I got a visit from the local Baptists.
Two of them showed up at my door on Saturday morning, with big creepy fake grins. They looked and sounded exactly like the stereotypical California surfer dude, except nicer dressed. For the full effect, imagine all their lines in that "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" voice.
Baptists: "We're here from XXXXX Baptist Church to invite our neighbors to come to church with us tomorrow morning!"
Baptists: "Do you have a church home that you go to?"
Me: "No, I'm not religious."
One Baptist: "That's OK, because religion isn't important! Religion is just something man-made!"
Other Baptist (as a reminder): "Rituals."
First Baptist: "Yeah, it's just rituals! What's really important is that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!"
There must have been a script that they memorized, which told them exactly how to respond to "I'm not religious" and a dozen other common responses. I think what they were trying to do was that conversational trick where you concede the other person's point in order to make them more receptive to a larger point. But they lost me with the assertion that "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ" is something other than religion.
I expected them to say "what's important is that you have a personal relationship with God", which at least is a concept most if not all religions have, but no, they said "Jesus Christ". So they were basically saying "Religion isn't important as long as you believe in our particular religion"!
Anyway, it seemed pointless to point out logical fallacies to people whose worldview depends on faith instead of logic, and it also seemed pointless to be overly rude or confrontational to people who were well-meaning and believed they were doing the right thing by trying to "save" people, so I just ended the conversation.
Baptists: "We want to get to know you better, but we don't even know each other's names yet! Would you mind telling us your name?"
Me: "I'm not interested. You can go ahead and move along to the next house now. Have a nice day."
They accepted that and moved on.
Reminiscin' - how I met Aza
Today is Mozilla's farewell lunch for Aza, who is leaving Mozilla to start yet another new company. That guy's never really happy unless he's starting a company.
I'm gonna miss him, since he'll be up in San Francisco where I'll pretty much never see him. I already barely ever see him even though we ostensibly work together, just because he's usually traveling or working remotely.
Anyway, this is making me think back to how we first met. I was taking his dad's one-time-only special guest course in UI design for the CSPP at University of Chicago; Aza was the TA for it. But we didn't really meet outside of a classroom setting until the Evangelion marathon that UCJAS (the University of Chicago Japanese Animation Society) hosted at Aza's apartment for Suicide Prevention Weekend 2004. We watched every single episode plus the movies, and celebrated with orange jello shots (thanks Jim).
A couple times Aza's roommate Andrew came into the room looked at the screen, looked around at us, made a face, shook his head, and silently walked back out of the room.
In between two episodes Aza called an intermission and put on the Shingo Mama O-ha Rock video. So of course I got up and started singin' and doin' the dance moves along with the video. And Aza looked me up and down and raised his eyebrows and said "How do you know this dance?" And I told him it was the big craze during my first year in Japan, 2000-2001. I used to have a programmable CD player wake me up with that song to make me extra genki on cold winter mornings.
And that's how we became friends. And that led to Aza inviting me to join him when he started Humanized. And the work we did at Humanized got us Mozilla's attention, which led to us moving out to California to start working at Mozilla. And being in the Bay Area led to me meeting back up with Sushu again -- Sushu, who I also met because of UCJAS. Which led us to eventually try dating again and then get married!
So that Evangelion marathon was responsible for not only lifelong friendships but also for my career and marriage. Deciding to attend that party was far more important than any class that I ever took in grad school. If I hadn't gone, my life would have followed a completely different and unknown course. Funny how life works out!
Bus stop conversation
On days when it's raining (or when I left my bike at work the day before, long story) I ride the 35 bus from Palo Alto to Mountain View. This morning I was chatting with a woman wo bards at the same stop. she asked where I live and where I'm going, I found out she works at the local YMCA, etc. Then we had this exchange
Her: "Is that a wedding ring?"
Me: "Yes it is."
Her: "Oh I asked because I couldn't tell what kind of ring it is. Do you have any friends?"
Me: "Um... yes, I have friends...?"
Her: "Do you have any SINGLE friends?"
Wow, you've known me for like 110 seconds and you're asking me to set you up with somebody? O_o
Luckily the bus came then so I wished her a good day and ended the conversation before it got REALLY awkward.
Based on the way she talks I think she might have Down syndrome or some other learning disorder. If so it's a mild enough case that she can function independently. She's super friendly and nice and deserves a chance at happinss. Finding love is hard enough even for people without disabilities, so... best of luck to you, lady.
I saw a newspaper headline the other day that said "3 EPA murders in last week".
And I was like "Three members of the Environmental Protection Agency murdered? It must be some kind of crazy right-wing domestic terrorist hunting them down!"
But then I was like "Oh... East Palo Alto."
And then I has a sad.
Last week there was a lunch at work, and after some discussion it turned out every single person at the table was married to somebody from a different culture than them.
For example, Jinghua's Chinese, she's married to Oscar, who's Venezualean, but the two of them met in Denmark; Oscar's parents live in Canada and his brother is married to a Romanian.
And that's not as unusual as it used to be. Everyone at the table had a story about negotiating a compromise between their family's marriage customs and those of their husband's family or wife's family.
This is the future! International families are on the rise, and may even eventually become the norm. We're just a little ahead of the curve, here in immigrant-heavy, majority-minority Silicon Valley.
I hope that in the future, this trend will make people less eager to go to war, because more of us will stop and say "Wait a minute, I have relatives over there in [Iran/China/Russia/Israel/America]. They're not as bad as you're saying."
(Then again, maybe I'm too optimistic: lots of North Koreans have relatives in South Korea and they're still technically at war.)
Bus Ride to the Twilight Zone
The Wednesday before I left for China. My bike had a flat tire (again) so I was taking the bus home.
Getting on the bus, I tripped over the step and fell to my hands and knees. I was fine. I got up and brushed myself off. "I'm fine", I said to the bus driver.
"I still have to file an Incident Report", she said.
"Do You Require Medical Attention?" she asked, formally.
"What? No! I just said I was fine!" I found an open seat at the back of the bus. Next to me was an ancient hippie, with long black hair under a baseball cap, military dog tags, and mirrorshades. His face reminded me of my grandmother.
The bus sat idling while the bus driver made a call to HQ to file her Incident Report. A minute. Five minutes. I laughed nervously. People on the bus were giving me the evil eye. "Sorry, I guess I better be careful next time", I mumbled. "Oh yeah, you're hurt so bad" somebody joked. "Better call your lawyer!". Mirrorshades guy said something about how maybe this was the first step of implementing martial law. I thought he was joking.
The bus driver called me back up to the front of the bus and made me fill out a form with my contact info, stating that I had been offered medical attention and refused it. What the hell, I wondered as I stalked back to my seat, is wrong with this country?
Having now wasted like ten minutes of everybody's day over nothing, the bus finally got moving. I had my laptop out and was trying to work a bit on Collusion. Mirrorshades guy asked what I was working on. I said something about Mozilla and Firefox. He started talking about how the CIA can spy on your computer, and all the software he uses to stop them (most of which I hadn't heard of). He asked me "how Firefox compares to Linux". Ooookay. At this point I thought he was just a weirdo who didn't know much about computers.
I thought of telling him that I was working on stuff to help protect people's privacy, but there was no point. He started going off on a weird rant about how "they" can get into your computer and remote control it using satellites. He knows this because one time he was talking to Microsoft Tech Support in India and they started moving his mouse pointer around! (Note: this is called Remote Desktop). Soon he was talking about FEMA death camps and how flouride is put in the drinking water to make us stupid and I realized he wasn't just your average bus weirdo, he was the real deal: a bona-fide grade A conspiracy theorist.
