Mob Justice

  • I’m sure Minneapolis is a lovely place. I know nothing about it other than what I saw in Fargo. What I do know is that in about a month it will devolve into anarchy. Portions of Minneapolis will burn, people will be hurt, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone is killed. The degree of pending violence will depend on what verdict the jury in the Chauvin case returns. Anything that doesn’t have the word “murder” in the jury decision and the city will implode. Realistically, even if he’s found guilty of murder in the first degree the city will still erupt in “celebration”. At least one prospective juror backed out, citing fear of violence towards his family if the “right” verdict wasn’t reached. This is the true definition of mob justice. Do what we say or there will be violence, rioting, and burning. I am not passing judgement on Chauvin’s guilt or innocence. Personally I think he’s certainly guilty of something, I just don’t know what the right charge is. There was zero need to keep a knee on him for that long. Did it contribute to his death? Maybe. The significant amounts of meth, fentanyl, and cannabis in his system combined with heart disease and blocked arteries in a highly psychotic state of mind probably was a much bigger contributor. Drug use that day and then committing a crime, fighting and resisting the police is what put Mr. Floyd in that position. It’s a terrible when anyone dies. But Mr. Floyd made multiple bad choices that day that sent him on that trajectory. And now the mob has made him a martyr and mob justice will be served one way or another. I don’t envy the city leaders. What do you do? You know the violence and riots are coming. The George Floyd “memorial” area is already an autonomous zone where police (or white folks) are not allowed. Do you let it happen and hope it blows over quickly? Do you crack down with an iron fist and risk further resistance and on-going violence? It’s a no-win scenario. What I do know is that you cannot tolerate mob justice. Look no further than the lynching’s that happened in America or the unspeakable horrors of many regions of Africa to see what unchecked mob rule is capable of. I’m very glad I’m not making those decisions. The authorities will be wrong no matter what they do. You may want to put off those vacation plans to Minneapolis for a little bit.
  • Speaking of insurrection, the boogaloo bois and MAGA white nationalists jumped out of the bushes and set fire to the Portland federal courthouse last night. Biden and Pelosi ordered in the national guard and set up a green zone, surrounded by razor wire, similar to Washington DC. Just kidding. It was those whacky Antifa kids. Move along, nothing to see here.
  • Biden had his first address to the nation last night. Two things struck me. The first was a review of the various news sites this morning showed virtually no reaction. For the most part all I saw was a few passing mentions of the speech. No fawning rhetoric about how inspirational it was or how substantive the speech was. Crickets. The man is truly a puppet, wheeled out once in a while to read from the teleprompter, then sent back to his room. The second thought I had was that they need better speechwriters. I don’t know what tone they were hoping for, but it came across as dark and not terribly inspirational. Take that with a grain of salt because I realize I’m predisposed to view it harshly. Maybe some folks did see it as a ray of hope? But I’m sorry, when the “ray of hope” that was put forth is “If we do our part… by July 4, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day… Small groups will be able to get together”. Really? By July 4th maybe, just maybe if we all behave and follow the rules, the government will “allow” us to get together in small groups? I’m reminded of the great movie Argo. There’s a line that was one of the central themes that seems appropriate in this situation – “Argo Fuck Yourself”.
  • Went on another ride of the ginormous motorcycle. I think I sorted out the Android Auto issue. It seems like it shuts off if it isn’t in use, e.g. either in navigation mode or playing music. I just had it on the map but not actually navigating to a destination. I need to do more investigation. It’s interesting, I’ve ridden motorcycles for a long time but I find my confidence is very low with this bike. Probably due to the size and weight. Plus that fact that it’s brand new and I’m petrified I’m going to drop it. I’ve had a few shaky moments at intersections that have gotten in my head. I mentioned it to Mrs. Troutdog and she grinned and said, “so now you know what it’s like to be a beginner”. Touché.

Song of the day: Cake – Short Skirt / Long Jacket

How Does One Percent Sound?

