Tag Archive | pandemic

Weekend Update 8/14/2021: Get your jab

As a friend who retweeted this commented: “COVID is not our first rodeo, and the last one didn’t have a vaccine!”

It’s been way too long since I spent part of a Saturday morning composing one of these posts about a news story that I learned about after already assembling this week’s Friday Five. Let’s just hop in:

More Than 90% of LGBTQ+ U.S. Adults Have Received a COVID-19 Vaccine – That’s compared to just 71.3% of the country’s general adult population

More than one person I saw online (most of them either queer themselves or presenting themselves as allies) made a joke about the reason that so much of the LGBTQ community in the U.S. have rushed to get our vaccinations is because we’re all just dying to get out there and start hooking up for sex again.

And I know that is a sentiment many had expressed. Or that they missed going to bars or concerts and so on.

But I’m sorry, the friend I quoted in the caption of the graphic above has hit the nail on the head identifying not just why many of us got the vaccine as soon as we could, but also why most of the queer communities in various U.S. towns and cities, canceled 2020 Pride events mere weeks after the first lockdowns were announced.

For a lot of us, this isn’t the first time we have lived during a deadly epidemic.

In May of 2020, there was one of the Fox /(Propaganda/) network talking heads who tried to get a viral thing going about how all the queers and their liberal friends would stop supporting the idea of lockdown once late June rolled around at Pride Parades were cancelled.

She instead was dragged on social media and news sites with the fact that we’d already canceled the Pride Parades, on our own at least a month previously. I remember just weeks into the first lockdowns that on several queer forums people had already been posting, "We’re canceling in-person Pride events, right?"

I know I’ve told the following story on this blog and else where before: but there was one month in the early nineties where 12 people that I knew personally died from complications of AIDS. In a couple of cases, my late husband, Ray, and I had to decide which of the memorial services we weren’t going to attend. And that was after years of watching vibrant people we knew deteriorate before our eyes and die. It’s not that that was the only time a bunch happened close together, it just happened to be the worst.

For years we watching our neighbors, friends, acquaintances, community leaders, and more suffer and die with virtually no help from government health agencies. There were exceptions. Dr. Anthony Fauci famously (incognito) went to bathhouses and some other places queer men went looking for sex to get a better idea of the cultural reasons that a disease which could be transmitted sexually had spread so quickly. But most responses were like this:

Listen to the Reagan Administration Official and the Entire White House Press Corp Laughing at the AIDS Epidemic

The headline on that particular article at the site doesn’t mention what I think is a crucial aspect of those chilling recordings: most of the laughter you hear at the very idea that the government would concern itself at all with a deadly disease that was perceived as killing gays were members of the so-called liberal media.

In the early years hospital staff didn’t want to treat AIDS patients. What treatments that were offered were anti-viral medications most of which had been developed a decade or so before under military research grants because we were afraid future soldiers would face biological weapons in the field during conflicts. They actually hoped to develop a drug that would allow every soldier to be issued a few pills along with their other equipment and if they thought they’d been hit with a bio-weapon, they could take the pills and keep fighting. Didn’t quite work out.

But they were the only thing that seemed to slow down the virus, even though there were often some pretty severe side-effects.

In the early 90s someone came up with the idea of putting patients on not just one anti-viral, but three or more that each attacked different parts of typical viral replication process. By 1995, the so-called "antiviral cocktails" were approved for general use.

The result was startling.

The August 13, 1998 edition of the Bay Area Report was the first edition in over a decade that didn’t have obituaries of local residents who had died of complications of AIDS.

It seemed like a miracle. Some people who were already very sick and looked like shadows of their former selves seemed to rejuvenate in a matter of months.

Unfortunately, those anti-viral drugs are very expensive. If you need three or more in combination, that makes things even worse. So the cocktails have only performed their apparently miracles in countries that have reliable health care.

And note that it isn’t a cure. It’s not really a miracle (unless you want to talk about the insane profit margins of the pharmaceutical companies). Because in order to stay alive and healthy, people infected with the HIV virus have to take those very expensive drug combinations (which still often have wicked side effects) every day for the rest of their lives.

We don’t have an HIV vaccine. Forty years into the epidemic that still kills hundreds of thousands of people world wide every year doesn’t have a vaccine.

Queer people younger than me, who don’t have the same personal memories of the worse part of the HIV epidemic, still had their lives overshadowed by the disease. Because despite the fact that most new infections in the U.S. these days are straight people (that’s right!), and most of the people who are dying in the so-called developing world are straight women and children, the perception is still that AIDS is a "gay thing." I linked a year or two ago to a poignant story a young cartoonist posted about how when he was 15 years old and had never had sex with anyone, he went to an anonymous clinic for an AIDS test–because all he knew about the disease was the gay people got it. Nothing he had been taught in school or seen in the news or what very few media portrayals of people dying of the disease there were at the time, had conveyed two very important facts: 1) any human can get infected by the virus that causes AIDS, 2) it is most often transmitted sexually.

