My Fruitless Debate with an Anti-Vaxxer

I had to try.

A friend whom I’ve always highly respected nearly died from COVID-19 recently. He lost 75 pounds and was in the hospital for two weeks, part of that time on a ventilator. His wife was in a hospital room nearby, going through the exact same thing. You guessed it: They weren’t vaccinated. Fortunately they survived, much to the shock of their medical teams.

To make matters worse, he has lost his government job because proof of vaccination is now required. He’s under the impression that he has a chance to get it back, but as they are no longer accepting religious exemptions, I know he’s out of luck. And he was great at that job. He loved it.

This is a wonderful man whom I’m happy to call a friend, but we’ve always studiously avoided talking politics or religion, because I think we both instinctively knew that we are polar opposites when it comes to those topics. And because I value his friendship, I did my best to hold my tongue about this. Truly, I did. But the other day my crashing disappointment with his ill-informed and nearly deadly choices bubbled to the surface, and I found myself incapable of keeping my mouth shut.

You already know how this turned out. I did not change his mind one whit. And I’m quite sure I went about everything the wrong way, but I had to try.

In essence, it felt like I was trying to deprogram someone who had been a member of a destructive cult for years. Needless to say, I have no training in this arena. He kept texting me misinformation and I was able to debunk every single thing, point by point, with readily available facts. I read the information on the links he sent me in order to debunk them, but I’m fairly certain that he didn’t click on any of my links, because he did not want his mind to be changed.

Oddly enough, I totally get that. Think about it. If he were to come to his senses at this point, he’d be forced to admit to himself that he and his wife nearly died, and he lost his dream job, due to his own foolish choices. He’d also have to conclude that his religious and political leaders do not have his best interests at heart, and he has been duped. His entire worldview would have to fundamentally change. That would be a very hard pill to swallow. I wouldn’t want to be in that position.

He started off by saying that God told him not to get vaccinated. I wasn’t going to get into a religious debate with the man, so I let this point slide, but I’m fairly certain that unless God showed up at his kitchen table, sandals and all, and chatted about the subject over a cup of tea, he didn’t say a word. If the God of my understanding were to encourage me to put my life, and the lives of others, at risk, I’d have a hard time with that. And if that same God encouraged me to reject science, when he theoretically was the one to give us brains for the scientific research in the first place, I’d be done with him. My friend is mistaking the word of his misguided preacher, along with a heaping helping of misinformation from Fox News and a steady diet of confirmation bias, for the word of God.

This makes me really sad, because he’s an intelligent man. I truly believe that. But somewhere along the way he never quite acquired critical thinking skills, and then was taught that blind faith is superior to any thinking at all. Beware of anyone who tries to teach you that.

He kept sending me links from obscure websites, and their articles had no confirmation or validation from any credible source. I kept asking him to provide multiple sources, and he couldn’t. For me that would be a red flag, but he was too busy being blindly faithful to see it.

He also said he had natural immunity now, so he didn’t need the shot. I sent him a report from the CDC that says that “unvaccinated individuals are more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated after initially contracting the virus.”

I’m sure that fell on deaf ears. He has been told not to trust the CDC, and since he’s faithful and unquestioning, he is unable to see why that’s a horrible idea. I’m quite sure he thinks that vaccinations are a part of some huge liberal conspiracy. Never mind that 163,000 unvaccinated Americans have needlessly died since June per the Kaiser Family Foundation, and all the hospitals are overwhelmed. Minor details.

Next, he hit me with a link from a website that is so suspect that I won’t even provide the link here, for fear that you’ll be overwhelmed with spam and malware. In fact, when I did a google search asking if this site was legitimate, I discovered that gives it a score of 26.9, based on a 1-100 scale, with 100 being the most reputable.

But the article says that 317 athletes have had cardiac arrest and 170 of them have died after taking the shot. The article comes with a really sketchy video that shows athletes collapsing during games all over the world. I watched this video. It shows different news reporters talking about athletes collapsing, yes, but it doesn’t show when these reports were done, and it cuts them off before they mention what the cause of the collapse was. It’s only the sketchy website that draws the conclusion that this is all recent and COVID related.

