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.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Weekly Update - April 2020

It's been a little over three weeks since my last post. What has happened?

I got a portable bidet, pronounced bah-day. It's okay, but I probably won't be using it every day. More of a once and awhile, for freshening up, kind of thing. I'll stick to toilet paper.

My toilet paper stash once again was running low, so I waited in line a second time for toilet paper, outside the Target at seven in the morning, an hour before they opened. I won't be doing that again.

I got lucky. I managed to score a case of toilet paper, 80 rolls for 50 bucks on Amazon. It's white gold I tell you. It was all sold out within 5 minutes. It should be here in a month. Let's hope it doesn't get lost in transit.

When I last posted three weeks ago, there were 102 cases of Covid-19 in my city, now there are over 900. You do the math.

I have job security. Am considered an essential worker. Was given the option to work from home, and jumped on it. I've been working remotely for two weeks now and loving it. I've been doing freelance work for supplemental income for years, but this is the first time I've actually worked from home using a virtual desktop infrastructure for my day job. It was never an option before, but I'm hoping they keep it on, it's a dream come true.

The main thing I like about it is the comfort factor, of not having to work under bright fluorescent lights all day, something I've despised for all my working life. I'm more of a low light person, and noticing I feel so much better not being in that public office space, around bright lights, annoying smells, and annoying people. It's almost like having quit my job but still getting paid. I love it. Before this happened I was actually on the verge of quitting, thinking this will be the last year, too much bullshit that I won't go into, but if they let me work from home I could probably keep this up for years. So, that's a good thing. Either way, it's good to have job security in an increasingly insecure world.

Only thing is I'm not getting as much exercise, because I use to ride my bike to work everyday, 30 miles a week, and I'm not doing that anymore. So, I decided to take up running again, and ordered a smartwatch to keep me motivated. Yeah, you don't need a watch to run, but for me, being able to track my progress will give me the extra motivation needed to stick with it. Plus, it's always fun to have a new toy to play with, you got to take what you can, whatever it takes to get you through this. So, I'll do a post on that once I've gotten the watch and have done a few runs to try it out. It should be here sometime this week. It'll be fun.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Surfing the Apocalypse

I had thought about deleting this blog, perhaps starting another one, or maybe even not blogging again, but I realize I still have a few things to say, and don't yet feel the creative momentum to start a new blog, so here I am.

It's a very strange time we are now living in, a very crazy and uncertain time, and I've had some very strange experiences shopping these past two weeks.

Out of perhaps an intuitive hunch I felt it would be prudent to stock up on toilet paper before the shit hit the fan, this was like maybe three or four weeks ago, before it got bad, and there were no shortages, and no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in my city (now there are 102), and fast forward two weeks later, correlating to the first confirmed case, there was practically no toilet paper to be found.

Well, I stocked up, but that was like three or four weeks ago, and I found myself once again running a bit low, not critically low, but lower than I'd like, so I got a tip from a store clerk at Target that the only way you're ever gonna get toilet paper is if you're there when the store opens, and you might want to come an hour earlier because there will be a line, and it will be all sold out within 30 minutes.

They opened at eight, so I got there at seven, and there was already a line, at least 20 or 30 people. About five minutes before the store opens, security comes up and says to the already 50 or so people waiting, that he's sorry to say that they got a smaller truck than usual, and only got about twenty 4-packs of toilet paper on the truck, which is like one box, and there was clearly not enough for everybody in line. Yes, everybody in line was coming specifically for toilet paper, they might of been coming for other things too, but toilet paper was clearly the hot commodity of the hour.

So being told there was only a small amount, with a limit of one per customer, cleared out the line some, and as luck would have it, there turned out to be a bit more than the guy said, actually thirty packs, not twenty, so I did not leave empty handed. Hooray!

It will be the first time in my life that I have ever waited in line for toilet paper. It will also be the first time that I ever waited in line before a store opened, never even did it for Black Friday. It seemed strangely reminiscent of the bread lines people waited in during the Great Depression, where people waited hours in line just to get a loaf of bread, and sometimes after all that waiting they would be told there is no more bread.

