A Little Bit from Elaine

Elaine Carlson will provide weekly columns to the Beat.

By Elaine Carlson

I have been grateful for the opinions of regular folks on books, rice cookers, sheets and on a host of other products. Are there those same customer reviews for kitty litter? That was the question that hit me the other morning while I was rousing myself from sleep and before I got up.        

I wasn't able to get that question out of my mind. So of course I had to go online. I looked on the Walmart website and quickly learned that store sells a lot, a heck of a lot, of kitty litter. I think maybe I will find customer reviews.   

To narrow my search I look up the kitty litter I have been using. I get it out and read on the front that it is Cat's Pride Scoopable Clumping Litter. In the search line I type in Cat's Pride and Scoopable Clumping is fifth choice that emerges. 

By Elaine Carlson

I was driving through Missouri on my way back to Silver City from a convention I went to in Madison Wisconsin when I decided to stop at a Walmart. When I got to the front entrance I was happy to see an electric cart because I am physically disabled. I thought I was all set.

But just as I was walking towards it a man got there first. Finger snapping quick he sat down in it and drove off. I told myself now I have the opportunity to get some exercise and went and got a shopping cart. I always tell myself something stupid like that whenever I get a set back.

While I was looking at canned fruits a man in a cart came around the bend. I quickly realized it was the same man (and same cart). He said he wanted to let me have it.

I told him he didn't need to give me the cart.

“It is first come first serve,” I said, “And you got there first.”

By Elaine Carlson

I don't remember much about that visit other than seeing what looked like several lines of dots on the carpet in our living room. And the lines those dots were on weren't drawn but they were absolutely straight. I guessed each one was about a foot. And each line had three or four dots.

Uncle Ralph said mice had gotten into the house since we were gone. So those dots were their bowel movements. Then I knew people, cats, and dogs have them so it seemed logical to me that mice would have them too. And since mice are such tiny creatures, it would follow that their dots wouldn't be big.

What really got to me was that everything looked so empty. My mother's coffee cup was not on our dining room table, there were no newspapers or magazines on the couch or on the TV. Also, there was not a stack of clean laundry ready to be folded and put away.

By Elaine Carlson

On their Official Website the New Mexico Department of Health claims that as of Monday March 22 they have given out 862,879 doses of vaccine to 32% of eligible residents (people over 16) and 23.6% have gotten both doses. And that in the seven days before 3/22 they gave out 97,188 doses.

I don't see how it is good news that after over a year into this huge health crisis that 78% of eligible residents have not gotten even one dose of the vaccine.

Yesterday NM DOH contacted me to tell me "Moderna vaccine is now available at a location near you, and sign-up is on a first-come, first serve basis."

I was disappointed after I logged in to see their message, "Unfortunately there are no more initial dose appointments at this time." This is the sixth time the NM DOH sent me their "now available" message only to get their "Unfortunately" message after I logged on.

I registered near the beginning of the process on the same day I got a shingles shot. The pharmacist explained how to register. He also told me to not get any shots for 18 days. I guess if something goes wrong he doesn't want the doctors to have to lose time trying to decide if I got a bad reaction from the Shingles or the Corona Virus Vaccine.

Of course the people in the NM DOH have put in a lot of effort into distributing the vaccine. But we must realize they have been doing that job by operating a game of musical chairs. Or they are conducting a lottery in which the prize is an appointment to get a shot.

I think it is likely to say the operate on a "first come, first served basis" means that people only have ten minutes to answer their message to have any chance of getting an appointment.

State run lotteries operate under rules that say they have to disclose the information about how many tickets they sell and the chances that any one particular person could win — that is people can find out the odds.

I think it would be nice if every time the NM DOH sends out the notice of appointments opening up they would tell the numbers of how many appointments there will be and how many people they are sending the message to. I don't imagine people who want a vaccine are any less likely to want to know the odds than the people who buy a lottery ticket because they want a chance to strike it rich.

It wouldn't be fair to criticize NM DOH for not vaccinating more people or for the long waits. They do not have enough vaccine. Maybe the situation will begin to change soon because the US government has bought more vaccine. But purchasing the needed supplies has not been a simple or straight forward process.

In December 2020 hhs.gov made two announcements.

On December 11 they said, "The Trump Administration, through the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DOD), will purchase an additional 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer." And,

"Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will deliver at least 70 million doses by June 30, 2021, with the balance of the 100 million doses to be delivered no later than July 31, 2021."

On December 23 that site reported that also on December 11, "US government buys another 100 million doses of Moderna vaccine." And that, "The expanded order would ensure continuous vaccine delivery through the end of June 2021, at a total cost of $3.2 billion, the Trump administration said."

After the January Inauguration the new administration also made some purchases.

Politico reported on March 19, 2021 that the Biden Administration entered into contracts "for the acquisition of 138 million doses against covid-19 produced by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Janssen, whose agreements had been announced a few days ago by the then Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello."

I was a little confused while I was reading the Politico article. If the prior administration bought 200 million doses why did the new administration think they had to go out and buy another 138 million doses?

The article for the purchase of the Moderna Vaccine has right in the headline the statement that the US government made the purchase. But the text says the government "will" buy the vaccine "if authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use."

While I was reading, I got even more confused because I thought the Moderna Vaccine had already been cleared by the FDA and was being used. So I went back to read (or reread) more and saw that the vaccine Moderna wanted to sell us was mRNA-1273. And "If authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use as outline in agency/guidance, doses of the vaccine will begin shipping immediately."

Two conclusions are obvious. First that Moderna wanted to sell the Trump Administration a different vaccine than the one they sold to us before and second the FDA did not give their approval. So, it follows that there never was a contract so the doses didn't "begin shipping immediately."

But things went differently with Pfizer. "On Dec. 11 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the vaccine for emergency use and doses began shipping immediately."

This has been a rough year but maybe there is some room for optimism. When the US government gets the vaccines they ordered they can start sending it on to the states. Then maybe the NM DOH will get enough vaccines to get the unvaccinated population way below 78% and to decrease the waiting time.

Let's hope that Pfizer significantly beats their contract deadlines to deliver "at least 70 millions doses by June 30" and the 30 million doses" by July 31, 2021.

By Elaine Carlson

Recently I began to think that I have been living through a Nancy Drew Mystery.

When I was ten or eleven I enjoyed reading about the adventures of that amateur sleuth and her friend George (and yes I know that was a long time ago). I thought how neat it was for such a young girl to be able to solve mysteries and to have a girl friend named George.

Late Sunday night when I checked my email, I saw Fisher Auto sent me the message "Closed Monday 3/15." I hadn't heard of them but when I opened the message, I learned they are in Boulder Colorado.

"Out of concern for the safety of our staff and customers, we have decided to close the dealership tomorrow, Monday March 15th. If you have a vehicle emergency, please call ONE of our VP's below. They will answer/return calls ASAP. We plan to re-open on Tuesday March 16th."

Elaine Carlson

This week I got an email telling me I have to pay $299 for a Windows Fraud Protection Plan because the Free Trial I signed up for was now over. I was told to call their toll-free number but not to reply by email because "we don't monitor this account." Why did they contact me? I don't owe them any money because I never signed up for their services.

I decide to talk to my husband.

"Microsoft just sent me a bill." And I tell him what the message said.

"Microsoft didn't send you that message," he said. "They wouldn't tell you to just phone."

He might have been sure they didn't send me the message, but he goes to my computer to look at it. He read it out loud. Several times he stops to say just how awful he thinks the writing is.

"Microsoft did not send you this letter," he says. "They have people who know how to write."

Editor's Note: Apologies for not posting last week when it was sent. Too many things happening that day!]

By Elaine Carlson

What song lyrics are most often quoted in courts?

That is an almost perfect trivia question because most people can't think of the answer. But then after having been fed the answer most of them will say, "How obvious."

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" from Bob Dylan's Subterranean Blues – is by far the song lyric most often said in courts. It is easy to guess that on every court day somewhere plaintiff attorneys are telling judges and juries, "You don't need a weatherman to know" their client can't walk, is blind or suffers some other malady because of something the person they are suing did.

Early Monday morning I was not in court but in bed when I told myself I didn't need a weatherman to know that it was cold --- very cold.

Another Short Story
By Elaine Carlson

"Are you really married?" Gosh dang, he almost seemed to be barking at us. "Or are you two just shacking up?"

I told him yes, we were married. He seemed to be satisfied when I showed him my health insurance card. My name was on the first line after Insured and Joe's name was on the second line after Sponsor. And Spouse had been entered into the small square just after the place where his name was.

We were at an attorney's office. I almost felt like we had been under a rough cross-examination. But then I know attorneys always want to make sure of the information their clients give them.

I was worried because we didn't have wills. We hadn't taken up sky diving or any other risky activity. I just thought as a simple matter of prudence we should each have a will.

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