I pointed all that out to him, and also mentioned that my whole life, I’ve seen stories of athletes collapsing during games. It’s not particularly unusual. I also pointed out that this article is not only not confirmed by other news sources, but also that it is debunked by this article, which says that “there is no connection between COVID-19 vaccines and sudden cardiac arrest in athletes.” (And, incidentally, that website has a score of 85.6 from

For some reason I thought I could appeal to my friend’s under-exercised logic, too, so I pressed on. I said, “Even if that were true, it’s a small statistical sample. Let’s do the math. Using that small sample, all of us who were vaccinated would be having cardiac arrest, and 53% of people who get the shot would be dying. So far, 194,747,839 Americans have gotten the shot. If your sample were true, then 103,216,355 of us would be dead by now.”

No response to that. But then he said, “the VAERS websites for America and the UK are pretty informative.”

All right. I’ll bite. I hopped on over to VAERS, which stands for Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, and which is, indeed, run by CDC (which shows that he’ll believe CDC if their reports are twisted enough to agree with his beliefs), and I could debunk him pretty quickly. VAERS is a passive reporting system, which means it’s not statistically accurate and the site itself reiterates that on nearly every page, saying that it’s not designed to determine if vaccines cause a health problem. In Addition, even a quick look at it on Wikipedia turns up this information: “As it is based on submissions by the public, VAERS is susceptible to unverified reports, misattribution, underreporting, and inconsistent data quality. Raw, unverified data from VAERS has often been used by the anti-vaccine community to justify misinformation regarding the safety of vaccines; It is generally not possible to find out from VAERS data if a vaccine caused an adverse event, or how common the event might be.

All this information seems rather convincing to me, but his only response was, “I appreciate and respect your opinion. I hope you’ll do the same with mine.”

That made me get tears in my eyes. He’s a decent guy. And while I do appreciate that he shared his beliefs with me, I cannot respect opinions that are so easily debunked, especially when it relates to people’s very lives. I just can’t. All I could say is that his coworkers would really, really miss him.

I suspect that will be the last time I hear from my friend. I am not going to try to force it. I’d still like to be friends, but I wouldn’t want to breathe the same air that he does, and that might make things awkward. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why republicans want to kill off their base. Their misinformation and their desire to make this about the rights of individuals, even though public health impacts us all, is, indeed, killing them. The statistics bear this out. Check out the graph below, and read this article for more details.

Public Health should NEVER have been politicized. It’s too important. And it’s way too easy to prove that vaccines are important. When’s the last time you saw a child die of Polio?

In recent days, even Trump has encouraged people to get vaccinated. Such is the dire state of this pandemic. He admits that he got two vaccines and a booster himself. So did Sean Hannity, the hypocrite. But they can’t unring that disastrous anti-vax bell. People have too much pride to admit they’ve been led astray. It’s heartbreaking that so many people will die needlessly because of it.

People who don’t get vaccinated are not only foolhardy, but they are also selfish. As long as they persist in their inaccurate beliefs, this pandemic will continue to rage on. The virus will continue to morph in those carriers, and people will continue to die, all alone, even as they assert their independence. It’s all so unnecessary.

Sigh. I’m so frustrated and disappointed. I’m so sad. And most of all, I’m tired to the very marrow of my bones.

Incidentally, my blog gets a 75.7 score from, which indicates that it is “Standard. Valid. Common.” And more importantly, safe to use. It says it would have gotten a higher score if the site hadn’t ranked zero in popularity. Well, ouch. You guys need to start sharing my posts with friends!

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Why Public Health Should Not Be Politicized

People are dying as you make your political point.

As I wrote this post, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard, 4,264,652 people have died worldwide in this horrific pandemic, and 615,276 of those were in the US. Those numbers are even higher by the time you are reading this, and they most likely only represent the tip of a very huge iceberg, because some places are better at reporting than others.

