Cat Rider

An announcement...

A few years back, I learned that I was broken; damaged goods; and not worthwhile. I learned that every thought I have about friendship and love are outward bound - it's what *I* will do, not what I should trust in. I mean, sure, I have some good friends, but I'll never know *who*, not until it's too late. And when trust is catastrophically broken, after being given in every confidence, it's not something that just comes back. Of course, in retrospect, the thing was my fault - I was fully aware that I was damaged goods, and getting worse: more boring, less engaging, less happy to be around. I should have walked out at the sign things were going south, rather than believing I was fundamentally worthwhile, and that I shouldn't - this is a good joke! - DEPRIVE someone of my companionship if they want it. (My companionship!)

It was a really shitty time in my life because I couldn't talk about it. I had no one to talk about it to, except one person, and that, only because I so desperately needed a sanity check, to convince me that *I* hadn't gone crazy. In the medical sense, of course. In the real world, everyone knows I'm weird, and most even know I'm broken, so I don't worry about that.

Parts of that, of course, are perfectly legitimate. I am broken/damaged. I've got an emotional injury that makes it hard to be human, on top of the rest of the crap that chronic fatigue/depression/ADHD causes. My brain tells me I'm nothing but an economic actor - I make money, I spend money, and that makes the world a bit better, in a way. And my my mind and spirit tells me that I should make connections, that I should *be* more than that, while my brain snickers cynically.

It's fond of telling me I'm boring; I have too little time to be human; I'm wrong, because, hey, of course I am; I'm too much of a pest; and for the past six months, my body has been pretending to be getting better, while causing me more exhaustion, more days when I'm completely worthless and essentially stuck in bed.

Y'all, do what I say, not what I do: believe in your own meaning to the world. Yes, there are people who will hurt you; but you can walk away, and the hurt will fade in time. Yes, there are struggles in life, but always remember the adage "when you're going through hell, *keep going*." Because hell ends - or, if it doesn't, you'll never know if you don't continue, and sometimes, sometimes night really is darkest just before daybreak. Let hope, not despair, be your guide.

Love without fear. Give of yourself - no one else can give *you*, so you're the only one who can. Trust people, cautiously if you must, but remember the times when trust is kept, so you don't remember only the times it's broken. Cherish those who listen to you, care about you, and who want to know *you*. Go out there and live, as best as you can; it might be hard, but no one said it would be easy, and there's great joy to be found, if you can find it and have the capacity to feel it.

Be true to yourself - I don't say "be yourself" because your "self" likely isn't perfect, and may need to change, but realize that who and what you are isn't going to change. Channel the changes so they map to who and what you are, so you can be the best you can be. Some people are made to be gentle; if you're not made to be gentle, find another way to be kind. Some people are made to strong; if you're not made to be strong, find a way to be stalwart. Some people are made to be generous; if you're not made to be generous, be industrious[1] and fair. Almost everyone has strengths and flaws, and finding out how to use those things, to build a life one can be proud of, might well be the purpose of life.

[1] Bill Gawne once countered the notion that "greed is good," in the business sense, with the notion that what might be *good* is being industrious - working for the reward, rather than lusting for it.
Cat Rider

Help searching Amazon?

So, I made a suggestion to a friend that I'd be glad to use my Amazon discount to help stock some handy "grab and go" food. I'd kinda sorta hoped that they'd be able to put together a shopping list, but I realized that wasn't exactly the brightest of thoughts. Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

One thing that was called out was that they weren't looking for protein bars - which, alas, is one of *my* standbys - and, alas-sub-2, my mental, emotional, and physical energy have been low. Does anyone out there have any suggestions?
Cat Rider

(no subject)

I had an interesting run in with recursive acronyms recently. I had a reason to use the recursive acronym "MUNG," which is painful to expand, because it means "MUNG until no good", so it becomes MUNG until no good until no good for the first iteration, then MUNG until no good until no good for the second, etc..

It refers to how, if one fiddles and futzes with something long enough, they can really break break it. (See for a fine riff on the same idea.)

Then today, I was trying to explain something bad wasn't cause for alarm or distress, so I said that "No, it's just SNAFU, only the F stands for FUBAR". If you've never seen these acronyms before, the polite-dictionary definitions are "Situation Normal, All Fouled Up" and "Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition."

