Vertigo Sailing. Vertigo Flying.

Since being diagnosed with Meniere’s twenty years ago I’ve been on a boat three times. Getting on or off a boat is always the scariest part for me, relative movement being nearly impossible to predict even for the ablest of abled people. Even when I was an abled person myself this was the task that could break legs or ankles or feet and so I took it quite seriously.

I used to own a sailboat. It was a dinky little thing, a fourteen foot sliver of fiberglass with a nineteen foot mast. We took it to Twin Buttes in San Angelo and to Lake Travis here in Austin and I’d have people hanging off the trapeze on the side of the boat while we tacked across the wind. The wind whipping your hair as the spray hit your face and you flew across the water like a bird. Those were some of the most invigorating moments, the kinds of moments that you know you are alive because your heart is pounding in your chest and the adrenaline is coursing through your veins and you know (know, because you’ve done it more than once) that one wrong move could capsize the boat and cause all manner of upset for your passengers.

I loved the water and was more at home in it and on it than I was on the land. I swam like a fish and did my best to sail like a veteran captain, but not anymore. The vertigo seems to be always on the verge of occurring the entire time I’ve been on the water or even in the water since I started having to constantly fight it. Just looking at a moving ship’s deck spikes the anxiety and makes me want to run the other direction. It takes an iron will to propel me onto the boat, and I don’t dare go below decks or fail to hang onto something that isn’t structural as I move around on deck, always keeping my eyes on the horizon so that I don’t tempt the nausea to rise.

I’m know I’m alive at these times too, but it’s not a good kind of alive feeling. I could kill the anxiety with Xanax, but then I’m not going to be at my best. I’ll just be enjoying the show and marveling at the pretty colors and people, never taking any of it seriously. So I don’t go on boats much anymore and I haven’t gone for a proper swim in almost a decade now.

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This is going to change. I’m taking a few weeks off. Maybe more than a few. I’m not sure why I need to tell anyone this, I post sporadically at the best of times. Still, it bears mentioning that I will be AWOL and probably not posting much during the first few weeks of September because I’m heading to Illinois to visit relatives and to attend Chicon 8.

This will be my first convention experience since being diagnosed in 2005, much less my first flight and convention since Coronapocalypse. I might even get on a boat and go out on Lake Michigan like I did the last time I was in Chicago. The last time I was on a boat.

Next year we are thinking of going cross-Atlantic on Cunard and catching the Northern Lights (fingers crossed there) cruise ships might be stable enough for me not to notice the movement. Seven days on the water will be long enough to kill any anxiety about triggering vertigo even if it does ultimately trigger vertigo. Who knows? I used to get car sick riding as a passenger in any vehicle but these days I can’t even tell if we are moving unless I look out the window or the Wife hits a bump (she drives, I don’t) I’m planning on taking a bottle of Xanax with me anyway just in case.

Take what you need to cope and get out of town if and when you can. That is my suggestion. Take the things you need to feel safe and/or confident in your ability to manage the planned excursion and get some form of document from your doctor explaining why you need it in case anyone asks. Then just be prepared to sleep on deck so you can see the horizon line when you open your eyes. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

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I’ll see ya’ll on the other side. Who knows, I might even post daily from the convention. A sailor’s wish is for fair winds and a following sea. When fighting ocean currents and weather can spell death even for the best of sailors, it’s a blessing worth having. The equivalent blessing for the modern technologist? Four full bars and direct access. Fingers crossed on there being wifi.

Postscript

Yep. I was on a boat.

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…and I didn’t need a Xanax while on the boat, either. I did need to cling to stabilizing surfaces though. My balance is very bad and there is no denying this fact.

Let The World Back Into Me

This song has been haunting my dreams for a few weeks now:

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At first I thought it was a brainworm, just another catchy tune that won’t go away. Now I’m beginning to suspect that this is my subconscious trying to tell me that I need to crawl back out of my shell and see if there is still a life to be had out in the wider world. A terrifying thought.

I don’t know that I can afford to let the world back into me, but I’m beginning to suspect that I really don’t have a choice in the matter.

This one too has been haunting my dreams.

