book reviews, healthcare

Dr. Jen Gunter gets real about menopause in her book, The Menopause Manifesto…

I hate going to see physicians. At this writing, I have not seen a medical doctor since 2010. I have not seen an OB-GYN since 1995. I realize that avoiding doctors, especially at my age, isn’t the wisest policy. Sometimes, my reluctance to go to the doctor causes me anxiety. Unfortunately, I had a really terrible experience with an OB-GYN that has made me a bit phobic. Still, I realize that at 49 years of age, I am teetering on the brink of menopause. I’m not there yet, but I know it’s coming. That’s why I downloaded Jen Gunter’s book, The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism, which was first made available on May 25, 2021.

I first discovered Dr. Gunter on Facebook. She has a popular Facebook page where she discusses current events that relate to feminism and women’s health. I like her a lot. I think I would even consider seeing her as a patient, if I lived in a place where that was possible to do. She’s a straight talker who is relatable and even funny, and I get the sense that she’s not only knowledgable, but she also cares.

Gunter wrote another book called The Vagina Bible, which was published in August 2019. I haven’t read that book yet, mainly because I figured I’d rather have it in printed form. I think most reference books are better when I can page through them manually, rather than read them on a device. But I’ve enjoyed The Menopause Manifesto so much that I decided to download The Vagina Bible. I don’t think that will be the next book I read… I need to take a break from reading about women’s health. But I do plan to read it, because I’ve discovered that Gunter is good at marrying facts with an entertaining writing style.

I like that Dr. Gunter blended her own personal experiences with menopause with medical science. Her personal touch made her seem more relatable and “human” to me. I’ve found that a lot of physicians come off as not like regular people, even though I know intellectually that they are most definitely human. Still, it felt like I was reading something written by a girlfriend as I learned about what probably awaits me when Aunt Flow finally packs her bags and vacates permanently.

I’m sure I’ll soon be well acquainted with “hot flushes” and night sweats… Dr. Gunter doesn’t like the more popular term, “hot flash”, because she says it’s not a particularly accurate description. “Hot flash” makes it sound like the sudden heat is something that happens in a second. According to the doctor, “hot flashes” take longer than a flash. At this point, I will take her word for it. I haven’t experienced one yet, but I know they’re coming. My mom and sisters have all had them. In fact, I remember when my eldest sister went through menopause. I was sitting next to her and she said, “Oh, I’m having a hot flash.” I kind of shrieked and shrank away from her. She laughed and said, “It’s not contagious!” I like that Gunter discusses these phenomenons that women universally go through with candor and humor, backed by medical facts and cutting edge research. She also adds pithy comments like, “I just want to acknowledge the ‘suckitude’.”

This book includes a broad array of topics, including contraception and the risks of “change of life” pregnancies. She does include a lot of her personal opinions, to include her views on men and vasectomies. She thinks men need to “step up” more and get “snipped” so the burden of birth control doesn’t fall entirely to women (since a lot of men prefer not to wear condoms every time they have sex). Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of women who pressure men to be permanently sterilized. My husband was pressured to get a vasectomy for his ex wife. Then they got divorced, and she had two more kids. Meanwhile, I was never able to have children in the easiest way.

I suppose if I’d really wanted to have kids, I could have made it happen, but it would have required a great deal of expense with no guarantee of success. Bill also had his vasectomy reversed, which was definitely an ordeal. Fortunately, we didn’t have to pay for the procedure, since the Army did it for free. However, the reversal was not painless, nor was it simple. I think it’s irresponsible to present vasectomies as if reversing them is easy and will always end in success. It’s not easy and doesn’t always end in success, and I know this firsthand. I did like that Dr. Gunter described vasectomies and tubal ligations as permanent birth control, because that is precisely what they are, and what they were intended to be, even if they can be successfully reversed in many cases.

Anyway, the point is, I disagree with Dr. Gunter on her views about pressuring men to have vasectomies. I don’t think it’s right to push elective surgeries on someone else, especially since they will have to live with the outcome. I wouldn’t like it if my husband tried to pressure me into having elective surgery, although I am very grateful that he chose to have a vasectomy reversal for my benefit. But that’s just me. I also realize that my opinion isn’t necessarily a popular view, and I understand why it isn’t popular.

