Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Exercising My Own Right to be Stupid

So I bought a new bicycle for myself a month or so ago.  This is not unusual.  I have owned and ridden too many bikes over the years to remember.  Owning a bike shop makes it easy.

This new bicycle is one of the latest hip mountain bike incarnations to be thought up in the design labs of the bike industry.  It is a Plus size mountain bike.  A 27.5 plus mountain bike.  It has fatter tires than traditional mountain bike sneaks.  There are many other differences, starting with the frame, but none as obvious as the tires.  What makes this bike so special is the phenomenal traction it has on the trail.  So far, I have failed it before it failed me.  It is indeed an awesome bike.  Fuji nailed it with this one.

But the bike is not why I am writing this post.  It is possibly related , but not the main thrust.

20 - 25 years ago when I was definitely nummer and dummer, I consistently pushed my off-road skill set past the sanity line.  One of our favorite lines was, "If you ain't bleedin, you ain't ridin hard enough".  As I was only gifted at birth with a normal range of athletic ability, when I began to ride mountain bikes, I began to crash on a regular basis.  While most were minor resulting in skunned knees, hips or shoulders, I did end up in the ER a few times.  A couple of concussions, a period of living with my first 8 vertebrae compacted, broken collar bone and stitches a couple of times.

After I broke my 5th helmet in less than 10 years, I decided that riding within my skill set was probably a good idea.  I had worn out any sympathy from my wife years ago and suddenly the dingers I was taking were taking twice as long to heal as they did when I was in my 30s.

I cranked it back a notch and began to come home relatively unscathed most rides.  Still had fun, and no dirty looks or sighs of disgust from my darling significant other.

That was roughly 1998 or so.  For closing in on 20 years, I have not stacked it hard enough to bring a doctor into my life.  No broken helmets anymore.

Enter my new bike.  The hot hip new steed that is currently one of the rages floating around the bike world.

My second or third ride, I stacked it hard, went over the bars and crushed my helmet on a rock.  Definitely rang my chime.  Lost some seconds or maybe a minute or so trying to remember what happened.  Went on self directed concussion protocol because I absolutely did not want my wife to find out.  Apparently, I was okay. I felt fine the next day after waking up 3 or 4 times in the middle of the night to check out my eyes.

The next week while trying to perform a tight turn I should not have, I crashed again.  This time my right forearm took it hard.  Immediate blood and ugly stuff drenched my gloves.  Dave had some duct tape and he taped it up so I could ride back to the shop.  From the hit I took, I knew it was probably stitches time.  I was right.  It took a total of 10 stitches to close me up - 3 in the deeper parts inside and 7 on the outside.

As I could not really hide this mishap from my wife, I decided to take the coward's way out and call her from the urgent care facility so I wouldn't have to face her evil glare.  Doing it over the phone did not help.  Her disgusted voice was even worse than the stare.

I blame the bike.  I blame the bike industry.  I blame anyone but myself.  If they had not invented such a fun bike to ride, I would not have been tempted to ride beyond my skill set like I used to.  But I will say that even though the bike is an evil ride, it is very much a fun evil ride and I will be riding the crap out of it as long as I am able.

So much for being older and wiser ................................

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gerrymandering

A post over to "Who Hijacked Our Country" about the recent court decisions regarding the new voter restriction laws got me to thinking about how rigged the whole election process is in this country.  The Democrats and the Republicans have tweaked and twisted the system over the years so that every election tilts in their direction.

While the "two party" system seems to work when both of them actually compromise with each other, the polarization of the last 20 plus years has this country's political process so knotted up, nothing is getting done.  It is entirely too easy for gridlock to happen when only two parties have the reins.  A viable third party would shake both trees and force policy movement that in the end could be considered progress.  Right now though, we are dead in the water and tempers are at an all time high.

But how to change the current political landscape to allow for the rise of other parties?   Hmm.

One thing that could be done is to create a national system that does not allow states and local areas to pass laws or redistrict based on arbitrary and often prejudicial criteria.  There should be a basic set of election rules every state and local area has to adhere to.  Elections are too important to allow locals to set them up as they please.

Included in this national election directive would be the outlawing of gerrymandering, the redesigning of congressional districts to favor one party over another.  The number of Representatives in the House could still be based on population, but they would be elected in state wide elections, not by specific districts.  This would instantly negate gerrymandering.

