Susan’s Salon: 2021 April 11/12

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Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Sydney time which is still Sunday in most countries). It’s fine to be sad, worried, vaccinated, unvaccinated-yet, angry or maybe even happy (or all of those things at once).

Please feel free to post what you like (either troubling news or pleasant distractions) in the comments for this open thread. [However, no cranky conflicts between each other in the comments.] Links, videos, cat pictures 🐈 etc are fine! Whatever you like and be nice to one another 😇

87 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2021 April 11/12

  1. For job reasons, I am moving from my current place just outside of Baltimore to Northern Virginia, which is just outside of DC. The new location is going to get crazy real soon because Amazon is extending a massive tendril to a new headquarters in the area (Arlington, VA). Of course everything in Arlington is hella expensive now, since everyone on the planet identifies Arlington with Amazon now. The move should be fine, except as a Marylander I will always be uneasy in Virginia. It just goes with the territory.

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  2. Simon R. Green whose is one of my favorite authors got dropped from his American publisher, Ace. His new publisher is, ahem, Baen, for Jekyll & Hyde Inc., the first book in one of two new series he’s got coming out this year. Being a reviewer I asker his publicist if I could get a digital review copy. Let’s just say that the agent was told in rather brusque terms that Baen didn’t do review copies which of course is absolute bullshit as they do so all the time. And sell digital ARCs too. So I’ve no idea why this wasn’t allowed here.

    The other first novel in the other series was released on Audible this week, The Best Thing You Can Steal, so I’m happily listening to it now. The novel never got an American publisher ‘tall.

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    1. It also think that anyone who is not 100% Bean is no longer welcome to review than with a reviewers copy.
      Both Simon R. Green and of course Bujold are writers that I like and will be as inconsequencel as a puppy in not buying Beanbooks (which them it was Tor of course),
      The covers are not a problem for me.

      Btw thanks to everyone who recomended Alex. E. Harrows The Once and Future Witches, not finished yet, but this one is good.

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    2. I’m a Simon R. Green fan as well, so I’m sorry to hear that. And considering how difficult Baen Books are to get in Europe, if you don’t special order them, this will also hurt Green in his home market the UK.

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      1. FWIW, I have never really had a problem finding a Baen book at Forbidden Planets, nor at SF-Bokhandeln in Stockholm. But, they are specialist genre stores and as such most probably do some grey-market imports directly from publishers.

        I don’t think I’ve seen a Baen book in the “SF & Fantasy” shelves of any generalist book store through.

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      2. I am also willing to buy e-books from Amazon US on behalf of anyone in another country and forward them sans DRM upon request. 😀

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      3. The bigger Forbidden Planets and other specialty SFF bookstores usually carry at least some Baen books, as does Amazon, but the regular Waterstones, W.H. Smith, Thalia, etc… stores don’t.

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    3. They send review copies of every damn one of their books to The Dread Scalzi. But they know he’ll put them up on his blog in his “stack-of-advanced-copies of the week” photo. So you can be an SJW and get freebies if you’re popular enough.

      You don’t attract as many eyeballs as Scalzi, so they feel justified into casting you into outer darkness and lying about their policy. IMO.

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  3. Our library got a copy of Bujold’s Penric’s Progress, the first three Penric novellas in one book — released by Baen, yes — so I am finally reading the Penric novellas, or three of them, anyway.

    It’s lovely weather here in Arkansas. My yard is filled with violets.

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    1. Setting Baen’s politics aside, they do release some great fiction. It’s just that most of what they publish is just pure shit. And there sense of packaging is among the worst in publishing.

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    2. Penric’s Progress and the other omnibus Penric’s Travels are exceptions to Baen’s terrible covers. They both have really nice cover art from Dan dos Santos.

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      1. The e-book versions have nice restful covers because they’re published by Lois’ literary agency and therefore she gets to choose what’s on them. Maybe that was part of the Baen deal, too — LMB got cover approval?

        The e-book versions of the Vor books have very simple-graphic covers in primary colors, again because Lois’ agency is putting them out.

