The Now Normal

Maybe this is just me and my pessimistic dark minded nature. But I heard someone talking about wearing masks yesterday and this notion just snapped into my mind.

Sure, it could easily have been the 1000th time I’ve overheard people discussing pandemic restrictions and referring to them as The New Normal. This time, though, instead of mentally nodding my head in approval of someone “getting it”, alarms went off in my mind.

I saw visions of people relaxing into “life as usual” routines from their pre-pandemic lives because they deigned to wear a mask and social distance. I saw COVID Circles – which I’m suddenly wondering why no one thought to nickname them COVID Covens or some derivative – carelessly growing in size.

All because I know how people get. As a lifelong observer of people, I’ve seen the behavior time and again. Once people accept a new reality or process as normal, they relax into it.

Think about a new relationship or the last procedural change you experienced at work…yeah, let’s go with those. Obviously, I have no current subject matter expertise in either the business or relationship arenas, but I’m kind of a know-it-all in both areas after 30+ years of experience in both…unless someone wants to tell me that people have changed their base behaviors lately.

For the better.

So, work-from-homers, how long did it take for you to change your dress code habits for work to the business mullet model once you went to WFH status? When you have a video call are you putting on a business appropriate top while keeping things casual below the belt?

And you daters and new cohabitors…how long into the shituation – er…relationshit…no, I can do this – relationship were you before the first glimpses of routine showed up? Or the first argument about taking the other for granted?

It’s just what people do. Maybe they embrace a change. Perhaps they resist it initially. But either way, once the newness wears off, we relax. Often in ways that are deleterious you the situation…at least, that’s my observation. And it’s not that every instance that relaxing into it is bad, sometimes there are organic improvements. Things can just get better once we overcome the resistance and start behaving with acceptance.

But in matters of public health and wellness, relying on hope that that is the outcome seems capricious.

A) the group is just too large to assume compliance, even if the anti-maskers stop fighting the yet-to-be-made national mandate. You know there will be dick-nosers out there walking around, flashing people. Not me, I am loving the cover my mask gives me for my aged nose hair shituation. If only it were winter and earmuffs were appropriate, I’d be in a state of follicular betrayal through migration heaven.

And, B) you know that natural post-acceptance relaxation is going to introduce selfishly negative variables like I listed above versus positive benefits through adherence.

For those reasons, I think people saying “The New Normal” should be corrected to say “The Now Normal”.

I think we’ll be wearing masks until next summer. That’s my conservative estimate. But I don’t think we’ll be wearing masks consistently five years from now. Sure, maybe we’ll see a positive shift in behaviors to where when people get the sniffles, they pop on a mask out of consideration of those around them.

Y’know, like people in Gina.

Given America these days, it seems more likely that entire COVID Covens will end up on trial for murdering one of their own because one of them had an allergy attack. I can see it now: The COVID Panic defense.

But if I have to include a potential positive, I’d say that if we can accept things as Now Normals, maybe that allows the American culture to grow into something more cohesive and less resistant to change. Sure, we’ll always have the overcorrecters that horde supplies and lock themselves away in hermit mode and dick nosers that only manage to comply in spirit on the periphery, but the majority of us will be in the center, working together for the greater good…like a good bell curve. Instead of America today where the country seems like a dodgeball field with no one in the center at all.

So, yeah…how about we shoot for that?

The Now Normal.

I dunno. Maybe everyone conscientiously wearing masks got there before me and kept the whole Now Normal notion to themselves…

The Now Normal

Hey, You!

Yeah, you. Can you…not, please?

I know I haven’t been writing much. It’s a thought that occurred to me just as I was trying to decide what to do with my night. My knee jerk, rationalizing and disabling thought was “Well, it’s because I’ve been driving so much lately”.

Now, there’s a thought I’ve been having often lately.

Every time I do, I pop open the app, ready to pat myself on the back for my epic drive times.

Also, every time I open the app I see I’ve driven less than 30 hours that week.

It’s nuts, it certainly seems longer. But maybe that’s just a factor of how raspy my throat is from nattering at passengers for <30 hours. Possibly with a little or a lot of “my ass is sore as hell” mixed in. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn Diezel to keep it clean here. Really, it’s just my right butt cheek that’s complaining, for whatever reason – and, no, it’s not my wallet.

But that same thought comes around whenever I’m amazed at how many passengers I get from out of state. It’s just a factor of how much I’m driving.

Except it’s not. And yet, copious visitors there are.

Visitors from COVID-denying hotspots.

Recent red state refugees that landed in Portland.

And when I realize how few hours I drive and how often these folks present themselves, I am amazed at the inverse relationship. Assuming that how out of control the situation seems can be extrapolated based on the number of rides I give people each week.

Of course, it can’t. This is all just me entertaining myself – and since I don’t feel mentally up to anything more seriously grumptastic than this, this is what you get.

Another highly unscientific method for tracking these – and I don’t want to channel Trump here, but – visitors and transplants from less than desirable locations is just observation. This weekend, I drove Friday, Saturday and today. Three days in a row is unusual. I needed to make up for taking Monday and Tuesday off while the Silver Fox was visiting. Each of those three days I witnessed at least three license plates from Arizona.

Just Arizona.

