complaints, stupid people, transportation, travel

I will be BOOSTED tomorrow, but some folks just won’t get with the program, will they?

The featured photo is one I took in Ireland back in 2016.

Bill made me an appointment to get my third COVID-19 shot. As of 1:00pm, I will likely be standing in line, waiting for the needle. I’m not sure which shot will be offered. I had Moderna last summer. I hope I don’t feel crappy afterwards. Bill had a negative reaction to the booster last month, but it only lasted a little while. He had reactions to the first shots, as well. I didn’t have any significant issues with the first two shots. I had a bit of a sore arm with the first one, and almost no reaction at all to the second. So we’ll see how the third shot goes.

I need to wash the sheets, which is a real pain, since I also want to do the duvet covers. It takes forever to do laundry in Germany, thanks to the washing machines. We do have a short cycle setting on our machine, but even that one takes awhile. And then I have to get Arran to get his ass off the bed, which makes him grumpy. He doesn’t mind making a nest in the naked duvets, though, while everything gets clean. I may end up doing the linens tomorrow morning, so it will all be clean and comfortable in the afternoon, just in case I feel like crap on Thursday.

I am slowly planning to take down all the Christmas stuff, too. I have already put away the non-tree affiliated decorations, tree skirts, and stockings. Maybe today, I’ll take the stars off the trees. I got pretty tired decorating the whole living room by myself in November. I think taking Christmas down is easier than putting it up, but it’s still a real pain in the ass. I do like looking at the lights, though, and I like how the trees make the living room look more “homey”. We don’t have a lot of furniture in the living room, so most of the year, it looks about half inhabited.

Yesterday, I happened across a Facebook ad for tourism in Ireland. Some guy in the States was lamenting about the vaccine mandates. He asked how an unvaccinated person can travel to Ireland. Some lady was also whining about the vaccines, and how power grabbing in the US has gone amok. One person even brought up the whole “show me your papers” nonsense. See below…

Tell me how an un-vaccinated American can… 😒

And this was what some woman was whinging about…

exactly, we’re not allowed to go anywhere now. Half of us are now prisoners in our own country. And the same for anyone in other countries. Just have to wait til everyone calms down.

My response was this:

You could just get vaccinated. I live in Germany, and it’s strict here. If you aren’t vaccinated, you can’t have fun. It’s not just America. And the reason is, because the virus is killing people. So, if you’re complaining about federal mandates in the USA, just realize it’s the same or even stricter in most of Europe, and for very good reason.

I totally get not liking government overreach, but there are good reasons for public health mandates. If you really are dead set against getting the shots, you might want to plan for a US trip.

What I wanted to add, but didn’t, was, every time you get on an airplane to go somewhere, you have to “show your papers.” To come to Ireland, he would have to show a passport, right? And if he was going somewhere where a visa needed to be arranged, he’d have to arrange for that, right? I can remember in the late 1970s, before my parents took me on a trip to Tunisia, I had to get vaccinations. Why? Because Africa has some pretty serious fucking diseases and it wouldn’t be cool to bring one home as a souvenir.

Well… COVID-19 is a pretty serious fucking disease for some unlucky people. Yes, a lot of people have survived it, but I know people who got it and are still dealing with flare ups. Some people had COVID-19 and are disabled now. And a lot of people have died! I know one lady who had COVID, recovered, and is now dealing with a nasty, painful looking COVID related rash that randomly flares up. It reminds me of shingles, which I have had, and it sucks– even when it’s a mild case.

I’m so tired of reading comments about how vaccination doesn’t work, either. The goal is to slow the spread and give your body a heads up so that when the virus inevitably invades it, it will have some clue as to how to respond instead of simply going haywire and dying. I don’t get why so many people can’t understand this concept. Yes, you can get COVID-19 and make a full recovery, but not everyone is that lucky.

In any case, what that guy should realize is that this vaccine campaign isn’t just in the United States. It’s in Europe, too. And here in Europe, during this time of year, you CANNOT have any fun if you aren’t fully vaccinated or can prove you have recovered from COVID. And even those measures only last for a few months. I’m afraid that’s just how life is right now.

