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.

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 []

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! []

Meal Prep

So…. I’ve lost a little bit of my gut again. I always seem to get to this point and not much further. hehehe Even though I haven’t had Taco Bell in forever, I still call it my TB gut.

I routinely fluctuate about 15 lbs but after a hard gym routine for the last few months, I’m back to my leaner self. I keep telling myself to keep going but my desire for delicious food often ruins it.

That said, I’m been using a meal delivery service and the meals are healthy. While it is a bit pricey, it has helped my diet significantly. I’ve been thru Freshly, FlexPro, Fresh N’Lean, and now I’m on to Factor 75. Freshly was the best of the group but the meal selection is limited when you order the max 12 meals a week. If they rotated out meals more often I’d still be with them. FlexPro was a bit generic. Not bad, but for the price I felt like I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. Fresh N’Lean started out great but then they started putting some sort of vinegar or pickling agent in the veggies for every dish and it just got to be too much. I don’t think they realize when you vacuum seal the food, that flavor seeped into the rest of the meal.1 Factor 75 was recommended by the guy at my Vitamin shoppe. I’m having the same problem with them I had with Freshly but they at least rotate a few different meals more often. I’ll probably rotate back to Freshly eventually. There is no contract so you can switch or cancel anytime you want.

Anyway, the meals have been good for my waistline. I can tell my body is detoxing form all the carbs because I’m constantly craving sweets or pasta these days. I’m one of those guys who can eat fatty foods no problem. I eat carbs and my ass expands exponentially. heehee I blame my Southern roots.

So not bad for a almost 49 year old fella, eh? I mean I could be leaner or bigger but I think I’m doing pretty good. I took off from the gym this past week for our trip and I miss it. Shawn and I were joking recently as he mentioned the same thing. Time to get back at it. Maybe I’ll even get a few baby abs.

Hope springs eternal…

  1. I did tell them when I left but I doubt anything changed. I got the generic response. []

Smashed

Because I know you’re just way excited about my day to day antics…  I smashed the hell out of my thumb about a month ago. It was one of the worst I’ve ever inflicted upon myself. As you can see from the picture, it didn’t end well. lol

I was rushing to a Union meeting and while getting out of the Lyft, I caught it in the door

img_20180212_0926292224571768208632423.jpg
Messed up thumb

as it closed. Tangent /  I found out once a driver gave me 4 stars because he said I slammed his car door. Now, I’m always freaky cautious about it. /tangent. Anyhoo, I tried to catch the door mid-close and naturally my thumb caught the fall-out.

It was all swollen and bruised for about a week. The first few days were agonizing. By day 4, the pain had settled into a dull throb. Ice and heat combos helped a little but I had to resort to hydrocodone a few times. Yeah, it hurt that bad!

As soon as the swelling went down, I peeled off most of the old nail. There was one tiny piece still alive. It’s hanging on for dear life. lol  It will get pushed off pretty soon though. The new nail is coming in strong! hehehe

I’m told I have a high threshold for pain usually.  I whined like a little boy for a couple days, I don’t mind telling you. On a side note, I am totes sure I looked super hot and totes masc sitting in an political endorsement meeting with my thumb shoved in a glass of ice the whole time.

So now you know, folks. My exciting world of a damaged thumb.

 

Resist…

…the carbs!

I’ve been good so far which not being sucked into eating all the fatty holiday treats. Being detailed to the admin side at work creates a challenge as several folks routinely bring in treats to share. Said treats are almost always of the sugar or carb variety. lol

My fat ass is trying to slim down! I gained a ‘few’ lbs a while back and while I’ve lost most of them I’m bound and determined to get back down into a full size 32 jean.1 The ‘stretchy 32s’ I’m wearing now are fooling me. I dare not dream of a 31. My hips are too wide and I’d have to get really skinny to pull it off. I spent most of my teen years being so scrawny I gust of wind could blow me away, I have zero desire to ever be skinny again.

I don’t beat myself up other than routinely “feeling fat.”  I keep it in perspective as my struggle is minor to the very real struggle so many face to lose weight. I go thru my phases where I don’t ‘feel pretty‘ though. It’s mainly when I stop going to the gym consistently. I don’t actually feel fat, I feel flabby. All the tightness goes out of the muscles after a while and I hate it.

Anyhoo, back on point. I’ve been good so far at avoiding most of the holiday fatness. I apparently do it backwards because I always seem to be at my leanest during the holidays when everyone else is enjoying ‘the bulk’ or off-season. Some years I seem to be completely uninterested in anything fatty and others I find myself struggling to avoid practically everything that looks tasty.

