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Met a New Neighbor

Day 5990
vaccine day 39
28 days into retirement

Wednesday I was enjoying a rare morning of sleeping in. Until the doorbell rang at about 7:10am. For me, that’s late – usually have the coffee going by 6:30. I rolled out of bed, pulled on some clothes and headed down to answer the door. When I opened the door, I was greeted by one of the contractors working on my nearest neighbors kitchen. I looked down my driveway and saw a gray Impala kinda sorta parked across the end of my driveway. Contractor dude said ” I saw it all and told the driver he had to stop and let you know what happened.

Our house is situated on the outside of a 90 degree bend on our road. Looking out my living room window, I can see right down the center of our road as makes it’s way around the neighborhood. This kid (25-ish) must have been a wee bit late heading to work and there was a nasty thin coat of black ice on everything. He was carrying too much speed to make the turn, slid across the end of my driveway and took out the mailbox with the drivers side front bumper. He missed the turn by a pretty wide margin.

After I got the scoop from the contractor, I literally skated down my driveway towards the mailbox killer. WE went through the initial niceties and the driver asked me how I wanted to handle it. I just told him to head to the local Home Depot, pick up a new mailbox post and leave it up by my garage. He had also called the town police, so was waiting for them to show up before he left. I don’t know that it was necessary that he called the police, but I think he was just scared shitless that I was going to go ballistic or something. Totally not my style, but he didn’t know that. Geeze – it was the first time we met! The ironic part? Just before the town police showed up, a town plow truck came by and was spreading a generous dose of salt on the road. Great timing.

Neighbor (I can see their driveway out my living room window – they’re on another 90-ish degree bend) dropped off a new mailbox post at lunch time. Had it installed & concreted in place before the mailman came by with the days mail. But for the supports holding the post plumb as the concrete set, the mailman may not have noticed the change.

In other news, the insurance case from the Halloween 2019 Big Bang is settled. I received notice from my insurance company that they reached agreement with the plaintiff and the suit/claim is considered paid in full. That notice provided no details, so I called the claims adjuster to learn what I could. In spite of what was revealed at our depositions where the other driver basically admitted to entering the intersection on a red light, my insurance company paid out the full liability coverage on my account. The other drivers insurance also paid out the full amount of of their insurance. My company’s cost? $!00K. Other company’s cost? $25K. And the other driver admitted to basically running a red light. I will never understand insurance settlements.

Last bit of news. That vaccine trial I’m in is for the Johnson & Johnson version of the vaccine. I saw that they announced yesterday that it is definitely a one shot vaccine with better than 90% efficacy. A one & done vaccine could be a game changer for kicking this virus’s butt. I just hope I got the vaccine and not the placebo.

Go Bills!!! Lets beat the Ravens and get to the AFC Championship.

Tempus Fugit

Day 5987
vaccine day 36
25 days into retirement

Wow. Somehow got sucked into binge watching CNN for 12 -14 hours a day. To dispatch with the events of Jan 6, all the shit that led up to it and all that’s happened since – Trump deserves WAY more punishment than he will likely get. Crazy-assed Trumpublicans saying that NOW is the time for unity and moving forward. What about the last 4 years? Wasn’t that a good time for unity? They want unity now just to try and get some mercy for their complicit asses. The quickest path to calmness and unity is for ALL those complicit in the actions of Jan 6 be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

For Trump, the 25th Amendment is too easy a way out. Censure is a joke. Impeach, convict and permanently ban him from ever holding ANY elective office (even town board member of whatever unfortunate community will take him in) and also a life time ban of all social media and NO SELF PARDON. Same goes for all people that spoke at that godforsaken rally. Every one of them should be booted from office and banned forever. They were all involved in an effort to round up and possibly kill the vice president and speaker of the house at a minimum. These assholes can’t be trusted in government ever and better not get pardons.

Trump also needs to be given a shot of some of that CIA truth serum then interviewed (interrogated?) about the election. That will be the only way he’ll ever utter the truth. While they’re at it, can they find out the truth about those Russian prostitutes he allegedly had a go with? That would go a long ways to explaining his sucking up to Putin.

