Blood Moon of November 2022 in the Books

Well, it was cold rousting out of bed into the freezing temperatures to get an eyeful of the total lunar eclipse, otherwise known as a blood moon.

Sena still asks me questions about the whole event, including “And why can’t we see Earth?” She told me I could share that.

I was so keyed up about it I didn’t get hardly a wink of sleep. I wasn’t planning to see the whole thing, but since I was awake most of the night anyway, I got up at 2:00 AM and set up cameras out on the deck.

It was a spectacular view (although I admit you can hardly tell that from my pictures). Like I did for the last blood moon in May this year, I took shots with both my Nikon D3400 and Canon Powershot SX610 HS. I tried both on the tripod. I barely know anything about cameras. I just press the shutter button for the most part and hope for the best.

There were a lot of planes out last night in the general vicinity of the moon. I suspect the pilots were checking out the eclipse. I didn’t see any UFOs, but a couple of deer (or a huge buck, it was hard to see because it was so dark) crossed our yard.

I thought it was cold in May, but this morning I had to drag out my winter coat, hat, gloves, and considered building a fire on the deck, but I decided against it.

This event was special for a different reason. I took my first ever selfies with my 7-year-old smartphone. There’s a first time for everything, including tin foil hats.

You should protect yourself with a tin foil hat when you’re watching the sky. You never know what the extraterrestrials are up to, especially during a total lunar eclipse.

Seeing the stars and planets sometimes makes me want to juggle, an urge against which tin foil hats are ineffective.

Odds and Ends

I just have some odds and ends to shake off.

The critter cam got a few shots of deer running through the back yard. I retired it for now, since the drain tile grate has been stable for a couple of weeks.

I did manage to get a picture of a young buck. I tried to look up how to count the antler points but it sounds pretty complicated. We just thought he was interesting. He obviously thought the females he was following were interesting because he didn’t hang around long on our lawn.

I finally won a cribbage game with Sena! What a miracle.

I’m at best ambivalent about hanging paintings. Sena purchased one called Stained Feather. It looks stained. I don’t always get it when it comes to art. Paintings are often hard to hang. There’s the whole thing with measuring the wall and the painting, attaching the hooks, and hanging it straight. I don’t have fun with it, frankly. But we like how it looks on the wall.

We have a peaceful, colorful autumn view from our sunroom. It’s calming.

Cribbage Classic on the Web

I’ve been playing an on-line version of the cribbage game called Cribbage Classic for a short while. This is a short review. I’m far from an expert. Sena and I play cribbage fairly often. We just played a set of 3 games not long ago and we both played very well, I thought. I had picked up a few pointers from Cribbage Classic, but didn’t do much better than I usually do. In fact, we usually play 2 or 3 games, the 3rd to break the tie in order to be the “best of the best of the best—sir!” I lost the 3rd game but had so much fun playing I didn’t mind.

Anyway, Cribbage Classic is a no-nonsense web-based cribbage game which teaches you not only the fundamentals of the game, but also analyses your play with respect to the two features over which you have a modicum of control: the discard to the crib and pegging. It critiques your discards and pegging play and it tracks your improvement (or lack thereof) over the number of games you play.

Cribbage Classic also has a discard analyzer, which allows you to look at large numbers of possible crib discards while the computer tells you the optimal discard for each hand.

There are 3 levels of play, Easy, Standard, and Pro. It allows you to count your hands manually and even play Muggins along with that. One of the most helpful features is the setting which warns you of suboptimal crib discards—and allows you to try again! There’s a hint button setting for all levels.  

Best of all, it’s free! Ads are minimal. And if your internet service goes out, you could download the game from Microsoft Store, also for free. It gets only a 3-star rating, though. I guess that’s why I haven’t downloaded it. There are many more reviews (over 600 when I checked recently) for this game on line than the two other cribbage games I’ve downloaded. Many critics say it favors the computer opponent. That hasn’t been my impression so far from the on-line version, though I haven’t played at the Pro level.

The graphics are simple. There are no cute character opponents, no sounds, and the card and background selection options are not fancy. It’s advertised for Windows 10 and it works fine on my computer which has Windows 11.

I’ve tried fancy cribbage games and it seems I either win every game or lose all of them—which is not realistic. Cribbage Classic is realistic, meaning on average you’ll win about half the time. That means when I make crappy crib discards, I sometimes win in spite of them and when I make great discards using the hint button as a crutch, I sometimes lose anyway.

I make lousy crib discards so much, it’s a little embarrassing. On average, I make about 5 or more bad tosses to the discard pile every game. I guess some players would contest the computer suggestions. The points the computer says you lose on some discards can amount to only a couple of tenths of a point, which I think I can ignore.

I’ll consider trying the download version of Cribbage Classic and let you know if I think it’s really different from the web-based product. In the meantime, if you like cribbage, why not try Cribbage Classic on the web and let me know what you think?