It’s hard to wrap one’s brain around a number that’s up in the millions, but imagine this: If each of those people were buried in a standard sized coffin, and you lined them up end to end, you’d have a line of coffins that would stretch from Seattle, Washington to Cochabamba, Bolivia. As the vulture flies. If you drove 10 hours a day at the rate of 50 miles per hour, it would take you more than 11 days to get past that line of coffins. And that isn’t even allowing for bathroom breaks or stop signs.

I say this because I really want you to understand that that’s a lot. A whole lot. And so much of it could have been prevented. But we chose to politicize it instead.

Public Health should be considered a basic human right by all of us. It has nothing to do with your freedom to not wear a mask or your right not to be vaccinated. It’s about being a responsible human being on the planet earth.

If COVID-19 weren’t transmittable from one human to another, and you wanted to dive headfirst into a fetid pool of the stuff, I’d say have at it. I’d even provide you with the rubber duckie. You do have every right to be as stupid as you want to be. But in the case of COVID, you’d be diving headfirst into that pool and a long line of people, some who are less capable of swimming, some who don’t want to even get wet, some who have more important things to do with their time, would be tied to you against their will. You’re just yanking them in with you.

How dare you? Seriously. Explain it to me, because I don’t understand.

There are some basic health rules that everyone on the planet does their best to follow. For example, when is the last time you defecated on the turkey at your family’s Thanksgiving Day gathering? I’m guessing never. Because you’re not an animal. You’re civilized.

Aren’t you?

Health issues should not be mixed with politics, but they have been. As a result of that, I could go on and on with statistics that show that the more red the state or country, the more people have died of COVID, but you don’t want to hear me, do you? You just want to prove that you’re free.

It seems awfully self-destructive to want to be free to die a horrible death. That doesn’t bode well for the life of your political party. If it were only people who agreed with you politically who were dying off, then I wouldn’t be so upset. You all would have volunteered for it. But there are people out there who are dying without having made that choice. There are people dying who have tried to do everything to save themselves, and yet they have the misfortune of bumping into some idiot who wants to be “free”. It’s just not right.

And this is not the first time that the far right has not cared whether people live or die, and it won’t be the last. That’s what’s so truly terrifying about them. Their lack of caring even for their own.

If you read a very upsetting story that I wrote back in 2014, entitled How the Republicans Helped Kill My Boyfriend, you’ll notice a disturbing similar pattern. All I’m saying is that you may want to consider saving yourselves instead of trying to make some point. You can just think of the side benefit of saving humanity as an extra little perk.

Our Altered Life Rhythms

This pandemic has certainly made us evaluate the pace of life.

Make no mistake: we are still in the throes of a pandemic. People are still dying every single day. But as more of us are wisely becoming vaccinated, society is beginning to open back up. Watching this process is making me think a lot about the rhythm of my life.

When the pandemic first started and we were all in some version of lockdown or another, I felt trapped in my home. That genuinely surprised me, because I’m an introvert, and something of a homebody. But one thing is choosing to be isolated, another is having no choice whatsoever. I thought my life moved at a slow pace up to that point, but coming to a screeching halt made me realize just how wrong I was.

As things progressed and safety precautions became a habit, I began to get used to the rhythm of this crisis. I actually settled into the slower pace, and often enjoyed it. I began to relax at home a lot more than was my habit previously.

Wearing a mask became my standard operating procedure. I got used to not seeing the lower half of people’s faces, and therefore being unable to gauge their moods. I got used to no handshakes and no hugs. I got used to standing farther back when talking to people than I had pre-COVID. I did miss seeing friends and having human contact, so there were definitely good days and bad days, but I coped better than I anticipated. A lot of that is because I don’t live alone, and had to continue to go to work. Your results may have varied.

Now, like I said, things are starting to ramp up again, and I’m not going to lie: the change feels rather abrupt. One day I was wearing masks, and the next day I was not. It kind of feels like that dream where you’re caught naked in a public place. Vulnerable. Slightly dangerous. Definitely uncomfortable. Especially since the very people who should continue to wear masks are the antivaxxers that never would in the first place.

