Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sunday Funnies

      Once upon a time, there was an artist  named Boris Artzybasheff.  Born in 1899 in Russia, he fought against the Bolsheviks and made his way to the United States by 1919.  He did a lot of illustration work and beginning before WW II, frequently did cover art for Time Magazine.

     His work could be strikingly anthropomorphic:

     They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery -- which makes this 1943 MGM cartoon high praise indeed.

     ...But not only does Artzybasheff not get so much as a nod in the credits, I couldn't find any mention of the obvious influence his work had on this animation in any discussion of the subject.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

In Which I Am Snarked At By The Credulous

      In response to my most recent posting, a commenter who very rarely gets past the filters chided me:

"'Always suspect a story that fits too well with the reporter or outlet's inclinations (and/or your own)' You should take your own advice."

      The thing is, I do -- and I make a particular effort to check things out and find (and share) links when it is something I have strong feelings about, pro or con.

      I spent nearly all of the Trump administration "doing homework" rather than joining any reflexive pro or anti bandwagon.  I had disliked the man for years; he has always struck me as a remarkable example of a bad boss in the "disruptive manager" style.  I'm not a big fan of "nativism" as historically expressed in the United States and Mr. Trump's updating of it was no improvement, in my judgement.  Once the "Grab them by the [female private parts]" audio came out and was confirmed, there was no way I was ever going to vote for him.  As a result, I made a great effort to fairly judge his actions as President on their own merits, and found myself coming to his defense from time to time in online discussions.

      ...I started to write a long history of how and why I arrived at my present conclusions, but you know what?  It doesn't matter how clear and careful a trail of breadcrumbs I leave, if you have bought into the alt-reality line of a rigged election, a faked pandemic and vaccines that aren't, I'm not going to change your mind.

      But here's reality:

      - The 2020 Federal elections were as fair and honest as any of 'em have been in my lifetime.  Mr. Trump lost and Mr. Biden won, mostly by virtue of not being Mr. Trump rather than his own merits.  Note that the election shrank the Democrat majority in the House and left the Senate at 50/50: that's not a recipe for gaining power over the Federal government and it's a sure sign the Dems didn't have a thumb on the scales.

      - Mr. Trump's "legal team" pushing the notion of a stolen election is a bunch of grifters and/or lunatics.  That narrative trails away into the "Qanon" craziness and bloody-handed authoritarians, and the only thing at the end of it is ruin and bankruptcy.

      - The coronavirus pandemic is real.  Over 860,000 Americans have died of it so far and that figure may break a million by the end of this year.  (I hope not, but it's almost inevitable.)

      - Coronavirus vaccines work and they are safe.  Over 75 percent of the population of the U.S. has received at least one shot.  That's nearly 250 million of your fellow citizens.  They're not dying of the shots. 

      That's the real world, one in which we can be reasonably confident the omicron surge will buy us at least a month or two (or more!) of low infection, hospitalization and death rates once it passes -- and death rates are already low, especially compared to infection rates, and should keep dropping thanks to a number of factors including widespread vaccination and better medical treatments for COVID-19 cases.

      You can go live in cloud-cuckoo land if you like, grooving on paranoid fantasies, inflammatory politics and a growing disconnect from the real world, but it doesn't lead anywhere good.  It's the political version of heroin addiction.

      The stupid, violent and deluded at the political extremes are working very hard to burn this country down.  We have one party mostly trying to pretend it's not happening anywhere on their side and one party buying matches in bulk.  I'm not impressed by either one and I am not going to cheer them on.  YMMV.

      Don't like it?  Go jump out of an Overton window.  "Communists or Fascists" is a false choice, an option of being bludgeoned to death with an oak club or hickory one.  It was a false choice in Germany in 1933 and it's a false choice now.  We have still got a functioning form of democracy* here in the United States, no matter how much of their own excrement Lefty and Righty rioters and talk-show hosts try to smear on it.
* "Democracy" is a general term, widely used, and we say "direct democracy" if we want to refer to the ancient Greek citizens-vote-on-everything model.  If you want to whine, "But this is a republic," in that politcal-party-name coded way, go breathe it into a paper bag until the urge passes.  "Democracy," a system of government based on the ongoing consent of the governed, in which we choose the nitwits running the gummint by voting instead of them being born to it or getting there atop a heap of severed heads; and we get to replace the nitwits frequently.  It's all fiddlin' details from there and you're either for it or agin' it.  It you're against it, I'm not your friend.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Confirmation Bias: Teachable Moment

      The relative positions of media outlets on the Ad Fontes bias/accuracy chart are the center point of a "scattergram" of ratings for a wide sampling of items for each one; if you go to the interactive version and look up the various rated providers, you can see it and find links to the stories themselves.

