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. []

Awkward

**Disclaimer – an adult rant today about gay shit, you’ve been warned.**

I’ve been navigating the “apps” again recently. I haven’t settled on any hard and fast rules that guide me as of yet, other than honesty. Having had my vaccination shots, I’m relieved on so many levels. However, I still need to worry for those around me as the science isn’t clear yet on the level of protection. Going thru a year of very limited human contact takes its toll. And things are moving so quickly now, it may be moot by the time I figure it all out.

Anyway, I was on one such app when a rando decided to send me a long winded message telling me how non-masculine he felt I was. He was particularly detailed, which would have been comical if it weren’t so sad. He clearly lives local and has seen me around1 as he listed a varied “suggestion list” of things I could do to butch it up. I’m not willing to dwell on the idea he may have actually thought he was being helpful as it would make me very sad.

The joke is on him though as I wasn’t bothered by it. To be fair, there was a time in my life when I would have been secretly devastated. However, that was a long time ago and that particular insecurity has left the building, so to speak. Lawd knows I’ve beaten that horse here often enough.

Our little letter in the alphabet mafia has had a continuing obsession with the idea of masculinity. Ask 10 of my fellow homos the meaning of the word and you’ll most like get 10 different answers. Western culture has become so dependent on the broken idea of hyper-masculinity I doubt we’ll ever sort it out.

I keep getting off topic, sorry I am a bit rusty at this.

The guy listed out my demeanor in public as a ‘dead give away‘. Well, no shit Sherlock!  I do not mold myself in the view of how others see me. I didn’t struggle with the shackles of one broken stereotype to take up another. In a word, I can be awkward at times. While I still have a few small triggers to put on my “big boy” voice, I strive not to put on a facade. My hubby calls it my work voice. Anyway, some random task or action can invoke my rather absent-minded approach to things. There isn’t a lot of forethought put into it, I just act. If that destroys your image of me, oh well. We have a saying for that where I’m from…bless your heart. I’ve learned my demeanor also has the affect of putting people at ease around me. People rarely feel threatened or triggered by me and without realizing it often relax into a more authentic version of themselves.2  It was quite a revelation when that little kernel of knowledge dawned on me all those years ago.

Of course, now that I’m an elder and on the council I do have to maintain an image. lolol I politely told him his ‘advice’ was not needed. I didn’t feel the need to thank him though. *giggle* Was I too subtle?

 

  1. His profile was of course devoid of any photos…I know, right!? lol []
  2. There are few who have the opposite reaction and think I’m an easy mark. They often find out quickly I’m also not stupid. []

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. []

Sharing is Caring

A friend of a friend of a friend (you get the point here) recently sent me a DM on Facebook asking why I never share any of his posts he tags me in.

Me: Because I do not like sharing all that stuff. I do not enjoy it. I’d prefer you not tag me on them.

Him: But what happens when it is something serious?

Me: Something serious as in? Microsoft and Yahoo are merging and if you forward this to to 10 people you’ll get a lot of money? Or, “people” are cloning your entire profile? Or, [insert generic meme about your porn name vs your spirit animal]? Or, discover these 10 things that will kill you, click here? ((He has sent me every single one of these examples)) I do not care for these things. I definitely do not want them cluttering up my profile.

I do not care for these things. I definitely do not want them cluttering up my profile.

Him: You seem rude. Maybe you are not a nice person? Did you ever think of that?

Me: Yes, but I didn’t share it as a meme or spam everyone on my friends list.

He blocked me. Go figure.

Sharing is Caring

A friend of a friend of a friend (you get the point here) recently sent me a DM on Facebook asking why I never share any of his posts he tags me in.

Me: Because I do not like sharing all that stuff. I do not enjoy it. I’d prefer you not tag me on them.

Him: But what happens when it is something serious?

Me: Something serious as in? Microsoft and Yahoo are merging and if you forward this to to 10 people you’ll get a lot of money? Or, “people” are cloning your entire profile? Or, [insert generic meme about your porn name vs your spirit animal]? Or, discover these 10 things that will kill you, click here? ((He has sent me every single one of these examples)) I do not care for these things. I definitely do not want them cluttering up my profile.

I do not care for these things. I definitely do not want them cluttering up my profile.

Him: You seem rude. Maybe you are not a nice person? Did you ever think of that?

Me: Yes, but I didn’t share it as a meme or spam everyone on my friends list.

He blocked me. Go figure.

Only Fans?

No, I will not “follow” your Onlyfans page. No, I will not spend money to see you naked. I don’t even pay for porn and you think I’m gonna pay $8-15 a month to see one person naked or doing various other naughty things? Nope.

Have you heard of it? Liar! lol  Ok, if you haven’t heard of it, basically it is a website where you create a page people have to pay to see. As you can imagine, much of the content is of the x-rated variety. From what I gather, you can host pics, vids, and/or a live stream. I discovered it after seeing it pop in my IG feed a few times. Ironically, it does not seem to have impacted my snapchat feed much. Granted, I don’t follow near as many people on snapchat. “Viewers” register for your page and by doing so sign up for a monthly fee. So basically, a new take on the web-cam model idea.

The self-advertising has gotten so bad on IG I’ve had to remove a large chunk of folks I follow due to the never ending requests to “follow their page.” Granted, many of the folks I follow are out of purely narcissistic reasons. They are inspiration to get my fat ass to the gym on a consistent basis. However, when your feed feels like an ad campaign I tend to lose interest, regardless of the inspiration. And when you throw shade about it…NEXT!

I guess I can’t be too surprised people have turned to making a profit. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning them. I don’t see anything wrong with using your talents (physical in this case) to make a living. I’ve just become annoyed at the voracity and the attitude. I’ve seen several folks display no small amount of indignation when someone challenges the notion of pay-per-view in their IG comments. Gurl, please! Ain’t nobody got time for that. Sell yo business but don’t get it twisted. You are a commodity in such a forum.

Maybe I should call it the Kardashian effect? (I’m not even sure I spelled that right. I soooo can’t be bothered to even look.)  Maybe someone already coined the phrase?

 

 

Stupefy

Today is brought to you by the letter S.

stu·pe·fy

ˈst(y)o͞opəˌfī/

verb

verb: stupefy; 3rd person present: stupefies; past tense: stupefied; past participle: stupefied; gerund or present participle: stupefying

  1. make (someone) unable to think or feel properly.

And how do we avoid stupefying those around us on social media when presented with a story or “news” item we want to believe but aren’t really sure is true? Let me offer you these short rules. 

  • Read the article. Does it match the title? If not, ignore it. Otherwise,  move on to the next step. 
  • Do you trust the source? Is the source well known or legitimate?1 If not, don’t share. Otherwise, move on to the next step. 
  • Has the source been caught fabricating stories or publishing false and/or misleading edits of stories? If so, don’t share. If not, move on to the next step. 
  • Seriously, go read the article. We all know you didn’t read it. If it really passed the previous steps move on to the next step. 
  • Does the action / event / article cite sources or provide proof to back up claims, accusations, and/or accomplishments? Sourcing yet another article with no proof is not a valid source. If not, don’t share. Otherwise, move on to the next step. 
  • If you’re too busy to read it, can’t go thru all the steps, or you feel the article is too long, don’t share it. Otherwise, move on to the next step. 
  • Does the article attempt to guilt or scare you into sharing it? If so, don’t share. No, you arent helping others “just in case“. Otherwise, move to the next step.
  • Does the article attempt to incite hatred or violence against others based on bias? If so, don’t share it.

If it passes all these steps then and ONLY then should you consider sharing it. Even then, you should still ask yourself if sharing will contribute in any way to the discussion? 

Now you know. Next time you are about to share a news story on social media you know what to ask yourself to avoid stupefying others. 

😜

  1. stating how many people removed from you can contest to its authenticity is not trustworthy ie “my coworker’s cousin’s wife can attest to this and she is  [insert contrived position of authority here]” []

How to Respond? 

An interesting situation presented itself to me recently. Not too long after I moved to SF, I was flirting with a guy online I had seen at the gym and around town several times. In my view he was damn near perfect. Perfect is always a subjective term but he definitely turned my crank.  Now keep in mind, this was pre-mobile app world and even before blogging. Hehehe  Anyway, he went out of his way to demean me and attempted to shame me for assuming I was at his level. At the time, I was still pretty dysfunctional and while I didn’t let him know it, his comments hurt my feelings pretty bad. I still had such low self-worth back then and it just fed into my compulsive behavior and insecurities.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, he literally  runs into me at the gym, and clearly not realizing who I was, proceeds to put the moves on me pretty hard. How should one respond to that? How would you have responded?

*

Before I give my actual response, let me step back for a second. I’m not the man I was back then. I’ve found myself. I’ve struggled for sure but gone are the days where such comments would even phase me. While I certainly recovered from his slight, it did give me enough pause at the time to wonder if I had made a mistake in moving to SF.

