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Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

Dear Detroit Marriott at The Renaissance Center,

I attended my annual research conference in you this week. I am NOT a fan, and I will not be back (unless I have absolutely no choice).

How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Your staff is not prepared for guests. The line was 10 deep for check-in, and you had one person actually working. Three other employees — one of whom looked like a manager — were at the other end of the counter chatting. Do their eyes work? Couldn’t they see the line?
  2. Your building is not prepared for guests. There are six elevators “servicing” floors 40-70. Only two appeared to be working. A gang of fellow conferencers and I waited 10 minutes Thursday night for an elevator to take us down.
  3. Your events staff is not prepared for guests. Two thousand people attended the last in-person AEJMC conference (Toronto, 2019). That is standard for this conference. Yet nothing was set up to handle this influx of people. Your staff selected large rooms for small events (e.g., the University of South Carolina alumni breakfast featured three tables for eight in a cavernous room) and wee rooms for major events. For example, the Broadcast and Mobile Journalism group awards ceremony and reception was in the tiniest conference room I’ve ever seen. No tables. For an event that featured food and drinks. Group leaders who got to the event early drug in tables and chairs for the 50 or so attendees. Way to go, Marriott!
  4. Your technology support is not prepared for guests. This conference is primarily for journalism/mass communications professors. You know: People who communicate. They have devices that need to be charged. Outlets were few and far between.
This is the ONLY OUTLET in the room!

The various other problems fellow attendees and I experienced had to do with The Renaissance Center in general. It is, generously, an atrium-focused maze of wasted space.

Circulation Ring = CIRCLES OF HELL
Trust me: You can’t get there from here
No, you don’t really want to sit and meet/eat/work do you?

There is a shocking lack of open restaurants. Again, conference of 2,000+ people (and AEJMC was one of at least three going on at once). Hotel with 70 floors of rooms. Yet, it was hard to find a place to eat. Literally (see maze above) and because so many were closed. Note: There was a VERY bougie seafood restaurant open, but who wants to pay $75 for shrimp?

Desperation signage
Starbucks: closed
Another Starbucks: closed
Food court: mostly closed
Oh look! The open Burger King that I thought was only the stuff of legend.

Then there is the location. You are on the Detroit River. So a riverwalk with shops and restaurants would make sense. Apparently, it only makes sense to me. I would not say the United States side has ample commerce. The Canada side (Windsor) looks promising.

The Renaissance Center provides a great view of our northern neighbor.

But once again, you can’t get there from here if you don’t have a car.

I realize that the pandemic took a toll on the hospitality industry. That said, people are traveling again. Conferences are back in person. Do better, or you won’t have guests to piss off anymore.

Sincerely,
Bonvoy Member on Floor 47

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COVID, Day 7 (Maybe? Could be Day 4 depending on when I displayed symptoms from ‘Rona and not the booster.)

Captain’s Log

I’m feeling fine, but still testing positive.

I’ve managed not to drink away my sorrows every day, but isolation is difficult for an extrovert.

I’m not an indoor cat.

And even my indoor cat has gone loopy.

His tongue is stuck.
He went to sleep with his mouth open.

I’m SO BORED.

I’m sick of TV. I’m tired of social media. I’ve had enough of lonely walks around the neighborhood.

I’ve even cleaned out the freezer.

That’s how bad it is.

But I’ve eaten well. That’s positive. Haven’t lost taste or smell.

I’ve been FaceTiming people because I need human contact. (Petra knows. She got a surprise.)

Maybe tomorrow I’ll test negative, and I can rejoin society. Carefully, of course.

The good news is that I don’t appear to have infected anyone else.

Small victories.

Sigh.

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Dear Coronavirus:

Why are you still here? I hate you so much. I’ve managed to avoid you for more than two years (safety first!), but you finally got me.

How? I don’t know. You tell me!

Having an incubation period of 2-14 days makes tracking source difficult.

All I know is that I got my second booster Friday. By Sunday, I had a sore throat. I took two tests from two different companies. Both negative.

See? Negative.

On Monday, I felt like crap: headache, body pain. I was already scheduled to go to a new doctor to establish care.

Me: I got the second booster Friday and feel terrible today.
Her: That’s the booster. I wouldn’t have recommended you get the second one so soon.
Me: They recommended after six months.
Her: Yeah, but you don’t have comorbidities.
Me: Right.

The cough started Tuesday.

The runny nose started yesterday.

I decided to take another test.

Uh oh.

And then another from a different brand.

I was furious and mortified.

