For a blog of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Hello and good morning.

It’s the first Thursday of Spring in the northern hemisphere, and of Autumn in the southern, so I’m writing my more traditional Thursday blog post, though there will be little to set it apart from all those that I write on any other day.  For that, I apologize.  I think my writing must grow tedious after a while (if not sooner).  My own words are nearly always tedious to me, as is my own thought.

I’m sitting at the bus stop, today, because yesterday I decided to re-try a pair of shoes I haven’t worn in a while.  They are quite nice in that they are lightweight, and also because they are porous, and so “breathe” well.  However, after my eleven miles of walking yesterday, they gave me several new blisters, albeit small ones, and that’s terribly frustrating at this stage.

I’ve treated the blisters, more or less, but they are still annoying, and today I’m wearing my Timberland boots, which at least didn’t give me blister when I last wore them.  But they definitely don’t have the porosity of the other make of shoe, and they are heavier as well, though for boots they are remarkably light.

I threw away the shoes I wore yesterday, and the other pair I have like them.  I don’t want to be tempted to try them again after a few days.  They had done their time, in any case, and the soles were getting rather worn.  They weren’t bad shoes, by any means, but for longer walking—at least if you’re using my feet, about which I have no choice—they seem to cause trouble, even after long months of use.

I know, I know, this is all very boring, and again I apologize.  I’m a boring person; what can I say?  At the very least, I’m certainly not pleasant.  I’m just a glitch in the program, a flaw in the crystal, a smudge on the written page, a grain of sand in the bottom of a shoe, or a spot of bird droppings on an otherwise beautiful painting.  I might be a curiosity for a bit, and even, from certain angles, seem to add something here or there, purely by chance.  But after a while, there’s only so much interest anyone can have in looking at feces on a canvas or tolerating the effects of buggy computer code.

Before long, everyone who is very close to me much of the time gets weary, and they go away, to save their sanity or their mood or whatever.  Apparently, I’m something of an emotional toxin or allergen.  I’m even allergic to myself, frankly—which makes me a sort of mental autoimmune disorder.  Well, I can’t change the nature of reality, I suppose.

This Saturday is the 25th of March.  According to Tolkien’s calendar, that is the day on which the One Ring fell into the Cracks of Doom and was destroyed, causing the final downfall of Sauron.  It’s an auspicious day.  Regrettably, there are no handy volcanoes in Florida—nor anywhere reasonably close to Florida, as far as I know.

I think I’ve heard that people in Japan sometimes throw themselves into Mount Fuji, but I may be misremembering that.  Anyway, falling into an active volcano is not a peaceful sort of thing, unlike what happens to Gollum in the end of the Peter Jackson movies.  One doesn’t have a soft, gentle landing on the surface of the lava, to sink slowly into it, apparently not even quite realizing what’s happening.  No, this is molten rock we’re talking about.  It is much denser than any flesh, and a human—or other animal—will not sink into it at all.

The initial impact of a fall onto lava seems likely not to be much gentler than a fall onto solid rock.  And then, of course, it is very hot, searing and boiling the flesh that hits it almost instantly.  There are YouTube videos in which you can watch this demonstrated (not on a live creature, but on a bag of stuff that’s roughly the same composition as a living animal), and it pops and skips about, flaming and sputtering like splashes of water dropped onto a very hot pan bottom.  Only worse.

One wouldn’t suffer for long in such a situation, of course, and it would certainly be quite spectacular, though I doubt a participant would appreciate the spectacle.

But anyway, though the Ring might of course first rest gently on the surface of lava before melting into it, Gollum would not sink at all.  He would, rather, be incinerated violently.  In this, interestingly, the makers of The Rings of Power, seemed to understand volcanoes better.  They trigger the initial eruption of Orodruin by rerouting a river so that its water flows through underground tunnels before emptying into the lava chamber and boiling explosively, setting the whole thing off.

It wasn’t quite a realistic depiction of such an event—I think if water fell on a flat, placid lake of lava such as we see in the show, it would certainly boil, and probably explode, but I don’t think it would trigger a general eruption like we saw, since it was above the magma, and would remain so, because of comparative density.  But they had to make it clear what was happening, so I guess we can give them some slack on that front.

