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Sigh. Sadly, Back to Normal Again. Well, ish.

Folks, I’m heading back into the office again this morning for the first time since the 14th. We stayed at my sister-in-law’s house for the 14th, 15th & 16th, then went on a six night cruise to the Bahamas that ended with us coming home with Covid as an uninvited guest… which meant another five days working from home (technically, I could have gone back Friday, but my coworkers suggested Monday was best and safest, and far be it from me to argue).

The last couple of weeks and a few days have been fantastic. I was able to get a lot of work done from home (I’m surprisingly efficient here) and was able to nap when Covid got the best of me and I needed it. Sadly, all of that freedom and good stuff is about to come to a screeching halt.

Still, I’ve got a ton to be grateful for and getting back to some semblance of normal should be nice. There’s not much I can do about it, anyway.

The reality is, there isn’t much normal about my “normal” anymore, though. My wife and I are comfortably head over heals in love with each other and I’m no longer an observer in the stands watching the game from… well, safely over yonder. We’ve actually entered a zone in our marriage where we’ve stopped trying to cause resentments in the other with quippy, snarky, cutting comments. We still try for highlights on the gag real but we’re healed enough where we don’t have reason to harm the other to get one up. I have to say, it’s nice not having to get even. More on that another time.

The important thing is my wife and I are on the best stretch of our marriage. The best news there is we know how to keep that going. So, it’s back to normal-ish today. And it sounds wonderful.

Feeling A Bit More Like Myself Post Covid… A Little Pep In My Step

My wife had to work a little late so I prepped the Trek and rolled out for a solo Jimmer Loop, planning on keeping the pace around that butter “15-mph” range so my lungs didn’t get cranky. I rolled out of the driveway and the bike felt fantastic under me. The Venge is all speed and flash while the Trek (a fabulous race bike in its day) is more like a modern day luxury sport sedan… thinking along the lines of a nice, sporty Cadillac CT-4 or something. It’s no purebred sportscar, but it’s no slouch, either.

Anyway, not unlike the days of old, or younger as the case was, “easy” lasted all of three turns of the crank. After a full day of work, I was feeling surprisingly fantastic. I mean really good… so I decided to push it a bit… until I turned left and remembered we had an 18-mph headwind out of the west. That put a little damper on the plans. Still, I managed between 15 & 18-mph into it. Not too shabby for a “last days of Covid” patient.

As one would expect, the ride north, south and east was fantastic. And I had all of the west out of the equation before long anyway.

I stopped at the middle school parking lot to take some photos of the parking lot where it’s failing after less than a year… I’m about to raise some hell about it. Then, I headed for home feeling surprisingly well. Heading south, I was between 19 & 21-mph and west, 24 was feeling quite easy. My lungs were acting as they should and I barely had a runny nose.

I felt like Jim again and pulled into the driveway with almost 19 miles and a 17-1/2-mph average. I’ll take it easy for another week, but I’m pretty stoked about were I am.

Life on two wheels is a blessing.

Attempting to Return to Cycling from Covid Just a Little Too Soon

My wife had to work late into the evening last night so I decided I’d take my Covid laden butt outside for a much needed session on the Venge.

The first mile was awesome. Slow, but awesome. After that first mile, though, my throat started aching with the minimal effort – and I mean minimal. I knew I was done before I crossed the 5k mark. After a while, I realized it wasn’t my throat, it was the upper quarter of my lungs that were hurting. I’d felt that before… but it’s worse this time. Not much, but noticeably.

So I did the second smart thing; I took my toy and went home. I pulled into the driveway with just shy of nine miles and a healthy desire to not be on my bike anymore.

Now, strangely, once I got into the shower I felt markedly better. My lungs stopped hurting and I regained my strength and desire to stand up in said shower. I knew long before I got into that shower that riding was not my brightest idea. I had to give it a try, though.

Today will be another glorious day, so I’ll try again (hopefully on the tandem with my wife).

UPDATE: On further introspection, perhaps I’ll wait till my fever breaks for real…

Another Wonderful Weekend in Recovery

The festivities started Friday, after I was able to scoot out of the office a little early. My wife had things to do with our daughter so that left me to my own. Which meant I had zero responsibilities… so I made a beeline for the bowling alley to throw a couple of early warm-up games.

They went really well. I found my line after the first frame and threw three games in the 180s, all a bit above my average. I wasn’t great but I was consistent and didn’t make any costly errors, exactly what I wanted since completely overhauling my delivery last week.

I finished up 30 minutes before the league matches and moved up the alley to our lane. The first game was excellent – I seemed to be in a decent groove and ended up sixteen over. We won the first game by a massive margin. I struggled with two big unforced errors in the second but managed to grind out a decent 168, just four under my average. Unfortunately, our opponents couldn’t miss and the beat us by almost the same margin – we were only up by two pins going into the third. We held the lead in the third from the first ball thrown. I didn’t roll an excellent game but I ended nine over my average. With the win, we took two games and totals (5 of 7 points).

Saturday was a good morning for a ride on the trainer. It was exceedingly cold and windy. And we’d gotten a little more snow overnight. I rode with a little extra pep in my step after all of the good news about DALAC ’22 last week… I actually had something to work for. Typically, that’s not me. I can find motivation in any day of the week ending in “y”, so this was a neat little bonus. Sadly, after our trainer ride we had to get ready for a memorial service. An acquaintance who had drifted away from the safety of the middle of the wagon took his life in a bout of depression.

The permanent, irrevocable solution to a temporary problem from one of our own always breaks my heart. It’s so tragically unnecessary.

After the service we went home and watched a couple episodes of Castle (my wife and daughter are on season 5 – I just got into the show). After, we went out to dinner at our favorite haunt. Then home to another few episodes before heading to bed.

Sunday started with another hard ride on the trainer before heading out to breakfast with my wife and daughter at a local diner. This has become a regular Sunday treat as we do our part to fight against the insanity related to Covid paranoia. After, another couple of episodes of Castle (it really is a great show) before heading to the bowling alley with the ladies for a couple of games. I bowled well enough, testing my newfound hook on much of the alley.

After the hour, we headed home and prepped a steak dinner. I grilled the steaks after my wife made mashed sweet potatoes and cut up veggies.

Another couple episodes of Castle and it was time for bed. I slept like a rock, grateful the life I’ve made with the chance I was given… one day at a time.

But for the Grace of God…

Article: Is Finding a New Normal In the Workplace Impossible? Are These People Living in a Bubble Somewhere? It’s Bad Enough I Feel Sorry for Them…

I started reading an article a few days ago that had me scraping my jaw off the table with a spatula. Behold:

We’re entering the third year of a global pandemic that’s brought unprecedented changes to work.

Despite many employers’ hopes, a full-time return to office-based work is looking highly unrealistic as the omicron variant pushes back return-to-office plans once again for millions of workers. And, given the way the current labour market shifted power to employees,  pre-pandemic work structures are likely to become a relic.

Yet for all that seems certain, there is still so much we don’t know about how our working environment will evolve in 2022. This time last year, many people expected 2021 to bring a degree of stability, perhaps even the smooth rollout of hybrid work. The emergence of new variants of the virus blocked this – and may well continue to do so in the months ahead.

Reporting like this makes me wonder exactly what the hell is going on out there in the east coast bubble (granted, this is a BBC article, but reporting out of either US coast is the same). We don’t live like that in flyover country. We’ve been back to the office, most of us at least, for more than a year – especially after the vaccines achieved widespread distribution. Hell, I went back to the office after just five weeks (May 2020), a full six months before the vaccines were even available to the elderly… I’d been back just shy of a year when I was finally eligible to get my first shot – just three days after my age group was approved.

“A full-time return to office-based work is looking highly unrealistic” they say? That article is less realistic as far as my experience goes. My second favorite is “pre-pandemic work structures are likely to become a relic”. This is entirely untrue, Don Quixote! If you’ve been living in the bubble that developed those gems, allow me to enlighten you to the report that will follow in the near future: “Unexpectedly, 75% of the country returned to normal two years ago; experts flummoxed, yet again and we’ve been missing out”.

Perhaps it’s as simple as reporters not spending time outside the bubble? Perhaps it’s the need to be in full-time panic mode that blinds the establishment (the “establishment” is short for “the political class, bureaucracy, and their cheerleaders in the left-wing press) from what’s really going on – and let’s be honest, this need to be in full-time panic mode is driven by “the establishment” and its desire to milk the pandemic for everything it’s worth. I don’t have the answer to why, even fully vaccinated and boosted, people are freaking out about the moronic variant. For those who actually, you know, follow science, omicron is the best news we’ve had since Project Warp Speed punched out a vaccine five times faster than Anthony Fauci said could be done.

