Fandango’s Provocative Question #174 is about blogging. I’ve spent way more time on Facebook than on my blog lately, which is something I am hoping to correct starting with my answer to this question! The question is: Do you have a preference with respect to the length of blog posts you read? Does the number of words in a post affect how you read it or even if you will read it? What is your average post length?
I’m a fairly typical blog reader, so I try to think about what the readers of my posts might prefer.
I took a Writing for the Internet class once, and the instructor stressed that every couple of paragraphs, there should be a picture or graphic of some kind. It breaks up the text and readers get a break by seeing a picture, and then they keep reading. This is because blog readers are not the same as book readers – they may be the same people, but their preferences are different when reading online. No one really expects any or few photos to be included in a book they’re reading, but reading off a screen is harder on the eyes and readers tend to be less patient about reading long posts.
I tend to not like long posts, not because they aren’t interesting, but because I’m impatient. It is partly because I don’t like to do careful reading on a computer, and if the blog post is long, I tend to skim it. But my impatience also has to do with the fact that I’m usually thinking about writing a post myself, or about something else I could be doing instead. When I allow myself to go into my “Reader” and just read other people’s posts with no other agenda, then I have more patience to read longer posts. There are some bloggers I prefer to read, however, because I like their style and subject matter – even if they don’t add photos, although that does help! I have no patience to read long posts by people who can’t seem to write a coherent sentence or must have been asleep in school when they were being taught the rules of punctuation. Also. bad spelling really turns me off! I like to read lengthier posts by people who really know how to write.
I reread my own posts before publishing, in order to edit by changing the way I word something, or to find omissions or errors. I also try to tighten up what I’ve written by reducing my word count.
I haven’t participated in Fandango’s Provocative Question lately – mainly because I haven’t been on my blog much lately – but this question I cannot resist because it is about my favorite subject: ICE CREAM!
What is your favorite ice cream? Please list not only your favorite flavor, but also the brand that is your favorite. Please be specific.
Let me give you an example of what I’m looking for. I like Cookies and Cream ice cream (which flavor inexplicably didn’t make Ally Bean’s published list). And my preferred brand of Cookies and Cream ice cream is Breyers. But my very favorite flavor and brand of ice cream is Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream from Ben & Jerry’s.
Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite food is, I say ice cream. Ice cream, to me, encompasses classic ice cream, gelato, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. I am partial to flavors that involve chocolate and/or coffee, but I have always thought my favorite ice cream is peppermint ice cream, especially when it is topped with hot fudge sauce, because peppermint and chocolate go so deliciously together!!
But lately, I’ve branched out because there are so many wonderful flavors and combinations out there. I love Ben & Jerry’s and also Haagen Dazs. If I am splurging and come across some Ben & Jerry’s, I’ll look for a combination of flavors I prefer, such as chocolate/dark chocolate (preferably with chocolate pieces blended in), coffee, caramel, or a sorbet such as raspberry (my favorite sorbet flavor). The one Fandango posted looks good and I have probably had it before because I not only love B&J’s ice cream, and ice cream with pieces of cone in it, but I’m also a fan of Stephen Colbert!
My husband and I live in a senior community and very early on, I learned that the ice cream flavors offered for dessert here are really great. Most of the time, they have the basic flavors as well as coffee, so I will often choose that, and it’s great, but they also have some other very popular and scrumptious flavors, like mint chocolate chip or roadrunner raspberry (vanilla with ribbons of raspberry and big chunks of chocolate), “hazelnut” – which is actually dark chocolate with slivers of hazelnuts, and dark chocolate raspberry – this is my new favorite! We have a mini-mart here which sells pints of some of the best flavors, and they are all made by Hershey. Not what I would have expected, and also not as healthy in terms of ingredients (they use high fructose corn syrup), but they do have some interesting flavors such as those I’ve mentioned above.
If I’m in a tropical country, or a place that I can get tropical flavors, I also love coconut, mango, and passion fruit ice cream/sorbet. In Brazil, I used to order doce de leite com flocos, or dulce de leche (a sort of caramel flavor) with chocolate pieces.
So you see, it is really hard to pin down my MOST favorite, but peppermint is always a great choice for me as well as dark chocolate anything or mocha – chocolate/coffee mixed in some combination. OK, I need to stop writing this and go to the freezer to get my dark chocolate raspberry ice cream for dessert! YUMMMM!
