Always: the collective folk wisdom

30% chance of rain

cdta_bus_10_downtown_albanyI was taking a bus home from my allergist, the second of two. Someone asked if I were waiting for a particular line, which I was. My CDTA Navigator app said the next bus was coming at 10:04; it was 9:58 at the time.

This person then launched into a tirade. “The buses are always late! They should do something about them!. The buses should come more often!”

The bus rolls up at 10:03, and I got on; there were about six people aboard. Ironically, the other party tried to wheedle their way onto the bus because they had no money for the fare. (N.b.: if they had asked me, I would have paid for them.)

This bugged me, just a little because it’s that unwarranted generalization that the System has failed. In fact, the four buses I took that day were all within four minutes of on-time.

Forecast

It’s like when people say in my presence, “The weather forecast is always wrong.” This is usually followed by “It must be great to get paid for being wrong all of the time.” Occasionally I’ve pushed back against the assertion, but I’ve found that to be not very fruitful. So I generally ignore it.

The accusation is addressed here by a meteorologist. ” Take, for instance, a day with a ’30 percent chance of rain.’ That’s tough to… show in a simple TV 7-day graphic. But it’s possible that a majority of the people stay dry and a small percentage see rain.”

I’ve experienced that quite often. I landed at the Albany airport, where it was sunny and dry. But when I got home, seven miles away, it had clearly rained. Or back in my FantaCo days, it was raining in Albany, but the owner came in from Averill Park, across the river, and he had snow on his roof.

Here’s a geeky article. It states, logically, that the shorter the outlook, say one to three days, the more likelihood, that it’ll be correct.

The COVID vaccine

Kelly noted that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers defended his “alternative” regimen as “immunization” equivalent to being fully vaccinated. But what ticked off the western New Yorker, understandably, is this: “Liberals hated vaccines when 45 was President but as soon as Biden took over they loved them.”

I know lots of liberals who spent months praying – some of them literally – for a vaccine. If it had been available in October 2020 and I were eligible, damn straight I would have gotten inoculated.

Rodgers is in this prism that suggests that liberals like me are always going to dispute whatever good things happened during 45’s term. What I disputed were what 45 seemed to do to minimize his own vaccine accomplishments by touting hydroxychloroquine or other unproven formulations.

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.

Time on the telephone

telephone-1822040_640People occasionally ask me what I do with my time, now that I’m retired. The more correct question is how did I get through the week when I was working?

I spend a lot of time on the telephone because I’m “free”. So if my daughter is getting a vaccine for school, but we don’t remember the time of the appointment, I call her doctor. The initial message says there are 24 people in the queue. It also says I’ll get to speak to a human being in “three minutes, and fifty-four minutes.” So the countdown begins every 30 seconds: 22 minutes in the line, 21, 19, 17, et al. Do I want to press 1 and have them call back? I did that with Amtrak, but I knew the wait would be over an hour. I stayed for 16 minutes, as it turned out.

The cable box from Spectrum is not working properly. Before I call, I always reboot the system. Then the auto-voice character does the same thing. When I call back, I eventually get a human. I’m told that I have a “known problem.” So I can set shows to record, they do record, but they don’t show on the menu is a “known problem”? The only solution is to switch out the box.

Overpriced Rx

I received an amazingly mangled folded-over postcard. It was regarding a “$345 million dollar epinephrine (Epipen) class action settlement with Pzifer.” To file a “consumer claim,” I did not “need to provide any documentation at this time. However, the Settlement Administrator may ask for additional proof supporting your claim.” BTW, the lawsuit is regarding the price of the Epi-Pen, not its efficacy. 

So if we could have come up with a reasonable guesstimate, I would have submitted it. But I thought it was about 25 packets, but my wife thought it was at least twice that.

I contacted my local CVS, where most, if not all of the prescriptions were filled. But they only had the records for the past two years. I needed to call 800-SHOP-CVS. After being on hold forever, I got someone who didn’t really understand my ask initially.

Eventually, I was transferred to someone who knew what I wanted. I needed the records department, and they’re on;ly open between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time, and by then it was 4:45.

A few days later, I called earlier. Still a lengthy wait, but when I got to the records department, the person I spoke to knew I needed purchases between August 24, 2011, and November 1, 2020. She was trouble finding my daughter’s records, but we figured out that the records were under MY name as the insurance holder.

The records took less than a week to arrive by mail.

The DeSantis variant of COVID-19

some have good sense

DeSantisSomeone suggested “the DeSantis variant”, and I’m not remembering who.

After I got my second dose of the Pzifer vaccine on March 24, I felt…liberated. It wasn’t that I thought the pandemic was over, but that it was ending in the United States sooner rather than later. The country had a sufficient amount of vaccines, enough to send to countries that didn’t have access, through WHO’s COVAX program.

Then the new vaccine numbers plummeted, and infection rates went up, first in the South and Midwest then everywhere. What I saw on the television, of medical personnel turning cafeterias and parking lots into extra COVID-19 beds. But this was different than last year at this time. Many of these folks were frustrated. And a lot of them were ANGRY.

Most of them DIDN’T say, “You dummies! You’ve brought this on yourselves!” But it was, in several cases, the clear subtext. Patients, or their families asking, begging for the vaccine as people suffer through the effects of the condition.

Some people who didn’t get injections I cut a lot of slack for. Pregnant women who worried about the side effects. The immunocompromised who are going to need that third dose.

