Friday, July 17, 2020

Stress in the Age of Covid

So, although you could say I benefited from Covid-19, in that I got two things I wanted from it, namely an increase in wealth and the freedom to work from home, at the same time I wouldn't say that things have been perfect either, or that I didn't suffer an increase in stress.

Stress Number 1: The Uncertainty of My Future

I failed to elaborate in my last post about the psychic strain I have been under as a direct result of this Covid situation. For one thing I don't like not knowing what's going to happen. I mean I like to have control over what happens. I hate chaos. I hate uncertainty. I hate not being given a deadline, a time frame, for what's going on with my job. I'm still working from home and the way things are going I'm assuming it will continue for the rest of the month, but I have not been given any definite time frame of how long it will last. I mean yeah they could give a speculative day and always change it, but I haven't been given anything, other then that management will let all work-from-home people know when they want us back. So like it could be next week, it could be next month, or it could be next year. I have no idea, and I hate not knowing. I really was hoping that they would make work from home a permanent option, but as it stands they've made it clear it's only temporary. So that's a source of stress because working from home is really working out for me, and is not at all hurting my job performance, if anything I think I'm doing a better job, and it clearly is a job that can be done from home, so makes no sense why it can't be permanent.

Anyway, it's stressful being in a situation where in one sense I'm happy, but in another sense I'm apprehensive knowing this situation will end sooner then I'd like, and I'll have to go back, and I don't want to go back. If I go back I'll probably get Covid. And I don't want to get Covid. There's just no way you can have three hundred plus people all sitting in a room together in a cubicle farm all breathing the same air, and everybody is talking, because it's a call center and that's the nature of the job, and they made it clear that you can't wear a mask in the cubicle, and meanwhile there's no assigned seating and everyone is sharing the same chairs and using the same keyboards, and touching the same door handles, because there is no way to open the doors without touching the handles, it's just a recipe for disaster. Not everyone is working from home, only about half, and looks like most of the people still going into the center are people under the age of 30, who probably think their immune, and are the ones most likely to be asymptomatic and not to be social distancing and not wearing masks and still going out to restaurants and parties as if its "just a little flu" and they've got nothing to worry about.

So, in one sense I'm happy with my current work situation, happy to be working from home, but at the same time I'm worried and can't relax because I don't have control over my future. If I'm told to go back I only have two choices, go back and risk getting Covid, or quit my job and look for another, but it's not exactly a great time to be unemployed and job hunting either, when the job I have is really secure, with virtually zero chance of closing or of being laid off. So I got ultimate job security, and it's perfect if I can work from home, but the prospect of going back is about as appealing as being sent to prison.

Stress Number 2: The Anti-Maskers and Living in a Hostile Land

Another source of stress is that, in addition to living in a major Covid-19 hotspot, which is on track to seeing an increase of 100,000 new cases a month, I'm living around a bunch of anti-mask Trumpers. I'm not kidding. I don't understand how they've made this political. It's not political, it's science, but I guess the Trumpers are anti-science. You know, I've been wearing a mask since March. I didn't wait for a mandate, because I see wearing a mask as the smart thing to do. But really, unless you're wearing an n95 respiratory, most masks only offer minimal protection for yourself, it's more so about protecting the other person. It acts as a barrier to block your water droplets, the saliva that you imperceptibly spit out of your mouth when to talk, or when you cough or sneeze without covering your mouth, or when you breath with your mouth open. So they work best if everyone is wearing one.

We've got a mask mandate in our city now, but I can tell you, while most people are wearing the masks in the stores, most people around where I live are not wearing them outdoors in public. People are congregating in small groups, letting their children run wild, having little barbecues, old men sitting together neck and neck smoking cigarettes, lounging at the community pool, and doing their little neighborhood meet and greets as if there isn't a deadly virus running rampant among us. It's really annoying. And I don't even consider myself a Liberal Democrat, more of an Independent, but I'm no Trumper either, that's for sure, and I feel like an alien living in enemy territory. My aunt moved to Delaware, maybe she's got the right idea, to get the hell out of this fucked up red state. Honestly I never liked it here, only moved here to escape the cold winters of my home state, no other reason then that, really only like the desert scenery and being in nature far away from people, the city and the culture, not so much.

