I’m staying at Home this Holiday Season because my Country Failed to protect Our Most Vulnerable

If you have been keeping up at all with the news the past few weeks, its been a doozy. Everything has been overshadowed by the fact that the President of the United States was diagnosed with COVID after an incredibly irresponsible rollout of his Supreme Court nominee that he had while we are still in a global pandemic and refused to participate in a virtual debate due to issues with the format. Additionally, during the initial Supreme Court confirmation hearings, senators from the opposing party that were both in at least one high risk category hugged each other, completely unmasked.

Hell, typing that made me feel exhausted.

As other countries around the world are beginning to return to a post-pandemic “normal” to varying degrees, the United States is still stuck in a situation where we are still, as a country, on the flatline of a first wave that is slowly coming back up

At this point, regardless of how the election goes, regardless of whether my State of Colorado decides to go back into Shelter in Place, and regardless of what family members think about it, I cannot justify interstate travel for the holidays, or even traveling within the state to see relatives at this point.

In anticipation of arguments that people, including family members, will have against my decision, I have put together a quick FAQ that I will submit to anyone that asks.

  1. Aren’t you personally in a fairly low risk category and wouldn’t be severely affected by COVID-19?

While, as a relatively healthy 28 year old man, I would be less likely to come down with the most severe symptoms of COVID-19, I also have the potential to carry the disease in an asymptomatic way. I have a 93 year old grandmother that has had several health problems over the course of the past couple decades external to COVID and a couple of friends and family that are immuno-compromised that I also would not want to spread COVID to. Additionally, I know I am not invincible. Several articles have come out in regards to people in their 20’s and 30’s that caught the virus in March and, as I am writing this in October, they still have symptoms/are not fully recovered.

Also, I am not doing this for myself. I had an extensive conversation with a friend a couple of nights ago about how, as an immuno-compromised individual, they are at higher risk for catching and experiencing the worst symptoms of the disease, including death. I am doing this for that person. I am doing that for people that cannot leave their house because of individuals that refuse to wear masks. I am doing this for elderly people in my life that I cannot afford to get sick.

2. The United States is going to be flattening the curve anytime now! A Vaccine is right around the corner.

Bullshit.

I am going to break this one into 2 parts:

A. While cases in the United States have been relatively steady for the past 2 months, my state of Colorado, particularly in Boulder and Fort Collins, have started to see a third wave emerge primarily associated with the decision of CU Boulder to open for limited in person instruction in the fall. Along with this, Denver Public Schools will be beginning classes for K-5 children in less than a week. There is no political will at the state level to do anything rivaling the shutdown that we had back in March, and the federal government hasn’t shown any leadership as well.

B. I have been off and on following Operation Warp Speed, the US’s approach to getting a vaccine, for the past six months, and its. While approval for a vaccine has been “fast tracked” in the past by the FDA and it predecessors, particularly in regards to polio, it came after decade of research prior to the existence of the FDA and a sitting president (FDR) having the disease. When Jonas Salk started distributing the polio vaccine, the disease had been around for decades. COVID-19 has been around for less than a year.

3. A Biden administration will make things better!

Sure, Biden will probably have a significantly more rational public health policy than Trump, but, to an extent, there is no going back now. Red state governors have fully opened in some regards, and even the ski resorts in Colorado are opening as usual, which is terrifying because COVID-19 started at the resorts. As of October 10th, Colorado has gone above 1,000 cases in a single day, something not seen since the worst surges earlier in the year. Today, as I am revising this article on the morning of October 16th, we have hit over 1200 positive cases in a day . We are in it for the long haul, and only a vaccine or effective treatment will get us out of this crisis. I would hope that a Biden administration would have a rational health policy, but that wouldn’t get us out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.