And then I realized, who said that the F in FUBAR doesn't reference FUBAR?

In other news, if you feel a bit like Wonko the sane (who built a house inside out to "lock up" an insane world for it's own protection), you have good reason. I sometimes feel like the Trump administration and the GOP congress is performance art - proving that there's nothing too ridiculous for them to do, and that the news media will continue to treat it as normal.

In some ways, I can't quite blame the news media. If The President says something, it's news. In others, well, if a liar tells a lie, repeating it as if it is as reasonable as the utterance of someone who is fair to middlin' honest isn't good reporting.

Ah well. What can you do, except, as the Dr. Who's Winston Churchill said, "KBO" - keep buggerin' on.
Cat Rider

I thought massage was supposed to help!

Well, they did - but "help" in this case means "unlock my hip muscles, causing me torment." Before the massage, I thought my leg was twisted *this* way (gestures don't show very well, do they?). After, I realized I was mistaking "muscle going the wrong way" with "weak muscle". I was out sick last Thursday and Friday (though I worked some from home), and then was out sick Tuesday of this week, once I found a few more issues on Monday.

The human body is fascinating. Relative to how my muscles are supposed to work, I've found a bunch of twists where only one muscle of a pair was engaging. (In general, you have muscles working in pairs, one expending effort, and one stabilizing, and vice versa when you make the opposite motion.)

This time, I found my leg was still twisted through three dimensions. Literally - three pairs were fighting each other! I started to realize my body was a living model for the "hairy ball" theorem, which states that a vector field can't be mapped on a 2-manifold (the surface of a sphere - or a femur!) without vanishing (going to 0) or a discontinuity. Which is to say, if you tried to comb a hair-covered ball, you'd need to leave a part (goes to 0) or a cowlick (discontinuity).

I think I mostly have the "parts" back in place in both senses off the word. Like, Monday night, I realized I could do an actual pelvic thrust - before, my left leg was locked to my hip, making it a kind of lepelvic thrust - see, that's "pelvic" with the "le" of leg, so with part of... yeah, not funny, okay, *fine*! Hmf.

Has anyone else out there known of anyone who got through the, well, I'll call it "reduction" (like setting a bone, or putting a dislocation back in place) of a tilted pelvis? I keep thinking there *has* to be a better way! At times, I imagined sedation, a paralytic, and a skilled massage therapist, or chiropractor, untwisting things manually.

Now, for the next two days, I'm going to try to pretend I'm not even *thinking* about the nightmare I sometimes have, that this started because of some underlying injury 20+ years ago, and I've jumped from the frying pan to the fire.
Cat Rider

(no subject)

I hear tell that folks in the east are probably trying to use the mythical 15 terms for snow to form the legendary "look at all this f*ing snow". Has anyone gotten past the stumbling block: "Observe the snow; it fornicates"?

Please remember that those who speak of "global warming" are either stone cold stupid, or deliberate trolls. A mention of this is worth far more than trying to counter any "points" they might seem to be trying to make!

And happy new year. I made it out to the office; pre-Christmas, Christmas->New Year, and first week of the new year have had a lot more physical, mental, and emotional stresses than I'd thought possible, but there you have it. Some people will talk about embracing challenges and changes, but I'm more of a "be aware they'll be there, and always remember, when you're going through hell, *keep going*."

Heh. I also had a discussion with a friend recently. I said "don't borrow trouble from tomorrow, it'll have plenty of its own for you." That is, don't waste time worrying about scary situations when there's nothing you can do to change them.

She didn't like that, because she was more of a "... tomorrow might not actually have any troubles." Which was a good point! Sometimes, things go right. Never forget that - I very much like the line at the end of the first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, where Wilder's Wonka asks if Charlie knows what happened to the boy who one day got everything he wanted, and when Charlie says he didn't, the response is "he lived happily ever after."

Sometimes good stories happen, and have good endings. But I still prefer the slightly cynical "tomorrow will have plenty of trouble on its own," because even if the thing you imagine doesn't happen, there will be trouble - some kind of trouble, on some level - tomorrow.
Cat Rider

(no subject)

What do you do on family/friend holidays when your local friends *have* families and you're too questionable to travel to them? Well... you could collapse into a lonely ball of anguish, whose pain creates a collapsing field of ugliness, creating a sort of misery black hole, but you should do something special for a holiday!

