Gesundheit

The sun comes up and I start sneezing uncontrollably. Five, six times in repetition. Now, I can’t see the sunlight, but the sun is just coming up as I look out the window.

I’ve been sitting in the same place for hours now. No sneezing. The only thing that has changed is the sun is coming up. This isn’t the first time I’ve been hit with these sneeze attacks while sitting at my desk working or loafing. Suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere, I’m hit with the urge to sneeze my brains out for a good four or five minutes.

I know that the sunlight hitting you for the first time can cause you to sneeze. I’ve heard of that condition before. Never heard of the sun coming up, your not seeing it, and it causing you to sneeze. Is the sun evil and must it be stopped, or is it the mold that hates me reacting to the sunlight? I think I’ll go for the latter explanation. I’ll go for it right after I go for a generic Claritin and Guaifenesin. The sneezing must be stopped first.

Pixel Problems

More from the ongoing saga of trying to stay connected to friends and family in the dog eat dog capitalist hellhole that is modern day America.

When we last checked in on our cellphone adventurers, they had given up on Tinging it on the cheap and had switched to T-Mobile:

Meanwhile the Wife had grown tired of the endless bitching about LG phones and had demanded that the author of these missives go out and get himself a phone that he liked instead of a phone that the cellphone carriers wanted to give him. So he bought himself a Pixel 3XL. The power buttons being the weak link of failure on three subsequent Nexus phones was not enough to make him give up on Google as a hardware vendor. Always a stalwart Googler, he was determined to go down with the proverbial Google ship.

One might be tempted to think that the doom that lay in store for him might have been avoided had he simply not taken up Pokémon Go and the similarly mapped game from Niantic named Ingress, but the truth is that the doom was unavoidable. It was unavoidable because he really wanted that Pixel 6 and the place to get Pixels was not T-Mobile but Google Fi. The Pixel 3XL just couldn’t keep up with informational demands. It logged itself out of everything when not in focus, generally forcing a complete restart every time a previously opened app was brought back into focus. It was too old, too slow. It needed to be a Pixel with a bigger number next to it.

Our intrepid adventurer discovered (Oh shiny!) that he could get a Pixel 5a for free if he simply signed up for Google Fi. Thus his doom was sealed, because the Pixel 5a, while equipped with a very fine camera, was prone to overheating every time he turned it on and tried to play any online game, listen to a podcast and used the camera all at the same time. Three simultaneous activities that were bound to occur at least twenty times a day on any given day.

If there is one thing more maddening than having to restart your phone every time you want to change apps, it is your phone telling you to turn it off or it might catch fire in your hand, metaphorically speaking, every time you use the camera. Every time you use the camera, not just those times that you are using the camera, listening to a podcast and playing a game simultaneously.

The adventurer sought the advice of many wise sages, none of which had anything of merit to say on the subject:

Your phone can get warm if you:

* Play media, like stream shows over Wi-Fi or 5G, or play downloaded videos.
* Make video calls.
* Record high definition videos.
* Tether your phone or use it as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
* Download or upload a lot of data over a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection.
* Do any of the above while your phone charges.

To keep your phone from getting too hot:

* Keep your phone away from excessive heat, like inside a hot vehicle or outside in direct sunlight.
* Don’t leave your phone in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas, like layers, small pockets, or bags.
* Keep your phone in the open air.
* Use only cases or covers made for your specific phone.
* Reduce your phone’s display brightness

Tip: You can remove the case until your phone cools down.
If possible, use Wi-Fi instead of mobile data.
Learn more about how to help keep your Pixel phone from feeling too warm or hot.

How your phone protects itself

Your phone may start to limit some functions when it senses that it’s too hot. It could slow down, turn off your camera’s flash or camera, or partially or fully turn off your mobile data or Wi-Fi, including 5G.

If your phone’s temperature continues to rise, it could show a warning and turn off. The phone turns off to keep you and your phone safe. If your phone turns off, let it cool down and restart it.

