Brainstorming Ebola under America First

Saw a story that got me wondering what the reaction would be under the current president if the test had come back positive.

An unidentified patient who was kept in isolation at a Philadelphia hospital while being tested for Ebola has been confirmed as not infected with the deadly virus.

  1. Thoughts and prayers? That seems to be the go-to for so many things like massacres at home and abroad.
  2. Deny travelers to Ebola prone countries the ability to fly to the US until they have self-quarantines elsewhere for the contagious period, thereby spreading it around the world?

The Obama administration’s Ebola response was to send 3,000 health officials to the region who:

  1. Constructed treatment units in the region.
  2. Provided protective equipment and medical supplies.
  3. Operated almost 200 burial teams.
  4. Conducted aggressive contact tracing to locate other potentially infected cases.
  5. Trained health care workers and conducted community outreach.
  6. Identified travelers who may have Ebola before they left the region.

I suspect health officials would lobby for the same response with the rationale, the faster we end the outbreak there, the fewer infected individuals overall and less like they end up in the US: America First! But, this is the region the current president referred to as “shithole countries.” My guess is this is just the excuse needed to bar travel to or from there.

TED Talk: The secret to living longer may be your social life

As a self avowed loner, this research showing personal connections are important to a long life bothers me. I had hoped that Cacioppo’s writing in Loneliness that we each have differing levels of engagement that are necessary would apply. Having a lower threshold might protect against depression, anxiety, and suicide that plague men.

Pinker seems to be saying that having someone who will check up on older people is what prolongs their lives into becoming centenarians.

If the above does not work, then try TED Talk: The secret to living longer may be your social life.

Climbing Mountains fitness blog – Guest Post

Me at Watson Mill Bridge State Park
Me at Watson Mill Bridge State Park

This was posted on the Climbing Mountains blog. Even though I blog, I usually avoid things that are more personal.

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

As a computer geek, I am a professional student of systems and processes. That brings a curiosity into how things work both individually and in the cascade of effects throughout the system. I mostly played soccer as a kid and was outside almost every day back then. And I did a couple years of Karate. As an adult, I was super sedentary in front of a computer 12-20 hours a day.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

Working out centers my mind and provides a calmness that I did not expect. I mean, I heard others talk about feeling good, but I suspected they were already happy people. Working in a stressful environment, fitness provides a place to change the brain chemistry. I definitely feel happier after a stressful day and even sense the need to get back to the gym when I have been away more than a few days.

How long have you been into fitness?

The weightlifting has been for the past three years. I also enjoy the occasional hike which has been for as long as I remember. I tried to get into jogging, but I despised it. That is how I tried weightlifting.

How did you get into fitness?

Really, I was dragged into it kicking and screaming. I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic (type II) almost a decade before getting the really diabetic one over 3 years ago. My diet was terrible. My life mostly consisted of sedentary sitting in front of a computer both at work and home. My weight would swing from 275 to 315 and back.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

Armed with the diagnosis, I had to start exercising more or the bad things would happen. My doctor wanted me being active 30 minutes a day, three days a week. I started walking / jogging up to about an hour, but that was killing my feet. My doctor recommended building muscle as they would drink up the sugar in my system. Fat also messes with the blood chemistry to resist insulin, making the insulin less effective. So I came to the gym looking to cut fat and gain strength.

How has fitness impacted your life?

My doctors are pleased with my medical status. The sugar level is where it ought to be. My heart and kidneys are fine. The damage to my eyes is reversing. I feel happy and less stressed all the time.

What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

Find a friend who is serious about what you want to try doing. Tag along. Observe their form and ask questions. Make sure to get a number of perspectives. We each have our own goals and methods to get there, so feel free to pick and choose what works for you. Finally, if it hurts or you feel terrible about what you are doing, then do not beat yourself up about trying to fix the form or even trying something else.

Ezra Freelove (@sneezypb)

Mixed Antigens

Reading The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, it made me happier that I am probably more disease resistant than my peers due to having very different antigens due to my mixed heritage. One of my hopes was that more mixed kids would be born making society healthier.

