It was a tragic day for Afghans and an unthinkable loss for the military families whose loved ones were just days away from leaving Afghanistan. It was also sad that the loss of life was met with the same old political finger pointing in DC. Terrorists attack America. And Americans attack each other. Our biggest threat is from within. I also couldn’t help but think that if all service deaths in Afghanistan had been covered this urgently and completely, we would have been gone a long time ago.

(Via Dave Pell’s NextDraft)

A serious people—the kind of people we once were—would have made serious choices, long before this current debacle was upon them. They would today be trying to learn something from nearly 2,500 dead service members and many more wounded. They would be grimly assessing risk and preparing both overseas and at home for the reality of a terrorist nation making its way back onto the international map.

Instead, we’re bickering about masks. We’re holding super-spreader events. We’re complaining and finger-pointing about who ruined our fall plans. (I’m part of that last group. Spoiler: It’s the people who refused easily accessible vaccinations.)

(Via The Atlantic)

Drowning here in Summer’s cauldron

I relished Tokyo’s festivals.

Every weekend had 1 or 2 or 6 or 10 in and around the city.

As much as I loved living there, it was not always enough. Going to some random country’s fair at Yoyogi Park or heading to a suburb for their local delicacies helped keep me involved and integrated into life in the city.

Now, with many festivals cancelled, you may need to be creative to enjoy summer at home.

Living in Chattanooga and not Tokyo means that I can take advantage of festivals. There are at least 3 right now every weekend — Friday night downtown, Saturday night on the river, and Sunday morning at the farmer’s market.

Do they have the international flair of Tokyo’s? Are they as expansive? Do they require 2 or more train transfers? No.

However, they scratch that itch for me.

I don’t agree with how we got here or what the current policy is for people to go to such events, but I have to say they provide me with a scratch of that itch.

I’m struggling right now, like a lot of people are. To be able to go somewhere and do something, instead of camping out on a couch and consuming content, sometimes keeps from having a bad day.

It’s not much, but it is more that something.

Oddly intersecting journeys

I told a young woman wearing a Pink Floyd Division Bell tour tee shirt that I saw the Floyd in Dallas on that tour, that it was a remarkable experience, and how the thunderstorm outside, seen through the cutout in the old Cowboy’s stadium roof, seemed like part of the show.

She got so excited for me. Then she said she bought the shirt because it looked cute. She liked the colors. I’m fairly certain that concert took place well before she was born.

Everyone has their journey, and sometimes two journeys intersect at odd angles.

Vaccination Cocktail

My international travel for work has been on (March through May) and then off (July) and then back on (ETA mid-August) but might be off for a variety of reasons including COVID’s Delta flavor.

The numbers for the US as a whole is accidentally ok. They’re not great, but as compared to 6 months ago they are almost miraculous. Tennessee drags down the national average, but my county and city seem to be doing some things right.

Overseas, and especially in Asia where I was and will maybe be again, is not so good.

When I was in South Korea the country’s daily new infections was around 400. Now they are closer to 1,600 and mostly of the Delta variety. This causes me pause.

Seemingly unrelated, this past week I traveled to Boston for work. Most people in the airport and everyone on my flights wore masks. Taxis and Ubers were masked adventures. As soon as I stepped out of those mandated cocoons …

South Korea has very stringent protocols for mask wearing, distancing, limiting crowds, &c. And yet their numbers are almost 3 times what they were 2 months ago. Why? Maybe their low vaccination rate with the added complexity of Delta explains it.

My takeaway: Vaccination helps for those who can get vaccinated. Mask wearing helps for those who cannot be vaccinated. Delta doesn’t seem bound by either, but layer defense — masks, vaccines, distancing — gives the best odds.

Even with all that, someone who is regularly masked and vaccinated can still get sick. I hope you, Dear Reader, got one of the good vaccines with a 70% or better efficacy. I hope you have a solid N95 or equivalent mask. I hope you keep your social interactions limited.

Which brings me back to my pending return work trip to South Korea. Allegedly I have the one shot Janssen J&J shot in advance of the trip I was scheduled to take in July. That trip would not have allowed me time for a 2 shot protocol though it was my preference.

The data on J&J with the Delta variant isn’t encouraging. While still massively better than not having had a shot, so far the numbers indicate J&J might not offer as much protection as the 2 dose Moderna or Pfizer mDNA options.

Today I may or may not have accidentally received a Pfizer shot. The extra shot might do nothing for me. It might make me feel ill for a few days and still do nothing for me. Early indications are that a shot of mDNA vaccine boosts the usefulness of J&J.

My hope is that, whatever my vaccinations, I’ve effectively reduced the likelihood that I will die due to COVID to 0, that I’ve reduced the likelihood of contracting COVID to a low number, that I’ve reduced the likelihood that I will pass COVID on to someone else to a very low number, and that the Delta variant will have less impact on me overall.

Viva la Science!