SnoVID Anniversary

I just got back from my daily walk. It’s not been daily for several weeks now due to Meniere’s symptoms triggered by a cedar allergy, but it’s a daily walk in an aspirational sense. I’m coming in from my more than aspirational daily walk today and it’s sleeting on me and the dog all the way back home. This is not a good sign.

We are about to hit the one year anniversary of SnoVID. On February 15th, 2021 at about 2:00 am, the power went off in Texas. It went off and stayed off across the entire ERCOT grid for more than a day. Here in Austin where I live the power was off for five days. I detail those events here:

A year later, as the snows fall again, we residents of Texas have to cross our fingers and hope that the electric service providers have done the job they said they would do thirty years ago. Done their job and weatherized all the parts of the electric grid that failed last year. We have to cross our fingers on the subject because the Texas Republican lead state legislature and Governor Abbott failed to do anything substantial in the way of mandating that ERCOT and the public utility commission do the jobs they should have done the first time the power went off in Texas.

The SnoVID event was just the latest in a several decades-long festival of kicking the can down the road for the next group of Texas leaders to deal with. I have no hope that Abbott or his flock or Trumpist cohorts in the legislature are any different than their predecessors in office, so I will resign myself to camping next to a fire in the fireplace again this year, just as I did last year. The prospect doesn’t alarm me because I have the lessons I learned from my Uncle Roge to lend me strength in times like these.

Uncle Roge was my Great Uncle Roger Heim, the brother of Dorothy Heim/Steele my Grandmother, but he was Uncle Roge to everybody even people who weren’t related to him. He had a farm somewhere between Marienthal and Modoc, just off the highway between Leoti and Scott City, Kansas. He was close enough to home to be a regular visitor in Grandmother’s house, a face I grew to know and love along with the rest of the people that entered our little family circle in Leoti.

He was a hard man to love. Stoic. Gruff. Reserved. I’ve met a lot of old farmers over the years, most of them were a lot like my Uncle Roge. They know what they know, and you’d best not argue with them about the things they know because they’d put you in your place if you did. I would have sworn that he was always seventy for the thirty years or so that I encountered him. He always looked the same, old and angry. I was surprised to learn that he had been a child once, but Grandmother swore she’d known him as a child and he was such a sweet boy. I couldn’t picture it, but Grandmother never lied about anything, so I guess he was a sweet boy once. I still can’t picture it.

He had served in World War Two. He never talked about it, like most vets, but it was a thing that was known about him. There were deep reserves of strength behind those eyes. You could see them if you held his gaze.

He was one of the senior members of the Leoti Gun Club or Wichita County Gun Club or whatever it was called back then. Dad was a member too, as were most of the men who lived in town at the time. Shooting was one of the few things to do in small town Kansas; and if you were going to go out and shoot things it was better if you knew where to point the gun and what to pull the trigger on. That was why the Gun Club existed, to train your neighbors on where not to point their guns so that they don’t inadvertently shoot you due to their lack of training.

Uncle Roge was my instructor in firearms safety in more ways than that one. There was always a tale about what happened to somebody’s kid somewhere that Dad would relate to me when I would do something stupid with a gun. Then he would turn to Uncle Roge, the one who had caught me doing the stupid thing, and ask him to confirm the story. Roge would say “yeah, that’s right” and the two of them would laugh and walk off to go find something else to shoot at. Or to not shoot at. Uncle Roge rarely wasted a shot on anything that he couldn’t eat, the occasional coyote being the exception to the rule.

The Gun Club had a hunting spot that they called Twin Buttes somewhere between Eads and Kit Carson, Colorado that they held a lease to hunt Canada Geese on. To call it remote is an understatement. There was another club who had a lease next door and after them there was nobody for about a hundred miles in any direction. There was sporadic electricity on the lease that you could pull to the travel trailers that were mostly permanently parked there. There was no running water, no sewer, no garbage pickup. No civilization of any kind other than the electricity and what the men who occupied the lease brought with them from home.

