Survival Petcare

The first thing I need to say on this subject is that I’m not a veterinarian[1]. This article isn’t intended to be the animal version of Gray’s Anatomy and won’t discuss every possible ailment to befall pets. The objective is to provide a few examples to serve as reminders that pets can become ill or suffer from infections, and reiterate that it’s your responsibility to treat them as best you can. 

Treating illnesses isn’t going to be easy because our pets can’t speak and tell us what’s making them sick. A dog can’t walk up to you and say my tummy hurts like a child would. The only warning you may have of a stomach problem will be when the dog pukes on the ground. Similarly, animals can’t complain about having chest pains and there won’t be a warning until a heart attack happens.

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to realize early-on that you may lose your furry family member without any notice. Fido could be fine and dandy when you leave the house to forage, only to return to find him on the floor… dead. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but you should be prepared for it nonetheless.

Now that I’ve got the morbid part out of the way, let’s assume there’s nothing terminally wrong with your pet. What happens if he gets sick?

There probably won’t be many veterinarians around after the fall of civilization. If there are, those specialists will likely be repurposed to serve as human doctors and won’t have enough time to help household pets. Depending on the rules of the community, they may be forbidden to “waste” resources on non-essential animals. 

Even after things calm down, I don’t think veterinarians will be able to commit resources to household pets. If vets are allowed to work on animals at all, they may be forced to restrict their services to the maintenance of productive farm animals. 

This ultimately means you will have to treat your pet as best as possible, with what’s available. 

Pet Meds

After a civilization-ending event happens, many veterinarians will close shop and you won’t be able to get specialized pet medicines. So, what do you do if your fur-baby gets sick?

You may be limited to treating the symptoms and hope they naturally recover. Thankfully, a lot of the medicines designed for human consumption can be used on animals without many side effects. It may be a simple matter of changing the dose. 

For example, if a pet is licking one patch of skin, it may indicate an allergic reaction. Most vets advise owners to give Benadryl (or generic equivalent) to treat such allergies. The vet normally advises how much medicine to give, but if the trained professionals don’t exist, it’s your responsibility to estimate the amount all by yourself. 

The directions for drugs are based on human consumption and caution must be used when giving such medicines to an animal. If your pet weighs about the same as your kid, the child dose may be appropriate to use. If smaller than that, you may need to use half the suggested child-dose. 

A few words of caution:

  • If your pet’s the size of a squirrel, maybe you shouldn’t risk an overdose. 
  • Do not use topical creams because it may not be safe for internal consumption, and you almost certainly won’t be able to prevent pets from licking it off. 

Generally, use the common-sense most ordinary people possess.

What about fleas?

How do you treat your dog for fleas? From what I’ve read, the best method is prevention, prevention, prevention. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Bathe your pet regularly (not a viable option for cats).
  • Plant flea-repelling plants like rosemary and mint.
  • Make an herbal flea collar.
  • Mix a tablespoon of vinegar into your pet’s drinking water (test to ensure the pet doesn’t shun the water).
  • Don’t let your pet outside.

After a Flea Infestation

If you have a furry pet, a flea infestation may be inevitable and it’ll seem like you’re fighting a war on multiple fronts when it happens. Not only do you have to eliminate the infestation from your pet, but also from the environment. Many natural remedies for the home require sprinkling baking soda or salt into fabrics to kill the eggs and larvae[2],[3].  

Below are a few of the direct home remedies for treating dogs with fleas:

  • Spraying it with essential oils such as: eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary.
  • Bathing it with any of those same oils, vinegar, and water.
  • Spraying it with vinegar & water.

Vinegar seems to be the most effective treatment according to most of the websites I’ve browsed. If none of these treatments are possible for your household, you may be forced to keep your pets outside… or learn to live as a flea-bitten rascal.

What about Heartworms?

You need to accept the possibility there may not be anything you can do about this parasite. We’ve been told for years that heartworms are inevitable, and that’s why vets tell us to treat dogs monthly for this parasite[4]. If those normal treatments aren’t available because of disaster, that means over time an infected dog will die because the infestation will become so great it can’t properly pump blood through its body. 

With that said, I’ve read from various sources it’s possible to treat your pet for heartworms by feeding it: Pumpkin seeds, carrots, coconut, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and chamomile[5],[6]

If you run out of regular dog food and/or make your pet’s food, adding these ingredients to your pet’s diet can be done with little effort. 

Below are some common symptoms of an uncontrolled heartworm infection[7]:

  • Mild Symptoms: Occasional cough or tiredness after moderate activity.
  • Severe Symptoms: Dog may look unwell, cough persistently, and get tired easily. Dog could have trouble breathing or even show signs of heart failure (wheezing coughing, bloated belly[8]). 

I’d like to finish by reminding readers that if your pet has a life-threatening condition, nothing can replace the medical expertise of a veterinarian. You are responsible for your pet’s medical treatment nowadays, and that will be the case if civilization were to end.

It’s your responsibility to use the professionals if they are available. I hope this article serves as a reminder of your responsibility and that alternative options exist if the SHTF. You are their “first responder” and will have to treat them as best you can, with the materials you have. 


[1] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor, veterinarian, or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you or any other person (and/or pet) has a medical concern, you should consult with a health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on a blog, website, or in any linked materials.

[2] JetPet Resort. (2021, March 1). 30 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs. Retrieved from JetPet Resort: https://jetpetresort.com/blog/dog-care/30-ways-to-naturally-prevent-and-get-rid-of-fleas-on-dogs/

[3] DePino, M. (2022, March 31). 9 ways to get rid of fleas on your dog naturally. Retrieved from BetterPet: https://betterpet.com/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas-naturally/

[4] Heartworm Hoax: Some websites I’ve seen have veterinarian authors who claim your dog probably doesn’t even have heartworms. That’s because heartworms are transmitted between infected animals via mosquitoes. Dogs in a major city way not be susceptible because of all the pesticides and chemicals, whereas a dog in the country probably has heartworms given the swarms of mosquitos in rural areas.

[5] PetPartners. (2021, February 10). 6 Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Worms. Retrieved from PetPartners: https://www.petpartners.com/blog/pet-health-and-safety/6-natural-ways-to-treat-and-prevent-worms

[6] Chamomile: Chamomile may help treat or prevent other types of worms and parasites.

[7] Henriques, J. (2021, December 12). DIY Heartworm Treatment For Dogs. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-heartworm-treatment/

[8] Bassingthwaighte, D. E. (2021, December 12). Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs: A Holistic Approach. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/congestive-heart-failure-in-dogs-holistic-treatment-options/

I’m Not Stressed!

Stop asking if I’m stressed!

I’m not.

Yes, I’m aware that almost every one of my muscles has a knot. People have been saying that for nearly 3 decades, back when I was still in my 1-digits. I’ve been told I’ve got knots all over my body so many times, you’d think my knots have knots.

I may be one massive knot with a face. I’m a knotty boi[1].

I’ve been asked over the years if I want a massage, or if I want to go have a spa day.

No, but thank you. Having strangers or strange people touch and rub my body is not relaxing to me. The one time in my life I asked someone to give me a massage, they went full deep-tissue on me. The pain was so unbearable, I had to put a stop to it.

Speaking of painful massages, they really should anesthetize, or at least numb, those extreme cases who need such a deep therapy. I supposed that’d require a doctorate, so it’s too much effort for an industry with an education credentialing system based on certifications.

Not that I’m bashing the industry, masseurs, or massage professionals in general. I’m merely pointing out a possible improvement to the industry as a whole, and a new business opportunity for doctors who can prescribe the sedatives and numbing creams or injections. There’s an untapped market for that service, and charging insurance shouldn’t be that much of a problem either[2].

Anyways, I’m not stressed!

I may clench my jaw shut all the time, but it doesn’t mean I’m stressed. I’m just more cautious of how I sleep because I witnessed practical jokes being played on classmates during nap-time. And I’m not going to leave myself open for a bug to crawl or drop into my mouth while sleeping

Are you sure you’re not stressed? All that subconscious clenching can’t be good for your teeth.

If we ignore the tea-stains, my dentist claims I have the healthiest mouth he’s seen. He mentioned that my jaw muscles are so developed, I can probably bite several fingers off with little effort.

That’s probably a great ability to have in a fight or survival situation.

I’ll say it again, I’m not stressed!

I’m happy most of the time, so why would people think I’m stressed?

Aside from having an alarm scare me awake each morning… I think the only stress my body experiences is from a sudden fear I experience when getting caught checking someone out. Everyone’s gazed at a beautiful person a little too long and got caught. It’s normal and part of what makes life fun.

The only thing that grates on me emotionally is socialist media. You can post the most innocuous comment on a trending post, like: “water is always wet, even when frozen”, or point out how an image appears to be edited. And I kid you not, some special snowflake will find fault with the comment and claim you’re a horrible piece of shit for saying such a thing. Why does such an innocent comment trigger certain people to the point they try to “cancel” you?

It’s only socialist media. Trolls can get annoying, but you can always ignore or block them…

I’ll close by reiterating that I’m not stressed, so please stop asking why I’m so tense.

It’s not my fault I have good posture.


[1] Boi: “Boi” used to be the gay spelling for “boy” back in the early 2000s.

I was there Gandalf. I was there, in the year 2000.

[2] Insurance: I’m not a medical billing specialists, nor an insurance professional.

Bridge

On the bridge of his cruise ship, the Captain glances out the windows. The ship is leaving port and part of departure protocol is to examine the hull to ensure the dock didn’t damage the ship. He grabs the bridge of his glasses to remove them and raises his pair of binoculars  and peers through them.

The first thing he sees through the lenses are a few old ladies playing Bridge on the deck. He shifts his gaze outward and examines the hull. He commands the Yeoman-Purser to record that he observed no damage to the ship from the dock.

The Captain lowers the binoculars and rubs the bridge of his nose to help alleviate the eye strain. He replaces them to sweep the area in front of his ship. He carefully examines a bridge his ship must sail under. He’d normally be looking for any sign of corrosion that could cause debris to fall as they pass. This time, he’s looking for something far more sinister… Protesters.

He recalled the last cruise and how one of his wealthier passengers had an accident while eating. Her bridges came loose while eating a jawbreaker and the dentures went down her windpipe. She had to be rushed to a local hospital to extract the foreign object from her esophagus.

