When Friday night arrives, will it or will it not have a suitcase?

It’s Friday, and the trains are back up and running, and I’m heading in to work, so I am also writing a blog post for today.  Callooh.  Callay.

I’m writing this post on my cell phone, if that term is still strictly accurate to describe the modern “smartphone”, because I didn’t bring my laptop with me when I left the office early on Wednesday.  This was not an accident; I decided that, even though I had a raincoat and an umbrella, it was possible rain might get into my backpack and damage the laptop if the rain was heavy enough.

That turns out to have been a thoroughly unnecessary precaution.  I don’t want to make light of the travails of those who had a worse time of it, but around here, the recent subtropical storm was not that intimidating.  Neither power nor internet went out, I didn’t even come close to needing to close the storm shutters, and the rainfall wasn’t all that impressive.  We’ve had far deeper puddles from a typical summer afternoon storm.

I guess that’s all good, though the trains didn’t run yesterday, nevertheless.  It was probably possible for them to do so, but I respect the decision of those responsible.  They can’t know ahead of time how debris and damage might affect the tracks, putting those riding the trains in danger and potentially derailing‒pardon the expression‒operations on longer and larger scales due to mishaps.  It was a sensible precaution to suspend service for the day.

I could have made it to the office by bus, but that’s a very long ride, and my boss basically told me just to enjoy the day off.  He has commented, in other contexts, on the fact that I’ve never taken a vacation in all the years I’ve been working for him, and that’s true.  The only time I’ve taken off has been on the two occasions when first my father and then my mother died.

As I said to him, though, what would I even do with a vacation?  I don’t have anyone with whom to go anywhere, and to me, vacations are things one does with other people.  I don’t even watch TV or movies with anyone, anymore, nor do I tend to watch shows that anyone else around me watches.  The closest I come to watching something with someone else is watching one of the many YouTube “reaction videos” for shows that I have watched.  I suppose that sort of situation is probably one of the reasons people like these kinds of videos; it feels like sharing a show you love with a friend who hasn’t seen it before.

Yesterday, during my “day off”, I decided to make use of it by going for a nice long walk (I even jogged about 40 paces during it) and then watching some movies of the sort that always used to get me motivated to get/stay in shape.  These tend to be specific kinds of action movies, and the ones I watched yesterday were Hit Man, Man on Fire, and The Equalizer.  Good, clean, violent, revenge-type fun where the strength of the hero is at least as much his cleverness as his physical prowess.

These were the kinds of characters I admired most‒of those in action movies, anyway.  And though the main character in Hit Man is a sort of born-and-raised, brutally trained and modified to be what he is kind of person, he’s still basically a relatively believable, and very clever protagonist.  And of course, both of the latter two movies were made when Denzel Washington was probably as old as I am now, or nearly so, and he’s never been an action star type.

I don’t think any of these movies are realistic, of course, but they tap into a sort of primal motivation that gets me going, and works far better than any thoughts of simply being healthy.  The whole “to live a long and healthy life” thing doesn’t push you much if you don’t even want to have lived as long as you already have lived.  But the feeling of wanting to be able to be a badass, to be able to carry out necessary violence in appropriate circumstances‒even if it kills you‒that can get even a person like me motivated.

So, I did some extra push ups of three different kinds‒it was appalling to me how few I could readily do at once, especially since I can do 35 dips at a time (and that despite being a fat pig).  I guess they really don’t work quite the same muscle groups.  I also did extra ab exercises and lunges and some other stuff.

It’s all silliness, of course, but as the writer of Ecclesiastes put it, all is vanity.  Still, vanity that gets one up and moving and trying to get in better shape is at least a locally useful kind of vanity.

Anyway, that’s how I used my “day off” which was one of the first I’ve had in a while that wasn’t just because I was sick, not counting alternate Saturdays.  Of course, in a few weeks I’ll have Thanksgiving off, but I don’t do anything on Thanksgiving.  I don’t have nearby family or close friends with whom to spend it, and if I were invited to join someone’s family’s celebration, I would probably feel too awkward and tense at the prospect to take them up on it.

It’s a bit of a depressing situation, but I don’t really know what to do about it.  I used to have family and loved ones around me (these are not mutually exclusive groups), but some members of those groups have ended up distancing themselves from me often enough‒and causing a great deal of non-intended pain in the process for me‒that I find that the sense of risk is greater than the urge to try to connect with anyone new.

