Monthly Archives: January 2022

rant coda

The thing with my frustration with Covid restrictions is that it gets stoked every day, often multiple times a day.  For example, today I received an e-mail with a bunch of Covid nonsense in it, including the following gem:

Additionally, as per our Covid protocols, valentines must be brought in on Friday, February 11th to quarantine before they are passed out on Monday, February 14th.

Does the CDC recommend we quarantine Valentines?  Why the hell are we quarantining Valentines?  When will this insanity end?  Every day I believe more strongly the answer is “never.”

Covid rant #492

The Seattle Times sometimes includes articles from the Washington Post.  You have to check the byline to tell, and usually I don’t, but two paragraphs in, it’s almost always obvious.  Honestly, the Washington Post makes the Stranger and Fox seem unbiased by comparison.

Today, there’s a particularly obnoxious article about the long overdue end to mask mandates in parts of Virginia.  First, let’s review.  Research shows that cloth masks do not reduce risk of Covid.  Surgical masks reduce risk by 10%.

And in Chesapeake, Va., on Tuesday, the first day her school district stopped requiring masks in accordance with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s mask-optional executive order, ninth-grade English teacher Amanda Lambert awoke unsure if she would go to work. Lambert was thinking about what her doctor told her: that, because of her blood-clotting disorder, she was unlikely to live through “the next round” of coronavirus variants if she contracted the illness and had to go on a ventilator.

So, does Lambert propose that students wear masks indefinitely so she can continue teaching?  Or is she hoping that Covid is going to magically disappear?  Does she realize that the cloth talismans some students wear have absolutely zero impact on her safety?  I’m sorry, it sucks, but if Covid is a possible death sentence for you, teaching is not a safe job.  It is not safe with masks.  It is not safe without masks.  It is not safe with mandatory vaccines.  It is not safe now, and it will not be safe at this time next year.   If I were Lambert, I would change careers.

In Chesapeake, mother Kasha Herek switched her child to home schooling this week after the end of required masking led the 9-year-old to fear going to school. In Virginia Beach, another mother — who spoke on the condition of anonymity to maintain her family’s privacy — said she has kept her son home this week after the boy started crying and asked if he was going to die at school.

I actually know a young healthy person married to another young healthy person with two healthy children who opted to home school said healthy children this year (after having them home all last year) because of fear of Covid and specifically concern her district would not mandate masks.  I think this is insane, and I really have nothing more to say about it.

And the parent who has warped her 9-year-old’s thinking so much that he thinks his classmates’ cloth masks are all that protect him from death?  That’s basically child abuse.  484 9-year-old boys have died since Covid started.  Seventeen of them died of Covid.  More children over four die of suicide than of Covid.  Parents should really consider that before they pull their kids out of school and/or tell them they’ll die if they don’t avoid their maskless friends.

In Virginia Beach, a mother is sending frantic emails to her school board, begging them to reverse their mask-optional policy to protect the life of her 14-year-old daughter who has a heart condition.

Again, it sucks, but if school is not safe without masks for the 14-year-old, it’s definitely not safe with masks either.  Surgical masks make a small difference, if any.  Cloth masks are for show and have always been for show.  They are not magic Covid-germ repelling force fields.

There have been some decent articles in the news lately calling for the end of mask mandates.  But Democrats now identify with masks like priests with Roman collars.  In Seattle, it’s an identity symbol, a clear indicator to one and all that WE DO NOT SUPPORT TRUMP and we are not anti-CRT racists and we believe in “science” (but not math) and we will save the planet from global warming, etc., etc., etc.  There’s an awful lot of people on Team Science these days, but I think I’ll stick with Team Math and Team Common Sense.

From the Atlantic:

We reviewed a variety of studies—some conducted by the CDC itself, some cited by the CDC as evidence of masking effectiveness in a school setting, and others touted by media to the same end—to try to find evidence that would justify the CDC’s no-end-in-sight mask guidance for the very-low-risk pediatric population, particularly post-vaccination. We came up empty-handed.

To date, however, only two randomized trials have measured the impact of masks on COVID transmission. The first was conducted in Denmark in the spring of 2020 and found no significant effect of masks on reducing COVID-19 transmission. The second is a much-covered study conducted in Bangladesh that reported that surgical masks (but not cloth) were modestly effective at reducing rates of symptomatic infection. However, neither of these studies included children, let alone vaccinated children.

Do I really have to MOVE to get away from my children being masked from morning till night?  Isla is masks 9 hours a day, every day, with only a 20 minute break for lunch, during which time all students must face front, 6 feet apart, and are not allowed to talk.  Bri is masked at least 7 hours a day, 8 hours on Thursdays when she has basketball.  It is making me fucking crazy.  And it really seems like it is never going to end.  I am interviewing for jobs.  If I were to send Saoirse to daycare while I’m at work, she’s be required to wear a mask 8 or more hours a day.

I was looking into outdoor preschool pictures in Virginia, and the pictures of the little kids from 2021 outdoors having a normal school day made me want to cry.  My kids’ old outdoor preschool, which was an absolute gem, has shut down completely since March 2020.  There is another outdoor preschool in the area, but they require masks and a host of other Covid precautions, despite the fact it’s for 3 and 4 year olds and is exclusively outdoors.  It’s just so, so sad.  I honestly feel there are a lot of parallels here with Iran, when women were asked to wear the hijab as a very small sacrifice in service of the revolution and overthrow of evil Americans.  Forty years later, and they’re still making that tiny sacrifice.  I view leaders like Youngkin as heroes for standing up to the mask mafia.  It’s not easy when people accuse you of being a murderer for merely imposing the same rules as most European countries.  Yet, here, you’re regarded as some kind of extremist if you don’t mask your 2-year-old

Thoughts on Peloton

After Monday’s Peloton workout – whole body strength – I seriously had more quad pain than after the marathon.  In total, I had more pain after the marathon, but that was largely due to my hip injury, blisters, etc.  In terms of purely muscle pain, the Peloton workout was worse.  It’s now Thursday, and only today am I able to go up and down stairs in a semi-natural fashion.  What’s weird, though, is that I had no pain anywhere else in my legs whatsoever.  It seems the “whole body” workout did nothing for my calves.  I also had no arm, shoulder, back, or belly soreness.  I did another “whole body strength” workout last night with a similar qualitative assessment – lots of quad focus.

I find it weird that I didn’t end up with super sore arms or abs.  I did my best in the workout, but maybe I’m so weak in my upper body, I’m not able to push myself the way I am with lower body stuff?  I’m a little mystified.   One common theme in the workouts is pushup variations that are harder than baseline pushups.  Given that I can barely do a dozen baseline pushups, I think pushup variations are silly for me, because I can’t really do them properly.

There is no doubt that I work harder with the exercise leader on the TV encouraging me.  That’s a definitely pro of Peloton.  However, as compared to my own strength workout, it’s much less targeted to reducing running injuries.  Squats and lunges are actually super important to avoiding knee injuries, and injuries in general, so that focus is great.  But the lack of any kind of calf strength, not to mention the magical IT-band injury-preventing leg lifts is a negative.  I also haven’t felt the kind of stress on my hips that I felt doing single leg dead lifts, though more research on my part is called for in terms of how to avoid future hip issues.

I noticed Peloton does have a few videos called “Strength for Runners” or some such a thing.  I was amused to see the photo shows someone doing leg lifts.  The humble leg lift is so underappreciated!  I will probably give this a try, but unlike the other strength videos, they aren’t coming up with new options every day or two, which is one of the appeals of Peloton – you don’t have to do the same exact workout video over and over.  They only had a few videos total, which makes me think it’s rare for them to do a new one.

I do think it’s good to mix it up a bit, and once I start running again, I’m sure it would be beneficial to do a Peloton strength workout once a week.  I have no doubt I’d end up strengthening some muscles that I otherwise wouldn’t.  For $13 a month, I can see sticking with this.  But I also think it’s necessary to continue specific exercises targeted at avoiding running injury.

popcorn and beer

The thing about strength for running is that if you do it right, nothing happens.  If you do it wrong or not enough, you’re injured.  I was feeling somewhat smug about my strength and stretching routine going into the marathon, since I’d managed to work up to 50 miles per week relatively quickly without any injuries.  However, my hip problems during the last six miles suggest I didn’t do enough.  I think all the running on snow and ice the couple weeks before the marathon bothered my hip, but it’s hard to say how much of a factor that was.

My strength routine, which I spent up to an hour a week on, was:

  • 3 x 20 squats w/ 30 pounds or 3 x 6 squats w/ 60 pounds
    • To prevent knee injuries
  • 3 x 20 calf extensions
    • To strength calves and prevent Achilles injuries
  • 10 Pushups (trying to build up)
    • For core strength and stability at the end of long runs / hard runs.  Plus pushups are awesome.
  • 2 x 20 Leg lefts on each side
    • You know, the 80s / 90s aerobics thing where you lay on your side and lift your leg?  Magic for preventing/fixing IT band injury.
  • 2 x 10 single leg deadlifts on each side
    • For hips

I only added in the single leg deadlifts in the last six weeks or so, but that should have been plenty.  I could feel the weakness in my left hip as I was doing them.  Anyway, a little research is required.  Maybe more of the same.  Maybe something different.  We’ll see.  What I was doing was good for 20 mile training runs, but not enough for a 26 miler at race pace.

