This goes a bit deep into burnt out noodles territory. For those of you who need it, a content warning about the state of my mental health.
So, I poisoned my mind last night, reading stuff on Twitter about how a county out here in Oregon has mandatory mask wearing, except if you’re a person of color.
There are a lot of folks with their bits in various types of twists over this, but I may as well chime in as someone who is physically a county or so over from this place with a bit of mind meal.
Hi again. As I’ve mentioned a few times, I am a person of color, if we must use a category. For this conversation, we’ll use the category, because it’s an integral component to understanding this.
For folks like myself, masks cause a level of worry: depending on the material, the color, the pattern, the way we wear it, among a number of myriad elements and uncontrollable provocation steps outside of our immediate sphere of influence, a mask can represent a clear and present danger.
As example, I would NEVER wear a bandana tied over my face, no matter how much you attempted to convince me. Why? I fear the folks who would immediately jump to the conclusion that I am about to commit
some any type of crime. It’s more likely that someone would just start off being verbally hostile. I also fear the types of folks who attack first, question eventually in situations like this, because that’s instant escalation.
I’m more likely to just stay home, to hopefully minimize my potential exposure to things like this, because it is, relatively speaking, the safer choice. It’s no absolute guarantee of safety, and I only have to Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor, to illustrate one recent event that can explain the fear.
But, I do have to leave the house now and again. I need groceries, medicines, and the occasional check-in with work so they know I’m still breathing, hungering, and keep me on the payroll.
When I leave the house, as such, I wear a face mask that clearly looks like a face mask, but isn’t just a solid, plain color. I have a series of masks that are either whimsical in nature, such as a large set of teeth with a piece of spinach stuck in them or a blushing cat face mask, or have a distinct appearance, like my grumpy bear mask, or are very graphical in their designs, such as an exit sign mask based on a sign from Tiny Speck’s Glitch.
All of these masks elicit positive responses from folks around me, which is a desired trait in a mask, though it may seem strange. If people are positively interacting with me, talking with me for a minute or two, complimenting my mask… I have a perception of lowered localized threat. People, while they can’t see my resting bitch face, are suitably disarmed because they’ve spoken with me. I’m no longer some potential burden on the system, a possible attacker bent on damage or destruction. I’m just a person sitting here, checking email and waiting to pick up my heart monitor, or waiting for the next paratransit bus home.
That said, I find Lincoln County, Oregon’s approach, removing the mandatory obligation to wear a mask sad, but understandable. While I may have found a solution that, at least for now, works for me, there are real and valid fears at play from other folks who share my skin tone range, and I cannot fault them one bit for not wanting to risk their existence for a face mask.
As before, be safe in what you do, when you do it. Wash your hands with genuine soap and water, and have a glass of water afterwards. You’re dehydrated.
Since we’ve all been asked to stay home, stay healthy, or any permutation of those words due to the current pandemiscape, I’ve been sitting here and mulling over my biggest issue.
I’ve been wanting to get a new e-bike or similar so that I can get around town easier, because I do have to occasionally go out to buy groceries or pick up prescriptions.
Since I refuse to do mail order on anything that could be considered seriously essential, like my insulin and my glucose sensors, that means I have to be able to get to places to get those. I have access to our paratransit services, but trips have to be planned in advance, and the return trip often leaves me waiting at the store for 30-45 minutes when I just want to be back home, in relative safety.
I had mulled over an e-bike or two, since the disbursement of the stimulus checks, but what I kept coming up with bothered me: I’d get either a bike that is physically smaller than what I need, or I’d pay enough to have thrown funds at a used car with car insurance and fuel costs covered for three to six months.
I had looked at things like the RadRunner 1, which, while it’s certainly a nice looking, approachable bike, worries me because I’m near their suggested upper weight limit before I start using the bike for what I want to use it for: Picking up groceries and my prescriptions. Their RadWagon, while it offered a slightly larger payload capacity, is currently sold out.
I rejected any e-bike with a 36 volt battery system, because I’ve already had 36 volts. It gets you started in the world of electric bicycles, but you can quickly tell that the bulk of the bikes have anemic drivetrains and no real energy to help you in the spots that you could use it the most, like needing to cycle up onto the connector bridge in my neighborhood. So this took a lot of the inexpensive bargain imports off the board, like Ancheer, Nakto, and Ecotric.
Likewise, I rejected any folding bike, because I’m large and the folding hinge is an extra weak point on a bike that I don’t need if I’m not going to fold it very often, if at all.
While mulling those over, I also started giving thought to the e-scooters that are out there, particularly the sit down models. More of those are designed to support additional weight, often up to 450 pounds (204 kilograms), and offer travel ranges between 20 and 40 miles on a single charge.
I looked at kick e-scooters as well, but just about all of them (a few brands excluded) all suffer a “Maximum Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)” limit. This makes them unsuitable for my purpose, being above that weight by a decent amount.
I found one kick scooter, though, that boasted a maximum load of 320 pounds (145 kg), which would do for mixed mode transportation to cover short runs to the closest pharmacy and back, or to the bus stop a mile away to get to one of the two nearest grocery stores.
I won’t bless or curse the company with a name here, however: I bought one of their refurbished models, and it arrived physically broken. Not cosmetic damage, as they implied on their site, but broken latch, so I couldn’t even unfold the handlebar into a usable position. I paid UPS $10 to pick it back up next day and ship it back to the company, who decided they’ll repair it, and should be sending it back to me.
So, while that was going on, I kept eyeballing some of the sit down scooters, and kept coming across these fat tire units, usually with the name CityCoco attached.
I decided that, well, hell with it, I’ll bite the bullet, and bought one from EBikeWholesaler. It arrived a couple of days ago, neatly crated and ready for me to have a go at assembly, what little of it I needed to do.
Once I rolled it out of the crate, grunting at the weight (about 130 pounds or so), and assembled the few items I needed to put on, I dropped it on the charger that it shipped with. Remarkably, it’s a charger with a fan in it, something I don’t see all that often, but a nice touch nonetheless.
Yesterday, I took it out for a ride.
Since I have been furloughed, I went to check in with my employer, a mile away. The scooter is FAST. It took maybe five minutes to get over to work, of which the hardest part was a right turn that’s really tight on something with a not too sharp turning radius. I’ll likely take one of my alternate routes to work, now that I’ve tried it.
From there, I headed back to go to the pharmacy, since I had a pickup to do and they wouldn’t be able to deliver until Monday otherwise, and then up to Macca’s for a whip through the drive-thru and collected a breakfast before coming back home. All of this was done inside an hour, and I even took my time.
Later that day, I was going to have a salad for dinner, but I had no dressing for it whatsoever. That would have meant no salad, or an hour plus bus trip for the item I forgot to order on my last delivery request via Rosie, but I hopped out onto the scooter and headed over to that store a mile away.
I got my dressing, some ready to eat chicken to add to the salad, and a few more incidentals while I was there so I wouldn’t have to make the run again for a few days, and got back home.
When I looked at the clock… only thirty minutes had elapsed.
Having had my trip times either pegged to the fixed route buses, the delays of waiting for paratransit, or walking or cycling to everything, this was mindbending in its glory.
Future me is going to have to spend a bit of time calculating how much I’ve saved in time and money on transportation, and figure out my return on investment. It’ll add up quick, I’m certain, whether I do the math based on trips on Lyft, or trip legs on paratransit, or time saved.
But for now, I’m going to enjoy not sharing a vehicle with others while going out to get groceries and meds.
These times are new and rough for many of us, not knowing exactly how to navigate our new pandemiscape.
I’m going to say first that I’m actually thankful for being furloughed from my job at this time. It IS hard to deal with, being used to working and working and working, then told nope, go home, and stay there until we pull you back in. Occasionally, yes, I need a break or vacation of sorts, but the way this is happening is beyond the mindset of folks my age.
I’m choosing to look at this in the least stressful manner possible: I’m using the time off to recuperate and mentally recharge as much as I can. On one hand, the impact to my budget is definitely present at the moment, as I am only collecting the state unemployment benefit, but I look at it from the other side: I’m also going fewer places, spending less cash overall because I want to know I have the power to pay bills as necessary. So, the smaller payments are still survivable at this time.
I had paid for a new computer prior to this furlough, thinking things would pan out in such a way that I’d be considered essential and/or vital to operations and having the time off wouldn’t happen. But then, the furlough nation attacked, and I’ve been pretty much home bound for the last two and a half weeks.
I’ve done some house cleaning, need to do a bunch more, may want to ask our landlord to up-size our waste bin for the next month so I can be rid of much more crap without dominating the garbage from everyone.
I’ve actually worked on a project of mine that I didn’t think would be one until yesterday: I have an old Chuwi Hi10 Pro tablet that had its digitizer shattered on an Amtrak train last year. At first, I thought it’d be useless, because finding a replacement digitizer for the thing was not panning out well, and additionally, getting this thing apart and a new one on would be tedious at best.
Welcome to my first blog post from the old Hi10 Pro: I didn’t replace the screen. I replaced the entire operating system stack with Lubuntu 19.10, using a keyboard dock for it, and installed NoMachine on it so I can remote in. I am considering replacing the keyboard dock with a USB Type C hub, so that I can plug in either a better wi-fi adapter, or if the hub has Ethernet, a proper Ethernet cable as the onboard wi-fi in this thing is godawful.
There’s an actual use case for me to do this: There are several things that I could easily offload to a low powered machine, like I used to do back when I still used my Wyse Winterm 9455XL. Further, I would like to see if I can get one of the Android emulators running on this remotely: I have smart lights, and occasionally want to adjust them when I don’t have my phone on me.
I’m waiting for my unemployment benefits to come in, because I really would like to mount some shelves in my bedroom. It’s my biggest annoyance: Not enough flat surfaces for items, so they stay in boxes for a ridiculously long time.
Could I buy shelves right now? Yeah, I could, but I have a mental aversion to spending on something less essential than medicine or food.
For now, though, I’m going to have to go for walks around the block so I don’t go stir crazy sitting here at home for the next month or so, and get cracking on some of these projects.
Until then, be safe, wash your hands, wear a mask in public, and don’t buy 64 damned rolls of toilet paper unless you have a real need.
Be safe out there.