The Longest Lent

Holy Saturday is perhaps one of my favorite days of the liturgical year. The cruelty of Good Friday is past us and we’re in this holding pattern. We do have faith that Easter is coming, but it isn’t here yet. Isn’t that where we are now? We have faith that Jesus will return, but not yet. The major difference is we know that the Easter Vigil will start after sundown and we’re a bit clueless on the second coming.

This year it takes another meaning for me. Yesterday, I received my second COVID-19 vaccination dose. Our communal Lent—not as a faith community, but as a global community—started for most of us around the same time as Lent 2020. While the majority of the world is still awaiting vaccinations and in the midst of surges, lockdowns of some sort, and the like, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

For me, I’m feeling pretty out of it today. It’s the most common side-effect: a day of flu-like aches and soreness for a day. While the overall road is still long ahead of us, the adults in our “quaranteam” have had both doses and just a couple weeks away from being among the fully-vaccinated. As for us, Easter is a celebration and a major milestone, but the work isn’t done. Same here. Things may be getting closer to normal, but we’re going to only be “near normal” for awhile. That’s okay because it’s what gets us to the end goal.

Lent 2020 has been effectively 402 days long so far. Looking forward to Easter.

All Adults Eligible

All adults in Texas will be eligible for the COVID vaccine starting on March 29th.

In some areas of the state, demand in the priority groups is dropping, but in Austin, we’re still seeing a lot of Phase 1 folks trying to get a vaccine.

In other words, just because the state is making everyone eligible, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get an appointment. If you’re able to travel, the neighboring counties may not be a bad bet.

News Only on The iPad

I’m going to experiment with an attempt of a lifehack to only consume news when I’m using my iPad—not at my regular work computer.

Usually, I’ll browse the news sites while waiting for something to build or tests or run, but too often, something will be “breaking” that catches my attention. In reality, it doesn’t really need or deserve my attention. The world would be perfectly the same if I read about it after the event had ended at the end of the day on the iPad.

I’m intentionally not saying my phone either, since that’s easy to get sucked into at the wrong time too. My iPad is an everyday device, but it isn’t an all-the-time one. I only pull it out intentionally—usually to put on something to watch or listen to while doing the dishes.

I have an Apple News+ subscription (cheapest way to get the WSJ I’ve found), so the iPad makes the most sense for this experiment.

What are some hacks y’all have put in place to help keep you from getting sucked into the wrong things at the wrong time?

Texas 1C Announced

Effective March 15th, Texas will start offering vaccines to the newly announced Phase 1C group.

The new list of those eligible as of March 15th now includes:

  • Phase 1A
    • Health Care Workers, including “last responders” (mortuary)
    • Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities
  • Phase 1B
    • All 65+
    • Those 16 years old and older with at least one chronic medical condition that elevates their risk. To include but not limited to:
      • Cancer
      • Kidney disease
      • COPD
      • Heart conditions
      • Organ transplant recipients (I would assume living donors too, personally).
      • Obesity (30 kg/m2+)
      • Pregnancy
      • Sickle cell
      • Type 2 diabetes
  • “Federal Directive” Phase
    • Pre-primary, primary, secondary (Pre-K through 12th Grade) workers.
    • Head Start/Early Head Start workers (teachers, staff, and bus drivers).
    • Licensed child care providers.
  • Phase 1C, effective March 15
    • All 50+ years old.

Phase 2 and beyond classifications and timelines are to be determined.

While there are a lot of places to get the vaccine, I’ve seen the most success with Austin Public Health and UT Health Austin.

For Austin Public Health, pre-register on their website and follow them on Twitter or Facebook. They are releasing appointments for the week on Monday evenings and again on Thursday if they have available spots. From experience, if they say on social media they are opening the waiting room at 5:45 for a 6:00 p.m. drop, be there at 5:40. For me, those who joined at 5:55 p.m. were too late. With the drop on Monday, be prepared to wait for hours until your turn to get an appointment.

For UT Health Austin, see their website to request an appointment. For them, fill out the form and they’ll add you to their health management system when it is your turn. From what I saw, you’ll get the e-mail saying you’re in the management system and awhile later (the end of the day? the next day?), you’ll get the e-mail saying you can schedule your appointment. You can schedule from the system as soon as you get the e-mail saying you’ve been added. You don’t need to wait for the second e-mail.

Good luck y’all. Keep wearing a mask. Stay safe.

Update: Starting on March 29th, all adults are eligible.

Eyes of Texas Report Released

As an alumnus, I am very happy to see the detail in The University of Texas at Austin “Eyes of Texas” report. I need to sit with it, read it carefully, and think about it before commenting further.

Agree or disagree, I do appreciate the obvious time and effort that went into it.

The site is handy, but feel free to skip to the full book-length report.

One immediate thing I read was that the committee could find no proof that the phrase was based on Robert Lee’s “The Eyes of the South are upon you”, as I had heard. It was in the memoir of a former engineering dean, but that work had other factual errors. In researching with Washington and Lee University (where it was said to have been said by Lee), they couldn’t find any instance of Lee ever saying that. I’m updating my previous post about this to note this detail.

Back to Normal?

I miss normal too.

Today, Texas Governor Abbott teased that he’s going to make a big statewide announcement tomorrow while speaking to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. Here’s my guess as to what’s going to go down.

First, he teased this news on Twitter. That means he thinks it is a positive thing. It’s too soon to make any new announcement regarding the energy sector (it’s already a legislative priority, so out of his hands) and Lubbock isn’t a place that such an announcement would mean much. Except for maybe some wind farms, but we know he’s not going to celebrate new wind energy right now.

So, the other thing is, obviously, Covid. He has also teased the idea that maybe the mask mandate has run its course.

My first guess is he’ll lift the mask mandate. While cases are definitely looking better than January, we’re only slightly better than we were in early July when the mandate was issued. Back when we thought 10,000 cases in a day was mindblowing and seeing the increase above 5,000 spurred the mandate in the first place.

He’s speaking in Lubbock. Eyeballing it, I think Lubbock may have the highest percentage of vaccinated folks in the state.

Tomorrow is also Texas Independence Day—yes, that’s a holiday that majority of native Texans know and, dare I say, many of us celebrate in some form. Lifting the mask mandate on Texas Independence Day is what I’d expect from Gov. Abbott. Since wearing a mask is oppressing my freedom. Y’all can join me in protesting at the every building with a sign saying “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” later.

I’m tired of wearing masks too, but businesses can operate fairly normally with a mask mandate in place. He’s going to make the announcement at a Chamber of Commerce.

He’s going to lift the capacity limits for businesses. With rhetoric about freedom and trying to boost the Texas sales pitch for business (after the state leadership absolute failure in supporting businesses when we couldn’t keep the lights on and water flowing), he’s going to rip off the chains of caring for our fellow man—what a silly concept that is—and basically “reopen Texas”. Which is what he said at the end of May before saying “whoops, shouldn’t have reopened bars. My bad!”

I’m sure he has Texas’ best interest at heart and this has nothing to do with him teasing this while sharing a tweet showing him with better polling numbers than Ted Cruz. And has nothing to do with Ted Cruz getting more love at CPAC than he did.

Y’all, hang in there just a bit longer. I’m tired of all this too. I’m holding on to the hope that, come fall, things may be looking more normal. But, we still have plenty of time to screw this up.