Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Tick Paranoia, Covid Paranoia

I haven't seriously worried about getting COVID since my second vaccine shot last March.

Meanwhile, scads of my friends spent that year hunkered down, fully vaccinated but barely going out because they'd instilled the simplistic message that "COVID's bad, mmkay?"

I also have unvaccinated friends, but let's deal with one variety of anti-science ignorance at a time.

Meanwhile, there's an enormous scourge in the entire northeastern quadrant of the country with no vaccine or reliable cure: Lyme disease. It can fry your brain or leave you with chronic perpetual pain. Everyone here has heard the horror stories, but they all absent-mindedly traipse through grass. Hey, it's just grass, right? It's nothing terrifying, like air!

My vaccination counters all COVID threat, but lyme-infected ticks are poised to make me horrendously and chronically ill. So while I freely go to movies and restaurants and travel, and walk outdoors unmasked, I don't spend a minute on grass or dirt until I:
Put on clothes I previously treated with Permethrin

Spread a 30% DEET repellent on my hands, arms, neck, shoulders, and ears.

Pull my Permethrin-treated socks up and over my pants bottoms.

Spray my shoes, socks, neck, and hat with lemon oil.

Then, when I'm ready to come back in, I strip down to my underwear just outside the door, carefully place all my clothing in a laundry bag, and pull tight the drawstring.

I leave the bag leaning against the front door while I take a long hot shower, using a loofah over my entire body to remove any hangers-on.

Then I throw clothes and laundry bag in the dryer for 30 minutes (dry heat kills ticks). My Permethrin-treated shoes always remain outside.
My preventative routine (recommended by experts) strikes people as nutty paranoia. But I don't get Lyme Disease.

I'm also apparently nuts with COVID. My right-wing friends think I was a fool to vaccinate, while my left-wing friends think I'm suicidal to go within a block of another human being without wearing a HAZMAT suit, or touch my mail without first soaking it in isopropyl (see this short send-up of the Great COVID Divide)

I have often felt like a sane man in an insane society. But never more than right now. And, the unexpected thing is, I can't find any reason to feel proud of some sort of superiority, when all I'm doing is dumbly, obediently following advice from scientists and health authorities. The people who don't follow that advice, who deem their visceral impulses super solid and competent, those are the geniuses!

I never want to be a genius. Teach your kids to deny their fabtastic birthrights. Teach them to trust themselves and love themselves a bit less. Two generations of cultivating self-love and self-trust in the aristocratic First World has brought us a society terrified by non-threats and oblivious to actual ones, and swaggeringly certain we have nothing to learn because our ignorant assumptions are nothing short of divine.

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