14 days quarantine and counting

When I posted last month the condition wasn’t so serious. Nobody thought it is going to reach where we are at today. We are now under quarantine because COVID-19 (or the Coronavirus) has become pandemic.

Lives have changed drastically. Globally. The statistics of those infected are getting scarier everyday. Some have recovered but it is very minimal number compared to the still growing infections. When this ends, nobody knows.

At the very least impact, Marcus has skipped the malls for weeks now. For someone in a wheelchair and already stuck at home not being able to step outside at least once a week is big deal.

His recovery from his cough that started last week of February was slow. Each day my wife and I prayed it won’t come to a point when we need to have him checked at the hospital for fear that he and us would be exposed to anyone who might have COVID-29. He was still coughing after two weeks but gradually lessened on the third. Thankfully, he is now well. In fact, last night I had him get back to doing hand pedals for his home therapy.

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There are other changes in my routine too. Beating the clock, our company was kind enough to allow some of us to work from home for business continuity. I’m now sharing workstation (I brought my own PC from work) with wifey who has been home-based while doing freelance jobs for the longest time.

Facebook nowadays is also appreciated more. It has been the source of news and updates, good or bad, on the ongoing battle with the unseen enemy. With me getting more time to kill at home, I have become more active in trying to become relevant and connected. I haven’t done TikTok but so far a number are buying my wit. I should start giving top fan badges soon. I wish.

Like today a picture I uploaded on Facebook made our day. Wifey prepared a hearty lunch and she said it is pork katsudon so I took a picture of it and posted it on Let’s Eat Pare, a foodie group I’m a member of. “Katsudon daw sabi ni misis. Pumayag ako kaysa mapalayas ako sa bahay (Wife said it is Katsudon. I had to agree than getting kicked out of the house),” my post says. It really wouldn’t have mattered as I’d eat anything she cooks anyway though there are some I won’t and she knows it. For one, sauteed sardines with sotanghon. No thanks, I’d rather eat salt.

The post was meant to be a joke. I was so starved and so ready to dig in that I didn’t even take time to find a good angle. I just pointed and shoot but as of this writing it has breached 1K reacts with some commenting and even tagging people whom I assume are females or wives. Since I joined this group in 2016, this is the first my post surpassed 20 reacts. I’m now VIP, could now cut lines and get COVID-19 test kits. Oopps, another story.

Wifey’s home-cooked getting 1K reacts.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Playing Worms WMD next with Marcus.)

Donate Your Globe Points To Fight COVID-19

Confirm page.

We need to do our share in this fight against COVID-19 and you don’t need to be a frontliner to do it. Many of us are Globe prepaid users yet most of us don’t even know that rewards points exist and these could expire any time soon.

Don’t let your points expire, make each of it count. My wife made me aware of this donation drive and true indeed I got enough to contribute. In a matter of minutes I was able to download the app, register, and donate all my points. You can do it too and you can do it now. #COVID19

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Mood: 6/10 Honks! (First week of community quarantine.)

Raising Awareness that DMD exists

Image grabbed from Muscle Dystrophy Australia

Last night one of things I made sure I discuss during our meeting was to set expectations why I would wear masks whenever I sense someone is sick in the room. It seems like a trivial concern to most but not for families with kids who could easily start to get sick, or even worse (God forbid), just because of a mere common cold.

Our son Marcus is among these kids. Since we learned he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) we have been more careful. I myself turned germophobic (I can see my sister clapping, proud) just for this reason. Our house is never without alcohol, disinfectant spray, wet wipes, and surgical masks–there was sort of panic when Taal erupted and the supplies of masks ran out for days.

People see me and my wife strong but every now and then we would talk silently, not wanting Marcus to hear, about our fears sentiments, and frustrations. Having someone with a rare and progressive disease is a challenge physically and mentally but it is a good thing to see that the awareness is spreading–thanks to support groups and social media.

While we wish the cure for DMD becomes available soon, the reality is it won’t happen in our lifetime. Right now we just have to face this head on and pray that as the condition worsens we get stronger and more prepared. Keep us families with members who have rare diseases in your prayers and we’d be better.

Okay, enough of the drama, Marcus wants to play Call of Duty.

Marcus caught cold this week and still recovering. Here we are inside his room pausing from our Netflix’s Formula 1 viewing

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Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Hope Marcus gets well soon.)

Halo Cold Room!

Two weeks ago I had interview at home but I felt the odds were against me. Besides the nerves getting in the way, there’s also quality of my Skype making things worse.

I was expecting a video call but thankfully it didn’t happen so mid-call I unbuttoned my long-sleeve polo shirt, ditched the crappy in-ear headphones and swapped it with an Xbox headset that made me hear the interview questions better albeit too late. It felt like I was in one of Marcus’ online games and my chances of winning were already slim.

I know both attendees who were in that Skype meeting but I didn’t see myself being contacted by them–my previous bosses–any further. I also had a hint who the other applicant was and he’s got potentials so I didn’t set my hopes that high.

But all is not lost–I heard from them again. I got picked, I’m in.

Early part of last year was also when I got accepted for a supervisory position coming from my role as an individual contributor. What’s interesting is, I realized, my personal folder shows I saved my resume for team leader trainee application exactly the same date when I’d write my application for QA supervisor–both happened on January 15. I’m becoming a fan of coincidences more.

My current team is still clueless but they will soon learn about me leaving them. Whatever their feelings are about this change–I’m sure there will be happy-that-he-left-us sentiments–I will miss them as I am starting to see these agents become more confident and performing almost on par with the big boys. Good luck to you guys, see you around. And for me, it’s back to the comfy cold room.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Inspiration to step up all started in Work At A Pizza Place game of Marcus.)

