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Why Many Americans Refused to Wear Masks… and Why A Simple Mask was So Divisive in the USA

Trigger (heh) warning: this post is political in nature. You may not like what I’ve written and I am okay with that.

I’m going to keep this post very simple, and it’s still going to piss a whole bunch of people off. It is what it is.

Back when Trump was running for office, throughout his presidency, and when he ran against Joe Biden, his red “MAGA” hats were all the rage amongst the conservative right. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do a Google search for “MAGA Hats” and click on “images”.

Well, bring on COVID and the left treated the mask like their MAGA hat (many still do, especially those who wear their mask alone in their vehicle, or outdoors). That’s all well and good, but they’re not content in their own satisfaction of their equivalent of a MAGA hat. No, they want everyone to wear their MAGA hat, and that’s where this gets story sticky.

I did wear a mask, as silly as I thought they were, wherever required except outdoors (not even in a pace-line on my bike). I stuck with the science on that one, no matter who hyperventilated that they should be worn outside. Suggesting masks be worn outside in anything but the most crowded situations (there weren’t supposed to be any, anyway) was stupid. Call it anti-science. Calling for people to wear masks outdoors was ignorant at best. That blue states and the left howled that masks should be worn at all times, including during the horizontal mambo was all you needed to make an informed decision about masks. There was more, though.

You could tell, in the very beginning, how little liberal leaders believed in masks by the simple fact they refused to let a mask get between them and a camera until the poll numbers showed their hypocrisy wasn’t going unnoticed. Whether it was Dr. Fauci in the stands of a baseball game with his mask protecting his chin, or the governor of our great state of Michigan who preached from on high that we should all “mask up” and do our part – whilst giving the speech with others by her side, not a mask between them. You had Nancy Pelosi get busted twice in one hairdo – mask protecting her chin, and in a salon that was shut down as a COVID precaution.

You could go on forever with instances of those who pushed mask use not using them as they suggested.

This created a double whammy for masks. Anyone with eyes could see those who thought we should wear masks didn’t believe they were all that necessary by their own actions, which reinforced what we all knew anyway – the left loves to make everyone comply with their wishes, no matter how silly they are. And the mask became a symbol of hypocrisy and tyranny within a couple of weeks. This is why you had people refusing to wear masks, and even getting belligerent over being asked to. In fact, if one paid enough attention, you’d find a little hypocrisy in the staunchest believer in masks. The joke was made early when Biden was running against Trump, “If you’re wearing a mask alone in your car, you don’t need a Joe Biden bumper sticker. We already know”.

The left, of course, will blame all intransigence on right-wingers, whining about “the science”, but that’s just what the American left does. They set a situation up to fail by only relying on the part of the science they like, then complain it’s the right’s fault when people won’t take their cue and comply when they won’t themselves. Then there are the coverups and backtracking. The Governor of Michigan saying no one should be traveling while she secretly takes a trip to Florida to see her ailing father. Not that her suggestions mattered, of course. I took a trip to Florida, a free state, to visit family as well. I didn’t care what the Governor recommended – this is America. You can tell me what to do and I’ll let you know if I’ll comply. If you want to lead in America, them’s the rules.

Anyway, there was a push to continue wearing masks, even after vaccination. That was, right up till the knuckleheads in charge found out people weren’t bothering to get vaccinated because if things were going to stay the same, why bother getting the vaccine.

A few days after those reports hit the left-wing extremist media, the rules in blue states were changed to match the rules in place in red for the last year.

Today signs in businesses read, “Masks not required for fully vaccinated individuals”.

Now, there’s a great lesson to be learned here, in terms of leadership. All one needs to do is look at the difference between how right states and left states handled the pandemic. Right states were as free and open as possible. Left, blue states locked down with an iron fist. The choice is which do you want protecting your freedoms?

No shit, Sherlock. F*** you, face diapers. I wrote here a month ago that I was done once fully vaccinated. I wasn’t kidding. And now the government caught up to people like me.

The funny thing is, you still see people alone in their vehicle or walking on a sidewalk with no human within 200 yards, wearing masks. Yeah, we know. You don’t pay enough attention to make a fully informed decision, so you just do as you’re told.

Too bad Trump didn’t get behind masks, really. The shit show would have been amazing. And I still wouldn’t have worn one unless absolutely necessary… just as I did in an iron fist state.