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  4. Weather has been great — cool most of the day, not too hot at noon walkies. However the pollen count has been bad enough to leave me muzzyheaded part of last week and I’m already on Claritin. Fortunately I have a lot of research reading to fill the times I’m too muzzy to write
    Watched Furious 7. Not as fun as 6 — Statharn isn’t as formidable a Shaw brother as Luke Evans was. But as you said, the Rock busting his cast just by flexing was … memorable.

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    1. A few years ago I experimented on myself, going through the whole line of OTC antihistamines one after the other. Cetirizine (Zyrtec) is the one that really does the job for me. Now I stay on it 24/7 through March and April, and I’m SO much happier for it.

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      1. Yeah, I now buy big 365-pill bottles of cetirizine cheap off Amazon. But everyone seems to have very individualistic reactions to antihistamines for some reason, which is why I went through the whole line-up to figure out which one would do best for me.

        I greatly disappointed an ENT guy a couple of years ago. I went in for a hearing test, and when I mentioned how bad my spring allergies were (I’ll completely lose my voice if I’m not on good drugs) he got all excited about doing allergy treatments. I had to burst his bubble when I explained that I don’t have any trouble at all as long as I stay on the cetirizine. I’m sure those guys hate it when good drugs go off prescription!

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      2. I used to just roll with it, but our dogs pick up so much grass and grass pollen and I’m hypersensitive to that. I wound up breaking out in rashes, but claritin fixes that.

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      3. Cetirizine is my go-to antihistamine and it works very well for me. Plus, the brand I use has tiny pills, which makes them easy to handle for me who has pill swallowing issues.

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      4. Claritin hasn’t been cutting it for me, so on y’alls recommendation, I’ll try Zyrtec.

        I have weird drug reactions too — as a kid, Benadryl would send me bouncing off the walls. Now it makes me stoned but doesn’t work as a sleep aid.

        Something I find quite useful to keep from drowning in snot (and cutting down the snoring) is guaifenesin. Dries up mucus in the sinuses wonderfully so they stay open, expectorants everything else. The brand name (Mucinex) is stupidly expensive, so I buy the generic bottles off Amazon. And the LD50 is 1500mg/kg — IOW a whole damn bottle.

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      5. I solved my hayfever allergies by not living in the UK anymore. I sometimes get allergies if I’m home at the wrong time during the summer but for the most part my hayfever doesn’t really bother me when I’m not there.

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      6. The only thing that really worked for me was Seldane (Terfenadine), with was taken off the market in the U.S. about a year after I started taking it.

        Cetirizine is not as good, but it reduces my symptoms without giving me the side effects with the others.

        I’ve tried remedies such as eating raw honey from local sources, but wasn’t really surprised when the didn’t look. Every time I have been referred to an allergist and they do the tests, I react with moderate or severe reaction to EVERY SINGLE pollen, spore, and mold that they test for.

        Under my doctor’s instructions, I buy the cheap stuff from Costco, and take two tablets a day year round. 😛

        Which is a long way of saying that all allergy sufferers have my deepest sympathies.

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      7. I went straight to fexofenadine (Telfast) when I decided antihistamines were going to be an ongoing thing for me, as it is supposedly the one least likely to cause drowsiness, and if anesthesia is any indication, stuff that makes most humans sleepy will knock me out like a light (I couldn’t walk for 12 hours after having my wisdom teeth out). These days I also use mometasone nasal spray and occasionally a decongestant nasal spray (the latter very rarely because you are not supposed to use it for more than a few days in a row and it makes me feel completely spaced out). The nasal spray seems to have cut down on the recurrent ear infections I was getting, which I did not even realise were hayfever related. None of these things stop me from getting hives when I pull up grass in the garden. I am extremely allergic to grass it seems. Hayfever season for me is September to March – the climate and vegetation here seems to be optimal (if you want to call it that) for it – so we are just coming out of it now. Occasionally I will still go outside and get a noseful of something that will set me off. Saline spray helps a bit with that.

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    2. The fix for me and my partner in regard to pollen allergies has been having a little raw local honey on a fairly regular basis. He especially had a lot of trouble the first Spring we were here in Michigan, but now it’s pretty much no issue at all.

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    3. I eat local organic honey (not heat treated) every day. Although the full effect took a few months to establish, I now have only minor symptoms, I.e. take few to no antihistamine pills.

