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Lessons in Recovery Never End, They’re Simply Applied to New Situations

I know when I’m not in the right place mentally because I start looking at how the behavior of others needs to change. Usually, the simplest way for me to see this flaw in thinking is to read a passage in, say, the Daily Reflections and I’ll think, “man, it’d be great if so-and-so read this!” That’s usually referring to my wife, but not exclusively (my wife is the closest person to me, obviously, so it makes sense she’s under the most scrutiny when I’m wrong).

Each and every time I think someone else would do good to read a passage I just read, the answer is to look at the one thing on Earth I can change; me. It’s not anyone else. It’s not my wife. It’s not my kids. It’s not my colleagues or cycling buddies. If I’m looking at how they need to change, I’m signing myself up for misery, disappointment and often misguided arrogance that leads inextricably to ignorance. There is no “yeah, but”.

So last night I’m reading the day’s passage from the Daily Reflections and sure enough I thought, about halfway through, that my wife needs to read this! I thought about texting it to her as a second thought. My third was, “Oh f***, I’d better read that again.”

It was then I remembered my old sponsor and the single greatest relationship advice I’ve ever been given; “Jimmy, sometimes you wanna throw ’em like a lawn dart but you just gotta love ’em.”

Recovery never gets old. I just get better at it.

The sun rises and sets on my wife, and I needed to remember that. I thank God for everything I’ve had to go through to get to where I’m at. Every lesson I’ve learned has led to the point where, if I just work on the fella inside my personal space, happy, joyous and free is normal. The old addict is still there, but I’ve gotten much better and faster at pushing him back in the cage where he belongs. After that I just have to remember the door to the cage isn’t locked.

While I’m on that feel-good gibberish kick… I Proclaim We Shall No Longer Call Them “Bike Rides”!

Look, I get dressed in my road cyclist “stuff”, slap on a helmet, cycling shoes, slide on my sunglasses and some cycling gloves, and head out to roam the land in speed and comfort on my exorbitantly expensive, and exceptionally rewarding carbon fiber and aluminum alloy bicycle. Technically, you could say I go for a bike ride every evening.

You could, but you would be missing out on a bunch of corporate/millennial feel-good gibberish that takes going for a simple bike ride and turns it into some epic necessity of grandeur and awesomeness. I therefore humbly declare we no longer call them “bike rides”.

Forever more, because America’s corporate/millennial woke culture is so utterly phenomenal, a simple bike ride shall instead be referred to as “Quality me time seized and employed advantageously for the peaceful, sustainable surveyance of the vast beauty that is the United States of America [or insert your country of origin, because this shit is so fantastic we want to export it] via a carbon fiber, epoxy & aluminum alloy and titanium human-powered bipedal, bi-wheeled fun-machine.”

On second thought, maybe we should just stick with “bike ride”.

Oh, hey! While I’m thinking about it, Happy Impregnating Person’s Day. You think I’m kidding.

That’s the establishment donning their full-faced helmet, elbow, arm, shoulder, shin, knee, quad, chest pads and protective gloves, as they clench down on their bite guard and grip the throttle of their eBike , making a horrible, yet hilarious vroom! sound as they lock in their glare at the two-foot high ramp that sits before the kiddie pool containing two week-old small-spotted cat sharks and declare… “I got this!”

RAT Ride Asks to Avoid “Racing Clusters”; Also, the Funniest Recommendation I’ve Ever Seen on a Ride Advertisement…

In the advertisement for the Ride Around Torch (Lake, Michigan) forwarded to me by a club member, I found a fine nugget of wisdom under the 100-mile route which does include some pretty decent climbing; “Racing clusters are not recommended”.

Racing clusters?

Well, me and my “racing cluster” believe a 100-mile hilly bike ride isn’t for the faint of heart (they do have a 26 or 40 mile option for the nattering nabobs of numbskullery). While I appreciate the recommendation, we would choose to “cluster” anyway. The members of our “cluster” pace-line log more miles in a year together than most ride in a half-decade. In fact, I think I’ve only ridden solo, or not in a racing cluster, three times this year.