I know I've said it all before. Will I be complaining about where I live all my life? No. There's good reasons why I haven't left. I'll leave when the time is right. And I sometimes need to vent. It's not all bad. I'm sure there's good and bad to be found in all places. But in this particular case, I am living in hostile territory. That is not my imagination. The anti-maskers are going strong in the states with the worst cases of Covid, go figure, I guess they won't believe it until it kills them, or their loved ones, and maybe it's for the best.

The Comparison of Masks with Seat Belts and Helmets

Problem is though, they're not just hurting themselves, the people not wearing masks are like suicide bombers taking out a whole bunch of people with them. So the choice not to wear a mask can't really be compared to the choice not to wear a seat belt or a motorcycle helmet,  because if you get into an accident and aren't wearing a helmet or seat belt, no one else dies because of it, but if you have Covid and don't know it and you're not wearing a mask you can give it to someone else and it may end up killing them, that had you worn a mask there's a strong chance they wouldn't have gotten it, especially if their wearing a mask, too.

It's really simple, but these dumb fucks they are so ignorant they can't even grasp a simple concept, or they don't believe it, that they think it's some kind of a conspiracy to take away their rights. Ironically, they think the mask wearers have been brainwashed. They really do. I know this for a fact. It's crazy, but true. They think the mask wearers are non-thinking conformists being brainwashed to obey authority, and yet, maybe it is the anti-maskers who are being subliminally programmed by some hypnotic suggestion being sent via Mr. Trumpet himself, who in ushering in his final Judgement, needs x amount of sheep for his sacrificial slaughter. I know, that's crazy, too, it goes both ways, the conspiracy for masks or against, but in this case a mask actually has scientific evidence supporting it, and really it's just plain stupid not to. It's like I wonder if these anti-maskers would stop washing their hands, too, if hand washing suddenly became mandated, and people started getting ticketed for not washing their hands in public after using the toilet. They're like spoiled little children throwing tantrums, "You can't tell ME what to do!" It's so pathetic. I am not proud to be an American right now. I tell you that much. Welcome to the idiocracy! It's finally here! Trump has ushered in not the age of Aquarius, but the age of selfish stupidity.

In closing, this is the reality, this is the truth: 

Whether or not you think Covid-19 is serious, being blown out of proportion, or even a hoax, the fact remains that masks do help prevent or mitigate the transmission of disease. To wear a mask is actually a charitable act grounded in kindness and selflessness. It means you're not just looking out for yourself, you're considering the welfare of other people, too. Whereas to refuse to wear a mask is actually very selfish, and is basically a giant "fuck you" to everybody else, saying "I don't care if you get the disease, I'll do as I please".

So, you think about that. When someone is living in a disease outbreak hotspot and refuses to wear a mask because they think it's a hoax, or for whatever reason, unless they fit that tiny percentage of people who have some underlying medical condition that exempts them from wearing a mask, I'm pretty sure these people aren't just stupid, they're probably assholes, too, and wouldn't wear a mask for anything. Even if it wasn't Covid but let's say they are 100% certain they have the flu, and the mask will prevent other people from getting it, these anti-maskers don't care, because their assholes, and that's how assholes act.

At this point the only solution to this problem I feel would be to really step up the enforcement of masks by the issuing of citations, without that, there's no hope, and until that happens, mandatory masks and widespread enforcement, involving giving out "actual fines", and not just "education", and the mandatory firing of any officer or sheriff that refuses to enforce such mandates, this outbreak is going to continue for a long time and it's only going to get worse from here.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Covid-19: Underlying Psychology: The Believers vs. Disbelievers

I'm seeing now primarily two major conflicting points of view concerning Covid-19 and its perceived level of danger or threat to human life.

People that are for wearing masks, people that are against wearing masks. People that are for social distancing, and people against social distancing. People for staying home, people against staying home. People for closing non-essential businesses, people against closing non-essential businesses. You get the idea.

However, I think the most significant opposing viewpoint is between those who think Covid-19 is a serious deadly disease capable of killing millions of people, and those who don't and who think it's being blown way out of proportion, that really it's no big deal, no worse than the flu, or maybe even less severe than the flu -- a threat only to a rather small percentage of the population, primarily the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Personally, I'm of the viewpoint that Covid-19 is very serious, is very real, isn't being exaggerated, and is a serious threat to all human life with the potential of killing millions. But I'm not a scientist. I'm not an epidemiologist. I'm not a statistician. I'm not even a college graduate. So certainly I'm no expert, nor have I ever claimed to be one. I'm just a blogger with an opinion.