4. Your family/friends will miss you!

And they will also miss my germs, thankfully. As I mentioned earlier in this piece, my grandmother is 93 years old and has been in and out of the hospital several times over the past decade or so. Zoom exists, google exists. We will make it through. If anyone in my family or friend group does miss me, please reach out to me directly in scheduling a zoom/phone call. I would rather want to see you over a computer screen healthy and alive instead of attending a funeral for you without getting to even be in the same room.

Its a depressing thing to admit to your failures. I have had a ton of issues with this this year on a personal level. But admitting to the failures of your own country, particularly in continually failing to and actively working against its most vulnerable populations, hurts even worse because it affects the ones you love. I hope that, in my decision I have made, I am showing you all that I love you, because I do.

Photo is of US Senators Diane Feinstein (D) of California and Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina hugging after the Amy Coney Barrett hearings. Feinstein and Graham are 87 and 65, respectively, and are on a committee with members that tested positive for COVID-19 Photo Credit to Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Quarantine Roundup 1: Music I Have Listened to Since March

Howdy all!

Since the state of Colorado initially went into its Safe at Home phase in late March of this year, I have been listening to a lot of music to get me through these trying times. Here are a few of the albums that I would like to put on your radar!

March

Phantogram-Ceremony

Phantogram: Ceremony Album Review | Pitchfork

While technically released on March 6th, Ceremony deals with a lot of themes that have been common since quarantine and COVID have become a force in the United States. As a long time listener, Ceremony seems to be the most conventional and accessible of Phantogram’s albums, dealing with issues of faith, loss, and coping with disaster.

Favorite Tracks: Pedestal, Glowing

Nine Inch Nails- Ghosts V-VI

A Spliced image of Ghosts V and VI

A double release by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the two Ghosts albums were made in the wake of the beginning of lockdowns beginning across the United States. Following up with 2008’s Ghosts, V and VI continue the tradition of having very ethereal, soundscape esque tracks that, at their best, sound like the soundtracks of the movies Reznor and Ross have scored over the past 10 years.

Favorite Songs: Together, Hope We Can Again, Run Like Hell, Almost Dawn

April

Admittedly, I did not have a huge selection of albums that I listened to in the month of April that I can personally attest to liking due to personal events happening in my life at that time. Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters and The Strokes The New Abnormal both are records that I think I would like, however, for different reasons.

May

X-Alphabetland

After reforming, legendary Los Angeles punk rock band X released an album that matches some of their best material from the 80’s. Featuring Robby Krieger of The Doors on one of their tracks and clocking in at a sum total of 27 minutes, X has had one of the strongest comeback records of a punk band arguably in the past 10 years.

Favorite Songs: Angel on the Road, Delta 88 Nightmare, All The Time in the world.

Carly Rae Jepsen- Dedicated (Side B)

For a lot of people, this may come as a surprise that Carly Rae Jepsen is even on my radar. There is, however, a small undercurrent of my friend group that listen to Jepsen on a regular basis and say, from a pop standpoint, she is a very competent musician. Dedicated (Side B), a follow up to 2019’s Dedicated, is further proof of this. Its a good bubble gum pop record in an era where escapism is needed right now.

Favorite Songs: Lets Be Friends, Window

June

Run The Jewels- RTJ4

Run the Jewels - RTJ4.png

Holy shit, talk about capturing a moment. Released a mere 5 days after the beginnings of the George Floyd protests, RTJ4 is one of the most biting and scathing social commentaries on American Exceptionalism, police brutality, and social issues. If there is a soundtrack to the Black Lives Matter movement, this is it.

Favorite Songs: Ca$h, Yankee and the Brave (Ep.4), Walking Through the Snow

Bob Dylan- Rough and Rowdy Ways

A mostly competent Dylan record, Rough and Rowdy Ways will satisfy longtime fans with the sounds and musical motifs that Dylan has been lauded for over the past nearly 50+ year musical career. Be forewarned, there is a nearly 17 minute track at the end of the album called “Murder Most Foul” that is part tribute to John F Kennedy/part remembrance of the 1960’s and 70’s that I personally found unbearable.

