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14 May 2022

Transitional

Did I really say 2022 was going to "feel about the same" as 2021?  Oh, what a difference a few months can make!

In fairness, I'd said it would be "long and transitional".  And now that I can see more clearly where the year is headed, that much has been spot-on.  But certainly not in the same sense, no.  Whereas 2021 was transitional in a more gradual way that even seemed stagnant at times, so far 2022 is transitional in the OMG IT SEEMS LIKE LITERALLY EVERYTHING IS CHANGING way.  It's not actually quite that dramatic, of course — but even good and necessary change, when significant enough, can get a little bit overwhelming at times.  Right now, I'm in the thick of that in more ways than one.

Of course, it's fun that my blog's birthday is around the same time as the National Association of Letter Carrier's "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive each year, which brings me back to my hometown and, in some sense, the same roots that bore this blog in the first place.  But things are also quite different, since I'm literally double the age I was then.  Now, at the age of seventeen, this blog is just a few short months away from being just as old as I was when I started it.

Maybe it's time for my blog to start a blog.  While it decides whether that's a good idea (it's not), here's some bloggy cake:

Still, while there's usually proximity, it's not every year that 14 May falls on the Saturday, which means both volunteering for the food drive and blogging on the same day.  If that weren't enough, the Eurovision Song Contest has been added to my radar in recent years.  And I have friends graduating at Carnegie Mellon's commencement ceremony tomorrow, so it was right back to Pittsburgh tonight.  And good, novel bloggy cake clipart is increasingly hard to find these days.  Busy, busy.

After that, my mother's spending a little time with me here before I help run a primary election on Tuesday.  Did I mention I'm a local Judge of Elections here?  Been that way for four years.  I'm so bad at this blogging thing.

And then it's right back to what already feels like the busiest summer season I've had at my job, even before adding in the two new full-time staff that have been added to our tiny team in the past five weeks.  (One started just yesterday!)  All of the shuffling, divvying, and expansion of responsibilities that entails — while certainly for the betterment of us all — will definitely take a lot of adjustment in the coming weeks and months.

As far as the food drive, though — since ya know, that's what's already happened — you could indeed consider it a "transitional" year as we got our bearings back: Folks remembering that the food drive exists, letter carriers remembering how and when to best get the food to us, us remembering how best to process the intake, and also getting used to doing it all in the social hall and food pantry area of the new church building, a building which hadn't even broken ground when we had the last food drive in 2019, and which by now has already been open for more than a year.  Today, we took in 3642 lb (1652 kg) of food nonetheless — among our lower totals but still an impressive feat — less a super-consistent 3.58% in spoilage from outdated or damaged foods.

So it's good to see that, despite the challenges of the past few years, and those that continue, the community's generosity hasn't changed.

Another thing that hasn't changed is my "pandemic hair".  Unless, of course, you count it having grown a year longer.

It was already pretty long in last year's post-vaccination photo at the age of just over 14 months.  Today, it's pushing two-and-a-quarter years since that last haircut on 27 February 2020.

I'd kinda missed a good window of opportunity last summer before the Delta variant came roaring through, but now I've got some big things coming up before which I'd like to tame it significantly.  I don't think I'll be going straight back to the short hair of the past, but I've gotta get this stuff out of my eyes.  And mouth.  And all over everywhere.  Just gotta find the time first to get it done right.  (Ya know, 'cause "big things" and "busy".)

And the humidity today, oof.  The result is not so much "unkempt" as "unkempable".  Suddenly all those hair product commercials that once confused me as a child make so much sense.

(Maybe my hair should get a blog?  Nah.  Besides, it's "transitional".)

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01 January 2022

2022

Well it sure isn't March 2020 anymore, but I still don't know what it is.

Yeah, the calendar says January 2022, but oof.  That's weird, man.

If last year's New Year's Day feelings were "novel", this year's are really stale.  Hopefully things would soon be better.  Hoooppefulllllyyyy.

We'll get there.  Somehow.

At least I correctly pegged 2021 as long and transitional.  So far, prospects for 2022 feel about the same.  But progress upon progress adds up, I suppose.

Just two glyphs for this year's doodle; had to find a good font for twos.  I have a feeling that, with their increased prevalence, my handwritten ones (by which I mean twos) will soon decline in quality.  I think I'll manage.  And given that this year is starting out feeling much the same as the last, it's not surprising that I landed on a similar design.

Whatever last year's "checklists" have even become these days — gosh, it seems nothing is ever over anymore — here's to progress, whatever that may ultimately mean.

Random tangent: After last night's unusual thunder at my parents' place, this morning saw an unexplained noise around Pittsburgh at 11:24 ET! Theories quickly converged on a small meteor breaking up in the atmosphere. 2022 is already coming in with a bang!

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31 December 2021

Muddling through the Middle-y Mush

Gosh, this has gotten tough.

At least I can rely on starting with a generic statement on just how tough I find this.  Why do I do this again?

This time last year, I wrote of ending 2020 "in the middle" of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a year that went by like mush.  Well, if 2020 was mush, gosh, what even was 2021?  Just as vaccinations rapidly ramped up, plateaued, and even started ramping down… suddenly variants! First Delta and now Omicron; or, I guess, δ and ο.  Good thing I learned the Greek alphabet back in undergrad.