Overall, I think this book is useful, especially for women in their 40s and 50s. It’s well-written, yet personable and sometimes even funny. Dr. Gunter has a lively, honest, and engaging writing style. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with some of Dr. Gunter’s opinions, I like that she’s all about empowering women, busting myths, and encouraging her readers to take good care of themselves. I think that’s what a book about menopause should do. I’ve read other books about women’s health, some of which were pretty terrible– perhaps because they were written by men. Dr. Gunter doesn’t condescend to her readers. She comes across as an advocate and a friend, and she delivers frankness with kindness and empathy. We should all have access to physicians like Dr. Jen Gunter! If you can’t see her in person, try reading her books! Or, at least, visit her page on Facebook or her official Web site, which are both linked in today’s post.

Well… I’d like to go on with this book review, but Noyzi the Kosovar monster dog is barking at me, demanding a walk. He’s come a long way from the scared pooch he was last fall. Below is a video I took a little while ago. He’s being even more insistent as I write these last sentences, so I guess I’d better heed the call before he goes nuts. He didn’t get a walk yesterday, because Arran went in for a dental… I guess I’m hearing the protests now! Arran is also growling menacingly, so I’d better give them their daily stroll.

Noyzi NEEDS his walk NOW.

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dogs, dreams, funny stories, Reality TV

My erotic dream about Derick Dillard was interrupted by Noyzi!

I need a good laugh. Do you need a good laugh, too? Well, how about this for a giggle? This morning, I had an erotic dream about Derick Dillard. Yes, the very same Derick Dillard who is married to the former Jill Duggar and recently graduated from law school at the University of Arkansas. Yes, the very same Derick Dillard who is on the outs with Boob and his wife, and was vilified online for being mean to Jazz Jennings. Yes– fundie Christian Derick Dillard, who is not my type! I could have changed his diapers.

He’s not really my type. In my dream, he didn’t have a beard.

I don’t know WHY I had this dream. I am not attracted to Derick. I have a husband who rings my chimes quite expertly. I don’t follow the Dillards on social media, and only know what I read about them on the Duggar Family News page and see on videos by Katie Joy. Derick is also quite a bit younger than I am, so I doubt we’d have much in common. I’m not exactly a “cougar”.

I woke up at the usual time of 5:30am, which is when Arran always rouses and asks for breakfast and a potty break. I spent about an hour reading my latest book, but then got drowsy. I put the iPad down and drifted off to sleep. At some point, the weird erotic dream began. I was just on the edge of an earth shattering orgasm when I heard Bill say, “Jenny, look at this!”

I opened my eyes and there was Noyzi, the Kosovar rescue dog, peering around the corner at me. He had a big smile on his face and was wagging his tail. It was about 8:00am by that point. I guess he came upstairs to see if we’d died. We’re usually up long before 8:00. We have nice weather today and agreeable temperatures, so I guess it was good “sleeping weather”. Good enough to have a hot dream involving a fundie Christian.

Here’s the weirdest part of it. The dream was taking place in a bedroom in the house I grew up in. I think the bedroom was supposed to be the master bedroom, since it had a bathroom. But it was a very small room, so my “princess” sister got it when we moved there in 1980. Then, it was a guest room… then it was my room when I was living with my parents for almost two years after the Peace Corps. Then it went back to being a guest room. Now, I’m not sure what it is. My mom sold the house to the woman who used to work for my dad and bought his business from him.

Anyway, in my dream, beardless Derick and I were nude and he had his head on my shoulder. He breathed in, closed his eyes, and was about to lay me down on the bed when we were interrupted by Bill. Nothing nasty happened. It took me a minute to realize it had been a dream. Once I did, I was grateful… since I would rather Bill be doing the honors than Derick. Below are are a couple of videos of Noyzi’s “good morning”. He’s getting to be a very confident dog.

Noyzi stops by to check on us.
Get your ass out of bed!