And that brings us to the bow on top. I live in Realville, just outside of Normalton, USA. We’re more than halfway through bowling season and I bowl on two leagues… there are only a few people left who wear masks (and by a few, I mean that literally – three). Five people at a table that’s too small should we all decide to get a bite to eat at the same time. You know how many outbreaks there have been? Not a one. Not even a rumor of one. If someone is sick, they stay their sick ass at home. And guess what? Nobody gets sick! Interestingly, as well, you don’t see any of us normal folk walking up to the masked minority and saying, “Hey, we’re all in this together… why don’t you take that mask off now?” We just leave them be, even though science has shown they’re virtually worthless unless they’re N-95, KN-95 or barely better than worthless for the surgical variety. Cotton and fabric masks are finally being reported for what they are (and always were); facial decoration.

If you think a life of isolation and this doom and gloom is a necessity in the age of Covid, especially if you’re vaccinated (even better for you if you’re not and you’ve recovered from a previous case of Covid – you’re almost three times less likely than a vaccinated and boosted person to end up in a hospital if you catch it again)… look, if you’re that afraid you should continue your hermit’s existence. If you have any of the comorbidities that Covid takes advantage of, by all means stay hyper-vigilant; you have to be careful and do your thing to stay on the right side of the grass.

In the meantime, we normal folk are back to enjoying life again (or at least giving it our best through the din of the over-hyped panic). Join us. The water’s great.

An Article I Found Interesting on the True Meaning of the Movie Die Hard

First things first, I don’t make a big deal about movies on my blog, because I tend to feel I have bigger fish to fry, but I am a massive fan of movies. Not Hollywood, so much, because movie stars tend to be tools and ignoramuses (a great combination, by the way), but I love the suspension of disbelief for a couple to three hours while a movie is playing.

One of the more enjoyable parts of the Christmas season for me, aside from the pinnacle of the season, in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Randy Quaid’s Eddie is explaining to Chevy Chase’s Clark the metal plate in his head was changed to plastic because “Every time Catherine would rev up the microwave, I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour.” Every year, without fail, I laugh to the point of tears over that one, perfect line. Aside from that, and the rest of Christmas Vacation, along with A Christmas Story, is the tradition of watching John McClane battle Hans Gruber’s bad guys at Nakatomi Plaza. It’s become a yearly thing with my daughters.

Rarely, however, do I put much thought into movies beyond their ability to allow an escape of the mind… until I happened on the linked article below, about the meaning of Die Hard:

One of Die Hard‘s themes is that it is the regular guys, the practitioners lower down the command chain, who are more likely to figure things out than those above them.

Never mind that the author called Duane T. Robinson, “Robertson” through the whole article, he gets the themes right:

In many ways, McClane’s opposite in the film is not Gruber, but Ellis, Holly’s cackling, coke sniffing colleague who tries to negotiate with the bad guys: “You use a gun, I use a fountain pen. What’s the difference?” Ellis learns the hard way that there is a very profound difference. Again, the the sophisticated (in his own eyes at least) Ellis is no more successful than Dr. Hasseldorf, Deputy Chief Robertson [sic], or the Johnsons at correctly identifying the nature of the threat posed by Gruber and his comrades and how to combat it. It is John McClane — “a dumb Irish flatfoot” as Gruber’s vengeful brother calls him in the third film — who does that. Die Hard celebrates the common sense wisdom of the Blue Collar American everyman.

And that’s what I love about Die Hard, one helluva Christmas movie. Do read the rest of the article, it’s quite good.

Finally, to put a big, red bow on this post, it never fails to amaze me, listening to politicians who live in their nice little Washington DC bubble, completely miss the pulse of the nation and resort to their spoon-fed, bubble wrapped DC talking points. I get this listening to the local radio station on the way home as the show hosts get their panties in a bunch about how tough it must be for people having to return to the office to work with omicron taking over the Covid scene… I was back in the office before there was a vaccine for the vastly more deadly alpha (or was is beta?) – and I worked through delta as if it wasn’t even there. Now they’re whining about the “vastly more contagious omicron” while completely missing the fact that it is also vastly less deadly. Omicron will crowd out delta (it’s already happening) and replace it… this is the best news since they were reporting on the success stories of record Christmas sales in 2019 and all they’re completely missing it.

Like it or not, willful or not, the betters miss what we in flyover country see plainly and simply so consistently it boggles the mind. It would be comical if it weren’t so tragic.

When In Doubt, Protect Thine Recovery; Don’t Participate

I love my family deeply. My sisters and brothers are awesome. My mom is deeply caring and fantastic. And we’re all a little nuts.