And part of his story is talking about when he came out in in twenties and started meeting other gay people, virtually all of them approximately his age had gone through a period in their teens where, after realizing they were attracted to members of their own sex, they also assumed that meant they would die young because of AIDS.

My point is, that once these younger queers do find out that his horrible specter which was part of their trauma growing up queer and closeted is a disease that was ignored for decades? Well, their attitude about health issues is a lot like us older queers.

And so that is the real reason that so many of us rushed out to get vaccinated. We know what happens when a health crisis is ignored. And we damn well refuse to take part in ignoring this one.

Tuesday Tidbits 8/3/2021: Some thoughts on masks

It’s not a violation of your rights to require a mask and so forth during a pandemic.
Exactly!
To take the analogy further…
I’ve been saying for a while now that we should normalize wearing masks during flu season. At the very least, you should wear a mask if you have any symptoms that might be cold or flu, in order to protect other people. If this pandemic ever ends, I intend to wear a mask whenever I go in public and have even just what might be hay fever symptoms. And if people ask I’ll say, “Because I have a cold and I don’t want to get YOU sick.”

The Vaccine is Free – Let people know!


This story is from March, but apparently it is still believed to be an issue: Nearly 7 million Americans might not get a COVID-19 vaccine because they don’t know it’s free

In another story I read (and now I can’t find it), some people still don’t believe it’s free specifically because certain pharmacy companies are saying, "Free with insurance." But that isn’t exactly the truth. By law in the U.S. no one is allowed to charge anyone for the vaccine. The government is paying for the vaccine. Unfortunately, while the same law says that they are not allowed to even charge patients any fee to cover the administration or other costs of delivering the vaccine, the law does allow them to charge your insurance a fee to cover the administering process.

But only if you have insurance.

They are legally barred from charging you anything for the vaccine.

I wish that the law had barred them from charging the insurance companies, too. Not to protect those for-profit companies, but because studies have shown that, for instance, if a municipality or county adopts a policy of trying to recovery ambulance costs from insurance companies while allowing the uninsured to get ambulance service free, people in critical health situations try to get themselves to an emergency room because they believe they will be hit with a very large bill if they take an ambulance.

Anyway, get the word out! Places providing vaccine shots are legal barred from charging you for the vaccine or any administrative fees related to getting the shot.

Get your shot!

There is only coffee time and cocktail time…

Quarantine: there is no longer AM and PM. There is only "coffee time" and "wine time."Last week I wrote about the fact that I had only just that Monday finished off the last of the many bags of Christmas/Holiday Blend coffee beans I bought in November and December. Later that week there was another transition related to coffee in my house. To explain, I have to take you back to September of 2014, just over six years ago, when the coffee maker I’d been using for some years died. We went out and bought a new one. One of the things I really liked about the new one was that it used carbon water filters between the water reservoir and the carafe which were the same filters that the previous two machines we’d owned had used. A lot of coffee machines by many different manufacturers have settled on that filter, so it wasn’t super difficult to find one.

I’ve been using that one ever since. Sometime last spring, during the couple of months that my husband was furloughed from his job and we were both home full time, he pointed out that the hot plate that the carafe rests on was getting rusty. I took a look and saw a little bit of rust, and noted that the black enamel that coated the plate was flaking off, but otherwise figured it was a minor problem.

My usual routine is to rinse out the carafe and the filter basket every day before I make new coffee, and to run the carafe, filter basket, and the gold filter through the dishwasher about once a week. I don’t usually clean the hot plate because, well, the coffee that I drink never touches it directly, and I’m lazy.

Some months after Michael had pointed out the rust, while the carafe and other bits were in the dishwasher, I decided to do a thorough cleaning of the rest of the coffee maker. The hat plate, once scrubbed, looked a lot worse. Essentially, every time I pull the carafe out or put it back in place, a little bit of coffee spills out and lands of the hot plate. Trapped between the hot plate and the carafe, the coffee boils away and burns and coats the hot plate with a layer of black burnt coffee. There was way more burnt coffee than enamel left on the warming plate, and a whole lot more rust than I had realized (because most of it was hidden beneath the burnt coffee).

The hot plate has a heating element attached to the underside, which means an electrical current runs through it. Depending on how bad the rusting gets, this might eventually pose an electrical hazard. Still, looking at it, I figured we were a long way away from in being a problem. Which was not really a wise thought, I know. But nothing continued to go wrong and slowly the issue faded away into the back of my mind.

