Spread

Unless you live under a rock in the LGBTI community, you know that STI’s are often of concern, especially for gay men. Health departments track these little buggers every year.1 Every so often there is a bigger outbreak than usual. When this happens it almost always seems to start in the two coastal regions, especially in the denser or larger cities. As it spreads, it tends to move inward hitting bigger cities first, and then filtering down to rural areas. There are always statistically larger and persistent spikes in poorer and/or overly religious states as it filters inward. It continues to filter inwards until a loosely coast to coast coverage exists.

This is a general reference and not at statistical analysis. I’ve always paid attention to these sort of “trends”, as I think it gives critical insight into developing tools to combat disease transmission. I mention it today because I feel like the COVID-19 pandemic is following an eerily similar pattern, especially in the afore mentioned poor and/or overly religious states. One can see a real correlation between the spread and those who, thru bias and/or willful ignorance, downplay the dangers of the virus.

I’ve been wondering if health departments have been using the same models to predict the spread of COVID-19. It would certainly make sense if they did. I haven’t seen any specific mentions in media or print, but that could easily be because of the distasteful association people often make with STI’s.2 There are important distinctions between STI’s and COVID-19, but the transmission vectors are very similar just on a much larger scale.

I guess I don’t really have a point to my ramble today. I am just pondering random ideas relating to the pandemic. I’ve been trying to focus more on the science side to avoid being continually furious at ‘the stupid’. I won’t even go into the “re-openings” happening in states with ever increasing numbers of new cases. I’ve realized it is pointless and just leaves me depressed. What I will see say on the subject is we are already seeing spikes in many of the states that relaxed the rules too early or didn’t really restrict public exposure.

California is moving into phase 2 of the 4 phase plan originally outlined by the Governor. The numbers have jumped in SF in the last week, but that has more to do with broader testing and specific groups within the community. We were fortunate to go just under 4 days with no new reported deaths in San Francisco. Testing is now readily available to all citizens in SF as well. I personally feel it should be forced onto people returning to the work-force vs voluntary.

That is it I guess for the moment. I’m sort of rambling here, just airing out some thoughts.

  1. Ironically, health departments in larger cities have improved their modeling tools to specifically track and combat the spread of STI’s. []
  2. It is because of this association that many areas of the country sometimes see continually higher than average numbers of STI cases. []

Tested Negative

Unfortunately, I tested negative for the SARS-COV-2 antibodies, otherwise known as COVID-19. And I say unfortunately because I had hoped for a positive test.1 It would have alleviated some fear of exposing the hubby and the roommate. The hubby got laid off so he is at home every day. The roommate still works but he is practically alone in his office so I’m pretty much the exposure risk. I still work 4-days a week. I am somewhat isolated in my current assignment but I work in a small office with 3 people. Even with masks on, any single exposure would mean an exposure for all of us.

I took a blood test, not the unreliable nasal swab. The test is rated 99.9% effective with a 100% sensitivity. That basically means the chances of false negatives are very remote. I was fortunate to get it done thru LabCorp, which is the lab provider for my insurance. I didn’t even have a co-pay. I got a doctor’s order, dropped by the lab, *stab*, *bandage*, and off I went. I had results in about a day and a half.

There is no scientific consensus yet on the idea of immunity once you do have antibodies. And the common flu is so varied that antibodies to one strain are useless against another strain. However, the common flu has been around much much longer and had lots of time to mutate wildly. Being so new in humans, even with the mutations we know of, I would have felt a lot better knowing I was at least a little bit immune.

It has taken a told on my mental well-being constantly worrying about bringing it home. *knock on wood* My work has only had 1 confirmed case since the beginning. We are all very grateful for that. And before I leave work every day, I go in the bathroom and bathe myself in disinfectant wipes. I carry an additional one in my pocket so I can avoid touching surfaces like door handles. I am horribly absent-minded so I’ve tried to create habits for myself to avoid slipping up. Most people don’t realize how easily they can touch or share contaminated space and end up becoming a transmitter. Anyway, I worry less for myself and more for them.