I didn’t see any Texas or Florida plates…but maybe they are just less noticeable.

Still, 9+ Arizona plates in ~15 hours seems like a lot. Let’s call it 18 hours of driving, which errs on the high side. Seeing an AZ plate every two hours seems pretty frequent.

I could just see the virus swirling around the vehicles like dust around Pig Pen.

Fortunately for my recreational hypochondriac, I’ve got my vents set to recirculate. I know it’s better to be letting in fresh air, but I drive through tear gas zones a lot and don’t want to rely on my reflexes to save my eyes and throat. So when I want fresh air, I put the windows down.

Simple pimple.

Now, because for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, last night I had a group of soon-to-be college kids in my car (not like that, Diezel). It was a 4-some, three guys and a girl with hiccups. Now, Lyft asks riders to certify that they will wear masks and not sit in the front, so imagine the hernia inducing restraint I exercised when one of these shitheads kids got into the passenger seat.

You know you’re all supposed to sit in the back, right?

Pretty mild on the passive-aggressive-o-meter, right? The kids says “Yeah” and closes the door.

Okay, then.

Next, I exercised restraint by not volunteering that they were obviously not going to be adding a tip onto their parents’ credit card.

When I asked what they were up to on a Saturday night, one of the guys said that my front seat mate was leaving for college the next day.

Do you even need more than one guess?

Arizona State.

Why?

Ok, with the restraint I’ve exercised up til now, my incredulity here is forgivable, right? Something about not winning them all…

“They have a great business school”.

Wharton is a great business school…

<crickets>

From the backseat, “Hey, can you make a stop along the way?”

You know what, Arizona can have these entitled, clueless punks. I hope this kid survives long enough to put his business degree to use.

I don’t mean to paint Arizonans as universally bad people, mind you. I mean, could anyone with this plate be entirely bad?

No, no they could not be. But could these flaming patriots stupid Americans just stop running amok with all of their Pig Pen-ish virus?

Hey, You!

What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

Seriously, last week was quite a year.

I inadvertently offended my sister on social media.

Black Sheep Bro persisted in his attempts to have a conversation at me about why I should gratefully accept his return to the family dynamic. Reinforcing why I’d rather he leave me out of his notion of family.

Coronavirus.

Politics.

Social Justice.

Perhaps you’ve read something about Trunt treating Portland like his personal Operation Urgent Fury resulting more in Pinochet-esque kidnappings than anything resembling quelling the city’s outcry for justice.

The hits just kept on coming.

It was a tough week – I actually put myself in FaceBook Jail for a couple days just to slow the swirl.

On top of that, multiple folks reached out to me – either checking in or chiding – because I hadn’t been posting entries on my blog.

But instead of rehashing the long, I thought I’d recap the strange of the last week. Something lighthearted – just what Doctor Galby ordered.

Also, “Cocktail, please!”

After another round of self isolating, I went back to my Lyft driving last week. Probably another reason recent days had begun to feel so long and unending – not much company compared to when I drive folks around, chatting their ears off.

The result?

For my efforts, I was rewarded with both mask acne on the bridge of my nose and something like a pimple or a cyst or simply ridiculously painful in my ear pit where the upper strap of my mask looped over the top of my ear. Luckily, that second petty trauma is now just a bunch of dry skin working its way off my body. That mask acne, though…the outbreak on the bridge of my nose may be gone, but my swampy complexion lingers on.

I’m not kidding – that mask has been like a sauna for my face. And it just wicks from under my mask, too, crawling up my face until even my forehead is a thick, greasy mess.

“Hello, Puberty? Yes, I’d like to return this skin, please.”

For whatever reason, there were two consecutive days during my isolation that I woke up at around 4 AM and struggled to get back to sleep. Even though I proactively fed Myrtle breakfast so she wouldn’t go unattended to, she’d still come into the bedroom with some sad little “meows” around 9. Since she didn’t need anything, I chose to interpret her vocalizations as concern.

On the second day, unsure whether I’d fallen back to sleep or not and not wanting to look at my phone and risk waking my eyes up, I rolled the other way, toward the window. I pushed an eye out from under my pillow – me sleeping is quite a graceful picture – and squinted one eye open to see if there was daylight coming through the edges of my blinds.

No sun, just one of Myrtle’s big, green eyeballs. I screamed. I think I involuntarily jerked so hard (not like that, Diezel) that I pulled a muscle (also, not that one, Diezel!).

For her part, Myrt didn’t run and scurry for the underside of the bed or the living room, like she usually does when she gets startled. She just looked at me with those soulless cat eyes like she was willing me to get out of bed so she could have my warm spot.

I need to get her a heating pad…

But I got her back a few days later.

Well, almost.

I may have friendly-fired myself with a Dutch Oven a couple times the other night.

A. Couple. Times.

I didn’t even eat anything weird, so no idea where my bedtime Chernobyl came from. All I do know is that when I looked around, thinking something along the lines of, “That’s for scaring the shit out of me the other day”…no Myrtle.

Damn it.