Then, on Christmas Eve, while we were online with a bunch of friends, wishing each other Happy Holidays and occasionally opening presents, my husband carried over from behind our tree a large box that had been sitting there for some weeks with a tag identifying it as a present from him to me, and told me I had to open it in front of our friends.

Inside the box was not just a coffeemaker, but the exact same model as we currently owned… even though the manufacturer had stopped making it about a year ago. Several places on line still had unopened boxes, so he’d ordered it. I wound up telling the story above to our friends. And since it was Christmas Eve, I didn’t want to drop everything to go take the old maker down and open the new one.

The problem is… I left the new one in its box through Christmas, New Year’s… and Valentine’s Day… and it was still sitting in its unopened box last Monday when I made a pot of coffee using the very last of the Christmas Blend coffee beans. After posting that blog post, I realized what I needed to do next. So, that evening, I unplugged the old coffee maker, disassembled various bits, and set the water filters (I didn’t mention that this unit uses two: one for the coffee reservoir, and the other for the separate hot tea maker) in water to soak overnight.

The next day I made the first pot of post-holiday coffee with the new coffee maker. And everything works find. The coffee is good. It is, after all, identical to the old one just brand new. Let’s hope it’s another six years at least before I need to replace it.

It was anti-climatic. But then, I should have just unboxed the coffee maker a couple months ago, right?

While normally I would chalk it up to procrastination, I’m going to also throw a little bit of blame at the quarantine and how time has become a fog the longer I’m working from home, never going outside without a mask, limiting my shopping trips generally to once a week, and so on.

Speaking of, I didn’t think of commemorating my own quarantine anniversary until about a week afterward. So, this week is the 57th week of working from home, for me.

That’s right, just a little more than a month before our governor issued the first Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, I developed a severe cough overnight. So on the morning of February 19, 2020, I sent my boss an email saying I would be working from home until the cough went away. It was exactly one month after the first COVID-19 case had been identified in our state, in a man who lived only a few miles from our place. The cough (along with body aches) persisted for a bit more than two weeks. I never developed a fever, and never experienced the shortness of breath and deep lung pains that two friends who were later confirmed to have come down with COVID in the following month.

During the course of those two weeks, the corporate overlords at work had issues a series of all-employees emails, first announcing we were canceling our company’s participation in a big international tech conference we usually exhibited at (the conference itself was canceled eventually); then saying that any employee who needed to work from home could start doing so without going through the usual approval process; then encouraging people to work from home if they could, especially if they are anyone in their household was exhibiting symptoms.

It wasn’t long after that before the corporate line shifted to not just encouraging, but putting everyone, including those who could not work from home (people maintaining our data centers, for instance( on a schedule where only half of the employees can be in the office at a time.

And yeah, I’m making cocktails for myself more often than I used to. Because there is a lot of anxiety in my life. Even though I was very introverted, not being able to spend time face to face with friends has been stressful. I come from a long line of professional worriers, so I’m always fretting about people I know getting sick.

It’s a feeling that virtually everyone is sharing. And it isn’t fun.

But, it’s better than the alternatives.

Sunday Update: Closing so many open tabs

(Click to embiggen)

Dr. Seuss is not canceled — but six of his books are being shelved over racist images.

No, Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head haven’t been ‘cancelled’. Here’s the difference.

(Click to embiggen)

No Republicans back $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill.

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker brags about stimulus package he voted agains.

President Biden Just Signed a $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill Into Law. Here’s What’s In It.

(Click to embiggen)

Voter suppression efforts are rampant: How pitiful is this GOP tactic? – Not only Democratic but neutral and expert observers agree that voter fraud was no problem in the big picture and that very little fraud occurred in the 2020 vote..

Fight voter suppression laws in the states. Let’s not let America regress to Jim Crow – There’s no time to wait while state-level suppression bills gain steam. Fair and free elections will be an uphill climb unless Congress passes HR 1.

For the People Act Is Needed to Stop New GOP Voter Suppression Bills.

(click to embiggen)

Spare us: After Trump, seven Republican lectures Democrats never need to hear again – It probably would be easier to list what Republicans are still qualified to pontificate on. Why the federal deficit is a huge problem? Hmmm. Never mind.

Republicans’ new strategy? Pointless obstruction.

(Click to embiggen)

The American Rescue Plan Act Will Help Restore the Restaurant Industry and Save Jobs.

American Rescue Plan’s big winner: Families with children.

‘Played’ by GOP in the Obama era, wary Democrats and Biden go big on their own.

(Click to embiggen)

Florida Governor DeSantis prioritizes vaccine rollout for wealthier communities.

A Pattern Emerges In Florida: Vaccine Sites Appear To Benefit DeSantis Donors.

Commentary: Skipping the vaccine line is not only unethical – it may undermine trust in the rollout.

(click to embiggen)

Bill Press: Today’s Republican Party cult: Destroy America.