Also, I don’t think the surface of the lava would actually be red hot liquid, unless it was actively flowing.  If it were exposed to the air, as it seemed to be, I would think it would crust over a bit, with the very surface darkening.  But I might be wrong about that.  I suppose that depends on just how hot it was.  I’m no volcanologist or geologist or whatever, so if anyone out there is an expert, I would welcome your input.

It doesn’t really matter, though.  I’m not going to be encountering any volcanoes, I shouldn’t think.  And though I have often toyed with idea of going to stand before the entrance to the Palm Beach courthouse, dousing myself in lighter fluid and gasoline, and setting myself on fire, I don’t think I have the willpower to do it.  It’s an intimidating prospect.  It would be hard for people to ignore, I have to admit, and maybe it would make people stop and think about the horrors perpetrated upon so many people by Florida’s badly managed criminal justice system, and the flawed priorities of such systems in general in the modern world.

More likely, people would just think I was crazy.  They would, no doubt, be correct, as far as that went.  But that wouldn’t necessarily mean my other points were wrong.

Anyway, I don’t expect that I’ll do that; I’m a bit too much of a coward.  But it would be nice if something momentous happened this Saturday.  I won’t be at work, so I won’t be writing a blog post, which means I’ll basically be lying around with nothing of interest to do.

What else is new?  Hopefully the rest of you are enjoying the beginning of the new season, whether it’s Spring or Fall.  Some major holidays are fast approaching, at least among the western religions.  If you celebrate them, and have family and/or friends with whom to share them, I hope you look forward to them and enjoy yourself tremendously.  You might as well.


volcano 3 in 3D

“What the hell am I doin’ here? I don’t belong here.”

I apologize for my rather boring blog posts over the past few (or several) working days.  I was trying to be as upbeat as I could, and to stop dwelling quite so much on my mood disorder and my otherwise disordered mental state, such as it is, because I feared that I would end up just turning readers off.  So, instead, I’ve focused on walking and blisters and silly things like that which, upon occasion, and in passing, would give a glancing blow at some interesting (in my opinion) subject matter like yesterday.

The fact is, I’m having severe, ongoing, worsening problems with my depression, and I feel like nothing I’ve done here or said here has been of any benefit to it or to me.  Or, well, what I’ve said and done might benefit the depression in and of itself, i.e., it might have made it stronger.  But that’s not necessarily good for the larger organism (me).

This is referring to the depression as if it were a being or entity in and of itself, with a separate nature and goals and criteria for thriving and so on.  It’s not, of course.  It’s a state of my own brain/body, a sort of self-sustaining but destructive pattern of internal and external interactions in a brain that’s already not exactly functioning in quite what might be considered a normal, or at least normative, way.

I’ve previously likened depression, as a state or an “attack”, to a hurricane—a self-sustaining pattern that forms and grows when conditions are right and is very difficult to break once it gets going.  I think that’s actually a decent analogy.  It’s certainly vastly better than the popular “chemical imbalance” notion upon which I’ve spat my vitriol more than once in the past.

As with hurricanes, I think it’s not entirely unreasonable to think of depression as if it were an entity of its own that tends to act to sustain and strengthen itself, as if it had intentions and a will, as long as one maintains the implicit awareness that this is a metaphor.  It’s easy to get into the habit of using metaphors so often that they stop behaving like metaphors in one’s head and start being, effectively, literal interpretations of things that are fundamentally otherwise, and it’s important to try to avoid doing that.  That way madness lies, as they say.

And madness does lie—almost always.  That’s one of the big problems with it.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make and to which I’m struggling to stick, is that depression acts as if it has a life of its own, rather as a tumor more or less literally acts as an entity in and of itself within the body, with its own “agenda” of self-sustenance and growth.

I’ve said to others, and to myself, that my mind is not my friend.  This is one of the reasons, for instance, that though I’m intrigued by them, I don’t think I would ever seek out an experience with any form of psychedelic.  My mental state often already has the feel of a bad trip of sorts, as I’ve heard them described.  I don’t want to pour gasoline onto that fire.

But I’ve fought with this entity in my head for almost as long as I can remember.  My brain, my mind, has always been weird—to me, relative to the people around me, and to many of them as well—though others also often seem inscrutable and inexplicable to me, at least in the sense of feeling things “in my bones”, though I’ve read and learned many things that give me at least an academic, intellectual understanding of things people do.  But I can’t say I grok them.