(Sigh.)

There's definitely been a sense of collective burnout in the air lately.  Maybe my persistence here on this blog is a way to rail against that instinct at this particular moment.

But gosh, this has gotten TOUGH.

Why are we so inept at testing infrastructure compared to other nations?  Sure, the specifics of these variants can't have been predicted but, like, it's not as though we didn't know enough to know that something was likely and that maybe we should prepare for it this time.

On some level, every time the situation changes course, there's an element of "we've done this before, so we can do it again"; but on another, there's "oh no, not again", coupled with the knowledge that different situations are, in fact, different — who knew!? — and so tend to require rethinking and reinvention anew.

And absolutely nothing is ever "done" or "finalized" or "settled" anymore.  Not that that was ever strictly true, but it at least used to be true enough to count on to a reasonable degree of approximation.

So there's definitely a Sisyphean empathy going on right now.  Or something similarly discomfiting like that.  I'm too tired to think of anything better.

The flip side of different situations being different, of course, means that 2021 has allowed us to get some good things in, though.  After a year off, we managed to hold Music Camp in July with surprisingly few material modifications, getting it in just before Delta came onto the scene.  As emergency use authorization for vaccinations had only just been approved down to the age of 12, all sorts of considerations and adaptations were considered, and many adopted, allowing us to provide a meaningful experience while cases were near their summer minimums.  Had camp come a few weeks later, or the variant a few weeks earlier, the situation could have been wildly different — if it would have been able to happen at all.

Just one more way in which everything's been a little harder at every turn.

For all the stresses, work saw a successful semester with predominantly in-person instruction.  We're at the point where I, for one, am certainly trying to regain composure from the sort of emergency footing we've found ourselves on for the last nearly-two years, and get back into dealing with a lot of deferred backburner stuff that, in the interim, has grown a bit bigger.  Such is the nature of emergencies, of course.  The endeavor has thusfar seen mixed results: Such is the nature of ongoing emergencies, I guess.  Here's just hoping, however the coming term goes, we're familiar enough with our responses that we can continue to adopt "adapting" into our vernacular, albeit hopefully requiring a bit less of an all-encompassing effort each time.

Other vague personal developments continue.  Again, it's been tough to find the time, the energy, the motivation.  While I'd hoped this would be a significant year in that realm, many of those things got backburnered for a bit, too.  As we close out the year, I am finding support and at least starting to make progress on some.  More in the coming weeks, and further in the weeks after that, I'm sure.  2021 bleeds into 2022: My tasks and goals really fundamentally remain the same.  When will they be "done" enough to share?  Soon enough, I hope.  Finding words is half the battle.  Maybe I should blog more.  (Ha!)

Most years have some unique quality to them, even if it's a bit fleeting and hard to pin down.  But yeah, this time, I'm really struggling to distinguish 2021 from 2020.  Perhaps as I make my way through 2022, that will become a bit more clear.

Random tangent: David's a bit upset that Carson Daly's out of the New Year's scene at NBC, and they've gone with Pete Davidson and Miley Cyrus, it seems.  We'll probably check out a bit, but may stay with Seacrest.  Also, I heard thunder at 23:38 — not often that happens on New Year's Eve.  

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14 May 2021

The Agitation After

Do sixteen-year-old blogs care about cake for their birthday?

I don't know, but mine does, I guess.  And if not, I do.  Besides, looking out at the world today, it's a time for celebration.  Well, kinda.  It definitely feels like it ought to be, but it also definitely feels like it ought not to be.  Feelings are weird, man.

Vaccination against Covid-19 accelerated so much just over the course of April that late March and early May really have seemed like they were two different worlds.  It's hard to understate just how hopelessly things felt to be plodding along, and then — BAM! — suddenly, there's a lot of hope in this new reality.  So much, so fast that it's difficult to suspend disbelief.  I suppose psychological trauma, in whatever form, will tend to do that.

Each of the last 6 weeks or so has brought rapid change: Just in the last three days, emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine was extended to children as young as 12, and CDC recommendations were updated to reflect that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most situations.

Of course, broader society remains complicated.  Knowing for sure you're actually in one of those safe situations is impossible, and while it becomes more likely over time, it's nowhere near a guarantee now.  We know that folks need time to adapt well.  Just as March and April 2020 were a sudden shock to the system as we came into this pandemic, it seems that May and likely June 2021 are shaping up to be similar as we come out of it.  So, while the light at the end of the tunnel is ever clearer, true celebration does still seem a bit premature.  For now, anyway.

But I did my part and got my (Pfizer) jabs on 12 April and 03 May.  The first one, I think, was not administered particularly well and my left arm even still has a little stiffness around the injection site today after having been quite sore for the first 10 days, but the second one (in the other arm!) was quick and comparatively painless.  After having helped run two elections in 2020 under pandemic conditions, I am incredibly thankful that I will be just past the 14-day post-vaccination threshold considered "full immunity" before the upcoming municipal primary election on 18 May.

There will be more public excursions to come, of course.  At the present moment, all have me anxious, albeit to varying degrees.  But all in due time.

In the meantime, while we work our way up to getting ready to gather again, have some bloggy cake.  It's just as shocking that this blog is that old.


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