Fandango has a weekly challenge, Who Won the Week, to invite fellow bloggers to choose someone (or something), usually from the news, but not necessarily, to feature as the person/place/thing who “won” the week.
In spite of the horrors in the news this week, most especially the war of aggression that Russia is waging on Ukraine, and scaring the world speculating about a wider war in Europe, there was one piece of good news: Pres. Biden announced his nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer (who is retiring) on the Supreme Court, a supremely capable Black woman, Ketanji Jackson Brown. I am not sure which of these three should be my pick for Who Won the Week, however. Should I choose Judge Brown, the nominee who has been honored to replace Justice Breyer on the Supreme Court? Should I choose Pres. Biden, who chose an eminently qualified Black woman who not only is qualified in her own right, but also in an effort to diversify the make-up of SCOTUS? In addition, the U.S. Senate has already confirmed Ms. Brown for federal judge, so they should have no objection to her elevation to the Supreme Court, which was also a smart move on Biden’s part. Or should I choose retiring Justice Breyer, who had the foresight to retire early enough in Biden’s presidency to make it extremely difficult for the Republicans in the Senate to delay her confirmation until the next presidential election? Indeed, there are several GOP senators who confirmed her nomination for federal judge, so it shouldn’t be a problem for them to confirm her again.
So I choose all three. Hopefully, it will be a smooth confirmation process!
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.
Now that the holidays and last year are over, are you filled with a renewed sense of hope at the coming year, or something else? Please explain.
As I write this, I have the TV on next to my computer desk, following the nail-biting election returns from Georgia. One of the Democrats is ahead and the other is very closely behind his Republican rival. If both Democrats win, the Democrats will have control of the Senate, with an exact 50/50 split – and future VP Kamala Harris will break the tie vote along party lines. That will given Biden a better chance at being able to move ahead with his agenda.
That said, both houses of Congress are barely in the hands of one party or the other. This says a lot about the state of our country these days, with two halves of the population who are completely polarized. It is unknown how much hold Trump will continue to have on the Republican Party after he leaves office, but there is bound to be a lot of political and social strife in the next few years and our democracy may continue to erode – but it’s not too late to save it.
So, I am cautiously optimistic about 2021. I feel that at least there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a ways to go to get to the end of that tunnel. The pandemic is still with it and probably will be for several more months. BUT we will have sanity in the White House, a president with a lot of experience and respected here and abroad, AND the vaccines are coming – they are not being distributed as efficiently as they should be and hospitals have not gotten the number of vaccination doses they were promised, but even so, there are reasons to be hopeful. I am not optimistic about the American political scene, whether both Georgian Democrats get to the Senate or not, but at least we can relax a little knowing that President Biden won’t continue to destroy the environment and gut government agencies such as the EPA.
I don’t expect to be able to travel much this year, although we are hoping to take a road trip in the autumn, perhaps to the Northeast to admire the fall colors.
Meanwhile, we keep on keeping on, wearing our masks and not going to crowded places. We are blessed to have a nice place to live on a beautiful campus, our meals are delivered to us every day, and we do have a chance to get together with some of our friends here at least occasionally. I am relieved the holidays are over so we can get back to our new normal, having Zoom meetings regularly with family and friends, pursuing our interests and having plenty of things to keep us occupied. It is disheartening knowing we will have to stay in this enforced semi-isolation for many more months, but at least now we are used to it, and health care professionals know a lot better how to deal with the virus.
I look forward to reading 40+ books this year, painting a watercolor masterpiece, finishing a couple of photo books, and working on my several writing projects.
Have the results of the US Presidential election left you feeling relieved, apprehensive, hopeful, or some other emotion? Relieved, definitely relieved, and hopeful that our country gets back on track. I am apprehensive at what Trump and his GOP lackeys will do in the next 70 days, and also very wishful for the Georgia Senate election in January. If Democrats win both those seats, they will gain control of the Senate. It’s a long shot, but I have already made a larger than usual donation to Jon Ossof’s campaign, and I will do the same for the Democrat in the other race, Warnock. If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, we will have to put up with Moscow Mitch calling the shots, getting nothing done, and Biden will have to issue an awful lot of executives orders!