I flashed back to a film I saw touted as a holiday film, Babette's Feast, which was really interesting. Babette, who is, unbeknownst to any, a great chef, is sent to this small, ascetic, religious congregation, acting as a housekeeper and cooking their so-simple meals. The group is breaking apart with all the arguments and problems one might expect, now that the founder of the congregation is gone, and they've been drifting a while.

When Babette comes into a substantial sum of money, enough for her to return to Paris and resume the life she left behind, she informs them that she wishes to cook them a proper French supper. But as she brings in exotic ingredients (including a largish turtle - just so you understand that this was a bit brain-twisting to the people), the ascetic order is prompted, by one of their numbers' nightmare, to simply eat the food, making no comment, for fear that the sensualist feast might be a trick of evil, intended to corrupt them.

So far, this story has all the makings of a nightmare, doesn't it? Amazing chef, "we won't even discuss the food!" I imagine many of my foodie friends are closing their eyes, chanting "it's only a movie, it's only a movie."

If you don't speak Danish, and if you don't pay attention, you might miss the lines that deliver the power of the story. The sisters who now run the order had suitors in the past, and one of them went on to become a famous general. He had dined in fine French restaurants, and reminisced about how this was the equal of the greatest chef of Paris, a chef so amazingly talented that she could not only work her wonders on the senses, but also upon the emotions.

As the meal progresses, her wonders have had their effect, even on those who are trying to avoid falling into a sinful, sensualist trap - for Babette is, indeed on the side of the angels. Old wounds are healed, and the congregation has once again found its heart and spirit. The film (and the short story on which it is based) ends on a bittersweet note; they had assumed Babette would take the remainder of the funds she'd received to return to her life in Paris... but no; those funds were the cost to feed so many people at that great restaurant, where she had, indeed, been the chef. She is once again poor, they say, but she corrects them: an artist is never poor.

While I love the nobility - to give up one dream, to work a great healing - I can't deny that there's a part of me that instead screams that an artist might well be poor, and the world far poorer, for being unable to continue her grand creations.

That's got some subtle emotional power right there, but I wanted something about as subtle as a thrown brick, so I chose the Doctor Who episode Father's Day. I was worried my memories didn't match; that I'd impressed what I'd have wished for, what I'd have written, over the actual memory of the episode... but I hadn't.

Rose, the first companion of the reboot series, wants to go back in time to be with her dad, on the day of a wedding, where he was struck and killed by a hit and run driver; he died all alone, before the ambulance arrived. The Doctor is okay with that, but Rose wigs the first time - she can't go to his side, so they try one more time, with the Doctor warning her that they were risking a grave paradox with two copies of them in the same timeline. She wigs the other way this time: she rescues her father.

The Doctor is furious - Rose doesn't get it, because he rescues people all the time! And now the Doctor is doubly mad - if you've seen this season, when the Doctor offers her to travel anywhere in the universe, she reluctantly says no - but when he comes back, a moment later, "Have I mentioned this also travels through time?" she runs at the opportunity. Was he suckered?

I love it when writers remember, and use, bits like that! It makes the story more human.

You can probably figure out the plot. A living man, saved from a death that was supposed to happen, changes so many things in so many ways, that the timeline tries to sterilize itself with dreaded beasties; in the end - and if you call this a spoiler, I'll remind you that I mentioned emotional power with the subtlety of a thrown brick! - Rose's dad must sacrifice himself to set things right.

There are a lot of bits I like. At one point, as Rose moans this is all her fault, he responds that, no, he's her dad, it's his job for it to be his fault. This is a crazy statement out of context - they are both adults, past the time when a dad is to protect and teach his daughter, and take the blame for her missteps. But here, I think it's that he realizes he's never been a dad to her, never had the opportunity to teach and protect her.

You see, he figures out that the big paradox was his survival. Rose spins this beautiful tale of what a great dad he was, always telling bedtime stories, and picnics in the park, and all that. He knew the instant she said that, she was not talking about him. For example, Rose's mom, upon seeing her, does not think "maybe this is our daughter, come back from the future," but instead thinks it's "another" other woman. No, he was no selfless, family-first dad... and why would a daughter, from the future, spin such a preposterous story? Good, powerful, self knowledge and the ability to use that reasoning to put things together.

