Mask-less

I ran a small experiment on FB the other day to prove an idea. I asked, “Why did you trust the CDC recommendation to wear a mask but don’t trust them now saying it’s ok not to wear one?1 And it worked in favor of the discussion that the CDC under trump was constantly being meddled with but is now being run based on the science with no interference from the Biden HHS appointee.

The answers were varied but pretty much what I expected. A common thread was many would continue “out of an abundance of caution.” And to be clear, I’m not trying to shame anyone or even be judgmental. My thoughts couldn’t be further from that. You should do what makes you feel safe. It did validate my theory though. Human beings have a hard time updating their moral/ethical standards. They do not adapt well to standards that changes too quickly. It cuts to the core of how we process our reality. When the idea of right and wrong changes too quickly many people develop of sense of disbelief. This disbelief can lead to fear, anger, shock, judgment, and/or even a larger disconnect from the world around them. When you add in a lack of knowledge (willful or otherwise), religion, or other biases it only serves to increase the disconnect.

Just as one example, look how many gay men fought the idea of PrEP.2 PrEP has been around for years now and has consistently and repeatedly proven to be a better preventative measure to the spread of HIV than condoms. However, there are still contingents within the community who know better. The latter is often based more on biases and personal judgment than science, but that isn’t the point today. The triggers are deeper than than. After 3 decades of having the idea that “safe sex is sex with a condom” pounded into our heads, many men (and women) simply can’t process the idea of it suddenly not being applicable anymore. I see it more in older gay men, many of which witnessed the agony and suffering caused by AIDS and it’s devastation on our community. To wake up one day and be told, “condoms are fine but bareback is now perfectly fine IF you use this drug” simply does not compute. In our brains, we “know” what works. We understand the simple idea of placing a barrier between ourselves and others as a form of protection. The idea of removing that physical barrier we can see in favor of a drug treatment barrier3 just “seems wrong” to many.

Another common answer was people “couldn’t trust others to be honest about their vaccination status.” That is an admirable approach; however, why is it your responsibility to protect those who are willfully ignorant or refuse to get vaccinated, especially since we don’t do this for other vaccinations? Why is this one suddenly different? Is it really caution or the disbelief in a suddenly changing moral standard? Hmmm? And looking at the risk, it is no longer an equal equation. We collectively make a social contract to protect each other by each person respectively doing their part. When it was equal you saw me constantly encouraging folks to wear their masks and social distance. I’m all about harm reduction. As a vaccinated person I’m not really keeping anyone else safer now by wearing my mask.4  As an unvaccinated person, you should continue to wear your mask and avoid overly crowded places. However, if you refuse to get vaccinated, it is no longer an equal equation and you are shifting the burden onto others. The social contract is broken.

If you are still worried for yourself due to other health issues that is certainly ok. Again, at no point is this discussion meant to dissuade anyone from doing what they feel is right for themselves.

Vaccinations are readily available almost everywhere in the US now and availability is increasing every day. Vaccinations are free and you can now get a free Uber/Lyft ride to your local vaccination sites. You have no excuse not to get vaccinated. We have so many doses of the vaccines now we are sending them to other countries still in dire need.

The last popular argument was a lack of trust in the CDC over pressure to reopen. I do think the CDC feels some pressure to ‘open up’ society, but not at the expense of a rising death toll. They know some will still become infected and potentially even die. However, our safe guards are about harm reduction. From a medical viewpoint, we will have to COVID in our lives for years to come. The degree of danger from it is lower every day now. We have reached an important threshold, even at just 50% immunity. Our emergency response systems, including hospitals, are unlikely to be overwhelmed by new patients. It is likely we will eventually reach over 60% of the country being vaccinated, 70% if we are lucky. And while still below the “herd immunity” threshold, that just means, as alluded above,  we will end up with yearly booster shots, much like the flu virus. It could be with us indefinitely due to variants or just a few years until we reach a real herd immunity. Eventually, those not vaccinated are likely to contract it. They could also suffer reinfection from variants, but again much like the flu, they are less likely to be hospitalized or die after surviving a first infection.

There are always other health variables for an individual to consider, so you should do what makes you feel safe. For myself, I trust the science and am comfortable with my decision to go mask-less where it is allowed. I think many of us aren’t really worried as much as we are conflicted on an evolving standard.

  1. If you came here from the FB post, thanks for your response. []
  2. Pre-Exposure Prophylactic []
  3. that many often do not understand completely []
  4. Yes, there are exceptions but those are in the small minority. []

8 Years

The hubby and I recently passed our 8-year anniversary. There wasn’t much fanfare or hullaballoo this year because….COVID. He doesn’t like a lot of fuss anyway. We’ve settled into a life together so the milestone seems almost unimportant.

