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Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms

All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.

When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already, or when someone airs doubts like are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life.

Continue reading “Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms”

Bucket List?

What do you see in your future?

I have to have hope. I have to have hope for a future, or there is little reason to plan for a future. As everything stands right now; between the pandemic exacerbated by Donald Trump’s incompetence and malfeasance and his zombified supporters still clamoring for more of the same, it has been a little hard to imagine a future that isn’t bounded by the four walls of my house and the daily walks with the dog.

But if we were to suddenly find ourselves able to travel outside of the city, or even inside the city to somewhere that wasn’t a doctor’s office for an appointment, where would I go? What would I want to do, in order to make life worth living just a little bit longer?

I am a notorious hater of all things touristy. I don’t want to get on an over-sized floating hotel and cruise to the tropics, or even fly down to the tropics to sit on a beach. Not my kind of thing at all. I would spend all that time reading, and I can read right here at home just as well as I can read there. Save the travel expenses. Pretend to be gone and do some intense reading alone at home.

There are destinations that I could find the urge to travel to, if travel was a thing that was possible and I could afford it. I would prefer to do my traveling like so many other writers have done. Hiring on as help on a freighter or just taking passage on one and getting off at whatever port suited me and exploring to my heart’s content. Were I still in my twenties and situated the way I am now, I wouldn’t have hesitated to take this route of exploration.

I could easily be dead within a week of leaving port, but that wouldn’t have mattered to twenty-year-old me. I would have enjoyed the extremely short adventure anyway. Since I’m no longer 20 but more like 60 with a family that needs me to survive past next week, I have to surrender to the reality of my physical state and admit that I’m not up to working my way across the ocean anymore, even if I really never was. Maybe the travel would be more like Anita Willets-Burnham chronicles in Round the World on a Penny than it would be like Mark Twain on the one hand or the average cruise ship passenger on the other. Frugal, but safe and expansive.

I have a board on Pinterest where I have posted images of places that have struck an emotional chord with me:

They are from all over the world. When it comes to places I would like to visit, there is far more to see than there is time to see it in. Just the other day I ran across another story of a destination that would be well worth the trip:

A spectacular parade that began after nightfall in Egypt and around lunchtime ET proceeded along the length of the avenue, which is lined on either side by over 600 ram-headed statues and traditional sphinxes, statues with a lion’s body and a human’s head. 

The extravagant march included participants in pharaonic dress, a symphony orchestra, lighting effects, professional dancers, boats on the Nile, horse drawn carriages and more. 

nbcnews.com

Sure the opening event is over, but the trip to see this newly reopened path would be an amazing adventure for the amateur archeologist in me. Egypt is a no-brainer. Yes, tourists go there and there are tourist traps all over the place there. Doesn’t matter. The architecture is what I would go for. The same goes for Rome and Athens or any place that has reasonably intact ruins that beckon to be explored.

I was lamenting the lack of hope in the world today to The Wife recently. How it was going to be a long time before we’d be able to get out of Texas and do the exploring we both want to do. Her response? You won’t do anything touristy so we’d have a hard time going anywhere anyway. I’d suggest sailing with Cunard from the US to Britain, but that would be a touristy thing and you won’t do it. She might swallow her teeth to hear me say this, but that trip sounds great. It would be even better if the ship sailed up North a little farther and gave us a view of the Northern Lights for a few nights in a row. A week on the ocean looking at the stars sounds like a great time to me. I’ll be looking at stars because I’ll pretty much be confined to deck unless I want to be drugged senseless, but I could go for that anyway. I haven’t seen a decent night’s sky in more than ten years. Seven nights on the ocean sounds like heaven.

After we dock in Britain at the other end of the journey, we could cross over to Ireland to visit her ancestral kin there and have a pint of Guinness at the brewery. We could stay a week or a month getting to know the place, wherever it is we land at. Sounds like a plan to me.

I’m not into aimless wandering and I’m not related to anyone in Ireland that would care. You won’t know until you get there, dear. Who’s wandering aimlessly? I have a goal: Guinness at the brewery. That is my goal.

Crossing Europe by train? I’d go for that in an instant if it was cheap enough. Trains and their support structures are an engineering and architectural wet dream combined. I’d never have to leave the train or the station. I’d just hang around gawking at the structures until we’re ready to move again. No need for additional itinerary.

