Categories for Musings

#TBT with the Hot Nasties

#TBT: Ras Pierre Schenk and Winnie Nuclear Age Smith of the ⁦‪Hot Nasties‬⁩ at the (electrified) mic in the Schenk family basement, circa 1978.

RIP, Mr. Otto Schenk.


Joe-mentum!

Wooot!

This was the responsible thing for Sanders to do, too. No more primary voting means healthy Democrats.

Right on!


My ideology


Depression, anxiety and the pandemic

The past year was a pretty bad one.

Depression, anxiety, grief, all of that. Wrote about it for Bell Let’s Talk day, here. Have been pretty open about it, too – which is harder for guys to do. (And it’s particularly hard for guys in politics, like me, who aren’t supposed to have feelings and all that bullshit.)

Anyway. I made changes, big ones. I discovered who were the real friends, and who weren’t. I met lots of amazing, beautiful, smart women, and none of them were liars.

I got stronger. I got better.

This essay, which I found on The Daily Beast, said some things that I, too, had been feeling since the pandemic began. Namely: I feel okay. As in, totally okay. Totally prepared.

People have noticed. They’ve reached out to me to talk about their anxieties and fears, and I’ve tried to help them. I have felt enormous gratitude and responsibility that I have been able to do so, too.

This essay is about that, written by a woman who is experiencing the same thing. When the whole world is depressed, it turns out, your own depression doesn’t seem like that big a deal anymore. And, you’ve been given some tools to help others through it.

Snippet below. Full essay here. Read it.

As COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has spread around the globe, many people have found themselves struggling to cope, regardless of their mental health histories. And to be clear, many if not most depression and anxiety patients have seen their symptoms worsen. But a fraction have, paradoxically, actually felt their symptoms alleviate. Like Weinstein, I am one of those people.

It’s not that I’m unaware of the terrible toll the global pandemic is exacting. I’ve cried about it late at night, like I imagine most have. I’ve worried for my grandmother, and boiled with rage as various wealthy blowhards suggested that the best thing she and other elderly people could do for this country is to die. I’m furious at the gross incompetence and indifference to human life within our country’s leadership. I check the news often—too often—staring at my phone in disbelief every night into the early hours of the morning.

And yet, when I wake up, I don’t feel as sluggish as I normally do. I find it easier to get out of bed. The intrusive thoughts that normally buzz around my brain like flies on a feeding frenzy have disappeared. My family is healthy, I tell myself. I am healthy. We are all doing what we can. And for whatever reason, that has been enough. My mood has stabilized after years of oscillating between paralyzing anxiety and debilitating, at times suicidal, depression. Despite everything, I realize, I am OK. More OK than I have been in years.

That’s a strange thing to admit. But evidently I’m not alone.


You need to wear a mask. Here’s how.

From the Washington Post.

[Joseph G. Allen is an assistant professor of exposure and assessment science, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health]

First, masks of any type help prevent the user from infecting others by acting as a physical barrier that will block large droplets from coughs and sneezes. These droplets can travel up to 20 feetwith a powerful sneeze, so six feet of social distancing is not always enough. And wearing masks is not just a good thing for those who are actively sick: Any one of us might be harboring this virus asymptomatically and could transmit it to others, cascading into a thousand new infections.

Second, masks will protect you from others around you who might be sick. The degree of protection will depend on the mask type, and we absolutely must reserve our scarce supply of N95 respirators — which filter out 95 percent of aerosols — for front-line health-care workers. The consequences of commercial mask shortages are so severe for our health-care workers that the rest of us cannot afford to be using them.

That means the general public must resort to DIY masks. The good news is that you can craft your own using something that pretty much everyone has in their home: a 100-percent-cotton T-shirt. (Here’s a good tutorial on how to make one.) Depending on factors such as the fabric thickness and the fit around the nose and mouth, these can be anywhere from 50 to 70 percent efficient at capturing particles.

Third, masks serve as a reminder not to touch your face. A virus has to find a way into your body to begin its takeover of your cellular machinery. By now, we’ve all heard the guidance not to touch your face so that if you do pick up the virus on your hands, you won’t transfer it right into a hospitable environment. Wearing a mask puts a physical barrier between your hands and your nose and mouth, and, maybe more importantly, reminds you to use more caution.

Fourth, wearing a mask serves as a vital social cue. You are sending a signal to others that there is a real threat out there. When enough people do it, it will become self-reinforcing. Standing six feet from people at the grocery store felt awkward at first, but it quickly became normalized and even appreciated. Now if someone stands too close to you, it’s offensive. Soon, not wearing a mask will seem selfish.

Now let’s talk about the right way to use masks:

  • Each person in your home should have a mask — absolutely no sharing.

  • The mask should cover the bridge of your nose and cup your chin.

  • There should be two straps, one that goes above your ear, and the other below

  • How to put it on and take it off — what we call donning and doffing in my field (yes, those are the terms we use) — is also important. To put it on, use one hand to hold the outside of your homemade mask and put the top strap over your head, followed by the strap that goes below your ear. To take it off, don’t touch your mask, which could have infectious particles on it if you came into contact with someone infectious. Instead, take it off using the two straps.

  • If you make one mask, wash it daily.

  • If you make multiple masks, place the recently worn one in a bag and set it aside for five days (there shouldn’t be any virus left after that time). Wear a new one each day.

  • Wash your hands when you’re done.

Be advised: Wearing a mask does not replace other important public health control measures such as hand-washing, social distancing, covering your cough and cleaning surfaces. In fact, masks are a type of personal protective equipment, which health professionals consider the last line of defense.

Last, I must restate what I said earlier: Commercial masks should be left for front-line health-care workers. If you have one lying around, donate it to someone in your neighborhood who works in a hospital. You can also give one to a grocery-store or delivery worker. The true badge of honor is someone wearing a homemade mask. 

They say not all heroes wear capes, but most do wear masks. We can all be heroes.



April 4, MLK

Since I was a kid – since this day in 1972, in fact, when I started writing a daily journal – I have always taken note of April 4, and said to myself:  “April 4.  Dr. King.”

Today, more than half a Century ago, Martin Luther King was murdered by a racist in Memphis.  Dr. King was a giant of a man, the one who – as I wrote in Fight The Rightanticipated the message at the core of the Occupy movement, among other things.  While his message continues to resonate across the decades, racial hatred continues unabated, too.

I was a kid, and my family was living in Dallas when he was assassinated. I remember it; I remember how scared we were, how it seemed like the end of decency, and the start of something terrible. It was, too.

So. It’s April 4, so many years later, and here is some of his most remarkable speech.  Surveying the racists who now crowd the public stage in the U.S., I don’t think we will see the likes of him again.