6.30.2020

Wear a Seatbelt and a Bike Helmet and an Effing Mask!

It is extremely challenging for me to withhold judgment on people who don't want to wear masks during the COVID-19 global pandemic. I try with all my might to give them the benefit of the doubt, but no matter how many mental gymnastics I do, one things is inescapable...

These people are selfish, inconsiderate, reckless, foolhardy, and dangerous.

No one doubts the efficacy of face masks to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, not even these d-bags. The logic of the mask-resistant is that it's a violation of their freedom. But that argument doesn't hold water at all. We require people to wear seatbelts, and if they don't, we fine them. We strongly encourage our kids to wear bike helmets, and when they don't, we take away their bikes. The mask rebels also willfully refuse, it seems, to accept the hard science that wearing a mask stops the spread of respiratory diseases. They also don't seem to realize that masks are not designed to protect them from infection, but rather to protect others from being infected by them. That is why they are selfish and inconsiderate of others, and why we have to establish boundaries on their d-baggery as a society.

I know all of my readers know all of this.

The European Union is opening back up soon, because their citizens wore masks and they got the goddam virus under control. The EU is not going to let Americans travel to EU countries, for the simple reason that our pandemic is still wildly out of control and we show no signs of getting it under control any time soon.

We cannot expect that our government and political leadership will do anything responsible, like make masks mandatory under penalty of fines or jail, in the interests of public health. So, it's on us.

I won't go anywhere where there are significant numbers of people or any number of maskless people. I just won't. I also won't go into shoppes that don't mandate mask wearing. We can all encourage social change with our dollars. If the government and big businesses want to get the economy rolling again, they need to accommodate the citizenry. Besides the maskless freedom fighters, most people care about others and want to protect their children and loved ones from catching COVID-19, which often results in hospitalization, isolation from family and friends, intubation on a respirator, and sometimes a lonely death (since family are not allowed onto COVID-19 wards in hospitals).

A few maskless renegades have changed their tunes after getting COVID-19 and experiencing its destructive force on their bodies and the lives of their families. Sadly, it's too late then, and these people have often spread the virus to many other people by the time they go to the hospital.

It's not that hard, people. You wear a mask, you maintain social distancing whenever possible, and you wash your hands. Those three simple things knock the risk of COVID-19 transmission down 95%. This is science-based fact. Your beliefs and prejudices are neither here nor there. Just follow the rules for the benefit of society. Democracy is a social contract between us all that balances freedom against social utilitarianism (the most good for the most people). If you aren't going to honor the contract, get the eff out! Or eventually you'll be taken out by the microbe that is affecting the world.

6.29.2020

E-Bike and Burley Pet Trailer Were Highlights of the Weekend

Hi Dear Readers.

We had a superb weekend here in Madison WI. The weather stayed nice the whole time, notwithstanding a risk of storms. On Saturday, after I was done seeing clients at my marriage and family therapy practice, we paid a visit to a local bike shoppe that we like, to look at, and potentially purchase, a Burley bike trailer for pets (aptly named the Tail Wagon).

We did, in fact, end up purchasing said pet bike trailer at a discount. And as is wont to happen when we foolishly enter bike shoppes like that, we left the store with considerably more than that as well.

As we were looking at the pet trailer, Deborah off-handedly asked the salesperson working with us, "Do you have e-bikes?" They did.

Henceforth, Deborah tried out two of them, and of course she was delighted by the higher end (and more expensive) one, and after what seemed like very little consideration in retrospect, she purchased it, along with a few essential accessories (water bottles, their cages, and some spare bike tubes for both the e-bike and the trailer). Side Note: As run-on sentences go, that last one was superior.

That evening, we went on an almost 20-mile bike ride to put the e-bike through its paces, from our home out to Riley WI on the Military Ridge rails-to-trails bike path. The e-bike met and exceeded expectations. I was riding my fully manual mountain bike and it took considerable effort on my part to keep up with Deborah on the e-bike, in no small part because I was also hauling the Tail Wagon bike trailer with our two small dogs on board, a combined extra weight of about 50 pounds. It should be noted here that not too long ago, I was about 50 pounds heavier than I am now, and so my musculature was still quite up to the task, especially given the physically empowering effects of the vegan diet that I follow. Nonetheless, the e-bike facilitated Deborah's successful completion of the longest bike ride she has been on this year (my second-longest).

That wasn't the end of our shopping spree though. Because e-bikes are considerably burley-er by weight than typical bikes, the current bike rack we have on our car does not necessarily meet the weight specifications for load bearing required to hold an e-bike (although this particular e-bike weighs not much more than my old traditional cruiser bike, for which the prior Saris bike rack has always served us well...but the e-bike is significantly more valuable than my clunky cruiser, so why risk it?).