This last year has been rough because…COVID. He hates working from home and I don’t blame him. I could not work from home. Or let me rephrase that, I could not work from home successfully. Home is sanctuary and there are simply too many distractions and no motivation to keep me working. I could not imagine being tortured into working from home full time. Maybe, and I stress the maybe, if we had a big enough space to have an office setup that we only did work in. It couldn’t be a multi purpose room as anything else would probably distract me. Then, maybe, I could be productive. Maybe…

Having had our vaccinations, we are both finally venturing out there again. In the beginning, I almost felt guilty for not having to worry. We had a friend visit from Florida that wanted to have lunch while he was here and we agreed.1  That seemed to be the impetus that pushed us back out there. We both were so pleased to have such a simple social interaction it was like a breath of fresh air. I think that lunch made us realize we had passed a milestone. Now we are both eager to get out there again. And now that the CDC has clarified vaccinated people cannot inadvertently spread the virus, we’ve planned trips for the end of this month!

I just hope we keep up the pace of vaccinations before a wild variant pops up fully resistant to the current crop of vaccines. Shawn seems to think it won’t happen, but I am not so sure. I guess my faith in people has been damaged because I am definitely worried about it. And yet, I’m so eager for some normalcy again. I honestly don’t think I could survive another year of isolation. And in a bit of good news, even with the isolation depression, we didn’t have any big fights! I guess that is a good sign we are well suite for each other. I mean 8 years! Who does that?2

 

 

 

  1. I’ve had friends I’ve met up solo with for lunch but this was our first outing together since the beginning of the pandemic. []
  2. Of course I’m being sarcastic. []

Optimisitic

First, thank you to the folks who reached out to me after my last post. I wasn’t down or depressed. I find talking about it quite therapeutic. It was on my mind so I put pen to paper, so to speak. But, yes I’m doing well.

I’ve found myself feeling optimistic again lately. It helps that we are back in the gym again…again. I feel like we’ve crossed a major hurdle now and we are over the worst of this pandemic. The supply is now on track and a 3rd vaccine just got an EUA.1 It is my prediction we won’t see anymore severe lockdowns, at least here in California. Hopefully, my words bear out to be true.

Speaking of the gym, after the first severe lockdown and they sorted out a tier system, I had the roughest time getting back into a solid gym routine. Ironically, right when I found my stride they got shut down again. We’ve been back at it for a couple weeks now and this time it wasn’t as hard. It was a shorter break but I was surprised I didn’t need the extra weeks to build back endurance. The weight I’m slinging is still much lower, but it feels good to be back.

Fun fact, the government will not mandate the vaccine. Vaccines released under EUA aren’t eligible for mandatory vaccination orders. While I trust the sciences, EUAs are designed to allow for immediate use while study continues. However, that does not mean you won’t see restrictions on day to day activities from private companies. You may end up having to show proof to go back to in-person work, fly, or return as an adult to college, etc.

Locally, we are moving into the Red Tier this week. Red is still restrictive but a lot of businesses, including restaurants, get to re-open at limited capacity.  New cases have been below 100 per day for almost two weeks now and available ICU beds are way up. It seems people in general are more optimistic and looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, as vaccinations rise, we will ease back to normal by year end. I’ve even seen some big events toward the end of the year start planning for in person gatherings.

For myself, I miss hugging. Such a small thing but I miss it. Sure, I miss traveling. I miss the ease of just “doing things”, but it’s the little things I miss the most. I miss the casual intimacy that comes from being close to people you know. I’m eagerly looking forward to it.

As always, hope springs eternal…

  1. Emergency Use Authorization []

Herd

So today, the official response from the Whitehouse (WH) is they now endorse herd immunity as a regimen to combat the spread of covid-19.

First, here is the definition of “herd immunity”:

the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.

“the level of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity varies by disease but ranges from 83 to 94 percent”

Webster’s dictionary

Based on that, herd immunity is currently impossible. We cannot use herd immunity as a treatment regimen because we don’t have a vaccine!

The WH’s deliberate misinterpretation of the idea is to do nothing. Just let everyone be exposed and see who lives and dies. That is NOT herd immunity. This approach pushes the death toll into the millions, not the low hundreds of thousands like we have now. Just one percent of the US population, just one (1) percent, is over three (3) million people!  If we jump that up to five (5) percent, the death toll is just under 17 million people.