We are relatively healthy so we would probably be ok, but I’d rather not play games with anyone’s health, including my own. So yeah, knowing all the realities, it still would have put me a little more at ease. I would not have relaxed my vigilance at protecting myself or others, but I would have worried less. I can only control my own actions and have all but given up on trying to encourage others to do better. On the daily, I see people flaunting the shelter-in-place restrictions. Frankly, I’ve stopped caring as it is less stressful and I have enough to worry about.

  1. Not something you routinely hear anyone say. lol []

True Colors

It has been disheartening to see people’s true colors during this pandemic. With the death of another friend recently, it has hit me much harder than expected seeing people I know, in varying degrees, routinely violating shelter in place (SIP) orders.

And don’t get it twisted, I’m not referring to the idiots protesting and opening churches, etc. Our media may focus on them for the sensationalism, but they are a tiny part of the whole. No, I’m mostly referring to people I feel a stronger connection to personally. I think the overall impact from seeing it in person and on social media has dented my belief in humanity. And you would think in my line of work I’d already be pretty jaded, but you would be wrong. I pride myself on knowing even the bulk of my work does not represent the majority of people. I work hard not to let it overwhelm my optimism.

And I don’t necessarily think of these people as bad. Most people aren’t “good” or “bad”. I’m fond of saying, “good people are capable of bad things and bad people are capable of good things.” But that doesn’t mean I necessarily want you in my life or affecting my personal bubble. And therein lies my bitch today. Having lost folks I know to the pandemic and almost lost others, on top of my work, this is a tangible and real threat to me. The outright indifference to the harm or even death they could cause is painful to witness. I’m certainly not perfect and this isn’t about painting myself as some holier-than-thou.

I’m keen on referring to our indifference as a society leading to our demise. I see people, who I think know better, being indifferent to the damage and harm they could cause. If I’m being open, it has cut me to my core in a way I didn’t expect. My own efforts to teach and spread awareness routinely fall on deaf ears and I’ve given up on that now. This ordeal has brought back some very old feelings of helplessness that plagued me for so long as a young man. I can’t tell you at this moment if that feeling or my own sense of right & wrong is the trigger. Either way, I can feel the bitter anger breaking mental connections I feel for various people.

Maybe I’m being petty right now, but I have already started purging these people from my own sphere of consciousness. Social media is easy, as you just make a few mouse clicks and their gone. In real life will be a different story. And it isn’t like I plan to be rude or attack these folks. I may not be perfect but I am better than that. They just won’t be someone I engage with anymore.

Even as I type this, I realize this is a first world problem. I am very fortunate and accept that with gratitude. Even with Shawn getting laid off, we are still in a good place. I’m also not referring to anyone forced to choose between staying home or putting food on their table by going to work. So many people out there are losing everything right now. These folks have nothing but my support and sympathy, but that makes the indifference I see in others that much worse in my eyes.

If you are reading this, I hope you are taking this threat seriously. I hope if you have little to fear, you still realize the impact you could have on others by inadvertently spreading it. And I hope you have the intestinal fortitude to realize you can be inconvenienced for a month or two for the safety of everyone around you. Your freedom shouldn’t come at the cost of someone else’s.

Total Authority

I deliberately waited a few days to see if anyone on the right-leaning side of politics would freak out over Trumps declaration this week. In a tantrum over states doing more than he is to protect their citizens, he declared, “I have total authority over when the states will reopen their economies….” I’m paraphrasing a bit but the gist is the same. As the famous commercial poking fun at Facebook goes, “that’s not how this works, that’s now how any of this works….

At every turn, the right-leaning folks were tearing down President Obama over his executive orders.1 They acted like he attempted to be a King instead of a duly elected president. It was a routine talking point throughout his entire 8-year presidency. The outrage and talking points were never ending. The propaganda engine ran 24/7 selling the narrative President Obama was trying to be a king. He was “abusing his authority” and “after your guns“.2 Naturally, the republican base ate it up.