  • 0.5%. That’s a pretty small percentage. If you didn’t see it, the CDC just released their study of mask mandates and Covid case and death rate growth. Since masks are the universal cure-all for Covid, you’d think this study’s results would be touted far and wide across the media. I would have expected at least a 5-15% reduction, maybe 20%. You probably didn’t see it though. Why? The results showed a 0.5% reduction in case rates during the first 20 days. A 1.5% reduction after 80 days. These numbers fall within the margin of error, which means that just about anything could have accounted for the reduction they saw. The study lists a whole host of things that they did not control for that may have impacted the results such as physical distancing, business closures, ventilation, etc… So, the accepted authority on masking still can’t point to any actual data that shows masks have any impact whatsoever. No matter though. The high priest of Covid, Fauci, stated that data and evidence don’t matter. When Fauci, was asked “what’s the science” for denying vaccinated Americans a return to travel, he replied: “When you don’t have the data and you don’t have the actual evidence, you’ve got to make a judgment call.” Yo, science bro.
  • Speaking of science, Dr Atlas was universally hammered, mocked, and cancelled during his tenure as an advisor to the president. Worth reading his thoughts.
  • We have a leak. As I sit here there are multiple high powered fans attempting to dry out walls, ceilings, and floors. It’s like sitting in a hurricane. I can’t hear myself think and the dog hasn’t come out from his bed in two days. It’s truly frightening how fast a little bit of water can do a tremendous amount of damage. We’ve never had to navigate the bureaucracy of homeowners insurance claims before, so this should be interesting. I’m cynical and the only thing that comes to mind is the Seinfeld episode about car rental reservations. I have a feeling the insurance companies are very good at collecting your payment… paying out however? We’ll see.
  • The Pentagon has extended the national guard in DC for another two months. Those insurrectionists are tricky folks. They could pop up out of the bushes at any moment. Gotta be ready. I imagine the rioters have secret storage facilities where they’re passing out buffalo hats and zip ties as we speak. Boogaloo bois coming over the wire any time now.
  • Today they’ll pass another $2 trillion in spending. I don’t think much of it has anything to do with Covid, but who cares? I did see the unions will be happy. $86 billion to bail out failing pensions. You can argue if that’s a good or bad thing, but shouldn’t something like that be argued as it’s own entity? We don’t have any of this money, we have to borrow it from other nations. I heard something the other day that put it in perspective. It was in relation to foreign aid, but the principle is the same. Every time we give aid to a foreign nation, we first have to borrow it from another foreign nation, so we can turn around and distribute it to a different foreign nation. Crazy if you think about it that way. Since we’re already printing money, maybe we can print a few extra dollars so I can fix my leak.
  • I took the ginormous motorcycle out for it’s third official outing and made a little video that didn’t turn out too well. I have two technological challenges to overcome before I can begin my “summer of George”. The first is getting Android Auto working. I found the right cable and it works intermittently. The process is to sync the Bluetooth headset in my helmet to the bike, then plug in my phone and the motorcycle then launches Android Auto. It works briefly then shuts off. Twice the headset stopped pairing, and twice the phone was no longer connected. I am navigationally challenged, so getting this working is key. This is slightly ironic since I once taught a class on UTM and land navigation, but that’s a story for another day. The second issue is that while trying to record my travel the audio from my mic stops working. How am I going to become a huge YouTube star with no audio? Such first world problems.

Song of the day: Elle King – Ex’s & Oh’s (Official Video)

A Close Call

  • I took the new ginormous motorcycle out for its first long ride yesterday. I did an impromptu 100 miles to a couple of very small towns with populations of less than a thousand, rode through a snow covered canyon around a reservoir, then some high speed highway miles to get back home. The bike handles like a dream. The ride was at the very end of a busy day (hint, foreshadowing). I started out with some technological challenges. As I’ve mentioned before, the bike came with Apple Car Play installed. I’m an Android guy, so I was briefly faced with the thought of having to switch over to Apple. Fortunately they released an update supporting Android Auto a week ago. Yay for me! So, I went through the process of updating the bikes firmware. All seemed to go well except… Android Auto won’t connect to my phone. Sigh. After trying everything I could think of, I ran out of time and had to move on to other tasks. One of those tasks was part of operation senior fitness. I went for an honest to god trail run, which I haven’t done since last summer. Very discouraging since it felt like I was starting from scratch. Legs were very shaky and weak by the time I got home. More errands, and fast forward to the end of the day and it was time to ride! Now, if you haven’t ridden a motorcycle before it’s hard to appreciate how tiring it can be. It doesn’t matter how newfangled and fancy your bike is, it takes a toll. They’re heavy, you have constant buffeting of wind, noise, and you have to have a hundred percent focus at all times. It’s not like driving around in a car. On top of all that it’s a new bike, so I’m still trying to figure out all the buttons and ride characteristics. I certainly went into a few corners too fast or sometimes unsure of myself, not knowing how the bike would handle. Plus I’m a mediocre rider at best, even on the old bike I know well. I finished the ride with a high speed highway run which had my adrenaline up a bit. All that was left was a short ride through town and some stop and go city traffic. And sure enough, as a traffic light turned green the cars started moving forward, everyone suddenly came to a quick stop. I slammed the brakes and awkwardly put my foot down, but the bike began leaning over. Now keep in mind this is a very tall and heavy bike. As it leans, at some point it’s mass will be too great to hold unless you’re a world powerlifting champion. Which I most certainly am not. As the bike kept leaning and I started fighting to get it back upright, all I could feel was how shaky and weak my leg felt from the run earlier today and just how tired my body was from the ride. Time came to a standstill as I fought this massive machine. It felt like every car around me was watching this slow motion spectacle. At the last second I managed to win the war with gravity, and awkwardly lurched forward. My leg was quivering and I could feel all the muscles in my lower back. I don’t really remember the last few stoplights or the ride through the neighborhood before I got home. I’m going to drop the bike at some point, but my hope is that it’s in the dirt and due to technical terrain. That I can live with. Dropping it at a stoplight in traffic would be… well, I don’t want to think about it. Lesson learned – don’t ride when you’re tired and not hundred percent. I let my excitement and enthusiasm get the better of me. When I start traveling I’m going to have to remind myself to keep my daily mileage down and resist the urge to just push on to the next destination. Which is hard, because it’s just so damn fun to ride!
  • My brother in law finished his last patrol shift as a police officer in a big city yesterday and begins his retirement. I’m super proud of him. He had a great career and did everything from patrol, metro street crime enforcement, SWAT, and taught at the academy. He did everything right, and is the model of what you’d want in a police officer. Thank god he’s out. This is no longer an environment to be a police officer in. Every stop, people have their phones out waiting to capture something gone wrong. The chance of losing everything you worked your entire career for is high. You will be judged first and foremost by the court of social media. The city and police department certainly won’t back you up. And clearly the bad guys now feel empowered to attack officers with impunity. No matter what you do as an officer, you’ll lose. He made it out and can hold his head high. Congrats!
  • Meanwhile, in other law enforcement news, “ICE officials told staff today that the number of families and minors arriving at the border is expected to be highest in “over 20 years” and the government will use hotels in McAllen, El Paso and Phoenix if it runs out of space for families at ICE rapid-processing hubs “. Yeah, nobody saw this coming. Apparently it’s ok in the middle of a pandemic to let thousands of migrants cross the border. We haven’t even reached peak border crossing season (May/June). What could possibly go wrong?
  • I’ve said it before, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to not wonder who is actually running the administration? It’s clearly not Biden. The other day he had another embarrassing gaff in which at the end of a video call he said: “I’d be happy to take questions if that’s what I’m supposed to do, Nance,” Biden told Speaker Pelosi. “Whatever you want me to do.” They immediately cut the feed. It’s also starting to look very odd that there’s been zero talk of a state of the union speech. Because I’m a dork, I looked up the dates every president has given their first SOTU speech. The latest was January 31st by the first George Bush. It’s now March.
  • I finally finished the series Mr Robot. Fantastic. I love unique plots. We just started a new one (well, new to us), For All Mankind. We’re only a few episodes in, but really digging it so far.
  • I’m absolutely flabbergasted. Shocked. Jaw on the floor. The second great uprising by QAnon domestic insurgents that was supposed to take over the capitol yesterday… didn’t happen. Never mind, the capitol police asked yesterday that the national guard deployment be extended by several more months. I’m just happy that, after a brutal and hard fought campaign against these vicious insurgents, the D.C. National Guard has created a “Presidential Inauguration Support Ribbon” for the tens of thousands of Guard troops who deployed to the Capitol. You just can’t make this stuff up. Bronze stars for “sleeping in parking garages” or “eating undercooked chicken”. Sigh.