For perspective, one percent is more than the entire population of Phoenix, AZ. Five percent is more than the entire population of the New York City metro area. And this does not take into account the millions more who will struggle with lingering illness for weeks or months.

Even if you’re dumb and deaf, you can understand how insanely stupid and dangerous this is.

Voting has never been more important. It is heartening to see many cities are reporting record numbers of registered voters as well as early voting. Vote like your life depends on it because it just might this time.

Mood

Look! Another post NOT about politics! Yay!

It’s been just over a month now and surprisingly the gyms are still open. There was only a minor bump in covid-19 cases here in SF from the Labor day weekend.1  I think many people here learned their lesson from Memorial day, which saw a huge spike.

Anyway, it is good to be back in the gym. Due to restrictions, we are still at a 1-hour limit. You book online and then show up to workout. Once the hour is done, they kick everyone out for the next group. I’m at the point where the hour limit has become a little restraining. This tells me I’m steadily moving back to a solid routine. My regular workouts are around an hour and 15-20 minutes. I’ve been easing back into my workouts to avoid injury. I will need to tweak my sets now to get the same burn. Prior to the pandemic, I had just gotten to a point where both the shoulder and arm were all healed up. I’m have no interest in repeating my past mistakes. The first couple weeks back were the worst with soreness, but now it is the ‘normal sore‘.

My general mood has improved drastically. This is sort of the reason for my rant today. It might seem trivial but I just feel better most days. I am not as depressed over the state of our country. The negative shit I read on social media doesn’t seem to hit me as hard. For lack of a better description, I just feel better and I like it! hehehe People often denigrate gym goers as narcissistic and shallow, and while that may be true for some, it is most definitely not true for all. I find my general optimism has returned as well. It has been a most welcome change. The daily onslaught of worsening news was wearing me down. And while I certainly haven’t dismissed the very real problems in our society, I feel better able to face the day now. Now, if I can just shed this thick gut I’ve developed.

Shawn and I have been hitting the gym pretty much every weekend. I work 4-10’s so I get a 3-day weekend.2  I squeeze in an extra gym day on my Friday, since I don’t have to get up early the next day, which makes for a solid 4 day gym schedule. I will often try to squeeze in at least one day for cardio during the week, but it’s a bit erratic so far. ‘Cause we all know how much I looooove cardio!

I certainly recommend getting in exercise if you can. It doesn’t have to be a gym. You can go for walks, runs, bike rides, etc. Whatever gets you moving and your heart rate up. It might be tough at first, but you will find it definitely helps your moods.

 

  1. Meanwhile, over half of the country is spiking again. []
  2. Oh, I forgot to mention he has gone back to work, albeit temporarily for a contract job. []

Sore

OMFG! I’m dying! Ok, not really, I’m just sore as hell.

The gyms here were finally allowed to open in a limited capacity.  (Last week, but I waited a few days to jump back in.)) Luckily, one location has an outdoor area setup. They basically took over one of their fenced-in parking lots and put a tent over it. I digress, back to the dying. Lawd, I am sore. Like, “ouch, I can barely bend my arm” sore.

I swear I didn’t over-do it. I did biceps the first day back because I figured1 everyone else would be doing chest. It has been over 5 months since I sat foot in the gym. If we flashback you will remember I was very happy with myself after surviving a lack of carbs in my diet.2  I was reaching a nice definition phase on the old physique. Of course, BAM! Pandemic hit. Now me and my pudgy squishy belly need to get back into it. So I start super light on the weight. Literally, I was doing less than half my normal curl weight. The next day and the day after I could bare bend my damn forearms! I was almost worried I had somehow torn them without realizing it.3  It was excruciating. I know, “poor me” with my first world problems. I’m not unawares. Anyway, I followed up with chest and then legs over my 3-day weekend. I went even lower on chest and legs as a result of my ‘arms on fire’ routine. Right on queue, they are extra sore too. They weren’t as bad as the forearms, so maybe it was good I got freaked out a little. Today, I am still sore all over, but the forearms are a dull ache now, thankfully.

It sucks getting old. I’ll be the big 5-0 this next year so I know my body isn’t as spry as it used to be, but come on! Good Lawd! lol  I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in the gym. It might seem trivial, but it is more than just a vain desire to look good. Working out as long as I have, it is big part of my daily life. I go thru phases where I sort of rebel but those are days and weeks, not months! If I ever bitch about dragging my ass to the gym again, point me back to this post. I honestly did not expect to miss it so much. It weighed on me (pun intended) and brought down my mood. Beyond the vanity and health benefits, I don’t think I properly valued how much it affects my mental well-being. Speaking of well-being, I have a sad news post but I’m saving it for later.