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  5. Started my new job this week, which has gone well, although I can’t look at my phone or be online during the workdays anymore (not totally true, but I’m setting an absolute rule for myself except during the lunch hour or I’ll not be able to resist the urge to keep looking at it).

    But the job comes with an hour train+subway commute each way, which helps me read things, so I read two more books during my 4 day work week, after reading a book in a single day on Monday (which I took off). Some really good stuff this week – Rivers Solomon’s upcoming “Sorrowland”, which is tremendous as you’d expect, and Alexander Freed third Star Wars Alphabet Squadron book, “Victory’s Price”, which turned into a dark but great story with serious themes.

    And then there was one just utter stinker, Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book. I may be prejudged to dislike it, because in a few small references to my own culture/heritage/religion (being Jewish), she is just so so off in this book (she refers to Jews as “Hebrews”, treats the “Torah” as if it’s a super holy book in and of itself (again no), and at one point talks about the “hebrew” version of hell, which doesn’t exist). Which is enough reason to dislike it, but the book is obsessed with descriptions of things at times, in not a particularly interesting way, and just misses having human characters react in any believable way to fantasy things creeping in on their world, like Sidhe, Angels, Demons, etc. I just don’t get how this was so well regarded – or especially how the mistakes like the “Hebrew” mistake, which makes me wonder how much of the other references are wrong, are allowed to get through publishing in today’s age. Sigh.

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    1. I finally got to the top of my library’s Hold list for The Absolute Book, and it’s on its way to my branch now. Given all of the wildly-diverging opinions I’ve seen for it, I’m interested to see what my own response will be.

      garik: I just don’t get how this was so well regarded – or especially how the mistakes like the “Hebrew” mistake, which makes me wonder how much of the other references are wrong, are allowed to get through publishing in today’s age.

      The book was originally published 2 years ago by Victoria University Press in New Zealand, and Wikipedia says that there are just over 5,000 Jewish people in NZ (.001 of their population). I suspect there wasn’t anyone with expertise on the Jewish religion handy to review the book for the author – but that doesn’t excuse not making the effort to find someone.

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      1. I just checked that in my copy.

        The book refers to Hebrew the language, not Jewish people! Either that or a body of stories in that language.

        It refers to ‘the Heavens and the hells’ meaning in my reading the more of less livable places souls go to. It has a different way of looking at religion where believers are responsible for their gods not the other way around. (Like we should be responsible for the planet. And yes it makes that connection ).
        It seemed quite a pagan and animist book.
        I read it that way and found it very refreshing!

        It is okay to dislike a book without having to judge it immoral.
        Though that does seem to be the go-to position now

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  6. I had a rather springy week, oddly enough.

    Got some stuff planted, though not nearly enough. The spring-planted garlic is coming up (I forgot to order any for planting last fall — but in compensation I’ve *already* ordered my garlic for next fall!), but the newly planted asparagus is not doing anything yet — I’m giving it the beady eye every time I look at the dirt where the sprouts are supposed to be. I got several whiskey barrel planters filled with various shrubs and perennials, and I’ve ordered ten more from Lowes to pick up today or tomorrow — got bazillions more things that need to go in the dirt.

    Delagar mentioned violets. Oddly I don’t have wild violets on this property (we had bazillions in Nashville), but I found one little volunteer violet plant in one of my planters and saved it from weeding a few weeks ago, and it has been blooming this week. I’ll probably end up sorry that I saved it (they spread like crazy), but I’m a fan.

    I got my second Covid shot on Wednesday. Fortunately, the effects were less than the first time around. For the first shot I stayed off my NSAIDs for three days — the day before, the day of, and the day after — but this time I only stayed off for one day, the day of, and I think that made a difference in my reaction. My arm is still a little sore, but nothing awful.

    On Friday I drove over to Knoxville (two hours from here) to pick up plants from the UT Knoxville Gardens’ spring plant sale. I used to be a Master Gardener and volunteered at the gardens there every week when I lived in Knoxville, so it was a nice excuse for a road trip and to say hi to a couple of the folks I knew there. And I got some lovely new plants, too. 🙂 It was a beautiful drive — redbuds pack the sides of the highway for a good part of the trip, and going up the Cumberland Plateau they are at the height of their bloom while the dogwoods are just getting started. And in town there were bunches of rhododendrons and azaleas and other blooming plants to appreciate. A perfect time of year for driving.