Which is the only real problem. There are tons of things to see in every city and town along the way through Europe, and there is no way to appreciate this fact unless you get out of the vehicle you are traveling in, lace up your shoes, strap on your pack and start walking. That is the way to travel. Hiking cross country has been a thing I always wanted to try but never had a chance to do. When you have to work every day of every week just to keep the lights on and the roof over your head, there is no time for sightseeing or joyriding unless you work it into the routine that you have to keep up.

This proposed form of travel struck the Wife as a unique form of torture. It would. She blew out both her knees in marching band. Each step is precious to her these days. I’d send her ahead in a car to scout out a place to sleep for the next week or month while I did the hiking I love. It’ll give her time to chat up the natives, that’s what she does best anyway. She just slows me down when we’re out walking. Having someone to talk to can make all the difference, but in the end you have to make the distance in the time allowed.

Like so many other lists that people make, the bucket list is one I will have to pass on. There will not be a list of ten things I’d like to do or see before I die. I won’t limit myself to a list of places that I would like to go. You never know if the thing you really should see is the thing right next to what you are supposed to see unless you take the time to go there and look around. No travel itinerary will allow for that kind of loitering. That is my objection to touristy travel. I want to sip tea until I’m ready to leave, not until the group is ready to leave. An itinerary is for tourists, and I don’t do touristy.

Touring Texas

I ran across a question from some Brits who were going to be driving from Houston to Austin on Reddit. They wanted to know about bars being open, and anything specifically to do on the drive between Houston and Austin. Having only been that way once or twice, I have little to say about the span of distance between those two cities.

The bars in Texas are open. All of Texas is open because our Governor wants to make his Trumpist base believe that he agrees with the lies told by the former President and his supporters. That COVID is a hoax and we don’t need to be vaccinated or worry about anything except what scam cure for the hoax (explain that one) they are supposed to buy this week.

My advice to foreigners coming to Texas? If you have to come, get vaccinated and wear a mask. I’d pick a better vacation spot if I were you though.

In the comments that followed there were dozens of people offering up various eateries all over the state, most of it ethnic food. I’ve always found this tendency to be quite humorous. “What’s the best thing in my city? Something brought here from another place.”

People who live in an area routinely think that the best thing in the area is the thing that isn’t from there (Like suggesting getting Kolaches or other ethnic food that is widely available in Texas) If you can get brisket every day (the staple food of Texas) brisket isn’t the thing that you suggest others eat. A tourist sees things differently. This is why I try to think of the things I would do while visiting a strange place, and then find those kinds of things around me. Things that have merged into the background noise for residents.

Knowing what people who don’t live in Texas might find interesting while visiting Texas is the foundation of at least one person’s fame and livelihood:

https://thedaytripper.com/ (this is not displaying correctly on the published article. I don’t know why. -ed.)

It would be foolish for me to attempt to outdo someone who makes a living trying to bring attention to the little-known parts of Texas. Even the Texas Standard has a weekly weekend trip tip to keep Texans and visitors apprised of what is going on around us in Texas each week. That segment usually airs on Thursdays. The archive for the show has become neglected in the COVID years.

However, I have traveled in Texas myself and I have a particular bent towards the kinds of things that I think visitors might overlook. I drove between Austin and San Angelo for years, and the Texas forts trail was always worth the time following when I had the time to devote to it. Fort Concho in San Angelo has Christmas events. Usually.

As someone with architectural/archeological interests that sort of thing is fascinating to me. I stop at roadside markers and explore almost any abandoned structure that I can access from the road. I’ve found neglected churches, abandoned schools and country courthouses just driving down old road looking for places to explore when I’ve been required to travel long distance through unfamiliar country.

When I have guests in Austin I always take them to tour the Texas Capitol complex. I don’t know if it’s open now with COVID, but the historical tour combined with the modern underground expansion is a unique bit of architecture to experience. The same goes for shopping at the Domain or visiting the new stadium for the soccer team. Driving out to the F1 track. If you are from Austin you probably never want to go to these places. If you aren’t then it’s probably something that you might find interesting.

If it’s nature you are after here, there is the Wildflower Center or Zilker Botanical Gardens (renovation) McKinney falls is lovely, but then so is Hamilton Pool. If you go to Zilker park you might want to go through the lights at Zilker, walk around under the moon tower that they turn into a christmas tree.