And if you fuckers ruin this for me, there will be hell to pay! I will summon the mega of all Mega-Karens to track each and every one of you down and staple that damn mask to your face! /sarcasm. Seriously though, after Labor day I’m worried a new jump in cases is coming. We were doing so well here in the bay area in the beginning. Then we got complacent and ruined it. We are finally back to a point where we can take more risks and get out there a bit more. I don’t care what your feelings are on the subject of masks, but if you want our favorite places to open, wear your mask and maintain distance! Do it for the gym! lol

I was a wee bit nervous, even with knowing it was outdoors. Fitness SF came thru though. While sparse, the setup was spacious and well regulated. You are given a bottle of disinfectant with your towel. There are signs everywhere reminding folks to clean the equipment before and after use. You get an hour sign up and they boot everyone out at the end of each hour. Indoor areas are allowed to open this week with limited capacity, but I’m not there yet. While the daily new cases are dropping, I’m just not trusting the indoor setup. Thankfully, the gym plans to keep outdoor area going for at least another couple months!

*stretching arms* Ouch! It hurts! heeheee

  1. rightly so after arriving []
  2. The struggle was real! []
  3. For some reason, I am always sorest the 2nd day after a workout. []

“Ma Freedums”

Only in ‘murica do we argue against the entire scientific community1 on proper precautions to avoid the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus. And because we live in a economy with zero safe-guards or systems to survive this kind of crisis, many are forced into the false choice of opening up everything to ‘save’ jobs and the economy or close everything and keep people safe but let the economy crash. This is what comes from unregulated capitalism aka greed.

The right wing propaganda campaign has convinced 10’s of thousands of Americans the pandemic is hoax, and only when it bites them in the ass do they suddenly realize it isn’t. Forgetting a hoax would require the complete and total cooperation of the global medical community, counted in the low millions of people, the rest of the free world is already recovering from the pandemic and slowly reopening their economies. Meanwhile, our new cases and deaths are setting new records almost weekly now.

And when it isn’t ‘hoax’, it is a conspiracy. Depending on which version you read, it was deliberately spread from China, created in a lab who knows where, a giant ploy by the Democrats to throw the election, and/or [insert famous person’s name here] ploy for world subjugation. A global pandemic just to get 45 out of office? You’d rather believe that than the cold hard truth?

Then we get to the mask propaganda, which has reached levels previously relegated to the Hilary/pizzgate drama. Only in ‘murica is being required to wear a mask to protect yourself and others considered tyranny, a democratic ploy, a sign of the end times, an enactment of a world order meant to enslave all humans, or taking away ‘my freedums’. Take your pick.

If you get your news primarily from social media, it is easy to think the majority of people feel this way. Actually, thru repeated polls most people consistently support the restrictions and understand why they are necessary. Unfortunately, the idiots go out and put us all at risk so they can’t just be ignored.

The tyranny theory is usually reserved for the “coming for my guns” crowd. You know the ones. The incels, the darkweb conspirators, or propagandists who go out of their way to correlate completely random events to “uncover” a secret plot with various nefarious outcomes. Yes, we get it, it makes you feel special. Just some random dude (dudette) in the middle of America somehow discovered what every educated scientist over looked. Oh right, they are in on the conspiracy. *wink, wink*

Contrary to popular conspiracies, Obama nor Hillary are involved. Bill Gates is not working on a vaccine2 to enslave us or give us the “mark of the beast.” The Qanon crowd, the racist/nazi groups, the religious fanatics, or the just plain crazy are all out to sell a narrative based on fear. This is the ONLY way they can recruit new members. Logic and reason can’t be used and are universally shunned. And let us not forget the campaigns to paint movements like Antifa or BLM as the same level of dangerous or crazy as the nazis and racists. Sure Jan.

Then we get to all the entitled Karens/Chads of the world. “It interferes with my breathing”, “I have a medical condition,” or “you can’t force me because it isn’t ‘da law'”. Wrong on all counts. There are countless demonstrations of real world use of mask having no impact on your breathing. And the random conspiracies are easily disproved with basic logic. What many people confuse is it does cause you to breath slightly harder, but you are still getting the same amount of air. Because you are unaccustomed to wearing a mask, you notice the extra effort. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are a very sick person and have no business being outdoors, period. But let us pretend for a moment you did. The ADA (or HIPAA for the exceptionally ignorant) does not protect you or allow you to disregard health orders when you go out in public. Why? Because your accommodation would put other people at risk. ADA does not allow for that. And as a result of all the ignorance has had to officially go on the record stating as such. The fake cards saying you are exempt or immune are just that, fake.