Now that I’m all worked up to a fever pitch, I can safely say that this trial vaccine I got last month has had zero negative effects on me. My arm was kinda sorta sore for a day or two after the initial shot, but since then, no ill effects.

Last week when I went in to the clinic for my 29 day follow up visit, I had my temperature taken (90.1 on my forehead – it was cold out!), then sat down in the waiting area. Across from me was a guy in my Thursday night bowling league. We were able to establish that we were both there as subjects for the Covid vaccine, then he got called off to his appointment. Thursday at bowling we were actually on adjacent pairs, and were both assigned the front tables (story for another time), so I slid over to his table and we compared notes. He and his wife got their shots a month before me. Jim said he had a little arm tightness the next day, his wife had little to no reaction. Now, his wife works in a medical clinic a couple floors above the research labs, so she was recently made eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine. The trial folks uncovered her double blinds and discovered she’d been given the placebo. She immediately dropped out of the trial and got herself shot up with the Pfizer vaccine. Still had very little side effects from the vaccine. So from my point of view, the vaccine is a solid, low risk option that I would encourage any healthy individual to get. I’m in Group 1C, so here in NY likely won’t be eligible until April or May unless the vaccination rate picks up. Hope I go the real thing in this trial!!!

Dump Trump = make him feel the consequences of his attempted coup. Then let the Manhattan DA sink his teeth into him and have at him for tax fraud and all the other illicit crap he’s done in his real estate “empire”.

Merry Christmas!

Day 5969
Plague day 278, vaccine day 18
7 days into retirement

Well Merry Christmas everyone! Or Happy Hanukwanzmas! That at least fits in 3 of the holidays we’ll see this month.
After a quiet morning of buttermilk buckwheat blueberry pancakes, we’ll be spending the afternoon over at our eldest sons house with his nuclear family. Only 6 people all told and we are confident in everyone having followed separation protocols. Zach works from home, the kids are either in school or studying at home and Jill is a hygienist so she’s wrapped up in at least two layers of protection all day. Locally, dental offices are not doing the polishing part of the routine cleaning to reduce aerosols.

No real news on the vaccine front. Haven’t felt a thing since the minor arm pain I practically had to talk myself into. But after hearing the range of effects other folks have experienced, I still seem to be on the spectrum of typical responses. So, maybe? This was also a one shot vaccine – no booster needed a month later. Have a follow-up on Jan 5 where they’ll take a little blood. Maybe I’ll find out about any potential antibody response a few days after.

Time to go wrangle those pancakes for brunch. Happy Holidays y’all. Stay safe!

Not bad so far

Day 5953
Plague day 262, vaccine day 2
9 days left till retirement

Still left wondering if I got placebo or vaccine. My left arm is still mildly sore where the injection was done, but nothing like I experienced with Shingrix. No fever, no aches – but I didn’t get those with my flu shot this year either. Didn’t have injection site sensitivity either, so who knows? I will keep my fingers crossed and continue behaving like I have – avoid crowds, mask in public, lots of hand washing.

Well – avoid crowds except for our nieces wedding up in Lake Placid this weekend. It’s a small affair at a small lodge. Suggested dress code was black tie with optional festive accents. So I have a Christmas tree tie tack with sparkly little gems for ornaments ($9 on Etsy and the spousal unit can use it as a brooch afterwards) and also have a mask with a goofy Rudolph face.

This ought to be fine for a wedding, eh?

Being the eldest of my generation at this shindig, I think I get a little leeway. If that mask gets the stink eye from my sister-in-law (mom of the bride), I’ll switch to one of my Buffalo Bills masks. And if THAT doesn’t go over well, I still have the (boring) basic black option.

