Fully vaccinated! (201.5)

I didn't really mark the occasion, but I've now been officially "fully vaccinated" for over a week. Over two weeks, by some measures. Officially you're considered "fully vaccinated" two weeks following your final dose of vaccine, but apparently that's for Moderna. For Pfizer, you really only need one week, but the proverbial "they" decided that rather than confuse the message, and make people wonder if they had to wait one week or two, they'd just tell everyone two weeks.

I'm celebrating by visiting my family this weekend! It'll be the first time I've seen any of them in person, as opposed to on Zoom, since my mom's birthday last January. This time it's my dad's birthday on Monday, and we're having a little gathering on Sunday to celebrate. Lots of hugs! And maybe still masks when we're near each other. We'll see.

I'm not worried for myself -- it's not hard to figure out from my social media, though I don't really talk about it outwardly all that much, that I've been eating indoors with other people a couple of yards away just about weekly for the whole time. My parents are both around 80, though, and each already has health issues, and while I'll gladly deliver hugs, I also want to be careful what else I deliver.

A friend is taking care of the dogs while I'm away, and hopefully she'll be careful with Mavis, who really shouldn't be out of her crate when either of the other dogs isn't secured. I've done my best to make it clear.

Credit card surcharges for hotel stays? Not reasonable. (202.5)

I just read a travel column on rogue Marriott properties levying credit card surcharges against company policy.

Apparently, the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort had been charging a 2% credit card surcharge, and after Marriott said they would put a stop to it, it became a 1% surcharge. Matthew points out that under Florida law, the hotel can legally do this. There were some bans on credit card surcharges several years ago, and then "cash discounts" were allowed instead, but apparently the distinction was ruled a first amendment violation.

Don't get me wrong. Small businesses with razor-thin margins are legitimately being crushed by credit card fees, often 2.5-3% and 30¢ per transaction, especially on small transactions like a cup of coffee where cash makes more sense. That $2 cup of coffee isn't making anyone any money if you pay for it with a credit card. That’s where I see credit card surcharges as reasonable, as long as they’re clearly stated in advance.

I even feel for gas stations, which in many if not most cases are small local businesses who don't enjoy the deep pockets of the oil company whose logo they've paid a franchise fee to show. Those mom-and-pop gas stations are only getting ten cents per gallon of the $2.89 we're paying while the big gas distributor companies, oil companies, and state tax agencies split almost all of the rest. Guess which portion the credit card costs come out of. Yup, the small shop owner's 10 cents, not the distributor's buck or the oil company's buck. I hate the high cost of a tank of gas, even as I've used far less gas this past year than any before, but it's not the local gas station's fault.

There's a local restaurant that's started saying the menu price reflects a cash discount, and there's a 4% higher charge if you're paying by card. At first, they were letting guests know about that only when the check arrived, and that's just not fair. The unpleasant surprise leaves a bad taste in people's mouths after a good meal. I'm sure some server tips suffered as a direct result. Yes, a small restaurant with slim margins is affected by those credit card transaction fees, and wanting to pass them along is understandable, as long as the business is up front about it.

But a hotel? They can’t possibly expect people are paying in cash for their several-hundred-dollar or even several-thousand-dollar stays, and a credit card surcharge (or the inverse of a cash discount, it doesn’t matter how you phrase it) on a hotel stay is not reasonable. Of course some guests will hand over a wad of cash or write a check, but that's not what the vast majority -- probably damn near 100% -- of guests is doing. They probably figure business travelers won't care, or even wealthier vacationers who'll casually pick a Westin resort might not miss the difference, but families who've saved up for a splurge should not be faced with the last-minute discovery that they're being charged a couple percent more than they thought they were.

I like the idea from one commenter on Matthew's blog post. Hotel springs a credit card surcharge or "cash discount" on you at the last minute? Go to the bank and get your $800 hotel bill in pennies and give them those. Without the wrappers.

So long to Stevie (201.9)

A Facebook post from a person I've never met about the passing of a dog I've never met hit me harder than I expected this afternoon. I've been thinking a lot about Miss August Moon lately. Auggie was such a good piglet.

I told Stevie that Auggie was looking forward to playing with him on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, and asked him to tell her that I love her. The simple reply, "i will tell her, tho she already knows," made me cry this afternoon -- and it just did again.

Eleven years ago, thanks to Kat, Auggie got her first new lease on life. Four years ago, when we were looking for a new home for her, she informed us she'd found it. One year and a month ago, we learned she had metastatic lung cancer and she decided she wasn't done. A year ago, we had a couple of weeks of happy, bouncy piglet ahead of us.

She did know. All of them know. Even Mavis, who wags her tail and cuddles at every opportunity, as I try and probably fail to hide the frustration and exasperation over a situation that's 100% not her fault.


Still feeling fine about 40 hours after my second Pfizer shot, but I was pretty zonked last night, went to bed early, and slept for about nine hours!

I took yesterday off just in case, and managed to get done a couple of the things I had planned. A friend who seemed interested in Mavis ghosted us on a doggy playdate, and she seems to have been offline since Thursday afternoon. Hope she’s OK.

Also hit the last of the Foodnet Mac & Cheese Crawl entries I’m going to get to, with a little drama for each. Some of the eateries make it really hard to participate!


Plexiglass and clipboards! (200.0)

Interesting observation from bill_schubert that he wishes he'd bought stock in clipboards. "Things we really need in a pandemic: Plexiglass and clipboards." He had just gotten back from a vaccination site where there must've been at least a couple thousand clipboards in use.