I read a few blogs, and lately I've encountered some that I've been reading for years, that have a completely opposite viewpoint on this subject than I do. Reading their posts made me angry. I felt like commenting, getting into a big debate, but realized it would be a waste of time and energy. I feel so passionate about the subject though, that I'll probably just stop reading their blogs, because I don't find reading ignorant viewpoints enjoyable.

Anyway, I could be wrong about Covid-19. Maybe their right. Only time will tell. But what I noticed reading these opposing viewpoints that there's another notable difference between people's position on Covid-19, and I think it stems from how their lives have been personally affected by it, in terms of personal finances and personal psychology.

For instance, using myself as example, I myself have benefited substantially from the pandemic. My life has not been negatively affected in the least bit. Not only have I not lost my  job, but I've actually made more money, in the form of extra hours and bonuses and so-called hazard pay, plus a stimulus check, that I'm actually better off financially then I was before the pandemic.

Plus, I've been working from home, something that I've always wanted to do. And although it's only temporarily, it's been a big gain for me personally that never would have happened in my current job had this pandemic never happened. I'll elaborate on exactly what these gains have been in another post.

Plus, I'm an introvert and was already social distancing long before this, so no major life change or inconvenience there. I also don't go to restaurants or bars or movie theaters or nail salons or night clubs or gyms or concerts or public sporting events. I pretty much stay away from people as much as I can. So closing those businesses does not in any way negatively effect my life.

In other words, people that don't mind staying home, staying away from people, who have the option of working from home and like it, or that have plenty of financial security to weather the storm for years to come without working, will be least resistant to social distancing, the wearing of masks, the closing of non-essential businesses, and sheltering in place.

On the opposite spectrum of this viewpoint, I'm finding that the people that are more likely to be against the social distancing and the sheltering in place and the closing of non-essential businesses and even the wearing of masks, are more likely going to be people who have either faced financial hardship because of the restrictions, in the form of lost jobs and businesses, or people who are extremely extroverted sociable people who can't stand the idea of not enjoying their favorite social activities with others, like going to restaurants, bars, clubs, concerts, sporting events, etc.

So, if you're an extrovert who lost your livelihood and you can't hang out with your friends and are told to stay indoors by yourself with no income coming in, yeah I can see those people are going to be pissed off by this. Not only are they going to be pissed, their going to do everything in their power to get things back to normal, even if it's far from normal and completely premature, they will look for rationalizations for ending all the restrictions and for downplaying the severity of the pandemic in order to to re-salvage their lives, with no more social distancing, no more masks, going back to work, back to normal, back to business, full-swing, full speed ahead as if nothing is wrong.

It's called living in denial and not facing reality. Meanwhile, if this disease is real, and it's really deadly, not just for the sick and the elderly, but for everybody, it's not going to work out in their favor, and it's not going to be pretty. It's as simple as that.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Wear a Mask!

So, I've been surfing the apocalypse for exactly three months now, or rather it's been three months to the day since I first posted about life in the age of Covid-19. Back on that day, March 27, 2020, there were 102 cases of Covid-19 in my city, now there's over 7000. And my state is now considered a hotspot. We've had an increase of 50,000 new cases in the last 30 days. We're seeing over 3000 new cases a day. Every day seems to be breaking a new record, and I predict that by the end of July the state of Arizona will have well over a 100,000 cases.

What is fueling this increase? It's not just an increase of testing. I'll tell you what it is, it's a bunch of selfish dumb fucks acting like there's nothing wrong, gallivanting about without a care in the world, acting like there's no pandemic, or like it's blown out of proportion and no more serious than the common cold. People in the state of Arizona have not been taking this seriously, they have not been wearing masks and they have not been social distancing. That is what is fueling the outbreak.

Newsflash! Covid-19 is not the flu, nor is it the common cold, it's worse! Earlier on some people loved to downplay the virus, talking about how more people die from the flu every year than the coronavirus, so therefore the coronavirus is not as serious. Well, guess what, that was only true during a very small window of time at the beginning of this crisis, but it's not true anymore. This thing is just getting started. If you hear anybody telling you that the flu is worse, their spouting obsolete inaccurate information, disinformation, and their probably not wearing a mask. It's best you avoid people like that, they're dangerous to your health.