But after a week-ish that was like an emotional finger trap, I’m glad I could at least still find joy in my own weird awkwardness. I decided to take it easy today. Well, I was hoping to get in a bike ride or urban hike before my Virtual Happy Hour with mom and dad – shit I gotta go get something to drink, the company may be virtual, but the liquor will not be! – at 4. Strangely, I woke up famished. After pulling myself together, I set off for my new favorite food cart for an early lunch.

Closed.

Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

What followed ended up being a nice workaround to not exercising because I was hungry.

Not bad, considering my day was turning into one of these…

It’s only a quarter mile to the cart, but the other mile and a half was me mincing around from pod to pod searching for inspiration. I ended up at Charlie’s Deli getting what I think is the best sandwich in Portland: their pastrami on rye, extra mustard.

And, more bright side – I didn’t even get disappeared while out walking by myself.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and don’t forget…Fuck Trump!

What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

I Got Work To Do

Clearly.

One of my favorite things about the civil unrest America is experiencing recently is that it’s inclusive. I think that’s part of what has created the longevity in what we’re seeing with the protests.

George Floyd’s murder wasn’t any more or less representative of the problems in our country – regardless of whether it’s *just* police brutality, something larger like systemic racism or more overt like flat out bigotry – than Breonna Taylor’s.

Or Trayvon Martin’s.

Or any of the many trans POC that have been murdered over the past decades.

Early on, I was critical of muddying the message with unnecessary or unclear hyperbole. As the weeks have gone on, the messaging I’m seeing has evolved away from that, which is gratifying.

I do like a clear message.

But we’re also being presented with messages that don’t exclude people who don’t, won’t or can’t march. Sure, there have been some slips on that unity and inclusivity messaging, but from my perspective, it seems like they are simple gaffes versus an intentional exclusive focus. In my Social Media scrollings, I’m given daily reminders and suggestions of ways to support protests without marching:

Donating to organizations.

Making signs or masks for protesters.

Donating first aid supplies or water – or staffing a booth where they are available.

Things to read to further your understanding.

Conversations to have.

Providing legal aid, if you are a lawyer.

Donating. Because it can be said twice.

Personally, I’m focusing my Lyft shifts around times and areas where protests are occurring. There’s nights where I ferry people along the same five mile stretch for several consecutive trips. Frankly, being able to thank them and encourage them getting out to march makes us both feel good. Plus, hearing them complain about sore feet and tired bodies allows me to remind them that it’s only temporary and thank them again.

It’s nice. And I love hearing the stories of the sense of connection there is amongst the protesters.

I think that sense of community and connection is what has allowed the activists to sustain their momentum this time around. Outlasting the effort that the bad elements in their midst were willing to contribute.

Not hearing about the use of police force or property damage over this past week has been a welcome change. It allows the media to keep the true message of the protests front and center in the public’s mindset versus burnt and broken things derailing the focus.

And then there’s my personal favorite way to show support – supporting Black owned businesses and restaurants.

And this is where I have some work to do – why I feel behind. I got this email from Yelp the other day

It’s like many that I have seen on Instagram and the Facebook. Reminders or highlights that I appreciate. And free promotion for the businesses, which I love!

But then I looked at the list – mainly for places close by that I should try or go back to.

Something occurred to me.

Of the 50 Black owned businesses listed, only one was “in my area”. A reminder of how Portland truly lacks in diversity overall. Also, though, how cost prohibitive commercial real estate is in the core of the city, making it a near certainty that DBEs will remain pushed out.

Maybe with all of the non-Disadvantaged Business Entities folding in the days of COVID, we’ll see a re-thinking of those rental rates.

Maybe.

What also shocked me in reviewing the list was that I’d been to one. Just the one nearby. As much as I eat, you’d think I would have happened into a few of these places at least accidentally, but…no.

Sure, there were two that I follow on Instagram and always intended to go to. But you can’t take intent to the bank.

So there’s the work I need to do: eat out.

Just like we can vote with our dollars, we can support with them, too.

Now, before I finish knitting my selfish, racist bastard sweater out of flammable yarn I should say that Yelp’s list of 50 is hardly – thankfully – exhaustive. I’ve seen other businesses listed elsewhere and I’ve been to some that weren’t listed at all.

That’s fine. I give credit for effort and someone at Yelp did something, which is better than nothing.

But back to Portland’s lack of diversity for a second and how I can change my behaviors to support equality myself. This odd fact came up in conversation the other day – I want to tell you about Portland’s best BBQ.

It’s great. Really, really great.

Really.

And it’s owned by a fucking white guy.

Surprised?

In retrospect, I was – and not to sound racist, but c’mon…BBQ is kind of half the game with Black cuisine, right? Soul food and BBQ are top of mind when you think of a Black owned restaurant, aren’t they?

Maybe it’s just me. I doubt it dunno.

But when I set out for BBQ, do I need to go to the one that some newspaper food critic called the best? Is that maybe just another example of systemic racism?

How many Black food critics can you think of?

Zero is how many I can think of. Given the departure of Adam Rappaport from Bon Appetit last week for leading and perpetuating an exclusive culture at that particular food magazine, I’d say I’m both not alone and correct about the pervasiveness of systemic racism in yet another facet of American culture.

So, do I need to limit my BBQ options to what someone labeled “the best”?

Nah.

And I think it’s an example of a small behavioral change that would have a larger cultural impact.

