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Archive for March, 2021

Pfizers on stun!

I’m halfway there! I just got back from the hospital, where I got my first COVID-19 vaccination shot. It’s the Pfizer vaccine, which means I’ll have to go back in 3 weeks for the second dose.

I was naturally nervous about this, not only since I hate getting shots, but since this was the first time in 5 months and only the third time since the first lockdown that I’ve been inside a building other than my residence — and the other two times were brief, a stop in at the post office and a quicker stop at the pharmacy. (Plus I hovered in the doorway of the garage office when I got car repairs last month.) This is the longest time I’ve spent around other people in nearly a year, so I was feeling pretty skittish, even with universal mask-wearing and all the hospital safety precautions. (I’m an introvert with social anxiety anyway. A pandemic requiring social distancing just exacerbates my inherent fears and reflexes.)

The check-in procedure was pretty streamlined. There were signs saying to have my ID ready to confirm my age, but the receptionist didn’t even check it, just asked for my birthdate (although I am in their system from prior visits, so maybe that’s why). I just had to e-sign my name three times and then I was given a ticket and went back to the vaccine clinic, and I only had to wait a couple of minutes for my turn. There was a helpful sign taped up telling me that I’d be getting the Pfizer vaccine, which answered my main question. On the one hand, I would’ve liked to get the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine so I’d be immunized faster, but on the other hand, I’d be neurotically worried that there was a mixup and I got just half of one of the two-shot vaccines instead. But I’m sure they keep careful track of all the doses. My vaccine card had a sticker put on with the lot number of the injection.

Well, anyway, it’s a muscular injection, which means it stung badly for a few seconds, but it passed soon. My main trouble was remembering which pocket I’d stuck the little ticket in, and then finding my jacket sleeve to put it back on afterward. I had to wait around in the waiting area for 15 minutes in case of an adverse reaction, your usual post-vaccination procedure, but I felt fine. The injection site isn’t even sore anymore (at least, not so far), and I’m feeling no symptoms yet. Of course, the flu-like side effects tend to come after the second shot, but they pass after a day or two and they’re just the result of the immune system gearing up its defenses. I guess I’ll see in 3 weeks whether I have that kind of reaction.

The main problem I had is that I still haven’t figured out how to consistently keep my glasses from fogging up when wearing one of the disposable surgical masks I use. I ended up just putting my glasses away and getting by without them (only in the hospital, of course, not in the car), so it’s fortunate I didn’t need to read any signage.

So anyway, after my second shot in 3 weeks, it’ll take about another 2 weeks for full immunity to kick in. So I should be set by the end of April — which is pretty much just in time for the Brood X cicadas to come out of their 17-year slumber and swarm by the gazillions, which means I’m still going to be stuck indoors all summer anyway, because I also have an insect phobia. There’s irony for you. Well… as I recall, they’re only active at certain times of day, so I think going out in the mornings is okay. Still, ugh. Every time the cicadas swarm, I hope that by 17 years later I’ll have moved someplace where they don’t swarm, or at least be able to take a long summer vacation out of town. But here I still am in Cincinnati for the fourth Brood X outbreak of my lifetime, though only the third I will have been old enough to remember.

Speaking of being among other people, my aunt had her 93rd birthday the other day, and various family members and friends thereof got together on a Zoom party to celebrate. It’s a shame Zoom doesn’t have an option for providing cake or pizza, but at least I got to see a few familiar faces. It’s the first time I’ve been on a Zoom call with family instead of fellow writers for a convention panel. Hopefully it won’t be the last.

I’m happy for my aunt and uncle, since they’re fully vaccinated now, so this past weekend they were able to hold their nearly one-year-old great-grandchild for the first time. There is hope of things inching back toward normal, as long as enough people behave intelligently by using masks and social distancing, avoiding large indoor gatherings, and getting vaccinated as soon as feasible. I know that achieving that is going to be an uphill battle against the forces of selfishness and stupidity, which are still ascendant in too much of the country and the world. But I’m doing my part, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. People deserve to be able to hug their great-grandchildren. (Where available.)

Categories: Uncategorized

STAR TREK: LIVING MEMORY cover art!

I saw that the cover art for Star Trek: The Original Series — Living Memory started to show up on the Trek news sites the other day, but it wasn’t up on Amazon yet, and I wasn’t sure if the version that was posted was the final draft, so I held off posting it here until I was sure. I forgot to check regularly, but I confirmed today that the final version is out, so here it is:

Star Trek Living Memory cover

I was hoping that Uhura would be featured on the cover, since part of the reason I wrote this book was because I felt I was overdue to give her a focus story. It also makes sense to feature Captain Spock, since this is my first book where he’s in that role throughout. Plus we’ve got Reliant photobombing the cover en passant, as it’s making a return appearance after The Higher Frontier (gotta get Chekov in there somehow, plus I like writing Captain Terrell).

Here’s the description again:

An all-new Star Trek movie-era adventure!

While attempting to settle in as commandant of Starfleet Academy, Admiral James T. Kirk must suddenly contend with the controversial, turbulent integration of an alien warrior caste into the student body—and quickly becomes embroiled in conflict when the Academy controversy escalates to murder. Meanwhile, Captain Spock of the USS Enterprise and Commander Pavel Chekov of the USS Reliant are investigating a series of powerful cosmic storms seemingly targeting Federation worlds—unstoppable outbursts emitting from the very fabric of space. Endeavoring to predict where the lethal storms will strike next, Spock and Chekov make the shocking discovery that the answer lies in Commander Nyota Uhura’s past—one that she no longer remembers….

™, ®, & © 2021 CBS Studios, Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Preorder links are here:

Living Memory will be released on June 15, less than three months from now. Getting closer!

Assorted updates on life

Well, the garage may not have been able to identify and fix the parasitic draw on my car battery, but so far, replacing the battery seems to have helped. I’ve now managed to go up to a week between drives without the battery running out, though I’m trying to make sure I go for a drive at least that often, even if it’s just to dump my recyclables or something. I did that yesterday, then to “exercise” the car and recharge the battery, I drove a few miles to Burnet Woods and strolled around the duck pond for a few minutes, to recharge my battery. The weather was only moderately comfortable, the sky was gloomy, and it’s still a bit early in the year for the woods to look all that great, but I didn’t want to be there when it was crowded anyway. Even outdoors, I prefer to keep as far from other people as possible. So I only hung around a few minutes, but it was nice to get a change of scenery, literally.

It turns out I’m now in an eligible age group to get a COVID vaccine under Ohio policy. I haven’t been in a great hurry, since I figure I’m such a hermit that I’m at low risk, both to myself and to others, so I’m willing to wait my turn until people in greater need get theirs. Still, it’s important to get vaccinated, and it would certainly give me peace of mind, so I’ve started to look into how to go about it. I’ll just have to overcome my timidity about getting shots — and about registering for websites. (At least when I get a shot, I don’t have to go through the hassle of coming up with a password first.)

I had an extended COVID anxiety dream night before last — the kind that’s initially just a normal, old-habits dream of being out in the world, until some recent-memory circuit kicks in and you remember that there’s a pandemic on and you’re outside without a mask. But this was a particularly major instance, because in my dream, I’d taken the bus without a mask and didn’t remember the pandemic until just after I got off in the heart of downtown. So that was quite a lot of potential exposure. To make matters worse, I then ended up being stuck at a fair-sized social gathering indoors where nobody was masked, and it went on quite some time while I tried feebly to keep my face covered with a handkerchief. Then I realized that what people were talking about there was boring and pointless and there was no good reason for me to be there at all, certainly not for such a long time. It was like every source of COVID anxiety at once. I was very relieved when I woke up and realized it was just a dream.

Meanwhile, I just got my taxes done. I was hoping I could go back to my usual tax preparer after missing two years with her, because I tried to do my own taxes two years ago (which turned out poorly) and then last year I took advantage of the 3-month extension to file, and my preparer only works during the regular tax season. But it turns out that this year she’s dealing with a health issue and wasn’t available. I hope she’s okay. Anyway, I ended up with the same fellow who did my taxes last year, and according to him, I was given too low a health insurance subsidy last year, and thus I get a substantial tax credit and owe a lot less than I otherwise would have. Which I initially thought was very good news, although in retrospect it’s kind of bad news, because it means I spent too much last year when I was more broke than I am now. I needed the savings then more than I need them now. Still, it is a relief. Though with my income improving this year, it looks like my taxes will be significantly higher next year.

Nothing much to report on the writing front. I’m working on a Star Trek Adventures project prior to getting back to work on the big new thing that I’ve been hinting at for months and still can’t openly talk about. The work is going more slowly than I’d like, but I’ve got plenty of time. Hopefully I can say more soon.

Categories: Uncategorized

Braving the garage

Last time I reported on my car battery situation at the end of January, I was cautiously optimistic that I might have dealt with the drain on my battery by removing the charger from the power socket. No such luck — the last couple of times I went for groceries, I had to jumpstart it again. Luckily, I still had a few weeks left on my battery’s 18-month free replacement warranty. Still, I waited for the weather to improve a bit (both so the car would be easier to start and because I’d have to walk from and to the garage after dropping off my car). Plus I was hesitant to go to the garage because of COVID and all. Finally I noticed that Google now gives health precaution info for businesses, and it confirmed that my garage had sensible precautions. I was still a little concerned about indoor ventilation, though. People are still preoccupied with disinfecting surfaces, but the scientific consensus now is that surface infection is vanishingly unlikely and the real risk is from being indoors with other people for any length of time, particularly in a poorly ventilated space. But when I thought about it, I figured that an automotive garage would pretty much need to have good ventilation by default. Well, maybe not so much in the office, but it’s a small office and it usually has at least one door open.

As it turned out, there have been some procedural changes as well — when I called, I was told to schedule a dropoff time online, and the online form asked me to describe the issues, so I didn’t have to do it face to face. And I didn’t even have to come inside, as it turned out; I just dropped the car off and left the spare key on the front seat. Picking it up today, I was able to call the guy from outside and he brought the credit card scanner out with him. He offered to take my card info over the phone, but I figured just being outside was enough.

As it turns out, while I did get a new battery, new wiper blades, tire rotation, and other servicing, it turns out that the battery problem is what I feared. The electrical issues the car’s been having for well over a year now, which are beyond the local garage’s ability to address, are evidently causing some kind of “parasitic draw” on the battery. And I don’t see how I can get that taken care of anytime soon. The garage they referred me to is too far away to get back from except by bus, which isn’t an option I’m willing to take in a pandemic. And though my money situation has begun to improve, it’s an incremental improvement and I need to keep my spending relatively constrained until the next big paycheck comes in a few months. So as it stands, my options are either to drive the car more regularly to keep the battery charged (even though I have zero other reasons to drive anywhere besides grocery pickup), or just keep using my jumpstarter pack to start it up like I’ve been doing for the past few months. Hopefully at least the new battery will make some difference, or will drain less as the weather warms. But I have no idea what to do about the problem in the long run.

So my walks from the garage yesterday and to it today are the longest walks I’ve taken in quite a while. I’m glad I was still up to it; my fitness hasn’t deteriorated too much from the lockdown. I even managed to keep my glasses from fogging up too badly with the mask on. Still seeing a lot of people going unmasked, though among those who were masked, I didn’t notice anyone with their noses sticking out.

Oh, speaking of electrical problems, we had a power failure here yesterday afternoon, just after 5 PM. I was able to check the power company’s outage map on my phone, and it gave an estimated repair time of 9:30, which I hoped was just a placeholder and that the power would be restored before the 4-hour safe limit for food in the fridge. I passed the time reading a paperback book by the window before the sun set, and to avoid opening the fridge, I had supper consisting of a peanut butter sandwich (no jam) and potato chips, and cracked open a new, room-temperature bottle of apple juice (then forgot myself and accidentally opened the fridge door for a few seconds to put it away).

I’d just settled down to do some writing work on my laptop (which still had a full battery) when the power came back on, about 2 hours or so into the blackout, so my food was safe. So of course I blew off the work and went online again. I didn’t really feel up to doing much anyway. Although moving my laptop to the table did finally let me brush the dust off the cooling-fan platform it sits on, something I recently realized I should try to do periodically.

Still, it’s frustrating how often the power goes out around here. I wish we could really modernize the power grid — build in more redundancies, give buildings backup generators or batteries, stuff like that.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

“The Melody Lingers” on Patreon

I technically missed posting a Patreon story in February, but my previous entry was on January 31, so it’s barely been a month. Anyway, this month(ish)’s entry is a reprint of my first published fantasy story, “The Melody Lingers,” which appeared in Galaxy’s Edge Magazine in July 2019, and was the only story I ever sold to my fellow Cincinnatian, writer-editor Mike Resnick, before he passed away last year. (Interesting how two of the editors I’ve sold to, Stanley Schmidt and Resnick, were from my hometown. Indeed, Stan once lived on my current street!) The story is available to subscribers of the Fiction tier at $10/month:

Fiction: “The Melody Lingers”

I’m afraid I don’t have a Behind the Scenes entry to go along with it this month, since the annotations were already published here on Written Worlds, and the one suitable thing I have is something I’ve decided is better saved for later.

Meanwhile, my current review series on the $5/month Patreon tier is of the 1977 TV series adaptation of the film Logan’s Run.

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