In the meantime, just for fun, I got a free trial for the Peloton app.  It’s $13 a month for access to all their workouts that aren’t attached to the apparatus, like the Peloton bike or the Tread treadmill.  You have to pay $50 / month for the apparatus workouts plus the $2000 or so for the equipment itself.  I’m all about investing in your health and fitness, but I despite treadmills and I’m not ready to try the bike just yet.  Maybe some day.  But $13 a month for all their fitness classes seems like a pretty good deal.

After a moderate amount of grumpiness, I figured out how to share my screen to my TV so I could watch the class on our new 50″ TV.   I tried a 10 minute stretching class and a 20 minute arm strength class. It feels very 1980s doing workout videos in front of the TV, but I kind of like it.

I should really start running again if I don’t want to lose all the fitness I worked so hard for.  But I’m feeling lazy.  Currently on the couch eating popcorn and drinking beer.  Which frankly feels pretty good right now.


Virginia is for lovers . . .

Most of Southwest and Central Virginia will be mask mandate free by Valentine’s Day.  The notable exceptions are Roanoke City (but not the surrounding county, where I am from) and Montgomery County, where Virginia Tech is.  These are also the only places in the area run by Republicans.  Basically, in order to ditch the masks, you need to have a Republican governor AND Republican local leadership.

There are so many things I agree with Democrats on.  However, for me, Covid restrictions trump all of them, even abortion restrictions, which are what brought me over to the Democrats in the first place.  I support freedom from Covid restrictions for the same reason I support freedom from abortion restrictions.

I was reflecting today on the fact that the school ended ALL extracurricular activities and has yet to bring any of them back, except virtually.  There have been zero activities for the kids organized by the school of any kind in two years.  Two. Years.  No sports, no music, no games, no outings or field trips.  It is a very unusual weekday when I don’t get some kind of communique from the school.  Today’s e-mail asked that “families please make every effort to limit social gatherings.”  Good thing I’m not very social anyway, I guess.

Bri starts basketball this week, and naturally we got a Covid e-mail.  An excerpt:

A prescreening checklist and waiver are mandatory for all participants.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms or have contact with a person who has or is suspected to have COVID-19 you will not be allowed to participate.

If you are high risk, you may want to consider delaying participation at this time.

All participants and parent/guardians will be required to wear a mask at check-in and during the program. Participants will also need to have their temperature taken before joining the program each week.

At this time, we are not allowed to have spectators in the gym during the program. Because of COVID-19 protocols and the spike in Omicron cases, we ask that all parents watch from outside of the facility.

We have hand sanitizing stations and disinfecting wipes on-site. Staff have been trained and will be sanitizing the equipment regularly and enforcing distancing as much as possible.

Participants should come dressed ready to play and bring their own water as the water fountain has been turned off in the gym. Restrooms are open and will be available for use.

I think I hate the endless Covid e-mails almost as much as the restrictions.  One of the things I love about the rhythmic gymnastics is that the coach has never once mentioned Covid to me.  Maybe one time.  This is probably partially because her preferred language is not English and so a lengthy e-mail like the above would not be happening.  But still.  It’s a breath of fresh air.

Our pediatrician also contacted us to let us know they are out of tests, and that if your child has cold symptoms, they should quarantine for 5 days and wear a mask at all times for 10.  OK, whatever.  Maybe just buy some tests on Amazon, but they’re basically just quoting the CDC.  But I just love how they told us we should make our kid who hasn’t even tested positive for Covid wear a mask AROUND THE HOUSE for ten days straight.  I mean, who are they kidding?

Once those 5 days are up AND your child is fever free for 24 hours, you should limit your child’s exposure to others and make sure they wear a well-fitting mask. After those 5 additional days of diligent mask wearing (yes even at home),

Sorry, I am not going to make my child wear a mask for every waking hour if they have not even tested positive for Covid!

The surgeon general’s confusion, or mine

Is this a joke?

The United States has not yet reached a national peak of the omicron variant, the nation’s top doctor said, urging caution even as the explosion of cases has started to plateau in some areas.

“We shouldn’t expect a national peak in the next coming days — the next few weeks will be tough,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said Sunday on CNN.

Um.  It’s ALREADY peaked in terms of case numbers and almost certainly hospitalizations as well.  (Hospitalization reporting generally lags by a few days to a week in Seattle, and probably much of the country.  Reported hospitalizations will peak in the next few days to a week, but actual hospitalizations have likely already peaked.)  From WaPo:

(Note that the charts, by virtue of being 7 day averages, have a built in lag of 3.5 days.)

Shouldn’t the surgeon general know this?  It is pretty scary when the people in charge reveal extreme ignorance about what’s going on.

Also, does anybody else find it extremely ironic that rapid tests, after nearly two years, are finally becoming available now that . . . they don’t actually work.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have a stack and they’re better than nothing, but they’ve been shown to be less effective at detecting Omicron, especially during that pesky early infectious phase.

The latest numbers on vaccination aren’t exactly encouraging either.  We have 78% of people fully vaccinated here in King County.   But for the 30 days ending on 1/16:

  • 53% of cases are among the vaccinated (down from a peak of 70% – I kid you not)
  • 48% of hospitalizations are among the vaccinated
  • 56% of deaths are among the vaccinated

The last bullet is the most troubling I think.  My take is that the Covid vaccine is like the flu vaccine – better than nothing, and you might as well get it, because you never know.  It might prevent the flu or reduce the severity if you get it.  But you know, it might not.  The CDC used to report the flu vaccine, with an uptake of 50% annually, reduced flu deaths by 10%.  I can see Covid uptake annually being a bit higher, if everyone is eligible (including young children).  But maybe not.  Only 40% of people in King County have gotten the booster, versus the nearly 80% who got the initial vaccine series.

I think it’s very difficult to justify vaccine mandates based on these numbers.  Maybe for people over 50 or 60 for whom a 30% reduction in risk of hospitalization and death is significant.

But the data suggest that vaccine efficacy wears off after about 3 months, not 12.  I can see badgering my parents to get a booster every three months, but I’m not sure I would, given the extent of the side effects I’ve experienced on the last two shots.  (They had virtually no side effects on any of their shots other than a sore arm.)

How longer before the next variant hits?  I read recently that Omicron did not evolve from Delta or Alpha.  And Delta did not evolve from Alpha.  I found this surprising given the predominance of Delta.  (Sorry, I’d have to search for the article.)  So perhaps the rapid spread of Omicron doesn’t suggest a new variant emerging sooner and we’ll get our 4 to 6 months of calm.  Though I’m sure it’ll stay a masked paradise here in Seattle with full anti-contagion regime in schools.

ETA – Tell your parents to get their booster if they haven’t already.  It doesn’t look like two shots is doing diddly-squat for hospitalizations in this chart from Scotland.  (The UK reports weekly – wish the US did this – without outcomes differentiated by vaccine status, and case rates have long been higher in the vaccinated than unvaccinated, no doubt partly due to test uptake.  But I was surprised to see hospitalization rates higher by a wide margin among the vaccinated but not boosted.)

The caption notes this is skewed by the over-70s, but this is what bugs me.  Does it really matter if the vaccine is effective for people in their 40s if it doesn’t protect the oldsters, who are overwhelmingly the people being hospitalized for Covid?  I mean, I’m glad to be protected by the vaccine, don’t get me wrong, but normalcy isn’t going to return until old people are protected as well.


Feel free to stop reading any time!

One of the hardest parts of the race for me was the immediate aftermath.  My left leg was just killing me afterwards, and the mile walk back to the hotel was long and cold.  It was mid 40s and partly sunny, but I was dressed for running, not walking, and I was covered with a cold sweat.  By the time I got back to the hotel, I was frozen, and it took me over an hour to fully warm up, even after a hot shower.  That night, I could barely hobble around the hotel room without my leg giving me a lot of pain, and I descoped plans to go anywhere further than the bathroom.

But the next morning, my hip felt, well, pretty much normal.  My knee (which I think started hurting due to favoring the leg due to my hip issue) was still hurting, but less.  Now, less than 48 hours after the race, I still have significant muscle soreness, but my hip and knee are at least 90% back to normal.  (They don’t hurt walking around, but I wouldn’t run on them yet.)  It’s just amazing to me how much abuse you can subject your body to, and how quickly it can recover.  In terms of muscle soreness, it’s really not any worse than after my last half marathon, probably because I ran more slowly, even though I ran farther.

Now we wait to see if I contracted Omicron on the trip or not.  I would feel bad if I got it on this little boondoggle and infected my entire family.  I took a test after I got home – negative.  Which doesn’t mean all that much, but is encouraging.  I feel worn down and had a splitting headache, so I was getting paranoid, but that’s actually very typical for me after flying.  Flying always makes me feel like crap!