Archive | April 2021

It’s a Good Day

Summer weather is here at last. We’re officially in “Severe Drought” according to the US Drought Monitor. Multiple days over 85F, which meant opening the AC units and cleaning out the black mold and dirt that had collected since they were closed for winter. Waking up to fire engines screaming and checking the FD’s PulsePoint list of active calls to see if I have to make preparations.

Yep, summer is here. I love-hate summer. If it weren’t for the heat and constant sunshine, it’d be nice. But I do like seasonal change. Hearing and seeing new birds. A female Bullock’s Oriel appeared at our feeder, indicating a least one breeding pair is back in the palm trees. Huzzah! Baby bunnies are everywhere, which means there aren’t many rats this year. The California poppies and lilacs are still in bloom. The bonica roses are about to pop. There’s a lot happening.

This week our local library decided it was time to open to browsing, just on Wednesdays and Fridays, all day, and Sunday afternoons. And only a limited number of people in at a time — which sucks a bit because a lot of people use the library as free AC in summer. But it makes me really happy. I’m a total browser. I don’t like algorithms trying to find me stuff I’ll like, because I like a lot of different stuff. And I can’t discover new stuff I like, unless I stumble upon it. So…browsing? Being able to brows again? Awesome.

This week on Tuesday Mutti got her 2nd Pfizer shot. She had very few symptoms. She took a couple Tylenol and “powered through.” I’m hoping when I get my second shot, I’ll land closer to her reaction than Da’s. Of course he refused to take Tylenol, right when the first symptoms appeared. So, maybe he wouldn’t have had such a strong reaction if he’d done that. Also, Mutti took magnesium and B6 the night she got her shot. Those are used in a lot of migraine formulas. So, maybe that helped her too?

I’m feeling pretty positive about our county, and CA in general, right now. Our county has a transmission R of .8. We’ve administered vaccine 1st doses to 60% of the 16+ group. And 40% of the 16+ group is fully vaxed now. In CA overall, 46% have had 1 dose, and 30% are fully vaxed. It seems like, reviewing various data, 30% is a tipping point. Once you get there, you begin the downward trajectory (if you keep going with the vaxing and masking till the positivity rate collapses). Our county positivity is at 2.4 new cases per 100K right now.

By contrast, BC’s got some places with 20+ cases per 100K. Overall, provincial cases are starting to fall, because of changing personal behaviors (ie, restrictions) and vaccinations. They’re at 31% with 1 dose of vax. It’s a great start (only 1.7% are fully vaxed). But hot spots remain. In BC they’ve decided to surge vaccination in places with high transmission. It’s a strategy they used successfully in smaller places, but it remains to be seen what will happen at scale. The SO did his part and got vaxed this week. He’s very happy. I got an ironing-dance video (set to It’s a Good Day).

COVID-19 in B.C.
BC Centre for Disease Controls Map

Canada joined the UK, Germany and other countries in banning flights from India. About 1.8% of travelers to Canada were testing positive (they test everyone arriving by air and send them to hotels — even if not positive — for 2 wks). Of the positive cases, half were coming from India. A temporary ban seemed advisable. The Canadian ban applies to Pakistan and India. I spoke to my doctor this week (I don’t have hemochromatosis. I have been eating way too much iron). She’s from India. She agrees with the ban. She said rich Indians will just fly to other countries. A $30K ticket to Dubai? That’s nothing. So a ban is the only way to stop that behavior.

Her practice partner, also a woman, is also Indian. She’s lost 6 family members. They’re pretty angry. They called India “an unbelievably corrupt nation.” Wow. That’s saying something. They really dislike Modi. They think the only way out is mass vaccinations. I’d 100% agree with that. But in a nation with a billion people, getting to 30% is 300 million just in 1st shots. They’re currently at 8% with 1 dose vaccination and 1.8% fully vaxed. We need to ship them the ingredients to make vaccines they need and all the the J&J one dose and the AZ we can.

I don’t think people have any idea how important India is in the global economy. A lot of US prescription drugs come from India. If they’re not manufacturing, good luck getting your meds. India makes 40-50% of all the US’s generic drugs. Not just that, India is a major covid vax manufacturing center. If India goes down, it takes much of the world’s supply of AZ Covishield with it. Much as I’m against helping ethno-religious nationalist authoritarians, the world really does need to save the Indian people. Even if you don’t care about the Indian people (which I do), you should care at least because you care about your own self.

Learn the Right Way to Water Your Lawn | DIY
The only kind of back and forth I’m interested in.

For anyone who cares about US politics? Nope. I did not watch the SOTU address. I watered the lawn instead. I voted for Biden so I didn’t have to listen to political people talk anymore. So I could be reasonably sure there’d be competent, intelligent, trained people in office who were largely dedicated to doing the humane, sane, right thing. Not perfect people with perfect plans that I agreed with 100%. Just normal American people, who cherish having a normal democracy.

The whole Cyber Ninja fiasco happening in AZ is a perfect example of why I voted for Biden. Just read the Bangladeshi LinkedIn bio for the founder of the company. A company that didn’t exists until 3 months ago. This is not a “company” that should be anywhere near a US ballot audit. I could never vote for a party that thought this organization was fit to touch a voter’s ballot or perform an election audit. I guess it’s all just uv lights and monitors to keep their base donating money, and thinking that something is happening.

Well, it’s getting late, even though I know it’s still really early. I need to go watch the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship, which starts this morning. The German team is in limbo after a couple people tested positive for covid. I’m sad about that. But everyone else is going to be able to play. And I really just watch for Sweden, Canada, and the US. Even though it will be 89F today, minimum, I can at least imagine I’m sitting in the cool dark stands. I’ll adjust the blinds, have a little iced lemonade, and use a lot of AC. Yeah, I can make it work. And, If I start to feel hot, I guess I’ll try adding a tinfoil hat.

Have yourself a good day!
This entry was posted on April 30, 2021.

Mr Blue Sky

Sleeveless Maxi Dress Indian Cotton Maxi Dress Traditional image 0
Yes, Gran. It is what I’m wearing. Available at Etsy, of course.

In an attempt to start my departure from what Frankl would call the “provisional life” of the pandemic, For the first time in over a year, I made an extra trip (to Sprout’s, midafternoon when it’s slow) – on an impulse. Ooooo, unplanned extra trip to a public place! And I went in a 2-ply cloth mask, lined with a Bounty sheet (tri-folded) which was covered by a sheet of Kleenex. Ooooo, out without the N-95 mask!

It felt daring, like those languorous summer days in So Cal when you wear a colorful, thin, Indian cotton dress, sans unmentionables, to the 8 am Mass because you know it will be 95 degrees when you get out and you just want your butt cheeks to chill for an hour on that wooden pew. Gran calls that look, where you’re dressed up and covered up, but really something else is going on, “California Catholic” or “SoCal Classic” Neither pronouncement is technically complimentary.