How Mitch McConnell’s republicans are destroying America – Time and again, they’ve shown that they only care about their wealthy donors and corporate backers.

Dr. Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy Erupts.

Last year, more than 338,000 copies of “Green Eggs and Ham” were sold across the United States, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks the sale of physical books at most retailers. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” sold more than 311,000 copies, and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” — always popular as a high school graduation gift — sold more than 513,000 copies.

However:

“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” one of the six books pulled by the estate, sold about 5,000 copies last year, according to BookScan. “McElligot’s Pool” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” haven’t sold in years through the retailers BookScan tracks.

.

Fox News Defends Piers Morgan and Pepe Le Pew as COVID Bill Passes: A Closer Look:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Monday Update 2/22/2021: For whom the subpoena tolls… plus some free ambience!

Time to cover some news that either broke after I composed the most recent Friday Five, or has had new developments since then, or didn’t quite make the cut for that post, or is simply an update to some news story I have previous linked and talked about. So let’s go:

Supreme Court won’t halt turnover of Trump’s tax records to New York prosecutor. Finally!

This related to the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into whether Trump’s company inflated the value of some of his signature properties to obtain the best possible loans, while lowballing the values to reduce property taxes. There may also be evidence of insurance fraud. This is completely separate from the New York State Attorney General’s investigation, though it includes similar allegations. The Manhattan DA only has jurisdiction over crimes that happened within New York City, whereas the state AG can be looking at potentially criminal activities throughout the rest of the state: New York Attorney General Letitia James says Trump Supreme Court ruling won’t affect her tax probe.

And this is separate from a criminal investigation in the state of Georgia over Trump’s attempt to bulling state officials into magically “finding” enough votes to flip the state: Georgia prosecutors open criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to subvert election results. And things are getting even more interesting in Georgia: A Trump criminal probe in Georgia expands to include Sen. Lindsey Graham – A Georgia district attorney is investigating whether Graham violated state law in a call with an elections official. Lady G just might wind up being deposed!

Moving on…

“Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.”There aren’t likely to be criminal charges coming for the Texas Senator over this, but: One night in Cancun: Ted Cruz’s disastrous decision to go on vacation during Texas storm crisis. Let’s be honest: Cruz has always been nothing more than an ambulatory tape worm badly pretending to be a human who somehow manages to keep getting re-elected. But this was a particularly tone-deaf decision, and illustrates how any signs of empathy for people outside his immediate circle is all performative. Meanwhile, Ted’s constituents are being left to fend for themselves: Hypothermia deaths in Texas mount amid severe weather conditions and Texas power outages left woman with over $10,000 electric bill.

What a mess!

At least some help is coming: Biden Declares Major Disaster in Texas as Federal Aid Flows – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has shipped dozens of generators and supplies, including fuel, water, blankets and ready-to-eat meals, to the affected areas. I want to point out that, unlike the previous president, Biden didn’t hesitate to declare and emergency and authorize aid to a state that didn’t vote for him, and whose governor has been a virulent critic of Biden and his party. Just sayin’…

Meanwhile…

Unfortunately, we still have other issues to worry about: Fauci calls 500,000 coronavirus deaths ‘terrible’. It is a horrible milestone that we never should have reached. And still there are idiots (including some elected officials) encouraging idiots no to wear masks and so forth! Also: ‘Rapid take-off’ of variant first found in Britain threatens US.

There is one tiny bit of good news for at least some of us: People who wear glasses may be up to 3 times less likely to catch COVID, new study suggests. I’ll take any good news I can get, right now. And I can start feeling less irritated that my glasses keep fogging up.

Here’s a weird one: Who’s the Homophobe Bothering Local Businesses and Ken Jennings’ Family? If you are aware of Ken Jennings, a multiple Jeopardy champion, you might also know that he lives in Seattle, where I live. Because he is local, he is probably a bit more of a celebrity here than other places. Anyway, a few years ago someone started mailing postcards containing very unimaginative homophobic rants to Ken and his wife. Jennings has never identified as queer, but there is at least one of two times that he has publicly stated his support for queer rights in general, and marriage equality in particular.

They’ve been getting this postcards for a while, as I mentioned, but in the last several weeks similar postcards, supposedly signed by Mrs. Jennings, have been being received by various small businesses around town. Most of these businesses are not owned by queer people, though I know at least two of the businesses have offered Pride Month specials in previous years. It’s a weird story and a weird way to harass people. I assume the homophobe signed the new cards with Mrs. Jennings’ name in hopes that some of the recipients would believe they were from her and go public with the news?

But again, whey have they sent these postcards to the barely semi-famous straight couple for the last few years?

If I weren’t running out of time on my lunch break, I’d go off in detail about how often homophobes always spout almost the same, unimaginative slurs and insults. But, let’s move one…

Let’s leave with something cool!