In the end, when everything seems darkest, they still see the phantom car that had been running through the paradox, the car that was supposed to strike him and kill him. He makes the decision that it's time to do the only thing he can - to be a good dad, and protect his daughter from the unintended consequences of a terrible mistake. He is the only one who can do this, since he is the paradox; but I also feel that he's seeing it as the one and only chance he'll ever have to be a good dad to his daughter, when she's old enough to remember him doing so - the current timeline's Rose is still an infant!

It's a good story right there, in my opinion - schmaltzy, sure, but well done. Except the writers then kick it up a notch. Rose remembered her mom grieving over her dad's death - a nasty hit and run driver, and he died, alone, away from any who care about him. But we flash back one last time to the same scene, only changed.

The driver - he was just a kid, and it really wasn't his fault; her dad had run right out in front of him! And, of course, third time's the charm - this last time, Rose didn't wig, and stayed by her dad's side until the end - so now the story includes a strange woman that no one knew who stayed by his side, and held his hand at the end. A ham-handed attempt to change the past ended up having positive effects that rippled out further than one man's life.

Noble self sacrifice makes for a good story - but that last little bit shows his sacrifice did help his family, in more ways than repairing the timeline's injury, and "merely" saving their lives!
Cat Rider

(no subject)

Wow... it's been a long time since I've been able to follow Dreamwidth. I always like the thought of saying it's because of some wonderful thing - heck, even a new video game I'm addicted to would be kind of cool!

But it's more prosaic, and not without happymaking stuff.

But first, a quotable bumper sticker equivalent: "Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver." (It was actually printed on a SUV's rear window.)

In September, my hip really started to unlock. I was using and feeling muscles I didn't know about. THIS WAS WONDERFUL! Except for the constant pain and difficulty sleeping from "heavy leg syndrome". (I don't know if that's a real name, but legs are heavy, I was sleeping on a mattress on its last whatever-mattresses-use-since-they-don't-have-legs. The springs actually gave me a 4-5 inch scrape as a going away present. Yeah, that bad. And legs *are* heavy, and my pains were all due to muscle soreness, which is worse when there's less support of the lower back, hip, thighs (... calves, feet, upper back, arms....) than would be needed to avoid any stress on those muscles.

I kind of lost September, starting around the 8th, as well as October and November. The pain, the fatigue, the tough time sleeping... and, each day thinking "well, maybe another *week* of this, *maximum*." My beloveds had cause to get tired of hearing me say "I'm sure I'm working on the last muscle group now."

Last Wednesday night, under the beneficial effects of THC, and the standard leg shifting/twisting/lifting I couldn't help doing, I had a weird moment, where it felt like floodgates had opened - neural pathways seemed to be channeling impulses at a crazy rate, and I suddenly realized that every pain I had - every single one! - was a twist, and I got up and did squats to find them and untwist them.

Um. Side note: my *left* hip was locked (a "tilted pelvis", which I'd thought was a way for a chiropractors to get you to come in for sessions, since "subluxation" wasn't working... um... where was I? Right! Tilted! They do tilt. It's real. Okay: but, my *right* hip, and lower back, had started hurting, and the right lower back was giving me spasms.

This makes sense, of course - since I wasn't using the muscles on my left hip right, the right hip's muscles had to partly take up slack, and partly weren't engaging right on their own, and were atrophying.

So: I was doing this for both legs, finding, and untwisting, each pain. I'm sure I didn't get *everything* but it was a massive improvement. If you stand, shoulder width apart, and try to clench your whole butt, there are muscles on top and in front of your hips that you'll feel. Okay, well, those muscles were now on top, or in front, *without* having to deliberately clench and feel for them.

What I think happened was, I suddenly could consciously engage my inner thigh muscles, and a lot of my outer thigh muscles had only recently started to engage. (They were *rear* thigh muscles, earlier!) So, now, things that were working wrong because they weren't supposed to use my outer thigh muscles and I had to find the inner thigh muscles that were supposed to do things (or were supposed to stabilize the outer thigh muscles in whatever they were doing).

