2020 Alek's Annual Email: Covid, Covid, Covid ... that pretty much summarizes 2020!

Yep - it's time for yet another annual "Alek's Ramblings" email - some pictures/videos at the bottom and misc. links for even more.

Clearly 2020 will go down as the year of Covid. This has been devastating for humankind - both medically and the immense societal impacts. My heart goes out to those affected, not just the deaths/medical issues, but also the young people who should be having "fun" and the older generation that feels locked up in isolation. We are fortunate that (so far - fingers crossed) nobody close has been medically impacted ... and are coping as well as can be expected ... with our main "entertainment" being a bazillion walks around the neighborhood! ;-)

Needless to say, Wendy's company Natural Habitat Adventures has gotten clobbered – it’s difficult to run super-cool wildlife trips to the far corners of the world ... when you can't travel there ... although LOL my penguin pictures were used by the WashPost and the WSJ here and here. But the company (and Wendy) are hanging in there. Hopefully the "light at the end of the tunnel" (due to Covid vaccinations) will continue to brighten and they’ll be able to run trips again. FYI FWIW that Wendy is seeing a LOT of pent-up demand ... people want to travel.

I wrote in 2019 about our oldest son Dirk going to work at McKinsey Consulting and racking up a lot of Butt-In-Seat airline miles. But instead of flying out every week, he's working virtually for them ... from our house (we are charge him rent!) ... so much for being Empty Nesters! ;-)

Our youngest son Kyle is a Sophomore at the nearby University of Colorado-Boulder in Aerospace Engineering. As with all college students, it’s been a challenge with remote learning plus it's really a downer when it comes to the College experience. He’s done a nice job with his apartment and has become quite the chef.

Speaking of working virtually, my volunteering to help people with taxes at the local library got stopped in March. It looks like we’ll try to help people remotely in 2021 which is going to be difficult for us and I’m sure frustrating for the people we are trying to help – an example of the myriad fallouts from Covid.

So being housebound resulted in a lot of Watching Grass Grow - website still going strong since 2005! ;-)

We did have one delightful trip to Cabo San Jose the week before Thanksgiving with our good friends Dave & Donna. It was sooooo refreshing to get away and be on (mostly empty) beaches as we enjoyed sipping Margarita’s while watching waves roll in. Wendy, being the wildlife guru, setup a "Swim with the Whale Sharks" excursion which was really cool. And the last morning I suggested getting up early to see the gorgeous sunrise ... and we even saw a couple of dozen baby turtles hatch and make a run for the ocean!

Wendy and I did a challenging anniversary hike up Colorado 13’er South Arapahoe Peak in the Fall. We were the only people at the summit ... because the last hour+ was in a snowstorm with moderately strong winds - Wendy was a real trooper and we got rewarded with some nice views on top. Another "real" in-person activity is Escape Rooms - a great family activity if you are into puzzles - the boys are really smart about it.

Wendy’s Book Club Holiday Party is always a fun annual event, but this year it was a virtual Murder Mystery ... which worked well given the Zoom format … but it sure is a lot nicer seeing people in person rather than as "postage stamps" on a computer screen. Plus I didn't get to make Election Cocktails as I did in 2016 - "The Donald" and "Chillary Hillary" ;-)

We are fortunate not to have any major health issues. Colorado has done a great job making Covid testing very easy/quick, but none of us have tested positive in the PCR tests. When you give blood, they test for Covid antibodies – both Wendy and I were negative for that – darn! I did have YAG surgery to clear up some PCO in my eyeballs. This is a very routine procedure that is quite common after Cataract Surgery which I had 9 years ago - people still Email me with questions about the writeup of my experience.

Finally, I’ll close on a very sad note. I wrote in 2019 about how my youngest brother Myke was diagnosed with Cancer - specifically Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. I wrote at the time that "Rhabdo" is a bad, bad, bad cancer ... and despite Myke's (and his wife Li-Ming's) best efforts;     he passed away in early March/2020 ... :-( :-( :-(

So needless to say, some pretty crappy things happened in 2020 - here's hoping 2021 is better for all! ;-)

Sunset at Cabo San Jose (click image for bigger) - a LOT better in real life than virtual! ;-)

2020 a0

Snorkling with Whale Sharks - that's me in the wetsuit shortie

2020 a2

Chilling on a "private" beach afterwards

2020 a1

2020 e1

It was a great time to visit as it wasn't crowded

2020 e2

Wendy liked her Margarita's! ;-)

2020 e3

Sunrise at Cabo San Jose ... plus bonus of just hatched Baby Turtles making a "run" for the Ocean

A more "typical" day in 2020 - setting up Zoom ... with super valuable Toilet Paper! ;-)

2020 a3

Wendy's Book Club does a virtual Murder Mystery - click image to see big and Whodunit! ;-)

2020 a4

Who would have thought that in 2020 we'd be checking our temperatures all the time ... :-(

2020 a6

Even the Denver Airport "Mustang" got a face mask

2020 a5

There was still some occasional normalcy as our neighhorhood July 4th Parade went on

2020 a7 2020 a8

I offered to be the "no-contact" collection car for our Food Drive

2020 b0

2020 a9

Since it was just family for Thanksgiving, we replaced the traditional Turkey with Sushi!

2020 b1

2020 b2

TMI that two Burger King Whoppers taste AWESOME ... after you have had your ... colonoscopy! ;-)

2020 b3

The BIG Stay-At-Home Project was replacing the Monster Juniper Bush

2020 b4

2020 b6

2020 b7

Time-lapse footage of taking out SOME of the Juniper Bush

Here's what that gnarly Juniper looked like from the back ... this was after a LOT of hacking

2020 b8

Dirk, me, and Kyle after getting the BIG root-ball out

2020 b9

Kyle (who was the big help) and me in a classic pose

2020 c2

2020 c1

Juniper removed and replaced with flowers ... and 8,000 pounds of rock I wheelbarrowed up!

2020 c3

Four month later - Wendy is real happy with how it turned out

2020 c4

Watch the flowers sprout in this time-lapse video from WGG ... plus the annual cycle of the Sun

Things you do for "excitement" during Covid - opening a "sprung" Polycarbonate carpet mat! ;-)

Bliss with the neighborhood family that adopted her - such a great match

2020 c6

My brother Myke shredding the power - now doing it in heaven

2020 e6

Index of Annual Emails