Dear COVID: I have tired of you

high transmissibility

Dear COVID:

Let me tell you what happened yesterday. After a quick dinner, I took out the trash. Then I walked a block to catch the #10 bus downtown. About two minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive, my wife drove her car up to my bus stop. I was puzzled; I didn’t need a ride.

No, she explained. A member of the choir called. The rehearsal was canceled because someone in the group had gotten COVID. That’s at least the third member of the choir who has contracted the disease this calendar year. This is getting kind of old, COVID. At least two choir members got in in 2020 or early 2021, but that was before the vaccines were widely available.

We try so hard!

And why, COVID, in upstate New York and northern New England? Our vaccine rate has been pretty robust. Yet of the 56 counties in the whole country that have high transmission rates, 37 are in MY state, north and/or west of Poughkeepsie.

For example, here’s a notice from the Albany City School District this week. “Due to the significant rise in new COVID-19 cases among City School District of Albany employees and students over the past week, the district is strongly encouraging everyone to wear masks inside all buildings.

“Mask-wearing indoors remains optional in New York. However, the Albany County Health Department issued a public health advisory earlier this week strongly recommending all residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces. The district is aligning with that recommendation during the current COVID-19 surge.”

Now “the district has reported 72 new COVID-19 cases in the past seven days, compared to 47 during the first 20 days of April and 48 through the entire month of March. The 72 cases in the district from April 21-27 are more than the district has experienced in 16 entire months since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.”

Knock wood

As I’ve noted, in 2020, my primary care physician said sternly, “Don’t get COVID!” I took the advice seriously. You know I was one of those people clamoring for the vaccine when it was still difficult to access. I got my two shots in March 2021. Then my first booster in September 2021 and my second in April 2022.

I never stopped wearing masks going to the CVS or the grocery store. The first time I ate out, in April 2021, the establishment had a rule. Masks can be off if you’re sitting, but if you’re standing or walking, your masks should be on. The Capital District Transportation Authority still requires masks on their buses. But the bus drivers, I’ve noted, are far less likely to enforce the requirement. And I get that.

It was exhausting for flight attendants, restaurant greeters, and mall cops to have to act as the mask police. I witnessed more than a few uncomfortable exchanges.

So far, no one in my household has contracted the disease. SO THERE, COVID. My wife and my daughter tested themselves before returning to school after spring break. I’ve been checking myself twice a week before choir rehearsal and church. Good thing I stocked up with those free test kits – well, free if you have insurance, at least.

Still, I’m feeling that it could still happen. COVID, you are a tricky SOB. But I won’t surrender easily.

Maladies Melodies Allergies

my second COVID booster

There’s a Paul Simon song that starts Maladies Melodies Allergies. I so relate.

My allergies to pollen and the like have been quite severe this season, the worst in years. They were so awful that every time my head hit the pillow at night, within five minutes, I would start to cough uncontrollably. Even trying to sleep with my head propped up wasn’t sufficient. One night I woke up four times, after about 90 minutes each time.

Finally, I started taking the generic version of Nyquil just so I could sleep for six hours in a row. It has a cough suppressant and a nasal decongestant. Likewise, my daughter suffers from seasonal allergies which affect her sleep. She actually stayed home from school a day last week, from sheer fatigue.

I decided that we should each take a home COVID test. As I expected, they were both negative. The other motivation for mine was that I was scheduled to get a second COVID booster. I understand that getting the booster while you actually have COVID is contraindicated. Incidentally, I had no bad reaction, as usual, as long as I didn’t lean my arm on the injection site.

We now have several COVID test kits, some from that time not so long ago when they were a bit difficult to come by. Now they are practically ubiquitous, which is good since I’ve used them a total of thrice in a week. The CDC guidelines in Albany County changed this past Thursday from GREEN to YELLOW, which means masking is no longer optional in church. So before Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday, I took a rapid test.

Expiry

I was curious about the fact that all the tests we currently own have an expiration date of June 30. This article from Health News Hub states: “The Food and Drug Administration countered Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance by extending their expiration dates. The FDA says it’s OK to add three months to any expiration date printed on a test kit box. (The BinaxNow test kit received FDA approval for an extended shelf life after tests showed the kit components were effective for up to 15 months.)

“Beyond the extended expiration date, results are not reliable.”

Also: “Most manufacturers of at-home tests recommend storing the kits between 35 degrees and 86 degrees. The greatest threat now is delivery during the cold winter months. A test kit left for a day or more in your mailbox at frigid temperatures could freeze the liquid reagent inside a cartridge that comes with the kit, invalidating the test results.”

So, if you see me going into a coughing jag, it’s unlikely that I am spreading COVID, only hay fever. It’s because I’m going to be getting used to sticking a cotton swab up my nose for a while.

Oh, yeah, that Paul Simon song.

Changing up the morning ritual

Quordle

Daily Quordle #51
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quordle.com
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🟨🟨⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜🟩⬜⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ ⬜⬜🟩⬜⬜
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟩⬜
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⬜🟩🟩⬜🟩 ⬜⬜🟩🟨🟩
⬜⬜⬜⬜🟨 ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩 ⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩
⬜🟨⬜🟨🟨 ⬜🟨⬜🟨🟨
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬜⬜🟩🟩🟩
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩⬜⬜⬜⬜
⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
I’ve been changing up the morning ritual in the past, lessee, two years. Formerly, I would get up, check the email, and perhaps work on the blog, But at 7 a.m., my wife and I would go downstairs and watch CBS This Morning, now CBS Mornings, to watch “your world in ninety seconds.”

When the headlines were unrelentingly about COVID – the spread of COVID, the death toll of COVID – I sometimes passed on the opportunity to start my day with misery. Presently, I’ve been feeling similarly about Ukraine. I guess I’m more equipped to deal with distress in the evening. Besides, I tend to get enough news from various news outlets during the day.

Instead, I do the daily Wordle. I should note that my wife is MUCH better at this than I am, just as she’s better at Boggle. My daughter is better, too. Wordle has become an odd family bonding experience.

I’ve repeatedly told my wife she’d rule on Wheel of Fortune. We actually have the home game, a consolation prize from when on JEOPARDY! and our comparative scores prove my point. But at least we all still have our Wordle streaks going, unlike some people.

FOUR words

Then I attempt Quordle. The first several times I never got the four words in the nine tries. My mistake was to work it like I played Wordle. I know now to try to expose as many letters by finding three or even four words that hit most of the consonants. I’ve been much more successful.

After wishing my wife goodbye, I go back into the office. The cats want to be fed. I HAD been giving them nourishment at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. But with the stupid time change, if I attend them at 7 and 7, when we “fall back”, they’d be caterwauling to get food at 6 and 6.

This is just one reason that I’m OK with the idea of changing to permanent Daylight Saving Time, even though it’ll be dark on December mornings. I’ve made my feelings about changing the clocks quite clear here. (I’m essentially agreeing with  Marco Rubio; this pains me.)

After finally feeding the felines, I take my blood pressure and my pulse to make sure I’m not dead. THEN I eat. The rest is the usual alternating of email/blogging to music, riding the stationary bike while watching TV (JEOPARDY, 60 Minutes, Finding Your Roots, Trevor Noah, et al), washing the dishes/reading the newspaper to music. This may be altered by a medical appointment, Bible study, grocery shopping, or the eternal “something else,” that unexpected task that sucks up hours in the day.

March rambling: quotation marks

Support the Albany High School robotics team!

tractor_beam_2x
From https://xkcd.com/2579/

In a world-historic first, microplastics were detected in human blood

The Our World in Data COVID vaccination data

 How American conservatives turned against the vaccine

The Lancet: Paul Farmer

Cameroonians fleeing conflict are in dire need of Temporary Protected Status – cf.  Inside “the most diverse square mile in America”

What Caused the War? Ukraine and Russia in Historical Context

The Race to Archive the Ukrainian Internet

Ukrainian Actress Oksana Shvets Killed in Russian Rocket Attack

Non-war conflict

Hate and extremism

How did Christianity become so toxic?

The Interactive Theater of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearing

Addressing racial inequality in paid leave policy

Sara Jacobs, one of the youngest members of Congress, talks about sexism and ageism in politics. 

Writing Women into History

Women in medicine are running up the wrong side of the escalator

Where Does the Religious Right Go After Roe?