Favorite Songs: False Prophet, Black Rider

Neil Young- Homegrown

Neil Young - Homegrown - Amazon.com Music

If the story of June 2020 in music is ever written in detail, the fact that a lot of legacy/60’s and 70’s artists released follow up albums will be a point of note. Homegrown by Neil Young is another competent addition to that, which mostly includes material recorded in the mid 70’s.

Favorite Songs: Separate Ways, We Don’t Smoke it Anymore, Mexico

July

Taylor Swift- folklore

Taylor Swift folklore album cover

When I heard that Taylor Swift had made a album inspired heavily by 00’s folk, I jokingly referred to it at “T-Swift Meets the Indie Culture”, a reference to a Wu Tang album released 15 years ago that was mainly a mix of odds and ends of their collection. The album, however, is a decent indie piece that shines.

Favorite Songs: The Last Great American Dynasty, Cardigan, Betty

The Chicks- Gaslighter

The Chicks – Gaslighter (Official Album Cover).png

Their first release since their name change is an anthemic country rock album that makes up for the nearly 14 year gap between their last album Taking the Long Way. Filled with contemporary American pop motifs and the best of country storytelling, Gaslighter is a unique release from an incredibly unique country pop band.

Favorite Songs: Gaslighter, March March

August

Glass Animals-Dreamland

Dreamland (Glass Animals).png

An album so ensconced in nostalgia that the video albums accompanying it was released on VHS, Dreamland is, in a lot of ways heavily autobiographical, with the Psych rock and electronic elements that have typified Glass Animals entire career.

Favorite Songs: Dreamland, Heat Waves Tangerine

September (So Far)

The Flaming Lips: American Head

Image may contain: Animal, Invertebrate, Jellyfish, and Sea Life

A very personal release, American Head hits all of the best notes of Flaming Lip’s musical style. To me, it seems like one of their best releases since Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots in 2002.

Favorite Songs: Flowers of Neptune 6, God and the Policeman, My Religion is You.

Public Enemy-What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?

I listened to this album yesterday with very minimal expectations. However, after the first couple tracks, I was hooked. Its crazy that a group that saw their greatest successes in the late 80’s can still find a way to be relevant in their music in 2020’s, but, then again, I also listen to Nine Inch Nails.

Favorite Songs: Grid, Yesterday Man, Fight The Power: 2020 Remix.

Is there anything I missed that you liked? Let me know in the comments below!

Why I failed on my first Bike Tour, and what I learned from it.

Yesterday morning was a whirlwind of excitement for me. I was set to start the first bike tour of my adult life after months of preparation and anticipation. I left a little after 6, using one of the major regional trails to get out of the Denver Metro area and started my way to Eastern Colorado.

When I got off the trail at its northernmost point, cracks began to show. While the route was fairly direct from there, a frontage road that was parallel to I-76, warning signs started to arise. The frontage road, while not the worst maintained on the planet, started to get slightly bumpy as I was making my way to the turnoff point for highway 52, and the slight morning overcast was not clearing, indicating that what was in the air might not be clouds.

The flat that ended the tour

The straw the broke the camel’s back was probably a large snag that I went over on my way to the Loves gas station in Hudson. I went inside briefly to Loves to grab a snack and use the restroom. By the time I got out, my back tire was completely deflated. “No Worries,” I thought to myself. “I brought a spare tube with me!” I quickly changed the tube, taking the time to reconfigure my bag setup a little bit and preview the route to come on my phone. Not a minute after I started putting my bags back on my bike, the replacement tire had deflated. Panicking now, I tried to think of what I could do to fix the situation. There wasn’t a bike shop within walking distance, and I was slowly realizing that the morning clouds not clearing up was actually smoke moving in.

I called my relatives, who I had informed may need to bail me out if anything happened during my trip. They got to Hudson from their home in Centennial, and helped me load up the bike and take me back to Denver.

So, what did to learn from this experience?

