Tag: Health

Ivermectin Killed The Dinosaurs

The virus which shall not be named for fear of offending someone presented the United States with a unique inflection point. We were thrust into a position in which we could have fundamentally altered the health of this country. And rather than doing the right thing, the combined government and public health officials collectively shit the bed. Let me explain.

The US population is not generally healthy. We’re fat. We don’t exercise. We eat like crap and massively overconsume the crap that we do eat. Here’s a fun statistic – the United States ranks 46th in life expectancy. 46. Cuba ranks higher than the US. The number one cause of death in the US is heart disease – an almost completely self-induced problem that can be somewhat reversed with diet and exercise when discovered. 700,000 people died of heart disease in 2020. More than any other cause, including covid and cancer.

And what puts you at risk for dying of covid? Age, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and smoking. Way back at the beginnings of this pandemic it seems that the thing to do would be to scream from the rooftops that if you’re fat, out of shape, smoke, or have diabetes this disease is going to kill you. As Dean Vernon Wormer said, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son”. Wage an all out campaign to inform the population that changing your lifestyle is no longer optional if you want to survive long term. But we didn’t.

Oh sure, there were a few passing mentions of comorbidities putting you at higher risk but we certainly didn’t make a huge deal of it. Instead we opted for punishing everyone. What we should have done was quickly isolate the elderly, keep schools open and keep the economy running. We should have made the central message, broadcast daily, that if you are fat, have the diabetes, hypertension, or smoke you should isolate as much as possible if you want to survive this. Hammer home that folks who are overweight and hypertensive, should they wish to mingle with the public, need to be wearing a properly fitted N95 mask. Not the useless paper ones or that nasty bandana you’ve been wearing for a month without washing. No N95, no vaccination and you will get covid and will probably die. Why are we afraid to tell the truth?

But that’s not what we did. We cratered the economy. We isolated everyone including the young and healthy, prolonging herd immunity. Rather than keeping gyms open and telling people that you need to get outside, exercise, and improve your health if you want to survive… we kept everyone isolated inside. The result? 42% of adults reported gaining weight. How much? An average of 29 pounds.

We gambled on the holy grail of vaccination to magically protect everyone, including those most at risk. There’s no doubt its made a huge difference in moving us more quickly towards herd immunity (since we never let the young and healthy develop natural immunity). But mayors and governors had to start opening up to have any chance of saving their economies. And the vaccine has given those who have risk factors a false sense of security. And sure enough, a more virulent version of covid appeared and now even those who’ve been vaccinated are getting sick. The vaccine isn’t a magic shield. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. It will dramatically lessen the chances of the infection turning worse. This is why everyone should get the shot, even if you’re “healthy”. It gives you a fighting chance of keeping any symptoms mild and not ending up hospitalized. But if you’re overweight and in poor health… it may not be enough. And that’s exactly what the data shows. The overwhelming majority of people hospitalized and/or dying of covid right now have the classic comorbidities, vaccinated or unvaccinated.

So why are our public health officials not screaming at the top of their lungs about this? Are we afraid of offending people? Are we more worried about “fat shaming” than we are of people dying? For those of us who have the risk factors (and I count myself as one of them), we know what we look like the mirror. I’d rather my self esteem take a hit if it’ll force me to go for a run, than die because someone was afraid of telling me I need to drop a few pounds.

It’s time for health care providers and public health officials to be brutally honest. Stop with the silly mask charade. Form a modern equivalent of the old Presidents Council on Physical Fitness. Since we’re already printing money, how about a tax write-off for gym memberships and exercise equipment? Government subsidies to insurance companies that offer deep discounts on health insurance premiums if you can keep your BMI, blood pressure, and A1C at or below healthy limits?

Crazy talk, I know. But sadly we’d rather pit citizens against each other and ostracize folks from participating in society if you don’t take the jab. We’re scolded like little children, being told that “patience is wearing thin” and “this isn’t about freedom”. Officials are afraid to talk about natural immunity from covid because it might detract from their only message – 100% of citizens must have the vaccine, no exceptions.

Covid is going to turn endemic at some point. I think you’re foolish not to get the vaccine, but that’s your personal choice to make. We are all going to get Covid eventually, that’s a certainty. The only question will be how many factors do you have going in your favor when you do get it? Personally, I want to have had the vaccine and I want my weight, blood pressure, and A1C to be the best I can get ’em given my age. I’m just as guilty as the next person of being lazy about that. Not anymore. I’m enjoying life too much right now to lose it because I couldn’t put down the nachos.

