His intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in the duller blogs.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the “traditional” day for my “traditional” weekly blog post, and so I began with one of the variations of my traditional “Hello and good morning” greetings.  I’m probably the only person even to notice such things, let alone to care, but I can’t seem to help but do both.

I don’t have many interesting things to report about myself lately, as you probably know, since I’m still not writing any fiction, and I haven’t played any music—either in the sense of playing an instrument, such as a guitar or cello or keyboard, or playing music on a device just to listen to it—in recent weeks, either.

Yesterday, though, when I was taking out garbage from the office, I encountered the little owl below, of whom I got a few grainy pictures and even a grainy video (it was still pretty dim out, and I didn’t want to try to get too close and scare the creature).  The video is silent because my phone, due to the humidity, had done as it often does and gone into headphones mode, even though there were no headphones attached to it.

20220810_063950_(1)

The owl and I startled each other nicely, because when I came out, it was barely three feet from me.  We both jumped a little, almost identically and simultaneously.  I’m pretty sure, after doing some Google searching, that it’s an Eastern Screech Owl, perhaps a juvenile one.  It didn’t fly away from me, just sort of hopped and trotted, but its wings appeared functional and symmetrical from what I could see, with no clear sign of injury.  After I made the video, it let me get about 4 feet away, where I knelt down and said hello.  It looked healthy and not terribly alarmed.

There is quite a lot of wildlife in south Florida, and particularly there are many birds and reptiles.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the owl and its ilk are gorging themselves on the many lizards, including the unusually large number of young iguanas we’ve had lately.

20220808_133054_(1)

Earlier this week, I saw the subject of this picture outside in the back, and it ran and ran, then I went past a construction dumpster, carrying garbage destined for a more standard dumpster, past where it had been.  I thought it might have already headed toward the little, wooded seating area in the shopping plaza, but then I realized it had tried to climb away only to find itself in the pictured basket, apparently puzzled about what it should do next.

Iguanas don’t seem to tend to be that all that bright.

We’ve had some other life in the long alley behind the office, including some good-sized frogs and their tadpoles, and what I think is a Cuban Knight Anole, pictured below, and one of which I saw quite a while back on the fence beside the house in which I live.

20220521_105221_(1)

20220419_163548_(1)

But perhaps the most interesting—in some senses—life form encountered was that seen in this video, in a wooden fence behind the aforementioned slightly wooded, rather pleasant, outdoor seating area in the shopping plaza/strip mall.

There was a time in my life when I would have been terrified even to get this close to such a swarm, but nowadays I just find it fascinating, and I wasn’t the only one.  I’m not sure what I meant when I asked about where the bears are in the video—apparently it was a sensible joke, because my coworker laughed about it.  But all I can think of now is fictional bears trying to get honey from beehives, a la Winnie the Pooh or similar.  And I don’t know why I should have thought of such a thing, even for comical purposes.

Oh, well.  I say and think a lot of things that are bizarre and peculiar, even to myself.

Of course, there is other “wildlife” in south Florida, both native species, like the owl, and invasive species, like the iguanas, the anole, and the humans.  There are other mammals besides humans, as well.  Around the house in which I currently live, there are of course quite a few semi-stray cats, and last night when going out back, I encountered a youngish male raccoon, who was at first nervous of me, though he hadn’t even realized I was there until he practically walked into me, at which time he retreated a bit—apparently I’m pretty quiet.  I spoke calmly to him, and he seemed reassured enough to come back past me to go wherever he was going, through a gap in the fences.  I took no photos, but who hasn’t seen raccoons before?

There’s plenty of food in the neighborhood for an enterprising raccoon or twelve, so I’m not surprised he looked quite healthy.  I know he has older kin, because I’ve seen other, chunkier relatives (presumably) of his in the area in the past, including once what I believe was a mother with her child.  There are also at least two opossums, probably a mother and child based on their relative sizes.

It’s all rather interesting, I suppose.  Unfortunately, nothing about me or my life is nearly as interesting as these animals, except perhaps in the “Chinese curse”* sense.  I still have my usual chronic pain, and this morning my back and side were quite stiff, so before I got dressed I rolled on lots and lots of “Icy Hot”.  I don’t think that was a good idea, because all I have now is that irritating, burning sensation all around my skin in the left half of my midsection, overlaying the stiffness and pain that was already there and persists.

