Monday, May 25, 2020


Hey hey... just my little weekly personal panda therapy. But this is my best little compilation yet. I hope you give it a look!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sleep Wars

I have been hugely sleep deprived for at least two years with very rare inexplicable hibernation periods of a day or two at a time. This has made me permanently groggy, stupid, lazy, unwise, petty, intolerant, impatient, unloving, unproductive, crippled with pain, financially handicapped and fatter than the average oliphant. Why some of my friends have stuck by me through this I do not know. They must be fools.

The challenges to sleep are: sleep aopnea (a CPAP machine), lack of financial commitment to service it properly, compromised lung capacity, breathing issues from dust and allergies, erratic shift work, daylight infringement, hip, shoulder, back and ear pain, an uncontrollable noisy dog and other house noise, other discomfort issues and subsequent secondary issues deriving from this list.

The specific battles which manifest from the above, and combinations of the above (negative feedback loops galore), make for an even longer list and the specific tasks I must achieve in order to fight all these battles and make good sleep possible or even probable is so long you would not believe me if I told you. Usually, to this compromised brain, it feels impossible to even make an attempt.

I realize with more and more certainty that sleep is the central battle of my “life” (or rude facsimile thereof).

I basically cannot walk anymore but awkward painful specialist appointments all fail to explain precisely why. I feel like a crash test dummy on the verge of hitting the wall, and frankly I don’t know what happens after that. To be honest, I wish I could be institutionalized and forced to submit to some horrible therapy of diet and exercise.

However! I have made inroads of late that feel to be of a different nature. I have summoned some real commitment two days in a row and made some real progress against the hoarding barrier. I have also tinkered with strategies around pillow arrangements, CPAP machine therapy settings, and more effectively managing my (thoroughly standard) caffeine addiction and nutritional balance so as to more optimize my pitiful energy levels, which is key to the prospects of interrupting this giant vicious circle. There have been other small inroads around preventative stretching and exercise.

It feels certain to me that this is my last chance. If I fail now… life as I know it will be finished. I don’t say this with dread, but with real optimism.

If you know me in person, please do not be kind at this time. Kick me in the ass as hard as you can and tell me to get my shit together. Thank you.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Then they get you...

The bi-weekly dinner-and-reflection gatherings at the church where I am not a congregant but through whom I volunteer, have become virtual gatherings for the time being (of course). Here is the latest reflection:

"...You are invited to share an experience, observation or story where you felt a special connection to another, or others by reaching out or helping out;  or where you have been inspired or moved by the way others have reached out or helped out in a special way."

My response:

On the last day I left the house I ran into trouble with pain and mobility issues at the specialty grocery store. I used the shopping cart as a sort of walker and prepared to get through it. A cashier saw me as I approached and grabbed a chair and brought it to me, then took the cart with her, scanned my groceries, bagged them and returned them to me. I paid when I was ready and at the door another employee stopped me from pulling the bags from the cart and accompanied me to my car instead and brought the cart back to the store for me.

Then at the liquor store (ahem... I just go there to buy the gift bags; yeah that's the ticket) I waited in my car out front for 25 minutes for the store to open. In that time about 35 customers arrived and lined up, distanced, on the walkway. Then an employee emerged to gradually invite them in. The line kept refilling, and I began to wonder if I'd get in all day. The employee saw my parking tag and invited me in at once. I said "No but pick a spot down the line for me and then let me in when my time comes." Immediately all the people near the front of the line objected and insisted I go ahead. So I did.

As I struggled to carry out my bags a young man ran over and carried them out for me.

Arriving home there was no parking spot anywhere near my home but a neighbor saw me (I don't even know his name) and rushed over and said "Hang on. I'm going to move my car. Take my spot." I refused immediately but he wouldn't hear it and moved his car.

I have vowed to stop slamming the human race for a little while.

"Yeah, they're horrible but the problem with human beings is, as much as you may want to dislike or disapprove of them... then they just do one wonderful thing and they get you back in again. It's an abusive relationship."--Jerry Seinfeld (to Ellen DeGeneres; Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee)

Friday, May 15, 2020


Almost every day I am either at home with all of my time at my discretion, or on a security gig getting paid to be there with my lap top and nearly all of my time at my discretion. And in non-apocalyptic times I do some volunteer work as well.

One result of all this time on my hands is that I do a ton of research. And as such I often have excellent advice to give. Solid advice. But rarely, I think, do people take my advice. Because people are absolute shit at making wise decisions for so many reasons.

