Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Thoughts on trains

So as it turns out my family has had a checkered history with trains. It seems that they have had a hell of a time getting out of the way.

Some of this had to do with the train crossing that just happened to be in the church driveway.  It seems that since salvation was far more important than self preservation even in the worst blizzards church was still a necessity.

As a result on two separate occasions family members were killed by trains on the same crossing.

You think they would have figured it out the first time, I guess not.

The third occasion was during ww2 and the family moving out to California.  There was no snow involved, the truck sralled trying to get across the crossing, and I am guessing there was some of that German impatience involved.

Anyway, once again car plus train. And the car lost.

This is not the actual order in which these occurrences actually occurred, but it is the order in which I am mentioning them.  At some point I should go through and figure out the actual order and check to see if there are other incidences that were not fatal. Meh...

Monday, December 28, 2015

Is free speech a white thing?

I have been listening to the uproar about Bruce Hagen and his racist comments on Facebook.  It sees that there s a portion of the population ho wants him to resign for his racist and blatantly xenophobic commentary.

There is another group of people who say that his comments are free speech and should be treated as such.

In a week these same people will be complaining about a Black Lives Matter protest and telling us all that speech isn't free.

I am very confused by this disconnect.  Is free speech a white thing?  Or is there a portion of the population that thinks speech is only free when it agrees with them.

Sorry kids, the deal with free speech is that if you allow racist comments from one person you have to take it from all people.

Take that you xenophobic, hillbilly, honky, inbred, uneducated, white trash ingrates.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


For the last two months I have been selfish. I threw out the person who made me feel like a caretaker. I have been doing what I want when I want to do it. I have been spending time with people who make me happy instead of worrying so much about making them happy. I have had people ask me for support and help and I have given it freely and happily but overall I have taken more than I have given. My friends have really been there for me and supported me when I was at my lowest and trying to get used to living life alone.

There are times when I have acted in ways that drained people too much or used them or made them do things they were not comfortable with. I apologized to those people and tried my best to remedy those situations. Relying on other people instead of being relied upon is not something I am used to. As I get better I am spending more time with me. I am only responsible for my own happiness. No one else is. And I am not in charge of anyone else's. I guess prioritizing my own happiness above anyone else's probably counts as selfishness. But I guess I am okay with that. As long as I am not having a negative impact on anyone else I am perfectly okay being selfish.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Trying to get some painting done...

Trying is the big part of this, I am not making a ton of progress, but work is getting done.  Slowly.  I think I have the one done.  I will look at it later and make a final decision on it.  The other one I have to work on some man made structures, and I have never been a fan of those.  You actually have to be aware of what you are doing when you are painting man made structures.

They will be done and then I am going to start looking into doing some images of water/ship related themes.

I have always loved water and boats.

I always loved watching the boats go by.

I wish I lived on Park Point still so I could watch the boats go by.

I miss watching the boats go by.

Oh well, things happen.  I may take some images of what I am working on but not until after Christmas because they are technically presents...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Zen and the Art of Squirrel - Music

Zen and the art of Squirrel – Music

I have a love hate relationship with music.  I have a lot of things that I really enjoy about music.  There are artists that make me happy, relaxed, and feeling like I am in the mood to create just listening to.  However, if I hear Wagon Wheel one more time someone is getting their fingers broken.

The world needs Wagon Wheel free zones.

I hate that song.

I am not a fan of the hippy-dippy music that jams along forever and never seems to get anywhere.  I can’t handle screaming for the purpose of screaming.  I like enunciation.  Country music causes severe genetic damage and induces brain damage.  The members of Nickelback should be on the terrorism watch list so they can never come into America again.

As for the guilty pleasures of music I do really enjoy the 80’s.  Give me some of that Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, INXS, Flock of Seagulls, Tears for Fears…

The list of the 80’s music I can dig on goes on.

The music changes when I am driving.  I really enjoy some more modern electronic and black metal when I am driving across the country.

I liked to listen to Explosions in the Sky and similar artists while I was trying to study.  But I was never big on study anyway, it was not the way that my brain absorbed material.

But enough of the genres. 

When I am listening to music I can write, I can paint, I can think.

The brain on music is a beautiful thing, except the brain on country music, that simply is not healthy.

You can not use the word “literally” while listening to country music because literally means “as used or referenced in literature” and country music precludes literacy.

I am thinking I may have to put a new stereo in my car as apparently my CD player is non-functional.  I think if I did so I would just go and get one with an rca port so I could fire up the ipod (because I have one) and plug that bad ride in.

I have not listened to much music in my car in the last year since the death of Wheezy the Wonder Truck.

The lack of a good CD player has meant that I have been limited to a couple of CDs and the regular radio.

I can rarely handle listening to the regular radio, the commercial stations anyway.  I feel assaulted by advertisements that don’t apply to me.

I can listen to NPR news and I can listen to the classical stations.

But standard commercial radio is crap.

They also play things like Nickelback.

Playing Nickelback is an unforgivable sin.

Star Wars, The Force Awakens Thoughts on the Science

Well, the amount of energy that it would take to move a planet sized weapon from place to place is also in the range of the power of a sun.  But at least the physics of the explosions were pretty close.

I do fear that the weapon sucking all of the energy of the sun off will just enable the debates about solar panels draining the sun's energy.  But what can I say, people are dumb.

Another problem, you cannot suck all of the energy of the sun without also absorbing the mass of the sun.  If a sun is large enough to be in the range of a familiar yellow star then it would have a mass equivalent to the sun.  Putting that much mass into the middle of an Earth sized planet would cause the gravitational field of the planet to grossly increase.

Some back of the envelope calculations, the mass of the sun is 333,000 times the mass of the Earth.  The resulting conversion would be that the force of gravity would be obscene.

It is actually an easy conversion since the force of gravity calculation is
 G (Gravitational constant) times Mass 1(You) times Mass 2 (Planet)
                                divided by
Distance to center of planet squared.

The only number that is changing in this calculation is the mass of the planet which is increasing by a factor of 333,000 times, meaning the pull of gravity would also increase by the same amount.

So your plucky hero Rey who weight what, 110 pounds, Finn and Han Solo kicking around at 180 pounds, and Chewy running about 300, they would now weigh...

Rey 18,000 TONS
Finn and Han 30,000 TONS
Chewy 50,000 TONS

They wold be crushed by their own weight.

Then we have the thing firing a blast of light and having it get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time, destroying the planet, and not getting diffracted or reflected EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE.

The speed of light is a constant.  If you are moving past light speed you have to be either subspace (not visible) or you will take inordinately long periods of time to get from one planet to another.

For instance, if we fired a weapon from Earth aimed at our nearest neighbor it would take 4 years to get there.  I was thinking of trying to calculate the amount to energy that would be lost, but that is dependent on a lot of factors and I would have to determine if it is a cold dense part of space, or a hot ionized portion of space to get within 7 orders of magnitude.

OK, anyway, this is just a start, next time I see the movie (Because I did enjoy it, even if it was largely the act 1 introduce characters portion of a trilogy), I will look for more things that need clarification.

The best Christmas Movie EVER! Rare Exports, a Christmas Story...

This movie is special, something that only the Finns can do.

It is not the Santa Claus from our childhood.  It is that European Santa Clause that kidnaps children.  With elves that seem like they are on a mission of mayhem.

This is my kind of Santa movie.

OK, it is in Finnish and subtitled.  But I will forgive that because the movie is AWESOME!

Ok, I am out, I have things to accomplish today.

I did watch Star Wars last night though, so I will likely talk about that later as well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Scientist Alarmed by Common Cold Symptoms

DULUTH, MN- Waking up with a slight headache, local biologist Meagan Aliff immediately feared the worst. "I am not sure what's going on," she said, reaching for a tissue. Reporting a lack of energy and a sore throat, Aliff struggled through the work day, possibly infecting nearby coworkers. "I just can't understand how I am feeling like this. How does this happen?" Aliff asked, adding that she "felt perfectly fine yesterday." As the day went on the symptoms became worse, increasing the sense of alarm. "I just have no idea what causes something like this." Adding another layer of  suspicion to the events Aliff noted that her boyfriend experienced similar symptoms just days before. "Do you think someone is targeting us?" Aliff reportedly asked bystanders before falling asleep at her desk.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

All the colors of the rainbow...