I came really close to not getting any toilet paper at all, even though I got there before the store opened, I was really lucky, I don't think I would have gotten any if a few people ahead of me didn't leave the line, and it means that in the future I would have to actually get there even earlier like two hours earlier, all for four measly rolls of toilet paper!

I work second shift hours, and often don't get to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning, so the ordeal of waiting in line early in the morning for two hours with less than four hours sleep, is not something I feel I will be able to bring myself to do except on the rarest most desperately dire occasion.

But oh, wait, there is light at the end of this tunnel. I have a solution to this problem. It's called the bidet, a device that uses water to replace the need for toilet paper. I ordered one today, a portable bidet, and should get it next week, and maybe will do a review. If all goes according to plan, I will never need toilet paper again!

*This series of posts about life in the age of Covid-19, from this point forward will be labeled Surfing the Apocalypse. So stay tuned, there is more to come.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

When Bloggers Die

If you've been reading blogs over any extended period of time, you'll eventually encounter the death of a long-term blogger. It's happened to me a couple of times now.

Most recently a blog I'd been lurking on for close to ten years now had recently died. He was a schizophrenic blogger, who wrote about his struggles with mental illness, but was a very talented writer, a master of dialogue, with the potential I feel to have been a professional writer. But he had a horrible diet, was a chain smoker, and had been alcoholic for many years, so it wasn't completely unimaginable that his lifestyle would lead to an early demise. But he was only in his forties, so because of how young he was it was a bit unexpected.

I guess it's common though, people with mental illness tend to have reduced lifespans, so many factors contributing to that, such as above average suicide rate, higher incidence of smoking, substance abuse, typically poor diet, and not to mention all the negative side-effects and organ damage caused by a lifetime dependence on prescription medication, it's no wonder the mentally ill tend to grow old faster and die younger.

It's weird, you know, if you've been reading someone for years, you feel like you've sort of formed a relationship with them, like you know them, even though you've never met them, or spoken to them face to face, but then when you find out that someone you've been reading for years has died, that there will be no more posts, there's a moment of shock and grief, but then, because you don't actually know the person outside of their blog, in a way when they stop posting because they died, it's really not much different then if they are still alive but simply stopped posting.

The personal blog is a virtual representation of a real living person, it sort of like takes on a life of its own, like a disembodied spirit living in cyberspace, that so long as the blog isn't deleted, it survives the person long after they died. In fact, if you ever come across a blog that hasn't been updated in years, you'll never know for sure if the person just abandoned the blog, or if the person died, especially if they posted anonymously. Which I think is really weird. Either way whether the blog is deleted, or abandoned and never updated again, it's a sort of death, a virtual death.

And likewise if a blog hasn't been updated for years, and then suddenly starts updating again, it's like its risen from the dead. Like years have gone by, and after this momentary lapse of time the conversation is continued as if it never stopped, as if it was just yesterday that we last spoke, and even though years may have passed, it's like in blog land there is no perceivable separation of time. That too is weird. Yeah, however you look at it, blogging is weird.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

My Experience of the Kindle E-book Reader

So, I finally got a Kindle. I got the Paperwhite on sale $30 bucks cheaper a few weeks ago. I had such high hopes for it, especially eager to utilize its built in dictionary, note taking highlighter, and vocabulary builder flashcards, features that are still kind of cool, but would be better if the word definitions had audio playback, to help with pronunciation and retention.

I figured I haven't been reading much lately this past year, I thought that maybe having a Kindle would help me read more, by making books more accessible and more portable and perhaps easier to read.

But after extensive time trying it out, I found that despite what I've read to the contrary, if you plan to read more than an hour on it at a time, at least in my case, it causes more eyestrain than a traditional paper book.

You see I'm the kind of person that when I get into a book I like I will read it for several hours at a time. There have been days when I've had the free time and wasn't working that I would spend twelve hours a day reading. I wouldn't recommend doing that with a Kindle.

Overall I'm finding that I prefer traditional paper books to e-readers. There will be an upcoming post delving deeper into the particulars but for now I will will keep it simple.

