- Here in the land of 1’s and 0’s, bits and bytes, I am a fierce contrarian. A dedicated non-conformist. The man ain’t gonna tell me what to do! I am a keyboard warrior who gives no quarter. (hey, that sorta rhymes) In the real world… I’m a rule follower. I wait to cross the street in the crosswalk until the light turns green, even if there’s no traffic (fueling Mrs troutdog’s never ending exasperation with this behavior). I dutifully return my hotel card key when checking out rather than just leave it in the room. I don’t get into the 10 items or less checkout lane if I have 11 items. I drive the speed limit. And to my shame, I wear a mask when required. If you’ve been reading along for any time, you’ll know that the mouth diapers are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I’ve ranted about them all too frequently, although I’ve managed to refrain myself lately to spare ya’ll from too much of the same dribble. In my state there are no mask mandates. Other than at work (hospital) I never wear one. We recently had to travel to California, which is nanny-state central. And what did I do? Made sure I had extra masks and my vaccine card packed. Made sure I wore one in the airport, on the plane, and in restaurants. Why? It was an important trip, and I couldn’t risk getting “cancelled”. So much for being a rebel. It’s frightening how much power the state has. America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. And what did we do when compelled to do irrational things? We all meekly rolled over and said, “thank you sir, may I have another?” I’m very disappointed in myself and my fellow citizens. It’s clear that the state can create just about any rule they want and we’ll all just comply. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll go along with just about any silly rule, rather than risk missing out on all you can eat prime rib night at Joey’s Dinner. We’ve clearly forgotten that all important phrase in the constitution, “…governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. Perhaps it’s time for us to start pushing back just a little bit?
- Speaking of pushing back, I heard a rumor the other day. My hospital decided they were going to require the vaccine to keep your job early in the pandemic. I’d already gotten the vaxx (seemed like the right thing to do at the time), so it didn’t really affect me. They suspended that rule when Covid wave 2 (or 3, can’t keep track these days) hit and we were desperate for personnel. Staffing is better now, so they’re re-implementing the vaccination rule. I believe the deadline is Jan 1. It’ll be interesting to see how many people we lose. But that’s not the rumor… word floating around is they may add the booster to the requirements. I don’t know if this is true or not. I’ve decided not to get the booster at the moment for a variety of reasons. So – if they do require it, what am I going to do? I’m going to have to do some thinking on this one.
- For my sanity and waistline, I’m asking everyone to start doing a snow-dance. If you’re not familiar, those of us who require the white fluffy stuff so we can go skiing perform a ritual dance to encourage the snow gods to bless us. Similar to voodoo. Anyway, we’ve had zero snow so far. This is a bad thing. There is a large storm lined up for the weekend with the potential of several feet of snow. So far, every storm has diverted further north at the last minute. Pray for us.
- I just finished Dr Scott Atlas’ book about his time as a special advisor to the White House and the Covid task force. Read this book if you’d like to get really angry about the utter incompetence of government. It’s a great reminder that groupthink, ego, dogma, and politics exist in “science” just like any other discipline. Anytime you hear the words “consensus” or “science says”, you need to put your contrarian hat on.
- The 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor was a few days ago. 80 years before that was the start of the civil war. I thought that was an interesting illustration of time. There were some civil war veterans alive at the start of WWII, and a few WWII veterans alive today. Amazing to think about where we are today in a relatively few generations.
- Substack is bringing back blogging in a big way. Whod’a thunk people would be willing to pay for blogs? I was convinced blogs were dead. I’ve contemplated abandoning WordPress for Substack. I equally contemplate giving up writing completely, as I can’t really define why I continue to babble. It’s clearly not for fame, fortune, or followers… Meanwhile, here’s a Substack dedicated to snacks. You wouldn’t think it would work, but it does.
- It cost me $81 to fill up my truck yesterday. When I was traveling to CA the other day it was $15 for 2.8 gallons near the airport. Lets Go Brandon!
- Having just returned from the nightmare world of airline travel, here’s a collection of historical airline seatback safety cards. I will confess to having never read one, nor listened to the safety brief at the beginning of the flight. It’s still unclear to me why, in the 21st century, we still need instruction on how to fasten the seatbelt buckle?
- We traveled out of town for Thanksgiving (gasp, he crossed state lines?). It’s been a while since I traveled and one thing is clear… to travel well takes practice. Part of that experience is packing. There’s an old adage that I’m a firm believer in – you expand to fit your available space. It’s human nature. This was made abundantly clear a number of years ago when we did a whole house gut and remodel. It wasn’t possible to live in the house during the work, so we put everything we owned in storage and moved into a motorhome. Initially I was worried. How could I possibly live for a year without all my stuff? A few months later and I realized I was perfectly happy with a few shirts, a couple pairs of pants, and my mountain bike. For a full year I didn’t miss any of the stuff in storage. When the house was done, whoomp, we quickly expanded to fill every room. Then went out and bought more crap to fill space. What’s that have to do with travel? I didn’t have a small overhead bin size suitcase, so I had to use a bigger checked bag. And what happened? When packing I threw everything but the kitchen sink in. Workout clothes I never wore. Approximately 23 pairs of socks. Power cords for electronics I didn’t even bring. Pajamas. I don’t even wear pajamas at home. Sweatshirts and hats. Jackets. Dress shirts and slacks. What did I actually wear? The same two outfits every day. In reality I could have traveled with a reusable cloth grocery bag and been just fine. We went to a luggage store on the way home and bought a small overhead bin bag. I already own packing cubes, so I should be good to go for at least a three week trip now.
- Speaking of expanding to fit available space, it applies to food as well. At one point we subscribed to the Blue Apron meal delivery service. We thoroughly enjoyed it. (we cancelled only due to ongoing delivery issues) What struck me when we first started was each dinner was a perfectly portioned 700 – 1,000 calories and when we finished cooking and put it on the plate… it was a tiny amount of food! The “plate” of food we’re used to is huge. What they say for dieting is true – use a small plate otherwise you’ll fill up that big plate. My point? The Thanksgiving diet plan was a disaster. We won’t be stepping on the scale again for a few days.
- At a migrant camp in Reynosa Mexico, the United Nations International Organization for Migration gives out debit cards to aspiring US border crossers. A family of four gets about $800 a month. How is this even possible? How is this not making the news? We’re shutting down travel due to the
Nu, Xi, Omicron virus variant, how are we still letting hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossers in and then shipping them around the country? How… oh, never mind. There’s no point.
- Last year on this date I was already cross-country skiing. We’ve had no snow this year. I’m not worried… yet.
- A recent survey of NY police officers showed that more than half of them wished they’d never joined the force. That’s a frightening statistic and perfectly shows the state of policing in this country. When something goes bump in the night and you dial 911, are you positive someone’s going to come? While in the Bay Area for indigenous peoples remembrance and appreciation day, a family member showed the state of her neighborhood. Her condo is across from a lovely park. A park that is now a full-on, garbage strewn homeless encampment. The homeless use her front yard water spigot to shower and fill drinking containers. They pick the fruit from her backyard trees. The police won’t do anything. City council won’t do anything. The news won’t report it. As a homeowner, what are you supposed to do? How does anyone actually think this is ok? Say anything about this and you’re an uncaring, right-wing, MAGA loving, racist. Is it any wonder there’s a mass exodus from big cities?
- My driving route to the mountains has been blocked for over a week by a ginormous rockslide that covered the road. They just announced that it’ll be at least another 7-10 days before it opens. There is another route, but it adds about an hour to the drive. Selfish me is annoyed that I’m being inconvenienced. But… I should be grateful that I have access at all. The outdoor opportunities I have nearly in my backyard are beyond what most people have available to them. I need to remind myself that many folks save up vacation time just to come visit what I take for granted daily. I promise not to grumble this week while driving a bit longer than normal.
- The US has 63 national parks. This is a neat list of all them, ranked by crowds, accessibility, amenities, etc… I’ve been to 12 of them. Not bad, but I clearly have work to do.
Song of the day: Cake – Never There
If you haven’t been paying attention, the Kyle Rittenhouse trial appears to be going very badly for the prosecution. I’m not a lawyer and have little faith in our judicial system, so the outcome is anything but clear. But… as a casual observer it’s hard not to see what happened as anything other than a textbook case of self-defense. That is not my topic today. Instead, I’m interested in the point that several talking heads have made. What drove Kyle Rittenhouse to be there in the first place?