Are coming out of my sinuses....

Well, not all of them, but I did get most of the yellows and the greens.

And I have had the kind of head ache that would kill mere mortals.

Thankfully I am getting better, I felt scummy, cruddy, clogged, plugged and worse.

I was so congested I was having trouble thinking and my balance was off.  I feel much bettr today, I can put words together into mildly coherent thoughts.

I love my immune system, all it needed was some vitamin C, garlic, hot sauce, crappy cough syrup, and alternating between aspirin and ibuprofen.

Feeling much better.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Zen and the art of paint thinner...

I am not talking about huffing it, or drinking the shit.  But when you are doing oil paintings you go through a lot of paint thinner.

Paint thinner is cheap, but getting more involves going to the store, something which I loath.

The only logical solution is to get as much use out of my thinner as I can, the way I have figured out to do this is so butt simple I have no idea why I never thought of it before.

All I do is that I clean my brush in one jar, then pour the soiled thinner into a settling container where it can sit for a couple of days, after a few days of settling I pour the settled thinner back into the original container, it is all clean again and the paint I was cleaning off of the brushes is all settled into the bottom of the settling container.

When  that one gets too gunked up all I have to do is leave a little solvent in there and toss it into the fireplace.


Working on Christmas Presents

I do not like buying things for people, just not my bag.  Everyone already has a abundance of plastic crap that is going to get tossed in a closet and forgotten, I would rather get people something that may be of some value or at least is creative.

I often make caramel popcorn for the nephews as they really love the stuff, and I know exactly where it goes, and none of it goes to waste.

For my sisters I am doing paintings.  Just medium sized oil paintings.

Of course there are issues with doing oil paintings within a time-frame.

Oil paints don't dry on a convenient schedule.  They take forever to cure, like weeks....

As a result there may be some "here is a picture of what you will be getting when it finally is dry" action going on this year...

Tis the season.

Things That Go Thud in the Night

It was 1973 in the United States. The Vietnam War ended and the last of the soldiers came home. Richard Nixon was elected for a second term but it was not long after that the Watergate scandal came to light. Nixon swore that he was not a crook but the Senate and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of confirming Gerald Ford as president of the United States.  The United States launched its first space station, Skylab. Although there was a trend of deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill (moving them out of mental hospitals and back into society) more than 250,000 inpatients were admitted to mental institutions.¹

That year a pivotal paper was published in the most prestigious scientific journal in the world, Science. The article, titled "On Being Sane in Insane Places" was written by psychologist and Standford University professor Dr. David Rosenhan. This experiment cast a critical eye on the process of psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

Dr. Rosenhan and seven other mentally healthy volunteers attempted to get themselves admitted into mental institutions in order to determine if hospital staff could accurately judge the difference between the sane and the insane. The eight pseudopatients (3 women and 5 men including Rosenhan) adopted pseudonyms. Since half of the pseudopatients were mental health professionals they alleged another occupation in order to not rouse suspicion. Otherwise the pseudopatients accurately reported the details of their lives and pasts. ²

In order to avoid biases a variety of very different institutions were approached. Some were old, some were new. Some were focused on research, one was a private hospital, some were understaffed. The pseudopatients called the hospitals and scheduled an appointment. In the admissions office they reported hearing voices that said "empty", "hollow", and "thud". Every single one of the pseudopatients was admitted. Immediately after admission each patient reported a surcease of all symptoms and proceeded to act normal. The pseudopatients had two main goals at this point: to record the conditions in the hospitals and to get released. The pseudopatients were all exceedingly polite and cooperative throughout the experience which is noted in both the paper and the clinical notes from the hospital.²

