January 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!  I’m hoping this will be a happy news year with lots of good news about treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. 

Lynn and I have been watching the Netflix series Bridgerton at night the last couple of nights.  We’ve seen five of the eight episodes thus far.  It is about life in the British aristocracy in the early 1800’s where debutants are presented at court in the hopes of finding marriage.  Of all the series Lynn and I have watched during this pandemic this is the one I have liked the least.  For one, I miss some of the lines because of the British accent.  But the main reason is that I have absolutely no interest in the life and lifestyles of those at this socioeconomic level.  Even in modern news, whenever something about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle comes on I turn my ears off.  I’d much rather hear about the life of someone like my brother, George Stephanopolous, Jimmy Carter, Anthony Fauci, or Francis Collins.

To be honest, when I was trying to think of people to include in that last sentence I had a hard time.  There are just very few people beyond my immediate family that I highly admire.  I am not proud of this; I wish there were more people that I want to emulate.  I think that I struggled to find admirable people because I don’t look for them.  It is much easier to blast Donald Trump for his failings than to find someone to praise for their honorable deeds.  I like people who do their jobs well without seeking public adulation.  This includes people like my former employees Nevin Diener and Oskar Scheikl, my childhood minister Jerry Conner, our car mechanics Tom and Brian Simmons, former principal Charles Huffman, and colleague Harold Randall.

It is also very fair to say that the person I admire the highest is Lynn.  She is undoubtedly the most talented, intelligent, big-hearted, selfless, and thoughtful person I have ever known.  I’m beginning 2021 with renewed appreciation of her companionship.

For fun, I looked up how many games of Whirly Word and Solitaire I have now played.  On April 20, 2020, I started this blog, I had played 18,820 and 8,311 of each of those games, respectively.  This morning I was at 21,010 games of Whirly Word and 9,963 games of Solitaire.  That means that I have averaged over 12 games of Whirly Word and 6 games of Solitaire for each of the 258 consecutive days I have written about life in the COVID-19 era.  That alone says something about my lifestyle in the past nine months.

Lynn and I were able to walk two miles yesterday but not today.  Today’s weather was an awful cold rain with sleet mixed in.  It was a good day to stay indoors though both of us were bored.  Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be much better so we’ve planned to go for a walk tomorrow at a place I’ve been looking forward to seeing—the Crozet tunnel under Afton Mountain which is now open to the public.

We got our $1,200 stimulus check today electronically deposited into our checking account.  The irony is that until the pandemic is over we won’t be spending much of it.  Once we’re vaccinated our vehicles will be loaded with suitcases and we’ll try to make up for lost ground in the spending category.

Lynn taught a lesson today via Facetime—she showed Georgia how to knit.  She had given Georgia a knitting kit for Christmas.  Georgia had asked for this after watching her teacher knit while teaching.  So today Lynn taught her how it is done.  Later Kay sent us a video showing Georgia knitting while watching tv!

We also talked with Mary K. today.  She sent us a couple of pictures of her new grandson Den.  And we chatted with Butch who told us how he had Facetimed with Georgia who sold him some Girl Scout cookies.  I told him it must have been because her Scout Leader was pushy (her Mom).

Here are the coronavirus statistics for the first day of 2021:

January 1            Infected                   Died

World               84,261,867           1,833,046

US                     20,567,957              355,918

Virginia               354,766                  5,081

Augusta County       3,365                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       75,288                       

            Augusta County              541

So Virginia administered almost 1,000 vaccines today.  That might sound good but with a population of 8,600,000, at this rate it will take 8,600 days or 24 years to vaccinate all of us.  We still have way under 1% of the population vaccinated after half a month of vaccinating.  Augusta County’s total is 7/10ths of 1% of the population.  This is totally unacceptable. 

The semifinals in the NCAA football playoff were today.  I watched some of each game:  Alabama vs Notre Dame then Clemson vs Ohio State.  Alabama dominated Notre Dame in the first game then I watched the second one in bed.

January 2, 2021

WVU had a basketball game today against Oklahoma at Oklahoma.  It was a typical WVU loss—terrible play, awful shooting, a glimpse of hope, followed by disappointment at the end.  They shot 23% in the first half and got down by 18 points.  Then, they played like they are capable of and came back and tied the game with 8 minutes left.  But down the stretch they let it go and lost, 75 – 71.  It is so hard to be a WVU fan—you have to get used to disappointment.  But I will be one forever.

Today’s weather was nicer than it had been for days.  Lynn placed a pickup order at Michael’s in Charlottesville so we drove there around lunch time to pick it up.  Our plan was to get that order then head for the newly opened Afton Mountain tunnel for a nice walk.  Unfortunately, many other people had the same plans.  When we got there, cars were parked all over the place.  We waited for a spot but that didn’t happen.  Finally, we gave up and came home.  We figured the tunnel would have been crowded anyway with such a throng of people there and this is no time to be in a crowd.  It was disappointing.  We came home and walked our two mile neighborhood walk.

Earlier in the day I had made a trash run including a stop at Ann’s house to get theirs.  I’m driving the back roads now because Jim’s truck has an expired inspection sticker.  I suppose I’ll make arrangements to get it inspected this coming week.  Jim’s plan is to apply for antique plates for it since it is now 25 years old.  With antique plates you don’t have to have your vehicle inspected.  But technically it doesn’t turn 25 until March so I’m thinking I’ll have to get it inspected one more time.

Lynn placed a pickup order at Walmart for today, too.  We’re both trying hard to stay out of indoor establishments for a while.  COVID-19 is just too rampant now.  Looking at the statistics, in the US one out of every sixteen persons has it.  In Virginia that number is something like one out of every twenty four and in Augusta County it is one out of every twenty two. 

Here are today’s figures:

January 2            Infected                   Died

World               84,925,992           1,842,647

US                     20,867,714              358,485

Virginia               358,755                  5,117

Augusta County       3,389                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 81,770                 

            Augusta County        570

There have been almost 400,000 doses of vaccine distributed thus far.  Why have only 20% of them been administered?  I am getting increasingly impatient with how poorly the vaccinations are happening.  

Here is data from the Washington Post about Virginia:  At least 90,011 doses have been administered, covering 1.9% of the prioritized population and 0.7% of the state’s population.  Virginia has been allocated 486,275 doses, enough to vaccinate 15.0% of the prioritized population and 5.7% of the state’s population.  

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, At least 49,827 doses have been administered, covering 4.1% of the prioritized population and 2.2% of the state’s population. West Virginia has been allocated 109,700 doses, enough to vaccinate 11.0% of the prioritized population and 6.1% of the state’s population. 

I don’t know why the Washington Post has more people vaccinated in Virginia than the VDH website says but even with its increased numbers, under 1% of the state’s population is vaccinated whereas West Virginia is at 2.2%.  And, how has West Virginia been able to get almost 50% of its vaccines administered whereas Virginia is at 20%.  Makes no sense.

CNN reported that nationwide, 125,379 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, more than any other day of the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  The number of patients topped 125,000 on Friday as well. The US has now remained above 100,000 hospitalizations for 31 straight days. Augusta County has 78 people currently hospitalized.

January 3, 2021

This was a typical Sunday for us—not much to do and nowhere to go.  We did go to Central this morning and picked up the monthly communion serving which was given streetside along with soup from Millie Brown and Connie Davis.  We also got a box of food for Elizabeth’s family and drove it to them.  Elizabeth reported that Gilberto is making slow improvement and, of course, is stil at UVA.

I got a lesson from Lynn today about Hispanic families’ last names.  I’ve been using the last name Jiminez for Elizabeth and her family.  Actually Jiminez is her last name which she keeps, as do most Hispanic couples.  Gilberto’s last name is Aguirre.  Thus Emily and Nathan have the last name of Aguirre – Jiminez which many people (including me) incorrectly shorten to Jiminez.  If anything, it is the Jiminez that should be dropped when reporting their last name if only one name is to be given.  Lynn had undoubtedly explained that to me earlier but I had forgotten.  In many previous posts I incorrectly listed Gilbeto’s last name as Jiminez.

This afternoon I rode with Lynn to Michael’s in Harrisonburg to pick up an order which she had placed for curbside pickup.  We really are trying to limit our in-store appearances.

Today, I learned of two more cases of COVID-19 in our church, one of which turned out to be fatal.  An elderly lady, Barbara Berry, passed away due to its complications.  She was 89 years old and lived at a nursing home.  Another person, Sarah Melton, has come down with the virus and, according to Pastor Won, is having lots of its adverse symptoms.  I do not believe she is hospitalized.  Furthermore, Won said he thought Susan Obaugh was being released from the hospital.  Still, these are just more cases of COVID-19 affecting people closer and closer to our lives.  Won said that Sarah’s son Shawn also has it.