Why Recovery is so Hard to “Get”, From Ruin to Recovery to Relapse and Back Again

Up until my 22nd birthday, my longest sober stint in four years was one week. I don’t remember much of that week as it was in my lost year (1991). I don’t remember much of anything from that year other than I was told my liver was shutting down and I had about eight more years on the right side of the grass at my current pace. I was bad enough that I tried to swear off drinking on my own, of course. I lasted one whole week. I knew AA was out there, but I didn’t want that to ruin my chances of going back to drinking once I righted myself.

A year later was what turned out to be my last drink and/or drug. I was down to seven years left on the right side of the grass. That stuck. I found AA and I finally hurt bad enough that I didn’t care about all of the BS negative clichés surrounding “the program”. I needed the pain to stop and, if possible, to lead a happy life. I’ve said it and written it a hundred times, if someone would have told me standing on my head in the corner would help me stay sober, I’d have tried it.

I’d hit “f*ck it”. That’s “f*ck it”, I don’t care what anyone else says, this life I’m leading isn’t going to end well if something doesn’t change drastically, and right now so I’ll do whatever it takes to change it.

Everyone knows millions have recovered using AA, a free program that doesn’t require anything other than showing up and working some steps. No doctors (though there’s nothing that says one shouldn’t include doctors, mental or medical, to the list of aides), no expensive plans… A Dollar to help cover the cost of coffee and rent – and that’s only if you have a buck to give. Well, those odds seemed a whole lot better than anything else out there, so that’s what I went with.

It’s worked, without fail, for 28, going on 29 years. Not only did it not fail, I did get that happy life out of the deal.

So what’s the trick to sticking with it?

There’s a list as long as my arm, of course. Make meetings, work the steps, be done and stay done, surround yourself with recovering people, work with others, give it away to keep it… but there’s something, one thing, that sticks out slightly above the rest. I have to work at it.

Folks, if I want to watch my life change for the worse before my eyes, all I have to do is stop working at a better recovery. For those newly clean and sober, if your recovery “sucks”, work a little harder at it. Early recovery is never easy, not when you’re dealing with all of the anguish related to the difficulties you created. The only way to get out of the muck is to plow straight through it. If we work at recovery, the suckiness doesn’t last long – and the harder we work at it, the faster the improvement (generally speaking).

That’s the trick. Work.

I Love My Bike; Grumpy Old Men Edition

I was in the camper getting something ready to leave to go to the grocery store… Mike said to Chuck, “Me and the kid are going to the store, do you want to go?”

At 50, with some friends I’m still referred to as the kid. I remember the line in Grumpy Old Men where Burgess Meredith refers to Jack Lemon “just a damn kid” and I couldn’t help but laugh.

So, for our final day of the road trip, we’d had quite a bit of rain Saturday night and we woke up to wet roads and drizzle. The drizzle ended early, though and we decided to roll at 8:30 so we could get done a little early and pack up. We had a short 40-mile route planned – I wanted more, but I didn’t say anything. I knew Mike and Chuck were tired from the previous two days.

We rolled out on time and on wet roads that weren’t as damp outside of the campground but the clouds stuck around the entirety of our ride. Arm-warmers were a no-brainer for this one. The ride was quite spectacular and flat for the first ten miles but we found ourselves in the midst of a real climb shortly after the half-way point. At just over 4-miles and ranging from 1 to 6%, we just settled in for a nice spin. Chuck and I talked the whole way up the climb. After that, with a few notable exceptions, it was downhill most of the way back to camp.

On the way back, I noticed a few patches of wildflowers that were blooming all three days we were up there, but I finally managed to get a couple of shots. Sheree, a fantastic blogger I’ve been following for years, does a weekly post where she’ll post photos she’s taken of flowers and I wanted to participate in that… seeing the flowers made me think of her:

The last few miles, I’d taken a massive pull (in the neighborhood of 14-miles), and I was a little crispy. I was hoping to take it all the way back but I ran out of gas. Chuck took a mile, then Mike took a big turn. Heading into Interlochen, I saw the city limits sign up ahead and I started spurring Mike on to take the final sprint. I wasn’t about to go around him and it was fun hollering up to him to take the win… there were a couple of signs gotten over the trip, but nothing serious (this would have been very different had we ran across the 45th parallel – Chuck and I always go after that sign).

Anyway, we pulled into camp and it was all hi-fives and fist-bumps. I was smiling from ear to ear.

A quick shower, tear down the camper, pack everything up and we were on the way home before noon.

