Sunday, December 20, 2020

Notary No More

 A few years ago I set myself up as a mobile notary public. Not much money to say the least but it got me out of the house and I met some interesting people - a few of them famous. I've still got about 18 months on my commission but I'm calling it quits now because of SARS-CoV-2 aka Covid-19 and the fact that too damn many people who want my services don't take it seriously. 

I live in Palo Alto where more than 40 percent of the residents hold graduate degrees of one kind or another. In some age brackets that figure approaches 65 percent. Similar numbers are found in the surrounding communities. I understand educational attainment doesn't necessarily equate with such personal factors as common sense but I thought it at least indicated an ability to absorb and rationally analyze information. It seems I was wrong. 

Even in multi-degreed Palo Alto it was common for people to greet me at their front door sans mask and don one only after we sat down next to  each other at a table. Upon my arrival at the home of a retired Stanford professor, he noted my mask and asked if I had any risk factors. "I'm old," I replied. "Not good enough," he said. "I'm asthmatic." "Good enough," he responded pulling a mask from his pocket. 

Then there was the small venture capital firm staffed by young hotshots. I arrived one day to find six of them in the open-plan office, none wearing a mask. As they were about 30 feet away and I had mine on, I let it pass. Unfortunately, the person signing the documents didn't put one on when he walked into the small office I was using.  And so on. 

I suppose I could have resolved to simply walk away from such situations but the benefits of the notary work didn't outweigh the potential negativity of repeatedly telling people to fuck off. 

Bill being Bill it was also guaranteed that at some point I would have blown up over the fact that these supposedly educated people were not only acting stupidly but putting my health and possibly my life at risk. I came close one day when I asked the two people at the table if they ever wore masks at work. "No," said the boss. "It's just the two of us in the office and we've both tested negative."

A few extra dollars was nice and it was even nicer to feel useful. But I don't need the money and the ego strokes don't justify dealing with people who act stupidly and treat me with disdain.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Five Things We Need To Cope With Covid-19

The Covid vaccines are here but it will be months before jabs are widely enough available to seriously affect the pandemic's spread. There remains plenty of time for innovators to step up and help us cope with its impact on our daily lives. Here are five needed now:

Compressed masks. You find a parking spot in the last row at the grocery store. Two-thirds of the way to the front door (of course it's raining) you realize you forgot to mask up. Rather the make the soggy slog back to your vehicle, you pop open a small capsule hanging by a chain from a zipper pull and out flies a rapidly decompressing single-use mask. 

Instant testing for consumers. Peel the adhesive QR code from its backing, place it on the inside of your forearm, wait five minutes and scan with the reader on your phone. Password-protected results are immediately available as is a rolling two-week database of past results. 

Takeaway food containers that actually keep their contents hot, or at least acceptably warm, for a specific amount of time. Any time requested beyond a minimum guaranteed by the restaurant costs on a sliding fee basis. 

Sound blocking for Zoom. Open this app while in a Zoom meeting and the only sound the others hear from your end will be your voice. 

No mask shaming app. This app connects the camera on your phone to a computer running a facial recognition program. When you snap a shot of some idiot without a mask it identifies the guilty party, and posts the photo to electronic billboards sited on major thoroughfares throughout the miscreant's home Zip Code. The photo stays visible for 10 seconds at a time and remains in rotation for 24 hours -- longer for repeat offenders.