What’s top of my mind: Covid-19. On my zoom appointment, many patients tell me nowadays they had covid since I last spoke with them. They are annoyed by this, as a) they had the shots and b) they probably got it from nearby others who hadn’t been vaccinated. Sometimes I think it is inevitable I will get it myself; other times I feel like rising to the occasion, seeing this a challenge, like The Duke of Edinburgh award. Can I dodge the variants and my fellow non-vaccinated/unmasked citizens?

Where I’ve been: Covid testing. Speaking of which, I got my first covid19 test last Sunday. It is Tuesday; I haven’t heard anything. Usually positive/bad tests elicit a telephone call from The Good Doctor to get in here ASAP – but is this applicable to this test? I need to look this up. last weekend I had some URI symptoms but these are past and I feel fine.

Update on Tuesday evening: My covid test is negative. Hoory for our side! Let’s hope it stays this way.

Where I’m going: Nowhere
. I stopped going to the gym. Other than the grocery store the gym was my only outlet other than work. There are no pending trips or planned outings. I lead a dull life.

What I’m watching: Mesopotamia. Someone and I have a handful of “Great Courses” video lectures yet to be watched, which we do one episode at a time at suppertime. We finished “History of the Medici” (it ends badly) and I sense this one will end badly too (The Persian Empire). In these first episodes things are just getting going between the two rivers with the development of agriculture, which in hindsight may have been a bad move.

What I’m reading: Hero of Two Worlds, the biography of Lafayette. It’s fascinating to learn about the awful situation of The American Revolution in the 1780s. Yanks like me like to think we rose as a unified country and kicked English backsides, but in fact it was a fractured and fractious mess with little chance of winning but for the help of The French and the attrition of The English. I don’t want to give away the ending, but the poor sods under Washington don’t know the English are about to give up trying as it’s too expensive.

What I’m listening to: Inuit throat singing. Years ago during a cold and dark January in the Midwest,* I bought a CD of singers of such. I speculated this is what folks do up north during these gelid times. After all, what else is there to do? It’s become a sort of January tradition of mine to hear this genera.

What I’m eating: Broccoli spinach salad. The deli counter at Uncle Albertsons is page 71 that most of its contents consists of mayonnaise-based starchy things like cole slaw, macaroni salad, and pastas. They have a decent tomato/cucumber/mozzarella salad but this grows tiresome. Last week, lo!, there was a new one, a green salad, consisting of broccoli, spinach, and red grapes, in a not too globby dressing. I gave it a try and it was OK.

Who needs a good slap: The ‘sleeping’ patients. What is a ‘sleeping’ patient I hear you ask? These are the sorts who continually come in for their checkups to report nothing is happening in their lives. This isn’t a complaint, nor a sign of depression, but a state of being, and one they are not especially worried about. “How do you spend your days?” draws a blank as if they hadn’t ever thought of such. “Oh, I guess I go online or do things about the house”. Do you have any plans this year? No they don’t. Do you have any goals for the next decade of their lives? No either. They drift through life without goals or purpose. They do this for decades without a sense of wonde who they are or what they want from life as it slips away on them. So long as they have their TV shows and online social chit-chat they are content. While there is nothing wrong with being content – few folks are – they strike me as missing out. I have to watch myself here I am not projecting my own values for Life such as growth, adventure, and meaning. They make make me sad to see them, especially the younger ones in their 20s and 30s.

On my 1-5 scale, I give the ‘sleeping’ patients one slap – a slap to wake up.

What I’m planning: Chili. January is a good month to make chili. I have on hand several variations to try. To some extent they are more or less alike. This statement may seem like blasphemy to some; people get awfully queer and defensive about what constitutes proper chili. I like mine more complicated than beef chunks in a sauce. I like mine with beans, vegetables, and perhaps something ‘unique’ to make it a conversation piece. I have a chili named “Patsy Cline chili” that has shrimp in it, but as Someone is allergic to such I won’t make this one. Chili made in a crockpot has the advantage it makes the house smell nice and the pot helps heat the kitchen up, which is much appreciated in January.

What’s making me smile: Alice in Wonderland. I have a bunch of books that I turn to whenever I need cheering up, and “Alice” is top of the list. The tale contains all I want in a children’s book: nothing didactic but nonstop nonsense and fantasy. ‘Alice’ is also a marvelous read for word puns and language. What’s not to love? The only thing missing I suppose is nasty people getting their comeuppance. For that I turn to Mr. Dahl’s deliciously morbid prose.

*Are there any other types?