The Captain had to bridge the conversation between the cruise-line’s legal department and the passenger’s family. He apologized for the inconvenience, but the ship cannot remain at the port while she recovers. They need to decide if all or part of the family will remain at port. The cruise line would be happy to assist them with finding lodging and passage back home.

Once they reached their destination, the bridge crew was surprised to see reporters and protesters were picketing the entrance to the port’s embarkation building. Apparently, the family was furious their vacation was ruined and posted on every social media platform about how the cruise line is marooning them in a foreign country.

After completing extra paperwork…

After performing the usual cruise checklists…

After conducting several interviews and pep-up meetings…

After 3 days at port, his ship is embarking on a new cruise.

The Captain snaps back to reality, and returns to the bridge of his ship. He feels a rush of shame for that brief distraction, and lowers the binoculars only to see the First Officer looking at him with concern. He was examining the bridge for the same hazard.

A knowing glance bridges their understanding of the situation. Speaking in unison, they both bark at the Communications Officer. They smile at each other and the Captain continues with his order to hail the port authority for confirmation that the bridge is clear of pedestrian traffic.

They stand on the bridge of the ship as it sails closer and closer to the bridge. The captain rubs the bridge of his nose before putting his glasses back on again. He’s about to order the engines to stop when the Port Authority radios back to guarantee the bridge is clear and being patrolled by local police.

The Captain tells the helms-woman, “steady as she goes.”

A relieved smile warms her face as she removes her hand from the lever controlling the ships speed. As she acknowledges his command, he walks to the front of the bridge and gazes out a window. The Captain looks down and sees his new passengers queue up to reenact the iconic “Titanic scene” at the bow of his ship.

He never tires of seeing this, and the innocent display refreshes him.

Smiling, he turns away and gazes at his bridge crew. He can see that all are glad to be leaving the last cruise behind. They are starting a new journey with fresh passengers who’re eager to be wowed at the ship’s exemplary service.

Separated when the SHTF 

It’s always great to have a plan and know what you’re going to do if “The Fall” happens. But most plans I’ve read online or in books seem specifically tailored to single people.

Why is that?

Most people have some sort of a family, whether it be a spouse and/or at least one child? 

What’s the plan if you are separated from them when disaster strikes? Don’t think for an instant that it’ll never happen… I’m surprised more people haven’t accounted for this situation in their disaster planning, because a lot of things can cause your family to be spread out across an entire city.

In a best-case scenario, it takes missiles from the eastern hemisphere a little less than 30 minutes to reach targets in the continental United States. However, if an attack comes from a submarine, it could take about 10-15 minutes to reach their targets. Also, consider that our government will probably move at a snail’s pace because they don’t want political backlash if it turns out to be a false alarm[1]. That means, you have less than 10-30 minutes to get out of the city.

So, what would cause your family to be separated during a disaster? 

Life… That’s what. 

In most families, parents work and children are at school throughout the day. That’s two or three different locations everyone who matters could be located. If a disaster strikes and you can’t contact your family, you need to have a plan so you’re not wasting time running around like a chicken with its head cut off. 

Assuming you have something resembling the average “nuclear family”, I’d recommend you plan to have one parent collect the survival gear and get your vehicle ready to make an escape. The other parent, preferably female (or feminine), needs to focus on getting your children out of school.

This can take forever. Actually, getting your kids is going to be the greatest time-suck in your bug-out plan because history and bad parents have taught school officials to drag their feet. 

The reason why I recommend you task the mother or feminine partner with this duty is because they tend to appear less threatening during emergency situations than males or dominant partners. They tend to exude a combination of nervous and worried emotional energy, which makes people more sympathetic. They also tend to chat and relate with staff, and that relatability may get the kids out faster.

A feminine person can say, “I’m so worried about the situation, I just want my family to be at home.” As opposed to most dominant males, who find it difficult to do the same thing. Men may appear to be more aggressive than women in the same situation. They tend to radiate anger and frustration when under pressure, and isn’t ideal when they’re forced to work with slow-government-employees.

The school may refuse to release a child to a parent who appears to be overly nervous and panicked. If this happens, the parents should switch out and try a different approach. Maybe a different face will convince the school to release your kids.

If the school refuses to release your child after two attempts… then you need to do what’s best for your family. You may have to decide, as a family, to extract your children by any means necessary[2]

This is a survival situation and minutes can mean the difference between life or death. The chances of your family’s survival reduces with every minute that school official wastes. 

If you’re a single parent, your job is twice as hard because you not only have to collect your kids, but also the supplies you’re going to need. If this is the case, I recommend you pick up the kids first because they can help you pack. If the school will not release your kids, you got that attempt out of the way. That means when you head home, you know what extra supplies you may need to bring back so you can successfully extract your child.

Who knows, maybe things will have cooled off enough that your appearance won’t be as threatening when you return. Or perhaps the staff will have a change of heart. Or, maybe another parent put the school in its place. It doesn’t matter how you get your kids out of school, you just need to keep in mind that it’s going to waste most of your family’s precious time. 

Skeptical Relationship 

What if you’re in a relationship with a skeptic who will not listen to your emergency plans? What if they don’t take it seriously and refuse to commit those plans to memory? Or, what if they are the type of person who is so worried about you, they’ll do all the wrong things when the SHTF? 

Well, there truly isn’t helping everyone. You just have to tell them your disaster plans and hope they remember the plan. 

I happen to be in a relationship with a skeptic, and we sometimes find ourselves separated by about 100 miles because of home remodels or work. 

If I were the one to be out of the city, I will not go into the city looking for my boyfriend. Forget all those heroic movies where the lone man or mother saves the family. That’s a hopeless endeavor in real life, and I don’t want him to do the same for me if the situations were reversed. 

If I’m trapped in the city, I will hike or bicycle it out to the bug-out spot… and he should do the same. 

IF he wants to come to my aid, then MAYBE it would be a good idea if he tried to meet up with me mid-way. But that will require a lot of luck…

I can’t stress the importance having a bug-out plan. However, not all plans are made for the same type of family. You need to make your own, or adjust published plans to meet your own family needs. Always keep in mind that the longer it takes you to get out of a major city, the less likely the most important people to you are going to survive.

***

Next time, I’ll post a few of my bug out plans. Yes, I have multiple plans.


[1] False Alarm: Remember the false alarm that happened in Hawaii in 2018?

[2] I would like to remind my readers that I do not condone violence, nor do I recommend that you commit any crimes. You need to use your best judgement when it comes to your family’s safety.

Fun with Names

I see words and names differently than most people and this article is an example of how my mind sometimes makes connections associated with words and names. These are things I’ve thought of when encountering the names of cities, countries, and organizations over the years. Some of these thoughts are from as far back as elementary school.

Also, the play on words expressed here does not represent any inherent judgement or bias to the culture or history of any named location.

Geographical Names

Islamabad – Is Islam so bad they named a city Islamabad?

No, it isn’t.

Russia – Do they rush through life in Russia?

Israel – Is Israel really real? … It Israel!

Iran – ‘And Iran, Iran so far away, I just ran, Iran all night and day, I couldn’t get away.’

New Guinea – Since there’s a New Guinea is there an Old or Original Guinea?

Yes. It’s located in Africa.

Do guinea pigs come from Guinea or New Guinea?

Nope. They’re from South America[1].

Brussels – Do brussels sprouts come from Brussels?

Yes, they do… sort of[2].

Canada – Can you get a can of pecan pie filling in Canada?

Idaho – I wanna go to Idaho, cuz I-da-ho!

Budapest – Buddha is such a pest in Budapest.

Turkey – Do they eat turkey in Turkey?

Not often because turkey has to be imported, and meat is already expensive in that country.

Tropic of Cancer – Does living in the Tropic of Cancer make you more likely to get cancer[3]?

Caribbean – I would like to thank the producers of the Carib bean. It’s the only way I learned how to spell “Caribbean”.

Sargent, Texas – PRIVATE! You sorry excuse for a human being! DROP AND GIVE ME 40!!!

Security, Texas – Is this where all security guards live or go to retire?

Is it truly secure in Security, Texas?

Not necessarily. According to Crimegrade.com, half the town has a B-rating and the other half scored C[4].

Dickinson – I know we’re into accepting all types of people nowadays, but you don’t have to name a city to advertise your son’s sexuality. I’m sure everyone knows.

Coincidentally, Dickinson, Texas tried to get a city flag approved this week. Option “C” sort of pairs nicely with my Dick-in-son story[5]

Organization Names

Texas A&M – Why do so many cars have bumper stickers advertising the use of an ATM 🏧 in Texas[6]

Met Life – Get Met, it pays… to introduce yourself and advance your career.

Mars – Has the candy company, Mars, ever donated money to fund a mission to the planet Mars?

I asked in July of 2021 and followed up this year, but the company never responded[7].

IBM – IBM, U BM, everyone BMs at some point.

***

As evidence shows, I tend to see words and names differently than most people. This article isn’t the sum of such thoughts I have when encountering names and words. Local events (in Dickinson) made it important to post “Fun with Names”, so that part will be relevant.

Expect to find similar articles in the future.

I’d like to announce that I’m continuing my “Practical Survivalist” series and hope you’ll enjoy the new additions.


[1] Wikipedia. (n.d.). Guinea pig. Retrieved from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_pig

[2] Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (n.d.). Brussels Sprout. Wisconsin, United States of America. Retrieved from https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/school-nutrition/pdf/fact-sheet-brussels-sprout.pdf

[3] Tropic of Cancer: I specifically remember asking my 2nd or 3rd grade teacher this.

[4] Crimegrade. (n.d). The Safest and Most Dangerous Places in 77328, TX: Crime Maps and Statistics. Retrieved from Crimegrade: https://crimegrade.org/safest-places-in-77328/

[5] Dickinson, Texas: In respect to Dickinson, Texas, according to the local evening news station, ABC 13, the city has a strong Italian heritage. This is why all proposed flag options look similar to the Flag of Italy.

[6] A&M: I just learned the “A&M” meant Agricultural and Mechanical back in the 1800s, but now the abbreviation doesn’t carry any inherent meaning except to pay respect to the institution’s history.

Texas A&M University (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from Texas A&M University: https://www.tamu.edu/about/faq.html#:~:text=Corps%20of%20Cadets%3F-,What%20does%20%22A%26M%22%20stand%20for%3F,or%20%22A%26M%22%20for%20short.