Uncle Roge would pull his trailer up there early every hunting season so as to get the property ready for the rest of hunters who showed up later. He’d clear the road and fill potholes, cut down the two foot tall weeds that had grown up over the previous year. Basically make the area accessible for the towners who showed up barely capable of getting to an from the site without injuring themselves on a good weekend.

Dad used to joke about how we were living rough when we’d go hunting. We had propane heaters and hurricane lanterns. The pits that we hunted from were concrete lined and had their own space heaters. You’d go out and light them early so that the pit would be warm when you had to go out later to sit in it and wait for the geese to fly over. You didn’t want to rely on the electricity, but there were plenty of beds and down-filled sleeping bags to go around. It was roughing it for a teenager who was used to television during the day, but I was a reader anyway. I hardly missed the TV. I did miss the indoor plumbing.

Uncle Roge went out one year to prepare the lease for occupation and a blizzard blew in while he was there. It dumped several feet of snow all over the area, all the way to Leoti where we were snug and warm. Roge knew that it would be awhile before anyone would be out to get him. Could be weeks before the plows got to the roads that lead to this remote outpost between nowhere and nowhere. So he did what he had to do. He’d go out every morning and shovel snow into a melt bucket and put it in his warm trailer. Then he’d wander out to the pits and shoot something to eat that day. He hadn’t brought much food with him, so he was going to have to live off of whatever it was he killed in the meantime.

When he got back to his trailer and the now-useless power pole that marked our camping spot in the wilderness, he’d clean his kill, start it cooking and melt another bucket of snow. In between these routine tasks required to stay alive, he’d play solitaire dominoes and wait to hear the snowplows. Rinse and repeat, day-in and day-out. They’d get here eventually, the power would get turned back on eventually, the snow would melt eventually. It was all just a matter of time.

It was a whole month later when the snow plows got to the road that lead past the Twin Buttes lease. Uncle Roge was there at the gates to greet the plow drivers as they went past. He was very glad to see them. I imagine he even smiled at them as they drove past. It was probably a soul-lifting event to see him smile; a rare event in any case. He had gotten pretty tired of eating boiled goose and saltines by that point. It was well past time to head into town and see about getting something else to eat for a change.

So when the power goes out in Texas again, as I’m sure it will, I’ll just remember my Uncle Roge and then grin and bear it. At least I have more than boiled goose and saltines to live on for the next month. I have cards and dominoes and opponents to play against instead of having to play solitaire. Hopefully the power will be back on in less than a month. I’m not as good as Uncle Roge at living off the land, but I can give it a try if I have to. I might find out what squirrel tastes like if the power stays off for that long. I guess there is that to look forward to.

Featured image from: gebli.com

Meniere’s COVID First Timers

There has been research that points to SARS-Cov2 being found in the inner ear and Meniere’s symptoms being caused by the infection. I ran across a few articles on the NIH website discussing this potential problem:

A higher incidence of MD first diagnosis was calculated during COVID-19 pandemic; furthermore, MD patients presented with more vertigo attacks and higher DHI values. These could be associated with the higher state anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic.

nih.gov

The researchers identified ten patients with COVID-19 who developed hearing loss after infection. The hearing loss ranged from mild to profound. Nine of the patients also experienced tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears. Six patients experienced vertigo, a sudden spinning sensation. The timing of symptom onset suggested a correlation between COVID-19 infection and hearing loss.

nih.gov

reddit

It’s been well established that COVID has effects on organs throughout the body. It would be surprising if it didn’t also affect eyes and ears:

The virus may also able to get into the body through the eyes, studies suggest—either from eye rubbing and the direct transfer of tears or from respiratory droplets that happen to land on the eye.