Song of the day: Big Head Todd & the Monsters Boom Boom

Results Matter

  • I’m going to talk about mask mandates. Don’t worry, it’s not another diatribe about politicians, power, and people being lemmings. It’s about science and how we’ve lost the ability to ask basic questions. Many edicts these days are nothing more than a hypothesis. Everything from wearing a mask, herd immunity, lockdowns, climate change, to stimulus packages are simply a hypothesis. Someone, probably smarter than me, has an idea that if we do X, then Y will happen. Then we go about conducting an experiment or implementing the idea. I have no problem with that (other than some of the ideas are colossally stupid). Take the mask mandates. While it defies what we previously believed about masks, maybe wearing a piece of cloth over your mouth will make a difference? Well, we now have almost a year of data. This is the point in the experiment where you take a look at that data and decide if your hypothesis was correct. You are supposed to be a contrarian at this point. Did what I thought would happen, actually occur? If it did, are there other reasons why it could have? If you can say yes at this point, AND multiple independent other tests find the same result then you can call your finding an accepted theory. This is called basic science, dude. The problem is that we’re no longer allowed to ask the question. If you do, you’re a flat-earther. A science denier. So, did the mask mandates work? Take a look at this chart of Montana. Does this even remotely look like the mask mandate had any impact on the Covid case rate? Every other state looks identical. Even a fifth grader would look at that and conclude the masks had no impact. So why aren’t we asking that question? The truth is that we don’t know yet what’s driving the rise and fall of Covid cases. We were warned that Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings would become super spreader events. They didn’t. We’ve had multi-hundreds of different implementations of lockdowns, distancing, restaurant and retail opening/closings, and in the big picture… the curve of Covid cases has been about the same in every state. Covid also caused the lowest level of greenhouse gas emissions since world war two. An unintentional test of the greenhouse gas/CO2 hypothesis. What happened? CO2 concentration in the atmosphere continued to rise, and in May reached the highest concentration in human history. A thinking person would either conclude that either the original hypothesis wasn’t correct, or that it’s not realistically possible to drive emission rates low enough to make a difference. But we can’t ask those questions. Being a contrarian is not subscribing to some wacky QAnon theory, it’s subscribing to actual science and asking questions. It’s a little frightening that group-think so dominates our life. Be a contrarian. Ask the questions.
  • Speaking of QAnon, the experts believe that today there will another mass uprising and attack on the capital. The house will not be in session today because of the extreme nature of these threats. Thank god we still have troops and razor wire surrounding the capital. We shall wait and see what the bad orange man’s virtual army will do. The capital police have asked for an increase in their budget of three quarters of a billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. They have 2,000 officers and guard two square miles. That’s roughly $3.1 million per officer. That doesn’t seem out of proportion at all, does it?
  • The outdoor chain REI did not make a profit in 2020 and will not offer a dividend this year. I’m sad/not sad. I don’t want to see any business go under because those jobs impact regular people. I also stopped supporting and shopping at REI in 2018. Which made me extra sad because I used to work there many moons ago. Why did I drop my support? Because they decided politics was more important than business. In 2018, in response to a shooting, REI decided to no longer carry products like Camelbak because they were owned by Vista Outdoor brands. Their crime? Vista Outdoors also own several shooting sports brands. I get that a corporation wants to have a conscious. I know that is important to some people. But there’s also a lot of folks who don’t want politics injected into everything. Woke corporations, musicians, Hollywood actors, athletes – I’m purchasing or watching you because of your particular skill at something, not your politics. Of course you have the right to be as vocal as you want about something. I also have the right to not shop your brand or watch your films because of that. I suppose we all have to decide how principled we want to be. Having now ranted about this, I also admit to being a hypocrite. I will go out of my way to fully support brands and people who like the same things I do. Sigh, humans are complicated creatures.
  • Yesterday I got the new ginormous motorcycle fully registered and licensed. The roads were dry and it was nearly 50 degrees. That meant I did my first real ride AND I wore the new fat Elvis suit for the first time. Whoowee, this thing is awesome! I’m in love. If you’ve never ridden before, there’s just something about being on a powerful motorcycle. Especially one as technologically advanced as this one. It makes mediocre riders like me look good. If all that wasn’t enough, we also managed to find Mrs Troutdog a new motorcycle yesterday as well. She’ll be able to hit the road with me soon! Well… as soon as she overcomes the fear of the freeway anyway.