This year for Christmas, my sister is flying in from LA as she always does but she’s recovering from lung surgery. They had to take out a part of her lung that was cancerous – and the surgery was not without its problems. So, as you could guess, it would be real bad if my sister caught a respiratory virus – especially a highly contagious respiratory virus that kills people with underlying medical conditions… like, I don’t know, having a third of one of your lungs removed a month ago.

You can probably see where this is going, it’s like DEFCON 2 at my sister’s (who will be hosting this year’s festivities, as she has for the past several years, God bless her). There are rules and regulations that must be followed, an air purifier (or three) was purchased, booster vaccinations were required, as is a rapid test within 24 hours of showing up to the party… and my daughter was playing tonsil hockey with a kid at college a few days ago who just found out… you guessed it, he has Covid! It’s a party now! WOOHOO!

That sent my recovering sister, we’ll call her Karen for the sake of this post, into orbit. As of yesterday a rapid test wasn’t going to be good enough. She informed us, from LA, that we should be able to find a place that would do a Rapid PCR test. Somewhere. After reminding us, yet again, that she can’t catch Covid (obviously). Now, nobody had mentioned masks yet, but I expected they’d be handed out on arrival and I’m no fan of those stupid things (if they work, why don’t they work?).

And that’s precisely when I threw in the towel. I texted my sisters that we’d be staying home.

This decision was not without its problems. My sister, the LA sister, wants to see us this year and is feeling a little guilty and upset that we’ve decided to skip the drama and stay home this year. My mom, though, was glad for our choice. My other sister, the hostess, sadly can’t escape the drama but backed us in our decision and she’s bummed we won’t be there because we’re half of the life of the party…

The point of this post, folks, is to say sometimes you just have to do what’s best and avoid a shit show.

The stress, the drama, the… mess, sometimes you have to leave others to that swamp and take care of your recovery (and, as in this case, your family). In that kind of environment, one where even a rapid test wouldn’t really be enough and we’d probably have to put our daughter, my little big girl, in a corner to appease my sister, well some shit just isn’t doable. I’m not willing to put my family through that. For anyone.

The only trick, of course, is to bow out gracefully. We recovering folk are an honest lot, yes. At the same time, we have no room for brutal honesty. I did my best.

Christmas Holiday Tips for Those in Recovery Dealing with Virtue-Signaling Family Members

Folks, the silly season is in full swing! We’ve got variants, masks, mandates, vaccines, attitudes and frayed nerves and family… what could go wrong when you drop a recovering alcoholic or addict in there?!

In these trying and troubled times™, we have to remember we’re all in this together©!

If you’ve had it “up to here” with over-blown, silly clichés, masks, mandates, and virtue-signaling, we have to get a little radical to get through the hoopla of Christmas parties sane, happy and above all else, sober.

My first big tip is “don’t participate” when the rhetoric gets cranked up. Look, someone is bound to broach the political or religious boundary when the conversation gets going. The hardest thing I have passing up is a softball with a perfect arc that you can just wait on and crush. Take the “omicron variant”. Someone will bring up that it’s 70 times more contagious in the hopes of stoking fear because they watch too much CNN. I like to say that I see the contagiousness of the new variant as a positive. The new variant is more contagious, sure, but it’s also vastly less deadly. Omicron will push out the more deadly Delta variant, so we’re actually several steps closer to the new Covid virus being “the common cold” and going back to full normal. This is a perfectly logical and reasonable response based on reality and science.

There’s one problem with that: you’ll open up a can of worms that can’t be shut because you’re not demonstrating proper fealty at the alter of Covid Panic™. Even though the scientific soundness of that response can’t be disputed with what we know about the new variant, those invested fear merchants can’t allow sanity to stand. You will be opening yourself up to name-calling the likes of which you won’t be prepared for.

Better would be the simple, “Look, let’s not get into the politics of a virus, please. Not at a Holiday dinner. We’ve had enough of that. Can’t we just have a nice time together?”

If that’s met with derision, and it likely will be, then we move to, “I’ve tried to be reasonable here. If you want to take this further, we can. I was just hoping to avoid the hot-button argument topics. We’ve had enough of that shoved at us to last a decade.”

If that doesn’t work, go with “Omicron is a good thing” as detailed above, and sit back and watch jaws drop.

Dealing with family members is often really trying for we in recovery. The less we can participate in the ugliness, the better. Try being being a light of good cheer, ignoring those who lead with negativity. Look at it as your reaction is being “fished” for. Try not taking the bait. This is often easier said than done (I speak from experience).