Changing who or how we support business spreads the wealth. That sharing of resources allows the small Black owned businesses to create their own change independently. Whether that manifests as hiring more people into their business, opening and sustaining a new location in a less diverse part of town or just being able to care for their family on a different level…it matters. Hey, not all changes toward racial equity have to reinvent a wheel.

And at the end of the day, my belly is still full, so everyone wins.

I Got Work To Do

American Dumbass

Seriously, the only title for a reality TV show that I’d believe actually reflects reality. I probably still wouldn’t watch it, though, since I get plenty of examples of the Stupid Americans phenomenon in the wild.

Case in point – and here’s a bonus, I can bash Americans and The Gays in one swipe – PrEP. Now, assuming most of my readers are normal people and not tramps (just kidding, you whores) let me tell you a little about PrEP.

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a medicine for HIV-negative people that helps prevent HIV infection by disabling the virus’ ability to replicate in a new host. It is intended to help minimize new infections in high risk individuals.

Naturally, every gay man seems to be on it.

And – proving we’re just as dumb as the next idiot – that has led to an increase in risky behaviors among gay men. Honestly, it’s like carte blanche for promiscuity. When you caution a gay guy about risky choices, the dismissive response seems to have culturally become

It’s ok, I’m on PrEP.

It’s like

With a side of

…thrown in for good measure. Of course, never a subculture to miss out on an opportunity to <ahem> poke fun at ourselves – y’know, that defense mechanism we sissy boys all learned to beat the school bully to the punch – this has led to a plethora of reductive memes.

Everything from

And more pop-culturally relevant snarkiness like this

To defensive-slash-denial based arguments to dismiss potential judgment of our behaviors. Of course, while ignoring any other potential issues – because PrEP right now seems to be the crown jewel in the pill culture world of consequences that we live in.

I mention this because – impinging upon personal freedom arguments aside – masks seem to be the new PrEP for us Stupid Americans.

Which is to say that I almost ran over an aggressive jaywalker yesterday. Seriously, this old broad – or possibly a quarantine woman in her mid 30s, hard to tell, all I saw was two inches of gray roots – stepped off the curb and into the street in front of me while I was tooling down the road at 35 MPH.

No crosswalk.

No corner intersection.

No looking both ways.

Just <bloop> I’m crossing the street.

As I brought Angela to a sudden-yet-graceful stop, I noticed her mask and said out loud, “It’s ok, I’m wearing a mask”.

The place – the Pearly Gates.

St Peter: What are you doing here?

Roots Lady: I dunno, I was wearing my mask.

COVIDiot.

Someone make me a meme of that please.

30-something gays who act like you’re still in your 20s?

Yeah, talking to you. Get on it.

I was ruminating on this while out for an urban hike yesterday. The parks and paths were littered with people out enjoying the sun.

Walking, running, cycling.

Nearly all without masks.

My thought? “Well, they’ll make handsome corpses”.

From what I understand, masks protect those around you from aerosolized viral transmissions if the wearer is a asymptomatic but infected. Most obviously, germs spread via coughing and sneezing. They also allow an extra layer of protection to non-infected people who would otherwise breathe those aerosolized particles in, thereby introducing foreign germs into their systems.

But!

You can also spread these particles through:

Spraying it instead of saying it.

Laughing.

Panting…

Y’know, like you do when you’re exercising.

So, there I was, wheezing into my mask yesterday looking around at all of the more fit people around me getting their fitness on sans masks.

Seriously.

Not even taking the most minimal of precautions to protect themselves by wearing a mask.

Why?

Because it’s uncomfortable.

Sure, I get it – I was just fast-walking and the inside of my mask was like a windshield at a drive-in theater swamp. I can’t imagine what running or cycling with one on would be like.

It’s ok, I’m social distancing when I exercise.

But, are you?

Under the best of conditions, I’m annoyed by others when I go out to our city paths for a walk. Mainly because I really don’t understand why people won’t follow basic traffic flow on pathways and sidewalks. Portland is a bridge city, thanks to the Willamette River running through its center. Ergo, our city paths often cross bridges, with at least sidewalks on both sides of the bridge – making walking with the flow of traffic a pretty easy thing to accomplish with no real effort.

So, why won’t people?

Mostly because they don’t think about it, I’d imagine. But also, our paths are mostly divided into a cycling side and a pedestrian side, each about 6′ wide. The cyclist side is always marked with an arrow indicating traffic flow, in order to reduce head on collisions between cyclists.

Pedestrians, though, get this marker

As you can see, it’s got arrows indicating pedestrian traffic is both ways. Also, since it’s Portland and our unofficial forecast is “Cloudy with a chance of protests”, you get impromptu art like this

Which is a fact. I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen one with a mask painted into it yet.

Anywho…there I am, wishing I could comfortably walk without my mask around all these fit, germ-spewing Petri dish Stupid Americans, but I can’t because they won’t behave in a manner that indicates “social distancing” is anything more than an abdication of personal accountability than “I’m on PrEP” is for the overly promiscuous Gays. There I am, on a 6′ wide pathway on the bridge walking with the flow of traffic and I’ve got other walkers coming at me head on instead of walking on the opposite side of the bridge in order to consistently maintain a 6′ bubble.

