TWL: another 4 weeks gone by. What do we know, and what can we do?

We are certainly on a plateau–this week’s COVID caseload in the US matched last week.

The past four weeks of COVID-19 case totals in the US showed a 30% drop compare to the previous 4-week span. We’re back down to monthly levels of early March 2021, right as the vaccine was taking off for the under 50 crowd, right before the summer lull, right before Delta struck, right before we missed the 75% vaccination goal and the chance to end this mess.

Well, what’s different now compared to March? It seems Delta has burned through the unvaccinated population, the school year surge is behind us, and suddenly children can be vaccinated. Sure, the holidays are coming and some family-COVID-sharing will surely occur, but most of us are vaccinated and there is no new variant threatening us. As my mom would say (as she has insisted while I spewed doom and gloom), there is hope.

Here’s the four-week graph. Note the hopeful smaller bar to the far right.

Last week my husband got a text from a friend inviting us to come over for burgers and a fire on Saturday night. He mentioned another couple would be there. We like that other couple, and the friend and his wife wanted to show off their new house. Sounded perfect. I made cookies and painted my nails. I wore mascara! And my contact lenses. And I brought a blanket for the fireside chats.

When we arrived I thought we were at the wrong house. The driveway was full of cars. Nobody was outside. There were twenty unmasked people inside the house. We went in, for about 20 minutes, during which I panicked. I am very exposed at work. Though I’m vaccinated, I could carry and infect these fine folks. I had to get out of there. My husband said we could make excuses and leave. I opted for honesty, and told our host of my COVID anxieties. We went outside. They showed us the view, leaving their other guests inside. We built a fire and three of us sat outside shivering for an hour.

I am begging hosts to be up front when inviting people over. Tell them who is coming, how many, masks or not, inside or outside. Each guest must be able to assess their personal risk, and the threat they might pose to others. I made my husband reread and show me the texts inviting us to the outdoor fire and burger gathering to verify he had not misunderstood. He did not; the event was misrepresented to us.

I have not been to my writers group in months because I can’t expose these good friends. Some are older than I. Some are not vaccinated. I must stay away. But I miss them and our former carefree meetings in a tiny room reading and laughing, arguing and learning. Someday, I hope.

Laughing is good

Through this endless pandemic and the long days of isolation before the vaccine, we played a lot of cornhole. Even in the winter, the cornhole boards were set up in the basement (which affected the allowable height of the toss) and we played and played, laughing.

My husband loves games. Somewhere along the way he started making up variations on the classic cornhole game. At the beach we played “killer” which is a variation of cornhole in which you have to RUN, and sweat, and laugh while being heckled by the guy with a timer. Even he-who-shall-not-be-named who often chooses not to participate participated in that one. More laughing.

When pressed, my husband began to jot down his cornhole game variations on the side of an envelope. Unreadable, sure, but impressive when he filled a whole side and needed a second envelope to continue the list. Periodically he would disappear to the basement to try out another new game. Our daughter stepped in to make some sense of the scratches on the envelope. Diagrams were added. A poem, too. Somehow this was all transcribed and organized into a Word document. And before we knew it, the whole thing resembled a little book, a how to have more fun than you can imagine book, one that will fit in a stocking and can spread our fun to your house.

Here is the cover of the book that came out of all this effort.

SO SANTA BROUGHT YOU A CORNHOLE SET is available in paperback from Just click here to check it out.

TWL: going back up

I’m waiting for the Johns Hopkins data to update, and it seems to be three hours behind. Maybe the election day drama caused a delay. Even with the early data I’ve rounded up, it is evident the number of weekly US COVID-19 cases is going back up again, breaking our 8-week run of consecutive weekly decreases. We saw a similar bounce and plateau through March 2021 after the winter case surge so hopefully we’ll get back on track to decreasing cases in November before the holidays when we know cases will increase again.

While I wait for the data to update so I can fix my graph, I added up the total new cases in the US for April until now, basically looking at “ridiculous cases” or “unnecessary cases,” a huge waste while we had a vaccine in hand. Brace yourself, the number is huge. One-third of the total cases of COVID–that’s more than 15 million cases–have occurred in the last six months since we had vaccines available to protect us. History will look at this idiocy and wonder what was wrong with the human race, particularly in America. I wonder the same, embarrassed for us.

I will update this post as soon as the Johns Hopkins site shares updated numbers. Please excuse the delay, and check back later.

Update 10:15 pm:

The Johns Hopkins site isn’t updating so I’m using the case data they showed from 4:20 pm today, though I have consistently waited for the 7:30 pm data for the last ~90 Tuesdays. Note the disturbing jump in cases this week. Let’s hope the approved vaccines for kids helps us get back on track. It’s late and I have to go to sleep so I can get up at the crack of dawn and do it all over again. Good night.

TWL: caught at 93 weeks

For 93 weeks we’ve bided our time, being so careful. We’ve been painfully boring and bored. We got our vaccines and even the booster. We have weekly family zoom meetings. We skipped Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Years and Easter and on and on and on. We weren’t even invited to our beloved niece’s wedding. We had an outdoor birthday party and a mini family reunion for about 5 hours one day last month. We are back to work, driving the long commute (and sacrificing 2 hours per day, 10 hours per week of work to do so), wearing a mask all day, showering off the sticky COVID particles when we get home. We even drove 32 hours to visit our moms. For 93 weeks we’ve watched the world suffer, wondering when the creepy tendrils of virus would finally reach us.

And then it did.

In our combined family “us” is a very large number. This week four of our “us” have COVID. They attended a surprise anniversary party. Indoors. Presumably unmasked–they’re afraid to give me many details as you can understand. So many of us did not go, but we know the jokes that were told at the party surely involved how the heck did she put up with him for four decades? It’s a loving joke. We all love that guy. He’s a riot. And he now has COVID.

My anger is a tsunami. Four of them. So far. Plus non-family members, too. Though sustaining such anger exhausts me, it cannot touch my insomnia. Such is this hell.

Realize my molten lava anger is for people I love. Imagine my anger for those I don’t even know, who brought the virus home to more than 700,000 dead Americans, because they were bored and it was their right to do what they wanted. Blah blah blah. You are so important. Pandemics suck.

A hug to my in-laws. I love you all. Stay strong. Stay apart. Stay away from you know who. No. Do not tell me to mind my own business. I’ve been in your family for almost 40 years. Don’t make me come over there. Stay away from her.


Here’s the week update: less than half a million new cases. I apologize on behalf of our family for their collective ridiculous contribution of four of those cases. Stay vigilant.

It’s not easy being human

When you were tiny, your humans fed you, bathed you, dressed you, hugged you and gloried when all you did was smile at them or sleep through the night.

When you rolled over, sat up, and pulled yourself to standing they applauded.

You learned to color, and worked hard to get better, trying to color inside the lines.

You learned your letters, how to count, and read and add. You never gave up. You just kept getting smarter and stronger and your humans nudged you along and picked you up when you fell.

You learned to run, you ran faster. To jump, you jumped higher. You shot free throws and tried to make ten in a row. All of life is about the challenge. We feel most human when we stretch ourselves to see how much farther, how much better we can be.

I teach a very challenging college science course. This course is so hard, my doctor squirms when I quiz him on drug molecular structures and functional groups and stereocenters and why interactions between drugs might happen. And my students stretch. They work. They come to class. They try.

I wish they interacted more, but they are timid behind their COVID masks fresh from online “learning” environments. They are improving and trying. With time they’ll relax with me and learn to trust the loud woman behind the mask. I can ask for nothing more. Well, maybe a larger salary, but that’s another (whiny) post for another rainy day.

It’s Tuesday, so here’s your update: another week of about 10% decrease in US COVID-19 cases. That’s good. Keep it up.