And then we get to the ‘constitutional scholars‘ who claim because it isn’t the law, they don’t have to obey. Oh, but you do! Thru a century of court cases and law review, the line between public rights and individual rights is clearly drawn. Your ‘individual freedoms‘ do not trump (pun intended) the rights of the public. Businesses can limit your access or refuse to do business with you for failing to comply with legally issued orders to wear a mask.3 Wearing a shirt or shoes indoors isn’t a law, but is universally accepted businesses are allowed to enforce this measure. (Forgetting the very racist roots of said restrictions.) When you are required to produce 2 forms of ID at the DMV it is not a law. When you queue up in line to wait your turn, it is not a law. Just try to cut in line anywhere and see what happens. There is no law that you have to work. However, if you want to have money for necessities or luxuries you get your ass up and go to work. So you see, not everything we do requires a law.

Frankly, being a decent human being shouldn’t require a law. If yo mamma raised you right, you would give two-shits about other people. Caring about the welfare of others shouldn’t need to be legislated.

I won’t even cover the new round of entitled idiots trying to use religion as an excuse. The newest excuse? Wearing a mask interferes with our ability to pray?

smdh

  1. minus the few crackpots []
  2. Even though his orgs work to help eliminate dangerous yet preventable diseases thru vaccinations has saved countless lives. []
  3. These same folks were all about screaming business rights when people could refuse to do business with gays, but now suddenly business rights do not matter. Funny how that works. []

Shut Down

I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of our country getting the pandemic under control. I predict we will continue to live with hodgepodge restrictions and shut downs thru the election in November. Only after 45 loses will we see a national strategy with a lockdown that will be consistent and effective. The mismatch state by state approach has obviously failed. There is no enforcement of any real value so people are free to disregard the directives.1 Shaming and viral exposure can only do so much.

The economy will continue to tank and businesses will shutter on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. Economists are already sounding the alarm. We blew it. Our selfish entitled attitudes created this mess. The ignorant minority continues to overshadow all the efforts of the responsible majority. We’ve allowed them thru mismanagement to take over the face of the pandemic. Maybe now that the Mango maniac has finally started wearing a mask, his cult followers will follow suit. We can only hope at this point.

All other countries with active restrictions and enforcement are seeing lower and lower cases. Many have already opened almost completely up, albeit with some mask requirements and restrictions on large events. They listened to their experts and acted accordingly.

I know I sound like Debbie Downer, but I’m trying to take a realistic approach based on what I see every day. The virus is spreading at a rampant rate again. Even California2 is seeing a big jump in cases and hospitalizations. And while the death total isn’t necessarily skyrocketing, people seem to forget, even those who don’t end up hospitalized can suffer for months after clearing the illness.

As of the news today, 1 in 5 Californians are unemployed. Many moratoriums on evictions (residential and commercial) are set to expire in the coming month. I expect California’s will mostly likely be extended, but the problem is still their looming over their heads. And it seems another round of stimulus checks might be coming, but they are drops in a bucket at this point.

I’m grateful for the fortunate circumstances I find myself in thru this; however, I worry for so many who are struggling between doing the right thing and being able to work and put food on their tables and a roof other their heads. The hubby is going stir-crazy being unemployed and home all the time; however, he is trying to hang in there. We get out on walks together on weekends to help break up the monotony.

If you’re struggling while you wait for “normal” to return, I’d put that aside. Normal is gone for 2020. Hunker down and adjust to our new reality for the next few months. I hope I’m wrong, but I’d be shocked if we have any meaningful developments before September. Hopefully, by year end the several possible vaccines will hold out to be effective enough to mass produce. A best case scenario is seeing a sense of normalcy returning before March 2021.

  1. And I’m not talking about people desperate to work or businesses fighting to exist. []
  2. granted mostly in Southern California []

Remembering

It was January 1991. The first year I witnessed the death of someone I personally knew from AIDS. It scared the holy sh*t out of me. I remember hearing an older couple I was friends with commenting on this article from the NYT. The report of 100,000 deaths from AIDS was buried deep in the paper. There was no national outrage, there weren’t any names posted on the front page. We were on our own.

Fast forward to this week’s front page article with a thousand names of the 100,000 dead from the pandemic.

The LGBTI community remembers. We know what it’s like when the government ignores a disease. We remember what it was like to see so many our people die from AIDS, many of which died alone.

Don’t be cavalier or indifferent to this crisis. Don’t be a name on the front page or one buried on page 18.

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. []