I Miss My Bar – Recreate Your Favorite Bar’s Atmosphere. If you go to this website, you can select various options to make your computer, tablet, or whatever you’re browsing on generate background noised that sound like a bar (or restaurant). You control the mix of which ambient sounds, want a very light rain on the window? Or maybe the sound of more heavy rain? A lot of background conversations? Or just a few other people in a mostly empty place.

It’s just a really cool concept. And even though I’m a big introvert, I can appreciate how odd it has been that I haven’t been in a bar or restaurant for over a year. For people who used to go out a lot more than I ever did, this may be even more interesting.

It’s not world-shattering or life-changing, thus a really cool project that someone has put together and then put out in the world.

Tuesday Tidbits 1/26/2021: Let’s worry about the pandemic for a change

Marco Rubio: “I elbowed my way to the front of the line for the vaccine that I said was a hoax, even before doctors & nurses received it.”

Marco Rubio: “I elbowed my way to the front of the line for the vaccine that I said was a hoax, even before doctors & nurses received it.”

Now that we aren’t worried about an illegal overthrow of the government (or at least less worried for now), it’s easier to both find and pay attention to news about the other existential crisis, the pandemic. So much so that these eight can’t wait until Friday:

I’ve linked to this continuously updated interactive map and article before: Tracking Covid-19 cases in the US – Since January 2020, the novel coronavirus has spread to each state and nearly every territory.

In a mix of good news and bad news: Coronavirus deaths and cases dip nationwide, but variant is on the rise.

And speaking of the variants: Moderna making booster shot to fight Covid-19 variants – New strains of the coronavirus have emerged in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. Given how rampantly it’s running in the U.S., its only a matter of time before it mutates here, too, and we have a U.S. variant to add to the mix. Related: Moderna Says Vaccine Still Protects Against Virus Variants – The vaccine yields fewer antibodies against the variant discovered in South Africa, and so the company plans to test an alternate version.

The fact that viruses mutate is one of the reasons that the whole herd immunity argument is BS. If we and other nations had properly flattened the curve, this could have gone like the swine flu (H1N1) outbreak in 2009 or the SARS-CoV-1 outbreak of 2002. Public health measures (quarantine, case tracking) contained those so that they didn’t become widespread pandemics and more importantly didn’t start mutating in millions of simultaneously infected people. But because we let COVID-19 get into so much of the population, we’ve almost guaranteed that this is a virus, like influenza, that will be mutating, re-infecting, and killing some fraction of the population year after year. We’ll probably rolling out a new vaccine every year like influenza. And like influenza, getting the vaccine won’t guarantee that you never get infected, it just increases that chances that when you encounter new strains, you may of very mild symptoms or none at all. Which means you probably won’t die, but it also means that you’ll be contagious for a few days and perhaps not know it, and some none-zero number of people who interact with won’t be so lucky.

In other news: In a major setback, Merck to stop developing its two Covid-19 vaccines and focus on therapies. It was always likely that some of the vaccines would be less effective than others, so this isn’t a big surprised. Further down in the article they explain that one of their vaccine variants still shows signs of clinical usefulness, and some of the other treatments they’ve been trying to develop for people after they get sick are also looking promising. So all the the research is still going to be useful.

The sports world has been having mixed results dealing with the virus: Miami Heat to use coronavirus-sniffing dogs to screen fans at games. Given the screaming fits people have thrown in stores about masks, I’m not sure how this is going to work out…

Meanwhile, in companies decided to spend their money in ways that might keep more of their customers alive: Budweiser skips Super Bowl ad for first time in 37 years, will use money for COVID-19 vaccine awareness.

“Doesn't believe in social programs - First in line for social program.”

“Doesn’t believe in social programs – First in line for social program.”

We always knew that rich and powerful people would find ways to skip the line, but this particular couple are extra special: Covid vaccines: Casino boss resigns after jumping queue – CEO And Wife Posed As Motel Workers To Get Vaccine. They are also a great example of the problem with levying fines for things. They clearly spent way more than the $575 fine just to travel to the area and pull off their scam, and that fine is loose change compared to his salary. When the only penalty for a crime is a fine, all that means is that it is only a crime for the poor and working class…

Hollywood Elite in COVID-19 Vaccine Scramble: ‘It’s the Hunger Games Out There’.

This Thanksgiving, don’t participate in the possible murder of grandma

Don’t be like Casey!

I keep wanting to write about lighthearted stuff, but I keep reading the news about millions of people jamming the airports and how all the testing sites are overloaded with people who think if they test negative it’s safe to get together for the holiday. And it’s just, we’re never going to get this thing under control and the deaths are going to keep piling up, if everyone keeps thinking that it’s okay to take a little risk. You’re not risking your own life! You’re risking the lives of people you love and care about! Of course, if you’re even a sporadic reader of my blog, you already know this. Still, I keep feeling the need to put this out there, hoping it will give one more person the courage to say to their family members pressuring them to get together, “I don’t want to participate in the possible murder of grandma!”