Fast forward to now and no one has said anything about Trump’s alarming statement. Of course, state media Faux news is congratulating him and touting is actions as ‘strong leader’. Forgetting for a moment Trump has repeatedly demonstrated a consistent lack of understanding of even basic civics, he all but declared himself King. The right is falling all over themselves to support him. Actually, I take that back. Let us NOT forget Trump’s lack of understanding of basic civics. Rather than accepting he doesn’t understand everything, he fires anyone who dares to stand for honesty or integrity over his narrative. He lies so often he contradicts himself almost daily now. You only have to pay attention to see it. Worse, he has crippled our democracy by allowing functional depts that handle our safety and infrastructure to go unmanned. He is creating a bottle neck where anything that doesn’t go thru him doesn’t get done. He is making himself a de facto king and no one on the right cares. In fact, they are celebrating it.

I don’t need to say a big chunk of my extended family is conservative. Not a peep out of any of them. Granted, the pandemic is a bit of a distraction right now so it could be argued they are distracted. However, I’ve yet to see a single one mention how terrible Trump has been on handling this crisis. We’ve now lost a family member who was exposed in a hospital for an unrelated illness and still not a peep. Granted, a big chunk of them also don’t vote so I guess there is a silver lining there.

I’m just so ashamed of my fellow man and the apathy demonstrated by so many in regards to our declining way of life. The system is crumbling and when it crashes it will be too late to ask questions.

Hope springs eternal…

  1. Even though he issued far fewer than his previous republican predecessors []
  2. And yet, we ended up with less regulation on guns as a law banning assault rifles, passed by a republican president and a republican controlled congress with the full support of the NRA, was not renewed. []

Mask 4 Mask

First, I hope you are all safe and sound. If you are reading this I assume you are at least in a position to be ok. Keep up with the social distancing and if you are going to cover your face, please pay attention.

I’ve been a vocal proponent of people NOT wearing masks from the beginning of the outbreak. The primary reason is they offer little protection to the wearer and most people contaminate or negate any protections given by wearing a mask. More importantly, masks are in such short supply the people who need them most cannot get them. If all the healers are sick and you get sick, who will treat you? I work in public safety and I cannot stress this enough! And, unless you are already required to wear an N95 mask, you most likely will not benefit from wearing one.

Experts and the CDC were against recommending masks for many of the reasons I’m about to go into below. However, because of updated info they have now changed that recommendation. There is one reason for this change. A large percentage of people can have little to no symptoms. These folks can be mass spreaders of the virus without even realizing it.1

  • If you are going to wear a mask or face covering, you are doing so to protect others from you. You are not protecting yourself. It might make you feel better but you shouldn’t let your guard down. Droplets contaminated with the virus can pass right thru a face mask with relative ease. Plus, the longer you wear it, the more moisture builds up, which can inadvertently trap particles right in front of your mouth.
  • The goal is to prevent less particles from spewing into the air potentially infecting others. Combined with social distancing of 6 feet, a mask can be more effective than not wearing one, as long as you remember bullet point one above. The recommendation of 6 feet is based on the relative distance breath particles are expelled when a person coughs. People wearing masks often feel a sense of safety and are less likely to engage in proper social distancing. Please do not fall for this.
  • Do not rush out and try to buy masks if you don’t already have one. You can use a bandanna, scarf, or other dense piece of fabric. You can google “bandanna face mask” for several super quick and easy tips for converting a bandanna to a face mask. These are no more or less effective than the regular masks you see. Most people incorrectly assume clinical staff wear masks for self-protection. No. They wear them to prevent exposing the sick or injured to more potential illnesses.
  • Once on, do not adjust, touch, or otherwise move the mask unless you have just sanitized your hands. That means you don’t pull it down to talk. I see so many people doing this I just want to put head to desk over it.
  • If using fabric or a mask that can be washed, wash it often. The longer you go without changing or sanitizing it the higher the risk to yourself. As mentioned, moisture and particles build up on the mask the longer you wear it.

Please, for the love of crackers, do not rush out and wear N95 masks unless you are trained to properly wear one.2 Every single person I’ve personally seen wearing an N95 in public has contaminated it at least once while observing them. N95 masks (or those rated higher) are the only masks that offer YOU any sense of protection. But just like regular masks, they are only as good as the safeguards you observe.

