A Watch Stopped Me Drinking

File:Closed loop feedback systems.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 stopped me drinking.

I love it as a fitness tracker, as it tracks heart rate, pulse ox for part of the night when sleeping, and has a function called “body battery” that tracks your activity against your rest using heart rate variability. You can track many fitness activities and even sync it to your phone as a GPS tracker for dryland training.

Y’all knew I was a nerd and love crap like that, right?

It’s the body battery that was the major push away from booze. If I had a drink the night before, my body battery didn’t charge — as my heart rate never dropped down into the fifties for that “good sleep” slowdown.

Now, I’ll still have a drink about once a quarter, don’t get me wrong! I’m not entirely a teetotaler. However, if I think about wanting a drink, I think about how deep I want to sleep that night. Being extremely protective of my sleep, the answer’s usually “no.”

It’s the logic of, “What will this do to Future Me?”

Will I be sorry I had a glass of wine at a celebration?

No. Pleasures and enjoyment at celebrations are an important part of enjoying life.

Will I be sorry I got bad sleep after a tough day?

Yes. Most of the time, it’s the restorative sleep I need after a challenge. Challenges are a part of life, too, and doing what you can to recover from them is also important. Yeah, I would have thought that booze knocked you out so you’re all good. Turns out that’s not quite so. You’re adding something else for your body to recover from as well as the emotional hangover. I wouldn’t have believed it, either.

So…

Yes, direct feedback does have an effect on my behavior.

I also swim. But I will be quite honest, it’s hard for me to get in the pool. It’s a lot of rigamaole — getting the gym bag packed, making sure I have everything, plotting out how to get through the damn locker room with a bunch of old ladies who don’t seem to believe Covid is real, making sure my hands and face are dry with putting the mask on and off, making sure I packed my underwear…

It’s a damn production that, frankly, I sometimes don’t really want to face.

It’s not that I don’t love swimming, I do. I’ve never been grumpy more than 100 yards into a swim. I love the fact that I’m off the hook for thinking, planning, considering other people’s feelings, or solving problems for an hour. I have a lane to myself and all I have to do is swim. I can’t meditate sitting still, but woah, can I send my brain into that Mushin (no-mind) state pretty well staring at that black line. I even have a watch that counts laps for me and I swim some long sets.

So yes, a bit of moderate exercise and letting yourself off the hook for anything but what you’re doing in the moment usually does leave you feeling better, right? Well, it does for me, anyway.

I need to apply the same logic to not-drinking to swimming. How do I usually feel at the end of a swim? At worst, high end of neutral, low end of good.

Today, I was singing Uptown Funk at the top of my lungs on the drive home, and I’m sure my town thanks me for doing so with the windows closed!

Still, getting over that hump of getting myself out the door and into the pool is real.

I’m trying to think of things to engineer the hump away. You know, like people who have a hard time throwing their clothes in the dirty clothes hamper if there’s a top on it, but for some reason will toss those suckers right IN if there’s no top? (Yes, this is a real thing, especially with people with attention deficit problems)

Do y’all have things that were blocks, humps, or choke points? If you did, have you tried to engineer them away, and did that help?

Support and Defend: Article IV Section III

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

We can admit new states to the Union. We are not allowed to divide states, nor are we allowed to combine them, unless both Congress and the legislatures of all the other states agree. So, let’s say Northern California wanted to be its own state. Congress and all the current state legislatures would have to agree.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

That being said, Congress gives itself jurisdiction over territories that are not states. Think Puerto Rico and Guam. Yes, Puerto Rico is an American territory and its people are US citizens. So Congress has the authority to establish a National Park in Puerto Rico. Indeed, the National Historic Site with the iconic fort in Puerto Rico is maintained by the National Park Service, as permitted by Consitution.

Support and Defend: Article IV Section II

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States. A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

This means that if I live in New Hampshire, I am still allowed to own property or work in Vermont. I can’t be prevented from traveling to another state. If I decide to kill someone in Florida and then go to New Mexico, I can be sent back to Florida to stand trial for that murder.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

The Thirteenth Amendment got rid of this one. Basically, an enslaved person who escaped could be returned, even if they made it to a state that did not permit slavery. When slavery was abolished, this clause became irrelevant.

Support and Defend: Article IV Section I

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Let’s say Joe and Maurice get married in Vermont.  When they move across the river to New Hampshire, their marriage is still legal, even if their marriage wasn’t legal in New Hampshire.

