Monday, July 6, 2020

Wear a Damn Mask and Socially Distance


Currently, the US has 2.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 130,000 deaths. The total number of confirmed and unconfirmed cases (which includes asymptomatic people who haven’t been tested) is estimated to be 29 million. Overall, the US is still in the first wave of infections and this wave is now cresting, with 51,000 new confirmed cases on July 1, 2020.



However, even though we have already suffered 130,000 deaths, many people (particularly young people) are not taking this pandemic seriously enough. They are basically acting as if the pandemic were over. Some are congregating at crowded bars, restaurants, beach parties, pool parties, sand-bar parties, etc. where virtually no one is wearing a mask.

These people are essentially saying, “Screw it. I’m going to do whatever I want. I’m not going to wear a mask or socially distance. If I get the coronavirus, so be it. If I give it to other people, so be it. If I or others end up getting severely sick, going to the hospital, and incurring a $30,000 hospital bill, so be it. If I or others end up dying from coronavirus, so be it. If I want to go to a very crowded bar or pool party, then I’m going to do it and SCREW everyone else.”

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WAKE THE HELL UP AND USE YOUR DAMN BRAIN

This is a very simple issue in terms of practical rationality.

Do you really want to risk getting the coronavirus and possibly spreading it to others such as your friends, parents, siblings, grandparents, and other relatives?

Do you really want to risk getting severely sick, going to the hospital, and ending up with a $30,000 hospital bill or have this happen to your friends, family members, or relatives?

Do you really want to risk your own death or that of your friends, family members, or relatives?

Young people, you are NOT invincible. If you act recklessly and if you take on way too much risk (e.g. you go to a very crowded pool party, forego wearing a mask, and hang around 100+ strangers for hours), then things may end badly or even catastrophically (e.g. you end up getting severely sick or dying from the coronavirus). If you doubt this can happen, just consider the 2007-2008 US financial crisis. Leading up to 2007, Wall Street acted very recklessly and took on way too much risk in the form of derivatives (e.g. mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, etc.), and it ultimately led to the financial crisis and Great Recession, which affected virtually everyone and everything, long-term, in the US.

Furthermore, every American must realize that this pandemic will not end until a safe, effective vaccine is released and widely administered, which may happen in Fall 2020, Winter 2020-21, or Spring 2021. Until then, the pandemic is not over. Until then, the coronavirus death count will keep increasing, from 130,000 deaths to 140,000, 150,000, and so on.

Thus, on a daily basis, every American needs to ask himself or herself the following questions:

  • “How high do I want the coronavirus death count to be?”
  • “Do I want it to hit 200,000 or 250,000 or 300,000 or 400,000 or even higher?”
  • “Do I really want the death count to start approaching the number of US military deaths in World War II (405,000), when we were engaged in a highly destructive, apocalyptic world war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan?”
  • “Should I really refuse to wear a mask and socially distance if this means directly or indirectly contributing to the X number of deaths in this pandemic? Am I really willing to be that selfish, irrational, and short-sighted?”
People, if you want to minimize the number of additional coronavirus deaths, if you want to limit the deaths to fewer than 200,000, then you must (among other things) WEAR A DAMN MASK AND SOCIALLY DISTANCE.

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1. WEAR A DAMN MASK

With few exceptions, EVERYONE should wear a cloth/disposable/medical/N95 mask when they leave their home. If you’re going outside for a walk or hike, wear a mask. If you’re going to hang out at the local park, wear a mask. If you’re going to the grocery store, drug store, liquor store, bank, ATM, Target, etc., wear a mask. If you’re driving to the gas station to get gas, wear a mask at the gas station. If you’re riding public transportation, wear a mask. If you’re taking an Uber or Lyft, wear a mask. If you’re going to eat at a restaurant (whether outdoors or indoors), wear a mask when you’re not eating or drinking anything.

But there are some possible exceptions to this rule.

  • If you have serious issues breathing when wearing a mask, then forego the mask but stay at least six feet away from others. But if you find wearing a mask merely uncomfortable, then that is not a serious breathing issue and you should wear a mask. You can wear a cloth, disposable, or medical mask instead of an N95, which is more restrictive in terms of breathing.
  • If you are intensely running or biking outside such that you are breathing hard, then forego the mask but stay at least six feet away from others. If you are running or biking at a moderate or slow pace and if you can handle wearing a mask, then wear one.
Now, some of you may hate wearing a mask and refuse to wear one when in public (e.g. when entering a store). In that case, you should ask yourself, “Do I really want the coronavirus death count to hit 200,000 or 250,000 or 300,000 or 400,000 or even higher?” Because you are directly or indirectly contributing to that death count when you refuse to wear a mask in public.

Here is further perspective from an Arizona ER doctor:

“I get angry when I see people refuse to wear a mask or physically distance from others or stay home when they could because it is inconvenient—or as a political statement. If you do not wear a mask and physically distance, you are putting yourself and others in harm’s way. You are putting us in harm’s way. Then you will expect us to risk our lives to save you. And it’s not just we whom you ask to risk our lives, but our families as well. What you are saying to people like me and my team is, ‘Your life and the lives of your loved ones do not matter to us; you are disposable.’” [link]

So wear a damn mask. Here is a similar argument.

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2. SOCIALLY DISTANCE

When you are in public (whether indoors or outdoors), you should maintain at least six feet of distance from others. To further minimize risk, you could even maintain at least ten feet of distance from others.

This rule means DO NOT go to a crowded bar, restaurant, beach party, pool party, sand-bar party, etc. where it is impossible to maintain a distance of at least six feet, especially if hardly anyone is wearing a mask.

If you do go to such a crowded bar, restaurant, beach party, etc., then you are not socially distancing and you are running the risk of getting coronavirus.

Now, in this article, I am emphasizing wearing a mask and social distancing. But these are not the only guidelines to follow in order to avoid getting the coronavirus. See the other precautions listed in my previous post “How to Deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic” and see the CDC guidelines.

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In conclusion, the coronavirus pandemic marches on. This pandemic will not end until a safe, effective vaccine is released and widely administered. In order to survive and replicate, the coronavirus seeks to spread itself to as many people as possible. In particular, the coronavirus does not care if you have “coronavirus fatigue” or “lockdown fatigue.” It does not care if you are tired of being at home. It does not care if you have psychic numbing or emotional numbing due to the pandemic and the 130,000 coronavirus deaths. It does not care if you want things to return fully to normal. It does not care if you want the economy to re-open fully. It does not care whether you are a liberal, conservative, centrist, libertarian, socialist, or fascist. It does not care whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. It does not care whether you live in the North, South, Midwest, or West. It does not care if you are depressed, anxious, or lonely. It does not care if you are extremely horny and desperate to party, hook up, or date. The coronavirus DOES NOT care whatsoever about any of this. It is ruthless and extremely contagious. In order to protect yourself and others and minimize the death toll, WEAR A DAMN MASK AND SOCIALLY DISTANCE.

Once this pandemic has fully ended due to a widely administered vaccine, then we can start to repair the widespread physical, mental, and emotional damage that it has inflicted upon us. In certain respects, it will be like re-building Europe after World War II.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dunkirk


In light of the global coronavirus pandemic, I recommend watching Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017), which portrays the evacuation of over 330,000 British and French Allied troops from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, in 1940 during World War II.

Overall, before the evacuation, the Germans kicked the crap out of the British, French, and Belgian troops; it was “a colossal military disaster” for the British. But fortunately, over 330,000 Allied troops evacuated from Dunkirk, lived to fight another day, and ultimately prevailed against the Nazis in World War II.

In life, sometimes you get your ass kicked. Sometimes you get absolutely hammered and crushed. Sometimes you suffer a colossal defeat or disaster.

Currently, the US is getting hammered and crushed by the coronavirus. Currently, we are experiencing a colossal defeat or disaster: over 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases; over 90,000 deaths; a severe economic recession; and an extremely incompetent, deranged, nihilistic president who takes responsibility for nothing.

But we shall overcome. We will get through this. We will live to fight another day.

The sky is always darkest before dawn.

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SPOILER: Here is the film’s ending, and here is the relevant text from Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech:

Nevertheless, our thankfulness at the escape of our Army and so many men, whose loved ones have passed through an agonizing week, must not blind us to the fact that what has happened in France and Belgium is a colossal military disaster

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government—every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.


Saturday, May 2, 2020

Hypothetical Scenario - The Dark Knight Rises


Given the global coronavirus pandemic, I am posting an additional hypothetical scenario from the NO-MIND FITNESS Self-Mastery Guide. (Here are other hypothetical scenarios.) This scenario comes from the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises. You can watch the relevant scenes here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Overall, these scenes superbly portray mental toughness. Rise.