Clearly the government isn’t going to do the right thing for its citizens. It’s up to you. So as Inspector Harry Callahan famously said, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

P.S. The title has nothing to do with anything. I saw it on the internet and loved it, but couldn’t think of anything to relate it to.

The Secret Is To Be Still

I’ve made a decision to play more golf. As I’ve mentioned before, golf has been the one sport I simply can’t seem to get comfortable with. So, I’m going to make the commitment and put in the effort to become average. While becoming “average” doesn’t seem like much of a goal, it is when you’re struggling to get past awful. I’m not looking to shoot par, or join the senior tour. My desire is to be able to be paired up with any group and feel comfortable that I’m not going to embarrass myself.

So with this new plan to get better at golf, I made a little resolution to challenge myself and play golf three days in a row. What’s the big deal with that? Well, it meant going out as a single and probably being placed with a group of strangers. No only does that challenge my awkward social skills, it means embarrassing myself in front of strangers with my lack of golf skills. For you extroverts maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal. For us introverts, trust me it is.

Day one and I forced myself to go to the course. I thought about just going to the driving range, but made myself go into the pro shop and say the dreaded words… “do you have any slots open for a single?” Oh, happy days – not only did they have room, the course wasn’t busy and I was able to go out by myself! It worked out perfectly. I forced myself to overcome social anxiety and got to relax and play without anyone watching. It was a very enjoyable experience and I actually played ok. Probably because I wasn’t in my head and simply enjoyed the course.

Day two and I was much less anxious. I drove to the course and… the parking lot was packed. I nearly turned around and left. But to my credit, I forced myself to head to the pro shop and say the magic words. There wasn’t going to be any solo golf this time. I was paired with a couple of young guys. They were laughing and joking around. The pro clearly knew them. He said, “I know these two look like knuckleheads, but they’re good guys”.

As we went out to the first tee, they certainly didn’t look like golfers. Late twenties, early thirties maybe. Both looked like ratty skater dudes. Flat billed ball caps. T-shirts. Baggy shorts. Lots of tattoos. I thought to myself that they couldn’t be very serious about golf, so at least I won’t be too embarrassed. As we were waiting to tee off I noticed they were both wearing flip-flops. How committed a player could you be in flip-flops? The group in front of us moved on to the green so I stepped up to tee off. I actually managed to hit a decent shot. Not terribly far but dead center in the fairway. One of the guys yells “Steady Eddy, that what I want to see all day!” I was quite pleased with myself.

Now this first hole was a par 4, slight dog leg to the right, 300 some odd yards. I’m waiting for my two partners to tee off, but they’re just chatting away. I’m waiting. And waiting. Finally the group ahead clears the green. Skater guy number one steps up in his flip-flops and crushes a massive drive that lands on the green. Skater guy number two steps up in his flip-flops and also crushes his drive, landing just a few feet short of the green. I was speechless. Whatever stereotype I had of what a golfer looks like was blown away. I’ve never seen, in person, someone hit a golf ball like that. It’s one thing to see a massive drive from the pros on TV. But you have no appreciation for how far 300+ yards is until you see it in person. And these freaking guys did it in flip-flops. Why am I so obsessed over the footwear? Because I just bought a pair of fancy new golf shoes. Nothing like feeling foolish standing there in my shiny, brand new, fancy shoes while these guys crush it looking like they’re on their way to a beach party.

I did ok on the second hole, and then the nerves of playing with these guys got to me and the wheels came off. They were super nice and very supportive. I realized they would normally play back on the pro tees, but were playing up on the closer tees for me. They gave plenty of encouragement, but it was clear I was holding them back from their normal pace of play. Eventually they asked if I would mind if they jumped ahead a hole to play a bit faster. Of course I didn’t mind as it worked out well for me and them.

Before they left we shook hands and said the standard pleasantries. But one of the skater dudes did leave me with a bit of advice. He was quiet for a bit and then said, “You know, I think most problems with the golf swing can be fixed by just being more still”. And off they went.

I don’t know if that’s good golf advice or not… but it certainly felt right. It was an interesting experience. A wise, tatted up skater dude who crushes 300 yard drives in flip-flops. The next day I got rained out, so we’ll have to wait to see what the next round brings and if stillness is the secret. One thing is certain. I’m clearly trying too hard. Maybe I’ll put the new shoes on eBay.

No Vax, No Treatment?

Social media is an interesting place. There is no doubt its driven a giant wedge in society. Everyone has been forced into one camp or another. There is no longer respectful debate or differing opinions… on anything. People are constantly outraged at something. Outraged and extreme. There are no shades of gray, just black and white. The latest outrage seems to be a massive amount of self-righteous indignation over people choosing not to get the vaccination for the virus we shall not name.

Post after post on Twitter and Facebook of people calling folks who haven’t been vaccinated uncaring monsters, selfish, and worse. What I’m seeing a lot of lately are people saying that if an unvax’d person gets Covid they should be denied a hospital bed, relegated to tents in the parking lot, or “go to the back of the line”.

Not only does that opinion lack any compassion, it also shows a complete lack of understanding of our healthcare system. I’ll estimate that at least 50% of my hospital (probably more) is full of people being treated for something self-induced. Obese, smoker, throws a clot and has a stroke. Uncontrolled diabetic who has non-healing necrotic foot ulcers. Alcohol detoxing. Drug overdoses. Alcohol induced cirrhosis. Suicide attempts. Intravenous drug users with massive septic abscesses. The list goes on and on.

All these folks get treated. We don’t withhold care because they are responsible for their illness. We don’t judge your poor life choices. Oh, and by the way – the vast majority of these folks are unfunded. They do not have insurance. They still get the same care as everyone else. The hospital has to eat that cost, and so it gets passed on to you.

Are hospitals starting to see a lack of beds? Yep. But it’s for a variety of reasons. Prior to Covid we were starting to see a decline in the number of rehab, skilled nursing, and assisted living facilities. We have patients in the hospital that are medically cleared, but have been there for weeks (months sometimes) because we can’t find a facility that will accept them. Covid made that problem 10x worse. I’d guess that at any given time close to a quarter of the beds on my floor are occupied by patients who have been cleared to go but we can’t find placement for them.

The other issue is one of staffing. Many, many hospitals were starting to see staffing shortages pre-covid. With the pandemic, the bottom simply fell out from a staffing perspective. We often have physical beds available… just no staff to be able to accept more patients. I receive text messages from management nearly daily, begging for folks to come in and work additional shifts. Overtime pay, premium pay, covid bonuses, and we still can’t cover all the staff shortages.

So now we have a new variant that’s hitting the world pretty hard and that’s making everything worse again. Is this new wave impacting care for non-covid things? Absolutely. We’re now limiting elective surgeries again and postponing non-urgent procedures. That sucks. The trickle down effect of people postponing care will hit us hard later. All in all, this is a mess. Covid will be with us forever and the impact on our nation’s overall health will be a generational one. The point is that hospitals being “overwhelmed” is a multi-factorial problem, not just due to Covid. Surges in Covid cases simply exacerbate what was already an issue in healthcare.

So back to my original point. If you think that we should start rationing care based upon a personal choice about a vaccine… be careful what you wish for. We go down that road and you better not show up to the hospital slightly overweight with hypertension and a smoker, and complaining of chest pain. You may get put to the back of the line so we can treat someone with cancer first. So sorry you’re having a heart attack, I guess you should have taken better care of yourself. Bottom line, this pandemic sucks for everyone. Stop with the indignant, self righteous outrage. We’re divided enough already as it is. No need to add to it so you can feel morally superior over someone who makes different choices than you.

A Timeline

  • September 2021 California and New York roll out their vaccine passport. Proof of vaccination required to visit restaurants, bars, and many stores. The original paper vaccine card, CA’s digital vault or IBM’s digital health pass app (Excelsior in NY) are accepted.

  • February 2022 As the Lambda variant begins spreading widely, 39 of 50 states now require vaccine proof to enter most public and commercial buildings. Markets and grocery stores are exempt in most states that require proof.

  • June 2022 Due to rampant fraud, paper versions of vaccine history are no longer accepted. Where required, an approved digital version must be shown.

  • August 2022 One of President Harris’s first actions is to sign the American Health and Safety Act (AHSA), mandating proof of vaccination status for all public venues in all states. Federal funding will be withheld for states that opt out.

  • October 2023 The President signs the emergency funding bill for the newly formed Digital Health Consortium, a joint effort between IBM, Apple, and Alphabet to nationalize the Digital Health Wallet app. The consortium will also develop Digital Health Scanners which will be distributed to all retail, commercial, and office buildings that fall under the AHSA vaccine requirements.