Song of the day: ZZ Top – I Gotsta Get Paid

Put Up Or Shut Up

  • I went downhill skiing yesterday. Nothing remarkable about that (it was a gorgeous bluebird day!), as I ski a lot. The issue is that I couldn’t button my ski pants. The waist expansion has been slowly increasing all winter long and has finally reached crisis levels. I’ve said it before, I feel like I’m a reasonably active guy for my age. Maybe a touch above average in the activity level department, so burning calories isn’t the issue. The problem is that my food intake is out of control and massively outpaces what I can burn. I can’t help myself. I know I can lose weight because I’ve done it before. Unfortunately for me dieting is just like the old joke about stopping smoking: “quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it dozens of times”. I can be super disciplined once I get started. It’s the getting started part that’s the issue. I’ve been meaning to “get started” any day now for months. I officially can’t stand myself any longer. Having to suck in my gut to get my ski pants on was the last straw. I have an additional motivation (as if general health isn’t enough) in that I have this ginormous new motorcycle that I’m going to have to pick up at some point. I honestly don’t know if I’m strong enough right now. That could be an issue on a remote trail by myself. So, operation senior fitness begins today. A buddy has been bugging me to sign up for a trail running event in the fall and I’ve been pretty resistant. I’m still not thrilled at the idea, but I will commit as an incentive to be consistent with my running this summer. I’ll dust off the garage gym and actually start using it. Since I’m now a part time employee, it’s not like I don’t have the time (I hate not having excuses). Which leaves me with the crux of the issue – diet. At the end of the day it still comes down to expending more calories than you consume. Sigh. I wish I didn’t like to eat and drink so much. Realistically I do better with stark changes rather than attempting to ease into something. So I guess I’ll just have to follow Jocko Willink’s advice yesterday morning (sound up).
  • Filed in the WTF department, the Biden administration has decided to ban some Dr Seuss books due to concerns about “racial undertones”. I’d like to laugh, but these people are serious. What I find most concerning is that with everything currently going on in the country and world, THIS is something that someone in the administration actually put time and thought into? Really? Worrying that there may racial issues with a beloved set of children’s books? WTF is wrong with these people?
  • Barak Obama entered the Whitehouse with a net worth of about a million dollars, mostly from book advances. Four years after leaving the presidency his estimated net worth is $70 million. Last year they bought a $15 million dollar beachfront property in Martha’s Vineyard. He’s done pretty well since his days as a community organizer. I have no point to this other than politics sure pays pretty well.
  • This article is an interesting look at potential corruption with the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) union and the Muscular Dystrophy Association charity. I don’t really care, other than it helps illustrate my distrust of unions that I mentioned the other day. When you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars and a $2 million dollar Washington DC headquarters across from the Whitehouse… I’m not sure the unions first focus is simply the wellbeing of its members.
  • Here’s a cartoon illustration of actual climate predictions made by actual climate experts. I’m sure this time they’re right though. The climate crisis is clearly the most existential crisis of our lifetime. Hmmm, ok.
  • A list of actual clever design ideas.

Song of the day: The Smashing Pumpkins – Zero (Official Music Video)

Chapters In A Book

  • Have you read many really good books with only one chapter? Probably not. Those chapters serve the same purpose as scene changes in a good movie. Some are longer or shorter than others, but at some point the scene needs to change or your mind wanders and you get bored. It takes extraordinary skill to keep a long running movie scene with lots of dialog interesting. Quentin Tarantino comes to mind. Get it right and it’s brilliant. Get it wrong and it’s a 40% on rotten tomatoes. Life is pretty much like that. Hopefully you get to the end with many interesting chapters. What amazes me is how many people are afraid to turn to the next chapter. They cling to the current chapter, trying to prolong it, hoping it will remain just as good as when it started. I think the trick to being content with your life is knowing when to turn the page. Remember way back in junior high and high school? Every new event in your life was hyper exaggerated. Your clique no longer wanting to eat at the same lunch table, or having to change schools was earth shatteringly devastating. I think in part it was because at that young age you couldn’t fathom that your life will be filled with many chapters, so you desperately tried to hold on to a particular moment and pray it wouldn’t change. It’s funny how some people never evolve past that. They cling to their current chapter, prolonging the page turn until long after the dialog and scene becomes stale. Of course you don’t want to go too far the other way – life is not a race to the end. Speed reading may get you there faster, but did you really appreciate what you read? As you get older and wiser, hopefully you learn to appreciate the good and bad chapters in your life, but not dwell on them. There’s always another chapter, as long as you’re willing to turn the page.
  • Sticking with the same theme, one of my three regular readers wrote some wise words the other day about our working lives. Essentially there are three milestones in your career; the first job; course changes; and the best – ending it. Permanent summer vacation! Worth reading the full comment.
  • Last year when about 220,000 people had died from COVID-19, Joe Biden said that “anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” He also said that they would have a plan ready on day one to combat the virus. Well, there’s been 100,000+ deaths since he took office. Let’s see if I’m doing this right – Joe Biden is now responsible for one fifth of all Covid deaths. Sigh. The political gotcha game is tiring.
  • Speaking of political narratives, Trump said in an interview yesterday, “I said, I think you should 10,000… I definitely gave the number of 10,000 national guardsmen. I think you should have 10,000 of the national guard ready. They took that number, from what I understand, and they gave it to the people at the Capitol – which is controlled by Pelosi – and I heard they rejected it because it didn’t look good.” So if true, and Trump actually requested the national guard and Pelosi rejected it, that should be a pretty damming blow to the speaker. Unfortunately the press won’t pursue it, so there’s really no point. It’s very disheartening to constantly see how one-sided the public narrative is. For example, the same press that spent the last year fawning over their media darling Cuomo, are now being very reluctantly dragged into exposing him for the asshat he really is. The sad reality about the media is that they are only pursuing it because they have no choice after championing the #MeToo movement. Sucks when one of your own gets caught up in it. CNN posted about halfway down their home page “Cuomo says he’s ‘sorry’ for comments and agrees to independent attorney to review accusations”. Wow. There’s a blistering condemnation.
  • I’m very frustrated with technology. It’s looking like neither Android Auto or Apple Car Play support following a custom route. For example, with Google Maps or Bing Maps I can create a custom route with waypoints, markers, etc… save it as .gpx file and download it to a GPS or simply follow it via Google maps. Android Auto and Car Play only allow you to navigate to a single destination – which will always try to route you the shortest distance. This does me no good since I want to travel via byways primarily. Travel by Interstate and you’ll miss the worlds largest ball of string, the Emu museum, and all the cool ghost towns. It’s like they’ve designed navigation solely for people commuting and Uber drivers. My search for the right navigation system continues…
  • This is a hilarious HP ad from 2015. Pre Covid, working from home, Zoom meetings, custom backgrounds, etc… Could you imaging going back and telling them just how prescient they were? I’m not sure even they’d believe you.

Song of the day: Alesso – Nillionaire (Original Mix)

In The Doghouse, Again

  • While I’m not a particularly gifted writer, I do much better at communicating my thoughts in written form than I do speaking. My mouth and my brain are not always in sync. In my head I may have a completely logical and well thought out opinion, but what comes out of my mouth is “that sucks”. I did this exact thing yesterday to Mrs Troutdog. She made the innocent statement that “I should watch SD Governor Kristi Noem’s CPAC speech, it’s really good”. My response? “How do you watch that crap? It’s just a bunch of politicians auditioning for their next office”. Way to go Troutdog! She reminded me of it later that night, telling me that I can come across very negative about everything. She’s probably right. The problem is that in my head I don’t feel negative. That’s actually not what I’m thinking at all. In reality I actually feel more positive than I have in a while, mostly due to stepping away from the non-stop barrage of political news we’ve experienced this last year. I have a bunch of goals and new activities that I’m really excited about. So when it comes to some random political speech, I really could care less. It won’t impact my life one bit, regardless of who the politician or which side of the aisle they’re from. Politics are fake. More so than any other profession. I have a deep distrust of all politicians. That distrust leads me to view anything they say as something purely calculated to achieve their next elected office. That’s unfortunate because I’m sure many of them are lovely people, and there probably are some politicians out there who truly feel that they’re trying to make a positive difference for the future. The unfortunate part of my dismissing the Governor’s speech is that it’s actually a really good speech. She really is a rising political star. Now, I don’t agree with everything she stands for. As is probably true for many more centrist folks, I agree with most of her political ideas but I don’t agree with her on social issues. I suppose that’s the case for most people, regardless of political side – you pick the few issues that are important to you and choose a politician that most closely espouses that. Meanwhile, you hold your nose and ignore the other parts. There will never be a perfect candidate for everyone. And Governor Noem is certainly not perfect. Noem has received 26 traffic citations, including 20 speeding tickets from 1989 to 2010, stop sign and seat belt violations, no driver’s license, failure to appear notices, and two arrest warrants. That’s impressive. I don’t know if she’s a rebel, giving a big FU to the establishment, or just a really bad driver. One thing I do know, she clearly has a workout routine that makes me feel very inadequate. I suspect most men and women in that audience spent much of that speech wishing they had her shoulders and arms. I’m thinking a Noem / Tulsi ticket in 2024 would be pretty powerful. Question is, who gets the top spot?
  • I smoked some pretty good baby back ribs the other day. I confidently stated that I think I’m ready to try a brisket this summer. If you’re not familiar, smoked brisket is the holy grail of barbeque. It takes twelve plus hours to cook and there’s no in-between when it comes to quality – brisket is either mouth wateringly good, or it’s awful. It’s an expensive piece of meat and a lot of hours to find out which one you’ve got. Plus it’s so big you have to have a bunch of people over to help eat it, which guarantees a large audience for your potential failure. In preparation I watched Aaron Franklin’s instructional series on cooking barbeque and quickly realized… I’m not ready for brisket. I think a more realistic goal for the summer is mastering pulled pork. I’m good with that. Being able to crank out a good rib or pulled pork are still worthy items in the “basic dude stuff” toolbox.
  • Speaking of South Dakota, it’s been on my todo list for quite some time. It’s a little out of the way from where I’m located so it’s just out of reach of the quick roadtrip. But the Badlands, Black Hills, and Rushmore… is a motorcycle dream ride. I need to start figuring out what trips are realistic this summer. Lots of moving parts to coordinate. Will Mrs Troutdog have a suitable bike by then and is that type of trip even within her new rider skills? Is that where we want to spend the bulk of our vacation budget this summer? Who’s going to watch the dog, or do I need to install a sidecar and get some doggles? Am I overthinking this or not planning enough? It’s always interesting when you plan on doing things you’ve never done before. It’s hard to know what to expect. Fun thinking about though.
  • I don’t do well without sun. And this winter has been weird weather-wise. Normal for us is three or four days of storms, a week of sun, and repeat. It’s normally a pretty good mix. A few powder ski days followed by some blue sky groomer run or cross country ski days. This winter feels like it’s just been grey non-stop. I’ve missed most of the powder days due to bad timing with work. My mood slowly drifts south with lack of sun. On top of that I have this new motorcycle obsession, so my thoughts are on warm summer days lately. So anyway, yesterday I went cross country skiing with some friends and my hound. Halfway through the ski, the sun came out and it was glorious. I think there was a five minute period where we all just stopped and stood there, not speaking, faces turned towards the sun. It gave me hope. We’re only a few weeks away from blue sky spring skiing. And a month from actual motorcycle time. Now I just need to stop eating cookies or I won’t fit into the new fat Elvis motorcycle suit.

Song of the day: Presidents Of The USA – Lump Pinkpop 2005

Good Paying Union Jobs

  • The other day at work I was suddenly told I had to go to a “labor law” class. They brought in additional workers to help cover shifts for an hour. All very confusing since they typically don’t spring for additional staff for anything. Anyway, the “class” consisted of someone from HR reading sections of the labor law act and telling us that unions rarely deliver on their promises. Ahhh… I get it now – suddenly the hospital is worried about union organizing. Sure enough, after consulting the official breakroom gossip pipeline it turns out that some folks are trying to spark some union organization. Also, the house just passed the PRO act which would undo states (like mine) right to work laws. Right now, even if a union forms at my hospital, it’s my choice to join or not. The PRO act would force me to join the union and pay dues as a condition of employment. Additionally the bill would force employers to turn over employees’ private information—including cell phone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules—to union organizers. Realistically I don’t think it has a chance of passing the senate, but you never know. I suddenly find myself conflicted about unions. In my previous life in the corporate world, I was stanchly anti-union. They tend to be massively corrupt, drive up manufacturing costs, and generally stand in the way of innovation, flexibility, and time to market. They’re ginormous political machines, lobbying to feed at the public trough. Look at the current ridiculousness with the teachers unions. Can you honestly tell me that they’re looking out for the best interest of the kids? It’s somehow safe for the poor schmuck at Walmart to go to work, but not for someone to stand in front of a handful of kids? As I’ve said previously, the way we teach kids has barely evolved in the last 50 years primarily due to teachers unions reluctance to change. But I digress… The hospital world is a mix of union and non-union. As a semi-libertarian, I’ve always believed in the free markets ability to set wages in response to availability and demand. I never thought about it much because my previous profession was one in extremely high demand and a very small labor pool. Wages were high. Other professions with a glut of applicants paid a much smaller wage. Fast forward and I find myself in the opposite scenario. My town has two hospitals. With very little competition, they have no incentive to pay higher wages. In a big city with many hospitals they do have to offer competitive wages. So at this late stage in my career, I would have said if a union can force higher wages or at least better patient ratios, fine by me. But then the China plague hit and I honestly don’t know how the hospital will stay in business. They’re hemorrhaging cash and have cancelled every capital improvement project that was on the books. It will be years before they recover. I don’t see how potential union demands right now helps anyone? Sigh. I don’t think there’s any good answer right now. I should probably just move to the clean energy sector. Biden has promised those will be the good paying union jobs.
  • Barbeque is a noun, not a verb. Today it’s dumping snow and I am cooking up some barbeque in the form of baby back ribs on the smoker. And in proper insurrectionist form, we are having a bunch of friends over. Suck on that, lock down states. P.S. please don’t tell the high priest of Covid, Fauci. I don’t want the secret Covid police coming to my door.
  • I casually look at new trucks from time to time. At some point that day will come when it’s time for a final vehicle. Right now the super popular truck in the overland market is the Toyota Tacoma. Peruse through the Instagram feeds and you see plenty of very cool, tricked out Tacomas. I look at that and think, hmm it would be kinda fun to build out a truck from scratch like that. And then I read this article in Outside magazine imploring people not to do that to these trucks. I had no idea about the gear ratio limitations and payload weight issues. Coolness over functionality. I would have easily fallen into that trap. Because, you know, it’s all about how you look on Instagram.
  • Here’s an account to follow that posts very cool maps.
  • The Biden administration will push a massive high speed rail initiative as part of it’s build back better infrastructure plan. All built with good paying union jobs of course. Perhaps they should check in with California to see how their high speed rail project is going? It’s been more than a decade and costs have gone from the original $33 billion to more than $100 billion. And for what? A single track that will run from Bakersfield to Merced that has yet to see a single train, and initial testing is still six to seven years away. But I’m sure the federal version will go much smoother.

Song of the day: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

Long Way Down And An Emu Museum

  • Normally I love winter. I downhill ski, cross-country, skate ski, or snowshoe at least three to four days a week. You might ask why I’m still getting fatter then, but that’s a topic for another post. This winter I’ve been busy preparing for my “Summer of George” moment. New motorcycle purchased, new riding suit, tools, updated video gear, endless hours of motorcycle travel videos consumed, and many late nights pouring over maps planning routes. I’m almost ready to hit the road. Except motorcycles, snow, and ice don’t mix very well. I’m probably a tiny bit more rugged than the average guy, but not Long Way Down rugged. If you haven’t watched this motorcycle travel documentary you should. It’s interesting to see the effort it took to film something before the GoPro existed. Anyway, the point is that it’s another month in my part of the world before road-tripping becomes enjoyable weather-wise. I’ve never looked forward to winter ending before. So, I’m forced to spend my time pursuing maps and travel websites to build my list of must-see destinations. I’ve been mostly focusing on unrealistic epic trips across the west, so I hadn’t looked much at what’s close to me. This morning I stumbled upon the motherload of interesting small town America just a few hours from me. I found a little town perched on the Snake River that hosts what they bill as “Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um”. It was an emu ranch that has become a museum full of artifacts and dwellings from the 1800s early settlers and early small town America memorabilia. Looking at the map more, within 40-50 miles of that town are deep canyon overlooks, sand dunes, birds of prey conservation areas, and a ghost town. Plus a couple of promising looking BBQ and burger places. This is the perfect day trip to kick off the Summer of George! Another month of quick rides around town in-between storms to get used to the new bike, and then it begins. Because I love winter, I’ve never looked at the weather report before and cursed when I see another week of storms coming. It’s a strange feeling. Sigh. Back to the maps for now I suppose.
  • A California democratic representative, during an interview on CNN, stated that those businesses that cannot afford to pay their employees $15 an hour are essentially not worth preserving. This simple statement encompasses everything wrong with mostly liberal, big government-centric thinking. The thought that some mindless bureaucrat gets to pick and choose what businesses are worthy of keeping is appalling. And naturally it’s a statement from someone who’s been primarily an academic/lawyer/politician his entire career. A thirty second investigation into the representative (a.k.a. Wikipedia) shows a bit of a contradiction – he has a degree in economics, wrote a book titled “Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America’s Future“, yet still makes statements like the one he did. My interest is piqued enough to read more about his philosophy. Maybe there’s something I’m missing? At the moment, in regards to the $15 minimum wage, I still feel if people are resorting to entry level jobs to feed a family then it seems like the government focus should be on enabling creation of middle income opportunities instead of simply raising the bottom wage. Otherwise, let’s just adopt Andrew Yang’s proposal and give everyone a universal basic income. We’re already printing money, what’s a few hundred trillion more?
  • There’s been so much global warming, Niagara Falls froze over this week. Of course polar vortexes are cyclical events that happen from time to time and shouldn’t be counted as climate. Climate is measured in decades. Interestingly, in the cult of global warming, a cold event like this doesn’t get much press but an El Nino warming event causing a hot summer will be treated as non-stop climate Armageddon. It’s all about the narrative baby.
  • Speaking of printing money, the Federal Reserve expanded its record holdings of US Treasuries in the fourth quarter of 2020 as it continued monetizing the massive federal debt. I don’t understand much of this, but it does seem like they’re trying to push inflation. Most of this is way over my head, but it certainly feels like if we continue to simply toggle the levers… at some point it’s going to collapse. I guess as long as it’s not on my watch we’re all good.
  • I know that there is no actual censorship or purging happening on the part of Twitter towards folks who don’t tow the woke orthodoxy, but they just suspended Steven Crowder for simply saying he can confirm that people voted at address that do not exist. That is some serious insurrectionist talk. Thank god we’re being protected from outrageous statements like that.
  • I don’t know if this is real or staged, but it’s pretty funny regardless. You need to watch to the end.

Song of the day: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground – Live at La Cigale

I Might Be Lost

  • Many moons ago in a former life I was a member of a search and rescue team. I had training in many subjects; rope/technical rescue, swiftwater rescue, tracking, land and open water navigation, incident command, etc… Trust me, it sounds way cooler than reality. Nowadays I’d get lost driving to the doughnut shop without my phone navigation. Anyway, two things happened yesterday that drove home the importance of embracing the old boy scout motto – Be Prepared. The first was a quick snowshoe outing. Well, I thought it was going to be quick. It was to a place I’d never been and we have multiple feet of brand new snow. I brought nothing. No water, no gear, no first aid kit. We didn’t let anyone know where we were going. We wandered through the woods for several hours and by the time we got back to the car it was snowing pretty good. I know better and should have been at least minimally prepared. In my head I justified it with thinking it was a pretty highly visited area and our distance wasn’t very far. I didn’t think much more about it until late in the evening. Some folks we know in another part of the state managed to get lost and caught out after dark in the wilderness. Temps were dropping into the teens and snow was expected. We were on the phone on and off for hours as family tried to coordinate search and rescue efforts from afar. I fully expected to be heading north on a multi hour drive to start searching come first light. Details are still sketchy, but they were located and everyone seems to be ok. What’s the point of all this? We all get complacent. We put off planning and preparing. I’ll do it tomorrow. The problem with emergencies is that they happen when you least expect it. Do you have an emergency kit in your car? In your home? (Texas residents certainly never expected to be in their predicament) I’m not saying you need to go full on prepper mode, but could you and your family last three days if something happened? A week? If you’re heading out for some outdoor fun, does someone know where you’re going and when to worry if they don’t hear from you? I think society today has become conditioned to feel safe. Someone in authority will always be there to bail you out. I can always call and someone will come rescue me. Fortunately in this country that is true more often than not. I think the winning attitude is to assume that isn’t true and prepare accordingly. I know this was a wakeup call for me to stop being lazy and get my shit together. We have a local apparel company here that’s run by an ex SEAL called 30SEC Out. They have a sticker I really like that says “Expect to self rescue. No one is coming”. I think it’s a great motto for life in general. I may have to buy a few just remind myself.
  • According to VP Harris, they’re starting from scratch with their Covid response because there was no existing plan. Curious since the U.S. has carried out more vaccinations than any country in the world, and given a first dose to a higher percentage of its population (12%) than all but five small countries. Covid cases have plummeted by 77% in the US. There’s talk we’ll reach herd immunity by April. Which is also interesting because when the previous administration was in power, to mention herd immunity meant you were a science denier. Ain’t politics grand!
  • I bought a drone. Well, technically I’m on on the waiting list with an option to buy a drone when it’s available. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it yet. It’s capable of some truly amazing footage. I suspect I’m telling myself that the only thing keeping my little YouTube channel with 12 subscribers from going big time is not having a drone. Well, that and not actually making very many videos. I’ve got the adventure bike, the gear, the plans, the time, and soon the drone. I guess there are no more excuses. Bummer. Now I’m going to have to actually execute on all my grand plans for adventure content. As they say, talk is cheap. Planning is easy. It’s the doing that’s hard.
  • Is it just me, or does the new press secretary always seem unprepared? She had absolutely no answer when asked “Biden suspended a Trump Administration executive order that was aimed at keeping foreign countries, specifically China, from interfering in the U.S. Power grid… why did he do that?” As press sec, I would think you’d have an answer ready for any executive order your president signed. Especially one potentially related to a natural disaster that’s currently happening.
  • I don’t know what happened here, but yeet is right! Watch this seven second vid. And with that, I’m off to do my last full-time shifts. As my coworkers tell me, I’m moving to the princess shifts. I’ve been working since I was fourteen. It will be very strange to not be full-time. Exciting, worried I’ll be wasting my time, nervous about not being productive, looking forward to a new chapter, and a little apprehensive about the unknown. Time to face all those fears head-on!

Song of the day: Smash Mouth – All Star