Is Treatment with Antibodies a Substitute for Vaccination for Covid-19?

I read the news article about scientists publishing a study which shows it’s possible to make antibodies that may neutralize most of the Covid-19 variants. I read this after failing to find any local facility in my area that has the updated bivalent Covid-19 vaccine booster available yet. Sena and I plan to get the booster, which would be our 5th shot.

I don’t have a clue how to evaluate the study itself, which was published in an Open Access journal, Communications Biology. I didn’t understand the peer reviewers’ comments and suggestions because I lack the scientific background to make sense of them.

I was under the impression that using antibodies for Covid-19 has to be prompted by getting infected first. In fact, the lead author of the study actually points out in the news article in published in the Jerusalem Post,

“In our view, targeted treatment with antibodies and their delivery to the body in high concentrations can serve as an effective substitute for repeated boosters, especially for at-risk populations and those with weakened immune systems. COVID-19 infection can cause serious illness, and we know that providing antibodies in the first days following infection can stop the spread of the virus.

“It is, therefore, possible that by using effective antibody treatment, we will not have to provide booster doses to the entire population every time there is a new variant,” Freund concluded.

I understand that immunity wanes after vaccination and that’s frustrating because apparently you need another booster every few months.

But I’m not sure I see how the antibody treatment would be a replacement for vaccines, if that’s the implication.

The interventions sound complementary. Wouldn’t it be better to have vaccine-induced immunity and use the antibodies as a backup treatment when you get infected?

I got the impression from reading about monoclonal antibody treatments that they have to be administered by infusions in specialty clinics. And you have to catch it in the first few days. And the indication for it is getting infected with the virus—which I thought could be avoided in the first place by getting vaccinated.

The plan now seems to be to manufacture vaccines annually to target important variants of Covid-19, similar to what we’ve been doing for influenza. We’ve been getting flu shots every year for a long time. Maybe we won’t need to get boosters every few months.

It makes sense to use antibodies for immunocompromised persons, though, because they don’t respond as well to vaccines.

Why would we “substitute” monoclonal antibody infusions administered in clinics to treat infections for vaccines which can prevent severe disease and death?

I’m not knocking the study; I’m just a retired psychiatrist, not an infectious disease scientist. Am I missing something?

CDC Interim Clinical Considerations for Covid-19 Vaccine Bivalent Boosters

Taken from the CDC ACIP meeting on 9/01/2022, here is the link to the CDC Interim Clinical Considerations for the Covid-19 Vaccines: Bivalent Boosters.

Art in the Parks

We finished the trek to all the sculptures in the new Art in the Parks collection. It was quite a day for walking in the August heat, but we made it. It was a day for the “nearly.” It was nearly 90 degrees and we walked nearly 5 miles.

Here’s a tip. The sculpture Emerging by Hilde DeBruyne is more than twice as far from Riverfront Crossings Park as it is from Terry Trueblood Recreation Area on the Iowa River Trail. But if you’re up for the exercise, go for it. The art is worth the walk.

All the sculptures are very interesting and worth making a day of exploration.

Chin Technique for Sofa Table Assembly

There are a few handy man jobs Sena lets me do around the house. They tend to be chores like Knock Down Furniture assembly. The most recent job was a small sofa table. You know, usually the companies send you a cheap tool to put things like this together. This time they didn’t enclose a hex head wrench—because they didn’t use hex head screws. The sofa table came with Phillips head screws—but no Phillips head screwdriver. No problem; I have one of those.

In the video I made, I mention the chin technique to use when you’re putting stuff like this together by yourself. You just hold on to the parts with your chin pressing against your shoulder. I don’t have a patent on it yet.

Second Covid-19 Booster Jab Done

Yesterday I got the second Covid-19 booster jab. Sena got hers shortly before I did. The pharmacy was practically deserted. Nobody is waiting in line to get this one, evidently. Sena and I are now 4 for 4 jabs with no end in sight unless somebody comes up with a new vaccine that’ll last longer than a couple of months.

No pharmacy employees wore masks. I think I was the only one in the store who wore one. I’m not sure what to think of that. We’re still wearing masks out in public.

Some infectious disease specialists are recommending you get the 2nd booster if you’re over 60, even if you don’t have serious medical comorbidities.

Keeping a watchful eye on transmission levels in the areas where you live is also important. Right now, it’s low in ours. But that could change, especially if we ignore the Swiss cheese method for protecting ourselves from Covid-19.

FDA Authorizes COVID-19 Moderna and Janssen Boosters and Heterologous Boosting

The FDA just released a statement this afternoon announcing the extension of the EUA for COVID-19 boosting with Moderna and Janssen vaccine. The FDA also authorized heterologous boosting (mix and match).

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