Covid Cold 2022

omicron cookie monster

Is It A Cold?

omicron cookie monster
Nom nom.

There was a time, long ago, when people still believed in science, the media, and Disney that when you got a cold, it wasn’t a serious thing.

Now it’s a thing because, you know, it may be another thing.

See, it could be the new Covid variation – the deadly-sounding ‘Omicron variant.’ It has the exact same symptoms as a cold. The Covid numbers are insane because of the new, fun-loving mutation. In Canada, we are averaging 39,433 new cases a day.

However, those numbers are misleading because the high infection numbers have not equated into a high death count, thank Yoda, but those numbers have put stress on our healthcare system. Again.

Then, we all got a case of the sniffles.

In the old days, I’d just hunker down under a blanked, feel sorry for myself, and fill a garbage can with Kleenex as if I’m watching This Is Us. Meanwhile, The-Oldest would play his piano, The-Youngest would avoid school, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World would sanitize the house with the vigor of a Roomba hit by lightning (while listening to me complain about how terrible my man cold felt).

In the end, it was The-Youngest who got hammered the most.

Because of that, we had to take this seriously. We had to find a test kit, and The-Youngest had to stay home – which for him is like a junkie falling into a silo of cocaine. Sure he’s snotty and has a sore throat and we’re taking his temperature every 10 minutes, but being home means he can watch the Office for the 200th time.

Having used up the tests The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World got from work in late December, we had to book an appointment (which should be a lot easier but ends up being like booking an appointment with the Queen of England) and, worse, when we got to the testing site, well, they don’t actually do a test. Nope. They give us a test kit and told us to bugger off.

As well, we learned that we shouldn’t give The-Youngest the test until the third day of the symptoms. So, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World had to assume the worst and book off work until we knew the results of the test.

Great. Just great.

Now, this is not a fun test, like say, one of those history tests that crop up on my phone. Oh, no. This one involves stuffing a swab up your nose (like super far up your nose), rubbing it around inside your brain, crying a bit, then counting to 15 before shifting it to another nostril.

When we had our first scare, back in December, both The-Oldest and I hopped up and down, tears streaming from our eyes as we whisked our brains. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, having birthed babies, dealt with migraines all her life, and played board games with us, was no stranger to pain and so took her test without flinching, crying or yelling “Is it 15 seconds yet????”

The-Youngest’s reaction was somewhere in between.

None of us tested positive.

And The-Youngest tested negative this time, too.

Whew!

Honestly, I’m not sure we’re going to dodge this variant. Omicron has infected about 50% of the people I know and infects the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, though it does seem like the unvaccinated have more severe reactions.

However, there is some good news here.

My hope is that the next variant, which is pi, and you know I love pie, will be a milder version still. Sort of like drinking watered-down coffee or watching a CW show.

And once it becomes no more than a bad cold or mild flu, then maybe we can get back to normal.

I miss normal.

Here’s hoping 2022 will honor my request to be a better year.

 

 

 

 

What Would You Ask of 2022?

2022 resolutions

Dear 2022,

2022 resolutions
It’s a brand new year. Is there hope down that road?

I know you’ve just come into existence, but the 2020 line has been a failure as bad as Hair in a Can so I wanted to give you a heads-up that we’re expecting more from you. A lot more.

As you may know, I’m not keen on New Year’s resolutions for myself, but that does not stop me from making a great list for everyone else.

So here is the top 10 list of things I’m hoping you will do better, 2022.

  • No world war. I know this should be an easy one, but with China acting like a panda that wants to eat everyone else’s trees and Russia stomping around like a bear wanting to poop all over the Ukraine, this one isn’t a given.
  • No great depression – ok, no massive financial crisis in general. Oh, I know there are a lot of challenges with runaway inflation, the ongoing pandemic, and the fact no one wants to pay me $1,000,000 for my novel, but still, you can do this. Nice and easy, 2022. Nice and easy.
  • No new pandemic out of China. Gosh, maybe just keep an eye on China in general. We’re nearly through this Covid19, so the last thing we need is some bird virus leaking from a lab that mutates us all into zombies or Maple Leaf fans.
  • Let the pandemic become an endemic like the regular flu. Sure, your predecessors had fun with variations but don’t let that be you, 2022. Be strong. You don’t need the pandemic to have fun.
  • Stop buggering around with all the travel bans. I love traveling. It fills me up like an extra-large chocolate milkshake with a cherry on top. I had to cancel our 2022 trip to Maui and I would very much like to see that this is the last cancelation. Ever.
  • queen of england
    Come on, look at that face? Who could not love that face. And hat.

    Don’t kill off the Queen. It’s her 70th year as regent. Her platinum jubilee. I mean, hell, 2021 took Betty White from us, so give us a break. Also, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s baba wants to live to 102 (she’s 98). Let’s make that happen, too.

  • Don’t cancel the World Cup. Of soccer. Or football. Or whatever you call it. There’s nothing like watching countries that hate each other battle it out without the use of nuclear weapons or overly harsh tweets. Oh, and if you’re really feeling up for something special, something almost impossible to do, have Scotland win.
  • No more rubbish weather. We had epic floods in the Sumas Valley, forest fires that raged out of control, and worse, snow that stopped me from taking my Mustang anywhere. Get your act together, 2022, enough is enough.
  • Don’t mess up Amazon’s Lord of the Rings. You know I have a bad feeling about this and if they ignore existing lore, mess with the elves or find a way to make us understand the trauma of the orcs so we will like them, then, I will find you, 2022, I will find you and make you pay.
  • Let me believe in my writing, again. After a year of rejections for my latest book, that belief has taken a serious beating. Wait, hold on, this one’s not really on you. This one’s on me. Just work on the other items, please.

As always, thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I will do a better job this year of getting more posts done, I promise. With luck, they’ll even be good posts – funny or insightful or simply entertaining. Please like or follow the blog on the website.

What would you ask of 2022?

 

Pandemic Oct 1st 2021 (Delayed Post) Another Scare

parenting meme
parenting meme
I don’t think anyone has a plan.

Long ago (well, actually two years ago), if one of our boys got sick with something like the flu, we’d keep him home, give him some Advil, and bring him some chicken soup while I quoted Churchill until he got better.

But we still have to worry that those same symptoms could be Covid despite us all being double vaxxed.

Gosh, I hate this Covid thing. I hate it like a three-year-old hates to be told they have to go to bed.

But with the government taking a good 5 days or more to report an outbreak of Covid in the schools, when we have one child with flu-like symptoms, (fever, chills, coughing, and overall looking like a zombie extra from the Walking Dead) it’s quarantine time, baby, quarantine time.

Again.

However, first of all, mad shout out to the parents who have made their own app called Exposure Watch. How cool is that? It’s still nice to know when government fails us so completely, people step up to help out their community.

Now, for anyone who read my pandemic blog (here) from the start will know, we’re kind of used to a quarantine. 

Since we were first caught off guard, we made a plan in case we had to go through this, again (and with the stupid Delta Variant, there was a good chance we would.)

Our plan was called –  The Omega Protocol (originally called Joe’s Incredibly Detailed and Super Amazing Survival Plan Made By Joe, but that got voted down).

It was time to put that plan into action.

Step 1. We went online to book a Covid test. Within 15 minutes we had an appointment. We needed to know if he had Covid.

That’s super cool. Gone were the days the doctors said, “Hey, sorry, no tests available, just stay at home and, you know, don’t die too much.”

So, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World took her boy to the testing site about a half-hour later. He couldn’t do the swishy-mouth one due to a gag reflex but took the brain scrubbing one like a hero.

Then they told us it would take a day to know but if it was positive, we’d know as fast as they could do it. “And if it’s negative?”

Medical Professional, “That will take a lot longer but we will notify you.”

“Why not right away? I mean if you know it’s negative, seems like people would, you know, kinda like to know.”

“Don’t be difficult, sir. Quarantine until you know. Next, please.”

Ok. Right. Quarantine it is.

Step 2. We sent the boy to his room and banned his brother and I from even going near the room. Only one contact person was allowed in (aka his mom) and she would mask up anytime she entered the infected one’s room. 