So, I ask you, what fitness activity can you do that won’t get boring over a three-day weekend road trip, that’ll let you cover more than 180 miles, see spectacular sites and leave you feeling that you’ve lived life to the fullest, enjoying some special time with your friends – time that’ll make the highlight reel when your life flashes before you at the end but that will help extend that time and improve the quality of it at the same time!?

Cycling is it. And this is why I love my bike. “Hey, Mike! I love my bike!”

TNIL: Riding with A Couple of Unlikely Friends

For some strange reason unbeknownst to me, we’re not up to our normal massive group of A & B riders on Tuesday night. We had fantastic weather for last night’s edition of Tuesday Night In Lennon but a sparse crowd of B Group riders (normally we get more Bs than As), low 80s, plenty of sun, and a decent southeasterly breeze but nothing to complain about.

Chuck, Craig and I were the only people who showed up for the warm-up.

We started the warm-up lap easy enough but Craig picked up the pace until we were hammering it pretty hard. We added on a mile heading north with a tailwind and I had it wound up to 30-mph before relaxing a bit and waiting for Todd and Greg who were riding to the start from home. The remaining three miles of the warm-up was really easy and took our average from 21 all the way down to 18.5.

We were a little late rolling out due to the fact we were all standing around talking in the warm spring air. Someone caught on at a couple minutes past 6 and we rolled out. The Bs went with the As.

The pace was quite awesome to start. Fast, sure, but not outrageously so even though we had a crossing tailwind. Even heading north we were 2-mph slower than we did on the warm-up. It was quite nice actually. And so it was for the first five miles until we hit Shipman road and all of the fun stopped. Thankfully, I’d known what was coming so I chose a very specific side of the double pace-line so I’d be somewhat protected on Shipman. It worked a treat and we cruised at 23 to 25-mph into the crossing headwind. I’d been hiding for a few rotations and decided to get back into the rotation at the front. As riders peeled off and the effort grew more intense with less of a draft, I handled the effort fine. I took a short turn up front and flicked off to the back.

As I drifted back I noticed Ukulele Dave and Big Joe had dropped off the pack… and something in my melon said, “Go ride with them”. So I listened to it and did. I drifted off the back with a 22.7-mph average and turned around to go scoop them up. We were less than a half-mile off the back when Joe caught me, Dave just behind him. The three of us formed up and rolled out. Because we weren’t with the main group, we had our choice of routes and I wanted to try something we hadn’t done in a while that jogs around some road construction that has the normal route shut down. It turned out not to be all that fantastic (certainly not for the full group – one turn was absolutely treacherous with gravel), but it was neat to see some things I hadn’t seen in years before getting back to the normal route.

The rest of the ride was quite enjoyable. Not too fast and not too slow that I got antsy. The three of us were working pretty well together and it was nice to be sweating again with the mild, late-spring temperature (81 F or 27 C). We didn’t set any speed records, of course, but after the big weekend road trip, I didn’t know how much I had left in my legs, anyway.

We took a detour to avoid some brand-spanking new asphalt that had been laid down earlier that afternoon. We rode it for the warm-up and it was so fresh we got some of the tar/asphalt stuck to our tires, so I thought it best to skip that section… Ukulele Dave is even more particular about the cleanliness of his bike than I am, and Big Joe is right with me.

We covered the last three miles in short order and that was that – a most enjoyable Tuesday in the books. How wonderful it is to be back in the nice weather again!

I Love My Bike: Part 2,024 (Day Two of Our Road Trip)

We learned a lesson Friday. The three of us started out in arm-warmers but were ready to ditch them after the first three miles – it warmed up in a hurry once we were out in the sun. Chuck opted to forego the arm-warmers for Saturday’s ride but I’d rather have them and not need them than the other way around… and it turned out the sun wasn’t going to play as nice as the forecast led us to believe it would.

We rolled out at 9 again, with barely a breeze (it was tough even getting a direction on it), partly cloudy skies and a temp in the mid-50s (12 C).

Friday’s route had a lot of beautiful scenery, but Saturday’s ride was spectacular. There were four times I’d roll around a corner and my jaw would slacken a little bit. All I could muster in terms of words was, “Wow”. You can’t tell, really, from the photo below, but that hill behind Mike and Chuck was a bear. It was a loooooong way to the top for a mere flatlander and I had to bust my keister to get far enough ahead to snap that photo.

During Saturday’s ride I settled down and allowed myself to relax a bit after a long, short week at the office. We rolled fairly easy, keeping the pace average around 18 for the first 20 miles… until the climbing started. There was no racing to the top of the hills, just an easy cruise up followed by a coast down the other side. It was a gawking cyclist’s paradise. Enough speed to keep it interesting, but easy enough to be massive fun.

We were headed to Frankfort, one of my favorite lakeside towns on the Lake Michigan side. Sadly, when we found half the town to be closed because it was still too early in the season (including one of my favorite restaurants). We stopped by a Jewish Deli for a breakfast bagel sandwich that should have been illegal it was so good. There wasn’t much talking once the three of us had our sammiches in our clutches.

On completing brunch, we rolled down the street to the water’s edge and snapped a few photos.

After taking in the sights for a few, we rolled out for home. We had a whole lot of uphill and some blisteringly fast descents on the way home – usually in the neighborhood of the mid-40s, but with one where I topped 51-1/2-mph (the computer only gave me 51.2). It was a fantastic jaunt back to camp and it was all fist bumps as we made the left into the campground.

For the evening’s entertainment, Mike’s chair broke and he refused to give it up. Every time he sat in it, it’d bend or break a little more to the point he was darn-near sitting on the ground. Chuck and I had quite a bit of fun at his expense.

For dinner, we ate at Bud’s just up the road from us. They’re a little expensive for sandwiches, but the food is excellent. I had a steak and cheese that rivaled the best I’d ever eaten. We recounted the day’s ride and had a few laughs before heading over to Moomer’s for an ice cream cone. Moomer’s is rather special. It was once awarded the national honor as the best ice cream. In the country. I had the butter pecan and it lived up to that hype.

We headed for camp after, and I was watching a movie early, before drifting off to sleep.

Saturday’s ride was the one that really got me fired up about cycling and being up north for the weekend. I was feeling quite blessed to be hanging out with friends, up on an excursion that had only to do with cycling, eating, laughing and having a good time. There were a few tense moments, of course, as you’d expect, but for the most part there was a lot of laughter.

65-3/4 miles (a little more than a 100k). 17-1/2-mph average (28 km/h) and a top speed of 51.2-mph and 2,024′ of up.

“Why Does My Bike Make a Sound Like Slowly Crinkled Aluminum Foil?” (You’re Not Going to Believe This!)

On my big road trip with my buddies, on the second day my Venge started making a crazy noise when I would climb slowly in the easiest few gears. A little like slowly crinkled aluminum foil… though a little more “clicky”. I thought it was a little cable stretch causing the rear derailleur to be a little out of adjustment – as if the chain was clicking against the cassette slightly.

I’d pull over to the side of the road and give it an adjustment, then find it didn’t work a little further up the road. I lived with the noise but it gnawed at me a little. As long as I was in the harder, say seven gears, it was relatively quiet. It rained overnight Saturday so we had a wet start Sunday morning, though it wasn’t horrible. The noise was still there on the climbs, though. I adjusted my rear derailleur one last time Sunday, to no avail.

The bikes were slightly messy after the ride, but we had “get-home-itis” and simply packed up the bikes to clean them after we got home. I unpacked everything, including the camper, and put everything away and did a load of laundry before tending to the bike.

I typically use a mild hand soap on a soft, microfiber cloth to get the dirt off, then follow with a clean, damp towel to clean everything up… it was with that damp cloth, going after the rear hub while I was turning the rear wheel that I heard the little “tink-tink-tink-tink” sound I’d heard for the last two days. Then I saw the culprit.

A small, dried worm wrapped around my spokes where they cross… where it perfectly hit the chain and cassette teeth all the way around and “tink’ed” against the spokes as the wheel went around. I laughed out loud as I broke the shriveled, dried worm in half and walked to the kitchen to throw the carcass in the garbage.

And just like that, my Venge is quiet again.

I Love My Bike!!! Part 3,261

And so it was. I left work Thursday around 2 and headed for home to finalize packing and get on the road. Our late Spring road trip began with a drive up to my second favorite cycling haunt. Mike drove with my pop-up camper hooked to the back of his pickup truck. I’d picked up the site rent and Mike paid for the gas to get there and home.

A little more than 3-1/2 hours’ drive time and we were on site, setting up our camper. Twenty minutes later we were powered up and good to go. I slept like a brick that night. I did wake up for an hour at my normal 3:30 am but I dozed off and managed to stay down till after 6 (!). We ate some breakfast (Chuck made oatmeal), prepped the bikes, I took a shower, and we waited for it to warm up a little bit.

We rolled out shortly after 9 am to mostly sunny skies and temps in the low 50’s (11 C) and a mild breeze. What unfolded was one of the more enjoyable rides I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying, ever.