  • RULE #1 N95 masks should only be touched by clean sanitized hands at all times. There are NO exceptions to this rule! Make sure your face is clean as well.
  • No beard or goatee. A small mustache can be worn but it is not recommended. The mask needs to make a seal on your face and cannot do so with hair on your face. Oh yeah, now I have your attention! lolol
  • If you have never worn an N95 mask please google the instructions on how to properly wear before attempting to do so. Once the mask is on, do not touch it for any reason unless you have thoroughly sanitized your hands. The moment you touch the mask to adjust it, move it, pull it up so you can speak, you have negated any protection it offers you. You might as well take it off. Please also review how to properly sanitize the mask if you plan to reuse it.

You should never wear a mask more than one day unless you have sanitized it. Reusable masks are an extremely high risk vector for exposure. Wash yo damn hands! And if you cover your face I hope my recommendations help. Yes, I know folks want to wear them so they don’t touch their face. Trust me, I know! I constantly touch my face. I’m with you. However, having a false sense of safety doesn’t actually protect you or others.

I leave you with well wishes and safety for you and yours.

  1. The parallels from the latter to HIV transmission is not lost on me here. []
  2. Or if you wear a mask for other health reasons on a regular basis []

Can’t Fix Stupid

I have given up trying to encourage folks to overcome their entitlements and “know better” attitudes. And not just online, I’ve had interactions with friends and distant family alike who “know better” and plan to act accordingly. I can’t fix stupid so after this rant, I’m done.

COVID-19 is a novel1 virus we as a species have never been exposed to before. So unlike a lot of more common variations of Coronaviruses2, we do not have genetic, inherited, or even direct resistance to it. This creates a new risk factor that cannot yet be calculated. More importantly, it is showing a high level mutation factor. There are reports of blood types and certain genetic factors giving you some resistance but not immunity, but even those are still correlative right now.

Many states have implemented shelter-in-place orders. And unlike an order to quarantine under martial law, you can still go out for personal care and the care of those you are directly responsible for. You can walk and get out of the house for fresh air as long as you maintain social distance from anyone not already in your immediate household. You can shop for food and necessities. You can walk your pets. You can go to the bank, gas stations, convenient stores, laundry facilities, etc. You can still order food from restaurants, albeit to-go or delivery in most areas. On top of that, beyond the hoarding, the nation is not experiencing a food shortage.3 You are not in danger of starving, dehydration, or even doing without most day to day necessities. So in essence, you are being asked to inconvenience yourself. How terrible, right? /sarcasm

If you live in an area where you can get tested, great. If you ‘need’ to travel or interact with others who are considered high risk, you should get tested. If you aren’t, then you do not need testing without symptoms. More importantly, the test itself is only as good as your self-isolation. The moment you go out in public, touch surfaces, or interact closely with anyone, your test is no longer relevant. Self-isolation is meant to protect you as much, if not more, people who are at higher risk. Those being the elderly, immune-compromised, cancer patients, advanced cardiac or respiratory illness patients, diabetics, etc. You can have zero symptoms and inadvertently pass the virus onto them. You might not even get sick and still pass it on.

While there is no need to panic, there is good reason to be concerned and take precautions. There is zero reason to hoard or panic buy. There is no need to buy more than 2-3 weeks worth of necessities at a time. And Christ on a cracker, you do NOT need to wear a damn mask unless you are coughing, regardless of exposure! A regular face mask will not protect you in the slightest. An N95 mask is only as good as the seal it makes on you face, which most folks constantly touch and or fuss with. So again, not helpful. More importantly, by buying all the N95 masks, you are depriving the essential service personnel of these much needed items.

This entitlement idea that ‘your freedoms’ are being restricted is nonsense. First of all, “your” freedom is not guaranteed at the expense of everyone else. And you aren’t being enlisted to fight a war, jump on the front lines with police, fire, & medical staff, or even lift a finger. You are being asked to self-isolate by staying at home. You are literally being asked to do nothing. If you are so petty as to not overcome being inconvenienced, then you deserve whatever happens to you IMO.

Yes, you may have to cancel trips, weddings, family gatherings, etc. Yes, you may have to avoid loved ones who do not live in your immediate househould.4 Yes, you might not be able to go to the gym,5 bar, or sporting event. So in essence, you are being inconvenienced. The end.

Listen and live or be foolish, your choice. With the latter. the life you lose may not be your own.

  1. meaning: new []
  2. note, it is one word, not two []
  3. The distribution is being impacted from panic-buyers and hoarders, but there is no shortage. []
  4. If only we had some sort of technology to over come that isolation…like cellphones and video chats! []
  5. oh lawd I am sooo struggling with this one []

Schock-ed!

Oh look, the hypocrite finally came out. Color no one surprised, henny! Seriously, we all knew! How could you NOT know?! He is only coming out now because he is being continually hounded and exposed for the continual liar and hypocrite he is.1 I admit my seething hatred for people like this is hard to control. I have tons of terribly vile and yet appropriate names for him beyond the truthful ones, but I won’t allow myself to go on a personal tirade because I strive to be better than that. Nor will I link directly to his BS non-apology apology statement.

Beside piggy-backing on the self-loathing LCR crowd with his whole straight white male charade, he had to add insult to injury and be one of the most conservative voting members in the house, even beyond LGBTI rights. He bragged every chance he got about how conservative he was.

  • He repeatedly voted against all gay rights.
  • He voted against amendments to include sexual orientation and gender identity as hate crimes.
  • He supported the marriage act.2
  • He aligned himself with the AFA, who hates all of us and wants us criminals or dead.
  • He voted against the repeal of DADT.3

So, no. Your BS letter does not make up for all the horrible things you did. It does not excuse you from being a crook and a liar while you were in office. And it certainly doesn’t make you “one of us” now that you were hounded into finally admitting the truth.

Simply put, until you show some real contrition and make an effort to undue the damage you’ve done, go fuck yourself!

  1. I know, terrible way to end a sentence. []
  2. I don’t think he ever got a chance to vote for it as it didn’t come up again during his tenure from what I remember. []
  3. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell []

For Real

You know it is getting real over COVID-19 fears when Amazon Prime deliveries for same and next day delivery only show available 3 and 4 days later! lol

People are seriously freaking out. I always get a sick tickle over stuff like this because we think we are so civilized as a society. You throw in an unknown and people lose their minds. Don’t get me wrong, you should be concerned and take some precautions, like washing yo damn hands with soap and water often. Don’t run buy a bunch of masks that offer almost no protection.

My work is in hyper drive over it to say the least. The emergency response center is already activated even though we don’t yet have a single documented case in the city. But hey, better safe than sorry, right? *shrug*

I wish people put this much worry in preventing the spread of the flu every year. You know that virus that kills tens of thousands every year since 2010. People barely make an effort to get a vaccine readily available every year but OMG COVID is coming for us all!

Don’t even get me started on the conspiracy theories floating around already. Imma need a drink before I can even attempt to tackle that one.1

  1. A recent survey last week showed roughly 30% of people questioned thought there was a link to the Corona brand beer! []

McA**hole

I usually avoid direct topical stories but these one hits close to home on so many levels. I’m so angry I could break something.

Kansas cop resigns after fake claim that McDonald’s employee wrote ‘pig’ on his cup

This particular story hit home on my feelings. With all the bad press law enforcement officers get these days, this was totally unnecessary. This entitled jerk brought shame to law enforcement everywhere. I firmly wish he had been fired vs being allowed to resign.1 This was a deplorable act that damages the trust we place in those who are supposed to serve and protect us.

It doesn’t help the law enforcement are already heavily marginalized by our sensationalist style media these days. These incidents are rare but because of the way we consume news for outrage, you’d think it was everywhere. Fun facts: There are just under 700,000 law enforcement personnel in the US.2 Of those, the abuse of power complaints are less than 10%.3 Should it be 10%? Of course not, but when we are talking about perception vs reality, it sets a very relevant point. This also does not mention the 60,211 assaults on law enforcement.4 No one ever mentions that part. And yes, people sign up for law enforcement knowing there are inherent dangers. That doesn’t make said dangers any less relevant.

The idea a Chief or high ranking officer would doubt the word of his officer used to be unheard of. I can well understand the Chief’s embarrassment and shock over discovering he needed to fact-check is own officer. (It doesn’t help that all the negative coverage of LE has discouraged many from even considering a job as an officer. I can’t help but wonder how low the bar gets sometimes to get cadets in the door.) This whole incident was just…unnecessary.