I’ve often said that basic primatology—particularly that which applies to primates that live in large groups—provides a sufficient framework on which to hang the vast majority of human behavior.  I suppose this should not be too surprising, since humans are primates, after all.  But it’s disheartening how rarely humans fully depart from the simple, chest-thumping, fang-baring, hierarchy-climbing, mate-seeking, dominance-submission behavior patterns that could with only a little simplification be transplanted onto the average baboon flange.

I cannot claim any superiority, of course.  My own, apparently “neurodivergent”, brain* is erratic and irrational even by its own—my own—standards, and I certainly cannot claim to be a well-adjusted machine running in optimal condition.  There are aspects to my machine that really are well put-together, and I’m glad for those, of course.  But they don’t seem to be enough to keep the whole thing operational.

I decided to give up even trying to look for help or improvement or to expect myself ever to get any better, and I tried not even talking—or writing—about it.  But that didn’t make for very good blog posts, apparently.  So maybe this one will at least be more interesting.  It’s truer to my inner state, if nothing else.

So, welcome to Hell, population one—I would like to say welcome to Purgatory, but there is no process of cleansing or improvement—of purgation—going on here.  There is only malicious, sadistic, hateful torment meted out by the demonic overlord of a realm repurposed for the eternal excoriation of a lost soul that is also the demon itself.

Okay, well, that paragraph was gratuitously melodramatic and misleading.  Sorry.  It makes the whole thing sound more exciting and impressive than it actually is.  Oh, well.  At least it’s not boring.  Except when it is, which is actually quite a lot of the time, come to think of it.  That’s one of the many forms of torture it entails.  Actually, that’s one of the big issues about it; even things that ought to be interesting are utterly mind-numbing, or seem so because the mind itself is numb (not comfortably) in the first place.

This is all a bit of mess here.  Again, sorry.  Returning to an earlier point, I’ll say that though the hurricane analogy is good as far as it goes, hurricanes have a tendency to peter out, eventually, as they move through the atmosphere, certainly once they go over land and lose the source of their water and heat, and then they kind of just fade away.  Certainly, no hurricane is going to destroy the Earth itself.

Depression, on the other hand, can absolutely do the equivalent of such planetary destruction.  In this, it’s much more like a tumor than a hurricane.  It’s a slow-growing tumor, perhaps like an indolent prostate cancer—the sort of thing you can have, and not treat, and yet you still might die of something else before the cancer ever would kill you (though kill you it may).  But even if it doesn’t kill you, it certainly doesn’t make you stronger.  It affects everything else in the system.  It steals energy from all the “good” things, when there even are any, and it further whittles away at those few good things by making a person intolerable to the people and things that are good in that person’s life, until nearly all of them are gone.

I don’t have any answers to this problem.  I know of ways to end the problem, but not to cure it.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence that anyone else out there has any good answers.  Believe me, I’ve looked, and I’m “qualified” to evaluate such matters, in more than one sense.

The world was not made for us; it was not made for anyone; as far as we can tell, it just happened.  Ditto with human beings and other forms of life—even weirdo, alien, replicant, robot, changeling, mutants like me.  Ditto with culture and civilization.  There’s no reason to expect them to work flawlessly or efficiently.  They just have to work “well” enough to be self-sustaining.  That’s natural selection, and it’s not pretty.

Well, it can be quite beautiful, depending on your point of view, but even Darwin noted how slow, cruel, wasteful, and harsh it all is.  Nevertheless, it’s the only game there is, as far as I can see.

I so just want to fold and walk away from the table.  Right now the blister on my foot is inhibiting that somewhat, but it’ll heal**.  Then maybe I can finally take a long walk off a short planet.  I don’t see any better options.