While we did some sight seeing, it wasn’t all fun and games as we entered Pierce Stocking National Scenic Drive… there are some massive climbs in that park including one that hits a lovely 22% monster that will leave the best panting at the top. I used every last gear I had (and wished I had one more).

The weather was perfect, with a light breeze, abundant sunshine and mild temperatures. And I ignored my phone all morning until getting to lunch in Glen Arbor and taking care of a few things that needed attention.

We stopped at the Cherry Republic restaurant and chose a table outdoors in the sun to eat our lunch and spin cycling yarns of days past and to come. Mike had chili, while Chuck and I partook in the pulled pork sammich (it was fantastic). I also enjoyed one of my favorites at CR, a cherry root beer. After lunch was done, we had a long journey back to camp and a whole lot of climbing to get out of Glen Arbor. Oh how I love a good climb after a pulled pork sandwich. It was magnificent being able to taste my lunch three or four more times up the hill.

Of course, what goes up, also comes down. We had some great descents that were just fantastic and I ended up with a top speed in excess of 47-mph (75-km/h).

We spent more than four hours on the road and covered 76-1/2 miles, climbing 3,261 feet… not massive as climbing goes, but considering our normal routes are less than 800 feet of up, we did some pedal dancing.

Dinner was wonderful, though the place had been devastated by COVID and had to cut down their menu and raise their prices to make it through the limits imposed by our governor. Still, with COVID winding down now that the majority of the state has had at least their first shot, it was great to eat out and the food was great.

We headed back to camp and I set up a movie to watch before falling to sleep. I did a very good job of impersonating a log. I slept like a baby.

An Epic Road Trip At the End of a Pandemic. Part One

I shall have, on my return, a tale to write of epic awesomeness. Chapters strewn with yarns of woe and suffering, of… wait a second, that’s The Old Man and the Sea. This trip was all fun, laughter and fist bumps.

And a 51.2-mph top speed (not that I was counting [I was – the computer said 51.6 at the bottom – I got Garmined but if it didn’t happen on Garmin… and 51.2 was fast enough] then I got Strava’d and that knocked off another 0.4s!).

As with any day on a road bike, I saw scenes of such beauty, I couldn’t help but speak… but each time, the only word I could think to blurt out was “Wow”. I didn’t bother to pull the phone out for any of the moving shots for two reasons;

1. A snapped photo at 20-mph could never do what I saw justice.

2. If I want to see it again, I’ll have to come back and I like that idea a lot. Interlochen Stare Park is my second favorite cycling haunt.

Today will be our last ride, a hilly 40 miler on damp roads (it rained last night) and we’ll shower, pack up and roll out as soon as we get back. As much fun as I had, I miss my wife and girls and I’m excited to get back.

More tomorrow, and a fair bunch of photos… and Grumpy Old Men and “The Kid” meets cycling. I never imagined, at 50-years-old, I’d be referred to as the kid….

We Are Free of the Muzzle!

In a rare instance, once our left-wing media finally reported that people weren’t getting vaccinated because if everything was going to stay the same (mask mandates, etc), why bother getting the vaccine? Well, it was all over but the shouting. It was time to finally pay attention to the science.

It took less than a week. Fully vaccinated people, like me, are rightly free of the muzzle as of 9 this morning.

Good riddance.

Folks, if you’re vaccinated, your vaccinated. It’s okay to come out from behind the mask. If you still want to be hyper-vigilant, be my guest. Just know you’re likely a little off.

And one final note for my friends in the north and across the pond: if your powers that be are requiring masks outdoors anywhere (except in a massive gathering of people where you can’t tell who is or isn’t vaccinated), they’re either getting off on a power trip or they’re ignorant. They’re asking you, meanly, to vote them out of office. Outdoor transmission of COVID is responsible, according to science, for 0.10% of all transmissions. The risk is so infinitesimal, simply keeping a meter or two of distance should be more than enough to keep you safe.

To be very clear, I abided the mask mandates in every instance, until I was fully vaccinated. After that, I couldn’t bear being that stupid. I followed the science and only wore a mask when a sign was present (I also looked at the employees – if they weren’t wearing, I wasn’t about to). I wasn’t about to give workers a hard time about their company’s policy. Wearing a mask isn’t worth being that big a jerk.

Which Bike Did You Bet I’d Bring?

Choosing the Venge was harder than you might think. In the end, it had to be the Venge, though.

Alternate title: Sun’s Out, Guns Out! It’s going to be a glorious spring day. More later…