“Freedom”

But the argument that people who aren’t getting the vaccine only are harming themselves is simply not true, despite the panoply of articles being sent to me by someone I’ve known most of my life. (It also includes info about the stolen election, the persecution of the Pillow Guy, and minimization of the Holocaust, so I’ve deigned to filter them out.)

Those folks not getting vaccinated are Petri dishes making the population, i.e., ME more likely to become sick with a variant of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida have, in the name of “freedom”, banned school districts in their states from a vaccine and/or mask mandates, though some districts are ignoring them. What about the freedom to keep people safe and healthy?

Dr. Rob Davidson is looking to understand. “I don’t blame my patients for their refusal [to get vaccinated.] What breaks my heart, as someone who took an oath to prevent harm, is that my patients choose to abandon the science and evidence that can save their lives. I do blame Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7.”

Patience lost

True enough. Yet, despite my desperate attempt to try to “see the other side,” I’m just not able to do it anymore. Don’t have it in me. These people are, if I’m being totally honest, infuriating me. Thoughtless privilege. Cognitive distortions. And since I can’t just scream at them – it would do no good anyway – it leaves me in a state of melancholy. I have what Mark Evanier calls “The Springtime for Hitler” look at anti-vaxx/anti-mask efforts in our country.

DeSantis, in particular, irritates me, with his posturing to grab hold of the Trump voters when he presumably runs for President in 2024. He’s threatening to withhold salaries from district superintendents who mandate masks in schools. At least I can yell at him when I see his smirk on the TV. I’ve renamed the Delta variant the DeSantis variant; use in good health.

The vaccine could save us if we let it. But as we go backward in the fight against COVID-19, I can hold onto the fact that at least most of my friends and relatives have the good sense to protect themselves, and me. Especially me.

August rambling: look to the Founders

148 Bonnie Meadow Road in New Rochelle, NY

Simon Bar Sinister
Underdog villain Simon Bar Sinister, and a former NYC mayor

When Even the IEA Sounds an Alarm on Climate, the World Must Listen. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans, and land,” – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Burnt parts of Pacific forests are landing on the Atlantic.

Lying about vaccination status. Some people are going to intense lengths to get unauthorized COVID booster shots and When it comes to COVID vaccines, look to the Founders for answers

The Once and Future Coup

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Housing Discrimination and Emergency Medical Services  

After The Fall. Ben Rhodes raises a hard question: How did America get from the pinnacle of our Cold War victory to this sorry place?

Persepolis “Banned” in Commack, NY

Nearly 14M Individual Tax Returns Still Need Processing

The lie of “expired” food and the disastrous truth of America’s food waste  problem

Re: Simone Biles:  Olympians Are People First and Sports Culture’s Toxic Masculinity and ask yourself the questions on this decision tree

Gender inequality in esports

The Cleveland Indians/Guardians a teachable moment?

Are journalism programs properly training students to navigate harassment?

How Rudy Guiliani Went From 9/11’s Hallowed Mayor to 2021’s Haunted Ghoul

Sure, we got a billion bucks lyin’ around someplace (new Buffalo Bills stadium on the public dole?)

The worst money we’ve ever spent

7 Questions About America (from My Danish Husband) I Just Can’t Answer

Explaining the Different Post-Colonial Trajectories of Ireland and Haiti

Childhood of Some (In)Famous Americans

The culture

There’s a reason for the “k” in “knife”

The floorplan of 148 Bonnie Meadow Road in New Rochelle, NY — home of Rob and Laura Petrie and their son Ritchie.

Mark Evanier:  Flying the 747 (1970)

Dream of the Green Turtle, in mid-1944, arguably the first East Asian superhero

Poetry on Vinyl: An Interview with Jeff Alessandrelli of Fonograf Editions

The Oatmeal: Why it breaks your brain to take a compliment and You should love yourself and Leaving your pets at home

Colour trends of the year

Now I Know:  The Village That Went Dark and Was Proud of It and The Staircase With the Traffic Light and  Happy Belated Birthday, Australian Horses! and The Hidden Danger in the Walls of Your Old House and Why Congress Gets Free Men’s Magazines and Where’d the R in Mrs. Come From? and The Bugs That Make Danger Glow and There was once a Mickey Mouse gas mask. Here’s why and  The Great Cookie– er, Biscuit– er, Cake Debate of 1991

FFAPL

2021 Literary Legends Tickets on sale NOW. The program is on Saturday, October 16, 2021, at the Pine Hills branch of the APL. Support the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library and join us as we celebrate this year’s honorees, Lydia Davis and Eugene Mirabelli. General tickets

The Friends and Foundation were very sad to learn that former Friends president Paul Hacker passed away in July. This follows the news about David Colchamiro, who passed away in June.

MUSIC

Sharp Little Pencil: Loving You Today

Find My Way – Paul McCartney and Beck

Drive My Car – MonaLisa Twins

Mr. Popeil – “Weird Al” Yankovic. (RIP, Ron Popeil.)

Overture to La Cenerentola by Giachino Rossini

Rough Boy – ZZ Top

Coverville 1366: The Depeche Mode Cover Story III and 1367: Tribute to ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, and Cover Stories for Tony Bennett and Martha and The Vandellas and 1368: Track by Track Album Cover – Who’s Next

Footsteps in the Snow by Claude Debussy – Des pas sur la neige (Préludes – Book I)

A Musical 

Love and Mercy – Libera

Contrafactum – noun: A composition that makes use of an existing piece of music with different lyrics

Stories Behind 12 of Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits

10 Beatles Hits That ‘Rip Off’ Other Songs

Inside the Making of Prince’s Posthumous Album, Welcome 2 America