Speaking of Noyzi, he’s becoming quite adorable. The other day, he was wanting a walk in the worst way. Lately, he’s taken to coming upstairs at around 9:30am, which is about the time I’m usually done blogging on a typical weekday. He’ll sit in the hallway and whine a little. Then he’ll come into the office and look at me adoringly. Then, if that doesn’t work, he’ll follow me into the bathroom and watch me take care of business. On Friday, he was in rare form. I was getting dressed, and Noyzi stood outside the door and barked at me. It wasn’t his usual high pitched “yip”, either. He meant that shit. If you watch any of the videos in this post, this is definitely the one to see. Noyzi is hilarious!

Noyzi wants a walk. NOW! If you watch any of the videos, this is the one to watch.

After I took the above video, I took another showing Noyzi and Arran running around like a couple of freaks as we prepared for our daily ritual of strolling the neighborhood. Arran is about 12, but he’s still pretty feisty and full of life. We worry about him a lot, because he is getting old… but he’s definitely still kicking, as evidenced below.

They are NUTS! But they love their walks. It’s hard to believe that Noyzi was not leash trained when we got him and had never known the joy of a walk around the neighborhood. He demands walks every day, now.

I probably had that dream because I was very close to being awake. Bill has been seeing a Jungian therapist and they spend a lot of time talking about Bill’s dreams. Bill even writes them down and sends them to the therapist. Maybe all of the talk about dreams is what prompted me to have this erotic morning dream about Derick Dillard… but I just question why it was Derick and not someone else. I mean, I guess I can be glad it wasn’t Donald Trump who invaded my dreams.

I did notice a couple of my first cousins once removed, who also happen to be brother and sister, both posted photos last night. Each cousin is expecting a baby with their respective spouses, and both appear to be pretty close to the blessed event. Maybe my dream was influenced by my uterus, as it sighs through the waning days of my fertility. Ah… what could have been, if I’d only been more sexually active. Oh well. I wish them happiness and luck as they expand their families. I wish I still felt like I’m a part of the family, but I don’t, really. That is pretty sad. I remember my cousins’ dad, who was my very kind uncle. I saw him for the last time when I last went “home” in 2014. He passed away about six weeks later.

Anyway, I’m not in dreamland now, and praise God for that. Maybe if I get fired up later, I’ll write something more serious. For now, I hope this post gave you a moment of amusement… or perhaps a moment of horror!

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dogs, funny stories, technology

Healthy habits spurred on by butt sniffers and smartwatches…

I have a couple of issues to address today. They aren’t really related, but I don’t feel like composing two posts. I hope you’ll bear with me, anyway.

Our dog, Noyzi, who came to us from Kosovo last fall, has really been turning into quite a charming beast. When we first got him, he was pretty terrified of most things. He was used to living outside with many other dogs, so he’d never encountered glass before. He bumped his head several times on the glass door before he learned that he couldn’t go through it. Now, he knows how to deal with the door and the mesh fly screen we put up earlier in the spring, although that scared him at first, too.

When Noyzi first joined us, he didn’t really know how to walk on a leash. I gave him a few lessons in the backyard before we took him out for his first walk around the neighborhood. He now walks on the leash like a champ and, in fact, even seems more secure when he’s on a leash than when he’s not. He’s become very civilized in that regard, willingly walking behind or beside me. He never pulls or barks, although sometimes if he’s excited or scared, he will freak out a little bit and backpedal. But those incidents are becoming fewer and further between.

Noyzi is a perfect gentleman when anyone rings the doorbell. Almost all of our other dogs, save for C.C. the beagle/husky mix, have barked like crazy when someone comes to the door. Now, Arran barks as usual, but Noyzi stays quiet. He doesn’t rush to the door, trying to get out or greet the stranger. In fact, he really doesn’t bark much at all, except for when the next door neighbor’s Labrador, Tommi, is outside. I have rarely heard him utter more than a few high pitched yips, which I feel pretty sure aren’t the extent of his full on barking capabilities.

I have yet to see Noyzi be food aggressive or aggressive, in general, at all. He patiently tolerates Arran’s figurative rolling pin waving antics. Arran bitches Noyzi out regularly, trying desperately to cling to top dog status, which he never really had when we had Zane. Arran could really only dominate Zane when Zane wasn’t feeling well. But Noyzi, who is several times Arran’s size, puts up with Arran’s bossiness like a champ. I have noticed a little eye rolling, now and again, and Noyzi will sometimes sneak upstairs even though Arran often bitches at him when he tries to invade. But, for the most part, Noyzi quietly and patiently respects his place in the hierarchy and doesn’t make waves.

I couldn’t have asked for a more naturally obedient and intelligent pet. Noyzi doesn’t counter surf, and his begging for food is minimal and endearing. Noyzi didn’t even need to be house trained, which was a hugely pleasant surprise! It was like he was born to be an indoor dog, despite his size. He even enjoys being bathed!

The one thing Noyzi does do, however, is something that is taking a little bit to get used to. You see, Noyzi is the tallest dog we’ve ever had. He’s almost as tall as my hip. That puts his head at just the right place for sticking his nose right in my ass. He doesn’t do this every day… it’s mainly when he’s wanting to take a walk or be fed. Noyzi, like most of the dogs we’ve ever had, now knows how to tell time, more or less. He knows when he usually gets fed or walked.

Noyzi enjoys part of our longer walking route, thanks to the other monitor in my life… Our local Rewe does its part to encourage the bees to do their jobs.

Usually, Arran will come and tell me when it’s time for either of those activities, if I haven’t already gotten started. But now, I’ve noticed that when I go and get dressed for a walk, Noyzi will come upstairs and wait. Then Arran will lead the way downstairs, stopping and pausing on the way to make sure I’m following. Noyzi will station himself behind me and stick his nose where the sun don’t shine. He does it to Bill, too, though not as often as he does it to me. Sometimes, he also gooses me in the ass when I’m putting on my shoes. It’s like he sees my butt as a target… a funny smelling target… and sticks his nose there to light a fire under my ass, so to speak. It’s kind of like a G rated canine version of the “Shocker”. If you don’t know what the Shocker is, Urban Dictionary is your friend.

I probably shouldn’t allow or encourage this behavior, but honestly, I find it kind of funny. Like I said, in the past, we’ve always had medium sized beagle mixes who have been too short to engage in such antics. This is the first time we’ve had a dog large enough to be a legitimate “ball sniffer” or in Noyzi’s case, “butt sniffer”. George Carlin had a hilarious comedy routine about such dogs… Behold:

Noyzi doesn’t do circumcisions… yet.

I guess as long as Noyzi doesn’t push me as I walk downstairs, I’m alright with being spurred on to success. I did manage to get a cute animation from my new Apple Watch the last couple of days. I’m not sure I’ve dished much about my latest toy, and I originally didn’t realize Noyzi and Arran had anything in common with the watch. But now that I think about it, it occurs to me that the watch and the dogs do have something in common. Both the dogs and the watch are spurring me on to take better care of myself. I don’t think either of the dogs do it for my sake. They spur me on for their sakes. But my taking the dogs for a walk is a mutually beneficial and healthy activity for all of us.

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago, when I was sitting here at home alone, I decided to order an Apple Watch. I don’t really even need a regular watch, let alone a “smart” one. I don’t have anywhere to be, so I don’t need to know what time it is. Besides, I usually have my phone or iPad with me, or I’m sitting at the computer. Still, I’d been reading about all the nifty stuff on the Apple Watch and decided to order one as a TDY consolation prize/early birthday present. Since we haven’t been traveling, I had the money mostly saved.

The new Apple Watch does indeed have a lot of nannyism health gimmicks that remind users to take care of themselves. For instance, this watch is capable of checking my blood oxygen levels. It prompts me to take a moment to breathe deeply and will pause the exercise if I’m not focused, still, and breathing properly, and encourages me to try again. It reminds me when to go to bed and get up, not that I need any help with that, being married to a man whose brain goes down with the sun (seriously, Bill is practically comatose by 9:00pm, and he’s always up by 5:00am… consequently, so am I). Today, I got a chastising message when I neglected to wash my hands for a full twenty seconds. The watch wanted to know why I hadn’t scrubbed for the right amount of time– was it just a rinse?