I know and hear the whining about how the less populous areas of a state would be ill served by Reps being elected in state wide votes.  Cry me a river.  The damage done to the elective process by gerrymandering over the years far outweighs the predicted and as of yet unproven lack of representation to folks in the more rural areas of a state.

Regardless, the design of congressional districts should be taken out of the hands of partisan state legislators.

Later .....................................................

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What an Entertaining Election

In the face of growing ridicule and disdain, The Donald and his merry band of Trumpeteers press on in their heroic quest to defeat the windmills of logic and reason.  A fine and brave army of Homers insist on defending their inalienable right to be stupid.

Meanwhile, in the age old smoke filled rooms of the Right, crusty old white men are just now realizing the import of what they were responsible for unleashing on an unsuspecting public.  Wisely, their counterparts, the aging Hippies of the Left are restraining themselves for the most part so as to allow the Right the room necessary to defeat itself.

Damn, Politics can be fun to watch.


Later ..................................................

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tax the Rich

A memo regarding Governor Paul LePage's (Maine) upcoming budget proposal was conveniently leaked to the local media recently.  In it were some juicy tidbits about what our Governor wants to include in the budget he hands over to the Legislature to consider.

He wants to cut the cost of state government apparently............. Hmm.  Laudable goal for sure.  I cannot think of anyone who would not want the cost of government to come down.

What's odd though, is the two proposals mentioned would seem to offset each other at best, and at worst, make it appear he has no interest in cutting costs, just re-distributing wealth, ........... again.

Based on his track record over the last 6 years or so, I would tend to believe the latter.

First, he wants to cut the state employee population by 1500 to 2300 people.  That amounts to about 20% of the people who work for the state.

Second, he wants to drop the income tax rate for the top tier Richie Rich's from 7.15% to 5.75%.

Okay, here's the thing.  I am damn sick and tired of hearing about how tough it is to be rich in this country.  Waah, Waah, Waah.  "Trickle Down Economics" does not work.  We have had at least 30 years of efforts in various forms to prove the notion that if we leave the Rich with more money in their already bursting pockets, that their good fortune will "trickle down" to the rest of us.

Bullshit.  Over the last 30 years of feeling sorry for the Rich, I have watched their stacks of cash get fatter, while mine has gotten significantly slimmer.  And yet, they still whine about how unfair the tax code is.  They are right, the tax code is unfair, but not to them.  I would love to see their rate double, Hell, wouldn't break my heart if it tripled.

Of course Paul uses the classic fear tactic of telling us if we don't cut the Rich a break, they will take their money and leave the state.  ............................ Hmm .......... Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

I do not understand how we allowed ourselves to be convinced we are somehow beholden to the Rich.  Without the sweat of our brow and the the pittance we get paid by them to buy their products, the Rich would be nothing.  They need us a whole lot more than we need them.  We should start pushing our agenda hard.  Get in their face.  Be unapologetic about insisting they ante up more to make this society a better one.  Their free ride should be over as soon as we can find the balls to insist on it.

Later ...........................................................

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Moments of Mass Sadness

Moments of mass sadness have started to come back to back to back, hardly giving me the time to comfortably assimilate and deal with the sad event that came before.  As Nasreen Iqbal said in the comment section of my post about the Dallas shooting, it was not just a bad week in the US, it was a bad week in many parts of the planet.  Those bad weeks are coming one after the other.  The World is getting no break from the reports of deaths for no tangible reason other than to kill as many whoevers they can.

She is right of course. The planet seems locked into a negative rhythm these past 10 years, with each new year yielding an escalation of misery on a growing number of regional populations.  There are more displaced persons on the planet at this time than have ever been recorded before.  According to BBC News, there are up to 60 million people forced out of their homes and into the begrudging hands of countries ill equipped to handle the huge influx.

My mind cramps when I try to appreciate all the various reasons folks are forced from their homes.  My mind cramps when I try to understand reasons some groups have for killing people not directly involved in their struggle.  And the fact that the horror of mass deaths are now coming right on top of each other, I have come close to shutting down my empathy and going numb.

Nice, France ..............................

I just do not know what to say.  Words cannot convey the ache I feel for the senseless carnage one sick individual was able to create by simply driving into a crowd.  Helpless comes to mind.  Angry as Hell is right up front also.  What can an average citizen do to fight the assholes who want us dead?

The only thing I can come up with is .......... I refuse to give them my fear.

Later .....................................

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Woman's Touch

First I want to be clear I was a Bernie supporter until it became obvious he had no chance to secure the Democratic Party's nomination.  Hillary is my choice now.

The Old White Guy party, made up of both Democrats and Republicans, has proven over the last 15 years or so, that they will need to make room in those smoke filled rooms for minorities and women.  Their track record for running this country has been spotty at best, and in recent years, abysmal.

America drove home this point when it elected, not once but twice, a black man to be our president.  And I for one, feel Obama did a very good job, given the poisonous political atmosphere in which he had to operate.  The viral hatred aimed at him and his policies were like none I have ever witnessed in my six plus decades on the planet.

Americans are angry.  Right, Left, and in between.  The reasons vary, but the intensity of the country's displeasure with DC seems fairly evenly spread throughout our demographic groups, economic, social, religious.  Electing Obama and the formation of the Tea Party and it's subsequent effort to take over the GOP, are loud indications we want something different from our leaders.

So here we are facing another Presidential election.  Our choices are a woman with a long history of controversial public service and a snake oil salesman with absolutely no public service time in his record.

I understand we are pissed off.  But for me, there is only one logical choice.  Hillary may have her issues, but experience, domestically and internationally is not one of them.  She has shown backbone throughout her long public career and not backed down from making the difficult decisions that came her way.  To Trump's credit, he too has not backed down from making decisions, but it seems to me, his decisions were self serving with no room for the greater good of the business community he operated in.  He is and was a self serving blood sucking jerk.

The two choices we have in front of us are not ideal for any of us.  They rarely are.  And rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater by electing a totally inexperienced sleazy businessman,  maybe we should keep some political continuity with someone who knows their way around the various political pits on the globe.  This time let's elect a woman.

My experience with girls, women, the fair sex over the years has proven to me, they are generally more focused and can make the tough decisions better than men.  Physical domination sucks hind tit to mental toughness and focus every time.  Men throw their weight around, thump their chests, but when push comes to shove, they are more likely to cave or set their feet in the closest pile of clay they can find.  Men are more likely not to act.  Women make their minds up and go for it.

The Old White Guy's Party needs to relinquish their strangle hold on our Future.  It is time for a Woman's Touch.

Later .......................................................

Saturday, July 09, 2016

All Lives Matter

Two more black citizens lose their lives and the fermenting anger locked in our country's soul rises to the surface.  Protests nationwide, while physically peaceful, do not adequately relay the deep seeded fear and mistrust that divides White America from the rest.  Suddenly gun fire erupts in Dallas filling in the clueless White population how much anger and fear really exists in Black America.

White citizens sitting in comfortable chairs in comfortable homes watch on TV, the two Black citizens in their last moments on the planet.  "Oh that is just so sad," or words to that effect.  And then they eat breakfast in their comfortable kitchens, get in their comfortable cars and head out to their comfortable jobs.

Underestimating, or rather totally oblivious of the depth of despair and anger felt by the folks of other colors and ethnic origins, the comfortable White citizens are horrified when five of their own race and protectors of the common good are gunned down by sniper bullets.

"My God, what did they do to deserve being shot in the back?" Hands begin wringing, White anger builds and before anyone can get a handle on it, the powder keg is primed and ready to blow.

I witnessed first hand the violence, hate and discontent that gripped our nation back in the 1960's.  While playing a lacrosse game against St Alban's Prep in high school, the all white squads of both teams watched Washington DC burning.  The game went on even as it appeared the city was being destroyed.  White people were clueless then and apparently they still are.

I hate race card issues.  Matter of fact I hate that there is even a word like "race".  All our lives would be so much simpler if both sides could/would drop the term from our lexicon.  The fact that humans come in different hues is such a piss poor reason to hate each other.  Nobody's life is more important than another's.

All lives matter.

Later .....................................................................

Sunday, June 19, 2016

She's a Fuzzy Woman and .........

BA and the Kid, about 1988 or so
I am a hairy man.

Today being Father's day and all, I decided to screw the pooch and get into whatever struck my fancy at the moment.  As I gleefully squandered my time, I considered what Father's Day was for me.  I have written about my father, "The General".  I considered writing yet another proud papa piece about the Kid.

Thought about both and decided I had been there, done that more than once or twice.  Figured I'd skip memory lane this year and just continue to waste a perfectly good day.

