Tag Archives: random

Our Dogs

We have a 6 1/2 year-old Goldendoodle named Honey and a 15 year-old Chihuahua named Sassy.

Goldendoodles are a mix of two of the four smartest breeds (poodle and golden retriever). While mischievous, Honey is a terrific dog and brings a lot of fun to our family.

Sassy is slowing down with age but we have come to really like Chihuahuas too. They are not good with the snow but are intelligent and friendly.

Dopamine is the Center of the Universe

After reading a bit about dopamine I’ve come to realize that almost all human behavior (and that of mammals in general) can be understood as the biological drive for dopamine. Nature created the ultimate reward system by allowing us to naturally create a brain chemical that makes us happy, but only will trigger its release if we do ‘good’ according to the rules of nature.

When you eat, you get dopamine. When you exercise, you get dopamine. Sugar surges it to very high levels. So depressed people go for sugar for a reason.

Money doesn’t buy you happiness. But it could buy you a steady stream of dopamine sources. But more dopamine means that the threshold for dopamine happiness rises so people need ever more dopamine stimulation to be happy.

Most people know of ritalin. But what does it actually do that helps people with ADHD? It raises dopamine levels so people aren’t actively seeking dopamine sources while trying to ‘concentrate’. Seriously.

People get addicted to sources of dopamine and so will most any animal.

Compliments give us dopamine too. But don’t harm us the way sugar can by loading us up with excess carbohydrates or requiring pharmaceuticals. So bring on those compliments and kind words.

Covid Craziness

A couple years ago we were going through the height of the Covid madness. Now at last, (with a degree of hesitation) I’m hoping we’ve gotten to a point where we can start having open conversations about the disease and the societal the response to it, and all that we’ve endured individually along the way, without fear of reprisal on so many levels.

I think our entire country and the larger world have been damaged psychologically by the covid pandemic. Less so from the disease itself than from the emotional response that anyone wanting to discuss the topic engendered. Why was it so impossible to even be allowed to discuss a disease without a massive outpouring of emotionally charged vitriol, eventually leading to censorship online, social castigation and the loss of friendships?

I created this blog largely to share a lot of what I enjoy and to share ideas and my hobbies. I used to have fairly intellectual discussions with people on a number of topics on online and in person, but I found that once Covid hit and the 2020 election season got underway, society was just not going to allow for the free exchange of ideas in an objective manner.

When the Covid pandemic began we were reasonably cautious as a family. My work went fully remote after previously requiring daily in-office attendance (and productivity actually increased as well as job satisfaction). I kept a watchful eye on the Johns Hopkins site for info on cases locally, nationally and worldwide. As Covid began to emerge in even our town and there were local hospitalizations and the first few deaths, we settled in for a stay-at-home life mixing our employment with home schooling.

It didn’t take the average person very long to see that the data for severe illness was skewing heavily toward the most elderly with comorbidities and that children were largely avoiding the illness completing. A large percentage of the population was completely asymptomatic. Containing the disease was simply impossible as it had already spread quickly to every corner of the earth and would, even if momentarily eradicated in one location, return swiftly once all control measures were lifted.

By the summer of 2020 our family had decided that the negative effects of isolation with its negligible health benefits was completely outweighed by the need to go out and be active. We took some roadtrips to places where restrictions were lifted and visited with friends and family.

We were young, healthy, and made decisions that were right for us. If we were older and our health was more fragile, we would have handled things differently. We knew lots of people that remained locked away in self-enforced isolation and a child friend of my youngest son was kept essentially isolated in his home for over a year while all throughout our neighborhood kids played together. We felt terrible for that kid, whose family later moved away.

What nobody could do was discuss any of it online or even in the workplace. Or in public beyond personal chit-chat. If you were courageous enough to say you were not concerned with wearing a mask and doubted the science behind it online (it is now pretty well established that it made no difference other than to serve as a virtue signaling device), you risked personal attack and banishment.

If you questioned the narrative of the origin of Covid from bats or pangolins in the wild, the results were even worse. And while we had ZERO interest in pharmaceuticals that were touted as possible preventatives, we saw and experienced societal rage at its height delivered to those who tried to mention any that were actively in use in other countries.

Add to that our kids really needed to get back to school. My wife and I tried to help our kids with remote schooling but if we got an hour of actual schoolwork out of them it was a victory. About half the kids in our kid’s schools simply never logged on and effectively got 3 extra months of summer vacation.

When school resumed in the fall it came with all kinds of silly rules to stop the spread of a disease that wasn’t going to be controlled and which everyone knew was largely of no consequence to children or their mostly young and healthy teachers. We all went along with it though, knowing the alternative was simply no education at all.

The loss of education that so many kids suffered through this ordeal is something we’ll never quite be able to rectify. I questioned online how kids with parents that couldn’t stay home and didn’t have reliable internet were going to be able to keep up, and we know that our school district was actually one of the first to force a return to the classroom while many stayed remote for years. Those questions were met with emotional rage rather than concern for the kids.

In the media and on social networks to question anything was grounds for being abused and banned. You couldn’t ask if it made sense to close every store in a town except the Walmart and to force everyone to use the same entrance. Did that actually encourage or discourage the spread? Did it matter? You couldn’t doubt anything or discuss anything and the world had created two cults of believers and deniers.

For the Covidians the disease was almost a religion of ‘health’ practices and virtue signaling. For the deniers the disease was the source of government control. For people like us, it was a real disease that I actually got twice but one that we had to just live with. We couldn’t and shouldn’t sustain all of these measures that weren’t working and that were having more negative consequences for society than the disease itself.

In 2021 I got vaccinated twice and six months later I got covid. I felt ill with fevers and lost my sense of smell. About 8 months later I got it again and had only a minor sore throat. Those are just factual statements from my life experience. Would you believe that my posting of those factual statements led to me being warned on a social network about spreading vaccine disinformation? At that point I decided that I was done and I know a lot of people came to that conclusion as well.

Anyway, this long post should not in the least cause anyone to have an emotional response. It’s life history and a look back at the era that we all endured. One that I hope we can all look back on and really discuss without all the emotion.