April shots bring May plots

It’s April. Where does the time go?

Our personal pandemic is looking like it will have an end date of mid-May, as we get our second dose shortly, and many friends follow suit. I’m looking forward to small gatherings again (maybe a couple vaccinated people over for board games or Rock Band).

What I’m really looking forward to is an outing to Fogo de Chao, which would be my first meal in a restaurant since last March. But such a meal is probably much further out (probably August or September?), since we not only have to all be vaccinated, and the waitstaff have to be vaccinated, but we also have to have gotten local cases down enough where I’d feel comfortable not taking the usual precautions in public.

But we’re so close to the end… and I hate how so many people are prematurely letting their guard down. Vaccination is not a 100% thing… by the latest numbers, it’s approximately 90% effective, which means you still have a 10% chance (multiplied by your regular risk percentage) of getting COVID. Why can’t everyone just hang on that little while longer and bring community numbers down?

We’re continuing to do our part. The riskiest thing we did during the past 13 months was probably getting the first vaccine dose. We walked about 9 miles round trip to the south side vaccination clinic (we don’t allow ourselves public transit), which just seems to be most of the first floor of UPMC Mercy, where we entered a building for longer than a minute for the first time in five months, and remained there for a bit over 30 minutes between waiting for the shot and completing the required 15 minute wait period.

Other than that, the riskiest things I’ve done have been to go to the dentist for a toothache, and go to the doctor earlier this week for some persistent pain, both of which were extremely nerve-wracking at the time, but arguably falling under the bucket of “essential”.

So overall, we’ve been very careful throughout this pandemic, and especially the past ~5 months as cases have started to spike again. I stopped physically going into stores, instead opting for curbside pickup for groceries. And other than the aforementioned doctor trips and quick stops in restaurants to pick up (preordered) food, we’ve been avoiding going inside buildings. I think we’ve been extremely fortunate in that our jobs and lives allow us to have isolated so effectively.

In any case, life goes.

Bleh

I’m just so tired of being tired. It’s been feeling lately that I have no motivation for anything, work or non-work, so I’m kind of just bumbling along as best I can. Housework and cooking and all of the other life things are being neglected more than they should. ‘Tis how it goes.

A bunch of friends have made (or are looking at soon making) changes to their professional lives, including switching jobs, switching companies, or just outright quitting and reevaluating. I feel like I’m going to have a reckoning soon, myself, that’ll force me to see what kinds of changes I’ll need to make, but because change is hard, I’m trying to postpone that as long as possible. We’ll see how that goes.

Every time I walk somewhere, it feels like I walk past restaurants and gyms and businesses that are just utterly full of people. Even if they’re not technically in violation of the (toothless and overly permissive) restrictions in place, it still feels immensely irresponsible. You don’t need to have dine-in meals at a restaurant, and you don’t need to hit a gym. Your decisions are making this pandemic worse and longer for everyone else.

Meanwhile, the government is getting their shit slightly more together, but are facing endless pressure from people who think they’re not doing enough. It bothers me in the same way that ideological purity bothers me (“Bernie or nothing!” and “M4A or no vote!”) because it’s utterly unrealistic to think that a bare majority in a sharply divided congress will be able to do all the things you want them to.

And of course the same people yelling at them now won’t vote for them in 2022, dooming us to more Republican control and more of Mitch’s graveyard for bills where those things they want won’t get done anyway!

Meanwhile Republicans are going even more on the “Trump is our savior” train, as evidenced by their votes on Liz Cheney vs Marjorie Greene. So that sort of ideological purity is going to cause more and more harm as we proceed.

Society and politics and our government are so fundamentally broken and I don’t know how we even start to fix them.

New Year’s, Life, Expenditures

life’s photo journal and stats have been updated. The 594 photos this four-month period is the lowest for any four-month period since April 2002, my Freshman year of high school (when I wasn’t carrying my camera around regularly), and is lower than the previous four months this year by 9 photos.

None of this should be too surprising, given we’ve basically been at home since March and the extent of our real-life social contact has been either brief tea-and-conversation hangouts on the porch, or walks.

In any case, work starts up again tomorrow, and it was a nice break, all things considered. Christmas featured a group Google Meet call, New Year’s featured online board games and virtual champagne toasting, and I hit all of my (honestly, fairly lofty) personal project goals for the break.

Since it’s January, I also compared 2020’s overall expenses to 2019’s. Thanks to the pandemic, my overall spending is down 22 percent, mostly in food (much more cooking at home; down 34%), travel (we had one vacation which involved a car rental and cabin instead of flying and hotels; down 98%), and entertainment expenses (we didn’t host any games or events and didn’t go anywhere with people; down 72%).

The only thing keeping the overall year-to-year drop from being less extreme was that our mortgage payments and utilities went up a bit, and account for most of my spending (70% of my [lowered] yearly expenditures this year, compared to 49% of last year’s). Like last year, the next biggest expense was food (relatively stable at 15% of yearly expenditures this year, compared to 17% last year).

Anyway. Things are uneventful. Here’s hoping the vaccine distribution really picks up this year and we can start seeing people again in the first half of the year.

Hope everyone’s doing well out there.

Star Trek and Christmas

After finishing all of Voyager a couple years back, and then all of The Next Generation earlier this year, we’ve started on Enterprise.

We’re now most of the way through the second season, and although I really like the less-polished more-modern crew, I feel like there’ve been a lot of opportunities that the writers have squandered, lately.

In particular, we just finished a couple of episodes (The Crossing and Horizon) where they had such a great opportunity to show that human biases aren’t always right when encountering new species, and you can’t just go imposing your will and ideals somewhere else. And in both cases the plots took the more stereotypical turn of “Of course human intuition about danger was right” and “Of course making changes that no one asked for ends up saving everyone’s lives”. It’s honestly disappointing, for stories that had so much great potential.

Speaking of disappointing… Christmas this year is feeling very different. Without the usual pomp and circumstance, it’s been feeling like a rather sad week. Even though I’ve known for months that we wouldn’t be travelling this year, the reality is finally setting in now that it’s three days before Christmas and we’re still at home.

So 2020 goes, I suppose.

Thanksgiving

There was a Thanksgiving! We successfully Thanksgivinged!

Which mostly means we made turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing on our own for the first time. They came out pretty well, actually. (Highly recommend the substitution of chicken broth and olive oil for butter and milk in the potatoes… healthier, and also gives them a nice savoryness.)


Life otherwise goes. I’m just waiting for the huge surge of cases we’re going to see in two weeks from all the people who didn’t have responsible Thanksgivings like we did, and wondering how I’m going to do the next grocery trip.