Better than the second, not as good as the first…

Today I had every intention of starting off the series of “controversial” posts I mentioned last week as the new limited run feature on Friday evenings. Due to overriding circumstances, look for that to start next week. 

I’m calling this particular audible because I was able to snag an appointment to get my COVID-19 booster shot yesterday. As a proponent of vaccination (if not otherwise a paragon of personal health), I feel like I owe an update on my experience with the Moderna booster. I’m obviously not a doctor, but if I can be a trusted voice in favor of vaccines for anyone out there, I feel an obligation to do so.

To be perfectly honest, eager as I was to get an additional degree of protection against the Great Plague, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the booster. The second Moderna shot left me pretty well throttled for about 24 hours. It wasn’t an experience I particularly looked forward to repeating.

I woke up this morning with the standard sore arm and a bit more sluggish than usual, but otherwise feeling fine. I waited, impatiently, for the onset of side effects at the 24-hour mark – when they struck me down following the second dose. Around 11:30, I noticed my attention span starting to slip. Nothing debilitating, but the early afternoon definitely required a far greater than normal effort to keep focused on whatever the tasks at had happened to be. Eyeballing my way through multi-thousand line spreadsheets was… not ideal. 

By about 2:00, I’ll admit to feeling well and truly run down… Not sick, just kind of tired and a bit worked over. It wasn’t the best day I’ve ever passed, but it was far from the worst. It was an easy price to pay for an extra measure of protection, especially given the prevalence of those in the local area who refuse even the most basic precautionary measures.

Feel free to sign me up for jab #4 when the time comes.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Parity. Part of my job this week was calling around and talking to people from other organizations who are saddled with their own version of my favorite dog and pony show. It’s no surprise that everyone I spoke to runs theirs a little differently. I didn’t uncover anything unexpected or particularly helpful, but I did discover that everywhere else, the person these other offices put in charge of their annual spectacular is at least graded out as a deputy director. Put another way they are all, a minimum of one good pay grade or two notches on the org chart higher than me. Yeah, that was a feel-good moment right there.

2. Inflation alarm. The federal government poured vast amounts of money into the economy over the last eighteen months in the form of direct payments via enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus payments and the Paycheck Protection Program. People, as they tend to do when they have money in their pockets, went on a buying binge. Stocks, houses, and consumer goods were all in the crosshairs of people with cash to spend. We spent so hard we overwhelmed the supply side’s ability to keep up with demand. And now, the headlines are screaming that we’re supposed to be shocked that inflation has taken hold and the price of good and services is increasing. Beyond the few classes I had to take as part of a social science major, I’m not a student of economics… even so, the results of increasing demand, limited supply, and boatloads of money in circulation is almost entirely predictable, no?

3. The waiting. Here I sit. About seven hours after getting the COVID-19 booster jammed into my arm. I feel fine, with barely even a sore arm to show for my trouble. What I do have, though, is the uncomfortable period of waiting. My first COVID shot was a non event. After getting my second Moderna shot way back in March, I had a bit of an aching arm, but went to bed and woke up the next morning feeling fine. Exactly twenty-four hours after the jab, though, I got to experience the unpleasant hit-by-a-bus feeling advertised as a potential side effect – chills, aches, lethargy – pretty much the full list with the merciful exception of nausea. That one skipped me, somehow. In any case, I’m sitting here, waiting to see what things look like around lunchtime tomorrow. Prevention is worth a pound of cure and all that, but I’m trying to mentally prepare for another lost day.

Booster…

While the people of social media are still caught in the grip of fighting out the benefit of vaccinations, deciding who should or shouldn’t wear a mask, whether they need to wash their hands, or whether state of federal regulations have primacy of force, I’ve been over here trolling local pharmacies for open appointments to get my COVID-19 booster. I’m pleased and happy to say I’ll have that knocked off my to do list by close of business tomorrow.

Yes, I’m one of those unapologetic crazies that thinks the steady upward swing of civilization has been marked by, among other elements, the forward process of medical science. With pills to keep my blood pressure in check, pills to keep my blood glucose levels from rocketing off the chart, lenses that correct for my shitty eyes, and shoe inserts to give my arches a little extra support, I’m a walking, living example of that basic truth. My life has been made longer and better in every possible way because I’ve opted to “follow the science” rather than bleaching my innards, relying on crackpot home remedies, or picking up my medical supplies from the local feed and seed store.