Things are still moving slower than they did in my pre-pandemic life, but it’s kind of like being deathly ill, and then getting back in a car for the first time in weeks. Twenty mph feels like sixty for a while there. I’m socializing more. I’ve gone to the movies. I’d forgotten how much I missed those old routines.

I don’t think life will ever be 100 percent the way it used to be. I doubt my sense of personal space will ever shrink down to what it once was, for example. And maybe that’s a good thing. We needed this wake-up call to evaluate public health and the pace of our lives. It’s good to take stock every now and then.

I’m also seeing people lose their tempers more and more. I think we got used to being a little bit mentally unhealthy during the worst of it. But now the expectation is that we should all instantly snap out of it, and when that doesn’t happen, it’s leading to frustration, anxiety, and anger.

If you’re feeling any of this, and it’s mild, consider exercising, taking a break from news and social media, prioritizing sleep, and/or slowly increasing social interaction again. But if you are still really struggling (which is nothing to be ashamed of), if you feel like your mental mercury is lower than it should be, if your appetite or sleep isn’t what it used to be, if you’re experiencing survivor’s guilt, if you’re losing interest in the world, or, worst case scenario, you’re thinking of suicide or violence, then you may want to talk to your doctor about therapy or medications.

We’ve all been through trauma at one level or another during this pandemic. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to others. We can get through this. I promise.

Update: This post was written weeks before I posted it on my blog, and since then, due to the highly contagious Delta variant, I’m back to wearing masks. We’re definitely still in the woods, folks. Please remain vigilant.

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Can People Get Any More Stupid?

Do the right thing.

Just when I think I’ve heard it all, I learn that there are actually people out there who will forge a COVID-19 Vaccine Card for you. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

Before you read any further, let me make something perfectly clear. Forging a federal document is a felony. So is possessing one. Don’t believe me? Check out this article here.

What an idiotic risk to take. Don’t do it. But if you are that foolish, the forging of a vaccine card is also borderline insane for a variety of reasons. First of all, here in the U.S. the vaccine is free. Whereas, according to this article at least, getting the forged card will cost you about 20 bucks.

So you’re telling me you’d rather spend 20 bucks than get a vaccine that just might save your life, and the lives of your loved ones, just so you can get into a concert or an amusement park without getting jabbed? You have devolved so completely as a human being that you prefer being a criminal to being healthy? You prefer the inconvenience of years of federal prison to the inconvenience of a needle stick that takes less than 30 seconds? You’d rather go to a concert and potentially infect everyone in your vicinity, as opposed to getting the vaccine and going legitimately? You’re willing to go to jail to make a political point instead of doing the right thing for your community?

What the HELL is wrong with you?

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine!


If there’s one thing our current technological age has taught us, it’s that you can feed, clothe, and entertain yourself without having to interact with the wider world. As a result, the need for healthy habits, chores, routines, and decent hygiene seem to have disappeared for some people. Social isolation is not just a pandemic thing. It’s been an increasing phenomenon since the turn of this century.

Hikikomori is a Japanese term for this phenomenon. It seems to be more prevalent in Asian countries, and more common among young adult males. Many of them say they can’t handle the extreme pressure that society exerts on them to be successful. They hole themselves up in one room, and don’t emerge except to use the bathroom. Many of these people reside in the homes of their parents. Others just simply live alone. It is estimated that there are about a million Hikikomori in Japan and about 320,000 Hikikomori in South Korea alone.

Many people start to isolate themselves because of shame or defeat. They feel they’ve failed to achieve goals. They’ve had broken relationships. They fail exams. They can’t get or keep a job. In cultures where there’s an expectation of cultural uniformity and social shame, the pressures are even more intense.

Some people reenter society on their own, but that seems to be extremely rare. Others need more help, such as in one extreme case where the young man stayed in his room for 10 years. There are now more communal living places that are set up to help resocialize people, give them counseling, prepare them for jobs, teach them, once again, how to talk to one another. That’s a good thing. But the need still seems to be outstripping the availability. And Hikikomori isn’t designated as a mental illness, like depression or agoraphobia, so there’s no standardized treatment at this time. Health care providers are struggling to understand what to do.