As we drove to Elizabeth’s house between 11:00 and noon today we passed several churches.  The differences were stark.  At some, the parking lots were empty as services had been called off due to COVID-19.  At others, the parking lots were full, even at churches with obviously small sanctuaries where inside social distancing would have been impossible.  I cannot believe that God expects us to ignore the advice of scientific experts like Francis Collins and fill our churches up at a time when this virus is spreading rampantly.  At our church, for example, the only cars there were those of Won, Millie, Connie, and Yi-Peng Chen who led a Zoom hymn sing.  At Mount Pisgah UMC near our house, the main parking lot was completely full and the overflow lot across the street was over half full.  Their sanctuary is much smaller than ours.

Today’s big news on CNN is that they were given by the Washington Post an audio tape of a phone call Donald Trump made on Saturday to the Republican Georgia Secretary of State demanding that he “find 11,780 votes” and still claiming that he won the election.  They played the tape over and over on the air.  He even threatened the Secretary that if he didn’t immediately act then he would be guilty of an offense.  As Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, tweeted to Ted Cruz who has been singing Trump’s songs of election malfeasance, “You want to investigate election fraud?  Start with this…”

Today’s COVID-19 data is no different from the past:

January 3            Infected                   Died

World               85,455,394           1,850,112

US                     21,080,607              360,027

Virginia               363,765                  5,124

Augusta County       3,498                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 87,618                 

            Augusta County        608

Disappointment, as usual.  Virginia had over 5,000 new cases in just one day.  Augusta County had 109 new cases and has 81 people hospitalized.  We barely have 1% of the Virginia population vaccinated and have used slightly over 20% of the vaccines we’ve received.  Augusta County vaccinated only 38 people today.  I wish I had better news to report and each time I report this kind of information I get more irritated about the state’s ineptitude to get people vaccinated.  ABC tonight reported that Israel had already vaccinated 12% of its population.

There have been 50,000 American deaths in the past 20 days according to ABC news.  Despite the warnings from all medical experts, there is still a segment of the population which is acting like nothing has happened.  ABC had video clips of throngs of people on the beach and at parties, all unmasked and standing side by side. 

Some good news is that Moderna says it can reduce the size of the dosage in its vaccinations by ½, thereby doubling the number of vaccinations available.  The CDC hasn’t approved this yet.

January 4, 2021

I’m still ticked about the rate at which vaccinations are deployed.  So today I did this math after it was pointed out on the news that some people are getting their second vaccination meaning that it has been 21 days since this process was begun.  If Virginia has vaccinated 87,618 people in 21 days, it will take 5.6 years to vaccinate its population at that rate.  Now tell me that is satisfactory…

Knowing it will be a while before I get my vaccination, I canceled a dentist appointment I had next week and plan to cancel a doctor’s appointment I have in February.  I did go in to Central this morning to do the weekly deposit in QuickBooks but I was by myself in the library most of the time. 

The news media is still hopping about that recorded phone call of Trump’s on Sunday.  Some are calling for him to be indicted as violating Georgia law and pointing out that he can’t pardon himself from state laws, only federal.  The news should be about the pandemic and vaccinations but instead it is still about this worthless excuse of a President we have. 

Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over this morning while I was at Central.  Before I left, I set up the patio heater for her.  We had issues with it on Sunday, Dec. 28, when the grandchildren were here but today it worked flawlessly.  I think the issue on the 28th was that it was too windy and the excessive wind kept extinguishing it.  Today it wasn’t windy and the heater worked well for Lynn and her friends.

Our week has very few events scheduled.  Lynn was supposed to have a Zoom IEP meeting with a family in Rockingham County but it was canceled.  She’s supposed to have another one tomorrow, too.

I started reading a book today that Butch had recommended called Being Mortal.  It is by a medical doctor, Dr. Atul Gawande, who grew up where Butch lives in Athens Ohio and is about aging and dying.  It describes how modern medicine has mishandled both of these inevitable stages of life.  The book’s subtitle is “Medicine and What Matters in the End.”

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 4            Infected                   Died

World               85,968,273           1,858,631

US                     21,258,720              361,485

Virginia               367,536                  5,132

Augusta County       3,639                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 89,326                 

            Augusta County        608

Virginia’s numbers were a little better today with only 8 new deaths.  Augusta County, on the other hand, had 141 new cases in the past 24 hours.  And the vaccination page showed ZERO new vaccinations in Augusta County.  I hope this is just a reporting error.  My temper is about to explode.  If Virginia expects to have everyone vaccinated by June 30, the state needs to do 48,000 vaccinations EVERY DAY between now and then.  Can you see how badly we’re doing at this?

Here’s my solution—give the vaccinations to McDonald’s to administer.  According to an article I found from USA Today from 2019, McDonald’s sells 140 million hamburgers every day in the US.  If they were to do vaccinations instead of burgers, it would take two and a half days to vaccinate everyone in America.  After all, doesn’t it take longer to cook a hamburger than it does to stick a needle in someone’s arm?

Seriously, whomever is in charge of vaccinations in Virginia is doing an awful job.  The Wall Street Journal webpage which tracks vaccinations says that Virginia has given 108,861 vaccinations thus far which is 1.3% of the population.  But it has over 486,000 doses on hand.  What good do these vaccinations do when they’re sitting in a refrigerator somewhere??

January 5, 2021

With housekeeper Connie coming this morning Lynn and I wanted to get out of the house.  But since we didn’t want to go into any other buildings, where could we go?  We came up with a great plan:  we drove to the Crozet Tunnel on Afton Mountain which we had tried to see on Saturday but gave up when we discovered it was too busy for us to even park.  Today, with the temperature around 30o when we left home at 8:30, we knew that wouldn’t be the case today. 

We were right about that.  We had bundled up before we left home including long underwear.  We drove to the East side of the tunnel which is in the small town of Afton.  It was a half mile walk to the East end of the tunnel and nearly a mile through the tunnel.  Actually we walked to the 1.5 mile mark on the newly developed trail then turned around and came back.  It was a great three mile walk. 

The tunnel is long but straight so you can see a pinhole of light at the other end when you enter it.  Flashlights are a must and we had ours.  We’ve had lots of rain this season so there were places where the water was still dripping down but we did not walk anywhere in the mud.  The folks who have re-opened this tunnel and the trails to it have done a great job.  I took 42 pictures which I posted to my website when we got back.

On the way back home we made two stops.  First we went to Aldi’s where Lynn got some groceries.  Then we went to Smiley’s for an ice cream lunch.  Again, we were trying to stay away from home while Connie was here so what better place to go than Smiley’s?

I’m about halfway through the book I began reading yesterday, Being Mortal.  Much in this book is about how elderly people can live a happy, self-fulfilling life, not just a safe and medically treated life even though the book is by a doctor.  The examples in the book very much remind me of my parents and grandparents as well as Lynn’s parents.  It talks about how decisions about where elderly people live are made by their children, not the elderly themselves.  It talks about how people want for themselves to have lots of freedom but their loved ones to be safe.

Tonight we’ve kept glued to the news to see how the Georgia elections are going since the Senate’s control is so dependent on the two runoff elections there today.  Tomorrow we’ll be likewise watching with great interest as Congress is supposed to affirm the results of the Electoral College and declare Joe Biden President-Elect despite Trump’s intention to intervene.  As ABC news said it, Trump on Monday had made clear to Pence privately that he expects him to use his role as president of the Senate to deny Biden the presidency during the joint session of Congress, in which both houses will count each state’s electoral votes and reaffirm Biden’s win, according to a person familiar with their conversation.  Of course, Pence has absolutely no authority to do that.

Of course, the news tonight was still awful regarding COVID-19.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 5            Infected                   Died

World               86,776,758           1,873,844

US                     21,553,196              365,184

Virginia               371,913                  5,191

Augusta County       3,677                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               104,083                 

            Augusta County        671

The vaccinations listed here are from the Virginia Department of Health website.  Here are the statistics from the Washington Post:  At least 126,363 doses have been administered, covering 3.9% of the prioritized population and 1.5% of the state’s population.  Virginia has been allocated 587,575 doses, enough to vaccinate 18.0% of the prioritized population and 6.9% of the state’s population.

I don’t care which is more accurate—VDH or Washington Post.  The numbers provided in each are woefully behind where we should be at this point and cause people like me to worry even more.