I would blame the hubby’s penchant for fast food; however, that wouldn’t really be fair. I may not eat much fast food but I eat out more than he does usually. The calories still add up. I could go on and on about the struggle with my 10-hour days but I’ve already beat that horse into glue. My schedule is what I made it so I get to sucked it up or change it and changing it just isn’t practical right now.

I’ve already tweaked my workouts to avoid being in the gym for too long. I tend to get there just before the 5:00 rush. If I bust my hump and get Cooper walked and head out the door, I can be finishing up just when it starts getting crazy. Our gyms here are small by most standards and the Castro gym is hella over-sold so it is often just a royal pain to try and get thru a solid workout w/o wanting to cut a bitch for playing on his phone instead of working out.

I’m off-topic, again! Lawd where is my brain today. If you’re struggling like me, I feel for ya. Hang in there. Take it one success (or failure) at a time. I find when I don’t give up after “splurges”, I eventually get there. I’ve given in and made cardio a consistent part of my routine. I’m not as active on weekends like I used to be in my single days2 so cardio is a necessity now. Some days I go the high-intensity route and others it’s slow grind on the stationary bike or treadmill. Either way, I begrudgingly admit it helps.  I ate like a pig for thanksgiving and I’ve lost the several lbs I put on already. I’m back in my “safe” zone but as mentioned I want to be leaner.

The struggle is real bitches!

  1. I’m hovering between 33/34 []
  2. primarily because I was out being a filthy whore []

Arthritis 2

I accidentally deleted the original post so here it is again. . .

So, if you’ve been following along on social media, Cooper had a unplanned vet visit this week.1 He
developed a severe limp in his left leg. It gets a bit weird because overnight the
limp switched from one leg to the other.

He has developed limps before but they were almost always from him jumping too much from furniture. They also don’t develop very often. He’s had two episodes in just under a month and this last one was one of the most severe. I always give it 24 hours to see if he improves. This last time showed very little improvement the next day. I was concerned enough I missed work to get him checked out.

We had to go back a second time as I wasn’t thinking and fed him the first day. Most dogs need to be sedated for X-rays as they can’t stay still enough to get clean
images. Bullies are also much more likely to aspirate under sedation with food in
their bellies, so we couldn’t get them done on the first visit. They did pretty much
the same physical exam I did and couldn’t find any signs of discomfort or abnormalities.

There was improvement in his gait the second day which gave me hope. I think the second visit also made him a little less nervous.2 He wasn’t at all alarmed when they led him away. Tangent/ The vet is so accommodating with me too. To keep his stress down, I’m always in the room as he is led away and I’m always in the room before he is brought back. It really seems to calm him. /tangent.

I knew he had a bit of arthritis from his previous episodes. I knew it would be part of the diagnosis. However, I was a nervous wreck worrying about tumors or cancer. He could have had unusual growths, cysts, bone spurs/fractures, ligament/joint tears, bad knee joints…the list goes on but cancer is the number one non-traumatic cause of death in dogs. Daddy was a bit anxious!

Turns out it wasn’t any of those, thankfully. As expected, he does have arthritis in
the lumbar region of his back. He also has some slight degenerative bone disease in his thoracic region. It’s a minor case but coupled with the arthritis it could be
affecting nerves extending into his back legs. He also had overly large ball sockets in his hips. The latter is also common in bullies.

The good news is nothing was critical or urgent. No need for any invasive surgeries. No tears or cysts. His knees and leg joints were all in excellent condition. The primary culprit was the arthritis, which we can treat with meds. The vet said he probably won’t see any severe impacts from the bone degeneration for 2-3 more years, hopefully. That is a guess of course. It’s moving very slowly. And the large ball joints are of concern but no apparent weakness or separation fears right now.

I’ve marveled at Cooper’s health for so many years I had honestly begun to think he wouldn’t develop any health problems. I’m relieved they are still so minor. The vet and techs all commented on how well behaved and what a trooper he was. He apparently also did very well under sedation. They barely needed to give him oxygen to keep his intake normal. For a bulldog, that is exceptional news. It made me feel better about any future need to sedate him.

When I picked him up, he’d only been awake for about 40 mins and he clearly
recognized me. That was a great sign. I could tell later on he was fighting the
after effects, which made him even more adorable.

*

Plenty of folks reached out to me on social media and in private with best wishes
and sympathy. Thank you all so much. It made me feel better while I was so nervous.
And as an added update, two days later and the limp is gone once again!

  1. Actually, two visits because this daddy is so absent minded. []
  2. He still remembers being left at a animal hospital when he was abandoned. []