a pandemic getting a foothold around the world. A "democrat thing?" How does Rush explain the epidemic in countries where there are no democrats?

      Montana is a good place to be a prepper. Now I'm off the stock to stock up.

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  15. Mixed reaction to the coronavirus in New Zealand. Apparently we have one case from a NZer who travelled back on a plane from some place overseas, possibly Europe; who is in isolation specialised space/hospital and all the passengers have been contacted.
    Then there is grocery hoarding and similar...with supermarkets restricting some products - then masks v non-masks (most not the right type anyway) - and when I was in a major shopping Mall yesterday, loads of people going about as per usual...
    I did note on my online shopping form in courier instructions but it would only come out of ghost writing if you checked a box - about what would happen if you were quarantine (?sp) at home. I wasn't grocery hoarding though, just shopping my usual 2 monthly stock up of mainly pantry and freezer items...

    the VR sounds very interesting, I think I would like to strapped to a chair before I thought I was going "diving in the ocean" or similar...

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    1. It was scary to think you could walk into a wall with an VR thing on your head, but they watch you pretty carefully and only a few of us tried it standing up which was a much better experience than sitting.

      I just got back from the store and all the hand sanitizer stuff was gone. I spent double what I usually do because I was out of so many things like vitamins, water filters, light bulbs that really ran up the bill. Here, they are saying we will see shortages of over-the-counter and prescription drugs because so many are made in China. The only real change I made was not buying anything off the salad bar. I will stay away from that and oriental grill within the grocery store until the flu scare is over.

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    2. I read somewhere that good old, soap and handwashing and thoroughly drying your hands is just as good, if not better than hand sanitizer. Some santizers have other ingredients that's aren't supposed to be good for either, I do have a small supply on hand, because I use it often when I'm out anyway...

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    3. I heard that too. I use the hand sanitizer wipes on my steering wheel and car door handles after I get in and then I use another on my hands before going home.

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    4. Here's a recipe for hand sanitizer that was recently posted as a comment on Chuck Wendig's blog:

      "OK, having trouble finding hand sanitizer because of CoVid19? Here’s how to make your own:

      2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol
      1/3 cup aloe vera gel
      8-10 drops essential oil for nice smell (optional)
      Mix in bowl and pour into reusable bottle."

      Denise Lewis"

      Pretty easy and ought to work fine. My contribution to sensibility.

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    5. It does sound easy, doesn't it. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Oh now I do want to try VR! I bet our library will be getting this! There are a few gaming places around Portland but I'd rather go to the National Parks! So you get to "pick" where you want to go.

    Lake Oswego just got its first confirmed case of the virus ... a janitor at a grade school. Washington state had its first death. You know for the past 20 years there has been some sort of BIG scare for us ... Y2K, anthrax, SARS, e coli, bird flu, always something ... and bigger and scarier.

    I do need VR!

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    1. I can't image libraries having virtual reality stuff, but what do I know. If you find a place to go, they have family packages which would be fun for your tribe. The place here in town has about 60 programs, they said, and are getting more all the time. You do get to pick your own. We didn't at the senior hall because we got an introduction package for $10 for an hour but we all had to go to the same places that were picked out my our hall director. You should look at the gaming places around you. I'll bet they have the educational and travel programs, too, but don't advertise them.

      A janitor at a grade school! I'll bet that community is in a panic! Scary stuff.

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    2. They are closing the school to disinfect! Costco had 1,000 people in line when they opened on Sat. The janitor lives in another suburb and people are so angry the the sick person walked around, living their life ... spreading the germs. Well heck! Person thought they had a cold ... never been to Asia and no one they know just came back from travels.

      Oh .... and when was Mad Cow Disease the scary thing????

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    3. That's the trouble with this virus, people can spread it before they know they have it. With allergy season coming soon lots of people will do the same as that guy, walk around thinking they have seasonally allergies before they actually get sick.

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  17. My son has a virtual reality thing that plays video games of some sort. I tried it and it was A BLAST! Yes, from the outside people look super silly, but on the inside it is really cool. I'd love to 'travel' with that technology!

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    1. I'll bet your son's virtual reality thing could play the travel stuff.

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  18. From Hairdressing to Pussy Hats you about covered it all. The Coronavirus being Pandemic really is scary stuff even tho' the thought of you at Brunch wearing a Mask had me laughing so hard I almost spilled my drink on the Keyboard! We went out today looking for Hand Sanitizer... there is a shortage due to the Media Coverage telling everyone the best defense is offensive hand washing/sanitizing! I bought the last 4 bottles at an obscure little shop hardly anyone shops at... everyone else was sold out!

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    1. My hands are raw from too much washing! Obscure store...I need to find one of those. The box stores around here areout of sanitizers too.

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  19. One thing to remember about pandemics is that the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic is distribution, not severity. No matter how severe a disease, if it's in only a few places, it's an epidemic. When a disease spreads world-wide, it's recategorized as a pandemic. I've heard several people on radio misusing the word, and occasionally I've thought they're doing it purposefully, to amp up people's anxiety.

    I know I'm an outlier, but I'm also realistic to know that isolating ourselves from specific individuals isn't the answer -- unless they've been diagnosed with the disease. Part of my attitude is shaped by the reality that I live in an area where a significant number of people are traveling world-wide on business, on a regular basis. In addition, there are a lot of people who come here, particularly from Asia, to work or consult at NASA and other companies. The most reasonable response is to keep in good health, wash those hands (!), and generally practice good hygiene.

    Well, and do a little reasonable preparation. The way I see it, stashing away food and water for a quarantine isn't a lick different than the prep I do every year for hurricanes, so for the first time in years, I'll actually be ahead of the game when June 1 rolls around!

    Oh - I did call my eye doctor today because both of my glaucoma medications are manufactured in India, and India has said they're going to be restricting export of key drugs. Mine aren't on the list now, but it would be worth checking that out. It seems that insurance companies sometimes will waive requirements that refills stay on schedule. Apparently there are forms doctors can fill out, and I want to get those drugs in my hot little hands, just in case.

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    1. Prescription drug shortages is a scary part of what's going on right now. So many of them are made in China and India.

      The virus has shown up in every country in the world except antarctic. You are right about keeping yourself healthy is the best defense and washing your hands often, which we should all be doing year around. I'm not going to get too concerned until it shows up in my county.

      The kind of world travelers you're around are different than those who go on cruises, which my friend is doing. They pass germs around like crazy on those dense living ships with all their open food bars.

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