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

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Potpourri for March 14

Potpourri is a mixture of dried, naturally fragrant plant materials, used to provide a gentle natural scent, commonly in residential settings. It is often placed in a decorative bowl. – Wikipedia

Actually, potpourri makes me sneeze, so I never saw the attraction. However, as always, my potpourri posts are unscented. So, if you sneeze while reading this, it means you haven’t dusted your house for a while.

  • My publisher tells me that production of the Fate’s Arrows audiobook is on schedule and sounds great. As I slowly work my way through Weeping Wall, my novel in progress, it’s nice to see something new en route to Amazon.
  • The male, short hair, black-and-white kitty who has adopted us after being dropped off on our country road by some nefarious person is slowly working his way into our hearts.  Were refuse to name him until we have a chance to take him to the vet to be checked out. Right now, he is simply OC, for outside kitty. Our inside kitties are curious but aren’t above hissing at him when we open the front door.
  • Other than sore shoulders, no apparent side effects from our first Moderna COVID shot. Nice to have that out of the way. Maybe we’ll be able to visit the granddaughters in Maryland this year since COVID cancelled last year’s planned trip.
  • I’m finally getting around to reading Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane. My nightstand is always overflowing and my wish list on Amazon is infinite. It’s a nice change of pace from John Hart’s The Unwilling. Being an old-fashioned sort of person, I’ve always preferred the term “firefly” to “lightning bug.” 
  • My GP has kept my prescriptions in place even though I haven’t seen him for a while. I said I thought doctors’ offices were dangerous for people my age until I had my COVID vaccinations. Fortunately, he agreed.
  • On a bit of a political note, I’m really getting tired of turning on the news and seeing that there’s more unrest in Portland and elsewhere. We have much to do to fix everything that’s broken, but it will take time. The violence from those riding the protestors’ coattails isn’t helping.
  • It’s time to change my Facebook cover photo. So, in hopes of seeing some springtime weather soon, here’s the new picture compliments of NPS Glacier National Park:

Malcolm

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

Good, the U.S.S. Nimitz is finally home

“We the unwilling, led by the unqualified to kill the unfortunate, die for the ungrateful.” – Unknown Soldier

The U.S.S. Nimitz has returned to the United States after a record-setting 99,000-mile deployment of almost a year. Even though our Vietnam-era aircraft carrier deployments lasted nine months, I have a notion of how the sailors on board feel during the approach to Bremerton, Washington.

While carrier deployments are always dangerous, they usually don’t face the risks our ships faced during World War II. Nonetheless, I doubt most civilians have the faintest idea what it’s like to be gone 9-12 months aboard a Navy ship. Some sailors aren’t happy when people come up to them in airports and on the street and say, “Thank you for your service.” It comes down to “thank you for your service” sounds like a throw-away phrase similar to “how’s it going?”

The first time I came back from Vietnam, the ship arrived at the former Navy base in Alameda, California. Those near the pier were happy to see us, consisting mostly of family and friends. The second time I came back from Vietnam, I flew home for a change of duty assignment. As the military got off the plane, we had to walk a gauntlet of protestors jeering at us, spitting on us, and calling us baby killers.

Thank goodness the sailors and marines on board the Nimitz didn’t face that kind of “greeting.” On the other hand, in the 1960s, we came home to a world we knew–people who hated us–while today’s sailors are coming home to a world that’s changed since they left: COVID.

COVID is probably worse because it’s killed more people at home than are dying in most theaters of war. What a paradox.

I remain hopeful that President Biden will bring the troops home from Iraq, Afganistan, and the war of nerves and posturing in the South China Sea. I think the costs of all that in dollars and lives are unnecessary and that our efforts are better applied to problems at home. We need not police the World.

As a pacifist, I wonder why more people don’t feel the same way instead of acting angry, unaware, or ungrateful to those who go in harm’s way.

Malcolm

My Vietnam novel is unlike most because it focuses on the lives of sailors rather than battles. The ship on the cover is a flight-deck photo of the U. S. Ranger. the ship I served on board.

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

2020: Get out before midnight or else

There once was a year named 2020
That conspired to plague us aplenty,
Whenever we thought the bad times were said and done,
We were told, “the worst has just begun.”

I’m sure something good happened during the year. Okay, two of us at Thomas-Jacob Publishing released new novels. And we had some good meals even though we had to cook them ourselves. There was some good stuff on TV such as “The Queen’s Gambit.”

But all in all, from questionable police shootings to rioters/looters upstaging protesters to COVID cases/deaths, the news was bad. It got a little better when several COVID vaccines (one not yet available in the U.S.) were announced.

Too many people died, though, and the Feds are sending vaccine doses to Congressmen/women and/or criminals before attending to the nursing home population and the elderly. I cringe whenever I see the announced death of an “old” person who’s my age, followed by the usual hoo-haw, “Well, they had a full life.”

And then there were those with critical illnesses who were denied treatment because people with COVID–usually not life-threatening or even obvious–had first dibs on hospital beds. Triage sort of got forgotten.

Yet, as cynical as I usually sound, I think we can beat the damages of 2020 (for those who are still living) and get on top of all that ails us. We will cure and protect more people. We will stop pointless police shootings. We will acknowledge that Black lives matter. We will start protecting our environment again after rolling back protections that took decades to get approved. We will get people working again and our stores open once more.

So, I feel sane enough to wish you a happy new year that brings you the best dreams you can imagine.

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.