Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: May 12, 2021

Can we talk about how stupid anxiety is?

If you’re fortunate enough not to deal with anxiety all that much, you should thank your lucky stars (whatever the heck that means). As for those of you who deal with anxiety at least semi-often … do you have any idea what in the heck the point of it is? Because I sure don’t.

Anxiety may have made sense back when humans were hunter-gatherers or something, and lived under the constant threat of, say, an attack by a pack of wolves.

But now? It makes no damn sense. For example, when I dealt with a minor anxiety attack earlier today, I was:

• Definitely not under threat of an attack by a pack of wolves.

• Comfortably working in my climate-controlled home office.

• Editing the beer column, which most editors will tell you is not considered a daunting journalism task.

• Looking out my window at the gorgeous weather, shortly after finishing a lovely lunch.

In other words: I had nothing to be anxious about. The logical part of my brain, addled as it is sometimes, knew this. But the primal/emotional part of my brain? It was screaming “AAAAAAIIIIIGHHHHHH!”

Fortunately, the pointless anxiety attack passed fairly quickly, leaving me wanting a nap that I would not get.

Anxiety, man. Here’s hoping that the next phase of human evolution gets rid of this stupid, pointless feeling—unless, of course, something happens where we need to be afraid of wolves again.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Know Your Neighbors: Meet Anita Hoag, a Woman Whose Understanding of Her Mother Helped Shape Her Understanding of Herself

By Anita Rufus

May 12, 2021

Anita Hoag has been a nurse, a cosmetics rep, a department store manager and more over her “wonderful” career.

Schooling Standup: While Teaching Comedy to Students 2,700 Miles Away, I Learned That Time Is a Gift

By Mina Hartong

May 11, 2021

In January 2020, after 21 years of teaching in New York and Connecticut, I retired from the classroom. We had a final show with my […]

The Lucky 13: Christine Michele, Vocalist of Christine and the Lost Keys, Performing at Coachella Valley Brewing Co. on Friday, May 21

By Matt King

May 12, 2021

Get to know Christine Michele, the musical-theater performer who also delights audiences with her amazing vocals as part of two local cover groups.

And Now, the News

Californians between the ages of 12 and 15 will be able to get the Pfizer vaccine as soon as tomorrow (Thursday). The Los Angeles Times says: “If everything goes to plan, California’s MyTurn site will begin making appointments available on Thursday morning, state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said. The timing for when other vaccine providers will begin to offer appointments will vary. The availability is expected to come after an advisory committee on immunization practices for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets Wednesday and issues recommendations. Later Wednesday night, a vaccine advisory group for California and other Western states will meet to issue its own recommendations.”

• Related is this piece from The Conversation, written by a professor of education policy and law, with this questioning headline: “Can schools require COVID-19 vaccines for students now that Pfizer’s shot is authorized for kids 12 and up?” The (non-)answer: “School vaccination requirements have proliferated over the past century, in response to both specific outbreaks and the growing acceptance of vaccine mandates as public health policy. Although most vaccination requirements have been issued at the state level in recent decades, whether school districts can add to the list of required vaccines remains an open question, and may vary by state. It is also a question that courts will likely soon engage.”

Here’s the Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report for the week ending May 9. (District 4 includes the Coachella Valley and rural points eastward.) Most of the numbers are stable or improving. The highlight of the report is the weekly positivity rate, which is down to 1.4 percent. However … forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but: COVID-19 remains a threat, and probably will for quite some time. As many as six of our neighbors were in the ICU at one time last week, and one of our neighbors lost their life.

The New York Times is taking the CDC to task for misleading the public by saying that “less than 10 percent” of SARS-CoV-2 transmission took place outside: “It appears to be based partly on a misclassification of some COVID transmission that actually took place in enclosed spaces. … An even bigger issue is the extreme caution of CDC officials, who picked a benchmark—10 percent — so high that nobody could reasonably dispute it. That benchmark ‘seems to be a huge exaggeration,’ as Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St. Andrews, said. In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists (said). The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation.”

• A lot of media outlets have reported, accurately, that Gov. Gavin Newsom said yesterday the state’s mask mandate would be more or less eliminated along with other restrictions on June 15. However, today, he backed off that surprising statement. As the San Francisco Chronicle (subscription required) explains that the governor said this today at an event in Monterey County: “’We will be updating our mask guidelines—outdoor masking—if we reach that threshold where we hope to be’ by June 15, Newsom said. ‘In fact, we’ll be eliminating those mandates. There will be guidelines and recommendations.’ But he added, ‘For indoor activities we will still have likely some guidelines and mandates. But we hope sooner than later those will be lifted as well.’” Well, that’s cleared up! #sarcasm

• At that aforementioned event, this happened, according to my friend Sara Rubin, the editor of the Monterey County Weekly, via Twitter: “How not to make friends and influence people: @CAgovernor @GavinNewsom holds a press conference at Elkhorn Elementary in Castroville, invites the media then restricts media and prohibits @mcweekly photographer from taking photos anywhere other than posed at the podium. … The governor met with students, but no media was allowed for that part, reporter @CeliaVJimenez messages me from the presser. You ask us local press to show up so we show up, but we’d like to actually report and not just watch a scripted dog-and-pony show at the podium.” Really, Gov. Newsom? You and your staff need to do better.

• And now for some better Newsom-related news: The governor wants to spend some of the state’s budget surplus on some rather ambitious plans to help the homeless. Our partners at CalMatters say: “From the lobby of a former extended-stay motel in San Diego, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced what he called a historic proposal to end a California crisis by converting thousands more hotel rooms into housing for people who are homeless. In all, he proposed spending $12 billion over two years, about 10 times what he proposed spending on homelessness in January, thanks to a budget windfall pegged at more than $100 billion. ‘What we’re doing here today is multiples of what any state in American history has committed to address this crisis of homelessness,’ Newsom said Tuesday in calling for a massive expansion of Project Homekey, an emergency program launched during the COVID-19 pandemic that is regarded as one of his administration’s biggest victories tackling homelessness.”

• Will the next COVID-19 vaccine you receive be injected nasally, rather than into your arm? MedPage Today says … maybe not the next one, but maybe the one after that? “While mucosal vaccines may hold promise, clinical trials have only recently begun. Among 96 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, just eight are intranasal vaccines. Clinical trials are being conducted in the U.S., U.K., China, India, Cuba, and Iran, according to World Health Organization data released on May 5.”

• If you have not gotten vaccinated yet, and you need a ride to get your shots, we have good news: “Uber and Lyft will provide free rides to and from vaccination sites until July 4 as part of a new partnership with the White House, (President) Biden confirmed on Tuesday,” CNN reports. “‘To ensure that transportation is less of a barrier, from May 24th through July 4th, Uber and Lyft are both going to offer everyone free rides to and from vaccination sites. I think that is really stepping up,’ Biden said during a virtual meeting with governors at the White House on Tuesday.”

• And now for something completely different comes this headline from CBS News: “Officials warn people not to fill plastic bags with gasoline amid panic over gas shortage.” Uh, eek? The piece explains: “Officials are warning people not to pour gasoline into plastic bags amid panic over a shortage of gas in southeastern states. The shortage comes after a massive hack of Colonial Pipeline, which supplies about 45% of the East Coast’s total fuel, by a Russia-based criminal group. From Maryland to Florida, social media posts show vehicles waiting in long lines for gas. At least two tweets—a photo of a car trunk holding clear bags filled with gasoline and a video of a woman pouring gas in a plastic bag—suggested panicked customers were storing gasoline in bags. While the posts were found by Snopes to be several years old, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission nevertheless posted a flurry of tweets advising people not to carry gasoline in plastic bags or any other container not approved to carry fuel. ‘Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline,’ the agency tweeted Wednesday.”

• Related: NPR reports that Colonial Pipeline has “initiated the restart of pipeline operations.”

• Also related: The president has signed an executive order to bolster cybersecurity following the attack on the Colonial Pipeline. As reported by CNBC “The president’s executive order calls for the federal government and private sector to partner to confront ‘persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns’ that threaten U.S. security. Biden’s executive order takes a number of steps aimed at modernizing the nation’s cybersecurity.”

• If you own a pet, chances are your veterinarian is tired, thanks to a boom in pet ownership. The Associated Press explains: “During the gloomiest stretches of the pandemic, Dr. Diona Krahn’s veterinary clinic has been a puppy fest, overrun with new four-legged patients. Typically, she’d get three or four new puppies a week, but between shelter adoptions and private purchases, the 2020 COVID-19 pet boom brought five to seven new clients a day to her practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. Many are first-time pet owners. Like many veterinarians across the country, she’s also been seeing more sick animals. To meet the demand, vets interviewed by The Associated Press have extended hours, hired additional staff and refused to take new patients, and they still can’t keep up. Burnout and fatigue are such a concern that some practices are hiring counselors to support their weary staffs.”

• And finally … here’s a piece from The Associated Press about some investigations here in California into Tesla’s automated driving system. The whole piece is worth a read, but this part in particular will have you asking yourself: WTF?! That part: “… Authorities got multiple 911 calls Monday evening that a person was in the back of Tesla Model 3 while the vehicle traveled on Interstate 80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. A motorcycle officer spotted the Tesla, confirmed the solo occupant was in the back seat, took action to stop the car and saw the occupant move to the driver’s seat before the car stopped, said the statement from the highway patrol, known as CHP. Authorities said they cited (Param) Sharma on April 27 for similar behavior. In an interview with The Associated Press Wednesday, Sharma said he did nothing wrong, and he’ll keep riding in the back seat with no one behind the steering wheel.”

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. A native of Reno, Nevada, the Dodgers fan went to Stanford University intending to become a sportswriter—but fell...