[7] Mars 4 Mars: Their website indicates they make contributions to nonprofits in areas the company operates. The most prominent donation is when it committed 26 million to Covid-19 Response.

Mars, Incorporated. (2020, April 3). Mars Commits $26M to Communities in COVID-19 Response. Retrieved from Mars: https://www.mars.com/news-and-stories/press-releases/Mars-commits-donation-to-communities-in-covid19-response

Pesky Pescatarian

I was supposed to be a Pescatarian last year, but that didn’t work out so well. I actually enjoy fish more than other meats such as beef, pork, or lamb. So, you’d think being a Pescatarian would be easy for me, but it wasn’t.

I’m a pretty healthy eater, so it’s not like I eat junk food every day[1]. I’m fortunate my tastes in food aren’t like most other people: 

  • I love salads and enjoy eating green leafy salads without dressing. 
  • I don’t like sweets, but will indulge if I feel like treating myself. 
  • I have mixed tastes when it comes to bacon. Sometimes it tastes good, but most of the time it’s… meh.
  • I will never turn my nose up to a good soup, stew, or gumbo.
  • I love pasta and bread. This is bad if you’re on a no/low-carb diet, and I try not to eat either very often. I love pasta so much, I became a Pastafarian.[2] 

So why didn’t the Pescatarian diet work out?

I simply don’t like the inconvenience of having to worry about what fits in a selective diet. I eat out a lot, and every time I went to a restaurant, disappointment would set in when I realized I couldn’t eat things the business was known for. I quickly began “forgetting” I’m a pesky Pescatarian and ate whatever I found appetizing on the menu.

Early in the diet, I had forgotten about the diet and had lamb for lunch. I was really excited about eating my lamb shank, but was reminded that we’re supposed to be Pescatarians. I quickly countered that I’m sure the sheep I’m about to consume was born a Pisces.

As I feasted on the flesh of the land-animal, I thought to myself:

Those pesky Pescatarians, always are discriminating against the other creatures of this earth. Just because my sweet little lamb might have had to swim once in his or her life, by accident, doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a protein than that snooty salmon he’s eating.

Just because that salmon can breathe underwater, doesn’t make it any better than my luscious little lamb. My lamb can breathe underwater too, but only for a few minutes before transcending to a higher plane of existence and becoming my lunch.

I bet if my little lamb and his salmon were in a prison together, my lamb would shank[3] his salmon in the cafeteria.

I’m jerked back from my daydream when I hear someone ask, “What are you thinking about, sweety?”

I can’t tell him what I’m really thinking and quickly reply, “How much I love you.”

“Aww! That’s sweet. I love you too.”


[1] Healthy Eater: I’m naturally a healthy eater, aside from my favorable taste in beer and wine… and the empty calories found in those alcoholic beverages.

[2] Pastafarian: Pastafarianism or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). It makes light of some of the established religions and was born in opposition to teaching intelligent design in public schools.

When Pastafarians die they live on an island and can go sailing on their own pirate ship. The island has a “Beer Volcano”, which provides other beverages based on individual tastes. And there’s a stripper factory, which also builds strippers based on your tastes. The religion is inclusive and worshiping the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a suggestion. You simply have to have the spirit of a pirate, and try not to be an asshole.

[3] Lamb shank: Get it? You do, right? (Yay to awkward middle-aged man humor…)

Also, I do not condone or promote violence of any sort.

“I’m Poz”

I’ve been fully vaccinated and had a booster. I should be fully protected from Covid, so I don’t fear catching it as much as I did when this all started. I interact with coworkers normally, but tend to stay about 6-feet away from anyone regardless of their vaccination status.

I think I do pretty good with risk mitigation and prevention.

  • I got vaccinated.
  • I wash my hands regularly and don’t touch my face.
  • I never get close to anyone outside of my immediate family.
  • I even take my shoes off at the door and shower before unwinding for the night.

I don’t have many opportunities to go out and socialize, and when I do, I don’t get close enough to anyone to risk catching anything. Actually, I think the closest I’ve been to another person was while passing someone in a shopping isle.

My Covid-risk is pretty damn low, so I didn’t think twice when a coworker chatted with me one night before the office shut down for Christmas. It felt nice hearing how great of a job I’m doing and wishing each other well and happy holidays. I left soon after and did my normal work-night routine (shower, eat, play videogames, and sleep).

Sometime that night, I got a message from that coworker saying he tested positive for Covid-19.

My heart went cold for a few seconds after reading that message. I immediately recalled how he hung out around my cubicle just before leaving work that previous night. He even hovered over me as I pointed to something on my computer screen.

Uh oh!

I did what any reasonable person would do… I tried to get tested.

Unfortunately, with only a few days left before Christmas, everyone in the city was trying to get tested before seeing their families. It seemed like there were absolutely no Covid tests available in all of Harris County, unless I went to the ER and pay the equivalent of $10,191.

I don’t love anyone enough to pay that. There will be other holidays.

While I was riding around town trying to find a Covid test, my mind kept going back to the beginning of December when I saw a couple boxes of those test sitting on the checkout counter of a CVS. I thought they were a waste of money at the time. Just that week, I started seeing people proudly post their at-home test results and joked at how they looked like pregnancy tests.

Well, I guess the joke’s on me.