Then they move to Nevada and live there awhile and they adopt a couple of children.  Those children are their legal responsibility in all states. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to adopt legally in another state.  That doesn’t matter.  Joe and Maurice are still legally the parents of those children.

Then they move to Louisiana and unfortunately, their relationship deteriorates.  They get divorced.  The divorce decree, including property division and parental responsibilities, are legal and enforceable in all the states, even if other states have other laws.

The idea behind this is that if you enter into a contract that is legal in the state in which you entered into it, it is enforceable in all the states.

Ultimately, the responsibility for how such inter-state differences are enforced are the responsibility of Congress.

To Support and Defend: Article III, Section III

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Treason isn’t flipping off the President or even hanging him in effigy. It is either an overt act of war, or aiding government who are directly in a state of war with the United States of America. Being against a war isn’t treason.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

If you are convicted of treason, Congress decides on your punishment. Historically, this has been anything from a prison sentence to execution. Some people who were convicted of treason have had Presidential pardons.

However, if you are convicted of treason, your children cannot be punished for your crime and conviction. It might sound strange, but in Tudor times, if you were convicted of treason and were a peer of the realm, your title died, your oldest son could not inherit and your estates were forfeit to the Crown.

To Support and Defend: Article III, Section II

The Judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

It is the Judiciary’s responsibility to interpret the Constitution and all laws passed by Congress.  It will also interpret treaties made with other nations.  When there are disputes between states, people who reside in different states, or any disagreements between states and the Federal government, it shall be the responsibility of the Judicial branch to handle that.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

So, when some official from another country is here and has something happen that needs the Law to sort it out, the Supreme Court is the original jurisdiction.  Otherwise, any Federal case will start in the local Federal court and will only go to the Supreme Court if there is an appeal.  Congress has the power to make changes to this in law.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

All criminal trials in Federal cases will be by jury and in the jurisdiction in which the crime was said to have been committed.  If a crime was not committed within a state (such as in a US territory), Congress can say where the trial shall be held.

The Shocking Reason Why The Pandemic Isn’t Being Contained

Alabama ICUs are being overrun as Covid-19 tears through the state.

I know I appear to be on the liberal end of the spectrum.  I’m not by any sane standard.  I am merely not right-wing.

But to someone whose thinking is even more binary than mine (and that’s quite a feat), I oughta be punching the air and saying, “Hey, there, dummies!  I TOLD you so!  Didn’t I tell you so?  This is what you GET when you’re STUPID.”

I don’t feel that way about it. 

I feel sorry.

I am frustrated at the needless suffering.

No-one wants to do the tedious, boring, endless grind of work that is required to make this better.  It’s not as exciting as being Captain America bulleting through a factory to save a friend.  It’s not as inspiring as Patrick Swayze fighting for freedom with a pack of hot-looking teenager. (Sorry about the current gut, Jed.  I’m there with ya! Getting’ old sucks.)

This is the sort of challenge that America isn’t really very good at, and it’s kind of embarrassing.  We’re great a short-term extraordinary effort.  We really are, and it’s awesome.  I’m glad of that.

Where we’re falling down, and fellow Americans this is getting embarrassing, is at the patient, undramatic work required to build or fix the really big problems, or (when possible) engineer them out of existence.

We’re acting like adolescents with our first car and our first beer shouting, “You can’t tell me what to do!” 

We need to learn to tell ourselves it’s bedtime, friends.  If we don’t, we’re going to have other nations having a meeting to decide what to do with us, because a virus doesn’t stay within national borders.

World Covid-19 Cases 5/24/2020

I want the problem (inso much as is possible) to be fixed.

We need to grow up as a nation.

You’re Not Taking Your OWN Chances

Surgical mask - Wikipedia

In spending far too much time on Internet forums and such, I saw a comment from someone I knew to be a sweet lady, kindly, and generous.

In talking about the Covid-19 crisis, she did not agree with the social distancing, mask-wearing, and changes in her routine, saying that this took away a great deal of what made life living for her and she would “take her own chances.”

My heart sank.

I would never have pegged this woman as mind-bendingly selfish. I would never have said that she was callous about other people, but that statement pulled me up short.

Up until then, I had in my mind the people who objected to the Covid-19 virus as callous, selfish and hostile to other people

I don’t think that was what was going on. I think what was going on was a misunderstanding of how disease works.

