Category: Health

Who’s Afraid Of The Passport?

The current discussions around mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports is interesting. I use the term “discussion” loosely. It’s more like two baboons in a cage screaming at each other and throwing feces. I generally don’t like when someone tells me that a thing is mandatory. Dammit, we’re supposed to be a free people. Nobody tells me what I can and cannot do. If I want to sit in my recliner and drink beer and eat donuts all day, that’s my god given right. Except there are plenty of things that are mandatory. A drivers license to drive. Education through high school is compulsory. You must be licensed to cut hair, open a business, be a gym instructor or chiropractor. As a society we’ve made all sorts of things mandatory. In theory, we’ve made those choices collectively through our elected representatives. They weren’t edicts handed down by the king of the seven realms. We voluntarily put those restrictions on ourselves.

Ok, but requiring vaccines are different. That’s my personal health information. Maybe. But we already mandate vaccines. There are a whole host of required vaccines various states require to attend public school. I chose to work in health care. I was mandated to get whole bunch of additional vaccines if wanted to be employed. There’s nothing new about requiring a vaccine.

Except this one does feel different. It’s brand new. It did not have the full edge-case testing over a long period of time that other well established vaccines had. As a broad statement, I think it’s pretty safe. I was one of the first folks to get it when it was made available to health care workers. I’m older and was going to be regularly exposed to folks with the virus that shall not be named. I made a risk assessment and decided it was worth it. But I have a number of coworkers who are young and are thinking about starting a family. They haven’t gotten the shot because of the unknown factor when it comes to pregnancy. I think that’s very understandable and a reasonable risk assessment for someone who’s young and healthy. Except our hospital just announced that they are making the vaccine mandatory to continue employment. That bothers me. Mandating a vaccine that does not yet have full FDA approval to healthy young people doesn’t seem right. Maybe health care is a slightly different scenario, but making the shot mandatory is being talked about in all walks of life. Healthy college kids, people who’ve already had Covid, and many non-essential businesses. Making something like the flu shot mandatory to work as an accountant or a Starbucks barista never would have been accepted in this country. Jenny Mccarthy made sure of that. Why is this any different?

And then there’s the vaccine passports. I generally don’t pay much attention to that discussion. In the back of my mind I just didn’t think proving health status was something that this country would seriously consider. Other countries may do it and that’s fine, I just won’t go there. France is attempting to require a vaccine passport to go to bar or restaurant. Our news will never show it, but tens of thousands of people are in the streets of France, day after day, protesting this. It’ll never be seriously considered in this country, will it?

And then this morning I read something on Twitter that made me realize we’re closer to a passport than I thought. Geraldo Rivera made the following statement: “All Americans need to be Vaccinated. With #VaccinePassports. I have right to know if you’re contagious”. Not that I think Geraldo is the authority on anything… but for some reason that bugged me. I have the right to know if you’re contagious. Think about that statement. I’m starting to think more people that I ever thought would be willing to submit to carrying proof of vaccination status around with them. I find that frightening. I can stomach certain types of jobs requiring a vaccination as a condition of employment. I don’t have to work in that field if I don’t want to be vaccinated. But requiring a shot and proof to be out and about in society doesn’t fly for me.

There is a massive list of communicable diseases that people are walking around with every day. You’re encountering them all the time without knowing it (how do you think you get the common cold?). Could you imagine the outcry if we required people to carry proof that you don’t have HIV? Yes, I know that’s not an airborne/droplet transmission vector. It’s an extreme example of forcing people to share private health information. There’s plenty of airborne diseases – measles, TB, influenza, chickenpox, RSV, pertussis, etc… The CDC estimates that a third of the population is colonized with MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is a staph bacteria. It’s very easily spread and was probably our biggest infection control issue in the hospital pre-Covid. Should I have to show my status on any of those if I’d like to drop into my local bar for a drink?

We’re potentially heading down a slippery slope. I don’t know what the right answer is. My fear is that humans are frightened herd animals. We tend to make panic decisions that may have unexpected consequences we haven’t fully thought about yet. Mandates of anything are very hard to roll back once enacted. A vaccine passport is a genie we won’t be able to put back in the bottle.

Not Enough Electronics

Sitting here at my desk, I’m surrounded by an array of cords, chargers, batteries, and electronic devices. I don’t think I realized how dependent upon devices we’ve become until I did my last trip on the ginormous motorcycle. Here is the complete list of electronic things that had to be managed at the end of each day:

  • Helmet communications system. Due to a weird system requirement of Android Auto, the motorcycle’s GPS/mapping won’t work without the helmet communication. This got charged first each night.
  • Phone. Duh.
  • A giant bag of GoPro batteries. GoPro batteries last approximately 27 seconds so you need quite a few of them for all-day filming. I probably shouldn’t bother because anytime I came upon something interesting, the GoPro battery would be dead and I wouldn’t be in a spot where I could pull over and change them.
  • DSLR batteries. They last slightly longer than GoPro batteries. Unless it’s cold. Cut cold weather battery time in half. Then to be safe, assume it’s half of that.
  • InReach satellite device. I use it so folks can track my location/progress in real time. Plus it has the handy “Oh Shit” SOS button that I pray I never have to use.
  • Backup GPS device. Because I’m positive that the one time I really need to figure out my location my phone will die, I carry a handheld GPS. Just in case. Doesn’t mean I know how to use it, but at least I have it.
  • Kindle. I like to read. Unfortunately my Kindle is at least a decade old and the battery lasts less than a day.

Each of those devices has it’s own cord and charger. At the end of each day’s ride, my motel room would have cords and devices plugged into every outlet in the room. It looked like an FBI sting operation preparing to eavesdrop on some Jan 6 Boogaloo Bois. How have we gotten to the point that it takes this many electronics just to go for a ride?

Here’s where I do the standard old man, “when I was a kid”… Seriously, when I was a kid you got a paper map. If you were serious you had a fancy road atlas. You had to drive with the map spread out on the passenger seat, stealing glances at it from time to time to make sure you were on the right road. See an interesting sight? Pull out your trusty instamatic camera (no battery) and snap a pic. When the roll was done you’d drop it off at the drug store and come back a week later to see if any of the pictures came out.

The closest to a GPS device was the wonderous AAA Triptik. We’d go to the local office and describe the trip and route we were taking. Come back a few days later and they’d have a narrow spiral bound map book printed for you showing the route. You’d follow along bottom to top, then flip the page. As a kid I’d spend hours before the trip going through the book, looking at the route and all the cities and sights on the map.

Here’s something that will blow the younger readers minds. Imagine this scenario. You need to find a part for something. There’s no computers, internet, or cell phones. You’d pull out the trusty yellow pages and try to find stores that might have what you’re looking for. You’d have to call each of the stores to see if they had what you need. If it was a store someplace on the other side of town where you’d never been before, you’d pull out the map and figure out where it was. It wasn’t uncommon to have to call the store back and figure out the closest large cross-streets so you could locate it on the map. My strategy was to write down all the street names and turns on piece of paper so I wouldn’t have to look at the map while driving (safety first!). It seems so strange to think about, now that we have instant look-up and same-day Amazon delivery.

We’ve certainly come a long way. Progress is a good thing. Although I’m questioning if I really need that many electronics to go on a trip? Of course the answer is yes. Oh, and I’m contemplating adding another motorcycle-specific GPS to the bike. And then come winter I’ll need the heated vest that will have to be recharged each night. And when I go off-grid, that requires battery power blocks and solar panels to keep everything charged. I’ll soon need a chase vehicle to follow me with all my electronics and gear.

What’s the point of all of this? There really isn’t a point other than I was thinking about it while I was watching some money management, minimalist lifestyle advocate last night on YouTube. He was describing the three things that are worth spending money on. Number one? Experiences. Buying meaningless stuff in an attempt to keep up with the Jones won’t bring you happiness. But spending money on a trip or an activity that provides lasting memories or experiences does give long term happiness. You’re only here once, go make the most of it.

I Got Yelled At

  • People in the hospital are rarely happy (ok, maybe in the maternity ward). I’m generally not seeing people when they’re at their best. I accept that and knew it going in. I understand if someone gets a little snippy, or forgets to say thank you if you go above and beyond to do something for them when they’re in significant pain. This week however, was a special low point when it comes to patient and family behavior. It started with a schizoaffective patient constantly screaming at me to stop playing mind tricks on them, and then having to be brought back by security after running amuck through the hospital hallways. That’s a mental illness, so I don’t take it personally. Then there was a family member accusing me and anyone who came in the room of not caring about the patient and ignoring them and their needs. Constant very passive aggressive loud muttering about everyone having their heads up their asses and waiting 30 minutes after pressing the call light (it was 5, our system shows us exactly how long it’s been). Sigh… deep breath, their family member doesn’t look to have a good outcome. I’ll cut them some slack.
  • But then there was the real humdinger. A patient and family member who were both serious meth-heads, combined with a rainbow of other illicit substances, with no money, resources, or insurance, who were there for a trauma. For two days straight the patient yelled, screamed, cried, manipulated, and generally behaved like a flaming asshole to anyone unlucky enough to go in the room. The patient was getting enough pain medication to tranquilize a horse, yet screamed and cried that we were inflicting intentional torture. The family member would show up, hear this, and begin the litany of demands to see everyone from the charge nurse, floor supervisor, hospital president, and city mayor. The family member would then announce they couldn’t take their level of anger and had to leave before ripping someone’s head off. They’d return an hour or so later and it would begin again. This pattern repeated all day long. Any attempts to engage, refute, or otherwise point out they were being unreasonable only resulted in additional yelling, just at a louder volume.
  • Twelve hours a day, for two days is a lot to take of that sort of behavior. I was pretty angry and frustrated each night when I got home. Upon reflecting on those days, I think I’m most angry at myself for putting up with it. At the time it seemed easier to mostly ignore it. All three scenarios were verbal battles that I wouldn’t win. These were not people who’s minds were going to be changed. It’s often less stressful to simply nod and say mmm-hmm and get out of the room as fast as possible so you can get on with the thousand other tasks you have to get done. But I didn’t realize how much the cumulative impact of continually taking the verbal abuse would affect me. On the drive home after day two I briefly thought what the hell am I doing? At my age I don’t need to put up with this crap. But I still like the job. It’s rewarding in many ways that working as an engineer for mega-corp never was. But it seems like the hospital population is more and more the mentally ill, the indigent, and drug users who are not capable of dealing with life in general. The bad behavior has become so common that when receiving report on the rare, “nice”, patient a nurse will make a point of letting you know, “you’re lucky, he/she looks like a normal person”.
  • I’m not sure what the answer is. I could move to a clinic of some sort, but just taking blood pressures all day would be like watching paint dry. Besides, I’m in a spot where I have the perfect schedule. It would be hard to replicate it working on a different floor. I think I’m going to try an experiment. For the next few weeks I’m going to be a semi-jerk. There will be no shit taken from anyone. You want to be an asshole? I’m going to be one right back. Of course, in a professional manner. This may make my day more difficult (and certainly the charge nurses – people LOVE to escalate any perceived wrong at the drop of a hat), but I’ll be curious if my mental health will improve? Will I have an overall better outlook if I go home knowing that I didn’t accept any crap from people? Nursing is such a hard balance. How do you continually be compassionate for people in a bad situation, yet not let yourself become a doormat? If you know the secret, please let me know!

Song of the day: Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take it (Extended Version)

Crime Of The Century

  • This is hard for me to write. The emotions are still a bit too raw to think clearly about what happened. The feeling of being violated has shaken me to my core. An event happened a few days ago that has just left me speechless. Someone stole my garbage can. Keep in mind it wasn’t a fancy or special garbage can, it was the plain ‘ole black plastic, city issued garbage bin. Why? What sort of monster steals a garbage can? Reviewing my security camera footage, the can is clearly there on the curb at 11:33am, waiting for collection. At 12:08pm a car I don’t recognize comes up the driveway, then turns around and exits. The next view of the street is at 3:50pm and the garbage can is gone. All video footage has been turned over to the local police and FBI. I’m positive no expense will be spared to track down this menace to society. In all seriousness, what the hell is wrong with people? How does someone do something like that and then happily go to sleep at night? I shoplifted a candy bar once on a dare from friends when I was in sixth grade. I was so wracked with worry and guilt I didn’t even eat it. I gave it to one of the friends and then never went back to the store. And yet this fiend takes my garbage without a care in the world. Hmmm, wait. I don’t know if the can had been emptied yet. I have said some insurrectionist things here the last few months. Maybe it wasn’t a thief? Perhaps the government wanted to look for any top secret QAnon briefing materials I may have casually tossed out? I may have to revisit my operational security practices.
  • The lady at the waste disposal company who answered my call about the missing can was less than helpful. She said perhaps I can go around to all my neighbors and look for the can. I told her we don’t have any nearby neighbors and I have looked all around for the can. Silence. So… can I get another can? Long exasperated sigh. Fine, we’ll deliver another can next Monday. Trash bags are now piling up in the garage. I wonder if I’ll get charged for the new bin?
  • On a more serious note, my security cameras weren’t super effective. We have lots of large trees and every time the wind blows it triggers a motion alert. To combat that we turn down the sensitivity, which means the cameras no longer capture anything unless it’s right in front them. I’m going to have find better locations and settings for the cameras. They didn’t capture anything useful other than a snippet of a strange car in the driveway. Time to step up my security game.
  • The gods are clearly unhappy with me for my two straight months of whining about the cold, wet, and windy spring. We finally have a beautiful stretch of warm weather and I have a week off. I have plans for bike rides, golf, trail running, and a motorcycle ride. Aaaandd… I somehow managed to hurt my back. I have no idea what I did, but it hurts like a [BLEEEP]. Sigh. I guess when I said months ago that I needed to start strengthening my core, I should have listened to myself.
  • California is issuing power alerts due to the current heat wave. They’re asking people to be energy aware and to not use high demand devices during peak hours, such as… charging electric vehicles. This make me giggle.

Song of the day: Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg – Nuthin’ But A G Thang

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.

I Need Me Some Ketones

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

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

Follow The Advice Of The Galactically Stupid

  • Breaking news, onetime actor Mark Hamill and director James Mangold announced that they are attempting to spawn a Hollywood boycott of Georgia. They don’t want to film in a state that “doesn’t allow people to vote”. I honestly wasn’t going to say anything more about this, but the sheer stupidity boggles my mind. Forget all the other crazy misinformation about this Georgia law being spread by politicians and the media, I want to focus on one thing. Voter ID. Take a deep breath… so what you’re telling me is that there are thousands upon thousands of people in Georgia that do not have an ID? You’re asking me to believe that there are massive numbers of functioning adults in the state, who are legal residents, that do not have a home, car, cell phone, etc… because they can’t figure out how to obtain identification? Seriously? With a straight face you want to tell me that there are armies of people, aimlessly wandering the streets because they don’t have an ID, and yet they desperately want to vote? News flash, we’re a few years past the 1950’s. It’s 2021. We have frick’n self driving cars. There is not a single reasonably functioning person above the age of 17 in this country who does not have an ID. But you knew that. And so does the left, Hollywood, and the media. And yet, politicians trot out this nonsense constantly. And the media simply smiles and helps them spread the word without ever challenging them. Even more offensive, the media happily lets them frame it as, wait for it, racism! Clearly you are a white supremacist by supporting this law. Probably even an insurrectionist and member of the bugaloo bois. If you spout this garbage, you are either galactically stupid or you’re willing to lie to push your agenda. If you find yourself agreeing with this crap, or ignoring it because it helps your side… time to take a look in the mirror and think about what kind of person you want to be. I’m not disappointed in the politicians – I expect them to do this shit (on both sides of the aisle). What disgusts me are the “journalists” and everyone else happily willing to go along with the lie because it’s in their interest. There’s nothing you can do about the pure partisans. It’s the people willing to put aside common sense in the name of being on the right side of woke that should be shamed. Sigh, ok got that off my chest. I’ll be quiet now, promise.
  • Nobody likes to be disliked. And who doesn’t like a grandpa? Apparently a large percentage of the White House’s YouTube videos get massively more “dislikes” than “likes”. Reportedly YouTube is going to remove the “dislike” feature so grandpa Joe’s feelings don’t get hurt. Well, to be fair I don’t think ‘ole Joe could tell you what YouTube is but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Whitehouse press office said something to Google.
  • Today shall be the first mountain bike ride of the season. The four stages of this ride shall be: 1) Oh my god, I’ve missed riding, this feels great! 2) Wow, this hill is really steep. I don’t remember having to walk up last year. 3) Oh crap I’m really tired. I don’t know if I’ll make it home. I wonder if someone can come pick me up. 4) Stage four takes place two days from now when I’m wondering why I can’t walk down the stairs because my legs hurt so much. Stage four disappears sometime in April. Stage three in May. By June I’m no longer walking up hills. Come July, I’m thinking I’m ready to sign up for races. It’s a cycle that happens every year.
  • Cassie Maier is 5′ 4″ and rides an adventure bike the same size and weight as my new one. I stumbled across this video of her talking about and demonstrating mounting and dismounting techniques. She makes it look easy. It’s time for me to get past my fear and start practicing. If she can do it, so can I. I suppose it’s time to bite the bullet and order the crash bars so I can start working on this. I know once I get past the fear (and the first few bike drops) I’ll be a much better rider. But committing to something you know may result in a fall is hard.
  • If you don’t follow the Oatmeal, you should. Anyway, he posted something to Instagram yesterday about his dog passing away unexpectedly. I don’t know why, but it gave me some serious tears in my eyes. I had to go pet the Troutdog and give him some extra treats. We seriously don’t deserve dogs.

Song of the day: Devo – [I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction