Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Wednesday Weigh-In 20200414

The virus is an amazing success; the human race, a terrible disaster.

The virus changed my opinion about the quote attributed to Harlan Ellison, Frank Zappa and Albert Einstein that I would paraphrase as "the two most abundant things in the Universe are Hydrogen and Stupidity." Even more abundant than stupidity is Greed. Greed is why we were so totally unprepared to deal with COVID-19 -- stock-piling N95 masks, ventilators and face shields is a drain on the economy. And now Greed is at it again causing governments to enter bidding wars just to ensure healthcare workers are safe and that patients can breathe. I am so terribly ashamed to be human.

Waist = 41.0"
Height = 5' 7"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Balance Body Composition Bath Scale
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Coronavirus Affect

A weird feeling showed up unexpectedly recently. There’s such a strong sense of surrealism about the pandemic that I’m starting to question reality.

What if everything outside my home is going on as normal, and it’s only me that’s imagining the pandemic? Maybe all my coworkers are wondering why I’m telecommuting and not coming in to work.

I’ve experienced this sense of unreality before. I would be attending a church service and singing a hymn. Then I’d get a glimpse of “true reality” where I’m being observed in a psychiatric ward. I imagine the clinicians saying to one another, “It’s almost as if he thinks he’s at a church service.” “Yes, he stands up, he sits, he recites parts of a prayer service, and now he’s signing a hymn.” “Oh look, now he appears to be putting money in a basket.”

And then a different sense of unreality surfaces. It stems from the lack of thorough news coverage, such as video of actual sick people and over-filled hospitals. Sure, people are citing statistics. We hear CDC recommendations. There are appeals for medical supplies and equipment. But it all seems like a fictional drama, or perhaps the fabrication of an oligarchy. Even people wearing masks in public and the bare shelves that once bore textiles could have come about from simple media hype.

How is coronavirus affecting you?

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Autism: An Evolutionary Life Preserver?

One of the characteristics of autism is difficulties with socialization such as1

    • Difficulty understanding non-verbal communication, such as body language
    • Difficulty understanding when and how to appropriately respond in social interactions
    • Trouble developing, understanding and maintaining relationships with others

As a result, some children with autism get negative reinforcement when attempting to socialize.  Subsequently they learn to avoid social interaction.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have been instructed to “self isolate” or practice “social distancing.”  What if autism is the “self isolation switch” for the human race, a switch that serves as a firebreak against pandemics?  Maybe an increase in virus exposure (yes, including vaccines) has “flipped the switch” in anticipation of a pending pandemic.

Imagine that the most gregarious people ignore a directive to self-isolate during an even more virulent and deadly pandemic.  They contract the disease and then die in large numbers.

In Greg Bear’s “Darwin’s Children,” a retrovirus emerges that alters the human genome.  Genetically enhanced children are born.  But they are also thought to harbor contagions that will bring an end to the  race of “normal” humans.

Could autism be an evolutionary life preserver that saves the human race from the next pandemic?


Friday, April 10, 2020

When Getting Ahead Means Not Falling Behind

For many years my life has been one of working, eating and sleeping long before the pandemic.  The only "going out" I'd ever do is for errands.

Today I am officially self-isolating.  The only difference between then and now is that now I work from home instead of at the workplace.  My errands are not restricted (at least not the ones I do.)

When I saw gas prices plummet a few weeks ago1 and then learned that I'd get a 2% raise, I became hopeful that maybe I'd be able to save some money and not have to live paycheck to paycheck (albeit with a small cushion of savings).  As well it was reported that car insurance companies would be mailing checks to its customers who are driving less and getting into fewer crashes.  All that, in combination with a CARE act payment, got me thinking that I might be able to get ahead before having to pay off massive student load debt that has been deferred to November.  And speaking of student loan debt, the government set interest rates to 0% for their loans.  What a relief!

But just as quickly as the good news accumulated, it all came crashing down.  First I learned that my employer will be cutting salaries and maybe even reducing hours for some employees.  It’s not that business is bad.  Actually it’s just the opposite; customers are increasing orders.  However, the CEO believes that things will get bad very quickly.  The current uptick in sales is due to customers wanting to “pull in” and build inventory in the event of a supply chain failure.  So my employer is being proactive to sooth the fears of investors.  After all, the aristocrats must never be inconvenienced!

And then when the student loan interest rate was set to zero, I suddenly found that I had to make my first payment next week.  This payment is about 30% more than my housing expense!

And on top of that, my term life insurance policy lapsed due to late payment.  They’re so busy responding to death claims (unfortunately) that I can’t make any progress on getting it reinstated.  (True I was a dumbass for making the payment so late….)  So now I’m extremely anxious I might die of coronavirus and leave my loved ones in the poor house.  Plus I was just diagnosed with prostate cancer, so who knows if they will agree to reinstate me, or even if I can even get another insurance policy?

And of course most of my retirement savings is in equities, which have dropped sharply in value.

Well, I did manage to re-request the deferment from the student loan servicer, so I managed to plug one of the leaks in the dyke.

It’s at times like these that I start to catastrophize:

  • What if an appliance fails and needs replacing?
  • What if a tree falls on the house (or a neighbor’s house)?
  • What if the car needs major repair work?
  • What if I lose my job?

So then I need to breathe, bring myself back to the present and think of all the good fortune I have.

Hope all is well with you!

1The drop in the cost of gasoline was due initially to a feud between Saudi Arabia and Russia.  The policy of self-isolation came later and further lowered prices due to a decrease in demand.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Wednesday Weigh-In 20200409

I have been working from home since March 17. When I worked in the office, I could get my coffee for free. So it turns out that the money I save on gasoline by not driving to work is now spent on the coffee I have to buy for myself. Trading one fuel expense for another, I suppose!

Waist = 41.0"
Height = 5' 7"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Balance Body Composition Bath Scale
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Wednesday Weigh-In 20200327

As of 3/24, here are stats on CoVID-19 in USA: Total Tests: 111993 Total Cases: 54453 Percent Positive: 49% Imagine how many more cases of CoVID-19 we'd have if more testing could be carried out!

Waist = 40.5"
Height = 5' 7"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Balance Body Composition Bath Scale
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Radiant Altruism in a Time of Uncertainty

Jennifer Haller discusses the reasons she volunteered to be one of the first human test subjects for the new COVID-19 vaccine on the NPR program Weekend Edition Saturday, which aired this morning.

Her radiant act of altruism brought tears to my eyes; I was too overwhelmed even to remember to make coffee.

Here's the link to the program webpage, which includes a transcript.  Or you can press Play on the embedded player below to listen: