We used to say, ‘well, there’s a war on’

In the so-called old days, people often explained daily inconveniences as well as impulsive decisions with the phrase, “well, there’s a war on.” That excused everything from getting pregnant to getting drunk to getting married to singing the night away at a club you’d never go to if there wasn’t a war on.

I’m not sure we’ve come up with a gallows’ humor catchphrase to succinctly remind ourselves how much COVID impacts our lives on multiple levels. Perhaps “Vaccine Days and Shutdown Months” or “The Days of Wine and Masks.” World Wars I and II brought almost every normal thing to an abrupt halt. In a different way, so has the pandemic. Either way, the deaths and the wounded are real.

Some people ask “when will things get back to normal” while others say, “normal wasn’t all that good.” My feeling is that as bad as “normal” was, it was better than Vaccine Days and Shutdown Months. Those who want to pretend they are Nostradamus sagely predict things will never be the same even after COVID’s gone. I think they will because we have short memories.

Plus, I’ve never seen the point in being a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist. I’d rather say that in spite of all the political wrangling, naysayers, false starts, and fearmongering that when we finally kick COVID in the ass, that we will have a feeling of accomplishment and survivorship. I want to say, “We beat the pandemic” rather than catalogue all the ways society will end up worse than it was.

In the meantime, I’m okay with Vaccine Days and Shutdown Months because, after all, there’s a pandemic on.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

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Ready to be kicked by a mule?

“Side effects (such as fever, chills, tiredness, and headache) throughout the body were more common after the second dose of the vaccine. Most side effects were mild to moderate. However, a small number of people had severe side effects that affected their ability to do daily activities.”CDC

Since my wife and I are reporting to the county health department tomorrow afternoon for our second Moderna shot, I browsed through the side effects and didn’t find “feels like being kicked by a mule.” What a relief. Yet, there’s been talk. Others have dropped dead, possibly, and this seems to be better than being kicked by a mule. Or, maybe these are just myths and legends and the shot feels like a scoop of rocky road ice cream.

I got lots of shots when I reported to the navy. Most of them were given by things that looked like nail guns. But I was younger then and figured I’d probably die in the war anyway, so no big deal. I’m older now, obviously, and it takes me longer to recover when I’m kicked by a mule or shot with a .50 caliber machine gun round.

Some people won’t even get the first shot because they don’t know what’s in it. If they did, would they know enough about the ingredients to make a YES/NO decision? Somebody on Facebook said we don’t know what’s in hotdogs and that doesn’t stop us from getting two or three at the ball game.  Whenever anybody asks what’s in a hotdog, the answer is, “You don’t really want to know.” The response is usually laughter and another order of hotdogs–or the notorious slaw dog.

Every once in a while hotdogs are recalled after some glitch resulted in a whole town being wiped out. We haven’t heard anything that bad about our COVID vaccines. So, what can possibly go wrong?

You don’t want to know.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

Website

Facebook Author’s Page

Amazon Author’s Page

The first shot

The online application for finding the nearest COVID vaccination station kept directing us to places that were at least 100 miles away. Yesterday, my wife got fed up when we were told to drive to someplace halfway between Atlanta and Birmingham, AL. Not convenient.

So, she called the county health department and they said, “Can you and your husband come in tomorrow morning at 10:45?” “Sure.”

We expected an overflowing parking lot and a long line inside the building. The parking lot looked suspiciously normal. Inside, there was a short line. Had to present our driver’s licenses and fill out an information sheet. We got our Moderna vaccinations within about ten minutes and then spent another fifteen minutes waiting to make sure we had no side effects. We didn’t.

They will call us when it’s time for the second shot. I’m impressed: the whole operation was friendly and efficient. We left with a comprehensive information sheet about COVID and about the vaccine. Kudos to Floyd County, Georgia. Now we can really feel there’s light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

Malcolm

spoilt hope

The 1969 feature film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (directed by Sidney Pollack with an Oscar-winning supporting actor performance by Gig Young) has, to my mind, been one of the best illustrations of desperate people giving their last best effort to catch a financial break. The movie focuses on a depression-era dance marathon that purportedly will award a prize for the pair of dancers that stays on their feet the longest. It turns out to be something of a scam.

I think of this movie often when I think of people hoping against hope that they’ll find ways to support themselves and their families through troubled times only to find out again and again that the cards are apparently stacked against them. The recent Booker Prize Winning novel Shuggie Bain is, perhaps, a more current example.

During the pandemic, more people than usual have been looking for the smallest shred of hope that they will survive this, all of this from COVID itself, to the bankruptcies and lost jobs caused by lockdowns and other restrictions, to seeing hospitalized and nursing home separated loved ones again.

It takes grit and courage to keep trying, doesn’t it? To keep scanning the news for stories that say things are getting better. For most of the pandemic, the news has been bad and that as bad as the news is now, we can expect it to get worse. Now we hear that the vaccines seem to be helping while simultaneously hearing that a lot of people are still waiting for their turn for a shot. 

I am surprised at how quickly a handful of companies have created viable vaccines and equally surprised at how inept society has become that these vaccines haven’t been available in a fraction of the time it’s taking. Today’s news informs us that the U.S. is about to reach 500,000 deaths. Yet solutions continue to appear at a snail’s pace. The availability of vaccines that most of us still cannot get is an example of spoilt hope. These are the times of government negligence and felt-serving partisan “solutions” that show dereliction of duty at both the state and federal level

The U. S. could have done better. Meanwhile, our world is collapsing around us while red tape ensures quick solutions are unimportant. One can understand why dance marathon entrant Jane Fonda would tell another character to shoot her at the end of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

–Malcolm

Happy VD. Come on, people, stop saying that

Several days after my ship was in port, hundreds of sailors ended up in what was referred to as the VD line. People thought maybe they caught something at a sailor bar in town and wanted to get some penicillin from the doc at sickbay.

So, I tend to do a double-take when people shorten Valentine’s Day to VD. Were these people born yesterday or did they grow up clueless? But, as usual, I digress.

My wife and I had talked about celebrating Valentine’s Day by getting COVID shots. However, though the news mentions yet another new vaccine gaining FDA approval almost every week, there don’t seem to be any doses available.

Odd, do you think?

One sees various articles about how screwed up the United States’ vaccination program is. Some say the rich are first in line. Some say, no, it’s hookers who are first in line. My comment is this: I have yet to see any lines, VD or otherwise. Meanwhile, others are saying they won’t get the shots because they don’t know what’s in them, to which a Facebook joker said, “Well, you eat Chicken nuggets and hotdogs without a clue what’s in them.”

So, it appears that my wife and I will kiss each other, get some pretty flowers, and say, “COVID be damned.” The sucking-up-politicians group said people as ancient as we are should have gotten our COVID shots already. Since we haven’t gotten them, we’re being offered free penicillin shots in case we “caught something in town.”

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Cambell is the author of the comedy/satire novel Special Investigative Reporter. When one reviewer said it was an excuse for wine and sex, he nailed it.

FEDs retire ‘2020’ from use on future calendars

Washington, D. C., December 30, 2020, Star-Gazer News Service The U. S. Calendar Control Commission announced here this morning that it has banned the year 2020 from usage on future calendars.

Commission Chairperson Julian Gregorian explained to reporters that bad years are retired in the same manner that the names of bad hurricanes are retired.

“Eighty-two hurricane names have been retired,” Gregorian said. “You’ll never see another Carol, Donna, Hugo, or Katrina because those storms were so badass that we’re too superstitious to use their names again.”

According to CCC scientists, if Pope Georgory XIII had deigned to use Tarot Cards in 1582 when he introduced our current calendar system, he would have omitted years that were designated as controlled by demons, and the world would have avoided multiple plagues, wars, and bad luck.

“There never would have been a 1918 influenza outbreak, a 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, no 9/11 attacks, and no 20202 COVID-19 pandemic,” Gregory said.

A CCC backgrounder for reporters explained that even if the United States implemented a new calendar system, today’s action guarantees that ill years will never appear on it.

Calendar expert, Joseph Lunisolar told reporters that bad times could also be avoided by employing government astrologers.

“Until that happens,” he said, “we’ll continue to pay the price for thumbing our noses at the fates.”

-30-

Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

Body counts and broken dreams

During the Vietnam War, the primary news was daily body counts. While the consensus was that was no way to cover a war, nobody thought of anything better. As for the collateral damage in wounded and broken men, mostly forgotten along with their equally broken families, we’re still living with it forty-five years later.

During the COVID-19 invasion, the news has also provided daily body counts, primarily cases, and death tolls. Once again, these figures didn’t tell us much about the pandemic, except that it got better, and then it got worse. As for the collateral damage of grieving survivors, a shattered health care system, lost jobs, bankrupted businesses, and related and unrelated social unrest and violence, we can say with a fair matter of certainty the pandemic has broken just about everything.

There are now rays of hope as a second vaccine is set to begin distribution tomorrow and Congress, in its typical dinosaur fashion, races deadlines to get a new stimulus package approved. So now the wait begins: how long will it take for the vaccines to make a dent in the deluge of body counts and broken dreams?

No matter what happens, we can count on dealing with the repercussions of COVID for the rest of our lives. The 45-year Vietnam fallout will be long forgotten before the door will finally be closed on the long term pandemic impacts.

In general, I’m an optimist in spite of my bouts of cynicism, so I’m going to hold onto my dream of a healthy, unified United States that provides opportunities for everyone. But we will need to pitch in and work at it. I hope we’re willing to do that.

Malcolm

What’s your greatest COVID Fear?

COVID Vaccines

The statistics aren’t getting any better, though I believe there’s hope for an end to this pandemic as several countries have approved the Pfizer vaccine and the U.S. is considering it. Some say that there may be additional vaccines up for approval before Spring arrives.

Does the possibility of a vaccine make you feel better about things or are you in a wait-and-see mode about that?

Pandemic Lockdowns

It appears that large groups of people congregating together tend to lead to subsequent surges in new COVID cases, yet others are arguing that the lockdowns are worse than the disease because they impact our income and subsequently our financial ability to take care of ourselves.

Do you see the lockdowns as a blessing or a curse?

Hospitals at Capacity

Recent news stories are showing that the U.S. hospital system has very few beds available suggesting, some say, that hospitals will triage all prospective new COVID patients and accept those with the best chance of survival.

Do you worry about getting the virus and finding out there’s no care available?

Nursing Homes

The latest “AARP Bulletin” calls the COVID problems at nursing homes “An American Tragedy,” stating that “Fewer than 1% of Americans live in long-term care facilities. But 40% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred there.”

What bothers you the most, the fact that an elderly family member or friend is in a nursing home (and cannot receive visitors) or that at your age, you’re one medical problem away from being put in a nursing home that you may never leave?

Inconsistent Pandemic Advice

Lockdowns, business closures, masks, and prospective personal safety habits vary from state to state and seem to change weekly depending on which way the wind is blowing. Many stores require masks for shoppers even though their states have no over-all mask mandate.

Does this chaos make you feel more vulnerable or do you feel relatively safe by limiting trips outside your home and wearing a mask whenever you have to go shopping?

Worst COVID Fear

When people tell their COVID stories to reporters or send them to news sites that are publishing them, they echo some of the concerns mentioned here but also mention other fears that haunt their families, towns, and neighborhoods.

How about you? Do you have worries that aren’t mentioned in this post?

Malcolm

Is my number up today?

Some say that doing something risky is absolutely safe unless “your number’s up,” and further that if your number is up you’re toast even if you stay home in bed.

Wikipedia Photos

COVID seems like that. On Facebook and elsewhere, people tell others to “stay safe.” The thing is, we’re not sure how. Some people, for example, are telling us to start wearing masks indoors while others are saying the masks don’t really help all that much anyway. For heaven’s sakes, which is it, or are the three stooges dispensing our nation’s response and the advice we’re getting?

The fact that we might have a viable vaccine soon is a rare bright spot in the chaos of the pandemic. On this, I agree that front-line health care workers should be among the first in line. They are taking risks that are tantamount to volunteering for combat duty in a dangerous foreign war.  Some say people in nursing homes and the elderly in general should come next. I have no data to support the sense of that, but it seems right.

Meanwhile, we all seem to be muddling through. Personally, I go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the service station. That’s about it.  I wear a mask and try not to stand too close to anyone. Yes, I suppose I’m washing my hands more often. Is that it, then? Is that my defense against COVID. Yep. Is it enough? I have no clue and the guidance from the experts isn’t conclusive.

The days are getting darker and colder now and that doesn’t improve the mood of most people I know. We’re used to more people getting sick, generally speaking, in the Winter. Or, we’re fighting a bit of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and think things are more depressing and dangerous than we did several months ago. And to top it off, the pandemic is now worse.

I’m really not so cynical that I believe in the “number’s up” approach to life, but this pandemic is making me wonder. I’m trying to stay safe, even though I don’t know exactly how, and hope you are, too.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy, paranormal, and magical realism short stories and novels. 

It’s hard wishing people Happy Thanksgiving

We’re being told not to do the things we usually do at Thanksgiving. Don’t travel to see family or ask them to travel to see you. And, if friends and family live close at hand, you can’t have more than X people at the table.

That pretty much spoils the whole thing.

I picture the police sending SWAT teams through neighborhoods on Thanksgiving Day, peeking through dining room windows and counting the cars in the driveway. Since most of these rules were made by governors and mayors who don’t really have the power to issue such regulations, the police probably won’t need a warrant to bust in and arrest everyone at the table when the family gathering is larger than the law allows.

“Drop the turkey, put your hands up, and stand in a line against the wall.”

No doubt, the feast will be confiscated as evidence unless the cops eat it all, and then everyone’s screwed.

At my house, it’s just my wife and me except every other year when my brother and his wife come to visit. We’re in the clear. (I think.) So, we don’t have to hide granny and the baby in the attic while the cops are prowling around.

It occurs to me that the lockdown police might be staking out the grocery stores to see who’s buying more food than their family can lawfully consume. If I bought an 80-pound turkey, there would probably be a SWAT team in my yard on November 26th.

Just as long as they’re not counting toilet paper.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the satirical comedy “Special Investigative Reporter.” One reviewer said the book was an excuse for wine and sex.