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You are Batman (Bruce Wayne) in the film The Dark Knight Rises. You confront and fight Bane. (‘Bane’ literally means something that causes death, destruction, or ruin.) He ends up kicking your ass, crushing you, and breaking your lower back.

He leaves you in an underground prison (Hell on Earth) somewhere in Asia. He leaves you in a prison cell with a television playing the news, so that you can watch the fall of Gotham City. Having already broken your back, he now wants to break your spirit and then have you rot and die.

You essentially have two options.

Option 1: Quit. Feel sorry for yourself. Fold under pressure and emotional duress. Surrender to the circumstances. Lie helplessly in bed with a broken lower back and watch Gotham City fall.

Option 2: Rise. Fight. Refuse to surrender.

Let the prison doctor fix your lower back. In your prison cell, rehabilitate yourself by doing progressively harder bodyweight workouts: push-ups, pull-ups, air squats, burpees, sit-ups, back extensions, etc.

Once you have rehabilitated yourself, climb out of the underground prison to the land above. Ascend the cylindrical wall. If you fall several times, so be it. Get right back up and plan your next attempt. Eventually, you will succeed.

Once you have escaped from the prison, return to Gotham City and defend it. Stop and terminate Bane.

If you choose the second option, if you choose to fight and never surrender, then you are acting from a place of inner strength: mental toughness and an elite positive attitude.

Your attitude is your ultimate weapon.

With an elite positive attitude, you will not fail but succeed. You will not die or merely survive, but thrive.

“In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.” -- Navy SEAL Creed

“I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity… If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.” -- Navy SEAL Creed


Last revised 5/17/2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

How to Deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic


PERSPECTIVE

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rocking the world. Many countries and almost all US states have lockdowns or “shelter in place” orders. In Illinois, we have a “stay at home” order through the end of May. In Chicago, the Lakefront Trail and all adjacent parks (e.g. Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Lake Shore Park), beaches, and paths are closed. Nationally, the US has over 900,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 53,000 deaths (a 5.7% death rate). Overall, this nation is facing serious adversity in many respects.

However, it is important to maintain perspective: the situation could always be worse. In particular, we are not engaging in direct, violent combat against a hostile, human force. We are not storming Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, as Nazis are mowing us down with machine guns. We are not defending the pass of Thermopylae, Greece, and fighting until the death against millions of Persians invading our homeland. We are not conducting special operations combat missions. Unlike Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor, we do not have many Taliban fighters hunting us down on an Afghanistan mountain after they have killed the rest of our teammates.

Instead, we are dealing with a global pandemic that involves a highly contagious virus that, in the US, has a roughly 6% death rate. However, again, the situation could be much worse. This is not the bubonic plague, which has a death rate of 30-90% without treatment and a death rate of 10% with treatment. This is not the Black Death (a.k.a. the Great Bubonic Plague) from the mid-1300s CE, which killed 75-200 million in Eurasia and 30-60% of Europe’s population. This is not the Ebola virus disease, which has an average death rate of 50%. So, yes, we should take the coronavirus very seriously, practice social distancing, quarantine at home, etc. but we should not think that this pandemic will play out like the Black Death and wipe out one-half or one-quarter of the US population. In particular, we should not live in a constant, heightened state of fear, terror, and anxiety, although we should follow all the necessary precautions.


PRECAUTIONS AGAINST THE CORONOVIRUS

In order to protect yourself from the coronavirus, follow these guidelines, which conform to the CDC guidelines:

• Stay at home as much as possible. Avoid going outside unless you’re shopping for groceries, picking up prescriptions or supplies, going for a walk or run, walking your pet, etc.

• When you go outside, practice social distancing. Stay at least six feet away from other people. It’s okay to maintain a distance of 10 feet or more. Avoid crowds.

• When you go outside, wear a cloth, surgical, or N95 face mask. This will help you protect yourself from others in case they have COVID-19 (asymptomatically or symptomatically), and it will help protect others from yourself in case you have COVID-19 (asymptomatically or symptomatically). In addition, wearing a mask will help prevent you from touching your face.

• When you go outside, NEVER, EVER touch your face. According to this New York City ICU doctor who treats COVID-19 patients all day, people get the virus predominantly when they touch a contaminated surface (e.g. elevator buttons or public door handles), get the virus on their hands, and then touch their face. The virus then enters through their eyes, nose, or mouth and infects them.

• In general, whether inside or outside, constantly watch your hands. Be a hand Nazi. Avoid touching your face.