Case in point:

Okay maybe that wasn't the best example.

Monday, May 04, 2020


And on a Monday even.

I finished my April A-to-Z "challenge" for maybe the third time in seven years? Something like that, and completed my modest April camp goal (15K) at about 15,500 words. Now to keep some momentum going.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Vitality… painted over

Hey so back over to the A-to-Z we’re finally unveiling the previously postponed V-Day. The assignment was too good not to treat right. It came from the valiant, vibrant, venerable, infrequently verbose and too-frequently valedictory; my very valuable friend, life coach and visionary, the venturesome Vietnam Vagabond; the Eloquent Potter. And it is:


Varnish is the shit…

…that is everywhere.

Let me look back at just the last, oh, thirty-six hours.

I watched a video about quantizing and auto-tune. Exactly how this shit is done. The anatomy of this phenomena that has made the overly-safe, overly-simplified, corporate-dictated pablum we call main-stream music so grotesque to my ears; so obscenely, vulgarly, morbidly anti-human. Why modern mainstream music reeks of death. It is not real. It is varnish. The musicians who are tricked into selling out have suffocated within this varnish. Of course the saving grace is that there are heaps of amazing music being made every day. You just have to hurl your fucking radio into the fires of Mordor and go looking elsewhere. Bandcamp for instance. Soundcloud.

I stopped for gas and saw that my drink was on sale: three for seven bucks. Varnish, it turned out. I went inside, picked my three and was charged not $7 but $13.

“Huh?” I says.

“Oh the special isn’t working,” says the corporate slave.

The special isn’t working.

When I was young no one ever uttered the words the special isn’t working. No context existed where such a phrase could bear any meaning. If I had said to my English teacher for any reason “the special isn’t working” I would certainly expect to be told I would be repeating the grade.

Oh we had computers when I was young. But computers were still tools at the time; tools which served the user; the human being who operated the computer tool; the human being who still maintained sentience. Today a gas station cashier is literally a tool of the computer.

Of course the pumps themselves are varnish, aren’t they? This is not where oil comes from. It’s ripped out of the ground in manners which compromise the biosphere, it is taken from a place where it served the biosphere as a filter and then it magically makes our car go zoom zoom zoom (a little TV varnish) and what we don’t see through that particular varnish is the cloud of toxins formerly filtered from the ground now being burned and fed to the sky where it will fuck us over real good.

Yesterday morning the alarmingly nervous, high-strung, OCD basket case of a day shift guard came in to relieve me and spotted my coat hanging from the back of a chair. She sputtered and agonized trying to find words for the occasion, finally pointing: “That doesn’t look good!” Coats over chairs is not proper varnish. The reality is that we all use coats. They are not hurting anyone (in the office I mean). If you could actually follow the trail of your coat’s creation you will find harm somewhere. I guarantee it. If not a furry animal or sheep or a sweatshop third world in-effect-slave there are still more avenues of suffering in the trail of a textile factory. Suffering we do not see through the layers of varnish.

I saw the faces of Ford, Trudeau and Trump because you cannot access the internet without their weaselly little faces weaselling onto your screen one creepy way or another. Their entire existence is varnish. They are the curtain between we and those who have our money and control us. They are talking idiot-boxes. They are court jesters, juggling their balls and pretending that they are the real show while they are not.

Maybe we don’t mind living this way. Maybe the varnish is nicer than the reality. And here’s where I get stuck. I know very well that the rewards for embracing reality are so much finer. But to fully explain why will make me sound like religion, when I am not. And so people will turn away. Oh well. Fuck em.

The Venturesome Vietnam Vagabond is an angel to me at times. He is not fooled by anything - anything external anyway. I think he knows that reality is better than varnish.

“Do you have a coaster for me?” I asked.

He laughs and gestures at the grand wooden table with its myriad of markings. It is a mural; a family history. And tonight we will eat well and drink copiously and add another stroke or two to this wooden canvas; this time capsule. And we’ll say not a word about sports, weather or headlines. We’ll unearth more reality and lay ourselves bare. Thank heavens there is still a place to do this.

I could go on and on. Anywhere you look you are seeing varnish. Give it a thought and you'll start to realize the illegitimacy of anything you happen to witness.

Varnish is the shit that is everywhere. It is what we have built our society out of, instead of celebrating life.