I spent my weekend living my best life as the infection vector I apparently am: garden tour and antiques fair with neighbors, dinner with a colleague, handyman direction on wall patches, “Stranger Things” with my sister, card games with neighbors.

So I had to issue various and sundry mea culpas.

It’s possible I was exposed to you on my flight home from Savannah: Two hours on the runway (weather delay), an hour at the gate (more fuel), an hour in the air. I was one of only three people wearing a mask (because, of course, you no longer exist 🙄).

I don’t know.

I do know that I had another busy week/weekend planned, including lunch for about 15 family members at my place. But now, thanks to you, I will spend the next 5-10 days on my own with just Leo Richardson to keep me company.

Leo, who also is not feeling well.

Leo, the cat who (likely) got COVID.

Gee, I wonder how he could have caught COVID. (Note: I am not kissing the cat. He was sleeping on my shoulder, and I turned my head for the pic.)

So thanks SO MUCH for your continued presence in all of our lives.

(Sarcasm is my love language.)

Your new BFF,
Typhoid Mary
‘Rona Beth

*Manic Street Preachers’ ninth studio album. Worth a listen.

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Dear Kara,

I was SO HAPPY to see you Saturday night.

In general, of course, but also because you too wanted to wear a mask to see our brother Lodell play in his Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band.

Diamond Music Hall was SOMETHING ELSE.

I had no idea this place had COVID repellent. They need to bottle it and sell it.

I mean, CLEARLY they have some kind of protection because there were 4,352 people inside and no mask in sight.

Yikes!

I walked in and started hyperventilating. I told Lodell that he’d be the last person I’d see pre-infection.

It was a super-spreader event, for sure. Great for the band to have so many fans. Not great for my health.

But you showed up and normalized mask wearing.

The fear is real.

I am grateful.

I’m also oddly grateful to the nearby couple who decided a Southern rock show was a good place to practice the dance moves they learned after Bible study.

They were fascinating.

And Freebird USA put on a great show.

I’m a fan.

I’m willing to go out again, but only if you are with me in mask solidarity.

Deal?

Your sister,
Beth

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Hey Rock Music Fans! Have I got a new album for you.

Jesse’s Divide releases “Thirteen Steps” tomorrow. Some of you even responded to my prior call to action and helped fund this album. It’s their first.

“But wait, Beth,” you might say. “Haven’t they been a band for years? Haven’t they released songs?”

Well, yes to both. But this is their first ALBUM. The others were EPs.

Now, I’ve reviewed books, movies, plays/musicals, performances, etc., but I’ve never reviewed an album before.

But like an antivaxxer who knows ALL ABOUT the danger of the COVID vaccine thanks to his YouTube research, I’m going to act like an expert.

This is a great album — their best work to date.

Let me give you a frame of reference for my taste: Of their EPs, I’m partial to “Strange Alchemy.” Specifically the title track.

So let’s get to it. The debut features 10 tracks plus a special “secret” track, which is not so secret, clearly. (Why isn’t it 13? I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.)

  1. Bad Decisions
  2. Free Thinker
  3. Down Again
  4. Long Time Coming
  5. Fyre!
  6. Thirteen Steps
  7. Jajvam
  8. The One
  9. Hollow Throne
  10. Anubis
  11. SYCM (aforementioned “secret track.”)

Bad Decisions

I feel like this is “my” song. My oft-used phrase “bad decisions make good stories” was, I’ve been told, the inspiration for the title. And the song is about bad decisions the guys made during their U.S. tour: Too much beer on the plane for Nick, too much tequila on stage for Rob, too much ALL THE ALCOHOL for Si in Savannah. The chorus even references what you do with a tequila shot. (“Lick it. Down it. Suck it. Wooo!”)

Photo evidence of debauchery:

I know you want to look at Si’s tongue. Don’t. Look at Rob’s dead eyes.
Look at Rob’s tequila sweats.
In addition to looking vaguely like Papa Smurf, Si has the dead eyes like Rob.

I don’t have photos of Drunk Nick, sadly. I wasn’t on the plane.

Anyway, the song. It kicks off the album with a bang. The main riff vaguely resembles the theme from “The Munsters,” so I’m a fan. Si has a fantastic voice, but here he screams like Steven Tyler. That’s great, if that’s your thing.

Free Thinker

This is the song for the antivaxxer mentioned who will think the guys agree with him. (Hint: They don’t.) It’s a critical COVID anthem.

Down Again

“Free Thinker” segues nicely into “Down Again.” And it’s catchy as all hell. It’s been in my head every morning this week. This could and should get radio play.