At some point though, you do need to start making your way out of the pandemic life. This week seemed a good time. In mid March, our county’s Rt value was .6 As we eased the breaks, it went up as high as .85 last week. But this week, .81 in the county and down to .7 in the state. The state is airing “Vacation in California” ads, to keep dollars and people at home. A friend that works for the local school district said all graduations are going to be in person (not drive-by) on June 11 (June 15 is CA’s full re-open date).

Write your representatives. Let them know your Pro vaccine sharing.

With over 50% of people eligible vaxed, we are cracking the back of covid. For now. I’m always keeping a weather eye out. People are still dying. One of my friends told me her aunt died, April 5. But they can’t have a funeral till May 15 because the mortuaries are still so backed up. And as a country? Yeah, still over 700 people a day dying. I feel like we’re still, as a nation, on pace to hit 750K deaths from covid. But, vaccines are working, and I’m cautiously optimistic.

I’m also slightly baffled by people who are buying fake vaccine cards. It’s so easy to get a vaccine, for free, which comes with a card, for free. Why on earth would anyone bother to pay money for a fake vax card? Just one of many pandemic mysteries I think about. For instance, a recent poll showed only 48% of Republicans want to take the vaccine, but 58% want to stockpile it and not give it to other countries. This is a really interesting set of stats.

It means that there’s a percentage of Republicans who actually want the vaccine, even though they say they don’t want to take it. Because you don’t need to stockpile something you don’t ever want to use. I think this stat is a hopeful thing for US vaccination rates. It means the real problem is getting Reps to understand the longer you don’t take a vaccine, the more the virus has a chance to mutate. And then the vax you stockpiled might have no efficacy. It’s a true case of use it (now) or lose it (forever).

What If You Jump Out Of A Plane Without A Parachute?
It’s jump now, with a vax-chute, or …

Not getting and not using the vaccine, just stockpiling, is the worst possible choice for you and the world. The virus can only be stopped, and stopped from mutating, by getting as many people taking the vaccine now, while the vaccine works. I hope the “Stockpile” anti-vax Republicans can be enlightened. It will not only help them, it will help the whole country, and the whole world. As for 52% that say they never want the vaccine? If you really don’t want your vaccine, that your taxes paid for, it should be given to other around the world that do, right now. Then your sickness or death won’t be totally in vain.

In news from the North, this week the SO booked his covid vax appt. It’s happening! He said he’s getting the AZ Covishield, same has his parents. I thought he’d be getting Pfizer or Moderna, but apparently that’s not the way things turned out. It’s all based on supply in Canada. Canada is not a country that manufactures vaccine. They’re completely dependent on other nations making vaccines and shipping them to Canada. Problems arise when the manufacturing countries have new virus surges and decided not ship but use it at home. Capitalism, epic fail.

Anyway, the So said he’d rather have what his parents got since they had no problems with it. I can understand that. I’m just so happy he’s getting something. That his odds of serious illness and death are going to be reduced to virtually nothing. I try to temper that happiness though. BC is in the midst of a third surge, restrictions are coming back. And I understand their concerns and panic, at the same time, it’s a bit hard. Their surge is 47 cases per 100K. California is opening up and considered a national US success story with a mere 43 cases per 100K.

Is the glass half empty or half full? - Wikipedia
Half full or half empty? Hard to tell

It’s a mystery how I’m supposed to respond anymore. I guess it’s good that the SO is no longer worried about me, since his situation is “worse” relatively speaking? I should be worried for him, and I am, but…I’m kind of not. The Canadians are doing a way better job of disease management now because they did so from the start. The US lost a full year. I know the Canadians will continue use science to work through the issues. They’re all over the clot problem. And while they may have some hiccups along the way, like unseasonably warm weather sending everyone outside, they’ll do way better than the US overall. As they’ve been doing from the start.

One of the other mysteries of the pandemic I’ve been thinking about is, why, if we’ve lost 560K to covid, allowing 65K refugees into the US this year is a problem. Just to get back to where we were before the current Republican mass murder spree started last year, we’d have to allow 140K immigrants and refugees in a year, for the next 5 years. I know Republicans have a thing about “replacement” but they did effectively kill off old American citizens and create this perfect void for new American citizens to fill. Just saying.

And speaking of replacement, I feel the need to remind people that this isn’t a concept that started with Republicans. It’s been a part of the Christian church from the start. And it’s still pervasive. Have a look at this April 7th press release. The upshot is women are just wombs that belong to men, and children always grow up to be whatever faith their father want them to be. Eye roll. This is modern Catholic thought. And it’s totally at odds with Jesus’s teachings. The church grows when we live as Christ did and share the faith with adult others, who then themselves might value and wish to live Christ’s teachings.

Quoll Farm, you need to see it. Wonderful!

Other pandemic mysteries I though of this week, while the neighbors put on a new roof and banging of hammers and thwacking of nail guns was incessant from 7am to 5pm every day? Why are there never any cat food tins in the shops? Not even in PetCo? It’s been harder to get wet cat food than wipes, TP, or paper towels. And I have no idea what’s going on. How many cat adoptions have happened this past year?

Minka is very much over Fancy Feast kitten food, which is all I can find. She now spends most days hunting bunnies, mice, squirrels and alligator lizards. By hunt I mean sits and looks at. She’s an ambush style hunter. But she refuses to sit under a bush. It’s embarrassing. Speaking of mice though, the Universe was right. There were only 42 mice in Gran’s garage. The scratching sound I heard last week was an alligator lizard going after the spiders. Black widows and brown recluses are common here, so, I’m okay with it.

Less ok? The crows have taken to leaving parts of alligator lizards, and bread from the High School, to soak in the bird baths. The collared doves have started harassing the crows over their water polluting way. But it’s not really a problem I have to fix. Horus and Harriet love eating collared doves. So, invasive species, collared doves, get picked off. Native species, Cooper’s hawks, are sustained, and / or return, mourning doves coming back. Natural balance is restored.

Earth Day is every day here, and always very down to earth.

For my final mystery, that I’ve been thinking about for more than a year. I’m going to talk about the George Floyd case. Not the Derrick Chauvin case that just wrapped up with a just conclusion. The actual involving Mr Floyd closed with Mr Floyd’s murder, so I was left with questions. I don’t know what came up in the news or the trial about the precipitating events. Once I saw another innocent Black American murdered in front of a cloud of witnesses, what more was there to say? I supported the prosecution, but I didn’t watch the trial.

As for the news? I can’t say the precipitating events got covered that much. The national conversation quickly became about policing in America, as it should have long ago. It became about the murder, and about simply existing in America as a Black citizen. And I totally get that. So, I’m admitting, the following thoughts are based on how I understand the precipitating event case facts, and if I’m wrong in any point about anything that happened, I apologize.

My understanding is Mr Floyd and his girlfriend went into a local convince store, Cup Foods. Mr Floyd attempted to purchase something(s), but the clerk at the register noticed the bill Mr Floyd presented was a fake (aka a counterfeit) $20. I’m going to his pause here. Because this is where first things go off the rails for me. I don’t use money very often. I wouldn’t know a fake $20 if I was handed it. Would you? It really upsets me that Mr Floyd was immediately considered a perpetrator by the clerk.

Biden Administration to Expedite New Tubman $20
The $20 Tubman. It’s time people.

As a white person, I’d expect to be told by a clerk, “Hey, that bill is fake. You should call the police and tell them where you got it.” I would be seen as a victim. I know this because as a white person, who worked retail, and used to have to identify fake bills back in the day, that’s exactly what I did when a customer per chance presented one. The presumption was always that the person was a victim themselves, not a perpetrator.

Ok, unpause. My understanding is that the clerk was told by his boss that if he took a counterfeit bill, it would come out of his paycheck. And, lest we forget, minimum wage in Minnesota is $8.15 an hour. So if the clerk takes a fake $20, it takes him 2.5 hrs of work to “repay” his boss. I’m sorry, why does this Cup Food’s boss assume his clerk is part of some criminal conspiracy to take fake cash? Um, sorry, that sounds totally illegal. Neither I, nor any of my fellow employees, was ever docked for accidentally taking a bad bill.

Ok, after Mr Floyd leaves the store, the store owner requires the clerk to call the police, and then leave the store to follow Mr Floyd. In what world is an employee required to do that? I’m sorry but again, it seems totally illegal to ask an employee to follow and / or attempt to detain a person suspected of anything. I wouldn’t ask someone to do that. What the @?

Signpost with four arrows - lost concept (puzzled, confused, unsure, lost).  Stock Illustration | Adobe Stock
I am … where?

And let’s repeat Mr Floyd was suspected of attempting to pass a single fake bill. No bill was actually passed. The clerk stopped him. There was no way for anyone to know if Mr Floyd was anything but a victim of being passed a bad bill himself. Weirdly, the one statement I read, from the MPD, said the crime Mr Floyd was suspected of was forgery. That’s with checks. Using counterfeit money is a totally different crime, I thought.

There just seems to be a series of actions (that don’t seem to be legal actions, but do seem to be racially biased) by the store management that leads up to the arrival of the MPD. Once the police arrive, apparently they are told Mr Floyd was outside sitting on his car hood. So, he’s not fleeing the scene in anyway. When the police go out, they find Mr Floyd in his car. Nothing wrong with a citizen sitting in his car.

But I’m going to take another pause here. Is there some huge counterfeit ring operating in Minneapolis? That this is such a priority? Is there a US Dept of Treasury taskforce there that’s been actively tracing violent counterfeiters? I’m guessing not. So why is this one bill, that never even made it across the store counter, such a big deal? Why are the MPD allowed to use violent force on a citizen for a call involving non-violent crime? In a case where the person being attacked by them is actually a probably victim and potentially a witness who could help them trace the funny money further back to its source?

Friends, family of man who died in MPD custody remember 'Big Floyd' | MPR  News
Justice for George Floyd. Delivered. Thank you, Darnella Fraizer.

Anyway, I’ve spent a year thinking about this. About how this would never have happened if Mr Floyd had been white. I know the trial of Mr Chauvin didn’t mention race. And that’s fine. Mr Chauvin was convicted. But there really can’t be any doubt that at every step, from the moment Mr Floyd entered the Cup Foods shop, his race was the reason this story began and ended as it did.

The future is coming. No one can escape it. But society doesn’t have to drag it’s old ills into that new day. There are solutions. We can create a better future for everyone. We can revolutionize life. We can set people free. There can be blue skies, for all people. I hope the US Senate (89% white) will make a start and pass the legislation our nation (40% POC) desperately needs if it ever hopes to have its better days.

An eyewitness is just a bystander who speaks up. Be a witness in life.
This entry was posted on April 23, 2021.

Up, Up and Away

Appearance - Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii - Birds of the World
Cooper’s Hawk, Birds of the World.

This week on Days of Squirrel Lives… things got a little tense. Horus, son of Harriet, has come of age. He dropped through the yard, on awkward wing, and made a play for Selma, daughter of Squirrleen, sister of Septimus, Sirius, Squirt, and Sandy. Selma ducked with a “What the what?” look on her face then went on eating. Horus landed on a pepper tree branch so badly he nearly fell off.

Cooper’s Hawks mainly eat small birds. I felt the need to remind of him that by walking out there and giving him the stink eye till he got the message and flew off. Granted I’d be upset about the small birds too, but far less so. Unless he nicked a lark sparrow. A few of them have decided to stay on apparently. Horus was punching above his adolescent weight trying for a small squirrel. He likely would have been hurt. Selma is one tough little cookie.

The next day, I looked out to see Horus flapping awkwardly in a tangle of branches, possibly with something in his talons, but I couldn’t see for the fence covering his lower body. Corwin, son of Corva, was there less than a foot away shrieking at him. The crows guard the yard from the hawks and coyotes, and have a symbiotic relationship with the squirrels (a portion of whose food they eat in return for protection services – it’s very mobbed up). Brothers Corrigan and Cormac then flew in and the 3 of them harried Horus away. Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Movie Poster Don't Panic 24x36:  Prints: Posters & Prints
HG2G, all the Fun facts.

The yard was very quite and small bird and squirrel free that day. I later saw Corwin at the bird bath, soaking and then swallowing a leg of something. I was worried it was a squirrel. But the following day, a quick head count suggested not a squirrel. I’m guessing maybe one of the 40 mice. The mouse removal is up to 42. It went quite for days after that. I thought maybe the HG2G was right, 42 was the ultimate answer. But yesterday I heard 43 scrambling about in the garage, so the mouse hunt continues.

In vaccine news, my Da got his second Pfizer shot. 16 hrs later he started to have symptoms. The headache, eye pain, and nausea lasted the longest. He was still having those 48 hrs after the shot. I’m hoping his strong immune response bodes well for him on the protection scale. Mutti, interestingly enough, had no reaction to her first shot till this week. On day 8, she developed itchiness at the injection site. On day 9 she woke up with a large red crescent shape rash around part of the injection site. It was gone by Day 10.

In vaccine news of the north, the SO told me he looked into it and I have to still do the covid tests and 14 day quarantine, even if I’m fully vaxed when I go home. I’m fine with that. His parents get their second AZ dose in 3 or 4 months. So I guess that’s good. They can go back to Netherlands fully vaxed in the Fall, which makes their flight less scary. The SO can register to get notified for an appointment on Monday. Yippee. He’ll be getting Pfizer or Moderna, because in BC, AZ is for 55+ age groups only.

Bhutan what tourists need to know: Six Senses luxury hotel |
Definitely an “on the button” destination.

In BC, they have a system where you register once your age eligible, then you get notified by text, email or phone call that you can make an appointment, then you make an appointment. I think it’s a good system. But it does overlook people who are homeless or don’t have tech access, or phone access. The same sort of problems we ran into in California really. You have to at some point take the vax to the people if you want to reach everyone.

By the way kudos to Bhutan! 93% of adults vaxed in 2 weeks! Amazing. And by the way, they used AZ vaccine (called Covishield, made in India) for everyone. I really think the US should just release all its AZ stock to the nations that want it. Biden already said the US has enough Pfizer and Moderna to take care of everyone. Why horde AZ? Or J&J. If the US doesn’t want to use them, send them to places that do. It’s literally crazy not to do so. It’s in the US’s interest to get the world vaxed as fast as possible.