Pop Quiz

Me: What’s 6′ divided by 2?

Stupid American: Uh…social distancing?

Me: Oooh, no! Sorry, not even close.

Actually, my fellow exercisers make Gray Roots look like a genius. At least she had her “PrEP” on.

See y’all on the next lockdown. I’ve pitched a reality show for it called America’s Got Common Sense. Due to an absence of content, it’s just three minutes of credits and 57 minutes of commercials for contactless toilet paper and alcohol delivery services, a sweatpants wardrobing service, Windex epipens, UV butt plugs, lighting halos for Instafluencers and premium Zoom packages.

I think it will be a real hit this Fall. All three major networks have picked it up.

American Dumbass

The Last Coronavirus Death

I look forward to being able to see all of this Coronavirus hullabaloo in our collective rear-view mirror. It can’t happen soon enough.

But I think it’s important to acknowledge that if I survive this, then I feel I owe you all a warning of what’s to come.

Coronavirus-related causes of death.

For instance, the people who fail to appropriately recognize my weight loss accomplishments during these trying times…

This is from Tuesday* and I’m still feeling it today. Yesterday was a rest day and today is supposed to be a stretching and urban hike day. However, the weather is so nice in Portland, I’m afraid there will be more people out than I want to risk encountering.

So…maybe more stairs, but my poor little chicken legs…

We’ll see.

*proper names of days of the week are estimated based solely on my best guess. I truly have no idea what day it is without checking.

The Last Coronavirus Death

We Need A Flood

You’d think a little forced iSolation would be just the thing to keep an old grump like me happy. Or at least quiet.

But, no. Even in the end times, I can find something to kvetch about.

Ok, ok…somethings.

At least I had to put more effort into it this time than simply opening the Facebook like the last time I aired out a good ire here on WordPress.

This time, I had to go all the way to Gross Out to write off the chances for humanity.

Hey, I heard there was a wine sale.

I had to get up and go out, anyway. The Silver Fox had snuck back into town to clean out his remaining supplies and thought he’d forgotten a bag on the counter. Turns out, he’d forgotten to pack the bag, which gave us both a good chuckle.

He’d lured me out by innocently mentioning crackers – not knowing I’d been craving them. For my efforts, I Kramer-ed said crackers and tipped myself his pesto.

So, now in addition to wine, I needed some cheese. Don’t worry, mom…I was also out of broccoli and salad kits and had those on my list, too.

As if the disappointment of arriving and seeing no wine sale signs wasn’t enough, the other shoppers were apparently willing to bend over backward to drive my regret home.

It all started out so promising, too. They had set up a DeCon station outside for people to wipe down their carts before beginning. Even though there was a cute guy there doing just that, I grabbed my cart by the horns and went right in without lingering.

I think I already mentioned how easy it is to screw up DeCon, so I make my concessions for cleanliness and accept the risk of going out during a pandemic. Also, I made a mental note to observe this guy shopping. Sure enough, no gloves and no wipes inside.

But he put on a good show of Pandemic Correctness and was easy enough on the old peepers.

Aside from the DeCon set up outside, I was impressed that Gross Out was taking Social Distancing seriously and had laid down directional arrows to make aisles one-way. That effort reduced the amount of passing traffic in the aisles, making it easier to have a 6 foot space between shoppers.

Or should have.

Fucking idiots.

Like, if they put some effort into their cluelessness, they could reach the level of disdain I generally have for the garden variety stupid Americans our country churns out…folks who aren’t really dumb, just oblivious.

As I’ve observed on many occasions in the past, though,

There is no bar so low that an American can’t climb under it.

That needs to be on the Statue of Liberty. New Colossus can find a new home.

Fine.

New Colossus can stay, but I should at least get billboards for my slogan.

Or needlepoint pillows…

Anyway, the jokers I was shopping with were ignorantly pointing their carts whichever direction they pleased, arrows be damned. Then they were standing around talking.

With the people in their shopping group. I looked at them like, “Can’t you talk in the car on the way home?” Or at least talk and walk?

No.

For the solo shoppers randomly careening through the market, I considered offering them the opportunity to lick me in order to truly avail themselves to my available germs, but decided against it.

I did allow myself a couple opportunities to glare at oncoming shoppers and then look pointedly at the nearest floor arrow before getting out of the way of some of my fellow shoppers.

That’s when it hit me.

These people oblivious to the establishment’s efforts to protect their customers (from themselves, as it turns out) were the same customers that were wearing gloves and masks. I even saw one person wearing protective goggles.

I knew goggle-guy was just a stupid American and not a weird Portland denizen because they weren’t ski goggles.

Surely, these numbskulls weren’t all symptomatic and venturing out. No, they knew. Like some kind of Hillbilly Scout Troop had taught them to prepare for people dumber than themselves.

So, there I was, suddenly feeling vulnerable to all these people who protected themselves from others with the same uncommon sense as their own.

That’s when I thought a plague from a vengeful god wasn’t enough. We needed a flood.

These yahoos might be able to hoard handiwipes and masks, but let’s see how long their lawn chair flotilla protects them from raging floodwaters.