I have some sympathy for conspiracy nuts, up to a point. I agree that our government does all sorts of secretive and unethical things. The president actually does have a secret "kill list" of people to be targeted by flying robot murder drones. That, and other things which would have sounded like crazy ranting not too long ago, are today unarguable facts that politicians admit, and even defend. If you want to complain about Guantanamo or NSA wiretapping or the police arresting lawful protesters, I'm right there with you, bro.
But with all the real stuff that's wrong in the world, why do conspiracy theorists fixate on theories that are so dumb?
Mirrorshades guy said that the proof of the flouride thing was that on the back of the toothpaste box there's a warning to call poison control if you swallow too much of it. Therefore flouride is poisonous, but it's in our drinking water! Therefore, it's a conspiracy to make us stupid, no other possible explanation. (The concepts of "effective dose vs. overdose" or the differences between different flouride compounds don't seem to exist to these guys.) He asked what I thought and I said I doubted it; he said only because I've been brainwashed and "you better WAKE UP, son!" (No, dude, I doubt it because I've been to countries that don't have flouride, and the people there are not noticably more intelligent than us, they just have nastier teeth.) (I do enjoy the idea that the conspiracy is powerful enough to control all government, business, and media, but they can't take the warning message off the back of a toothpaste box.)
Pretty soon he was on about a supposed suicide spree and how a recent earthquake had tilted the earth's axis by some number of degress and... I'm not sure what his point was, really. He asked me what I thought again and I tried to point out that earthquakes of that magnitude must have happened plenty often throughout earth's history and whatever cumulative axis-tiling effect they've had doesn't seem to have been detrimental to life, but it was impossible to even engage this guy with logic; every time I tried he just spun off to an unrelated conspiracy theory before I could really formulate a response. He was free-associating, loudly, aggressively, and in my face.
I kind of wish now that I had asked the bus guy whether he was a "Jews are in charge of everything" conspiracy theorist or a "Lizard people are in charge of everything" conspiracy theorist. But at the time I really just wanted the conversation to be over. It was hard to get a word in edgewise, anyway, and the mirrorshades made it impossible to read his eyes, which made the conversation even more awkward and unnerving. I was contemplating getting off the bus early and walking the rest of the way, just to escape.
He kept saying "you better WAKE UP, son!" and "They're keeping an eye on me because I know things!" and "You think I'm making this up?"
No, sir, I don't think you're making it up. I've been on the Internet, I've heard all these theories before. They've been around for decades, and it's always the End Times and the UN coup is always imminent, and yet somehow it never happens. The really sad thing about conspiracy theorists is that they pride themselves on being too smart to fall for the official version of events; but far from being skeptical they're some of the world's most credulous people. They'll believe anything they hear as long as it sounds sufficiently scary and contradicts the "official" story. (Like how any hole they can pick in the official 9/11 story is automatically evidence for their alternate theory, no matter how far-fetched; there is never a third possibility.)
Something I'd like to ask a conspiracy theorist: If it's true that there's an all-powerful conspiracy that controls everything, and basically everybody is in on it, what exactly do you want us to do about it? Is there anything we can do? How do you beat them? (Or join them?)
My guess is it's not about taking action -- it's about feeling smarter than everybody else because you have secret knowledge. Secret knowledge that can never be disproven, because any counterargument is just "what THEY want you to think". Secret knowledge that you can lord over the "sheeple". Or rant about to random strangers on a bus.
These are the people in your neighborhood
1. There's a middle-aged man with the fedora and hawaiian shorts who drives around the neighborhood on his motorcycle blasting out techno music at max volume from his crappy speakers. When he rides down our street we can easily hear his soundtrack from our second-story living room.
2. Tree-puncher: In the mornings around 8:15am when I'm on my way to my Chinese class, sometimes I walk past this old guy standing on the sidewalk with no shirt on, punching a tree. He does a squat, comes up, hits the tree with a double palm-heel strike. Does another squat, comes up, double palm-heel strike. Always the same tree, always the same time of the morning. I guess it's a kind of kung-fu training regimen? (Or maybe he's just trying to get wood blocks to build a crafting table?)
3. All the pants I bought to China have gotten worn out and developed holes. So I went shopping for new pants. Problem: Chinese pants do not fit me at all. I bought a pack of "XXXL" underpants and they're still too tight! I guess average Chinese men must have really skinny butts or something.
Luckily, custom tailoring services - which are way out of my price range in America - are pretty reasonable in China. I brought my best-fitting pair of shorts to a tailor on our street and asked her to duplicate them. She had me pick out some fabrics and colors. It took a couple weeks but it barely cost any more than it would have at the department store, and now I have perfectly fitting green, blue, and purple shorts. Huzzah!
4. Laowai eye-contact avoiance: Once in a while I may encounter another laowai (foreigner) on the street or in a store. What to do? I don't want to say "ni hao" because they're not Chinese, but I don't want to say "hello" because they might not be English-speakers either. What usually happens is that the two of us will studiously avoid eye contact and very carefully walk past each other without the slightest acknowldgement. Sushu finds this totally hilarious.
Losing at Go
I've still got a bunch to write about China, so you'll see some more China posts even though I'm back in America now.
In Lu Xun park I found a spot where lots of middle-aged folks hang out and play Go, cards, and Xiangqi (a Chinese chess variant). I hung around watching the Go players until one of them asked if I knew how to play and offered me a game.
Needless to say, I received a total curb-stomping. A senseless drubbing. I was PWNED, as they say.
The match went on longer than it should have just because I didn't know how to say "I surrender!" in Chinese.
I'm used to the Japanese scoring system (where you score only the empty points you have surrounded, and lose points for stones of yours that are captured). The Chinese scoring system counts every space you surround or occupy, and disregards captured stones. It makes for a very different game. With Japanese scoring, some engagements are not worth pursuing past a certain point, because the territory you can gain from it will be less than the cost of continuing the battle. The players will fence with each other and then one of them will back off. Chinese scoring encourages more of a brutal, close-quarters, knock-down-drag-out brawl.
A week or so later I had another opportunity to play, with a middle-aged woman who spoke decent English. At one point she said "That was a good move." I said "Thanks." She said "I meant MY move, your moves are bad." Ouch.
Trying to make conversation, I complemented her English and asked where she had learned, but she got offended. "When someone speaks English as well as me, you SHOULD ask: where do you TEACH?" she reprimanded me. Yeah, she was an English teacher. Later she lectured me that since all Shanghainese learn excellent English in school, it is "not proper" to ask someone how they learned.
After she had finished kicking my ass at Go she said that if I knew any good players, I should send them her way. She was one of the most arrogant people I've ever dealt with. It was a weird experience.
I played one more game with Sushu's cousin Kai-kai (aka Kevin). He was not as far above my level as the denizens of Lu Xun park, but he was still better than me. For a few minutes I thought I had him, but then his trap closed around me.
Go is an amazing game, probably the deepest non-random full-information strategy game ever devised by humans, but it demands insane amounts of dedication. It's also no fun to play against someone way above your level. Go is not a game you can just play casually once in a while. It makes me sad to admit this, but I'll probably never be good at it; it's just way more of a commitment than I want out of a leisure-time activity.
Chinese parks are so great
I've got a bad cold. All day long I've been sneezing so hard it makes my elbows hurt. I don't know how medical science would explain it, but that's what's happening.
But anyway, the thing I want to blog about tonight is how awesome Chinese parks are! I just love that whenever I'm bored, I can go down to the park and just walk around looking at what people are doing, and more often than not I will quickly be sucked into some kind of Cultural Adventure.
Sushu has illustrated the magic of Chinese public parks in a comic.
This narrow back alley is a shortcut to the park.
The gap in those bars is almost too narrow to get an accordion through, but it fits if you turn it sideways. Trufax.
Lu Xun park (named after a famous local writer from the 1920s) is centered around a lake with several islands, bridges, etc.
The park is not that large in total area, but it feels much bigger than it is because it's divided into lots of little paths separated by vegetation, so you can get lost in it and wander around for hours.
It's no YuanMingYuan, but Lu Xun park has some views that are quite nice.
On the west side of the park is Hongkou football (i.e. soccer for us Americans) stadium. When there's a match happening, the cheers can be heard from several blocks away.
I doubt they catch anything edible, but I see people fishing in the lake all the same.
A large crayfish came close enough to the surface of the lake to capture on camera.
When I'm sitting on a park bench studying my Chinese textbook, random people will sometimes walk up, grab the book away from me, point to a random passage, and ask me to read it out loud. Just to make sure I'm doing it right, I guess.
One time I was studying and a random old guy yelled "HALLOOO!" at me. I said "hello" back. He took this as an invitation to come sit down next to me on the park bench, tell me my nose is too big, and start feeling up my leg hairs. He had, like, no concept of personal space.
Random old guys in Shanghai: not at all shy about getting up in my business.
The lotus is a symbol of transcendence in Buddhism because it's a beautiful flower that grows out of the mud.
Hideous public sculpture!
This one could give some of the hideous public sculpture in Palo Alto a run for its money.
Sometimes I see people writing long strings of Chinese on the sidewalk with a bucket of water and a long brush.
Sushu says it's mostly just a way to practice penmanship without having to use up paper, but sometimes people write subversive or anti-government slogans this way; once the water evaporates there's no evidence of the crime.
A group of people practicing Tai Chi sword forms.
You know you're getting used to China when it seems perfectly reasonable that retired old ladies would spend their mornings swinging swords around.
Another group of middle-aged folks practicing ballroom dancing, to romantic music piped through a horrible low-fidelity amplifier.
Now imagine there's three different dance classes next to each other, all with their own music playing at once. Plus people carrying their boom boxes down the path. It's cacophony.
Another group of retirees, practicing the Fan Dance.
And yet another dance group, starting a rehearsal. Judging by the costumes, I'm guessing it's a folk dance of one of the ethnic minorities from northwestern China. Not sure, though.
Another park activity: these things. No idea what they're called; they're like spinning tops on long cords that make a buzzing noise as they orbit. Somebody who's good at it can make the thing whip around at dizzying speed.
This guy had one of those six-blade RC helicopter dealies that he was trying to control from his laptop. An expectant crowd gathered, waiting to see if something cool would happen.
And here we have liftoff!
It's in the sky!
Up, up, and away!
This one old guy in the crowd next to me got super excited about it. He kept nudging me and saying "Jishu!" ("technology!")
The inscription on this clock is a wish for peace and friendship between the young people of China and Japan. D'awwwww.
You can rent boats and ride around in the lake.
If it's not too hot and doesn't look likely to start raining, I'll take my accordion to the park and find a place to practice. People are very friendly about it and will stop to listen a while, ask how long I've been playing, where I'm from, what a song is called, etc. Some very fun conversations have started this way.
One time I was playing by the edge of the lake. A girl and her uncle stopped to listen for a while. Then a while later the two of them pulled up behind me in a boat and invited me to get in.
Uhhhhhh.... OK! What's the worst that could happen?
Anyway, we rowed around for a while, made awkward conversation, I practiced my Chinese, the girl practiced her English, we took some pictures, I played a few tunes, the people in the other boats were jealous that they didn't have accordion-playing foreigners of their own, etc.
After we returned the boat and got out, the uncle invited me to go to another park with them. I asked him where it was and he said we would take a taxi there. That sounded kind of sketchy so I made an excuse that my wife was expecting me back at home.
A five-harmonica band practicing something inspiring and patriotic.
The woman on the left is singing a very dramatic and mournful song while the guys in the back play the arhu (a two-stringed instrument played with a bow, not entirely unlike a violin).
I'm not even the only person playing an accordion at the park!