January 6, 2021

The news is abuzz today about the wins by the two Democrats in the runoff election in Georgia.  Both Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated the incumbent Republican Senators in the special election.  Democrats now have a majority in both the House and Senate which will make it much easier for Biden to get his agenda enacted.  That is really good news.

But that news was quickly eclipsed by the siege that was made on the Capitol building today by Trump supporters.  This was a day for history, for sure.  All the while, Trump kept claiming that the election was stolen from him and then inciting his followers to riot.  After the four-hour occupation of the Capitol by these thugs, Trump complimented them as “patriots.”  Facebook broke out in many, many calls for the 25th amendment to be invoked whereby he is removed from office.  Reporters, politicians, both Democrat and Republican, and nearly everyone else all placed the blame for this insurrection squarely on Trump.  Trump was hell bent on disrupting the meeting of Congress whereby Biden would formally be given the title of President-Elect.  He succeeded, for sure.  But his legacy will forever be as a madman who became a sore loser.  One reporter I listened to tonight called him a psychopath and a narcissist. 

All of this happened while I went to Central to do some beginning-of-the-month tasks.  I was actually very successful in the three hours I worked there, getting all seven accounts (three credit card and four bank accounts) reconciled with no issues.  I’ve still got lots more to do, especially since tax forms will be soon due.

After CUMC, I went to Kroger where I waited entirely too long just to find out my prescription wasn’t ready.  I had to hustle to pick up some groceries Lynn had asked me to get then get home in time for us to go to Bridgewater to pick up Jim’s truck where it had its state inspection.  Surprisingly, the 25 year old truck passed inspection with flying colors.  It will never have to be inspected again because after 25 years a vehicle can be classified as an antique which doesn’t require inspection. 

There were so many developments in Washington today in addition to the riot.  For one, Trump broke off with his most loyal best bud Mike Pence because Pence insisted on doing what he was required to do by the Constitution instead of what Trump wanted him to do.  Tonight, Twitter cut off Trump’s account until tomorrow and threatened to cut him off for good.  Even Melania’s chief of staff quit because of the insurrection. 

At least the news today wasn’t about COVID-19.  Unfortunately, the virus didn’t take a day off while all of this was going on.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 6            Infected                   Died

World               87,578,754           1,888,966

US                     21,822,396              369,448

Virginia               377,300                  5,226

Augusta County       3,759                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               116,247                 

            Augusta County        690

What?  Augusta County vaccinated a total of 19 people today?  What in the heck is going on?  Rockingham County has already vaccinated almost twice as many as Augusta.  Albemarle has nearly three times as many already vaccinated.

I’ve passed the 400 page mark in this blog.  That’s a lot of bologna! 

I did something today I rarely do—I finished reading a book.  It took me only two full days to read Being Mortal.  There were some good lessons in that book on how everyone should prepare for their own finality on this earth and how they should help loved ones who are facing it.

January 7, 2021

It’s a good thing I am on blood pressure medicine because I know my blood would otherwise be boiling today.  I am upset about so much which is happening.  As I’ve been expressing, I am distraught over the turtle-like speed at which vaccines are being administered.  I sent an e-mail today to Dr. Laura Kornegay who is the Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District with an office in Staunton.  Here is the content of that e-mail:

Dr. Kornegay,
I am a 70 year old resident of Augusta County.  I am greatly distressed at the rate at which residents like me are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  According to the VDH website, yesterday Augusta County vaccinated 19 people.  At that rate, it will take 3,977 days, or 10.9 years, to vaccinate all of Augusta’s 75,558 residents.  This is totally unacceptable.  The VDH website shows that Virginia has thus far been issued 481,550 vaccines but only administered 116,247 of them. What good do vaccines do sitting in refrigerators?
If I heard the news correctly this morning, the next group vaccinated in Virginia will be those age 75 and over which, of course, I am not.
I have compromising medical conditions and take Symbicort twice daily.  I have called the office of my Pulmonologist, Dr. Aklilu Degene, at Sentara Pulmonary in Harrisonburg but was told they do not have vaccinations to distribute.  

I’m sure you can understand my frustration.  My question is simple:  what can I do to get vaccinated?
It is so ironic that there are many in our country who can get the vaccine and choose to not take it while others, like me, anxiously await it and can’t get it.
Thank you for listening,

Joe Hill

296 Leaport Road

Mount Sidney VA

540-292-0237

I also called the Carilion office of my personal physician, Dr. James Lagrua, and inquired if they would be giving vaccinations.  I was told that they had no vaccines and probably wouldn’t be getting any. 

In the meantime, there’s all this bs going on regarding the siege yesterday by Trump’s supporters.  Yet I find comments on Facebook suggesting that it was Antifa or BLM proponents who instigated the insurrection.  The videos all over the television tell a different story.  Ordinarily one who doesn’t comment much on Facebook, I couldn’t sit back and keep my mouth shut.  So I made comments on two places.  First, son-in-law Andy Foy had made a very well written post calling for Trump to be impeached and for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to have him immediately removed from office.  I added this comment:

In addition to getting rid of Trump, I’d also propose that Ben Cline, Bob Good, and Morgan Griffith of Virginia also be removed from Congress for objecting to certifying Biden’s win.  Their actions, like those of the rioters were un-American.  Their votes came AFTER they witnessed the siege.

Then, a cousin of mine, Lansing Hill, had made a post about the riot in DC yesterday which said “In my 60 years, I’ve seen a lot.  Nothing compares to this.  Nothing.  I’m sickened and disgusted.  There is no justification for what’s happening.”  Yet some had responded to his post suggesting that Antifa and BLM were responsible for the violence.  I just couldn’t let that go, either, so I responded:

To those quick to point out other riots in America involving members of Antifa or BLM, I say that it is wrong to riot and destroy property no matter which group you are part of, including Trump supporters.  And, those who incite such destruction, such as a President who lies and pours gasoline on the fires of sedition, deserve to be held accountable for it.

Further, there was a post from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph saying that Northram planned to get all Virginians vaccinated by June.  To that I posted:

A lofty goal given that, according to the VDH website, yesterday Augusta County vaccinated 19 people.  At that rate, it will take 3,977 days, or 10.9 years, to vaccinate all of Augusta’s 75,558 residents.  Why is this progressing so slowly?

At this point I don’t know what will happen to Trump or what will happen in the next 13 days before Biden takes over.  I do know that we’re in a mess now, both with Trump and COVID-19.

Lynn has been asked to test some children in Rockingham County this spring.  She rightfully told those in charge of testing that she would be glad to do it if she could get vaccinated.  Supposedly, teachers are going to be in the next group to get vaccinated along with those 75 and older so perhaps she will be able to get hers that way.  She had previously called the School Board Office and asked to be put on the vaccination list.

A Facebook friend of Lynn’s made a suggestion that I followed up with today; I called the  Central Shenandoah Health District office to see if they had a waiting list for COVID-19 vaccinations.  I was told they did not but that they would send me some information via e-mail. I did not receive that e-mail and likewise did not receive a reply from Dr. Kornegay. More high blood pressure…

This morning I took down all of our exterior Christmas decorations, boxed everything up, the put them above the garage.  So 296 Leaport Road is back to normal viewing from the outside now with no extra lights.

More wackiness today from Washington:  many, including Tim Kaine, Chuck Shumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and even a Republic Congressman, Adam Kinzinger from Illinois, are calling for Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unfit to hold office.  One of his Cabinet members, Mitch McConnell’s wife who was Secretary of Transportation, along with many staffers resigned today.  Question:  why did it take people so long to realize that Trump’s an idiot?

This afternoon I had to go back to Kroger to get my prescription.  I was forced to wait indoors for 15 minutes while the ten people in front of me in line got theirs.  I was very uncomfortable doing this but had no choice since this is the steroid, Symbicort, that I take twice per day for my asthma.  For a 60 day prescription, my cost was $393.00.  This is because I have a $450 deductible policy so the next five times I get this filled it won’t cost nearly that much.

COVID-19 didn’t pause during all the Trump theatrics.  According to ABC news, there were a record 3,865 new deaths from COVID-19 registered in the United States on Wednesday, marking the deadliest day since the start of the pandemic, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the second straight day that the country has logged a record number of fatalities from the disease within a 24-hour reporting period. Wednesday’s count tops the previous day’s peak of 3,775 deaths, Johns Hopkins data shows.  Meanwhile, 253,145 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed nationwide on Wednesday, marking the second consecutive day that the country has reported more than 200,000 newly confirmed infections. Wednesday’s tally is less than the all-time high of 297,491 new cases, which the country logged the previous day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Here are the statistics from worldometers.org and the Virginia Department of Health:

January 7            Infected                   Died

World               88,388,598           1,904,287

US                     22,070,748              373,274

Virginia               382,679                  5,275

Augusta County       3,800                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               135,863                 

            Augusta County        869

Virginia had 5,300 new cases.  That is unheard of. 