Indeed, the phone did shut itself off. Many times. In desperation, the adventurer appealed to the gods of the Google Fi support line who granted him the boon of a second Pixel 5a. Both of them shut themselves off after filming videos that were longer than sixty seconds. They both grew very hot (over 110° F) to the touch. An unacceptable performance spec for any device that is presented for use as a video platform. In despair the adventurer turned to the open market and purchased a Pixel 7 at the low, low price of his own soul and the blood of his firstborn child. The Wife and the Daughter are going to be pissed at the cost.

Meanwhile there is a lonely engineer locked in a cubicle farm somewhere that foretold all of this in a scroll that he composed many years ago while testing the hardware that went on to become the Pixel 5a. “The camera produces too much excess heat. Recommend that we use a different camera.” The floor of his cell would probably be permanently stained with the tears of his regret if he hadn’t been so well compensated by the Google gods for his life of endless toil in that forlorn place.

Our adventurer can smile as he sets off on his daily journey now, as long as he doesn’t think too hard about the missing child and the soon to be missing wife, who will go in search of the Google gods in order to slay them and return said daughter. The doghouse will be cold at night, but at least our adventurer will have entertainment while he slowly freezes to death.

The dog’s not very happy about sharing his space.

I’m baaack. (11/28) finally feel up to writing again.

MAGA: Amnesty – It’s Not a Border or an Immigration Problem.

More than two million people tried to cross the US-Mexoco border in 2022, according to officials. They want to make this sound like a large number. It would be a large number, if these people were migrants and expected to go back and forth across the border each year.

These people are not migrants though, no matter how many talking heads call them migrants. They don’t want to be here, they were forced to come here out of fear of where they were.

They are not immigrants beyond the fact that they want American protection from persecution (as foolish as that belief may be) and so want to become American citizens, with all the baggage that comes with being brown-skinned people in the original home of White Supremacy.

These people are refugees. That’s how you get two million people crossing a border into another country in a year. They are not invaders, drug runners or any other kind of criminal. They are poor, desperate people and we are using them as pawns in our political battles. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

texasstandard.org

Americans are outraged about the influx of refugees at the Southern border; at least, that is what Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP would like you to believe. They are betting on you being willing to torture poor refugee families in the name of your own security. That is the bet they are making in 2022. Will you do it? Will you go down to the border and use a cattle prod on these poor people in order to drive them back to their countries of origin, or will you be happy to allow the Texas and Mexican governments do your dirty work for you?

What needs to be done is to fix our amnesty rules, fix the injustices in Venezuela and Brazil and half a dozen other countries South of our border here in the United States. Injustices that we helped to create with decades of money to banana republics that we helped to create in the first place. South America is the way it is now largely because we made it that way, because it suited our corporations commodity-extracting needs. Now that these refugees from our policies show up on our door, we need to torture them some more? I think we’ve seen enough depravity now.

Featured image: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-IMMIGRATION/MEXICO/mopankddwva/

Maddow on Pat Buchanan & Racism

Buchanan is a paleoconservative, he is a white nationalist, he is an artist of white racial grievance as a driver of white working class votes and white middle class votes, honestly; and he has been calling for revolutionary white nationalist politics on the right consistently and in the same way without evolving at all himself from the sixties until now, through his most recent books.

The far right has figured that out. His books are required reading in the pro-Trump right wing paramilitary groups, some of which are facing sedition charges now; but he’s the most consistent, lyrical Republican racist of the mid-twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first and that will be important for us understanding what happened to the right and to the Republican party in this century.

I think it helps to look at it from a broad historical perspective and just to realize that these impulses and these arguments and these ideas of racial grievance and racial reorganization, and racial oppression, they don’t go away and they don’t change very much. They get articulated with more or less flowery language over time but, when you build the Nixon-Agnew administration on the idea that the civil rights movement is a bunch of communists and it’s American patriotism to oppose communists and therefore to oppose civil rights; and that’s why anyone who calls you a racist is really a commie…

When that’s the politics of the sixties and seventies and there is no corrective for it, you just evolve through it. When the Reagan politics around race and welfare queens and this idea again of exploiting racial grievance, but with a smile, persists through those times. When the deep racial radicalism on the right is sort of kept alive, is continually stoked, those guys are continually fomenting what they foment and they fall in and out of favor depending on what the media environment and the electoral environment can tolerate.