Actually, I see this as a nice little window into the coffee klatch brigade, or perhaps a touch more apropos, the kaffeeklatsch brigade. Those who would sit at the local McDonald’s drinking their senior coffee for hours on end thinking of ways other rabble-rousers should behave to better suit their (typically ignorant) sensibilities. “Racing clusters” would be the perfect target of gossiping ninnies. “Oh, we wouldn’t want any racing clusters, now! They look so dangerous.

Getting into proper responses, of course, one would be, “we have no racing clusters here, ma’am! We’ve got prancing pace-lines. We’re good.”

Or, should they catch you in one of those “racing clusters”, “Fear not sir, not a one of us is a racer. We wouldn’t even know how to form a “racing cluster”.

Or better still, “Oh, I’m so sorry, sir! I thought a “racing cluster” was an energy bar or a candy bar or something… this is just a pace-line. We’re good here.”

To take that thought a step further, “Don’t worry, ma’am. The brochure said you recommend against “racing clusters”. This is a pace-line, not a racing cluster. We leave the racing clusters to the professionals. Thank you for your concern.”

The point is, if you know anything about “racing clusters” whatsoever, and the person who chose the language in the brochure clearly doesn’t (perhaps a ploy for plausible deniability should a “racing cluster” crash happen?), racing clusters are always recommended… unless you want to work twice as hard to go 75% as fast all while having 25% of the fun. If that’s what you want out of cycling, by all means, avoid those rascawy wacing cwustews! (That’s “rascally racing clusters” in Elmer Fudd).

Otherwise, Mr. (or Mrs.) Fun Sponge, leave the cycling to the avid enthusiasts. Thanks for playing.

A Lesson Learned in a One-Thousand-Mile May (Maybe Closer to a Lesson Exposed)…

I wrote, a while back, about a promotion I got. I had a funny feeling it was going to have a negative affect on cycling throughout the summer – I was guessing I’d be down 20%, maybe more. Add to that my eldest daughter graduating this year and both daughters having participated in three (two for my younger daughter) varsity sports, well, it’s been busy but intensely rewarding year. My mileage is down year over year, though I really don’t know or care by how much (I’m sitting on a little more than 3,000 miles for the year so far and we still have the busy months of summer to go yet)

There have been improvements, though. I’m having a lot more fun this year over last – it’s not even close.

I’d resigned to the fact that my run of 1,000 mile months from May through September was likely over. This year, January and February were sparse at best. March wasn’t great at 576 miles and April wasn’t much better at 677 but I’d ridden less in earlier years. With the new position at work, though, I was expecting to have to take more days off the bike… Then, May turned out to be a pretty good month. Decent weather meant we were outside a lot and we could get some decent miles in and after the Horsey Hundred, I was surprised to see 1,077 on the screen when I checked my overall stats for the month. Really, I’m doing fine for June as well, averaging 36 miles a day after today – which is about right for a thousand-mile June if I can keep it up.

However, that’s a big if and that isn’t the whole of the story, because I believe that 36 miles a day is going to take a hit. We’ve got graduation and a graduation party to get through, plus we’ve got a couple of family reunions… and God knows what else. Point is, it’s going to get very busy around here and cycling will have to take a backseat to more important things.

My favorite quote for right now still works, though; I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life, I ride to add life to my days.

I do ride to add life to my days, but I’m going to have to remember I don’t ride for it to take over my life. There’s going to be a very big distinction as that goes and I think I may have been taking cycling a little too seriously for a long time.

I’ve got some balance to work on, here. This is a very good thing, this realization. First, it shows after two, coming up on three decades of recovery, I’ve never run out of things to work on to be a better me. Second, just in the simple things in life, I can let things that make me feel good run roughshod all over my life if I’m not vigilant. Third, I am blessed and fortunate to be me; I’m not too blind to see that I’m the only one I can really change and if things aren’t quite what I think they should be, the only thing that needs change is me.

I have to remember only losers and whiners worry about what everyone else has to do.

Well, Imagine THAT! Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that …

Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

We visited a fully free state over the weekend and there was some hand wringing from vaccinated people about all of the people milling about without masks… comments about how scary it was.

I, on the other hand, had read the science and not the newspapers, so I was perfectly content.

Imagine my lack of surprise when Tony wrote the post above… based on science and all we’ve known about disease over the last five or ten decades.

Gotta love the hype. I feel sorry for those who continue to buy into it.

The Cycling Club and the “Intersection” of Cycling and Politics. Alternately, Where Fun Goes to Die.

I am, or at least try to be, a foil in our cycling club. We have a few board members who, while well intentioned, have a penchant for coming up with rules for others to follow that, if enacted, would suck the fun right out of the groups they were intended to help.

It is my job in the club to block all of that $#!+ intended for the fast groups.

For example, the B Group has a 5 to 60 second regroup about 20-miles into our Club sanctioned Tuesday night ride. We take an accounting of the riders dropped in the last three hills and wait for them to catch back on to the group. I’ve been the beneficiary of this regroup a time or two. Once we’ve collected those who fell off, we roll out. Simple enough.

Well, one of the board members in the E Group got wind that we didn’t wait a full minute and proposed a rule that, from then on, we wait a full minute (God only knows who was supposed to carry the stopwatch) for anyone to catch up. I swooped down on that like a bald eagle to a trout. First, being a member of the club and of the board, I would be responsible for enforcing an unenforceable rule. There are dozens of instances where stopping at all, let alone for a full minute, makes no sense.

In hindsight, I could have been a little nicer about it but I wanted to leave an impression. I made the point that nobody outside of our A and B Groups would be making rules for those groups and, in the off chance the club actually passed something, it would not be followed. In fact, I said, likely the opposite would be done. In terms of that one-minute regroup, we’d simply stop regrouping – if you got dropped in the hills, have a nice solo 10-mile time trial back to the parking lot. I said I would not sit back and allow others to dictate what we did with our group, simply because they “thought” something that would have preposterous unintended consequences “seemed like a good idea”. I put it another way. I said if the board tried to continue down this path, I was going to pass rules for their groups. Minimum paces that would be difficult to attain, rules that required they train their riders to jump into faster groups… in other words, I’d find a way to suck the fun out of their rides as well.

Folks, politics in the wrong hands is where freedom goes to die. Here’s the trick; they’re always in the wrong hands, no matter how well-intentioned.

If you pay attention to politics and politicians, and look at the rules they pass and laws they make in the context above, it should be quite obvious why those rules and laws have such disastrous results in terms of freedom. You’ve got ignoramuses making rules for people they wouldn’t stop to piss on their gums if their teeth were on fire. The context of the instance above explains all politics. It also explains why politicians work so hard to keep people fighting; people tend to be stupid when they’re angry. It takes a rare person to rise above the anger to see the angles and the shape of the politics. I am not one of those rare people. I get sucked into it, too.

And so I’ve taken the role of foil in our group with the hope it helps me to remember that which is most important in life; f*** politics, be good to people and fight against those who would steal our freedom to make stupid rules for the rest of us “because they care”. Politicians have forgotten that their main job and goal in life should be to protect our freedom. Everything else is secondary.

One final note from Steve Hayward at Power Line (and one of the best concepts I’ve read in a while): If you get a bright idea that you think everyone else should follow, repeat that bright idea using a German accent and see how it sounds then. It should open your eyes, if nothing else.

Michigan’s Governor Gets Burned Breaking Her Own Rule on Indoor Dining… Then Misses the Mark With Lame Apology

This post will be political in nature. Blah, blah, blah. You’ve been trigger (heh) warned.

While our Governor Whitmer is a left-wing hack, this post isn’t reserved specifically for left-wing hacks. I despise hacks of any stripe who try to pull “rules for thee but not for me” on the people they represent. More, I despise politicians who make stuff up, arming their followers with ignorance and divisiveness, then letting them loose on the general population to virtue signal from on high based on that ignorance. If you think I’m only talking about Trump supporters (or haters, for that matter), you have a date with a mirror.

Enter the Governor’s recently relaxed order that only six people can be seated at a table in a restaurant and that parties with more than six people have to be split up, and the parties may not “intermingle”.

From Craines Detroit:

The May 15 public health order from MDHHS says “consumption of food or beverages is permitted only where patrons are seated, groups of patrons are separated by at least 6 feet, no more than 6 patrons are seated at a table, and groups of patrons do not intermingle.”

https://www.crainsdetroit.com/coronavirus/whitmer-apologizes-after-photo-surfaces-showing-her-violating-bar-distancing-order

Folks, if the Governor doesn’t believe in her own administration’s rules enough to follow them, why should anyone else? Of course, she came out with the lame excuse that everyone at the table was vaccinated, but her administration’s order limiting seating in a restaurant doesn’t account for vaccination status, it just sets a number limit as laid out above and she chose not to follow it, like most freedom-loving Americans would do.