Also, it’s led me to the provisional conclusion that I’m simply not beneficial to have as a family member or loved one or close friend, since I am the common denominator in all these situations.  So I also don’t want to inflict myself upon other people, least of all the sorts of people who would be kind enough and patient enough to want to be close to me, and to whom I would want to be close.  So, I’m not liable to change things on my own.

Most of the close friends and loved ones I’ve had in the past were either family, who were forced by blood to have me as part of their “in group”, or people with whom I’ve been almost randomly and fortuitously (for me) put together in school or university or work, or who, in a way, sought me out because they found me interesting.  I’m not as interesting as I used to be, though, and even those who most thought me interesting, such as my now-ex-wife, eventually found me intolerable.  She’s a smart woman; I have a hard time faulting her judgment in this.

Anyway, speaking of Saturdays‒and I did mention them not long ago‒I am apparently going to have this Saturday off; my coworker with whom I alternate Saturdays asked to switch and take this one over the next one, so I said yes.  Thus, I won’t be expecting to write a post tomorrow.  If something changes, well…you’ll know because I will have written a blog post.

In the meantime, I hope you have all had pretty good weeks, and that things are going well for you, and that all your potential disasters have turned out no worse than tropical storm Nicole turned out for me/us in south Florida.  Thanks for reading.

Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee, And hush’d with blogging night-flies to thy slumber

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for what was once only my weekly blog post, and which remains the most “formal” of my posts.

I’m waiting on the earliest train this morning, because I fully woke up a bit after 2 in the morning, and was not readily able to go back to sleep.  When it was finally late enough (so to speak) to come to the train station and not feel just silly about it, I decided to get up and do so.

I thought of something interesting during that early morning time.  Well, it’s not truly a new thought for me, but it’s something that crystallized a bit.  I’m going to try to start making short videos for my YouTube channel, discussing some specific topic in each one, though I may go off on a tangent or two, it being me.

But I’m going to set my timer when I start making the video, so that I have a maximum length to record, before editing, that hopefully will keep me from meandering too much.  My “Superman Neutrino Hypothesis” video was fun—for me, anyway—but I think it probably went on for too long for other people to stay interested in it.  So, if I set myself a limit, such that an edited video is between ten and twenty minutes long (at most), that might be good.

Of course, there are arguments that can be made that a purely unedited video would be better to share—more honest, more straight up.  For highly personal videos, that’s probably true.  It’s not as though I’m going to be adding any significant special effects or anything—that’s not what it’s about.  I don’t intend to create some homemade wannabe TV news program or special.  I just want to convey my thoughts about some subjects in ways that are likely to reach more people.

I know, obviously, that those of you who are reading this are the sorts of people who read the written word, and that’s great.  I think there are more people out there who might be interested in what I write, but there’s no good way to make people who might be interested aware of it, other than asking people to share the posts on your social media (please do, if you would), and for me to share them, and so on.

I’m sorry to have to accept that videos just reach more people than written posts and articles do, though in a far less efficient way (data-wise).  It’s tragic, but life is tragic, so what are you going to do.  Plus, I do sometimes like to talk, and though I have no one to talk to in person about the things that interest me, maybe if I start a one-sided verbal conversation, someone out there will engage with it.

I was thinking of starting to do some other new videos anyway, though the specific reasons for that are something I’ll try to keep close to my vest for the moment.  We’ll see what happens.

Of course, I’ll share/embed any such videos that I make here on this blog.  I may even also share them on Iterations of Zero, which I’ve been leaving fallow for a long time now, at least since I started just sharing my brain drippings here on this blog.  Maybe it was a mistake, or at least not terribly useful, for me to have made two blogs, but I had my reasons at the time.  I still like the name of it, and the symbol I made to represent it, which I use as the “cover” of many of my video versions of audio blogs, and of some of my songs, including the official cover of my song Like and Share.

Anyway, I expect to try to record this first foray this morning, since I’m up early anyway—you’ve got to seize the bull by the horns of the dilemma while the iron is hot or get off the pot, after all.  So, hopefully, you’ll get to see that soon.

To begin to bring things to a close, it’s worth noting that this is the last Thursday in September of 2022, already a week after Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.  I really didn’t hope to be doing any of this still at this point, but there have been reasons why I didn’t want to inconvenience other people around me too much, and that would have happened, otherwise.