If you used the expression R0 to someone (pronounced “R-naught”) pre-Covid-19, you probably would have gotten a blank look. Many of us now know that the R0 factor is how many people will most likely catch a disease if you catch it. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the concept, it means that if you catch a particular disease, you can pretty much bet on a certain number of people also catching that disease. The R0 of ebola, for instance, is 1.5-1.9. If you get ebola, chances are good that you’ll pass it on to at least one person before you die, maybe two.

The R0 for Covid-19 is somewhere between 3.8 and 8.9. This is higher than smallpox, friends. Yes, it’s not quite the killer smallpox was, but that’s not the point.*

If you do not take appropriate precautions about Covid-19 (personal distancing, hand-washing, avoiding contact with people outside your direct household, and wearing masks when you do have to do so) you are not taking your OWN chances.

If you do not take precautions, you are taking risks for other people.

You know how your freedom to swing your fist ends at someone else’s nose?

Wear a mask in public, friends. That’s the OTHER person’s nose.

*For what it is worth, I am grateful down to my bones to everyone who got a smallpox vaccine. I can’t get one, but HURRAH! it’s a non-issue now, isn’t it?

Stay In the Present

I’d like to pass something on to y’all.

If you’re in mental health, you already know this one. This is for people who haven’t been to therapy (or don’t practice certain forms of meditation or philosophy).

Few ACTUAL MOMENTS suck.  It’s what you’re thinking about that sucks.

Seriously. 

I’ll use myself as an example.  I’m anxious about supply chains.

Am I currently experiencing any real deprivation?  Well, no.  I just had breakfast and a nice cup of coffee.  My fridge has many days of meals in it.

Right now, in this moment, the thing that sucks is the worrying, not what I am actually experiencing.

What I am actually experiencing is a full stomach, a tasty cup of coffee, a comfortable chair, and time writing.  I like all of those things and find them pleasant to experience.

I am not trying to say that it is easy to pull yourself back to the moment.  It isn’t.  It’s tough.  I’m not saying that if you’re in distress and worrying, it’s All Your Fault for Being Lazy.  I. Am. Not.  I have been worrying a lot and then pulling myself back to the present every time I think about things I’m scared of unless there’s an action I genuinely need to take.  It’s a process and a practice, and I think it’s worth doing.

Could things go all to hell?  Yes.  Absolutely.  I won’t face it any better from being tied up in knots about it. In fact, it would be kind of a shame to waste the days of safety and comfort I am actually experiencing.

If you want a tool that’s a good practice for this sort of focus, you could check out my free Minimalist Bullet Journal Course.  It’s practical and hands-on, requiring no skills or equipment but some paper and the ability to read and write.  For all that I’m high tech, this low tech solution focuses your mind wonderfully on the present.

Are Standards Stuffy?

A Tiger? In Africa? The Meaning of Life - John, Michael and Eric Monty Python, You Make Me Happy, Meaning Of Life, Meant To Be, Take That, Africa, Movies, Cinema, Type

Raise your hand if you thought Ma was uptight for keeping to a cleaning schedule in The Long Winter.

I was thinking about that this morning as I forced myself out of bed, even though I have no appointments. I got up, did my usual Saturday stuff, made coffee and breakfast for Peter and I, then sat down with my Bullet Journal and thought about how to lay out a schedule for next week.

As I was doing it, I thought about another novel of Hard Times set in the Victorian era. A favorite book of mine as a teenager was Zemindar. It’s about the Indian Rebellion of 1857 where the main character (who narrates the story) is snarking one of her Sisters in Suffering because the good lady is trying to keep to the same timetable she did while at her station rather than sheltered at a compound in Lucknow.

At the time I first read that, I was fifteen and I cheered for the main character for not being so hidebound and stuck in propriety.

It ain’t about propriety. It’s about living while surviving. That’s quite a trick, really. Survival mode can and does take all of one’s energy sometimes, and that’s real. But deciding who and what you are in the face of bad times?

That’s living.

The little ceremony of tea in a shelter, the dressing for dinner at war — they seem such weird things when you take them out of context. They seem as if you’re clinging to a fantasy and ignoring reality. It’s not that they’re “necessary” to survival. Of course, they’re not.

But thinking about who you are and who you want to be? That’s more crucial than ever. You can’t control what goes on around you all that much, but you have some control over what you do with it.

In many ways, I am very, very Victorian.