I need to change topics.

How about a bit of a laugh at my expense?

So, last Friday after I updated my NaNoWriMo word count I told myself I could take a break to watch the new episode of Baby Yoda and His Space Dad. Wait. What? You’re telling me that isn’t the title of the show? Are you certain?

Anyway, afterward I didn’t quite feel like writing after all, and the next thing I know I was binge watching season 2 of Umbrella Academy. And I stayed up far too late doing it, which means I slept in later than I meant Saturday, which means that I didn’t get started on finalizing the grocery list until late, and then I had to run to the store later than I meant. And it being the last Saturday before Thanksgiving, the store was quite crowded, and there were all sorts of weird things they were out of.

Three different times as I was trying to maneuver through the crowded store while maintaining social distance, I found myself feeling very judgmental of people with carts overflowing with things that looking like the ingredients of an enormous Thanksgiving feast. And the third time I had that thought, it was as I was putting a can of cranberry sauce into my nearly overflowing cart. And since I was just buying stuff for a Thanksgiving dinner with just my husband and I, maybe I shouldn’t assume other people weren’t also planning just to cook for the immediate family that already lives together, right?

I eventually got into the checkout line and my huge cart of groceries turned into about three dozen smallish plastic bags of groceries. Which took a few minutes to transfer to the car. I got home, carried the first bunch of bags up, told Michael I was there, and went to haul more up. The third or fourth trip down I got to the car just as Michael was pulling a bunch of bags out and saying, “I think that’s everything.” I did a quick check, then locked to car and followed him upstairs.

Saturday night we were hosting our monthly Writers’ Night (virtually), and I had just enough time to put all the groceries away and start dinner cooking before I needed to log into the Discord server.

We had a good meeting. Three of us had things to read and there was a lot of fun talk about Thanksgiving recipes. Then we shut down early as several of us wanted to do more NaNoWriMo writing.

An hour or so later, when I was getting out a fresh can of La Croix, I realized that I didn’t remember putting my prescription away. So I looked around the kitchen, assuming I had left the little brown paper bag with the paperwork and one bottle of pills in it somewhere in there. I couldn’t find it. I double checked in the bathroom to make sure that I hadn’t put it away and simply forget.

No dice.

I search around the kitchen, dining room, living room and so forth for a number of minutes. I check in the fridge because it would be totally in character for me to pull the prescription and a bottle of milk out of a grocery bag at the same time and put them both in the fridge.

I’m starting to panic. This particular medicine only has a $5 co-pay, but the non-insurance prices is about $1200 for a month’s supply. Not something you want to lose. So reluctantly I go tell my husband that I’ve lost the prescription, and he comes out of the computer room and spends a while looking.

Now I am very certain that I saw the pharmacy bag inside one of the plastic bags we carried in from the car, but Michael decides to go check the car. He didn’t find anything. We’re both still looking underneath things and so forth. I gather three older pharmacy bags that I should have recycled weeks ago, carefully shake them before wading them up, and comment that I shouldn’t leave those laying around.

Michael then asks, “Oh? Is it a brown paper bag we’re looking for? I thought it was white…”

This prompts me to go outside to check the car. While I’m peering in the back compartment, feeling around among the reusable grocery bags that we can’t use anymore because of the pandemic, I think that it would be better if I had a flashlight. But I didn’t, so I looked in the dimly lit car for another couple of minutes before going back upstairs.

We’ve looked pretty much every possible place. I woke up my computer and started researching if there is a way to pay the medication cheaper [That answer by the way is, technically yes. With a coupon I found a place I could get a month’s supply for merely $580… which is still prohibitive].

Michael says that he’s going to check the car again. I open my mouth to suggest a flashlight, but he already has one in his hand.

A few minutes later he comes up and cheerfully announces he found it. In face, he found an entire small plastic bag which contains the pharmacy bag plus three other items: two cans of a cold brew coffee latte I like, and a jar of Tillen Farms Fire and Spice Marschino-style Cherries.

He explains even with the flashlight he almost didn’t see it. The bag and fallen behind suff and one of the plastic handles was sticking up with he could see it.

Now, the laugh. Several hours earlier (in the middle of the Writers’ Night call) I had been suddenly struck with the realization that I didn’t remember putting away the Fire and Spice Cherries (a vital ingredient for my official Thanksgiving Cocktail: the Spicy Manhattan), and I had even spend a couple minutes looking at the places where it ought to be.