Also, I’ve been trying to adjust some lifestyle matters related to my chronic pain—that’s a long story and quite boring, frankly.  It’s one of those things that sounds interesting, perhaps, if you leave it vague, but then if you knew what I meant, it would be dreary and even distasteful.  I’m just struggling, always, to find ways to mitigate my pain that don’t cause more problems than they solve.

For the most part, medicines have engendered vastly more issues than they have corrected.  Though I am okay with using borderline (and not-so-borderline) toxic doses of aspirin and acetaminophen and naproxen, all in various combinations throughout the day as needed, to mitigate things a bit.  It’s not as though I particularly want to avoid liver and kidney and GI failure, anyway.  It would frankly be okay if my whole system would just have a catastrophic meltdown sometime reasonably soon; it would save me a lot of bother.

Oh, and the hurricane clouds were heading north-northeast this morning, consistent with the hurricane now being northwest of my location now, or at least the center of its rotation (cloud-wise) being there.  That seems roughly to match the predicted track of the thing.  Locally the rain has mostly stopped, though it’s still windy.  But the trains (and apparently the buses) are all running in Broward County, and good on them!  I’m reasonably impressed, as I have been many time before.  It’s a pretty well-run organization, or pair of organizations.

It’s nice to see something being done rather well, especially when so many things in the world are done only as well as they absolutely must be to survive—and that merely because those that aren’t done well enough to survive do NOT survive, and the ones that remain include, seemingly in the majority, those just barely good enough to survive, since there are likely to be more of those than there are of really successful and exception things—that last one by the very meaning of the word.

I’ll stop myself here, now.  Maybe I should set my timer to constrain myself writing the first draft of these blog posts!  Do you think that might make them better?  Do please let me know, if you have any interest.

Right.  That seems unlikely.

TTFN

cane

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks…yadda, yadda, yadda

Well, it’s Wednesday morning, and it’s sloppy and wet, but the trains are running on time and so is most everything else here in southeast Florida, though the wind is a bit irritating.  Because of it, I was only able to write that first sentence while at the train station, then I had to close up the laptop to protect it from water damage, even though the train stations have roofs.

I’m sure it was a sensible decision for them to make the Tri-rail stations basically open-air with only an overhead covering.  This is south Florida, where it’s rarely so cold that heating is an issue, but on days like today—when it’s wet and windy because a hurricane is approaching the other side of the state*—I do curse the decision.  But I only curse it half-heartedly, because I can’t in good conscience really hold it against someone for doing something efficient and long-term sensible.

There are almost no courses of action, even ones that are clearly the best choices in the long term, that don’t have occasional drawbacks.  Life is complicated.  The universe is complicated, at least if you look at it very closely.  Actually, I guess you don’t have to look all that closely.

I thought about not riding the train today, but I couldn’t justify it.  The Tri-rail is running, and at a normal schedule, so I could hardly give myself an excuse for slacking off in any way.  Also, given the weather, there are a certain percentage of other people who will not go to work today, and that means the trains will be less crowded than usual—which, so far, mine is—and that’s kind of nice.  It’s not as though one gets any kind of extra service, since there is no “service”, but there’s less worry about not getting one’s usual seat, and it’s just generally less crowded.  I don’t know if this will be the case on the way home, but it is right now.

I was weirdly pleased to have a reason to get out my rain jacket, which is designed to be worn while riding on a motorcycle, and so is quite snug and water-repellant.  I don’t wear it much anymore.  I came close to wearing my long, black duster, which is also quite good against the rain (contrary to its name).  But the duster is cloth, and it’s heavier, so it’s likely to have been hotter to wear.  It is a very nifty coat, though, and I’m slightly sad that I don’t get to use it more often.

I got a slightly better sleep last night than the night before—maybe as much as four hours, though not continuous.  There were no issues with power or with cable, but then again, I didn’t honestly expect any.  This is south Florida.  The state and its utilities are far from beyond criticism, but rainy, windy weather—yeah, they’re pretty well used to handling that.

It’s a bit like Houghton, Michigan, which is on the upper peninsula of the upper peninsula of Michigan, and is where Michigan Tech is located.  They get absurd amounts of snow and cold every year, jutting as they do out into Lake Superior, but I’m told that Michigan Tech never closes for snowy weather, despite a reputed more than 16 feet of snowfall every year on average.

