Thursday, February 25, 2021

My Awesome, Smithsonian-Worthy Pandemic Experience Getting My First Vaccine

Welcome to the blog that was summarily dismissed by the Smithsonian Institute for who knows why? I'm Anne Johnson (really), and today I'm going to walk through my experience getting my first COVID-19 vaccine! I know this process varies from state to state, so your experience might be different. Up to a point. And then your experience will be exactly the same as mine. We'll get to that.

Step One: I signed up online with the state of New Jersey's official COVID website. I put in all the info, like being a teacher, and a lady of a certain age and weight. I got told I was 1C. Then I heard nothing else.

Step Two: My younger, more computer-savvy colleagues found a county registry. It was through Cooper Hospital system, which I don't use. But I registered anyway, and they gave me a date of March 27. I think they were fast-tracking people already in the Cooper system, because all of my younger, more computer-savvy colleagues got earlier appointments.

Caveat: Your experiences of signing up will vary. I had lots of help.

Step Three: On a Saturday afternoon a month ago, a younger colleague sent another link in a text message. This was through the hospital system I do use. And the vaccine site was closer too! I went through the online registration and got a date of February 24 ... more than a month sooner than the first site where I registered.

Step Four: I fretted and fretted that something had gone wrong with the online registry, because I grew up in the 20th century, and we used telephones and paper.

Step Four: On Vaccination Day, Mr. J and I drove to the vaccination site at Moorestown Mall. (I signed him up the same time as myself. Wasn't that smart?) The gig was set up in the empty Lord & Taylor department store. Enter one door, exit another. We parked and went to the entrance.

Step Five: A member of the National Guard met us at the door, made sure we had an appointment, took our temperatures, squeezed a little hand sanitizer in our palms, and directed us to a clearly-marked line.

Step Six: There were about 25 people ahead of us in line, but the line moved quickly. We were in it about ten minutes. Then we came to another member of the National Guard, who asked us if we were able to come back on March 17. When we said yes, he directed us to the numerous and well-run registration kiosks, all of them manned by the National Guard.

Step Seven: We both signed in with an extremely mannerly and cute National Guardsman (cute even through the mask!). Can you believe it? The magical Internet had indeed saved my applications! A few questions, driver's license, insurance card (optional), sign here and here. We were then directed to clearly-marked vaccination bays, where right next to each other, we

Step Eight: answered questions about how we were feeling, whether or not we had COVID, if we were allergic to ingredients in shots, and had we had any shots in the last two weeks? (I'm pretty sure they weren't talking about whiskey.) This was the only place manned by health care workers not in fatigues. My vaccinator's name was Kelly, and she loved my fairy sweater.

Step Nine: Here is the part that you and I will have in common... I got a shot! Little dab of alcohol, little pierce, band-aid, informed that it was the Pfizer item, told to follow the clearly-marked yellow pavers to the waiting area.

Step Ten: We were directed by another courtly National Guardsman to seats that were six feet apart. We were given a sticky note with 4:35 on it -- the time we could leave. We sat there until that time, and then we were dismissed. We were asked if we wanted to make our next appointment online. OH no. So we were directed through another clearly-marked area where a nice National Guardsman made our next appointment, which is on St. Patrick's Day.

Step Eleven: Out the door, with actual paper cards to bring with us to our next appointment!

The entire process, from going in the door to leaving, took about 45 minutes.

Readers, I am used to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Camden County justice system, where I go way too often for jury duty. Both of these entities are maddening in their inefficiency. People line up at NJDMV at 5:00 in the morning. I kid you not -- I did it with Heir last summer.

This National Guard dodge was completely different. I never saw anything move more smoothly. I felt like my taxpayer dollars were being well-spent. Additionally, there were lovely motivational posters hanging everywhere, but the signs said not to take any photos.


Mr. J and I emerged into a seasonably warm late winter afternoon, not a cloud in the sky. 

That was yesterday. Today I feel fine. My arm isn't even as sore as it gets with the seasonal flu shot. I don't have much appetite. That's the only change I see.

It does appear that my school district will be hauling the teenagers back to school very soon. I feel like I'm ready, though. I've done my part.

I have no idea how to cancel my March 27 appointment. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

More Free Advice: Have One? Get One!

 Welcome to the latest installment in "The Gods Are Bored!" Today, more helpful advice from someone who has been around the block so often that there's a groove in the sidewalk.

When I was a kid, I recall that my parents got a new kitchen appliance that they absolutely adored. It was an electric can opener.

The thing was a marvel. The can stuck to a magnet, and when you pushed down on a lever, it rotated and got cut open. There was a whirring sound that the cats learned quite quickly.

This was back in the 1960s, when even small appliances were built to last. If we got the can opener when I was five, we still had it and used it when I left for college.

I don't recall anyone ever cleaning it. My mother's kitchen was a multi-hazard zone.

My second year of college I moved into an apartment, and I got one of these lil babies, probably at Goodwill.

Reader, this gadget is a marvel. It clamps down on a can, and you turn the crank (seen in rear of unit in photo), and the can opens. There is no sound, and you can immerse it in water and wash it after every use.

I won't say these puppies don't wear out. I think I'm on my second one in 40 years.

Caveat: For some reason this will not open Hunts brand cans. The problem is the can, not the opener.

I love my hand-crank can opener! I've never been the slightest bit tempted to purchase an electric one. And until a helpful reader pointed out that one of these is good to have in an electrical outage -- well, I've used it so long that I didn't even think about that!

Short sermon, free advice: If you don't have a hand-crank can opener, pick one up at any store. You'll have more space on your countertop, and in the event of a blackout you'll be able to get those baked beans open in a jiffy.

You know what I love about this blog? One day we'll talk to a Great Goddess, and the next we'll evaluate minor kitchen tools. Anything and everything, that's me.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Buy Bins or Barrels

 Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," natural disaster edition! I'm your host, Anne Johnson, and today (for once) I'm going to be serious.

When the forecasters began to predict Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I did something that caused no end of derision within my household: I emptied all the bins of fairy costumes and Christmas ornaments and school mementos, and I put all the empty bins out in the back yard, topless.

When the storm clouds gathered and the wind picked up, I filled the bathtub and the washing machine to the tip top, and I filled every large pot to the brim with water. I used the hose to fill the bins.

And oh, was I ever disrespected for it! Mr. J and The Fair thought I was being alarmist and ridiculous.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Samhain and wiped out power for 8.7 million East Coasters. A cold front came after the storm (really cold). Some people were without power for a month. A colleague of mine lost her whole house to the ravenous waves.

Turns out I didn't need all that water I poured in the bins and pots. But what if I had needed water?

Water is taken for granted in most of America. You turn on the tap, and out it comes. You flush the john, and off goes the waste. You jump in the shower, and voila! Minty fresh!

But what happens if your water supply is cut off? I mean, open the tap and nothing comes out? This could happen anywhere.

Even with low-flow toilets, you need about two gallons of water to flush. This was what I had in mind when I filled all those bins. Three people were living in my house during Hurricane Sandy, and I would need to flush the toilet at least once a day. Even my meager math skills were sufficient to see how much water we would need.

And then there's tooth-brushing, and minimal washing, and just plain old drinking.

Humans can survive a few weeks without heat or food, but nobody's gonna go that long without drinking water. And let me tell you from experience: Life with a restricted water supply is really, really different than what we take for granted here in the USA.

Call me paranoid or alarmist if you like, but I know the location of every spring in my vicinity, the flow of the spring, and ease with which I could fill water vessels from its banks. I hope I never have to put this knowledge to the test, but maybe I will. Gods know I won't give myself much of a chance of survival if I have to drink New Jersey spring water straight from the ground, but I sure could flush a toilet with it, or boil it, or just take a leap of faith and drink it.

My free advice to you, valued reader, is this: When a weather forecast is very dire, and the worlds "widespread power outages" are used, that's the time when you should get out your bins and your pots, and fill your tub and your washing machine. It's even better if you have a rain barrel or a few trash cans that are on the clean side. What harm does it cause if you fill up all those vessels against a dire emergency?

If you live in a relatively moist area (like New Jersey), take a look around your basic neighborhood, within walking distance. Is there a water source? How clean is it? Could you carry water back from it to flush your crapper? These are things you should consider.

This preparation won't keep you from having to stand in line for bottled water, but it will be very helpful in keeping yourself and your bathroom clean.

As long as we're on the subject, latrine pits can be dug if the ground isn't frozen. Not pleasant to contemplate, but hey. Our ancestors survived it. Heck, I survived it.

Water is more valuable than petroleum, diamonds, sportscars, and mansions. Make sure you're prepared in an emergency. If you don't have bins full of fairy costumes and Christmas ornaments, go out and buy a few. Bins, that is ... not fairy costumes. It's no skin off your nose if you find yourself with a well-watered lawn in the wake of a disaster. But it could be quite dire to find yourself waterless while everyone else around you is waterless too.

This advice is offered free of charge, because you are all such wonderful people! Peace out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Rush To Judgment

I heard about Rush Limbaugh before I heard him on the radio.

And the first thing I heard about him is that he said that the vast majority of Americans are conservative. Which had to be true, because Rush said it.

Rush, in this case, was whispered with reverence. The hapless soul doing the whispering was my Uncle Foggy, who had tuned in to the radio one day in 1988 and never looked back.

By 1988 Uncle Foggy had been unemployed for 10 years. It wasn't his fault that he lost his job. His line of work (lamp manufacturing) was off-shored. He was in his 50s when he got laid off, and then as now, a person that age wasn't going to waltz into another good-paying job.

So Uncle Foggy moved in with my grandparents in their home on Polish Mountain and took care of them as they aged. After they died, my dad and my other uncle demanded that our family allow Foggy to live out his days in the house on Polish Mountain without having to pay rent.

This was not a hardship for me. I loved my uncle Foggy, and I loved going to see him. He was well-read and affable, and a good cook to boot. Not a bad senior citizen to subsidize with my private income, in the form of taxes on an appreciating property.

And then came Rush.

My formerly affable uncle became argumentative. Snarky. He said mean things about liberals and feminazis. He reserved special ire for people sucking the government's tit.

The man was living on $500 a month in Social Security, as well as Medicare and Medicaid.  If not for the privately-subsidized family roof over his head, he would have needed food stamps and SSI. But he couldn't see that Rush (reverent whisper) was talking about people like him.

Point of pride, I have never listened to more than 10 minutes of a Rush Limbaugh broadcast. I knew poison when I heard it. The inside jokes, the "we get this because we're special" jeers. The predator seeking lonely rural people and then inviting them to his toxic worldview with chummy hatred.

I stopped going to see Uncle Foggy. To me that poor man stands as a microcosm of the brutal fallout from the ending of the Fairness Doctrine. So many people who should have known better got sucked into the Limbaugh orbit, and that orbit spins directly into what happened on January 6 of this year.

Therefore, I, Anne Johnson, Grand Wazoo of the Independent Republic of Johnsonia, hereby decree GREAT REJOICING at the DEATH AT A RELATIVELY EARLY AGE of the MENACE known as RUSH LIMBAUGH. To Hell with him, and speedily!

I would love to think that this PUSTULE ON THE BUTTOCK OF SOCIETY won't be replaced in the American psyche, but alas, HE HAS SPAWNED A DEVIL ARMY OF CLONES. With more to come, I'm sure!

It's ironic that this creature died of cancer. His words were cancerous, they spread throughout the land, and they POISONED THE WELL.

The Christians get him for eternity. And if that isn't a good pitch to become Pagan, I don't know what is.

WOOT WOOT! Let's get this party started!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Trouble in Johnsonia

 It's not easy running a nation, even if that nation is a quarter acre. We've had some trouble here in the Independent Republic of Johnsonia.

On Groundhog Day, which is also Imbolc, our resident groundhog emerged from his lair, saw his shadow, and became furious at the thought of six more weeks of winter.

He lumbered out into the yard and called together a pack of savage (but not particularly intelligent) possums.

The groundhog whipped the possums into a frenzy by suggesting that after six more weeks of winter they would be dead of starvation. They wouldn't have their lives anymore! Then the groundhog pointed at the Gray House (where live the Wazoo and First Man) and said that the possums should go in there and help themselves to the foodstuffs!

In the darkness of night (because that's when possums operate), the beasts attempted to storm the Gray House. The only sentinel on alert that night was Gamma the cat, who fears his own shadow and is not inclined to move far from the fireplace. He was no help.

Fortunately, possums will take the course of least resistance. Finding the doors locked on the house, they raided the trash cans. And since it was just shy of pickup day, the cans yielded the kind of dross that possums just crave. They sated themselves on chicken bones, potato peels, and some pork roll that had grown a patina of furry mold, and then they dispersed. Left a mad mess behind, of course.

No harm, no foul. Just possums being possums.

But that groundhog. He's a troublemaker. He's gotta go.

We held a Tribunal about the groundhog. Rude Gamma just slept right through it. Nevertheless, the vote was unanimous. Groundhog has got to go.

It's a matter of borrowing a have-a-heart trap, luring that dangerous groundhog into it, and carting said hog deep into the Pine Barrens, where he will trouble the Independent Republic of Johnsonia no more.

That groundhog has been a source of frustration for years, but this whole possum thing was a bridge too far. Know what I mean?

Anne Johnson

Grand Wazoo, Independent Republic of Johnsonia