Monday, March 23, 2020

Isolation in the Saddle and the Shouting Hemorrhoid's Big Idea

Hat bill snow stake during happier times
I am taking this pandemic seriously and, unfortunately, with some collateral anxiety. The three days I spent on my level 2 avalanche course last weekend now seem like a photo negative of normalcy. Ironically, that intermission of isolation with four other skiers in the Uinta mountains—cut off from the news, pooping in a bag, and only communicating with Lexi through my inReach satellite communicator—was my island of normalcy in what's basically been a month of abnormal. And in spite of undertaking that trip with minimal physical preparation, those three days were the best I've felt, both mentally and physically, for some time. Bookending that trip are minor ills of a mental and physical nature that have fed on each other and festered. As I grapple with the concepts of "new normal", "worst case", and "doomsday", I keep having an urge to watch the film "Children of Men"; probably because its interpretation of dystopia seems more realistic than other films, like "Blade Runner" and "Idiocracy", but also because it does have a closing message of hope.

As I mentioned in my last post, Lexi and I started minimizing contact with the outside world on March 4th. Now, whether that level of measured isolation was necessary is debatable, but in our view, this wasn't so much a question of, "Is it necessary?" as, "Is it possible?" We had the ability to work from home and live off the groceries we had in the house—so we did. What's the first rule of troubleshooting: eliminate as many variables as possible. In our case, we were an easy variable to take out of the equation.

First ride of 2020
But serving the greater good doesn't equate to peace of mind. Of late, the phrase, "cure worse than the disease" has been bandied about by unscrupulous souls seeking to justify their own motives. I've been thinking that myself, but in relation to my mental state. That's a horrible thought, but bunker mentality will do that to you*. So today, I felt like I had to responsibly ameliorate my attitude by getting cranky. For the first time in a week, I left my property and went for a ride. *[For more on this horrible thought of "cure vs. disease", see my opinion at the end of this blog.]

I had already circled this week on the calendar as the start of cycling season. That was an intentional strategy I made as part of a New Year's resolution. In seasons past, I'd target mileage goals for January and February as a way to get in peak form by the spring. All that every did was cause guilt when skiing and miserable weather sapped my motivation to get in the saddle. Now, with the resorts closed and way too many idiots in the backcountry, it seemed like a perfect time to take part in the true isolationist activity—road biking.

It was an underwhelming ride to say the least: barely 9 miles on my gravel bike in the neighborhoods of Sandy. Before I got 100' from my driveway, I was already annoyed at the condition of my bike. It rode great during my last ride of the fall, but I could not shift it into the big ring—not that it made a difference. My fitness is pretty abysmal. Even before the gyms shut down, I was avoiding 24 Hour Fitness, partly out of fear and partly in an attempt to stay healthy and kick a nagging "who-knows-what" sickness I came down with at the end of February. [Don't we all now feel like that lingering cough or scratchy morning throat is so much more ominous? Remember how we were all joking a few months ago, if we were feeling under the weather, about having the "Wuhan"?] So as I tried to push that left lever in a futile attempt to get into the 50 tooth chainring, I thought, "Great there's one more thing, adjusting my derailleur, I'm going to get to do on my own thanks to social distancing." But I'm looking more forward to that than cutting my hair or fixing my sprinklers.

Brief Commentary on the Shouting Hemorrhoid's Big Idea

As someone who's deathly afraid of experiencing unemployment for a second time in my life, I can understand the argument that pursuing a balance of public health with economic well being may be in our best interest. However, there is a scary, and frankly, evil flaw that once again, supporters of Trump don't seem to get. This argument of "for the greater good" is pile of bullshit the rich are asking the low and middle class to swallow. I don't doubt that our economy is going to be hurt by this. We all want to spend money again, but do you think for one second the privileged are going to do anything that exposes them to this virus for the sake of the economy. HELL NO! They'll spend their money and get the economy going while living in their own hermetically sealed Pope-mobile. And I'm saying this because I would do the same thing.

Right now, I can work from home. My wife can work from home. We can buy groceries online and, if Providence wills it, (sorry for the 17th century phrasing, I'm reading "The Scarlet Letter" because I wanted escapism to a cheerier time in our country.) I'll keep my insurance. So while I'm deathly afraid of the burden COVID-19 might put on our health care system, I at least know my healthcare is paid for. 

Contrast that with those who can't work from home, who don't have health insurance, who are already unhealthy because of the stress that being in the bottom bracket of our society inflicts on them. They are the canon fodder for this "altruistic" plan to lift our economy back up. Disgusting.

The economy won't recover because Bronzer-in-chief says so. It will recover when people see our actions against this pandemic are having effects, everyone can get tested, and we have confidence in our leadership.




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