Friday, July 2, 2021

A perfect morning

 Woke early again, but not *too* early. Another especially enjoyable episode of UnderCurrents Radio, a delicious hot cup of coffee, and a short story by Charlie Jane Anders in Worlds Seen In Passing. Based on my enjoyment of that story, I borrow an e-book of an Anders novel, then hop in the shower. Ready to pull a full day of my three jobs for the first time. Life feels good!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Good morning

 Undercurrents Radio on my cans, a steaming cup of coffee in my hand. Life is good. Work has been hard but not *too* hard. Accomplishing things. Learning. Producing from skills I built up. Over a minor health issue.Morning light, pleasant weather. Carrying on…


Glad to see Dave Winer getting some traction on the seriousness of our political situation. Joe Trippi prodded into action!

Email subscriptions changing

 Next month the email subscription feature of Blogger.com will terminate. This is the service I use for this blog. Alternatives include http://www.blogtrottr.com/, a commercial service for following feeds with email, or the Vivaldi browser, which supports RSS feeds natively. Add a comment if you have questions or suggestions.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Dick Van Dyke

 Watching the Kennedy Center Honors made me remember how great Dick Van Dyke is, particularly his dancing. Lots of good performances by others as well!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

I agree with Dave Winer’s sense of urgency and frustration regarding US politics - civil war in progress

http://scripting.com/2021/05/25/153110.html?title=ourLeadersLackTheWill

Current meditation practice

 Reading The Mind Illuminated: Meditation Integrating Mindfulness for some guidance and based on that, upped my practice to one hour sessions twice a day. I feel a strong need to meditate. I am now around a year and a half into my strict daily practice regimen and twenty years into my return to practice in general.

Hikes

This Washington Post story of a cross-US hike  is heart-warming and inspiring. Via my middle-school/high-school group of friends. The group includes a couple triathletes and many hikers. I am prepping for our (COVID-delayed) 50th reunion in the Fall, necessary for me.  I am walking at least an hour a day on my treadmill. Even with that, I won’t be able to keep up with them. I expect something milder than HikeANation, but... Maybe someday we will hit the Camino de Santiago. My longest hike was ten days on Hadrian’s Wall.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

LogSeq personal knowledge manager

Dave Winer pointed to a personal knowledge manager I have been looking at, LogSeq. LogSeq prompted me to look at Clojure, et al, mentioned in an earlier post - down a rabbit hole...

Friday, May 7, 2021

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Follow up to “Nothing Is True”: Deepfakes

 Nina Schick’s book “Deepfakes” is an excellent follow-up to “Nothing Is True”, which I pointed to in this post The use of AI to create synthetic media has only just begun; it will transform the political and cultural landscape in the next few years.

follow up to my post-breakdown post

- First, my successful outcome doesn’t mean things can work out for everyone enduring paranoid breaks; the therapist’s and psychiatrist’s skepticism were warranted. After all, this problem can be very resistant to change. My Everything At Once in Heavy Doses approach is no guarantee of success. My younger brother suffered from adolescent onset paranoid schizophrenia. He recovered only enough to live on his own on Social Security in Section 8 housing, never able to work. In his final years, he barely left his apartment. In the end he passed away due to a combination of personal and medical care mistakes. This was the combination that brought on his ailment in the first place: too many drugs, too much persecution by the authorities, and his innate tendencies. Some parallels with me were spooky to see, but his problems were far deeper. I am curious about how he would have reacted to a program like mine when he was young, especially before his major drug use. On the other hand, psychiatric thinking was simple-minded back then. Most would say something along the lines of  “drugs just ruin your mind/Turn On” or at best, bad versions of Double Bind Theory. 

- Second, nearly all the things I did to recover are integral parts of my life now. I do drink coffee, though 😁 

- Third, the post was not just a hopeful note for those in similar circumstances. It was also a status report for those involved in any way. I probably owed something along those lines.


More about “Nothing Is True...”

 I finished the book mentioned in an earlier post and recommend it more strongly than before. Now I understand Trump World better - get the background on the culture and mentality from which it arises. The book is not about Trump and Russia, by the way. Think “Situationists Nightmare.” Poor Olga and Julia grew up in this mileau...

Clojure and Zendesk

Studying Clojure, a LISP-family language, and setting up a test instance of Zendesk, a customer service system I might use for my business - I am excited and having fun! Something inherent in this work tickles my interest, although our deal pipeline excites me as well.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Nothing is true

Read this book: Nothing is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of The New Russia. An informative, entertaining, and discouraging look at post-Soviet Russia. I bought Ross a copy to provide additional context about his past escapades. I also thought about my conversation with Jeff about his adventures as a development consultant in Poland in the Nineties.