After all of that you will want food. The Salt Lick is where most people go or know about if they think about Austin and brisket. When I worked downtown I would walk over to Franklin‘s or the Ironworks. I haven’t been there in years, but both places are still in business so they probably don’t suck as places to go to eat. Places that serve brisket in Texas have to be good if they want to stay in business.

https://www.instagram.com/elarroyo_atx/

No matter where you go, you’ll still be in Texas unless you drive for more than a day. Do your best to enjoy yourself while you are here.

reddit

November Funk

It’s been really hard to make myself write anything since July first:

The Wife pulled through the surgery fine. She spent a full month in the hospital (who will pay for this and how that paying will be done is going to be the fight of the century) and then spent the three months after that slowly recuperating from the procedure.

I managed to push myself through the increased demands on my time and energy almost for the full four months. Two weeks before she graduated from Cardio Rehab I was hit with multiple vertigo spells over the course of three or four days, the cost of pushing myself beyond my limits once again:

That fog lasted just long enough to push me into my Winter doldrums. I don’t know what it is about the sun being low in the Southern sky, but I never feel like I’m quite awake when it is. When we were visiting family in Illinois a few years ago, I felt like that pretty much every day we were there, and that was in the Spring.

So here we are in November, and I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep for three months. I want to sleep for three months and I have four months of notes about stuff that I really wanted to get on the blog to go through. Oh well. At least the Wife is feeling better. Even if she’s not feeling better than ever, then at least she’s feeling well enough to drive now. I couldn’t take much more of being the primary driver in the family.

Facebook Polls Broken?

I’ve been trying to get polls to show up with blank options after the first few required options, and I can’t get the blank “add an option” box to show for me. I can’t get it to show for the Wife, either. This is what the polls look like for me and for her:

I’m not the only one confused by this problem. All over the internet there are questions and responses that go through the frankly obvious method to get a poll to show up in Facebook. It’s not rocket science. None of the answers that I’ve run across discuss this specific problem, or give me a way to get around it.

I’m not the only one that can’t see the additional option boxes. After a member of one of my groups offered up that she could see the additional option box, and sent me a screenshot to prove it:

Several other members piped up that they too could not see the add box. I haven’t yet found a solution to this problem, so I’m creating a blog article simply to illustrate the problem for feedback purposes. I will update this article when/if I find a solution.

Migrating To a New System

I ran across a request for technical support on Facebook today. It seems that there is still a shortage of technical nerds in the outlying provinces of the country. This is understandable to me. Why would you live away from decent healthcare and a wide variety of shopping opportunities? It’s cheaper to live out in the boonies for very good reasons. It pays one to understand what the tradeoffs are for that relaxed country living.

There are no computer outlets in Rotan, or pretty much anywhere USA that can be navigated by referencing the one stoplight in town. This means that if you want your computer upgraded you will have to DIY it or you will have to go somewhere USA that features more than one strip mall. I’m a cheapskate even if I do pay through the nose to be near places that can do stuff for me, so I tend to DIY most things before calling someone to fix the mess I’ve made.

In this particular instance, the person was inquiring about getting their programs and data onto a new system. I’ve done this countless times with my own data and with other people’s data. It’s a pretty straightforward process. First, find everything that came with your old system. This is the justification on my part for keeping every stray bit of garbage that ships with my computer systems and other technical doodads. There is an entire garage full of useless empty boxes that can attest to this tendency of mine.

Hopefully you’ve tossed all the installation media that came with the original system into the empty shipping box, along with every other program you installed over the years that you’ve used that system.

Without the original installation media, it will be hard to make the programs work if you transfer to a new hard drive or a new windows installation. My suggestion would be to track down the programs you know you will need to re-install, first. Then make a decent backup. There are several pay systems out there that will back up you data for you, but you can also DIY that yourself with a series of DVD’s, or just get a separate backup drive and make a backup on that drive (this is something everyone should be periodically doing, and virtually no one does. Until it is too late) make a backup before proceeding further.

Crack the case open on both systems and see if the drive cables are the same type. If they are, then try to move the old drive to the new system. There may be some fiddly BIOS settings you will need to do in order to boot to the other drive, so you will probably have to get into the BIOS at startup to make that work. There should be a visible prompt on the screen advising you of how to get into the BIOS. Nearly every computer does this.