Finally, remember these things when dealing with an ugly situation over the holidays:

Recovery comes first. We don’t have to be mean about it, but we always protect our recovery. If a situation brings us too close to a craving, leave that situation and get your ass to a meeting where you’ll find friends. And yes, you can leave because you knew to leave yourself a way out before you put yourself in a potentially stressful situation to begin with. Second, go to your meetings, then schedule a few extra over the Holiday weeks if you can.

Family is what it is, my friends. Try not to read too much into it and enjoy it the best you can. For those times you can’t, get the hell out and find some friends in recovery. Chances are, there are more than a few going through the same things you are. At the very least, you’ll have a few good stories to tell over coffee.

Boosted: Reports on My Second Second Moderna Jab… Um, It Works!

My sister is flying in from California for Christmas and she’s recovering from lung surgery, so you could definitely put her in the “underlying conditions” crowd. So that meant I was going to have at it again and get my booster. I was hoping for one of those famed “my arm hurt a little bit”. Surely, after my nasty reaction to the first two, I was due an easy one.

At first, it seemed I was well on my way. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off around 1:30 in the morning. I woke up in pain, not as bad as my second shot and nowhere near as bad as my first jab that had me in bed for the better part of a week (I was in really bad shape for five days, normal took seven on the first shot).

So, here I am, eighteen hours post booster and I feel like I would after I rode a century… a little under the weather… only without the pleasure of, you know, riding my bike. That sums it up pretty well, though. I headed home from the office early and went straight to bed after I walked in the door. I slept it off. Ish.

I’ve learned a couple of things about how to feel better through the midst of the vaccine flu. First, there really is something to staying hydrated. Lots of good, old-fashioned H2O. Second, Coca-Cola. It’s a miracle elixir. Not a lot of that, because we don’t need the extra calories. Third, AdviNol or TyleVil (Advil and Tylenol together). They say to lay off the ibuprofen, but Tylenol wouldn’t touch the pain I was going through. I lived with it for the first six hours, but after that, I cranked out the mix and and feeling almost human. Finally, I feel better if I stay warm so I’m not battling the shivers. Other than that, my first shot gave me a terrible reaction for the better part of a week. The second lasted 31 hours. I felt like I was on track to beat that with the booster. And I did. Barely. By about three hours.

At precisely 5:02 yesterday afternoon, I could feel the pain leave. You know when pain hits and it feels like a tidal wave? Well, this wasn’t that. It gently ebbed and receded. Which was quite fortunate, because I was on my way to Friday night bowling. I started rolling just before six and I was mowing them down. It took a minute to get warmed up but I rolled a 198 for my first game. The second started slow with a couple of open frames but I found my groove again and finished with a 193.

Sadly, I ran out of gas two balls into the last game. It was instant, too. I dropped all the way to a 139 for my last game. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Once I got some sleep, though, I straightened right out. I’m a little out of sorts this morning, but not enough it matters. I’ll sleep it off one more day and I should be great.

And I almost forgot! The best part is once all of that funk clears up, I feel freaking amazingly good. Shockingly good. 👍

Knee-Slapper of the Day from Dr. Anthony Fauci: “We’ll have to wait and see” if we can gather for Christmas…

Never in my adult life can I remember the Washington Bubble being so off from the rest of the country. It’s absolutely astonishing to watch. Better, I’ve also never seen so many of those empty suits caught exhibiting behavior contrary to that which they preach.

Over the weekend, when asked by a reporter if families would have to limit their family Christmas visits for a second year, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, ““It’s just too soon to tell. We’ve just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time. Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down, and we can do it by people getting vaccinated. And also, in this situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted

I get together with my family because it’s Friday. You’re literally nuts if you think I’m limiting my family visits after I’m vaccinated (and likely had Covid in March of 2020). After all that we’ve been through, I’m amazed that, not only are these knuckleheads talking about people limiting their Holiday plans (and Christmas is a capital “H” Holiday), after they’ve demonstrably broken their own advice so often, what’s shocking is they think sane people are listening in the first place!

I can promise you, I’m no less sophisticated and vaccinated than the ex-president and his friends who partied hard (and unmasked) for his birthday. I’ll be doing the same this Christmas, regardless of what any political hack has to say about it. Come to think of it, there won’t be any booze at our family gatherings, so those gatherings will be even more sophisticated. Technically.