It was really hard work, but it felt kind of like a whole-body orgasm in some ways. Not pleasant, exactly, but *that* much sensation. (And not *unpleasaant*, just, you know, the difference between a good just-right massage, and, you know, *orgasm*.)

Thursday I slept almost through the day. I think I was awake four hours total, mostly in bed or taking care of necessities (like calling in sick). Friday, I "only" slept about 16 hours.

And now, its down to just some pain, just some stiffness, just some muscles to work. Except for one thing.

I don't know why, but when I struggle to get my legs, hip, and lower back working right, my jaw tightens up. That's been part of the problem - it causes headaches and tension and it doesn't matter how consciously I try not to do it - it happens. I feel vaguely like, "okay there's this set of nerves that are close in the spine, and I'm not able to find the right one, so there's some bleedover to nearby neurons". Like line noise on analog cables too tightly bundled. (I am pretty sure that's impossible - the spine doesn't feed the jaw. But I'm saying how it *feels*.) That's where I am now (clenching my jaw as I right this).

Massage therapy was a huge help - I found a wonderful therapist who thinks like me. Hear a problem, and think *broadly* about it. "If he can't bend over and push his butt back, then it must involve X, Y, and Z...". Alas, she moved to another clinic, but I don't need that same level of attention any longer.

Anyway: I've been exhausted. But now I an wiggle my hips, *from* my hips, and not from my abdomen. When I twist my body, I can feel muscles in my hip engaging as well - I'm not just turning about my spine. And I'm not well, and I still have chronic fatigue, and I'm still having some sleep troubles, but I'm feeling like life is returning to "normal" given all that. I hope so. I worked from home the past three weeks solid, and was starting to once again ponder disability - would I *ever* get better?

So: that's a huge relief, and some welcome good news to report.

I hope life is treating you all well, and happily.
Cat Rider

(no subject)

So: a year ago, my faith in the world was irreparably shattered. A bigot, a liar, an idiot, and an incompetent won the US Presidency. Since that time, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and realizing just how deep the rot goes.

First: the Republicans crossed a big red line for me. They've gleefully used their power as the majority in Congress to harm their enemies and help their friends, to the point that when there was an obviously nakedly partisan investigation of Benghazi, no one even raised an eyebrow. Sure, they were trying to make political hay out of a terrorist attack; sure; they were continuing to spread lies about what we knew and didn't, and when; sure, everyone knew it was all an attempt to damage Hillary Clinton's electoral chances... but the story was "there is an investigation", not "the Republicans continue to abuse their investigative powers."

But they went beyond that. This time, they, as a party, got behind the false message that Hillary Clinton may have engaged in criminal behavior, in spite of there being no evidence, and not even a cause for suspicion, of a crime. They had former prosecutors get in front of the crowd at their convention, and lie about whether Hillary Clinton committed crimes, and whether those crimes are, historically speaking, prosecuted.

They had used their role as the legislative branch of the federal government to attack, insinuate, harass, and otherwise damage their political opponents, but this time they were co-opting the criminal justice system. This was a hideous thing at the time; if I ever discussed as anything else, I suppose it was because I thought "hey, you bozos are stuck with Trump, and therefore, you're going to lose."

But that didn't happen. What did happen was one of three things.

James Comey was a partisan, and affected the election for political purposes, or
James Comey was a coward, and affected the election for fear of possible consequences of inaction, or
James Comey was living under threat of other FBI agents leaking, including (reports said) some who handed in their resignation because he advised against prosecuting Hillary Clinton, and felt his sure-to-be-leaked letter was the best of bad options.

Of course, the third doesn't differ from the second too much. If a law enforcement officer tenders a resignation because a decision was made not to indict someone who committed no crime, it should be accepted - assuming it can't be rejected, because they are fired for wanting to use law enforcement for political purposes.

Of course, maybe I'm being too harsh in saying that they wanted to use law enforcement for political purposes. If so, it points to a much worse reality: a fair number of FBI agents became convinced that Hillary Clinton was a criminal simply because of the unending string of GOP attacks against her. This is far too close to the claim attributed to Karl Rove, "we're an empire now, and create our own reality." And they do create their own reality, in many ways, with lies of omission and commission and it seems to work.