Sojourner Truth’s Battle to Free Her Son from Slavery

Actor Tim Reid on addressing racial issues on WKRP in Cincinnati

Texas’ New Voting Law Disenfranchised Thousands Of Otherwise Eligible Voters

The Tangled, Messy Roots of Fake News, long before it became djt’s favorite term

Ginni Thomas demanded Congressional Republicans take the fight to overturn the 2020 election to the streets

John Bolton admits that ‘it’s hard to describe how little [djt] knows’

I Know There’s An Answer

Climate Change Brings Uncontrollable Wildfires

 The Illinois town that got up and left

The 1950 Census is Coming: What You Need to Know

Timbuctoo Institute would build opportunities in the Adirondacks 

About Those Gas Prices

Concert  Tickets: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

2021 County and Economic Development Regions Population Estimates for NYS

Luka’s mural

Jobfished: the con that tricked dozens into working for a fake design agency

“They’re called ‘quotation marks’.”

Phobias. Aibohphobia is the (unofficial) fear of palindromes. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is used to describe the fear of very long words.

The official Girl Scout cookie power rankings

The Result of a Rabbit Hole

Audience participation

GoFundMe page for the Albany High School Robotics Team to compete at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston, TX on April 20-23. They placed 2nd in the New York Tech Valley Regional Competition.

Four Open Seats on Albany Public Library Board in May 17 Election. Nominations are due to the Clerk of the City School District of Albany by Wednesday, April 27, at 5 pm.

New York Bike Census

Now I Know

The Biggest Bread Soup in the World and Why Are My Baby Carrots Always Wet? and The First Computer Bug and The Phone Booth in the Middle of Nowhere and Beware the Ire of Caesar and Which Came First, The Algorithm or the Pi? and World War II’s Pre-Email E-Mail

MUSIC

Livinliv – Aleksandr Shymko

Irish tunes

K-Chuck Radio: The musical tree of Ida Red  and green songs

Holiday at Ferghana -Reinhold Gliere

Lullabye of Broadway from 42nd Street

Coverville: 1393 – John Cale and Velvet Underground Cover Story and 1394 – The Blink-182 Cover Story II and 1395 – The Smashing Pumpkins Cover Story II

The follow-up post: ice, COVID, more

Half a block away

ice tireThis is a follow-up post about what I’ve written about, most recently.

Remember that our car was stuck in the ice in February? Of course, you do. After we got out, and the snow and ice subsequently melted away, we discovered that our neighbor’s sidewalk was still very wet. There was water bubbling up from the intersection of their sidewalk and the walkway to their house.

Apparently, someone from the city or from National Grid, the power company, nicked the waterline. Their water bill must have been terrible for that quarter. The owner had to contact a company to use their backhoe to dig up a couple of sidewalk panels so that the leak could be fixed.

This explains why there was SO much water around our car thawing and refreezing since our car was essentially in front of their house.

Grandma Agatha

I’ve been trying to access the records of the court case involving my grandmother, Agatha Walker (later Green), and my biological grandfather Raymond Cone from October 1926.

Alas, I got word that they can’t find the records. They may have been misfiled or destroyed. And I know, from the conversation I had with the person at Family Court, that they are very interested in this case.

The unmasking

I’ve noted that our church had been masking during worship. However, the Session, the ruling body of the congregation, had commissioned a group of folks, expert in these things, including current and former members of the state Department of Health. The infection rate in Albany County, NY is presently at Green, or low, as is all of New York State. (Green is good, as we know.)

The bottom line is that, as of March 20, masks are optional during worship. The choir, for instance, had a discussion at the beginning of the St. Patrick’s Day rehearsal. Most chose to unmask while singing. BUT no one had to. I tended to keep my mask on while NOT singing but to take it off when I was.

Moreover, congregational singing was allowed, which made them, and me, very happy. And they passed the peace by moving around, rather than just waving at each other.

I will say that my comfort level with unmasking was based on the fact that the choir members are fully vaccinated. Moreover – and I don’t know how to say this without sounding pretentious – our congregation is of a demographic, educational, and political composition that most, if not all of them have gotten the vaccines and likely wearing masks frequently.

Now I know this could change with the BA.2 variant of Omicron in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The recent BAFTA awards in England may have been a super spreader event. And there are more stringent rules in place at church if the CDC guidance for our county goes to Yellow or Orange.

Former governor

Speaking of my church, you probably WON’T remember that I wrote about New York Governor Martin Glynn nearly a decade ago. The Glynn Mansion is half a block from my church! I have walked by it a few dozen times since writing that post. But only recently did I notice the commemorative plaque.

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