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I’m less mystified by what it means than what the first one means. I’m more than a little pissed at the people who have kept me locked in my house for three years. People who won’t do the basic minimum required of a good citizen. The basic minimum? Get your fucking vaccinations.

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The Way of Peace

The way of peace is a seamless garment that must cover the whole of life and must be applied in all its relationships

A.J. Muste (found here)

A common observation about A.J. Muste I’ve seen many places now goes like this:

Once a reporter asked him, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?” A.J. Muste replied softly: “Oh I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.”

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I haven’t found a reliable source for the quote or the observation yet. He died on this date back in 1967. There is a foundation that was established in his name located at this URL: ajmuste.org

I am not a pacifist. On the other hand, I’m beginning to think that I probably should have always been one.

Relapse? Resurgence?

Migraines are kicking my ass. Have been kicking my ass for all of January so far. At least it’s not rotational vertigo, that is even harder to manage. I’ve gone through this sort of thing several times since 2003. I think I’ve got the pattern down and then, Wham! It hits me again. Migraines. Tinnitus. Vertigo. Then I reassess and I get back up and try again. Get back up and try again as soon as you are able. That is the hard part.

I’ve been puttering around the house for the last month. Every time I go out for a walk I get a migraine. I’m pretty sure it’s Austin’s notorious cedar fever that is getting me now, which is weird since I didn’t have a cedar allergy last time I checked. I got new masks to see if it filtered enough of the pollen, but no. So I’m stuck cooling my heels indoors for the duration. I’m about to start chewing on the furniture.

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The belief that you have found the pattern is where the error lies. That you were actually symptom free for the span between attacks. Little things pop up, but they are little things, things you can cope with. You can cope with them until you can’t, and then you start trying to see what you did wrong. You didn’t do anything wrong, you have a chronic illness.

It isn’t karma or luck or moxie or mojo or any other version of magical thinking. Your physical form torments you because it is flawed in some undefinable way and it’s not your fault it’s just how you were made. This is categorically unfair and it is proof that the universe and unjust and unfair. That there is no god and if there is one he is a sadistic bastard.

Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God… And I absolutely hate the fucker.

Riddick, Pitch Black

Tell the universe to fuck off and get back up and live anyway. It’s the best answer to the pain.

Why Worry?

Baby, when I get down I turn to you
And you make sense of what I do
And though it isn’t hard to say

But baby, just when this world seems mean and cold
Our love comes shining red and gold
And all the rest is by the way

Why worry
There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now
Why worry now

Dire Straits
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One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums. It’s nice to be able to hear these songs again. This is all thanks to Aftershokz headphones. I have several pairs now. It’s been a musical desert for me until just recently. I was a serious audiophile once. Now nothing sounds right if it isn’t coming to me through these headphones.

Chemically Dependent

These feelings come from chemicals, I remind myself. It is fitting that this is true. How did the complex carbon chains that started this process we call life feel? Obviously they were attracted to each other, not pressured into existence like the elements themselves were.

Was there more than attraction? Was there a drive to reverse entropy, if only on a tiny local level? A desire to return to the simpler, hotter times of a young universe? A time when galaxies could pop into existence in the blink of a geologically-tuned eye? A time when anything could happen, matter itself barely even a concept yet?

After three or four transitions through supernova, were the carbon atoms ready for a change? Let’s try something different? Was life a kink that carbon engaged in on a lark, just because it was bored? Or was it something that carbon felt it was suited for, it’s many connection points needing attention all at the same time?

Featured image from: redbubble.com

Quantum

A human is a quantum particle. When watched the human remains a constant, never changing. When unobserved the human shifts direction and state, never the exact same quantum particle twice. It throws off energy and matter as part of its existence, and no amount of measurement will ever accurately assign the value of the quantum human. There will always be something lost just in making the attempt to measure it.

Texas Standard – It Took This Houston Family Two Years And Legal Action To Gain Special Education For Their Son – January 26, 2021

(Justice delayed is justice denied. Education delayed is education denied)

Do not destroy the quantum human particle. Nurture it. Let it grow and change and create its value unobserved when possible. Let it become what it’s unknown state of being wants it to be. Only then will its true value be realized.

breathe in. breathe out. move on.