The one good thing about this whole black tie stuff? Had to go buy a white shirt. So I took the opportunity to get one that actually fits my neck. At several recent weddings & funerals, my go-to shirt is a lovely bright yellow piece that I wear with a paisley tie that matches it really well. Problem is that shirt has a 17.5 inch neck and I can never button the top button. That forces me to go semi-casual and use the tie to kinda sorta close the collar. This time, I actually measured my neck and bought an appropriate sized shirt. With a 19.5 inch neck. It actually gives me enough room to get a finger in the collar while it’s buttoned up and it won’t choke me. All that and I’m actually 30 pounds lighter than when I wore this at a nephews wedding last year. Bad part is the body of the shirt is HUGE (3XL, when an XL fits me fine) just to get that neck size. And no – custom tailored was not an option. This shirt may be a one & done. Only one nephew left to get married and the grand kids are YEARS away from that kind of nonsense.

Gonna take my sore arm and get back to work. But I could totally golf with it like this, except for the snow we’re getting this morning. Dang it. Still have hopes of getting out next Friday to celebrate my first day of retirement.

I’ve been poked, swabbed & shot

Day 5952
Plague day 261, perceived plague day – 82,203
10 days left till retirement

Showed up for my appointment for intake processing, a final line of questioning and drawing of 3 vials of blood. Also had BOTH nostrils violated (but not the internal eye massaging variety), and finally got my shot. For the record, this trial is for the Janssen / J&J version of the vaccine. This one is a single shot vaccine, so no booster shot in the immediate future. So far, 5 hours post injection, my left (non-dominant) arm is maybe a little sore, but I’m not feeling the kind of tightness I had from the Shringrix vaccine. I am REALLY hoping I didn’t get the placebo, but it was a 50/50 chance.

I do know that if/when a vaccine is approved for use here in the U.S. and my age/co-morbidity group is eligible, they will uncover the double blind and let me know if I got vaccine or saline. At least then I have the option of really getting a vaccine.

Got a little swag bag as a parting gift. It includes a nasal swap kit in the event I note any real Covid symptoms, a thermometer, pulse oximeter, gobs of paperwork, a t-shirt that’s too small (anyone wear a mens large t-shirt and looking for work out clothes? It’s got the RCR logo on it – pretty spiffy).

Also had to download a little app on my phone that will be used for communications between the study controllers and their loyal subjects (all us human pin cushions). Gotta say – of all the participants I saw today, I think I was in the running for youngest. Looks like the senior crowd is willing to take a small chance to get an early vaccine.

I was going to ask if we were to be reimbursed for mileage, etc. as the test site is about a 30 mile round trip for me. Turns out we are paid $120 per visit. Should be 8 total visits, so that’s not quite $1K for the pocket. I may have to get a new bowling ball!! Might also look into any other studies these folks are doing that I can get in on. For $1K a pop? I’ll do drugs for them!

Gonna Get Shot

Day 5947
Plague day 256, perceived plague day – 81,702
15 days left till retirement

Just got a call from Rxxxxxxr Clinical Research. They are moving the vaccine trial up a wee bit. Instead of meeting with them on the 14th for the pre-vax interview and again on the 21st for the actual 1st shot, both those meetings are happening on the 8th. Again, I hope I get the real juice.

By 10:30 that morning my body could be cranking out antibodies against this Covid crap. Hoping the side effects wear off in a couple days because on the 10th we are off to Lake Placid Lodge for a wedding. (Small affair, immediate family only, just the nieces favorite place on earth apparently.) I want to take the spousal units car for two reasons – 1 – so she can drive and 2 – it gets 50+mpg compares to my trucks 20ish mpg. We could take her car there & back on less fuel than it would take my truck just to get there. Weather looks ok (so far) – no real need for 4 wheel drive.

Almost time for bowling. Better wrap this up and go share the happy news with the boss. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled.

My People

Day 5945
Plague day 254, perceived plague day – 81,493
17 days left till retirement

So earlier today, as I was doing the work from home thing, I took a little break and headed to the local grocery store to pick up some things I needed for dinner. Making “Chicken Chipotle Chowder” from an older ‘Cooking Light’ issue. Had to get hominy, chipotles and some red skin potatoes. Got to the store, (a Wegmans actually, perennially on the Top 100 places to work list and host to some really rabid fans. Rochester born & bred, Like Kodak, Xerox, French’s, Ragu . . .)