La Mere pointed out to me this week that they actually make part of the J&J vax in the Netherlands. Since AZ and J&J, which are the same kind of vaccines, I think there was some national pride involved in her and Le Pape getting the AZ vax. It was their way of saying “Hey, our country makes a safe, quality product and I’m taking it just to prove it.” I of course agreed. They are both safe, quality products. Nevertheless, I explained I was limited to getting Pfizer or Moderna now.

Detail from View of Delft by Johannes Vermeer
Vermeer’s View of Delft. Dated per a Texas astronomer.

This week on Weds, one of Gran’s “young” friends (she’s 78), called in a panic. Her caregiver had a family emergency. Gloria was due to have Joan take her to get her vax shot but now had no one to take her. Gloria was among the vax hesitant. But the “older” ladies of her Mahjong circle said they were restarting their game, in person, and if she wasn’t fully vaxed, like they all were, she couldn’t come back. They’d replace her till she could get vaxed. Yikes!

Thus motivated, Gloria had signed up. She asked Gran if she could borrow me, and Gran’s wheelchair. Gloria broke her tibia last month and was on a walker. It was difficult getting around. So off I went that afternoon to madame whisk her to the pharmacy. When we got there, turned out Gloria was the last appointment of the day. The store was deserted. The pharmacist looked at me and said “We have Pfizer vaccine leftover. You want a Pfizer shot?” I said “You bet.” Thus it was, one day ahead of being eligible to sign up, I got a shot! And then she booked me to get a 2nd. So, thanks Gloria!

I video called the SO, and said “Guess what?” He looked concerned. I don’t generally video call him during business hours because I know he’s working. I quick showed him my band-aided shoulder. At which point, he McConaugheyd me. There was a long pause, he leaned back a little, and drawled, “Well, alright, alright, alright.” That’s his way of not flipping out like a 3-year-old on a sugar high and looking “un-cool.” Of course when his Texas drawl is more Delft than Dallas, I can tell his excitement level is super high. He went straight to the fridge and pulled out a champagne bottle.

It was good day.

Chaos at the Heart of Orion | NASA
Chaos at the Heart of Orion. NASA photo.

Alright, last week I was on about how keeping one’s eyes on the big pillars of your government (like, equality) make it easier to sort out lesser issues (like, health care). If you didn’t get that from last week, sorry. This week I was thinking of that same thing but on the personal level (as well as about the BOSS Great Wall, but that’s for another day). The secret to keeping your personal head stable (while others are losing theirs) is the same: focus on your topline values. Who you are at the core of your being.

One of Gran’s neighbors said to me this week, “Oh, we’re finally getting to stuff we put off because of ….” It was “I’ll deal with it after the crisis” thinking. And there’s definitely a place for that in life. Someone gets sick, you have to exist in that “will they, won’t they” period. But a natural world crisis is a short-term thing. You’re a zebra. You see a lion. So, you run. You can’t run forever. You’ll die of exhaustion, or starvation. It’s not how you were designed.

Humans have turned crisis into a day-in day-out multi-decade endless state. Politics, business, many religions. It’s just crisis mode all the time. And while some crises exist in the world, there’s a world of influencers telling people the wrong clothes, or hair, or car, or job, or whatever is a crisis. People stop thinking – for themselves. People forget who they, as individuals, are and what they, as individuals, need or want. This is dangerous. This is substituting surrender to external “fate” (what turns up in your feed) which kills motivation for self-directed autonomous thought and action that moves you along your path.

Viggo Mortensen's Advice to Young Aragorn Actor | IndieWire
You may see a peasant. Aragorn knows different.

Ultimately, you need to be who you truly are. You can’t be anyone else. It’s not that people can’t change, grow, become. People have a child. They become who they are – as a parent. But they are their own version of a parent. They stay true to themselves. They find their way. And I don’t say that lightly or that it’s easy. It’s just, life isn’t always easy to begin with. Why make it even harder? If you lose yourself, you lose your way. Strider wandered, but he was never lost. Because he knew who he was.

A lot of people right now feel lost. But I think it’s a case know thyself, and returning to who you are to get going again. Recognizing that life isn’t supposed to be continually putting out fires, is a good first step. Now and then lives get burned, sometimes to the ground. But you can recover. On the other hand, sometimes there are fire starters in our lives. They keep burning us down. They live on your attention, that’s their oxygen. Just walk away. Who cares what they think. What’s important to you?

This week I spent some time revisiting Man’s Search for Meaning. It actually has a lot of interesting thing to say about dealing well with long-term uncertainty. What I came away with was something I already knew really, while I can’t control everything around me, I can still control me. And this is always true. Daunting though it seems, you can always be you. You can rise to any moment, by simply holding true to who you are, to what you value. You being you can give you a surprisingly high tolerance for external chaos. And it can help you unlock a lot of your hidden potential to meet those challenges that fate may bring your way as you walk your path in life.

I think Mel Weitsman, a Zen teacher, had some good advice as well,

From this small corner of the circular world, let us set an example for those around us. Please remember to make the best of this present situation and don’t get caught wondering when it will be over. The characteristic of our practice is to find our uprightness in our present topsy-turvy situation, moment by moment. If you find your balance in this moment, you can find it in the next. As Adam said to Buddha, “Here am I.”

Sojun Roshi, of the SF Zen Center. (italics added by me)

No one can find your uprightness for you. No one can find your balance for you. It’s in you. You alone can find it. You can find it in this moment. You can find it in the next. You decide the level of importance you give things or people or whatever in your life. You decide if you want to live your life for your reasons, or fake live someone else’s life for their reasons. Mentally detoxing other’s thoughts, beliefs, politics, concerns, woes, goals, etc might be a helpful first step in rediscovering who you are.

Most people have a clue who they are, deep down. What they think, deep down. What path they want to take. They might be afraid to be or express or follow who they are. But it’s actually the easier path, the more productive and satisfying one. We waste a lot of time, energy, and resources trying to be people were aren’t. It’s draining. And in the end, it’s unhelpful. As much as you need to be the real you, the world needs you to be real you more. You’re unique. You have something unique to contribute. Pick that wonderful self up, dust that set-on-the-shelf self off, and start being you all over again.

This Friday morning SO’s love song was decidedly upbeat. Of his many worries, my wandering about in California’s covid hotspots has been the worst. I understand. It’s a terrible uncertainty he chose to live with, for my sake. Now I’ve been vaxed, he feels relieved. I feel just the same. I don’t think the chaos or uncertainty bothered me as much. Death in Tehran thinking? Maybe.

Well, whatever. Hot air ballooning is now definitely on my list of things to do this summer. Binos will be polished. Champers will be chilled. Not sure I can fondue using balloon burners, but…. I’ll figure it out, once I’m up there. Nothing is more thrilling than living, loving or learning on the fly.

This entry was posted on April 16, 2021.

Vax Populi, extra edition

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Read all about it!

Given the whole Johnson & Johnson pause in the US, I felt an extra edition was required this week. I love the US. But I know we don’t always pay much attention to the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s as if it didn’t happen here first, it never happened at all. It’s a bit crackers. Anyway, here’s a short worldview on the vax pause, which you may not realise is out there, that may help you.

There are 2 types of Covid vax. The m-RNA type, which is Pfizer and Moderna (2 doses of 0.5ml each). And the modified adenovirus type, which is AstraZeneca (2 doses of 0.5ml each) and Johnson & Johnson (1 dose, 0.3ml). The adeonvirus type can, in extremely rare cases, cause blood clots that can lead to death.

The rest of the world has been using AZ (and other adenovirus types vaxes). And the rest of the world noticed the blood clot issue, before J&J was really up and going and released in the US. So, yes, the CDC could have reasonably, logically assumed there might be a similar blood clot problem with the J&J once there was wider release. I assumed that and I’m not even a scientist.

The COVID vaccine challenges that lie ahead
Risk v Benefit

Keep in mind, it’s a risk vs benefits scenario though. It’s an Emergency Use Authorization based on the deadly, fast-moving, worldwide pandemic. So, right to release J&J in the US? Yes. Right to watch for blood clots? Yes. Should the CDC have warned doctors and people getting J&J about the clot signs of symptoms before releasing J&J? Yes, just in case. It could have saved lives.

Other nations who use the AZ hit pause, re-evaluted and decided to give this type of vax to people over 50. In Canada, you can get this vax if you’re over 50, otherwise it’s Pfizer or Moderna. I expect the US CDC to do the same. Could the US CDC have done this beforehand? Yep. Why didn’t the CDC do this? I’m guessing, again, Public Health Emergency, they weren’t sure J&J might do this, and maybe they didn’t want unnecessarily to put off those willing to get a shot, but only 1 shot.

Anyway, there is a possible upside to all this. There was a pharmacist accident abroad with the AZ vax, wherein a group of people only got 1/2 a dose, or 0.25ml, instead of a full dose of AZ. Turns out, those folks had less symptoms and higher rates of vax effectiveness. There is some supposition that the AZ vax is actually too strong and that’s what causes the rare incidence of clot problem as well as the lower effectiveness for preventing mild and moderate illness.

COVID-19 Vaccines | RealTime Labs
Know your vaccines.

They are are now conducting a study to see if using 1/2 doses of AZ is actually a better way to vax people. If it turns out to be so, that automatically improves safety (everyone could get it without fear of clots) and the world’s supply of AZ vaccine would double overnight. Good News, indeed. But what might this mean for J&J? It could mean the answer there is as simple as cutting the dose in 1/2 and making it a 2-dose vaccine.

If I were the CDC, I’d be trialing 2 J&J does of 0.15ml each. Maybe 28 days apart. I’d be starting that trial now, today. It wouldn’t double the world supply of J&J, but it could improve safety and allow expanded use, which would be a huge win for the world. And it could also really up the effectiveness against mild to moderate covid infections. And that would be a huge win for the world.

The AZ and J&J vaxes are great, wonderful things. They keep people out of hospital. They keep us out of hospital debt. They keep us alive. Yes, there’s a small chance someone could get infected with covid and experience a moderate sickness. But it’s not going to be a life-threatening sickness. That’s the choice here. Life and death. That’s why these very safe, very useful vaxes were approved for emergency use in a worldwide pandemic.

Comparing Vaccines, From Healthy Debate, Canada. Worth reading.

Would I get the AZ or J&J? If that’s all my country offered, yes I would. If I were in charge of a country, would I approve them for use? Yes in heart beat. I would also offer them to people over 18, with a sheet telling them about the clot signs and symptoms. If people want to choose that vaccine, after being informed of the very small risk and what to do if they have symptoms, I’m ok with that.

But like I said, I think the CDC will just do the 50+ as Canada and other nations are doing. And that’s great too. Lots of people over 50 still need a vaccine. And if J&J 1 dose is what they want, is all they will take, sure…give it to them. Please, just get yourself vaxed populi. Let’s stick it to Covid any way we can.

Ok. That’s all folks.

That's all, folks
This entry was posted on April 14, 2021.

Right Place, Wrong Time

Well known, in grey areas. Not for Grey Aliens. The SO denies all knowledge.

It’s probably an ethical grey zone, but I’ve been running genetic experiments on my family. I keep a spreadsheet of who got what type of vaccine and what their reactions were. Since I have extended family spread out across the world, I feel like I can learn about our gene pool and use that info to help me make the best decision about which vaccine I want when my time comes.

Mutti had her 1st Pfizer shot Monday, no reactions other than a mild soreness about 10hrs after, which went away after an hour. Da had the same shot with mild soreness and then muscle spasms in his arm for 16 hours. I attribute the spasms to the shot hitting in his muscle awkwardly, not the vaccine. Gran had Moderna and got covid arm. Not a big deal, it’s common because the Moderna first dose is so high. Pfizer is the winner so far. It’s what I’ll make an appointment to get next week when I become eligible.

In California, you get to pick which vaccine type you want. Most places, you can’t do that. I think having a choice of vaccines actually helps. I think more Californians decided to get vaccinated because they could decide what they put in their bodies. It gives people a feeling of control. Which is true, they do have control. But it’s also illusory to some extent. The choice is high risk of death from covid vs 100% no risk of death with any type vaccine. But, hey, whatever gets people to get vaxed? I’m for it.

The Significant Other’s parents got the AstraZeneca vaccine this week. It’s what the EU was using, but stopped over blood clot concerns. It’s what Canada has been and still uses. I’d get it, personally. I asked them if they had concerns. They said “Only not to be vaccinated.” They were happy they could get it. Had they still been in the Netherlands, where the govt shut AZ vaxing down, they think they’d still be unvaxed.

I can’t wait for the SO to get it. Neither can he. BC is getting hit with a third wave, driven largely by being hit with 3 variants (Brasil, UK, and So Africa) arriving at the same time, and slightly relaxed rules. They’re being advised to stay at home once again. The growth rate is exponential. Despite Canadians doing the really hard work of following prevention measures. It’s not like it’s Florida or Michigan. The SO said absolutely don’t come home until I’m fully vaccinated. He’s hoping in 7 weeks it’ll be better there. But I’m going home, once vaxed, better or not. Period.

I wish Pres. Biden would release all the US-held AZ vaccines to Canada and Mexico, where they’ve already approved the AZ vax for use. Those folks both really need and want those doses. They can use them today. When our border partner countries are safer, the US is safer. If you want to stop variant spread and new variant developments hitting the US, stopping this kind of 3-card monte toxic stew in the north would be a good way to do it. (If you want more info on this, @TrevorTombe)

No one likes to talk about it, but with all 3 of the world’s most powerful variants partying together….a 4th super-variant might well be born. No one wants that. Already we’re seeing people who had original, wild covid, get covid second time because the new variants can elude the original wild covid immune response. Vaccinated people will not be hit as hard. But if you thought “Oh I had covid already, I’m gonna be fine vaxed or not.” My answer is this “No, honey. You’re not gonna be fine.”

Take the help you’re offered. Get the vaccine.

I think it’s interesting to see how the virus mutates. As it’s blocked off by vaccine from older victims, it’s becoming more refined to easily target younger ones. But also, as it gets blocked, it simultaneously finds ways to go around those blocks. The longer this virus goes on, in the whole world, the more years were all going to spend having to get booster shots — and watching people die. It’s super scary when you understand the basic science.

I worry about So Cal getting hit again because the LA film industry does a lot of back and forth to shoot shows in Vancouver. I think we’re more protected because we’re more vaccinated and vaccinating at a record pace. But there’s lots of people who are still waiting for their turn to get a vaccine. And of course, there’s the hesitant. I had an hour long conversation with an elderly neighbor of Gran’s who isn’t getting the vaccine because her children don’t think she should get it.

I didn’t try to persuade her. I just laid out the position she was in. Her husband was frail with health issues and already vaccinated. She wasn’t so she could get it and die, and he’d be alone. If she needed in-home care for him, she’d be relying on those folks coming into her home to be vaccinated and not infect her. She’d already had bronchitis every year for years. So she was vulnerable to lung diseases. And on top of all that, she was going to be banned from seeing her friends in the nursing home because they require visitors be vaxed.

The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten 1906 Ready to pounce Poster Print by Oliver  Herford (24 x 36) - -
I see you seeing me. From the Persian Kitten Rubaiyat.

I left it at, “Even if you make an appointment for a week from now, you can cancel it on the day if you decide you don’t want to get the vaccine then.” It was all I could do. When I went back inside and told Gran, she just sighed and said, “You can lead a horse to water.” What was really sad, was it was her children visiting that gave her husband covid. Some of her children are vaccinated –because they work as RNs and are required to be. They live in HI, an island in the middle of nowhere, that has 100% control over their borders and covid. And they’re telling her not to get vaccinated. Really?

I shouldn’t be surprised I guess. A lot of Americans these days don’t really operate with a full deck of logic. Not trying to be mean here. It’s just I’ve noticed more and more that Americans have become excessively reactive and emotional these days, way more so than in times past. We used to think deeply about things. We used to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. American ingenuity. American gumption. Now? Not so much.

Everyday, I see people do irrational stuff. Not just personally, but writ large in the public sphere. I mean what rational person spends $3 million to try and recall a governor who has done a great job managing the state through a once in a 100 yrs pandemic? It’s crackers. And the people doing the recall accuse the governor of mismanagement. Really? It’s going to cost the state $120m to run a pointless special election. That’s money that could have gone into helping people, businesses and schools get back to normal. That’s mismanagement. That’s you taking money out of the public purse.

A rational person would just wait till the 2022 election. They wouldn’t force an election in Nov 2021. Talk about stupid. And you want me to vote for you? Oh…. not you? But a GOP candidate you support. And the candidate you want to run for the job in place of our tried and true Governor? A TV personality, and political know-nothing with a degree in PE, you say? MS Caitlyn Jenner, who is being supported by Trump’s wife-beater buddy Brad Parscale? I gotta say, the only thing I’m recalling here is why the GOP stopped being a viable rational political party.

I’d vote for an octopus. They are as smart as the highest 1% of creatures of the earth. Don’t eat them.

So much of American civil life these days is tainted by irrational even hysterical thinking. Consider the trial of Derek Chauvin. There’s only one question here, and it’s scientifically verifiable. How long does it take to put a healthy person of Mr Floyd’s size into a life-threatening state (when being sat upon by 2 large men, and a third man putting his body weight on his knee on the healthy person’s windpipe and carotid artery)? I’m not being flippant here. This is a fact you know via a safe, controlled, medically monitored science experiment.

If Mr Chauvin’s position is anyone in good health could have survived, then Mr Chauvin should be allowed to lay on the ground and be sat upon and have a knee placed on his windpipe to prove it. Me personally, if I was hinging my defense on that kind of thing, I’d throw myself on the ground and let the science begin. I’d want to show that scientific proof that backs me up. Not conjecture. But no one is doing that. No one is even attempting to do that. It’s all he said, he said. And it’s not that helpful.

Why testify that this is deadly force and leave it open to anyone’s opinion (even an expert’s) when you can safely scientifically prove it was deadly force? And after that is sorted, then you can have the discussion about intent. Manslaughter, accidental no intent to kill. Negligent homicide, where actions could reasonably be construed to cause death. Or actual homicide, with intent to kill. Personally, when the optics of the situation are most easily compared to a 19th-century safari hunt picture, and multiple bystanders are repeatedly begging the accused to stop his irrational, inhumane, homicidal actions, I think this is a homicide.

I see this kind of irrational hysteria in the new Georgia election laws. It’s not a question of suppression or expansion. It’s a question of equality. Either all voters are being treated equally, or they are not. If absentee voting, or Sunday voting, or early voting, or ID law disproportionally affect a group of voters ability to vote, that’s not equality in voting. It’s also a math equality question. Per every 1K voters, how many polling places? how many ballot drop boxes? how many polling place staff? how many polling place machines? how many feet of space venue? how accessible? how many minutes wait? how many miles from the furthest voter residence in a precinct to a polling place?

This applies to other things too. For instance, abortion laws. It’s not about pro or anti. It’s about equality. The laws says you can’t discriminate against women or people that are pregnant. But in fact, laws that make a common medical procedure (abortion) difficult to access for women, who are pregnant, is a double case of discrimination. These laws harm a 2 protected classes, women and the pregnant. They deny equal access to reasonable safe medically approved health care on the sole basis of them being women and pregnant.

Suppose the law made it so there was only one place a man could get a prostate removal in a state. Even though it’s a common medical procedure. But suddenly he had to cross through picket lines, and then have counseling, and then an ultrasound so he could see his prostate. It all sounds ridiculous. But that’s the equivalent. If only men with prostate issues were subject to these laws, it would be creating a class that was discriminated against with respect to obtaining healthcare. The same thing goes for these anti gender-affirming care laws. These laws create a class of people being discriminated against, preventing them access to common reasonable safe medical care.

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Ok? or Not Okay?

And the kicker is, every day, Christians turn down vaccines because of “aborted fetal tissue.” And that’s ok. They’re allowed to reject safe, reasonable, medically approved health care and take less safe, less reasonable, alternative care, just because it doesn’t coincide with their personal beliefs. So, some personal beliefs are okay to take into medical consideration, but other personal beliefs are not. That’s discrimination. And in the case of children seeking gender-affirming care, it’s even worse because the children didn’t even get to choose their belief the way Christians (and other faiths) get to choose their beliefs.

Children are assigned a gender at birth. They have no say over that. The state does that. A nurse or doctor writes it on a birth certificate, for the state. But the child, whose body and life it is, has no say in that process. Every day we let people choose everything, what they eate, wear, read, do, think. It’s a fundamentally American freedom. People of all ages get to do it. Even in a divorce, children are asked which parent they’d prefer to live with. But somehow children aren’t asked what gender they are? They aren’t allowed to express the gender they believe they are? And be treated accordingly?