Wasted day or not, I would be going to work naked on Tuesday if I did not at the least do one load of laundry.  So I broke loose of the lazy dog chains I had decided to not fight today and tossed some duds in the washer.

It was when I was removing a load my wife had put in the dryer I came up with the title line of today's Father's Day post.  There is a penalty just shy of death for not cleaning out the lint collector in the dryer.  I forgot once and when my darling snuggle bun saw it, I never did it again.  She can turn on the pissed off machine at the drop of a hat.  So, I was careful to pull the lint collector to clean off the build up of crud that accumulated from the drying cycle my wife's clothes went through.  I noticed once again a preponderance of kleenex flotsam and fuzz from where ever she finds so much fuzz.  I chuckled and said out loud, "You are indeed a fuzzy woman."

When I went to clean out the lint from my load of clothes, I noticed less build up of fuzz and more hair.  Apparently, even with a thinning crop on top, I am still a fairly bushy fellow.  At least judging from the lint collector I am.  And let me tell you, lint collectors do not lie.

So today's Father's Day post is a tip of the hat to my long suffering and hard working wife.  She somehow decided to put up with me these past 35 years even after all the stupid husband shit I pulled over those years.  I really would not be complete without her in my life. ....................

.................. And I would not have become a father without her help.

Later ..........................................................

Friday, June 17, 2016

Irrational Anxiety

Irrational anxiety, already ramped up due to election year stupidity, is reaching into the type of madness that followed 9/11.  Gun stores are selling out of weapons and ammo.  Stupid politicians make claims and place blame that have no basis in reality.  Irrational evangelicals make claims that God did this to punish Gays.  And America falls back into the stifling fear that grips it whenever something no one can control happens.

No matter what we do in the future, whether it be based on common sense or the typical knee jerk over reaction, Isis has won this round.  They did not have to do anything more than tap into the hate that flows under our national skin.  We were too anxious and apparently eager to give them that which they seek ...............  our fear.

Why do so many people seem to enjoy being afraid?  Anger I can understand.  But illogical fear?

Well done America, well done.

Later .............................................

Monday, June 13, 2016

Another Cloud of Sadness Descends

And once again a nation grieves over senseless terror carried out by a radicalized religious zealot.  Before the flags have even been dropped to half mast, various leaders get up on their soap boxes to capitalize on the moment to push their agendas.  Cries for stronger gun control, calls for stricter border controls, the knees jerk all over the map.   And of course, neither will solve the underlying problem that Humans seem to love killing each other.

The media feeds whatever flames they find with irrelevant questions and unsubstantiated rumors, hoping to keep this story at the top of the news cycle for the next few weeks.  They invade the privacy of fresh personal grief of those who lost someone they love and project it over the globe.  And the rubber necking public eats it up.

One thing I noted was it seems important that we all know this was a "gay club".  The emphasis of the word "gay" tells me that for all our inclusive posturing, we as a nation still find it necessary to pigeonhole people based on something considered outside normally accepted behavior.  Yes, it does seem important to know that the club was targeted possibly because it was frequented by gays, but tell us once and move on.  Don't beat that horse every time you mention where this awful incident occurred.

Intolerance of any kind pisses me off.  Homophobic religious fanaticism is at or damn close to the top of my list.  Because both seem to bring out the worst in the people with those views.  It certainly did in Orlando Saturday night.

Later ....................................................................




Friday, June 10, 2016

Trump Moths

In the pucker here in southern Maine, the outside critters pretty much do as they please.  Fur bearing, six legged, slimy or ones with wings have a paradise in which to exist.  Sure we locals of the human kind interrupt their rustic existence with roads, homes and gardens.  Rather than endanger the critters who live outside, we seem to offer them easy pickins that add comfort and guaranteed streams of sustenance.  It's as if  our homes and gardens are like McDonalds, fast and easy with drive by windows of opportunities.

Offsetting the constant battle to retain supremacy of the lands we have chopped out of the woods, is the beauty that pops in and then out on a daily basis.  Birds, fur bearing critters, and our outrageous numbers of Moths, Dragonflies, and Beetles all add a smile on my face whenever I happen upon one of them dressed up like they were headed out to party.

The moth above is fairly common around here.  I see them often.  Don't know what their scientific nerd name is, but I have decided to call them "Trump Moths" from here on out.  While most moths seem to mind their own business, some will eat the clothes off your back if you give them a chance.  I am guessing this moth is one of them.  Seduce me with his golden locks and pursed lips and the next thing you know, that last sweater Aunt Helen knitted me is history.

