Tag Archives: COVID

Carrots and Sticks

27 May

The ongoing push to get people vaccinated in the US shows a lot of incentives, which are not working as well as they hoped. I’m not interested in the pros/cons of vaccination, but rather in how the government pushes for compliance.

Even before the epidemic, there was a growing number of “anti-vaxxers,” people who were more concerned with the side effects of the drugs (usually autism) versus the prevention of the disease. However, they were a small minority, and most people tended to ignore them, some were just more cautious about how they got vaccinated. When I used to work in hospitals, I was required to have my flu shot every year, and since I tended to get more sick almost every year, I frequently forged the paperwork to make it look like I had it.

So I sympathize with those who have questions about the vaccine. The government screwed up their COVID response from the beginning. Instead of telling people, “we need our limited supply of masks for hospitals,” they said, “masks don’t work.” Then they do work. Now the government says, “vax up for safety,” at the same time, “keep wearing masks even if you’re vaccinated.” Then “it’s okay to be maskless if you’re vaccinated.” Good job following the science, guys!

So I’ve seen highway signs, billboards, print ads, video ads, radio ads, all saying “get vaccinated.” They’ve appealed to your sense of social responsibility. They’ve appealed to getting back to normal. They’ve appealed to your health. And they’ve achieved 50% compliance throughout the US.

Some people are lauding this achievement; so many more are yelling at “why isn’t it going faster?” Looking at the CDC’s Vaccination Trends, they’re still getting just under 2 million doses per day. That’s pretty good. But it’s obvious that everyone who wanted a shot has gotten one. That’s not good enough for many authorities. My own company will not let us take off our masks in our building until we hit a higher level (currently at 37%). They’re giving people free sandwiches to get vaccinated, they’re giving them discounts, even paying them!

We’ve been beaten with the stick of mandatory masking and limited business contact for over a year. However, with all the carrots to get vaccinated, it was only last week that someone suggested to the CDC that maybe people didn’t like wearing masks. For me, that’s the big incentive. The places I go have been open for sometime, limited or not, so that’s not been an issue. If I could show a pin and it says “I don’t need to wear a mask,” then I would get it. But we get back to why the government initially told people not to wear a mask… “we don’t trust you.” People would be wearing fake pins by the end of the day. They did come up with vaccine passports, but that has privacy violation issues that would be easily shot down in most federal courts… and can also be easily faked.

So at some point, the government push to vaccinate has to either trust the people they claim to serve or stop pretending to care. But I could be too bitter about this issue–what do you think? Is the PSA marketing push making a difference? Is everyone who wanted to be vaccinated actually vaccinated? Should they give it up? Let me know in the comments below. Then if want something other than doom and gloom, check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your cheery disposition, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

Stepping Out of the Dungeon

2 Dec

I’ve been running a D&D game for two years. This has not stopped due to COVID, we just went online. The players have not remained the same, but the game continues. However, I’m beginning to worry–how do I get them off the screen and back at my table?

This is where “Your Mileage May Vary.” Not everyone’s at the same comfort level with social interaction as I am, and that’s true in my group as well as my life. I’m thinking about this now, even though my current campaign won’t run out for another couple months, because I’m getting REAL tired of playing online. My work is online, my games are online… I want to actually interact with people, not an image of them.

First off, it costs me–playing on Roll20 requires a monthly subscription ($5) and then the platform’s adventure cost an additional $25 each time I start a new campaign (every three months or so). When we were at Desert Sky Games, I actually got paid for running the game. Each of the players paid $5 per week, got $2 back in store credit, and I got $2.50 in store credit. It let the store get their money, players got credit, I got credit–it worked beautifully! I got all my D&D stuff for “free,” it was great. Now I have to ask my players to contribute and they do… somewhat.

Second, we no longer have a game store to come back to. The owners are on the extreme end of COVID scared, and after months of wondering, they decided to close their original shop and get into a smaller location–without a gaming area. Apparently, they got enough business to justify staying open, although they had to take a hit from not having people arrive. Magic cards was the biggest part of their business, and without people actually meeting in person to play…? Selling cards still pays the bills, I guess, although I can’t see how.

Third, as I said, we’ve changed some players. We have seven in our circle, which frankly, is amazing for any game. One is NOT in the Phoenix metro area, which I thought I could afford to lose, but now another is moving out in another month. That still leaves five core players, but one couple is taking care of their elderly father, so I’m not sure how hot they will be to meet in person again. So that leaves three I might get in person.

I’m thinking of a blended campaign–with half the group away, half in person–but my own experience with someone calling into a game has not been great. I can offer my dining room table and a friend has offered his house in the past, but that Zoom delay… it’s a killer. If everyone is on their computers, but half of them together, that might work… but then, what’s the point of meeting?

I’m torn. Have you run into this problem before? Do you have a solution? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Gone to Texas

6 Jul

I’m a free man (for all of two weeks)! My wife and kids (and one cat) are going off to Texas. Now before all those panicked folks chime in, my wife is going to help her mom out of a rehab hospital that has staff members with COVID. So before my “I’m living off 60% oxygen” mother gets infected with a respiratory disease, they’re getting her out. It’s the Great Escape, except with grandmas instead of Steve McQueen.

Which leads to me getting the house to myself for a while, which is something I’ve seriously missed. Before the *#$&$ virus, I worked from home, which means I would go out to the cafe in the early morning, come back home when the wife and kids took off for school, and not see them again until I picked up the kids at 3 pm. So now I’ve had them all in the same house, all the #$*$#&$ time, for four months straight. My wife doesn’t like to get out unless she has someone to hang out with, so that’s been right. Almost all of my kids’ friends are scared *##$&$@ to meet anyone, so they can’t get out either.

The only saving grace has been Panera Bread, which sounds strange, but once things opened up it has been the only place my teenage son can easily bike to. It also doesn’t cost much to sit there for a couple hours, so he’s been happy to get out and hang there out of the house. My daughter has been in summer school / camp (it’s a camp held by her school) until recently and miserable that she doesn’t get to stay home with her brother.

Well, the kids are thrilled, because they get to hang out with their cousins (that they rarely see – but damn, it’s other kids to play with!), in a big house (because everything’s bigger in Texas), and my wife gets to bore the #*($ out of her sisters with her politics, what the orange man is doing now, and whatever the #*$&# she feels is so damned important.

Whew… I really needed this break!

So at what point in the marriage do you think you need to get away from your spouse for a while? In my case, two years, but having my first kid does tend to complicate things. Put your answer in the comments below!

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