Like I said, it’s irrational, and it strikes at a pillar of our democracy, equality. And speaking of democracy… Burma. People keep saying Burma is a democracy. And it’s tragic what is happening there. Tragic? Yes. Democracy? No. It was a military dictatorship, it became a Buddhist dictatorship, with multiple levels of citizenship. But let us never forget, it kicked the Muslim Rohingya to the curb. It denied their citizenship. It burned them off their lands. It killed them, murdered them, raped them. And as the Burmese military did this, the Burmese Buddhists in govt, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were totally fine with it.

But now that the military has turned on the Buddhists? And the Buddhists are going through what the Rohingya have endured?

Would it really be so bad that the “pro-democracy” folks that cheered on killing the Rohingya end up in the same refugee camps with those Rohingya they tormented? Maybe the “pro-democracy” group needs to actually learn what real democracy is? Democracy is unifying the people of your country. All the people. Not just those you like or share a religion with. Maybe they could start by asking the Rohingya for help fighting back the military, and promise to restore their lands and citizenship and then compensate them once they have Burma back?

The idea that the US or the UN should help one dictatorship over another is kind of nuts. When I look back at how the US saved the “good Germans” from Hitler’s Nazis, while all the while managing to overlook the sufferings, loss of property, etc the Jewish people who fled rather than be murdered by those Germans … like still to this day. (I can say this stuff, being half German.) I think it’s important the US not to keep making the same mistakes.

Save Burma’s Buddhist “pro-democracy” dictatorship from it’s own military dictatorship? Okay, but what’s Burma going to do for the Rohingya once they have Burma again? To me it’s all the same problem, history repeating. I’d rather save the Rohingya. Rationally speaking, we were blessed in saving the Jews we did during WWII. But we all know, we should have save more. We should have opened our doors. I think we should learn from that mistake too, and open doors for the Rohingya. It’s the rational thing to do in the situation.

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Making the same mistake repeatedly is a bad choice.

Ok, on to far less important matters. The mouse removal topped out at 40. I still have a trap set up, to catch any stragglers, but I think I may have achieved victory there. On the other hand, I failed to notice 40 mice. I may be delusional about the victory.

The lilacs are about to bloom. They missed Easter but I don’t mind. A sprig of fragrant lilac in a vase makes for the definition of spring, even as we go into yet another drought. Also the cherry blossom trees will bloom in a week or two. So, for now, the world is green with life. It is enough.

I spent my poetry week reading Tagore, Rumi, Hafiz, Khayyam, and the 1904 Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten written and illustrated by Oliver Herford. Since I’ve got that part of the world covered for now, I’ll be I’m moving on to female poets of Africa and So America next week.

My Bender bender at Easter got replaced with March Madness – of the Canadian kind. It’s time for the 2021 World’s Curling Championships (men’s division). Going on in Calgary right now. They mostly just show the US team games on US TV, and they typically don’t play well. They quite playing Canada after 3 ends (it was 10-1). They didn’t even stick it out and play to the finish. Ugh. Awful. But I do get to see the top-flight Canadian, Swedish, and Swiss teams too sometimes. And Youtube has all the games. The women’s WCC games start April 30, so… Good News, everyone!

Obviously last week I was a little ragged, so I blipped on a couple things pertaining to Resident Alien. Skip over this section if you want to avoid potential spoilers. One of the most fascinating things you’ll never hear talked about is how much the RA’s obsessional behavior around food, and scuttling toward/away from others, is actually quite octopus-like. If you watch the series, and you’re looking for an excuse to re-watch episodes. I invite you to watch a few PBS documentaries on octopus and then check out RA.

I’ll also mention that the finale episode implies that the RA could actually get stuck being human eventually. And therefore subject to human vicissitudes, such as the common cold. Maybe down the road, when the series ends, there’s a choice to be made? One of the other things that struck me was the possibility of human mental break down. In a previous episode, the RA imaginarily talked to Dr Harry’s corpse, but only while in a state of drug and alcohol fueled delirium. This was not the case in the finale. No drugs. No alcohol.

I’m hard pressed to explain this beyond severe mental stress. In watching the RA cry for the first time, to experience deep emotions that were foreign to his race, his first rejection, abandonment, love all at once, was a bit like a mental breakdown. It may be also that molecular mimicry another gives one access to stronger memories stored in the molecularly mimicked brain. That seemed to be the case when Isabelle sang Nature Boy. But what’s the long-term effect of that? I can only guess.

Classic octopus behavior.

Anywho, I think I’m done for now. I’m certainly done with Resident Alien thoughts. You’re definitely up to speed on all my thoughts on current events. As always, you are free to reject my points of view. I’ll still like you and respect you. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to report I have a time and place for my 1st covid vax shot. Oh, glorious day! At last I’ll be – at least partially – out of the topsy-turvy pandemic constant state of feeling like I’m in the right place, at the wrong time and wonderin’ which way do I go, to get on outta here.

Thanks for the good medicine, Dr John.

This entry was posted on April 9, 2021.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Fair warning: Gran took off her O2 Monday night, her sats dropped to 85 and she didn’t know who I was for a couple days. Last night she had a blood pressure spike (217/100 pulse of 94). I was up till 1 AM. I totally forgot what day of the week it was this morning. And so this post is way late and probably kind of loopy. But, it’s Friday, and it’s all Good now. So… excelsior.

This week has been summer-esque. In the 80s and even 90s. The lark sparrow flock moved on, though we see few stragglers passing through every day trying to catch up. As consolation for the loss of our sparrows, a Swainson’s Thrush appeared and sang very sweetly for a day. Then a trio of baby bunnies appeared from beneath the African Iris bush to frolic in the yard night. And finally, the Desert Pink Evening Primroses began to bloom against the last of the yellow bearded irises. All good.

On my walk last night the whole of the world was perfumed with honeysuckle, jasmine and roses. It was great, till I came home to Gran’s crisis. But even that had an upside. I was able to reunite more of the mouse Family Robinson in the yard. Mouse #10 along with mouses 11 to 30 were reunited this week. I catch one about every 2 hrs in the evening. And I’m still trapping and releasing. I’m committed to non-violent relocation.

Harriet the Cooper’s Hawk came by to cool her toes in the bird bath yesterday and noticed the small mammal buffet was now open. The mouse problem will be naturally contained, I think. Minka also keeps an eye on the mice so the don’t overstep their bounds. Although she fled her post in the yard at the sound of the HS PA system when the football announcer began on Weds afternoon. To be fair, it was a sound she had not heard in a year. She has since gone back on duty, but I shudder to think when the Scottish pipe and drum corp finally resumes their Monday evening practices.

This week in Covid good news/ bad news…. Mutti pronounced me “the best daughter ever.” I’m her only daughter, so….yeah. I received this high praise after I scored her Pfizer shot appointments (1st & 2nd) at a CVS 30 min from my folks’ home. The first shot is Easter Monday. Because I texted her this news on April 1st at 8:30 am she thought I was April Fool’s-ing her. But the joke was on her. Real deal. My Da was super excited.

In a couple weeks, I will be eligible. Hopefully, I can get vaccinated early on and return home with my proof card. I really don’t want to have to quarantine, again. And I would love to take the journey by plane. The SO told me he me to extend my stay if need be to get fully vaxed. I see his point. It’d be hard, but he’s right. It’s the best course of action. So we’ll see what happens. That’s the good news.

In bad news, a friend told me about a coworker whose mother died last week — not because of having covid but because her local hospital was full of covid patients. The mother had had bowel issues the previous year, from which she recovered. She started having problems again and asked her doctor to help her. But the doctor kept telling her it was too dangerous to put her in hospital, where she might get covid. He kept putting it off. Eventually he finally booked her an exploratory surgery to see what was going on.

Post the exploratory, she went from 138lbs to 89lbs. She died a couple days later “having literally starved to death.” Had her doctor put her in hospital when she first complained, as he would have done if there had been less covid, she would be alive. This is what happens when people refuse to wear masks, social distance, or get vaccines. They get sick, they get others sick, they hospitals needlessly fill up with preventable covid cases. And those pro-covid people? They end up killing innocent, actually unavoidably sick people like this mum.

Yamada Shokei, block print

In news of my planner? Still going. I dropped the Examen just for this month and booked in reading and writing poetry instead, because it’s National Poetry Month. This week’s winner, American, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Amy Lowell‘s “A Coloured Print by Shokei“. Of course me being me, I had to find the print that inspired her to write the poem. And I did. An 1890s block print by Yamada Shokei of a waterfall. I digitally color corrected it a bit you could see it in somewhat fuller glory.

In other written word news… I found an old letter of my Grandfather’s this week. He had very distinct technical handwriting because he was an engineer. I think they call it Modern Gothic. Modern meaning about 1920? When I was small (around 2) he gave me a ruler to help me trace letters of the alphabet. I still have it. So I decided to have some fun improving my technical printing and cursive writing this month.

There’s something really pleasurable about writing, physically writing with a pen on paper. It’s calming, meditative. (They say it helps the memory too.) I’m not shooting for calligraphy, although my copperplate is pretty good. But better printing would be blessing and I’m trying to keep a sort of Architectural style going for the month of April anyway. The SO says my chicken scratch indicates I should have been a doctor. But really, I just jot down thoughts on the fly most days. Though I admit, I sometimes cannot later decipher my own writing.

We’ve all been there.

Spoiler Alert! This week Resident Alien wrapped up. If you haven’t seen it, a good Easter binge watch. I’m now going to talk about Season 2, so this might be spoilers. I’m just spit-balling here. But I’m pretty good at figuring out story arcs so, you were warned. Skip over this part if you want and go to the bunny pic below.

Given Harry the Resident Alien (RA), failed his mission, you have to expect someone, a superior, to show up and ask why he isn’t back and why Earth isn’t depopulated of humans. And given he comes from a “brutal” race… brutal consequences are expected.

I expect, I hope, there will be an episode about the 59. Because the RA found Tellurium in the mine, which leads me to think that aliens have been mining it. Ancient Astronaut theorists are big on under mountain (and under sea) alien bases. An old alien base / mine under the mountains of Patience? I can see that. Perhaps “the 1” broke through a wall he should not have and was killed by aliens. When “the 59” went after their lost brother miner, they too had to be taken out. Makes sense.

I’m curious about the real Harry Vanderspiegle. He clearly still passionately loved his wife when he met his end. This means, he pushed her away and made her divorce him. But why? My guesses include, as a hot-shot pathologist, he was threatened with harm to Isabell unless he fixed a murder case. That, or he’s a part-time contract killer or serial killer and all the that meat in the freezer isn’t actually elk or rabbit but human.

But why kill Dr Sam? We know Dr Sam has lived in Patience at least 20 years. Was he in witness protection? Maybe he was a contract hit? Or maybe part of the “plan” was for Dr V to kill Sam and take over as the doctor, for reasons yet to be revealed. I’m curious to find out. I’m curious about Dr Evan too. He’s way too perfect with way too stellar a resume to take up in a town like Patience. There are secrets there. And speaking of, I’d like to know why Dan took in Asta’s mom, what was their relationship, and where is her mom now?

I hope the Alien Tracker returns, and finds his 30 year old son. I think there’s a story arc there. Also, it’s impossible to think the General will leave alone anyone who naturally can see an alien (like Max or the AT). Plus I love Terry O’Quinn. I’m also interested to see what becomes of Agent Logan, now he’s on the outside. He has no job to go back to. He needs to lay low. He has alien interests. But how do you stay in Patience after you stick up the Mayor Hawthorne’s wife and kids, and the Mayor and his wife beat you bloody?

I’d like to see further back story on Deputy Liv and Sheriff Mike, as well as Jimmy and Jay. But I think Sahar’s story would be the most compelling. She is accepting of “outsiders” because she’s been one. Her actions make me think she’s a refugee camp survivor. She speaks for her mom. She’s had to be the adult. She’s brilliant. She gets by on brass, wit, cunning, deal making, playing people. I’m guessing she is why her family got a golden ticket to the US? We never see her dad, although her he exists. So, where is he?

Anyway, that’s all my thoughts there. So, moving on.

Dude, I’m telling you. It’s not an Easter egg. Don’t sit on it.

Ok, moving on. Thinking a lot about Easter Eggs in the Easter story. There’s a verse, 1.5 verses actually, in just one of the Gospels, that I find quite amazing. You’ve probably never heard of it. If you did, you’ve probably never thought about it. So, this Easter, it’s my gift to you.

Jesus last miracle happens on the cross. But it’s not his death on the cross. His death on the cross frees from sin. But that’s not a miracle. That’s the outworking of the long story arc of divine justice hitting it’s nadir. The zenith, the miracle, happens right before that. Jesus last thought, as he lay upon the cross suffocating, bleeding, beaten dying, was not about God or feeling abandoned or cut off. His last thought was of his mother, Mary.

Mary was the foot of his cross, with the other women who has supported his ministry and followed him. All through everything, Mary and the women were there. Also at the foot of the cross one lone male disciple, John, the Beloved. And Jesus says, in words probably sheer torture to try and speak, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to John he says, “Here is your mother.” And from that point, John took Mary into his home.

The cross, the sacrifice, the forgiveness, it has no meaning if the end result is not uniting us all as family. Not as distant family. Immediate family. Jesus last miracle was creating the family of God, to which all of us belong, even if we don’t believe in Jesus. If the pandemic has taught you nothing else, it should have taught you we are one family living on world.

So yes, I save a family of mice. And yes, I take care for my Gran, and my folks. And I do everything I can to protect the giant family of Earth that I’m apart of even though, like the Resident Alien, I live in one small town. Because that’s the final point Jesus thought worth making, as he was dying on the cross. Take care of each other. Love one another as I have loved you. For if you cannot love a person you can see, you cannot love a God you cannot. And God is love and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.

Will that circle of love Jesus asked us to create with his last breath be unbroken? In this life, it’s up to us.

Original words, by Ada Harbershon, 1907

This entry was posted on April 2, 2021.