If the old drive boots in the new system, you are golden. No worries. You can reformat the new hard drive that came with the system and use it for data storage. Like backing up, putting your personal data on a separate drive from the operating system is just good computer hygiene. If the OS craps out on a separate drive (the most frequent problem) you can just reformat that drive and reinstall the OS without disturbing your personal data. Be careful to reformat the right drive! Can’t tell you the number of times that error has been made. Even I have done it.

If the old drive doesn’t boot in the new system, or if it is a different type of hard drive, then you are going to have to re-install the programs yourself or pay someone to do it for you. At least you will have the media to install from because you found the media before starting this process. Then you do the opposite of what I described above, and remove the old OS folders from your data drive, placing your data where you can find it again somewhere else on that drive.

The process is not easy. I will not say that four letter word willingly on any subject. However, it is doable by anyone with the patience it takes to carefully go through the steps I’ve outlined above. I hate dealing with hardware myself. I’m always convinced I’ve just made another expensive paperweight every time I crack open a case. The number of times that has been true has been less than double digits, and I’ve cracked open somewhere near a hundred different computer cases over the years.

facebook

Brain Fog 2

I went to see my Otolaryngologist (an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor or ENT) yesterday. I had an emergency work-in appointment for the afternoon. The Wife drove herself to her cardio rehabilitation appointment in the morning, the second time she has driven herself since she had open-heart surgery in July. I’ve been driving her three times a week to that appointment over the months since, and the strain of being there for her over the course of those months has finally taken a toll on me.

Last Wednesday I started experiencing rotational vertigo. It persisted through the day, no matter how hard I tried to tamp it down. I finally gave up and took Xanax to quell it, but then I started feeling nauseous and so had to add a Phenergan to the mix to keep myself from hugging the commode for a few hours while the room continued to spin. Needless to say, I slept the sleep of the dead for about twelve hours.

When I woke up the next morning I could tell that my hearing had altered. I couldn’t say how, but I knew it was different. I was having a hard time focusing too. Muddy thoughts, muddy feelings, muddy existence. I struggled through the day, not feeling myself at all. The Wife got clearance from her heart surgeon so that she could drive herself to her appointment on Friday, just in case; and indeed I was hardly capable of driving on Friday when I woke up. I did manage to get to McDonald’s and back for breakfast, but the habit of ordering coffee with my morning cheeseless McMuffin that I had developed over the course of the few months I had spent chauffeuring the Wife to her rehab appointments finally bit back, and the caffeine from the coffee started up another round of vertigo that lasted into Saturday.

Brain fog on Saturday. Brain fog on Sunday. Barely able to discern what it was I was thinking at any given moment. On the upside, my re-emerged symptoms gave me time to play World of Warcraft for the first time in over a month; but on the downside none of the many other things that I had been putting off for months seemed possible. I was finally able to do some technical work late Sunday night, but that just exposed me to one of my known allergic reactions (dust) which then triggered symptoms again.

At my Monday ENT appointment the audiologist determined that I had lost another 10% of hearing from my left ear. Had it been the right ear, I would have let them give me an intratympanic injection of steroids to try to preserve the hearing. My right ear is my only remaining connection to the normal hearing world. The left ear losing another 10% puts it just under half as effective as a normal ear. Not enough to worry about, from my perspective. I went home with a prescription for oral steroids, which I don’t intend to take.

There is a new weather front rolling into Austin as I type this. I can feel my thoughts slowly draining away as the pressure changes and my tinnitus worsens. It’s time to leash the dog and go for a walk before the storm hits. Maybe I’ll watch a familiar movie or play some more Warcraft tonight. It will be something to look forward to at least. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of writing or thinking for me in the near future.

Biden vs. Reagan

For the past thirty years, every single time we’ve had a new President, that first year of the new president, the president’s party lost both the Virginia governor and the New Jersey governor. Every single time.

Except this time Democrats didn’t lose New Jersey. In a rational world this would not be a cause for Democratic panic. Quite the contrary.

Democrats have beat the odds. They’ve done better than everybody’s done going back to the great communicator, Ronald Reagan, who’s the last president who pulled this off.

