It’s time for a traditional upshot post again; we’ve all had a crazy year with all that pandemic bustle. And as the year nears its end I realise one gets imminently used even to crazy.
When it comes to my blog I haven’t been particularly active, so here is my year’s roundup.
COVID-19 (20, 21, …)
I need to begin with a sad recent event: on December 15th my older brother Serge Kann passed away. It happened exactly a year after my dad died, and from the same cause: due to post-COVID complications.
Just like with my dad, it also happened out of the blue. Now we all need to get used to the thought he isn’t around anymore. I still can’t even wrap my head around the fact my father is gone: I remember him as clearly as if I saw him yesterday. And I feel so sorry for my brother’s wife and daughter.
What’s interesting is that me and my family here also contracted COVID around the same time, our kid got it from her schoolmates. She’s had zero symptoms herself so we wouldn’t even know she was infected if it wasn’t for a PCR test turned out positive.
My wife and I are fully vaxxed with Pfizer, and we’ve only had mild fever for a couple of days, and that’s it.
Working from home
Even a pandemic can have a bright side. I for one am quite happy to have worked the entire year from home. It feels so relaxed to be able to get up late, come down for a coffee, boot up the PC in no haste. I got much more spare time (which was immediately consumed by other useful stuff) and saved a small fortune on train tickets.
Even our five-year-old daughter is now used to video calls with her teachers, although she didn’t stay home that much.
Last April the world’s fastest URL shortener once.to entered public beta, and went fully live in July. We’ve developed a zillion features, including those not present elsewhere, such as the Rule editor and the URL Explorer.
That said, we have even more features planned for the future!
This year began with street snowboarding for the lack of any other opportunity to snowboard.
As I write this post, we’re finishing it also snowboarding — this time for real, in the Austrian Sölden, a place I’ve visited more than once.
It’s worth a separate post describing how we made it here. As of the 15th of December Austria has tightened its coronavirus rules by introducing a mandatory 10-day self-isolation period for those coming from the Netherlands. As soon as we’d got the news we hastily packed and left at once, two days ahead of schedule. And we pulled it off!
This time we took our daughter with us. As it happens, a five-year-old can be taught skiing in a matter of days and with no knowledge of German. She’s already able to descend red slopes using the “pizza skiing.”
The biggest contrast with the pre-COVID era is the uncertainty about your next holiday destination. Since I’m a freelancer, we used to travel to various places in Europe (and further) five or six times a year.
But as of March 2020 it became as good as pointless to plan holidays in advance as any country could change its COVID regulations at any moment. Just like the Austrian government did this Christmas, letting down a huge number of Dutch wintersporters.
Yet, we managed to escape our “house arrest” three times.
We visited Dubai (UAE) in April-May. We’ll remember it for its scorching heat, the Persian Gulf, city-sized shopping malls and the total absence of alcohol. That is, we could buy it in a restaurant, but the price of € 10 for a glass of beer didn’t seem reasonable.
There was also a lot of unusual or unintelligible things, like the outside eating and drinking ban.
There was a traditional Russian family visit in July.
What caught my eye that time was the total defiance of coronavirus measures in the Russian public. Wearing facemasks was a pure formality and no social distancing was happening even in places where it was possible, let alone in public transport.
Let me remind you, Russia’s vaccination rate at that time was around 14%; and it’s definitely a good idea to mistrust the official, free healthcare. (Just FYI, when we were in Dubai, facemasks were worn absolutely by everyone and everywhere, even outside and in the night, and despite the heat).
To be honest, it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a holiday. My meeting the family was the only positive experience.
Last October we quite spontaneously decided to go to the Canary Islands. We’d better like to go to Tenerife, which we haven’t seen yet, but the tickets were too pricey so we ended up on Gran Canaria.
I’ve been there back in 2012, and it’s pretty much the same today, save for mandatory facemasks: the friendly locals, the food, and the affordable prices.
Back then I failed to reach its highest peak, Pico de Las Nieves, due to the International Rally Challenge standing in my way every time I tried. So I managed to fix that now!
It occurred to me there’s a reason the Canary Islands are such a popular place to retire among EU citizens. Perhaps I’d also like to get old at this place for its eternal summer, the Atlantic and all-you-can-eat restaurants. Is there anything else to wish?
Jokes aside, I’m grateful to the Dutch government for its sensible approach to fighting COVID. The Netherlands has never gone into a full lockdown that would require everyone to stay indoors — in contrast with, say, Spain or France. Wearing facemasks outside was never compulsory either.
Indoor sport was banned several times over the past year, therefore I resorted to running outside three times a week as an alternative. In 2021 I’ve beaten my own record by having run 1233 km. Because I tried really hard to stick to my running schedule even when away from home, it sometimes resulted in pretty exotic running routes, like from Bilzen to Visé in Belgium (that’s exactly my favourite distance of 20 km).
My wife would usually accompany me on inline skates and lately we started to take our daughter with us, on a bike. They’d normally break off and go back home after 5-10 km, but a couple of times she’s been able to finish the whole 20 km route. Which is not bad for a five-year-old in my opinion.
At the moment I miss aikido a lot, hopefully the current ban for indoor sport will be lifted soon.
Toyota Prius PHV
Last but not least, in August I upgraded my biggest gadget Toyota Prius PHV 2014 to the newest model (2020).
Firstly, it’s a beauty.
And secondly, I’m a devoted Prius fan. It’s my fourth Prius and I loved all of them. They are extremely robust, also this last one can drive up to 60 km fully electric, which is quite handy considering today’s fuel prices and the overall EV trend.
Happy New Year
That’s about it. I wish all the readers of my blog a happy, an optimistic, a healthy, and a lucky 2022! We’ll make it through! ■