A Few Covid Notes

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As the Omicron variant crosses the world, here’s some resources that have helped me. Note I am not an expert, these are things I dug up listening to far more experienced people. Please double-check me of course and provide feedback, I hope these can be a starting point.

Vaccinate and Boost

Well, that’s a given. Vaccinate. Boost. Check with your doctor. I figure I don’t have to say it, but I said it.


Oooh, I have opinions on this – and reviews!

Livinguard Masks – I discovered these via Andy Slavitt. They’re good masks designed for reuse for a few months, and I and my GF have been using them for a long time. I recommend the safety mask.

If you use “regular” masks I recommend mask braces – to help hold them tighter. Read this article from Popular Mechanics, which tells you how to make your own as well. I’m going to give Fix The Mask a shot for others, because I’m trying . . .

Elastomeric Masks

I decided to try Elastomeric Masks, masks with an elastic fit and changeable filters as some medical people I follow mentioned them. I’ve been hearing good things, though they need cleaning and filter changes depending on use. As I also live in an area with forest fires, I figure having a system of swappable filters is useful.

Just remember you want the right filters.

I’ve tried the GVS SPR644 Elipse with P100 filters and like it. This is a serious filter that makes you look like Darth Vader joined Daft Punk. It’s got a nice seal and is breathable, though you can feel the difference from regular masks. A warning is that it is plastic, so you can break it – I snapped a strap hook, but to the company’s credit, I was able to fix it with krazy glue and it works fine.

I recently heard of Castle Grade masks, and they sound promising. You have to change filters more often, but also you don’t have the giant GVS mask. Again, you might not have the same concerns I have.

Ventilation and Filtration

First, if you have people over or have concerns about your home do research on ventilation. As I had to have people come to do work, I read up on flushing air, etc. for my particular place. The problem is that weather, placement, type of central air/heat, windows, etc. affect the best way to flush the air – so you want to read up. For instance in my place a mix of windows, powerful fans, mild weather, and a bit of central air let us cycle out the air.

I’ve been reading up on Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, simple air purifiers you can even rig up at home. out of fans and MERV 13 filters. Wired had a great article on them. If you are concerned about air purification, its a good read.

I Hope This Helps

So there’s some resources I found. Hope it helps.

Steven Savage

Actually, Let’s Write About The Pandemic

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’ve been dreading that we’ll see an onslaught of “Pandemic tales” in the realm of books. Fictions with familiar plagues, quick books offering useless advice, and so on. I’m obviously and worried we’d see too many people jumping on the plague train.

I’d now like to take that back.

First, I want to take that back in that my assumptions were very negative. There are doubtlessly many people who will write about the Pandemic for good reasons. I focused too much on the negative reasons people might write on it, which was out of line.

My second reason is that I’ve come to realize that we need to look at the Pandemic in fiction, advice books, and memoirs. We need this so we can process the experience.

The Pandemic is overwhelming. Even those of us thinking we’re handling it are not functioning at 100%. Even after the Pandemic, we’ll need to understand our experience and that of others. The written word is a way to do that.

Fiction lets us understand experiences from a safe distance and even a different perspective.

Nonfiction lets us analyze and evaluate data and analysis.

Memoirs let us step into the place of another and see their experience.

Each written work is a gateway into another way to see what we went through.

Writing is a way for us to handle, understand, and share what we’ve gone through. Sure there will be bad work, exploitative work, and so on – but isn’t that happening anyway? I shouldn’t judge the Pandemic by the standards of what goes on anyway.

However, there’s a second reason I realized we should be fine with “Pandemic writing.” Some of us who write may need to write it. We want to get out our feelings, or our inspirations, or record our experiences. We as writers may need to write these books that will come.

Our muse is going to drive us to write these books, so why not? Hell, I’m even considering one at this point (from my unique approach, of course).

So, I take back anything I said about “oh, gods, not an onslaught of Pandemic books.” Writing is how we deal with, learn, understand, and experience things. The Pandemic is appropriate material.

(Besides, we can criticize lousy or opportunistic work no matter how it came to be.)

Steven Savage

How Much Time Did You Lose In The Pandemic?

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As my regular readers are aware, I’ve speculated on how the Pandemic has slowed down my projects and my life.  That got me asking something – is there a way to calculate how much time is lost due to the pandemic?  Of course I had to try.  

Let’s go through my thought processes – it might help you as well.

So first, I decided to calculate time lost in hours.  Because I’m that over-organized and like fine detail.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The calculations below already account for how different needs interfere with each other. In other words, this is real loss due to stress/time/etc. not just available time shifting around.

First, I went to my projects.  I track my projects pretty closely, and I found I’ve functioned at 80-90% efficiency for about a year.  A few quick calculations and I found that my overall projects – from writing to home improvement – got delayed or took extra time.  That was about 5 hours a week, to my surprise – disconnected from everything else.

Secondly, I went to regular chores such as shopping and so on.  No longer could I or my GF randomly run to the store.  We also had to preplan a lot of work, engage in other safety procedures, and so on.  This one was shocking as we found this added another two hours of time a week.

(Sometimes online shopping takes longer as you just can’t grab stuff you realize you need or do it on the way home from work).

Finally, seeing now and then I notice we’d just crash more than usual.  That was intermittent, but usually turned out to be about four hours a week.

Note this also didn’t worry about saving time due to not commuting.  That was not as big as I thought – only about three hours a week.  Car pooling saved me more time than realized because I could just sit and work on stuff.

So all together I realized I’m losing eight hours a week in the pandemic from stress, from things taking longer, from not being able to double-up on chores.  In one year I’ll have lost over 400 hours – this is due to things taking longer, extra unexpected tasks, stress, and schedule changes.

It really does feel like I  need a two month vacation.

So anyway there’s an invite to you – how much time have you lost?

Steven Savage