The last time a president managed to only lose one of those governorships in the first year he was in office, it was the great communicator himself Ronald Reagan.

Biden has done something that no other President has been able to do since Reagan. You would think this would be cause for celebration in the Democratic party.

Rachel Maddow – November 3, 2021
spotify

In the meantime, this is what has happened to the party of Reagan:

dallasnews.com

Scores of QAnon believers gathered Tuesday afternoon in downtown Dallas in the hopes that John F. Kennedy Jr. would appear, heralding the reinstatement of Donald Trump as president.

dallasnews.com

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

I was briefly infatuated with Richard Powers listening to this interview:

spotify.com – Ezra Klein – This Conversation With Richard Powers Is a Gift

I was so infatuated that I started looking for the transcript of the show and noting the parts of the interview that struck me as I was out on a walk listening to it. I mistakenly published my notes at some point during the walk, and then just left them published because it was too much work to figure out how to unpublish it from the mobile interface. It’s been sitting at the top of the blog for days now, still only partially finished. My apologies.

Capitalism

Commodity mediated, individualist, market driven human exceptionalism…

…I had this sense that to become a better person and to get ahead and to really make more of myself, I had to be as productive as possible. And that meant waking up every morning and getting 1,000 words that I was proud of. And it’s interesting that I would even settle on a quantitative target. That’s very typical for that kind of mindset that I’m talking about — 1,000 words and then you’re free, and then you can do what you want with the day.

Richard Powers

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

I had heard of Suzanne Simard long before this episode of Ezra’s show. Way back when I first started listening to podcasts. During my binging of the back catalog of Radiolab, I ran across this episode:

Radiolab -From Tree to Shining Tree – July 30, 2016

To summarize the part of her work that is covered in that episode, trees feed each other through the network of fungi that fill the ground around them. The forest is more than just the trees. The forest exists for its own purpose. A purpose that has absolutely nothing to do with us.

If we see all of evolution as somehow leading up to us, all of human, cultural evolution leading up to neoliberalism and here we are just busily trying to accumulate and make meaning for ourselves, death becomes the enemy. When we enter into or recover this sense of kinship that was absolutely fundamental to so many indigenous cultures everywhere around the world at many, many different points in history, that there is no radical break between us and our kin, that even consciousness is shared, to some degree and to a large degree, with a lot of other creatures, then death stops seeming like the enemy and it starts seeming like one of the most ingenious kinds of design for keeping evolution circulating and keeping the experiment running and recombining.

And to go from terror into being and into that sense that the experiment is sacred, not this one outcome of the experiment, is to immediately transform the way that you think even about very fundamental social and economic and cultural things. If the experiment is sacred, how can we possibly justify our food systems, for instance? It’s only the belief that we share no significant kinds of meditation or emotional life with cows that allow us to run the kind of food system that we run.

Richard Powers

I am not nearly as impressed with Neil Postman as both Ezra and Richard Powers are. When I got to that section of the interview, my infatuation with Powers waned significantly. I have some pointed thoughts about Neil Postman, some of which may eventually appear here after I finish working through the two books of his that I’m on again, off again, listening to. In the meantime, here’s a link to the other true prophet that Ezra mentions:

The Essential McLuhan by Marshall McLuhan

Richard Powers’ books:

Litany Against Fear

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Dune

If I was to risk my life to see a movie, this is possibly the only movie that I would cross that line for:

DUNE – FINAL TRAILER – Oct 7, 2021

Check out the ‘thopters, man. Finally someone gives me real ‘thopters. That alone will get me to go watch the movie, even in a time of plague.

Dune – Official Main Trailer – Jul 22, 2021

I just hope the movie has a story. A story that feels something like the story in the book. I’m not looking for the book as a movie, I’m looking to feel the same way about the story in the movie as I do about the story in the book. Fingers crossed.


The first movie of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune ends immediately following Jamis’ Tahaddi challenge. Given the place in the first book where the movie ends, I would say that there are at least two more movies of material left to put on the screen. That is, if we are talking about the series of movies ending where the first book ends. If we go on to Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, then we have at least a nine-film epic.

I liked his handling of the story as far as it went. He departed from the text several times, and yet the story remains intact underneath the changes. The director deftly weaves a tale that was made for the screen out of the text that Frank Herbert wrote, and he does it better than all the others who have attempted to tell the story before.

