Thursday, April 8, 2021

I Got a COVID Vaccine


As of Sunday the 3rd, I have had both my COVID-19 vaccination shots. I had the Pfizer version.

I got my first shot on March 13th. It was a luck thing, really. A friend of mine, who is younger than I, posted on Facebook that she'd gotten a shot. I asked her how and she said a mass vaccination event in our town was looking for more people to give the shot to. And she linked me to the website to make an appointment. So I jumped through what felt like 47 hoops on the website and got an appointment. And then I got the shot. They gave it to me in a parking lot as I sat in my car and made me sit for 15 minutes before I could leave. While I was sitting there, a small bus full of seniors pulled up. I presume they all got the shot, too.

The only side effect I had then was bad headaches that Tylenol didn't seem to touch. On the Sunday (first day) after the shot, the headache was most of the day. And I rarely get headaches. On Monday it was about half the day. Each day the amount of time I had the headache decreased until the fifth day (Thursday) I didn't have a headache at all.  I have had a couple of headaches since then, but I'm not sure if they are related to the shot.

One thing that did impress me what that a few days after getting the first shot, I got an email with a link to make my appointment on the 3rd (the day before Easter). I had to jump through the 47 hoops again (why, since they already had my information) but I got the appointment. Which was one less thing to worry about.

After my second shot I took Tylenol preemptively, hoping to stop any headaches before they began. And it seemed to work. I did have a little nausea on the same day I got the shot. On the third day I didn't take Tylenol and did get a bit of a headache. But not nearly as bad as with the first shot. By the fourth day, I pretty much didn't have any side effects.

My daughter-in-law who is a nurse and has given lots of COVID vaccine shots has a theory that the stronger one's immune system, the worst the reaction they'll have to the shot(s). 

On April 17th (two weeks after the second shot) I should have 95% protection. Which is good, because if I get COVID, I will likely die. 

But, according to the CDC, very little changes. You still have to wear a mask and socially distance. So what's the point? When will we reach "herd immunity" and be able to go back to some semblance of normality?

Did you get a COVID vaccine? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Music I Don't Like

It may be April Fools' Day, but I'm being perfectly serious. 

I have eclectic music tastes. I listen to classic rock and classical music and even opera on occasion. I can listen to country-western, folk, and some jazz. I don't like rap and hip hop. 

But even though I listen to classic rock from the 60s through the 80s (no good music after 1990), there are some groups/singers from that era I refuse to listen to.

Number one is The Grateful Dead. They are kind of folksy but more drug induced. Their music just puts me to sleep. Reminds me of a joke. "What did the dead head [fan of The Grateful Dead] say when he ran out of drugs? 'This music sucks.'"

There there's Steely Dan. I like one song of theirs: "Dirty Work." Otherwise, they tend to sing in this breathless jazz style that just grates on my nerves.

Genesis and Phil Collins are also on the list of music I don't like. Just 'cause.

I don't like Neil Young. His voice is just annoying. He's okay with Crosby, Stills and Nash. But solo, forget it.

I'm not crazy about the Allman Brothers and Greg Allman as a solo act. But that's more because when I first got SirusXM in the car, it seemed as if they played the Allman Brothers or Greg Allman every damn time I got in the vehicle.

I'm not a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen, either. I like "Born to Run" and "Dancing in the Dark." But that's about it. Most of his stuff is pretentious and overwrought.

And I know this might get me cancelled, but I'm not a huge fan of The Beatles. Some songs are okay but mostly I just turn them off.

If I were joking, I'd say I didn't like Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Dire Straits, and the Eagles.

Are there any musical groups that play in the genre you like, but you can't stand? Let me know in the comments below.



Thursday, March 25, 2021

Reverse Psychology on a Cat

Lily
If you've been reading this blog, you know my son has a cat named Lily (see here, here, and here).

Now I go to bed kind of early. But Lily stays up. She used to come up (my bedroom is on the top floor of the house) and scratch at my bedroom door. Which was annoying when I was trying to sleep. So we started bringing her into the bedroom before I went to sleep and she would lie on the duvet and I would scratch her neck and pet her for a few minutes. That stopped the scratching at the door. A win-win because I enjoyed those minutes with her. She would come up to my bedroom and wait for my wife to bring her in. As I went to bed I would tell her I was going upstairs to go to bed and she should come up.

Then one day recently, she'd stop coming upstairs. I don't know why. She's a cat. So, as a joke, I tried telling her not to come up. "What ever you do, Lily, don't come up." And she started coming up again. That actually worked for a couple of weeks. I was amazed. But now it's not working.

Now she's not coming up but occasionally she'll scratch on the door. Which is annoying. Whether she comes up or not just seems random.

I might have to start bribing her with treats to come up and get petted.

Do you have a cat? What quirks does it have. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Sleep

Maybe it's getting older, but I have weird sleep habits.

After I retired from the corporate world (where I had to get up at 7 am every weekday morning) I thought I could sleep in. But for years I would wake up at 5 am and not be able to go back to sleep. I would spend that time watching the MCU shows on Netflix (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Punisher, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) then wake up my wife at about six or seven. Then I would take a nap at about two in the afternoon for at least an hour.

Now I sleep as late as 9 am. I still go to bed at about 9 pm so I'm sleeping almost 12 hours! That cuts into your day. I almost always wake up in the night to go to the bathroom (I'm old) and sometimes I have trouble going back to sleep. But I usually go back to sleep eventually. Lately I've been taking melatonin to see if that'll help me sleep. But it just seems to make me sleep longer before I wake up to go to the bathroom.