Maybe such products do their work by making you feel relief when they fade away, so you think you feel better when you’ve just reverted to baseline.  It would be a pretty good joke by way of a pain-treating product.

Icy Hot does actually tend to help when I’ve got inflammation and soreness in joints, such as the base of my thumb, so I don’t want to denigrate it too much.  I’m just speaking tongue in cheek—which is a good way to set yourself up to bite your tongue badly if you hit a bump or just forget what you’re doing with your tongue.

That’s about all I have for today.  At least there are some interesting animals, and some exceptionally mediocre pictures and videos of some of them.  If it weren’t for all the people (me included) south Florida would be a really cool—though actually quite muggy and hot—place to be.

Wherever you are, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.  Relish the time you have with them; it is finite, and you will not necessarily have any warning before it comes to an end.  Revel in your time, as Tyrel said to Roy.

TTFN


*I.e., “May you live in interesting times.”

“It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind”

It’s Tuesday now, which generally follows Monday, which was yesterday.  Of course, in a sense, Tuesday also precedes Monday, and has done so for practically every Monday we’ve officially had.  But it’s not guaranteed either way.  There may, for any of us and even possibly for all of us, come a Monday not followed by any Tuesday, or a Tuesday not followed by any Monday.  But I don’t think that both things can happen, not for any given person.

Someday I will see my last Tuesday, and it will follow or be followed by my last Monday—but one cannot be certain of the order of those two final iterations of days, can one?  For those who die on a Monday, their last Tuesday is followed by their last Monday.  Otherwise the reverse is true.  I suppose that means that there is a six out of seven chance that one’s last Tuesday will follow one’s last Monday.  Which makes it quite likely but far from certain.

This Monday was a frustrating day at work for me—more so than most Mondays, to be honest.  But I suppose that isn’t terribly unusual.  Work is work, and for most people, it’s not expected to be a place one goes for fun.  If it were, why would they need to pay one to go?  Well, mainly because, even if you enjoy doing what you do at work, you still have to earn a living.  If you don’t do it, then someone else has to earn it for you.

I do think it’s fair to guess that, a lot of the time, even if they would have needed to do it anyway or else die, our ancestors enjoyed hunting and gathering.  Those who enjoyed doing the activities that kept them alive were more likely to do those things, and to do them well, and so were more likely to thrive and to leave more offspring and all that.  It’s one reason cats, for instance, like to hunt and kill things even when they’re well fed.  People are quite similar to cats in many ways, but our social milieu is far more complicated than that of cats—even in the wild—so we have more complicated things that we are built to enjoy, like both hunting (and gathering, presumably) and also doing social things with other members of the tribe.

I say “we”, but of course, I really mean “you”, using that word as a collective pronoun rather than a singular one.  I’m able to learn to do the whole social interaction thing, but it doesn’t come naturally; it often seems unintuitive to me, and I don’t tend to enjoy it except with a highly select few people.  And even most of the people I like to socialize with end up not wanting to socialize with me, so apparently, even when I like socializing with someone, I don’t do a very good job at it.

Maybe that’s because, with the people I really love and want to spend time with, I let me guard down and act like my natural self more, and my natural self is unpleasant to most humans.  I don’t really know.  I know that my natural self is unpleasant to me, at least when I’m not around the people I love, which is all the time nowadays.  But you can’t judge by me, since I don’t tend to like the same things the average human likes in many cases, or not in the same way.  I’m apparently quite weird.  That can work nicely to make interesting characters and situations in sitcoms and movies and the like, but in real life it causes trouble and is not fun.

Not that I want to be normal, either.  The antics and depredations and pantomimes of “normal” people are puzzling and disheartening and disappointing and frankly embarrassing and often infuriating.

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell I’m writing about today or why.  I honestly just feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do to try to alleviate my mental and physical discomfort…I’ve tried lots of things, believe me; I am very stubborn, and I don’t give up easily.

I honestly almost wish I had a drug problem.  If you have a drug or alcohol problem, at least you have those occasional, (apparently) sweet moments of escape, and even if your life begins to crumble, there are resources and people all around the place who will stage interventions and help you get back on your feet and will sometimes even praise you for your courage in fighting your problem.  Even jail can be a respite, and badge of honor in some circles.  And if you fail ultimately, and die from an overdose, for instance, well…I guess that’s no worse than most deaths, and better than some*, and people will mourn it and see it as a tragedy.  Not that this will do you any good once you’re dead, but still…

If you just have dysthymia/depression and an ASD (apparently), but you don’t find drugs or alcohol pleasant or relieving of your issues, people just think you’re shit to be around, just a downer, and they don’t like to spend time with you or certainly to spend your life with you.  And if you die because of your illness**, people kind of blame you and have the temerity to wonder why you would choose a “permanent” solution to a “short-term” problem.

As if depression were a short-term problem.  Depression is eternal.  Depression can make a single day feel like an infinity of freezing, caustic, malodorous, gray emptiness, like a bad acid trip that’s produced by the malfunctioning circuitry of your own brain, without the need for external pharmaceuticals.

Whatever else depression is, it entails a malfunction or lack of function in one’s very ability to feel joy, analogous in some ways to how one can lose one’s ability to see or to hear***.  The term is anhedonia, but that word doesn’t capture the Lovecraftian horror of it.  Imagine (if you’ve never experienced it for yourself) doing the things you’ve previously most enjoyed—eating your favorite meal, watching your favorite show or movie, reading your favorite book, going on your favorite vacation, just spending time with the person or people you love most—and being unable to feel that joy anymore, except perhaps in a very blunted and transient way, just a teasing reminder, while all your senses of the unpleasant and painful**** are working quite well, thank you very much.

I won’t say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  For one thing, I frankly don’t have any actual enemies.  Also, I think there are and have been people in the world who might “deserve” such a thing, or in any case in whom anhedonia and depression would be a benefit to society at large; I’m thinking of some world “leaders”, past and present.  But in general, I don’t recommend it.

Again, I don’t have any idea what point, if any, I’m trying to make.  But maybe that’s appropriate, since I don’t see any point or purpose to my day-to-day life, either.  It makes sense that my daily blog posts should seem meandering and senseless and unpleasant.  That’s simply a reflection of my true nature, I guess.


*Cancer, or COPD, or liver failure, things like that.  We keep ourselves alive long enough to die horrible, slow, painful and erosive deaths nowadays.

**And, by the way, depression has a mortality rate comparable to many cancers, and at least in some senses can engender greater suffering in those stricken with it, certainly for longer times—sometimes for decades, many of the days of which feel paradoxically as if they last for years.  And you never do hear anyone praising someone’s “courageous battle” with depression, do you?  Depression is too horrifying…a malfunction or malignancy in the very “soul”, and people stricken with it have a hard time coming across as “heroic”.

***You’d never really imagine, though, a scene in a movie where someone slaps a blind person and tells them to “snap out of it” and just start seeing again, already, would you?

****Which are, of course, more fundamental for survival.  People who don’t feel pain and/or fear die much more quickly and certainly than those unable to feel joy.  By logical implication, at least they don’t die in pain or in fear, and that’s good, I think that’s a kindness.  But they also don’t tend to leave many offspring.

The moon, a train station, a species of monkeys, and more

It’s Monday again, a day named for the moon (at least that’s what I’ve always been told), and as I looked up this morning, the moon was a tenuously thin crescent—what Dr. Becky might call a “thumbnail moon”.  Even when so effaced, it’s a lovely sight, especially when clouds move across one’s view, partially obscuring the moon and making it take fantastical configurations*.

Other than that, I don’t know what to write about today, really.  Currently, my footnote is longer than the main text of this post, though that won’t last.  I don’t particularly like writing about current events because, for the most part, I see them as the behaviors of baboons going through meta-level (and not so meta-level) primate dominance displays and hierarchical jockeying, throwing metaphorical (and not so metaphorical) feces at each other, and it’s just so pathetic that people actually think their lives and deeds are in any way sensible or rational.

I just now saw (case in point) a young man climb clumsily over the fence between the northbound and southbound train tracks—thus, crossing the tracks very far from an official, safe crossing—having to stop and go back while doing so because he dropped something in the coarse gravel as he went over.  Meanwhile, the elevator and overpass bridge were less than twenty yards away.

Either he’s too stupid to know what an elevator is** or he thought he was being a rebel, declaring himself not subservient to “the man”, impressing at least himself with his daring, if that’s the proper word.  Meanwhile he put himself at some non-zero risk of being hit by a train, two of which were arriving shortly (though admittedly, in the early morning you can see their headlights from quite a long way off).  This would almost certainly have killed him, even if the trains were slowing down, and worse still***, it would have stopped all the trains for quite some time, until police had thoroughly investigated everything.