According to Northram’s plan, those getting vaccinated now are in Group 1A which includes health care providers and residents of nursing homes.  Group 1B will include those over 75 plus teachers, and “frontline workers” such as EMS workers, policemen, firemen, postal workers, grocery workers, manufacturing workers, childcare workers, etc.  Group 1C is for those over 65 plus those with underlying health conditions.  I’m in that group.  God knows when we’ll get ours, if we live that long.   

I’m thinking again about my foxhole analogy.  Tonight I feel like the enemy is so close I can see their bayonets while my reinforcements are miles away and moving ever so slowly.  And when they come my foxhole will be one of the last they find.

January 8, 2021

There was a lot going on today and I missed much of it.  I worked at Central from 8:00 am straight through until 4:30 pm.  I had to pay federal and state taxes for the 4th quarter, then learn how to produce and file W2 forms for six employees (four current and two former).  By early afternoon I had done both.  I followed the examples by the forms submitted the past two years and got them OK, I think.  But then I ran into a problem.  I needed to set up payroll for the January 15 paychecks.  I got into a section of QuickBooks that I couldn’t exit from.  I found an online chat with a support person on the Intuit site but it took hours to adequately connect with him and have him help me with the issue.  By late afternoon we had the January 15 payroll set up OK.  It was very frustrating, though, and I was exhausted by the time this was done.

I wish I could say there’s nothing more to do with QuickBooks but there’s still more work to do.  I can probably wait until Monday to do the rest since I’ll have a deposit to make then.

At first I thought that leaving at 4:30 was a good time to leave but as soon as I got to the car I realized that Gus and Henry had basketball games tonight that were being livestreamed starting at 5:45.  I was supposed to take Lynn to the Old School food truck for our traditional Friday hamburgers but I got home too late for that.  Needless to say, she wasn’t very happy with me.  I just plain forgot about the ball games until it was too late.

This was the first basketball games of the season so it was our first experience with livestreaming.  We paid around $10 for the first month of this service but I’m not sure we’ll get our money’s worth.  The streaming was anything but smooth.  It frequently froze and buffered making it very frustrating to try to watch the game.

Gus didn’t get to play much at all in his JV game and his team got blown out.  They lost by 32 points, 54 – 22.  Their guards were terrible at being able to handle the ball and for some reason the coach didn’t play him until the 4th quarter.  There’s no way he would have done worse than the kids in there the first three quarters.

Henry’s varsity game was a different story.  He didn’t start but played a lot.  He scored 4 points on 2 for 2 shooting from the field.  He played good defense and got some rebounds as Fort beat Buffalo Gap 54 – 48.  Some of the game streamed just fine but we hardly could see any of the crucial 4th quarter.  I was not happy with the streaming but happy he played well and the team won.

The national news today was more of the same:  just about everyone anxious to get rid of Trump while the coronavirus runs rampant.   Trump has been banned from both Facebook and Twitter now.  He produced a video last night where he said the protesters shouldn’t have broken into the Capitol building and been violent but supposedly he later expressed to his close friends that he wished he hadn’t made that video because it angered some of his supporters.  Actually, most people think he made the video to perhaps keep his Cabinet from enacting the 25th Amendment on him and/or Congress impeaching him.  Supposedly, he’s also told others he plans to pardon himself before January 20.

Trump announced that he wouldn’t be coming to the January 20 inauguration.  I’m guessing everyone breathed a sigh of relief at that, especially Joe Biden.  What an embarrassment he has been to the nation and to his party.

ABC news didn’t forget about COVID-19 despite the Trump hoopla:  While millions were focused on Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, and the aftermath, the nation’s COVID-19 death toll soared to new heights.  Thursday, the third consecutive day of record U.S. deaths, was the deadliest so far, with 4,085 COVID-19 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. had never before surpassed 4,000.  With a seven-day average of 2,758 deaths by Friday, at least 365,882 Americans have died from the virus, according to JHU, which equals 1 in every 905.

Here are today’s statistics:

January 8            Infected                   Died

World               89,355,919           1,922,052

US                     22,456,902              378,149

Virginia               387,917                  5,312

Augusta County       3,864                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                      148.909                      

            Augusta County        911

Virginia’s vaccinated numbers are actually lower:  142,061 have received at least one dose.  The higher numbers include those who have gotten both shots.  Augusta County got 42 people vaccinated today.  HORRIBLE!  Our health department is so inept—I haven’t even received an e-mail from them despite e-mailing the director asking her what I could do, calling the department and being told they would e-mail me information.  They’ve done nothing, not even sent an e-mail.  I sent the director another e-mail tonight.

January 9, 2021

The day didn’t start out good for me because Lynn was still seething over my coming home too late last night for us to get the hamburgers she wanted.  I honestly just forgot about the basketball games and actually thought that by leaving Central at 4:30 my timing was good for getting the burgers.  But I had forgotten that Gus’ game started at 5:45 so there just wasn’t any time to get them.  I can’t blame her for being angry at me.  I just get so consumed in work that I forget about everything else that is going on.

My memory is clearly not what it used to be.  I don’t think I have serious mental health issues but I just forget things too easily.  Yesterday when I was paying the 4th quarter taxes I remembered to take screen shots at each step so I could put the directions into the manual I’d written for the next CUMC treasurer.  But later in the day I discovered that I had taken the screen shots and put them in the manual when I did the 3rd quarter taxes.  I just didn’t remember having done it.  I paid our Costco bill twice last month because I didn’t remember paying it the first time. 

I think I’ve got lots of safeguards to help me with these issues.  One of them is writing this blog.  So when I forget, for example, the name of someone or someplace I’ve seen recently I can look it up here.  I’ve done that many times over the past ten months.  Lynn and I keep an accurate shared calendar which should help me remember what’s upcoming.  The basketball games were not on that calendar but I confess that I did not stop my work yesterday at CUMC to look at my calendar (or my phone, my e-mail, or my text messages, either).  Again, I just get so consumed in my work…

I also know that I’ve repeated myself in this blog at various times.  But I’ve always been a repeater—one who tells and retells the same story.  I think that’s attributable to my life as a math teacher where repetition is valued and important.  At least that’s my excuse!

For decades I’ve remembered this line about giving a lecture or talk, “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.”  Yes, repetition is built into my psyche, for sure.  Can you tell?

I made an exciting discovery today.  The NFHS network which is where the basketball games are streamed through, archives the games.  And, they have an iPad app which I downloaded.  I then was able to view last night’s games again and they played smoothly with no buffering or freezing.  We were finally able to see some of the 4th quarter which we could not last night.  And, the iPad can Air Play to our televisions as well.  This is really good news.  It was fun watching Henry score again and again (you can rewind and fast forward the recording).

A somewhat humorous Facebook post the other day caught my eye.  It said that finally with a Democratic President, Democratic Senate, and Democratic Congress, Trump had succeeded in “Making America Great Again.”  MAGA!

Dr. Kornegay finally replied to my e-mails this morning.  She sent me a link to a survey.  I quickly sent her a polite thank you for replying.  Then I clicked on the link.  It was a survey strictly for employers and organizations, not for individuals.  It said “This form is only for essential employers to notify the Health Department of your workplace specifics and how many public facing staff you have that would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19…This is not for individuals to fill out. You must be an employer responding on behalf of your organization.”  So I wrote her again (4th time), this time telling her that the survey she sent me to was clearly not for me; it was to determine which organizations should get their employees vaccinated.  I asked her if vaccinations were only intended for organizations or those who are employed….   She did send back an apology but this just shows how disorganized vaccine distributions are in the state.  There is no plan to gather information from or schedule vaccinations for individuals like me.  Lynn did hear from her Albemarle school rep, where she does the Migrant Education program, that all Albemarle employees are to be vaccinated so maybe she’ll get hers that way. 

This afternoon I watched the WVU – Texas basketball game.  Texas came into the game ranked 4th nationally; WVU was 14th.   West Virginia played a good first half and led 40 – 36 at that point.  The Mounties led the entire second half until 1 second to go when Texas hit a three pointer and took a 72 – 70 lead and the game.  WVU had just missed its previous three free throws.  Typical West Virginia—they can always find a way to lose.

Lynn and I bought our lottery tickets today.  The MegaMillions jackpot is now approaching $600 million; the drawing is next Tuesday night.  The Powerball jackpot is now $470 million; its drawing is tonight.  We bought two tickets for each. 

I honestly think that winning such an amount would bring a person more problems than luxuries.  I can’t imagine all the issues that would come from instantly having that much money.  What would I do if I won?  I’d begin by setting up trust funds for each of my eight grandchildren.  Maybe next I’d hire an accountant for Central so I wouldn’t have to spend too long there and get Lynn so mad at me.

Ann and Josh decided to come to our basement tonight with Freddie and Gus to use our streaming setup to watch basketball.  I thought they were coming over to watch Henry and Gus’ games from last night.  But it turns out that Gus had a JV game rescheduled to tonight at Wilson Memorial High School.  So they watched his game instead.  The streaming worked OK but not perfectly.  And, like last night, Gus only saw a couple of minutes of play.  I feel sorry for him; it would be different if he were on a fine team but the team is now 0 – 2.  He is 6’ 3” and would do well under the basket but the offense that FDHS runs has all of the players on the perimeter so frequently he is 20 feet from the basket when someone shoots.  So he has little chance to rebound and score.  I’ve disliked this offense for years; Henry’s JV team ran the same plays.  Plus, the Fort JV guards cannot handle the ball at all.  Lynn and I haven’t watched the game from tonight (we’ll watch it tomorrow or later) but last night the team must have had 30 turnovers.  Hard to watch… 

The COVID situation has no positive news again tonight.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 9            Infected                   Died

World               90,043,283           1,933,457

US                     22,688,965              381,367

Virginia               393,715                  5,381

Augusta County       3,942                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               167,452 (11,023 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1011

Augusta County vaccinated 100 people today.  Yet Augusta County also had 78 new cases.  Virginia administered 3,895 doses today but the state had 5,798 new cases!  Is this staying ahead of the game?   I think not.  Why are we not vaccinating people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  COVID is infecting people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Virginia is still only at 33% of all of the doses it has received have gotten into someone’s arm.  The other 67% have only gotten into some refrigerator.

The other news tonight is that there are an increasing number of politicians calling for the impeachment (again!) of Donald Trump.  It will likely happen in the House next week though the Senate won’t be convening until one day before Joe Biden is inaugurated.  Who knows what will happen in the next 11 days.  Actually, the impeachment may continue after Biden takes over.  We’ll just have to see how this works out.  One Facebook post I read said “if we can approve a Supreme Court Justice in one week then we can impeach him in one week.”  Of course, that reference was to the way the Republicans pushed through the nomination of Trump’s nominee Amy Comey Barrett to the Supreme Court.  Stay tuned!

January 10, 2021

Lynn got a phone call from our neighbor Debra Sheffer this morning.  Debra told her how she had been walking by a house where Lynn and I have walked scores of times, the Michael’s house which is about 8/10ths of a mile from our house.  This is the house that has the pig, Winnie, that actually lives inside the house.  They also have a couple of dogs which are usually tied up but sometimes not.  One of the dogs is named Remy which we learned from its owner, Lacey.  Remy has always growled at us but whenever we’d say “Remy Go Home!” it would not come close.  Others had told us that the dog had intimidated them.  Well, Debra relayed that when she walked by there yesterday the dog bit her so badly she had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches. 

The house is on the walk that we have made almost daily except for when Lynn broke her foot or the weather was bad.  So this incident will definitely change our walking habits in the near future.  The Sheffers called Animal Control so we’re not sure what will come of Remy.  I would be very happy to learn that the dog is no longer at the house.

Debra later let Lynn know that Animal Control had taken the dog so we knew it was safe to walk past the house again.  So this afternoon we bundled up and did our standard two mile walk.

There wasn’t much else going on today—lots of news about impeaching Trump.  One interesting idea I saw one Democratic Congressman propose was to impeach him in the House immediately next week but wait until Biden had been in office for 100 days before passing it on to the Senate.  That would give Biden time to get his Cabinet appointed and other priorities going because once the Senate takes up the impeachment everything else will grind to a halt.  Personally, I like this plan because it will still accomplish the mission of making Trump ineligible to hold federal office again and will make Trump sweat for 100 days.  One interesting comment I heard one reporter pass on was that in a normal hearing, witnesses certainly are not allowed to be in the jury but in the case of this impeachment every Senator was a witness to the riot.

It took the White House until today to lower their flag to half mast in respect to the policeman who lost his life in the siege.  And that only happened after lots of bad publicity came about.  Supposedly, the only thing Trump is sorry for is making his one video in which he condemned violence. 

Supposedly, those in group 1B are to start receiving vaccinations very soon.  That includes educators, front line workers, and those over age 75.  So there’s a chance Lynn will be getting hers in this group.  She got an e-mail from Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Oskar Scheikl who told them the vaccinations were coming though he didn’t have a date yet.  Supposedly, the school system is going to put out a survey to find out who does and does not want to be vaccinated.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 10          Infected                   Died

World               90,638,389           1,942,107

US                     22,900,907              383,186

Virginia               398,856                  5,383

Augusta County       3,996                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               177,945 (12,747 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1097

Augusta County is still proceeding at an unacceptable slow rate of vaccinations.  Only 86 people were vaccinated today.  Do the math:  there are over 75,000 people in Augusta County.  We’ve been averaging many fewer than 100 vaccinations per day.  At 100 per day it will take over 6 years to get everyone vaccinated. 

January 11, 2021

This being Monday, my first job today was to go to Central UMC for the weekly deposit.  I also had several items left from last Friday to finish since the new year was starting.  I was able to get right to the tasks and got everything done that I had planned by 10:30 AM.  I did bring some work home with me on a USB stick; I had taken lots of screen shots when I did the tax work on Friday and wanted to update my QuickBooks manual to include these screenshots with the directions. 

I was able to work on the basement iMac in the afternoon and get the directions put in for the federal tax section.  I’ll do the state another day.  That manual is already pushing 100 pages in length.

It was too cold to walk today; Lynn and I had walked yesterday but decided to not go out today.  The next few days look very promising for walking, though.

Lynn had a Zoom meeting this morning and worked in the afternoon on getting her teacher recertification application finished.  She has to submit it to her former principal, Kenny Boyers at Cub Run Elementary, and hopes to get that done soon.  This will give her ten more years of teaching, if she wants.  Of course, she only does it part time now.

The news today, as it has been for nearly a week now, was all about impeaching Trump.  A proposal to do so was introduced to the House today; they are supposed to vote on it on Wednesday.  With a big Democratic majority in the House, it will likely pass but then what?  The Senate wouldn’t take it up until January 19 at the earliest.  He leaves office on January 20.  I still like the idea I wrote about yesterday where they hold off delivering it to the Senate until after Biden has gotten his agenda and Cabinet in place, perhaps about 100 days into his Presidency.

For dinner tonight, we went to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and brought home a Soprano pizza.  We had called it in on the way there which worked well.  That pizza is so good!  We ate less than half of it for dinner tonight so we’ll be eating well tomorrow night, too.

Henry had a basketball game tonight at Waynesboro.  The JV game had been postponed, supposedly because the Waynesboro JV team had an outbreak of COVID-19.  So the varsity game was moved to 6:00 which made for a convenient time for Lynn and me to watch it, especially since I had plans to watch the NCAA football championship game between Alabama and Ohio State at 9:00.

The game’s video stream from Waynesboro High was another strange one.  For some reason, on all games we’ve watched there is no person doing the play-by-play.  On Henry’s last game there was a running score across the bottom of the screen though it was almost never accurate.  For the game tonight, there was nothing.  So we had video, no announcer, and no score.  I had to keep up with the score on my computer.  It would seem to me that some high school kid would have fun doing the play-by-play announcing.  It might even lead to some future career.   A high school kid from this area would have a much higher chance to have a career as a tv announcer than the kids on the floor have at being a professional basketball player.

Before the game, Waynesboro introduced its senior players (Fort Defiance had done the same at its first game last week).  They had seven seniors out of the eleven boys who dressed—that’s a lot.  One of them was a transfer from Fort Defiance over the summer.   They appeared to be much taller than Fort’s team.

Henry didn’t start but was inserted pretty early in the first quarter and played much of it.  Ryan Cook is a very good guard for FDHS.  He scored all 12 of Fort’s points in the first quarter.  The score was 12 – 12 then.  In the second quarter, FDHS did well, moving the lead out to 30 – 18 at the half.  Poor Waynesboro is huge but they can’t shoot worth a lick.  Reminds me of WVU!  Henry got in near the end of the quarter and played well though he didn’t have a chance to score. 