I couldn't hear if this guy was any good or not, because he was surrounded by a crowd of people singing along so loudly that they drowned out the sound of the instrument. But I love how he's got his motorcycle set up as a mobile base of operations.
That's what Chinese sheet music looks like, by the way: just a series of numbers indicating pitches, with dots or lines modifying the length.
Other stuff I saw but didn't get pictures of:
I saw an old lady taking her pet cricket for a walk. Yes, pet crickets are a real thing. (No, it wasn't on a tiny cricket leash. You put the cricket in a cage and carry the cage around.)
I also saw a teenager wearing a shirt with an x-ed out Che Guevara that said "Commies Aren't Cool". Maybe this is how Chinese teens irritate their parents?
Shanghai musical scavenger hunt
This is a thing that happened while Sushu was in Africa and I was on my own in Shanghai.
I found this poster when walking in Lu Xun park:
Free music festival? Sounds good! Only problem: there's no time or place listed on the poster.
Thus began my scavenger hunt.
I started with the URL on the sign, faguowenhua.com/sh. That's Chinese for "French Culture". Mysterious.
Sushu's dad looked at that page and recognized an address: 多论路 (Duolun street), right nearby.
Stepping through the gate onto Duolun street was a shock. Everywhere else I've been in Shanghai is all grit and bustle and sidewalks crowded with cheap vendors. Duolun street in comparison is clean, peaceful, and classy.
Statues of famous cultural luminaries decorate the street. Here's Lu Xun and friends. (He was an influential local writer and revolutionary in the 1920s. The park is named after him.)
In front of this church I met some girls working a booth with flyers and schedules.
I started trying to ask one of them in Chinese about the time and place for the event. She was like "Oh good, you speak Chinese" and started speaking super-rapid-fire. I was quickly lost. "对不起，听不懂了" (sorry, I don't understand...) I said, and then she switched to English. "Ha ha, you're so cute" she said.
She took my name down and told me to return at 2pm. "Don't be late!" she warned.
Turns out the event was city-wide -- there were free concerts going on all weekend long at various times and locations all over the city. It really was a musical scavenger hunt!
I returned at 2pm to find a huge line outside the church. I started waiting, but the girl from before saw me, physically grabbed me and pulled me out of the line to give me a ticket she had reserved earlier.
Now it turns out the ticket she gave me was to get into the church for a performance by a French opera singer and a choir.
It wasn't the main thing I wanted to see -- there were some rock concerts going on elsewhere that seemed more exciting -- but after that girl went to all the trouble to get me that ticket I would feel very ungrateful not to use it.
Thus: French opera singer.
...and her Chinese protoges, singing in French.
Check out this guy's cute beard!
A choir singing hymns...
(this picture's mostly for Mom)
I snuck out of the church before they were done, and made my way by subway up to a shopping center in the Daning neighborhood to try to catch performances by "Fever Machine" and "Crystal Butterfly".
Achievement unlocked: First solo trip by Shanghai subway. At one point, because of a broken ticket machine, I had to ask a clerk for a ticket to a stop called 上海马戏城站. I didn't know the fourth character so I said "Shanghai ma shenmeshenme cheng?". He frowned for a second but then the lightbulb went on and he figured out which one I meant.
It was farther away than I thought, and by the time I got there, Crystal Butterfly was all done, but Fever Machine was just getting started.
They were pretty good! Lots of catchy power riffs and funky baselines. The kid on his dad's shoulders in front of me seemed to be enjoying it too. I had to leave before they were done in order to try to get back to uncle's place in time for dinner.
I was late anyway. I showed up at home sweating buckets from trying to run in the muggy summer heat, and apologizing profusely.
But man, that was a fun day. My first adventure without Sushu around to interpret for me!
I didn't quit Mozilla because I hated them. They've been quite good to me. My feelings towards the company are complicated.
