Halloween with a Vengeance

I could not believe how many kids were out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood this year. Or how many households were handing out candy. There were more kids even than a normal Halloween, through fewer houses active than usual.

We weren’t even sure of our plans as late as Sunday afternoon. We’d carved pumpkins on Saturday, we’d put the skeleton in the big hole in the floor (not that anyone but us could see it), but we weren’t sure whether we’d be taking the kid trick-or-treating, or whether anyone would be knocking on our door.

Toward the end of the afternoon we set up a table on the front lawn with our jack-o-lanterns and two trays of goodies (one candy, one party favors as an allergy-friendly alternative). We put on masks as a precaution, and took turns taking the kid trick-or-treating.

We ran out of candy.

We ran out of toys.

There were so many groups of kids, some as big as a dozen, and they kept coming for several hours after sunset.

I figure it’s probably a reaction to last year’s locked-down holiday.

Covid-19 hasn’t gone away. The pandemic isn’t anywhere near over. But cases in Los Angeles County have been trending downward from a peak way back in August, and our area has around 80% vaccination coverage among those 12 and up. Schools have gone back to in-person instruction, with masks indoors, distancing guidelines, and quarantine rules for students and staff who are exposed. The elementary schools even brought back their Halloween parade, though they split it by age group and only allowed staff and students onsite to reduce crowding.

The coronavirus isn’t gone. It’s still a constant presence. But for the moment, it feels more manageable than this time last year. At least here.

So people handed out candy, and kids went trick-or-treating, and parents went along with them. Maybe a third were wearing masks.

But we’re getting tested later this week, just in case. Outdoors or not, it was still a crowd.

Update: We didn’t catch Covid from trick-or-treating! (or from the plumbers for that matter)

Linux Ejecting DVD Drawer on Wake

At first I thought this was related to Windows losing drives on wake. It started happening around the same time, it also involved waking up from sleep, and the CD/DVD drive was disappearing in Windows along with the vanishing hard drive.

But while moving the cables fixed that problem, it didn’t fix this one.

It was only mildly annoying, especially compared to regularly losing access to a large chunk of local storage, so I figured I’d come back to it later.

Other people are seeing this too and it’s a recent bug in the Linux kernel. At least with Fedora’s rapid kernel updates I probably won’t have to wait too long between when the patch lands and when it hits my desktop. It’s been years since I compiled my own kernel, and I don’t feel like starting that up again now!

So. Much. Sanitizer.

Remember last year when it was virtually impossible to get hand sanitizer? You couldn’t order it online, you couldn’t order it for an in-store pickup, and stores that had it were limiting how many of those tiny bottles each customer could buy? Breweries and distilleries were stepping in to supplement the supply, but it still wasn’t enough.

I mean, I don’t like to leave my camera visible in the car when I park, but for a while, I was more worried about leaving a two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer where it could be seen.

Heck, when I found an 8-ounce bottle at Target in May 2020, I snapped a photo to send it home!

Holding a bottle of hand sanitizer in front of a store shelf with a sign saying that customers are limited to one bottle each due to high demand.

Times have changed.

Factory lines got up to speed after a few months. We bought extra to make sure we wouldn’t run out. Then we learned that Covid spreads more by sharing air than by touching surfaces. And a third of the population convinced themselves it wasn’t a problem, while half to two thirds of the population have gotten at least partly vaccinated against it. And after a year with multiple waves of cases, the rates are currently waaaaaay down in California.

And we’re all so tired of it all.

And we don’t need as much hand sanitizer as we thought we were going to a year ago.

This is the same store this week. Four rolling shelf units and at least one section of the wall shelving. Full.

Shelves and shelves and rolling carts full of hand sanitizer bottles.

So, um, anybody want to buy some hand sanitizer?