My biggest takeaway from the mechanical is that, before leaving, always do a thorough check. While I did check basic elements were working (shifting, brakes), I failed to accurately check the tire pressure. Had I done that, I would have easily spotted that the back tube was running low and never ran into that issue.

From a preparedness perspective, having a backup plan was a godsend, and something I will do in the future when I do tour. My relatives had been informed that I was going on a trip today, so, when I called them bearing the bad news, they were able to make it up fairly quickly.

Finally, and this is a more general life lesson, state of mind is a huge part of accepting failure. When I realized that my trip was going to be cut short, I was admittedly mad for a good 5-10 minutes. However, I realized that, in a lot of ways, attitude matters most. Despite getting a C in writing in elementary school, Philip K Dick took the positive praise of his teachers in regards to his storytelling abilities and made some of the most definitive science fiction texts of our time. Just because I failed at this one trip does not negate efforts I will put into future bike tours being great.

Speaking of Philip K Dick, I did make it to the gravesite. My relatives were kind enough to drive me up there. Despite it being cut short, this bike touring season was great for me, and next year will hopefully be even better.

Jane C Dick and Philip K Dick’s grave in Fort Morgan, Colorado

Featured Image is the Author posing with his deflated tire in a Broncos T-shirt that he bought at the gas station where the tire blew out.

Do Bicycles Dream of Electric Degrease? Pt 2: The Plan

In an earlier post, I detailed my plans to travel to the grave site of popular science fiction author Philip K Dick’s grave. After much consideration, I have decided to expand my scope, and will be camping in Pawnee National Grassland overnight before attempting the final trip into Nebraska.

DAY 1: Denver to Fort Morgan

Using a mix of established trails such as the South Platte River trails and shoulders along Highway 52, I will descend into Fort Morgan over the course of the first day and do my business in paying tribute to the late Philip K Dick and his fraternal sister Jane C. Dick

DAY 2: Fort Morgan to Pawnee National Grasslands

After paying tribute to the Dicks, I will make the push to Pawnee National Grassland, saving that for day 2 while posting up somewhere in Ft. Morgan, and set up camp on the BLM located throughout the park.

DAY 2/3: Pawnee National Grasslands to Pine Bluffs, Nebraska (and Back)

Since Nebraska is only an hour or two away from Pawnee Grasslands depending on where you camp in the park, I will make a short trip up to the State of Nebraska and check out Panorama Point, possibly see if there are other points of interests, then head back down to Pawnee and bird watch/hike for the rest of the day.

DAYS 4-5: Pawnee to Home

The return route will be fairly identical to the route to Pawnee National Grasslands, minus the trip through Fort Morgan. Most likely, I will be ending up back in Denver proper on Wednesday or Thursday of next week and finding a place to stay somewhere along the route, possibly in Lochbuie or in Barr Lake State Park.

In my next few entries, I will be doing a video log of my journey, as I leave tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Public and Personal Oppression: Ed Buck and the Limits of “Get Out” Liberalism

Spoilers to the 2017 movie “Get Out” Below

If you are involved in California politics, you are well aware that long time Democratic party activist and donor Ed Buck has been charged with operating a drug house from his West Hollywood home, where he would trade methamphetamines for sex, in particular with poor black men. The New York Times has written a great longform piece about it in their Wednesday edition.

Ed Buck standing trial on federal drug charges in 2019

While many right wing news sources have tried to emphasize the connections of Ed Buck to Democratic politics, and most national left leaning sources have either downplayed them or chosen not to cover the whole incident*, Buck’s elaborate system of oppression that he created around fetishizing black men and getting them addicted to drugs reminded me of one I have seen in fiction.

In Jordan Peele’s Get Out, we are presented into a world very much like that of Ed Buck’s. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is visiting the family of his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). After some brief comedic segments emphasizing the casual racism of Roses’ parents, including her father (Bradley Whitford) saying the now infamous line “I would vote for Obama for a third term”, Chris is hypnotized by Rose’s mother Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener). This hypnosis allows Missy the power to control Chris, a power that is later revealed to be used by the Hermitage family to attempt a procedure in which they attempt to use Chris’ body as a vessel for Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) to use to regain eyesight and youth.

