I feel her pain

Let’s get one thing out of the way. All things being equal, it hurts way more when it’s my body doing the hurting – as opposed to someone else. My superpower is not empathy.

That said, sometimes I’d prefer to be the one in pain, rather than watching.

Chronic pain can feel mighty helpless but there are some ways to cope – and I’ve logged A LOT of hours in therapy and counseling over the last few years. I’ve been trying to overcome feelings helplessness in relation to MY pain. There can be a feedback loop to pain. You hurt, feel anxiety/stress because of the pain, which amplifies the pain. It’s much more complicated than that – and that’s only one component (of many) to pain, but breaking that loop helps.

And if you’ve ever heard me say something dismissive about meditation, you’ll never hear it from me again.

That’s not to say I don’t feel pain, but I rarely feel helpless anymore. I feel a certain amount of control. It’s not like I can flip a mental switch and make it go away, but I can do something about it – I can somewhat manage it. If nothing else, a bit of meditation helps take the stress/anxiety (at least partly) out of the equation, and the more tools you have to work on something, the more empowered you feel – and thus not so helpless. 

I can’t say the same thing now, with Cheryl suffering some pretty severe, somewhat debilitating, back pain. Now I feel helpless again. Feeling helpless leads to stress. Feeling stressed triggers more of my own pain, which is always in the background… and garsh-darn-it-all, in a way I think I AM feeling a bit of her pain.

No más

I can’t take anymore Facebook. I’m out. I’ve been beaten.

My intention is not to pile on Facebook while it’s fashionable. Well, this post might be – but not my behavior leading up to it. I’ve poked my head in to check on a couple of folks I knew were going through a rough time. I’ve tossed in a few random thoughts I figured might amuse a few people. But all of my recent incursions have been surgical – in with a specific goal in mind, and quickly back out. I don’t linger. I don’t browse. The app no longer lives on the home screen of my iPhone.

There are two reasons for this. First, Facebook doesn’t make me happy. As in, EVER. And second, I don’t feel like I accomplish anything there. I’ll try to explain, but first…

“Who in their right mind goes to Facebook to accomplish something?”

Well, if you’re really asking, I’d ask if you’ve ever shared or reposted something from the news that was AT ALL political. If you have I’d ask you: why? Simply to express your support? Again, I ask – why? Did you expect to change someone’s mind, or even plant a seed of doubt? My hunch is one of three things happened. A bunch of friends gave you an amen chorus, friends who didn’t agree with you ignored you, or friends who didn’t agree with you didn’t ignore you… and you’re not friends anymore.

I don’t know about you but I don’t take a whole lot of pleasure from any of those possibilities. In fact, I find this self-segregating aspect of Facebook pretty depressing. So in November 2016, in a misguided attempt to deal with this depression head on (insert dramatic theme music here) – I decided to focus my commenting energies on Facebook posts I didn’t agree with or support. I figured the world didn’t need another amen in the chorus, so I went out with high minded thoughts of engaging neurons (both mine and others), and offered a voice of civil and reasonable dissent.

Ask your doctor if poking a bear is right for you!

Yeah, it went about as well as you’d expect. No wonder Facebook wasn’t making me happy – all I was doing was going around picking fights. Well, I didn’t mean to pick fights. I could try to ignoring or blocking certain posts, but does the world need another Facebook echo chamber?

A few common themes kept coming up, and beating my spirits down.

Some folks were quick to say they’re angry about the tone in politics. They polished their independent bonafides by decrying the behavior of “both sides,” then shared a string of inflammatory posts… from one side. Did they loose their sense of irony? Didn’t they see THEY WERE PART OF THE PROBLEM?

Some (of the same) folks decried a biased (and therefore corrupt) “mainstream media,” then shared stories from some of the most blatantly biased corners of the internet. I’ll be damned if I was gonna read another post linking back to Ben Shapiro, Breitbart, Right Side News, Allen West, Gateway Pundit, or… crap, I think I’m gonna throw-up (my apologies to everyone I left out).

“FOUL! John, you only named right-wing offenders! What about the left?”

If you’re really asking you’re not going to like my answer. “They were doing it too…” has got to be one of the all-time worst excuses for bad behavior. What would you say to your child if they told you this after getting caught throwing rocks into traffic?

So that’s it. I’m done. I was barely strong enough to raise my own children. I’m not strong enough for a world of them.

See you back there next week?