Your Grace! Isn’t it nice to be addressed respectfully? I’ll probably subscribe to Apple Fitness+ once my three months are up.

When I take walks and forget to tell the watch I’m “working out”, it will buzz my wrist and ask me if I want it to record my walk. It’s already been recording, mind you. If I answer affirmatively, it will show the time of the walk already in progress, so I don’t miss those precious early minutes before I asked the watch to count the walk as exercise. The new watch comes with three free months of Apple Fitness+. There are three wellness ring goals that it encourages me to meet every day: exercise, standing, and moving (which seems kind of strange, since I mostly stand and move when I exercise). As I get closer to meeting the goals, each ring– light blue for standing, maroon for moving, and light green for exercise– get closer to closing in perfection. I get a cute animation as I meet each goal and a really exciting animation when I reach all three. And if the day is closing and I haven’t moved, stood, or exercised enough, the watch will send me an encouraging message, reminding me to get up off my ass.

Aww… thanks for caring, Apple Watch. Maybe it’s time I named you.

I also get a warning if my heart rate is dangerously high, or the noise in an area is too loud and could damage my hearing. I got a message yesterday asking me if my period has started yet, since it’s overdue… but I am getting old and will soon turn 49, so I expect that my once Swiss watch regular cycles will go horribly awry soon. I read yesterday that the next incarnation of the Apple Watch will even be capable of checking blood sugar.

Of course, I could disable some of these features. I think if I had real life things to attend to, like a job or a child, the constant reminders for every little thing might get very annoying in a hurry. It’s bad enough that the watch reminds me when it’s time for me to play Words With Friends or sends me notices when some strange creep on Facebook wants to “connect” with me. I probably will start to shut down some of the “services” as I get to know the watch better. I probably will keep the exercise reminders, though, because it’s encouraging to keep track of how much I move… and it’s good to be reminded to move.

I’m sure Arran and Noyzi also appreciate that the Apple Watch gives me a reason to take them for a slightly longer route, since the weather is better. I wish I’d had this watch when we lived in Jettingen, where our walks were twice as long, because we were next to a huge forest. I would have definitely had no problem meeting and exceeding the exercise goals there.

Anyway… I appreciate the help and concern from my dogs and Apple Watch for helping me maintain my physical health, especially since I haven’t seen a doctor in about ten years. But I might need one if Noyzi pushes too hard as he herds me toward the door for his daily walk or victuals. I might fall down and bust my ass or break my face. At that point, since this watch is also capable of sending and receiving phone calls (once I connect it to my cellphone plan and pay the fees), it might automatically call 112 for me (Germany’s equivalent to 911 for an ambulance).

Not that I expect anyone to click the link before buying an Apple Watch, or even to buy one from Amazon, but that would sure make a nice birthday gift in sales commissions from Amazon. 😉 As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from Amazon on anything purchased through my site… and my birthday is on the 20th!

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Bill, disasters, lessons learned

Bill is finally back from Bavaria!

He got on the road at 5:00am and was home before 9:00am. It’s so great to see him… the dogs were super excited. Even Noyzi, who is kind of scared of Bill, was happy to welcome him. The weather is cold and yucky today, which means we’ll probably have a cozy afternoon… even though Germany is slowly reawakening after lockdown. I don’t mind, really… it’s just another week of the same shit, only I don’t have to do it alone. This month has been unusually cold and rainy, anyway. But as of Thursday, Bill will have his second shot, and I will follow on June 9th. And then, look out, world!

I spent yesterday thinking more about my old Peace Corps colleague, Matt, who just died. It’s not lost on me how completely crazy his exit from life was. Here’s a man who spent over four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in two developing countries, helping people learn to speak English. I’m pretty sure he had a doctorate, and I know that he wasn’t about making a lot of money or owning material things. He valued art, music, travel, languages, and relationships. And he was taken out by someone recklessly driving a Rolls Royce, which is a product at the height of ostentatious consumerism. I just looked up the price of a 2021 Rolls Royce. Google tells me they cost between $245,000 and $382,000! A very nice home could be purchased for that amount! It’s like something out of an absurd novel or movie. It’s definitely an unusual and unexpected way to go. What are the odds? And what a horrible and terrifying fate… to be hit by someone driving a car that is the antithesis of what he stood for. They didn’t even have the decency to stop. They just left him to die. It’s heartbreaking to think of it… I hope Matt didn’t know what hit him.

