I’m tired again. So tired that I fell asleep at my VA desk in the middle of writing a progress note and it was the weird little sounds from my computer as my hand had depressed the front slash key, leading to a page of little diagonal lines that woke me up and got me going again. I’m not sure if it’s physiological or psychological. I’m thinking the latter as it’s been nothing but bad news coming in for the last few weeks – the clouds of war in Europe, continued turmoil and bad behavior on the domestic front, the slow motion collapse of both health care and education. I think my brain just wants out. This usually means its time to schedule a vacation. I’m hoping to lay out travel plans for the year over the next few weeks and that might bring things back into a focus.
On the good news front, my editor/publisher and I have decided to move forward with Volume II of the Accidental Plague Diaries. We think it should come together a bit quicker than the first book did as we both have more or less figured out how to do this thing. If we can keep on schedule, it should be out around Labor Day. i’m rather pleased that the original book has sold enough to make a continuation worth while and has won one award and is up for several others, but then there’s the piece of me that’s going oh lord, more work on the table. One thing that I’ve learned about myself over decades is that I do relatively well under deadline and pressure. It forces me to focus and organize and get things done. When left to my own timelines and devices, I’m apt to devolve into lazy afternoons of reading or bad television or long meandering walks that may clear the brain, but do little to accomplish anything constructive.
Covid numbers continue to fall so we’re more or less through Omicron at this point. I think people are taking the masks off a little too fast. I’m still wearing mine indoors with folk I don’t know and it remains policy at UAB and the VA (and in most health care institutions) to wear it at work, especially in clinical settings. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve been wearing them to work for two years now and I haven’t suffered much other than continuous glasses fog. Looking at the national numbers, even the mortality figures are starting finally to descend and we’re below 2,000 deaths a day finally. We’re coming up on 940,000 total and I imagine we’ll pass the magic million before the first of May. The new omicron variant is still out there and spreading, but it doesn’t appear to be catching hold the way the original strain did. This is likely due to a combination of vaccine and natural immunity given the number of people who caught the original Omicron strain over the last few months. Omicron did at least prod more people into getting the vaccine. Nationally, about 70% of the population over age 5 is fully vaccinated and it’s closer to 90% in my senior adult population.
It’s been a long and difficult road getting people vaccinated over the last fourteen months due to the amount of vaccine misinformation out there. The rabid antivaccination population, the sort that are driving truck convoys cross country and battling with the authorities over mandates is actually a relatively small minority of the population. They just make good copy in our multimedia news environment and generate clickbait headlines. One must always remember that the media does not exist to inform the population. It exists to make profit for the owners of said media and that has definitely colored reporting as more and more reportage moves away from print to online sources. Stories that guarantee clickbait headlines and photos or videos of visual interest will always move to the front of the pack, even if they’re not really the most pressing issues of the day.
I’m not sure what to make of the Russian moves on The Ukraine. It could be Putin’s megalomania coming to fruition as he attempts to become Tsar Vladimir the Great. It might be Russia’s way of testing how well their seeds of social unrest in the Western world are actually working. I really don’t understand the conservative wing of the Republican party going all in for the autocracy against the democracy. That does not bode well for the next few election cycles. We’ll be in real trouble if Russia succeeds in making NATO back down in Ukraine and then starts moving on the Baltics which are NATO members. I wasn’t expecting the next big conflagration in Europe. I’ve long predicted that it would erupt between China and India over declining water resources from the Himalayas as both countries have armies of excess young men due to the social pressures in those societies for sons over daughters. I can’t do anything about it and I’m too old fight. I’m not too old to be drafted though. The US can call up physicians of any age in a national emergency. I don’t imagine that geriatricians will be very high on that list, unless they need someone to take care of the Lieutenant Colonels’ mothers.
I was given a ticket to the National Tour of Cats this past weekend. I’ve seen Cats several times before, but not for some years. This is a newly staged/choreographed production (that’s not all that different from the original to my eye) and, while entertaining, just wasn’t all that good. I believe it was Sondheim, on seeing the original in the early 80s, who said something like it would have been more interesting if they’d spread the two million dollars it cost across the stage in small denomination bills and let the audience look at them. Cats was the big show of my college years. It opened in London early in my college career and came to New York my senior year. I didn’t see it in either place (tickets being expensive and hard to come by). I saw it for the first time in the summer of 1984 in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the theater in which Mozart’s later operas premiered, translated into German. I knew the score and lyrics so had no trouble with Jellicle Katzen. A month later, in London, I saw the original cast and production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s follow up, Starlight Express, at the Apollo Victoria, the production where they built ramps all through the house for roller skating. It was technically marvelous, the skating was thrilling, but it was still The Little Engine That Could. And people wonder why I prefer Sondheim to Lloyd Webber. I’m hoping to get to UAB Theater Department’s production of Noises Off this weekend. I saw the original production in London on that same trip and I have never laughed so hard in a theater in my life. I’ve seen countless productions since (and it’s a bucket list show) but I’ve never seen a production come close to getting the laughs the original did. I think it was the British cast who so thoroughly understood every nuance of every joke, coming as they do out of British theater tradition.
I’ve nattered on long enough. House calls tomorrow. Complete with hand sanitizer, masks, and vaccines.