• After you have touched any public surface (e.g. elevator buttons or door handles), wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer.

• After you have touched any public surface, DO NOT touch your face whatsoever until you have washed or sanitized your hands.

• Whenever you leave your home (e.g. to shop for groceries, walk your pet, take out the garbage, pick up a package delivered outside), immediately wash your hands upon returning.

• Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray to clean high-touch surfaces (e.g. light switches, door handles, faucet handles, refrigerator handles, microwave handles, oven handles, dishwasher handles, counters, smartphones, tablets, etc.) daily or 2-3 times weekly. You should do it daily if you’re symptomatic or otherwise sick.

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow crook or a tissue, which you should then throw away.

• If you have any coronavirus symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of smell), see the CDC guidelines.


So diligently follow these guidelines, hunker down, and be EXTREMELY patient with respect to this pandemic. The coronavirus is very patient, much more patient than we humans tend to be. In response, we need to be EXTREMELY patient, diligent, and thorough in terms of social distancing, wearing masks in public, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into our elbow crooks, not touching our faces, quarantining ourselves when appropriate, and so on. Overall, this pandemic is a marathon or ultra-marathon, not a sprint. And we need to take it one step, one quarter-mile, one mile, one evolution, one training session, one day at a time.

In order to pace ourselves through this marathon, we need things to do during this pandemic.


THINGS YOU CAN DO DURING THE PANDEMIC

1. Meditate once or twice daily for 10-20 minutes. If you have never meditated, start now: do 10 minutes once daily. Daily meditation will not only help relieve stress and anxiety (which are currently surging due to the pandemic) but also increase your focus, discipline, awareness, presence, and mindfulness. Here are zazen instructions.


2. Exercise 4-6 days per week. Exercise is critical for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Exercise should consist of (1) resistance workouts and (2) cardio.

  • Do resistance workouts at home 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days
    • If you have adjustable dumbbells (DBs), do DB resistance workouts: DB bench press, DB press, DB push press, DB bent-over row, DB front squat, DB lunge, DB deadlift, etc.

    • If you lack DBs or just prefer calisthenics, you can do bodyweight resistance workouts: push-ups, pull-ups/chin-ups, air squats, lunges, sit-ups, crunches, planks, burpees, etc. If you have an adjustable weighted vest and can handle it, do bodyweight resistance workouts with the weighted vest. But do not start too heavy with the weighted vest. Start with roughly 10% of your bodyweight (e.g. 10% of 200lb is 20lb). You can increase the weight on the vest gradually and progressively over time.

    • If you would like me to program DB or bodyweight workouts customized for you, sign up for monthly programming. Or you can purchase the NO-MIND FITNESS Bodyweight Training Plan or the Novice Bodyweight Training Plan.

  • Do cardio 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days. Here are some cardio options:
    • Run outside
    • Walk or hike outside (without weight)
    • Ruck outside (i.e. hike with a rucksack or weighted vest)
    • Jump-rope indoors
    • Do jumping jacks indoors
    • Do martial arts shadow-boxing indoors. This does not require gloves, a punching bag, sparring partner, etc. But ease into it the first few times you do it.

3. DO NOT watch any television news: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, local news, etc.

  • The television mainstream media are trying to spread massive fear, terror, and anxiety by means of emotional contagion. They are doing this partly because they want to maximize their ratings and advertising revenue. After all, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Or in this case: “If it is killing tens of thousands of Americans, it leads and dominates all coverage.”
  • Instead of watching television news, choose your favorite mainstream news website and spend 10-20 minutes daily reading the most important articles. You need to stay generally informed about the pandemic but do not constantly read about it. Moderation is critical.
  • However, if you insist on watching television news, watch only one mainstream news program daily for 30-60 minutes. Once the program ends, do not watch anymore. Practice moderation.

4. Read books, especially long ones (400+ pages). If you cannot handle long books, read short books (200 or fewer pages). In particular, if you want to improve your mental toughness during this pandemic, I recommend reading the following books or articles:

5. Maintain good hygiene. Do not let yourself go to crap. Shower daily. Shave as often as you usually do (e.g. daily, twice weekly, weekly). Trim your fingernails and toenails regularly. If you’re a female who really wants a manicure or pedicure, then give yourself one at home, even if it’s not as relaxing, luxurious, or pampering. Given the circumstances, just pamper yourself at home. You can even give yourself daily or weekly foot massages for free.