Step 3. We wiped down the entire house for the billionth time since March of 2020 and obsessively checked temperatures every couple of hours

Step 4. Fed the boy chicken noodle soup, stale crackers, Gatorade, Advil and supplements like Zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin C (latest medical information here.) 

Step 5. The whole family took supplements. We waited it out.

It was the best we could do.

Until we knew, we’d all stay home, not go out, not pass go, not collect $200.

Being amazing, though, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World didn’t take the whole “we’re not going to contact you unless you have a positive result” thing lying down. She looked deeper into how she could find the results faster.

Seems it’s a very Catch-22 thing. If she wanted to find out a test result, she could use her new and exciting BC Services app which records pretty much every pill she’s ever taken. Or she could go to the online health info site (for us, that would be Lifelabs / MyCareCompass), and find out the results there.

For a teenager, (and I get the world hates teenagers, but still…) they don’t have access to that information because they are too young to get said information. Well, that’s all fair and fine, you’d think the mom would have access to that. But no. All their medical information is locked away in a secret vault for privacy protection.

Now, I’m all for privacy protection, but how’s that going to help us get information on a test? If the boy couldn’t get it and his mom couldn’t get it, could someone like, I dunno, the doctor?

Nope, they, too, only get notified quickly if it’s positive.

It took a while for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World to find a way to access that information that didn’t, you know, violate the law or anything, but she did.

In the meantime, while we waited for the results, the infected one didn’t come out of his room (a dream come true, I think), watched all the seasons of The Office on Netflix, and studiously ignored the homework he’d been given like someone ignoring an odd-looking mole on their back.

When The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World finally dug out the results – No Covid – we let out another sigh of relief. That new Delta Variant is a bugger, but it looked like we’d dodged it.

The boy was allowed to stay home to get better (I mean, hey, we didn’t want him infecting his classmates with regular flu either), but things got back to normal pretty quickly.

That’s the good news. No Covid here. Nothing to see.

The bad news, after nearly two years, they’re still fumbling around with communication. You’d think they’d have it nailed by now, like stuntmen working on making that jump across a canyon full of lava, but no, they continue to crash –  and burn in a very not-funny way.

I think I’m going to write a letter to someone. In my head. Yeah, that’ll do it.

 

 

10 Things You Need To Know To Vote (That You May Not Know)

voting in canada

Each time we have to vote, the government sends out something that tells us what we need. It’s only two things, really –  A voter card and some form of ID (and I’ve worked at the poll stations, so everyone tries very hard to find something that works).

However, there are a few things they don’t tell you.

Thatsa why I’m here.

1. You have to wear pants (or at least, something to cover your underwear or naughty bits). You might have to wear a shirt, too. Maybe shoes. Heck, it could be the whole ‘no pants, no shirt, no shoes.’ things, but I’d need a volunteer to test out that theory.

2. Unlike the blood bank, you don’t get a sticker, a cookie, or a small carton of apple juice. Personally, I think this is a mistake. Our reward for being good citizens (other than, you know, getting a government that works) is a nice feeling. Add a few donuts, a nice cup of coffee, or a Porsche, and you’d increase voting % by orders of magnitude. Heck, even the used car guys don’t have a sale without at least a big blow-up gorilla or something.

3. You have to mask up and social distance. It might say that on the voter ID card, but I forgot to check mine before handing it in. However, no vaccination ID is required.

4. Remember to take a breath mint if you’ve just had a cup of coffee or eaten pickled onions, or else you’re breathing your own horrible breath for a while.

5. You have to bring a cell phone or a book or something to do if you’re in line for a while. In the old days, you might chat with someone about the weather or if Sam was really the hero of Lord of the Rings, but now, with social distancing and masking-up, you’ll be on your own.

6. Be nice to the people behind the voting desk. Like I’ve said, I’ve been there, and it’s stressful. In other years, there were two people there to make sure everything was done right, but this year, it looks like there’s just one, and if they’re like me, they’re muttering don’t ‘f*ck up, don’t f*ck up, don’t f*ck up,’ inside their head a lot (and sweating like they’re at a job interview and first date at the same time).

7. Don’t wear squeaky shoes. You have to walk through a gym, and when there’s only you and your squeaky shoes, you sound like a window washer using no washer on a window.

8. Don’t bring your dog inside. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but why would you do that? Also, it turns out that you can’t leave your dog with the people in the front. However, adding a dog handler may also fall under the ‘how could they make the experience more rewarding?’ thingee.

9. You can’t bring snacks into the voting area. Again, it would help if you got some coming out, but I guess they don’t want crumbs on the floor, anyone slipping on spilled coffee, or people taking their masks off to eat a McMuffin.

10. Voting matters. I know it’s hard to believe sometimes. I know that the individual gets lost in the metadata that governs our world. I know you may think one vote doesn’t matter, but have you ever seen ants make a bridge? That bridge happens because a bunch of individuals get together and say, you know what, we can make a difference here. So, please, take the time to vote.

And that’s it from me. I voted and will write my MP about having coffee and cookies next time.

Pandemic Sept 11th 2021 – Cruise-in Car Show

A&W the drive-in days
aldergrove langley car cruise in
The Langley Good Times Cruise-in 2021

Keen to get out of the house, we decided to go see a car show.

Now there hasn’t been one for a while due to stupid Covid and all the rules and restrictions, but finally, in Aldergrove, they were able to organize the Langley Good Times Cruise-in.

How could we not go? There’d be hot rods (for the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World), food trucks (for The-Youngest), and, err, ah, well nothing really for The-Oldest since we couldn’t find any classical orchestras playing there, but whatever, he’d surely have fun listening to me talk about Shelby and the 1968 Gran Prix. However, for me, I go for a different reason that I’ll explain a bit later.

Now, it’s not like the world has returned to normal. Not even close. However, let’s put aside the insanity of the world and instead, go to a different time. A time when fossil-fueled cars ruled the world like shiny dinosaurs.

This car show was, by far, the biggest we’d ever seen. 1200 cars set up along Fraser Highway from 272nd to 264th.

That’s one long route (plus all the side streets that were filled with fancy cars).

Sadly, there was rain, (ok, not hard rain – spitting rain), but we risked the downpour and headed out anyway.

Now, to be honest, I’m not the biggest car guy. I know that if I stick my key in the keyhole and turn it, the car will start. I can change a tire or the oil, and I can look at a light on my dashboard and say, man, I need to fix that.

But looking under the hood and being able to identify a 283-cid Turbo-Fire V8 with a four-barrel carburetor is beyond me.

That’s not to say I still don’t have fun, but my fun is different. Sure, I like shiny cars. I like Mustangs. I like the cars that jump up and down. I like the funny-looking ones. I like hearing the roar of a hot rod and the hum of a Ferrari, but more than that, I like the experience.

See, a car show is not like going to an art gallery. Not by a long shot. And that’s what I love.

There is a smell there. The acrid smell of burned rubber. The garage-smell of oil and exhaust. The familiar smell of old leather jackets reeking of cigarette smoke.

It’s something you can’t get anywhere else.

Then there are the people. The old guys standing proudly beside their automobiles, eager to explain where they found an original 1937 Ford model 78 door handle. I love the guy dressed in army gear showing off his WW2 jeep. I love the pros with matching jackets standing in tents protecting their ultra-expensive sports cars. I love the car club booths set up so car guys can talk about cars.

Sadly, I don’t usually go to those booths, though, since my conversation tends to be like this. “So, what kind of car would Gandalf have driven?”

Still, there was so much to love there.

There were the bands to see, rockers with long ZZ Top beards and raging guitars. There was Elvis singing with little kids. There were families all lounging behind their cars, taking in the day.

There was even a group set up on the street along the way out who had a sign that said, “burn rubber!” (which was hard to do since leaving was a traffic jam worthy of a good Canucks game) but they would raise a beer to anyone who did.

I think most of us had a good time. I know The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World did. She loves cars and car engine sounds and funny car horns and white-rimmed tires and cars with that funny paint that is different colors depending on how the light hits it.

For The-Youngest, well he got to talk about how Teslas could destroy all of these cars in a race. Over and over.

And The-Oldest? Well, I think the highlight was eating Mac and Cheese called Jurassic Pork.

Being me, I marveled at all the cool characters there, stopped to listen to conversations, took pictures of the coolest cars, and tried to engage The-Oldest. “Look at those hub caps, they look like plates!” or “What music would they have played in that ’67 convertible?” or “if you had to write a song about that car, what would it be like?”

I doubt I made the experience any better for him, however.

My favourite car, you ask, was actually a truck. A bulldog truck. Tall. Super short front end. Super. Short. And kinda brown. It reminded me of Mater from Cars.

Hey, I like Mater!

A&W the drive-in daysThe best display, though, was an A&W one. The picture does more justice than my words ever could.

So, with luck, we’ll be able to go to more of these events in the future as the world returns to normal, even if it’s a Salvador Dali version of normal.

And thanks to everyone who reads, comments, or otherwise looks at this blog. If you like what you see, please follow the blog and/or like-share on FB.

Something bigger is coming in the very near future. Stay tuned.

 

Pandemic Aug 30th, 2021 – What to do?

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey
All right, all right, all right.

Shouldn’t the pandemic be over?

Nope, it keeps going on and on and on like some bad four-hour director’s cut of Blade Runner.

So, what do we do now?

Well, it’s time for me to channel the great philosophers like Socrates, Gandhi, and Dave Berry to answer that question.

First, where are we in the world?

In the US, the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was so horrifically f’d up, that it made the Vietnam withdrawal look like a well-organized Bob Hope Christmas show. Meanwhile, Australia has a 0 tolerance lockdown that makes North Korea say, “Oi, mate, that’s a bit much, isn’t it?” And, in Canada, we have an election no one asked for and no one wanted.

Super fun times.

Locally, after nearly two months of BC burning, the fires and evacuation orders are ticking down. Finally, some good news!.

Our government, though, after implementing restrictions on the unvaccinated, advised people to call the police if they have a confrontational person in your store or bar or dog spa. Totally doable if we properly fund the police, but it’s like asking the firefighters to fight a dozen fires with just one dude from their calendar who looks great with his shirt off.

It feels like too many people are doing what they feel is right, rather than what might actually be scientifically right… or heck, just using simple common sense. Sort of like me thinking I can breathe in space because I saw Bugs Bunny do it.

Which leads back to me. As do all things, really.

The more I think about this, the more I think thinking has become viewed as a bad thing in our society.

Ok, sure, thinking too much led to the atomic bomb. Thinking too much led to censoring ideas we don’t like. Thinking too much led to wide-ranging conspiracies theories like 9-11 was ordered by George Bush, there are parasites in the vaccines, or the world is flat, or square or rides on the back of a turtle led by Elvis.

But what do we do if we don’t think at all? Rely on feelings?

That’s even worse.

Feelings ignore facts the way I ignore yellow lights. Feelings lead to fear and fear leads to hate and hate leads to becoming Darth Vader.

Feelings ignore doing what might be in the common good.

So, what do we do if we can’t overthink things, and can’t rely on our feelings?

What else is there?

Wait, wait, I know this!

Hold on.

We discuss and listen, not to be right, but to understand.

I mean, hey, Matthew McConaughey learned this while listening to two men talking in a bar, and when he took a side, one said, “It is not about right or wrong. It is about ‘Do you understand?!’”

Cool right?

By listening, we can discover why people are afraid of something like the vaccine. By accepting they are afraid, rightly or wrongly, we can offer support and advise them, and maybe sneak in a fact or two.

By not having to be right, maybe, just maybe we can come to understand that they want the same things – to be safe, to be free, to live a life without constant fear.

By understanding, we may just slow the hate a bit and that’s a good goal, right. No need to post nasty hate on Facebook or spread intolerance, hate, and misinformation on Twitter so those companies can sell more advertising, but instead phone a family member and see how they’re doing, text a friend and set up a tea date, write an email to someone who inspired you to be a better person.

Cavlin and Hobbs love
Just be nice

To get through this, overthinking isn’t going to help. Listening too much to your feelings isn’t going to help. Being the best person you can be in these times, well, that kinda is.

Now I have to run. Matthew McConaughey and I are going to discuss the nature of the wind because, you know, it’s harder to talk to Gandhi and Socrates about stuff.

 

 

Returning to Normal – Pandemic Sept 4th 2020

masking the world

Returning to Normal – Pandemic Sept 4th 2020

The older I get, the more surprised I am that I haven’t actually seen everything.

If I had to make a list of signs that we’re getting back to normal, at the top of the list would be going back to school, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World returning to work, seeing a movie in a theater, and being able to fly off to Italy and eat Mama Linguini’s pasta on a Venice canal.

Sadly, one of those things is still not really possible, but the others, well, yes, they are totally doable now (with restrictions, of course.)

But first, let’s look at the world: The stock market has almost returned to pre-Covid days, oil is back around $42, the price of gas is 1.29-ish, housing prices have rebounded, and they are selling here for over asking price.

WTF?

As well, all grocery stores are open, but disinfecting wipes are still hard to find. Finding hand sanitizer, TP, and Kleenex, however, is no longer an issue, the Canucks are playing hockey again, and Anheuser-Busch’s dog beer has sold out.

All signs that things continue to move towards normal. Or abnormal depending on your thoughts on the whole ‘dog beer’ thing.

However, in the super-cool department, a supercomputer may have figured out how the super-nasty Covid works. Here.

Ok, so that’s all fair and fine, right, but why does this matter? It matters because if they’re right, Covid unleashes a bradykinin storm (which is better explained here), AND we have about a dozen meds to deal with such a storm.

How cool is that?

Sure it’s not a vaccine, but dropping the death rate would be kinda cool. You gotta love computers.

More locally, and with fewer supercomputers doing our thinking, it looks like school is a go for next week. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, like a case of shingles, but there are a variety of options, which are not particularly well explained, again, like shingles.

There’s homeschooling, which I would love, but would only teach them history since I totally don’t get math, science, woodworking, or sex education.

The next step towards actual schooling is Distributed Learning, which is basically online schooling. Sounds like a good option until you realize that your child will not necessarily be able to have the teachers from his school do the teaching, wouldn’t have all the electives available and would have to be at home bugging you about the bradykinin hypothesis.

Then there’s what’s called Blended Learning, which is like making a cool milkshake then mixing in something that’s sat in your fridge for 9 months.

Basically, it’s school for a few days, then assignments are assigned, then the kids go home to work on them for 2-3 days. For some reason, the belief is that kids will stick with their bubble-groups, not rush out to play or talk with friends in the schoolyard, always wear masks and practice social distancing, and, oh yeah, believe in the Easter Bunny.

Then there’s what we are doing at The-Youngest’s high school, which is … school basically as normal. Full time all the time, and please forget what the province or the school district is putting out.

A lot of teachers are quite scared about this approach, not that I blame them in the least, and hearing some of their stories, like classrooms without proper protective supplies and lack of leadership on how to do all of this, I am a little worried for them as well.

So it looks The-Youngest will be back to school where he can see his friends, again, get positive reinforcement from his teachers for being a great student, and have his ass-kicked by a gym teacher, telling him not to slack-ass those situps.

It’s not perfect, no, but I know the teachers will do their absolute best.

And then there are the movie theaters.

Tenet – One of the most complex and mind-bending movies I have ever seen

Yes, The-Oldest and I braved a movie theater. We saw Tenet in the IMAX with about 20 odd people.

Now, that IMAX theater is HUGE, but they only sold about two dozen tickets, or so so we had a TON of spacing between the seats. Honestly, I felt safer there than in the crowded aisles of our local Save-On where someone is taking off their mask to sneeze onto the Campbell soups.

So, little by little, we’re returning to normal. We’ve gone on a staycation, we got our haircut, we took a BC ferry, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World returned to work, which was both terrifying and exciting.

More on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world (yes, I’m looking at you boomers who yell at staff for having to enforce rules set out by the government.)