Here's the thing: I've heard Trump is liked in the military. Now, this really bothers me, not because they're not allowed to like whoever they want, but because a ridiculous braggart like Trump, who always claims to be the best at everything (or at least able to accomplish the best of everything)... I always felt that most military folks wouldn't have anything to do with that crap.

They know that bragging isn't anything, and some of the biggest talkers find that the job's a lot harder once you have to do it. Maybe they saw someone in boot camp, thinking like Trump, that they were really hot stuff and would kick every butt and take every name. I'll guarantee you they saw what happened to such folks when the run up against a real challenge they can't bluff their way through: either they learned a bit of humility and possibly went on to become good members of the military; or they were the eternal screw-up, with the proverbial asshole-excuse ("everyone has one and most of 'em stink") for every problem... but who hopefully never made it out of boot camp.

Maybe they'd like Trump as their kind of bastard, okay? But I don't know how they could respect him as a man. Not enough to make an empty blowhard their commander in chief. Except... "we're an empire now, and we make our own reality." There's a big right wing noise machine helping shape that reality.

Similarly, the people out there - who doesn't know a Trump, who thinks he could do everything better than anybody, but just hasn't been given a chance yet? Who ever believes someone who talks like that? Except... "we're an empire now", aren't we? With enough voices explaining that he's perfectly normal, just campaigning and all, and all of those voices attacking those who point out the flat out impossibility of some of his promises.

You've seen a lot more racism since Trump was elected, and some of it's inexcusable. But some of it? We're an empire now, don't you know. Republican trade, tax and regulatory policy encourages the shedding of jobs, and the ability to turn previously good jobs into lower paid part time, or contracting, work. What if, the "empire" was constantly saying that the problem wasn't Republican policies, but it was all the set-asides and benefits for blacks, women, and other minorities? What if people have been hearing this message, undocumented workers, and these special opportunities given only to minorities, never to white men, are why life sucks so much right now?

What if they've been hearing that they'd have higher wages, and a better life, if there were tax cuts for billionaires, "but the Democrats won't cut taxes because they are giving away stuff to minorities?"

If you get enough people to say it, enough people to repeat it uncritically, and, especially if you caution people that you're the only one they can trust to tell them the simple, unvarnished truth, because the other guys hate you and look down on you and sneer at you... well, you can forge a sort of "new reality".

One where people can meet Russians who promise the government has dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that's not collusion. One where the President's top advisor wants to create a way to talk to the Russian government that's hidden from law enforcement isn't collusion; and isn't damning behavior. One where conflicts of interest, business entanglements, and likely outright criminal behavior can be swept away. One where any attack that scores on Team Trump is a sign that the bad guys are winning, no matter the crime, no matter the evidence. Where proof positive that Trump worked with Russia with flagrant disregard for US interests and multiple statements showing that he obstructed justice, become proof positive that the dark forces always had it in for Trump.

My dream was, and remains, that the GOP will implode from their own incompetence, ruining their brand for the foreseeable future (but not harming the US... a forlorn hope, a lot of damage is already done!) but I don't think that will happen if they don't bring down the right wing noise machine, which would constantly blame the Democrats, and a few "fake Republicans" and become a danger again in the next election cycle.
Cat Rider

Dear Seattlites (and all Washingtonians)

I love that recreational marijuana is legal here in Washington. THC has been a big help to me with managing my physical issues, though I do my indulging with edibles, in general. And I'm not telling you how to live your life, or how to present yourself in public. But.

Smoking gets into your clothes. Seriously. This wasn't a myth by non-smokers (of tobacco) to torment smokers with. Get yourself some smoking clothes. No, I'm really not kidding - it's a suggestion, not an order, but it is a sincere suggestion; I'm sure there are some classic outfits, comfortable and easy to throw on/off. Or... maybe if a guy can tell you're a smoker the moment you get on the bus, it's just *vaguely* possible that you're doing it too much.

Not saying it is - just raising the possibility.

And no, I'm not saying it to you, to your face, because that's not my style - there could be reasons you can't change, and I'm not going to try to make a person feel bad if they are caught in a bad situation. But I am thinking it, and I'm sure everyone within half a bus length would agree that if you can try to keep your clothes from reeking, you'll be far more comfortably accepted anywhere that you can't be sure everyone else is a fellow smoker.