    While I was there I drove by the old house I lived in while in Knoxville. I lived there for more than 20 years, so you can imagine I was rather attached to it. It was built in about 1900 and had a lot of character. The new owners have painted it an ugly mud-brown color, but it does look to be in good shape, so there’s that.

    And I actually ate in a restaurant! Yippee! I had a favorite Japanese buffet/hibachi/sushi place in Knoxville that is still going strong. It has converted to purely table service with no buffet, but I was thrilled to be acting like a real person and sitting down inside to eat. It was pretty packed, but hey — I’m vaccinated! — and their tables have always been set far apart since long before Covid came along. It felt like reentering Real Life!

    In this weeks’ reading:

    I finished the Queen’s Thief series with A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves, and The Return of the Thief. I’m happy to have finally found these books — they are uniformly a lot of fun. My favorite is book 3, The King of Attolia, but there’s not a bad one in the bunch.

    Then I tried For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones, but I quickly gave up on it. The writing was that especially irritating (for me) combination of completely lacking in subtlety and insisting on going on and on about irrelevant details that I couldn’t care less about. Think Robert Jordan without the skill in keeping you interested.

    So then I read The Phoenix Guards by Our Friend Steven Brust. I have, of course (how not?), read all the Vlad Taltos books, but somehow I had never gotten around to these spin-offs. For those not familiar, this series (prequels to the Vlad books) is known as the Khaavren Romances. These are Dumas-ian action romances, this one a combo of musketeers-action/comedy of manners/farce that was often very funny, though I admit the style of humor started getting a bit old after awhile. Nonetheless it was a fun read overall, and well narrated by Kevin Stillwell. I’ll read the rest of the series eventually, but not right now.

    And now I have just barely started Beautiful by Juliet Marillier. I picked it out of my TBR by random number generator. 😉 It already shows Marillier’s lovely prose, but We Shall See how the story goes. My steady complaint with her books is that not enough happens to justify all those beautiful words, but the jury is still out on this one.

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    1. Have you read Brokedown Palace? It’s one of Brust’s best and there’s a nice little link to The Phoenix Guards in there,

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      1. I haven’t read that one. And, sadly, it looks like it never made it to audio format — which makes me much less likely to ever get to it. But I’ve put it on The List in any case!

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      1. I hope that we will start moving faster, soon. Rusia could be a hope. I am registared but it is probably a long time off.

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      2. Sadly most things never really closed here, thus the high viral pressure. But before Friday I had only eaten inside a restaurant once since March 2020, so it was a thrill. Next up, Kroger and Walmart — I haven’t been inside Kroger at all in the last year, and only inside Walmart about four times including the times I went for both my shots. Back to walking those aisles, baby!

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      3. I’m also frustrated with the slow vaccination progress here in Germany, especially since our politicians keep outdoing themselves with apocalyptic predictions and dire threats, but still can’t get their act together regarding vaccines.

        My Dad had both shots by now, but my Mom is still on the waiting list and I’m not even eligible yet.

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      4. Looking at the deliveries of vaccines, I will get my doses sometime in end of May/beginning of June which is when my immunity will start to pewter out any way. Right now, all 70+ in the Stockholm region are eligible.

        Next month, the speed of vaccine deliveries will double, so I have good hopes.

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      1. The poultryettes are doing well, thanks. The two older ducklettes are well into their making-mud stage, while the five smaller ones are just on the edge of entering it. The mess-making talent is what makes raising duckies such a trial until they’re big enough to go outside. Chicks are much less bother!

        Got 20 more duckies arrive in two weeks. Then we’ll REALLY be seeing some messes!

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  7. I watched the Brazilian SF-movie “Barucai” (which wasn’t that much SF really) and found it unpredictable with fantastic actors, a slow and a never really explained plot, great photos and a suggestive atmosphere.

    While I do recommend it, I also think they could have done more with the plot elements and the throwaway sentences in the background. Too late to nominate for a Hugo now, but I might have done it otherwise.

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  8. Are the graphics indicative of the beloved Katsu of Filigree Street attending the Salon? It would be appropriate.

