Blue Sky, Tan Grass, Second COVID-19 Shot and Fever

I’ve been enjoying this week’s bright blue skies and sunshine. I’d have been enjoying them more, if I hadn’t been recovering from my second COVID-19 shot.

And if our skies hadn’t been quite so consistently clear.

Sunshine’s fine, but we need rain.

On the ‘up’ side, my body’s response to the mRNA vaccine could have been much worse.


June 2021, Minnesota: Not Nearly Enough Water

Minnesota drought conditions. (June 14, 2021)
(From Drought.gov, used w/o permission.)
(Drought in Minnesota. (June 14, 2021))

A lull in this month’s heat advisories has been nice. But, again — rain, a good steady day-long rain — that’s what we need.

We almost got a few sprinkles around mid-week, and weather forecasts suggest that we’ll have a damp weekend.

So maybe this household’s front yard will green up. Or maybe it won’t. What’s more important: maybe this year’s crops will yield enough, letting area farmers at least break even.

None of this is entirely good news, but I see a few ‘up’ sides.

For one thing, Minnesotans should be used to weather extremes. Like back in 2013, when homeowners — and farmers — coped with spring floods and a drought.

And, judging from the overwhelming majority of parched lawns I see in my neighborhood, most of us don’t mind helping each other by not squandering what someone else needs. Or at least cooperate, whether or not we like it.

Recent Records

Minnesota drought conditions. (2000-2021)
(From Drought.gov, used w/o permission.)
(Minnesota droughts since 2000.)

The first list of droughts I found included one in 1540, another couple from 1875 to 1878; and then dozens after 1900.

Exercising considerable creative license, I could say that 20th century droughts were due to a dyspeptic deity’s snit over over the 1-2 ton sailing event’s gold medal in the 1900 Summer Olympics.

Or that they were part of a capitalistic imperialistic warmonger plot to impede the glorious worker’s revolution.

But I won’t. That’d be silly.

So would be weaving a tale around Minnesota weather in 2007 and 2013 — claiming that those drought years were retribution for my state’s 2006 and 2012 elections.1

I was going somewhere with this. But where?

Bright blue skies, parched lawns, weather reports and crackpot ideas. Right.

Not-So-Recent Records

Minnesota monthly precipitation.
(From Drought.gov, used w/o permission.)
(Minnesota monthly precipitation. (1895-2021))

Folks were living here in central North America long before Columbus followed up on Leif Erikson’s none-too-well-documented visit. But detailed and consistent weather records don’t go back much over one and a quarter centuries.

Small wonder that major droughts seem to start around 1900.

One of these days I’ll revisit what we’ve been learning about Earth’s long story, and ours, but not today. Not in detail, at any rate.

Lisiecki and Raymo's five million years of climate change. (2005) used w/o permissionBriefly and very basically, scientists started realizing and accepting that Earth’s climate hadn’t always been the same around the mid-19th century.

Paleoclimatology’s roots arguably go back to Aristotle’s day, at least. But as a science, it’s one of those things that started in the 20th century.

On a geologic scale, events like the Dust Bowl — serious as they were — are statistical hiccups compared to, say, the 4.2 kiloyear event.

Which may or may not have ended Egypt’s Old Kingdom, seriously inconvenienced the Akkadian Empire and generally wreaked havoc in the good old days when folks like me knew their place.

Around the Yangtze River Delta, at least.2

Which is not where my ancestors lived, and that’s another topic.

So, concerned as I am about the front yard and my region’s farms, I’d be mightily surprised if we’re looking at the opening act of “Late Bronze Age Collapse: The Legend Continues.”

And my angst deficit on the climate front relates, I think, to my reasons for getting COVID-19 vaccinations. Even though I was expecting this week’s unpleasantness.

Interlude: Friday’s Red Flag Warning

National Weather Service map. (21:09 UTC June 18, 2021)

Well, that’s interesting. The National Weather Service says that we’re having fire weather Friday: from noon to 7:00 p.m. local time.

It’s a “Red Flag Warning,” which in this case means winds from 15 to 20 miles an hour, gusts to 30 or so; humidity 20 percent, give or take; which means that “outdoor burning is not recommended.”

Weather like this may explain why our neighbors haven’t been having their evening backyard campfires. Good for them, and I hope conditions permit that sort of recreation later in the season


COVID-19 Pandemic: Dealing with Unpleasantness

Michel Serre's 'Vue du Cours pendant la peste de 1720.' (1721)
(From Michel Serre, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Plague in Marseille. (1720))

There’s an old Minnesota saying: “it could be worse.”

It doesn’t make the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer’s drought, or my discomfort better. But it is, I think, a reminder that what I’m experiencing isn’t the absolute worst that’s ever happened to anyone.

Like folks in the good old days of Marseille, 1720. When the merry rumble of corpse-wagons rang through the streets.

'At the Sign of the UNHOLY THREE' cartoon, warning against fluoridated water, polio serum and mental hygiene. And 'communistic world government.' (1955)Or the halcyon days of my childhood, when some kids got polio vaccines in time.3

And some didn’t.

I was inoculated, and never had polio.

I was, however, at an age where I might have gotten the crippling disease. My limp suggested that I might have. And that’s another topic.

The point is that I’ve had opportunities for learning why vaccinations can make sense.

Even if the vaccines are new. And, in the imaginations of some, part of a “communistic world government” conspiracy.

Or, more recently, an alleged malevolent Manchurian machination manipulated by the dread North Carolina-China axis.

I am not making that up. (December 5, 2020)

Mini Magic Microchips?!

I’m not making this up, either:

It’s nice, sort of, knowing that my country doesn’t have a monopoly on crackpots.

On the other hand….

If the current crop of cuckoo crank conspiracy theories was the first I’d noticed, then I’d have reason for concern. Or might think I have, at any rate.

But I remember when “I saw it online” replaced “I read it in a book” as a catchphrase indicating credulity above and beyond the call of reason.

I don’t know why folks — including some who arguably should know better — fall for wacky claims: but they do, and that’s another topic for another day.

Phizer and Preferences: a Recap

Dr. Francis Collins/NIH infographic: how mRNA vaccines work. (July 16, 2020)
(From NIH Director’s Blog, used w/o permission.)
(Here’s how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work. (2020))

Recapping what I said last week: I’ve had the Phizer mRNA vaccine. Twice, now.

It wasn’t developed from the cells of someone who’d been killed in the 1970s, but it was tested with the HEK 293 cell line.

I’d prefer living in a world where low-status folks weren’t killed and broken down for parts.

But my preferences won’t change what’s happened, and I’m responsible for what I can do. Or not do, as the case may be.

The Phizer mRNA vaccine, again, isn’t made from repurposed human body parts. It does, however, contain snippets of RNA code from the COVID-19 virus: SARS-CoV-2​.

Just snippets. Not the whole virus: just cellular DIY instructions for making the SARS-CoV-2​ spike protein.4

Side Effects

 	SPQR10's illustration of a SARSr-CoV virion. (2020)I started running a fever after getting that second COVID-19 shot.

But I don’t have COVID-19.

My body’s immune system has been responding to those spike proteins, making me feel less than perky.

That’s what I expected, so I also figure I’ll have a limited immunity to this particular version of the COVID-19 virus.

It’s not a perfect situation. But as I keep saying, this isn’t a perfect world. I do what I can, and try to avoid fretting over what I can’t.

My fever hasn’t been nearly as impressive as my son’s: no surprise, since I’m considerably older than he is. So far, I’ve scored two out of the seven top unpleasant side effects of the Phizer COVID-19 vaccine:5

  • Pain and swelling at the injection site
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever

And my fever has been underwhelming, too:

  • Saturday, June 12
    100.0
  • Sunday
    99.8
  • Monday
    99.2
  • Tuesday
    98.7
  • Wednesday
    99.6
  • Thursday
    100.5
  • Friday
    100.6

Then again, I’ve been feeling just blah enough to keep me from focusing on the sort of research-intensive thing I might have written.

One more point, and I’d better wrap this up.

Life, the Universe and Me

CDC: Clinical Resources for Each COVID-19 Vaccine.I haven’t been demanding first place in the COVID-19 vaccination line, mainly because I don’t get out much and figure the odds of my catching the disease are low.

I didn’t mind being told that it’s my turn, because I’d prefer not catching an unpleasant disease which might, given my health issues, be very unpleasant.

And I sure didn’t resist being vaccinated, because I see the procedure as part of an effort to keep other folks from catching the disease.

Life, the universe and everything isn’t all about me.

Acting as if I value the life and health of my neighbors is part of being Catholic. So is working for the common good. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, One/Two/Article 2 Participation in Social Life/II: The Common Good, 2258-2317)

I’ve talked about this before. Rather often:


1 Assorted stuff:

2 A small sampling from humanity’s long story:

3 Disease and not missing the ‘good old days:’

4 New disease, new vaccines:

5 Side effects:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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