By all means, continue arguing. Continue being emotional invested in a wild conspiracy narrative concocted by random, unknown people on the internet. Continue believing that SmokingQ1776 on Parler or Dr. Nick from Newsmax know more about health, medicine, and pandemic response than globally recognized experts backed up by decades of education and experience directly related to the problems at hand. That is, after all, your undisputed right as an American. In this country we have no laws preventing you from being a dumbass. 

In my estimation, all aspects of life are a matter of risk and reward. My read is that I face a far greater risk by getting in the truck and driving to the office than I ever will taking what is, by now, one of the most tested and administered vaccinations of my lifetime. Boosting my chances of not getting cripplingly ill or dropping dead from a once in century feels viral plague feels like a pretty solid reward when weighed against a truly miniscule level of risk.

But that’s not the emotional argument people seem to be looking for, so whatever.

Ascension…

In preparation for this historic moment, I feel like I’ve run the gauntlet, secured the Books of Ascension, performed the ritual dedication, devoured the contents of the Box of Gavrok, and made every preparation for the Old One, Olvikan, to return. I even looked around, unsuccessfully, for a meddling volcanologist who might have needed to be knocked off.

So begins the 14 days until my ascension… or until the Moderna vaccination reaches its peak effectiveness. Assuming my plans aren’t foiled by a bomb in the library or other unpleasant side effects. 

I’m not sure what the proper name is for what this moment feels like, but ascension gets awfully close to right.

Getting Shot…

I was one of the designated red shirts in the office today (and before you ask, yes, I really do wear red shirts on the days I have to schlep over to the office). It’s the Friday before a holiday weekend, so the day is one of those that could easily have gone either way. Aside from a couple of systems I needed to use not working for half the day (which is fairly normal), the day broke towards the better than expected side. Occasionally I’m pleasantly surprised like that.

The big news of the day, though, was the handful of us who got tagged to be “early adopters” of the COVID-19 vaccine. Mostly it went to some of the people who have been here day in and day out since last March. I don’t begrudge them getting to the front of the line in any way. The more of that bunch who roll up their sleeves, the better protected I am on the periodic days I’ve got to spend taking my turn in cubicle hell.

The more subtle undercurrent of the day was the more quiet voices adamantly asserting “No way I’m taking that,” or “it’s unproven,” or “the damned government has injected me with enough stuff already.” I’ve been told we’re not supposed to mock “those with vaccine hesitancy,” so I won’t… not publically, at least. I’m thankful for their hesitancy, too, in a way… because every one of them who turns it down puts me just a little higher on the list.

I threw myself on the waiting list a week or two ago, not really expecting much to come of it. Turns out, either we accidentally ended up with way too much product or way too little interest, because by the end of the day I, too, had some of Moderna’s finest rapidly developed and tested, emergency use approved vaccine racing through my system. Maybe I’ll grow a tail or drop dead from god knows what side effect 30-years from now… but I’m a step closer to getting back to trolling through shops that smell of old paper, and that makes this possibly the best Friday I’ve ever spent in the office.

And to think they say getting shot is a bad thing.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Accessories. I’ve been using the same iPhone case manufacturer since sometime around the 3rd generation. It appears that sometime early this year, they’ve gone defunct. That means I have a new phone coming tomorrow and now have to go through the paces of finding someone else who makes as close an approximation as what I use to be able to get, because, let’s face it, I’m not going to be satisfied with the first two or three or dozen I try. They’ll probably all be fine cases in theory, but none of them will be exactly what I wanted.  Sigh. It’s going to be stupid and expensive and I don’t want to do it.

2. Vaccine. Reports this week are there’s a COVID-19 vaccine coming soon from Pfizer. Moderna seems to be hot on their heels with their own version. It looks like a footrace to see who will be first to market and able to make a supply chain work effectively. If your biggest concern is fighting back against the virus, this is all basically good news. My contrarian instinct, though, can’t help but remind me that the arrival of a vaccine is the beginning of the end of the golden age of working from home. Getting “back to normal” will inevitably sign the death knell of being home all day with the animals and give the upper hand back to bosses who value asses in chairs more than measurable productivity… and that’s not so much annoying as it is sad.

3. The Republican Party. Do I really need to even explain this one? As a (mostly) lifelong Republican, I’m embarrassed by the elected members of the party who are too cowed by the ebbing power of the president to say publicly that Donald Trump has not won reelection. The numbers tell the tale. I know that constituents will almost always rather hear sweet lies than hard truths and staying elected means not pissing off your base too badly. Even knowing that, I can’t quite get past the feeling that the Republican Party establishment is, perhaps as soon as the Georgia special election in January, going to be punished for its cowardice in a moment that begs them to tell truth to power.