*Every time I take new or repeated tests to check on whether it’s accurate to describe it that way, I keep getting results pretty resoundingly supportive of that hypothesis.  I recognize that I am not performing scientifically rigorous evaluations, since the one administering and the one to whom the tests are being administered is the same, and it’s only too easy to introduce bias.  But I don’t have ready access, nor the mental wherewithal to take advantage of it, to resources to get a more objective assessment.  And when I go online and watch videos and when I read books and articles, when I go to social media and look at available resources and groups there, and so on, I find that, while these people all make somewhat more sense to me than most other people do, I still feel severely weird even in comparison to them, and I could not feel comfortable among them or interacting with them.  I feel no sense that I could connect to the related communities—to any communities, really.  I feel like a creep and a weirdo relative to every potential group or person with whom I could consider engaging.

**I almost accidentally wrote “it’ll heel”, which would be funny, but the blister is on the ball of my foot, not the heel, so as a joke, even an unintentional one, it just wouldn’t work.

I blog not you, you elements, with unkindness

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, February 2nd, and the day of the week on which I’ve long done my semi-traditional blog posting.

I don’t know whether I have the energy to hunt for a Shakespeare quote to alter and/or a picture to put at the bottom, both vaguely related to whatever “subject” I address in the blog.  But, of course, by now, you readers will know what decision I, the writer, will have made, even as you read the words I’m writing while I do not know.

It’s a bit wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, isn’t it?

Of course, the biological experience of time is much more malleable and irregular than the actual nature of time, but time is not a simple, straight, linear dimension.  It’s warped by the planet beneath your feet, among many other things.  Your physical body’s tendency to want to follow the most “direct” path through it‒and the fact that the planet is in the way, preventing you from following that path‒creates what we call gravity, locally.

When you’re free-falling, you’re coasting through time (and space, of course), and it’s the ground that actually accelerates you once you reach it.  It’s a hell of an acceleration if you’ve been pursuing your geodesic unimpeded for long by the time the ground throws itself into your path.  Human’s aren’t built to withstand that kind of acceleration.

I’m writing with my smartphone again, today, by the way.  It’s just too annoying to deal with the laptop at the bus stop.  I also wrote more words than I really had meant to write yesterday, probably because I type faster on the laptop, but I don’t think the increased number of words was associated with an increase in actual content.  I think the signal-to-noise ratio, if you will, of my blog post yesterday was lower than it has tended to be with the phone.  That’s not an objective measure, however, and others may disagree.

As for my thumbs, they already feel a bit better than they did, and they’re not giving me too much trouble now.  I have some Voltaren cream (or is it an ointment?) that I can apply to the joints if necessary, though I already take round-the-clock NSAIDs every day for my chronic pain, so it’s not really recommended that I add the Voltaren, a strong NSAID in it’s own right.  It increases the risk for kidney damage and liver damage and stomach issues and so on.  But I’m already at risk for those things (though I take Omeprazole for my stomach protection) and I don’t see easy short-term solutions to the problem.

This is one of the conundrums (conundra?  Probably not) that make opiates and opioids both necessary and yet culturally difficult‒our non-psychoactive pain medications are literally toxic to our bodies above a quite low threshold relative to their analgesic powers.  Yet pain does not easily just go away on its own in many cases‒biology is subject to much stronger pressures for pain to persist than to allow it easily to be relieved, and those incentives will remain so in any evolutionarily stable form of life.

Opiates and the like can work against nearly any degree of pain with limited direct toxicity, but with diminishing success and tolerance, requiring increasing doses over time*.  But they do affect neural circuitry, reward, and motivation, among other things, and so their use is complicated‒and it’s additionally complicated by the fact that the treatment of pain, physical and psychological, is somewhat taboo in our society.

The use of various substances in one’s own body is even criminalized, and so black markets arise to take advantage of the inevitable demand.  And without matters being out in the open and subject to expert scrutiny and monitoring and education, various abuses and issues relating to lack of access to appropriate guidance and treatment and support arise and worsen.

And they will persist.

Do you think continuing to criminalize the use of drugs of various kinds will decrease abuse and death and even violence related to the drugs?  You hypocrites!  I say to you that it is the criminalization of that use that created the black markets and abuse and danger and sordidness‒and, indeed, the majority of the deaths‒in the first place!

You punish people for trying, however imperfectly, to treat chronic pain and those who suffer from it from addressing it, and are surprised that sufferers turn to the market you have created for illicit meds.  You have the temerity to be “shocked” that people die from the unmonitored, unregulated, inexpert use and manufacture of these things which you have removed from the bailiwick of expert awareness and oversight and monitoring.  You took an area that should have been medical and made it criminal and are stupid enough to be surprised that opportunistic criminals (whether they be gangs or governments or otherwise) are not as careful and caring as actual medical professionals.