Anyhow. Got to the store a bit before noon. As I’m approaching the vestibule/lobby/entrance, it occurred to me – these are soon to be my people. Retirees heading out to run errands when ever the hell they like, because their schedule is almost limitlessly flexible. Only I’m significantly younger than the rest of my peer group. So I got that going for me.

See that number up there? 17 Days left till retirement. Two of them are this weekend, four of them are a trip up to Lake Placid for my nieces wedding. That leaves 11 days of actual work, and you know I am not doing diddly that last day. And like the last guy that retired from our lab (back in April), no way we’re having a good-bye lunch, because our lab is in a NY Orange Zone (has nothing to do with the Syracuse Orangemen) and there is no indoor dining. It’s also December and there is no outdoor dining. So I may just drift away at lunchtime after getting in a few good-byes and that’ll be it. Hopefully there will still be bowling to look forward to that evening, or I’ll really be sad. Also looking into getting trained as a school bus driver just to keep me out of trouble. The spousal units school is apparently begging for drivers. We’ll see.

One other bit of good news – I signed up for a Covid vaccine trial over the summer. This one is for a Johnson & Johnson effort I believe. It was put on hold for a bit till they could figure out why one subject got oddly ill – turned out to be not related to the vaccine. But now they are back at it. I go in Dec 14 for a once over by the folks running the show, then Dec 21 I get my vaccine. Or placebo. Whichever. It’s a 70/30 split (vaccine/placebo). That’s roughly 2 to 1 odds that I get a vaccine at roughly the same time the first of the FDA vaccines is rolled out. According to the study rules, they will actually uncover the double blinds a few months into the study, so we’ll know who got what. Then if we are offered a vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna or whoever else has one ready, we are free to take it. So it’s not like getting the placebo is a 25 month ban on getting ANY vaccine.

So maybe I’ll get a vaccine a little early, but I won’t be blocked from getting a different one. Could come in handy driving around a bus full of little germ factories!

Deposed

Day 5927
Plague day 236, perceived plague day – 80,913
35 days left till retirement

Finally got to do the “examination before trial” or deposition, for the accident I was involved in 10/31/2019. Yup – over a year ago.

Anyhow. It all went pretty well. Did it via zoom, which one of the lawyers was not too familiar with. What ever microphone he was using sucked and he knew it. A few times I had to ask him to repeat his question because I caught about every third word.

The person suing was a passenger in the other vehicle. Had some significant injuries – broken ribs and some leg issues as a result of getting tossed around like a rag doll. I get it, it was a huge impact and they were 78 years old at the time.

I testified about how I saw the events. I was heading east towards the intersection. I saw a green light. Was in the left lane, and the car in front of me put on his left turn signal. I wanted to go straight, I saw a truck next to me had moved to the far right lane to make a turn, so I signaled and moved to the center lane. I last saw the traffic light about 200 feet before the intersection, then was making sure I was clear to change lanes.

After changing lanes, I turned back to face front, and there was an SUV approaching from my right. As I told the lawyer, I didn’t even have time to swear and we impacted. Hugely. My truck was totaled, the other SUV was totaled, but the other driver and I walked away relatively unscathed.

The most interesting part of the deposition to me was the other drivers testimony. The relevant part was that driver saying the light for their direction had changed from yellow to red just as they approached the intersection. They came to a stop, waited a few seconds then took off.

Let that sink in. Light turned red, they waited a few seconds, then started off. I don’t know about where you live, but here, red lights last AT LEAST 30 seconds, not “a few”.

I last saw my light about 200 feet from the intersection and it was green. Even traveling 30 mph (44 feet per second), it would take me 5-ish seconds to get to the intersection. Kinda matches up with the other drivers testimony. That can’t be a coincidence.

I said nothing at the time, neither did my lawyer. We just let that dog lie. The way the testimony was offered was a huge benefit to me and my insurance company. It’s circumstantial, but it sure looks like the other driver was at fault. I did confirm with my lawyer that he caught that little tidbit, and he was all over it. Also didn’t want to offer up a chance for them to change their mind. Glad we were thinking alike.

Sadly, could still be months before this is settled. Was hoping for sooner, but at least I feel better about my own lack of culpability.

On a brighter note, it Friday!!!!!

But of Course!