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), surrounded by Armitage Family members in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”

While the science fiction/horror aspects of the movie were not present in Ed Buck’s world, a quote from a review from the Guardian of the film in 2017 showcases the similarities between Rose’s family and Buck’s beliefs.

“The villains here aren’t southern rednecks or neo-Nazi skinheads, or the so-called ‘alt-right‘. They’re middle-class white liberals. The kind of people who read this website. The kind of people who shop at Trader Joe’s, donate to the ACLU and would have voted for Obama a third time if they could. The thing Get Out does so well – and the thing that will rankle with some viewers – is to show how, however unintentionally, these same people can make life so hard and uncomfortable for black people. It exposes a liberal ignorance and hubris that has been allowed to fester. It’s an attitude, an arrogance which in the film leads to a horrific final solution, but in reality leads to a complacency that is just as dangerous.”

For all intents and purposes, Ed Buck was the definition of the “Get Out” liberal described in this article. While many of the beliefs and initiatives that Buck outwardly believed and supported were decidedly liberal, he built much of his personal life around the fetishization and control of black men through methamphetamine addiction.

The worst part about it, however, is how normal he seemed when I talked to him.

I met Ed Buck a couple of times at Los Angeles County Democratic Party functions between 2013 and 2015 before moving to Georgia for graduate school. While he had some eccentric traits, he seemed like every other Democratic party activist with a comfortable amount of money: passionate about his causes, determined to make change in the world, and somewhat self important about himself and looking to climb in the world. The contrast between him and some of the more caricature-like members of LA county politics, including disgraced ex-California Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman, was clear.

Ed Buck with Hillary Clinton in one of his Facebook photos, posted in September, 2015
Ed Buck at a Hillary Clinton event with the candidate, September 2015

While Get Out concludes with Chris freed by burning down the Armitage house and killing the immediate family members, the black male victims of Buck’s methamphetamine addiction and exploitation have not seen the same justice. If we are to learn anything from Get Out and Ed Buck’s trial, it is this: even the “good” white liberals, the father that went to a Womxn’s March in support of his wife, the college student that shops at Natural Grocers and is thinking of going vegan, and the political activist that goes to donates to every cause and thinks of running for office themselves one day, can have a secret area of oppression. It is bringing it to the front and prosecuting them that we must seek to do as responsible human beings to create a more just world.

*Local news sources, however, have been relatively good at coverage, including WehoVille and Pride LA. The Advocate and NBC Southern California have also been decent in their coverage, but are issue orientated and regional level reporting, respectively

*Featured image is a promo banner for Get Out, Directed by Jordan Peele and starring Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams*

Do Bicycles Dream of Electric Degrease?: A Ride to Philip K Dick’s Grave

Hey everyone,

So, as you may have gathered from my recent blog post, I canceled my trip to Wyoming in late August due to increased smoke levels throughout both Colorado and Wyoming as a result of gigantic fires. Instead of going to Wyoming, I have decided to do a ride that is a little more personal.

Philip K Dick was a science fiction writer whose influence on popular culture and science fiction is seen throughout the landscape of television and film today. From The Man in the High Castle imagining an alternate United States where the Axis won World War II, to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? analyzing the blurring between human and machine, Dick has captured the imaginations of generations of nerds from across the world. On a personal level, my first exposure to his work was through the film adaptation of A Scanner Darkly, an examination of consciousness and mass surveillance in an America that has lost the Drug War.

So, when I found out Philip K Dick and his fraternal sister (who passed as an infant) were buried here in Colorado, I figured that I would pay tribute to the author in the best way possible: to visit his grave.

In my next blog, I will detail my route to the cemetery that they are buried in in Fort Morgan and the stops along the way. Rest assured, however, it will be an adventure getting there.

Bikepacking Trip UPDATE: Fire Edition

Hey everyone.

Its been about 3 weeks since I last updated y’all on my planned bikepacking trip to Wyoming. In those three weeks, a lot has happened both with me personally and in the State of Colorado. The big news over the past 3-4 days is that of the Grizzly Creek and the Pine Gulch fires on the Western Slope, which has spread to various parts of Glenwood Canyon and is roughly 6,200 acres wide. Given that the fire can be harmful to individuals who are in the midst of doing “prolonged or heavy exertion”, I am in the midst of reevaluating if it is safe to do my bikepacking trip, which, by definition, is prolonged and heavy exertion.

Since I began exploring the option of doing a bike tour to Wyoming, I have always done so through a lens of safety. While it will be profiled further in an upcoming post about my gear, I have taken action in recognition that COVID-19 is a real threat, including minimizing stops that require me to be in places with lots of people for extended periods of time, bringing masks and sanitizer along with me, and getting tested before leaving on my trip. Along with these precautions, I have also taken more traditional safety steps, including packing and practicing with a full first aid kit, alerting my specific travel plans to individuals that would help “bail me out”, and promised to post something everyday while I have signal.

As of right now, I am looking at the air quality in the Denver Metro area right now, which, at the moment is MODERATE quality according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. While I am planning on starting my ride early Wednesday morning to be out of the metro area at least an hour before sunrise, I am going to make a call by Monday if it is safe or not to ride based on the air quality trends over the weekend. Until then, have a great day and stay safe.

Year 4 in Colorado: The Recovery

March 13th, 2020.

That is the day that the world as I knew it effectively ended for me. I had been applying for jobs wildly in the run up to the day, getting tons of first and second round interviews. It felt like the tide was going to turn for me and I would get out of a nights job that I had generally thought of as a placeholder to the next “big break”

And then, my workplace, The Denver Art Museum, closed to the public out of precautions related to COVID-19.

While this didn’t affect me a lot at first, the signs were everywhere that the State of Colorado was heading towards a lock-down of some sort. In the coming week, a public health order came out that reduced non-essential workplaces to 1/2 of their capacity. Before that, Colorado had already done an emergency declaration order, as COVID-19 had jumped to the United States and was ravaging coastal states such as New York and California. It wasn’t until March 26th that a Stay at Home (SaH) order was put into place, and all businesses except essentials such as grocery were shut down.

The effect on me to an extent from a mental health point of view was devastating. While I initially thought that it was going to be a positive for personal reasons, the dragging on of the Stay at Home order, the paranoia that anyone I could be passing by could be a carrier, and the frustration as interview after interview got canceled was demoralizing. On my days off, I sunk into deep depression, hardly getting out of bed on some days. While I can’t point to any particular day or even week that I reached “rock bottom” of COVID induced depression, the month of May felt like the end of the world in my head.

Then, something happened in early June, and a little light switch turned that changed my whole perspective.

I started riding my bike again at the end of the month of May and have been continuously riding since then. I have slowly scaled back on ordering food out, a habit that I had been guilty of doing early in the pandemic under the guise of “helping local businesses”. I started consistently cleaning again, and building out my home a bit, even getting a futon and a side table for the basement. I felt alive again.

Even now as I struggle from possible exposure to COVID, I realize that I have been going through a different kind of recovery over the past year or so. Roughly a year ago, I was on the edge of resignation at a job that I was a bad fit for, jumping to a job that I struggled in for different reasons before settling back at the museum. Now, despite the fact that I am temporarily out of work until I get my COVID test back and am worried about COVID, I can say with confidence I am personally better off than I was a year ago.

Recovery is hardly ever linear. Whether it is physical, mental, or moral, some days and experiences are better or worse than others. One day, you can be at your most productive, feeling energized going task to task. The next, saying a sentence or trying to write out an email can be a struggle. Hell, sometimes both experiences happen in the same day. However, despite the fact that recovery can be lopsided and tough sometimes, I am glad that I am on the road to recovery mentally and physically to a smaller extent, and thankful to call Colorado my home for a 4th year.

Featured Image is of Larimer Square in Denver

Loren to Laramie: The Plan

Next month, after biking from city to city and county to county, I am taking the next step in my cycling journey: Going state to state. In a recent post, I talked about my journey in broader terms, discussing in broad strokes what exactly I would do. However, after being inspired by my journey to Lamar’s Donuts here in Denver, I have settled on a theme for my trip: an interstate Donut run.

Leg 1: City Donuts to Fort Collins Donut Co (FoCoDoCo) [1 Day]

Starting on East Colfax in Denver at open, I will kick off my ride with some coffee and donuts from City Donuts. From there, I will begin my trek northward, using the 36 Bikeway for a significant portion of the ride before using a series of roads to make it to FoCo DoCo in Fort Collins. In Fort Collins, I will crash with one of my relatives, who owns an apartment up there.

Leg 2: FoCo DoCo to Vedauwoo Campground (2-3 Days)

While Vedauwoo does not have a ton of donuts, it is a place where camping, something I immensely enjoy doing, is abundant.

Starting the day off at FoCo DoCo, I will ride to Vedauwoo, avoiding 287 as much as humanly possible as I ascend into Wyoming. I will camp overnight there, and continue my final descent into Laramie.

Leg 3: Vedauwoo to Daylight Donuts (1 Day)

Using Old US Highway 30 East, I will ride to my final donut destination, Daylight Donuts. Depending on several factors related to COVID, including whether or not the University of Wyoming is open, I may hang around and visit the University of Wyoming museum and the Plains Museum.

Leg 4: Homeward Bound (2 Days)

Going southbound, I am going to take a slightly more direct route down 287 and stop in Fort Collins again to rest until the final descent into Denver. Taking 36 Bikeway and other trails back to Denver, I will end at a coffee/Donut shop near my place, Molecule Effect.

In the next blog, we will take a look at the gear that I am going to use!

*Featured Image is my bike (the Donutmobile) carrying donuts from Lamar’s by my house*

Someday

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”

From roughly elementary school to middle school, the Pledge of Allegiance was something that was ubiquitous to my life. Before every school assembly, before every class, before every cub scout meeting, the Pledge was said as some sort of mantra. It always made me feel weird saying it, but for the longest time, it felt like a requirement for me.

As I lost my faith in God, I kept saying the pledge, but dropped the “under god” part, which I would learn was added in the 1950’s as a byproduct of the Red Scare and that the daughter of the pledge’s original writer condemned the change. When I reached mid-High School, I only sometimes said the pledge, finding out as a freshman that it was not a requirement at the time.

In more recent history, I remember attending a meeting as an adult where the Pledge of Allegiance was said by audience, and that, after the “and justice for all” portion of the pledge, a member of the audience added “someday”.

Later on, I would find out that the person in question that said “someday” was a combat veteran that had been discharged from the army during the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell era and was unable to marry his partner because a state ban on gay marriage existed.

Though both of these injustices have been corrected thankfully, there are still many issues that need to be righted. The murder of George Floyd and, more closer to home, Elijah McClain opened up a conversation on the justness of policing in America and has led many, like the man portrayed in “Freedom of Speech”, to speak out against systemic racism in policing and other institutions in American life. The Coronavirus pandemic has torn open the safety net and exposed the inequities in the US healthcare system, along with unintentionally created an underclass of people that constantly have to worry about infection under the banner of being “essential”. Is this justice? To me, it would seem hypocritical to pledge to a country and ascribe ideals to it that it doesn’t already have. To that end, I agree with my former colleague, and if I were to say the pledge, it would be like this:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Someday”

Featured image is a war bonds ad from the 1940’s entitled “Save Freedom of Speech”

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