Greetings to those who still check out this little corner of the web on occasion. Thanks for stopping by!
I was reminded at lunch a few days ago that I had not put out the annual blog post that signifies we’re still kicking. Like SO MANY THINGS, the annual blog post has been sitting on a to-do list since just before the end of 2021. I just had other things that kept grabbing the free time. This seems to have become the constant problem of fifty-something life!
Unfortunately, the year that was to “end” the pandemic – 2021 – really didn’t, although for all practical purposes, we began to treat COVID-19 as endemic after the two-dose Moderna vaccine, ditching the masks, resuming full workouts, and getting about the (mostly) free state of Texas to do stuff. We had a great trip to the Gruene area in May 2021 for some music and unwinding in the country, and I recall how refreshing it was that NOBODY WAS WEARING MASKS in Gruene. In Houston at the time, that was the exception, and masks were slow to come off at places like grocery stores.
I still think quality masks had some efficacy (particularly pre-vax), but increasingly it just became a form of theater, one that some people seem to want to practice forever.
Vaccines have a great deal more efficacy, although one will probably never convince some people of this. I have run across some people who insist that the graphene in the vax will reassemble in bodies as nanotechnology that can be controlled by 5G towers. *shrug* It’s probably not worth arguing about with some folks.
Despite optimism in last year’s annual post that travel would resume – and maybe even a trip to Greece, which I had booked for May at one point – we logged zero flight miles for the year. United wound up cancelling the rewards flights I had booked, and given the uncertainty over the virus, I just never got around to booking any others. At the end of January, my United elite status will expire (which is kind of liberating – no crazy mile runs planned on any alliances at the moment, but a decent chunk of miles/points that could be cashed in for nicer flights).
Several roadtrips were kind of fun as a replacement, although I expect we may log a few flights this year.
The City of Houston continues to get more expensive even as the quality of life declines. We finally did manage to get an illegal after-hours club shut down* after a murder took place just outside in September 2021. That was one of three such club-involved murders within about a mile radius of our neighborhood over the course of a few weeks.
Houston has become an increasingly lawless place, which may drive a move to the exurbs or further at some point. Maybe sooner than later.
* At least the location in our neighborhood shut down. Their second location continues to go strong, brazenly advertising their illegal activities on facebook. Have I mentioned that Houston is an increasingly lawless place?
Oh, we also had the Great Freeze in Texas in February.
That caught a lot of people unaware, and we were a little less prepared than I would have liked (as I’d put off having an electrician finish my transfer switch to hook the generator into the house, among other things on a “to do” list).
The freeze took out electricity for most and, eventually, water (because the City of Houston’s backup systems did not work properly, something that still has not been explained). Our pipes did not freeze and burst, thankfully, but it did get a bit chilly in the house on the second day.
I had thought as the storm was approaching to make a huge pot of chili and to smoke a pork butt, so we ate well the whole time. Plus, the fact it was a cold event meant food could be sat outside by folks who didn’t have generators to avoid spoilage (though some people didn’t think of this). I had stored water in containers purchased for hurricane prep, so that came in handy, as did the propane camp stove that we use for a lot of outdoor cooking (we have an electric, not a gas, stove in our kitchen, unfortunately).
We’re now a little more resilient than we were before, adding:
- The aforementioned transfer switch at the electric box and a patch cable for the generator (acquired new some years back at a huge discount from an auto parts store clearing ’em after Hurricane Harvey)
- More of these containers
- One of these guys and some camping propane bottles (I wouldn’t recommend running this much in the house, but a little at a time would seem to be safe)
- A couple of these guys (still need to acquire some folding solar panels), so that the generator doesn’t have to run constantly (wait for a sale – list price is too high). Lots of companies make these types of battery backups, but this particular brand has highly accelerated recharging.
- Some programmable radios (mobile phone service dies within about 3-4 hours in our neighborhood when the power goes out, which is not ideal – I have yet to play around with them much. On a list, of course!)
If we learned anything last February, it’s that government is not 100% reliable at providing basic services. We are far from “preppers” but I think we’re equipped to handle a longer period of basic service failure than many in the city now (by necessity).
Maybe more cabin or trailer camping should be in the cards going forward, hrm? 🙂
We managed to help organize the neighborhood July 4 parade and a National Night Out celebration with no hitches, so that was positive.
The Coogs’ Final Four run was fun, even though we chose not to see games in person (the season was mostly pre-vax).
That’s going to wrap it up for now. If you’re actually reading this, we should probably schedule beers one of these days!