Bowie-ism

 I have to say I was not a big Bowie fan early on, although “Space Oddity” of course caught my attention. A vivid mid-Seventies memory is of two guys living in a school bus in front of Ralph’s house in north Oakland; they worshipped Bowie and were “into spirals.” I didn’t really know them, so I can’t say more other than their musical appreciation was prescient. Longtime friends Steve Adams and his buddy, musician Raymond Gorman, are members of a strong enclave of the College of Musical Knowledge (Bowie Division). This group is true fan territory, the type where details of album covers and lyrics and musical staffing are ripe material for trivia contests they regularly hold. Credit goes to them for pumping up my understanding of the importance of Bowie to the appropriate level. Right now I am listening to a week of one-hour shows from David Shafer’s New Sounds radio show. You can visit some of the recorded versions by searching for “NewSounds.org Bowie,” while some are no longer available due to recording rights issues. For insight into “Space Oddity,” see if you can read this Financial Times article modulo a paywall.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Theme and variations on Bowie’s Warszawa

https://www.newsounds.org/story/4161-theme-and-variations-warszawa/ 

My recovery from mental breakdown twenty years ago

At the dawn of the millennium I was in the throes of a mental and emotional breakdown. I worked one hundred hour weeks for deceptive lawyers, slept four hours a night (need eight), had an bad personal relationship at home, and was bullied by famous bloggers and their followers, I was a total disaster. I questioned everything I had done. I hated myself. Worse, I deconstructed my life via crazed imposter syndrome in a diary I had accidentally exposed to the Net - my fall published in detail. The result was ugly, to say the least. When I realized the scope of my failings and the extent of those watching my every move, I cracked. I fell into a paranoid state, frequently unable to tell real from imagined. Remember the old saying “Even the paranoid have enemies?”  Those enemies were amused. They toyed with me and bet whether or not I would suicide. People I knew for years abandoned me and joined the crowd. Needless to say, I was a mess. I had abandoned the stabilizing forces in my life and trusted nearly no one. Those I trusted were skeptics about my predicament and attributed everything to paranoia. I was alone in the depths of despair, with few tools to help. Nonetheless I knew I could recover if I could get out from under these pressures. Most importantly, I began to sleep more. I abandoned day trading, stopped working, ended my relationship, went offline for a year, and moved to a smaller town. I focused on values clarification and matching behavior. I started therapy with a Buddhist therapist. I closed my self hating diary. I stopped drinking massive amounts of coffee. Nonetheless, there was a rough road ahead. Having been online for twenty five years and knowing online presence was to be commonplace, I was at a loss. The idea of no return to the Net seemed ridiculous. My therapist did not value online life, so we argued. My father was Old School and thought nobody would harass me since I was “not that important.” He had never been online and did not understand cyber bullying. I made progress, but needed serious help to proceed further.

Eventually I dipped my toe back into swing dancing. This was a mainstay in the thirty years before I abandoned it. There I ran into a woman who I knew, Sara. She asked “Did you just get out of prison for a white collar crime? You look terrible and scared stiff.” She might as well have been right. At any rate, we met up a few times and she said I needed more help. She recommended I get a better therapist, which was accurate. I found one. Although he was skeptical of recovery from paranoid breaks, he took me on. So did a psychiatrist who was scared to take on paranoids. When I described my online experience to the shrink, he carefully asked if I also heard people talking about me on television. I scoffed - “impossible!” He prescribed meds, which helped. I then took up mindfulness meditation again - I had left it behind after a serious practice in the Seventies.  Steady improvements came. My friendship with Sara began to evolve into a romance, despite risks to both of us and her doubts that I would recover. Mainly I rested and meditated, taking advantage of forced early retirement. For one year I cared for my father as he died from ALS. Later I helped my SF Bay Area friend who had been like a brother since college; he eventually succumbed to bipolar disorder and suicided, sadly. After that I attended law school, which revealed me more suited for software. Eventually I traveled overseas with Sara during her summer breaks. Most importantly, I attended many meditation retreats of several weeks. Eventually, I began a low stress job. It was surprisingly instructive and healing. It taught independence of mood in the face of the public, which both strengthened and schooled me. I read often and worked on my computers again. All these influences added up.  I am now recovered for more than fifteen years and happy and successful. I keep my path clearly in mind and stay away from risky behavior. I know my limits. The online troops that bothered me are busy with their own lives; they are rich and famous and I am a minor footnote. My life now is good and  I am very grateful.

Postscript: Nine years after we began to date, Sara and I married in 2010. We’re now celebrating forty years of friendship. I have never enjoyed a relationship more nor fit so well together. We are pleasantly surprised. I am blessed each day and thankful. I work steadily on an online business I co-founded and love my work. My circle of friends is primarily people I’ve known and loved for decades. I look forward to the future, even given COVID, climate change, and aging. Thanks to the teachers, the lessons, friends and you who read this far in my cautionary tale. Be reasonable, I conclude. Life is workable. All my best.





One year of daily meditation

 Today marks the one year anniversary of my daily meditation practice, the first time I engaged so in depth with it other than the many one-month retreats I have attended. The influence of this is great, as great as the retreats if not more so. Daily practice interleaves life on the cushion and off the cushion much more than the hermetic style of retreat. Both have their place, though. At this time I remain focused on the daily but plan on solitary retreats sometime in the future. My current schedule is 40 minutes sitting/40 minutes of cardio/40 minutes of sitting, which is the increased pace I began on New Years Day.

Jimmy Herring and 5 of 7 11/20/19 live 2 hour show

 


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Dreams

 I’m in an especially good mood this morning! Although earlier in the night I was fighting off assassins and therefore disturbing Sara’s sleep, I ended the night with a long dream about a totally refurbished Dwight House. It was a super-premium version, mostly a finished idealized version with many features and staged by a professional service. As I toured prospective buyers I fell in love with the place again and again.

Life can be so good and Home Is Where the Heart Is!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Body-mind expression, a conversation with Paul Oertel from 1986

 This conversation about working with emotions, hold, release and expression is inspiring. Wish I had worked with Paul, who both taught at Naropa Institute and went to high school with me, and Antero Alli, the interviewer, a ritual theater creator. I have talked to former students of Paul, who were uniformly enthusiastic.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Beautiful pictures of Mongolian Eagle keepers

https://mymodernmet.com/mongolian-eagle-keepers-daniel-kordan/


Our friend Art visited Mongolia and the Eagle keepers. He is both an inveterate hiker/world traveler and a photographer. Always great to visit with him, but his own pictures of the trip were amazing. Wish we could go ourselves.

Obama on the “Gates incident”

 “...[Henry Louis] Gates affair caused a huge drop in my support among white voters, bigger than would come from any single event during the eight years of my presidency.”

Friday, March 12, 2021

Photo management services

 I have never used photo management services such as Flickr. Any recommendations?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

RIP Lawrence Ferlinghetti

https://slate.com/culture/2021/02/lawrence-ferlinghetti-city-lights-howl.html 

Samantha Buckwalter on discrimination and prejudice in the West Coast Swing community

 For those who have an account, here is a Facebook post by Samantha Buckwalter that everyone in the dance community should read. I have known Sam’s mother since college and therefore Sam for her whole life. She is informed, articulate, and compelling. I will add a link to a blog post once she has a non-Facebook version.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Meditation, weight loss, and performance goals

During the first eight months of the pandemic I gained eight pounds, reaching a lifetime maximum of 221. This was the result of too much sitting in front of screens and our gym’s closure. The gym had always provided variety plus I could tag along with Sara to draft on her discipline - both worked well for me. The lockdown reduced me to walking outdoors and on our treadmill at home - I have not picked up on the straps Sara adopted for bodyweight exercise. In April I decided to upgrade my meditation schedule to 100% daily, #NoTimeOff, as I have described in other posts. I was first inspired to do this when I read that Jack Dorsey meditates two hours a day. If he can be CEO of two companies and sit two hours a day, I can do more too. I have kept at this, hitting the ten month mark and upgrading to twice a day/forty-minute sessions in early January. While some people believe that willpower is a limited quantity and use in one area leaves less for others, I find the opposite happening: discipline carries over. Four months ago I switched to a firm keto diet (strictly limited carbs, in my case an apple a day). I also added a forty minute or so walk/treadmill routine between sittings. As a result I am glad to report I have dropped almost twenty pounds, closing in on my interim goal of 200 pounds. Kudos also to Ruby Rambeau, a Facebook friend and an expert fitness trainer and dance instructor; Ruby is an inspiration, even though I don’t train with her now (she lives in Chicago). Another resource I found is the FitBod app user group on Facebook, which provides a lot of motivation in the form of amazing Before and After pics. My longer term weight goal is 175 pounds, 25+ below where I am now. #CalorieDeficit! Luckily my gym now has an outdoor area and I will get vaccinated in the next two months, so I can start lifting again - #Gainz!

As for meditation, it provides its own motivation. I feel on track and the experience is simpler as the months pass. Most of the time I think I am at a good re-start point after five decades of meditation and wonder what retreats would be like *now*... #Mindfulness

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A new docudrama: “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Sara and I enjoyed the docudrama The Trial of the Chicago 7. In this film there is a side character, Fred Hampton, who was killed by a massive police raid. I just now watched the trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah, another brand new docudrama about to release to theaters and the HBO Max streaming platform. This focuses on the FBI pursuit and assassination of Hampton. Based on the trailer and history, I recommend watching the movie.

Also note: Truthout posted News yesterday about a FOIA response 50 years after the fact, one which reveals J. Edgar Hoover was personally involved in the campaign against Hampton; I wonder if that information is included in this film? I suspect the movie information is the source for that story.
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