In the third quarter, Fort kept its lead despite Ryan’s nose getting bloodied and having to sit out for a while.  Henry got two points on a nice fast break layup.  He didn’t play much in the 4th quarter; FDHS didn’t need him as they cruised to a 56 – 44 win despite shooting horribly from the free throw line.  Fort is 2-0 for the season!  I’d have to say that Waynesboro’s team is very poor, especially for a school which has a good basketball tradition.

The US is averaging more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths per day.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 11          Infected                   Died

World               91,252,121           1,951,508

US                     23,109,737              384,947

Virginia               403,386                  5,393

Augusta County       4,031                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               189,283  (15,130 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        1,178

Virginia had another 4,500 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County got only 81 more people vaccinated today.  The only good news for me is that I got three e-mails from the Central Shenandoah Health Department today about the vaccine.  Two were just informational but one was from a man, Jordan Good, whose title was COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator who said he’d be sure to get me on the list though my group wasn’t scheduled to be vaccinated yet.  I have a feeling I’m going to be e-mailing this man again expressing my disdain…

January 12, 2021

This morning I got an e-mail from the Central Shenandoah Health Department inviting me to fill in an online form regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.  I did and so did Lynn.  The form didn’t have anything significant in it and, of course, provided no new information as to when vaccines would be available.

Later in the morning, I learned that the CDC made a change to its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccinations.  Here is what CNBC said: 

The Trump administration on Tuesday will issue new guidelines that expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone age 65 and older, a senior official told CNBC.  The states’ focus on vaccinating health-care workers and nursing homes has created a bottleneck, the administration official said. “The states are being told immediately they need to expand to 65-plus as well as those under 65 with comorbid conditions,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement.  The administration will also stop holding back millions of doses reserved for the second round of shots of  Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines, the official said, adding they released doses that had been held in reserve on Sunday.

I immediately sent two e-mails to our local health department asking them if that means that people in my age group, 65-74, would now be moved into the priority group 1B instead of 1C.  Right now, supposedly they are finishing vaccinating people in group 1A, those on the front line of health care.  I didn’t pull back any punches in my e-mail, writing: 

My wife and I have both completed the survey.  However, given the news today that the CDC is revising its recommendations to states to now prioritize those 65 and over, will Group 1B now include those 65 and over instead of 75 and over?  If so, what are your plans to expedite this process?  

Plus, Augusta County vaccinated 81, 86, 100, 42, 179, 19, and 63 people in the past week according to the VDH site.  That’s a total of 570 vaccinations.  There are nearly 76,000 residents in the county.  Surely you know that if this rate continues it will take many years, not a few months, to get everyone vaccinated.  Can this not be sped up?  You need to have 24/7 vaccination clinics.

Then, I pasted in the CNBC article about ages 65 and over to confirm what I had written about in the first paragraph.

I didn’t really expect a reply though I did get back an auto-reply that said “Due to increased volume of requests from the community, you may experience a delay in our response to your email.”

Poor Lynn spent most of the day doing an online First Aid class she was required to finish in order to get her teaching certificate renewed.  It was not fun for her at all—it was boring and forced her to do lots of fake hands-on activities.  I told her that, having completed it, she should be considered as a First Responder and thus be eligible for her COVID-19 vaccination in group 1A.

I spent a lot of time this morning working on my QuickBooks manual.  Yesterday I got the sections done about doing the quarterly Federal 941 forms and the annual chore of doing the Federal W-2 forms.  Today I completed the section for the State W-2 and VA-6 forms.  I only have a little to do to finish the manual—the section about what needs to be done to start a new year.  I’ve done those tasks for 2021 but didn’t make screen shots so I’ll re-trace my steps and take the screen shots sometime in the near future.  There aren’t many tasks that need to be done.

The weather was as nice today as it is going to be in mid-January with lots of sun and highs in the mid to high 40’s.  We were able to get in a walk after Lynn finished her long online class.  It was actually very pleasant outside.  I can tell I’m not in the shape I was months ago—walking two miles now tires me a bit.  But it still felt good to be outside.  Actually, we didn’t walk until I made a phone call to Augusta County Animal Control.  I wanted to know if the dog that had bitten Debra Sheffer had been returned to the owners.  They said no and it would not be which meant that it was safe for us to walk our normal hike.

Freddie was back in regular school today and his bus brought him here this afternoon.  Josh was here to pick him up.   It was nice to get back to that routine, even if it is only for two days each week.  Freddie was happy that his teacher is back now after a maternity leave.  I pitched a football with him for a while and was very pleased at how well he threw and caught it.

Tonight was the third basketball game for both Henry and Gus.  The two came into their games with opposite early experiences.  Gus’ JV squad is 0 – 2 and he has gotten to play very little.  Henry’s varsity team is 2 – 0 and he has played roughly 50% of the time.  Both played Riverheads. 

In Gus’ game, he didn’t get to play the entire first quarter.  His teammates played poorly and fell behind 7 – 2 at the end of the quarter.  After a couple of minutes into the second quarter, Gus got to play.  His team made a good comeback and went ahead 16 – 13 at half.  Gus didn’t score but rebounded and played defense well.  To start the third quarter, he was back on the bench.  Shortly thereafter, Riverheads went up 17 – 16.  Then Fort got hot and took a 27 – 19 lead at the end of the third quarter.  Gus saw some action near the end of the quarter.   He stayed in to start the 4th quarter and continued to do well, hitting a nice baseline jumper to add to the lead.  He got several rebounds but the coach took him out when he picked up his third foul.  The JV’s won their first game of the season, 32 – 21.

Henry doesn’t start on the varsity team though I think he should.  Of course, he’s only a sophomore.  He got in after about four minutes and quickly hit a nice left hander then buried a three pointer.  The Indians were down 10 – 8 at the end of the quarter and he had 5 of the 8 points.  See what I mean that he should be starting?  He scored again in the second quarter and Fort narrowly clung to a 20 – 19 lead at half.  He was 3 – 3 from the field in the half.  But the third quarter was disastrous for them.  Cold shooting led to a 38 – 30 lead for Riverheads.  Henry played some but definitely not enough.  When he was in, he rebounded and passed well.  I can’t understand why the coach takes him out and puts in players that have no chance of scoring and don’t play good defense.  Henry got back in with 5:38 to go but they were down 42 – 32 by then.  Fort hit two three pointers, the second with 1:44 left, after being down 9 which made it 47 – 44.  They had the ball twice more and missed a shot that would have tied it but then fumbled it away on a few other possessions in the last minute.  They lost 50 – 47. Henry had 9 points.  Fort’s star player Ryan Cook had an off game. 

I’ve watched a lot of CNN over the past week since the news has been so hot lately.  Today’s news was about the impending impeachment of the President.  And, it included a clip of him getting ready to go to Texas to visit the border wall he built (with US taxpayer funds, not Mexico’s).  Before he left, he said that his comments right before the riot were “appropriate” and claimed he had been told that by others.  I don’t know what others he is talking about because everyone in the news including plenty of people from both sides of the political aisle, have called his comments seditious. 

In today’s COVID-19 report:

January 12          Infected                   Died

World               91,972,691           1,968,351

US                     23,358,156              389,424

Virginia               407,947                  5,477

Augusta County       4,060                       34

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                     200, 402 (19,086 of whom got 2nd dose)        

            Augusta County        1,321 (130 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County had 3 more people die of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and currently has 93 people hospitalized with it.  Though the vaccinated numbers picked up a little with 143 vaccinated, still less than 2% of Augusta County’s population has received even one shot.  If we expect herd immunity at some time, then we’ve got to get the number vaccinated much higher than those newly infected. 

January 13, 2021

The video streaming service broadcasts of the boys’ basketball games isn’t perfect though the last couple of games have worked better for us.  We’ve learned that the best way to stream the games is through my iPad which we then use AirPlay to transfer to our large TV downstairs.  The service hasn’t figured out yet how to sync their broadcast with the score so I’ve just maintained my own scorebook.  Regardless of these minor problems, it is still turning out to be a very nice way for us to see Henry and Gus play.  We don’t have to travel or pay entrance fees.  We can lounge in the comfort of our family room and even play the games over and over if we want.  Lynn called FDHS yesterday to thank them for the service and to let them know we’d like for them to get the clock and scoreboard synced better.  The Athletic Director said they were working on the issue.  The next games will be Friday night.

Lynn has been working on getting all of her recertification papers together so she can remain as a licensed teacher.  She needs to do that in order to keep her position with Rockingham County as a part-time ELL testing person.  If it is approved, she will be re-licensed for ten more years which is all she’ll ever need.  She has them all ready to turn in to her former principal, Kenny Boyers at Cub Run.  I suggested that she should scan them so she’d retain a copy of all she submits.  Today I took them all to the basement where our HP printer/scanner is.  The process worked great!  She had the papers separated into five or six paper-clipped sections, each with 8 – 12 pages in them.  I scanned them to a USB drive in these sections, feeding through the document feeder.  It worked very, very well.  I transferred the documents to her computer and the downstairs iMac so she now has a good backup of everything she’s submitting.  Instead of having a big manila file folder of information, it is all now combined into five or six PDF documents.  That printer/scanner has served us well.

By the way, my licensure to teach in Virginia expired in 2020.  I have no plans of trying to get it renewed.  I do think I’d enjoy teaching again, perhaps a FDHS course, but I’m not about to go through the tedium she’s done to get her recertification.

Today’s weather was even better than yesterday’s.  Lynn had made arrangements to walk with Ginny Bauman in the afternoon.  She walked two miles with her then later walked 1 ½ more with me. 

While Lynn was walking with Ginny they talked to Lacey, the owner of the dog that bit Debra Sheffer.  She told Lynn that the dog had been put down.  I’m not too sorry to hear that.

I spent too much time today listening to the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.  The speeches, usually one or two minutes in length, went on and on.  They were quite repetitious.  I really can’t believe the blind manner in which many Republicans still follow their deranged leader.  Yet the vote was 231 – 197 to impeach Trump with 10 Republicans siding with all of the Democrats who voted to impeach him.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 13          Infected                   Died

World               92,678,975           1,984,316

US                     23,573,585              393,251

Virginia               412,545                  5,552

Augusta County       4,151                       36

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                     216, 257 (22,985 of whom got 2nd dose)        

            Augusta County        1,390 (164 of whom got 2nd dose)

I keep looking for good news here but there is none.  Augusta County only vaccinated 79 more people in the past 24 hours.  Yet five more have died in the past two days.  There were 91 new cases.  So they can’t even vaccinate more people than those who get infected each day.   And did I get a reply from my two e-mails asking if I would be moved to category 1B?  Of course not.  I guess they were too busy vaccinating people – NOT.   And look at where the vaccines are going:  Virginia has received 904,400 vaccines but only administered 216,257 of them.  They’re going to refrigerators, not people.

I’m going to have to start cutting back on eating.  This morning I got on the scales for the first time in weeks and found that I have gained a little over six pounds since the start of the pandemic.  But lately the food has been so good!  Tonight Lynn made delicious Spanish Rice and we had leftover Vito’s pizza.  Plus, she made some new cakes from a recipe Ann gave her involving grapefruit juice.  They are really good, too.

For fun, after dinner tonight we went to the 7 – 11 in Verona and bought two MegaMillions and Powerball tickets.  Don’t ask me what we’d do if we won $550,000,000!

January 14, 2021

We got some good news last night from Elizabeth Jiminez.  Her husband Gilberto Aguirre is doing much better, is taking rehab now, and will be released to come home soon.  He still can’t have visitors yet, though.  She also confided with Lynn that a few weeks ago she received a phone call from the hospital that his lungs had collapsed and she should arrange to say her last good-bye to him.  Understandably, Elizabeth gives high praise to God for his recovery.  This is another example of prayers answered.

Well, we didn’t win the Powerball lottery last night but neither did anyone else.  So now the jackpot for the next draw is $650,000,000.  What in the world would you do if you won that?  You’d have to assume a new identity somewhere like those in witness protection.

I’m trying to keep up the pressure on those who are working with COVID-19 vaccinations.  Last night, in his State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Northram said “They authorized states to go ahead and start vaccinating people age 65 and up. We’ll be moving forward with that quickly—I’ll be talking to local health directors and hospitals tomorrow about how we make this happen.”  So today I called the Virginia Department of Health number to ask why their website still has people in the 65+ age category in Group 1C whereas those in the 75+ category are in 1B.  I was on hold for a long time before I finally got through to someone. 

Actually I had been transferred to 211-Virginia.  A nice lady came on the line and was fully aware of what the Governor had said and the changes from the CDC.  She told me that people in my age group should be moved into group 1B just as I had asked.  She said the website would likely reflect that tomorrow.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Of course, Augusta County is still vaccinating people only in the 1A group.  I’m going to continue my pressure until I have a sore arm from the shot.

This afternoon Governor Northram had a press conference about COVID-19.  He said just what I wanted him to say—that people in age 65 and older would be moved to group 1B and that the state had to do a better job of getting vaccines into arms.  He also said that every vaccine that had been received in the state had been delivered to the localities.  In other words, we know for sure where the fault lies now—our local health department which only vaccinates about 75 people each day. 

Freddie came on the bus again today, as he will likely do the rest of the year unless Augusta County Schools changes its program.  The weather was really nice outside for January 14 so we shot basketball until Josh came.  I enjoy his company!

Lynn and I also walked two miles today.  It felt good.  This weather has been unseasonably nice but, unfortunately, according to the forecast today is to be our last warm day.  The upcoming week isn’t supposed to be frigid, just seasonable meaning the highs will be in the 40’s.  Today it neared 50.

Lynn’s Cheryl friends came over this morning so I went to Central.  I got my entire QuickBooks manual finished, printed, and inserted into the notebook.  Whenever it is time for me to give up my treasurer’s duties, the next person should have a guide to learn from.  The document is 96 pages long.

I called my sister today to check on her.  She sounded better on the phone today than she has in years.  She was alert, witty, and said she felt fine.  She is so happy to have that new grandson.  Speaking of him, we got a nice text from Vic today thanking us for the blanket Lynn made for him plus the books we sent.  He sent along a picture of little Denny wrapped in the blanket.

Lynn had read somewhere that vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are all a preventative from adverse reactions to COVID-19.  So for the past ten days or so I’ve been taking one of her multi-vitamins which contains vitamin C and zinc plus a vitamin D pill.  She’s been taking them daily for years.  I figured they couldn’t hurt.

Tonight Jim send a text message to our Family group that he was registered to be vaccinated for COVID on January 20.  I’m jealous! 

Here are today’s statistics:

January 14          Infected                   Died

World               93,455,201           2,000,349

US                     23,811,054              397,347

Virginia               417,839                  5,626

Augusta County       4,195                       39

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               242,530 (27,429 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,591 (224 of whom got 2nd dose)

The news above is really bad.  Virginia had over 5,000 new cases and 74 new deaths.  Augusta County had three more deaths and 96 currently hospitalized.  Staunton City has 42 deaths thus far with less than 2,000 cases.  Rockingham County has almost 5,000 cases total and 57 dead.  Harrisonburg has almost 5,000 cases and 50 dead.  The only bright spot is that Augusta County finally vaccinated more than 200 people in one day. 

Lynn got word today that her uncle B. B. Hanger died yesterday.  He was living at The Legacy with his wife, Jo Lee.  He was the last of the Hanger family to go.  We had traveled to Alaska with him and Jo Lee back in 2006.

What has our country come to?  There are more troops now surrounding the Capitol in DC than the number of soldiers in Afghanistan.  By next week, in addition to thousands of policemen where are supposed to be 20,000 National Guard.  Many Congressmen are going back home fearing for their lives.  City leaders throughout the US have been told to brace for violence.  Trump has still not taken any responsibility for the violence on January 6.  You have to wonder when, not if, there will be someone in power killed by one of the thousands of wild people like those who lay siege to the Capitol.  Guns are so easy to get and, apparently, minds are so easy to be warped.

January 15, 2021

I got one piece of news I’d been looking for this morning:  the Virginia Department of Health changed its website so that people age 65 and over are now in Group 1B.  Our health department is still vaccinating people in group 1A but other sections of Virginia are already in Group 1B—that’s why Jim got his appointment.  Teachers are in 1B. 

The medical experts say that those who are vaccinated not only have a 95% chance of not getting COVID-19 but even if they do get it their case will likely be very mild.  Maybe the reinforcements are getting nearer to my foxhole.  But the enemy is, too—ABC said this morning that the number of deaths this past week due to coronavirus are 25% higher than they have been at any time during this pandemic.

Lynn and I went to Costco during senior hour this morning.  We had several things to get and Central UMC had given me a rather long list of items they wanted.  We were successful in getting everything and the store wasn’t crowded.

Afterwards we went by The Legacy and left a flower nnd card for Jo Lee Hanger.  B.B.’s obituary was on the Coffman Funeral Home site; he was 96 years old.  All of that family lived a long time! 

We then stopped by Central and dropped off all of the items we had purchased.  All were for the custodian, Janet.