Regular books are easier on the eyes, but not always easier on the budget. This is where the e-book excels. After the initial investment of the e-book reader, you'll find that e-books are generally cheaper. I'm on an extremely frugal budget and only like to buy books that I intend to keep in my permanent collection, or intend to read more than once, anything else I check out from the library and read for free.

Well, sometimes I want to read a book that isn't available at the library, and don't want to wait around months for an interlibrary loan to come through, but in the meantime can find an e-book version online either for free or priced significantly cheaper than the equivalent paper version, that's where the Kindle comes in. In this regard it's already paid for itself.

I was able to download three technical textbooks for free which would have cost me no less than 30 bucks a piece used. So in this regard I considered the $90 spent on the Kindle to be money well spent. But as far as using it to read fiction, particularly taking advantage of the extensive collection of thousands of public domain classics available for download, such as Moby Dick by Herman Melville or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, for that I think I will be sticking to the traditional paper version, something that pretty much any decent public library has.

So to recap, the Kindle is great for reading books that aren't available at the library, but are available for download online, either for free or at a cheaper price than the equivalent traditional paper version. It's also a great way to preview a book before you buy it or before you check it out from the library. Being lighter and more portable than most books, it's great for reading bulky textbooks, technical or reference material, and also makes a good travel companion, where you can easily read a thousand page book on the go without being bogged down by a heavy bag.

But in every other circumstance, traditional paper books are clearly the winner, for the simple reason that they cause less eyestrain. Despite all the improvements having been made in this regard, paper is still easier on the eyes than digital screens, especially if you plan to read for hours at a time like I do. So I see the Kindle more as a supplemental tool of my reading repertoire, and not as a replacement for the traditional book.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Strange Dream

I've sometimes used this space to record my dreams, usually ones that stood out as being exceptional, powerful, or personally meaningful in some way. So I feel I must record the dream I had last night. It's short, but powerful.

You see my grandmother died last May, and it was completely unexpected. She was 89 years old and seemed perfectly healthy, looked younger, was of sound mind, but then she had a stroke, which completely destroyed her, and she died seven weeks later.

I've had a few dreams of her. But last nights dream stood out the most powerful to me.

In the dream I was going to the public library to print out a copy of my grandmothers obituary. It was strange because this particular library usually has about 30 public computers, which are connected to a printing station, but when I got there there was only about ten, with empty spaces where the computers should have been. There were different security guards too, and I approached one and asked about what had happened to the computers and they said they had some kind of power outage and those computers were damaged as a result and were being repaired.

So anyway, I log into one of the few remaining computers and proceed to print out my grandmothers obituary, two copies. The picture was different than the actual, but I won't elaborate. So then I go outside, and parked outside of the library I see my grandmother sitting in the driver's seat of her car waiting to give me a lift. Yes, the very same person whose obituary I held in my hand was alive and well waiting to give me a ride. I get into the car, and for some strange reason didn't get the connection that this was a peculiar event. It was like I instantly forgot what had happened. Forgot that my grandmother had died. Forgot that I had printed out her obituary. Forget that I was holding the obituary in my hand of the person who was offering me a ride. It was just like complete amnesia.

So I go for the ride with my grandmother, heading towards the last place she lived when she died, but somehow ended up back in my hometown, down a popular drive beside a wooded park. I won't elaborate. At some point we got out of the car to take a walk. My grandmother trips and falls. Her glasses fall off her face. I help her up, she's okay. Just happy to be with her. And then I wake up.

That's it. That's all I remember. Pretty strange. Think about it, someone you know who died. You're printing out a copy of their obituary, and then when you're done that same person who died, who is written about in the obituary you hold in your hand, is waiting for you outside to give you a lift.

Sounds like an episode of the twilight zone, right, but for me it really happened. Well it happened in my dreams, however real that is. Probably about as a real as the life you lived, once you are dead. Yeah. That's when reality crumbles away, if mind survives death, what than is real? It's a huge mystery, the mystery of death, of the possibility of life after death. It's the greatest mystery ever.