    I type with the remaining credential asleep in my lap. He is slowly learning how to be a lap cat now that the position is available. He started out attempting it at 90 degrees to the orientation he ought to be (long cat is long) and now he’s at 45 degrees, so that’s good.

    Things go on as usual here. My brother finally got his first shot last week and I’m due for my second late next week, so we will soon go out still masked and distanced, but with less fear of dying. Hoping I’m less knocked down by the second dose, that was inconvenient. I ran some errands this week and was still more fatigued than I should have been. Must do a grocery store run before the shot in case I have to take to my fainting couch again. I had to go to the pharmacy (eeek, sick people, germs) but in addition to my prescription, I also got a free smol bottle of hand sanitizer, yay. Things are going to be open again soon, but I’m still not going to rush into indoor everything. Besides, I have my procedure down now — the entryway is our airlock, where we change into and out of clothes specifically for the hostile environment.

    The credential has now rotated another 5-10 degrees in the correct direction. Progress!

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  9. I’m now fully vaccinated (two weeks past the second dose of the Moderna vaccine), and am happily making plans to do very ordinary things like take the bus to spend a few hours with a friend, and go to the grocery store and pick out my own produce.

    I won’t be dining indoors in restaurants yet, but that’s more out of solidarity with restaurant workers–who can’t tell whether the person sitting at a table has been vaccinated, or how careful they’ve been otherwise–than because I’m worried about risk to myself.

    Other than that, it’s very definitely spring here, and I’m reading Seanan McGuire’s Calculated Risks (part of her InCryptid fantasy series).

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  10. Excitement here this week was going to the eye doctor. I could really have stood to get new glasses a year ago. Found frames I’m really pleased with for both regular eyeglasses and sunglasses. It will be so nice to have the new prescription and lenses that aren’t a scratched up mess. Should be ready next week.

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  11. My name finally got to the top of the Holds list for The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. I really enjoyed it. Stories with doppelganger imposters have a long history, from The Prisoner of Zenda to Double Star to Dread Empire’s Fall – and this one is a worthy continuation of that traditional trope.

    Those who can muster a suspension of disbelief for the unexplained parallel world-hopping tech will be rewarded with an interesting story of assumed identity with just a hint of du Maurier’s Rebecca: who was the dead woman, really, and how can her successor achieve a successful and unsuspected transition as her replacement?

    My only quibble with this book is that the main character, although in her late 20s, has a bit of a teenagerish feel. Ultimately, however, the author succeeds at creating a gripping mystery-adventure with a satisfying ending. And I have to applaud a really successful implementation of Chekhov’s Gun (which was not actually a gun).

    I saw a number of people saying that they’d nominated Johnson for the Astounding Award. I think she’d be a really worthy Finalist/Winner.

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  12. Well…

    Mom died April 1st. I’ve been kinda hovering around in shock this past week, which is why I haven’t said much of anything. (That and I discovered I’m horribly allergic to the flowers we’ve gotten, which led to a week of a very nasty migraine that wouldn’t go away. I wasn’t very much on the Internet.)

    Anyway, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I think I’m doing okay, but things keep catching me off guard. I suppose that’s part of the grieving process.

    In the meantime, my dad, my sister, and I are trying to negotiate this new world without Mom. It’s tough.

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    1. My condulence. Even if exspected loosing a familymember is always hard.
      Do what you have to do to feel better and what you can do.
      Hurt doesn’t go away fast, it will take time.
      But you will get better, most of the time.

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      1. Ugh, there was supposed to be a sympathy hug in those carats. Anyway, my empathy & my sympathy both!

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  13. I’m going to start on the COVID front: both my husband and I theoretically became eligible in our state for the vaccine on April 1. Getting an appointment has not be easy. Wound up putting both of us on the county’s waiting list, the city’s waiting list, and the waiting list of the hospital that my person doctor’s clinic is run by. Just doing that took several days of calling and logging in and calling, et cetera.

    Late Friday I got a text from the hospital saying I could now schedule my appointment. “Call X number from the phone you received this message on at any time and the system can schedule you.” Called number as soon as I got off work. “You have called outside business hours. Business hours are 7am to 7pm Monday through Friday, and 8am to 4pm Saturday.”