If there are only three things in life that truly matter, what do you think they are and why did you choose those three?
My answers are all about love, which leads to all else that truly matter.
Self-love. If you don’t love yourself, you will not have the capacity to truly and selflessly love others, and you will probably have a miserable life. Self-love (or self-esteem) involves self-care: taking care of your physical and mental health and seeking help when needed; searching for work that really suits you and that you like; it brings out loving characteristics, such as kindness, respect, honesty, gratitude, and the ability to smile every day. Self-love allows you to feel gratitude for things great and small that you have or that happen to you. Self-love also is genuinely accepting love from others.
Love for others: friends and family. I am lucky to have a wonderful extended family that loves and supports each other, and we are also financially secure. I am blessed for that! But even without actual kin, you can create a family of sorts with the people that love and care for you, perhaps a group/organization you belong to, or people who share your residence, or just your friends in general. Love for others, though, goes beyond these relationships. It is also caring for people you don’t even know, people who live in other countries, compassion for those who are suffering, nearby and far away. There is too much hate in our world today. Love for others means being kind toward others, showing respect, being honest, helping and showing interest in others. Love for others is non-judgmental; it’s about showing gratitude for others’ gifts, support, love, and care. If more people spent their time loving others, instead of hating or putting people down, this world would be a much better place! We might even have peace all over the world – imagine no more war!
Love for Earth or the natural world. I am reading a very good book right now, called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is a Native American (Potawatomi) woman who writes about loving and showing gratitude for the gifts we receive from others, especially from the land. She shows how the natural world gives us gifts every day, which we would appreciate if we just stopped and looked around: every living thing, as well as non-living things, is here for a purpose and each has its own work to do to provide gifts to other living things, including ourselves. We are part of the web of life of this planet and we should not take it for granted.
Love for Earth means taking care of it – this is the home of everyone and every thing we know, and it’s the only one we have – as of 2022, we cannot move anywhere else! Climate scientists are issuing dire warnings that we must curb our reliance on fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. Already the planet has heated up to the point where we are seeing more natural disasters: flooding on coastlines as the sea level rises, wildfires that destroy everything in their path in areas with prolonged drought, hurricanes which have increased in number and intensity due to the warming of the oceans, avalanches where excessive rainfall causes the eroding of the soil, and many others. It will soon affect us all, especially our children, grandchildren, and successive generations who will continue to live here. And scientists warn that eventually it will be an unpleasant place to live.
To love the Earth, we must stop polluting air, land, and bodies of water. Increasingly, medical scientists are finding that many forms of cancer are caused by breathing polluted air or drinking polluted water. Also, the land is home for many animals who share this planet with us and we are trashing their homes! A sixth massive extinction is taking place right now, and it is being caused by human activities. Even if you are a person who really doesn’t care about people outside your circle of family and friends, every creature on this planet has a purpose – plants and animals that feed us, species that provide medicines which can cure many diseases (and we haven’t found them all, so some may become extinct without being able to provide us with its gift of healing medicines), and the removal of which disrupts the food chain, either in minor or major ways – we can make predictions but cannot say for sure how serious the impact of altering any particular food chain will be.
People who show love for the natural world work, if they can, to advocate for cleaner ways of living, for finding solutions to problems such as how to provide fuel to heat people’s homes, provide energy for cars, machinery, etc. A great lover of the Earth is the Swedish young woman Greta Thunberg, who has turned her local protest at her high school into a worldwide movement. But there are many ways to love and show gratitude toward the natural world, including recycling, reducing what we use (such as single use plastics), and reusing what we can. It includes walking outside on a pleasant day and appreciating the beauty of the flowers (if they are blooming where you are) or the cycle of life, in which each season has its purpose to perpetuate future seasons. It includes having gratitude for the (hopefully) fresh air we breathe, for the coolness of a stream we dabble our toes in, for the sun that warms us and the moon and stars which cheer us.
Every week Fandango’s hosts a challenge, for those who choose to accept it, called Who Won The Week? It is the opportunity that fellow bloggers have to highlight someone in the news (good or bad) that takes the ‘prize’ for that week.
Meanwhile, many conservative states have passed or are considering legislation to restrict voting turnout and have either fired or threatened state election officials, who have been besieged by threatening phone calls and messages (some have received death threats, including local election officials who are Republicans and Trump supporters) and many of these officials are being primaried by more loyal Trump supporters who would go along with falsifying results of future elections if Republicans lose in their districts.
If Trump’s supporters follow his directive – and there is little reason to think they won’t – it may not be difficult for Democrats to maintain and even increase their Congressional majority. That would be good for the Biden administration, who currently must curry favor with two conservative Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kristin Sinema, who seem to currently have the power to shape Biden’s “Build Back Better” comprehensive reconciliation infrastructure bill.
I don’t have high hopes that all Trump supporters will not vote in the midterm elections, but Trump has only one concern: himself. His fans still don’t get that he has no interest in improving their lives or helping the country; he only cares about himself, as a true narcissist. Even so, I like to think right now that maybe electing Democrats isn’t a lost cause after all, and for that reason, Trump gets my vote for the person who “won” the week.
Fandango has an interesting and relevant question for us this week; in fact, the issue has been on my mind the last several days. Fandango prefaces the question as follows:
It seems to me that there are a lot of things to worry about these days. Whether we’re talking about the climate, politics, the seemingly never ending pandemic, natural disasters, social injustice, mass shootings, cultural clashes, or wars, the news is rarely good. I have almost gotten to the point that I’m considering stopping reading or watching the news because I find it both disheartening and depressing.
So with this in mind, my provocative question this week is this…
What worries you the most about the future? Why is that your biggest concern? Or are you not that concerned about the future?
Last week, I was on the verge of tears, watching a news piece about voting restriction laws that are being passed in various states around the country. If these laws are allowed to take effect, the Republicans in Texas, Georgia, and elsewhere will be able to overturn election results that they don’t like, by removing election officials and installing others of their choosing. This has come about as the “Big Lie” has not been allowed to die – there are still Trumpian politicians who have convinced a large minority of people that the Democrats corrupted the election and that Trump, in fact, had won, not Joe Biden. I believe these politicians are fully aware that there was no fraud and that Biden is the legitimate president, but they continue to fuel this lie for their own interests. It occurred to me, as I watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, that if they get away with it, they will destroy what is left of our democracy. The Republicans, under these laws, will have the advantage over the majority, and will control the election results, in their favor. They know they cannot win elections unless they cheat – the victory of the Democrats in the 2020 election and the special Senate election in Georgia, in which two Democrats ran close races against Republican challengers, and won, flipping Georgia – always a Republican stronghold – to “blue.” The Georgia GOP has its greedy eyes on Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, and has already removed its top election official. It is really scary.
Then this week, climate scientists put out a report on the status of climate change: it is no longer a threat, it is a reality now. A 4,000 page report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes work by 234 authors who are experts in climate science, and roughly 14,000 citations to existing scientific studies, is the most comprehensive look at climate change and unequivocal in its pronouncements. The Washington Post, on August 10, published a review of this report. The Post cited five major quotes from the report:
‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.‘
‘The last decade was more likely than not warmer than any multi-centennial period after the Last Interglacial, roughly 125,000 years ago.‘
‘Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.’
‘With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers.’
‘Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.’
Although the Biden administration has pledged to finally do something to mitigate climate change, and the Democrats’ large infrastructure bill includes attention to climate change especially in the manufacture of electric cars, it will unlikely be enough. Other countries have also pledged to make drastic modifications to their energy infrastructures, but so far, there has been way too little change. I understand – industries are reluctant to make the kind of changes that they fear will impact their bottom line, especially since the investment in making the changes will have to be done long before measurable results (as well as their profits) will equal these efforts. And U.S. politics have always focused on short-term (about the length of politicians’ time in office) fixes for short-term results. To really make the kind of changes that will lead to meaningful benefits to society at large, politicians need to become far more altruistic in their vision for the future.
It’s time to stop finger-pointing at other countries (such as China and Russia) who are big polluters but have not committed to major changes. We need to get to work on this “yesterday, if not sooner” (as a former boss of mine liked to say) and encourage others to follow us.