I don’t think I have ever seen a Rolls Royce in person. I have only seen them in movies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black Rolls Royce, either– the ones I’ve seen have all been silver or champagne colored. I can’t even picture a black Rolls Royce. Granted, Matt was in Brooklyn when this happened, but it seems like something like this would have happened in Manhattan or Boston. It’s just bizarre… and very sad, because he obviously was much beloved by his family, friends, and colleagues. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in years, and his death has touched me, all the way over here in Germany. I have so many good memories of knowing Matt. It’s tempting to write something trite, like he was needed for a higher calling or something like that… but I don’t think Matt was much into religion, nor am I. Really, what I think it comes down to is a terrible tragedy that took someone out of the world much too soon, although what happened to Matt has already influenced me in a potentially positive way.

When Bill sent me a message last night from Bavaria, debating on whether or not he should drive back to Wiesbaden last night, he admitted he was tired and had a headache. So, while I told him I wanted to see him and it was up to him as to whether or not he felt like driving, I encouraged him to stay at the hotel and rest. I know Bill very well. He’s not a night person at all, although he is a very safe and careful driver. But he’s only a year younger than Matt was, and he’s already had a dangerous encounter being hit by a car… only his incident happened when he was 16 and the car rolled over his chest. If he hadn’t been a teenager, though, chances are good that he would have died. As it was, he had a near death experience.

I think Bill would have made it home last night if he’d tried to drive back, but I had Matt’s accident in mind when I asked him to wait until morning. Bill is much more coherent in the morning, and there was sure to be less traffic on the Autobahn on an early Saturday morning. He was originally talking about coming home starting at 4:00am, but then he said that technically, that would be violating the COVID-19 curfew that is still going on. People are supposed to stay home from 11:00pm until 5:00am, unless they have a good reason for being out. Of course, Bill could have told any cop who stopped him that he was on his way home from work. That would have been the truth. But waiting until morning was the more responsible thing to do. I’m glad he did that, since he probably would have been too tired to do much last night, anyway.

Bill worked so many hours in Bavaria, that he’s just going to work a few hours on Monday and take the rest of the week off. It’s too bad we can’t take a trip, but we can get some things done… he can rest up and get over whatever side effects come after he has his second COVID shot. I still have a faint red blotch where my first vaccine was given, but there’s no pain. I have a feeling the second shot will probably lay me out. Good thing no one depends on me for anything… unless you count the dogs.

Matt’s car accident is a grim reminder that you just never know when disaster will strike and you’ll be the victim of a senseless accident. So it’s a good thing to try to mitigate risks, if possible, although fate also could have played a part. Bill had already paid for the apartment he was staying in, anyway. He still has one more meeting to do for this latest exercise– it happens this afternoon from home. Then he can take a much needed and well deserved rest, and we can think about where we might go when we’re finally “free”… or as free as a person can be during the whole COVID-19 nightmare.

In other news… just days into his latest TDY, Bill’s windshield on his rental car was struck by a rock. I guess it’s a good thing he was driving a rental car, rather than his own car. I’m also glad he wasn’t hurt when that happened. Below is the reception Bill got from the dogs when he arrived home this morning. I was glad to see that Noyzi was just as happy to see Bill as Arran and I were! And it looks like the marathon TDYs from Hell will be over, for the time being.

Daddy’s finally home!
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celebrities, complaints

Now, I know why…

Happy Monday, everybody. I, for one, am glad the weekend is over. I spent it alone again, although it wasn’t without a little excitement. As I wrote in my travel blog, on Saturday night, our dog Noyzi was a naughty boy who ate part of a brand new toy. I explained the drama involved with that situation, and I’m happy to report that everything turned out fine. Noyzi is totally okay after that experience. It was upsetting and frustrating on many levels, though, because I unexpectedly found myself somewhat helpless in that situation. There was so much to think about that, two or three years ago, I wouldn’t have needed to consider.

