With spring charging into full bloom, it looks like we’re beginning to put the COVID in the rearview mirror here in Maryland, if not the rest of the country. I’ve been watching the daily numbers releases for the COVID stats since last year. Yesterday there were 369 new cases reported in Maryland. That’s at least a week’s worth of numbers coming in at under 1000, maybe more, since I’m going off memory from what I read in the paper every day. It took a long time to get under 1000 consistently. We had a dip a month or two ago, after which many counties relaxed their rules, which resulted in the numbers spiking back to over 1000 again.
But now, with the vaccines readily available and the big push going out to get people vaccinated, I think the lower numbers are taking hold. The testing positivity rate is at 2.25%, which has been creeping down since early this year.
As of yesterday, 83.14% of Marylanders have received at least one shot. The governor’s original target to remove statewide mask mandates was 70% fully vaccinated. (“Fully vaccinated,” meaning it’s been two weeks after receiving a second shot or the single J&J shot.) But then last weekend, he scrapped them anyway.
Baltimore City is keeping its mask mandates until more people have been vaccinated. I can’t blame them. Young Mayor Brandon Scott has not been messing around with the ‘Rona. He’s kept hardcore capacity limits and mask mandates for the city. And the results speak for themselves. Early last summer, according to the stats, Baltimore County and Baltimore City (these are two completely separate entities… the county wraps around the city), were about 200 apart, regarding COVID cases. The county then began pulling away and today has roughly 12,000 more cases than the city. This is with about 7% fewer city residents being vaccinated, compared to the county.
The difference was the enforcement of COVID protocols. Granted, downtown restaurants and bars took a major hit. Most of the ones around my office building closed for good. I hope that some of them get restarted under new management. It would be a shame if doing the right thing for public safety resulted in turning downtown into a ghost town for good. But you have to applaud the resulting decrease in the number of people catching the virus.
Of course, there are dark clouds to go with the silver lining.
Maryland is a distinctly “blue” state, with the populous center being heavily blue and the lighter-populated edges heavily “red.” As a resident of that heavy blue center, I should be sitting pretty. But it’s a cryin’ shame there had to be a political difference.
I maintain that if the Former Guy could have lived up to the bare minimum expectations of a president, and just said, “Hey, take these precautions and stay healthy. We’ll help you out as best we can,” we would have had a fraction of the deaths we’ve already had and vax numbers would be much higher. We could have been at “herd immunity” months ago. But no. Because he was too vain and narcissistic to be seen wearing a mask, and had such a persecution complex, he made it into a political issue and so the country naturally fell back into its political tribalism. His people felt the obligation to back up whatever dumbass things he said because after all, he was their dumbass.
Hence, the Dems are getting vaccinated and the Repubs aren’t (as much). They’re loudly proclaiming how much they want things to go back to normal, yet taking actions that prevent that very thing. (Way to go, Ricky Schroeder. Now maybe you and Scott Baio can start a club. Call it C-FLOR… Child-stars For Living on a Respirator.)
I’d be fine with it if I thought they were going to die off from catching COVID, but I don’t see that happening. More likely, because enough others will be vaccinated for us to become at least close to herd immunity, it will just empower them to walk around going, “See? No vaccination and no masks and I’m fine.”
At which time we’ll have to shoot them, which is our gods-given right via the Second Amendment.
OK, it’s not that I’m seriously promoting the deaths of those with whom I have a philosophical difference, but if people are tap-dancing on a greased balcony railing, it’s hard to get worked up over it if they fall off.
Light My Fire
I had one particular activity in mind to do before these crisp spring nights turn in the miserable days of summer. Ever since I first visited (and eventually moved in with and married) Sweetpea, I’ve wanted to use her fire pit. There was one right in the backyard, with the remains of a single, charred log left in it. It was about 8” in diameter. I’ve been wanting to burn that up for four years now. It would just sit there, taunting me, like an unfinished project.
So, last Monday, after dinner and after dutifully dashing off my weekly blog post, all the elements came together: clear, cool weather and nothing compelling on TV. Sweetpea and I sat outside on the patio and I proceeded to rely on my old fire-tending practices to construct a nice little fire in the fire pit.
Obviously, I couldn’t just try to light the big log; I had to get a nice fire started with smaller pieces of wood.
I mentioned in a post back in March that our yellow lab has a habit of bringing back giant sticks from his morning walks.
I figured this was a perfect time to put them to some use. He wasn’t happy about it and kept trying to steal some from the pile I made as I broke them up. Fortunately, the thing with this dog is that he’s more interested in the stick acquisition than actually owning or playing with the sticks.
So, I got a little fire going and it was nice to sit around it like I used to do back when I was a kid in the country. (Or at least tending to our fireplace in the house.)
And you know how we guys are when we successfully build a fire. We’re very proud of ourselves.
“I have made fire!”
Granted, I had a lighter and newspaper, so I didn’t have to rub my hands raw trying to make a spark, but no matter.
Once I was sure I had a sufficient base, I dropped the big log in and tried to get it going. I never saw it really light up, but I did see smoke coming from inside it. I figured that was a good sign.
By the end of the night, all the sticks were gone, leaving only the smoldering log behind. It was a bit smaller than when we started but I thought I could take a shot at it another night. As much as I love the smell of burning wood, I wasn’t too crazy about it all over my shirt. I definitely had to get a new one for bed, lest both Sweetpea and I make the sheets smell like a burning barrel.
Anyway, when I checked back the next morning, voila, the log was gone. Reduced to ashes overnight. Must have just smoldered away.
I was like, “Take THAT, Mr. Log… Your wooden qualities are no match for my incendiary capabilities! Now someone bring me their finest meats and cheeses!”
Now I just have to wait for the dog to restock the woodpile so we can do it again.