Long Time Coming

The lyrics make me think someone in the band is getting a divorce. (What’s going on, guys?) Again, catchy as hell. Accessible to people who like rock, pop, alternative. Also could and should get radio play.

Fyre!

No one likes a KISS soundalike song more than I do, so this is a song for me. I want them to wear fancy pants and big boots and play this in a stadium full of fans, all of whom are yelling “Fyre! Fyre! Fyre! at the chorus. “Burn baby, burn.”

Thirteen Steps

The title track is a heavy-as-balls concoction that references 13 steps to the gallows. Grim. But the song is a banger.

Jajvam

What the heck does that mean? A Google search says it’s Klingon for “Today is a good day to die.” Delightful! “Jajvam” hearkens back to JD’s first EP “Metadome.” And it would be a great song on that EP. Here it is overshadowed by everything else. Sorry. It’s just that the others rock SO HARD. (To be fair, I saw them do this live, and it killed.)

The One

This will kill live too. I want them to play it after “Fyre!” It’s an energetic and infectious rock song.

Hollow Throne

The opening riff sounds like a mix of Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and the soundtrack to a whodunit. This, “The One” and “Thirteen Steps” are, in my opinion, the heaviest on the album. But they still are accessible to pop-lovers like myself. We’re not talking Slipknot* heavy.

Anubis

Like “Down Again” and “Long Time Coming,” “Anubis” feels commercial. I could hear this on any number of my Sirius presets. It also sounds like a divorce song. (Seriously guys: Are you OK?) That said, it feels optimistic. It connects the whole album together and ends it on a high note.

Oh, but wait.

SYCM

It’s an acoustic amuse-bouche. Why here (this position and at all)? I’ll probably never listen again. I’m so sorry. I’m honest to a fault. I hope the guys will still love me. 😉😘

Anyway, the album rocks your face off the whole way through. No real ballads here, which is fine by me. It’s already pushed out “Strange Alchemy” as my favorite release of theirs.

So, be a trendsetter: Download the album on your favorite streaming service today! If you like it, spread the word and buy some merch.

*Look. Listen. I know there’s way heavier stuff than Slipknot. Not for me. This is as far as I go. You know my taste!

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Dear People with “Just a Cold,”

Maybe you do have a cold. But also, you might have COVID. Let’s recap the Omicron symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Congestion and runny nose

That’s right: Also symptoms of a cold.

So before you get around anyone, TAKE A COVID TEST. They are available in stores (you can use your FSA/HSA), and there are free testing sites all over the place.

If it’s positive, ISOLATE, FFS.

And let’s be clear: You shouldn’t be around anyone if you have a cold either.

It’s because of one of you that my son and sister in law had a lonely Christmas.

Gideon hung out with some friends. Two days later, he didn’t feel well. Typical cold symptoms. We sent him to his room. Tested him: positive. Then Eddie, Dominic and I tested ourselves: negative. We waited a day. Tested again. Negative. Waited. Tested. Negative.

Only then did we feel like we were safe to be around other people.

Even though we didn’t have any symptoms.

See how that works? Protecting others?

We just tested again to be safe.

Waiting for results
Still negative

But Christmas 2021 is the one Gideon will remember as the one where we made him wear what amounted to a HazMat suit to open his gifts.

Poor Positive Gideon

I haven’t ever gotten Coronavirus [knocks wood], and I don’t plan to get it. I’m not taking chances.

The bottom line: If you think you have a cold, get tested anyway. Don’t be a Typhoid Mary.

Somehow this manages to sum up this Christmas.

Kthxbyeeee,
Beth

* To the tune of this classic.

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Dear Santa,

Hey there! It’s been quite a year, amirite? Here I thought this year would be better. You brought us all vaccines, after all.

But no. Different year, same pandemic, different variants. Same stupid people prolonging the bullshit for everyone.

Sigh.

When I saw you recently, I asked for an end to the pandemic. I’d like one other thing, if you don’t mind:

Better customer service in the greater St. Louis area.

So far, I’ve had trouble with the following entities:

  • Spectrum (It took three visits from three technicians plus six phone calls to get my Internet/cable service installed. And my bill still isn’t right.)
  • All-Appliance Repair (Three visits — one from a COVID-positive tech no less — to get my ice maker working.)
  • The Chimney Sweepers (Brittany was great, but the fact remains that someone was supposed to come last week and didn’t. Brittany was a reschedule.)
  • St. Louis Towing (I waited 3.5 hours for a tow truck when my car stopped running on Olive Street. It was supposed to take 30 minutes.)
  • Suntrup Volkswagen (A return call telling me they received said car would be great.)