Go Bold or Go Home

Outside it’s gray, overcast, and gloomy.

The air feels damp, like it’s itching to shed some of its load.

And yet, my Wundermap says there’s a 0.00% chance of rain.

Now in rich, glorious HTTP over SSL!

3W forever!

You don’t have to check the date on the last post to know I haven’t been spending a lot of time writing for this site. It’s an off and on hobby that’s mostly been off, so I decided to cut back on my expenses and migrate to a cheaper host. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. You’re asking yourself, “Wait? LESS EXPENSIVE? You mean to tell me you’ve been paying good money to maintain this site? You’re STILL paying good money to maintain this site?!?

I’m nothing, if not dedicated.

… well, sometimes anyway.

Now picture me: sitting on a beach with a MacBook in my lap, happily clicking and typing away for hours on end, working on migrating this site to a new host. Now eliminate the beach and replace it with a cool, dark, and quiet upstairs bedroom. Now you know I how spent free time last week.

A few days ago, I got to thinking. I was waiting for some bargain-barrel, over-burdened, shared-hosting servers to upload another batch of files, and it hit me. “If I’m already migrating to slower servers, why not tax ’em a smidge more with some security?!?”

Check your browsers, friends! Look for that glorious lock that tells you you’re browsing a secure site! Ask yourself if you’ve EVER known me to use so many exclamation points! Know that whenever you want to do a deep dive into all things John, no middle-man will be snooping on you, revealing just how banal you tastes in reading can be!

Keeping your yard work

Hi all! Your favorite Floridian here! Well, at least top 50, right? Maybe/definitely inside your good fortune 500 at least… right?

RIGHT?!?

It's hot here in sunny (-er than it has any right to be) Florida, and I've come across a bright side to selling our house.

OK, it’s been three years. No one said I was perfect.

Yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday) I was riding through the neighborhood, past single family homes that surround our block of townhouses. I noticed a number of folks doing yard work. I know there are people who enjoy yard work. There’s decent chance you’re one of those (uh-hum… incomprehensible) people. But if you were one of the folks I rode past this weekend, you’d have a hard time convincing me. In the blurred moments that passed riding by, I saw a lot of sweat-soaked brow mopping, grimacing, and I’ll say it: despair.

One thing you’ll never read on my lips (unless I’m joking): “Man, do I miss mowing the yard.”

Our twentieth year online!

Alright.

Okay.

Alright.

Let’s try this again. I hope this will be everything it would have been yesterday.

I’ve got some big, site related news! As of December 1st, 2016, our site has been in it’s twentieth year of operation! No, we’re not twenty yet. That doesn’t happen until December of this year, but by then I’d only get one magical month were the copyright notice said: 1997 – 2017… AND I got to hang that big 20 up for everyone to see on the homepage.

Don’t get me started on counting. I’m a self-starter, I can do it myself. NOTE: if you’re not up for a digression/rant on how we count years, skip to the end of the rant. You’ll know it when you see it.

Why does “I’m twenty” have to mean I’ve finished 20 years? Why do we have a quick shorthand for every age EXCEPT the year between the day we were born and the first anniversary of our birth?

“Weren’t you two back when that happened?”

Oh no. I was… let me see. What’s the best mathematical equation to represent my age? X < 1, where X = my age in completed years? I have no idea how many months it was. I think mom said I was crawling around that time, so maybe somewhere between 7 and 11 months? Infant doesn’t seem right, but toddler seems too old. Eff me! I give up.

“Umm, ok. Let me see if Cheryl needs any help in the kitchen.”

But we’re at a bar. What would Cheryl be doing in the kitchen here? She’s at home.

“Yeah, I know.”

See! You don’t need that kind of awkwardness in your life. I know I sure don’t. Why isn’t the day of your birth the first birthday? It’s only the reason you’re here, so I guess it’s ok not to count that one… AT ALL! Further, I think it’s high time we changed the language of age. Talking about how many years old you are stopped being cool at twenty-five. I don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to give up a year if I could say: “it’s my 46th year,” rather than saying “I’m 45 years old.” Is it any wonder so many folks don’t want to talk about their age, when most of the time they’re asked the word “old” comes up, either in the question or in the answer?

HERE ENDETH THE RANT.

So, twenty. Right?!? It’s been cool, even if I haven’t done much posting on the blog the last few years. If I ever find my old back-ups (I have three spindles of CDs – somewhere) I may share the original site I created with Adobe PageMill, BBEdit, and Graphic Converter (on one of the original Bondi-Blue iMacs no less), which appeared on AOL’s servers for a time. The absolute best was when I hosted it from a server running at home, geeking out on home networks/security, Movable Type, and managing a few different flavors of databases. Running much of my current site from a hosting service with WordPress almost feels like cheating.

Before Facebook there was blogging, and many (if not most) of my Facebook/Twitter friends are holdovers from blogging, or folks I met through blogging. This site gave me an outlet, introduced me to people with backgrounds I never would have crossed paths without it, broadened my world-view, and made me a better person.

Because of this site, and one post in particular, I often win google. I’m purposely not naming it again – I already get too many hits from those search terms, but if you drop the “beware of” and do a search for the remaining words in that title, I’m almost always top five in a google search. I joke with friends that I’m the world’s fourth-foremost expert on the subject. Though, results of your searches may vary, due to location. Further, I don’t expect most of you to be impressed. Even with this lofty achievement (for a guy like me), I bet most of you would blow me away.

Anyhoo, I’d like to thank both of you for sticking around through the lean times.

Thinking thoughts while tired

Where do I begin?

Life is a kick in the ass. Sometimes it’s a kick you need or in hindsight, maybe even wanted. Other times it’s just a fucking kick.

Above all, life is exactly what your parents tell you it is: not fair. Some of us are kicked down, hard and often. Some of us get the kick we need, over and over, and never get the message. Some are fortunate not to need a kick of any kind. Others… well, it’s all we can do not to give them a kick ourselves.

You might want to give me one now, to see if it would shake some sense out of me or into this little post.

There are moments in life I desperately wish I could describe, something I think is a product of all that kicking – or being kicked. The best my feeble mind can come up with is emotional overload, though that’s not quite it either. It makes it sound bad, yet in many ways it’s the opposite. There’s the moment when you’ve spent 36 hours in the hospital with a loved one, watching them suffer, knowing there’s nothing you can really do – then your child is born. Once in a great while, there’s a moment towards the end of a special story when an author brings you to this place through the experience of his or her characters.

At these times I’m moved to tears which flow freely. For a brief moment I think I may understand the range and complexity of human emotion, in ways I thought I had before, but really only scratched the surface.

It passes but it leaves something behind. I feel raw but richer.

Adam saw me this evening after such a moment and I wasn’t sure what to say. I tried to reassure him nothing was wrong. I tried to explain some of what I’m telling you now. Two things occurred to me. One, that I’m not doing a very good job of describing anything; and two, that he may not be ready. He may not be ready for many years.

He needs to be kicked around more… live more life, wander the experience of others, and exercise those emotional muscles, hopefully building a strong sense of empathy.

Then, some years down the road, maybe I’ll be able to look back and know I have done my job as a parent right.

Maybe I’ll have another one of those tearful moments for myself.

Notes from the surgi-center

Methinks the invention of the outpatient surgery center is the best thing to happen to Western Civ since artificial flavoring. I can’t substantiate this claim. I can’t explain myself. I didn’t give it any more thought than it took to move my fingers across the keyboard.

That’s right. I’m in random thoughts mode.

How is this any different than the other 23 hours of the day, John?

Do you say ah-loo-min-um or ah-loo-min-ah-min-ah-mum? I find it best to alternate randomly between the two – to keep folks on their toes, but your mileage may vary. Mayhaps you don’t find it necessary to say aluminum at all, but who asked you?

Oh yeah, that’s right.

I’m anoyed by my own phone making noises when I type. It’s the first setting I turn off on a new phone, or whenever someone lets me borrow their phone. Man, does that piss people off. So imagine how I feel in the surgi-center lobby, surrounded by folks (who otherwise had the good sense to buy an iOS device) with the clicking sound turned on. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine it sounds nothing like an old-school news room.

What?

I miss having my daughter around. That’s not meant to be funny.

Deep, yeah?

Why am I at a surgi-center on this fine Thursday morning? It’s nothing serious so don’t worry. I’m the designated driver for someone having an injection for back pain – an injection of the going deep kind.

An epidural? Why didn’t you just say “epidural,” John?

Hell if I know.

Potty mouth.

Did you know surgi-centers are the new coffee house for the 21st century? I’d swear I recognize half a dozen folks hanging out over by the window. Coincidence? I wonder how often I could pull off coming here to hang out, drinking the free coffee, before someone called security?

Is that them now