Monday, November 08, 2021

CoViD-19: What Happened With Delta? | Biden Admin Will Defend OSHA Rules; Requests Case Consolidation | Skimpflation |

Crescent Moon and Venus (Taken 11.7.21)

I had a lot to say today so check that after the jump. But tonight I just want to say that I'm looking forward the holidays. They're going to be different, no doubt. My dad is still in the same position and they may release him home this week, but it is hard to say if that is just what they're saying to keep his spirits up. Hospice care is still hospice care, whether he has a doctor and team of nurses looking after him or just my mom. Nova will be visiting her mom and grandparents for Thanksgiving, which is a little anxiety-provoking because she'll be flying to and from Missouri, where the pandemic is treated as completely over. She's fully vaccinated and ideally will continue to mask up, but we can't control what we can't see. 

Still, in spite of all that, I am ready for a long Veterans Day weekend, a long Thanksgiving, and a long break for Christmas and New Year's. We went to Sea World on Sunday and I bought my first new ornament for this year, though we'll be watching the cost of trees closely. I didn't really find a meaningful alternative to a real tree that suits my family and my taste and our minimal space. I know I've been saying for months that Christmas Is Canceled, but it was very firmly tongue in cheek. I've already watched my first Christmas movie. And obviously we're all just hoping dad can hang on to experience it. Everything else is just not really that important.  

Stay safe out there. 

I've been thinking a lot about "skimpflation" and rising costs of everything. I try not to be whiny about it. I'm grateful that UI got us through 2020 and much of 2021. The stimulus checks were amazing support. We've taken advantage of every lifeline offered; some we didn't qualify, but some worked. It's actually both astounding to me and unfortunate to me how many programs are available to help people that most people don't even know about until it is too late. My dad retired from the VA in the 1990s and only now found out he was covered by their insurance this entire time, meanwhile he was paying more than $600 a month in insurance for he and my mom. WTF? Do the math on that one and even if you only take off half for him with all of his conditions, it's over $100k that is gone, gone, gone. 

Restaurants and bars and businesses and fake businesses and corporations and churches and mega-churches and anyone with an open LLC could basically apply for PPP and there were thousands if not millions of fake claims paid; millions, if not billions of fraudulent payments  that can never be recouped, but people want to make you feel bad if you qualify for CalFresh or SNAP benefits or rent subsidies, making sure to maintain words in our vernacular like "food stamps", a term that should've been retired decades ago, or "welfare queens" which should've never existed at all. We know the true "welfare queens" are the banks, the energy corporations, the auto manufacturers, the defense contractors, corporate farmers, telecoms, Walmart and Amazon...all who get massive government contracts, subsidies, tax breaks, and bailouts, not to mention benefits for their workers who don't make a living wage, even working full time, or worse, given hours just under fulltime so as to deny even more benefits. 

So the other day I'm at Vons and I'm making a stink because my Vons Club won't scan. "Just put in your phone number," they said. But the new Vons card gets more rewards than the former system. My previous two shopping trips, at least $20 in savings were missed on one and another $10 on another. On the first we caught it before we left the store and the manager literally handed me cash to make up for the estimated difference and just kinda took my word for it, saying "this is happening a lot lately." The next time, I was already home, so I used their online platform and got an email a few days later asking me to itemize the missed savings. Uh, yeah. Nobody has time for that nonsense. Which takes me back to Friday. I'd held up the line enough, they showed me how to look up the phone number I signed up with, not the one I currently use, and I guess all the savings did finally go through. 

But it's happening everywhere. My dad taught me to always check my receipts and tonight we were charged for something not even in our cart at Costco. It was something for $7.99 which isn't going to break the bank, but all of this adds up. $20 here. $10 there. Another $7.99 here. And there's no real recourse. Unless you sit there and hold up a whole line of angry, aggressive, maskless shoppers who are shooting eye daggers at the back of your head. How do you prove, especially once you're home, that you paid for something you didn't buy at all? And it's not a lot, but $37.99 sure would be better spent in our gas tanks than dissolved into thin air.  