Unfortunately, this sordid story doesn’t end with that photo. The Governor’s extremist bureaucratic wing of the government (see how that labeling shit works on the other foot?), MiOSHA fined dozens of employers for everything from failing to keep employees six feet apart to failure to wear mask, to not having a preparedness plan. I think Gretchen Whitmer needs to be fined, as those other businesses were, and in an amount commensurate with the infraction. As she’s the boss lady, I think a fine of $2,000 per person works – and as she’s a trust-fund baby, she should pick up the tab for all 13 people so it stings a little bit. And only because she broke the rule she made. Additionally, other fines taken by MiOSHA from businesses should also be sent back to the fined company as an apology – especially if the governor isn’t fined by MiOSHA for breaking her own rule.

That’s my two pennies.

TNIL: Uh, Houston, We Have a Problem

I showed up at 5 yesterday for the warm-up just like I always do. Got my Venge out of the car, got my shoes and helmet on, donned the sunglasses… and we rolled out for the warm-up. I knew I was in trouble the second we turned into the brisk 15-mph headwind. My legs were heavy and sore.

The warm-up was slow but I felt like the legs loosened up a bit toward the end, so maybe the main event wouldn’t be so bad. I wasn’t so pessimistic, at least.

We rolled out from the parking lot a couple minutes past 6 and Mike asked me three times if we should wait or roll. I stupidly said, roll with them. We went out of the gate easy for the first quarter-mile but it got ugly in a hurry. I cycled through my side of the paceline and by the time we were eight miles in I was red-lined. It’d start once I hit third bike back, my heart rate would climb. Then, once I was second, I’d hit red line, so as soon as the guy in front of me flicked off, I was already hurting. After my fourth pull, I simply slipped off the back rather than latch back on. I ran out of “want to”… or maybe burned it up.

Doug went off the back with me and I watched my 23.8-mph average bleed away as we fought the crossing headwind. Just about the time Doug turned for home, Jonathan popped over the horizon, heading our way. He’d fallen off as well. Jonathan and I headed south a few more miles before turning left to take some tailwind help. My legs were protesting the whole way but we managed to keep it fairly respectable as we worked our way back. The home stretch was the one part of that ride that I was pleased with. With a little more than a half-mile to go and Jonathan drafting me for the last mile or so, I wanted to make a run for the City Limits sign but I had to be careful not to run too red, too soon. We’d been cruising around 22 to 23-mph and I decided to start early and build up the pace, hoping I could get fast enough Jonathan wouldn’t bother trying to come around. 25…26… 28… 30… That was starting to burn and I hadn’t hit the usual starting point of the sprint yet. 32… 33… I was seated, but giving it everything I had. I held that for a few seconds rather than trying to accelerate and burn up before the finish. Then I put the hammer down and gained another 8 tenths as I crossed the line, gassed. I took a glance back. Jonathan was 50 yards back.

I crossed the line with a 20.9-mph average.

As he caught up while I was coasting, Jonathan chuckled and commented on how the pace increase snuck up on him. He said all of a sudden his legs started hurting and it took him to notice the speed increase on his Wahoo to figure out why.

Jonathan and I have been finishing TNRs the last three weeks together after falling off the back and it’s been quite nice, actually. He’s one of those guys who makes people better simply by being around them… he’s just really good people and I’m lucky to be his friend. On the other hand, I’m about tired of this falling off the back crap, too. Rather than swing by for my regular burger, fries and a Coke after the ride, I drove straight home and cooked some salmon and had a salad with it. While part of the problem is over-training, the larger problem is my fat fricking ass.

The over-training part is easy. I’ll take a few days off. The weight will take a little more effort and time, but I finally hit “f*** it”. It’s time to do something about what (and more important, how much) I eat. My normal dinner after a TNIL is around 1,200 calories. Last night’s was 400 – and quite a bit tastier, I have to admit. That salmon is some good stuff now that I know how to cook it! More on that another time. Proof positive, though; you can’t outride a bad diet. I’ve tried.

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.

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.