Over the pandemic’s first year and a half, accumulated data have established that about 11 percent of people with COVID develop some kind of eye issue, according to a review of multiple studies.

scientificamerican.com

reddit

Oh, great. This probably explains the influx of new people to the r/Meniere’s sub looking for answers. I was wondering where all the new traffic was coming from. Welcome, friends. Come on in and have a seat. We’ll prepare a cup of hot green tea and then we can talk a bit. You don’t like tea? I’m sorry. You probably should try learning to do without caffeine though. Why? Oh, we’ll get to that don’t you worry.

Continue reading “Meniere’s COVID First Timers”

These Ideas Can’t Be Fought

I have no patience for defeatism.

There are people who are saying, “I have been speaking up, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Bullshit.

You don’t know if it’s making a difference or not. No pebble ever understands the magnitude of the avalanche.

For decades, the reich-wingers have been shifting the Overton window (the window of normalization) to the right. We have to speak up to shift it back.

We have to speak up for standards of behavior, for intelligence, for rationality, for the weight of evidence, for transparency in government. We have to speak up for empathy and compassion and that the true purpose of government is to serve the people. We have to speak up and speak up and speak up —

Because silence is not only surrender, it is death.

facebook/david.gerrold
Continue reading “These Ideas Can’t Be Fought”

Medicine & Chronic Illness

Doctors are stuffy. Their education and experience lead them to be more confident in their methods and results than they should be, and patients not getting better is a challenge to everything that they believe in. It isn’t their fault, but like everyone else that fails at their goals, they think it is.

There is always room for improvement and this goes double for medicine’s approach to the chronically ill. They need to admit up front that they can’t cure us, yes. However, most people’s ideas about alternative medicine and treatment are ritualistic at best and actively harmful at worst.

My mother insisted I needed to ingest diatomaceous earth for my stomach problems. Her alternative medicine research had lead her to this conclusion. Her research method? Put the treatment in the patient’s hand and measure the strength in that arm. This is a common practice in alternative medicine and that’s just one example. I have dozens of examples of alternative medicine craziness that I’ve just never published stories about.

Nothing that alternative medicine has ever suggested to me, none of the home remedies I’ve ever tried have done more for me than my own dogged trial and error run through every medicine available over the counter. My willingness to try new prescriptions.

I’ll take stuffy doctors over pseudo-science any day. I just change doctors if I feel the one I’m seeing isn’t taking me seriously. For me, dentistry is just this side of quackery anyway. Temporomandibular joint disorder is a thing though. So I will give that diagnosis a wide latitude for the sake of those who find relief in treatment for it.

reddit.com/r/Menieres

A Cure For What Ails Me

Meniere’s has no known cause. If your symptoms can be traced to a cause then you technically don’t have Meniere’s anymore. You’ve got whatever that other thing is called instead. It is the nature of the disease that finding a cause for some group of sufferers removes them from the pool who don’t have an explanation for their symptoms. There is no official procedure for this getting done, it is simply the way these things work out on the ground, where people like you and me and everyone reading this simply have to cope with our daily challenges. It’s all most of us can do.

The bandaid problem is why people reject modern medicine and decry big pharma as creating classes of people who are shackled to thier treatments, instead of finding a cure. They don’t understand that manufacturers largely serve the demands of consumers. Big pharma would love to drive demand the way that conspiracy fantasist have nightmares about, but individuals are fickle and hard to predict. It is very tempting to point to people just wanting an answer and to be made comfortable afterwards as not understanding what could actually be possible with real answers and real cures. But they hurt and they are confused, and they just want to stop hurting. To have that answer.

Continue reading “A Cure For What Ails Me”

Sudafed Non-drying Sinus

I’m still seeing a lot of questions about ear fullness on Meniere’s Reddit.

I have a specific treatment regimen for ear fullness because I was certain that my symptoms were caused by allergies back in the 1980’s when this all started for me. I tried and then discarded every single allergy treatment commonly on the market between the years of 1984 and 2003, and the only real symptom that I had to judge effectiveness against in those years was ear fullness and sinus pressure. At some point after we moved to Austin the Wife and I settled on the medication that we decided worked best, and that was Sudafed Non-drying Sinus.

Continue reading “Sudafed Non-drying Sinus”

Dying From Preventable Disease

twitter.com/Stonekettle

These idiots saying “I told you so” right now act like COVID’s no worse than the flu. They still say this more than a year later. This is simply not true by any measure that you care to apply. There is Long Haul COVID:

Covid-19 appears to be one of many infections, from Ebola to strep throat, that can give rise to stubborn symptoms in an unlucky subset of patients. “It is more typical than not that a virus infection leads to long-lasting symptoms in some fraction of individuals,” Iwasaki said.

In this week’s episode of Unexplainable, we dive into what we know about long Covid and what other viruses can teach us about the condition, including the leading hypotheses for what might be driving symptoms in Covid long-haulers.

Vox

50% of the people who catch COVID-19 have symptoms six months later. The flu doesn’t produce a chronic Illness but COVID does. We won’t know if the Omicron variant produces a chronic Illness for at least six more months. It’s possible that it will not. That would be a blessing. But people still die from it at rates that surpass the flu.

twitter.com/calvin_maestro

…and we shouldn’t be tolerating passing the flu around like it’s a pair of comfortable old jeans either. We don’t have to do that. Just wearing a mask and getting vaccinated will break that cycle too.

By Jan. 31, there had been only six cases of flu diagnosed this season at Johns Hopkins hospitals, including The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, Suburban Hospital and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Those hospitals saw 4,805 cases in the 2019–20 season, and 2,846 in the 2018–19 season.

Vaccinations have also helped prevent infection. More Americans received the flu vaccine this season than in the previous four flu seasons, according to the CDC. By the end of January 2021, 193.2 million people had been vaccinated, compared with 173.3 million at that time last year.

hopkinsmedicine.org

So get your damn shots and mask up. Be thankful that we aren’t like several other countries that require you to get your shots before you are allowed to do anything in public. A large and growing portion of Americans think that these sorts of measures will be required to end this pandemic. Do the right thing before we make it the only thing you can do.

twitter

Jesus Freak

We bring these bastards to justice. We hold them to account for their words and their actions and their endless treason. We drop the hammer on fascism so goddamn hard that these miserable fucks and their craven shitty stormtroopers never dare show their faces again.

There is no compromise with those who would murder us for their own profit. 

stonekettle

This was what was going on over on Conservative Reddit on January 6th, 2022. One year after Trump’s failed attempt at a Coup d’état the coup participants are still engaged in whataboutism. As the poster of the image in r/MarchAgainstNazis pointed out, this is typical behavior for Trumpists who still think they are the real conservatives in the United States right now.

A number of people who want to preserve the label Conservative from it’s ultimate demise in today’s America objected to the representation that the image featured sentiments that Conservatives are sympathetic to. There were other labels offered up as options that were more appropriate. Fascist was one of them.

I rather like fascist as a label for Trumpists, but it is a little overly general. Try defining fascist, it’s a lot harder than you think it will be. Are they fascists? Probably. It’s a pretty safe bet to say they are fascists, but if you are going to take the time to critique the behavior it’s better to have more than just a label to slap on it so that you can shout it at them.

I prefer the label that I created for them. They are the MAGA or the Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, thereby using their own language against them. Half the time I use the initialism I get likes from MAGA’s just because I used MAGA in a sentence. That is how blind most online resistance is.

The MAGA’s are the greatest threat that world civilization currently faces. They are the greatest threat because they are anti-science, anti-climate change and antivaxx and the list goes on and on. They are the greatest threat because they want to go back to fighting Muslims and the Chinese and whichever other ethnic group out there that they just can’t stomach instead of admitting that the problem with America is Americans. At least Americans that still support Caudito Trump.

I have taken to referring to the MAGA in generally more recognizable terms these days. I call them White Nationalists, like the Nazis were and still are or Christianists, the people who think that christian is a thing and that thing should be the thing everyone else values, namely capitalism and greed with a soupçon of nativism and isolationism. The prosperity gospel on steroids that is running rampant through what remains of the Religious Right.