I wish the signs at the vaccination site I visited last week hadn't been so adamant about no photography or video recording (right up to the point you were asked to point your phone camera at a QR code to submit a survey) so I could take a more casual look around the site after the fact. Now I'm even more curious how a TV station got permission to shoot in there during what looked like a pretty busy stretch. Surely they didn't get permission from each of the hundreds of people in there at the time.

Maybe I'll ask if I can get some photos for news coverage purposes on my second visit in two weeks.

There were a lot more laptops than clipboards at the Syracuse site from my recollection, as everyone seemed to be looking up or entering patient info on laptops. Definitely lots more clipboard action at the flu vaccine clinics on campus in the past, since there's generally no preregistration for those and everyone's asked to fill out forms while waiting in line. Stacks of clipboards and pens and multipart forms, and at least last year, someone sanitizing the ones that had just been used before they were handed to the next patient.
  • Current Music
    Carter snoring

Just like starting over (199.1)

How long has it been since I've watched any "Outlander"? Long enoiugh that I can't find any of my habitual tweets quoting any episodes, which I've been doing for at least a few years. I knew I was way behind, and figured instead of trying to figure out where I'd left off, I might as well start at the beginning. I've now watched the first five episodes (starting last night) and have just 63 to go! Could take a while.

Spent a lot of time on the couch today. I haven't been comfortable sitting in the desk chair for very long, so even when actively working or in meetings, I'm more likely to be sitting on the couch. Maybe tomorrow I'll use the desk for the first time since doing some radio recording on Sunday.
  • Current Music
    "The Skye Boat Song"

Long day! (201.2)

Today started early -- actually, it started when I woke up around 5:30, but after reading a bit on the iPad, I fell back to sleep again for a bit. But I got up a bit earlier than usual since I'd offered to drive a friend to his vaccination appointment, and needed to pick him up about 20 minutes before. Of course, first had to walk the dogs, which takes longer with Mavis around.

When the Sleep Cycle app on my iPhone went off, I picked up the phone and tapped the corner of the screen to wake it up, and the phone crashed! It brought up the spinny thing, and restarting it after a while didn't help a bit.

I ended up spending most of the day with a non-functioning phone, which I finally wiped and restored from a (way too embarrassingly old) backup. It's still not walking to my Watch. Went over to BJ's for a couple of things, gas included, while John was in the mall for his vaccination, then popped into the mall myself to visit the cafe. Got to see a friend I hadn't seen in a while (true of most friends right now, of course) and got a ridiculous raspberry cheesecake latte.

One good reason to stick to the earlier wakeup time is to follow Dr. James Maas's advice to minimize the stress of Daylight Saving Time by spreading the "spring forward" hour out over several days. If I get up 10 or 15 minutes earlier each day through the weekend, the jump on Sunday will be easy.

Just re-watched the first episode of "Outlander." I fell way behind, and I figured rather than try to figure out where to pick up, I should just start over.
  • Current Music

✌🏻 V is for Vaccinated! Pfizer shot 1 on board. (200.6)

Saw late morning Thursday that there were apparently many new appointments added in Syracuse and Binghamton for this afternoon, and tonight's the first night of the overnight Johnson & Johnson vaccination clinic at the State Fairgrounds.

V is for Vaccinated!I've been eligible under Phase 1b, but wasn't rushing while supplies were limited. I decided with last-minute slots available, I might as well jump on board.
It also occurred to me there will likely be lots more available in Tompkins County soon, and I could wait for that, but I have the flexibility to go to Syracuse and not everyone does.

Thanks to the coworker who signed into our Thursday morning staff meeting as he arrived to the Binghamton vaccination site for cluing me in to the spike in availability.

I had no side effects to speak of. It's possible my sleepiness a little earlier than usual on Friday night was due to the vaccine, but it's just as likely it was just a long week. I did have slight stiffness in the muscle the injection went into, but certainly no more, and no longer, than for any other injection.

Maybe the second shot in just under three weeks will kick my butt! But I'm looking forward to being at least partially immunized.

Who's calling from the hospital after 5pm?! (199.2)

607-274-XXXX phone numbers are either Ithaca College or local municipal numbers or the hospital, and I was pretty sure I recognized the hospital switchboard number as the caller late this afternoon.

"Hello, this is Mark!"
"Uh, maybe I have the wrong number. I was trying to call my mom."
"OK! When you reach her, tell her I said hi!"
"Oh, do you know my mom?"
"I don't even know who you are yet!"
"Right, uh..."
"Anyway, when you talk to your mom, tell her a random guy named Mark says hi."
"Have a good nght!"

Now I really wish I had a way of finding out whether he told his mom I said hi, and how she reacted.

I gained weight since my surgery. Not a huge amount, but I've spent most of the last month and a half above 200 instead of below. I'd say the last two months or so have entailed more walking than anytime in the previous ten months, thanks to Mavis being with us and needing so much exercise. The last few days she's been off in another home, but she's back, and my step count will bounce back accordingly. Can't hurt as I try to keep the weight off and nudge it down a little further.

"Can we be friends?"

My two little girls met for the first time four years ago today, and we had just over three years with Auggie. 💜
The last few days have featured Facebook memories of the lead-up to this meeting:

  • I don't believe in the no-win scenario.

  • Never give up. Never surrender!

  • Never give up and good luck will find you.

  • What do you mean that's it? I'm not giving up! And neither are you! And neither am I!

Auggie was scheduled to be euthanized the previous Friday if we didn't come up with something.
I don't give up.
It was hard to come around to accepting that letting Auggie go last spring wasn't giving up, but, once again, giving her the life she deserved, right up to the end.

Remember my friend, August Moon Pie? She needs some serious training on how to get along with other dogs, and she needs...

Posted by Mark H. Anbinder on Monday, February 27, 2017