What more real-life proof do we need that the situation is dire than massive out-of-control fires burning in so many areas of the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere? Half of one of the largest islands of Greece, Evia, a major tourist destination, is being decimated by wildfires. Even the Big Island of Hawaii is combatting fires. What about the “heat domes” that have settled for weeks over places that have never dealt with such hot temperatures? Portland, Oregon, reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit, and even Death Valley is hotter than ever, with reported temperatures of 134 F! Two years ago, people died from the heat in Paris, France, which saw unprecedented temperatures of 109 deg. F, in a country where few residents have ever felt the need to invest in air conditioning their homes.
In its conclusion the, WP article says, Even if current emissions pledges are realized, they would amount to just a 1 percent reduction in global emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Scientists say the number needs to be closer to a 50 percent reduction.
What can we do RIGHT NOW?
We already have the technology to hook residences and businesses up to energy created by wind farms. I have received phone calls offering a great deal on putting solar panels on the roof of my home and switching my residence to 100% solar & wind power. If this kinds of things are being done already on a small scale, why not expand it to include entire cities, states, and yes, even whole countries?
2. Many businesses are realizing that the switch to green power is in the near future, and are getting on board. They have understood that they will not lose all their profit from fossil fuels, because there is plenty of money to be made embracing the new energy technologies. And LOTS OF JOBS will be created! Committing to green energy can vitalize the entire economy! That’s what the much-criticized “Green New Deal” is about.
3. Yesterday, on BBC World News on the radio, there was a discussion regarding methane, the second largest cause of global warming. The first thing that comes to mind when I heard the word ‘methane’ is cows. Cows and pigs. Their farts and manure are culprits, made worse by feeding the cows a diet mostly comprised of corn, which is not in the bovine’s natural diet and which its gut has a hard time processing. Waste in landfills also emits a great deal of methane. The BBC report indicated that methane is a more short-term problem that can be dealt with. While CO2 emissions are, of course, vital to deal with, the ways to lower methane can show more short-term results which would benefit not only the planet as a whole, but also humans in every sector. (It sure would smell a lot nicer too!)
I looked up the BBC report online and found it, referencing more findings in the IPCC report. “An aggressive campaign to cut methane emissions can buy the world extra time to tackle climate change, experts say.” The BBC online article goes on to make the following points.
“One of the key findings in the newly released IPCC report is that emissions of methane have made a huge contribution to current warming.
The study suggested that 30-50% of the current rise in temperatures is down to this powerful, but short-lived gas.
Major sources of methane include agriculture, and leaks from oil and gas production and landfills.”
One of President Biden’s goals is to totally convert our automobile industry to electric power by 2035. But we don’t have that long to wait for many major changes to be made. Like Greta Thunberg, I am depressed that there may not be the human will to think long-term. Yet this planet is the only home that humans and other organisms have!
Fandango’s Provocative Question #122 is about REGRET.
Lucille Ball, the American actress and comedian, was quoted as saying…
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”
For this week’s provocative question I’m going to ask you to think back upon the life you’ve lived so far. And as you do so, consider this week’s question:
What is your biggest regret in life?
I suppose I could name several “regrets” I’ve had in my life, or the “biggest regret”, but I understand why I made the decisions I did at the time. So, I prefer to think of those things as mistakes, or the “roads most easily taken” without thinking ahead.
I understand myself a lot better than I did when I was young. I was always beating myself up for stupid things I did or said, but I am nicer to myself these days. I like the way my life is headed now, in spite of being a “senior citizen.” Actually, being a senior citizen, except for reminders that my body is slowly falling apart, is quite nice. People at this age are much more forgiving, and more accepting. Every day, I look forward to traveling again, pursuing hobbies I enjoy, and relishing time with family and friends.
So I have “no remorse, no regrets.” Easy come, easy go!
Where do you get most of your news from? Do you consider your primary news source (or sources) to be objective purveyors of truths and facts?
I admit to being a news junkie – or more accurately, an information nerd. I rely on a variety of media for news. I always watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and usually Lawrence O’Donnell right afterwards. Being on Central Time, these shows are on at 8 and 9 pm, respectively, not too late to then catch the local news at 10, followed by the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. These news sources are somewhat subjective, but there is good analysis and an attempt to present more than one side of an issue.
When I’m working in the kitchen or on laundry, or when I’m alone in my car, I tune in to NPR on the radio. National Public Radio is the most objective news source, in my opinion. I hear various opinions on there, and I also like the stories people tell.