    So I call Saturday, at about 8:20 am. After going through a couple of automated questions, including confirming my zip code, I’m informed, “We cannot process online scheduling of vaccine appointments in your area code outside of business hours. Please call during during business hours of 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday.”

    I really wish they would get their act together. *whine whine whine*

    In other news, my boss is out due to a family medical emergency so for much of last week a lot of her duties were split between me and the two principal technologist… and we had two software releases, so I’m sort of amazed we survived the week. Which has contributed to my ongoing difficulty finishing any writing. I have three blog posts I’m tying to finish and post this week and I keep managing to write about two paragraphs before my brain jumps to another topic.

    On yet another topic the state department of wildlife said we could put birdfeeders back up on the first. It took a few days, but both the small birds (juncos, sparrows, chickdees, the occasional finch, the even rarer pine sisken and scurb jay) have started gracing the view out my office window. Even had a few hummingbird sightings. I was also finally able to put up the fancy hanging bird bath my hubby got me for Valentines Day, and yesterday was the first time I saw a bird giving it a try.

    So, business as usual here, over all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Martin’s Point, my Primary Care Provider, did vaccination scheduling via a phone text system which worked well. They sent a series of times and dates that corresponded to a number that you texted back depending on which time you wanted. I got the first jab time I wanted without a hitch but the second jab required an intervention by a staffer to schedule. Each jab took about a half hour including the fifteen wait time to see if there was an adverse reaction.

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  14. I got my second Moderna vaccine this past Friday. No adverse effect save some muscle soreness. I got myriad dire tales from folks who either had really bad reactions or knew individuals that had such. Now Meaghan, my osteopathic manipulation therapist at Martins Point, my Primary Care Provider, got really sick from her first Pfizer jab and she’s only thirty six. She like Jenner gets dark chocolate each time I see her.

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    1. I had muscle soreness and a bit of fatigue from my second Moderna dose, but nothing worse.

      Being younger seems to make the worse side effects more likely, from what I’ve heard. My 90-yera-old mother had no side effects worth mentioning after either dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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      1. I’m not “younger” (except compared to 90 year olds) but Pfizer knocked me flat for about a week.

        Mr. LT got Moderna and only had a sore arm both times.

        I don’t know what my brother got (except he had to drive 20 miles) but no severe effects.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I felt pretty lousy for a couple of days after my first Moderna shot, and my arm HURT for several days.

        After my second I felt a little lousy and slept the whole next day, but it wasn’t as severe and didn’t last as long, and though my arm is still a little sore almost a week later, it never got as painful as the first time.

        But the comparisons in my case are complicated by the fact that I only stayed off NSAIDs for one day with the second shot, but three days with the first shot.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Cora Buhlert: It seems younger people get worse side effects.

        I’ve been noticing that commonality in lots of peoples’ reports; it didn’t affect my parents much, either, but my cousin felt pretty rotten for a few days. I’m wondering if there was a milder virus which went around sometime in the 1930s-50s which gave older people some previous slight exposure.

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      4. I got the J&J on Saturday and felt pretty awful later that day and all of Sunday (sore arm joints, headache, shivery, no energy whatsoever). Was mostly better by Monday though.

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  15. I got my first walk outside today since last May! Aliyah, my Rwandan born personal assistant of the week, and I went down to the East End trail which is on the ocean (she hadn’t seen the ocean here before) where we walked for a hour and a half. Right hip hated it but it felt good otherwise. Yes she got chocolate. And she insisted on a hug before parting today.

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      1. The hip was fractured in a motorcycle accident in the mid eighties and wasn’t diagnosed until maybe five years later when a PCP at Martin’s Point noticed I was limping and x-rayed it. I’d indeed fractured it. Thirty years later, we’ve discovered that I break bones and don’t always know that I do I so.

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  16. Well given that Rwanda is landlocked, I sort of doubt that. She was a refugee in Congo according to Yvonne, another Personal Service Assistant I have, as that where they got relocated to during the civil war in Rwanda before getting to here. (My other PSA is from Ethiopia.) let’s just say it all makes for some interesting conversations. And it’s Ramadan right now.

    Aliyah, the PSA from Rwanda, asked for and got a hug from me yesterday. I was surprised as Muslim women don’t hug unrelated males. And she wants to take me out to coffee sometime. She’s married with two kids.

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