So, on Sunday, we made a trip to REI, by way of Brennan's Produce Mart (for some deliciously ripe peaches and other fruit) and The Bruce Company (for some bags of mulch), to secure an elusive, top rated Thule brand, tray-style, hitch-mounting bike rack. In fact, we may have purchased the last one in town, because word on the streets has it that supply chain issues related to COVID-19 have made such bike racks rarer than scarlet tanagers (long story) at the moment. We actually bought the floor display model at REI and received a significant discount in so doing.

We now have a couple of items for sale: Deborah's old, but "like new," mountain bike and our old bike rack. We'll have to get these up on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace here shortly.

Sunday afternoon, my band HIATVS had a virtual band practice via JamKazam, an app that specializes in online live music performing. The three of us in the band had invested in some hardware to minimize latency lag issues and were excited to experiment. HIATVS's guitarist, one AquaMunkee, lives in San Francisco, considerably farther from Madison than is HIATVS's drummer, MG, who lives in nearby Cottage Grove (a suburb of Madison). The latency was minimal between MG and me. However, the lag was about 100 milliseconds or so for Aqua. The session was a brief trial to determine if JamKazam is a viable way for us to rehearse remotely as we await HIATVS's triumphant hiatus from perpetual hiatus (a cumbersome way of saying "reunion").

Following the jams, Deborah and I went on yet another bike ride, this time sans dogs and bike trailer. Deborah once again smoked me going up hills, which is where the e-bike's "electric-assist" really shines. The e-bike has a built in upper limit on speed of about 20 miles per hour, which meant I could usually catch up to Deborah on the downhills, for the most part.

I have no real criticism of the e-bike except that I am a bit disappointed that no one has incorporated regenerative braking into the electric-assist battery system yet. This is a feature you'll see on some hybrid automobiles whereby the battery gets partially recharged when the car coasts or brakes, as the kinetic energy of braking is returned to the battery. E-bikes get a pretty good range as it is (by my calculation, Deborah's bike's range would be a little bit over 65 miles on a flat route), but regenerative braking could extend their mileage even farther.

I write this post on a stormy Monday in Madison. The rainy weather politely held off for the weekend, but it has now unleashed itself upon us. I had a client cancel a session today, so I used the extra hour of time to crank out this post. I'm optimistic about the coming week.

My parents and sister will be rolling into Madison later this week, ahead of the July 4th weekend. Traditionally, I fly out to Ohio one-way the week before Independence Day and drive my parents out to Madison, from whence they then head up to their cabin in northern Wisconsin to spend the summer. Due to the whole pandemic nonsense, it made more sense for my sister to field these duties this year. If all goes to plan, she'll fly to Ohio (from Colorado) tomorrow (Tuesday) and stay overnight at our childhood home in Akron OH. Then she'll chauffeur my folks across "Trump Country" (Ohio, Indiana, and "non-Chicago" Illinois) over two days, keeping them safe from the maskless zombie hordes, before arriving in Madison Thursday evening. Sadly, my sister's stay will be brief, as she must head back to Colorado Friday morning. My folks will spend Friday resting up in Madison and visiting with some of Deborah's family. Then on Saturday Deborah and I will "caravan" with them (follow them in our car) up to the cabin, and spend a few days enjoying holiday self-care lakeside. We'll get the folks set up with a few weeks of groceries and essentials so that they can avoid any significant interaction with the potentially infected populace. That reminds me that I need to go talk to Deborah and figure out what other weekends we can go up to the cabin to check in on them and enjoy the Native American healing powers of the lake next to which their cabin resides. I cannot share the name of the lake here, obviously, because then people would know where this magical place is and go exploit it, which would deplete all the healing powers, defeating the purpose.

Stay tuned for future updates.

Bye now!

6.26.2020

Understand Something

I know my regular readers know this, so this post is for everyone else who stumbles past this blog.

Do you remember back in March when health experts said people with COVID-19 could be contagious for several days before showing any symptoms?

Still 100% true.

If you don't wear a mask, don't practice social distancing, and don't disinfect yourself frequently, you can, and probably will, catch this disease, which is just as deadly (if not more so) as ever. Don't go to crowded places and don't interact with people if you don't have to. If you do, you are just playing Viral Roulette.

Cases of COVID-19 are growing exponentially again because...and let me be very clear about this...SOME PEOPLE ARE NOT SMART. Those people are going to cause the economy to shut down again, and we do not want to repeat that, right?

Do not be one of those people.

A good day to you.