I've never lived around so many stupid people in my life. This resistance to wearing a mask is completely mind boggling to me. I say that because I've been wearing a mask in public since March and only now three months later is it finally being mandated, but not by our dumb fuck ice creme parlor poseur governor, but by our cities mayor, who is now facing death threats and a crowd of angry protesters outside her home everyday ready to lynch her, all because she's requiring people wear masks in public, something that should have been done months ago, because it's the only method that really works.

Oh, these poor pathetic people think it's violating their constitutional rights. They equate wearing a mask with being gagged, with having their freedoms taken away, and enslaved under the bondage of communism. Oh, really, what about my freedom to be safe and healthy, and you not wearing a mask is posing a direct threat to my health and safety.

I'm so fortunate that I have a job that has been allowing me to work from home. I don't know how much longer it's going to last, but I wish it could be forever. Unfortunately, my job normally doesn't allow work from home, and has only enabled this option on a temporary basis, so eventually I'll have to go back and I'm dreading it. As it stands now, I'm only approved to work from home for the month of June, but in light of the outbreak, I suspect it will be extended, but I won't know for sure until next week.

I don't think this virus is going away anytime soon. I suspect it will be with us for at least another year. Things probably won't get back to normal again until 2022, but maybe they'll never get back to normal again. I suspect that we've only seen the beginning of what this virus can do. I predict that hundreds of millions of people will be infected, and the death toll will eventually eclipse what we've ever seen before in modern times.

I predict that it's worse than we thought. That the damage is worse than we thought. It's not just respiratory, but causes damage to the heart and the blood vessels, and now their finding it damages the liver and the pancreas. Who know what else they'll find. And even younger people who only had mild symptoms, may learn that they suffered permanent damage to their health, and there may even be the possibility that people could get it more than once.

No, this virus is far from gone. It's just the beginning. This is still the first wave. Just wait and see what happens when the hospitals are at full capacity, and the health care workers are too sick to do their job, people will be dropping like flies.

So, what can we do? Wear a mask in public! Close all businesses that are impossible to wear a mask, such as restaurants and bars, or only offer take-out. Yeah, people are going to lose their jobs, but our world will survive without restaurants and bars, time to find yourself an essential job, a job that actually matters!

Covid-19 Reference Links

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Playlist for Running Becomes Tool for Reminiscing and Uplifting

Since I started up running again I bought an mp3 player with the intention of creating a playlist to listen to while I run. Ironically, I quickly scrapped that idea once it became apparent that I would be running at night, and listening to music while I run would be a dangerous distraction. Nonetheless, I've been working on creating a playlist to listen to at a future time and it's been a very slow process.

Over the years music has kind of grown out of favor with me. When I was younger, like in my teens and twenties, I listened to a lot music, but up until recently, hardly ever. I find that either I don't have time for it, or it's just too big of a distraction.

However, since I've committed to creating this playlist I've been listening to a lot of music in my spare time, and it's been a lot of fun. It's been a trip down memory lane. I listened to songs I haven't heard in twenty years, some songs I'd completely forgotten about that used to be old favorites. I realized there was just so many songs from so many diverse genres, that instead of lumping everything together in one long playlist it would be best to create different categories for different moods. So there will be a playlist for eighties and nineties and classic rock, and disco, some heavy metal, and some Motown, and others.

What I'm finding out about my musical taste is that I hardly like anything new, most of the music I like was produced before the year 2000. And I'm also finding that most music, both new and old,  sounds like noise, the voice is either unpleasant or the lyrics are idiotic, stupid, nonsensical, ignorant. As Grace Slick famously said, you should "Feed your head". Whatever you listen to becomes a part of you, has a subtle subconscious influence on you, it could be dumbing you down, and degrading your values, or it could be uplifting you up, and filling you with inspiration and the thirst for wisdom and knowledge.

So in my quest to put together the perfect playlist, there will be an eclectic mix.  It will be everything I ever liked going back as far as I can remember. There will be multiple genres, but two primary objectives: music for reminiscing and music for uplifting. Most songs will be used sparingly, as mnemonic devices listened to primarily for nostalgia's sake, but overall in terms of music used for uplifting the spirit I'm finding I'm leaning more toward instrumental music, like classical, but especially jazz, and am really liking Herbie Hancock.