Rachel Maddow
spotifyEzra Klein – What Rachel Maddow Has Been Thinking About Offscreen – Oct 14, 2022

What she is driving at there is the thing that put me off on Pat Buchanan from the very beginning:

The problem that I had with Pat Buchanan was always that the thing he was talking about wasn’t the thing he was talking about. What I expressed to Dan Carlin as bad actor or bad faith in relation to his interview of Pat Buchanan in episode 71 of his Common Sense podcast. Buchanan would never come right out and say that brown-skinned people were keeping white people from achieving their white nirvana, but it was behind every single thing he thought and said and it bled through in every thought that he tried to express. He always was a bad liar. Not nearly the confidence man that Caudito Trump is. Trump, who took the racist subtext behind politics in the US and made it the text again. Pat Buchanan helped make a Trump presidency inevitable.

This racial thinking comes out in his belief that Slavic countries belong to Russia, for example.

The title of that article? That is the framing that Pat Buchanan would use when talking about the war in Ukraine. Talking about it as if all Slavs must be under the same government. Racial framing. Just in case you think that Rachel Maddow is making all that shit up. She knows him, which is more than I can say about him.

Midterm Trumpism

Trump says its about Trump so lets make it about Trump.

We are about to be in election season here in the United States. The midterm elections, so named because they come in the middle of a presidential term, are about to be held. The primary elections, which most citizens have gleefully missed out on, have occurred over the last eight months and the candidates for every house seat in the US House and one-third of the seats in the Senate have been selected. Now we go to the general election and pick which one of the candidates will be the one to represent us in the various elected bodies and offices across the country.

Here in Texas every major state office is also up for election. The Democrats are doing quite well given Texas history. Democrats haven’t been this close to holding a statewide public office since Ann Richards left the governor’s mansion (I really miss her) Republicans have to be sweating bullets right now, but they sure do try to pretend that they aren’t.

The various political pundits who are talking about the midterm elections would like you to believe that this election is about inflation or the economy or abortion. They say this quite openly on programs that promote the horserace narrative of election:

The Takeaway – Do Debates Help Candidates in Midterm Elections? – October 11, 2022

(I would be happy for there to be normalcy enough that debating between sane parties could be conducted. We aren’t in those kinds of times now.)

But the elections aren’t about any of those things. I wouldn’t mind if the elections were about abortion, that is a winning issue for Democrats. I do mind that Republicans try to make this election about immigration or about the economy because they don’t present the truth when they promote these troubling issues. The immigration issue is actually an amnesty issue and they won’t fix that (Biden and the Democrats might) The economy issue isn’t anything that Biden can fix and the Republican candidates can’t fix it, either. They might try to fix it though, and that scares me more than the inflation does.

However, the midterm election isn’t about any of those normal-type things. The elections are about the failed presidency of Donald Trump and his desire to see the certified results of the 2020 election reversed. All across the country there are candidates running for office that were handpicked by Trump to either overturn the 2020 election or at least rig the 2024 election in his favor. They are running in every state all across the country.

Don’t believe me? The January 6th committee hearings continued today:

PBS NewsHour – Jan. 6 Committee hearings – Day 9 – Oct. 13, 2022

Make no mistake here, we are in a battle for the future of our country; and if we want our country to be based on principles of a representative democracy then we have to get out and vote against anyone that Trump has endorsed and that proposes that there was anything wrong with the certified results of the 2020 election. There is no room for equivocation on this issue. If the candidate will not state on the record that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and that the election was not marked by huge amounts of fraud, then that candidate can not be trusted with the authority of any office within the United States.

Remember what happened two years ago. Remember being trapped in your house because the President of the United States allowed the coronavirus to run rampant across the country and even encouraged its spread by deluding his followers about how bad it was. Remember that more than eighty-one million of us voted specifically to remove Donald Trump from office so that we could finally turn the corner on the pandemic. Remember how Donald Trump encouraged a mob to attack the capitol and attempt to overthrow the government that we had voted into power. Remember that he hand picked this group of candidates to run for him in 2022.

Remember all of this and vote to confirm that, painful as the present is, this is better than what we had two years ago. Better than it has been since at least 2007. Vote to put an end to Trumpism so that we don’t have to physically act to put an end to the Trumpists who will take power if we don’t consciously vote against them now. Vote like your country depends on it because it probably does and probably will for the rest of our natural lives.

A Bubbling Stew of Batshit Crazy

That is what Charlie Sykes deemed Trump’s response to the entirety of the January 6th committee findings and subpoena. You Trumpists remember Charlie Sykes right? He was one of you before you went batshit crazy with your now dethroned and soon to be indicted God-Emperor.

THE BULWARK PODCAST – Denver Riggleman: Why I Wrote It by CHARLIE SYKES – OCTOBER 14, 2022

Continuing to paraphrase Charlie Sykes, we can’t afford to wait for the sweet meteor of death (SMOD) or for the Orange bastard to choke on his last Big Mac. We need him to face justice, and it needs to be soon. The sooner the better. The only way this happens successfully is if we stick with the Democrats and hold their feet to the fire on the subjects that we think are important. Secure the democracy first, prosecute the criminals second, worry about the economy and abortion access after that. It’s important to keep your dumpster fires in the proper extinguishing order. The one that can destroy our way of government has to be extinguished first.

Postscript

It seems that the vast majority of Americans that bothered to vote in the midterms felt the same way I did. Trump was handed defeats across the nation, wining almost none of the races that he put his weight behind outside of the nutjob state of Texas that I am forced to call home. Did Texas stay red because Trump didn’t directly endorse Greg Abbott, or did it stay red in spite of that oversight? Who knows.

Texas is a Tossup

Marist is out with a new poll today. They put this headline on the news:

Abbott Edges O’Rourke in Texas Governor’s Race

In any other state, at any other time, this poll would have deemed the race a toss-up. The spread between candidates is less than the undecideds in the race and that is the definition of a toss-up. The sad part of this poll is that there are such low numbers of undecideds and/or that there isn’t a double-digit lead for the Democrats in all races.

The Republican governor of Texas, our governor, has wasted a billion dollars pretending that there is an invasion from Mexico for the better part of a decade now. There is no invasion from Mexico. There are economic upheavals all over the world and the US remains a beacon of hope, and, the Southern border is where everyone thinks they should go to get in. I remain mystified why you wouldn’t go to Canada instead and just stroll across the border there. Avoid the crowds, go to Canada. That is, if you aren’t just walking North until you hit the United States. If you are, you have my sympathies.

The explanation for why this ineffective milksop of a man, Greg Abbott, is popular in Texas is easy to understand. Republicans have been brainwashed for forty years now and their insanity has reached the new low of declaring everyone that opposes them a child molester. Remember Pizzagate? That sort of shit still goes on all over the Republican sphere. Accusing people of being groomers. Targeting trans children and their caregivers. How do you reason with people like that? How do you take them seriously?

Marist is well respected, but who commissioned this particular poll and who released it? Those factors play into what we are shown as news. I’ve been floored by the amount of news in this election cycle that insists on treating these midterms as normal or acting as if there is no downside in projecting Republican strength at this juncture in time.

There is no Republican strength. This needs to be stated bluntly. Republicans are actively at war with themselves, even in Texas. They can’t see a way forward from the trap they’ve made for themselves other than to hold on tight to Trumpism, which is a losing bet to make for everyone concerned.

The news media should be making this very, very clear, but they don’t do it. They don’t do it out of fear of Republican reprisals or they don’t do it out of fear of violent reactions from the Republican base. Maybe it is misunderstanding what objective reporting means. In any case, they are doing us all a disservice. The Republican party is not a serious opponent in the here and now. They are an active threat to the American experiment and should be treated as such until their criminal leaders are brought to justice (yes, I’m looking at you Ken Paxton) This fact needs to be made explicitly clear to the American people so that they can adjust their expectations accordingly.

