Pandemic to Endemic

So it seems President Biden caused quite the stir when he said in his 60 Minutes interview that the COVID pandemic was over. Quite a few people – medical professionals and infectious disease experts included – disagree with him, and warn that COVID is still around, and that there’s still plenty of potential for new and dangerous variants to pop up.

Well, they’re right.

But so is President Biden.

The pandemic phase is over, and we’ve shifted into the endemic phase.

The time for containment is over. COVID is everywhere; there’s no justification in shutting schools and closing businesses. Nor is there much point in requiring masks or proof of vaccination. By now, everyone who is going to get the vaccine (and the boosters) has done so. And no one is going to tolerate masking up when they don’t have to. Our health care system can handle the current case load, and there are a number of good treatments should someone catch the disease. We can even scale back some of the emergency economic measures, too.

Yes, COVID is still around. It’s still killing people. People should still get booster vaccines as they become available, and put on a mask if they’re going into a health care facility of any kind (or if they want to, just in case). Yes, those who have “long COVID” will need the requisite long term care; that’s something that can be dealt with as it comes up.

BUT.

We can handle it. COVID isn’t scaring anyone any more. It’s time to shift from a preventive strategy to a mitigation one.

Enough panicking – it’s pointless.

Chicago – 8

A couple of leftovers to wrap this up.

I’d forgotten to include this in my comments on Wrigley Field, so here it is. The fans have a thing called “Moundball”, where they make a friendly wager on whether or not the ball will come to a stop on the pitching mound when the home plate umpire tosses it there at the end of a half-inning. It all seems to be in fun; I didn’t catch any actual betting. A good thing, no doubt; I’d hate to see the sports gambling sites start to take wagers on it.

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Chicago – 7

One could quite easily call the stretch of South Michigan Avenue from East Adams Street to the Chicago River “Museum Row”, since there are a couple of cool museums and attractions there, all north of the Art Institute.

The first stop is the Cultural Center, between Washington and Randolph Streets. The building used to be the city’s public library, but got converted into an all-purpose arts and culture facility in the 1990s. It hosts a wide assortment of lectures, film screenings, workshops, and performances – all free to the general public. There wasn’t much happening when I visited, and it seemed like a lot of the rooms were under renovation, since many places were closed off. However, the “holy crap, that’s awesome” highlights were still open. Continue reading

Chicago – 6

The Art Institute of Chicago is much easier to get to – it’s right there on Michigan Avenue. When I went, there was actually a small crowd waiting to get in. Seems they don’t open to the general public until 11 am (one hour after they let Members in), so there’s time to hang around if, er, when you get there early. Fortunately, it’s just south of Millennium Park and just north of Grant Park, so it’s a nice place to stroll around while the clock ticks.

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Chicago – 5

Every big city is going to have something in the way of a “natural history” museum. Chicago is no exception; the Field Museum is located smack in the middle of a park on the lake shore, on the wrong side of the Lake Shore Drive. Which makes it a bit inconvenient to get to, if you can’t figure out the bus routes and forget that you have a transit pass….and approach it from the side where the entrance happens to be closed that day….

But if you can pass – or at least bulldoze your way through – that intelligence test, the museum is well worth it. Continue reading

Chicago – 4

Given how many tour boats are on the Chicago River at any one time, it must be some sort of legal requirement that all visitors take a tour when they are in the city. There are several choices for type, length, and time of tour, but the most common ones are those that take you around the waterways to see the collection of interesting buildings in the downtown area. A primer, as it were – with examples – of 20th century American architecture.

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Chicago – 3

Remembering the walking food tour I took on my visit to Denver, I looked for similar tours in Chicago. A company called “Bobby’s Bike Tours” offered a couple. They looked good, so I booked a tour that combined a little bit of history with some of the city’s “iconic” foods.

Well, I did want to try deep dish pizza in the place that invented it, so….

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Chicago – 2

As I mentioned, Chicago is home to two major league baseball teams – the Cubs and the White Sox. The city is home to a few more professional sportsball teams, but I don’t care about them. So it was just a matter of finding a week when both teams would have some home games, and then scheduling my visit then.

While neither of their home stadia are in the downtown area, they are both convenient to mass transit. Wrigley Field was first on the schedule.

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Chicago – 1

So, I’m back. Like my last post didn’t give you a hint that I was going somewhere. And the title of this post ought to tell you where I went.

Why Chicago?

Well, I’d never been there before (changing planes at O’Hare doesn’t count). They’ve got a great science museum, a great art museum, and they’re home to two baseball teams. So why not? I’ll have plenty of things to see and do. Continue reading

Vacation Anxiety

For the first time in over three years, I will be actually going someplace for a real vacation. Not a day trip, not a weekend getaway, but an actual “Book a flight and hotel and activities” vacation.

And I’m nervous as all heck about it.

It’s not that I’m uncomfortable about flying or going to a place I’ve never been before; I can handle that. And I can read a map and use mass transit. It’s that I’m still an “old school” guy, and I want paper tickets for everything. I can cope with getting a QR or bar code to be scanned in, but did I remember to get them all? Where did I store them on my smartphone? Why do I have to get them separately from my reservation? Can’t you send them to me automatically – like you do with my purchase confirmation?

Then there’s packing. I always bring an extra pair of socks and underwear – but how many shoes will I need? What special personal care products should I bring? I’ll make a list, of course, but will I leave something off it? Does my bank have any ATMs in the area around my hotel? How much cash should I bring? How much cash should I reserve for the trip back? All those little things…..

Speaking of coming back, what do I need to take care of at home before I leave? Grocery shopping? Take out the garbage? Clean the bathroom? I should point out that I share an apartment with a guy who cannot be trusted to do any basic cleaning…. I’m not worried about mail or even e-mail; I’m not involved in anything important where I can’t be away from it for a week. Though there are a few things I need to do almost as soon as I get back.

Then there’s work. I’m not sure I can trust my co-workers to NOT leave me piles of crap on my desk. I have a lot of little responsibilities that they can easily ignore for a few days. Some of them, though, involve the maintenance of office equipment like the postage meter. Whenever there’s even a tiny hiccup, they come to me to deal with it rather than figure it out themselves. So, since I’m a nice guy, I want to make sure that everything is in good shape before I go…..

All these little, nagging things. I almost need a vacation from my vacation.