I go to bed at 9 because if I don't, I fall asleep in the recliner. 

I wish I could go to bed at ten or eleven and wake up 8 hours later, not 11 or 12. But my body seems to want the sleep at least ten hours or more. I blame my bipolar drugs, to be honest.

How do you sleep? Can you sleep through the night. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Research... Again

Back in September of 2017, I wrote about doing research on novels. Well, I'm going to do it again.

When I was a kid, my mother and I were watching something on television. She caught a factual inaccuracy in the program. And she said, "I hate when writers don't do their research. It insults the intelligence of their audience." At the time, I don't think she knew I wanted to be a writer.

I've always remember that so I always say that unless you lived it, you can't do enough research. And even then you might have to do some. I could write a novel about being in the Army at Fort Ord, California in the late 1980s because I lived it. 

You can't do enough research. But what you can, and shouldn't do, is show off in your writing how much research you did. "I learned this neat little fact about Fort Ord, I'm going to put it in the story!" No! Unless it's germane to the narrative, don't do it.

Now, with the internet and Google et. al., it's very easy to do research. I remember going to the Seattle library to look at maps for a story I was writing. But with online sources,  you have to be careful. You might run into someone's biased views. Especially on Wikipedia.

In my novel, Agent of Artifice, my hero travels to Key West and the southern most point in the

Continental United States. And I wrote about the waves lapping at the sand. Because I was unable to find any information on what the shore was like, so I assumed a beach.

Then I took a business trip to Miami and decided to drive to Key West to see this for myself. I found out two things: 1) the "southernmost point" is only the southernmost that's accessible. There's a Navy base that has farther south points.  And 2) there's no sand. There's rocks. So I had to change that in the novel.

So do your research and do it well. Or some reader might catch you in an error. And you don't want that.

But... Don't do research and never do the writing. Because that's the point: to write.

How do you research your writing? Do you think it's important? Let me know in the comments below.



Thursday, March 4, 2021

No Progress

I've talked about the progress humans have made before, from the beginning and from the 1970s. But in some ways, we aren't making progress.

This thought isn't original to me. I read it somewhere. But the truth is, we don't move any faster than we did 60 years ago at the beginning of the jet age. Commercial aircraft fly about the same speed now that the Concorde has been grounded permanently. Trains are slower from what I can tell. And cars go about the same speeds. In fact, in some places due to idiotic speed limits, they are forced to go slower despite being safer by every measure.

My mother told me that traveling to Portland, OR in the early sixties, my father was going 80 mph on I-84. Now the maximum speed limit on that highway is 70 mph and is 65 between The Dalles and Portland. And up until 1995 when it was repealed, the national maximum speed limit was 65 mph, 55 in urban areas. And before 1986, it was 55 mph everywhere. And yes, now there are places were the speed limit is 75 or even 80 mph, but they are rare. And, again, that's how fast my parents were going in the early '60s.

I was driving on I-84 a few weeks ago and on some straightaways I could see for miles and couldn't see another car. I had the cruise control set at 75 mph but it felt as if 80 or even 85 would have been perfectly safe.

Why aren't we traveling faster? Why aren't we moving at supersonic speeds through the air? Why don't we have bullet trains like in Japan?

The Concorde consumed a lot more fuel than a regular jet. Which is why it cost so much to fly on it.

The US is too big geographically and population density too low to make bullet trains practical outside of the East Coast population centers and maybe parts of Southern California (San Diego to LA).

Some companies are working on a "hyperloop" that can travel at 700 mph which is faster than commercial airplanes. But like high-speed rail, it's expensive and probably not practical in the low-population density areas of the country.

I don't know what the answer is. We need a breakthrough in speed. I don't know where it's going to come from. Maybe autonomous cars will go 100 mph while we sit inside and look at our phones. I don't know. That sounds almost as bad as flying on an airplane.

Why do you think we're not going any faster than in 1960? What do you think might help that? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Dreams

I have weird dreams sometimes.

Like recently I dreamed I was in a movie with a young Elizabeth Taylor and a youngish Glenn Ford. And there was a war on and I was trying to do guerilla action against an occupying army. One image that stuck with me was burning trucks full of supplies. Oh, and this was a Star Trek movie. Probably because the day before I watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. But another image that sticks with me is a Star Trek-like spaceship. You know, saucer shaped with warp nacelles. Like the USS Reliant in Star Trek II.

What does it all mean? Probably nothing. Just brain debugging itself, I assume. But lately I've been having vivid dreams and I don't know why. 

And sometimes, and this is really weird, I'm a woman in dreams. For example, in the "movie" described above, I spent time as Elizabeth Tylor as she (I) was horseback riding. This is before the war part of the movie. She (I) was riding on Glenn Ford's, her (my) father, estate. Isn't that weird.

Another dream I was Bill Crystal and hosting the Oscars. I was floating over the audience on some sort of platform and making jokes. Then I came to James Earl Jones and I stopped and shook his hand and said I was very honored to meet him.

One time in a dream I was looking for a new house. And in the house I was looking at, there was a flat-screen TV high on the wall. And I said to the house's owner, "I'm going to need a new TV." And he said "Don't forget about the TV tax." And I knew (as you  sometimes know in dreams) that there was a tax on TVs to discourage people from buying them because they use a lot of electricity. Who else dreams government policy?

Are you ever the opposite sex in a dream? What do you dream about? Let me know in the comments below.