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We are 18 months into a pandemic. Next week, school is restarting in North Carolina, full days, full classes, buses and music class and lines in the lunch room and all.

This week, all staff came to school, ate a group breakfast, and sat in a staff meeting for four hours, together.

In a pandemic, you are required to wear a mask, but not when eating.

Then, all teachers of various content areas went to various sites to be trained in their various content areas. All the music teachers from all the schools get to come together; the special ed teachers, the gym teachers. Masks are required; food is served.

In a pandemic, you are required to keep your distance, but not when queuing, or sitting, or eating. Apparently.

Then, there's an open house, where parents and children come to the school, and walk to their classroom, and then walk to the office, and then walk to the gym, then go home to their families.

In a pandemic, you are politely suggested to get a vaccine, unless you are under 12.

Then, if you get sick, you are required to quarantine for 14 days. "Covid leave" is ending, we will use normal sick days. Virtual learning is ending, the kids will just not learn.

In a pandemic, the only thing that is mandatory is spreading disease; otherwise it would not be a pandemic.

I discovered recently that the hardware store in the now-trendy neighbourhood where I once lived keeps a shelf of books by local authors. Offerings runs heavily towards self-published and local press, though books by larger publishers may be found there as well. The locale has drawn its share of authors and artists, so the presence of books unrelated to home improvement and road trips makes sense. It's a consignment deal. The idea of having my book in the hardware store of my old stomping grounds appealed to me, and I immediately texted my publisher with the news. I finally returned with some copies today.

I wore a red polo shirt. I suspect some people would have a list of reasons why this makes a poor sartorial choice generally but, in this case, it really was a bad idea. The store's employees all wear short-sleeved collared red shirts. While waiting for the owner to process the papers, three people asked me for help.

I suppose it could have been worse.

I might have wandered into into an episode of Star Trek.

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