Two years ago, my biggest issue would have been getting Noyzi into the back of the car for a trip to the vet’s office. But thanks to the pandemic, there was so much more to prepare for, right down to making sure I had a fucking face mask. In the end, it wasn’t necessary for me to rush Noyzi to the vet on Saturday night. It’s still unnerving that doing so would have been difficult. I guess if it had come down to it, I could have tried to get help from the neighbors, although I know the next door neighbor wasn’t home when this was happening.

COVID-19 has made things infinitely more complicated for everyone. I’ve noticed that people have less patience than they used to have. There’s also a marked decrease in civility across the board. I’ve noticed that people are a lot less willing to listen to opinions they don’t happen to share. And instead of just quietly scrolling by, they get into arguments that quickly get heated. Sometimes, those arguments are also offline. Which brings me to the title of today’s post.

Last night, I noticed I got a bunch of hits on an old post I wrote about the actor, Ricky Schroder, I had written for my old Google blog. I reposted that piece some time ago, mainly because I thought it was interesting. I know not everyone shares my opinions about what’s interesting and what’s not. When I repost things from the old blog, I notice they don’t tend to be read right away. But then, if something comes up in the news, people will find those reruns. Sometimes, that leads to interesting connections. For instance, I got a comment on the contact page last night from someone who had read a repost of a piece I wrote about seven years ago. I especially tend to get these kinds of comments on true crime posts– from true crime buffs, crime writers and researchers, and sometimes even friends and families of the victims or perpetrators.

So anyway, Ricky Schroder is in the news again, which has caused people to search for info about him. That’s led some new people to my blog. Ricky Schroder is notoriously conservative. He was a Mormon convert for a number of years. He helped bail teen Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse out of jail last year. He’s a big proponent of gun rights. And evidently, he’s now in the news for being against being forced to wear a face mask at Costco.

Ricky Schroder posted a video to his Facebook page showing him confronting an employee at Costco, who wouldn’t let him in the store without a mask. Evidently, in the wake of the CDC’s recent announcement that face masks are no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people, Costco dropped its face mask requirements. However, the new rule only applies in places where local ordinances don’t still require masking. In Los Angeles, which is where Ricky wanted to shop at Costco, masking indoors still applies. That’s why Ricky was confronted by a Costco employee named Jason, who would not let him pass the front door. Jason sounds very much like he’s been well-trained by his corporate leaders. I sympathize with him, and commend him for keeping his cool, under the circumstances. But I guess if you live in Los Angeles, you might be used to seeing 80s era TV stars every day.

Ricky says that people should boycott Costco. He’s come to the store to get a refund and, I guess, to drop his membership. Bill and I had a Costco membership when we lived in Texas. It wasn’t very useful for us, since there’s only two of us in the house. I also don’t like shopping in big warehouses. However, I know that a lot of people love Costco and it’s a company that is reportedly very good to its employees. And, to be honest, I hate wearing face masks, so I wouldn’t want to shop at Costco right now, anyway. On one hand, I agree with Ricky that the idea that we should all wear masks indefinitely is not a good one. On the other hand, I also respect the rights of business owners to run their businesses the way they see fit. Costco is a private business, and especially as a Republican, Ricky Schroder should have respected that, and their right to set policies that work for their business. He doesn’t have to shop there, and it sounds like, from now on, he won’t.

As someone who used to have to deal with the public, I have a lot of empathy for Jason and his cohorts. And as someone who votes blue, but sometimes leans right, I understand how Ricky feels, too. I hate that COVID-19 has made everything so complicated and political. This should not be a political issue at all. It’s about avoiding getting sick and dying or spreading diseases that can kill other people. I think a person can be cooperative with policies and not be pro or against an issue. I know it’s trendy for people to make assumptions about a person’s politics by how they feel about masking or other hot button issues. Hell, I’m even guilty myself of figuring out who is pro Trump, simply based on their behavior. I remember a couple of years ago, I correctly surmised a couple of guys were Trump supporters because they got drunk and decided to test out a bullet proof vest. That’s just not the kind of thing the average liberal does… although I suppose it’s possible a Biden fan might try such a stunt.