I haven’t been to the States since 2014, but it’s my understanding that unvaccinated people are still allowed in society in some places. Here in Europe, there are more draconian rules. Cloth masks aren’t allowed in Germany, for instance, and they haven’t been allowed since January 2021. In some places, a surgical mask won’t suffice; one must don a FFP2 or N95. You can’t use public transportation if you haven’t been vaccinated, nor can you do any non-essential in person shopping. In Germany, you can visit the grocery store if you’re not vaccinated, but you can’t go to a gift shop.

In some countries, if you’re not vaccinated, you have to stay home. Austria, which Bill and I noticed was lenient about masking when we were there in October and November, has some pretty tough rules for people who don’t comply with the mandates. At this point, there are steep fines, but I would not be surprised if non-vaxxers soon find themselves detained.

I’ve mentioned before that there are situations in which people can be detained for public health reasons. It HAS happened in the United States, and still does, for people who have diseases like tuberculosis, or some of the more exotic illnesses one can contract in places like Africa or Asia, and refuse to get treatment or stay isolated. Here’s a link to an article about how the United Kingdom proposed handing public health detainees.

I read a story on CNN.com the other day about a woman named Marisa Fotieo who was traveling with her family to Switzerland. She had a layover in Iceland. On the way to Iceland, about three hours into the trip, she started feeling bad. She did a rapid COVID test and it was positive. She spent the rest of her flight in the lavatory. She did so voluntarily, because she’s an unusually empathic person.

Then, when Fotieo landed in Reykjavik, she was immediately taken to a special quarantine hotel, where she spent Christmas alone. Her family went to Switzerland without her and met up with her in Iceland on the way back. I read that, Ragnhildur Eiríksdóttir (Rocky), the super cool Icelandic flight attendant who helped her was kind enough to arrange with other flight attendants to bring her a little Christmas tree and some gifts. Marisa Fotieo was fully vaccinated and boosted, but she still got mildly sick. If she hadn’t been vaccinated, she might have still gotten mildly ill, or she could have wound up in a hospital. There’s no telling.

So… I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people like the guy who was complaining about having to get vaccinated before going to Ireland. That’s life right now. Build a bridge and get over it… or build a bridge from the USA to Europe. That may be the only way he’s getting across the pond without shots.

I sure would like to see COVID become less threatening, and I think the only way that can happen is that people man up and get vaccinated or get the disease and recover. It’s not in the virus’s interest to kill every host, so the sooner people become more resistant, the sooner it can mutate to something less dangerous. I miss having fun. I haven’t left the neighborhood in about a month, although obviously, I will do that tomorrow afternoon.

That being said… I do understand why some people are concerned that the mandates could become permanent. I am concerned about that, too. I do NOT want to go through life being forced to wear a mask. I take comfort, though, in realizing that masks have been used before, and they eventually became obsolete. One hundred years ago, people had to wear masks because of the Spanish Flu. Once that strain of the flu became less dangerous, the masks went away.

I have every reason to believe the same will happen when COVID is inevitably made less dangerous, because in spite of all of the vocal face mask cheerleaders out there, I think many more of us hate wearing them and want them gone. We just don’t say so publicly, because we don’t want a lecture from all of the people who went to the Google School of Public Health. And as a MPH graduate of the Arnold School of Public Health (at the University of South Carolina), I can say that. 😉 Of course, my sister went to the supposedly superior University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill for her Ph.D. in public health, and she’s an anti-vaxxer… so there you go. (I seriously don’t know why she’s against the vaccine– I don’t talk to her very often. I think she’s drinking the Trump Kool-Aid– although even Trump has gotten vaccinated.)

Anyway… I suppose I’ve yammered on long enough this morning. My guitar has been calling out for me to give it some attention. I may do some vocal stuff today, too. Or… maybe I’ll read some dirty stories on the Internet. Already, this morning, I’ve read a story called “You Haven’t Had Your Colonic Yet, Miss…” That was a real eye-opener… or butt opener. I guess my day isn’t THAT bad yet. 😉

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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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