Reddit

Postscript

Greg Abbott won by about 10 points. Pandering and grandstanding still works well in Texas. The most unfortunate result was the Texas AG office being retained by the indicted Ken Paxton. He’s going to be doing the AG’s business from prison, I guess.

Histamines & Allergies

I’ve been plagued by sinus infections for most of my life. My long struggle with these upper respiratory infections is what masked the symptoms of Menieres for me for many years. My first vertigo attack was triggered by my aggressive attempts to clear what I just knew had to be an ear infection from my head by running water into the ear that was giving me pain, the ear that felt like it was a full balloon of water about to burst inside my head.

I didn’t know what part of my head had an infection in it, I only knew that the pain was always in the left ear. When I would go in to see doctors they would either discover that I had a sinus infection, or they would give me antibiotics because I insisted on having them when the symptoms would occur. Later on, when I would insist it was an ear infection, the doctors could never find evidence of an ear infection.

I eventually fell in love with:

Until the insane war on drugs took away my favorite allergy treatment medicine, that is. The federal and state governments know exactly how much pseudoephedrine I still take because they make me sign for it and track my usage every time I buy more. Guaifenesin I can buy by the truckload. When it comes to pseudo I have to count pills and make each one count. Forget ever seeing my beloved green gelcaps again.

As to how I discovered I had other serious health problems? A funny thing happened on the way to the chiropractor one afternoon. Caught in traffic one hot summer’s day. Livid at the delays and the time away from my beloved architecture practice I finally screamed my way into the parking lot and stomped into the waiting room. The nurses tried calming me down at that point so they could check my blood pressure before starting the rituals of chiropractic quackery. Then they tried calming me down again and they tried checking the blood pressure again. Then they called someone else over to check it a third time. They couldn’t figure out how I hadn’t had a stroke already with blood pressure as high as the readings they were getting said I had. They wouldn’t even let me leave their office without taking something to bring the blood pressure down.

So it was goodbye pseudoephedrine for me. High blood pressure is deadly and pseudo can kick up your blood pressure. No more decongestants of any stripe, which made dealing with allergies and sinus infections into something akin to slow torture. This lead almost directly to my first attempt at surgical intervention.

I underwent septoplasty with turbinate reduction about five years after giving up my daily pseudo doses, right after the weekly vertigo attacks started. The thought at the time was that getting the sinuses to work properly would help with the allergies, and that would help with the vertigo. Sadly, it had little effect on the Meniere’s symptoms but it did ultimately solve many of my issues with breathing and chronic sinus infections.

Even after I had discovered that Meniere’s disease was a thing in 2003 I still thought that my allergies had to have something to do with the manifestation of my symptoms when and where they did. They seemed to correlate to a degree that simply defied any explanation that wouldn’t create a shared cause.

Meniere’s, as I’ve explained many times on this blog, is basically idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops; which means that it is a fluid imbalance in the labyrinth of the inner ear that cannot be explained by any known cause. One of the suspected causes is immunological disfunction, which is why I’m talking about Meniere’s at all in this article about treating allergies.

An allergic reaction produces an inflammation of the skin or other tissues of the body. It is caused by your immune system attacking an invader in your body that isn’t something that the immune system should waste it’s time on. Inflamed tissues swell, changing fluid pressures in the body as well as cutting off airways and doing other nasty things that make the sufferer’s life shorter and more miserable.

Betahistine has a histamine interaction that is not well understood and that is why it has an effect on Meniere’s symptoms for some sufferers, or so it is thought by people studying it. As the title of the post suggests, histamines are all tied up together in allergic reactions that I just barely understand myself.

reddit

Histamine is a chemical, known as a biogenic amine. It plays a role in several of the body’s major systems, including the immune, digestive, and neurological systems.

The body gets all the histamine it needs from its own cells, but histamine is also found in certain foods.

healthline.com

I only passed high school organic chemistry because there was a nerdy girl that I befriended in class who was willing to help me pass the class as long as I didn’t bring her grade down by screwing up the experiments. I did my best not to screw up her averages, and she managed to get me through that class. I still only barely understand what any of it meant.

