business, complaints, rants

I’m not loving it at the Golden Arches… another COVID related rant.

I have a bunch of travel writing to do, and I am definitely going to get to it. But before I dive into travel blogging, I have to rant about something that happened yesterday as we were driving home from Austria. I’m sure some people reading this will come to the conclusion that I was being a “Karen” (a term I loathe, by the way). If you want to think of me in that way, it’s your privilege. However, I think my complaint makes some sense… especially if you live in Europe, where COVID rules and regulations change at every border, and at the whims of whomever is in charge.

Alright… so now that I’ve issued a disclaimer of sorts, here’s my story.

Bill and I just took a trip that took us through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia. In every place, there were different COVID-19 rules in effect regarding mask wearing, vaccines, and what not. In Austria, if you have been vaccinated, you don’t even need to wear a mask, unless you’re on a bus, in a grocery store, or visiting a medical facility. In Slovenia, masks were supposedly required, but very few people wore them properly, or at all. Same with Croatia, where almost everyone who wore a mask had it under their noses or chins. Croatia and Slovenia are supposedly COVID “hot spots”, although the places we visited were almost completely devoid of people.

In Germany, masks are still required indoors, and some regions have rules that are stricter than others. In Bavaria, for instance, customers are supposed to wear masks. However, a surgical mask is evidently not enough. You’re supposed to wear a FFP2 mask, which is thicker and looks like a coffee filter. Because they’re really thick and close fitting, I can’t stand to wear them. So I don’t. That’s not a problem in Hesse, where I live, because here, a surgical mask works. And people, on the whole, are less anal retentive in Hesse than they are in some of the more southern regions of Germany.

Anyway, I guess Bavaria had loosened up on the masking protocols over the summer, because on our way to Austria on October 26th, we stopped at a roadside McDonald’s for lunch. We had to show the cashier that we were vaccinated, and of course, we wore masks. However, I, and many of the other people in the restaurant, wore surgical masks, and no one said a word about it. No one said anything at the rest stops we used in Bavaria, either, going to or coming back from the more southern countries we visited.

On the way home yesterday, we ended up stopping at the same McDonald’s for lunch. I hadn’t wanted to stop there again, but when we tried to stop at a different roadside restaurant, there was no parking available for cars. The spaces were all taken up by tractor trailers. The next available stop was the same one we visited on the way down to Austria on October 26th. Again, we visited that restaurant not two weeks ago and had no issues, even though I wasn’t wearing the much vaunted FFP2 mask, nor were many of the other people in the restaurant.

I wasn’t smiling with my eyes… that is for sure.

We walked into the McDonald’s, which was pretty empty. To get to the counter, we had to walk past the restrooms and up a flight of stairs. We approached the cashier who, without saying “Hello” or “Welcome” or “Kiss my ass” or anything, pointed to me and said I needed a FFP2 mask. I probably gave her an extremely annoyed look. Then I turned to Bill and said, “Nope. Forget it. Let’s just go.”

FUCK.

So we turned around and left the McDonald’s. Then we went to the neighboring Burger King and got lunch there, although we decided to eat it in the car. I probably will never return to that McDonald’s, because I will always remember the rude way that cashier in an empty restaurant told me it wasn’t enough that I have been fully vaccinated and was wearing a medical mask. I also needed to be wearing the coffee filter for the ten seconds I would be face to face with that woman, who was, herself, along with her fellow crew members, wearing a simple surgical mask.

I actually did have a brand new FFP2 mask in my purse, but I realized that in order to comply with the rules, I’d have to leave the restaurant, take off my surgical mask, put on the FFP2 mask, then go back in, climb the flight of stairs, show my vaccine certs, and then sit down at a table, where I would promptly remove the mask so we could have a rather crappy lunch. It seemed like an unnecessary and pointless exercise, when all I wanted to do was pick up some food and quickly eat before I turned into a hangry Godzilla.

Frankly, that exchange, while likely in compliance with Bavaria’s current COVID-19 rules, was very off-putting. The experience of eating at a McDonald’s is, in and of itself, pretty off-putting, anyway. It seemed absurd to me that just 24 hours earlier, Bill and I visited a beautiful restaurant in Salzburg, where we wore masks inside and were advised we could remove them entirely, once we showed the hostess proof of vaccination.

I realize that the cashier was just doing what she was ordered to do, and I did, after the fact, read that the rules changed again as of yesterday morning. I know that working at McDonald’s, even in a civilized country like Germany, is probably not the most fun job there is, and I know it doesn’t pay very well. I don’t know how much anxiety was involved for her in pointing out to me that my medical mask wasn’t suitable. My guess, given that it was Bavaria, is that she probably enjoyed enforcing the rules. She probably doesn’t care that we left the restaurant disappointed and unsatisfied. However, if enough people end up doing that, I’m not sure how long that restaurant can stay in business.

My complaint isn’t even so much with the cashier who was following the rules, as it is with the fact that the rules in Bavaria differ so much from the rules in other areas. Since that restaurant is at a truck stop, it serves people who are coming from all over Europe, driving from places that have different rules that change by the region or the ever changing hospital rates. A lot of them may not be aware of or prepared for Bavaria’s quirkier rules which, to be honest, are probably not much more than optics that make it look like Bavaria is doing “more” to stop the spread of the virus.

Seriously… stop and think about it for a minute. Bill wore a FFP2 mask, but it’s one he’s used repeatedly for I don’t know how long. Those masks cost significantly more than surgical masks do, so people tend to reuse them for long periods of time, which hinders their effectiveness. Changing out the masks is also something that people don’t necessarily think to do, even if the cost of them isn’t a burden. People tend to put them on for as long as required, take them off, and stuff them somewhere convenient for quick and easy compliance.

For that reason, I am convinced that this rule is just about optics and trying to “look” more aggressive. It’s probably a political move more than anything else. As long as you wear the “right” mask, it doesn’t matter that it’s months old. You just have to look like you’re in compliance. I’m sure my fresher surgical mask was less polluted and probably “safer” than Bill’s nasty, overused FFP2 was. But because his was a FFP2, he was deemed as following the rules in an otherwise empty restaurant, while I didn’t pass muster.

The disposable masks also create pollution. I’ve seen quite a lot of them tossed on the ground. And it also doesn’t look like the FFP2 masks are even that much more effective. Though Bavaria has required the heavier masks since January 2021, they’re obviously still having issues with the spread of the virus. That’s not going to improve until more people get vaccinated or develop antibodies. The stupid mask procedures are just a Band-Aid, especially when they are arbitrarily enforced, and not required of staff members.

I didn’t argue with the McDonald’s cashier. I didn’t flip her off, threaten her, swear at her, or even say anything particularly snarky. I just looked really annoyed and said, “Nope. Forget it. Let’s go.” Then we turned around and left, not having done any business with the huge American monstrosity that is McDonald’s. That pretty much means that McDonald’s doesn’t offer a product worth jumping through hoops for, nor did the cashier’s less than friendly and welcoming attitude make me want to cooperate with her. So we went to their competitor, instead. The food wasn’t any better there, but at least it satisfied my hunger long enough to get us home before I went full on Godzilla.

And now, I’m thinking I won’t be voluntarily doing any business in Bavaria until this COVID bullshit is mitigated. Nothing against the Bavarians, but there are other places I can visit where I don’t have to jump through endless anal retentive hoops to accomplish the most basic activities of life. Sheesh… I know I’m complaining, but give me a break. I come from the United States, where people are actually coming to physical blows over COVID rules. Americans aren’t the only ones, either. Some Germans are starting to get fed up, too. Recently, a German man shot and killed a cashier at a gas station because he felt constrained by the rules and was upset about government overreach. Sadly, some Germans who are similarly fed up were laughing and cheering about the murder.

I also read a fascinating story yesterday about how some American McDonald’s employees in Bradford, Pennsylvania are fed up with the crappy working conditions and low pay there. Almost the entire day shift walked off the job. I can’t blame them at all for that. I don’t know if it’s better to work at a German McDonald’s… it probably is. The food is only marginally better, anyway. I do think it’s kind of funny to be so concerned about FFP2 masks when McDonald’s is unhealthy on so many levels. Properly worn, the FFP2 masks supposedly protect the wearer from viruses, but then they get exposed to the food at McDonald’s.

To be clear, I certainly don’t think it’s appropriate to resort to physical violence or kill people over face masks… but I’m not going to voluntarily accept being forced to wear a FFP2 as a condition of doing business, unless that becomes the norm everywhere, is required of everyone, and is consistently enforced. Bavaria and its hyper-controlling powers-that-be can just stick that shit where the sun doesn’t shine… and that sure does describe my disposition yesterday, as we left the Golden Arches for the more welcoming Burger King next door.

Come to think of it… it’s healthier all the way around not to visit the Golden Arches. Maybe I should thank the Bavarians for that. 😉

Standard
condescending twatbags, Duggars, rants

Nurie’s new baby, why the WSJ sucks, and disrespectful jerks…

Wow… I have a lot to write about today. I could write several posts, or I could just stick with one. Since I’m feeling kind of lazy, I think I’ll just stick with one post. I see Jetpack’s SEO tester likes my title and gave me the “green light”.

First thing– I know a lot of people find my blog because I occasionally keep up with fundies. My posts about Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller get a lot of hits. I noticed a lot of hits last night, as Nurie’s nutty mom, Jill, announced that Nurie delivered her son, reportedly named Nehemiah, on October 11th. Mother and son appear to be healthy and happy, which is a good thing. Jill also shared many photos and reported that Nurie and her husband, Nathan, will be going live to discuss all of the details of the birth.

Nurie and Nathan and their new arrival in a shot publicly shared by Nurie’s mom, Jill.