At first the pseudopatients attempted to hide their note taking and act like they were not there to observe/ report on the hospital conditions. After a short time they realized they didn't need to. Their writing was considered just a symptom of their disorder.  "Having once been labeled schizophrenic, there is nothing the pseudopatient can do to overcome the tag. The tag profoundly colors others' perceptions of him and his behavior.... "Insane," "schizophrenic," "manic-depressive," and "crazy" are probably among the most powerful of such central traits. Once a person is designated abnormal, all of his other behaviors and characteristics are colored by that label. Indeed, that label is so powerful that many of the pseudopatients' normal behaviors were overlooked entirely or profoundly misinterpreted."²

In times when the pseudopatients did become upset (often due to the conditions in the hospital and the staff treatment of patients) their feelings were always viewed as symptoms of their disorder and never as having anything to do with their surroundings. "One tacit characteristic of psychiatric diagnosis is that it locates the sources of aberration within the individual and only rarely within the complex of stimuli that surrounds him. Consequently, behaviors that are stimulated by the environment are commonly misattributed to the patient's disorder."² Once people come to believe or know that you have a mental disorder you are dehumanized. Your reactions to events are viewed as resulting from your disorder and no longer are you allowed the expression of emotions that would usually be considered normal. The facts or events surrounded by the emotional response are discounted entirely in some cases.

"Such labels, conferred by mental health professionals, are as influential on the patient as they are on his relatives and friends, and it should not surprise anyone that the diagnosis acts on all of them as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Eventually, the patient himself accepts the diagnosis, with all of its surplus meanings and expectations, and behaves accordingly.'"² It is so much easier to believe you are crazy when everyone is telling you that you are. It is easier to attribute your own emotions to a disorder than it is to sort them out and deal with them.

"The facts of the matter are that we have known for a long time that diagnoses are often not useful or reliable, but we have nevertheless continued to use them."² How useful are these labels really? There is so much subjectivity that goes into diagnosing mental disorders and so much that is not known about the brain. Sharing those labels with other people irrevocably alters the way people interact with you, feel about you. The earlier in a relationship you share these facts the more altered the relationship is. I am starting to entirely believe that it is not worth it at all. All of us, no matter our mental labels, are people. People who react to the world around us. People who can be irrational and happy and sad and everything in between. People who can be high energy or low energy depending on the day. Being treated like a human being with legitimate feelings is a right that should be afforded to every person regardless of label.

The pseudopatients were hospitalized from between 7 and 52(!) days with an average of 19 days.² Once labelled, it is so difficult to shake the label, as little as the facts or behaviors correspond to it.

² Rosenhan, D. L. (1973). On being sane in insane places. Science, 179(4070), 250-258.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Goals and Projects

Since I have finished my Master’s degree I feel like I have been lacking in goals and direction. I also have not had any major projects to occupy my time which I think is part of what makes my depression really bad right now. When I was working towards my degree there was always something to be working on: data analysis, writing, research. Right now my entire set of job responsibilities is made up of data entry. Not analysis. I don’t get to play with numbers. It isn’t even my data so I have no attachment to it. It gets fairly soul numbing after a while. I have nothing to do that challenges me or makes me think. The nice thing about being done with my degree is that I can work for a set amount of time and then just go home and do whatever I want.

The problem right now is that I am not sure what sort of project I want to do on my own time. I am not artistically inclined. Writing can be nice but anything that involves more visual forms of art is less interesting to me. For a while I was doing a lot of volunteering at places like the zoo and Hartley Park in various education capacities. Right now I just want less people time in my life so that is not very appealing. That also applies to coaching roller derby. I am just tired of dealing with trying to gauge myself in social situations. Interacting with people, even people I like, is exhausting. I over analyze everything and often make a mess of things. But right now being alone is also bad so that makes me interact with people in ways I regret a lot the next day which makes me feel worse about myself which makes me…. You get the picture. So I need to figure out what I need to do for me.

Goals are important. I can think of some goals.