  • July 2024 The annual influenza vaccine is added to the list of required vaccines registered in the National Digital Health database. The CDC continues to advocate for adding Hepatitis, Pneumonia, TB, and the newly developed RSV vaccine. A trial program enabling people to opt in with their sexual health status is added to the Digital Health Wallet, enabling people to share their history of any sexually transmitted diseases with potential partners.

  • January 2026 President Sanders signs the Climate Accountability Act into law, enabling power companies to link all household and commercial real estate SmartMeter data to the National Climate database. Electricity usage will be charged for and throttled based upon your calculated carbon profile.

  • May 2027 Congress approves linking an individuals carbon profile to their Digital Health Wallet, claiming the climate crisis is also a health crisis. Retail establishments are encouraged to charge an additional carbon tax to customers who’s Health Wallet scan shows a negative carbon profile. Retail stores who choose to add the tax earn a “Environment Friendly” blue check symbol on the three approved social media platforms and are eligible for special federal subsidies.

  • January 2028 The retail Carbon Tax is now a mandatory federal tax. The tax is a sliding scale based upon the individuals carbon profile and federal tax bracket.

  • March 2028 In a narrow decision the 12 member Supreme Court overturns the final federal privacy appeals, enabling employers, insurance companies, and a wide variety of “Shared Usage” companies (hotels, rental cars, airlines, etc…) to access the National Digital Health database. Based upon vaccine and carbon profile data, approved companies can restrict or utilize a sliding scale to charge for services. Employers can pre-screen potential candidates.

  • April 2031 The Person Place and Footprint biometrics database goes live. Citizens are given a score, calculated from six integrated systems; Criminal Justice, Experian Credit, Climate, Digital Health, IRS, and the Universal Social Media Ranking System. The PPF score will be available to authorized users prior to citizen engagement, or real-time via facial recognition or iris scan.

  • February 2034 Facing extreme food and electricity shortages, the free states of Florida, South Dakota, Idaho, and Texas begin coordinating violent, cross-border raids and targeted cyber attacks against neighboring states.

Performance Anxiety

I have performance anxiety. Wait, that sounded bad. Not that kind of performance anxiety… I mean with sports. I could never be an Olympian or compete in some sort of professional sport. Aside from having to be talented, coordinated, and possessing athletic skill, those folks tend not to choke when it matters. I don’t have that ability.

Take golf for example. Golf seems to be my nemesis for some reason. I have a weird golf dyslexia that I can’t seem to get past. Despite a frightening amount of money spent on the driving range, lessons, and clubs, I still just don’t get it. I have zero confidence that when I step up to the tee, I’ll be able to hit the ball. As a result I hate the first hole. As in, I actually get butterflies in my stomach walking up to tee off. It makes no difference if I’ve warmed up on the range or not. All I can think of in my head is “don’t screw up, don’t screw up”. It happened just the other day. Mrs Troutdog and I were playing and got partnered with a 12 year old kid. He hit a beautiful drive that went a country mile. I stepped up and… chunked it about 10 feet. I set up to hit another… and chunked it about 10 feet. Sigh.

I know that half the problem is that I’ve gotten into my own head over this. I know I’m creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by obsessing over it. I just don’t know how to get past it. Mrs Troutdog laughs at me and says I shouldn’t care. We’re just out to have fun, it’s not like we’re trying to turn pro or impress anyone. She’s right. But I hate being bad at things, especially in front of strangers.

Maybe it’s a guy thing? I’m ok being bad when I’m a complete beginner. I’ve never been waterskiing. I would be really bad at it initially and that would be expected. But at some point you want to move up to being at least average. Especially if you’ve purchased all the expensive gear. Nobody wants to be a poser. Maybe that’s where my issues started? When I was young I did a lot of surfing. In the surfing tribe it was critical to fit in (or maybe it was just a teenage thing). You could always spot a poser. They’d have brand new expensive wetsuits and boards, yet were complete kooks in the water. As kids are prone to do, we mercilessly made fun of those guys.

That desire to fit in with the tribe as a kid probably left an indelible imprint that’s lingered into middle age. I desperately don’t want to be that guy who has all the expensive gear but not be able to walk the walk. Reminds me of a great old movie, “Man’s Favorite Sport?” staring Rock Hudson. The main character is a famous fishing guide who’s written books on the subject. Turns out he’s never actually been fishing. His boss enters him in a fishing contest and hilarity ensues.

With things like skiing and mountain biking, I’m comfortably average. I can reasonably ride most any terrain and know exactly what my fitness and skill limitations are. Even if I don’t know you, I’d happily go for a ride if you ask and be confident that I won’t embarrass myself. Ask me to play golf and I’ll spend twenty minutes making excuses. I hurt my back. Haven’t played since last year. I used to play years ago, but am just now taking it up again. Anything to cover for the inevitable flubbing on the first tee.

It’s silly, isn’t it? I’m a grown-ass man. Am I really so vain at this point in my life that I’d care about what you think of my golf ability? Apparently so. And I hate myself for even caring about it. I should strive to be Rodney Dangerfield’s Al Czervik character in the movie Caddyshack. Loud, flamboyant, every golf gadget available, yet was hopeless at golf. He didn’t care what anyone thought because he was having fun.

Maybe that’s the ticket to busting through this weird anxiety I have? A form of de-sensitivity training. Perhaps I should go buy the most outrageous plaid golf pants I can find and wear an obnoxious Hawaiian shirt. Add some sort of ridiculous hat, tee up a bright pink ball on a naked lady tee and let’r rip. Maybe by going over the top and pretending I really don’t care what you think, I’ll convince myself that people actually really don’t care if I can hit the ball or not. Maybe. I’m just not sure Mrs Troutdog will still play golf with me dressed like that.

I Have Questions

  • It looks like vaccine acquired immunity is fading somewhat, combined with a Delta variant that the vaccine appears to be less effective against. Vaccinated folks can clearly get and transmit Delta. So what then is the point of a vaccine passport to participate in daily life if I can still infect others?
  • Either the intelligence services completely screwed up the analysis of Afghanistan and gave bad advice to the White House, or they gave correct advice and the administration ignored it. Which is it?
  • Since we know it’s not the president… who actually is crafting the White House’s agenda, messaging, and plans?
  • What exactly is this “over the horizon capability” word salad nonsense the president keeps bringing up? Have we invented some super secret new technology nobody knows about?
  • We’ve evacuated 83,000 people from Kabul. That’s like 2 or 3 interpreters for every single soldier ever stationed there. Was every single at risk person who ever helped the US, living in Kabul? What about the thousands upon thousands of folks who helped that are scattered throughout the rest of the country? How many of these people now get to settle in the US?
  • Why doesn’t the national news ever cover Antifa? It’s an actual terrorist group operating in multiple cities across the country, growing rapidly and spreading destruction and violence almost daily. Why the radio silence from the media?
  • I eat croutons like potato chips. What strange power do they have over me that I’m unable to contain myself?
  • Why are people incapable of swallowing more than one pill at a time, yet they happily swallow giant pieces of steak or sandwiches?
  • If continued masks and mask mandates are what’s needed to defeat the virus, why are we seeing a spike with the Delta variant? I thought the masks protected me from the virus? Why can’t someone show me a graph of any region in the country that implemented a mask mandate and had a corresponding drop in cases? That would be pretty compelling evidence wouldn’t it?
  • We’ve spent/allocated $4.6 Trillion on the Covid response. The US House just passed a $3.5 Trillion budget, plus another $1.5 Trillion on an “infrastructure” plan. We’re approaching $10 Trillion in spending in just the last year or so. We have to borrow all of that. Can we really continue printing money forever without consequence?
  • How come I can’t hit a golf ball? I’m good at every other sport I play. Why am I afflicted with this strange golf dyslexia?
  • Why will nobody in the military, CIA, DIA, or state department be held accountable for Afghanistan? How come nobody in Washington ever loses their job?
  • Why is the press, the last bastion of free speech, completely unconcerned with Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s massive censorship campaigns?
  • How is it that British and Australian actors can have perfect American accents, but American actors sound ridiculous when they try to mimic their accents?
  • How is it possible the Taliban maintains their verified account on Twitter, but the former president of the United States is too dangerous to be allowed to tweet?
  • Why has nobody told Uncle Joe that he’s the only person in the world that pronounces it “TaliYe-bon”?
  • Why isn’t our national press covering the authoritarian nightmare that’s happening with Australia’s covid lockdowns? Perhaps they wish we were doing the same here?
  • And finally, how is it possible Britney Spears has been deemed as not capable of making her own decisions and under conservatorship for 13 years, yet has managed to record and perform all that time? Does that not seem suspicious? #FreeBrittney!

Discipline Equals Freedom

If you’re not familiar with Jocko Willink, he’s worth following. He’s a very frightening former navy seal commander who’s written a number of books, has a very popular podcast, and famously posts a picture of his watch on Instagram at 0430 every morning as he starts his daily workout. His mantra is discipline equals freedom. The more disciplined you are at getting your shit done, the more freedom you’ll have at the end of day. Admiral William H McRaven gave a very popular speech saying something similar – “Want to change world? Start by making your bed”. Life coach Jordon Peterson says to clean up your life, start by cleaning your room. They’re all advocating for some derivative of adding structure to your life.

Exactly seven months ago we made the decision to begin divesting from work and starting the move towards retirement. And exactly seven months ago I wrote a post lamenting that I needed more structure in my life. And how has that gone? Well, I, uhm, errr, ahem… haven’t done anything different. I wake up every day with exactly zero plan for the day. Of course there’s always the random appointment you need to keep, or a trip that was set up, or a social get-together. But my plan for the week is never anything more than a vague thought in the back of my head. I know it’s going to get hot later in the week so I’ll mountain bike Monday and Tuesday. I should probably mow the lawn before the weekend. It looks like Wednesday is going to be a powder day, so I’ll go cross country skiing today. We’re out of salad dressing, so maybe I’ll go to the store on the way home. Or maybe tomorrow. That’s it. That’s the sum total of my structure and planning, week in and week out.

It’s pretty hard to complain about that. I truly have a blessed life. It feels like I’ve been pretty damn busy the last seven months. I certainly haven’t had any shortage of things to fill my days. I think it’s clear I won’t be one of those guys who retires and then has no idea what to do with himself every day. But what have I actually done? I’m not actually sure what I’ve been doing all this time. There’s been some focus around the new ginormous motorcycle, but the rest of my time has been a bit of a blur. I know I’ve kept myself occupied, but doing what?

I had grand visions of making gourmet meals most nights and being on top of all the shopping and various household errands. There’s a number of household repair and yard maintenance things that need to be done. Getting back in the swing of a regular workout routine was high on the list of things to do. Being more focused on hobbies was also something I wrote about seven months ago. None of that has happened.

With a complete lack of structure, I’ve drifted along with whatever random thought came into my head on any given day. And like a spoiled child, most of my thoughts have been about playing and not necessarily taking care of business first. While it seems idyllic, I think the edges are starting to fray a bit. My weight has gone out of control without any sense of routine. Free feeding is not a recipe for success. The less I take care of business (home repair, cooking, yard work, etc…) the harder it is to be motivated to do those things. It’s hard to think about long term plans, like travel for Mrs Troutdog and I or even the next trip on the ginormous motorcycle when I don’t even have a plan for tomorrow. Even my copious playtime is starting to simply repeat the same things over and over. What happened to rediscovering some of my other hobbies that have been back-shelved for a while?

This is an incredibly fortunate and first world problem to have. But nonetheless, one I suspect I need to sort out before too long. As Jack Torrance said in The Shining, “all play and no work makes Jack a dull boy”. Ok, maybe that wasn’t exactly what he wrote but you get the gist. I still don’t see myself restarting a bullet journal or getting up at 0430 each day. But adding some level of structure to my week is looking more and more important. Maybe it’s just committing tasks to the calendar at the beginning of each week? Wait, that’s sort of the bullet journal isn’t it? Sigh… I don’t know. It’s terribly hard to become disciplined if that hasn’t been your nature. Maybe I’ll invent a new planning/tracking/goal setting methodology for newly retired folks. Become a retirement life-coach. This blog has been searching for a focus ever since I started writing it, maybe that’s what it should be? Can I practice what I’d preach? Hmm. Check back in six months and see if my new best selling “Life goals for retirement” book is underway. Meanwhile, I’m going mountain biking today. I’ll look at the calendar later. I promise.

I Want The Data

A short one today. The local hardware store in our little town just reimplemented a mask mandate to shop there. The city council is contemplating reinstating the city-wide mask mandate. I’m sure cities across the country are evaluating the same thing with the new delta (sshhh, don’t mention the country) variant of the virus which shall not be named.

For roughly a year every city, county, state, and federal public health office has been collecting extensive data on Covid cases. We know exactly how many new cases we had for every single day in every corner of the country (and world). Every single person in the country has seen multiple instances of the bell-shaped curve graphs showing the current state of Covid case counts.

So here’s my question – with all that data it should be very simple to show a strong correlation between the implementation of a mask mandate and the reduction of case counts, right? The entire point of the mask (as we’ve heard ad nauseum) is that they protect you and others from transmission of the virus. So, across the country the data should easily show the date of a mask mandate and shortly afterwards case counts dropping. Seems like simple science, no?

I have yet to see any data that shows a mask mandate having any impact whatsoever on case counts in any part of the country. Have you? Don’t you think the powers that be would be hammering the news talking heads every night with these charts to prove how effective their mask mandates were? Instead, the CDC’s strongest case for masks seems to be a report on two hairstylists who were positive and saw a bunch of clients. They all wore masks and nobody else was infected. So there you go – based upon two hairstylists, we all have to wear a mask.

We’ve had a real world, year long experiment with extensive amounts of data. Before you force me to wear the damn mouth diaper again, I want to see the data. Not theory, not anecdotes from hairstylists or isolated lab experiments attempting to measure droplet velocities. We know the date we started wearing the damn masks. Can you correlate a drop in case counts afterwards? It doesn’t seem like a hard question, does it?

A Health Crisis

  • I’ve noticed a pattern lately that is puzzling and slightly embarrassing. The overwhelming majority of readers and followers of this blog are health and fitness accounts. I find that odd since I rarely post anything about exercise, food, or health. It’s curious that the WordPress algorithm decided to push my content to the health and fitness space. I’d honestly like to know – if you came across my ramblings were you searching for something specific or was it randomly recommended for you? So here’s the embarrassing part. While I may talk about various activities from time to time, golf, running, mountain biking, etc…, the truth is that I’m horribly unfit and my weight has reached a crisis level. I don’t know how that happened. Well, I know how it happened, I just don’t understand how mentally I let it happen. On April 12th of last year I hit 168.4 pounds. The lightest I’d been in over a decade. I felt fit, was crazy active and was contemplating some crazy running ideas. I’d been super strict with a keto diet for a year and a half at that point. I decided to take a diet break and I’m now north of 200 lbs and can’t see my toes when I look down. I’ve gone on a few runs (that were mostly walking) and it’s clear that I’m essentially starting from scratch. It’s terribly depressing. I’ve been “starting the diet/exercise routine tomorrow” for about a month now. I’ve always had terrific willpower once I cross a threshold. It’s getting to that point that’s the struggle. As soon as I start losing some weight and make fitness gains my motivation and willpower skyrocket and we’re off to the races. I just have to figure out how to mentally get to that point. Sigh… I guess that’s why the health and fitness industry is a gazillion dollar racket. We’re all trying to figure out that magic formula to get and maintain results. The irony of posting this is that I’ve probably permanently flagged this site as a “health and fitness” blog as far as WordPress is concerned. LOL.
  • Let’s see if I’ve got this straight – masks weren’t effective, then they were. Then double masking was even better. Then you didn’t need a mask if you were vaccinated, but you still did even if you’d previously had covid. Kids no longer needed masks at school. Now kids must wear masks and even if vaccinated, adults will needs to start wearing masks again. Vaccines weren’t trustworthy because they came from the Trump administration, then they were the holy grail of everything. You’re an evil SOB who is practically killing people by just walking down the street if you aren’t vaccinated. The carrot to help persuade people to vaccinate is that you won’t need to wear a mask. Except now you’ll have to regardless. I thought the messaging around covid during the Trump administration was terrible and was a political gift to the dems. The Biden administration clearly looked at Trump’s bad covid messaging and said, “here, hold my beer and watch this”. It’s been a master class in how to inspire massive distrust.
  • The United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, India. Those are the locations of the various variants of covid that have developed. We no longer refer to them that way, as has always been done. In May the WHO announced Greek-letter names for important strains so they could be easily referred to in a simple, easy to say, and non-stigmatizing fashion. Which is why the news is all a-buzz about the “delta variant”. Thank god we’ve spared India the shame of having a variant named after them.
  • For the first time my annual season ski pass now includes lift-served mountain biking. I’ve never experienced the joy of going downhill without first riding uphill. I was always firmly entrenched in the “you have to earn your downhill” camp. Screw that! I may never ride uphill again! Of course this doesn’t help my weight and fitness problem. On the other hand my increased weight has improved my downhill speed. That whole momentum = mass times velocity thing. See, I can find a silver lining in anything.

Song of the day: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

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.