Personally, I think if I were a brand new, first-time mom, I’d want to take a few days to rest up and recover before going on camera to talk about birthing. But evidently, Nurie is raring to share her precious bundle of joy with everyone. So if you’re interested in the details, you can tune in on Facebook at 4pm– I assume eastern time– and hear all about it. Or you can just follow the Duggar Family News page and/or group, like I do. If not for them, I probably wouldn’t know anything about the Rodrigues family.

I seem to remember that Nurie was due October 12. Looks like they were very accurate in predicting the lad’s arrival.

I’m glad for Nurie that she has a healthy son. She looks genuinely happy, radiant, and beautiful in the post pregnancy photos I’ve seen. I don’t really follow her family, but I know a lot of people think they’re interesting. I wish health and happiness to the Kellers… and I hope they keep their son away from his Uncle Josh Duggar. But I suspect that won’t be too much of an issue, as Josh’s trial looms next month.

Speaking of the Duggars… I also learned that Jill Duggar Dillard, wife of Derick and former fundie Kool-Aid drinker, just had a miscarriage. I am genuinely sorry to hear about that, especially since I know that she and Derick very responsibly waited before trying for another baby after their son, Sam, was born in 2017 in what was reportedly a medically dramatic fashion. I hope they will soon have a rainbow baby, if that’s what they want.

Very sad news for the Dillards.

As for Anna Duggar, she’s reportedly ready to give birth any day now. As far as I know, her due date hasn’t been publicly announced, but based on the pictures I recently saw of her accompanying Josh to a court proceeding, she looks ready to pop. Hopefully, this baby will be her last… particularly with Josh. But, as they say, God only really knows.

Now… on to the next topic.

A year ago, I decided to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It was late October 2020; we were locked down, and there were articles I wanted to read. They were offering a good deal, and I don’t mind supporting journalism, even though the WSJ is a bit more right wing than I am. Little did I know when I subscribed, the Wall Street Journal makes it fucking difficult to unsubscribe. Like– it’s SO easy to subscribe to the paper online. No issues whatsoever. But, unless you live in an area with local laws that require businesses to allow people to unsubscribe in the same way they subscribed, you have to fucking CALL the WSJ to get them to turn off your subscription.

Fuck this noise.

I became aware of this issue a couple of weeks ago, when the paper sent me a notice that as of the end of October 2021, the WSJ would start charging me by the month. I didn’t like that option. I prefer to pay for subscriptions by the year, if I can. Also, I noticed that the monthly charge was significantly higher than what I paid when I signed up. I don’t mind paying more for content if I use it, but I almost never read the WSJ. I pay monthly for the New York Times, and it’s pretty expensive. But I use it all the time, can share articles with my friends, and have even shared the subscription with Bill and my mother-in-law. I can’t do any of that with the WSJ.

I was originally going to pay by the year if I could, but even that required me to call the fucking customer service center. The WSJ does have an office in Germany, but that would mean having to deal with language barriers. I don’t even enjoy calling people in the United States. I really hate doing it in Germany, where my terrible German skills are of even less use on the phone.

Then I realized that it doesn’t sit well with me that the WSJ basically forces subscribers to waste time, running the gauntlet of long phone queues and high pressure sales tactics, by requiring them to speak to a person, in order to deal with their subscriptions. If their paper was really worth a damn, they wouldn’t have to resort to these kinds of shady maneuvers to get people to keep paying for their content. I mean, one of the best votes of confidence for a product is when it sells itself. If you have to make it super annoying and inconvenient for people to opt out, that kind of says something about the quality of the product you’re offering.

I’m sure the WSJ offers a good product to people who are right wing and want expert finance news. But I am neither of those things. I occasionally like some of their travel pieces and it’s sometimes fun to read the comments on some articles. Otherwise, I rarely use my subscription, and I don’t like being stuck paying for subscriptions because it’s inconvenient to call and cancel. Although we can easily afford the 10 euros a month, I decided that I don’t want a subscription to a paper that employs annoying and deceptive sales tactics to keep people paying.

I asked Bill if he wouldn’t mind helping me call the German call center, since his German is better than mine is. But then I did some research and found a way to turn off the auto-renew. It involved a little duplicity, but it was ultimately effective. By the way, as I was researching how to unhook myself from the WSJ, I discovered another subscription service that might be useful to some. It’s called DoNotPay, and it bills itself as a “robot lawyer”. If I’d wanted to, I could have subscribed to that service and they would have fixed this WSJ problem for me. The fact that there’s a dedicated page on the DoNotPay Web site for unsubscribing to the WSJ is really telling, isn’t it?

As it turned out, there actually is a really easy way to unsubscribe without having to call. All you have to do is change your billing address to a place where the ability to unsubscribe online is required by law. When you do that, you’ll get the option to unsubscribe online. So that’s what I did. The WSJ really should make this option available to everyone, especially since we’re in the 21st century, and calling people on phones is becoming an obsolete practice. It’s the decent thing to do. But– as this is a paper that caters to Trump supporters– I guess I can understand why wringing money out of people by inconveniencing them is the way they do business. What a pity.