Four years, man, that's a long time. It deserved some kind of commemoration. I picked the Mozilla dino-head logo rather than the more well-known Firefox logo because I wanted to show my association with the open-source community, the people and the shared values, rather than with the corporate entity or with a specific product that, who knows, might not even be around in a few years. (Plus, I don't really want my body to look like a launch bar.)
Side benefit: even if you don't know who or what Mozilla is, it's still a red tyrannosaurus head; what doesn't kick ass about that? Nothing!
I got it done at Graven Image in Mountain View. Their founder, a dude named Paco, is quite the artist and is famous for doing all these amazing Geiger-esque biomechanical horrors.
When I was there, Paco was working on a guy in the chair next to me, with a naked blue robot chick on his arm. The two of them were having a very animated disucssion about what are the top five metal albums of all time, and whether Ride the Lightning was better than Master of Puppets, and how could it be a top-five without any Megadeth, get out of here, and does AC/DC even count as metal, and what? you like fucking "Cowboy from Hell" better than "Reign in Blood"? You better check yourself before you wreck yourself! (his exact words).
When questioned, I had to admit that I did not have an opinion on the top five metal albums, as I never listen to any. Paco decided he needed to put on "Reign of Blood" right then so we could all hear its majesty from beginning to end. It was all CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA ANGEL OF DEEEEEATH!!!
My musical horizons were expanded that day. Violently expanded.
Speaking of Mozilla mementos, this little guy was given to me at my going-away party by Gregg Lind (the developer who we hired to take over Test Pilot for me).
Gregg and his wife added the accordion and unibrow. The accordion even has the right number of keys!
I will treasure it forever.
That is really what you decided to call your business?
Today when I was biking home I saw a bright purple truck labeled "PIZZA PIMP". It had a slice of pizza wearing sunglasses and a flamboyant purple hat.
It looked like this.
Really? Really? Maybe I'm just getting uptight as I get older, but why would you name your pizza after a criminal who exploits vulnerable women and profits from sex trafficking?
After a week and a half of holding out against the flu epidemic, I finally succumbed on Friday.
Or did I? My symptoms aren't nearly as bad as what Sushu had, or what other people have been describing. I just feel like I have a cold, not the flu-of-doom.
Sushu and my mom both reported that after they got the flu, they got better, but a week later had a relapse.
My theory is that there's a milder cold following around in the flu's wake, taking advantage of people's weakened immune systems, like Turks following the Mongol Horde. And I avoided the flu, but then let my guard down and caught the cold.
On Friday, we had dinner at a not-very-good Indian restaurant (it's called Tava Indian Kitchen and it's like somebody was trying to make the Indian food equivalent of Chipotle).
After that we stopped at Trader Joe's to grab bananas and maple syrup. Cashier asked how I was doing and I said I felt like I was coming down with the flu. Then the conversation got very weird.
He said the flu was really bad this year, but "they're making it worse" by distributing flu vaccine shots, which are really a evil plot to GIVE people the flu, and nobody should get flu shots ever.
Yes, he was one of those anti-vaccine guys.
I was feeling too sick to argue, so I just told him that last year I got the vaccine and did not get sick, and this year I did not get the vaccine and I did get sick, so it works for me.
He backpedaled: "Oh, well, you're probably in the right age range and healthy enough to resist it, but they shouldn't give it to babies and old people"
Then I just paid for our stuff and peaced out. If I had been feeling better I would have argued with that idiot, because anti-vaccine hysteria really pisses me off.
Like hey, you ever notice how our generation was lucky enough to grow up in a world without deadly smallpox epidemics? How, if you live in a first-world country, you probably don't know anybody who died as a kid from whooping cough, or was permanently crippled by childhood polio?
All of those are because vaccines fucking work. They are a miracle of modern science.
And there's a very disturbing trend of people not wanting to vaccinate their kids because they heard it caused autism, and they're not only endangering their own kids, they're making it more dangerous for everybody else too by weakening the herd immunity. So I feel like pushing back against anti-vaccine hysteria is pretty important.