Failing in my attempts to get tested, I did what any responsible person should do.

I told my family I was exposed to someone I know is positive for Covid. I told them I didn’t feel sick, but had to miss out on the Christmas party. I said I’d show up wearing an inflatable spacesuit costume to drop off the family’s Christmas gifts.

I couldn’t help but follow up that message with a joke I had just thought up:

As a gay man in his mid-30s, I thought the fear of a late night or early morning “I’m poz” text was behind me[1]

I was still feeling healthy when I arrived wearing a spacesuit costume (closest thing to a hazmat suit I could find) to drop off presents. I even did a moon-jump!

I’m not upset with my coworker for “ruining Christmas”. Not in the slightest. He did the responsible thing by telling me he tested positive, and I’m thankful for that[2].

It’s been a few days since Christmas and I’ve finally been able to get tested for Covid, but the results won’t come for another day or so. I’m glad I did the responsible thing by avoiding family, because now I’m exhausted all the time and my lungs feel like I’ve got a mild case of bronchitis.

Being ill and having to wait on my test results, are causing thoughts to creep into my mind:

Imagine what could have happened if my he hadn’t told me he was poz for Covid[3]. Without that warning, I would have unknowingly contaminated everyone at the party.

Imagine what could have happened if I did the irresponsible thing and shrugged off that warning, and went to the Christmas party without telling anyone.

Imagine what probably happened all across the nation… and around the world.


[1] HIV Poz: Thankfully, I’ve been lucky with my love/lust-life and have remained HIV negative.

[2] Ruining Christmas: I’m not a “socialist” and loath social events, even family get-togethers. Which means he may have done me a favor.

[3] Notify when Positive? There’s no law requiring your coworkers to inform you if they’ve, personally, tested positive for Covid. If you work at a large business, the infected person(s) are supposed to inform their supervisor or HR, and it’s recommended that the company/firm alerts workers who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive.

Also keep in mind that it takes a lot of courage to tell someone you are positive for an illness or disease. The person has to overcome the immediate fear of rejection, and risks being stigmatized as being “dirty”. I’m glad my coworker told me because it shows that he’s a good person and that he cares for my wellbeing.

He could have easily kept quiet about his test result.

Boxed

We can get anything and everything delivered nowadays. We shop online for things ranging from toys to tools, and from cosmetics to groceries. We can even get prescriptions delivered now[1]. When Christmas/Holiday-season arrives, the online purchases get even more frequent. 

Our family shared Amazon wish lists these past 2 Christmases, and I had about 30-40 deliveries arrive at my doorstep in November and December of 2020. This year I’m sure I had almost 100 deliveries, and my home filled up with boxes. So much so, I was forced to spend a day opening boxes and wrapping gifts just to make room for me to live.  

Regardless of the season, pretty much all of these deliveries come in boxes (except maybe groceries). Have you ever wondered what happens to all those boxes your stuff gets delivered in? 

Where do all my “holiday” delivery boxes go? 

I’m one of those people who plays the evil character in videogames, or plays the evil story-line, before doing the good version. So, I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I’m doing the environmentally “evil” thing and throwing all my boxes out. I try to reuse some of them to hold and transport gifts, but I think the only other “good” thing I consistently do is break those boxes down so our porter doesn’t have to. 

If she’s reading this, Greta Thunberg, is probably glaring at a Googled image of me and growling: “How dare you?”

I apologize, but my excuse for this holiday season is that I’ve got a new job and need to do the best I can in this new role. I don’t have time to worry about where my waste goes. I’m sure the porter is putting those delivery boxes in the green “recycle” bins our building has stored next to the dumpster… Granted, I’ve never actually seen those recycle bins get used[2]

I’m also going to ignore that mass of brown cardboard poking out of the dumpster that same week I tossed my boxes. With all the people living in my building, who’re also receiving holiday deliveries, who’s to say that mass of boxes are truly mine.

Where does everyone else’s boxes go?

According to my research, most of those boxes are getting thrown away. That means they’re in a landfill somewhere. 

My conscience feels slightly better now that I know everyone else is doing the same thing I am… while at the same time, I’m a bit concerned for the safety of the planet now (but not enough to change my ways unless it’s convenient).

Speaking of convenience, the good news is the boxes themselves biodegrade really fast. All it takes is a little water to start the process. As a bonus, the packing tape Amazon uses to seal our packages is more environmentally friendly than what’s being used by other retailers. 

The “tape” Amazon use is mostly paper with an adhesive, and some sort of fibrous string-like substance which may last longer in a landfill. Thankfully, most of the major retailers are beginning to use the same sort of tape to pack and ship their products.

That means pretty much the entire package will biodegrade in a landfill.

What should we be doing with all those boxes?

When I was in high school, I learned about the “3 Rs” of ideal recycling practices: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Recycling is the last word of the 3 Rs, because it should be the last thing you do with recyclables. It requires a lot of money and energy to recycle, which means it may not be worth the effort to recycle some materials.

I don’t have faith in my city’s recycling program, and don’t believe those green recycle bins truly lead to the recycler. I’ve seen the waste management trucks, and there’s just no physical way recyclables can be separated from the rest of the garbage. Hell, I’ve seen the trash collectors dump recycling in with the normal trash.