And finally, disrespectful jerks on the Internet…

Apologies to those readers who hate it when I complain about commenters on Facebook. I’m gonna do it again today. I’ll try to be brief.

I genuinely like to read news articles and editorials. I genuinely enjoy reading what other people think of items that are shared on social media. What I don’t like, however, are the disgusting and disrespectful comments left by so many people. It really does irritate me, because I wonder if those people are that obnoxious and rude in person.

Here’s an example of what I mean. This morning, Rachel Maddow shared an opinion piece about why religious exemptions should not be allowed for the COVID-19 vaccine. I thought it was a good article. It made a lot of sense. I understand why some people want to be allowed to opt out of taking the vaccine. Personally, I think doing so for religious reasons is kind of absurd.

There are plenty of things a person can’t do in the name of religion. What if you belong to a religious group that requires human sacrifices as a condition of being a believer? Should society allow such a religious organization to carry out those human sacrifices in the name of their religion? How about if a religion promotes the idea that people shouldn’t wear clothes, since clothes aren’t from God? Should we just allow people to walk around naked in public everywhere, because that’s the way God made them?

Over the past 19 months or so, it’s become very clear that COVID-19 spreads through the air. Everyone has to breathe. A person can be infected with COVID-19 and not know they’re infected. They can spread the virus to people who will die if they get sick with it. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are. If you’re a human being, you can spread COVID-19. Vaccines have been proven to help limit the spread and severity of COVID-19. And we’ve seen plenty of “religious” people swearing off the vaccine, only to die of COVID. Seriously, all you have to do is Google.

A lot of the people who are against the vaccine are politicians and religious people, and also conservative talk show hosts… How fitting is it that these people, who are using their lungs to spread misinformation and hate, are winding up dying, as their lungs fail, thanks to a rogue, novel virus that so few of them won’t admit is very real?

So… on to the disrespectful jerks… I noticed a woman wrote something along the lines of, “There shouldn’t be religious exemptions for anything in the 21st century.”

She got a few “angry” reactions to that comment. But one guy– a southern, Christian, God fearing MAGA zealot, complete with a pretty blonde wife and a love of hunting and fishing– posted “How much did your husband pay when he ordered you?”

I hadn’t yet had more than a couple of sips of my morning coffee at that point. I almost responded in kind to the guy, but instead, I wrote “What a disgusting and disrespectful comment. Shame on you.”

What prompts people to write such personal and insulting comments to total strangers, anyway? It just makes me wonder if this man was ever taught anything good by decent people. Is this how he speaks to people in person? Is that how he got his pretty wife to marry him– by insinuating that she’s a mail order bride?

If you disagree with someone’s opinions, why not just write that and explain why, instead of insulting them and insinuating that they’re a mail order bride? The original commenter, by the way, appears to be a well-educated young mother who lives up north. I didn’t see any reason why anyone should suspect her of being a mail order bride. I think if a person is going to be snarky and rude, they should at least be astute. That MAGA loving zealot didn’t even hit the mark of being insightful about the commenter. I wonder how he’d like it someone insulted his wife in such a way.

Yesterday, USAA posted a meme in support of “National Coming Out Day”. USAA is a bank and insurance company that is well-known for serving military and government employees. It’s also based in Texas and has come out publicly in support of Greg Abbott, the infamously medieval governor of Texas. So lots of commenters were pointing out that it’s tone deaf to be in support of the LGBTQ community, while also supporting a governor who wishes to deny fundamental medical rights to women. Others were annoyed because they think USAA is “virtue signaling”.

I noticed a few people were making anti-abortion statements. One guy made a comment about how some people “enjoy aborting babies”. Once again, I had to interject. I wrote, “No one ‘enjoys aborting babies’. What a crappy thing to write.” I think it would be a very rare individual who took any joy or pleasure in having or performing an abortion. It’s just something that needs to be done in some regrettable situations. Either way, it’s no one else’s fucking business. Especially when so few people who are supposedly pro-life care about supporting the lives of people who have already been born… for example, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or not toting their guns to places where people can be easily shot and killed. When the so-called pro-lifers start giving more of a damn about people who are already born and have a concept of life and death, then I might pay more attention to their lame protests about abortion.

Sigh… well, it’s time to end today’s post. I have some research to do. We’re going to attempt to take a trip at the end of the month. Also, I have to put in my guitar practice. So I leave you with my wishes for a happy Tuesday. May you not encounter any disrespectful jerks today.

Standard
healthcare, rants

A stupid hill to die on…

I’ve been thinking about my health lately, and not just because of COVID-19. That stomach bug I had two weeks ago has left some lingering effects. Sorry if this is too much information for the delicate among you, but I have been suffering from what I think is “post-infectious IBS“. Ever since I kicked the acute version of whatever made me sick two weeks ago, I’ve been dealing with, shall we say, mixed bowel habits, especially in the morning. Since mornings are when I tend to do most of my stuff for the day, this new development is cramping my style somewhat. As I write this, I feel vaguely queasy, and I’ve had diarrhea and constipation. It’s not the greatest way to start the day, although one positive to this development is that I don’t want to eat very much. Maybe I’ll finally lose some weight.

Up until two weeks ago, I’ve had the good fortune of being pretty healthy, in spite of my decadent lifestyle. I haven’t had a cold or the flu in ages (knock on wood). I didn’t even feel sick after I got vaccinated against COVID-19. I just had a sore arm for a day or so after the first shot. After the second shot, I didn’t even have that.

I understand not everyone has been as lucky as I’ve been. In fact, I realize that some people really suffered after they got vaccinated. Still, I don’t understand why so many people are still refusing to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. It seems to me like a pretty stupid hill to die on.

This morning, I read two stories about people who are refusing to get vaccinated. One person gave up her job as an anchorwoman on a morning television show in Mississippi. Another is allowing herself to be marked inactive as a candidate for a lifesaving kidney transplant. Both she, and her living donor, are refusing to be vaccinated against a deadly virus that has killed millions of people worldwide.

I’ve written before that, generally speaking, I do have empathy for people who want to make their own medical decisions. I also understand that there are people who can’t get a vaccine for health reasons. Some people also cite religious reasons why they won’t get the shot(s)– personally, I think religious reasons for avoiding vaccines are pretty bogus. Let me make it clear that I’m not for forcing people to get shots. However, I am in favor of private businesses being allowed to make decisions based on whether or not people get vaccinated, particularly against diseases that are highly communicable and have killed so many people.

The Mississippi anchorwoman, name of Meggan Gray, is 40 years old and has co-hosted “Good Morning Mississippi” on WLOX for the past 14 years. Her former employer, Gray Television, mandated that employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1. Gray decided not to comply with the directive. So she was forced to resign her position. She claims she had made an “informed and prayerful decision” not to get the vaccine. In a public Facebook post on her page, she wrote:

Before GrayTV mandated this vaccination policy, I made an informed and prayerful decision not to get the vaccine, mostly because I had already survived a case of COVID-19. (There are other, more powerful reasons that led to my personal decision.) I know there will be people who disagree with me or do not understand my reasons. That is fully understood because that is a protected right they enjoy. Moreover, it is a personal decision for each American; but in my opinion, a forced decision to decide between a vaccination and the livelihood of an individual is a dangerous precedent.

Unfortunately, because of my decision about vaccination, I faced termination. The decision was difficult because I knew it would impact me and my family. My choices were either I follow the mandate and get vaccinated, or I lose my career at WLOX.

Gray writes that she offered to be tested weekly (which wouldn’t have been often enough). Her request was denied, and rightfully so. Yes, it’s true that vaccinated people can still get and spread COVID-19, but the evidence is very clear that vaccinated people are much less likely to get and spread the disease. I fully support Gray’s decision not to get vaccinated. But I also support her former employer’s decision to terminate her for not complying with a company policy designed to keep everyone safe from a deadly communicable disease.

There are plenty of people out there who are willing to abide by the company’s policies and can do Meggan Gray’s job. I’m sure there are people who enjoy Gray’s work as an anchorwoman, but they can get used to someone else. Television is a pretty competitive field. I’m certain there are many people who would love the opportunity to launch a career at WLOX, although maybe some of them would rather avoid living in Mississippi. I’ve got nothing against the state myself, but I can see why some would rather not go there.

Moreover, Mississippi is an “at will” employment state. That means that a person can be fired from a job for any reason that is non-discriminatory. I’m not sure, but I don’t think COVID-19 vaccination hold outs are in a protected class of people who can claim discrimination when they are dismissed for non-compliance of company policy regarding vaccinations. I would think that someone who “prayerfully” considered not getting the vaccine would understand a private business’s right to enforce health policies. Besides, God helps those who help themselves.

I’m sorry that Meggan Gray has chosen this hill to die on. I hope she doesn’t literally die because she’s made this choice. I especially hope her decision doesn’t kill someone else, and no one ends up begging for the shot as they lie in an intensive care unit, gasping for breath. I wish her luck with her career. Maybe Fox News will hire her. Or maybe she can start a YouTube channel. I know some people are cheering on her decision not to be vaccinated. Personally, I think people who are refusing to be vaccinated are short on sense. But maybe that’s because I have a master’s degree in public health.

As for the lady in Colorado who is being denied a kidney transplant… I don’t know where she’s been, but people who need organ transplants are routinely required to abide by conditions before they can get someone else’s healthy organ(s) transplanted. They typically have to agree not to smoke or drink alcohol. They have to agree to take powerful immunosuppressant drugs and yes, be vaccinated against diseases– not just COVID-19, but other diseases, too, like hepatitis and measles, mumps, and rubella. These are standard protocols for transplant surgeries; they are nothing new.

I don’t have any personal experience with organ transplantation, but I have done some reading about the experience. In one book I read, Sick Girl, by Amy SIlverstein, the author explained that getting a transplant is basically like trading one health problem for another. She wrote that she constantly suffered from sinus infections and colds because she had to keep her immune system weakened. Otherwise, it would attack her donated heart and she would die.

Leilani Lutali needs a donated kidney. She and her living donor have chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 “for religious reasons”. Lutali claims that she’s “uncomfortable” taking the vaccine, and worries how it will affect her health. She stated, “I’m being coerced into making a decision that is one I’m not comfortable making right now in order to live…” She cares enough about staying alive to accept a donated organ, and her religion doesn’t forbid organ transplants. But somehow, her religion forbids vaccines? That sounds like bullshit to me. But if her faith in a God is so strong, then maybe God will perform a miracle and she won’t need that kidney after all.

I want to ask Lutali… why in the hell did she consult physicians for help with her kidneys if she knows more than they do? I get being an expert on the experience of living in one’s own body, but why go to a doctor for cutting edge medical care if she doesn’t trust their opinions about how to prepare for a transplant? She’s concerned about how the vaccine will affect her health in the long run? If she doesn’t get a transplant soon, this will not be a concern for her anymore. She will die, and health will be a thing of the past for her.

Aside from putting herself and the success of her operation at risk, Lutali will also be putting hospital staff and other patients at risk by not being vaccinated. For some reason, these folks who know more than medical and public health professionals have missed the memo that COVID-19 is extremely contagious. Hospitals, for all of their lifesaving capabilities, are chock full of organisms originating from sick people.

Hospitals are not actually good places for sick people to be, because sick people are there, and they spread diseases. That’s why people who go to the hospital for a simple surgery sometimes end up contracting nosocomial infections or iatrogenic illnesses. COVID-19 spreads like wildfire, and people in hospitals are already vulnerable. What right do Leilani Lutali and her donor have, putting other vulnerable people at risk?

I wish Lutali luck with her quest to find physicians and a hospital that will grant her a kidney transplant without the vaccine. I hope if she finds them, she tells us who the surgeon(s) are and where they practice medicine. That way, people can make an informed decision to avoid seeking treatment from them.

Most of the time, I really do support people’s rights to make their own decisions regarding medical treatment and healthcare. I do support privacy policies, too. But COVID-19 is a different matter. It’s killing people all over the world, and it’s a nasty way to die. The vaccinations have been tested and are safe and effective. They have been shown to reduce hospitalizations and the severity of illnesses. Every single vaccine that was ever made was once “new”, but as each day passes, these vaccines become less new.

At this writing, millions of people have been safely vaccinated against COVID-19. Hospital wards are not full of vaccinated people; they are full of unvaccinated people. And those people are preventing people with other health problems from getting the lifesaving care they need. That’s not right or fair.

I’m afraid vaccine mandates are here to stay. People better get used to them.

Don’t want to get the vaccine? That’s your right– for now, at least. But there are consequences for those kinds of choices. You should be prepared to live, or die, by your decision. You’ll probably be dying alone, too, because that’s often what happens when someone gets COVID-19 and it’s bad enough to kill them. I hope these ladies wake up soon.

In other– good– health news– Arran’s pathology report came back. The crusty growths he had removed last week are benign! So that’s one reason to smile today.

Standard
complaints

Why be “gleeful” when vaccines “fail”?

First thing’s first. I don’t believe the COVID-19 vaccines have “failed”. They were never intended to completely stop the transmission of the coronavirus. I just want to state that upfront before I launch into today’s rantings. As far as I can tell, the vaccines ARE working. But they were never intended to completely halt infections. Now… on with today’s topic.

This morning, after I read the depressing news about how Afghanistan’s government has completely collapsed in the wake of the U.S. troops’ departure from the country, I noticed another story about about Iceland and its COVID-19 vaccination results. The news article was headlined “Iceland has been a vaccination success. Why is it seeing a coronavirus surge?” Then, following the headline, was this:

“Vaccine opponents have gleefully pointed to Iceland as proof that the shots are a ‘failure.’ But contrary to online misinformation and conspiratorial social media posts, infectious-disease experts say Iceland’s outbreak actually illustrates how effective the vaccines are at preventing the virus’s most severe impacts.”

I must take issue with the use of the word “gleeful”. Why in the hell would ANYONE be gleeful about a vaccine failing? Particularly when COVID-19 is KILLING people and seems to be mutating into more and more dangerous forms? But, as I read on, I realized that despite vaccine opponents’ “glee”, they’ve got it all wrong. Yes, there has been a COVID-19 surge in Iceland. BUT—–

“Many of the country’s recent infections have occurred among vaccinated people, but they’ve been overwhelmingly mild. So even as new cases multiplied, Iceland’s rates of covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths have remained low. Of the 1,300 people currently infected, just 2 percent are in the hospital. The country hasn’t recorded a virus death since late May.”

According to the article, about 71 percent of Iceland’s residents are fully vaccinated. There are fewer than 360,000 people living in Iceland, and it has a nationalized universal healthcare system. People in Iceland started getting vaccinated at the very end of 2020 and have continued to get the shot(s) since then. Most folks have had the Pfizer two shot regimen, and Iceland’s health authorities are now saying that those who got the Johnson & Johnson shot should now get a booster eight weeks later. More from the article:

“Iceland has also had a sophisticated system for testing, tracing and sequencing the virus since early in the pandemic. That surveillance — the result of a partnership between Iceland’s health department and the Reykjavik-based human genomics company deCODE — led to some of the first important revelations about the way the virus spreads, including that many infected people have no symptoms and that children were less likely than adults to get sick. It continues to provide Iceland a clear picture of what it is facing, in contrast to a country like the United States, which is testing a far smaller share of its population.”

Because of the widespread vaccination efforts, Iceland started to normalize somewhat over the summer. Masks, social-distancing, limits on gatherings and operating hours of businesses, and testing of vaccinated travelers were curtailed. But then there was a surge. However, the people who have gotten infected are, by and large, surviving the illness and avoiding the hospitals and being intubated and ventilated. The people who are the sickest are, generally speaking, not vaccinated.

In other words, the vaccines ARE working. But they can’t completely stop COVID from spreading or people from getting infected. They only make the disease much less deadly. So, if people are going to be gleeful, they should be gleeful about that. I don’t understand the mindset of people being happy when a potential vaccine or treatment fails. Failure means continuing to live the way we have since last year, and the COVID-19 lifestyle sucks on many levels.

I will admit I haven’t hated all of it. I enjoyed having Bill working at home last year. I haven’t been too sad about missing the crowds, either. I like the fact that the pandemic will force employers to rethink how they do business and how much they pay their workers. But on the whole, I really miss being able to travel with ease and not having to worry about contracting a serious illness any time I go out somewhere.

Yes, I am fully vaccinated, and yes, I expect that I will eventually come into contact with the virus. I’m hoping that I won’t get horribly sick from it and wind up hospitalized, and I’m encouraged that the vaccine seems to be preventing that outcome. I would never be “gleeful” if it didn’t work, though. I think if the vaccines didn’t work at all, I would be pretty depressed about it. What kind of person would be “gleeful” about vaccine failure? I’ll tell you what kind of person– many people in the military.

Last night, I read an article in the Army Times about a new rule that requires families of Soldiers graduating from basic training at Fort Jackson (near Columbia, SC) to be vaccinated if they want to attend the graduation ceremony. There was much complaining about that new rule and, quite frankly, a lot of ignorance being perpetuated. I read lots of butthurt comments from guys saying that they wouldn’t be re-enlisting, because they don’t want to be forced to take a non-FDA approved vaccine.

I want to say to those guys– every vaccine was, at one time, not approved by the government. And we won’t make any progress toward changing this situation if no one is willing to be a “lab rat” of sorts. Many thousands of people have been vaccinated and are, for the most part, totally fine. Yes, there have been a few people who haven’t been fine, but they are in a very small minority. Moreover, anyone who joins the military is likely going to be in harm’s way at some point. Frankly, I would rather take my chances with an “experimental” shot than being shot at by insurgents.

And, by the way, the mRNA technology used to make the COVID vaccines has been around for about twenty years. The research that went into making the vaccines has been studied for awhile now. COVID simply forced our hand in making the technology available now. The shots will be FDA approved. When they are, you bet your ass the troops will be rolling up their sleeves, or they will be leaving the military. Which reminds me…. aren’t these COVID vaccine deniers the kind to NOT trust the government, even if they work for the government (and have a pretty socialist work environment, to boot)? So why are they so worried about FDA approval?

So guys were complaining about the shots and their families having to take them or not go to graduation ceremonies. Well… the world has changed, and we can’t have a bunch of people in the military getting sick with COVID-19. It’s not safe for unvaccinated family members to hang out with Soldiers, who may be living in close quarters, and then allowing the virus to spread among troops. Even those who are against the vaccines must know that COVID spreads, right? Or do they still think this is all a big political stunt to keep Trump out of office?

Sigh… I feel kind of bad for Joe Biden. He’s having to make some tough decisions right now. People are blaming him for the Afghanistan mess. That was NOT his mess. He is simply making the difficult decision to get America out of that sinkhole. Yes, it sucks that Afghanistan is falling to the Taliban, but we’ve been there for 20 years and it’s time to get out. As we’ve seen over the past year, we’ve got bigger problems to handle… and they include a virus that is really wreaking havoc. The virus, despite what some want to believe, is not just affecting the United States, and it has zero to do with politics.

I really wish people would just come together and do their part to stop this madness. Sadly, I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m just glad Bill is out of the Army and never had to go to Afghanistan. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking for people to see what their sacrifice has led to. I wish some of the crybabies who are bitching about vaccines at Fort Jackson would show some fortitude and stop whining about vaccines. They probably aren’t going to have to go to Afghanistan, are they? That’s one good reason to be “gleeful”. I would expect most thinking people would not be gleeful about failing vaccinations.

