Behind the Mask Policy

Tomorrow I’ll get to see how the new Covid-19 face mask policy works at the University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics. It goes into effect today. I’m going to see the dentist, as I have periodically for years, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, the idea of masked dental patients is ironic.

The rule change about masks being sort of optional is a little confusing.

It’s sort of optional because it looks like it’s not optional for unvaccinated health care employees. They still have to wear masks.

I wrote about this back in May of 2021, “Unmasked Means Fully Vaccinated?” That was back when bandanas were acceptable as face coverings.

So does being masked mean “not vaccinated?” It’s confusing because if masking is optional for patients and visitors, why are health care workers the exception? I’m not sure how anyone would enforce the policy.

If you can wear a mask just because you want to do that, how does that separate you from the unvaccinated person?

If masks are optional, then why are the entrance and exit policies not changing, including screening of patients, visitors, and staff? I didn’t see the guidance about what to do if anyone says they are symptomatic or unvaccinated and prefers not to wear a mask, other than to offer a mask (which is free!).

If it’s disrespectful to ask a patient or visitor to put on a face mask, why is it not disrespectful to require an unvaccinated health care worker to do so? There is one bullet point in the question-and-answer section about whether you can ask anyone to wear a face mask which says you can’t ask anyone, including “employee, colleague, patient, visitor, etc.” In the same section is the statement: “Whether or not to wear a mask is a personal decision that each person must make for themselves and for their own reasons.” Does that apply to getting a Covid-19 vaccine as well?

That said, I’m a staunch supporter of everyone getting a Covid-19 vaccine, if they don’t have medical or other exemptions. They don’t make you magnetic!

And I don’t think the recent Cochrane Review results on face masks really means they’re useless, which some news stories tend to convey. I think the Cochrane review does what most such reviews do, which is point out the problems with some controlled studies. And the reviews themselves may have unintended biases.

What’s the most important part of all this? Well, maybe the predicted snowstorm coming to Iowa tomorrow will prevent my dentist from getting to the clinic. And if that doesn’t work, maybe I could just exercise my right and privilege to wear my mask as a barrier to any nefarious procedures.

Iowa Snowstorm Aftermath

We got 10.5 inches of snow from the storm yesterday, according to National Weather Service statistics. It was in the single digits and about 3 below zero with the wind chill this morning. We had to shovel one more time. It was slippery because there was ice on the driveway and sidewalk underneath the snow.

Yesterday the snow plow plugged our driveway and the curb ramp. We managed to get the driveway cleared. I had to clear the curb ramp this morning.

Then the plow came through again. But he didn’t plug the ramp again. Instead, he carefully scraped around it—maybe because we were outside watching him at the time. Thank goodness for small miracles.

It’s chilly but sunny. The ice is melting. The forecast says it’ll be icy next Wednesday. Furthermore, there is more snow coming next Thursday. That’ll make 3 Thursdays in a row that snowstorms hammer us.

What is it about Thursdays?

Big Wet Heavy Snow for Epic Snow Juggling!

Well, today’s snowstorm was a mix of fluffy as well as wet and heavy. The latter made for pretty good snowballs, which led to epic juggling on a windy day, snow blowing in my face while I juggled.

We had to clear the sidewalks and driveway first. I’m sure we got over half a foot of snow.

Sena shot the video while I tried to increase my throw count, which meant I had to make a lot of snowballs.

One clip showed a group of deer across the street. Neither one of us noticed them. I didn’t see them because I had my back to them and was concentrating on my juggling. What’s surprising is that Sena didn’t notice them either, even though they were clearly in the shot, trotting across the neighbor’s yard and across the street.

She was focused on my juggling too.

We made the YouTube video without music because we want you to count the throws along with me and hear our reactions.

Fluffy or Heavy Snow Tomorrow?

We’re going to get another several inches of snow tomorrow. Whether it’ll be a heavy, wet or fluffy snow is apparently up for debate among weather forecasters. We definitely got the heavy stuff last week. I made great snowballs for juggling.

We’re going to be shoveling it, fluffy or heavy and wet. Sena noticed I was “flinging” snow from my shovel last week and wishes I would not do that. It’s a push-plow type shovel and I can’t get enough snow in it to lift a heavy load of the stuff.

But I will try not to fling my snow. We’re hoping for the fluffy stuff. If it turns out to be heavy, I might juggle more snowballs. We’ll see.

Snowstorm Today Perfect for Deer Zoomies and Snowball Juggling!

Today we got a fair amount of snow dumped on us. It gave the deer the zoomies. They ran around in it like they were having a lot of fun.

It was a heavy, wet snow. So, we took some time out from shoveling so I could make some snowballs and try juggling them. It didn’t work so well about a month ago when the snow was in brittle clumps. Today it worked pretty well, after I got the hang of shaping the snowballs.

We made videos. Enjoy!

Some Robins Can Be Sunbirds…Sort of

We always thought of Robins as birds who are the harbingers of spring. On the other hand, we’ve seen Robins in the middle of winter. We saw them today.

I realize that you technically can’t call a Robin a Sunbird. There is a species of Sunbird. It’s a small tropical forest bird. And you could call a person who travels from hot, humid parts of the country to cooler parts a sunbird—sort of the opposite of snowbirds; those who migrate from the cold north to the warm south in the winter months.

And so, I think you could call the Robin a sunbird—sort of. They’ll stick around all winter as long as the berries hold out.

Amaryllis and Zygocactus Repotting

Remember that gorgeous Christmas Amaryllis flower? After it leaned over so far, we had to retire it, so to speak. We didn’t throw it out, but Sena kept it and performed some kind of miracle.

Apparently, she resurrected it by giving it a little water. A couple of new leaves grew a few inches overnight.

She knows that gardeners tell you to bury the Amaryllis bulb outside after the flowers die. I guess in the following winter you dig it up, put it in a new pot and a new set of blossoms should grow. She wanted to transfer it to a different pot instead, one with holes that will let the excess water leak out.

She was very industrious. She also repotted the Zygocactus. That’s the holiday cactus, another houseplant she got for the Christmas holidays.

And the most important question: how are extraterrestrials involved in this urge to repot? ? By the way, I was not involved in the repotting project because I’m allergic to gardening. I did make a YouTube video of her working on it, though.

Snowball Juggling!

Yesterday after we shoveled our sidewalks and driveway (again!) we went for a walk. Yes, we finally lost our minds. In fact, the temperature was a balmy 14 degrees. We almost put on shorts.

It was a little breezy. The city plows had not been out. It was their day off. Because of that, there were plenty of chunks of snow, a few of which were about the size of—yep, you guessed it—juggling balls.

We couldn’t get them formed exactly round, like they did in that TV commercial for cold medicine. That’s where I got the harebrained idea to try juggling snowballs in the first place.

You don’t want to try juggling snowballs barehanded. I can’t stop you from trying, just saying that my hands did smart when I tried it.

Next time, I’ll make sure the snowballs are round.

Christmas Day 2022 Antics!

Christmas Day at our house was a lot of fun. I got a coffee mug that specifies the importance of cribbage. Sena got a throw that sort of complements the throw she got me on our anniversary.

Those throws add a lot to the ambience in the room. And the coffee mug really speaks to the “importanter feature” of cribbage in our life nowadays.

This was the one of the best Christmases ever. We’re up to our ears in gratitude. And that’s the most importantest thing of all.

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