Category: Daily Life

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.

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 Don’t Know, But I’ve Been Told

  • GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you haven’t heard that expression before, it’s an old-school programing adage. Your belief systems are a product of the inputs you consume. Consistently consume information from just one source and that’s what you’ll believe. A recent, annual, survey that focuses on false beliefs broken down by political ideology, gender, etc… illustrates this. The questions ranged from Covid, race, gender, and the climate. Biden voters had false beliefs 61% of the time, while Trump voters were wrong 42% of the time. If you consume your information solely from CNN, MSNBC, Facebook, and like minded Twitter follows, then of course you’ll have a skewed vision of the world. The same is true of Fox, but per the survey to a lesser degree. Take for example the recent expose of CNN by Project Veritas. Oh, you didn’t hear about it? That’s because there’s zero coverage of it on CNN, MSNBC, Politico, and Twitter permanently banned Veritas’ account. Veritas published video footage of a CNN technical director saying the networks focus was to get Trump out of office. “Look what we did, we got Trump out. I am 100 percent going to say it, and I 100 percent believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out. … I came to CNN because I wanted to be a part of that,” Chester stated. He then said, “[COVID] will taper off to a point that it’s not a problem, anymore. Climate change can take years, so [CNN will] probably be able to milk that quite a bit. … Climate change is going to be the next COVID thing for CNN. … Fear sells.” You would think “The most trusted name in news” getting caught talking about pushing a specific social/political agenda might be a story. The fact that it’s not even mentioned by the major outlets speaks volumes. This really shouldn’t be a surprise, but clearly a large percentage of people take whatever the news media says as gospel. Hear it often enough and it starts to become a core part of your beliefs. The goal of the School Of Contrarianism is not to claim what I say is correct. I’m probably full of shit 38.4% of the time according to the latest surveys. The goal is to get you to question. Question everything. Just because some 23 year old “journalist” did a copy/paste of an AP story and then added their own opinions to give the story some “depth” doesn’t make it correct. We’ve gone from the 1960’s Timothy Leary/counterculture slogan “Question Authority” to becoming mindless lemmings of corporate wokeness. Ever see the movie The Truman Show? That’s us today. We’re all stars of the show, only we don’t know it. (P.S, lemmings don’t really jump off cliffs and commit mass suicide. Boom, mind blown.)
  • Speaking of blindly following a narrative, the Biden administration continues to give focus to the cult of global warming. Here’s a good place to start practicing your path down Contrarianism (TM). In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) the Monthly Energy Review, they report that energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by 11% in the United States in 2020 primarily because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. Furthermore, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell in every end-use (consumer) sector for the first time since 2012. We had a record reduction in CO2 emissions, so we have the first actual laboratory experiment to see what happens with CO2 in the atmosphere. Remember, reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere is the entire goal of the green new deal that’s supposed to save us from this existential threat. So what happened? Nothing. Zero change in atmospheric CO2. Not even a blip. Meanwhile, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng on Friday said, “Some countries are asking China to do more on climate change. I am afraid this is not very realistic”. On Wednesday President Biden’s climate czar, John Kerry, admitted Wednesday that the US reducing its emissions to zero wouldn’t make much of a difference in the global climate change fight. Yet we’re moving forward on a $2 trillion climate agenda. How does this even make sense? As a junior Contrarian, start questioning this sort of crap.
  • The Minneapolis City Council has voted 11-1 to oppose the use of tear gas and other munitions as part of Minnesota’s response to civil disorder. Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial start Monday. I’ma gonna grab my popcorn for this one. I’m sure Minneapolis will come out just fine from all this. A few mostly peaceful protesters and some bad words shouted. It’ll all be good.
  • You should read this letter from a parent who’s pulling his kid out of an expensive private school. We’re creating an entire generation of mindless lemmings (I can’t help but perpetuate this lemming myth). I’m reminded of a meme I saw the other day that speaks truth. “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times”. Sorry for the blatant cisgendering stereotyping. If I’ve insulted your personhood and cosmic aura, I apologize.
  • I decided to install a part on the ginormous motorcycle yesterday. I was going to have the dealership do it, but it kills me to pay someone to do what I’m (mostly) capable of. It took half a day, one trip to the auto parts store for a specialized tool, several skinned knuckles, many four letter words, and watching a how-to video approximately thirty times before I realized there was a specific orientation to get the parts to fit. I should have just gone to the dealership. Do you think I’ve learned my lesson? Probably not. As Forest Gump says, “I’m not a smart man”.

Song of the day: Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank

It’s Either One, Or The Other

  • The other day Tucker Carlson went on the air and made some crazy, outlandish, QAnon fueled statement about the Covid vaccines. The high priest of Covid, Dr. Fauci, immediately ran to CNN and expressed confusion as to why Tucker would be pushing conspiracy theories like that. CNN offered a helpful headline stating “Carlson suggested Covid-19 vaccines are not effective”. Except that’s not what he said. He asked a very simple question which you should also be asking. Either the vaccine works and we no longer need to wear masks and keep businesses shut down, or the vaccines don’t really work and so why is the government continuing to push them? It’s a pretty simple binary question. They can’t both be true. So which one is it? Most thinking people realize that vaccines do work. So why is Fauci and everyone in the Whitehouse continuing to wear masks? For god’s sake, Fauci and Biden double mask most of the time. Why? I’ve said it before… it’s an easy answer if you think about it. Mask mandates, social distancing, and keeping schools and businesses shut down can’t be enforced if you allow vaccinated people to be free. Anyone can just say they’re vaccinated and not wear a mask and we have no way to prove that. Oh, wait. What if we had some sort of paper people could carry around proving they’ve been vaccinated? Almost like a passport of some sort. Why do we continue to put up with this crap? This is doublespeak in it’s truest form.
  • Also on Tucker last night was one of his best monologs. I’d highly encourage you to watch it. He raises the question of unequal treatment in police shootings. On Jan 6th Ashli Babbitt was shot in the throat, from behind, by a Capital police officer. She died. She clearly wasn’t an imminent threat to anyone and was actually moving away from the officer who shot her. In the video you see a handful of SWAT officers just standing there, so they clearly weren’t concerned about their safety. The person who recorded the video had his door kicked in several days ago, all electronics seized, and he was arrested. The DOJ announced they’ve cleared the officer in the shooting, no charges will be filed. They still won’t release the officers name. Why? Meanwhile in Minnesota, an officer accidently pulls her service weapon rather than her taser and kills a young black man. Her name and picture are instantly plastered all over the news, mobs are at her house, manslaughter charges are filed, and the predictable riots ensue. Why the unequal treatment? Why is the Capital police officer seemingly exempt from the same treatment as the Minnesota officer? Where are the mainstream journalists asking these questions?
  • (Vice) President Harris has been put in charge of the migrant/border problem. Wait, not the actual current problem but the broader long term problem. Whatever. The good news is that she immediately had a press conference to discuss her plans for addressing the issue. Oh wait, no she hasn’t held a press conference since her appointment as long term border crisis mitigation czar. She did announce that she has no plans to visit our border. But Harris did tell reporters Wednesday that she was “looking forward to traveling, hopefully as my first trip, to the Northern Triangle,” with stops in Mexico and Guatemala planned. She said she would go as soon as possible, depending on restrictions put in place for the pandemic. A responsible leader always follows pandemic restrictions. Since she won’t be traveling abroad, she has some time on her schedule which she filled with a trip to a “woman owned yarn store”. I’ll leave you with a quote from the Washington Post, written by an actual reporter. “When Vice President Harris visited a woman-owned yarn shop in Alexandria last month, she mentioned a little-known fact about herself that left the fiber arts community a bit giddy. The new vice president is a crocheter.” Hold me, I’m swooning. I wish I could say this was satire.
  • The new ginormous motorcycle is due for it’s first 600 mile service. On my old bike I did all my own maintenance. But just like with older cars vs newer ones, this bike has more electronics than the space shuttle. I wouldn’t even know where to start. So, it’s off to the dealership for service. Except that the service department is booked out for a month. Sigh. Yet more evidence that my little town is exploding in population exponentially. I know it’s inevitable and you can’t stop it, but it’s still sad to see.
  • This post has been entirely negative, so I may as well keep up with the theme. I present you instructions on how to disable the robotic police dog that is starting to be used by several departments, including NYPD. Robotic police dogs. What could possibly go wrong?

Song of the day: Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People (Official Video)

Research Paralysis

  • We live in a wonderous time. We have the entirety of human knowledge instantly available with one mouse click. This is a blessing and a curse. The kids of today have no idea what it was like to “comparison shop” back in the old days. Pre-internet if you wanted to do some research your choices were 1) Read magazine articles (yes, printed on actual paper that you had to purchase) 2) Talk to your neighbor Bob who used something similar twenty years ago 3) Go to the store and talk to a salesperson. Of course we also didn’t have 37 different choices for the same product either, so it was a little simpler. Today is different. I’m currently researching a reasonably high dollar purchase and the information is overwhelming. Step one is the casual search to figure out who the possible manufacturers and models are in the space. Step two is going to the manufacture web sites to get a sense of price and features. At this point I’ve narrowed things down to a handful of possibilities. Now comes the fun part. The user reviews. Using a combination of review sites and activity specific forums, I’ll spend countless hours reading user reviews. What you typically find is; 5 reviews saying it’s the best product ever invented; 7 reviews stating the product disintegrated thirty seconds after opening the box; 2 reviews of a completely different product; 3 reviews of the first version of the product from seven years ago; and 18 posts asking to click this link for free pre-paid phone cards. The next step is the dark hole of YouTube videos about the product. Those also fall into several distinct categories; Slick, professionally produced, manufacturer videos; Generic reseller companies that talk about the products but never offer opinions for fear of offending suppliers; Internet influencers paid to promote a product; And Joe-Bob from Nebraska who recorded a “review” video with his cell phone in the garage, with audio so bad you can’t hear anything but dogs barking and lawnmowers in the background. My final research step is to stumble upon a product I hadn’t heard of yet that looks absolutely perfect and has great reviews. I get all excited and then realize that it’s a European product not available in the US. Sigh… back to step one. It can literally take me weeks (months on occasion) of paralysis to make a decision for fear of choosing the wrong thing. While I appreciate all the new choices we have today, in hindsight I might have been better off in the old days with a salesperson just telling me what I need.
  • Speaking of purchase decisions, for those of you keeping track at home, I did get a new phone. I made a last second audible (audible. phones. see what I did there? gosh I’m clever) and went with the Samsung S21. I ended up liking the camera better and it was in stock. I’m all about instant gratification. So far so good. And the best part… it looks like my navigation issues with the phone and ginormous motorcycle may be mostly solved. My first test ride and it worked great. Mostly. Now the headset on the helmet is having trouble with a Bluetooth connection to the phone. How come things just aren’t easy?
  • I got an email today from United Airlines updating me on their role in the “global fight against climate change”. I guess they’ve made some commitment to becoming 100% green and reducing carbon emissions by 100% by 2050. I’m not sure that’s even possible unless they’re using battery operated planes using electricity only from wind farms… but whatever. This email was announcing their groundbreaking “Eco-Skies Alliance” and the commitment to SAF – Sustainable Aviation Fuel. What is SAF you might ask? Evil oil companies use things like used cooking oil in a chemical process to make it similar to standard jet fuel. They blend it with regular Jet-A and supposedly achieve lower carbon emissions. Sounds great, right? The problem is that it’s massively more expensive than regular Jet-A. So they’ve formed this group soliciting corporations to voluntarily contribute money to a fund to help airlines purchase the stuff. Oh, and to lobby congress to provide massive funding and subsidies to lower the price. So, as you end up paying the additional “SAF tax” on your airline ticket do you honestly think you’re preventing global climate disaster? I guess it doesn’t matter. At least United is woke and cares about the environment and the poor polar bears who are running out of ice and tasty seals to snack on.
  • Oh, by the way all that sorting of your recyclables you’ve been doing… China’s not buying our garbage any more, so in most cities all that stuff just ends up in the same landfill. So does that mean I still have to wash out my mayonnaise jars before throwing them away or not?
  • I’m not entirely sure why, but some scientists had a debate about who would win in a fight between King Kong and Godzilla. It astounds me that paleontologists actually had enough time to seriously think about this. I’m even more amazed that I read the entire article.

Song of the day: The Clash – Train in Vain (Live at the Lewisham Odeon)