The Aren’t-We-Glad-2020-Is-Over Edition
Welcome to the 2021 edition of Conley Chronicles. the (occasionally) annual newsletter for friends and colleagues of Michael Conley. New readers will be charmed by its delightful wit and intelligent discourse. Past readers will be franticly searching through canceled checks to figure out how their subscription could possibly have been extended. Since there hasn’t been an issue for a while, this year's issue includes a special added feature: Gallaudet 2019. Welcome one and all!
From the Desk of the Editor...
The Year In Review
It is impossible to talk about 2020 without the pandemic being not only the lead story, but pretty much the only story. Everything that happened this year – politics, our jobs, relationships, even what we do in our spare time – has been affected by Covid-19. The amateur historian in me is fascinated by how we are adapting and how our lives are going to be different. But first, the reality.
One year ago, I was sick at home for the week between Christmas 2019 and New Year’s 2020. I began reading online about this new virus in China just as it was begin-ning. I went to Chicago in mid-January, vaguely wondering if I should be concerned about getting on a plane. By February, we were joking at work about washing your hands and not touching our eyes.
But by March, it was clear this wasn’t going away. The Fleet Science Center where I work shut down and I started working from home. Fortunately, I had just moved into a larger apartment: two bedrooms (one which became an office), more living space and two bathrooms. (I live alone. How many bathrooms can one person use at a time?)
At first, I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough for me to do from home. Besides, I enjoy interacting with people in person at work. But ironically – as so many of us discovered – I was working more hours than ever from home. With nothing else to do, you find yourself handling emails at 9 o’clock at night, and then you’re back at it the following morning.
I followed CDC guidelines rigorously and dropped distancing with only three friends. I discovered the joys of Zoom and even became a (very) minor media star (see the column at right). The pandemic surely couldn’t last more than a couple of months and it seemed that life would go on until we returned to work.
Sometimes Retirement Comes
Sooner Than We Expect 🙄
After 30 years at the Fleet, my job was eliminated in July. The organization had a budget gap to bridge, and I wasn't the only person let go. They treated me very fairly, and that made it easier for me to come to terms with it and move on. But it has been a huge change.
I had always wondered what retirement would be like. What would I do with all the extra time? Since I enjoy interacting with people, I envisioned finding a volunteer position that would get me out of the house a few mornings a week. But that wouldn’t be possible now.
During the first month as a retiree, there was plenty to do: getting the InnoCaption phone app so I could take telephone calls. (More at right: “Being Deaf in Times of Covid.”) Filing for unemployment. Filing for Medicare. Pretty soon I’m going to tackle Social Security. These are the things everyone has to deal with, but they are more stressful for me.
Zoom has become my new best friend. I’ve used it to continue my involvement with my playwrights group and with my hearing loss group, and reconnected with two men’s discussion groups. I’ve had doctor’s appointments and for a while was participating in ALS (American Sign Language) discussion groups.
Fortunately, libraries are doing "holds." DVDs are available from the library, and I have gone through five seasons of “Poldark,” two seasons of “The Crown,” and several different versions of “War and Peace,” “Great Expectations” and “Bleak House.” Plus writing projects (column at the right).
Most people have someone to commiserate with and complain to every day. But since I live alone, but I can only complain to myself (which for some reasons is less rewarding).
However, throughout it all, I’ve been exceptionally lucky. No one I know has been sick (or god forbid even been in the hospital). I’m able to pay my bills. And I get out for a walk every day. Long-time readers of Conley Chronicles will disoriented by this new, upbeat, glass-is-half-full, cheerful side of Michael Conley.
To that, I say three words, “Trump Is Gone.” (Plus, “Thank you, Dr. Fauci.")
(Vol. 27 No. 1)
Michael Conley, Publisher
M. Patrick Conley, Managing Editor
M.P. Conley, Graphic Design
Michael P. Conley, Reader’s Ombudsman
Mike ‘Go-Get-‘em’ Conley,
Michael St. Conley, Religion Editor
All rights reserved, including the
right to market Conley’s likeness
for profit or ridicule.
© 2021 by SCP
[aka: Stage Conley’s Plays)
A Not - For - Profit
(boy, is it ever…)
Chapter 11 Corporation
In This Issue…
The Year in Review
Sometimes Retirement Comes Sooner Than We Expect
The Column At Right, featuring...
Media Stardom Made Easy
Being Deaf In Times Of Covid
Gallaudet University 2019
Plus: Crossword, Sports, Weather, Etiquette for Straight People, Politics and mote!
The Column At Right
Media Stardom Made Easy
When people started wearing masks, I knew I was in big trouble. As a Deaf person, I can hear sounds, but I can’t discriminate what they are. In order to communicate, I have to read lips. Otherwise, not only can't I understand what people are saying, I can’t even tell if they are speaking to me.
The last few months have been a night-mare. Fortunately, two products came along that have been a big help:
InnoCaption: since I can’t read lips over the phone, simple things that most of you take for granted – calling the pharmacy or a credit card company, or even your family – are very difficult for me. InnoCaption converts cell phone conversations into text. The company was looking for a intelligent, good-looking guy to be their poster child. But they chose me anyway. That lead to interviews, including one on ABC News.
Window Masks: The Costume Department at the San Diego Opera designed masks with a window. Before I knew it, I was on the local news station, in a San Diego newspaper article – and then the big time: Associated Press took the story across the country and even to Europe and Taiwan.
My last play, Speed Dating, was presented in 2018. But I’ve written a few new short ones, including What's Left On the List, which will be given a reading at my writer’s group in the spring. Plus a short story, a genre I’ve never tackled before.
Being Deaf in Times of Covid
Zoom is not as good as “being there.” But for deaf people, you can rearrange the layout of the screen to meet your needs. I found the format that shows the person speaking in the largest box on the screen, and I can read lips. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. By year’s end, Zoom had captions which made the program almost better than being in a real meeting.
Gallaudet University 2019
In 2018, I began taking American Sign Language classes again after an eight-year gap. During the summer of 2019, several of us from San Diego headed off to Gallaudet University, in Washington, D.C., for ASL classes: go to Gallaudet University 2019.
The undergraduate History major in me tells me it’s too easy to say that life will never be the same after Covid is over. But the longer this goes on, the more true that becomes. Life may be better in some ways and more challenging in others, and that can be hard. But either way, it will be intriguing.
1. Movies are being released directly to streaming. How does that affect that gasp of “Aha” in theaters when the culprit is revealed?
2. Working from home will be easier in the future. What does that mean for large buildings in big cities with vast floors of unrented space?
3. If I could have looked ahead on March 11, I would have purchased stock in Amazon. Online purchasing has become the current (and perhaps new) normal.
4. Has Zoom (and Facetime and Skype) changed the way we communicate with friends and families forever? Have telephones moved further into visual communication in ways that will eventually make audio-only outdated?