Short term goals:
Get my house clean and throw myself a house warming party
I want to feel ownership over my space again. For 2 years I have been sharing everything with someone else. For various reasons my house is a disaster now. When I look at it I get really depressed. Too depressed to do things like actually clean it which unsurprisingly just makes me feel worse.  Thankfully I have amazing friends and one of my friends is going to come to my house tonight and help me clean. And having a bunch of my friends over for the party after will be a great reward.
Get rid of a bunch of extra crap
I have way too much stuff. This goes with my previous “get my house clean” point. I will figure out which things need to be thrown out (read: my clothes with too many holes) and which things I can bring to Goodwill. There *might* be a couple things that will be nice enough to try to sell but that seems like a lot of work. I want my life to be simplified. Part of the reason my previous relationship ended was because I was tired of being caught in his cycle of getting bigger, better, shinier things. Some things are necessities but really most things are just clutter and distraction.

Long term goals:
Get full time hired at NRRI:
Right now I am on a year contract. I need to spend this year making myself more marketable so that when my contract expires and a job actually gets advertised for competition (permanent positions for the university need to be competed so that anyone who wants to apply can, they cannot just hire people without advertising) I will actually be competitive. I just also hope that I can get myself involved in more mentally demanding work soon.
I don’t know what else. Traditionally I get the itch to move somewhere drastic every 3-5 years. I am definitely open to the possibility that I might end up somewhere else at some point. I do want to be as marketable as I can when that happens. I do also like working here though so I will hold onto this as much as I can.

So those are my goals. And it is good to have goals. But I also feeling the need for something to create or learn or do. A hobby I guess. Something I can do for me. I am learning to cook to some extent and that is good. Cooking just for yourself isn’t as fun as it could be though. Especially when everything you are cooking is portioned to be for 2 people. It just feels sort of lonely. 

I could take a class. Learning something new always helps. I just checked Coursera and they have a Calculus 1 sort of class that starts today. I took Calculus as an undergraduate but I forgot most of it somewhere along the way. Also I love doing math problems. In junior high I would do extra math problems for fun… telling people that isn’t a great way to make friends. Alright so I have a project and I have a few goals that are attainable in the next few weeks. I got this.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Life, getting used to a new city.

Several months ago I moved to the west coast. I have spent the past few years perpetually moving all around the country in a semi, never staying in one spot for more than a few hours, maybe days at the most. I had grown used to never seeing the same face for weeks, months at a time, with the familiar knowledge that eventually, I'd get to return to see faces I knew and had grrown to love like neighbors, old friends, and the solace of the home which I owned.

I also spent 5  months being entirely homeless in this transition from the midwest to the west coast.  I made preperation, mental, financial, physical, getting ready for the transition. I began to reduce my caloric intake and loading on carbs. I prolonged leaving Facebook because I needed social interaction.

Like everyone, I suffer from some pattern of depression, so I also prepared for that.

Despite all of my preparation, and anticipating all of the troubles I would have, it was still one of the most difficult things I've ever done.

For my first month of local work, I would sleep in empty semi trailers at work where the nightly temprature would drop to freezing. I would eat meals of one or two "dollar burriotos' per day.  I'd masturbate when I began thinking about suicidal thoughts because masturbation helps the body and brain create all those 'feel good drugs' we need to combat depression.

Now, two months into working, and over a month into my temporary home, I'm beginning to attempt to date, which is a whole new challenge upon itself.

Relating to strangers has never been one of my strongest suits. Nearly all of my friends have been a collection of electic "loners", black sheep, and exceedingly intelligent folk who accept me for my various personaity quirks.

Trying to find someone with similar quirks has been proven impossible so far, but only for a lack of supporting evidence.

For most of my adult life, (since about 20 years old) I have been a serial dater. I've had several very good relationships as well as several very bad relationships. More often than not, I've deduced the common flaw is with myself and not with other people. I'm very picky in what I'd like from a partner.

They seem like things that should be a 'given' in most monogamous relationships end up being entirely too much to ask.  Basic things like 'honesty', 'patience', 'loyalty', and 'intelligence', seem to come sporadically, if at all. Instead, I've gone an entirely different route and found 'friends with benefits' to subside my sexual needs and wants, and 'just friends', to satisfy my emotional and intellectual needs. It's always lacked the passion in both types of relationship.