I'm not ready to disclose my complete playlist, because honestly this playlist is going to take years, but in the meantime I thought I'd share a song.

I found this song to be a perfect jazz song and completely soothing to listen to. And whenever I can find a safe place to run in the daytime when the temperatures aren't so hot, I'll probably listen to it while I run. It's by Herbie Hancock, came out in 1974, and it's called Butterfly.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Why I've Gotten Slower and How I Can Get Faster

I was wondering how did I go from running a 9 minute mile to an 11 minute mile over the course of four years?

I haven't gotten fat. I don't smoke. I don't use drugs. I have a pretty healthy diet. It could be better I guess, but overall I've been eating healthy for years. I actually drink less beer now then I did then, but I still do drink, so maybe that's a factor, but I drank back then too, so it can't be the primary factor.

As far as I know I don't have any health problems. I feel okay. I've been riding my bike to and from work everyday, six miles round trip, for the last four years. I thought I was in shape. But running an eleven minute mile is not that good, even for my age. So what is the problem?

It just occurred to me. I know why. Or at least I know the probable reason why. Maybe it was obvious to anyone else who has been reading my blog for any extended period of time, if there is even anyone left, but for me, I must be a little slow, because only now did the light bulb in my brain illuminate for me to see, to understand the underlying factor explaining why after four years I am running a mile two minutes slower. 

No, it's not because I stopped running. Or that I'm four years older. Although it's probably part of it, but no that's not it. It's because I stopped going for long walks. I thought I was in better shape now because I've been putting more mileage on my bike. At least six miles a day, nearly everyday. But realistically, when I road my bike to work, it was a 15 minute ride. As you know cycling 3 miles is not equal to running three miles. And it's certainly not equal to walking three miles. Because it's not about distance. It's about time. 

If I walk three miles it will take me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, versus 15 minutes via bicycle. So that means when you walk three miles your exercising your aerobic capacity for a longer period of time than you get from riding a bike. Same with running. The longer time you spend in an aerobic activity the more exercise you get from it. 

So, that's the factor. That's the difference. Four years ago I was an avid walker. Regularly walking almost everyday, probably because at the time I lived outside the city in a more rural area that had nicer scenery that made walking more enjoyable. It was therapeutic for me. But since I moved and started riding my bike to work, even though it wasn't a long ride, it was kind of stressful, with a lot of pollution from the traffic, combined with the extreme heat, I didn't make time for walking or running, figuring I got enough from the cycling, but really it wasn't enough. 

In my case, I obtained a greater cardiovascular benefit from walking than I did from my riding my bike, simply because I spent more time time walking than I did cycling. Which is why back then when I started running, my first mile running was significantly faster than it is now, because I had a stronger aerobic base from all that walking I had been doing. I could probably get the same benefit from cycling, but it would mean riding for a longer period of time than I have presently been doing. 

I guess that's why they say you should get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. Because less than that really isn't enough. And based on personal experience it's not enough to get 30 minutes a day broken up in smaller chunks, you know like 5 minutes here, ten minutes there, but rather you need to get 30 minutes of continuous exercise all at once to get the full benefit. 

Even if you don't become a full-time runner, but engage in other aerobic activities, like walking or cycling or swimming or whatever, doing a mile run at your fastest is probably the best test for gauging your basic cardiovascular fitness level.

How to get faster? Since I'm not quite there I can only speculate based on lessons learned from past experience, that spending more time exercising at a low to medium intensity is your best bet. When training in the lower heart rate zones, walking has the same benefit as running.

So, for me personally, unless your training for a marathon, it's silly to run super slow, particularly if you find that your running speed is actually slower than walking. Believe me, I've been there, and it's ridiculous. You'd be better off walking. Because, newsflash, if you want to run faster, you have to actually run faster.

Walking longer distances will increase your running speed by increasing your endurance, your ability to run further and faster without getting tired out, but when it's time to run, you must run. If your objective is to run faster, there is no substitute for running, walking will just slow you down.

So probably the best way to make it happen, to become a faster runner, is a combination of endurance and speed training. A combination of frequent, long, slow walks and jogs, and shorter, faster runs. 

Running Progress Update: Six Weeks

So, I've incorporated a regular running routine, running three to four days a week, which I've maintained for about six weeks now.

I've made a small amount of progress in that time, increasing my maximum speed by 30 seconds, and doubling my mileage, but with no change to my VO2 max.

The major obstacle has been the heat. I'm not a morning person, and am extremely sensitive to the sun, so have been running exclusively at night, usually running between the hours of nine and ten, but even then it's been really hot, like still in the upper eighties, so it's been more of challenge I guess because of that.

Anyway, since getting back into running again after a four year hiatus, six weeks ago, I ran my first mile in 11 minutes, which is probably the slowest mile I've ever run in my life. My long-term goal is to run a nine minute mile and to maintain that speed over the course of three miles. That's all I want. I don't care to run a marathon, or a half marathon. Running three miles, 4 or 5 days a week, is pretty much where I'd like to be at. If it's good enough for Bruce Lee, it's good enough for me.

So that's the long-term. The short-term goal is to run a 10 minute mile, and to run at least 30 minutes a day at least three days a week.

When I first started I was just running a mile, but my times weren't getting any better. The fastest I had gotten was a 10:30 second mile, but that was running all out near my maximum heart rate. So I learned that if I want to improve my speed I have to build up my endurance by running longer distances at slower speeds. So instead of running for distance, running a mile at maximum effort, I started running for time, running 30 minutes at slower speeds.

I've been experimenting with different techniques, particularly training in different heart rate zones. My latest experiment was to build my aerobic base running in zones 2 and 3. Up until last week I was running slow easy miles, and walking a lot, to keep my heart rate in zones two and three, but not really seeing much progress. I was getting kind of impatient with it actually, and was going to go back to training in zone 4 and 5 this week, when the shit hit the fan yet again.

This week, starting Sunday, I was going to do another mile run test, running all out at VO2 max, but my progress has since been hindered by my city instituting a mandatory curfew, due to the riots and looting, so I haven't run at all since last Friday. Plus we're having another major heat wave this week, hottest temperatures of year, with highs at 108 degrees, which means that even at 9 o'clock at night it will still probably be in the nineties.

So maybe the rest will do me good. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, the curfew will be lifted next Monday, I'll get back to it, and will do another mile run test Monday night and post my progress in the coming weeks.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

So, I ordered 80 rolls of toilet paper online and finally received it. I ordered it because over the past two months there hasn't been any toilet paper in stock at the stores I shop at, that the only way you could get it was by waiting in a long line outside an hour before the store opened, and it would be sold out within a half an hour.

Well, it's ironic that now that I've got all this toilet paper it's suddenly becoming available again at the stores. You can now find a package of toilet paper sitting on the shelf at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and you won't see people fighting over it. Now instead there fighting over masks or social distancing, but that's another topic for another day.

It's in my nature to be prepared. It didn't take a pandemic for me to see the merits of stocking up, because I always have. I always keep a stock of canned goods and rice and beans and noodles and peanut butter and crackers and nuts and seeds and oatmeal and granola. Basically non-perishable foods that have a long shelf life. I always save for a rainy day, do everything in my power to not be in a situation of living check to check. The rule is you don't buy luxuries until you've saved x amount of money in the bank. It's so simple, and yet so impossibly difficult for some people.

Anyway, I don't regret ordering all this toilet paper, it's not a luxury, but a necessity, I got it for a fair price, and it's definitely going to be used. But the weird thing is I hadn't realized what a necessity toilet paper is until the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. I mean you use it everyday, but because of what it's used for its value seemed no higher than garbage. You use it once, and you throw it away. And yet, I can't imagine a day without it.

Did you ever in a million years imagine there would be a toilet paper shortage? It's crazy. I'm thinking to myself what in the world did people do in the past without it? I suppose you make do, you adapt, if people never used toilet paper before, I guess they didn't know what they were missing. It must have been a rough life. I mean I'm sure some people improvised better than others, kept clean with soap and water, but still without toilet paper there were probably a lot of stinky people walking around in shit stained pants.