Gus and Henry each were scheduled to play basketball tonight at Stuarts Draft High School but the NFHS site, the streaming site, didn’t list their games though it did list lots of others.  Lynn called the school and was told that the games were still scheduled and the lady who took her call said she’d notify the Athletic Director.  We didn’t want to miss one second of their games!  Finally they showed up online.

I’m not sure why but the price of gasoline has risen significantly over the past week.  We’d been paying around $1.95 per gallon but Costco’s price today was $2.33.  I’m sure the Republicans will say that’s the result of electing Biden.  If this is so, then it was worth it.

It was chilly today and rainy in the late afternoon.  But before the rain got here Lynn and I got in our two mile walk.  We were bundled up well and it wasn’t too bad. 

Today was Friday so we returned to our tradition of getting hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  We ate early since we wanted to watch Gus’ game which started at 5:45.

After we ate, Ann, Josh, and Freddie came over to watch the games.  We had a setup where Ann connected to the game on her phone then projected it to the downstairs television via AirPlay.  She did so through our WiFi.  Meanwhile, Lynn and I connected to the network using Verizon on my iPad.  I had turned WiFi off on the iPad so we wouldn’t be competing for bandwidth with Ann.  The only drawback was that we couldn’t use AirPlay to connect to our tv upstairs since we had turned WiFi off.  So, Lynn and I didn’t get the benefit of a big screen through we were able to see the games OK on the iPad.  This way, we were able to keep socially distant yet still both families could see the games.

The JV game was hard to watch.  Fort led the entire first half and built up a 38 – 31 lead with about 4 minutes left.  Gus had played a good bit, scored four points, and got lots of rebounds.  But at the 4 minute juncture of the game he had been taken out.  Over the last four minutes, with Gus on the bench, Stuarts Draft scored 14 points and Fort didn’t score.  The Fort guards threw the ball away, then threw it away, then threw it away.  Over and over again they turned the ball over.  Gus later said it was six consecutive times they turned it over.  They are just poorly taught and coached.  Gus should feel good about his play.

In the Varsity game, Henry didn’t start though I think he should.  Henry has been the second highest scorer in two of their three games yet he didn’t play a second of the first quarter.  Explain that.  At least Fort was up 16 – 10 at the end of the first.  He played most of the second quarter, scored two points, and Fort grabbed a 26 – 19 lead at the half.  At the end of the third, Fort had moved out to a 42 – 30 lead and Henry had 8 points.  The final score was 54 – 36.  Henry had 10—his first time in double digits.  Not bad at all for a sophomore! Fort is 3 – 1 now.

When I think about it, it is amazing that the boys are able to play interscholastic basketball with COVID-19 so rampant.  So many other things have been canceled.  They play in a large gymnasium with only 20 – 25 fans present. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 15          Infected                   Died

World               94,245,418           2,016,069

US                     24,076,290              401,469

Virginia               422,634                  5,656

Augusta County       4,225                       39

            Vaccinated

            Virginia             268,4430 (30,475 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,647 (233 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County vaccinated 56 people today.  Terrible!!  Lynn did get an e-mail from Rockingham County Schools with details about when those employees, including her, would be vaccinated starting January 27.   They’re going to do all of the vaccinations at the four high schools, one per week, on Wednesdays, starting at Spotswood High School.  So it seems that Rockingham has some plans.  Apparently Augusta does not.

January 16, 2021

The morning took an unexpected frantic turn when, while we were taking food to Lynn’s student Juan Pablo in Waynesboro, I got an e-mail from Bill Bushman with directions for signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine at Augusta Health.  He said it was legitimate and that he and Martha had signed up and gotten their confirmations.  While coming home I got a similar text from Jim Printy saying to sign up quickly; spots were going fast.  I drove home faster than I should have then put my typing skills to good use.  Lynn and I immediately signed up for next Friday, the 22nd, at 8:20 AM. 

The site says this will be the Pfizer vaccine.  We had to fill in various information on the online form then we got to pick our time.  The earliest available on Friday was the 8:20 slot.  We then forwarded the e-mail to everyone we thought would be interested.  The form said it was only for 75 and over but we were told by others to ignore that so we did.  Other friends said they signed up for times on Wednesday and Thursday so I guess we’ll find out if there’s anything not Kosher with this before our time comes.

I sure hope this is legitimate!  Lots of our friends also signed up.  Then I had another moment of euphoria—I read that the Pfizer 2nd dose is 21 days after the first.  If we get our first dose on January 22 then our follow up would be February 12.  From February 15 – 18 we are booked at the Greenbrier.  We made these reservations back in December, hoping that by then we would have at least one of our vaccination shots.  But if we can actually get them both prior that will make for one enjoyable week at the Greenbrier.

Today I also discovered that the Waynesboro News-Virginian had online coverage of local high school basketball just like all newspapers used to.  There was a nice article about the FDHS game last night, complete with pictures, some of Henry.  I immediately completed the online subscription for a year—it was only $26.00.  The digital version also had articles for the previous games, some with box scores.  The only downer to this was when we were in Waynesboro we bought a print copy of today’s News-Virginian expecting to see the article in print form but it was not there. 

WHSV had videos from last night’s game, too.  Henry was mentioned by name on the news as it showed him scoring off an in-bounds play.  It took me a while but I found out how to download the video which I then uploaded to my Vimeo account.  But before I posted it so others could see it I wrote to the WHSV reporter who posted it and asked for his permission.  I just wanted to do this right.

Here’s why I am hesitant to believe we really will be vaccinated next Friday:  today I got an e-mail from the Central Shenandoah Health Department, the place that’s supposed to be coordinating all of the vaccinations in our part of Virginia.  In part, it said, “Beginning, Monday, January 18th, the Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) will make available closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for “Phase 1b” priority groups…. CSHD is also working with our healthcare partners such as hospital systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s), and 10 local pharmacies throughout the district to start vaccinating persons aged 65 and up. More details about these PODs for persons 65 and up will be available soon.”  It’s almost like they didn’t know that Augusta Health was already scheduling vaccinations.  The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing!

I do know that the number of spots posted for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday filled up.  Lynn’s sister Kay waited until this evening to try to sign up but found that there were no spots available.  She has already had COVID-19 so she wasn’t too upset, figuring that she had an immunity already. 

With cautious optimism, Lynn and I celebrated tonight.  After our dinner, we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.   We’re going to try to be especially careful this coming week.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Virginia is just awful:  6,757 new cases in just one day:

January 16          Infected                   Died

World               94,899,870           2,029,380

US                     24,292,811              405,177

Virginia               429,391                  5,706

Augusta County       4,297                       41

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               295,202 (32,059 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,769 (234 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County did a little better than normal, vaccinating 122 more people.  Assuming the Augusta Health schedule is correct, that number will increase.  The schedule we signed up for on Friday, January 22, had 3-4 people scheduled every 5 minutes, 8:00 – 12:00 and 1:00 – 5:00, for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Augusta County currently has 99 people hospitalized with coronavirus.  Tonight I’m feeling mighty lucky to have been able to avoid it for the past ten months.  If only I can make it one more week to get that first vaccination, followed by dose #2 three weeks later!

Nineteen states now have evidence of the United Kingdom mutation of COVID-19.  Virginia is not currently one of them.

Lynn’s back is still not healed.  Almost every afternoon she lies down to rest it.  She says she no longer gets the sharp pangs of pain but it just gets tired and hurts after she has sat in a hard chair for any period of time.  When she is in bed, she can’t lie on her back long.  So one of the things she wants to do once she has been vaccinated is to have a doctor check it out.   She also is supposed to get a bone density test which she has put off until after the vaccination.

Today’s weather was not pretty.  It was cold, windy, and we had blowing snow for parts of the day.  Ann was out shopping during one squall and told us the roads were quite slick.  Thankfully she got home OK.   Before then, I did a trash run which was slowed a little because I had to jump the truck to get it started.  I’ll probably need to get its battery replaced sometime this coming week.

The MegaMillions jackot is now $850 million and the Powerball jackpot is $650 million.  The Powerball drawing is tonight and the MegaMillions is on Tuesday.  We have our tickets for both!  Of course, this is just for fun. 

In tonight’s news, Trump wants his exit from the White House on Wednesday morning to be an elaborate military ceremony with red carpet and “Hail to the Chief.”  I’d think handcuffs would be more in order.   He’s going to in Florida by the time the Inauguration starts.

The news also said by Inauguration Day on Wednesday Washington would have more than 25,000 troops, five times the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  ABC said some of the rioters arrested for the January 6 siege were asking for a pardon from Trump, saying they were just following his orders.