The people who marched on the Capitol a year ago today chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” built a scaffold to hang him on, and then proceeded to force their way into the building beating cops all the way to their final destination were supporting Christianism and White Nationalism whether they knew this fact or not. I would further hazard the guess that most of the people who stormed the capitol also self-identify as Evangelical Christians. Most of the people who supported Trump and still support him are Evangelicals. They are Christianists of a more specific type.

There were several replies to the sub-thread I started that objected to the Christianist label. They wanted to split the hair infinitely. They wanted to be Christian instead of just whatever sect of Christianity that they participate in, but christian isn’t a thing that I’ve ever been able to define because there are people who want to be called Christian that disagree with each other about every single thing that Jesus said and every single thing mentioned in their holy book as defining what a christian is or would be.

So there aren’t Christians, there are just christians, a loose conglomeration of peoples that avow Christianity while not following it’s teachings. One can be a Jesus Freak and not be a christian; however you can’t be a Jesus Freak and be a Christianist. The two are incompatible. Christianism requires a militancy that Jesus would never have tolerated. Jesus was a lover not a fighter.

Thomas Jefferson was the original Jesus Freak. He took the time to excise everything from his personal bible that wasn’t a thing that Jesus could have said or done and not been miraculous. That is the definition of a freak, a fanboy, a geek for Jesus.

I was also a Jesus Freak in my youth. I loved everything Jesus. The whole god thing was an inscrutable mystery to me, but I loved me some Jesus. When I started drafting I spent a lot of time listening to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar:

spotify

I listened to it so many times that my mentor essentially forbade me from listening to it again. That is how I define Jesus Freak. However, decades of being immersed in the slowly evolving milieu that became modern Christianity drove me further and further away from my admiration for Jesus, just as discovering what Star Trek fandom was turning into ruined my appreciation of everything but the original series, stuck like a fly in the amber of the 1960’s.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a lot like Classic Trek in that you can’t change what it says in the original recording. You can only make a Next Generation Superstar and that won’t be the classic version no matter how loud you yell about how good it is. The militarism will prove that you don’t understand what the classic version was all about. I can still enjoy those original cast recordings. I’m listening to them as I write this.

As the decades continued to advance I lost my freakishness. I couldn’t stomach innocuous songs like Jesus is just Alright anymore. He wasn’t alright. Not if you just sing the song and don’t pay attention to the philosophy behind the name. I finally admitted to the break with the religion of my youth back in 2010. I never understood the need for gods anyway. Jesus’ teachings were worthy beliefs to follow, but not if I had to put myself next to people who happily spat on the poor and disabled and pretend that I wasn’t revolted by their callow natures.

Today, I look at these people who use their religion as an excuse to interfere in secular government and I can’t help but recall Jesus’ parable on paying taxes. If you want to resort to militancy in your goals for government, you can do it without your crutch of religion. If you instead use your religion as an excuse to beat your neighbor that you disagree with, then you aren’t a Christian. You might want to go back to studying your scripture.

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

Matthew 22:20-21

Shop The Block? More Like Force Out Your Neighbors

The title of this piece, a report that I started back in October and published yesterday:

…includes the reference number for business that will be brought before the Austin city council soon. The business? A permit to allow outdoor music two nights a week right in the middle of the Crestview neighborhood. These events have actually been going on illegally for more than a year now, and only recently were permitted retroactively under the little known provisions passed in the summer of 2020 named Shop the Block.

The owner of the Violet Crown Clubhouse is a wealthy transplant to the Austin area. He is purportedly either a paid consultant or an outright employee of the City. He throws fundraisers for councilmember Leslie Pool, the representative for the area that includes the Crestview shopping center where his business is situated. The city has informed us that there is no way to rescind the permit even though nearly every neighbor within hearing distance of the center has asked for the events to stop. Hopefully these facts will be enough to grab media interest in the subject. If you are in the media and want to know more, message me.

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