Have you been surprised at all by the emotions and reactions of others regarding the results? No, I have been very happy and sympathetic at the outpouring of joy, released emotional reactions when the election was called for Biden-Harris, after a week of tense anticipation. I loved seeing people dancing in the streets in various cities and also some pretty awesome percussion bands!!
On Sunday, we were out doing some errands and ended up passing (3 times!) an intersection in Schaumburg filled with Trump supporters on all four corners of Golf and Meacham Roads. I was surprised at how many people driving by honked their horns in support of the Trumpies’ “cause” – calling voter fraud and believing Trump’s lies and not accepting that he lost.
I remember in 2016, and ever since, Republicans have been saying that Trump has been “harassed” by opponents, who – they claim – have never been able to accept the outcome of the 2016 election. Trump’s Republican Party hides behind this excuse in order to not accept what the other side is claiming about Trump – mainly that he is unfit to be president, he is dangerous, he is a narcissistic bigot (Lindsay’s Graham’s words before Trump got the nomination), and criticizing all the damage he has done. They cannot accept the truth about Trump and his family, regardless of all the glaring evidence, even in the midst of a pandemic that he has bungled so badly. So I find it ironic that his supporters are now showing that they don’t accept the outcome of this election!
When we drove past the Schaumburg protest the first two times, I tried to counterbalance the honking by booing, sticking my hands out the window with thumbs down and yelling, “HE LOST! HE LOST!” Unfortunately, the horns drowned me out. The third time we passed, I simply ignored them.
Frank, PC Guy, in his own answer, expressed surprise that so many Biden supporters are still apprehensive and worried. I understand how they feel. We don’t know how Trump is going to spend the next 70 days pushing back on the results. So far he has started several lawsuits and ordered recounts in at least two states. He wants the Supreme Court, with his new conservative appointee, to rule on the legitimacy of the election. He is a very insecure and mentally sick person – accepting defeat is not in his DNA. Also, the close outcome of the election shows how divided our society is. How will this play out in the next few years? So yes, there is good reason to worry.
My predictions (for the United States of America):
1. Trump will lose the election in November, in spite of the development of a vaccine for Covid-19 or at least the promise by medical experts of a vaccine being available soon.
2. While the new administration will attempt to repair relations with our allies, and will have some success, there will continue to be wariness abroad about American long-term political and economic stability. That could include restrictions on American travel to some countries.
3. Most students will return to school in the fall of 2020. However, there will not be a unified response to the question of school reopening while still in the throes of the pandemic; instead, each state and/or district will create a patchwork of solutions to keep students (relatively) safe in order for them to return to school.
4. In spite of the lessons of the pandemic about the inherent problems of our society (racism, inequality, lack of affordable health care for all, etc.), the new administration will struggle to solve these problems. We will not achieve universal health care for all, but there will be some progress made, such as lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare to 60. An economic slump will continue to plague us, however, for several years.
5. Because of the election of Democrat Joe Biden for president, and Democrats regaining control of both legislative houses, there will be serious attempts to mitigate climate change through sane environmental policies – the EPA will be restored to its pre-Trump mission and effectiveness, policies to encourage the move to cleaner energy sources will be proposed, and the U.S. will re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement. The federal government will be restored to a more professional and less corrupt state.
Fandango’s back with his weekly provocative question: What is the one thing in life that you are most excited about right now? Why?
I could answer this is one sentence, but decided to do a little more with it. I’m assuming that the question implies something that I anticipate happening soon that makes me excited, not something that already happened. The first thing that came into my head was I’m excited for the pandemic to be over and I can travel again. Because I live for travel. So I am hoping that we will be able to take the cruise I’ve already booked and paid for, in November 2020, to the Amazon. I have always wanted to cruise the Amazon although when I was younger I probably would have pooh-poohed a nice cruise ship with all the amenities. But now I don’t think I would go there any other way!
