Radio Silence

  • As we traveled through the Trump years, there was always one constant. A never ending social media stream of negative comments, snarky one-liners, memes, linked articles, and virtue signaling over how horrible the former president and anyone associated with him was. I rarely checked Facebook because it was always an avalanche of negativity and Trump derangement syndrome (TDS) postings. It was truly toxic at times. Here’s the part I find curious. Now that Trumps out and Biden is in, I’d have thought we’d start seeing a flood of positive posts bragging about how much better, more competent, and smarter this new administration is. I was expecting a deluge of self-righteous gloating over how superior the Biden team is at handling the reigns of power. For God’s sake, we finally have a woman of color as vice president – her deft political skills should be trumpeted at every opportunity! But… nothing. Complete radio silence. I don’t think I’ve seen a single post praising anything the Biden administration has done from my friends on the left. I find it puzzling. Where is the vigorous defense and support of Biden from the left-leaning members of the public? Y’all were screeching like scalded cats for four plus years at the mere mention of the bad orange man. Why the sudden lack of interest in politics? It’s an interesting phenomenon. I will admit, I find it refreshing to not be bombarded with TDS every time I open up Facebook. It’s mostly returned to what I think it’s original purpose is – keeping up with day to day remote family and friend events and happenings. Oh, and never ending password phishing schemes masquerading as fun quizzes and questionnaires.
  • The last few days I’ve had the all-time worst (or at least in the top three) patient you could experience. A truly vile and horrible human being. Never ending berating, screaming at, and cursing every staff member who went in the room. Crying, manipulating, tantrums. Non stop accusations that she was being tortured, abused, and being denied her rights. At least one staff member was reduced to tears after one of her tirades. It’s overwhelmingly mentally exhausting to deal with that for twelve hours. I drove home last night wondering how someone could have turned into such a miserable person. What a waste of a life.
  • It was dumping snow a few days ago. It’s now nearly a hundred degrees. Must be due to climate change.
  • I spent way too much time this morning going through this list of lists. I was looking for a list of the Game of Thrones characters. We started re-watching the series and I’d forgotten how complex and convoluted (at times) the story lines could be. I didn’t find my list because I got side tracked by all the other lists.
  • I took a pretty good picture of a tree the other day. I’m proud of it, not because it’s anything special, but because it helped remind me that good pictures come from putting yourself in a position to take good pictures. I trudged up this hill in full motorcycle gear and crested the top only to be greeted by at least 30 school age kids on some sort of field trip. I was going to head back down since there was no way to get a picture without at least two of the kids being in the frame at any given time. For some reason, I decided to wait. I milled about and helped take pictures for several tourist couples. Suddenly, the crowd all started back down the hill. I ran over to the spot I’d been looking at and took a few pictures of the tree just as some rain started falling in the background. I had the spot to myself for about two minutes before a new crowd swarmed the hill. The storm blew out about 15 minutes later and the skies went clear. A few moments of patience (rare for me) paid off. Lesson learned.

Song of the day: B52’s – Private Idaho

Alone In My Head

While I was on my motorcycle trip last week, a friend texted me and said, “I think it’s really cool you’re comfortable traveling alone”. The truth is it’s not always by choice. It’s often a matter of sit home and watch the grass grow, or go pursue activities by myself. I’m in a very fortunate position in that I’m able to be free most weekday days. I don’t have to deal with the weekend crowds or traffic. Unfortunately, especially at my age, it’s hard to find other people who also have their mid-week free on a consistent basis. So it’s either go out and do it alone, or wait until the stars line up with other people’s schedules.

To be honest, I’d certainly rather do stuff with other people. I’m a, what’s the term… “introverted extrovert”. I’m somewhat shy and am horrible with initiating things in social settings. But I do like being around other people. Activities are almost always better with a group. I know there are motorcycle groups and mountain bike groups in my area I could join. I just find those initial social interactions painful. I probably will reach out at some point. Hopefully I’ll convince a friend to join with me so the first few meetings aren’t so awkward. Being the new guy sucks.

The other issue is not even a social thing, it’s finding others that match your skill level. A few years ago I did join a group mountain bike ride with a bunch of folks I didn’t know. It ended up being a horrible experience. There were a handful of young guys who were determined to ride everyone into the ground. The rest of the group were total beginners. There were crashes, blood, and some unhappy folks. No thanks. It’s comfortable to ride with the guys I normal ride with when they’re available. We’re all roughly the same fitness level (or lack thereof), no competitive egos to deal with, etc… How do you find that perfect mix in a group where someone is a bit better than you so you learn, and you’re comfortably in the middle skill-wise with everyone else? The motorcycle is even harder to find folks. It’s a much less common sport, so the community is smaller. It also seems like the skill gap is greater. You have people who’ve been riding forever and folks who are brand new. Not much in-between.

Yes, I know the answer is to keep putting yourself out there and eventually you’ll find the right group. It sounds sorta like dating advice, except for old guys with limited social skills. Maybe there’s an app for that? Middle aged guy, slightly overweight with questionable fitness and skill level, looking for like minded folks who are just as happy riding as abandoning halfway to eat nachos and drink beer. Must be free most Wednesdays and Thursdays. Meanwhile, while I continue to contemplate dropping into a social group meeting, trail maintenance day, or joining a group ride, I’ll keep on going out and getting my adventure on by myself. Because sitting at home is not an option.

It’s In The Books

It’s done. I’ve been babbling about, prepping for, and anticipating this moment for quite a while now. The first official “summer of George” event. If you haven’t been following along, I made the decision a while ago that I wanted to explore, travel, and see small town America. I’ve been preparing for this for far too long. I purchased a ginormous new motorcycle and began outfitting it with the things needed for on and off road travel. I put in a thousand miles of short, local rides to get used to the bike and improve my riding skills. I sorted through navigation equipment issues, backordered equipment, and some challenging mechanical installation problems. Finally, everything was ready.

In my part of the world, we’ve had a vexing spring. Extremely windy, wet, and lingering snowmelt. This has delayed any sort of real trip. But the weather finally broke and summer arrived. As is customary in my state, we went from cold, wet, and windy to a hundred degrees overnight. Sigh. I’d managed to pick the week for my first trip with record high temps forecast. I was going to postpone until the following week and then saw a post on Instagram from David Goggins. If you don’t know who he is, it’s worth reading his book. Former SEAL, lost over a hundred pounds just to make the teams. Had to go through BUD’s/hell week three times due to injuries. He’s kinda crazy, but still manages to be very motivating. Anyway, out of the blue he posted this on the day I was contemplating postponing:

“Don’t be the person that looks at the weather report the night before to decide what you are going to do the next day. What that means is don’t be the person who sees if it is going to rain or snow or be too hot or cold and make your decision off of that forecast. Whatever Mother Nature puts in front of you, go out and attack it.”

Well damn. I guess I’m not much of an adventurer if I have to wait for the perfect forecast. So… the next day I kissed Mrs Troutdog goodbye and left. Now, it’s not like I was heading off into the wilderness for a week (that’s still to come). The purpose of the trip was twofold. First was to see if equipment worked, can I navigate without too much hassle (on a motorcycle it’s not like you can work a map/GPS while driving like you can with a car), and how will I do with hours in the saddle. The second, and perhaps more important, will I even like this sort of travel? Will I make the effort to stop and take pictures? Will multiple days on the road, alone, get to be too much? Did I just waste a crapload of money on something that I don’t even like?

In short, I didn’t know what to expect. I worried that I’d built all this up a bit too much in my head. I’ve watched many YouTube videos of cross country travelers who make it look easy. Riding from town to town, interacting with interesting locals, taking fabulous pictures, dining at quirky out of the way spots… what if this isn’t what I find? Enough with the suspense.. while my short trip wasn’t a soul-changing experience, I had a blast.

The equipment mostly all worked as expected. A few minor tweaks are still needed. I didn’t get lost. I saw almost all the sights I’d planned on seeing. Survived riding 700+ miles over three days in near 100 degree temps. Made it through 180 miles of high speed, brutal crosswinds and double (and triple!) trailer semi-trucks nearly blowing me out of my lane. Got a few pictures. Talked to a few people. Stopped and helped a guy stranded with a couple dogs and no water. Confirmed that I am able to travel alone and pushed through my introvert tendency to not make an effort to stop and see something or talk to someone because I’m by myself.

Not everything was a magical experience. It was hot. Traveling on a motorcycle can be a pain in the ass. See something you want to take a picture of? Find a place to stop and park the bike where it won’t fall over. Pull off sweaty gloves and helmet. Unplug the phone and or pull the camera out of the tank bag. Clomp around in heavy motorcycle boots, getting hotter and hotter because there’s now no airflow going through your riding suit. Take your picture. Put everything back on, reconnect things, get ridding again while unzipping to get air flowing again. Tiny little towns in the middle of nowhere aren’t always charming. Sometimes they’re just rundown spots on the road. When those little towns only have one motel for $40 a night… well, you can imagine that it’s not the Hyatt.

So all in all, was this the life changing experience I’d pictured? Maybe not life changing, but I loved it. I proved to myself that I can take off alone on an adventure, explore, and make the most of whatever I encounter. I feel like I accomplished something. I wished I’d make a video because there were moments on the road where I was seeing some jaw dropping beauty that is hard to describe. Early morning and come around a corner as the only vehicle on the road, to see a majestic mountain range lit up by the early morning sun is worth the price of admission. Images and experiences you won’t get sitting on the couch.

It’s amazing how inhibiting fear of the unknown is. Worries about weather, getting lost, what if I don’t like it, being by myself – all things that if you spend too much time thinking about, will stop you from doing the actual thing. But if you push past the worry about the unknown, you’ll find that most everything you worried about was no big deal. I’m left with excitement for whatever my next trip will be. It seems silly, but getting the first one out of the way was a big weight off my mind. Why oh why didn’t I do this sooner? As I’ve said many times – we’re only here once, so you may as well make the most of it.

You Don’t Need To Know

While there may be some exceptions, for the most part I don’t believe people in power are inherently evil. I honestly don’t think politicians and CEO’s have malicious intentions. I do think that people in power become so wrapped up in their own bubble and authority they lose sight of the big picture.

For example, take the mayor of my little city. At the beginning of the pandemic, public officials were panicking. For that I don’t blame them. The “experts” were publishing dire information and basically we were all going to die. Our mayor never actually made any tough decisions, only echoed whatever the state and CDC did. Three or so weeks after shutting down all private businesses, the grumblings from the citizenry started. The cities economy was cratering and job loses were huge. On several occasions, via an online forum, I asked the mayor what metrics the city would use to open back up? I received two answers. The first was “the city will follow the guidance of the health district, state, and CDC”. The second was “all our data is posted to the heath district’s web site” (it wasn’t).

Two complete non-answers. So either the mayor had no idea, or she didn’t want to be held to specific numbers in a rapidly shifting scenario. Either way, as a person in a position of authority she decided that as mere citizens we didn’t need to know what the governments plan or thought process was. She single handedly shut down private businesses and then wouldn’t be transparent about when they could open back up again. I think it’s easy for people in positions of power to get all wrapped up in the feeling of we’re doing what’s best for the public, so they don’t really need to know the details. Like parents telling a ten year old “because I said so, that’s why”.

The ultimate example is to watch any president’s press secretary give a briefing. Every single word is parsed and nuanced. Nothing is said that doesn’t advance the political messaging. The people rarely get to see or hear anything resembling reality. Are these people evil? No. But they are so caught up in their power and authority they’ve completely lost sight of the fact that they work for us. Or that’s the theory anyway.

The private sector is no different. I’ve been watching an interesting development with a YouTube channel I subscribe to. This channel has half a million subscribers and suddenly was removed from the partner program, which means it can no longer monetize the videos. No explanation, no warning, nothing. The channel creator has no idea why his channel was removed. The worst part is that once removed from the partner program you also lose all means of contact with YouTube. He has no way to actually contact them to try and find out what he’d done wrong. Now, Google is a private company and they can do whatever they want. But it is certainly the ultimate in power and authority when a company has the opinion they can treat their customers any way they want and feels no obligation to offer any explanation. I’m sure they justify it internally under the guise of “protecting” us vulnerable members of the public from something harmful. (see also, Twitter) Irony in full bloom from the company who’s slogan once was “Don’t be evil”.

I have little point to this other than to remind you that you probably shouldn’t accept anything the government, experts, or most authority figures tell you at face value. Timothy Leary in the ’60’s had it right with his slogan “Question Authority”. As this last year has proven time and time again… they are most likely wrong, lying, obscuring, or hiding the truth. But it’s ok – it’s for your own good.

Turn In My Man Card

This is a post about fear. It’s fairly obvious that a certain amount of fear is healthy. It’s what keeps us from walking across a busy interstate freeway, petting porcupines, and wearing jean jorts with white socks and camo crocs. But fear is a very clever, subtle creature. It sneaks up on you. It slowly creeps in, year after year. It begins to encroach in small little areas of your life. Its power increases bit by bit without you realizing it. Until one day you find yourself completely ruled by fear. Fear of change. Of something different. You tell yourself you like your routine. It’s comfortable. Why would I want to disrupt that? Or maybe you do want to make a change… but tomorrow. Not right now. I’ve got that big project at work to finish. Just a few more years and then the kids will be out of the house. I just need to lose this weight and then I can try that sport.

We’re all guilty of this to some degree. Some of us more than others. I’ve had countless elderly patients on my floor that literally never left their small town. Never traveled more than fifty miles from home. Raised kids, worked the same job, retired and spent their remaining time sitting on their porch watching the traffic go by. I can’t fathom that. I’d place my risk/fear tolerance maybe slightly above average. My interests trend towards the more extreme sports end of the spectrum. I’ll jump out of an airplane, but don’t ask me to dance in public. My social fears (what will people think?) are far greater than than my physical fears. Fortunately with age, the social fears begin to dissipate. The older I get the less I give a crap what people think.

So here’s the point where I have to laugh at myself. If you’ve been following my saga with the ginormous motorcycle, you’d know that my mission was to overcome some fears of travel and exploring. Fear in the sense of I’m not a big fan of the unknown. While I do like to travel, I like it to be controlled. I want to know exactly where I’m staying, what sights I’m seeing, have dinner reservations, etc… My goal was to bust through that. I purchased the ginormous motorcycle so I can hit the open road, be semi-spontaneous and see small town America.

The plans have been all coming together. I found the right motorcycle and started the process of outfitting it with racks, crash bars, and researching the right riding gear. I’ve spent this early spring improving my riding confidence and bike handling skills. I’ve spent countless hours with maps and web sites finding interesting routes with unique sights to see. A few days ago the final piece of the puzzle arrived. The luggage I’d ordered for the motorcycle, which was on backorder, finally arrived. I’m set – ready to hit the road!

Here’s the point at which I have to turn in my fear-conquering man card. I’ve been struggling with where to go first. The weather in our corner of the world hasn’t been great. We’ve had a spring full of non-stop wind, rain, and cold. Last night after work I was watching a YouTube channel I subscribe to. It’s a gal who travels the world by motorcycle. She’s currently riding solo across South Africa. She frequently makes random decisions to explore an unknown dirt road without any idea if she’ll have enough fuel to make it to the next town. She’ll ride the entire day in the backcountry without seeing another person. If she broke down, or encountered some unfriendly people, that could be disastrous.

In the middle of the episode I burst out laughing at myself. It suddenly dawned on me. Here’s this young gal, riding solo across a region of the world with some actual, non-trivial dangers. And what am I doing? Worrying about riding someplace and there might be wind or, gasp… rain. I literally have been going through my maps and trip ideas, looking for something that might be “safer” from weather. I clearly failed the Easy Rider, intrepid explorer test and I haven’t yet left the driveway. I’m such a dork.

We all have fears. Rappelling fifty feet off a cliff or giving a speech in front of a thousand people are legitimate fears. I’m not saying everyone needs to conquer those big fears. But what we all need to do – is overcome the silly little fears. Because those silly little fears start to build. The little fears become irrational big fears and it’s those fears that will hold you back from enjoying life. I don’t know much, but the older I get the more I realize we’re only here once. You get one shot at life. Make the most of it. Promise yourself that this week you’ll do something out of your comfort zone. I guarantee you’ll be happier for it.

A Sacrificial Offering

  • I’ve clearly managed to piss off someone, I’m just not sure who. We’ve had a pretty crappy spring, weather-wise. Cold, rain, and a ridiculous amount of wind. I hate the wind. It’s been windy virtually every day for what seems like months. And not just “breezy” wind, but 20-30 mile an hour winds in the afternoon. Being on a bike or motorcycle in that sort of wind just saps the fun out of everything. I spent too much time this morning trying to figure out what gods I need to appease. Being of Swedish heritage, naturally I first turned to the Norse god Njoror, but his background is really complicated and he leans towards providing wind for sailors. The Aztec god Cihuatecayotl is the god of the west wind, so he seems like a good candidate. Plus, the Aztecs were into the whole sacrifice thing. I haven’t looked into it extensively, but unfortunately I suspect sacrifices are frowned upon in our neighborhood covenants. Perhaps I can just go with a Sopranos style payoff. Meet some intermediary god at a park bench and slip him an envelope. Anyone know the going rate for 3-4 weeks with no wind?
  • I haven’t written much lately. My outrage reservoir overfilled and shorted out the main circuit board. I’ll read and watch the news, feel my outrage temperature rising, sit down to write (vent), and boom, it simply shuts off. I’ll be filled with an overwhelming feeling that there’s simply no point in writing or even thinking about the outrage of the day. I’m not sure if it’s apathy, sensory overload, or just interested in other things, but it’s been hard to figure out what, if anything, I want to write about. I think staying away from nonstop outrage and contrarian thinking may be a healthier choice. Life is too short to sacrifice many brain cycles to crap we can’t do anything about anyway.
  • The travel plans on the ginormous motorcycle have been stalled for multiple reasons. One is weather (see wind rant). Another has been parts outfitting. We’re almost done there. The last piece has been luggage. The bags I ordered were on backorder, but supposedly would be available again at the beginning of this month. I contacted them a week ago and they said another 7-10 days. Fingers crossed. The luggage delay did work out because the bike was due for it’s first service, and due to our massive influx in population, the shop was booked out a month. I finally got that done yesterday, so the bike is good to go. The delay also let me work on improving my riding skills confidence. I’ve spent some time in the dirt now and am really starting to feel better. Now I just have to actually commit to my first trip.
  • A myriad of health issues have plagued me lately, which I will detail for you in excruciating detail at another time. One of them however deserves a special mention because it illustrates how dorky I really am. I developed a neuroma on my foot, which causes a sharp, hot poker stabbing sensation when I run, play golf, etc… I got desperate enough to consult Dr’s Google and YouTube for my diagnosis and treatment. I believe that the root cause was years of shoes that were too small and had too narrow of a toe box. My toes are all janky, overlapping, and I have terrible bunions. The non-surgical solution is something called toe spreaders worn in shoes that look suspiciously like Ronald McDonald clown feet. I’ve been wearing them for a week and so far the neuroma seems to be a bit better. So my only real complaint is one of fashion. Google “natural toe box shoe” and see what comes up. Why do all minimalist and natural fitting shoes have to be so ungodly ugly? Sigh.
  • I got kicked at work the other day. We had a patient who went absolutely batshit crazy (drugs and untreated psych issues) and had to be restrained. We got the patient tied down and I went back to my patients. I got a call a while later to come help and sure enough this patient had managed to get out of all but one restraint. We had about eight people in the room waiting for security to arrive, while the patient frantically tried to get the remaining restraint off. I started getting worried what would happen if he got free and started running amuck in the room. So each time he reached over to try and undo the restraint I’d reach in and move his hand. Every time I did that he’d screech and try to bite me. We did that five or six times until the next time I started to reach in he gave a lightning fast roundhouse kick. I jumped back, but my cat-like reflexes have slowed a bit in my old age. He caught me on my upper thigh. Grrrr. Security arrived and we swarmed him, multiple people on each limb and got restraints reapplied. Funny, I don’t remember reading this chapter in school. I must have been out that day. I’m not sure what was worse, the kick or the amount of paperwork and interviews that had to be done afterwards.
  • An ode to trying new things.

Song of the day: R.E.M. – Shiny Happy People (Official Music Video) I never realized that Kate Pierson of the B-52’s collaborated on this.

The Ex Post Facto Study

  • As humans, we really like passing new laws, creating processes and procedures, and establishing new rules to solve the problems we’re experiencing. What we don’t do a very good job of is any sort of analysis of our newly created bureaucracy to see if it actually did anything useful. Laws and processes, once created, tend to stick around forever. For example at the start of the pandemic that shall not be named for fear of woke xenophobia, my hospital started a screening process for anyone entering. They purchased fancy stand alone scanners that let me scan my badge and take my temperature. I never use it because I have to log into it the night before (a software system the hospital had to purchase), answer the same stupid four questions, and then the next morning my temperature never registers with the automated machine because I just walked across the parking lot in 40 degree temps. The backup to the automated station is an employee who asks the questions, manually checks my temp (which still fails), and then gives me a sticker to put on my badge to “prove” I’ve been screened that day. When the ‘rona started everyone was panicking and I’m sure this process seemed reasonable at the time. It’s been in place for quite awhile now, so a retrospective study seems appropriate. Has this system actually “caught” any cases of Corona? I doubt it. How many people with 104 degree temps and difficulty breathing actually go to work or randomly show up to visit aunt Sally in the hospital? Or, they are asymptomatic and would have passed the screening anyway. Naturally the in-person screeners are only going through the motions at this point. I walk up say “no changes”, they try to scan my temp for 0.2 seconds, I grab my sticker and go. So in retrospective, is it worth continuing this? What made me think of this was something Grandpa Joe said during his weird state of the union speech last night. He dredged up the standard we need more gun laws rhetoric, saying we need to ban ghost guns and pass universal background checks. Ignoring what drivel that is for the moment, this seems like a prime opportunity for a retrospective study. We have tons of historical data in the form of crimes committed with guns. If we looked backwards and applied the new proposed laws, how many of those crimes would have been prevented? e.g. how many shootings have occurred with “ghost guns”? How many people went through some sort of firearm purchase at a flea market or gun show, bypassed a background check, and then went on to commit a crime? It seems pretty simple to look backwards to see if something would work moving forward. But that assumes you actually want the answer.
  • Spell check is a wonderous thing. Without it my writing would look like a five year old’s. Spell check elevates it to at least sixth or seventh grade. But the problem with spell check is you have to be roughly in the ballpark for it to give a suggestion. Take for example “bureaucracy”. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten it right first time. Unfortunately I never even get close enough for spell check to offer a helpful hint. I end up Googling things to stumble across the right spelling. Which brings me to my new phone. I like using the “swype” keyboard rather than entering in individual letters. The default swype implementation on the old Pixel phone was marvelous. I only had to get semi-close to the actual letters and it somehow knew what I was trying to type. It often had the correct contextual suggestions for the next word and the next word… magical. Samsung’s implementation on the other hand is very disappointing and more often than not I have to go back and type everything out. Sigh. I know you can download other swype keyboards, but that would take actual effort.
  • I violated my newly vowed rule to simply pay a professional to install things rather than me spending 10x the amount of time to do the same thing. I got some parts for the new ginormous motorcycle but the idea of waiting for an appointment and then paying someone $75 an hour to do what I should be able to do just killed me. And sure enough… two and a half full afternoons, many expletives, phone calls to customer support, and two new one-time use tools and everything is installed. But at least I feel good about my manliness. Cue Tim the toolman grunt.
  • This past weekend was very rainy and outdoor stuff wasn’t an option. I was bored and decided to conduct research and do an actual experiment. I’ve been needing a navigation solution (long story) for the backcountry while on the motorcycle. I wanted to use my phone rather than purchase a $600+ GPS device. I ended up spending the better part of a day researching options, downloading software, creating routes and maps, and really learning the systems. And the pièce de résistance, I created three custom routes and then went out and drove them to see which system performed the best. An actual experiment. I am a dork of huge proportions. But, at the end of the day I think I have a system that’s going to work.
  • I don’t think there’s much to say about the weird state of the union last night. Grandpa Joe is not a gifted orator. For all his flaws and ignoring content, Obama could deliver a good speech (as long as the teleprompter was working). Clinton too. For speechmaking ability I’d rank the presidents in the following order: Obama, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43, Bush 41, Biden. As far as content goes, all SOTU speeches are stupid. They’re long whish lists of crap that never gets done. If you’re a fan of everything big government, you loved Biden’s speech. If you’re a minimalist government type, it was abhorrent. I don’t think there was much in the middle for this one.
  • I’m going to ride the ginormous motorcycle a fair number of hours north today, then come back on Saturday. Sort of a pre-travel trial run. I’m waiting for my soft luggage panniers to arrive and then all the pieces will be in place to hit the road! Interesting how much effort, planning, and research it’s taken to be able to experience the “freedom” of the road. LOL.

Song of the day: Sugar Ray Fly 1997

Just Wing It

  • Because I’ve been consumed with all things motorcycle lately, naturally I watch a ton of YouTube motorcycle travel content. I’ve noticed an interesting pattern that probably correlates to general life. There are two types of motorcycle travelers. The first is the planner. This traveler meticulously plans out every moment of the ride. Hotel reservations, the exact campground each night, fueling stops, everything is weighed, and the route and scenic attractions are meticulously marked on the GPS. This rider wants to be in control of the ride and minimize the chance of problems along the way. The other rider is the complete opposite. This adventurer decides, often spur of the moment, to ride to Yellowstone this weekend. They throw some stuff in a duffle bag, strap it to the back of the bike and go. They find food, hotels, or campgrounds whenever they get tired of riding that day. They see roads that look fun and are roughly going in the right direction, and randomly decide to see where they go. Neither approach is right or wrong and the way you go about things in your travels probably mirrors how you approach life. I don’t really know how I am as a traveler. Probably somewhere in the middle. I tend to like to know exactly the route I’m taking and what the conditions will be. For example, the fantastic ride I did the other day almost didn’t happen. I thought about taking a particular route over a mountain pass, but had no idea if it would be still covered in snow or what the road condition would be. I decided to simply ride to the base of the road and turn around and go back the way I came. As I drew closer to the road I passed several ranger stations and contemplated stopping and asking about current state of the road. I didn’t stop, so when I got to the starting point of the road I was terribly conflicted. Do I go into the unknown, or take the safe way home? I sat in the shade, ate some lunch, and tried surfing the internet for road conditions without luck. Eventually I decided, fuck it – what’s the worst thing that could happen? I’d have to turn around and it might add a couple hours to my return trip. So what? It ended up being one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve done and I felt silly that I spent so much time agonizing about it. It’s amazing how caught up in fear of the unknown we can get. I’ll probably always err towards the cautious side, but I’m really enjoying pushing myself to be more adventurous. I wish it was something I’d learned when I was much younger. I think I would have been far more successful socially and in my work life. But, as the old saying goes, it’s never too late!
  • Elon Musk’s Dragon crew module delivered astronauts to the space station again. It was another first as SpaceX demonstrated they could re-use a crew module. Which got me thinking… when Musk lands a crew on Mars, will he be able to claim it in the name of SpaceX? Can a corporation claim territory?
  • Grandpa Joe got on a Zoom call with world leaders to discuss the existential crisis of climate change. He was the only one wearing a mask. He wore a mask on a Zoom call. Sigh…
  • Continuing to demonstrate how utterly useless the UN is, they voted to allow Iran to join the UN women’s rights commission for the next four years. The goal of the Commission on the Status of Women is to promote gender equality and empower women worldwide. Iran. Seriously? You’d like to laugh, but we spend millions on supporting this nonsense.
  • I thought this was a super interesting article on “why is everything liberal?” If you look at voting, our society is mostly split right down the middle. The middle swings slightly left or right each election, but for the most part the country votes 50-50% democrat/republican. You’d then expect most of the countries infrastructure to reflect that 50/50 split. But in reality most everything is dominated by the left. Woke corporations, academia, the media, social media, technology, protests, marches, they’re virtually all completely left-leaning? Why? There’s no clear answer other than the left tends to be much more vocal, angry, less tolerant, and violent than the right. There were some studies done that asked voters how hard it would be to be friends with someone with the opposite political belief. 61% of Clinton voters said it would be hard to be friends with a Trump voter. Only 34% of Trump voters said it would be hard to be friends with Clinton voters. Similarly, 7 in 10 democratic daters said they would not be in a relationship with a Trump supporter. Gotta love the tolerant and compassionate liberal.

Song of the day: The Specials – A Message To You Rudy (Official Music Video)

You’re A Horrible Person

  • I don’t know you, but you are an awful human being. You’re killing the environment. You spew CO2, use plastic, and consume fossil fuels without a care in the world. The earth is dying. We have less than ten years to change course and you clearly don’t care. You’re a racist, entitled, SOB who continually marginalizes the emotions and the past and current lived experiences of people who look different than you. You’re clearly happy that racist cops are mowing people of color down in the street for sport. You earn an unfair amount of money and happily repress people less fortunate because it makes it easier to step on them as you rise higher on the privilege ladder. Clearly you don’t care that people are dying on the border because they don’t look like you. Schools have been teaching outdated historical concepts rooted in systemic racism and oppression. Hiring practices, university admissions, and promotions based upon merit are racist and it doesn’t bother you in the slightest that it’s hurtful and discriminatory. This country is an awful place and it needs to change now. Every single thing about this country is terrible and needs be overturned. The evil, racist, fascist, Nazi, oppressors that occupy this country are done. The constitution is an ancient document written by elite slave owners. The system will be overthrown and clearly violence is the only thing you listen to. If you object, it only proves you’re part of the problem. Get woke, or we’re coming for you. You’ll be doxed, outed, lose your job, and treated like the closet racist you probably are. You will be chased out of restaurants, harassed while in your car, and we will get in your face on the street. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll bend the knee to the church of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity if you expect to survive in the new and improved America.

    This is the daily onslaught that bombards our brains. It’s an avalanche of nonstop outrages being rammed into our consciousnesses by the news, media, social media, your workplace, and huckster politicians 24×7. Outrage sells. Voters turn out for outrage, not library bond issues. Is it any wonder that everyone is angry at everyone else? It’s nationwide confirmation bias. People are prone to believe what they want to believe. Keep feeding them the right cues and of course they’ll believe the latest and greatest outrage. We’re sheep being led by politicians and corporations to a brand new, reimagined country. Will it be an improvement over what we had? I’m skeptical. Is it too late? I’m reminded of the story of the frog in a pot of slowly boiling water. It’s happening by mob rule, public shaming, intimidation, and violence. Any significant pushback will be ugly and I don’t see the nation going down the road of civil war again. Hopefully I’m wrong. But I don’t think so.
  • I needed to get away from the avalanche of negativity so I took the ginormous motorcycle out for a ride yesterday. It was probably the best ride I’ve had on it so far. Snow has cleared on the roads in the high mountain passes, so I spent a good chunk of the day on twisty roads alongside rivers flowing with new snowmelt, and gazing at spectacular snow covered mountain peaks. It was the middle of the week so I only saw a handful of people all day. It was a much needed mental vacation. And the best news? The new phone solved the navigation problems! We’re back in business.
  • Continuing with the motorcycle theme, Mrs Troutdog’s new bike finally arrived. I’ve done a brief ride on it and I think it will be just the right bike for a new rider to get comfortable with longer distance touring. It makes me happy when we have hobbies we can do together.
  • I purchased a wireless charger for the new phone off of Amazon. Pulled it out of the box and it was DOA. I had little expectation of any sort of help and assumed I’d just have to buy another one. To my surprise the company asked for a video showing what it the unit was doing and then a new one showed up on my doorstep two days later. It works as advertised. I’m not sure what it says when I’m surprised by good customer service.
  • I had a very strange YouTube experience the other day. There’s a couple who’s channel I’ve been following for a while. They sold everything, bought motorcycles and were planning an around the world type trip. I followed them as they figured out gear and practiced with the new bikes getting ready for their trip. They started out on the TET (Trans Euro Trail). Unfortunately several days into the trip the boyfriend had a bizarre, freak accident that left him severely injured. I followed for a few more episodes as they chronicled his hospital stay and recovery, then the episodes trailed off and I forgot about them. Then the other day a new, strangely titled, episode popped up in my feed. I wasn’t going to watch it as I was bored with the hospital/recovery theme. Eventually I clicked on it. Sadly it was the boyfriend announcing that the girlfriend unexpectedly committed suicide. Just awful. It was such a weird feeling. Obviously you feel terrible for them. But, I don’t know them. It’s a random YouTube channel I occasionally follow. It’s not like they were well known celebrities. I guess it’s a reminder that what you see on the screen isn’t real. Meaning, images of happiness, fantastic places, and amazing travels may be manufactured. Of course enjoy the escapism, but don’t try to compare your life to what you see. An apparent amazing life on the screen may not capture the reality behind the scenes. Don’t fall into feelings of inadequacy or fear of missing out based upon what you see on social media.

Song of the day: Matisyahu – One Day (Official Video)

I Need Me Some Ketones

  • Breaking a cycle of behavior is hard. Probably one of the hardest things we face as humans. It doesn’t matter if it’s diet, an abusive relationship, gambling, or wearing jorts with crocs. Making a personal behavior change sucks. Very few of us are actually successful at it. The diet relapse rate after three years is 95%, regardless of diet type. Think about that. It doesn’t matter what type of weight loss plan you choose, only 5% of folks will maintain that weight loss after three years. That’s a pitiful success rate. There’s a reason the diet and fitness business is a gazillion dollar industry. Count me in that statistic. I have been successful multiple times getting down to close to high school weight and being reasonably fit. And then I relapse and things go south in a hurry. I think the key is that as humans, we want instant gratification. I’ll do whatever it takes to see progress now. Seeing any progress fuels a positive reinforcement cycle and you are motivated to continue. Insane workouts, starving yourself, crazy cabbage soup diets, anything to keep seeing some progress. The problem is that most of what we’re doing isn’t sustainable in the long term. Who wants to accept that they’ll never be able to eat a French fry again in their life? Which brings me to ketones. I’m going to do what I just rallied against. A ketogenic diet is what has helped me lose weight in the past. At the moment, I can’t stand myself so I’m going back to what I know. There’s nothing magical about keto. Keto in itself will not make you lose weight any faster than any other diet. For me, I find it so restrictive that it’s hard to exceed a daily calorie budget and therefore I end up losing weight fairly rapidly. I happen to believe that there are a number of other benefits to becoming fat adapted, but most of them are also achievable by simply losing weight – regardless of the diet choice. So for me it’s really about finding something that keeps me on my calorie target. I don’t care what crap you read, weight loss can only occur in the presence of a caloric deficit. Period. So, I started a few days ago and officially entered ketosis (just barely, at 0.9 mmol/L per blood ketone test). I feel good about that and am motivated to keep it going. Knowing me (and most people) if I can sustain this for a couple weeks I’ll be golden. It becomes a routine and I’ll be happily zooming down the weight loss road. Here’s the problem. That last time I went keto it lasted for a little over a year, with no cheating. And then I hit a wall. My craving for bread, pasta, potatoes, and beer went into overdrive. I told myself I’d do a short cycle off of keto, but maintain calorie counts and then go back on keto. A year or so later and I’m eating everything in sight and put all the weight back on. So I’ll have to find something that’s sustainable long term. I don’t know what that is yet, but I can’t let these cycles continue. I’m at an age where it’s just not healthy or achievable. I honestly wish I didn’t like food. I’d like to think I could just pop a few pills (or the tasty wheat scene from the Matrix) and be done. Sigh. Oh, but nachos. Nachos… I’d be very sad if I thought that I’d never have nachos again.
  • Interesting side note for folks interested in keto and becoming fat adapted. I do think your body remembers. The first time I went keto it took weeks to get into ketosis. The next time was quicker. This time, after more than a year off it took only about two days. And this was after a major carb blow out the night before I started. There’s a ton of hype around keto that seems to be highly blown out of proportion. But I do think that a fat adapted eating cycle was what our ancestors were forced into and that somewhere deep down in our DNA, we remember.
  • So nutjob representative Maxine Waters decided to fly to Minneapolis and try to incite violence. Not her first go-round with this tactic. She made several statements… she demanded a guilty verdict for the former officer “or else.” She called for people to “stay in the streets” during the unrest. She on protesters to “get more confrontational” if former cop Derek Chauvin is acquitted of murder charges in George Floyd’s death. At least she’s not inciting an insurrection on the capitol. This will be ignored by most of the press and she’ll happily keep her congressional seat. Anyway, that’s not the story. The best part of this latest stunt? She called for a police escort in and out of the city. It’s hard to fathom the hypocrisy of some of these people.
  • Speaking of hypocrisy, Michigan Gov. Whitmer appears to have travelled to Florida after blaming travelers for a spike in Covid cases in her state. Why is it that elites and the holier than thou folks issuing edicts never seem to follow their own rules? Clearly rules are for the little people.
  • My state has experienced an incredibly windy March and April. I hate the wind. Everyone is talking about it. Even the weather folks are joking to not blame them each day for the continued wind forecasts. I started questioning myself if we’re really getting more wind than usual or is it just a false impression. Yesterday I had a patient’s family member confirm the wind for me. The family member said they work with farmers and are getting many reports that farmers are unable to spray their fields (pesticides, fertilizers, etc…) due to the wind. They’re predicting a disaster growing season. So, not my imagination. Dear <deity of your choice>, please make the wind stop.
  • Twitter can be an incredibly nasty place that will kill any positive energy and make you want to give up on society as a whole. Therefore it’s imperative that you follow an equal number of happy accounts. Please follow Buitengebieden. You won’t be disappointed.

Song of the day: What day is it? Sublime Smoke Two Joints Music Video