I can only imagine what would happen if any significant snow fell down here in the Miami area.  If any snow at all fell, it would be remarkable, but if it was a lot, well, it would be stunning in many ways.  One thing it would also be would be a problem for heating, since, basically, houses down here don’t have furnaces of any kind.  There are a few days early in most years where that actually becomes an issue, and it honestly gets too cold at night.  This is made worse by the fact that many of us don’t really have extra-warm blankets or the like.

And, again, here I am “talking about the weather” like the absolute cretin that I am.  I suppose that it can be excused a bit, given that there’s a hurricane passing near, but I’m embarrassed.  Still, embarrassment is a fairly normal state for me.  I’m almost always tense and anxious and uptight.

Twice in my life, while I was still a teen, I was given Valium, the actual name-brand pharmaceutical, for medical procedures—once for a heart catheterization, once when I had my wisdom teeth taken out.  I remember feeling ever so remarkably at ease and comfortable, even with my mouth full of gauze and blood, or with a wire going into my femoral artery and snaking up to my heart.  I wondered—and still wonder—if this is how some people feel all the time, or more of the time.  I basically have never felt anything like that way except on those two occasions.

I almost hit on the hygienist at the dentist’s office after my procedure.  I didn’t, but the fact that I even had the urge and would have been able to do it if I had so chosen is so unlike me that it’s astonishing.  And while I was having my catheterization, apparently the catheter bumped against some part of the conduction system of my heart and I had a very powerful double-beat, one so strong I could literally feel it up into my neck.  The cardiologist was plainly mortified and apologized sincerely, but I just smiled and said, “That was cool!”

This is how I knew I must never, ever get a prescription for Valium, despite chronic anxiety and stress.  It would simply be too easy for me to become psychologically dependent on it, for one thing, and for another, I know it would inevitably have diminishing returns, and stopping it would then make me feel worse than before.  That would be a true, ironic Hell.  No, thank you!

Drugs in general seem to affect me differently than most people, which may be a good thing.  I took opioids for chronic pain for some time, and they definitely worked to help the pain, but never for as long as hoped, and the side-effects were trouble, so eventually I had to wean myself off them, though not without some regret for the worsening pain.

I also do enjoy a rare alcoholic beverage—someone as tense as I am would be prone to, wouldn’t he?  However, I tend to feel rather unpleasant almost immediately after, and since my back problem, I’ve noticed that alcohol intake makes my pain flare up afterwards.

And I think I’ve mentioned the time I tried a hit of a friend’s marijuana hoping it would help my pain, but instead it left me vomiting for about two hours (and still in pain, though I was at least distracted).  THC is supposed to suppress nausea most of the time, for most people.  I really am alien, it seems.  At least, I’m atypical.

I will admit that mindfulness meditation does help my tension and anxiety in the short-term, but it seems to make my dysthymia and depression worse.  Maybe being too aware of my own thought processes makes me realize how unlikeable I really am, I don’t know.  It’s weird, but apparently there is some literature about Vipassana not being too useful for actual depression, though it may decrease the risk of relapse in people who are in remission.  I’m not up to date on the latest research, but it does disappoint me, because I’m fairly natural at meditation and self-hypnosis and the like.

Anyway, that’s enough for today, I think.  I’m getting close to my stop, and that seems like a good indicator that I should stop writing.  No, not for good—don’t get your hopes up—but for today, anyway.  I’m also, by the way, going to try to stop commenting at all on other people’s blogs and websites, after something that happened yesterday.  Apparently, I give minor offense or am rude, even when I certainly don’t mean to be, and then I feel both stressed and mortified as well as angry about being misunderstood.  Oh well.  Life is hard, but there are alternatives.  At least there’s one.  It becomes more enticing by the day.


*I added this footnote later to note that, as I walked from the train to the office, the clouds overhead were all moving consistently and rapidly west-northwest, which seems to indicate, if my reasoning is correct, that the center of the hurricane is still southwest of here, probably out in Gulf of Mexico for the moment, though I haven’t checked the reports yet this morning.

[Added note:  Since there’s a hurricane a-blowing, I decided to embed my cover of the Radiohead song “How to Disappear Completely” below, because the third verse includes the words, “Fireworks and blown speakers, strobe lights and hurricanes.”  I’ll also embed the original below that; it’s one of Radiohead’s most beautiful songs.]