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014)

Documents the first time someone tried to bring the book to the big screen. While the attempt was fatally flawed from the beginning, the collaborations that started with that endeavor went on to generate a dozen other works that would be sorely missed today had the attempt not been made. I’m glad the movie was never finished. There is no way the completed project could equal the grandeur of the vision that is presented in the pitches for the movie.

Dune (1984)

Unfortunately for us, David Lynch did complete his attempt to put Dune on the big screen. Luckily for us, David Lynch went on to make better movies. Don’t get me wrong, there are facets of the 1984 Dune that are grandiose almost beyond imagining unless you have seen the movie yourself. The guild steersman in the first act; in fact, all of the first third of the movie was excellent. All of the casting for the Harkonnen’s including Sting as Feyd-Rautha was excellent. Unfortunately the production couldn’t create ornithopters that looked like ornithopters. They also abandoned the Prana-Bindu training/fighting in favor of creating a gadget that they called a weirding module to make the fighters unbeatable.

The production suffered from many problems during the course of the movies’ creation and this shows in the finished product. There were long exposition sequences throughout the film, a shortcut to storytelling on film that is never a good idea. The Wife walked out of the movie back in 1984, midway through one of the sequences that featured a bloody battle scene while the voiceover track intones “…and Paul and Chani were in love.” The horror of it was too much to bear. She spent the remaining hour of the movie playing video games in the arcade attached to the theater.

I have watched the movie several times over the years. It never got better for me, which is its own condemnation of the effort in my eyes. When you know a story before seeing the movie made from it, the anxiety of what you are about to see enacted on something you know and love overshadows everything. This has proven to be true for me for every movie that I have watched after reading the book. The first viewing is almost painful to endure. If the movie is good though, the later viewings get better and more enjoyable because you already know how the movie treats the thing you are nostalgic for.

1984 Dune treated a novel that I had read more times than I had read anything else very poorly. It strayed from the meaning and intent of the story almost from the moment the characters touch down on Arrakis. I had read the first four novels seven times through before seeing the movie in 1984 and most books never get a second reading by me. Dune spoke to me in ways that other books did not. Frank Herbert understood realpolitik, and he wove his vaguely recognizable societal groups into a believable future framework that gives the reader insight on the world of power politics, and what can happen when an oppressed population is given a savior that they recognize instinctively. Almost none of this was present in the 1984 version of Dune.

Dune (2000) Miniseries

This version was superior to Lynch’s version. It was more like the story it was trying to tell than 1984 Dune. True, they still didn’t get the ornithopters right, and they didn’t have Sting as Feyd-Rautha, but they made do with what they had and at least tried to tell the story that Frank Herbert wrote. I’ve never managed to catch this series since it first aired, so I have little recollection of it now. I just remember being glad to see the story treated more like I expected it to be treated, instead of being buried behind special effects sequences that could never replace real storytelling. They even went on to make:

Children of Dune (2003) Miniseries

An adaptation of the second two books of the series. I remember even less of this series than I do the first SyFy series, although I remember watching both. This one didn’t impress me with it’s ability to bring the story to the screen. In the end the small screen can’t compare to the big screen and these stories deserve to be on a big screen.

All of this is my way of saying that I look forward to seeing Jason Momoa returning in movie number four as the Goula Hayt. I’ll be along for the ride for at least that long. Here’s hoping that Denis Villeneuve gets the green light to continue with the second movies’ creation.

What Dune achieves – as Frank Herbert himself wrote – is an ambivalence and suspicion of “good wars.” The film’s allegiance is with the natives, and certainly with cultural humility toward the unfamiliar and the unknowable. Colonizing another is a brutal if not a fatal mission.

npr.org

Someone Else Will Do It

The doorbell rings. Again. I know who it is. There is a group home across the street. One of the new guests at the home is a tiny little woman with some kind of learning disability. Before I knew she had a learning disability I had threatened her off my property with a blunt object after she rang the doorbell seven different times in one day. Now that I know she can’t help herself, I have resigned myself to the hell of living next to a profit-making group home that doesn’t understand its obligations to it’s paying guests.

I try ignoring the doorbell, even though it grates on my nerves. The Wife says “come smell the bread. It’ll make you happy.” She’s baking bread again. It’s a good sign. We’ve just gotten back from a walk in Bartholomew park, a walk where I spent quality time and energy moving shopping carts up out of the park and onto the road shoulder where the local HEB would be able see it’s errant carts and come get them. I wasn’t able to do more than move them up to the street because I can’t leave the Wife unsupervised for long in her current drugged post-surgery state. She was looking for me as it was and was almost in tears when I got back to her.

That is me not leaving to others what I can do myself. Internalizing the work that needs doing and getting it done because someone needs to do it. This is me taking the overworked staff of the nearby HEB into account, people whose jobs I once did as well, and doing my part to help them out. One of the kids biking through the park was mystified by my behavior. “Are you working?” he asked me.

“No,” I said. “I’m doing what somebody else should have done a month ago.” The grass had grown up around some of these carts. I knew they had been there for weeks at least. Like most people these days, this child had no idea of the meaning of civic service, of maintaining public spaces for the benefit of all. Most people understand that externalized costs; in this case, leaving the carts for someone else to pick up and move, will profit them with more time and energy. They don’t understand that the costs come out of everyone’s enjoyment in using the public space, out of our pockets in increased prices at the stores that have to replace the lost carts.

There were more carts in the park than I could move, and the Wife cajoled me back into the car rather than let me wear myself out doing the work that other’s wouldn’t do. Got me back in the car to drive back home, only for us to be confronted with even more work being left undone. Work that others were actually being paid to do. Paid to do, and shirking in their paid duties. The doorbell rings twice more.

Knowing my state of mind and fearing a further tirade on my part, the Wife mercifully answered the door for me and shoed the poor woman off with encouragement to do whatever it was she felt she needed to tell us about before doing. She’s bothered neighbors up and down the street now by ringing their doorbells. She’s pestered the school across the street to near distraction with her insistence she needed to go visit the children in the school.

However, she isn’t the problem. The group home is the problem. There has been another guest over here recently, someone has been stealing water out of our front hose bib. I’ve caught him in the act more than once. It’s not that I mind the occasional bottle filling, what I do mind is these intruders leaving the valve open and letting water run out all over the yard for days, costing me hundreds of dollars in wasted water because I don’t know someone else left the tap on.

The more recent visitor has complained that the water isn’t available to the residents of the group home. I don’t know how true that is, but it would explain the visits to fill bottles before setting out on a daily meander. A daily meander that probably shouldn’t be carried on unsupervised if the individual in question is just going to wander onto private property and take things.

The management of the group home is being paid by the caretakers (family or state, whoever they are) of the residents to keep staff in residence to assist these people with their daily needs. They are being paid and then they let their charges roam freely about the neighborhood. Let them annoy neighbors with their demands which remain unsatisfied by the people who are being paid to take care of them. Externalize costs, internalize profits.

What do they care? They’re making money. So what if the lives of the neighbors are impacted by their dereliction of duty?

The original owner of the house, a man I knew, had his own problems that impacted the neighborhood. He ran an automotive shop out of his garage, and this aggravated a lot of neighbors. The difference here is, if one of us wanted to talk to him, we knew where he lived and could take up our complaints with him or have the city intercede on our behalf.

After he lost/sold the house it has passed through several hands, none of them good hands. We’ve joked over the years about the quality of the neighbors gradually becoming more hellish. First it was a migrant workers home, packed full of dozens of people. Then it was a gang den, a drug dealer’s delivery center, and now it is the cannibal’s house. They should be exhuming body parts out of the backyard any day now unless the final form of derelict property owner, a flame-enshrouded pitchfork wielder, turns the property into a gateway to Hell itself and swallows it and the neighborhood whole. How I miss the days when it was just broken down cars sitting in the driveway across the street.

Now there is the weekly visit from police/EMS/HHS, lights flashing, sirens blaring at all hours of the day and night. All because the management of the group home, Grace & Mercy Supervised Living, doesn’t have a presence in the neighborhood that can be held to account for their dereliction. The owners of the venture fled with the the proceeds, the company now in arrears. Just another Trump, just another Kushner, just another slumlord profiting off the misery of others, leaving the real work for other people to do.

No wonder that child in the park couldn’t understand what I was doing. None of the people who are held up as behavioral examples for him to model would ever stoop to doing real work in public, especially if they weren’t being paid to do it.