In case anyone wonders why I tend to be misanthropic, and indeed, nearly pan-antipathic, occurrences like the above are quite influential.  I suppose that, at least to some extent, this trouble is in the eye of the beholder, but it cannot entirely be that, because surely no one can deny that there is an astonishing amount of idiocy in the world.  Innovations, advances, improvements are made by a tiny percentage of the human race, while if it were up to most people, the species would still be living in caves (in the few places where they ever did such a thing) or chasing game across various savannahs and scrounging for fruits and nuts and such.  In other words, if it were up to most humans, most humans would never have been born because none of their ancestors would have survived to reproduce.

I sometimes think it would be a good thing for more people to be rewarded for being voluntarily sterilized, at least until they were in some reasonable position to be able to raise a family.  Of course, that’s really what ordinary contraception allows, but those needs to be used on a daily, or per-occasion, or per month basis, or similar, and people are very good at dropping those balls (no pun intended, honestly).  Nature selects for people who like to have sex without thinking about it too very much, because they tend to have children somewhat more frequently than those without that proclivity.

Of course, such a system would be subject to abuses and bigotry which would make it problematic to enact.  And most religions wouldn’t go along with it, including our currently Catholic Supreme Court.  Those religions that continued and spread under the influence of their own version of natural selection were the ones that encouraged their adherents to “go forth, be fruitful, and multiply”, or some equivalent thereof.  The Catholic Church allows its priests to be celibate****, but it definitely wants the hoi polloi to keep dropping progeny as fast as they can.

That is a reasonably successful evolutionary strategy for a religion, at least in the middle term—on the scale of a couple of millennia, for instance.  Other religions have had and still have similar imperatives.  But of course, even if there were no other issues with the various religions, if their populations continued to grow indefinitely, there would of necessity be war between them (because ecumenicalism only applies when there is plenty of room or resources to go around, and/or when people don’t really believe their religions), possibly until they’d all killed each other completely and everyone else as well.

Yes, it’s possible for a strategy that’s very evolutionarily stable in the short or middle term to lead to extinction in the long term, and to take everything else with it.  If you don’t believe this, just think about cancer.  Every cancer is the product of the natural selection of mutated cells that have become, through various alterations, more aggressively reproductive than ordinary bodily cells.  And the individual cells among billions to trillions (before long) in a tumor that are further mutated to become yet more aggressive in their reproducing and spreading come to dominate ever more and more, iterating and accelerating the pattern as things go along.

That is, until they spread so successfully that they kill the body in which they originate.  Then everything dies, even those most successfully reproducing cells.  Thus, cancer can be a useful metaphor for a society, for a species, for a planet, as well as of course for organizations and other groups of people.  It’s possible, and even common and easy, to mutate into an unsustainable form that seems and feels like success while its happening.

An intelligent species might recognize and learn from this and be highly mindful, watchful of their own actions, and frequently reevaluate and even (gasp!) question themselves and their fellows, not out of malice but out of care for the future.  An intelligent species would strive to be self-aware and adjust its course and be on the lookout for ideas and organizations and practices that might become malignancies.  An intelligent species might well do all this and more.

The human race…not so much.


*Or to seem to take them.  The moon, of course, no more changes physical states due to clouds than it does due to the fact that it’s currently a crescent rather than a full moon.  Actually, the latter circumstance changes it more, because when the sun is shining on it directly, that part of the moon’s surface gets very hot, whereas when it’s in shadow the moon is very cold.  So, there is certainly some change brought about to the surface of the moon by the changing phases.  But not by the clouds.

**Which seems unlikely for someone in the Miami area.

***Not because his life is inherently worth less, necessarily, but since he is the one who chose to risk it, he’s apparently okay with the risk, and he certainly bears responsibility for it, whereas all the other people his actions could affect are, in this circumstance, innocent.  And there are many more of them.  There may even be lives lost in the aggregate along with significantly increased suffering caused by people being late for work—lost jobs, shifts at hospitals started late, consequent overwork of the previous shift and diminished attention, stress leading to poorer judgement during the day of various people, dogs and cats living together…you know the rest.

****Nominally so, at least.  Of course, the Catholic Church also made Darth Ratzinger into its previous Pope not so very long ago, even though he’d been part of covering up some portion of the vast child sexual abuse scandal that inundated the organization like measles.  It and they are fine moral exemplars for the world, don’t you think?