Actually, I’d probably be taking gulps – at least of wine – if a flood came. I bought enough groceries for 10 days – although I’m not sure how my wine stock will hold out – so I don’t have to venture back too soon. By the way, that’s about 10x what I normally buy when I go to the store…

I also bought myself a little dessert treat, since I’d been craving chocolate cake lately.

If I learned anything from Zombieland, it’s to enjoy the little pleasures – preferably one with a long shelf life. Sadly, the $5 bottle of wine I bought was one of the tastiest red blends I’ve had in a while…regretting not picking up a couple more.

And just to end on a fun note, here’s a little quarantine meme for yas.

We Need A Flood

Patience: Zero

This made me think a lot more than it should have.

Sadly, I spent a lot of that thought trying to think myself out of that response. Additionally, I think truly wise humans are patient. I am not even pretending to elevate myself to the level of a patient person.

Case in point, when I posted yesterday’s blog there was a quote about arguing with stupid people lurking just outside my consciousness. I could feel it out there, but no matter how hard I squinted at the dark edges of my mind…I just couldn’t make it out.

A fellow blogger lit a match in the comments, reminding me of my search. But, true to my impatient form, I was done with it, so I manipulatively told him that I knew he’d know the quote I had been trying to recall.

Now, he – being not only wiser than I, but more patient as well – refused to bite. Instead, giving me just a little more illumination so that I could find it myself.

So when I saw BreitBarb’s tweet this morning about these stupid Americans that seemingly can’t spell while using technology in 2020…well, the shortcoming seemed obvious to me.

I think people are smart enough to know that a dotted red line is a literal red flag. They choose to ignore it.

Then again, I’d also think that somehow, someone during that whole “someone ate a bat in China*” thing and caused Coronavirus would have thought, “I probably shouldn’t serve that” or “eat that” or what-have-you.

Now, unlike a certain senator from Texas, I’m going to go ahead and say, ok…culture. Admit that I can’t fathom the custom, regardless of how much effort I put into it – the perks of being a picky eater. Then walk away, lest I embolden or be perceived as racist.

China’s approach, on the other hand, was to drop new legislation from its fake capital Kibosh, stopping the custom. This effectively gutted what I gather to be a $72 billion annual industry for China. But prioritizing science over culture or custom, China demonstrated concern for not only its population, but the world overall and stopped the root cause of this outbreak once and for all.

And we can’t even get Americans to capitulate on spellcheck. No wonder Portland is on track to be the new Palm Springs.

I’ve no doubt our stupid American indulging country will trip over itself to fill the void left by China and crown itself “the best” yet again as it finds a way to start churning out future Patients Zero.

Someone has to do it.

Plus – I mean – hedging ones bets is the smart thing to do, right? We can’t put all our world annihilation eggs in one basket – best to diversify and make sure we pick up that literal pandemic torch that China seems to be dropping.

China – Rituals and customs that put world health at risk should be changed.

Probably the US – Hold our beer.

* I have – in case it isn’t completely obvious – drastically dumbed down the path CoV-2 took from Horseshoe Bat in a backwater China community to the present human virus causing the global COVID-19 pandemic – is saying global and pandemic redundant? Anyway, the exact path from one species to another is presently unknown.

Not that Trump supporters and climate change deniers would accept scientific fact as proof of anything.

But!

If you can activate their racism triggers – an easy enough endeavor, it seems – then they’ll believe anything. Ergo: this started in China when some guy ate a bat.

Obviously.

Patience: Zero

Hey, Hippocrates

Well, I’m sure he never foresaw a future of social media connecting us all. If he had, do you think he would have weighed in?

Instead of “First, do no harm” do you think we would have gotten something like

First, educate thine dumb ass

I thought about sprinkling in a few literallys and figurativelys to that fake quote, but there’s already enough confusion in the world.

Case in point, I’m just wrapping up a 24 hour Facebook detox, and considering another 24 hours.

The impetus?

Not one, but two lengthy comment-versations with a former co-worker about posts they made about both COVID-19 and the economic stimulus package that was working its way through Congress. The biggest challenge here has been weighing my natural desire to “get the last word” versus attempting to help her – I knew I’d blow the gender neutral identity thing sooner or later, so I just abandoned it – understand how dangerous it is to spread inaccurate information.

Fortunately, her friends and followers were there to jump in and start calling me names in order to provide a perfect (and perfectly missed) illustration of my point.

One of the points I took issue with was her assertion that the economic bailout was going to provide $750B in aid to some industry – airline or auto is what’s coming to mind, and I really think it was airlines…but I am still restricting myself access to FB so I can’t verify – on top of their prior and unpaid bailout of…$750B from the 2008 economic crisis.

I mean, you see why I have a problem with this, right?

Just to be clear, I’m not out to call anyone stupid. My point has been to share my knowledge and reason with others. Maybe (definitely) I’m not 💯 right 💯 percent of the time, but I try to live up to my friend BreitBarb’s point that we’re all entitled to our “informed opinion”, particularly when it comes to important things like health and welfare.

Or the politicization of either.

Here’s the deal, even with generous up or down rounding, $750 billion just isn’t an historic bailout number. The closest I can come is the 2008 financial sector bailout. But that was ~$810B all tolled.

Sidebar: Told?

I dunno, I think the most recent information I have seen on that expression came down on the “told” side, but I’m talking math, so “tolled” as a synonym for “tallied” makes sense.

This data is all from doing research I told her I wasn’t going to do because my point wasn’t me being right, it was her being inaccurate. The closest I came before shutting down my FB and walking away was just offering the potential that she had meant millions instead of billions.

But since I wasn’t killing my quaran-time on the Facebook, I started thinking about writing projects and ended up here. Obviously, this is merely a procrastination technique to avoid working on my non-fiction project that needs editing. Still, my blog also provides a type of therapy, so at least it’s partially productive procrastination.

Here’s what I found – and I really kind of focused on airlines, so…allow me that and bear with me.

20-Now

2001

Obviously, neither equals $750 billion by a long fucking shot. That 2001 airline bailout was even adjusted to 2008 dollars, which is when the article was published.

Key point: the source of the 2001 bailout was ProPublica – which is decidedly not Fox News or FB click-bait, so definitely not a valid source of information as far as my friend is concerned.

Basically, in addition to spreading unverified inaccurate information, my former colleague is also unwilling to retract or delete this info. Her best concession basically amounted to a “Yeah, but…” and what we really don’t need while were fighting a virus on a national level is to simultaneously be fighting a case of the yeahbuts.

Interestingly, my reason for clicking on her thread was because – knowing her political leaning – I really wanted to know where she came down on the bailout versus my own thoughts. I just never expected her to add in such wrongness voluntarily.

My issue with the bailout had been how it seemed unfairly weighted in favor of big business over small. As a Portlander, I value my community’s small businesses that help maintain the quirky Portland vibe. Saving them is my focus, so seeing big biz allocated $500B (see? still not $750B) in this package and small biz only allocated $350B seemed unfair. Particularly after the big biz bailout in 2008.

She never really addressed that opinion of mine. She was very busy agreeing that yes, small business needs help but then moved on to how big business – airline or automotive – never paid paid back the 2008 bailout, Obama ruined the healthcare options her special needs son had available to him and that student loan debt should never be forgiven. With nothing but vitriol to support her rant.

I don’t know much about big business not paying their prior stimulus packages back – I actually thought they were pretty good about that, but that’s just a recollection – but I did point out that paid back or not, having used so much of their profits on stock buybacks in the past years de-merited their request for aid now and should move small business to the top of the bailout priority heap. If big business had saved the profits they reinvested in their own stock for a rainy day, maybe they wouldn’t need so much assistance now.

I’m betting that buyback strategy helped minimize their tax burden, but I’m not googling that, so take it as an opinion only. Still, Bloomberg said…

I left the thread thinking that for the day, we’d managed to agree on two things she posted and wildly disagree on two others. But those two things we agreed on were inconsequential topics, like “water is wet”. My other thought was my complete understanding as to why she thinks college debt is unworthy of bailout or forgiveness.

She as much as said that people with degrees go on to earn a bunch of money so they could pay their damn bills. Which is interesting given her qualified support of bailing out big business.

My counterpoint was to concede that I partially understood where she was coming from in regards to student loan debt. However, not all degree program careers have the financial return she was projecting upon them.

My example: teachers.

I’d have thought that – having a special needs son – she would agree with the low pay teachers suffer through after taking on not only Bachelor level degree debt, but in many cases advanced degrees in order to specialize in fields like special needs.

Nah.

After all, if you allow your position to show cracks in its foundation, it’s as good as being wrong. Then the liberals win. Because that’s – I gather – how irrational thinking versus critical thinking works.

Because: game, set and match! Because, because, because!

All the while, I’m thinking I should just unfriend her. Arguing with myself about it, actually. But she’s not a bad person. Quite the opposite. She’s quite nice. Just culturally trained to support dogma instead of disposed – through education in disciplines like science and math – to think critically about information she’s presented and arrive at that informed opinion BreitBarb champions.

Flash backward a couple of days to me in isolation watching Instagram stories. A local business owner – and I’m sure in his own mind, influencer – had posted a story about he and his wife taking an outing for grocery supplies.

This was after a story featuring his dog in a diaper running around awkwardly, captioned with an equally awkward “someone’s first period”. Ok, a) probably get your damn dog fixed; and b) if you’re a man, maybe err on the side of never discussing a woman’s reproductive issue publicly. I mean, would you put your daughter’s first period on blast like that?

But, back to grocery shopping!

What could possibly go wrong there, right?

I mean, seriously…not much. Supportive of communicating best practices here in the quaran-times, I am.

My opinion is two-fold: the first is snarky historical Xtopher-ness. Twenty or so years back, even before anti-vaxxers, I posited that hand sanitizer was taking the place of hand washing and shouldn’t. I also tossed out how too much use of hand sanitizer would probably just erode our body’s natural process of developing immunities naturally.

Not that I’m saying this situation would have been prevented. I’m just qualifying – or indicting – my own stance on potentially overcorrecting behaviors.

Case in point:

I watched a clip of he and his wife entering the store with handiwipes and gloves.

I saw a video of them arriving home and setting up a decon area on their back porch. That everything in packages should be wiped down with bleach outside before being tossed inside to the clean area.