That doesn’t make me want to go the extra mile to recycle.

City or government-operated recycling programs are a no-go. So, what else can we do to reduce our ecological footprint now that I’ve eliminated “Recycle” from the 3 Rs?

That leaves “Reduce” and “Reuse”. I can already tell you that “Reduce” is not an option for our consumerist society. Online spending is going to increase more and more for the foreseeable future, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it… except, maybe… stop buying stuff and wreck the economy.

Well shit! The only option left is to “Reuse” all those boxes. Here are some ways you can reuse those boxes:

  • They’re great boxes to wrap presents in.
  • Use the larger boxes to help transport all those gifts to your holiday party.
  • Put seasonal or rarely used items in a box before putting it in the attic or a closet.
  • Use them as make-shift trash containers for dry waste.
  • Let your cat lay in it.

Let’s face it, you can only reuse so many boxes before you’re forced to start tossing them as more deliveries arrive. That leads us back to square one… throwing the boxes away.

Thankfully, you don’t have to punish yourself too much over your Amazon garbage. Most of your shipping waste is going to biodegrade, which helps keep your ecological footprint small. So, get out there and support the economy which is based entirely on consumer spending.

Try not to think about the disturbing fact that it requires a lot of trees to make all those boxes… 


[1] Rx Delivery: You can’t get all prescriptions delivered. Controlled substances like ADHD meds need to be picked up in person. Same with other substances like narcotics. There’s too much of a risk these will be delivered to the wrong person, to children, or abusers; or even get stolen while in transit. 

[2] Green Recycle Bins: The people in my building don’t seem to use them, save for the random bottle of wine that gets dropped in there.

Ideas Manifest at the Strangest Times

The ideas or writing topics I conjure up tend to manifest themselves at the strangest of times. Most of these ideas hit me when I’m least prepared, and when I can’t quickly make a note to help me remember later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a brilliant idea to write about, only to forget the idea when I tried to jot it down as a memo or writing prompt.

Sometimes ideas come to me while driving, sometimes inspiration comes when showering, and sometimes a dinner conversation will spark inspiration for a short story. If I don’t make a note of the idea, it’ll be lost forever. just like the great idea I just thought of today while I was holding my “Johnson” at the urinal, while hoping I won’t forget by the time I get back to my computer.

Just before Sleep

I really should keep a notepad next to my bed. I can’t tell you how many times I think of a great story in bed, just before falling to sleep. I lay out the entire story in my head and think of how I can expand it into a whole article, just before falling asleep and… forgetting it.

This happened recently. I though of a great idea to write about and knew I should jot a note down, but knew my sleep would suffer if I turned on my phone to capture the idea, so I didn’t. As my body went into sleep-mode, I tried to repeat the main points of the subject over and over in my head, hoping that tonight will be different and I’ll remember this idea…

Nope!

The supposedly best idea I ever had was forgotten by morning.

In the Restroom

I’ve had several ideas that popped into my head while urinating. Here I am minding my own business, holding my “business”, when… Poof! Idea, plot, and conclusion all play out in my head while I’m mid-stream.

This happens most often in a public restroom, where it would look odd if I whipped out my phone to take a note. I’ve got to try to hold the thought as I finish at the urinal and wash my hands. By the time I’m ready to take a note or writing prompt, the idea disappears into the ether.

Why can’t I get an idea when I’m sitting on the pot or something?!

Also, don’t act like you don’t browse your phone or scroll through your news feeds while sitting in the restroom!

While Socializing

Oftentimes, I’ll find myself in a conversation, and something will cause a spark of inspiration on a related subject I should write about. If such inspiration hits me while socializing, that means I have to find a way to discretely capture the idea before I forget it.

This is easy if I’m with a group of people, because the attention isn’t focused on me. But if it’s just me and another person, I had better be comfortable enough with them to be able to take out my phone to jot down a note.

When Driving

I’ve been on several road trips when a writing topic presented itself while I’m driving. I try to be a safe driver at all times, and don’t want to take a note while I’m at the wheel, so I’ve tried several methods to take notes when inspiration happens.

I dislike using automated assistants because it requires some attention to get the “assistant” to activate on my phone, and then it may not capture my writing prompt well enough for me to pick up at a later time.

When I have a friend with me, I’ll ask for them to text me a simple message of a few key words to help me remember. Unfortunately, I’ve got a friend who intentionally sabotages these memo texts by writing nonsense.

I’ll make my request to take a note and notice the message arrives and thank them, only to find out later that I have nonsense that I can’t use. I have to re-remember what it was that I wanted to write about.

How do you justify changing a simple note like: “Dogs in Shepherd[, Texas]” to: “Dogs shopping”.

Why are you sabotaging me?! I’m doing you a favor and prolonging your life by not texting and driving!

How do I record these ideas?

Any way I can. I use a backlit Bluetooth keyboard on my phone and regularly use it to text and email. The easiest method of note taking is by sending myself a text. It’s perfect if there’s an idea that can be saved with a few sentences and I don’t have to worry about an app failing, which causes me to lose all that raw data. And it’s as quick and simple as texting a friend, even without the keyboard. Having the backlit Bluetooth keyboard allows me to type anywhere, at any time of day or night.

Unfortunately, text messages have a couple drawbacks. They can’t contain special formatting to provide emphasis, and they are limited to a certain number of rows in the message.

A better method is to email myself notes on a topic or idea. Emailing allows for a lot of information to be recorded, especially if I suddenly feel inspired and want to continue writing on individual or multiple subjects. I can format my text to provide emphasis to words, and highlight to flag sentences or paragraphs that need to be reworked later. Emailing can be done anywhere, and when I’m done or get interrupted, I can simply send it to myself and the work is saved in the email server.

Just like texting my ideas, there’s a few drawbacks with emailing ideas from my phone. Some email apps are incredibly unreliable. Google’s Gmail app only refreshes when it wants to[1]. As a writer, the greatest fear I have is that I’ll lose an idea or an app will fail and I lose all that time and effort writing something great.

It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.

Another complication with typing using my Bluetooth keyboard is the autocorrect function doesn’t work, nor does the spellchecker in the email apps. I don’t mind this because it gives me an extra opportunity to rework the story while spellchecking in a Word document.

Actually, I copy all my notes into a Word document. You can’t beat the functionality of a PC with Microsoft Word. I copy my texted notes to an email, send them to myself, and all those emails get transferred and saved in a Word document.

Why don’t I use the Word app?

The functionality of the mobile version is too limited, the size of the document on the screen of a mobile phone is too small, and I don’t like the thought of repurchasing something I already own (especially if it’s of poorer quality).

Ideas and writing topics can manifest themselves at any time… usually when it’s most inconvenient. It can seem like a tantalizing curse to have a muse who only hits you up while you’re driving, peeing, at the verge of passing the sleep-barrier, or gets jealous that you’re talking to someone else. The goal is to find ways to cope with this pesky muse-turn-gremlin, and record those great thoughts as soon as possible.

If you can manage that, you’re on the right path to become a great writer.

Thank you to my stalker-muse:

That pervert who butts his head into my urinal.

That creep who whispers to me in bed and watches while I sleep.

That jealous mistress who can’t stand that I try to have a social life.

That gremlin who may or may not want to kill me while driving.

-Me

[1] Gmail Refreshing – I can have full signal strength and make several attempts to refresh my emails for 5 days straight, and it will still show old emails I already reviewed/deleted on my PC days ago. It doesn’t inspire much confidence and causes anxiety when I see the same email I drafted in the app’s outbox.

Fanny Packs

Fanny packs are coming back in style.

Yes, you heard me right. Those packs that went the way of the Dodo around the year 2000, have made a comeback. I started noticing bicyclists were wearing fanny packs in 2019, but then the gays started wearing them at bars, and I’ve even seen a few straight men sporting a pack. How did this happen?

Let’s describe what a fanny pack is so Gen Z and Alphas know what we’re talking about.

The kangaroo pouch fanny pack was designed to be worn on the waist of the wearer, in front of the crotch area. This is to help protect valuables from pickpockets in crime-riddled urban areas. The intended use became moot when people started wearing them on the side of the hips, or even on the lower back.

That’s the exact opposite of how it’s supposed to be worn!

Around the year 2000, pretty much everyone forgot all about the fanny pack. It was a time of great change. We got caught up in the Y2K scare and we “part[ied] like it’s 1999”, in 1999. If they were seen after the dawn of the new millennium, they were worn by “boomers” on vacation (to the embarrassment of grandkids everywhere).

Fast-forward 20 years, and they’ve made a comeback!

I first noticed that die-hard bicyclists were wearing fanny packs during group rides I participated in. Instead of on the waist, they wore the pack over their chest. I thought it was a neat idea, because most athletic clothing lack pockets.

Even if you happen to find athletic shorts that have pockets, a true athlete or enthusiast won’t bother using them because it messes up the workout. I hate keeping my wallet, phone, and keys in my pockets while riding. They flop around, dig and cut into legs, and tend to fall out. It’s too much of a distraction and hassle.

But wait, here comes the fanny pack!

You can strap this to your chest and keep all your essential items in an easy to access pack. You’ll even look stylish in the process. No-one will look twice if you choose to wear it on the back of your waist either.

Fanny packs are a useful accessory for bicyclists, but they started getting smaller and smaller… and men began wearing small leather packs at the gay bars. This new form of fanny pack is obviously intended to be a sexy accessory. It accentuates the muscles and shows how flat your chest and belly are. Unfortunately, a lot of guys with “average” bods (like my body) wore them, and it didn’t look hot.

The strap made the dad-bod and moobs more prominent.

There have been a lot of successes using new versions of the packs in the Downtowns of most major cities. Business dress seems to match well with some of the higher-end packs. Spurred on by this fashionable success, fanny packs experienced even more alterations and began looking like form-fitting male purses.

And then, some of the prettier men began sporting actual purses.

It’s rare, but I’ve even seen the occasional straight man wear a high-end leather fanny pack. I think the only times I’ve seen straight men wearing them is at sporting events, or if they’re out with family.

Most times it’s painfully obvious the wife or girlfriend made him wear it.

***

From bicyclists, to gays, to metrosexuals, the fanny pack is making a comeback, but is this fashion trend here to stay? Or will it fade away and only resurface in awkward family get-togethers, like all those 90s photos your grandparents keep digging up from storage?

Who knows…