It is impossible to know how windy a day it is if we remain within the apartment complex. The gaps between buildings create wind tunnels that intensify any wind there is. When we exit the gate and walk across the street the wind dies down, the sun appears, and the walk becomes quite pleasant. The wind does one thing very well, it clears the air. The air quality index drops and when the wind disappears the index slowly rises over the next several days.
Walking has become our most frequent form of exercise. Normally, at home, walking requires little thought. Sometimes a root has pushed up a section of sidewalk in an older neighborhood and becomes a trip hazard, but in most places the concrete sidewalks can be assumed to be smooth and predictable. The common materials for walkways here are stone and pavers, with pavers the most dominant material. When installed the pavers provide a predictable surface. However, after time the pavers move up and down with some cracking or crumbling and disappearing.
It isn’t just the paving that can be uneven. At home we assume that the risers on a set of stairs will be even. Here, it is very important to keep your eyes open. For example, two standard height risers are not enough to complete the rise to get in the front entrance of an apartment. The solution is not to recalculate and adjust the height of all the risers. Instead, the final step is the height of whatever rise remains. Watch your step is a very real warning here.
These things may be unpredictable, but a little attention prevents falls. If you do fall, it is easy to see what caused the fall. Our major frustration is not like that. We’ve been trying to maintain a connection with home by watching Warriors’ games. We had planned on watching them in the evening as a nice wind down activity. The frustration really began when my wife could get to the game on her machine and I couldn’t connect on mine. I couldn’t figure out what the difference might be that would cause this. Once the game began, we’d see the spinning bars indicating buffering in the stream every few minutes or even seconds. One evening we were quite determined, and it took us twice as long as usual to watch one quarter of basketball. We finally gave up at the end of the first half and decided to watch the rest of the game the following morning.
It was driving me crazy not being able to figure out what in our computers was causing this poor streaming behavior. One of our neighbors finally explained that all the media coming into the apartments is all coming through the Internet. There is no cable or satellite here. This means that everyone who comes home in the evening and turns on their television is using up limited bandwidth within the apartment building. Once we knew it wasn’t something we were doing wrong we determined to watch the games early in the morning. This works much better, but occasionally we still lose the stream. It is totally unpredictable and very frustrating. However, now that we know it is something out of our control the frustration is less.
The virus continues to be a concern to the people here and many fewer people are out and about. The new thing is a bullhorn playing a repeating prerecorded message at each end of the path we normally walk in the park. A partial translation of the message indicates it is a repetition of all the general warnings provided everywhere: wear your mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands. We are doing our best to do all of these.
My balance is not good. We are walking home from our walk in the park and have entered the apartment complex. Gusts of wind create a chill and occasionally push me off balance. When we get inside the buildings the intensity of the wind increases. One gust catches me by surprise and almost knocks me over.