I also subscribe to a regional newspaper. The Daily Herald that I get covers the northwest suburbs. I like this newspaper because they have a mix of national and local news, as well as human interest stories. And I always turn to the editorial page and read the letters to the editor and the columns. It’s interesting to know what people feel compelled to write to the newspaper about.
However, I am alarmed at the plethora of sensationalist “news” outlets, online, on TV and the radio. Some of these media outlets perpetuate conspiracy theories that are completely outlandish and untrue. Yet, millions of Americans tune in to these media outlets and are indoctrinated into believing the mainstream press is “left-wing” and “fake news.” I am concerned with the millions of Americans who live in a seemingly alternate world when it comes to current events. I visualize it as a chasm, such as a fault after an earthquake. How does one talk to a person who thinks, for example, that Donald Trump really won the 2020 election and that Biden is illegitimate? It may seem ridiculous, but a lot of people do believe this, and what will this ultimately lead to in a country with a proliferation of semi-automatic weapons? We’ve already gotten a preview with the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. As long as there are Republicans and Donald Trump fanning the flames of these false narratives (even though they know better), and states “recounting” the ballots from the 2020 election, there will be plenty of people who think it is real.
It’s also sad, because many people have become so jaded about the news and about journalism in general. I have noticed that some of the commenters about this question on Fandango’s page express their complete disaffection with the news. I have great respect for journalists and am an advocate of a free press which is necessary for democracy to succeed. But with social media and the easy access to online “information” there are a lot of lies being perpetuated. And therefore many intelligent people just tune out completely. An apathetic or misled public is a very dangerous trend!
Do you think that there is any chance that the U.S. Congress will ever take decisive, bipartisan action to pass and enact nationwide common sense gun laws to try and stem the tide of mass shootings, or is the best that the American Congress will ever do is to send thoughts and prayers to the families of loved ones killed in mass shooting incidents?
Sadly, my answer is no, but with a caveat. Right now, the U.S. Congress is so gridlocked, using the filibuster as a way to block any legislation put forth by the Democratic president and Congress. With this filibuster, 60 votes are needed for most bills to be passed, because it takes 60 Senators to end debate on a bill. Since the Republicans don’t seem to have ideas to debate about, they just declare that the debate is “open” indefinitely on bills they don’t approve. (Have you seen the Senate floor during debates on bills lately? The chamber is nearly empty.) Since Senate Republicans seem to be in lock-step with their leader, Mitch McConnell, votes on bills are strictly partisan. The House of Representatives does not have a filibuster, so although most votes are made along party lines, legislation moves faster through the House.
What’s more, Senators, with their 6-year terms and an equal number (2) from each state, no matter its population, are beholden to not only their constituents, but their lobbyists. The House also has lobbyists, but terms in the House are only 2 years, so Representatives spend much of their time campaigning when they are not in session. Furthermore, Representatives are a lot closer to their constituents and more likely to listen to them. Representatives are always holding town halls, while Senators are not. So the Senate is the “upper” house of Congress – read “elite.”
The National Rifle Association is a huge lobbyist that has had tremendous influence on Senators. The NRA is so powerful that a low rating from them can cause Congress members to be defeated in the next election. In turn, the NRA is beholden to gun manufacturers. Over the years, the top brass at the NRA has become increasingly intransigent, so that common sense gun legislation, such as background checks or banning military-style weapons, has come to be seen by politicians as “leftist.” Some of the membership of the NRA is swayed by the propaganda, but polls have shown repeatedly that 90% of NRA members are in favor of background checks. This should not be a partisan issue!
Personally, I think the Second Amendment should be thrown out altogether, because its history is closely tied to the institution of slavery, to appease slaveholders of the South who hired slave hunters to track down runaway slaves. Its wording is also unclear and out of date. In the 1700s, conditions in the United States were very different than they are today. There were no automatic rifles; there were no high-capacity magazines; and 18th century-style militias were very different than self-styled militias today. In consequence, this amendment has been interpreted differently throughout U.S.. history, depending on which way political winds were blowing. Strict “constitutionalists” on the Supreme Court (and don’t get me started on that!) tend to have a very narrow interpretation of what the amendment means, as if you can transpose those exact words and they will have “the same” meaning today. They claim the “right to bear arms” applies to anyone aged 18 or older, with no questions asked, no matter what that individual’s criminal record and mental state has been. Somehow the right to own a gun is more sacred than a person’s right to be free from fear of being killed by a maniac with a gun at any number of normal places one frequents – supermarkets, schools, churches, movie theatres, nightclubs, etc.
