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Ordered some test kits from Walmart this morning, and went to pick them up this afternoon. Checked in on the app, and it told me to go inside and scan my barcode at the pickup area. Inside, the pickup area was blocked off by tables, with a sign in front of it that said they're hiring. So, I went to customer service to ask them how to pick up my order. There were 3 customer service agents helping 2 people; half an hour later, 1 of them finished up, so I was able to ask my question. They then told me that I was supposed to go back out to my car, drive around to the back of the store, park in one of the pickup spots back there, and call the number on the sign. Those parking spots were completely hidden, and barricaded in by a bunch of shipping containers, so the only way you'd be able to find them is if you knew they were there.

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They could have solved this whole issue by simply posting a sign in front of the indoor pickup area telling you what to do; I guess that would be too logical, though.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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Sigh.

 ‎· LB. Just LB.
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The worst part is, I went through almost exactly this same issue at a different Walmart around Thanksgiving, so I actually looked for the pickup spots in the parking lot before going inside.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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I imagine we're in for some interesting legal battles in Virginia over the next few days/weeks/months. The new governor signed an executive order banning mask mandates in K-12 schools, but a number of school districts have announced they will continue their mask mandates. There is, as far as I can tell, a state law, passed by the legislature, that's effective until the beginning of next school year, that essentially says the schools have to require masks. So, the legal battles will be two-fold: 1) Can a governor's executive order override a law passed by the legislature, and 2) Can a governor's executive order take precedence over local (county/city-level) governance?

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As part of this, I imagine there will also be a lot of hair-splitting and interpretation happening regarding the existing state law (I believe the law boils down to "school districts must follow CDC guidance", and I'm certain there will be a lot of discussion about what the CDC recommends, and where).

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 1
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Tangential to this, I still haven't heard anything definitive about what this means for colleges & universities. That, as you can imagine, is probably a very different legal discussion, since colleges/universities are "voluntary", while K-12 is mandatory. I know that he also signed an executive order attempting to end the vaccine mandate for state employees, but I'm not sure whether that means no state employees are required to be vaccinated, or if individual organizations within the state system are still allowed to have their own policies.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 1
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I'm so sorry that y'all are dealing with this in VA.

 ‎· StephAnie Wear A Mask 3
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^^ after a meeting among the various COVID coordinators at state universities today, all employees at my institution received an email saying that vaccinations are no longer required for employees, but still strongly encouraged, and that weekly testing is no longer required for unvaccinated employees, but still strongly encouraged. No changes in our mask requirements (yet, at least), though.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 1
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I'm disappointed, but not surprised, to find that my health insurance provider is reimbursing folks for at-home COVID tests, rather than covering them at point-of-sale. These tests are not inexpensive (at ~$10 each, picking up our monthly allowance of tests in our household would cost $240/month, and who knows how long it will take us to get reimbursed). We can find a way to handle that expense, but I imagine there are a lot of folks who simply can't.

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Do you know if these can be purchased using HSA funds?

 ‎· Anna C.
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I still use an FSA - my workplace uses a debit card for it, so it became much easier to pay up front for things, and it's helped me make sure I don't leave funds in it (last year, I think I had $1.50ish left and no scripts to refill...). But I still prefer a traditional health insurance plan, so the HSA isn't an option for me.

 ‎· ellbeecee 1
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RT @NickWTOP: “Exclusive: Governor Youngkin on Arlington school system saying it will require masks, despite Youngkin’s order stating that schools can’t do that. He threatened to use state resources to force schools to comply - but we still don’t know what that means exactly. @WTOP https://t.co/5Lijz9kbgd https://t.co/SnC4dcCIarhttps://twitter.com/NickWTOP/status/1482793696072450048

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You are absolutely free to do what we want you to do; and only that. Or else.

 ‎· Jim: Polyp-free 5
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RT @cgrymala: “The sad state of American politics right now is that Rs, when they're in power, will effectively & efficiently pass measures that will actively harm people. Ds, when they're in power, will do nothing except stop the Rs from doing so; they won't actually pass any measures to help.” https://twitter.com/cgrymala/status/1481985135352422401

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RT @makautry: “Update from Student Health: They are overwhelmed. They are seeing 500 positive tests per day (/3000). Campus can no longer handle isolation or quarantine in our buildings. Students are recommended to go home. Contact tracing is discontinued because they are stretched too thin.” https://twitter.com/makautry/status/1481006357859819520

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A Twitter thread about the current situation at NC State (which, I did not realize until now, is apparently part of the UNC system?).

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 1
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"go home and bring it into your community." Yes, NCSU is part of the UNC system. We are large, we contain multitudes.

 ‎· StephAnie Wear A Mask 2
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UNC-CH provost & chancellor say essentially this as well: "The Provost's answer is this: We are a part of a system, and we have no autonomy to make choices that diverge from what the UNC System has been pressured to do."

 ‎· StephAnie Wear A Mask 2
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RT @cgrymala: “Just in case it was ever in question, I'm still not fond of people in general. I'm so sick & tired of seeing & hearing folks talk about how little they care about others.” https://twitter.com/cgrymala/status/1481040760917143554

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I'm sitting at the "reveal" for the kidlet's show choir show, and only about 1 in 10 of us are wearing masks (despite the fact that masks are "required" inside the school). I'm hearing the folks behind us talk about how happy they are that the new governor of Virginia (our neighboring state, where these particular folks work) has already said that he's going to ban mask mandates in the state.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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^ and I should note that that was the impetus behind that tweet, but the sentiment existed long before (and will continue to exist long after) this particular incident.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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RT @cgrymala: “Interesting musical choice. I just heard The Thieving Magpie in an ad for a cruise line. I imagine there are a lot of us that will associate that song (even more specifically that version) exclusively with A Clockwork Orange. I guess cruises are running on ultraviolence now?” https://twitter.com/cgrymala/status/1479286838317756416

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RT @cgrymala: “Really strange. Had booster appointments scheduled for the 3 of us today. For some reason, CVS canceled 2 of those appointments. I was, however, able to reschedule those same appointments for the same date/time they were originally scheduled.” https://twitter.com/cgrymala/status/1478029436561903623

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I called the COVID hotline for CVS, and they told me there was no way for them to tell me why the appointments got cancelled, and that my best bet would be to reschedule the appointments online. So, I rescheduled the appointments online, got the confirmation messages, and then they cancelled the appointments again.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle
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There is a pharmacy in my town where they are taking walk-ins for boosters, no appointment necessary, as long as you get in before 4 PM. After that time, you need an appointment, because they are also scheduling the unvaccinated for those hours, and don't want to schedule them in a way that causes them to have to wait together with a bunch of other unvaccinated (and potentially infected) people.

 ‎· April
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Currently, 2% of our county's entire population has tested positive for COVID (with their test results reported to the appropriate reporting agencies) in the past week.

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good grief

 ‎· Christina Pikas 1
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Currently, according to the data, almost 2.5% of the entire county has COVID right now. 2,895 active confirmed cases out of a population of 119,171.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle
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For reference, only 49% of our county has been vaccinated, only 40% have been fully vaccinated, and only 31% of those who are fully vaccinated have gotten a booster (plus at least 3 more of us today).

 ‎· Mr. Noodle
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RT @cgrymala: “But, at least they didn't transition back to remote learning, am I right? https://t.co/E9MOg4IRHChttps://twitter.com/cgrymala/status/1478894612878139394

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Drivers stranded on I-95 in Virginia, some since Monday morning, following snowstorm, officials say "Authorities say some drivers have been stuck on Interstate 95 in the Fredericksburg area of Virginia since Monday morning following a period of heavy snow that swept across the region." https://www.fox5dc.com/news/drivers-stranded-on-i-95-in-virginia-some-since-monday-morning-following-snowstorm-officials-say

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I certainly am grateful I don't work from my office. I hope none of my coworkers (who all live in that area) are stuck in this mess.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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Apparently they finally got the highway back open and moving about an hour ago.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle
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Today was a productive day. We were able to finally get the laundry pedestals put under our washer and dryer, and we also finally installed our new garage door opener. Both had been sitting in our garage, in their boxes, for over a year.

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There was nothing wrong with our old garage door opener; just minor annoyances. It didn't have a light, so, when you opened the garage from the car, you had to stumble through the garage with no light. It didn't work on any of the frequencies my car can hit, so we had to use the remotes that came with it, which were really bulky and didn't clip onto anything very well (so I couldn't use my sun visor, because the remote would fall on my head every time I opened the visor). Also, the indoor button to open/close the door was right next to it, rather than being next to the door into the house, so, you really could only close the garage door by pressing the button from the outside, or pressing the button and standing perfectly still until it was completely closed, otherwise, you'd trip the sensor that made the door open back up again. Now, the button is next to the house door, there are 2 lights built in, the remotes are tiny and have good clips, and, even if I can't figure out how to program my car, I can use my phone to open it.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 3
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yay!

 ‎· StephAnie Wear A Mask 2
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And, today, we cleaned out the garage. We freed up probably more than half of the floor space. A lot of it was just getting rid of empty boxes.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 3
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RT @cgrymala: “That's quite a window, Amazon.” https://twitter.com/cgrymala/status/1477470954901151758

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The kidlet's boyfriend is spending the night here tonight (on the couch in my office, on the opposite side of the house from her room) so they can ring in the new year together. Unfortunately, that means we're staying up to ring in the new year, too. First time in quite a few years.

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MPOW just sent out a message saying employees are now required to have a booster within 14 days of eligibility or January 10, whichever comes first. Thankfully, I'm scheduled for my booster on Monday.

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What if you're not eligible by Jan 10? That doesn't make sense to me. (Unless they previously required full vaccination by July 10.)

 ‎· Anna C. 1
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@acreech: sorry; I meant whichever is later. My bad.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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^How are they handling folks who haven't been vaccinated at all?

 ‎· Anna C.
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@acreech: ^ Not sure yet. Until now, they've required weekly testing for all folks that aren't vaccinated, but, we also had/have Jan. 18 set as the "if you're not vaccinated and you haven't received an official exemption, you'll be punished" date, so, we have yet to see what they'll do to folks who refuse.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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Didn't realize until I just read this Twitter thread that we're also requiring students to get boosted as soon as they're eligible. https://twitter.com/UMWRegistrar/status/1476569673764425736

 ‎· Mr. Noodle
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Just cleaned about 10-15 boxes of old clothes and shoes out of the garage. We packed them up and labeled them to give away when we moved in 3 years ago, but never actually got rid of them. Working on that now.

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That is going to feel so good

 ‎· I keep receipts. 2
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Happy BDay, BDub, from Nemo and me. #critters4beedub @barrywynn

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Before the Christmas Eve service, a friend who works in the hospital told us that things were getting really bad. They told us a story about someone, earlier that day, who got their COVID test results back, positive for COVID, and then decided to go to lunch at Olive Garden. This is what we're dealing with.

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:-(

 ‎· Galadriel
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:(

 ‎· Christina Pikas
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grrrr

 ‎· bentley
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*blink* *blink*

 ‎· StephAnie Wear A Mask
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Jesus

 ‎· MoTO Babycakes 2
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RT @cgrymala: “I have no idea what to do with this information.” https://twitter.com/cgrymala/status/1475163079801552905

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Merry Christmas. Thing 2 was in a bad mood when he came over, opened his presents without really saying anything, left without saying anything (leaving his girlfriend here, who we've only met a few times, so, it was kind of awkward), came back for a short time, got mad about something else, then left again without saying anything. Now he says he's not coming back for dinner.

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Where's the girlfriend?

 ‎· bentley
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All in all, it made for a pretty crappy Christmas, but we tried to enjoy it as much as we could. On the plus side, I was able to get my parents a gift that I knew they would appreciate and enjoy, and that they definitely wouldn't get for themselves (I stopped buying them gifts long ago, because they don't really want "stuff", and, when they do, they get it themselves). I got them the companion photo book that goes with the "Get Back" Beatles documentary (I actually got it for free with my Disney reward points).

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 4
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Last night's Christmas Eve service was a bit surreal. We showed up an hour early to make sure we could get seats. Aside from those participating in the service, we were the only ones there. An hour passed, and only a handful more people showed up. The church was virtually empty. In total, there were 46 of us there (on a normal Sunday, there are usually about 100 folks, and on Christmas Eve, we're usually around 250).

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I think omicron has a lot of folks rightfully scared, but it's still really sad to sit in an almost empty church on a night like that.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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As a council member at the church, I'm really stressed about what that will mean for the bottom line. Giving at the Christmas Eve services usually helps us tremendously to be able to continue our mission. Between the 2 services (1 that's always outdoors, every year, and a traditional one in the evening), we normally have about 750 people attend (and most of them give something). This year, between the 2 services, we had less than a third of that.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle
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And, yes, for those that are wondering, most of our church is fully vaccinated, and we all mask up when inside the building (and, even when we were worshipping outdoors in nicer weather, we still masked up).

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 2
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Liking in sympathetic worry and understanding

 ‎· StephAnie Wear A Mask 3
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I think people are spooked and rightly so. I hate to say it but I think this winter is going to be worse than last.

 ‎· Jim: Polyp-free 3
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Just found out via Facebook that my SIL and her husband apparently had COVID over Thanksgiving, and now my niece's daughter (their granddaughter) has it. I just saw the niece's parents at the grocery store a few days ago; I'm grateful now that I didn't stop to talk to them. Hopefully being in the store at the same time as them wasn't enough to get me sick.

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Credit Karma estimates we have about $43,000 equity in our home. Rocket Mortgage (our lender) estimates we have about twice that. Also, Credit Karma apparently thought our house was worth almost $100,000 more in June than it's worth now. It's all very strange. At the same time, Carfax thinks I have about $5,000 equity in my car right now (this is the first time in my life I've ever not been upside down on a car loan this early - though I know that's due, in large part, to the chip shortage).

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The kidlet is at a sweet 16 party, and the birthday girl just got a new punch buggy for her birthday. The whole idea of kids getting new cars for their birthdays is completely foreign to me. I'm sure there were kids that did when I was growing up, but I don't really remember it. For the most part, they either bought their own, or they drove their parents' cars.

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Six months after my birthday, my dad gave me his old car instead of trading it in when he got a new one -it wasn’t a birthday present, but I was very fortunate to have it to drive, since we lived way out in the county. Not new - very well loved :)

 ‎· Jennifer D. 3
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@jenn2d2: Yeah, when I got my license, my mom had a car, my dad had a car, and we had a family pickup truck (about 10 years old at the time). I got the family pickup truck to drive. My parents gave my great aunt's old car to Thing 1 when she went away to college, and then helped Thing 2 get a car a few years ago (basically, after they realized he was never going to do any more college, they used what was left of his college fund to get him a car - a 2008 Nissan Versa for ~$2,000). A little while later, his grandfather gave him his old Camaro, so, we just bought the Versa back from Thing 2 to get it fixed up and serve as the kidlet's car once she gets her license.

 ‎· Mr. Noodle 3

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