As someone with decades of life experience, and a whole lot to lose, would I have gone there? Hell no. I bet Mr. Rittenhouse wishes he’d made a better decision that day as well. But what drove him to insert himself in a scenario that had massive probabilities of going south in a hurry? His town was burning. Rocked by days of looting, rioting, vandalism, and sheer lawlessness. And the police did nothing. The mayor, governor, nobody charged with protecting the peace did anything to stop it. So a passionate young kid got fed up and decided he was going to go try to help out.
Young kids, especially males, can get very worked up over stuff. Remember WWI and WWII? I don’t – I’m old, but not that old. But I have read history. Tens of thousands of teenaged boys volunteered to go do their duty. 16 year olds lied about their age so they wouldn’t get left behind. We were going to go teach those dirty Germans a thing or two before they came to our shores. And off they went to war. Babes who had no idea what was actually facing them. No concept of the impacts those events would have on their lives. But they were fired up, passionate, and ready to go.
Such has been the nature of man from time beginning. So what’s my point? Probably the number one thing people crave is safety and security. That has also been true for all of human existence. And when our perceived safety disappears… people will do just about anything to bring it back. And for much of the US, that’s where if feels we’re headed.
Defund the police. Police reform. The media is complicit in whipping up an anti-police sentiment, further fueled by 24×7 chants of racism, racism, racism. The facts surrounding police shootings don’t matter. The only thing that matters is that the police are violent. Oh, and racist. If you’re not familiar with the term “The Ferguson Effect”, it’s a very real thing. After the Michael Brown shooting in 2014, officers were afraid to do much in the way of policing for fear of being charged. Since then it’s only gotten worse. Police departments and local politicians have refused to back their officers. The end result is that officers, especially in bigger cities, tend not to respond to calls other than to back up other officers. Why would they? Even the slightest whiff of being “too aggressive” and your career and life savings will be gone in an instant. It’s not worth it.
Police are quitting in droves. Those that remain won’t respond to anything other than critical events. And the predictable result? Crime is skyrocketing. In New York, thugs are now roaming the streets and randomly attacking strangers. There’s videos of it nearly every day now. Antifa operates with impunity and causes billions of dollars in damage. Brazen daytime robberies of restaurant patrons is now happening in affluent areas of Los Angeles. In San Francisco shoplifters happily walk out of stores with bags of stuff. Yesterday there was video of people who wheeled carts of grocery items out and calmly loaded it up in mini-vans. Why? Nobody’s going to stop them. Even if the police tried, the prosecutors probably wouldn’t charge them. This is not going to get better.
As an insulated, privileged society with narratives of non-stop racism driven by CNN, MSNBC, and Facebook, the progressive left wants you to believe that somehow crime and violence can somehow be solved with kind words, outreach programs, and roving teams of mental health experts. That is not how the world works, as much as the latte sipping crowd would like to believe. The reality of the street is not Hollywood.
Even in my hospital world that’s not reality. We have social workers and psychiatrists on the floor. When someone is having a mental health crisis we don’t call them. Why? Because folks in that scenario are violent and dangerous. We call security. And more often than not, it takes six security dudes and several nurses to wrestle the patient to the bed and get restraints placed. Even then the odds of someone getting hit, kicked, spit on, or bitten are high. I’m positive if family members saw that they’d be horrified. But you know what? I’m under no obligation to get hurt. I also don’t have four hours available to talk gently and pass them pudding in hopes they’ll see the error of their thinking. The real world doesn’t work that way.
Magnify that 100x on the street with actual criminals. And a single officer responding to that same potentially violent person. I know it’s shocking, but asking “pretty please with sugar on top” doesn’t work. But, we don’t want to see that. So our society has swung 180 degrees and we don’t want our police to actually, you know, do policing. It’s mean spirited. So the police have stopped. The results have been predictable to anyone who doesn’t have a liberal arts degree and a three thousand dollar espresso machine in their kitchen.
So what was my point? Somewhere down the road, people are going to get fed up. And that my friends, is when bad things happen. Vigilante groups form. Actual extremist groups form, not the pretend QAnon, Jan 6th insurrection groups… but people willing to commit real violence in the name of protecting the homeland. This is the inflection point where the population elects a real fascist in the name of safety and security. We don’t want to go down that road people.
I seriously fear for our country. We’re speeding down a road that ends in a bad place. The woke, 24×7 racist, progressive push the media hammers into our brains day in and day out is going to result in people taking matters into their own hands. We want safety and security. Without it we have Kyle Rittenhouse. A young kid heading into the fray because he felt like nobody else was. He was armed. He was attacked by a viscous mob out for blood and no police to be found. The outcome was predictable.
I’m not sure what the answer is. Maybe there isn’t one. We need a strong, charismatic, and benevolent leader who can use the bully pulpit to turn down the temperature. Get this ship turned around. I don’t see that happening. I suspect the political divides are too great at this point. Unfortunately, leaders who wield that level of power and charisma tend not to be benevolent if history holds to be true.
Oh great, now I’ve gone and depressed myself. Time to turn off social media and head outdoors for some recreation to clear my head. Amazing how well that works.
Sit back and relax for a minute. I have a short tale that might worry you a bit. One that, if true, would prove to be one of the greatest public health blunders in history. It’s about a vaccine. Wait, wait, don’t go… this isn’t an anti-vax tirade or a rant about mandates. It’s a story about what happens when people rush to make a decision without waiting for all the data.
A question – what happens if we created a “leaky vaccine” and pushed it out to billions of people?
Here’s the background. I follow a number of statisticians. Yes, I know I’m a geek. But I like data and charts and graphs. I admit much of the stats are above my head, but I took just enough statistics to semi-sorta understand what I’m reading. Anyway, I first heard about the idea of leaky vaccines from something that Joe Rogan said on his podcast. He, of course, was immediately blasted for pushing tinfoil hat conspiracy stuff. Which, of course, made me want to read more about it. Enter the statisticians who plot and analyze the data and ignore the politicians and media wisdom.
What you want is a sterilizing vaccine. One that creates an immune response powerful enough that it instantly attacks and wipes out the virus in the host before it can replicate and spread. What you don’t want is a “leaky vaccine” that produces an immune response sufficient to protect the host, but isn’t able to prevent a buildup of viral load or transmission. Every day it’s looking more likely that we’ve produced a pretty leaky covid vaccine. This is generally ok for you, the vaccinated individual. Your immune response protects you from getting really sick. But the population as a whole…
Here’s the worrisome part. The data is showing that when a vaccinated person is hit with covid, their viral load and shedding of virus is equal to that of unvaccinated people and lasts for days. And the best part? Because they have an immune response that starts working to protect them, they are generally asymptomatic. Are the lightbulbs starting to go off? In our mad rush to push the vaccine without sufficient testing, we may have just created a bunch of vaccinated asymptomatic superspreaders, happily walking around and infecting the unvaccinated and those unhealthy folks (vaccinated or not) who managed to dodge the bullet during the first covid wave.
Israel, one of the most vaccinated nations on the planet, got hammered with a second wave. Similarly the UK and many highly vaccinated cities in the US. The hospitals are being overrun in many cities, including my own. In many places it’s far worse than the first covid wave. We’re seeing tons of “breakthrough” cases – vaccinated folks who get covid. Unfortunately many of those folks have multiple comorbidities, which is why they got the vaccine in the first place. Their outcomes aren’t great (but still better than without the vaccine). Get vaccinated so you can safely visit your immunocompromised family and friends! We need a vaccine passport so we can safely shop and go to restaurants! The potential irony would be humorous if it wasn’t so tragic.
It’s a catch-22. The vaccine we rushed into the population is clearly good for the individual, but may be bad for society as a whole. Politicians and public health officials panicked and pushed out something without knowing the potential long term impacts. And now that we’re facing skyrocketing case and fatality rates again, the panicked response is boosters! We need boosters in every arm ASAP!
Never mind that the FDA advisory panel voted 16-2 AGAINST authorizing the booster for everyone. The CDC ignored that and did it anyway. The two top virologists at the FDA resigned over the politicization and handling of all this. Yay! Trust the science bitches.
It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, I get that. But what makes science all sciency, is a willingness to continually examine the data, re-evaluating, questioning, and rethinking your hypothesis if results weren’t what you expected. Unfortunately politics and fear forced us to throw all that out the window. Politics and vanity will keep anyone from saying out loud, “uh guys, we might have screwed up?” Maybe this is a big nothingburger. Maybe in a couple years this will be a minor, annual flu-like annoyance. Or maybe we’ll be on booster #8 and wondering why we keep getting so many mutating variants? My tinfoil hat fits me just fine, thank you.