Everyone is very nice, but I’m bothered by the inefficiency. And that I have to stay on top of things.

So it would be great if you could give a little Kringle kick in the keister to service-oriented businesses.

Thank you, and I hope you have a merry COVID-free Christmas. Maybe you should just throw the presents down chimneys to minimize contact.

Love,
Beth

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Dear Netherworld:

For some reason, I’ve never had a burning desire to visit you. I guess I prefer “real” haunted houses/places.

“Fake” ones rely on jump scares, which are too much like pranks for me.

However, when your children — whom you haven’t seen in almost two weeks — want you to go with them someplace, you say, “Yes.” Or at least I do.

Our group consisted of three moms and five teenage boys, ages 15-16.

Someone needs to shave.

Here are the things that I found scary upon arrival:

  • The ticket price. It was $30 each. Yikes!
  • The porta potties outside didn’t have lights inside them.
  • The lack of masks indoors. COVID isn’t gone, y’all!

Once inside, there were other things to scare me:

  • Just as I started to walk in, the dude pulling back the curtain stuck his hand in front of my face. I screamed from shock. Then giggled because HOW DUMB?!?
  • A huge animatronic demon face bum-rushed me and shoved me into a wall.
  • The floors were designed to match the “rooms.” Squishy flooring to represent grass in a cemetery, for example. What’s scary about that? The broken-ankle potential. I don’t need that again.
  • There was a corridor of clowns. HORRIFYING. I loathe clowns.
  • Each of the two haunted houses ends with a chainsaw-wielding madman. Or three. I loathe chainsaw-wielding madmen. (That comes from a certain movie seen at an impressionable age.)
  • One of the boys’ friends putting on a badass act. “What? I can’t help it if I’m not scared.” OK, then, Buzzkill.

I did have a good time, though. One of the best things was the boy banter.

Dominic: Gideon, be careful they don’t put you in one of the exhibits.
Gideon: What?
Dominic: “Oh, here’s another skeleton.”
Dylan: More bones, all Fernbank style.
Gideon (laughing): My superhero name can be Bones.
Dominic: I feel like this right here is a villain origin story.

I’ll probably see you next year.

Happy Halloween!
Beth

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Dear Friends and Family,

As many of you know, I’ve been taking what I’ve termed “murder-prevention trips” during the pandemic. As I’ve mentioned, I’m an extrovert who likes to travel. The pandemic was hard for me for those reasons, as well as the fact that my children and I were all up on each other trying to work/study.

(First-world problems, I know. We did not have nearly the issues that many, many other people had. But this was my reality, and I’m acknowledging its difficulty.)

I’m not an indoor cat.

Look at what Dominic got me (on his own!) to commemorate my latest trip:

When he is good, he is very good indeed. (And when he is bad, he is horrid.)

Where did I go? England. Boris said I could.

Plus, my favorite band was playing their first gig in a billion years (i.e., 18 months).

I am such a huge Anglophile — constantly amused and/or impressed by the things I find. This jaunt was no exception.

An all-in-one station. You don’t even need to move your hands. Genius!
If it’s needless, why is it there?
Ew! No. That’s an assault on humanity.
I asked the waiter what this was on the saucer. He said, “Flake.” I said, “A flake of what?” It’s chocolate. We Americans don’t have that.
Brilliant!
I love that it’s a “Demand” button instead of the more polite “Call.”
I’ve never seen a toilet shaped like this.
Well, OF COURSE there will be nudity. It’s the UK and “naked” is in the title.

I’ve promised Gideon a birthday trip there in May, COVID willing. Maybe he’ll be as delighted as I am with the cultural differences.

Have a great week!
Beth

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Dear Folks Who Won’t Get the COVID Vaccine:

I’ve created a handy chart for you to help in your decision making.

Look. Listen. We all had to get vaccinated to start school. What is the sudden problem? And you don’t want to show proof? We’ve all had to show proof of vaccinations our whole lives for school. It’s a public safety issue.

We also have had to show proof of identity when flying. And driving. And returning to the country. And voting in many places. (Hey, Georgia!)

So what’s the big deal with vaccine passports? We’ve had vaccine records for years!

We already have government mandates for safety (OSHA, seat belts, helmets, speed limits, etc.).

But some of those things only protect the individual, while others protect, well, others.

Vaccines protect you and others. Many diseases are gone because of vaccines.

Please get yours so we can all get back to normal. And so, you know, you won’t DIE.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Beth

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