Automatic, military-style weapons were banned in recent times – during the Clinton administration – but the ban was for 10 years, and when George W. Bush was president, the ban was allowed to lapse. And even during the ban, it was still possible to obtain such weapons at gun shows, as the Columbine shooters did in 1999.
Meanwhile, people die from gun violence every day – killings that rarely are reported, because they are localized, such as the inner city of Chicago where gang members rule and many people own handguns (cheap and easy to conceal). There are groups of parents and other concerned citizens who are trying to put an end to this senseless killing. Kids in their apartments doing homework, killed by a stray bullet that go through a window; high school seniors celebrating their upcoming graduation in a park, one of them gunned down because the shooter thought she was someone else. People are shot for wearing brand-name shoes or jackets, because the person in possession of the gun wants to steal those items. Little children can get hold of their parents’ guns that are not safely stored and accidently shoot their brother or sister. These things happen a lot – way too often.
But somehow, making people wait to purchase a gun for a few days while their background is checked is a violation of their civil rights. Yet people who go to a supermarket to buy groceries or get a Covid vaccine don’t have the right to go about their business safely. The situation is so twisted in this country that people’s right to live is literally trumped by another person’s right to not only own a gun, but to carry it around in plain sight for everyone to see. This is why death by gun violence in the U.S. is hundreds of times higher than in other countries.
However, IF Senate rules can be reformed, so that the filibuster can’t be used if there isn’t active debate about a piece of legislation going on in the chamber, then a simple majority can make a big difference in passing urgent legislation, like gun safety reform or voting rights. The Democrats WON the election! Yet the president and 51 votes in the Senate aren’t enough due to these ridiculous rules.
As for the House of Representatives, although currently having a Democratic majority – barely – the people are not going to be democratically represented as long as there is gerrymandering. This is a problem on the state level too. For example, the Wisconsin Legislature and Senate are dominated by Republicans even though the Democrats got more votes due to the way district maps are drawn! The state’s Supreme Court is filled with right-wing justices who put the kibosh on any Covid restrictions the Democratic governor tries to mandate; and they do the same to any challenges to election irregularities and undemocratic voting regulations.
Unless there are MAJOR CHANGES to our election system, gun safety will remain a distant dream, even though a large majority of the American people approve of common sense regulations. I am not deluded that the 2nd amendment will ever be repealed, but it can be interpreted according to modern society’s needs and technology. But this only if citizens vote no matter what barriers are put in their way and remain engaged in the political process – and that includes being in the streets protesting whenever necessary. Public pressure can work.
Meanwhile, people all over the United States of America lay wreaths at mass shooting scenes and offer their thoughts and fervent prayers.
Have you gotten vaccinated for COVID-19 yet? If not, are you planning to? If you have, or are planning to, how do you think your life will change afterwards? If you’re not planning to get vaccinated, why not?
Yes, I got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine in February. I was lucky because of where I live. Seniors had priority and many senior living communities contracted with one pharmacy or another to have their staff and residents vaccinated. That’s what happened here. We were strongly encouraged to get the vaccine, and 97% of our residents and 77% of our staff got it.
I had no reaction after the first dose. After the second dose, the next day I felt a general malaise. No particular symptom, except headache, but just sort of achy and yucky all day. This was easily alleviated with a nap and Tylenol for my headache. At first I thought it was because I had exercised heavily after the vaccine when I found the fitness center nearly empty and had the machines to myself as well as time. So, I expected my legs to feel achy and weak, but it was more likely a reaction to the vaccine.