This helped me realize though that benefit comes with a dark side. Very different antigen combinations make it more difficult to match bone marrow. From the Mixed Marrow mission,

Race holds a critical role in finding a marrow match. Genetic makeup must be similar between the donor and the recipient in order for a match to occur. For mixed patients, their monoracial parents and relatives will not likely match them and siblings only hold about a 1 in 4 chance. Not only is ethnicity a factor, but the probability of which antigens are passed down from each parent makes finding a match that much harder. Finding a marrow match has been compared at times as having the odds of “finding a needle in a haystack” or “winning the lottery.”

Guess I was lucky never to need a transplant.

Resolution Progress 2016: First Quarter


  1. Read 75 books. I should be at 18.75 read by this point. So, 18 is pretty good.
    1. Hit 25,000 pages. I should be at 6,250 pages read, so my 6,270 is on pace.
    2. Finish series already started. I finished the Millennium series (one book) and make progress on both the Robot and Expanse series (4 + 3 books). Just 16 to go.
  2. Lifting.
    1. Bench 240 pounds (1RM equivalent). Hitting about 180.83 according to the app’s numbers. Doing a real 1 rep max in January, I hit 165. After this, I lowered the weight and am building back up, so at this point lower than the 192 calculated I was prior.
    2. Squat 300 pounds (1RM eq). Hitting about 250.83 according to the app. Doing a 1 rep max in January, I hit 245. Same as bench, I’ve caught back up to where I was at start of the year.
    3. Deadlift 335 pounds (1RM eq). Hitting about 294 according to the app. Doing a 1 rep max in January, I hit 325. Same as bench, I’ve caught back up to where I was at start of the year.
  3. Drop to 20% body fat. No progress.
  4. Do the White and Orange trails in under an hour. I did manage to bring this down to one hour 4 minutes 8 seconds. Since the weather is warmer, I will give it a few more goes to see if I can manage it. The challenge is this is a hilly area and not to lose too much pace going up. I tried running up and that was not working very well, so will do more letting gravity do its thing.
  5. Attend 12 social events when invited. I skipped one and will attend one. So par? I’m even planning to host one which ought to count for like 5.

Paleo Sleep

Several people I know talk about having sleep issues. One of the highly cited things of late is that the blue light from our electronic devices messes with our brains to reset the Circadian rhythm making us fall asleep later. Even I use f.lux to change the light of my computer to a warmer tone just after dark.

From ‘Paleo’ sleep? Sorry, pre-modern people don’t get more Zzzzs than we do:

It’s tempting to believe that people these days aren’t getting enough sleep, living as we do in our well-lit houses with TVs blaring, cell phones buzzing, and a well-used coffee maker in every kitchen. But new evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 15 shows that three ancient groups of hunter-gatherers–living in different parts of the world without any of those trappings of modern life–don’t get any more sleep than we do.

The most interesting thing is temperature appears to be the key to their sleep. As the temperature falls, people went to sleep and slept through the coldest part. When it started to warm up again is when they woke. A warm room temperature makes it difficult for me to sleep.

I think maybe we will see programmable thermostats offer an option to achieve bedroom temperatures that mimic the above temperatures so people can achieve their Paleo Sleep.

Resolutions 2015

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: ‘To rise above little things’. ― John Burroughs