      NPR's will probably take a hit in the next update and it's an instructive incident: Nina Totenberg reported that Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor had begun working remotely -- and that the reason was that Justice Gorsuch's had refused to wear a mask, while all the other Justices were doing so.

      This story clicked right into Ms. Totenberg's confirmation bias, and right into her story about tension among the justices.  The juicy item of conflict between a supposedly defiantly unmasked Mr. Justice Gorsuch and an aggrieved Ms. Justice Sotomayor was raw meat for a lot of the media and a predictable feeding frenzy ensued and escalated, nicely unpacked here.

      The United States Supreme Court was not amused, and issued a joint statement:
"Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends."

      While there's no requirement that Supreme Court Justices love one one another, agree, or even like their fellow Justices (and historically, there's been a lot of loathing), the present Court appears to value an atmosphere in which they can argue like hell and still get along.

      There's a recent drawing by a court artist making the rounds, and it showed up on Twitter in response to the joint statement -- it's the header at SCOTUSblog right now, nine chairs all in a row, six masked Justices, an empty chair, Justice Gorsuch unmasked and one more Justice in a mask.  Striking, but it tells us nothing about it got that way.

      As a follow-up, Chief Justice Roberts issued a statement of his own, "I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench."

      I kept checking NPR's website to see what they had to say about the situation.  Eventually, yesterday evening, they did a news story about the news story, with rather a lot of of hedging from Ms. Totenberg.

      NPR is well aware of how bad a gaffe this is, and has got out the sackcloth and ashes, or at least the Unabridged:
      "In the absence of a clarification, NPR risks losing credibility with audience members who see the plainly worded statement from Roberts and are forced to go back to NPR's story and reconcile the nuances of the verb 'asked' when in fact, it's not a nuanced word."

      The takeaway?

      1. Always suspect a story that fits too well with the reporter or outlet's inclinations (and/or your own).  Hey, it could be right, but that stuff is red meat, no matter which direction they're leaning.  Look for independent confirmation -- of which this story never had any.

      2. Reality is nuanced.  Twitter -- where this thing really mushroomed -- and headlines are not.  Story ledes and hooks (that part that grabs your attention away from the hockey scores or WW III reports) are not.  This can get out of hand rapidly. 

      3. Time is your friend.  My initial reaction (to Tam) was, "I thought the Justices got along better than that.  Didn't Scalia take Sotomayor hunting, way back when?"  And later, after learning Sotomayor is diabetic, "It's really going to stink if is Gorsuch is that big a shitheel."  Well, he's probably not.  And they probably do get along well enough.   And while there may have been a minor kerfluffle over masks, the Justices settled it among themselves and presumably nobody's seething, or at least not enough to go gripe about it in the Press.  Tempest, meet teapot; teapot, meet Totenberg.  Oops.

      4. I could not find links to the official Supreme Court statements, not even at SCOTUSblog.  Forbes linked to tweets, and that's as close as anyone came.  WTH, Press?  C'mon, show your work when you can.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Of Masks And Risks And Omicron

      The recent piece on navigating the present-day landscape of everyone else's coronavirus strategy didn't get many responses, and those weren't publishable for reasons of excessive pugnacity or the repeating of misinformation.

      One stood out, a fellow who chided me, "Well young lady I guess that the semi-annual HEPA mask fittings I did as a condition of employment was a profitable scam if paper or cloth masks filter out virus-sized particles."

      One supposes "Young lady..." is meant as flattery, but it reads as dismissive; at any rate, I'm within a couple of years of full retirement age, which is a bit past 65 for my cohort.  I've been working at my trade for forty-eight years now.  There's more silver than gold in my hair these days.

      I have also been trained on and then worked in a "Moon suit" and full-face Air-Purifying Respirator, or APR, basically a gas mask.  The training comes with lectures on what it does and does not stop, how it works and a lengthy segment on how to control and limit exposure that included this short film. I don't know how a short training course -- we got 24 hours, total -- stacks up against getting a filter mask fit check a few times a year, but it's at least comparable.

      And it means neither of us is an expert at everyday biohazard control -- just like most people.

      With that caveat, I'll dig right in to the central canard, that my cheap little paper and synthetic-fiber KN95 mask is supposed to keep the virus from getting to me, all by itself.

      It's not.  In that direction, it's a pointy stick in a gunfight: better than nothing.  But it's also just one part of the process, a process that explains why I can look at one or two unmasked folks at the grocery store and not freak right out. 

      Limiting the spread -- even with the chicken pox or cooties contagiousness of omicron -- is accomplished by a bunch of small steps, none of them perfect.  "The best is the enemy of good enough:" many people see that some measure -- vaccines, handwashing, refraining from French-kissing strangers, whatever -- is not a total barrier to infection, and therefore ignore it.  In that case, why wear a seat belt in your car or an airplane?

      I'm going to use my typical trip to the corner grocer's.  Your mileage may vary.

      Start with that mask: it's not a great barrier against tiny, dry, aerosolized viruses.  It is a better barrier to the larger moist, virus-bearing components of my exhaled breath; even a cloth mask does at least a little of that.  And what it doesn't stop, it tends to slow down.  It's better than nothing.

      Next step: I choose uncrowded times to grocery-shop.  I don't push up close to other people.  So presumably, there's less viral load in the air and I've got a bit of distance from the source, or a barrier between us.  It's not great (I guess I could have groceries parachuted to the middle of the back yard if I really wanted to keep my distance) but it's better than nothing.

      Next step: I limit my time in the store, planning what I will buy ahead of time and following a set, efficient route.  A week's worth of groceries takes about twenty minutes -- a bit long, but better than  wandering around for an hour.

      Next step: I don't socialize or chatter.  A "Hello," to the butchers I know, a pleasantry with the cashier through the barrier (those slabs of Lexan aren't great, but they're better than nothing).  I don't stop and catch up on neighborhood gossip in the middle of the aisle when I see a friend. (Yes, some people still do.  I'm not in charge of them; I wasn't even when they were aisle-blocking before the pandemic.)

      Final steps: I sanitized the touching surfaces of the cart when I picked it up.  Once the groceries are stowed, I return the cart* and then sanitize my hands before taking the mask off, folding it by the straps and stowing it in a zip-lock bag.  None of these are sure-fire virus-stoppers, either -- but they're better than nothing.  I've had two vaccine shots and a booster, too: also not a guarantee I won't fall ill, though they should substantially improve my odds of not ending up in the hospital or worse if it happens. (If, indeed, it hasn't already.)  Once I get home, I'll wash my hands before and after putting the groceries away.  Through it all, I will refrain from touching my face. 

      Am I saying all of this is a totally effective way to not get COVID-19 (or the flu or a cold)?  No.  In fact, hell, no.  But it helps.  It's more helpful in not spreading it if I happen to have it and don't know.  It's not a hundred percent for that, either -- but it's better than nothing.

      Am I saying you should be doing all or even some of these things?  Sorry; I'm not the boss of you.  Make up your own mind.  Roll your own dice.  I'll be over there, at least six feet away, not yelling at you.

      Controlling communicable illness is a matter of statistics and mass populations.  One way is by drastically restricting people's movements and interactions the way Red China has -- but it takes a totalitarian government to pull that off and it becomes less and less effective with more contagious versions.  If not combined with massive vaccination, all it does it put the problem off for later, because this virus is not going away.   That's not how we do things in Western Civilization.  Sure, there's a degree of chivvying going on here in the U.S., at roughly a seat-belt law and smoking-ban level, and with about the same degree of compliance or a bit more, and that's what we've got.  It's better than nothing.

      It's a lot better than spreading rumors that keep people from making the effort. 
* Because I'm not a sociopath or a savage.  YMMV.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

TV Viewing

      Tam and I finished up The Expanse on Sunday, and we're sorry it's over (for now.  The book series continues past the TV series and there may be a follow-on).  It was a trip worth taking and they managed to bring the story to a satisfying stopping-place,  This has set the bar for subsequent TV SF efforts, and set it high.  (There are a half-dozen bonus vignettes, though you'll need to watch on something other than a TV to see them.)  I panned the first episode of the series (and I still think it's a bit rocky) but the sets and acting were first-rate from the start and the physics and storytelling caught up rapidly.  (I still think the writers cheated on the Belter water shortage: the Solar System is lousy with the stuff.  But, hey, I'll give them that to make it work.)

      Closer to Earth, we started watching the TV-series version of The Right Stuff.  I read and enjoyed the Tom Wolfe book not long after it was published; the series is very close to the book, well-produced and the casting was remarkably good.  While the actors are a little better-looking than their real-life counterparts, their appearance and mannerisms are so close that we had no difficulty telling who was who.  --And then it ended abruptly.  I hadn't looked it up and assumed they'd shot the whole thing.  Nope.  National Geographic/Disney+ pulled the plug after one season.  The show is owned by Warner Brothers Television and they're said to be looking for a new home.  A companion documentary, The Real Right Stuff, is also worth watching.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

But It Actually Is Scary, And It Has Been All Along

      As the pandemic has waxed and waned, and a confusing pandemic of information, misinformation, poorly-presented information, slick nonsense, grift, sincere efforts and personal loathing has ebbed and flowed, one thing has remained constant: accusations of fear, from maskless folk proclaiming they're not going to live in fear to pro-vaxers accusing anti-vaxers of being afraid of inoculation.  Whatever path we have personally chosen is brave, and the people who do something different, well, they're frightened, that's all.  Chickens, cowering in fear, nothing at all like ourselves.

      Yeah, about that -- you know who's most likely to boast of being unafraid?  Scared people.  Astronauts may make wisecracks about heading into the sky atop "a pile of parts all made by the lowest bidder," but not a one of them will tell you how brave he or she is; that's not how the Right Stuff works.

      Nobody signed up to test-pilot a global pandemic.  We sure weren't screened of our ability to cope with it.  No matter who you are -- yes, even that guy who always says, "The bug that bites me, dies" -- this is scary stuff and we don't all deal with it in the same way.  I'm a diligent striver; I wear my (KN-95) mask to the grocery, and oh, my, the big, bearded, unmasked utility worker ahead of me in line with a defiant expression, buying a pack of Oreos, what does he think he's doing?

      He's dealing with it, is what.  Not in the same way; not in a way I think is wise or advisable.  But I'm not the boss of him.  I don't know his story.  Maybe he's already had the stuff and three vaccine shots on top of that, and he figures the odd are on his side.  Maybe he's unjabbed and has never been ill, and between that and patching up high voltage cables, live steam or gas lines, he feels invulnerable.   I don't know.

      I do know he's felt the cold finger of fear on his spine.  Maybe he only blinked once and kept moving; maybe he lays awake at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering what comes next.  Or he does something entirely different, and there are dreams, bills, children, spouses, bosses and traffic that loom as large or larger.

      But nobody expected this, nobody thought it would last this long, and you know what?  Sometimes it's scary.  Sometimes life is.  We get through it, mostly, as we always have.

      Just remember: you have felt fear.  Those other people?  They have, too.  Some of them are scared right now.  They're doing as well as they can.  We're not all making the same choices and our reasons are as varied as our faces, hair colors, accents.

      No one is keeping score.  There is no audience, no ratings, no big cash prize if you make it all the way.  Taunting, boasting, shaming -- it hasn't changed anything so far and it is less likely to do so with every passing day.  We're all whistling past the graveyard.  We're just not all whistling the same tune.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Buffalo Steaks And A Side

      Bison steak, actually, little sirloins, and very good they were, grilled over hardwood charcoal with a pat of butter after the first and second turnings, having previously been salted, peppered and allowed to contemplate their fate.

      That was the easy part, and I was in a "lazy Sunday" mood.  We'd had breakfast hash that morning -- cubed potato (one big baker), three scrambled eggs, three strips of bacon and some diced Manchego cheese -- so spuds were out.  I settled on rice pilaf, a small can of mild chilis heated up with microwave brown rice and quinoa plus Peruvian lentils.  While it is not low-sodium, the combination makes a tasty, low-effort side dish.  It went well with the bison steaks, which Tam had received as part of a Christmas gift from one of her employers.

*  *  *

      One of our favorite snacks of late is truffle-salted popcorn.  The flavor is richly indulgent, and it has taken me three bags of the stuff and over a month to realize that of course you can buy truffle salt.  Ordered and on the way, perhaps in time for the next grill session.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Vindaloo Photos

     As promised, and they tell the story.  All photographs by Tamara Keel.

Ready to go on the grill.

Very nearly done.
Time for dinner!
Now that's some nicely-cooked pork.
Just the thing for a cold evening.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Pork Vindaloo, Again

      I wanted to make sure last time wasn't just luck.  Today was sunny and dry, though cold, not terrible grilling weather.

      Started with a Boston Butt Pork Roast ($3.99 a pound!) and marinated it in a half-cup of 50/50 white and balsamic vinegar, with a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a teaspoon of plan paprika, a little hot paprika and a quarter-teaspoon or more of garlic powder, plus some black mustard seed, ginger, a tiny bit of ground cloves, some chaat masala, a half-teaspoon of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and four pickled Serrano peppers. (you can add red pepper flakes or dried chili powder or the like if you prefer.)  The pork sat about five hours in the fridge, marinating.  (And I'm cheating: fresh garlic is better in this than the powder.  But it was what I had, and it's a lot easier.) 

      I set up the grill for indirect heat in the usual way, and started the meat with marinade in my oval graniteware roasting pan (covered) while I peeled and chopped a large Granny Smith apple (with cinnamon and a little more ginger), a medium-sized turnip (with a little garlic) and a parsnip (with respect).  That took about fifteen minutes, so I added them to the pan, where the meat was cooking nicely.  I put a couple of bay leaves the pan, too.

      Back in the kitchen, I cleaned and chopped a fennel bulb, a couple of carrots, a couple of talks of celery and a large red onion.  I waited until twenty minutes had passed since the first group of vegetables went in, to give them time to cook down.

      After that, I did dishes.  (I can see the grill out one of the kitchen windows, though it's at an oblique angle.)  After a little over a half hour, I added a small can of mild chilies (add hotter if you prefer) and a 24-ounce box of finely chopped tomatoes, put the lid back on, and found other things to do.  I checked on the grill every half-hour and after two hours total, the ingredients were bubbling nicely and smelled delicious.  The meat thermometer put the pork at more than sufficiently done and the apples were dissolving into the sauce. 

      After carrying the pan inside to sit on the stove, I had to go back out and clean up bubbled-over sauce from the bottom of the grill -- I usually close all the vents and let the grill shut itself off, but that would have left the liquid to freeze.  So I blotted up most of it and set the vents to half, and it dried out while we ate.

      The meat was falling-apart tender.  I was prepared to lift it out and carve slices, but all it took was a nylon spatula to separate pieces in the pan.

      Tam pronounced it delicious, and has promised to share her photographs. (Here's the full set.)  I enjoyed my plate.

      This process uses very inexpensive equipment.  I think the square, covered grill was $20, ten years ago.  It has adjustable vents in the center of the hinged top and at the front of the bottom section.  The oval graniteware pan is stamped sheet metal with a hard enamel-type coating: you don't need a thick pan for roasting in a covered grill, and it was in the $20 range, too.  My digital meat thermometer was six or seven dollars.  The charcoal's not cheap; I use hardwood lump charcoal even with a covered pan, and the kindling is a couple of sticks of hardwood, cut in half, a couple of splits from scrap pine, and some thin shakes torn about an inch wide, over strips of old newspaper.  It all gets stacked up in a tac-tac-toe grid, with charcoal piled around it and gaps at the bottom in front and back to light it.  This gets going pretty quickly, and once the coals have caught, I form them into two rows at the sides of the grill, put the grill bars in place, and set the pan on top, over the gap between the fires.  You can roast just about anything with that arrangement, as long as you are willing to let it cook for two hours or more.

      Vindaloo is roughly in the barbecue family: slow-roasted meat in a spicy, sweet-and-savory tomato-and-onion sauce.  It just has a different accent than the kinds we usually get.  I think getting the bulk of the sweet notes from the apple, fennel bulb, parsnip and carrot gives it a little more complexity, but if you look at it as being akin to barbecue, you can get an idea of how you might like to make it and what ingredients might be interesting to try.  Indian (and culinary vicinity) grocery stores are not uncommon in larger cities, and they offer excellent spices and fresh or dried chilies, some very hot.  (Serrano peppers are a fair approximation; canned chilies are not too far off the mark and I like them.)

Friday, January 14, 2022

Abracadabra Mandamus

      That's that, then: in a decision that ultimately rested on questions of jurisdictional authority, the U. S. Supreme Court has determined that the Feds cannot implement a vaccine-or-test requirement on employers with a hundred or more employees through OSHA: it's not within OSHA's bailiwick.  Safety glasses and gloves, yes.  Vaccination, no.  (Will the Biden Administration try another tack?  Maybe.  But they're pretty axle-wrapped with Congress and the cases-per-day graphs are going nearly straight up: this round is over and the virus has a commanding lead.)

      Conversely, the Court ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can require COVID-19 vaccination of workers at healthcare facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid patients.  This is akin to the old 55-mph "national speed limit," which was a string attached to Federal highway funding: if Uncle Sam pays the piper, he gets to call the tune.

      If you were holding off on getting vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 on account of not wanting to be made to do so, now's your chance to get the jab on your own recognizance without backing down.  And you may want to do so now, because:

      Unless you have a contract (and sometimes even then), in most states there's still nothing at all keeping your employer from mandating vaccination as a job requirement.  A lot of companies had been holding off, hoping the Feds would play the big, bad meanie making people get shots and spare them the blame.  They lost that bet and they'll have to decide for themselves. 

      And so will you.

      I'm not in charge of other people's decisions, and that's undoubtedly a good thing.  I can share facts, and I have done so.  The omicron variant of COVID-19 is still spreading, and spreading fast.  Vaccination has been shown to reduce the severity of infection (by 12x or more) and improve the survival rate, though at this point, for best results you'd have to get the shot and play safe for a month or so.  We are all extremely likely to catch omicron, sooner or later; it spreads at least as easily as a cold.  Unfortunately, for the unvaccinated it carries much greater risk than a cold.

      You'll have to roll your own dice.  Good luck.

Thursday, January 13, 2022


      It's an old, old Internet acronym, slightly updated.  Mr. Bowdler tells me the original version was short for "Read The Frikkin' Manual," but you know how he is.

      In my version, the last word is "Article," and therein hangs a tale.

      It's the 2020s and we all tend to leap without looking.  React!  Clickbait rules the Web and listicles are easy.  So when a local blogger stumbled across an item on a local TV station's website* citing a (pre-Omicron) study ranking Indiana as the state "least safe during COVID-19," he was incensed.  What an outrage!  Clearly, this was a slanted study intended to make Red states look bad and puff up Blue states!

      But the study, put together from publicly-available data as of about mid-December for all fifty states plus the District of Columbia, does nothing of the sort.  In fact, it ranks deep-Red Florida in fifth place for safety and the difference between averages for "Red" and "Blue" states is barely enough to be statistically significant.

      The article reporting the study has cute graphics, but the numbers don't establish much of a trend past "don't get sick," and they're not useful for making travel plans unless you've got tickets on a time machine.

      If you are looking for something with a bit more factual guidance, this chart comparing death rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the U.S. is a clear beacon.
* Indianapolis has five -- or four and a half, at least -- TV News departments and a mortally-ill newspaper fighting over your eyeballs, all jumping up and down, shouting "Lookit me!  Lookit me!" with varying degrees of decorum or desperation.

So They Shot My Thumb

      The hand doctor shot my right thumb full of a steroid (after asking if I'd been vaccinated and boosted already, adding, "If they come out with a fourth shot, you'll want to wait a couple months.  This stuff will interfere.").

      It's a little scary -- who wants a needle stuck into their thumb, right near a joint? -- but they wash it with antiseptic and zap it with freeze mist first, and the worryingly-full feeling goes away in a few hours.  The joint of my right thumb was still clicking and sticking last night, but as of this morning, it is at least not locking up and feels easier to move.  Last time the shot took several days to take full effect and I expect the same this time.

      If the "trigger finger" comes back, surgery is the next step.  It was an option now (hand surgeons and their outpatient-surgery facilities are unsurprisingly not getting any extra workload from coronavirus cases), but I'd just as soon avoid extended time in medical facilities until we get through the omicron surge.  The tendon runs in a little tube of cartilage, and when it swells up or gets bumpy and starts getting jammed up, there's no scraping it down.  Instead, they slice the tube lengthwise and it will heal with clearance.  The healing is not especially quick or convenient, being right there in one's hand and all, which is another good reason to put it off.  I wouldn't be good for much in the way of actual work for a week or two, and on light duty for over a month.

      Dealing with the hand specialist is remarkably smooth.  This kind of problem is relatively routine and they treat it with an absolute minimum of fuss and bother.