I think everyone should get vaccinated unless one has medical counterindications. In my opinion, the fear and distrust of the vaccine is silly. We’ve watched our political VIPs and celebrities get vaccinated on TV to encourage people, but unfortunately, everything about Covid has been politicized in the U.S., so there is a swath of people who refuse to get vaccinated, wear masks, etc. A lot of people, close to a majority here, don’t trust the government period. It doesn’t help that over 20 states have either never had a Covid mitigation strategy and have kept their economy going full speed, in spite of spikes and super-spreaders of the disease, or just arbitrarily decided last week to lift all mitigation because their governors have declared Covid to be “over.” No, it is not! Whatever people say about Illinois, I am glad we live here because our governor has been very sensible and cautious in his approach to controlling the pandemic. But I get angry that other states have the right to do nothing and their citizens can travel to other states and infect other people. At this rate, we’ll never beat the pandemic!
However, the good news is that, since the last week in January, a much more serious and effective national strategy has been implemented and we are now AHEAD of the goals set by the Biden administration in terms of number of people vaccinated. In fact, in a total reversal from last year, we are performing ahead of other nations in vaccinating our population! Yesterday, it was announced that since our supply of the various vaccines will exceed our population’s needs, we are going to share some of it with other countries, such as Canada and Mexico. We are on track to have every adult fully vaccinated by the end of May. Those who don’t get the vaccine will still benefit from “herd immunity.”
So more sensible states are now starting to cautiously “open.” There are many variants of the virus, some more virulent than others, which are circulating around the world, so we can’t celebrate totally yet. School districts, with restrictions in place in classrooms, are starting to have students go back to school in person. Teachers and other school personnel were given preference for the vaccine. Restaurants are opening, as well as other venues, with reduced sized clientele.
Our daughter and son-in-law, who are in their 30s/40s, have appointments for the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine next week, and so in a few weeks we’ll be able to visit each other again. Our senior community is slowly bringing more in-person activities back: our dining room will open, by reservation only, next week. A Great Decisions group will be reconvening in April. An art workshop is now being allowed, and more people (15-20 instead of 5-10) are being allowed in the activities that are already meeting. However, in spite of our high percentage of vaccination, we are still required to wear masks and stay socially distanced. A lot of people, including us, don’t wear masks outside on campus, unless we stop to talk to others we encounter. In public we do, though.
As for life after Covid, I am not worried. My husband and I are going to take a road trip in the fall regardless of what the status of the disease is (although we will avoid states with high infection rates). Also, we plan to take some 4-day trips in the summer to visit relatives in the Midwest.
At the beginning of 2022, we are planning a delayed cruise to the Amazon. Right now that area is a hotspot of infection, but I feel confident that this will improve by the end of the year. If not, then we’ll postpone again. Later in 2022, we still plan to go to Australia & New Zealand, and I don’t anticipate any problems by then. I guess we have to stop postponing renewing our passports!
I think life will change post-pandemic in society in general in several ways. Long term problems have taken on greater urgency due to the pandemic, or the pandemic has showed us that we cannot ignore them anymore. I think President Biden, a moderate, has moved a little leftward, due to the urgency of problems exacerbated by both the pandemic and the 4 years of Trump, such as climate change, poverty, access to affordable health care, racial inequity, and hate crimes. Currently his administration is laser-focused on overcoming the pandemic and getting needed funds to people and institutions that need it. Anyway, I believe we will see more movement on solutions to problems that have long festered.
I think – or hope – also that people will emerge from this crisis with a greater appreciation for things that they have taken for granted: family, education, clean air, nature, and simple things like having lunch with friends or hugging our kids.
I personally am looking forward to a couple of live art events, “Immersive Van Gogh” in May and a Frida Kahlo exhibit at a regional community college in June. My husband and I are members of an organization that provides ushers to plays and concerts, and I’d like to get back to that, but I don’t know how long it will be before theatre and concert venues go back to normal.
Remember, WEARING MASKS WORKS! It’s the best way to avoid infection.
Fandango’s intro to this week’s Provocative Question: Valentine’s Day is just four days from today. This coming Sunday is a day that people in love all around the globe — well, okay, in the United States, for sure — celebrate love and romance. So my perhaps not so provocative question this week is all about Valentine’s Day, how you feel about it and how you plan to celebrate the day.
Here’s my question….
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Do you consider it to be a special day, one where you express your deep love and appreciation for your significant other? Or is it just a commercialized “Hallmark Holiday” where you feel pressured to spend money on cards, flowers, candy, jewelry, and/or expensive dinners in order to stay on the good side of the one you love? Either way, what, if anything, are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?