Unfortunately, this pandemic is not helping people who want to get back out into the world. It’s harder to find jobs. It’s harder to even find places that are open. It reinforces that feeling that being isolated is the only way to be safe. COVID-19 may even be encouraging more people to become Hikikomori.  

Most recovering Hikikomori seem to regret how much of their life was wasted in isolation. They miss out on so much. The internet can’t keep you warm at night. And yet it must be hard to seek the warmth of human connection when you can’t even remember how to talk to people. It’s a hard spiral to pull out of.

Not everyone can or should be prom king. There is a lot of middle ground between extreme introversion and extreme extroversion. The ruler by which we measure people should be more flexible, but also it should allow someone to say, without shame, “I need help.”

Sources for this post:

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What Will the New Normal Look Like?

We have all been changed by this past year.

I’ve heard much chatter of late as to what the world will be like once we’ve finally developed herd immunity from COVID-19. Some people seem to think everything will revert back to the way it was when we were all more naïve about viruses, their transmission, and their impact. I don’t see that as a possibility. First of all, sorry to say, but COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated. And other pandemics are sure to follow sooner or later.

So this gives me the opportunity to make some predictions about our new normal. I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog post someday and either laugh at my foolishness or think, “Dang, you’re good!” (That’s one of the drawbacks of blogging. There’s nowhere to hide from your past idiocy. But sometimes you also get to say “I told you so!”)

The reason I’m fairly certain that we will not return to days of yore is that when my boss suggested that we’ll all probably be vaccinated by the end of the month and should therefore be able to revert back to our old shift-change-in-a-teeny-tiny-little-room habit, I had a visceral reaction. Panic, if I’m honest.

First of all, due to HIPAA, we’ll never know for sure if everyone has been vaccinated. Second, as of this writing, the scientists are not yet certain that vaccinated people cannot still be carriers of COVID, and even they say that these vaccines are not 100% effective. The news changes daily, but until I have more reassurance than that, I don’t feel like marinating in my coworkers aerosol, thankyouverymuch.

The smallest lesson from this is that a lot of us are going to find it hard to unmask. I’m struggling with the concept, and I HATE wearing a mask. I’m tired of my glasses fogging, and I feel claustrophobic. But I do it because I know that it has been the safest, most responsible thing to do. It will be difficult for me to gauge when that safety and responsibility is no longer needed.

We’ve all been changed in various negative and positive ways by this past year. We’ve slowed down. We’ve isolated ourselves a lot more. Many of us have worked from home. We’ve all learned that it is possible to do these things. Some of us have liked it, and some of us have not. I suspect that a certain percentage of those who don’t like it will find that they like it a lot more when it becomes voluntary, and they’ll adopt a sort of hybrid lifestyle.

I suspect a lot of people who have been telecommuting will resist going back to the office 5 days a week. That, and businesses will have learned that there’s a lot less overhead to pay when you don’t have to maintain as much office space. And, surprise! The work still seems to be getting done.

On the real estate front, many people who have been allowed to telecommute have sold their houses in the big cities and have moved… well, anywhere they’ve wanted to move. A lot of people have gone rural. It’s going to be really hard to persuade them to come back. (It’s sort of the opposite of, “How will you keep them down on the farm, now that they’ve seen ‘Paree’?”)

And now that I’m more aware of virus vectors, I don’t see myself ever being as comfortable going to large concert venues again. Don’t get me wrong. I miss live performances. I just don’t miss sharing my airspace with a thousand strangers.

I’ll never get used to being crammed into a crowded elevator or subway again. When people cough, I’ll feel a flashing red alert inside my head. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy long air flights again. (But then, they’ve been going down hill since the 80’s, anyway.)

Now, when I forget my mask, I don’t get very far. I feel naked and exposed and vulnerable. I’m horrified. I turn right back around and I get it. I think it will take more than a minute for me to get past that feeling.

I suspect that this virus has changed us in ways that we have yet to see. Personally, I’ve enjoyed not having a single solitary cold all year long. I wouldn’t mind continuing to wear a mask in more crowded places if I could stay on that path.

