Remember last year when it was virtually impossible to get hand sanitizer? You couldn’t order it online, you couldn’t order it for an in-store pickup, and stores that had it were limiting how many of those tiny bottles each customer could buy? Breweries and distilleries were stepping in to supplement the supply, but it still wasn’t enough.

I mean, I don’t like to leave my camera visible in the car when I park, but for a while, I was more worried about leaving a two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer where it could be seen.

Heck, when I found an 8-ounce bottle at Target in May 2020, I snapped a photo to send it home!

Holding a bottle of hand sanitizer in front of a store shelf with a sign saying that customers are limited to one bottle each due to high demand.

Times have changed.

Factory lines got up to speed after a few months. We bought extra to make sure we wouldn’t run out. Then we learned that Covid spreads more by sharing air than by touching surfaces. And a third of the population convinced themselves it wasn’t a problem, while half to two thirds of the population have gotten at least partly vaccinated against it. And after a year with multiple waves of cases, the rates are currently waaaaaay down in California.

And we’re all so tired of it all.

And we don’t need as much hand sanitizer as we thought we were going to a year ago.

This is the same store this week. Four rolling shelf units and at least one section of the wall shelving. Full.

Shelves and shelves and rolling carts full of hand sanitizer bottles.

So, um, anybody want to buy some hand sanitizer?

Bulk bins at the supermarket with pre-measured plastic bags of grains in them.

I braved the grocery store last week. It was a bit nerve-wracking after weeks of avoiding people for safety reasons. But it was also interesting to see what was still low and what had been restocked since my last grocery trip a few weeks earlier.

Pasta was almost totally gone. Pasta sauce was really low, actually. Produce was still available. Meat, eggs, dairy and bread were back, but flour was still missing. I was glad to see that alternative flours and pastas – gluten-free options, almond flour, cauliflower pasta, etc – were still available, and that people who didn’t need the specialized options weren’t just snapping them up because they could.

It was also interesting to see how the store handled the bulk bins. It’s going to be a long time before I feel comfortable with a buffet, or self-serve yogurt, or anything of that sort. (I doubt I’m the only one – if this doesn’t finish off Souplantation, they may have to make major changes.) What Sprouts did was to pre-bag measured amounts in each bin. Yeah, you can’t get exactly the amount you need, but it’s still a lot less packaging than something in a box, and there’s less risk of contamination with other shoppers reaching into the bin with the same scoop (or worse, just their hands).

Yesterday I spotted a listing on Amazon for the complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus for $35. (It jumped back up to $55 today.) I was seriously tempted, but asked myself: how often would I actually watch it?

Since lugging around several boxes of CDs, DVDs, and even a few VHS tapes (no Blu-Ray yet) the last time we moved, I’ve asked this question (in the broader, two-person sense) about any video I’ve considered buying. If we’re only ever going to watch something once, we’re better off renting it. It’s cheaper and it takes up less space.

In this case, we borrowed the series from a friend a few years ago, so we’ve already watched it once. There’s plenty of good stuff, but I’d probably only rewatch a handful of sketches.