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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We Live Through Dark Times, Until We Die

I recommend reading this entire thread by Alisa Lynn Lynn Valdés about SARS2 on Twitter.

These are the two tweets I’m replying to:

This reminds me of Marla Rose’s essay “On Accountability, Reckoning with Indifference and Using Shame as a Tactic.” Since that’s behind a paywall, I’ll summarize the main point: the mass indifference to the covid pandemic doesn’t surprise vegans because we’re used to mass indifference. To quote Marla Rose:

Vegans could have predicted that there would be some people who wouldn’t care about containing this virus. Why? Because we have been trying to get people to give a shit about other species and our planet for years and we have been largely mocked, ignored and dismissed.

We have shown the public the statistics on the direct links from animal agribusiness to irrevocable climate change, massive water waste and pollution, clearcutting the rainforests and more and we have been told “It’s my personal choice to eat meat” as if one’s fleeting dietary choice is the greater good against the crushing weight of all that irreversible harm.

I’ve been vegan since 2008, so I have a lot of experience with discussing these matters with evidence and logic while the non-vegans resort to bad, illogical arguments because they simply don’t care. I have experience of living among people with moral principles different from mine. So far, I have lived through that.

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What Sending Fanmail Taught Me

One of my ‘pandemic’ hobbies is sending fanmail (both emails and physical letters).

In sending fanmail, there’s the question, ‘will they read this?’ Some people say, ‘I’d send them a fan letter if I knew they’d read it, but I don’t know if they would.’ I understand this. Nobody likes the idea of putting effort into a letter which the recipient will never see.

I once sent a fan letter and received no reply for half a year. I wondered, did she read it? Did she read it and hate it? Later, I sent a much shorter letter congratulating her on her new project. She replied, and said that she loved my first letter, and had even written a draft of a response, but she hadn’t sent it.

Some celebrities say they read all fan mail, but because of the limits on their time, they sadly can’t reply.

Before I started this hobby, I expected that less famous people would reply more often and more quickly than more famous people. That’s… not the case.

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Do young people fear asking their romantic interests out?

I observed an online chat session where people were exchanging dating advice. What struck me was how many of the people (mostly in their early 20s) seemed to not know how to ask people on romantic dates. Other people gave advice like “you got to put yourself out there, otherwise nothing happens.”

The closest thing I have to experience with romantic dating is guys asking me out. I always said ‘no.’ I have nothing against any of them, I just never wanted a boyfriend.

Intellectually, I understand that asking someone to romantically date you is hard because it feels so important and personal. Emotionally, it doesn’t feel like it should be hard. That I put such low stakes to this is a sign of how aromantic I am.

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Stonewalling Good Air

When I was in high school, my mother joined a group to improve the ventilation on the top floor. That’s where the art classrooms were—they used materials which put out toxic fumes.

This wasn’t for my benefit. I had no classes on that floor.

What most disturbed my mother was that one art teacher was pregnant. After studying the chemicals building up in that air, she believed no pregnant person should work there.

They put together a plan for upgrading the ventilation on that floor. The school district—whose approval was necessary—ignored them. No justification, not even ‘that’s too expensive.’ They refused to acknowledge the problem.

Could they have moved the art classes outside? There was a roofed outdoor area where classes could be held even in rain (a few dance classes were held there). But the wind would’ve blown stuff around.

The ventilation in the entire building was bad, I’m sure. No windows would open, and the school district controlled the vents remotely from a location in a different neighborhood. Just to change the thermostat, teachers had to petition the school district. No, there was one—only one—classroom which had local control. The teachers marveled that they could choose the temperature there.

I wouldn’t trust the school district administrators to keep the vents clean.

Studies show that high carbon dioxide levels impair student learning.

Once in a while, I fell asleep during class. Maybe the classes bored me but… I wonder.

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This Old-School Blog Is Still a Beacon for My Weirdos

Cory Doctorow says in “So You’ve Decided to Unfollow Me”:

“…Instead of trying to figure out what some “demographic” wanted to read about, we wrote what we wanted to read, and then waited for people who share our interests to show up and read and comment and write their own blogs and newsletters and whatnot… In the golden years of internet publishing, the point was to find the weirdos who liked the same stuff as you. Freed from commercial imperatives, the focus of the blogosphere was primarily on using your work as a beacon to locate Your People, who were so diffuse and disorganized that there was no other way to find them.”

This blog started in 2012. That was the twilight of “the golden years of internet publishing.”

I keep that ethos. This blog makes friends, not money.

Doctorow says that dream is dead. Me? I don’t think so.

The blogosphere doesn’t socialize like it did a decade ago, but newcomers still pop in here. Most leave, once in a while someone stays. Maybe I’m too set in my ways to notice the withering of the blogosphere, but if so, other dreamers wander with me.

I’ve avoided the social media platforms which ‘curate’ what I see through algorithms (except Medium, in moderation, ironically that’s where I read Doctorow’s essay). I still follow some old-fashioned link blogs which curate the internet by hand.

My weirdos are welcome here, always. If someone doesn’t like this blog, they are welcome to bounce.

I don’t depend on this blog for financial support. If I did, I’d have to chase subscribers or readers who can draw advertising money, or use this blog to sell products. My freedom to do the heck I want with this blog rests on not commercializing it.

As long as some people keep non-commercial blogs running, these beacons will shine to draw our tribes.

If more people become interested, the choose-your-tribe blogosphere will rise again. If not, that’s cool too—as Doctorow says, we’re fine with unfollows. As long as the basic systems needed for old-school blogging exist, old-school bloggers will stick around. We don’t need to be commercially viable.

Have My Civic Ideals Faded?

Now I’m reading Boundless by Jack Campbell. It’s a military science-fiction novel. The story begins in a multi-planet democracy which verges on collapse. Some characters—reasonably—believe their democracy is doomed.

Why? A faction diverted military resources to building a secret fleet of AI-controlled spaceships which only they control to ensure nobody else—including a majority of elected representatives—can take power away from them. Most of these AI-controlled spaceships were destroyed in the previous book, but a few still exist, and the people who built them still haven’t been held accountable (yet, I haven’t finished the book).

Many characters fear that the admiral who defeated the rogue AI spaceship fleet is so popular he can—and will—install himself as a dictator. Heck, some characters want that to happen.

On top of all that, they’ve contacted several alien species. The alien species are interested in humans, yet their goals are unclear. This is rocket fuel for conspiracy theories—which already motivated two assassination attempts.

This democracy is in trouble. And yet… most of the senators give a damn what their voters think. They care enough that they will piss off other senators to meet their voters’ demands.

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