    1. Read 52 books. Yeah, I know. In 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, I read more than this same exact amount. I like the number because it is a book a week.
      • Read 50% by female authors. After reading “Readers prefer authors of their own sex, survey finds“, I did an analysis of my own books for the past 2012, 2013, and 2014. My best year was 17% female authors. So I’ll push for at least 50% this year. Ideally, I would do even 90% female but that might mean buying a lot more books. That best year? Most of the books by female authors came from participating in a book club with most female members.
    2. Biking was an abysmal failure last year. Weight lifting is my new health and exercise thing. Based on some stuff I’ve read, these should be reasonable achievements for someone who has reached novice level. As I understand, someone who is my height takes longer to reach them, so with three months now adding another year, I think I can reach these by the end of next year. Looking to do something like a 4 day rotation of chest, back, legs, cardio (bike).
      1. Bench 185 pounds (1RM equivalent). Benchmark lift Tuesday was 80 at 10 reps which by my phone app was a 107 1RM equivalent. This puts the goal at 78 more.
      2. Squat 245 pounds (1RM eq). Benchmark lift Saturday was 80 at 10 reps which by that calculator was 107. This puts the goal at 138 more.
      3. Deadlift xxx pounds. Do not have a benchmark lift yet. According to one resource this should be 305, but I should probably look to see what I can do before committing to something.
      4. Drop to about 15% body fat. I think I am closer to 25-30% at the moment. Setting a specific target weight seems like a bad idea because I’ll need to add several pounds of muscle in order to achieve the above, so I will likely gain weight even while dropping fat. Setting the body fat target should achieve the real purpose.
      5. Bring HIIT up to about 50-50. Muscle is good, but I think I have been so lazy for so long that I have major stamina issues. Bike day is high intensity interval training (HIIT). Right now, I am struggling with 30 seconds high with 120 seconds slow. This goal is to get this closer to 60 seconds high with 60 seconds slow.
    3. Take a trip at least 300 miles away from home. Work conference does not count. It might be to visit family, but the distance ensures my home town does not count. Yes, this is the same as last year’s failed. I use up my vacation time for work and this seems like a good way to encourage that.
    4. Declutter Part II. Continue the progress made from last year. Shred and trash more unneeded paper. Get all statements to be kept in folders. One last closet is still a mess and needs to be emptied of stuff.

Old resolutions: 20142013, 2012201120102009.

Resolution Progress 2014: End

This year was a mixed bag. Sorry for the lack of updates.

    1. Read 52 books. Today, at the end of the year, I should be at 52 books read. I reached that point back on October 12th. (A few days earlier than last year.) My total for the year is 74. (142%) SUCCEEDED.
    2. Ride 10 miles a week April to October. I bought a bike and got up to 3 miles in the few weeks I was trying in March to build up for starting in April. Some unexpected complications were 1) getting sick and 2) the hills in neighborhood are beyond my capability. FAILED.
    3. Declutter. Reorganized enough to be somewhat presentable that lasted for a while. Removed about 4 trash bags of clothes from the closets for donation. Threw out about 10 trash bags of broken down boxes, shredded receipts, or junk mail. Setup laundry bag carts so no longer in piles. Setup new shelving units so stuff is not sitting in piles anymore. SUCCEEDED.
    4. Take a trip 300 miles away from home. No trips taken that qualify. The one trip to Seattle was for work. FAILED.

Somewhere around February I decided to work on financial goals. I managed to reorganize some things, fully fund a goal, and get an idea of where I want to go in the future.

Tomorrow I should post 2015’s goals.

Lost Weight

I suspect people are just being nice when they ask if I have lost weight. A normal person wants to and feels pleased when others notice. So it is a safe thing to ask.

Except I do the mental calculations of when was the last time I saw the person, where I was on the belts last seeing them, where I was on the belts next seeing them, and want intensely to call them out for being wrong. Even a small loss I want to count as not having lost weight. From 2007 to 2012, my typical pattern was to hit a peak weight around October and bottom out in March. Basically, in the Georgia summer heat I say inside for the air conditioning and do more walking around in the winter. But people assume the opposite since normal people are more active in the summer.

Since 2013 was cooler, I ended up being a little more active. So I fell out of the normal pattern and did not gain as much as normal. As a result, I have tried to be more accepting of these compliments. Still, it is tough.

Last night I bought a scale. So maybe I can have a more accurate measure than holes in my belts.

TED Talk: Battling Bad Science

From TED’s About This Talk:

Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they’re right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry.

If you do not see the video below, then go to Battling Bad Science. (Eric Mead’s the magic of the placebo is good too.)