I suspect, at a bare minimum, a certain percentage of us will continue to wear masks, at least some of the time. I also suspect that those of us who do are going to get bullied for it by various factions. But we are living in a different world now, and that’s just a hard fact.

These are my predictions. What do you think? In any event, time will tell.

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My Interpretation of ProLife

I try to work toward the common good.

The other day I was watching Biden’s speech on the one-year anniversary of the declaration of this pandemic. It was streaming live on Facebook, and as per usual, the comments were going by so quickly that I couldn’t keep up with them. I did note that some were really supportive, but a lot were from a hostile, angry, lunatic fringe. I decided to focus mainly on the speech.

I struggled to understand why what Biden was saying in this instance was so divisive. The man was talking about his plans, moving forward, to battle this pandemic, and said we all needed to work together for this to be a success. He hoped that the vaccine rollout would continue to be even faster than he first anticipated, and he prayed for those who have lost loved ones. He encouraged us to keep wearing masks and socially distancing, and hoped everything would be more normal by the 4th of July.

After hearing that speech, I felt compelled to throw in a comment of my own, so I typed:

“So nice to hear calm, reasonable, and reassuring words. We’re not out of the woods yet, but progress is being made.”

The comment did get a lot of likes, and also a few laughs, which confused me. Did they think I was joking, or was that their rude way of saying that they thought what I said was a joke? Whatever. Concentrating as I was on what was being said by the president, I didn’t notice the responses to my comment until long after the comment ability had been discontinued.

One guy chimed in:

“bet you do like being told what you are and aren’t allowed to do…..speak for yourself”

A second guy responded:

“uhmmm she is speaking for herself”

To which the first guy replied:

“lol…touche….hoping nobody would see that…bad wording….”

Reading this, I thought, “Why would you assume, based on my comment, that I like being told what I am and am not allowed to do? What prompted you to respond to my positive, yet relatively generic statement? That’s really weird.”

But like I said, comments where turned off by this point, so I kind of had to let it go.

Only I couldn’t. I lost sleep over it, even though it was rather trivial. The only way I was able to get any rest was by telling myself that I do, indeed, have a voice, and a forum on which to express myself. I’d be blogging about it in the morning.

So here’s the response I’d dearly love to give this guy:

I think it’s safe to say we can both agree that nobody likes being told what to do. But here’s where we part company: I most definitely do like being advised by scientists, experts, and leaders on what the best practices are to keep my community safe and healthy.

I was raised not to be selfish. I instinctively try to work toward the common good at every turn. Wearing masks sucks, yes, but I feel that the need not to kill anyone supersedes my desire not to have my glasses fog up every time I exhale.

I also stop at red lights, so as not to kill myself or anyone else. I wear seatbelts. I don’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. I don’t storm capitol buildings or try to overthrow duly elected presidents. I don’t cause riots, I don’t wave guns around in public places, I do my best to keep the environment safe for future generations, and I pay my taxes so that others can be helped in times of need. I also don’t tug on superman’s cape, because I’m just that considerate. If this pandemic has a silver lining at all, it’s that it has given us a visual indication of who is considerate and who is not.

My point is that when choosing to do things, I don’t think merely of myself and how the thing might inconvenience me. I think about the wider world. I think of consequences and how others will be impacted. I think of friends and family, young and old, people yet to be born, and total strangers, even those I suspect I wouldn’t like or agree with. That’s what you do when you’re truly pro-life. You look at the big picture, not just your very narrow, selfish agenda.

Hoo. Thanks for listening. I feel cleansed.

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Bits and Bobs about the COVID Vaccine

I have never been so relieved in my entire life.

Having just received my first dose of the Moderna COVID Vaccine, I realize that I’ve got so many disjointed thoughts on the subject that are bubbling up to the surface that it’s time to set them free.

First of all, so far, so good. I didn’t even feel the shot going in. Now, a day later, the injection site feels a little bruised, as if someone had given me a noogie. No big deal. And no other side effects. I’ll take a noogie over a horrible death, gasping for air, like a carp on a sidewalk, any day. Of course, your results may vary.