Having a “clean hand” and a “dirty hand” for unpacking and handling the groceries once the decon area is established. If you cook, think of how you dredge things before frying them: wet hand, dry hand. If you don’t cook, you’re probably going to die of starvation or malnutrition anyway, so…

I saw them take off their outside shoes before entering the house.

They talked about washing veggies.

I mean, top level…not bad information. My inner-germaphobe appreciated that they were trying to spread good knowledge.

Then my inner germaphobe got into a fight with my recreational hypochondriac.

What about their outside clothes? Can’t germs live on clothes as easily as the bottom of a shoe?

I mean, I’m a little germaphobic, but I still wear my shoes inside. Hell, I’m even laying down on the all weather carpet in my building’s hallway to do crunches during my isolation workouts – I don’t post them on Instagram, but I’m still doing them! – so this shoes off/clothes off/shower germs off approach to leaving and re-entering ones home is overkill unless you’re coming from a hospital.

In.

My.

Non-expert.

Opinion.

That controversy aside, I worried when I saw him demonstrate bringing things into the house that have inner packages.

Think boxes of microwave popcorn.

He specifically mentioned this separate from his “wipe everything down outside” segment because the inner packaging hadn’t been exposed to any contaminants recently. Sure, maybe a worker in the plant it was packaged in had been exposed and/or symptomatic, but that was long enough ago to safely assume any virus in it would now be dead. His videos were to combat bringing live outside germs inside due to recent handling by other potential carriers-slash-shoppers.

Ok. Sure.

Back to inner packages.

We’re going to take them out of the exterior packaging, leave the outer packaging outside and bring the safe, germ-free-ish inner packages into our kitchen.

I’m onboard with what he’s saying.

Not, however, with what he’s doing.

I watch him reach outside and pick up the popcorn box from the decon area, open it and toss the three cello-wrapped snack bags onto his kitchen island.

Got it. Ok. Except

No gloves.

Not that gloves or not is the issue here. Try and open a box of microwave popcorn – while holding it – with one hand. He couldn’t. I watched him use both hands, and since he specifically said he wasn’t bleaching the outer package because he was leaving it outside, gloves or bare handed handling became moot. If he didn’t bleach the outer package, he transferred germs onto the inner package after handling the outer packaging with both hands.

Just kidding, but I think where this virus is concerned, we’re all wearing red shirts, IYGMD.

Regardless of my assumptions as to whether he really did wipe down the outer package before filming this segment or whether we’re assuming worst case scenario germs where none likely exist…the thing that worries me here is the assumption people like my Facebook friend will make.

That I saw it on the internet and therefore it’s a fact.

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 and certainly do not employ any critical thinking to assess the factual-ness of what you just saw.

Plus, rules are for other people, I don’t have to wash my hands because my junk ain’t dirty because I showered today, I’m not sick so I can go outside or visit grandma since she’s lonely…

We aren’t all going to die.

But some of us will – a larger number than you or I are probably <cough,cough> Spanish Flu! <cough> willing to consider.

My only certainty in these uncertain times?

Stupid Americans notwithstanding: stupidity is a constant in the universe.

Stay inside, wash your hands and first, do no harm.

Hey, Hippocrates

COVIDness

COFITness?

How do you properly portmanteau COVID and fitness? Regardless, I should probably emphasize the “co” since what motivated me today was my obnoxiously fit friend’s – Filipina Fox – Instagram post yesterday.

Not mad, jealous.

She took a page out of my home workout book from back when I was obnoxiously fit. When I was living in Seattle, my condo was in the top floor of a 13 floor building.

See also: How to not make money in Seattle real estate – buy on the 13th floor and laugh about it.

Anyway, my home routine included running stairs. Including the basement flight, my route from 13-LL was 1/10 of a mile and I used to knock out a mile or two a few times a week when the weather was shitty.

Usually before catching a car to a bar.

Party-orities.

I’d been thinking about doing some what-I-call-running of the stairs in my building during quarantine, but have been expertly procrastinating. Not (only) because I’m lazy, but I started quarantine off with some reasonable exercise – starting with a couple of long walks in the early days followed by a HIIT home workout and a two mile hike later in the week.

Except

After that HIIT/hike day, I found myself sore. Just a reasonable soreness on day two, prompting me to reason, “Give yourself another day to fully repair and then get back to it on day three.

Except: part deux…

I was more sore on the third day after my work out. Clearly, I needed another day to get my next level procrastination excuses up and running.

Filipina Fox posted her workout story yesterday on day four of my HIIT/hike workout.

This morning, I woke up to a shame double-whammy. First, the traitorous Facebook:

Yeah, five years ago I could eat a 5 lb tub of licorice. At least, that’s what I tell myself these days.

Then the Filipina Fox has to chip in helpfully with this pro-tip:

Already knowing I was doing this, I playfully demurred hoping she would not have any of my resistance. Riding to the call, she fully enabled:

But I still felt I could balance the reward with a little exercise. I’ve got a decade plus on Filipina Fox, so I thought that afforded me the option to adjust my workout down by a magnitude or two.

But it was also a HIIT/stair workout, so there were six upper body supersets mixed in between each six floor stair circuit.

Forget COVID-19, I’m making this quarantine about CoFit-20!

Also, about pizza, beer and now licorice!

COVIDness