AndyO Blog

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Pandemic Purchases 2020

Looking back at 2020 now, it's clear that it was a year like no other. The COVID-19 lockdown meant that we were stuck  in our houses much more than usual. Here are few products and services that made a difference for me:

New TV: After our 10-year-old Sony Bravia HD TV failed (during the final few shows of Game of Thrones in 2019 no less!), it was time to look for a new TV. As I started my search, my son Cameron told me about the Sony Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) TV. Eventually, I bought the 65-inch version (XBR65A8F) from Amazon. If you're not familiar with 4K OLED TVs, they deliver vibrant colors in a "High Dynamic Range” (HDR) along with "true blacks." The reason for this astonishing contrast is OLED display emits visible light, instead of using a backlight. When you watch a 4K Blu-ray on this TV, it's nearly as good as sitting in a movie theater, in terms of picture quality. 

New Receiver: One thing I didn't know when buying a new Sony 4K TV is my old surround sound receiver couldn't "pass through" 4K images/sound. This meant I had to use the TV speaker. Ordinary, this would be a non-starter -- but the Sony TV I'd bought had an "Acoustic Surface Audio" feature, where sound projects from the entire screen. This worked for a while, but I started missing my surround sound. Once I bought a new 4K receiver, I finally had a home theater in my basement -- which would become more important than ever during the pandemic.   

New Subaru: After our VW started breaking down almost every week, we bought a new Subaru Crosstrek in the fall of 2019. Aside from being the most advanced vehicle my wife and I had ever driven, it ended up being our go-to car after the other Subaru's battery died. At one point during the pandemic, someone actually stole the Crosstrek, but we got it back (short story: I was to blame).

Tushy: After Christmas 2019, I purchased a Tushy, a simple bidet attachment that fits over your toilet. People who owned Tushys talked about them being "life-changing." It wasn't until we were well into the pandemic -- with toilet paper supplies in short supply -- that I understood how helpful the Tushy could be. We never did run out of toilet paper, in part because of Tushy. 

Amazon: Like a lot of people, Amazon deliveries became more important during 2020. My wife still shopped at grocery stores, but the Amazon orders helped fill the gap with items we might purchase at the mall or other stores. Later in the year, we began using Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh for food deliveries.

Pest Control: After struggling with a colony of ants for years (especially during summer months), we hired EcoShield to help us solve the problem. Honestly, I wasn't sure it would work, but after a few monthly services, the ants disappeared. What's more, they've helped with other "pests" like hornet's nests and spiders. (Our cat Sophia has taken care of the rats, even though EcoShield has put out traps for them, too.)

Hair clippers: A few years back, I bought professional Wahl hair clippers -- but never used them. During the pandemic, as my hair grew out, I decided to finally have Brenda use the clippers to buzz all my hair off. (That I don't have a lot of hair to begin with made it an easy decision.) It's not as easy as you'd think, but Brenda has continued to improve with each "visit" to the kitchen "barber chair." My two sons have gone to the hair stylist up the street a few times, since they didn't want to cut off all their hair.

Bose Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones: My family gave me the QuietComfort 35 headphones before a business trip to India years ago. Not only did they accompany me on two trips to Bangalore (24 hours one way!), they became my go-to headphones for calls. During the pandemic, with every meeting being held on video, the Bose headphones were absolutely essential. They provided freedom of movement (for example, to go to the fridge) as well as superb sound quality. The only issue was my voice sometimes grew hoarse by the end of the day, which was due to using max noise-canceling. Once I turned that down, things got better.

Dishwasher: In May, our Asko dishwasher started leaking. After a quick search, I found that only one company offered service for this brand. Given that we were in a pandemic, I tried to fix it myself. I discovered that the plastic water reservoir was cracked, but in trying to remove it I sliced my right index finger. Though it didn't require a trip to the emergency room, I realized it could have. So I gave up my job as dishwasher repairman. Because we didn't want to invite others into our house at this point, we started washing by hand. I found out right away that Brenda was a superstar dish washer -- in terms of speed. Because no one else felt as competent (and, let's face it, were too lazy), dishes piled high. I'm ashamed to say there were weeks when we used every dish in the house, which would take me two hours to wash. I tried finding a new dishwasher at Best Buy, but I hadn't brought Brenda with me. In the Fall, Brenda finally went out to a local appliance store, Albert Lee. She "brought me along" on Facetime. It took months to deliver, but on December 23 we got a new Bosch dishwasher. And now the kitchen is always clean, and the sink is usually empty.

Amazon Dash Replenishment for Printers: OK, even though this took a while to set up, it's been a necessity for my kids during the pandemic. Basically, when your ink runs low, it automatically orders a new one from Amazon. 

iWave Air Purifier: When we had a new furnace installed a few years ago, they asked if we wanted the "iWave Air Purifier." Seemed like a good idea, but we had no idea how good until the wildfire smoke choked Seattle (and much of the west coast) in September. We found that running the iWave 24/7 with the furnace fan helped filter out the dangerous smoke particles. This became even more important, given that we were all stuck in the house and couldn't open the windows.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, CBS All Access: The pandemic created a captive audience for the entire world to watch movies and series we might not have watched. Some of the standouts were (in no particular order): Away (Netflix), The Queen's Gambit (Netflix), The Boys, Season 2 (Amazon), Picard (CBS), Star Trek: Discovery (CBS), The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), The Mandalorian, Season 2 (Disney +), The Right Stuff (Disney+), Hamilton (Disney+), The Liberator (Netflix), The Last Dance (Netflix/ESPN), Travelers, Seasons 1-3 (Netflix), Riverdale, Season 1 (Netflix), Connected, Season 1 (Netflix).


posted by AndyO @ 5:32 PM   0 comments