Relax. I think It’s Over?

C-SPANNational Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at Presidential Inauguration – Jan 20, 2021

There is always a light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman

For the first time in four years, we have a President again. Someone that wasn’t sold to us by Russia. Someone that won’t sell us to profit himself. Someone that might actually try to do his job. Even if he doesn’t do anything, he’ll be a better President than the last one was.

Is This It?

In the cool light of an impending winter’s day, watching as the world economy spirals down the drain of the Coronavirus pandemic; as the various nations of the world including the vassal states of my own country flex their muscles to assert their dominance, and lastly in light of the naked insanity of our president and his supporters, is it completely reasonable to ask the question:

Is this it? Is this the end of us?

The question could be answered in a number of ways. Parsing the question, it depends on what you mean by the word us. The human race will continue on, and the world will continue spinning just like it always has. In that sense the answer is no. No, it is not the end of us. Some form of government will continue. Other nations will take over our leadership role. This process has already started and will continue whether we want it to or not.

A different take would be to observe that every empire in history has fallen. They rise, and then they fall. We watched the Soviet Union dissolve before our very eyes just over thirty years ago. This could be the point in time where the empire that the United States maintains falls apart.

Maybe our empire should fall apart. Maybe we shouldn’t have an empire in the first place? I’ve been warning people for years that the US is one major crisis away from ceasing to exist. Some people laughed when I first proposed this problem back in the day, the problem that the United States is a paper tiger.

A paper tiger in that, the American people don’t want an empire. They never have wanted one. The federal government in Washington D.C. established one anyway. They did it in our name, at the urging of power brokers of previous generations. Stealing the lands of our neighbors and putting native peoples to the sword in a fair approximation of England or France or any other empire-building nation of previous generations.

We have built a military that is unrivaled in the modern world, spending blood and treasure at a phenomenal rate to the benefit of our corporate masters and even to the benefit of the assembly line workers that build all the armaments that we currently deploy. We can, with pinpoint precision, remove any threat that we recognize as a threat with that military. We can do this and we have done this, right up to this point in history.

We are the wealthiest, most powerful nation in recorded human history. How can we just cease to exist?

…and here we are laid low by a virus, the simplest form of life on this planet. Life so simple that it barely qualifies as life in the first place. It is a little bit of replicating code that has evolved to use the larger bits of life around it to make more of itself without ever knowing what it was doing. It just does what it does, and we can’t stop it.

We can’t stop it. Not with jet planes or nuclear weapons or all the money in the world can we stop it. We can’t stop it unless we accept that we have to stop it, and then make that the thing we need to do now instead of building jet planes and nuclear missiles. This is the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes, bigger than the crash that happened in 2008 that we still haven’t recovered from. It is possible that we are living through the greatest crisis in recorded human history, when our children’s children look back at this time through the lens of history.

The future of the United States as a political entity is a small thing compared to the effect that a pandemic can have on the human psyche. In the end that is really all that matters. Unless we can grasp the threat we face right now and answer that threat. Unless we put aside the petty dictators and their Trumpismo’s and focus on the real threat, the fear that this virus inspires in us all and the impact that its continued existence unchecked in the world represents, then the United States will be done for in spite of its globe-spanning military presence and its corporate reach.

…and just maybe, in the end, that is the way that it ought to be.

Featured image: IFLScience How Long Do We Have Left Before The Universe Is Destroyed?

Still Alive Old Friend

Still, old friend. You’ve managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target.

Kirk to Khan. Me to 2020

This thought occurred to me when Chadwick Boseman (November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020) (Wikipedia) died from complications of cancer back in August. The man was so amazing on screen. Now imagine being that amazing while all the time knowing what was eating you alive from inside. The treatments. The pain.

…And still. Some of the best performances ever recorded on film by anyone. I am in awe of him and so many other people out there who strive and achieve against such great odds. It inspires me to keep going. To not give up.

Kirk to Spock. It’s two hours. Are you ready?

Wrath of Khan (the real movie)