And even before than, just as I was turning on the oven and firing up Discord, I had been annoyed that I couldn’t find the can of cold brew Double Espresso I had bought because I didn’t feel as if I’d had enough caffeine.

But I didn’t remember either of those missing things once I noticed the prescription wasn’t where I expected it. If I had, I might of realized that we were looking for more than just the one pharmacy bag and its contents from the grocery run.

I had apologized to Michael several times for being the absent-minding misplacer yet again. He countered by saying it was his fault. “I was the one who said Ive got the last of the groceries, after all.”

To circle back to the opening topic:

Why a negative Covid-19 test before Thanksgiving isn’t an all-clear – A negative test isn’t enough to have a safe holiday. Here’s why.

And I’m going to give the last word to Rachel Maddow…

Maddow: We Feared Susan’s Covid Would Kill Her. Your Risks Could Hurt Those You Love Most:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

A bit of this, a bit of that, and I think I need more coffee…

Cup which reads “COFFEE because adulting is hard.”

“Coffee because adulting is hard.”

I don’t live in one of the states that have run out of hospital beds due to the pandemic and is trying to ship COVID patients to neighboring states… yet. But like everywhere else in the U.S. we’ve been experiencing a big surge in cases. So this last Sunday the governor announced a return to earlier restrictions. In door dining is once again not allowed (I still don’t understand why anyone would do that–we’ve been sticking with take out or contactless delivery if we’re not cooking for ourselves). The only restriction that will change my current behavior is that occupancy levels in essential retail businesses is ratcheted down to 25% occupancy. Limits at that level will mean we’ll be back to lining up outside the store and trying to keep 6′ apart in the line.

Which we were on Monday when I went to Costco. I arrived close to opening, I was masked up, had a list, and was hopeful to get through the trip quickly. By the time I got to the front of the line, the guy managing the line said: “I feel like a bouncer at a rock concert!” The woman in front of me said something along the lines of “You’re the guy to know!” and then something else I couldn’t quite make out from 6 feet away and over the sounds of the rain. The guy managing the line then said, “Everyone’s being cool about it, even those that were caught by surprise.”

I got in. The store didn’t seem deserted, but it wasn’t super crowded, either. Most people were being good about trying to observe social distancing. I found the items on my list, got in line, and felt the need to tweet about the fact that I was in line with the only things in my cart being items on our list. The cashier who checked me out opined that the lines outside would vanish completely as soon as word got out that they were out of toilet paper and paper towels.

When I got out of the store it was raining a lot harder than it had been while I was waiting to get in. I particularly noticed that the cardboard boxes my purchases were in were beginning to get noticeably wet in that short time. I quickly loaded the back of the car and closed the tailgate.

As I had been transferring my stuff, another Subaru of similar vintage as ours pulled into the empty spot next to me. I was just turning the cart to roll it to one of the cart return racks when the guy from the other car said, “I’ll take your cart!” He was fumbling to get his mask on.

I replied. “If you want, though it might be awkward in the line.”

He looked at me like I’d grown two extra heads. I shrugged and stepped back to let him take the cart, and he rolled off, grumbling.

I got in the car and before I had taken my masks off my glasses completely fogged over. I started the car and turn up the defrosters. After a minute or two or so I realized that the windshield seemed clear but my glasses were still completely fogged. So I held my glasses in front of one of the defroster vents and waited for everything to clear up so I could drive.

I was just putting the glasses back on when the guy reappeared in the spot between our two cars, empty handed. As he climbed into his car his gaze met mine, and his unhappy expression got more angry (he’d already taken off his mask). He exclaimed, “They’re out of toilet paper!” As if it was my fault, and slammed his door.

I decided to wait another minute, and as I expected he started his vehicle right away and backed out fast.

I drove home at my usual pace. While unloading the goods, I had a little issue with the case of diced tomatoes almost falling apart in my arms as I dashed inside. It was raining really hard. Amongst the bounty I brought home was a 10-pound turkey for Thanksgiving (small enough for just the two of us) and a 10-pound bag of sweet potatoes (there will be several dishes those go into, not just for the holiday). The pantry is also once again well stocked with canned vegetables and related things.

Even though my husband has to go to work each day, I try to limit my trips out of the house. So a trip where I get us enough food to last a couple weeks again if we have to is all right.

On the other hand, I just got a notice from the pharmacy of a refill being ready, and that means over the next week or so most of the rest of my prescriptions will come up. I try to just make one trip for all of them, but sometimes (as happened a couple months ago), when I do that I get a call from the pharmacy saying that they’re going put it back one the shelf if I don’t come get it that day–or assure them that I am coming in soon.

Completely unrelated, I need to finish putting away the Halloween decorations. Should have happened earlier, but, well, time has become a fog.