We've tried to cut back on shopping entirely, but some things you just kinda have to buy in person. Meat and produce and dairy and $5 Friday hot fried chicken from the deli. We cook a lot at home, but some things are really just cheaper to buy than trying to make. And I was insistent on the $5 chicken. Which meant the deli guy telling everyone it would be 15 minutes, a dozen people returning 15 minutes later to find out the chicken hadn't been started yet because "we got a rush" and the now 25 people coming back after another 20 minutes all frothing at the mouth for chicken. At least go back to giving us numbers or something.

And I know that customer service has gone by the wayside; I'd have my neckhair raised and fangs and claws out constantly with the way people treat service industry workers and I understand that the stores are understaffed and overworked and I would be pissed to work anywhere that doesn't require masks indoors which is pretty much everywhere. But I say this because I'm just as much an asshole as everyone else. I got my chicken and then the whole register hold up and exactly two days later, my eyes are itchy, I'm sneezing non-stop, I'm running through half a box of Kleenex and I'm hoping this is just allergies because the weather is changing and the kittens are growing and I indulged in their purr-fest and let the bunting of my face happen and oh, god, these articles say that COVID-19 in vaccinated persons appears more like a head cold (because it stays in the nose and the vaccine prevents replication and movement to the lungs) and sneezing and sniffling and fatigue are all symptoms and oh shit this sucks!! Why did I have to wait for the goddamn fried chicken in a closed-in, poorly ventilated, completely packed grocery store where nobody is wearing a goddamn mask?? 

And then I took an Allerfex...some generic Costco allergy pill I love, and in a couple hours it took and I fell asleep and woke up feeling totally normal. But it was still enough for me that I called my dad in the hospital instead of visiting in-person, and called off going to the Casbah for Tokyo Police Club and Said The Whale. Nova also found out a classmate tested positive at school, so she will continue with her regular Tuesday free COVID testing at school and I'm on the hunt for free or cheap at-home or in-person rapid tests for me and Darren, just to be sure before we visit my Pops again. I can't believe these things are like $2 in Europe and available in vending machines and we're sold out everywhere at $24 for two tests. 

I didn't even really go into the non-service side of "skimpflation''. You know how milk and orange juice and other refrigerated liquids have forever come in half-gallon cartons? Like, pretty much all of my life. Well, now Florida's Own orange juice has shrunk their package to 52oz, as opposed to the 64oz in a half-gallon. Someone on TV or Twitter or somewhere was saying the only question we should be asking of our politicians right now is "how much does a gallon of milk cost?" to see if they even know, which I guess is a longtime gotcha in politics for decades. (To be fair, I wouldn't know either because we have to buy lactose-free milk by the almost $5 half-gallon.) It was kinda spawned from this stupid CNN story about a family with way too many kids who go through a dozen gallons of milk a week. (WTF?) But they got ripped so bad on Twitter that the story kinda died. Though the larger point, about the cost of housing, healthcare, energy, and maintaining 14 streaming subscriptions is making everyone poor (I made up that last one.), so groceries and goods are just a distraction from the fact that there isn't enough housing, and the housing that exists is bought up by investors for flipping or ripping off tenants, or used as short-term rentals or intentional write-offs as losses for rich people's taxes. 

And then I watch Colbert for levity, and he's no better than MSM, saying that the BIB is ONE thing that has passed. Really? The only thing that's changed in 10 months is the infrastructure bill? Not the American Rescue Plan? Not getting out of Afghanistan (however you believe that was handled)? Not jobs up, vaccines up, supply chain issues because we're buying so much more stuff than ever before?? Not to mention scores of EO's that are temporarily bringing us back to a civil and moral government even if they're only EO's for now? Gimme a break. There is a lot to be worried about in this world, but that TFG is out should never cease to be cause for celebration. Even if my goddamn orange juice is 12 ounces smaller than before.  

No comments: