Village News, 1/14/21

Dear Neighbor / Friend,

Thanks to those who responded to last week’s communications check. We received responses via 14 different email hosts (Verizon, AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc). There were no responses from 6 other, lesser-used, email hosting sites, but I am confident that the enews is getting to you. 

The enews is sent to myself (john.t.cooley@verizon.net) with all others addressed on the BCC line for your privacy. It ain’t personal, unless the shoe fits!

    COVID-19 Update – As of yesterday (13 January) and since 6 January, Fairfax County has had 3,186 more confirmed cases (44,853 total), 66 more hospitalized (3,141) due to the virus and 29 more deaths (736) attributable to the virus or co-morbidity. 3.8% of us living in the 22152 zip code have tested positive for the virus. I know that some in village have had it and may still have it, but hope all are recovering without residual, adverse effects.

    Fairfax County continues with Phase 1a and now also vaccinating those in the expanded Phase 1b.

    • Phase 1a - healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
    • Phase 1b - includes frontline essential workers and people 75 and older. Additionally, 1b covers people in correctional facilities, homeless shelters or migrant labor camps. Virginia defines frontline essential workers as people in jobs critical to the functioning of society who are at substantially higher risk of exposure to the virus. Included are: police, fire, and hazmat; corrections and homeless shelter workers; childcare/K-12 teachers/staff; food and agriculture; manufacturing; grocery store workers; public transit workers; mail carriers (USPS and private); and, our elected / appointed officials needed to maintain continuity of government.
    • Phase 1c will consist of people aged 16 - 74 with high-risk medical conditions, people aged 65-74, and other essential workers. There was some chatter this morning about starting soon with Phase 1c.

    Those in Phase 1b who are 75 and older can sign up for an appointment to get vaccinated by calling the vaccine hotline at 703/324-7404 from Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. You will need patience as one village neighbor found out last Monday.

    They began calling at 9:00 AM, but the call center was overwhelmed. He persisted and kept calling back for an hour until he was put into a queue to wait for someone to finally at 12:55 PM register and get a reservation.

    This is not meant as criticism of the county – just that their system was overwhelmed. Apparently they had over 10,000 calls within the first 10 minutes after the lines were opened. 

    That same village resident received a confirmation e-mail from the Fairfax County Health Department with clear and easy to understand instructions for getting the vaccine. Here were their on-site instructions:

    • Arrive 10 minutes early.
    • You will receive a text message prior to your appointment time with a link to check in.
    • Please click the link and complete the health screening to let us know you are in the parking lot.
    • Remain in your vehicle until you receive a follow-up text message from us saying: “We are ready to see you. Please come inside”.
    • Proceed into the building for check-in only after you have received this text message.
    • Wear a mask the entire time you are with us, whether you are inside or outside our facility.
    • Social distancing will be maintained.

    Our neighbors followed the instructions, arrived at the Cary Building (beside Irving Middle School), around 11:15 AM, and got the vaccine 10 minutes later. You will be required to stay in a holding room for 15 minutes after you receive the shot, just to see if there is any reaction to the vaccine. They were done and on their way at 11:50 AM saying that this part of the process was very well organized.

    Fairfax’s Health Department also opened an online scheduler. Go to COVID-19 Vaccination Registration | Health (fairfaxcounty.gov) to register and verify you are in the right phase / group and then a few days later you get a call or an email to provide your appointment time and location.

    2021 Directories – Thanks to those who have volunteered; we now have enough to make the distribution – soon after we get the directories and as the weather and weather forecast permit. The directories will be left just inside storm doors, on benches, chairs or tables near front door, but where the wind and rain/snow can’t get to them.

    If you have new neighbors who moved into the village after 1 November 2020, we’d like to provide them a free copy of the directory and no-cost membership in our civic association for the rest of this fiscal year (1 October 2020 – 30 September 2021). Just let me know whether you want to give them the directory or should I.

    If you did not join or renew your membership, we’ll have extra directories available for $10.00 each – and – that comes with free membership in our CAWSV for the rest of this Fiscal Year. Other than $10, we’ll need your names, address, phone number and email address.

    Fairfax County Library – taken from Kirsten Seckler’s Kenwood Oaks Enews.  All Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) branches will now only provide curbside and virtual services for library card holders. They will continue to offer virtual programming for all ages, which can be found on their YouTube Channel and Facebook page. Visit their website (our website) to learn more about ways to access FCPL’s resources at home. 

    Curbside pickup hours at all branches are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Saturday. FCPL’s curbside services are accomplished with no physical interaction with the library staff helping you. Library staff will wear cloth face masks, and you should also. Books will be packaged in a plastic bag to streamline handling. The pickup table will be disinfected regularly. To pick up your holds: 

    Park in the designated area of your library’s lot and call the branch phone number posted on the sign, but can also be found online on individual branch webpages.

    Provide your library card number to staff on the phone and remain in your car until your holds have been deposited on the pickup table and library staff have returned to the building.

    You may request a particular book or a staff-selected grab bag based on reading level and preferences by calling the branch. Contacting the library with requests ahead of time will provide a faster pickup experience. 

    All returned library materials should be deposited in the library’s book drop. Do not return library materials to staff or the pickup tables. There is no change to circulation periods or fines for materials returned late. 

    Targeted Advertising – thanks to our Webmaster, Bob Havey for answering my question about what we can do to stop or at least reduce the number of targeted ads. Bob is our resident Computer Whisperer and provided the following:

    Targeted ads are those ads where you look up (Google or Bing) something out of curiosity or maybe purchase something online. After doing your investigation or making your purchase, you are inundated with ads for similar products on seemingly every website that you visit. You get them if you are shopping at Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or most other merchants. You really get slammed if you are shopping at Amazon. My own solution is to simply ignore them, but can anything actually be done to prevent them?

    Anything you do in this area will have a cost in terms of time and effort or in making web browsing a little less convenient. The first thing you can do is use the “don’t track me” modes in your browsers.  Firefox and Edge call it “In Private”, and Chrome calls it “Incognito”.  Safari has the same capability. You shouldn’t be using Internet Explorer. Also clear cookies frequently, but a lot of sites where you have retained settings use cookies to “remember” those settings. A less intrusive method might be to change your default search engine to “Duck Duck Go”.  It claims to put privacy protection first.  I have not tried this so I don’t know how effective it is about preventing targeted ads or how effective it is as a search engine. Have you?

    Beyond these simple things, it gets more complicated.  With some research I found that you can adjust your Google settings. You need a Google account to do this, but if you have a Gmail account or a YouTube account, you have a Google account.  Google is currently pushing “one account for all of Google”.  If you have more than one Google account, I assume that you would have to adjust your settings in each. You can also install 3rd party ad blockers or tracker blockers.  The price you will pay here is that it can slow down as you’re loading pages. I’m not a fan even of the blockers provided by the likes of Norton or McAfee.

    For my money, unsolicited ads for Garmin watches, Crossrope jump ropes, or the latest gadget I was looking at on the REI website don’t bother me, but you may not like the fact that you are being tracked.

    There are other steps, but in the interest of brevity, I purposely left out a lot of detail and haven’t touched on what to do about tracking on a phone. If you have questions, call me at 703/569-8195, or better yet, send me an email at havey@dtwod.com.  If there is enough interest, I will write a blog post for my website.

    Stay safe, warm and healthy.

    John Cooley, CAWSV

     

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