Spoons, coping mechanisms, and coffee

“been making coffee at home instead of getting starbucks for two months which according to economists should’ve made me a billionaire by now so what is happening” —@MattBellassai

Click to embiggen

For quite some time now I’ve been, of necessity, thinking an awful lot about coping mechanisms. Because we’re living in high anxiety times, there is a lot of uncertainty about everyone’s health, livelihoods, and so forth. Many more people than usual are facing an existential threat directly caused by certain politicians and their base supporters. Many of us have been facing existential threats at the ballot box our entire lives, but no matter who long we’ve been doing that, it still adds to the load of anxieties and worries one has to keep track of.

Even though I am an introvert, this current situation has made me acutely aware of just how much regular contact with friends has, in the past, contributed to my ability to cope. We’ve been able to mitigate that in a couple of ways. Every month we have continued to have Writers’ Night, for instance, we’ve just been doing it virtually in a voice chat on my Discord server. Even those months when no one has anything new to read (and it is difficult being creative when you’re dealing with all this very justified anxiety), just getting to hear familiar voice and chat has been a blessing.

My gaming group had been meeting on Discord for much longer (some of the players live about an hour and a half drive north of my place, one lives nearly a five hour drive south) than the pandemic. Previously once or twice a year some of us would make a road trip out of game day, so we could play in person, but we’d been pulling it off online fairly well. Again, it’s a time I get to chat and laugh and otherwise spend time with some dear friends, and I’m really appreciating it.

I’ve been quarantining since mid-February (before the first identified case in the U.S., but while the threat was in the news, I woke up one morning with a cough — by the time the cough went away just a bit over two weeks later, the corporate overlords had issued the directive that everyone who could work from home should do so as much as possible), but there are still aspects of it that surprise me.

For instance, how fast I go through a bag of coffee beans.

Before the quarantine I only made coffee at home on the weekends and on work-from-home days. I was only scheduled to work from home twice a week, so that meant at least three days a week that I was exclusively drinking the company coffee. In theory, that should mean that I’m using up coffee beans almost twice as fast as before, right?

Nope.

I was going through coffee almost three times as fast. When i mentioned that to an acquaintance online a few months ago, they pointed out that (at that time) my husband was also at home full time, and I wasn’t taking that into account.

I hadn’t laughed so hard in months. Seriously.

My husband doesn’t just not drink coffee. My husband positively loathes coffee. (Which doesn’t stop him from buying me big lattes to deliver to me if we’re at a convention together and I’m staffing a table or something, but that’s another topic).

I wound up in a discussion about coffee with a group of coworkers about two months ago and thats when I actually thought about it and realized something that I should have noticed but just hadn’t. When I’m in the office I drink at minimum one mug of coffee or one mug of tea every hour (and there are a couple of hours in most day where I’d slip an extra mug in for reasons). Typical mug holds 8 ounces of coffee, that’s 64-80 ounces of caffinated beverage per office day.

But at home I would usually make one pot of coffee, and that was it. That’s only 60 ounces of coffee on those days. Similarly, I usually only made a single pot per day on weekends.

I think part of the reason I was able to get by on only 60 ounces a day on work-from-home days is because they were usually less stressful. Even on infuriating days, the fact that I could step away from my desk and step outside on my veranda made the stress easier to manage.

Now what I typically do is make a pot on the morning of the first day of work, then some point in the afternoon I make a second pot, and drink as much as half of it. One the second work day of the week, I first reheat and drink the leftover from the second pot (a notion I know makes a lot of people shudder, sorry), then I make a fresh pot and finish it off.

And I think the reason is that being able to step out on the veranda or whatever is no longer a novel or special thing. So the stresses of work (more than some of which have gotten worse during the pandemic) just pile up exactly the same way as they used to only do when I was stuck in the office.

And if I’m feeling frazzled on the weekend and reach the end of the coffee pot early in the afternoon? Guess what? I make a second pot on those days, too.

So, before the pandemic, working from home two days a week and then making coffee at home on the weekend, I was usually making four pots of coffee a week. Now I’m making at least 9 pots a week.

I’m trying to mitigate this is some ways. Some months back I stopped making coffee on Sundays at all, switching to making tea in my infuser pot (this also gave me a regular opportunity to run the coffee carafe and other washable parts of the coffee maker through the dishwasher instead of only doing just a perfunctory rinse each day). Tea is still a caffinated drink, but it’s generally lower in caffeine, so that helps me back off the weekly total a bit. I’ve also sometimes stopped myself from making a second pot and instead turned on the electric kettle to switch to single cups of tea made from bags.

I can’t cut it out completely, because I’m sure you’ve seen the memes that say that coffee is a warm, delicious alternative to hating everyone in the morning? Well, sometimes, “hating” is a euphemism for “murder” — so, don’t even think of suggesting that I give up the coffee altogether… because I know how to hide a body.

%d bloggers like this: