The Minimalist Traveler

  • We traveled out of town for Thanksgiving (gasp, he crossed state lines?). It’s been a while since I traveled and one thing is clear… to travel well takes practice. Part of that experience is packing. There’s an old adage that I’m a firm believer in – you expand to fit your available space. It’s human nature. This was made abundantly clear a number of years ago when we did a whole house gut and remodel. It wasn’t possible to live in the house during the work, so we put everything we owned in storage and moved into a motorhome. Initially I was worried. How could I possibly live for a year without all my stuff? A few months later and I realized I was perfectly happy with a few shirts, a couple pairs of pants, and my mountain bike. For a full year I didn’t miss any of the stuff in storage. When the house was done, whoomp, we quickly expanded to fill every room. Then went out and bought more crap to fill space. What’s that have to do with travel? I didn’t have a small overhead bin size suitcase, so I had to use a bigger checked bag. And what happened? When packing I threw everything but the kitchen sink in. Workout clothes I never wore. Approximately 23 pairs of socks. Power cords for electronics I didn’t even bring. Pajamas. I don’t even wear pajamas at home. Sweatshirts and hats. Jackets. Dress shirts and slacks. What did I actually wear? The same two outfits every day. In reality I could have traveled with a reusable cloth grocery bag and been just fine. We went to a luggage store on the way home and bought a small overhead bin bag. I already own packing cubes, so I should be good to go for at least a three week trip now.

  • Speaking of expanding to fit available space, it applies to food as well. At one point we subscribed to the Blue Apron meal delivery service. We thoroughly enjoyed it. (we cancelled only due to ongoing delivery issues) What struck me when we first started was each dinner was a perfectly portioned 700 – 1,000 calories and when we finished cooking and put it on the plate… it was a tiny amount of food! The “plate” of food we’re used to is huge. What they say for dieting is true – use a small plate otherwise you’ll fill up that big plate. My point? The Thanksgiving diet plan was a disaster. We won’t be stepping on the scale again for a few days.

  • At a migrant camp in Reynosa Mexico, the United Nations International Organization for Migration gives out debit cards to aspiring US border crossers. A family of four gets about $800 a month. How is this even possible? How is this not making the news? We’re shutting down travel due to the Nu, Xi, Omicron virus variant, how are we still letting hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossers in and then shipping them around the country? How… oh, never mind. There’s no point.

  • Last year on this date I was already cross-country skiing. We’ve had no snow this year. I’m not worried… yet.

  • A recent survey of NY police officers showed that more than half of them wished they’d never joined the force. That’s a frightening statistic and perfectly shows the state of policing in this country. When something goes bump in the night and you dial 911, are you positive someone’s going to come? While in the Bay Area for indigenous peoples remembrance and appreciation day, a family member showed the state of her neighborhood. Her condo is across from a lovely park. A park that is now a full-on, garbage strewn homeless encampment. The homeless use her front yard water spigot to shower and fill drinking containers. They pick the fruit from her backyard trees. The police won’t do anything. City council won’t do anything. The news won’t report it. As a homeowner, what are you supposed to do? How does anyone actually think this is ok? Say anything about this and you’re an uncaring, right-wing, MAGA loving, racist. Is it any wonder there’s a mass exodus from big cities?

  • My driving route to the mountains has been blocked for over a week by a ginormous rockslide that covered the road. They just announced that it’ll be at least another 7-10 days before it opens. There is another route, but it adds about an hour to the drive. Selfish me is annoyed that I’m being inconvenienced. But… I should be grateful that I have access at all. The outdoor opportunities I have nearly in my backyard are beyond what most people have available to them. I need to remind myself that many folks save up vacation time just to come visit what I take for granted daily. I promise not to grumble this week while driving a bit longer than normal.

  • The US has 63 national parks. This is a neat list of all them, ranked by crowds, accessibility, amenities, etc… I’ve been to 12 of them. Not bad, but I clearly have work to do.


Song of the day: Cake – Never There

A Keto Failure

  • If you’ve been following along at home, several weeks ago I began the great reset. Calorie control, daily workouts, and going back to keto. So far it’s been going great. Down about seven pounds and solidly back in ketosis. And then I ran into a brick wall. Otherwise known as “regular life”. A few days ago we went out to dinner with some friends to a Puerto Rican restaurant. Great food. I did fine with calorie restriction… but a few deep fried plantains and some other taro root appetizer thingy snuck in, knocking me out of ketosis by the next morning. I did ok the next few days diet-wise and then we went to a hockey game last night. (the other day I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out. Bada boom. I’ll be here all night) I was smart with calories – I made and ate a huge pot of steamed broccoli before we went so I wouldn’t be tempted with food (you have no idea how much willpower it took to not dive into the pizza and wings). But everyone was having drinks (I haven’t had one for several weeks) and I caved. I had a vodka since it’s keto. And then I couldn’t resist having a beer. How do you not have a beer while watching hockey? Which brings me to my point. It’s so tough to “diet” and/or maintain keto and have a regular life. It’s so hard when everyone is ordering food and enjoying a few drinks and you’re that guy… not eating and drinking iced tea. Sigh. I desperately wish I could find the right balance that allows me to actually eat and maintain a healthy weight. Maybe I’ll just go crazy with the workouts. If I burn a 1,000 calories a day I can still eat nachos, right?

  • The events of Kenosha and the Rittenhouse shooting, and so many other events the last year, are a direct result of elected officials abdicating their responsibility. If you fail to enforce the law or offer basic policing services to your citizens, the outcome will be predictable. Like it or not, a much larger percentage of the population than you’d think are generally not good people – for a whole host of reasons. Given the opportunity they will lie, cheat, steal, and use violence and force to prey upon the weak. Those folks have always been a part of the human condition and always will. If you don’t keep them in check, they will take advantage in a heartbeat. America historically has, for the most part, managed the balance between police authoritarian/overreach and anarchy pretty well. Until now. The woke, progressive, lawyers, and cancel culture have cowed elected officials into being afraid to do their jobs. The end result is predictable. And the longer it goes on the harder it will be to wrest control back from the mob. I fear it may already be too late.

  • Directly related to the last point, I highly encourage you to read this post. I’m not going to try and restate it because I’m not articulate enough. I’m 75-80% 90% in agreement with it. The part I’m curious about… is there some George Soros type person or big tech cabal orchestrating this, or is it an organic thing fueled by people like AOC and Ilhan Omar who in pushing their day to day issues are inadvertently driving us closer to the outcomes stated in the post? Regardless, history reminds us that chaos will create a power vacuum. You may not like who steps in to captain the ship.

  • Speaking of chaos, I’m most of the way through a great book on the history of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. I hadn’t read much about the civil war, so there’s lots of details that I never knew. It’s hard to imagine what Lincoln faced as he took office. The south almost immediately seceded directly in response to his being elected. A number of the battles in that war had casualties of 20,000 – in a single day. That’s unfathomable. We just recently had 13 servicemembers killed in the bungled Afghanistan withdraw and we went apoplectic. Can you imagine thousands in a single day? The pressures Lincoln faced were truly remarkable. It’s a good to be reminded of how close this country came to not surviving.

  • We’ve had a bear circling our neighborhood for several years now. During the summer you’d have the occasional sighting, and then more frequently as we get closer to winter. The last month or so he’s been a pretty frequent visitor. We caught him on the security camera the other night going after our garbage can. He flipped it over a few times, pressed down on the side, and pop… it opened up like a ripe banana. So much for the “bearproof can”. The can is now in the garage. I’ve seen him on the camera several more times looking for it in the middle of the night. I’m worried for him. He’s clearly become accustomed to foraging for garbage in neighborhoods. Bears like that tend not to have a good outcome. Relocating them doesn’t tend to work. Time to hibernate Mr bear, before Fish and Game come looking for you!

  • We’re about to join the hordes of people off traveling to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. Please give a quick prayer for my waistline. And folks, as Sergeant Phil Esterhaus in Hill Street Blues said at the end of every roll call… “Let’s be careful out there“. Whew, that’s dating myself.

Song of the day: The Ting Tings – Shut Up and Let Me Go

Bro, Do You Even Tweet?

I had an interesting experience yesterday that made me think about how truly toxic social media is. I am a low to medium use Twitter consumer. Meaning, I follow a bunch of people and scroll through the feed reading the various things posted. Mostly I’m looking for memes that make me laugh, the occasional inspirational post, and then lots of stupid shit politicians do that make me angry. I use it to keep up with the breaking news of the day since we no longer have actual news stations. That’s it.

I have six Twitter followers (probably all bots). I’ve posted maybe three or four original thoughts on Twitter in the last few years. I “like” someones Tweet maybe once every several months or so. I think I’ve commented on a post maybe twice. I think it’s fair to say that I have zero Twitter presence. I am an invisible gnat in the Twitter world.

So yesterday I’m scrolling through all the nonsense and saw a post from Dr Eric Topol. He’s a smart guy. He’s clearly one of the leading advocates for vaccines. His entire feed is nothing but post after post (sometimes dozens a day) of charts, graphs, and papers advocating for the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine. It’s an understatement to say he’s a fan of the jab. Anyway, yesterday he posted some chart showing that the original vaccine efficacy is clearing waning, but, he declared “Protection is fully restored (or even exceeded) by 3rd (booster) shots.” I have no idea why I felt the need to say something, but I posted a snarky comment to that tweet:

“Ok, ok, ok, ok… this time we’re absolutely positive this one will last a long time. Well, maybe just one more but that’s it. Pinky promise!”

Now, of the handful of comments I’ve ever posted to any Twitter feed, not one has ever been noticed, commented on, or probably even read. I’m not sure what the point of commenting is, especially on the bigger accounts with literally thousands of comments. The author is never going to actually read what you wrote. It’s shouting into the wind. Pointless, but I guess I felt better that I’d posted my incredibly smart and witty reply (that’s sarcasm, just in case you weren’t clear).

Almost instantly someone replied to my comment: “wow troutdog the 6 follower d-bag shitposter has so many thoughts about vaccines! tell us more oh esteemed man of science!”

D-bag shitposter? It continued with a bunch of people flaming with all kinds of charts and comments that this is how all vaccines work, I’ll trust scientists not you, bla bla bla. It was like a strange fanboy club that was just coiled and ready to strike back at anyone that dared disparage the official party line. I will admit that for about thirty seconds my blood boiled and I was ready to wade in an do battle with these folks.

And then I realized two things. First, Twitter is mostly a toxic dumpster fire mostly made up of keyboard warriors ready to savage anyone who questions their dogma. Never in the history of mankind has anyone ever had their mind changed by a comment on Twitter. There is zero point in reading or participating in any comment war on Twitter. Read someone’s original post, think to yourself I agree or disagree, and move on. That’s it. Anything else is a waste of brain cells. Lesson learned.

Second, it made me a little frightened for where we are as a society. I could feel how easy it was to be enraged and want to refute everything being thrown my way. The level of vitriol is crazy. How are people so angry that they feel the need to call folks names just because they disagree with a comment? The worrisome thing is that I think a larger and larger percentage of society gets their entire worldview from social media like this.

Just yesterday a member of the US House of Representatives was censured and lost all committee assignments over a tweet his staff posted on his account. I watched the video that was posted. It was some weird Asian anime thing that I didn’t entirely get. Somehow this was interpreted that he was advocating killing other politicians. Social media has truly become the public square for debate and discourse.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. The impact of social media is so vast today. It’s the news medium of choice. In a world where the traditional media are official spokespeople for political parties, it’s the only place where you can hear independent thoughts if you search hard enough. Generally it’s a vapid waste of time, yet if you completely ignore it you’ll have little real grasp on what’s happening in the world. But tread lightly young grasshopper (anyone else old enough to get that reference?), one poorly thought out post or comment can cost you your job, friends, or land you on a police or government watch list.

It’s so powerful the tech titans spend 24×7 using it to actively curate, censor, and generally shape and change public opinion to fit their needs. When Parlor attempted to create an alternative voice, the tech world stepped in and squashed them like a bug. Facebook’s Zuckerburg spent nearly a half a billion dollars (that we know of) to sway the election. I don’t think people grasp how powerful and far reaching these tech empires have grown.

I think about the level of anger sitting out there in the ether over one silly comment I made. Remembering the violence that erupted all summer long in this country… it’s not hard to image the tech world actively curating an environment of mob rule. And the mob will be turned lose on anything that impacts the liberal/progressive agenda. Already the police are afraid to do their jobs. Politicians and government officials are petrified to do anything to stop crime, homelessness, or an invasion on our border. The real media, social media, will drive the narrative on any event that happens.

If any prominent person, politician, or government official criticizes anything that goes against the tech titans narrative – an avalanche of negative press will rain down upon them. Social media will instantly be flooded with the rallying cry of racism, white supremacism, sexism, xenophobia, hate, fascist, and of course… Nazi. All seemingly designed to stir up the angry keyboard warrior class. Few are willing to fight it. Most will cower and comply so as not be be cancelled. The smarter ones simply choose to withdraw and stop engaging, effectively conceding the public square to those shouting the loudest.

If we don’t find a way to achieve some sort of equilibrium in the new public square, I see a future we won’t recognize and outcomes we really don’t want. Mob rule is ugly.

All of that from one snarky comment on Twitter. My brain works in strange ways. I probably need more coffee.

It’s Time To Fear The Toilet

I like learning new things. Most of the time it’s useless information like, on average 100 people a year choke on ballpoint pens. Or Al Capones business card said he was a used furniture dealer. And that licking a stamp is one-tenth of a calorie. But once in a while I stumble upon something that’s interesting and useful. Like Covid is spread through the toilet. What?

If you have time, this article is an excellent read. It’s long and complicated. I confess, I’ve read it three times now and still don’t understand at least a third of it. It’s about the origins of Covid. But one section about transmission routes of Covid caught my eye. It turns out that the initial, and most probable, sources of infection were from fecal aerosols and Class B Biosolids. Fecal aerosols? That sounds horrible!

Toilet aerosols are, well… produced by the forceful evacuation of fecal material, followed by flushing (not sure how else to put it?). Large amounts of virus are shed in fecal matter. Part of the longstanding methodology of tracing virus spread is from testing wastewater. (I didn’t know that) So, you’ve produced a plume of virus containing aerosol that now wafts through the plumbing and hovers in air. Household member number two comes along to conduct their daily constitutional and, boom, transmission. The bulk of transmission, especially early on, came from intra-family and group living settings. Hmmm.

Next up is the Class B Biosolids. I’d never heard of that. I wish I hadn’t. It turns out that the “sludge” that comes from wastewater treatment facilities is repackaged as fertilizer. Yes, you read that right. Human feces, now branded as a “Biosolid”, is given/sold to farmers as fertilizer. Class B means it has NOT been treated to remove pathogens. So, we’re happily spreading Covid virus packed human feces fertilizer on our food source. This chart blew me away. It shows the top 500 US counties with Covid case increases early in the pandemic (Nov 2020). Next to it is the US counties with the highest level of corn production. The two are a near mirror image. Nah, that’s not frightening at all.

A few minutes of searching time and you’ll realize that none of this is new or novel information. It was well known science long before Covid, with plenty of papers in the various journals. Our various health departments and agencies clearly know about this. Yet, they spent over a year pushing respiratory droplets and fomites as the primary vector of transmission. We’ve been forced to wear useless masks in the hopes that they might stop the larger mucus particles and to panic buy sani-wipes to clean every conceivable surface before we sit down. Meanwhile the virus has been happily aerosolized and is wafting along in plumes, and slowly drifting down to be inhaled hours or days later in any room that doesn’t have adequate ventilation.

With pro sports back in swing, how many “super spreader” events have there been from stadiums of 70,000+ fans? None. They’re outdoors or in facilities with fantastic air circulation. There’s clearly been some limited spread at events like Sturgis. While most of the Sturgis rally is outdoors, what other component does it have? In the evening everyone heads to the bars and clubs with little to no real HVAC capability. Why haven’t there been any large spread events documented with the airlines? If primary transmission was direct respiratory droplet spread, you’d think we’d constantly hear of entire planeloads of passengers that tested positive. We don’t. Airlines have some of the most effective air circulation you’ll find.

This is not to imply that you cannot get Covid via respiratory droplets. Of course you can. But that’s going to happen in an environment of close contact for extended periods of time. Bars, clubs, friends sitting around the kitchen table for hours. Coughing, laughing, touching their face, sharing drinks, smokes, and physical contact (what do you think the young kids are doing at the clubs, silly rabbit?)

You are not going to get Covid walking through the grocery store, strolling through the restaurant to your table, or passing people on the hiking trail. If you do, you most likely passed through an aerosolized plume that’s been wafting in the air for hours already. Unless you’re wearing a properly fit tested N-95 mask… nothing is going to prevent that. Sorry.

There’s much more to unpack in this article, this was just the first part that jumped out at me. How much further I go with it depends upon the current state of my ADHD attention span, the weather, and my natural inclination to throw up my hands and decide never to write again at any given moment (happens multiple times a week).

The image I’m left with after reading this is that poor fellow who you spot walking along by themselves, outdoors, alone, wearing a mask. Fearful and paralyzed with the idea that the ‘Rona is just waiting for them around every corner. Can you even imagine them finding out there’s Corona virus in fertilizer and fecal aerosols? Being unable to eat or ever poop again would be a sad ending.

With Discipline Comes Friction

I read a short article this morning about Tom Brady and other various GOAT contenders that made a great point. Brady said that he’s not the most gifted athlete on the field… just the most disciplined. Someone told a story about him playing in a celebrity golf tournament in early spring. He was spotted running wind sprints in the parking lot before the tourney. When asked what the hell he was doing, his reply was “trying to win a super bowl”.

That attitude is what 90% of the population lacks. There isn’t a person on this planet that doesn’t know what needs to be done to lose weight and/or get in shape. We simply lack the discipline to do it. It’s hard. When everyone else at the table is having a cocktail, it’s hard to ask for iced tea. It’s hard to order just a salad without that creamy dressing when everyone else is ordering burgers and pasta. When you’re sore and everything hurts from yesterday’s workout, it’s hard to go back to the gym. That’s the friction that bombards us daily.

Friction is the enemy of progress. Friction is why my weight ballooned up. I couldn’t say no. Working out sucks when you can no longer do a pull up or run a mile, so why bother? I know I could change it, but it’s going to take a long time. It’s hard to picture six, eight, or ten weeks out before being able to get that pull up. You picture the discipline it will take to get the workout in every day for all that time… and it just seems like too much. And suddenly you’ve skipped a day. and then three. And we’re right back where we started. I already blew my diet today, so I may as well order pizza and start again tomorrow. I’ve been starting again tomorrow since August. Friction is a killer.

Tom Brady’s throwing coach Tom House has observed, “What separates these elite athletes, the Hall of Famers, is that they try to get better every day not by 20 percent but just 1 percent.”

“When you’re disciplined, with it also comes friction, because you’re not just doing what everyone else is doing. But if you’re willing to pile enough of those 1 percents together over 20 years, they can turn into seven super bowl rings”.

We’re on day five of the great reset. Down four pounds. Solidly in ketosis. Last night provided some serious friction. I had an event that I’d scheduled way before the reset that was all about good (non diet) food, wine, and desert. Skipping wasn’t an option. Normally this would derail me completely, but I’m determined this go-around to find a sustainable way forward. I worked out hard prior to dinner. I limited my calories pretty significantly during the day. And then I enjoyed the evening. I ate the food (and desert) and drank the wine. I fully expected to pay for this setback.

This morning I did not want to step on the scale or check my ketones. I guessed I’d be plus a pound and be knocked out of ketosis. But… ignoring reality is what got me here in the first place. I closed my eyes and stepped on the scale. And… down another pound! I checked my ketones and low and behold, still in ketosis! I’m not sure how that happened, but I’ll take the win.

Is it a 20% win? Nope. More like a 0.25% win. But it’s progress. It’s motivating. Ten weeks of work to get that pull up feels slightly closer. Definitely not skipping the workout today. Somebody needs to figure out how to bottle that feeling. Because that feeling, that glimmer of hope is what makes a diet and exercise plan successful. It’s not eating a magic combination of foods or buying the fancy piece of exercise equipment or gym membership. It’s the continued, small incremental wins against friction that make or break your march towards the goal.

I’m not on the downhill slope yet. In two weeks we have Thanksgiving. Travel. Family. Food. Lots and lots of food and drink for multiple days. I’m worried. I’ve clawed out some tiny improvements… I don’t want to go backwards. The next two weeks will be a hard core push to keep the discipline and make gains as a hedge against T-day.

Friction is a cold hearted bitch.

A Proxy For The Future

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Kyle Rittenhouse trial appears to be going very badly for the prosecution. I’m not a lawyer and have little faith in our judicial system, so the outcome is anything but clear. But… as a casual observer it’s hard not to see what happened as anything other than a textbook case of self-defense. That is not my topic today. Instead, I’m interested in the point that several talking heads have made. What drove Kyle Rittenhouse to be there in the first place?

As someone with decades of life experience, and a whole lot to lose, would I have gone there? Hell no. I bet Mr. Rittenhouse wishes he’d made a better decision that day as well. But what drove him to insert himself in a scenario that had massive probabilities of going south in a hurry? His town was burning. Rocked by days of looting, rioting, vandalism, and sheer lawlessness. And the police did nothing. The mayor, governor, nobody charged with protecting the peace did anything to stop it. So a passionate young kid got fed up and decided he was going to go try to help out.

Young kids, especially males, can get very worked up over stuff. Remember WWI and WWII? I don’t – I’m old, but not that old. But I have read history. Tens of thousands of teenaged boys volunteered to go do their duty. 16 year olds lied about their age so they wouldn’t get left behind. We were going to go teach those dirty Germans a thing or two before they came to our shores. And off they went to war. Babes who had no idea what was actually facing them. No concept of the impacts those events would have on their lives. But they were fired up, passionate, and ready to go.

Such has been the nature of man from time beginning. So what’s my point? Probably the number one thing people crave is safety and security. That has also been true for all of human existence. And when our perceived safety disappears… people will do just about anything to bring it back. And for much of the US, that’s where if feels we’re headed.

Defund the police. Police reform. The media is complicit in whipping up an anti-police sentiment, further fueled by 24×7 chants of racism, racism, racism. The facts surrounding police shootings don’t matter. The only thing that matters is that the police are violent. Oh, and racist. If you’re not familiar with the term “The Ferguson Effect”, it’s a very real thing. After the Michael Brown shooting in 2014, officers were afraid to do much in the way of policing for fear of being charged. Since then it’s only gotten worse. Police departments and local politicians have refused to back their officers. The end result is that officers, especially in bigger cities, tend not to respond to calls other than to back up other officers. Why would they? Even the slightest whiff of being “too aggressive” and your career and life savings will be gone in an instant. It’s not worth it.

Police are quitting in droves. Those that remain won’t respond to anything other than critical events. And the predictable result? Crime is skyrocketing. In New York, thugs are now roaming the streets and randomly attacking strangers. There’s videos of it nearly every day now. Antifa operates with impunity and causes billions of dollars in damage. Brazen daytime robberies of restaurant patrons is now happening in affluent areas of Los Angeles. In San Francisco shoplifters happily walk out of stores with bags of stuff. Yesterday there was video of people who wheeled carts of grocery items out and calmly loaded it up in mini-vans. Why? Nobody’s going to stop them. Even if the police tried, the prosecutors probably wouldn’t charge them. This is not going to get better.

As an insulated, privileged society with narratives of non-stop racism driven by CNN, MSNBC, and Facebook, the progressive left wants you to believe that somehow crime and violence can somehow be solved with kind words, outreach programs, and roving teams of mental health experts. That is not how the world works, as much as the latte sipping crowd would like to believe. The reality of the street is not Hollywood.

Even in my hospital world that’s not reality. We have social workers and psychiatrists on the floor. When someone is having a mental health crisis we don’t call them. Why? Because folks in that scenario are violent and dangerous. We call security. And more often than not, it takes six security dudes and several nurses to wrestle the patient to the bed and get restraints placed. Even then the odds of someone getting hit, kicked, spit on, or bitten are high. I’m positive if family members saw that they’d be horrified. But you know what? I’m under no obligation to get hurt. I also don’t have four hours available to talk gently and pass them pudding in hopes they’ll see the error of their thinking. The real world doesn’t work that way.

Magnify that 100x on the street with actual criminals. And a single officer responding to that same potentially violent person. I know it’s shocking, but asking “pretty please with sugar on top” doesn’t work. But, we don’t want to see that. So our society has swung 180 degrees and we don’t want our police to actually, you know, do policing. It’s mean spirited. So the police have stopped. The results have been predictable to anyone who doesn’t have a liberal arts degree and a three thousand dollar espresso machine in their kitchen.

So what was my point? Somewhere down the road, people are going to get fed up. And that my friends, is when bad things happen. Vigilante groups form. Actual extremist groups form, not the pretend QAnon, Jan 6th insurrection groups… but people willing to commit real violence in the name of protecting the homeland. This is the inflection point where the population elects a real fascist in the name of safety and security. We don’t want to go down that road people.

I seriously fear for our country. We’re speeding down a road that ends in a bad place. The woke, 24×7 racist, progressive push the media hammers into our brains day in and day out is going to result in people taking matters into their own hands. We want safety and security. Without it we have Kyle Rittenhouse. A young kid heading into the fray because he felt like nobody else was. He was armed. He was attacked by a viscous mob out for blood and no police to be found. The outcome was predictable.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Maybe there isn’t one. We need a strong, charismatic, and benevolent leader who can use the bully pulpit to turn down the temperature. Get this ship turned around. I don’t see that happening. I suspect the political divides are too great at this point. Unfortunately, leaders who wield that level of power and charisma tend not to be benevolent if history holds to be true.

Oh great, now I’ve gone and depressed myself. Time to turn off social media and head outdoors for some recreation to clear my head. Amazing how well that works.

Bro, Do You Even Keto?

Crisis, noun

a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.

As I’ve mentioned before, my health has been in a downward spiral for a while now. I can’t point to any particular reason, other than general sloth. In September of ’20 I hit my goal weight and climbed Mount Whitney. I felt fantastic. All health markers were exceptional. I decided to take a “timeout” from the strict diet for a short period. Fast forward 14 months and I put all that weight back on, plus a few. While I’m generally physically active, as the weight increases my frequency and intensity of activity drops. Basically, I feel like crap. Tired all the time. Sore after every attempt at working out. Depressed because I can barely run a mile, when a little more than a year ago I was comfortably doing 8-10 mile trail runs at 7,000 feet. It’s truly frightening how fast you go backwards.

Some weeks prior I started trying to turn this ship around. Increased workouts, trying to run a bit again, and half-assed paying attention to my calories. And then a number of days ago the ship ran aground. I wasn’t making much progress. And then an event happened that hit me hard. In a nutshell, vanity and embarrassment at how I look prevented me from doing something fun. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. I finally had the courage to step on the scale again and measure BP, HR, and blood sugar. [cue blaring klaxons and flashing red lights]

I don’t remember the exact statistic, but over a three year period, something like 95% of all diets fail. That’s why the experts generally don’t want you to “diet”, but rather make small, incremental healthy choices that are sustainable over the long term. Unfortunately, in crisis management you don’t have the luxury of long term planning. You need to make choices to solve the immediate, critical issues in front of you. When the crisis is over you can revisit plans and recalibrate your long term path forward. That’s where we’re at today… crisis management.

So, say hello to my old friend the ketogenic diet. I really didn’t want to go back to keto. I was on it for almost two years. I found it very restrictive and do have some concerns about long term heart health. Back in my peak health I was just about to do some advanced calcium tests to get the true picture of my heart, and then the pandemic hit and everything was shut down. So I really don’t know what the full impact of almost two years of keto was.

But, for me keto worked. I don’t think it has anything to do with ketogenesis – there are too many studies showing equal weight loss and health results with other diets. I don’t believe insulin/sugar/carbs/inflammation, etc… are the great drivers of fat loss/gain (note – when I started keto I went hard down that rabbit hole and was a rabid convert. Like the old joke, how do you know if someone is vegan/keto/paleo/Crossfit? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.) Don’t misunderstand – I think controlling blood sugar is massively important. But you can achieve the same blood sugar control with exercise and being lean in most cases. Keto is not a magic bullet for this… but it can jump start the process.

Keto worked (in my opinion) because it forces you to pay attention to macros which lends itself to being aware of calories. High protein and fat is much more satiating, which helps curb cravings. And when you really can’t eat/drink carbs, those in-between meal snacks tend go away. Keto, for those of you who haven’t gone down that road, has another benefit. When you first enter ketosis, for a while you tend to dump a ton of water weight. The result is seeing the number on the scale plummet rapidly. You see progress and that’s self-reinforcing to keep going with the diet/exercise. Positive feedback loops are a good thing.

So here we are. Crisis management. Keto. Officially day 4. Peeing like a racehorse. In ketosis (via blood test). Down 3.6 pounds (mostly water weight). As an interesting anecdote, I am a believer in teaching your body to be fat-adapted. We evolved cycling between high protein/fat and then long periods of plant based carbs and intermittent fasting. Our ancestors had to go long fasting periods, running down antelopes, fueled only by stored fats. When I first attempted keto it took several weeks to just edge into ketosis and several more weeks of dropping in and out before I was solidly in ketosis. Throughout the next year and a half I took three or four calculated one week breaks from keto (but maintained the same caloric intake). Each time I restarted, it took shorter and shorter amounts of time to get back into ketosis. Even after a 14 month break, I was (barely) back into ketosis after only a day and a half. No fasting, just high fat/protein. Your body remembers what to do. I find that fascinating.

  • Side note for those who don’t know. Generally “in ketosis” means blood ketone levels greater than 0.5 mmol/L. After a few days I’m hovering around 0.8. At my peak 14 months ago I was generally between 1.5 and 2.3 mmol/L daily.

I’m not sure what the long term eating plan is. I originally quit because of how strict keto is. Eventually, I want to be able to have a beer now and then. My favorite food is Mexican. I freaking love potatoes. Nachos are my kryptonite. None of those are compatible with keto or my current weight. When things are back in control, I’ll need to figure out a lifestyle plan that works. The weight cycles are so incredibly unhealthy, I can’t keep doing it. I’d love to hear what you diet experts feel is a sustainable eating plan?

Besides, when the supply chain / economic collapse / zombie apocalypse finally hits, anyone not fat adapted is going to struggle. As the movie Zombieland stated, there are 53 rules for surviving. Number one is cardio. And you can’t run from zombies if you’re feeling woozy from lack of carbs. But that’s a post for another day.

What To Do With All My Daylight Savings?

  • This morning we returned to standard time. Back in the days when we had actual clocks, that meant a week of discovering time pieces that you’d forgotten to set back. Now the only devices we have in our home to manually reset are the oven clock and my analog watch. Meanwhile, the twitters blow up every year declaring a national emergency and the congress needs to stop it’s important work to abolish the DST practice. Personally, I like it. We live in the northern latitudes so during the summer when the days are already longer, tacking on the extra hour DST gives you means it’s light until almost 10pm. I love having the extra time to do outdoor stuff. During the winter, the days are short anyway so why not have it light a bit earlier? Are you a pro or con DST person?

Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.

G. Michael Hopf
  • President Biden claimed the other day, in an incomprehensible babble, that the supply chain problem is because Covid shut down factories and if you asked people in restaurants they wouldn’t understand it because reporters aren’t explaining very well and “When your editor says, “Explain the supply chain.”  Okay?  “Lots of luck in your senior year,” as my coach used to say.” WTF? Meanwhile our Vice President, who happens to be the chair of the national space council (whatever that is?) interrupted a NASA presentation to ask if we can track the population of trees against race. WTAF? Because, you know, space activity is climate action. I want me some environmental justice, brother. Word! As Tucker Carlson says all the time, these are not serious people. From the quote above, I’d postulate that we’re currently in the transition from weak men to hard times. And don’t get your panties all in a bunch, “men” is a colloquialism for “the population” today. Relax people.
  • A 77 year old man was confronted by an armed robber and instead of handing his things over, the elderly man pulled out a gun and shot the robber in the head and chest, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. “Officer, where’s the victim? Oh, he’s DRT. DRT? He’s dead right there.” I love me a good DRT story.
  • Remember special council Durham? Turns out he’s still out there and released another indictment. Even if you’re a rabid anti-Trump person, you have to admit that your Russia collusion theory is getting pretty hard to defend. Whether you agree or disagree, in a normal world it would at least be considered newsworthy right? You’d think that CNN and MSNBC who devoted 90% of their time for several years on the story would at least be attempting to debunk his indictment right? Not a single mention of the story on either web site yet. Hmmm. The bad orange man was right – the media is the greatest enemy this country faces.
  • Speaking of the media and radio silence, the FBI raided Project Veritas offices and homes of a number of employees the other day. Why? They’re looking for Ashley Biden’s diary. Why? That’s very unclear. Why would the FBI suddenly be interested in a missing diary? We don’t know. What we do know is that in that diary she alleges that it probably wasn’t appropriate for her to take showers with her father as a child. The diary was stolen and the contents came out just before Biden’s first debate with Trump. Just the like the Hunter Biden laptop, the media collectively killed the story. Move along people, nothing to see here.
  • I’m most of the way through Molly Hemingway’s book “Rigged” about the 2020 election. I’d highly recommend it – even if you’re a massive lefty. Why? Even if you disagree with her assertions, she lays out how our election process really works. I had no idea how corrupt it really is. Us common people don’t have much to do with who actually gets elected, on either side of the aisle.
  • At a football game a dog scored the longest frisbee catch record – end zone to end zone. Dogs rule. Meanwhile, I’m headed out on a motorcycle ride with a friend who is a new rider and just got his first motorcycle. I think he’s a little nervous. Been there, done that. My job is to help build confidence, while pushing the envelop just enough to improve skills. It’s sort of a blind leading the blind scenario. What could possibly go wrong?

Song of the day: Lo Fidelity Allstars – Battleflag

I Like Pickles

  • This week Mrs Troutdog and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. It’s still a mystery how she’s managed to put up with me for that long. An even greater mystery is how I managed to hide my love of pickles for this many years. As part of our anniversary celebration we flew down to Palm Springs to play some golf and see the in-laws. On day one of our visit I discovered a giant Costco tub of pickles in her mom’s fridge. I spent the next few days diligently working my way through the giant vat of pickles. At one point Mrs Troutdog declared, “all these years and I had no idea you liked pickles so much?”. My secret is out. I guess I have to confess. I’ve been hiding pickles to eat when she’s not there. I’ve been sneaking out of bed to visit late night pickle stores. If we can get through the shock and shame of my pickle secret, I’m pretty sure we can make it through another 29 years of marriage.
  • While looking stuff up for my pickle story, I discovered that there are a ton of pickle of the month clubs. Who knew? I never would have guessed that the pickle community was large enough to support monthly deliveries of pickles. So, if any of you are looking to buy me a gift… now you know.
  • If I ever become super-woke and feel compelled to list my pronouns, I’m going with… rib/eye. Stole that from twitter. Not sure why that amused me so much.
  • Speaking of Palm Springs, we played a couple of days of golf at some high-end courses. I tend to be a local muni-course type of player. I bring my own water, walk the course whenever possible, and expect to see the condition of the fairways and greens as… “variable”. These Palm Springs courses are not that. You pull up to the clubhouse and dudes run out and put your clubs in the cart. They supply tees, wet towels, water, and divot repair tools. The greens and fairways are perfectly manicured. You truly feel bad taking a divot on the fairway. It’s honestly intimidating if you’re not much of a golfer. I was a bit worried leading up to the trip. Spent a bunch of money on travel bags for the clubs, dealing with checking them in at the airline, and the super expensive green fees – last thing in the world I wanted to then play horribly. It got in my head leading up to the trip. This is why I could never turn pro. Well, that and that whole lack of coordination thing. But, I played really well (for me). It was a fun experience and I look forward to our taking more golf trips. Except how do I now go back to regular people courses where you have to load and unload your own clubs from the car?
  • There was a political bloodbath last night. Shockingly, it turns out that when the economy is tanking and crime is through the roof people stop caring about frivolous topics. First and foremost people want safety, security, jobs, and a working economy. In times of scarcity, climate change, race, race, race, race, race, race, and socialist spending are not high on peoples list of concerns. It will be interesting to see what the democrats do in response. At the moment the progressive wing is claiming the problem was that they didn’t go hard enough on progressive demands. We’ll see how that works out.
  • COP26 has wrapped up and the end result was… nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Not a single accomplishment. Oh, how will the climate survive? The two biggest greenhouse gas emitters chose not to attend. Too busy building out coal fired electrical power plants I suppose. The African countries did make it clear that they’re pissed though. Why? We’ve reneged again on the 2009 pledge to pay them 100 billion a year to “cope with climate change”. Clearly John Kerry wasn’t on top of his game this year. But hey, at least he got to take his private plane out for a spin again. Along with 400 others carbon spewing planes, 85 car caravans, and massive gala dinners (where I’m sure they at least used paper straws).
  • This trip we took was the first time I’ve traveled out of state since the pandemic started. My state is mostly anti-mask and I haven’t had to wear a mask anywhere (other than work) for a long time. Traveling to California is different… mask mandates everywhere, vaccine cards required to eat inside restaurants. Masks in the airport and on the plane. And all of it is just theater. Wearing a mask to walk twenty feet into a restaurant only to take it off at the table is absurd. Sigh… and the plane – both Mrs Troutdog and I were scolded by flight attendants several times for letting our masks drop. Until food and drink service arrived – then yay! Everyone can eat, drink, talk and cough. The ‘rona is smart enough not to spread while you’re eating and drinking. I still cannot grasp that our public officials continue to push this nonsense. If you had told me two years ago that the entire country would soon think it was normal to walk around outside with a mask on your face, I would have sworn you were smoking something.
  • Speaking of smoking something, California is one of the states who has legalized the ‘herb. It was odd to see marijuana dispensaries on every corner. I could care less. I do wish there was a test or definition for what “under the influence” was, but otherwise each to their own. It may or may not be true that the bottle of vitamin gummies that came back no longer contains “vitamins”. The challenge at our age is remembering to grab the right bottle when taking the morning vitamin regime.

Song of the day: Macka B Legalize the herb

Let’s Trust The Science

The other day I rambled on a bit about a question I had – can you name an actual harm that Trump did to the nation? Not mean tweets harm, but real identifiable harm. Well I was shocked to find out that someone actually read my post, and not only that but took the time to comment (which I appreciate, good or bad). The comments pointed out that Trump took some actions to remove or modify environmental policies from the previous administration. Clearly that would cause harm, wouldn’t it?

You’d think this would be an easy answer. We have climate. We have smart people studying things. We’ve been measuring this for a long time. Simple, right? And the answer is… it depends on what data you choose to believe. Sigh.

But, but, these are scientists man. Science is always objective, right? Not when there’s billions of dollars in funding at stake. Oh come on, these are experts. They wouldn’t push science that wasn’t proven. Really? Please point me to any county, state, or country that can show any clear correlation between implementing a mask mandate and a lowering of covid case counts. We have a year and a half of clear data on this. The correlation signal should be pretty easy to spot. I’ll wait. Hint, you won’t find it. Yet the experts continue to yammer on and on about masking. We’re creating an entire generation of kids who are afraid to go outside and play without a mask on. Yet nobody can actually point to any real “science” to this other than “the experts say”.

Anyway, back to global warming. Yes, I said global warming because that’s what this was about until the “experts” decided it needed to be re-branded. It’s now called CLIMATE CHANGE. Convenient, because any weather abnormality can now be attributed to CLIMATE CHANGE. The last few years we’ve tacked on EXTREME WEATHER. Because, of course, EXTREME WEATHER is naturally caused by CLIMATE CHANGE. It’s just science, man.

This is such an enormous topic, it’s virtually impossible to boil it down to easy, bullet point, talking points from any side of the argument. Have we experienced global warming? Yes. Somewhere between 0.3 and 0.7 degrees centigrade in the last century. The global warming hypothesis that started in the late 80’s is that there will be about a 1 degree increase in temperature for each doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. The kicker that Al Gore capitalized on is that the claim that greenhouse gases would cause a positive feedback loop, adding another 2-4 degrees of warming and eventually causing a tipping point that was unrecoverable. Throw in a scary hockey stick graph, some images of polar bears stranded on melting ice flows, and voila – we have a crisis!

The challenge with any hypothesis is that your findings have to be independently reproduced to have any credibility. Mann’s hockey stick graph used cherry picked data and code that turned any inputs into a hockey stick. The projections the IPCC uses year after year to predict gloom and doom are based upon models that have been laughably wrong. Not just by a little bit but by massive amounts. And wrong year, after year, after year.

But, but, what about the wildfires every summer? And the hurricanes? And the melting ice caps? And increased numbers of hot days? And rising sea levels? And polar vortexes? OH MY GOD, THERE’S EXTREME WEATHER EVERYWHERE!!

Burn acreage is down massively. Hurricane frequency is way down. Artic ice reached above normal levels this year. The number of hot summer days is actually down. Sea level isn’t rising. And on, and on, and on. Can you find a particular data point and extrapolate from that some causation? Sure. But when you take multi-decadal trends (which is what climate is), any changes seen are mostly… meh.

Unfortunately people cherry pick and alter the data. What? Yes, the temperature data is altered. Half the US weather stations are “zombie” stations – they don’t actually exist anymore. Their data is computer generated from a model/algorithm. Weather stations that 40 years ago were in a field are now surrounded by asphalt parking lots and building exhaust vents, a.k.a the urban heat island effect. Most scary graphs start from the 1960’s/70’s. Why? It was a very cold period – remember they were predicting in the 70’s we were heading into a new ice age. It’s not convenient to start your data points earlier than that due to the extreme global heat of the 1930’s (the dustbowl).

It goes on and on. Our data collection is a mess. And unfortunately scientists actually do lie. Remember climategate? Emails showed they were conspiring to find a way to “hide the pause”. We’d had a 17 year pause in any signs of warming at that point. A very inconvenient truth. So yes, count me as a skeptical when it comes to experts making any extreme global warming claims.

And the cherry on the cake is the UN/IPCC climate treaties. The US was correct to pull out. They achieve nothing except massive wealth transfer from the US to other countries, while not actually requiring other countries (CHINA) to do anything. China is building out coal fired plants as fast as they can go, meanwhile the US and Europe doom themselves to voluntary CO2 restrictions that cripple our energy production. Here’s a perfect example of looking at the data – we had a near complete shutdown of the world a year ago. A more extreme version than any UN agreement could have hoped for. And what happened? Atmospheric CO2 didn’t budge in the slightest. Zero change. So tell me again how any UN agreement (costing gazillions of dollars) is going to “fix” global warming when a global shutdown didn’t make any impact?

The global climate is ungodly complex. Solar impacts, ocean currents, equatorial winds, and yes even manmade issues… there are so many factors impacting the climate. We’re still in the infancy of understanding the impact of things like solar cycles and ocean currents. I think it’s foolish to think we can point to just one possible cause with all its associated faulty data, politics, and agendas and say conclusively – ah ha, that’s the issue.

So, did Trump cause harm by pulling out of the Paris Agreement? Since none of the previous four UN climate summits achieved anything… I’d argue it made zero climate impact. The effect of substituting Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy rule will depend upon which side of the global warming/greenhouse gas side of the coin you’re on. If you think, like the green new deal zealots that the world will end in 12 years if we don’t do something NOW!… then yes it caused harm.

My position is that when you strip away all the politics, media hype, and academics jockeying for the next round of funding – we honestly don’t really know. Lots of hypothesis, very little reproducible findings that conclusively prove correlation/causation. And with the frightening rise in fuel and energy costs (and the associated rise in the costs of all goods) happening right now, I’m going to be a skeptic when it comes to making changes that will make things economically worse for the planet.

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006 and claimed we only had 10 years left before we reached the point of no return. And 15 years later… the polar bears are thriving. The west coast isn’t under water. We’re not wearing shorts in the arctic. I’m pretty sure we don’t need to panic. My prediction? At the current rate of change it will take about 100 years before we’ll see a clear enough signal in the data to show if we’re really warming or not vs one or two year abnormalities. Climate is measured in decade and century time scales. And in a century from now, I’m reasonably confident we’ll have alternative energy sources we currently haven’t thought of. Our technological advance is going to happen independent of global warming fears. It’s our human nature.

The entire point of science is to question. Question the data. Question the findings. Question the methods. Question the motivations. Question, question, question. And when you run out of questions and can’t find fault with the results, you’ve arrived at a solid scientific theory. With climate, we’re still at the very beginning. Questioning isn’t denial, it’s what we’re supposed to do.

Back off, man, I’m a scientist.

 Dr. Peter Venkman