And sometimes you are so hopelessly moronic as to imagine that further punishments of both producers and suppliers‒and even users‒of drugs will change the problem or decrease it or make it go away.  As if making an already suffering person’s life even more difficult and miserable is going to diminish their urge for relief and escape from at least some forms of pain, and their willingness to risk the permanent end to their pain that is death by overdose.  I’d need to exist macroscopically in all the ten spatial dimensions of M Theory to be able to give that the eye roll that nonsense deserves.

Phew.  That was a heckuva tangent.

I don’t actually use opioids or related medications, though I have been prescribed them in the past.  They interact with my rather peculiar nervous system in ways I find truly unpleasant, though they can help with pain.  So, instead, I suffer constant daily assaults on my kidneys and GI tract and my liver, and I accept that.

It’s not as though I will seek treatment if my organs fail.  I have no insurance, for one thing, but also, I just don’t see any point in trying to preserve my existence.  Heck, I’ve been told I have a possible recurrence or deterioration of my congenital heart problem‒I’m not fully convinced that it’s really any kind of recurrence‒for which I had heart surgery when I was 18, but I have no interest in pursuing possible further exploration or treatment of it, anyway.

Let my kidneys fail, let my liver fail, let my heart fail!  Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks!  Why would I try to preserve or prolong my existence when I don’t even like myself, let alone have anyone else nearby who likes me and spends time with me***?

Anyway, that went off the rails pretty quickly, didn’t it?  It also got longer than I expected.  Sorry.

I still don’t know the answer to my initial wondering about titles and pictures‒but you all do.  And I love you for it.



*Though at least they don’t directly poison livers and kidneys, and the needed doses don’t keep going up without limit, though they are nevertheless often higher than most doctors are willing to prescribe.  This is largely because doctors fear having what happened to me happen to them, and who can blame them?  The only exception to this general hesitancy is with cancer.  People with cancer are allowed to be treated with whatever level of pain medicine it takes to reduce their pain, because in the typical human “mind” having cancer pain is different, and people with cancer are special.  They’re allowed to be dependent on pain medications, because surely they have the only type of pain that can go on and on without resolving and can steal all the joy from their lives, eventually killing them.  Anyone else is just a disgusting drug addict, a scum of the Earth, and deserves merely contempt**.

**The latter portion of the above paragraph is sarcastic.

***I cannot blame them, so don’t be defensive on my behalf.  I find myself infuriating and disgusting.

Even the bus route isn’t a prime number

Well, it’s Monday morning, the second Monday of 2023.  I’m probably going to stop keeping count of such things pretty soon, so if you’re interested, you’ll need to keep track for yourself.

I hope you all had an excellent first weekend after New Year’s.  I myself did not.

I won’t get into the specifics, but remember how I said that I was considering changing my daily schedule so that I would take the bus to the train to work and then back again?  Well, that change has been forced upon me by various circumstances, mainly related to my own mental fatigue.  It turns out that I wasn’t feeling as rested on Saturday as I thought I was‒that was apparently an illusion brought about by the fact that I was so chronically fatigued that a slight increase in sleep duration‒brought about by having taken half a Benadryl, in this case‒gave me a foolish sense of false well-being.

So here I am at the bus stop now, waiting for the first bus of the day.  Unfortunately, it arrives about half an hour later than my memory of its schedule, but it’s been a long time since I took it, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about that.  I’m waiting for the southbound bus.  I think it must have been the northbound bus I was thinking about when I thought it arrived half an hour earlier*.  In any case, I’m quite a bit early even for that, because I woke up and left the house at my usual time.  It looks like I won’t even be close to catching the first or even the second train this morning.

I had been thinking about buying a new bicycle, and if I took such a means to get to my usual train station, I might make the second train of the day, but then I would be lugging a bike around, and I would also get quite sweaty from riding.  That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s slightly annoying.  Still, it would be faster than the bus in the long run.

Of course, I could just plan to get up later in the morning, and come to the bus stop closer to the appropriate time, but sleeping late enough in the morning is not something at which I’m that skilled or gifted.

As for writing…well, at least I am probably going to finish this blog post in plenty of time.  I may well finish the first draft before the bus comes (I did).  But I don’t think I’m going to be trying to work on any fiction after that, even fiction that I had already begun.  I don’t think I could completely finish a new novel and have it ready for publication before October of this year.  I certainly wouldn’t want to work on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, because that’s supposed to be the first of a series, so even finishing it by October would be rather beside the point.  Only Outlaw’s Mind has any chance of being done, but that’s far from certain.

And once October comes, my age will no longer be a prime number, though the latter portion of the year still will be for a few more months after that.  And I don’t want to be past my prime yet again if I can help it, because the next time I and the year will be in my prime is far too long from now to contemplate.

It’s not that riding the bus to the train and then back again is such a big deal.  Hell, I did it for a long time after getting out of work release**, and though I was tired a lot, I was thinner and more fit, certainly.

It’s amazing how things that would have been minor to moderate inconveniences way back when one had family and friends around, as well as a (misguided) sense of purpose, become just overwhelming when one has no one around from day to day, and no ability to connect with anyone, and when one is already teetering on the edge of collapse***.  Setbacks feel like mortal crises, and in a way, they are, because they really do push one to the brink of literal self-destruction, and that brink itself is not a stable platform.  It’s a cliff ledge over an abyss, and it’s riddled with cracks, more and more all the time, and it could give way any second, at the slightest perturbation.

Ugh, all this heavy-handed use of metaphor is galling.  I feel as if I’m trying to be evasive or something, as though I can’t say clearly what I mean without making things worse.  I guess my point is merely that I have nothing to which to look forward, I am achieving nothing and contributing nothing, I have lost almost everything that mattered to me, as well as pretty much all the skill I’d ever had at connecting to other people, and so I have no local, day-to-day emotional support nor any ability or clue about how to achieve it.

Even when people try to reach out to me, I react defensively; I find such situations stressful and even frightening at some level, like a feral cat that can’t be approached even when someone is giving it food.  It’s difficult to trust other people after a certain point.  If nothing else, prison can do that to you.  I even tend to say now that I don’t trust anyone, and even that I don’t believe in trust, I just take calculated risks.  I’m not lying when I say that; it’s really the way I think.

It’s all just so tiring and thoroughly unfulfilling.  And it’s not as though my chronic pain has stopped, even though I don’t write about it often.  It’s been going on for twenty years already; why would it suddenly stop?  That’s just now how significant biological damage works, especially neurological damage.

Anyway, the point is, I’m getting fed up and worn out, and things are more or less entirely pointless to me, as I suppose they have been for a long time.  I’m 53 and the year is ’23, which are both prime numbers.  Today isn’t a prime number day of the month, but there are 7 more such days left in January…and seven is a prime number itself!  That’s nice.

I’m just about out of gas.

But like I said, I hope you’re all feeling much better than I am.  If not, the world is even worse than I thought it was, and that’s saying something.

*I was correct in his assessment.  The northbound bus arrived at the time I had been expecting, incorrectly, to catch the southbound one.  The situation makes sense.  The intersection at which I was waiting was near the south end of the bus route, so it was near the beginning for the northbound, but near the end for the southbound.

**In fact, I feel almost as though I’m regressing back to my earlier state.  Maybe I should just arrange to do something so that I go back to prison.  But that is a pain.  There are good things about prison, but the inconvenience is irritating.

***It’s funny, on Saturday my brother texted just to ask how I was doing, and I replied that I was metastable at least‒an unusually effusive report for me, but more accurate than I knew.  Those of you familiar things like energy diagrams for quantum fields and for chemical reactions and for other similar systems will recognize that something that is metastable is a system that will stay in its current state if undisturbed‒it’s on or near some plateau of the energy function‒but if nudged at all will fall down the slope of the energy curve.  Imagine a pencil perfectly balanced on it’s tip.  If nothing disturbs it in any way, it could stay that way forever.  But if even a slight breeze comes along, it will topple.  I feel that, if I’m not indeed already toppled, or toppling, then I’ve barely been able to retain my balance on my pencil point.  I don’t think I can keep it up much longer.

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.



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.]