Then I heard Dr. Fauci saying that we likely will have a “second wave” of the coronavirus along with the regular flu season near the end of the year. The cruise leaves on Nov. 29! So then I furiously got to work paging through the catalogs of my favorite travel companies to find something we could squeeze in between the first and second waves: Yes! Possibly a trip to Central America where we would likely be seeing mostly ruins and nature in September. Also in September, a couple of choices of African safaris. So once again, we wouldn’t be often among lots of people – we’d just be looking at animals! If there is to be a second wave, avoiding cruise ships might be wise right now. Even so, getting on an airplane in the next few months?! We could go to New Zealand where they’ve already gotten the virus under control: because they acted early to take mitigating measures, they only had about 1,500 cases and last I heard, no deaths! Great – if we could get there without exposing ourselves to the virus in tight places with people occupying every seat on the plane…
Anyway, so my first answer is I am looking forward to the pandemic being over, at least for the most part, so we could travel again.
Then I thought, well, there is another very important thing that I would be extremely excited about and that isgetting Trump out of office!! (The two things are actually connected because in 2016 we got on a plane for Brazil on Nov. 8, not knowing the results of the election and expecting Hillary Clinton to be elected. When we woke up from dozing during the night, we were about to arrive in Sao* Paulo, and as we were all standing in the aisle with one hand on our carry on bags, someone checked his phone and announced Trump had won! It kind of put a damper on the trip and I seriously considered overstaying our visas in Brazil. But this time, if we can take the cruise, we’ll be able to go with the satisfaction of knowing the election results.) I feel pretty confident Biden will win because most people are so disgusted with how Trump has handled (or not handled) the Covid-19 crisis – a non-leader when we need leadership more than ever. Then this last week, he added insult to severe injury by threatening to call the military to stop the protests around the country due to the unnecessary killing of George Floyd. And just two days ago, he had police disperse protesters in front of a church with tear gas in Washington D.C. for a PHOTO OPP!! A photo of him holding a Bible with a sour look on his face. The incongruency of the image of Trump, his facial expression, and holding a Bible made it even worse – if you’re going to chase people away to have a photo opp, at least make it a decent one! But there is no decency with Trump. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word decency and he certainly has no idea what Christianity is all about.
But once again, I feel confident about a Democratic victory, as I did in 2016. Although terrible things can happen, this time we’ve lived with four years of this maniac and any thinking person has to realize by now that he is an existential threat to our country if he stays in office for a second term. (He may not calmly walk away from the presidency if he loses, but we’ll deal with that when and if it happens.) I wish the Democratic nominee were someone other than Joe Biden – I’ve nothing against him per se, but he’s sorta old and sometimes says some weird things (although nothing as insane as the Orange Moron). He is a kind person, which is good, and he has experience, also good, but after having a youngish black president for eight years, why are we taking a step backwards to elect another old white guy? (Two steps forward, one step back perhaps – Trump was the step backward – so change is slow but at least it happens and our country is saved from tyranny.) Biden has promised to nominate a woman as his running mate so I reserve final judgment until we find out who that is. (And even if he nominated Minnie Mouse, I’d still vote for him, obviously).
So, to conclude, considering the first part of the question “one thing IN LIFE” I would be very excited to see the United States join the rest of the “first world” in becoming a better democracy and with sane leadership to tackle serious problems such as health care for all and climate change. That is something I would like to see before my life is over, so I can die knowing my descendants will have a decent, safe world to live in but still have lots more to do.
And considering the EXCITEMENT part – or as I interpret it, anticipation – my desire for my own life is to see as much of the world as I possibly can and still have a few years to write about it!
*Dammit – why did WordPress take out the ability to put in special characters that other languages use???