Back on track

Ashfall and the threat of novel coronavirus stopped me from running since I arrived from my one week trip to Kansas. I was also sick when I landed back–FYI, with a common cold–and it took time for me to recover as my nasal cavity was bleeding for another week more when I returned to work. Blame the cold weather of Overland Park.

First time to use this Road ID I purchased in US on November 2019. It has my contacts’ info so I no longer need to take my ID with me when I run.

It’s been relatively cold as well here in the Philippines so bed has been more attractive than the road. But today, I braved all. I finally stepped out of the house and ran. It was chilly and I was slow. While I really didn’t gain weight, contrary to my fear over the amount of Kansas barbecue and American meal servings I had during the boot camp, I paced myself slower so I don’t injure myself.

Did several runs at the slope.

I also picked running on elevated ground, doubled back several times to increase distance, instead of my usual path to avoid the morning crowd. You see this corona virus seems to continue to spread and in fact, I learned that a couple of running events have been cancelled because of health concerns.

There are now some news about people getting treated from corona virus infection. I can’t wait to see the day when all this will just end up like a bad dream. For now I’m just happy to get back on track, healthy and running.

Always happy to see me back.

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Mood: 5/10 Honks! (We have only few masks at home, need to find new stock soon.)

Alexa, Skip 2020

We were up 30,000 mid-flight homeward bound when I realized there’s free onboard WiFi. I was still groggy after minutes from waking up. I was hungry, wishing I’d get another serving of PAL’s tasty beef stroganoff. But I was more eager to check what’s online. It’s been hours since I lost connection after entering the departure area back in LAX.

I wasn’t expecting much when I opened my Facebook and Messenger. To be honest, I was actually checking if more people liked my stunts at Tom Bradley Airport and indeed, notification showed there were more who were amused. I’m building a fan base. Indulge me.

Entertaining myself during the 11-hour layover at LAX.

“Bad news”, however, followed by “Taal erupted” greeted me when I checked on my wife. I thought at first it was a bad joke. There was never any hint in the past days that this could happen but my Facebook timeline soon revealed that this small volcano in the scenic Tagaytay just unleashed its pent up fury. The pictures were scary, horrifying, like right out of a disaster movie. It made me feel helpless. I was stuck on a 777, long way from home. I was thinking about Marcus.

Photo taken by wifey from our backyard showing a large plume of ash and smoke from Taal which is several kilometers away.

Our flight, consequently, was diverted. A friend said news back in the Philippines say we’ll be landing in Clark, Pampanga but an hour later the flight map on my seat TV displayed our destination is no longer Manila–we were heading Cebu.

Diverted to Cebu.

I can’t recall ever feeling so uncertain, so confused. When we landed in Mactan I was calm, I followed orders but can’t wait to get over it and just be home. It was my first time in Cebu but it would’ve been a pleasant experience if it was planned and obviously this one isn’t. That time I didn’t even have any idea how long we’d be at the airport.

Perspective from my own sleeping space on the floor.
Getting my ref magnet to show I was in Cebu.

Two free Jollibee chicken meals later and an hour or so later sleeping on the floor with other stranded passengers, we got the final good news. Manila has cleared its airport for inbound flights. We will be home.

It’s interesting how this decade started. A trip to Kansas was a nice way to welcome the year but I didn’t see this Taal factor coming. Nobody did. Alexa, skip 2020!

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Never imagined we’d be talking to a speaker.

I got a lovely Christmas present in the form of an Amazon Echo 2nd Generation but we had difficulty making it work since December. We soon learned that this is a known issue if activated outside US. I was so desperate and almost accepted we have an expensive paper weight.

I watched several YouTube videos on how to hack it but none of those fixed the issue. I even thought of bringing the one-kilo plus speaker to Kansas to see if I can set it up there but better judgment stopped me. I always prefer travelling light.

When I returned home from the client’s boot camp, despite fear that anytime we’d vacate our house if Taal worsens, we tried our luck once more to communicate with Alexa. Luckily, my Facebook cry for help resulted to useful replies. One said she also has an Echo and that she was able to make it function. I was encouraged so I searched online once more and one site did the trick. Few minutes after I clicked the first hyperlink on Techie Gadgets’ article, we already started interacting with Alexa. So again, “Alexa, skip 2020?”

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Day 3 since Taal has been lowered to level 3 alert.)

People Who Choose to Serve in the Midst of Calamity

Last night I realized I was running low on gas so I stopped at a Caltex station few kilometers from home. The attendants were standing outside happily waving and directing me to a pump. When I rolled down my window I noticed that these guys are wearing masks, their uniforms obviously dusty, and the gas pumps covered with ash but still everything seemed routine, they never hesitated to serve. No complaints whatsoever. The crew who filled my tank even asked how I was doing.

This is customer service. This is business continuity. These guys could’ve just decided not to report to work anymore due to obvious reasons–there is ashfall all over and they’d be standing outside their entire shift. Yes, outside, exposed. Yet they reported and continued to work.

Hope this story would put an end to unfair biases I read recently. We should not imply that because other companies continue to remain operating despite the circumstances the bosses are heartless. That because another business allowed their staff not to work, they are already the best employers. That is just not how it works. So please, spare me the drama.

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(Original FB post)

Didn’t expect that the original post (my personal Facebook page) will pick up and get shared. As of this writing it has reached 60 plus shares and 160 plus reactions. This beats my dance video. Hahaha.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks!!! (Almost 20 hours after I got home from an eventful return trip.)