And a happy Saturday / Weekend to one and all: I got my Pfizer Covid booster this last Wednesday.

What took so long? Being an already vaccinated, reclusive geezer who rarely spends time in the presence of other humans or indeed other creatures of any sort, it wasn’t a priority. The mechanics of making and keeping an appointment seemed a bit more work than it was worth. If it were a new product, a vaccine tailored to the latest versions circulating, for example, the calculation would have been a bit different.

What happened instead was a regularly scheduled visit to my doctor. The agenda resembled one of those “death panel” visits that conservatives had so much fun using to scare the living bejesus out of their credulous supporters some years ago. But there was some actual medicine in the queue as well.

It didn’t start well. The office is in Evanston and involves a transfer to the Purple line in Evanston. And it was bloody cold, not far above zero Fahrenheit. So I allowed an hour for the trip and this was good. First, the Red line train promised to stop in Rogers Park at a quarter after the hour was late, throwing off its connection with the Purple line. Then I arrived at the office, still with time to spare, only to find they had moved. The sign provided an address, but I’ve never bothered to learn more of Evanston’s geography than I needed to know at that particular moment. The street number was similar and the street name vaguely familiar but… is it a north / south street or east / west? Where do I go? No smart phone, you see.

Well, back to the Davis CTA station. CTA stations frequently have neighborhood maps posted or maybe I’d run into someone willing to help. The Davis station had a map with a numbered street grid and the new address was no more than a block away. I got there in time.

It turns out that the “immediate care” clinic attached to the operation was providing free COVID booster shots the latter half of the week without an appointment (an appointment is required at both of my local pharmacies), so I was able to complete a long physician visit, lab work, and the booster shot in one long stop that day.

The entire errand took up about four hours. As I had been fasting for about 24 hours prior, that was getting toward the limits of my endurance.

Of the three Pfizer COVID shots, my reaction to the third shot was the worst. By winter’s early evening, I was aching, possibly feverish, exhausted. My kingdom for a hot bath and bed! And that’s where I was by 7 PM and where I remained until twelve hours later.

I awoke Thursday morning feeling great!!: that energetic joy that I’ve so often felt upon awakening after an illness.

Here’s my bottom line, folks. Your immune system may get better training to resist subsequent COVID infections by having an actual exposure to one of the new strains of COVID, but this is not a virus you really should mess with as “long COVID” is a real possibility, it’s not good to be contagious, and there is no way for you to predict the course of the disease, the outcome. If you think that you are tough and lucky and don’t need this shit and furthermore nobody is going to tell you what to do… please pardon my lack of diplomacy but you are at a very stupid place in your life. Get vaccinated. Get boosted.

(Photo by Roman.)

Two faux post script paragraphs

Some people seem to forget (or perhaps wilfully ignore) that vaccinations have been a part of routine medical care for over a century. We’ve all had a lot of them. For my part, smallpox and the three COVID shots together were the worst with side effects, but that makes the COVID shots sound worse than they actually are. My reaction to the smallpox inoculation was an order of magnitude worse than Pfizer’s COVID. I got the nurse to target my smallpox scar with this latest COVID shot… still aches a little. Speaking of smallpox, people generally give the socialist author Upton Sinclair’s portrayal of Chicago’s meatpacking industry for motivating the passage of the pure food and drug act. But there were also issues with the quality of smallpox vaccines at the start of the 20th Century. It makes for some interesting history.

In other medical news, stop the presses: I’m vitamin D deficient. In fact, the blood test returned a zero value. Unless they spend a fair amount of time outdoors, everyone living 42 degrees north (Rogers Park / Evanston) is likely to be deficient and I doubt that I’m a record-setter. Vitamin D goes in and out of favor for various aspects of wellness (aside from maternal and newborn health) but currently there’s some clinical evidence suggesting (which is to say, maybe or maybe not) that the vitamin (D3 in particular) is useful in resisting the virus. It all sounds about as tentative as the question of whether ACE inhibitors (taken for blood pressure, for example) have any affect on COVID, and that question is still open, I think. Still, my physician recommended supplements. The last time I took vitamin D supplements, my kidneys got rid of it as quickly as I consumed it and there were no other observable effects. I think I’ll pass on the supplements. Still, water has been my beverage of choice after breakfast. Now it’s milk.

Shadow Pools

Photo by Roman.

It’s another classic image: the darkling city street in contrast to a brilliant sky. The only aspect remarkable is that it was late morning when the image was captured, but winter often leaves stubborn pools of shadow in Chicago’s avenues, much like my beloved mud-puddles.

We may as well be at the bottom of a puddle: Here we are, our dizzy gaze upward toward the light, a heavenly glow that beseeches our devotion with memories of warmth. Truly, haven’t some theologians described Hell as the absence of God? Where else to find enduring darkness but winter’s big city streets? And yet, isn’t Lucifer described as the bringer of light?

Never mind. All this is magical thinking far beyond me. After all, what do I know? And why do I know it?

Never mind. Leave me here, swaying gently in the middle of the sidewalk, making sugar from light, a dim and muted contrast to the glory above.

Like falling stars from the universe we are hurled
Down through the long loneliness of the world
Until we behold the pain become the pearl
The pearl
The pearl

— “The Pearl” by Emmylou Harris

Gone Dog Ideas

Two interesting dog ideas that have come and gone in Chicago’s Loyola Park.

This first (above and below) was from 2009, before the tax on plastic bags: a station in the park filled with plastic grocery bags for dog-walkers to use for picking up the doggy-do. Lacking a dog, I had an abundance of plastic but somehow never got around to making a contribution. On the other hand, I have yet to leave a deposit on the lawn…

Bags for dogs. Photo by Roman.

The second idea manifested in the final months of 2021: a stick-lending store for dogs. It was ultimately chased out of the park by a pack of frantic dogs: a sort of canine Black Friday shopping riot.

Stick lending library for dogs. Photo by Roman.

(Wait a minute. You’re taking me seriously? Seriously? I don’t know what happened. My choice for most likely is that the Park District removed it as they generally do. But maybe not. Maybe it was chased out of the park by a pack of joyfully enthusiastic mutts, each yelping it’s hunting cry of “Sticks! Sticks! Sticks!” Which would you prefer?)

[Post Script Spring, 2022: It’s back. Or maybe it never was really away…]

Stick Lending Library for Dogs in Loyola Park. Photo by Roman.