Day 5925
Plague day 234, perceived plague day – 80,623
37 days left till retirement

Remember when we got back from our trip to Mississippi and found that our washing machine died? Well, in that same “But of COURSE!” department, our freezer decided it wanted to hit retirement before I did.

Of course this was after a big shopping trip with 40+ pounds of meat (including the Thanksgiving day Turkey!) having just been loaded in over the weekend.

Monday morning I went downstairs to grab some chicken thighs for dinner. Everything looked fine. Tuesday morning, I went down to grab a couple of steaks for dinner last night. Everything in the freezer was covered in a kind of hoarfrost, and some unfortunate items in the door shelves were NOT frozen. I closed the door, then tried to re-open it. You know how after you close the freezer door and try to open it again right away it’s really hard to open? Yeah – no so much.

I occurred to me that I may have not completely closed the door the previous morning. So I got the steaks, closed the door and let it be for a bit. Got to work, called the spousal unit and got her up to speed. Her thoughts? It’s 35 years old – lets just replace it. Can’t say I disagreed with that sentiment. The challenge now? Find something in stock. Much of what I looked at was “we can deliver in 2 weeks” or worse. I have a truck, I can haul it myself – I just need to find one.

Eventually did, at a somewhat near to me Lowes – 8.6 miles according to Google Maps, and limited expressway driving. Made the trip, secured the freezer, Lowes staff helped me load it on my truck. Got home and got it unloaded by myself – not actually that hard. Then had the common sense to call my son and get his help getting this thing downstairs.

There were 3 or 5 separate challenges to getting this thing down to the basement, but we tackled them all. Got the food transferred, except for some chicken drumsticks from 2017 and several bags of beef suet I was saving to give the birds in the winter, since 2015. Also got the old freezer hauled upstairs and into the garage. I’d like to haul it to the local metal scrap yard, but I have to get the freon reclaimed from it first. May just take it to the local Ecopark and pay the $20 fee and let them deal with it. At least the freon will be properly handled.

43.5 years ago, lost in the woods in the state of misery we find this guy:

July 1977, Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.

Paid for a bunch of my college edumacation. Probably worth it.

2 New Records!!

Day 5923
Plague day 232, perceived plague day – 79,508
39 days left till retirement

First, let me get the last of the political crap out of the way. I fervently hope (and expect) that all the Trumped up pseudo-legal challenges the Presidents sycophants amount to a big bag of nothing. I do wonder if Trump will then go to a scorched earth policy as it pertains to his lame duckedness and any resemblance to a smooth transition of power.

Then I hope the Southern District of New York (Manhattan Federal court basically) has a field day with all they’ve learned about the soon to be ex-president, his business dealings and his taxes. Maybe Trump can be the star of a re-vamped “Orange is the New Black”. Also curious about who he owes that $400M to that’s coming due soon. Not my problem.

Enough. Now on to the records. Weather yesterday was glorious in these parts. highs in the low 70’s both days this weekend! I was able to clean up the majority of the leaves in the yard Saturday. Raked out all the foundation beds Sunday, trimmed the hostas & day lilies and pruned the tree hydrangea. Then made a bunch more passes to suck up all those leaves with the lawnmower again. There are mountains of leaves all along our street waiting for the town to come along with their giant vacuums. Except for the oak trees that seem to hold on to their leaves till February, the vast majority of leaves are down in our area.

Then, in setting record #1, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and put up our Christmas lights. This pleased the spousal unit to no end. She is a Christmas freak! Record #2? First time ever I worked up a sweat hanging the Christmas lights.Many trips up & down the ladder to get them arranged on the first floor gutter, then got to hang out on the lower level roof to hang the lights on the 2nd story gutter. Brilliant sunshine on a black shingled roof? Toasty!! And – on half that second story job there’s about 2 feet of roof available to stand on. Don’t know how I was ever comfortable up there painting the house twice. Was definitely younger and less risk averse I guess. Now all I need is a decent day in January so I can take the darn things back down.

I did test the lights last night, but there is no way on earth we are officially turning them on until the night of Thanksgiving. I think. We’ll see what my Christmas freak says.