You know I had romantic dreams of someday living off the grid, living in a log cabin, or tepee, or yurt, or cob house, something like that out in the middle of nowhere away from civilization, growing my own food and living off the land. But I never once gave any thought to what I would do for toilet paper. I mean I guess you can have it air dropped, like people do in remote areas of Alaska. Assuming they have a source of income, or savings they can tap into to replenish supplies, and have a huge cache of essentials, whatever you can't produce yourself, dropped off a few times a year, either by boat or helicopter or plane. But what happens when the supply chain is cut off, and the stores are not stocked? What then? Yeah, maybe if you're smart you've figured out a successful way of growing your own food, that you can manage long-term in that situation, but what about toilet paper? Is it possible to make your own toilet paper?

I never really thought about it before this. I mean you could use rags, or an improvised bidet, or simply bathing immediately after "doing your business". But realistically it seems like it would become a rather uncomfortable and messy affair over the long-term. I tried a portable bidet for number one, but can't imagine using it for number two, it just seems unsanitary, a risk of cross contamination, of feces ending up where it doesn't belong.

Anyway, I'm happy to have a good supply of toilet paper now, and seeing my supply threatened has taught me a valuable lesson of how dependent I am on the system, on the supply chain of civilization for producing essential items that I don't know how to produce myself and that would be uncomfortable to live without. Toilet paper is actually essential. Although it is possible to live without it, it would be an uncomfortable life to live.

It's not a luxury because its use supports good hygiene. Even if you use a bidet it is recommended to do a finishing wipe, and without toilet paper, you would probably use a wash cloth, and it would require deep cleaning. Handling feces stained rags is always a risky endeavor. Use soap, hot water, and diluted bleach, failure to do so, or any mishandling in the process could contribute to illness and disease. Using toilet paper simplifies the clean up, and I think is more sanitary for everyday use.

Toilet paper really is a necessity that I've taken for granted for a long time, and it took the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 for me to see that.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

First Mile and VO2 Max

So I got a new fitness watch, a Garmin Forerunner 35. I got it mostly for running, because it has GPS built into it to track distance and pace. Also has a built in heart rate monitor, which is nice. I'm not a runner, more of a cyclist, but since I'm not riding my bike to and from work anymore, since I'm working from home, I wanted to take up running again as a way to stay in shape during this pandemic.

Well, I've tried running on again off again over the years, but prior to getting this new watch, I hadn't run in over four years. I thought I was in shape because I've been cycling 30 to 50 miles a week every week for years. And I'm sure it's helped build up my fitness to some degree, but it's a totally different workout, is much lower impact than running, because, man, running is hard! Riding a bike my heart rate never got above 160, and typically would be in the 140 range, but running I was at my max!

I've done three runs in the last week. The first two were more of the run-walk variety, just getting used to the device, more of a warm up, hadn't really set any distance goals. And it was way too hot. I tried going in the morning, but didn't sleep well, so I didn't actually get going until after 10 in the morning, and it was already in the 90's with a high UV index. I realized this isn't going to work out. There's no way I'm going to be able to get up at 4 in the morning to do a early morning run when it's relatively cool outside. So I figured since there's no way I'm giving up on this, I'm just going to have to run at night, and that's the end of it. Yeah it's more dangerous, but I guess the risk is worth it when the alternatives are heatstroke, or early death due to sedentary lifestyle.

So running at night is what I did and is what I will continue to do. Armed with my pepper spray, my headlamp, and my reflective safety vest, I decided I'm going to run a mile non-stop no matter what, that nothing short of a heart attack or stroke would stop me. I did it not with the purpose of breaking any speed records, but solely to get my VO2 max. You have to run 10 minutes non-stop to get it. So I did okay. Keep in mind I haven't run a mile in over four years, so my first attempt I did it in 11 minutes, and my VO2 max was 38. For my age, being a female between the age of 40 and 49, I'm told that's good. Not great, but good, which is better than average, and better than fair, or poor. So things could be worse.

I think it was pretty decent for my first try. Though I will say that the last time I ran a non-stop mile over four years ago, I remember I ran it in 9 minutes. So this is two minutes slower. Though I do think I would do much better if it was 20 degrees cooler. So the heat is certainly a factor.

Either way, I plan on sticking with this program as long as I continue to work from home, which I'm hoping will continue through the summer, and ideally the rest of the year, and I will do an update on this topic in another month, to update my running times and VO2 max, to see what improvements can be made in a months time.

*Oh and I forgot to say that I've worn the watch to bed a few times now to track my sleep, and my resting heart rate is averaging out at 57. So I thought that was pretty good, but we'll see if it changes over the next month as well.