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book reviews, silliness

A pop up book about phobias and other bizarre things…

I love to find new and bizarre stuff. I’m lucky enough to have a number of friends who like to read and listen to music. I also have a very indulgent spouse who doesn’t mind when I occasionally make purchases of odd things. Like, for instance, at Christmas, I bought Bill a juice strainer with a replica of Angela Merkel’s head on it. I also bought him an egg separator that had a nose on it that allows egg white to pass through the nostrils like snot and a Margaret Thatcher nutcracker. I have a Donald Trump toilet brush in my bathroom. Hell, just a few weeks ago, I bought a baseball cap with an old picture of Mister Rogers on it, flipping the bird with both fingers.

I might decide to wear this in public at some point.

A few weeks ago, my former shrink was posting about something on Facebook and one of his friends– a psychologist colleague, I suppose– recommended that he read The Pop-up Book of Phobias by Gary Greenburg and Matthew Reinhart . Or maybe he suggested it as a gift. I was very intrigued by the concept. I was also kind of repulsed by it. I have a phobia of mushrooms, so the idea of a book that had one popping up at me was a bit horrifying. Fortunately, mycophobia is not a particularly common phobia, so it didn’t rate an entry in this book, which isn’t very long and takes a minute or two to “read”. I looked for a link to mycophobia, having actually written an article about it myself some years ago. Unfortunately, all of the articles I found had pictures of mushrooms on them, and frankly just the sight of mushrooms gives me the willies. But at least nowadays, I don’t freeze up and scream the way I used to when I was a child and found them growing in the yard.

I see The Pop-up Book of Phobias is out of print now, and I probably spent a lot more for it than I should have. I was still pretty delighted by it when it arrived last night. The art is well done, and I loved the way the artist managed to convey the concepts in “3-d”. Check out these photos. I didn’t get a photo of all of the entries, but this is basically the gist of the book. My copy was very well used and appeared to be much beloved by the previous owner.

I really appreciate the ingenuity and creativity it took to come up with these concepts and put them in a pop-up format. Just the engineering of the paper alone is impressive. How long did it take to come up with a method to arrange the paper in such a way that the snakes and spider pop up like this? The clown page is especially intriguing, as the main one has creepy eyes that open as the pages spread.

Looking on Amazon, I see that Matthew Reinhart has done a few pop up books, including one called The Pop-up Book of Nightmares. That one appears to be widely available, even though it’s been out since 2001. Since Bill has been studying Carl Jung and analyzing his dreams, maybe that would make a good present for him on the next gift giving occasion. It definitely makes for a fun gag gift, if not a pricey one. The one drawback is that it’s not much of a book in terms of reading material as it only consists of 22 pages. But it might be fun to glance at as you drop your morning deuce. Or it might be fun for the coffee table, although I would recommend not taking it to the bathroom if you’re going to put it on your coffee table. Accidents happen.

I was glad to get the book yesterday. It was a nice distraction from the news of the day. It seems like there’s very good to report, and the overall mood is ugly as COVID continues to wreak havoc worldwide and people continue to fight over public health measures. I’ve seen a lot of rude, callous, mean-spirited comments and behavior on both sides of the issue. It makes me wonder if people really are as horrible as their behavior online indicates.

Add in “healthcare professionals” who take it upon themselves to post disinformation about vaccines and/or inject people with saline instead of a vaccine, and you have a truly ugly situation brewing. I might be able to get onboard with people who simply wish to avoid the vaccine. I don’t agree with their opinions, but I can kind of understand the concept of “my body, my choice.” But it really is criminal when a nurse decides for her patients to trick them by injecting them with saline instead of giving them a vaccination that they requested.

Also… I am quite baffled by “healthcare professionals” who keep insisting that COVID-19 is not as bad as it’s being portrayed in the media. I know the journalistic mantra, “if it bleeds, it leads”, but how is it that some doctors and nurses are so exhausted and upset about the virus and some are claiming it’s not so bad? Seriously, a self-proclaimed master’s level nurse at a level one trauma center posted on the Facebook page for the University of South Carolina, claiming that this is all a big hoax. My guess is that he’s lying, either about his “credentials” or where he works. I wouldn’t want an unvaccinated nurse taking care of me, to be honest.

My public health and social work master’s degrees were both earned at the University of South Carolina. Former President Harris Pastides, who was teaching in the Arnold School of Public Health when I was attending, is back to being the interim president, because Bob Caslen, who was Pastides’ successor, was forced to resign. Dr. Pastides is well-informed about the COVID situation and is promoting vaccination on campus. He was a tremendously popular president. It’s nice to see him back, doing the right thing. Too bad so many people are making the vaccines political.

Anyway… I’m glad it’s Friday, at least. I am expecting to get new guitar strings today… and I have a feeling I will be trying to put them on my guitar instead of practicing. I hate this chore, but I think it’s time to do it. Maybe I’ll be back later… maybe not.

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