Part of the goal of moving to the west coast was to find substantial work, first in driving, second in computers, but it has also changed my goals from finding two sets of emotional partners to finding just one committed relationship.

So far, I've found equal disappointment in both finding a suitable job, and a suitable mate, driving me further into a depression. Of course, I have all the free porn at my fingertips that an adult male could ever want, but that's not what I crave, nor do I crave sexual interaction, or emotional interaction, at least by themselves.

I moved here with the intent on finding higher meaning. That doesn't mean that I'm simply looking to get high, either, altho, it's an admittedly nice point of the west coast.

I know this is somewhat a shit-post...  I don't have much else to write about while working 60 hour weeks, commuting 4 hours each day to work, so I have little time to experience anything else.

My job involves delivering carpet to local distribution outlets and contractors. It regularly involves driving in extra tight areas for a forty-eight foot semi trailer. It also involves driving on the I-5, mostly in gridlock traffic. It takes about 3 hours to travel 30 miles. I drive to a specific area, unload 25,000 pounds of carpet and tile, turn around, and drive back into the gridlock for 3 more hours. It's a job...

My roommates are foreign exchange students, and diligent at that. They barely leave their rooms, noses stuffed into books to maintain their 4.0 GPA, to make their parents proud and justify making already poor people completely broke.  What little interaction I have with them, I ask them to teach me obscene phrases.

Because. It's funny.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Day Off

And that's how I end up sleeping all day.

People just don't make simple video editing software anymore

I don't give a flying fuck about transitions.   don't use them, I don't want them.

That seems to be all people who are making video editing software are concerned about.  Transitions.  I need to lay a video out clip, cut, trim, reorder...

Fuck transitions.

Ok, found one I like....

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dark, dark, dark

From fall time change to Winter Solstice is by far my least favorite time of the year. It is so dark and it is only getting darker. And darker. When it is dark I think it is time to sleep. The squirrels do not want to play. If I am at home I am lucky to stay awake past 9:30 pm. I become much less social because it is hard to leave the house when it is already dark. I have to wake up in the dark. The sun is just waking up when I go to work. I then sit in a cubicle maze without any windows. Then when I leave work it is dark. Spontaneous outdoor adventures don't happen because it is dark. Mood drops, energy levels drop. I don't get much done. Winter Solstice is a magical day. It is as dark as it is going to get. From there on every day is a little better than the last. Less than three weeks until solstice...

Week from hell, now the weekend...

It was a week from hell.  We had a few specials that stacked up and killed us on the floor.  Things were not working the way they were supposed to and it all went to shit.

The week is now done, I am relaxing again.

Tonight there will be Mongolian Beef!

Ebay auctions are up, although they are not moving very fast, I will have to see what else I have that I can get rid of because I am once again sick of having extemporaneous stuff.

Paintings are getting painted, eventually the Christmas presents will be complete.

I need a weekend to relax from last weekend plus the last week.

I also need to get writing again, like writing for real.  Maybe I should check out this Snooty Fox thing tomorrow, tea sounds good.  That and when I am not at home I can get stuff done on the creative end that I cannot accomplish when I am sitting at home.

Our winter is still a pathetic winter, and it does not appear that the situation is going to be changing any time soon.  If we ever do get any snow I want to go out and have some adventures, maybe take the GoPro out for a party.

Speaking of which, it is time for the chicken dance....

You will all understand what that is about in a few hours.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Remember winters?

We used to have winters up here in Minnesota.  It would get below zero before Thanksgiving and the harbor would freeze over.  Dad would walk out on the ice and chop a hole to see how thick it was, and if it was think enough, which it generally was, we would be able to go ice skating out on the bay.

If I wanted to go out on the bay today I could take my sailboat because there is no ice to speak of.


It rained today instead of giving us a little snow on the ground, what little snow we had from the last dusting melted because on the 1st of December it was 36 degrees.

I think I may either have to go someplace warmer where I wont expect snow or flee further north where I could at least get some still.