bits and pieces

I got my COVID booster shot over the weekend. It had been six months since my second dose, and I was eligible, so I scheduled it the first chance I could.

Coincidentally, I am participating in a clinical trial that is studying the efficacy of some tracking devices that measure bodily reactions to a stimulus. The stimulus is the shingles vaccine, which can increase heartbeat and temperature as the body accepts and incorporates the vaccine. I was given the vaccine and then slept on a sensor strip underneath my bed sheet as well as wore a sensor on my wrist. Plus I swallowed a transmitter each day for five days. That’s the transmitter in the photo above. (The purple pill, not the coin.) In the night it would measure changes in my body temperature and heart rate (and possibly other things), and this data would be transmitted to the sensors close by. The trial is studying the sensing devices; the shingles vaccine is already FDA approved as is the purple pill. I’ll repeat this regimen in early December (including getting the second dose of the vaccine), and then the scientists will make what they can of the data collected from me and several hundred other study subjects.

But the point of this blather is that the purple pill is the kind of transmitter that can go in a person’s body. It has a range of about ten feet and a life of about ten days. And it doesn’t stick around (one hopes). I don’t see how a transmitter of that size can fit in a syringe or be snuck into a person’s body, much less be useful for tracking a person’s movements. At least I didn’t see one when I got my COVID booster shot.


My wife spent last week in Seattle with our son, his wife, and their two girls. She came home on Sunday, but her flight was supposed to arrive in Kansas City in the early afternoon. Due to a cascade of delays caused by another airline, her return flight was changed and she didn’t get in until 2:00 Monday morning! That meant I had to face the onslaught of the neighborhood kids on Halloween night alone! (Then grab a few hours of sleep before driving to the airport in the middle of the night to fetch her. Come home and be too awake to try to sleep any longer. I soldiered through Monday.)

She leaves on Friday to go to New York to stay with our daughter, her husband, and their three little ones to help with marathon related matters. My daughter is running the NYC Marathon on Sunday. My wife can stay with the kids as our son-in-law chases his wife around the five boroughs with energy gels, backup phone batteries, and encouragement. The kids will have school the following week, but my daughter will be in recovery mode then, so any help will be appreciated. (I ran the NYC Marathon with my daughter five years ago. I know a little about post-marathon recovery.) Just as with the Seattle trip, I’ll stay home and let the dogs out a couple of times a day.


Yesterday I once again volunteered at my neighborhood polling station for our local election (mayor, school board, utilities). This is the third time I’ve done it. The day is long, and much of it is on my feet, darting around to help voters get checked in or to the voting booths or to the casting machine. But it’s a rewarding experience. There is a kind of purity in it. In the polling station there is nothing partisan. (We’re not even allowed to wear clothing that might suggest our own political affiliation, including the color of our clothes, and voters are asked to do the same, so if someone comes in with a shirt that expresses some partisan sentiment, they are asked to cover it or even turn the shirt inside out, voluntarily). Inside the polling station (a church gymnasium in my case) it is all about helping citizens exercise their right to vote. You don’t care how they vote but only that they vote. When I do this I feel that I am helping civilization in my small way and fulfilling my obligation in my community.


Speaking of Halloween, my daughter in densely populated NYC instituted a “candy chute” last year. It’s a wide-diameter PVC pipe about ten feet long. They stand at the top of their stoop (four steps up) and drop the candy in the chute where it slides down to the waiting child’s bag at the bottom. They started this because of prudent social distancing standards and apparently it’s a hit in the neighborhood. In fact, this year a house down the block had a two-story candy shoot, loading the candy from a second floor window and sending it with great velocity at the little ones.

The novelty at my house is when I encourage the kids to stay in school. Not sure how popular that is.


I have new neighbors to the north of my Ozark forest. In my tenure, this is the fifth owner of that 300+ acres. I don’t know if that’s typical turnover or not, but my long-standing neighbor and I were talking about it and the impossible prices the land in our area is fetching. I have no intent to sell my 80 acres — that’s something my children can fight over — but at the current market rate for land (and add my improvements of a lake and a cabin), I’m sitting on a surprisingly valuable asset (encroaching cattle notwithstanding). Fortunately, the tax assessment has not climbed the way the market has.


In my post earlier this week about my battle with the cattle I neglected to mention that while at the cabin I had once again used the leaf blower. The leaves were still wet from the recent rains, and they would have been a chore to rake, but with the leaf blower I was able to dispatch them quickly. The wet leaves clung to each other and more folded and rolled ahead of me rather than being blown across the gravel. But even if that hadn’t worked, two passes to clear the leaves would not have been a problem at all.

I’ve used the leaf blower once in my backyard in suburbia, blowing all of the leaves into a corner of the fence where I then bagged them. Again, in a tenth of the time raking would have taken. I am a little reluctant to fire up that noisy beast in the sedate environs of suburbia, so I’ll probably wait for a heavy fall before I call it into action. LB is good for other uses. It’s handy for blowing all of the grit out of the corners of my garage, for example. And it’s made dusting the furniture in the house a quick job!

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic

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