Happy Trails ............................................................

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Still Numb as a Pounded Thumb After All These Years

The other day I mentioned I was no linger able to burn the candle at both ends.  Apparently my recent version of burning the candle as long as the sun is out is also more of a bite than I can chew now.  Guess there is another skill I need to get a handle on.  When the exhaustion continues after I wake up, then I guess I need to make some adjustments.

The concept of pacing myself has always eluded me.   Full tilt boogie only worked when I was younger and numm-er.

Today, Thursday, I sit in the bike shop so beat I couldn't find a clue if someone handed it to me.  There are repairs sitting un-repaired, paperwork ignored, and orders still pending that should have gone in yesterday.  Topping it off, I am breaking my one cardinal, hard rule regarding the separation of blog and work.  No blogging while on duty.  But what else can I do?  Apparently not much.  ........
................ Uh, could you hand me my coffee cup?  It's just out of reach.

Later Gator ...............................................

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fix It Guy Enthusiasm

The last 2 weeks have found me busier than a two headed, ......... uh, well, let's just say that between the bike shop and a yard that I have determined to maybe not tame, but at least put up the good fight and beat back what jungle I can, there has been little energy for any of my more sedentary activities like pumping words into this computer.  With the sun not dropping over the edge before 8:30 PM or so, I am using as much of it as I can to make a difference.  Of course that means when I finally gimp in from my day, I eat, sit on the couch and pass out.  I haven't seen 10 O'clock PM in quite awhile.

The down side, ......... yeah once again those pesky checks and balances, yings and yangs, ups and downs ....... the downside to passing out just as the Sun goes black is I wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3:30 or 4:00 AM.

There is no room for burning candles at both ends in my life anymore.  There used to be, but not anymore.  I go until I get tired and look for the first soft spot to park my butt.  It is actually beginning to piss off my wife.  I have left things unfinished or unclosed and she then becomes responsible to make sure I closed the garage door, rolled up my car windows, put yard tools away, etc.  But hey, when tired comes, I need to lay down pronto.

It seems every year about this time I am hard into convincing myself that this year it will be different,  This year I will carry my yard man and fix it guy enthusiasm through until snow flies.  I again told myself year.  And it seems I am still fooling myself I might just live up to my promise.  But in the back of my mind, my record of past failures keeps me from feeling secure that this year it will be different.  What usually happens is I get the one big weird project done and the basic yard and house duties start out gangbusters and then by the end of July all I want to do is go swimming in Horn Pond There is no romance in mowing, pruning, and hacking at the pucker.  And the satisfaction derived when hard at it in May, gets lost somewhere down the line.

But I will say that this year there is one big difference.  Back a couple of decades or so, I decided that I would not mow my lawn before June 1st.  This year I have mowed not only 3 times already, but I bagged the green crap up and dumped it in the back forty.  Maybe this year will be different ...........
Nah, probably not.

Later ........................................................


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Kitty Litter

Kitty litter helps to keep me grounded.

Hmm. ........ I wrote that opening sentence a couple of weeks ago and then put the post on the bench.  Guess I needed to ponder just what I meant when I wrote it. ...............

I seem to recollect a meaningful and thought provoking deep narrative about the special place in my heart I store the notion of kitty litter.  Of course by the time I sat down in front of this screen, all I could spit up was that opening line.  So I let it simmer, hoping my short term memory would make a brief comeback.   While I think I have retrieved some of that original thought, I am sure what will follow will not be quite on it's original target.

I have always enjoyed the company of cats and dogs.  So, when I was able to, I invited them into my life and me into theirs.  Five dogs since the 1980s and well, I am guessing here, but at least 30 to 40 cats have passed through our doors in that time.  The high number of cats, the result of more than a few litters we dealt with as volunteers for a nearby shelter.  But at one point there were 9 full timing little bastards running amok in our house and yard.

I figure I have scooped at the least a couple of tons of kitty litter over the years.   During that time, I have learned a thing or two about scooping poops.

It is impossible to ignore a litter tray forever.  There are other must do chores I can walk around and leave for significant periods of time.  Dishes, grass growing in my yard, dirty car,vacuuming, and dusting shelves are a few of the many chores I can ignore with the best of them.  Kitty litter however is not one of them, especially in a multi-cat household like ours.  Skip a day and immediately the litter is out of control and it can be days before order to the odor is restored.

The must do aspect of kitty litter has a silver lining.  Because I cannot ignore it, dealing with it has forced me to include some basic structure to my daily flow.  Scooping litter may be mindless, unpleasant work,  but it gives me a moment every day to let my mind focus on nothing while my hands go automatic.

Kitty litter is a metaphor for Life.  Shit happens in every life.  And dealing with it is the only sane thing to do.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...............................................

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Protect Me from What I Want

I don't often look forward to having a beer after work anymore.  Yesterday's almost manic pace at the bike shop however, found me thinking I ought to crack a beer when I got home.  My mind was wound tight.  My body was wound down.  A beer seemed just the right medicine to bring my mind in tune with my body.

I get home and damn!  No beer.  What to do?  I considered a run to the Acton Trading Post for a six pack, but decided no.  Instead, I opened the liquor cabinet where a dusty collection of hooch sat patiently waiting for me to remember they existed.  Yeah, that's a good idea.  I'll have a Jameson with a cool cube in the middle.  One drink will do it.

There was maybe one and a half fingers of the famous Irish whiskey left in the bottle.  Not enough for a decent drink.  So when I finished off the Jameson, I cracked the seal on the bottle of scotch I bought several years ago.  .......................... And then it was off to the races.

I gave up drinking hard liquor for about 20 years.  I consciously stopped because when I was younger and got into the Demon Rum,  I often did not stop drinking it until there was nothing left in the bottle or bottles.  When I sobered up, many missing hours would haunt me like a bad dream.  Friends would tell me of my antics, funny and sad.  Bridges would be burned.  And I would be totally unaware of what happened.  ........... I liked my hard stuff too much.  So I quit.

A few years ago I decided it was okay to drink again.  I was older, wiser, and figured I could handle it.  So far, this has been the case.  A six pack will last me a month sometimes.  A bottle of whiskey will last me years.

Well, last night, I got schnockered, shitfaced drunk.  It snuck up on me.  I was not falling down drunk, but only a shot or two away by the time I collapsed on the couch about 10:00PM.

Which leads me to today as I sit here painfully using the few brain cells I have left to write this post.  When my eyes opened at their usual 4:30 AM, the first thought that passed through my mind was, "Oh yeah.  There's another reason I quit drinking.  Waking up feeling this bad really, really sucks."

Some lessons need to be repeated to protect us from what we want.

Later ..................................................

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Ironical and Tyrannical Paul LePage

A reality show on the "Animal Planet" channel located somewhere in the guts of most cable TV collections is called "North Woods Law".  It follows the exciting and edge of your seat exploits of the Maine Game Warden Service as they attempt to chase down drunks on ATV's, drunks on snow mobiles.  catch drinking fishermen with or without a license and oh yeah, they also go after illegal hunting of all kinds.

I view it as a kind of Yankee version of dumb Red Necks caught being stupid.  Fun to watch on occasion, but hardly thought provoking.  Just another mediocre show in a huge field of mediocre shows.

Apparently our grand and wonderful governor, Paul Lepage finds the show insulting and demeaning to the residents of Maine.  He contends it serves up a bad example of Maine to the rest of the country.

Hmm  ........................ I repeat,  Hmm............ Can you taste the irony?

Sorry Paul, but that horse left the barn the day you stepped into Blaine House the first time 2 elections ago.  You have single handedly set up the worse example for Maine since I first came to the state as child to visit my aunt and uncle in the 1950's.  There is no worse example than your very existence in a position of power.  You are hand's down, the worse thing to happen to my state ever.

And BTW - what's up with their dress uniforms?  Looks like they are wannabe Mounties from Canada.  At least they don't look like gestapo cops like the Massachusetts state cops do.

Later ....................................................

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hep Free

There is always an Upside tied to the hip of a Downside.  There is always a Right when there is a Left.  Seems no matter where I look or how I feel, the grass is either greener over there or a barren landscape devoid of hope and goodwill.  Balancing it all appears to be the best road to travel.  But no matter the road we choose, all of us end up in the same place.  The pain in finding the end of our road depends on what baggage we choose to fly with.

The other day's sad sack post was my explanation for being MIA for a few weeks.  It was my admission that I do have a problem with depression and will most likely have to deal with it the rest of my days.  At least as long as I refuse the chemical help being shoved at me by the health industry.

More than 30 years ago, after many negative run in's with doctors and their belief pharmaceuticals solve all ills, I decided I was safer self medicating than allowing the medical world do it for me.  Then in 2002, I was talked into the Interferon treatment for my Hepatitis.  That negative experience made me vow to never again allow a doctor to write me script for something I did not understand.

Never say Never.

Last year, after constant nagging by my main doctor, I was talked into trying one of the new Hep C treatments.  He assured me of two things.  The pain would be minimal at worse and might not even mess with me.  He also claimed the treatment would be only be for either 12 weeks or maybe 20 weeks, depending on which drug I was able to score the cheapest.

I chose to seek out Harvoni if possible.  One pill for 12 weeks.  Of course once I spent 5 minutes looking into the cost, I had my doubts I could swing Harvoni.  Between $1100 and $1200 per pill.  Without figuring the exact math, even with the 75% payout by my insurance, the cost would be prohibitive.  At $1100 per pill for 84 days that was $92,400.  Deduct the 75% pay out by my insurance company, that left me owing around $23,000 for the meds.  No way, I thought.

I was ready to give it up and just live with Hep C the rest of my days.  A last ditch effort suggested by someone who I cannot remember, found me finding the Harvoni website.  On the main page, a come hither suck you in claim that I could score a coupon from Harvoni that would cover all but $5 on the treatment.

Yeah right.

What the Hell.  Can't hurt to go through the registration process I thought.  One thing led to another and in the end I did actually only pay $5 for the pills.  Far Fucking out!  The lack of serious side affects were as advertised.  I carried a slight headache the first week and might have been slightly more run down than I was used to, but other than that, it was a cake walk.

The expense came with all the damn blood tests I had to have and the 2 more I still have to have, one at 6 months and the last one 12 months after I finished the regimen.  While it is nice being Hep free, it is even better that my opinion of the health industry has been boosted a tad.

My experience has also reinforced that the the health industry is a scam, a rip off, and all they really want to do is pick our pockets.  But at least this time, I found a way to work the system.

For any of the folks who stop by here at the BoZone who may have Hep, I would say check out Harvoni.  Finding ways around the costs are available, you just need to dig for it.  One thing though, stop smoking Pot at least 30 days before your first blood test.  Apparently, THC in your system is the go to refusal most Insurance company's use.

Anyway, that is what was on my mind this AM.  Now I can forget it and move onto the next thing in the quiver.

Later ......................................

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Dark Sands & Going Manic

Depression crept up behind him and slithered in unnoticed.  Like sand in a hour glass, the dark grains accumulated in the bottom of his soul.  After 62 years on the planet, his soul could hold no more.

He had not left his house in weeks.  His wife walked around him and sadness filled their home of 35 years.  No one called.  No one stopped by.  He was no longer part of the world that had no problem leaving him behind.

He did not feel sad.  He had passed sad many floors ago.  He felt guilt and shame.  Guilt for what, he was not exactly sure.  Shame for letting himself and everyone else down.  But guilt and shame was all he had now, so he wrapped himself in the guilt and strapped it on tight with his shame.  The longer he wore them, the more comfortable they felt.  He felt his soul imploding, shrinking, trying to hide from itself.  And he did not care any more.

Sure he was nearing the tipping point, he began to make plans.  Complicated plans.  Simple plans.  And many different plans in between.  He tried to plan recoveries.  He tried to plan a variety of ends.  But try as he might, he just couldn't get off his ass to implement a single one of them.  Instead, he slow cooked in his misery and discontent, hoping some day he might find some relief.

~*~

I wrote the above a couple of years ago during one of the accumulating low moments in my life.

I figured that since Depression seems to be a day to day possibility for me now and in lieu of soul draining meds, I figured I might as well share and maybe purge some of the guilt and shame I live with when in the pit.

What follows is some history and maybe a newer, fresher perspective. ................ and maybe not.

~*~

Going Manic


Before the year 2000, I never thought about Depression.  I knew folks suffered from it.  I watched both of my parents deal with it as they approached the end of their run on the planet.  Before 2000, I had not yet felt the crush as the dark pit wrapped itself around me.

Then in, I guess about 2001 or 2002, I was talked into being part of the first run of Interferon based therapy for Hepatitis.  Painful injections and pills made me feel about as shitty as a human can feel.

Seems of all the nasty side affects, down at the bottom of the list in print so small, I had to read it with a magnifying glass, there it was.  11% of the trial patients experienced suicidal ideation.  Of course, I did not find this out until I had already attempted suicide.  Of course, being a rookie, a NooB, an inexperienced suicide hobbyist, I failed.  Half ass attempt for sure, but it certainly scared the shit out of me.  I dropped out of the program.

Ever since my run in with bad pharmaceuticals,  I have had to deal with on again, off again bouts of depression.

The up side........ yeah, there is actually an upside I think .............. The upside is that now as if to balance my life's rhythms,  The low notes are offset by wonderful high notes.  I get to experience the joy of mania.  Up is often really up ...... I'm flying ...... thoughts move so quickly, I have trouble getting a handle on them.  But when I am able to grab one, my focus is impressive.  I guess even bad medicine can have a silver lining.

A friend asked me a few years back what did Depression feel like.  I am sure everyone has their own notion of what it is or isn't.  But I told him that for me it was non-existence with my eyes open.  Nothing matters.  Nobody cares, least of all me.  The out there world is a fantasy land that is maybe or maybe not just a fig-newton of my imagination.

As always, I will endeavor to Keep it 'tween the ditches ........................................

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Body Snatchers Re-visited

Forward - Disclaimer - Whatever
This is some fiction I wrote over 3 years ago and never posted.  It was tied to a writing site, now defunct, called "Thinking Ten".  It was my last effort with Thinking Ten.  Figures I would pick "Capstone Sunday" to give it another whirl.  The Idea is to take the offered daily prompt and write for ten minutes.  Stop and then read what you have written.  Sunday's prompt is to use every prompt from the previous week.  Spit and polish it up and then submit.  I was maybe 200 words into the rough first draft when 10 minutes was up.  Decided to finish the thought no matter where or how long it took me.  Took me awhile.
So without further comment - 
_______________________
"I can do it myself", Jackson hollered back at his wife of 45 years as he climbed up and into the bed of his 1976 GMC pick up.  Last night's snow storm had finally filled the back of it.  Jackson's rule was never shovel more than he  had to.  He always waited until Winter had filled the bed before he took care of it.  

Squinting against the bright sun, he cussed and fumed every shovel full over the side.  His old fart back complained with every scoop.  And this last storm had turned the snow into igloo snow.  Heavy and packed, he had to add chopping it up first to the already painful scoop and toss motion.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Looking Back

My existence owes a debt of gratitude to a rowdy cocktail party sometime in the summer of 1951.  I found out or surmised all this when connecting dots while sifting through important papers after my father died in 1980.  My parents at the time were both single.  They hurriedly married a few months before I was born.  I confronted my mom after my dad passed with my Eureka moment and all she said was, "It certainly took you long enough to figure that one out."  Or words to that effect.

I was not shocked nor shamed.  Shit happens.  Especially unplanned pregnancies in the 1950s.  The realization however that I was conceived out of wedlock filled in many missing pieces regarding my interactions with extended family members, especially on my mom's side.  I never felt comfortable as a child nor as an adult at family gatherings.  I felt shunned.  When I became an adult, I reciprocated and cut them out of my life.

While I was not shocked nor shamed, I did get pissed off.  My anger at not being let in on the secret when I was younger was short lived.  I decided that as a child I would have been poorly equipped to deal with information so sensitive.  And I realized, just how does one tell their kid, they are a mistake and the result of socially unacceptable passion.  Now days it would be easy.  In the 1950s and 1960s, not so much.

I am grateful my mother chose to carry me full term.  But at what price?  I grew up in a house with no love in it.  Or not much anyway.  I will always wonder if my mere existence created the misery my parents bestowed on each other while I was growing up.  I don't stay up nights worrying about it.  But I do wonder.

All this brings me to my very convoluted and conflicting opinions surrounding the hot topic of abortion.  Prior to knowing how I came into the world, I was a hard core advocate of the right to abort.  Once I realized that I had once been a prime candidate for the procedure and dodged the bullet, my view has softened.  I am still strongly pro-choice.  But if asked my advice, I would do what I could to help the prospective mother carry her child to term.

This may seem hypocritical or sitting on the fence, or I don't know what.  The right of the individual to dictate what happens in their own body supersedes my opinion that Abortion should be the last tool used to resolve an unwanted pregnancy.  The State and organized religion should stay the Hell out of it.  First and foremost, I am for individual rights.  Supporting the mother without judgement is the best thing I can do I think.

Later ......................................