I’d Choose the Future

Many years ago, I saw a comment on The Archdruid Report from a teacher at an upscale private school. They’d done a class exercise where students had to answer which time period they’d want to go to if possible and why. The most popular answer was that they wanted to live in the 1960s. The teacher then pointed out they didn’t have to go to the past, they could also choose to go to the future. None of the students wanted that. These were upper-middle class students in the United States, and even they didn’t believe they had a future better than the 1960s to look forward to.

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A Test of Sincerity

Over the past year, I figured out a test for sincerity in words: does it sound original?

Let me explain.

It’s easy to repeat things I’ve read or heard many times. It requires less effort, and it’s also safer. If someone else said something, and nothing bad happened, then the risk is low if I say it too.

This is copy and pasting other people’s thoughts. It’s so easy it doesn’t require me to think through things as thoroughly. I might end up copying someone else’s thoughts, which don’t reflect my most sincere sentiments.

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11th Anniversary Post

Years before I started this blog, I fantasized about blogging.

I read various blogs voraciously starting in 2008. (Though my choice of blogs changes over time, I still read a ton, it wouldn’t surprise me if I spent on average over an hour a day reading blogs over the past decade).

How could I not imagine becoming a blogger?

In my daydreams, I could be as successful as I wanted. Oddly, my daydreams didn’t involve me making money as a blogger. They didn’t even involve me becoming famous, exactly. No, I daydreamed about writing mindblowing blog posts. Sure, I fantasized about receiving praise, but the focus of my fantasy was not the reactions of others, but the quality of the posts themselves.

In late 2011 and the first days of 2012, I thought a lot about becoming a blogger. So, I took the plunge.

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Heart Metaphors Hit Different Now

Heart-based metaphors are everywhere in our language. Perhaps in all human languages (if you know of a human language where heart-related metaphors are uncommon, please let me know). Culture, combined with a lifetime of good heart health, trained me to think of this all as a flowery way of talking.

Then, my heart health scare (pericarditis) happened.

I noticed it first with pop song lyrics. Singing about heart attacks, breathlessness, how your heart hurts, when you supposedly are singing about romance… well, it weirded me out when while I was reckoning with what a heart attack would mean. This is despite never having a heart attack or shortness of breath.

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I Shouldn’t Have Heart Disease. Why Me?

Before the weirdness in my chest began, it never occurred to me that I could have heart disease. Sure, in the vague future perhaps, but not anytime soon. I’m physically active, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, I don’t eat animal fats, I’m a woman under the age of 40.

(I eat a lot of coconut fat and, until recently, plenty of sodium too, but I have reformed my sodium-eating ways, and I’m not sure coconut fat is a problem, I’m a good girl now).

My chest sensations made me seek more information, which led me to the books The Exquisite Machine by Sian Harding and State of the Heart by Haider Warraich.

Both books confirm that heart disease can happen to anyone with a heart.

Yes, I’m at ‘lower risk’ than many other people. It’s just that—lower risk. Not zero risk.

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If I Don’t Have Heart Damage, Why Does My Left Chest Ache?

This week, I got a troponin test.

Troponins are a type of protein only heart cells make. When heart cells die, they leak troponins into the blood, where they persist until kidneys remove them.

Every living heart loses at least a few cells per day, so there’s always at least a trace of troponins in the blood. Only three things can cause troponin levels in the blood to rise: a) running a marathon or an equivalent feat of physical effort (there is so much going on in the muscles that the kidneys temporarily can’t clear troponins, this isn’t a problem) b) something wrong in the kidneys (rare, but it can happen), or c) a ton of heart cells have died.

Mass heart cell death is by far the most common cause of a ‘positive’ troponin test (i.e. higher than normal levels of troponin). Heart attacks always cause troponin levels in the blood to shoot up. Myocarditis also always causes troponin levels to go up. Most heart diseases cause troponin levels to go up. It is the best biomarker to determine whether something is wrong with the heart.

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Sliding Into Low-Sodium Life (and Why Many People Don’t)

I switched to a low-sodium diet smoothly, but only because of my advantages. For most people, it’s much harder. Which means fewer people do it. Which means some people who’d otherwise live, die.

Higher sodium leads to higher blood pressure, lower sodium leads to lower blood pressure. People whose blood pressure is too low benefit from consuming more salt, but in the United States in the early 21st century, high blood pressure is more common. Way more common.

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The ‘Virtue’ of Avoiding Exercise

Due to the problem in my left chest I described last week, I’m avoiding unnecessary physical activity.

Well, not quite. I’m ‘cheating’ a little with physical activity, which isn’t strictly necessary.

(I’m lucky that I don’t depend on physical labor to pay my bills.)

I live in a culture in which ‘exercise’ is a ‘virtue’ as long as it’s not for low-prestige jobs. (Meanwhile, the physical work, for example, people who pick crops on farms, is devalued, though we eat the literal fruits of their labor). People reinforce the message that getting more exercise is virtuous, whereas not exercising is a weakness we often fall into due to our relatable flaws. We conflate health with morality, and getting more exercise is ‘healthy.’

It’s weird to be in a situation where avoiding exercise is what’s best for my physical health. That slipping in some exercise just for pleasure feels like ‘cheating.’

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I’m Pissed at the Medical System for Not Taking Covid Safety Seriously

A few weeks ago, I started having an odd sensation in my left chest, around my heart. It’s so mild the word ‘pain’ seems like overkill. I dismissed as just something weird at first, but I kept noticing it. Mild as it is, it’s not how my chest is supposed to feel.

What pushed me to act was remembering what happened to my uncle. When he felt something weird in his chest, he considered not doing anything about it, but he went to an urgent care clinic just in case. That choice saved his life.

I dug myself out of denial and did some reading on the internet. Based on my symptoms and my body, myocarditis seems like the most likely diagnosis. If this is myocarditis, odds are it will go away without treatment. There’s a tiny chance it will kill me.

I talked to a doctor. Upon hearing a description of my symptoms, he said, “you should go to a cardiologist.” He was the first to bring up the word ‘myocarditis’ in that conversation, not me, which confirms that it’s a likely diagnosis. He thinks that whatever I have is probably nothing and will resolve itself, but I should go to a cardiologist for peace of mind—and perhaps it’s not ‘nothing.’

Going to a cardiologist for a physical exam is a good idea, I agree.

Ah, but here’s the rub: viral infections are the most common cause of myocarditis. Including Covid-19.

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Let’s Talk About Nxde

What I miss most about the hot springs of Japan and Taiwan was the social permission to be nude in semi-public without turning it into a major affair.

Some spas in San Francisco have public baths which allow nudity, but they are more expensive, and it’s dressed up as a special treat, rather than someone you can do as casually as visiting a restaurant. Spas are supposed to help you relax, and in a way they do, but… I felt I could let myself go a bit more at hot springs in East Asia.

I’ve also been to a hot spring in California which permits nudity. I only exposed my legs. For some reason, in that culture, I felt less comfortable exposing myself. It wasn’t that there were men there—I’ve been to mixed-gender hot springs in Japan and gone nude. Shared etiquette and staff govern Japanese onsen. That California wild hot spring had no staff, and I didn’t know what the locals’ established rules were.

Sometimes, in my dreams, I go walking in the street half-nude and don’t realize it until I’m far from home. What do those dreams mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

I need to know that others around me will accept my nudity and that we all share rules which protect us all. When I feel that safe, it’s freeing to not need clothes around other people.

That brings us to (G)I-DLE’s new song, “Nxde.”

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