6. If you’re a male, you have several options regarding your hair.

  • You can grow out your hair during the pandemic lockdown and then get a haircut once barbershops and hair salons re-open. This applies to females as well.

  • Or you can give yourself a haircut. If you want the simplest haircut, give yourself a buzz-cut: use clippers (e.g. at setting 2 or 3) to uniformly shave your head. Or you can use clippers and scissors to give yourself a more difficult haircut (e.g. a side-part or faux-hawk) but watch several relevant YouTube videos beforehand so that you have some idea of what to do. Or you can just use clippers and/or scissors to trim your sideburns, the area around your ears, and your neckline.

  • If you cut your own hair, be patient and take your time. Do not worry about it looking perfect or great. The first time you cut your own hair (unless it’s a buzz-cut), it will likely look mediocre. Do not stress. Your hair will grow out. You will likely improve the next time you cut your hair, or you can just have your barber or hair stylist do it.

7. Go outside for a walk daily or once or twice weekly. This will help relieve cabin fever. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others.


8. Talk to your family and friends via phone, text, email, or video. You could also use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but I think the first four methods are far superior.


9. Listen to your favorite music albums or podcasts.


10. Watch movies or TV shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. But practice moderation. Do not just binge all day, every day.


11. Play board games, card games, or videogames. Practice moderation.


12. If you are ambitious, learn a new foreign language or review one with which you’re already familiar. For example, you can do Pimsleur audio courses or Rosetta Stone courses.


13. Start a new hobby (e.g. cooking or sewing).


14. Work on home projects (e.g. clearing out your attic, basement, garage, or closet).


15. If you’re married or cohabitating with your significant other, spend quality time together but also give each other sufficient personal space. Do not drive each other nuts. In particular, you should establish a “no fighting” rule. This pandemic is already very stressful for many households; fighting with your significant other will make matters even worse.


16. If you’re single and you do not want to date anyone during this pandemic, then that’s perfectly okay. The pandemic will not last forever. It will probably last one year at most, and you can use this time to really work on yourself and improve yourself.


17. If you’re single and you still want to date during this pandemic, then do it all online: Tinder, Bumble, Match.com, Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc. However, DO NOT meet in person until the lockdown has been phased out significantly (e.g. most businesses are open). At that point, maybe you can meet in person but ensure that your date has no coronavirus symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath). Single boys and girls, DO NOT lie about your symptoms.


18. If you can afford it, donate to charities (e.g. Feeding America, your local food charity, or GetUsPPE).


19. If you can afford it, order take-out or delivery food once every weekend or every other weekend, in order to support local restaurants that are still open.


20. If you have any elderly neighbors, ask them if they need any assistance (e.g. shopping for groceries). If you have any neighbors who get sick with COVID-19 and need assistance (e.g. with groceries), then help them but follow the necessary precautions (e.g. leave groceries outside their door while wearing a face mask; do not make any physical contact with them).


21. DO NOT hoard massively. You DO NOT need a one-year supply of toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap, etc. Instead, buy one large or bulk pack of toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, etc. that will last 2-4 months. Once that pack starts running low, buy another one. Those who are massively hoarding these essential products are extremely selfish and immoral, and they are indirectly risking harm to others who cannot purchase them.


CONCLUSION

In summary, we should take the coronavirus very seriously, follow the necessary precautions, but maintain perspective: we are not engaging in direct, violent combat with a hostile, human force, and we are not dealing with the Black Death. In particular, we should not live in a constant, heightened state of fear, terror, and anxiety. This pandemic is a marathon or ultra-marathon, not a sprint, and we need to take it one day at a time. In order to pace ourselves through this marathon, we can do many things: meditate, exercise, read books, maintain good hygiene, go outside for walks, talk to family and friends, listen to music, watch movies or TV shows, play games, start a new hobby, work on home projects, and so on. And remember: nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass.


Last revised 5/17/2020

Friday, January 31, 2020

Kobe Bryant (1978-2020)




Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant.

I offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their surviving daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.

Kobe, I remember when you were an NBA rookie and won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. You showed a lot of potential but you were still “green” then.

You ended up improving, progressing, and growing to a ridiculous degree: you won (5) NBA championships, (2) NBA Finals MVP awards, (1) NBA MVP award, (18) NBA All-Star appearances, and (2) Olympic Gold medals.

You were not only one of the greatest NBA players of all time, but also a true warrior who embraced Zen and the Growth Mindset. (For example, see his remarks about learning.)

Kobe, you will be missed greatly. REST IN PEACE.