I just know that I have allergic reactions to many things around me and that the Meniere’s treatment that has produced the most effect for me is a treatment that alters the bodies histamines in some way that works for me. That’s it. That’s all I know about it. I’ve had every test that I and my various doctors can think of that might point towards a cause for the symptoms I’ve suffered from for decades now. All of them have come up negative, which means I have the symptoms but not any of the known causes.

One of these days they will come up with a test for some other autoimmune-related ototoxic reaction for which there is a new treatment, and that test will be positive for me. When that happens I will have a name for what ails me and a cure for it too.

I often wonder these days, what might have happened with my hearing if I had started taking Betahistine twenty or forty years ago instead of just three years ago? Would my hearing be better? Would I still have a job? Would I still be the asshole I was back then? Hard to say.

I still take guaifenesin and Claritin on bad allergy days. Flonase and azelastine sprays in each nostril twice a day. (Those two are my latest allergy treatments) They seem to help with keeping the sinuses clear. I wear a mask outdoors even though masks annoy the hell out of me. I take Betahistine 3x16mg every day.

I also rinse my sinuses semi-regularly with a neti pot.

reddit

The saline rinse for your sinuses can be made at home. you don’t have to buy it pre-made and measured from the neti pot manufacturer.

To make your own saline, mix the following in a clean container:

1/2 to 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt, such as pickling or canning salt (iodized salt can irritate the nasal passages)

Pinch baking soda (added to prevent burning; you can increase the amount as needed)

1 cup warm water (distilled or previously boiled water)

Then, place the above mixture in a clean Neti pot or sinus rinse squeeze bottle, or draw up into a nasal bulb syringe. The most convenient way to perform a sinus rinse is in the shower, but may also be performed over a sink.

verywellhealth.com

Just don’t forget to shake the mixture. I’ve done that a few times. When the salt crystals hit your sinuses you will realize your mistake but then it is too late to prevent the burn.

The latest round of allergy tests altered my understanding of my allergies. I have always assumed I had seasonal allergies because there are clearly seasons with my allergic reactions. This appears to not be the case after all.

From what I currently understand, I do have allergies but they are year-round allergies that are exacerbated by the crap that gets in my borderline asthmatic lungs every Spring and Fall. Simply wearing a mask twenty-four hours a day will eliminate the seasonal appearance of my allergies. This has been roughly confirmed over the CoVID years through direct experience, much to my utter disgust. So the masks are here to stay for me.

It’s also CoVID that has underscored my belief that my core issue is immunological. Every vaccination that I get makes me sick. The pneumonia vaccines were just the start. The CoVID vaccines have all been multi-day pain/fever sessions that I gladly endure, just as I do for flu vaccines, gladly endure in exchange for not getting deadly infections of those viruses.

The first Shingrix vaccination made all my joints hurt for almost a week. The second one was a breeze by comparison, causing almost no pain but still causing fever, lethargy and borderline vertigo for a few days. Vertigo I get with almost every vaccination; whether this is stress related from worrying about the needle or is directly connected to the hacking of my immune system remains unclear.

What is clear is that my reactions are more severe than those experienced by most people given these shots. I really wish I knew why this happens, then I might know what causes Meniere’s for me.

Disabled by Disability Red Tape

I can relate to the lamentations of the disabled person in this podcast:

The Indicator from Planet Money – Jobs Friday: The problem with disability support – October 7, 2022

I spent nearly five years trying to get disability myself:

1 in four people will have to go on disability support before retirement. That means of the four or five people who might be reading this right now, one or two of you will need to be on disability in the near future. As this blog is read more frequently by disabled persons, that number is probably even higher and many of the complaints aired in the above episode probably echo with their own experiences.

I quite literally could have died during the five year process it took to get disability and it would have done nothing to demonstrate the need for support that my family and I needed at the time. The amount of fraud in the system is miniscule and yet the harm that is caused to disabled people and their families by delaying disability payments can be demonstrated time and time again. It is a black mark on our country’s moral ledger that this harm continues.