What put this on my mind today? It’s partly because last night, I was reading a news article about how the new mask guidelines have caused mass confusion and strife in the United States. The CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, is now having to defend the new guidance as people have gotten up in arms about it. For approximately the last year (because the mask habit was slower to pick up in some areas than others) the overwhelming advice by public health experts has been to wear face masks. Just a couple of months ago, some experts were advising people to “double mask”. To be honest, that idea was not gonna fly with me at all. I found the idea of wearing two masks really horrifying. The idea that the air is so fouled with pathogens that I need to cover my face everywhere while wearing two masks? That just sounds dystopian to me. Nope… I will wear only one mask, and only where they are required and I can’t avoid going.

After the double mask fad that was going on a few months ago, it was very strange to hear the CDC suddenly reverse course. It was even stranger to hear the people who were begging people to listen to the experts at the CDC suddenly changing course, telling people NOT to listen to them. As I read that news article last night, I was reminded of how annoyed I was last year when people kept sharing the “public urination” meme, comparing wearing a mask to wearing pants and not peeing on people. I lost my temper with more than one person who shared that with me, partly because unlike many people who were sharing it, I’ve actually taken courses in epidemiology and worked in the public health field. The comparison of spreading COVID-19 to public urination was just non-sensical to me. They aren’t comparable situations. Who goes around peeing on people? Even if they did, avoiding pee is much easier than avoiding airborne viruses or other microscopic microbes.

So glad to see this meme died, at long last.

Last night, I read an angry comment from some guy who compared going maskless to driving drunk. Once again, I was shaking my head at the lunacy. Driving drunk is something that only people who drink alcohol and drive cars do. Not everyone drives. Not everyone drinks alcohol. And not everyone chooses to drink and drive. We all have to breathe, though, and until COVID-19 showed up, breathing uninhibited by a face mask was completely appropriate and okay. Moreover, even those who wear masks can spread the virus or catch it, even though the risk is much lower. But if you don’t breathe, you will die. Breathing is necessary for living. Driving a car and/or drinking booze or both are not necessary for living. The masks aren’t normal, and we shouldn’t normalize this situation. This is a temporary condition and it should be treated as such.

Ditto to the seatbelt argument. To me, the masks aren’t like seatbelts. Seatbelts are only worn in the car or on the airplane. They don’t inhibit communication, breathing, eating, drinking, socializing, vision (because of fogging up or the mask riding up), or hearing (because of the ear loops that sometimes knock out hearing aids or make lip reading hard). Moreover, we’ll probably all be wearing seatbelts for the rest of our lives… at least until cars are obsolete. The masks, on the other hand, I hope are temporary. Even if we can’t get rid of COVID, I’m hoping someone will come up with a way to temper the virus so it’s not such a threat anymore. Car accidents, I fear, are always going to be a threat to human life, no matter what.

Mark my words… someone will come up with some kind of HVAC system that kills viruses… or some other system that eventually makes the masks unnecessary indoors. A year ago, I was worried that the masks would become trendy forever, but now I know that people really do want to be rid of them. That’s comforting to me.

Noyzi this morning. He’s in fine fettle.

In any case… none of this drama affects me personally. I’m still in Germany, where vaccinations are finally picking up, but aren’t as widespread as they are in the United States. The Rewe is still only letting 35 properly masked people in their stores at a time. Things are still shut down here, although there is talk that fully vaccinated or recovered people will be allowed more freedoms. Actually, that is currently the case in Germany, although I can’t enjoy it myself until next month. I don’t get shot #2 until June 9th, and I won’t be considered fully vaccinated until the 23rd. However, it is comforting to see that widespread sickness is going down in the USA. The vaccines are working. With any luck, things will get markedly better soon for a lot of people. Frankly, I’m just glad that in a few days, Bill will (hopefully) be home… and if Noyzi eats another toy, we can handle it together. As for Ricky Schroder… I hope he finds a retailer whose policies are more in line with his right wing politics.

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