I do believe in Valentine’s Day as a way to celebrate our love for others. Some people need to be reminded to remember loved ones or to say “I love you.” Those who don’t express themselves well verbally can get a card and a small gift. My husband, Dale, used to get me flowers every year.
Actually, Valentine’s Day isn’t like other “Hallmark holidays” – it has a long history, although the facts are a little uncertain. One story says that Valentine was a priest during the Roman Empire. Emperor Claudius II forbade young men from getting married because he thought unmarried men made better soldiers. The priest thought this was unjust and continued to marry young lovers in secret. He became a martyr (either this priest or another religious figure, the Bishop of Terni) when he was imprisoned for performing these secret marriages. He was held in the home of a noble, and there he healed the noble’s daughter of blindness, which caused him to be considered a saint. Before he was tortured and put to death on February 14, he sent the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.”
Whatever the story or legend, Valentine’s Day began to be associated with love during the Middle Ages, and St. Valentine became one of the most popular saints in Europe. When selecting a date to celebrate this saint, some believe Feb. 14 (originally Feb. 15) was deliberately chosen to correspond to the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, celebrating the Roman fertility god, Lupercus. Unlike Valentine’s Day, however, Lupercalia was a bloody, violent, and sexually-charged celebration of animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling to ward off evil spirits and appease the god of fertility. To learn more about St. Valentine and Lupercalia, go to the History Channel’s website page about the history of Valentine’s Day.
There are what I would call Hallmark holidays (like “Sweethearts’ Day” and “Grandparents’ Day”), but Valentine’s Day is not one of them.
However, I have a special reason to “believe in” Valentine’s Day as a special day – it’s Dale’s birthday! So I have a special valentine all of my own!!
It’s not necessarily fun to have a spouse with a birthday on a special day like Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to get restaurant reservations for that special birthday dinner, and some places have special menus and the cost is higher! If you’re like me, who tends to forget to do things until the last minute, you’re out of luck calling around to get reservations on the actual day of Valentine’s Day. I look for that special combo Valentine’s Day birthday card, and I can usually find one or two. But generally, I give him two different cards and a gift more appropriate for his birthday than the token gift I would give for Valentine’s Day.
A popular Valentine’s Day gift is candy. Especially if you are a woman looking for something to give your spouse or boyfriend, candy is usually the default. But neither Dale nor I need to have such temptations in the house! I could get flowers for him – after all, why shouldn’t a woman get flowers for a man? Men like flowers, too, at least most of them seem to. But if I got him flowers and he decided to surprise me in the same way (since candy is a no-no), we’d have too many flowers and it would seem more like an even exchange than something special. I think this is why neither of us bothers to buy the other one Valentine’s Day gifts anymore. I have to find a gift for him anyway.
It used to be a double whammy when I was teaching, because invariably there would be a Valentine’s Day party for the kids, and parents would bring in all kinds of goodies that I generally found irresistible. That would be after hustling the night before to sign a Valentine’s Day card for each student from the packs of 10 or 12 that I’d bought at a store. I didn’t usually worry about providing treats, because parents usually did that, but I generally would get at least a bag of candy so I could give one or two pieces to each child along with the card.
Then after the festivities at school, I’d go home and…there’d be candy or possibly a birthday cake. Fortunately, I am not teaching anymore, and being retired, it’s our job to sit back and let the kids do special things for us! In fact, our daughter has already warned us that she plans to make her dad a cake this year, which she hasn’t done the last few years. (But she’s all domesticated now that she’s married – she or her husband often cook special dishes for us.) That said, instead of being able to get together and share it, she’ll probably have to drop it off over the fence of our complex and we’ll be stuck eating the whole thing! I shouldn’t complain – everything she cooks is great and often quite innovative, but I seem to be in a perpetual struggle to lose weight!
My brother-in-law celebrates Valentine’s Day every year by performing “Singing Valentines” with his barbershop quartet. I don’t know if they will do it this year, but I will miss seeing it in our community dining room (which is closed due to Covid). Anyway, it’s a great surprise gift for someone’s special sweetheart and the group earns quite a bit of money that day!
Whatever the case, although we should celebrate love every day, I think it is a wonderful thing in these always challenging times to have at least one day called Valentine’s Day.