Once you have qualified for disability it then becomes a constant irritant, this need to demonstrate a need for continued support as if chronic illness is a thing that you recover from, or that the lasting effects of years of illness would not in themselves merit some level of support from the government. Rather than being something that you had to demonstrate a need for, disability payments should be a benefit that is granted automatically to every person who is not working. Granted automatically so that loss of housing, food and security isn’t a thing that the newly unemployed person suffers from.

If there are shirkers living off those easy benefits then it’s a simple matter of getting those people the mental help they need to get back out of their houses and get back to work doing something. You won’t live long sitting around your house doing nothing. Twenty years of disability has proven this to me. The only thing that keeps me alive now is getting out and engaging with the world on a near-daily basis. Something that I’m not allowed to charge anything for if I want to keep my disability payments.

Universal basic income would solve this problem, but I don’t expect we’ll be seeing that anytime soon no matter how feasible it might seem to the economists who support it. In the meantime if you aren’t working, can’t work, then you shouldn’t be facing eviction and eventual starvation because of it. It just shouldn’t happen anywhere that calls itself civilized.

Sweeney Todd

I’m now solidly into my third year of giving myself haircuts rather than trusting someone else to not give me a communicable disease while trying to cut my hair, much less kill me under the guise of giving me a haircut.

I didn’t even know there was a thing called Sweeney Todd until I sat down and watched it with the Wife a few years before COVID struck:

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

I had waited long enough to watch it by that point. It starred Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, I really did need to see it even if the subject matter itself made me want to run away and hide. I don’t remember a thing about that movie. Not one moment aside from the blood shooting everywhere in a couple of scenes.

I can still remember how the barber in my hometown used to love to torment me with the buzzing clippers. I never got used to other people touching my hair, much less letting them near me with a straight razor. The one time a barber used one on me it was all I could do to stop myself from running away from the man who was just trying to clean up my hairline. Then I became aware that Sweeney Todd was a thing. Now I can’t stop thinking about him when I think about letting someone else cut my hair.

Yes, I screwed up my sideburns again. At least I won’t cut my own throat with the clippers.

Worst Rotational Vertigo Experience

I had taken off early from work to go get my children from school. It had been a fairly hectic day and I was frazzled and the traffic was the usual Austin stop and go parking lot all the way across town to pick up my daughter from her school. Then I drove back across town through the same traffic to pick up my son from his day care.

We had all just gotten back in the car. I had strapped my son in the child seat, made sure my daughter was buckled into the passenger seat and gotten in the car myself. Visions of which kind of food we’d get on the way home were being discussed when the world came unstuck and started to spin around my head.

I had nothing to alleviate the rotational vertigo with me in the car. I really had no idea how to treat it other than to hug the toilet and throw up until it passed. I couldn’t do either of those things because we were miles away from home. I didn’t have a cellphone at the time because we couldn’t afford one. The school was closed and the teachers had all gone home.

So we waited. It was summer in Texas so we sat there with the engine running in the car and the air conditioner blowing full blast on my face while I stared fixedly at a screw head in the interior finish of my car. This went on for about two hours.

After that time, with little let up in the vertigo and no convenient police cars to flag down, I got my daughter to play lookout for me. I would creep forward to an intersection and wait for her to tell me it was clear. Luckily there was little traffic on the side roads between where we were and where the house was, so I just went block by block until we got back to the house, where I promptly went to the bathroom and started throwing up.

A friend bought a cellphone for me the next day and demanded I allow her to pay for it. I started carrying meclizine around with me. When that proved to not be enough I got valium and promethazine and had to use them and the cellphone pretty regularly to keep the nausea to a minimum and to call people to get me home. Get my children home. Then I stopped working and things got a lot easier to deal with even if paying for them got quite a bit harder.

I’ll never forget that day, though. How helpless I felt. How dreadfully wrong everything could have gone. It is probably one of those scarring events that keeps me from doing things to this day, and that day was about twenty years ago.

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