The one thing law enforcement in this country needs is citizen involvement. When the powers that be know they are being watched and potentially held accountable, they are less likely to abuse said power. I’m not talking about outrage on social media either. I’m talking about your community. Get involved. Indifference and outrage on social media does absolutely nothing but increase the problem exponentially.

And I’m not some rabid fanboy. Growing up in E. Texas as a little gay boy I discovered more than once what the police thought of the LGBT community back then. I was openly called a queer and fag to my face by police on multiple occasions; including once in a gay bar by the officer paid to staff as extra security. But things change. I now work for a law enforcement agency and have many friends who are cops and they are good people. They don’t go out hoping to shoot someone. They do the job and go home to their families, just like you and I. For every bad cop you hear about there are at least a 100 more you never hear about. Why? Because good news doesn’t generate outrage or ad-clicks. My point here is be outraged by individuals, not whole organizations. If I marginalized everyone based on the news I’d think all pit bulls are killers, all priests molest kids, and all gay spread HIV on purpose. Let us not become the oppressors we fight so hard to overcome.

I’m just so angry over this story today.

  1. He could potentially get a job elsewhere as a cop since he wasn’t fired. []
  2. As of 2018, Statista reports []
  3. USA Today Tarnished Brass article 2019 []
  4. FBI’s Uniform Crime Report 2017 LEOKA report []

Body

flex

Consider this my “Body” issue where I blather on about different aspects of my struggle to stay fit along with random observations. Pretty trivial stuff ahead. You were warned.

I’m just a month away from my 49th year. (One year closer to ancient. hehehe) You can judge for yourself but I think I’m doing pretty good. But, like any guy, especially in the gay world, I always struggle with my size. It doesn’t get me depressed but I’d be lying if I said I don’t worry over it at times. There are days where I just don’t “feel pretty.” But considering my age I’m proud of where I am.

I injured myself a couple times this past year primarily because I was pushing myself too hard in the gym. I’m not a young man anymore and designing workouts that push the limits of my joints just isn’t smart. I’ve restructured my workout regimen to give my joints, tendons, and ligaments a break this next year. My health is important to me as much as ‘looking ‘purdy.‘ I want to continue being able to work out as I age. Realizing it is time to adapt is the first step.

I have noticed more and more guys my age tend not to work out. Not a blanket assumption but an honest observation. From an attraction stand point it makes it a bit hard to be attracted to guys ‘my age‘ when they tend to be outside my spectrum of attraction.1 Luckily, I have a wide range of age and types I’m into. On the flip side, I have apparently landed squarely in the “Daddy” category. I ain’t mad but it tends to be a limiting view.

A guy felt the need to ‘try’ shame me on FB recently because I dared say I didn’t support someone’s choice in an article discussing his transition from a twink to a bear. He deliberately gained a significant amount of weight (fat weight, not muscle). The clear implication was he did it from an insecurity. I didn’t shame the person in the article but commented on how he first commented he was still very healthy while needing to go on blood pressure meds and needing to be monitored by his doctor. That’s not healthy. Anyway, said guy felt the need to come for me because I didn’t glorify it. I don’t feel like we should trade one restrictive stereotypical look for another one and glorify it. If that makes me the bad guy, well I guess I’m the bad guy.

In other news, I’m still on the low carb restriction. I try avoid processed carbs, like pasta and breads. I stick to rice/tators, which I love so not terrible. My only real regret is the pasta. I’ve had a life long love of pasta. I splurge every so often but that is a better choice than a daily meal of processed carbs. I find I do seem to be less tired during the days and keeping my weight at a level I like doesn’t seem to require the mountains worth of cardio I was doing before. Basically, my insulin sensitivity has returned to a better range.

My words of wisdom in regards to your body are simple. Accept yourself, flaws and all. But, if you don’t like your shape, do something about it. Don’t look for excuses not to make an effort. You can accept yourself and strive to be better at the same time. In a world filled with convenience over health, it isn’t always easy. But who said life was easy?

  1. Having a younger very attractive muscle cub for a husband helps. []