All my shots: COVID #3 and more

Tdap

COVID vaccineYes, I’ve got all my shots. In the month of September, I received not one, not two, but THREE vaccines.

1. The influenza shot.- “The best time to get a flu vaccine — which reduces the risk of serious flu-related illness, hospitalization or death — is any time between September and the end of October, the CDC suggests.”

I’ve been getting the shot every year for over a decade, after getting the flu kept me in bed for about a week.

2. The Tdap (tetanusdiphtheria, pertussis) shot. As I noted here, I had stepped on a nail in 2000 in my then-new backyard and got my first shot probably in decades. I got another one in 2010. As my old pal, Diane suggested, “Sometime (around 2000) pertussis was re-instituted in the ‘adult’ Td…” Pertussis is also known as whooping cough.

But I didn’t get the shot in 2020 because my doctor, who I had seen only once that year, for my physical in September, didn’t want to subject me to two sore arms. This year, I was given a choice; two sore arms now, or come back later. I opted for the former. And it wasn’t bad at all.

Booster

3. A third “booster” dose of the Pzifer vaccine

I had briefly struggled with whether I, as an entitled American who can readily receive the shot, should get a third dose. Much of the world hasn’t been able to get any vaccine.

The conversation in my head sounded rather like when I was a little kid and told to eat the beets (canned beets were AWFUL). Some parents, I don’t think mine, would say, “Eat these because there are people in China who are starving.” And the kids’ retort would suggest that they’d gladly send their veggies to Peking.

Of course, that wasn’t and isn’t physically possible. The current administration is dedicated to buying and sending vaccines abroad. But as this CBS News story about Lesotho notes, “Battling COVID in Africa takes more than vaccines. It takes ‘flying doctors,’ and even they need help.” If I thought my third shot was taking away someone else’s first shot, I would have gladly forgone it.

Musing

Ultimately, I decided to get the extra dose because of the news that the Pfizer vaccine, which I had received in March, appears to be less effective over time than the Moderna. And I’m over 65 and overweight, plus over 700,000 Americans have died of the disease, so that’s an affirmative.

I received my first two doses at a CVS about a mile from my house. This time, I went on the CVS website and found I could walk to my local pharmacy 0.3 of a mile away. They wanted a little more info this time, such as both my Medicare and my Rx insurance numbers, and telling of my reaction to the previous shots. But the process was not onerous.

No reaction to the third shot, other than a little soreness at the injection site, same as the second dose.

Optimism: is it always good?

optimismAfter I had written about my melancholy/depression, I allowed that my default position about events is not optimism, but pessimism. My friend Cee had heard the benefits of optimism.

And indeed, if you Google “Is optimism good?” the first thing one might find is this quote from Kids’ Health: ” Optimism Is Healthy. It turns out that an optimistic attitude helps us be happier, more successful, and healthier. Optimism can protect against depression — even for people who are at risk for it. An optimistic outlook makes people more resistant to stress. Optimism may even help people live longer.”

So it’s settled. Wait a minute. The next article is a 2015 piece from the Washington Post stating that “Researchers have found a really good reason not to be an optimist.” It references an NIH study.

That Wapo article: “Optimism isn’t merely unhelpful at times—it can be demonstrably counterproductive. Telling someone ‘you can do it’ when they actually can’t doesn’t change the outcome, and it makes them more likely to exert time and effort on a fruitless task. There might be no clearer example than the fact that optimists spend more time looking for Waldo, but are no more likely to find him.” But the piece allows that pessimism is not curative either.

Ben Franklin

I had mentioned to Cee that I had long been attracted by a portrayal of Ben Franklin, on, of all things Bwitched. His character [said]… that “he always going through life expecting negative outcomes so that when something positive happened, he would be pleasantly surprised. It was a punchline that was supposed to be funny – the canned laughter told me that – but, to me, it made SENSE… ‘Perhaps I’m an optimistic pessimist — prepare for the worst, but when the very worst doesn’t happen, I’m pleasantly surprised.’”

I’m more vulnerable when I’m optimistic. I’m thinking of someone in a particular position who despised the action of a perpetrator, and rightly so. When they were in the same situation as the previous villain, I was optimistic that they, remembering how crummy they felt, would act differently. Nope, they performed the same damn way. As bad as the mess was, it was my optimism that bit me in the butt.

This is why, for instance, I’m not disappointed in politicians anymore. If they end up being better than expected, I’m pleased. But if they have feet of clay, well, what did I expect? I suppose this sounds cynical, but it tends to regulate my highs and lows, which in the main, works for me.

So the fact that I was optimistic that we’d be out of this damn pandemic by now is why I crashed emotionally a bit. This commercial really spoke to me.

Getting thru the rest of the pandemic

For MY sake, people, PLEASE get your damn shots!

rest of the pandemicHow am I going to get through the rest of the pandemic? Eighteen months after it hit our area, I have found the need to analyze the ups and downs of my mental health.

Thursday, March 12, 2020: Last choir rehearsal to date. The next day, sensing things would shut down for a while, I took out seven Marvel DVDs (which I didn’t watch for a few months). The church was canceled that Sunday.

Sunday, March 22: Church started on Facebook, with the pastors, their older daughter, and one church member. The music was previously recorded from past services. An ersatz experience, but better than nothing. It got better over time, with section leaders and a handful of others taping music specifically for the service. BYOC – bring your own communion, often Wheat Thins and my MIL’s homemade grape juice.

April: Starting to feel a bit isolated, I started to call people on the telephone, two per day until Memorial Day, Then one a day until August.

April 22, 2020: My father-in-law died, unrelated to COVID. His three surviving children were with him. No service at that time.

Mid-August to early October: Worked the Census. Did I feel totally safe going door-to-door wearing a mask? Why no, but it was important work.

December: Missing the chance to sing at church during Lent and now Advent sucketh.

I’m not throwing away my shot!

January 2021: There are a couple of vaccines out there. When will I get mine? When will I get mine?

February: When will I get mine? My wife got her first shot.

March: I got both of my injections, my wife got her second and my daughter got her first! Yay!

April 6: I went out to eat, outside, with three of my oldest friends, Carol and Karen and Bill, plus Karen’s old friend Michael. Besides being happy seeing them, this was incredibly liberating.

May 1: our daughter tossed her parents out of the house so she could clean the room. So her parents saw the tulips in Albany’s Washington Park, hung out at Peebles Park, saw the waterfalls at Cohoes, which despite it being in Albany County, I hadn’t seen in 30 years and my wife had never been there. Then we went to a small Lebanese restaurant and ate… INDOORS. There was only one other party there, but still. Radical stuff.

June 21: First day of IN-PERSON church worship! Hallelujah! Masks in church, but the coffee hour in the parking lot.

But then…

Just as I thought we were coming out of it, the country, and indeed my county, was experiencing upticks in the infection rates. So it felt as though every other plan that I was involved with was being altered.

I know I’m hardly the only one. Massive Science noted last month. “The past six months in the US provides a clear example of how vaccine complacency works, showing how over-optimistic assumptions about vaccines can lead to the elimination of other precautions too quickly. “

So, for instance, “Saturday, October 16 was supposed to be Young@Heart’s triumphant return to the stage in our hometown. And then came the Delta variant. Suddenly, it was – once again – no longer safe for us to rehearse together and perform live in person.” they’re doing the virtual thing.

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library has changed its  Literary Legends gala plans from about 150 people indoors and unmasked to 75 people, vaccinated and masked, a more difficult task.

I had hoped that, after a year and a half of not singing in the church choir, surely we’d be back together. Alas, no. And there are myriad other examples, from performances limited to funerals still postponed. And we’re in the situation in large part because… well, you know why.

Not so funny

I know that there are  “Funny Vaccine Memes To Get You Through The Rest Of The Pandemic.” They are so NOT working for me. (And to be honest, some of them I just don’t get.)

So I’ve become angry, even enraged, by the situation. Now, anger doesn’t last in me. But sadness does. After railing against the inanity, I’ve felt melancholy at best, or likely depressed.

I’m trying to discover remedies. Reading books won’t help, because I can’t focus on them presently. No video of more than about seven minutes can hold my attention. I read the lifestyle tips ad nauseum, which are just not attainable at present. I’m not sure of the solution; I’ve opted against medicating with alcohol.

A few months ago, I sought the service of a psychologist. It was remote, and it didn’t “take” for me. I’ll probably seek that route again.

Sept. rambling: Suicide prevention

Way Less Sad

NAMI: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. “It’s Okay to Talk About Suicide”

Food insecurity soared roughly 9% last year for Americans

The LMNOPs of Caring for the Nursing Workforce: Healthcare systems can do more to prevent staff burnout

 A Guide on Racism, Inequality, and Health Care for African Americans.

Household COVID-19 risk and in-person schooling

Fines Double for Refusing to Wear a Mask on a Plane

 ‘I’m learning firsthand how difficult it is to be shunned by people you love’: The vaccine wars are getting personal

 Once-in-a-Century Weather Events Every Week

 Why ‘I’ Hurricane Names Are Most Likely to Be Retired

What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind, -Grief, conspiracy theories, and one family’s search for meaning in the two decades since 9/11

How can America wake up from its post-9/11 nightmare?

Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy (Erik Prince, 2010)

A Dozen Observations about Abortion, Texas, and the Supreme Court

Power Move: Charles Blow wants Black people to reverse the Great Migration and form majorities in the Southern states.

Journey with Jesus: Richard Rothstein on “The Color of Law” 

Is it Better Not To Know?

‘SNL’ Alum Norm Macdonald Dead At 61

Sporting News
every_data_table
https://xkcd.com/2502/ Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Pittsburgh Pirates lineup from Sept. 1, 1971, the first time an AL or NL team had fielded an all-Black and Latino starting lineup.

60+ Key Stats About the Olympic and Paralympics

 The Woman Who Invented Stuffed Animals 

John Green:  My Two Favorite Jokes. From the comments: “I went into the library and asked the librarian for a book on turtles. ‘Hard back?’ ‘Yeah, with little heads.'”

How Much of the World’s Bourbon Is Actually Made in Kentucky?

Surf the Vintage Internet 

ZOOM:  Celebrating 10 Years of Zoom: “Some of you have only known Zoom since early 2020.” Including me.

What Is a Squinting Modifier?

A 13,654 stick bomb 

Now I Know: The Friend on the Bench and The Man Who Gets People Out of the Hospital and The Magical Place Where Everyone Can Play

MUSIC

Elegy by Mark Camphouse

I heard this song called Way Less Sad by AJR this week for the first time last week. It came out in February 2021. For the life of me, I recognized but could not immediately place the horn riff. No, not Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears or Earth, Wind and Fire. Finally, it came to me, without looking it up: the way too sad My Little Town by Simon and Garfunkel! Paul Simon even gets a writing credit for Way Less Sad.

Times Will Be Better – Elena Romanova 

I Bought Myself A Politician – MonaLisa Twins

Flivver Ten Million by Frederick Shepherd Converse, played by the Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by JoAnn Falletta

Michelle – Julian Neel

Arlington from John Williams’s score to JFK

17 Quotes on the Transformative Power of Music

The Call of Wisdom (Proverbs 1)

Big Lies

WisdomAt my church yesterday, the liturgical Old Testament lesson was Proverbs 1:20-33. It describes a personified Wisdom, and, not so incidentally, as a woman.

The New Revised Stand Version (NRSV) reads, in part:

Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares, she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?”

But there is a Bible translation called The Message, by Peterson. It was the preferred translation by my late friend Keith Barber.

This take is far more pointed:

Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center, she makes her speech. In the middle of the traffic, she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out:

“Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?”

The birth of the Big Lie

And it feels like she’s addressing, oh EVERYTHING that is happening. Mark Evanier pointed to an essay by Lucian K. Truscott IV, and quotes this section:

“The legacy 9/11 has left us is that there is no common set of facts we can agree on about anything: Not about the COVID pandemic and masks and vaccines; not about the climate change that has killed hundreds and left town after town burned to the ground or underwater and destroyed by tornadoes and hurricanes.

“We cannot agree that votes counted amount to elections won or lost. We cannot even agree on the common good of vaccines that will save us, that science is worth studying, that learned experts are worth listening to.”

As a librarian who tries to find facts for people, this blatant disregard for truth has continually made me, at first, angry, but ultimately very, very sad. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Proverbs 1 (Peterson):

What if catastrophe strikes and there’s nothing to show for your life but rubble and ashes? You’ll need me then. You’ll call for me, but don’t expect an answer. No matter how hard you look, you won’t find me…

Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First, pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy-you’re in good hands.