I was really impressed by how well the King County Public Health System is handling this herculean task. My vaccination site was a hockey stadium down the street from my house. I was able to book the appointment online, and I was in and out in 20 minutes. That includes the 15 minutes, post shot, that they made me sit there to make sure I had no adverse effects. They operated like a well oiled machine. Registration, vaccination paperwork, shot, post shot observation. Every single person was professional, patient, kind, and willing to answer questions. There was more staff on hand than patients, and they were cranking out the vaccines at lightning speed.

There is no charge for the vaccine here in the US, and if you get it at a doctors office, and your visit was only for the vaccine, you will not be charged for the visit, either. I can’t speak for other countries, of course.

Yes, I fully intend to continue to do the right thing and wear masks and socially distance until this pandemic is just a bad memory. It’s the responsible thing to do. And it also means you’re being a role model for others. Those who are refusing to do the same are being selfish and irresponsible.

I would like to point out that it’s important to be patient. There are a lot of vulnerable people out there who are getting vaccinated first. But if you can get vaccinated, please do so, for all of us. The sooner this public health crisis is addressed, the safer we all will be.

I am mildly frustrated that I see so many people online interrogating people who have had the great good fortune to get the vaccine. Even if it’s simply that they happened to walk into a pharmacy just as it was closing, and said pharmacy didn’t want the vaccine to go to waste, why is our first instinct to say, “Why were you able to get it when I can’t yet?” rather than, “Lucky you!”

It’s nobody’s business what someone else’s risk factors are. And when anyone gets the vaccine, it should be grounds for all of us to celebrate. The more people are vaccinated, the fewer people will get the virus, so it’s reducing your risk of getting COVID, too. That’s nothing but a good thing. So instead of quizzing people as to their status, give them three cheers.

And, lest we forget, let’s give all the front line workers three cheers for making the distribution of this vaccine even possible. These folks are half killing themselves so that we don’t die. That’s pretty darned heroic, if you ask me.

There are a lot of really wild rumors flying around about the vaccine. I can’t address them all here. Here’s an article that debunks a lot of common vaccine myths, which is not directed specifically at the COVID vaccine, but it will give you some idea about the foolishness that abounds.

Oh, but I have to talk about this one. If you think that the virus contains the foreskin of aborted male babies, or any version of that, you’re completely devoid of critical thinking skills. We’re giving out more than a million vaccines a day at this point. There’s not enough foreskin to go around. Trust me. I’ve done the math. And it would be a logistical nightmare to obtain said foreskin, and that would be impossible to hide from the public. I can’t even believe that there is a need for me to write this paragraph. I’m doing it for the lunatic fringe out there who are gullible enough to believe such absurdities.

And if you had been through that fast moving, efficient vaccination factory that I went through, you’d know that these millions of medical professionals aren’t conspiring against you to poison you or fill you with microchips. They’re too busy saving lives. Nor do they have time to suss out whether you’re a member of a minority to then inject you with poison or whatever outlandish thought you may be having along those lines. There’s no time for that, nor should there ever be.

Sheesh, people, look at the science.

And if you do get your first dose of the vaccine, follow through and get your second dose. Otherwise it has been wasted on your selfish butt when someone else who is really taking this seriously could have had it. I will say that I am more nervous about the second shot. In my very unscientific query of friends and family who have gotten these vaccines, none of them have mentioned having much problem with the first shot, but about a third of them felt like crap for about a day and a half after the second. No fun. But still, I maintain, it’s better than death.

Here’s a big one, so I will shout it: THE VACCINATION DOES NOT CONTAIN COVID. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO GET COVID FROM THE VACCINE. If you’re interested in how vaccines can be made to fight COVID without using actual COVID, check out this fascinating explanation of the Pfizer vaccine process. Nary a foreskin is required. Imagine that.

And I also suggest you listen to Dolly Parton on this subject. She’s persuasive and comforting as all get out. It makes you want to run out and get vaccinated right this very minute.

I will leave you with one last thought. When I got vaccinated, I actually got a little choked up. Tears in my eyes, for real. That’s because it has been one long scary year, and my life has only truly gotten good in the last six years, so I’d really, really like to stick around for as long as I can and enjoy more of it. As the needle entered my arm, I was thinking, “This shot is giving me a shot at living.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to science, and so relieved, in my entire life. I’m kind of proud of myself for not having a big old ugly cry right then and there.

If I can do it, so can you!

Hey! Look what I wrote!

The Upside to Face Masks

Have you gotten your annual winter cold?

Yeah, face masks fog up your glasses and make it a tiny bit harder to breathe. Yeah, some fools think they violate their rights, or that they send some form of political message. (Such as, “I care about your life?” Beats me.) Yes, it’s a pain when you forget to wear one and have to go back to your car or house to get it. And I haven’t seen the bottom half of the faces of my friends in so long I’ve forgotten how they look. But I’m beginning to realize that there are quite a few upsides to face masks.

For example, it suddenly occurred to me today that I haven’t gotten my annual nasty winter cold. I’ve come to resign myself to it every year, but so far, knock on wood, I’ve gotten off scot free. No complaints here! (And I haven’t had the flu in decades because I get the vaccine every year.) I may have to wear masks every Autumn and Winter from here on out.

I’ve discovered other benefits as well. Masks keep your face warm when it’s cold outside. I’ve also been using one to hide an unsightly pimple on my nose for the past week. Bonus points! And I can stick my tongue out at people I don’t like and get away with it. It’s very satisfying.

I never thought, this time last year, that I’d have a favorite mask or an obscene collection of masks, but I do. How quickly fashions change. How quickly priorities change.

Of course, the primary upside to face masks is their ability to protect those around you from this deadly pandemic. That alone should be all the reason one needs to wear one. Personally, I’ll move heaven and earth to avoid killing people, but that’s just me.

No, this isn’t me. Just some random pic from the internet, but I like her attitude!

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

Out of Eden Postponed

Paul Salopek must be the world’s most patient man.

I was practicing my daily self-torture by reviewing the numbers out of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. I realized that as of the time of this writing, there have been more than 1,900,000 reported deaths worldwide. That’s an horrific number, made even worse by the fact that it’s probably on the low side.

Suddenly I sat up straight in my chair, thinking, “My god. Where is Paul Salopek?”

I’ve blogged about Mr. Salopek a few times before. He’s the guy being sponsored by National Geographic to do the Out of Eden walk, and write dispatches along the way for our reading pleasure. His path follows the migratory route of humanity, and started in January, 2013.

He began his walk in Ethiopia, where humans first evolved. From there he went to Djibouti and crossed the Red Sea. That took 5 months. From there he spent 14 months walking through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel. It took him a further 20 months to make his way through Cyprus, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. From there he crossed the Caspian Sea and traveled along the Silk Road, through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. That took him 22 months. From Pakistan he went to India, and into Myanmar. That was a further 23 months, and then (insert sound of record scratch) he was stopped cold by the pandemic in March, 2020.

He’s been in Myanmar ever since. I was glad to see that he’s alive and well. At the time I wrote this, his latest dispatch was only a few days old. He’s passing the time by writing a book.

Salopek must be the world’s most patient man. Personally, as much as I adore travel, after about 12 days, I want to go home. For him, it’s been nearly 8 years, and he still has a long way to go. The entire journey was only supposed to have taken him 7 years.

His plan, from here, is to go up through Asia, across to Alaska, down the west coast of the United States, into Mexico and Central America, and then all along the West coast of South America, ending in Tierra del Fuego. But first he has to wait out this pandemic.

What must it be like, being away from loved ones that long, and only having the friends you meet along the road as you’re passing through? What must it be like to live with only what you can carry on your back? What happens to your concept of stability and permanence and home?

That, and his feet must be killing him.

Just as with the rest of us, I’m sure this pandemic took Salopek by surprise. But he seems to be coping with it. In the meantime, he has a lot of fascinating stories to share. I highly recommend that you check out the Out of Eden website and enjoy his journey vicariously just as I have done.

Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book!