Besides the internal changes I’ve made over the years, I’ve also packed on quite a few pounds of muscle from those days. Maybe that’s why he’s sudden change of “heart.”?  Honestly, the why doesn’t really concern me. And in the simple act of realizing I don’t need to know what changed his mind, I was given an affirmation of my struggle. An affirmation to the near death of my crippling insecurities from those days. And I know I’ve posted several times over the last couple years about my random affirmations or epiphanies. I think there is a deep part of my id that refuses to accept my transformation. A tiny seed of doubt is still there. And because I recognize it, I stay vigilant against it ever growing into anything more than a seed.

*

At that moment, a lot of things ran thru my head pretty quickly. I admit a tiny part of me was tempted to say yes. I mean I am an opportunist after all, and he is still pretty hot in my eyes Heehee  But My first thoughts were “why now?” And then my second thought was “why do I care why now?” That spawned an idea to test the waters so to speak. I declined his advance and began to walk away. As I did, I heard him mutter, “your loss.”  I wasn’t even tempted to reply or act as if I’d heard his obvious barb. I just kept walking and went back to my workout.

A few things occurred to me as I walked away. One, he clearly hasn’t grown or changed since the first time we met. Two, the potentially delicious joy of rubbing his face in it after we’d hooked up would have been more about revenge than attraction. And three, I felt a great swell of pity for him. He is trapped by his own insecurities and his protective coping mechanisms are crippling him much like mine did to me. The problem is as he ages those protective acts/thoughts won’t hold up to the harsh realities around him.

Sweat

​I tend to sweat in the oddest places. I rarely sweat under my arms. Up until just a few years ago, I never wore deodorant because I never had underarm odor. It just never smelled there. And I have no idea why it changed a few years ago. Even now, it’s still very sporadic. I’ve taken to keeping deodorant at work just for those odd days. However, I sweat profusely from my head and arms. Yes, my arms sweat. I will be drenched on my head and arms, but my chest, abdominal region, and underarms will be bone dry. I don’t have an answer as to why. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise when I was big into watches I went thru a lot of them due to sweat. If the band was anything but plastic, it would get ruined. My watches would get so sweaty and develop their own smells. The watch would then need to be cleaned or discarded. When smartphones came along I embraced them as my time-keeper so I could get rid of my watches.  I don’t think I’ve actually worn one since. 

Why am I rambling about sweat you ask? Well, I apparently ruined my fitbit from sweating on it too much. I got an upgraded version, the Charge HR, on my birthday this year from Shawn. It didn’t even last a year before the band started bubbling and eventually peeled loose from the embedded electronics. Unlike the Flex, you cannot swap out the band on the HR. It is permanently embedded with what I assume is glue now that my first one has come apart. 

I called up the company fully expecting them to tell me to take a hike. The online forums looked pretty disappointing as well. Imagine my surprise when Fitbit (the company) agreed to replace my fitbit (the device).1  I went thru the Q&A with the woman and at the end she announced, “I’m happy to advise you your fitbit qualifies for a free replacement.”  I bet my face looked like a cracked egg. They don’t even want the old one back! They asked me to recycle it vs throwing it away. (They got bonus points for that.)

It was a gift, which means I didn’t have the receipt. It’s been easily 7 months, and it was “water damage.” I fully expected them to say no. In an age where companies find every excuse in the book NOT to deal w/faulty product, it was refreshing to actually have one do the right thing. Had they not, I’d already decided to get something different. Now, not only did they keep a customer but they earned some loyalty as well.  

  1. See what I did there? Haha []

Picture

Speaking of my blog, my photo blog has seen a huge uptick in visits. I’ve tried to set it up so anything I share on social media gets updated there as well. This benefits me for a variety of reasons. The biggest being if I ever leave or lose an account, I still have all my pretty photos. heehee I didn’t really think it would be that popular but it seems to have taken off.

I wonder though if it has more to do with the top level extension. When I moved from the old mobius.name1 domain to sfmoby, the .com version wasn’t available. There wasn’t anything there, it just showed as owned by someone. My inquires to the vaguely defined domain owner went unanswered so I gave up and settled on the .us version. Fast forward to present and it suddenly showed available last year so I gobbled it up.

So now I wonder how often people are hitting it first simply from habit. Most people always think of the .com version of pretty much every site first. Think about the last time you randomly typed in a domain name. I bet you used .com, even if was wrong.

I’m just thinking out loud here so there isn’t really a point to my ramble today. I just thought it was odd and now you know why.

  1. Sadly, these domains are pretty much assumed to be spam and are routinely blocked by filters []