Bad Prelude to the Fall Season

For the last month, it’s been really bad. I’ve missed two raid nights in a row due to illness, the first two in a really long time. I’ve been fighting with near constant constipation for weeks. Yesterday I spent all day on the toilet with diarrhea. I haven’t talked about my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (with Constipation, making it IBS-C) diagnosis yet largely because it is too embarrassing to talk about bodily functions like that. Still, it is getting so bad that I’m going to have to do research on the subject so I will probably write something to codify what I find out about it in the coming months.

In the meantime I combat the symtoms of IBS-C at the same time as I combat the symptoms of my other chronic illnesses. I’ve had brief bouts of vertigo over the last three weeks, the worst of which started after the last struggle with constipation.

Sunday I woke up dizzy. My head was ringing so loud from tinnitus that I felt like I was under attack. I kept holding my head down trying to escape the noise and the pressure, looking over the tops of my glasses at everything and wondering why it all looked so blurry. I had nausea accompanying the nearly unexperienced session of diarrhea, so yesterday was a fun day. I did get nearly finished playing Horizon: Zero Dawn, at least.

I’ve joked for years with the Wife about wanting to have diarrhea because constipation is so uncomfortable and mine seems to never end, especially in these last few years. At least then my experiences in the bathroom would be different. After my marathon running to and from the bathroom yesterday, I can honestly say that I don’t look forward to a repeat of that experience any time soon.

At 1:39 AM this morning the pressure changed in my head. I no longer felt like my brain was being squeezed between my ears on both sides. For the first time in at least 24 hours, the pressure was off. The tinnitus changed pitch as well. Now I just feel like I’m going to faint.

This chronic illness crap is for the birds. Listen, existence. Pick one condition and stick to that one condition each day, please. I can’t take all the changing of things you are going to punish me with each day. One at a time. Take a number.

Mocking Creationism

Facebook – Berkeley Breathed

They deserve to have their beliefs mocked when they dare to air them in a public venue. When they dare to build Ark parks and Creation Museums with public money. If they don’t want to be mocked then they should keep their inane beliefs to themselves. This activity is an essential error correction process. Evolution is science, not belief. Penguin evolution is just hilarity.

FacebookMocking Creationismthaumaturgical.com

September 11, not 9-11

My dad was born on September 11, 1938.  On his sixty-third birthday terrorists destroyed two American icons and shattered forever the illusion that we were beyond the reach of the people intent on doing us harm. There are many lessons to be learned from gaining that insight, but it doesn’t appear that the US has learned anything in the intervening years since September 11, 2001. We relive the events of 9-11 over and over again on each anniversary. Wallowing in our collective angst while repeating the same mistakes that lead to that day, that sprung from that day. Every year on September 11, we are forced to relive the events of 2001 all over again as if we are required to revisit the tragedy when the tragedy has effectively become meaningless.

Every year on this day we bathe in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.

Stonekettle Station, Renegade 9-11

Every year.  Every goddamn year. I picked that quote specifically because goddamn was one of my dad’s most favored curses. I loved to listen to him tell stories, and he loved to tell stories. It was what he lived for. It was probably why he started selling cars, it gave him an excuse to talk to more people. Talking to people was his job description and not something he had to sneak into his days in between greasemonkey tasks at the Phillips 66 station that he inherited from his father.

He worked in the garage for his father as a teenager before he was drafted into the military. The Army then put him to work in the motor pool doing exactly what he had been doing at his father’s garage.

Dad didn’t like military life very much, and left the service after 4 years to return home to Kansas and his family there.  As a teenager I foolishly contemplated joining the military myself, and mentioned it to him to see what he thought. “You like taking orders?” he said. I didn’t, I replied. “Well, then you don’t want to join the military.” That was his thinking on the subject, in a nutshell. He never elaborated more, but that view has stuck with me ever since.

After he divorced my mother dad sold his garage to the guys that had worked faithfully for him for decades and set about making himself known across several states as the car salesman that would get you a fair deal on whatever vehicle you were looking for. The number of returning customers testified to his honesty in dealing with the people that his fellow salesman treated as marks. Not my dad. Every person who wanted a car and came to him looking for the right car for them, left with either the car they were looking for or a memorable story about the salesman that really tried to help them find that one special vehicle they wanted.

That was my father. His major complaints in life were that the fish didn’t bite often enough when we went fishing (his favorite pastime) and that terrorists picked his birthday as the day to strike at America. Every year after 2001 he was forced to relive that horrible day rather than be allowed to celebrate his birthday in peace. Every year until he died, the day that he had looked forward to through childhood had become something terrifying and repugnant. It annoyed him that his day had been the day they picked. I can understand that. It is captured in this sentiment,

This new generation has lived under the shadow of those falling towers every single minute of every single day since the moment they were born.

Stonekettle Station, 9-11 Thirteen Years On

I’m reclaiming today and every September 11th after this one for my father.

Happy birthday dad, wherever you are.

I am reclaiming it for my father and for all the young Americans born since that day. People who deserve more than to be dragged into battles that have been going on since before they were born. I promise to spend more time thinking of him and of them than of the other events that make this day stand out for average Americans.  Because really, why remember if we aren’t going to learn anything from it?

This article has been slightly modified and moved forward from its original post date of September 11, 2016. Based on an article from 2014.

Ad Nonsense

I was trying to watch the Democratic Convention on Youtube. Trying to watch and failing to watch because the Orange Hate-Monkey had bought ads for the entirety of the event, and every time I tried to watch a part of the convention I had to look at OHM Bullshit as part of it. I have to watch ads from the mother fucker that I blocked on Youtube more than a year ago.

That’s the part that blows my mind. I have blocked Donald Trump on Youtube, but ads that run under his user identity on Youtube are not blocked from running. How does that make any sense at all, Google? If I don’t want to see that mother fucker’s face, if I don’t want to listen to his voice, why the hell would you think I might want to see advertisements promoting him? Why would I want to see ads denigrating the man who will be elected president to replace him? That is, if the OHM doesn’t get his henchmen to help him steal this election? Do you just want me to not use your service, Google? I mean, I could go to Prime video and watch the convention without ads, and I will probably look for the videos there if they are still up. If there are parts that I want to watch in the future.

You need to change the name of your integrated ad platform, Google. it is ad nonsense, not adsense. If it was adsense, I wouldn’t be seeing advertisements from Youtube profiles that I have blocked.

A Purloined Purse

I finally make it to work. I have missed several days. Weeks? Months? I don’t know how long I have been gone. I have been gone so long I have even forgotten what the business I work for does. I have forgotten where the time clock is. I have even forgotten how to read the time clock, how to operate it, and what language the time cards are written in. It took so long to find and to operate the arcane contraption that I am several hours late clocking in. I think to myself “I will be blamed for this.”

The office is decorated in glass and chrome like an 80’s bar. It has swag lamps on chains like someplace straight out of the 70’s. The chairs are overstuffed and upholstered in cream-colored plush leather. The entire room is so bright that I feel like I’m being blinded. Like I’m having vertigo and a visual migraine at the same time. “Is this really an office?” I ask myself as I squint through the glare.

I park myself at a table in an empty chair next to the son of a friend. I hadn’t realized we worked at the same place. I remembered him being in high school. The snooty bastard won’t talk to me in anything more than clipped sentences. I remember that I asked him about clocking in, and he had seemed mad even then. I thought he had been mad because I was late and couldn’t make the simple machine work properly.

He’s probably mad because I stole his mother’s purse. I decide to go visit her to take her back the purloined purse, and so I get on the bus that is in front of me. The bus takes me to a familiar place that is not my friend’s house, but rather to a mall I know that isn’t in the city I think I am in. Thought I was in.

I think to myself “this is weird” as I push through the crowded street making my way to the mall. As I am walking in this bustling crowd of people I look down and realize that I am walking in my stocking feet. There is glass and other debris in the road. I need to put on some shoes if I am going to keep walking.

I stop at a convenience store in the mall to buy some shoes. The aisles are long and narrow and snake everywhere in the mall for no apparent reason. I have to go down several dark hallways to find the only pair of sandals in the place. When I get back to the register to pay they charge me $24 for the retread sandals that I had owned as child. Just as weirdly as finding my own sandals in a mall that shouldn’t be where it is, and then having to pay to keep them, my childhood sandals still fit my adult feet perfectly, even with my socks on.

I am now broke from being overcharged for the sandals that I already owned, but I figure I can make it to my friend’s house on foot now that I am wearing shoes, so I start walking again.

As I am walking I notice that the stolen purse I am carrying is turning inside out. I have to change the way I am carrying it so that it still looks like a giant brown pleather purse and not an animal that has somehow turned inside out at the end of my arm. As I am making the purse look right I stumble across my friend stabbing garbage in her yard with a spiked stick. The spike is a sewing needle on the end of a wooden broom handle. I notice that she is bent and wizened like a cartoonish old woman and when she speaks the voice comes out of her cracked old lips in Natasha’s fake Russian accent.

I ask her “what have you been up to? I haven’t seen you in awhile,” and she replies “I’m being quiet after my honeymoon.” and then cackles at me. I wake up in a sweat. What time is it?

Audio of me reading this article. If I get positive feedback I may do more like this.

Editor’ note. I recorded some bad audio of me reading this article. It should be visible directly above this note. I will probably replace the bad audio with some other bad audio, but I also might not. I might just make it and most of this editor’s note disappear. Which one of these event will happen is a coin toss away. Audio is harder for me these days than it was when I owned those sandals. I notice that I slur and mutter. I don’t know if I can correct that or not.

I probably owe a hat/tip to this episode of Radiolab,

Radiolab – The Voice in Your Head – A Tribute to Joe Frank – January 22, 2018

In which Jad Abumrad and Brooke Gladstone muse about the passing of Joe Frank and what his life meant to the two of them. Meant to all of us. I had never heard of Joe Frank before that episode, and I probably would not have listened to his radio program. The inside of my head is weird enough all on its own. I need my distractions to be more pedestrian than the inside of my own head. Am I as good at creating as Joe Frank was? No. Not on my best day. He had to do what he did every week like clockwork for decades. I’m nowhere near as imaginative as that.

How Are You?

I never say “I’m fine” When asked this question. Well okay, almost never. Even when I was reasonably healthy I hated the “How are you?” and “I’m fine” responses. It is all so meaningless. Just say hello.

Just say hello, because you don’t really care how I’m doing. I can prove this general assertion. If someone launches into a list of their illnesses when asked “how are you?” it is demonstrably seen as a breach of manners. They don’t really care and the mannerly response to this feigned interest in the other person’s health is the discardable reply “I’m fine.” This allows the real conversation to commence.

So why ask? When I’m asked this question as part of a greeting I try to give “fair to middling” as my response. Why? Because it evades the question and makes a mutual joke out of the feigned interest in my health. Unless that person is my doctor or a fellow chronic illness sufferer, I assume the question is just an assumption of familiarity that does not exist. If we were familiar, they would know not to ask me that question unless they wanted to talk for an hour.


The Wife took me to task for this beef of mine.

…one thing I find highly annoying is your beef presumption that the person who asks how you are doing is just babbling meaninglessly. That is the utmost arrogance. Yes it is part of polite conversation but it is intended as a conversation starter and can be as short or as long as you chose. How often have you seen me ask that question without wanting the real answer? That’s probably why so many people talk to me and though yes they do sometimes give me more that I wanted, it starts connections. Just something more to chew on.

She is allowed to give me beef in return because I have been forced to wait on her for half an hour to an hour while she talks to clerks and cashiers, fully engaged in a total stranger’s complaints and whims, and I’ve done this more times that I can count. I’ve gone out to the car on more than one occasion. Gone out to the car, gotten in the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking space. Started to drive off. This is the only way to get her to come out to the car so we can leave on some errand that can’t wait for a spontaneous conversation to end.

When I go into a convenience store, it is inconvenient to talk to the cashier for a half-hour when all I needed was a doughnut and something to drink. A five minute excursion, tops, when it is just me. When she’s along, pack a lunch to eat in the parking lot waiting on her to finish her conversation. She is on the other end of the spectrum from the average person when it comes to conversation. An anomaly. An outlier. The exception that proves the rule.

Chronic illness sufferers know this to be true. No one wants to hear about your pain. A good portion of the time even the people you pay to care don’t care about your pain. This fact is demonstrated to us repeatedly until we learn to shut up about what is bothering us. Just say hello. It’s not too much to ask.

Good Pun is an Oxymoron

An effective pun causes brain hemorrhage. Something akin to a stroke should occur.  You should feel a distinct pain when observing a pun.  A pain in the brain. If a pun is funny it is a failure. The proper response to an effective pun is the overwhelming urge the throttle the person who uttered it. If the hearer doesn’t feel murderous rage, at least momentarily, the failed punster should probably go back to flipping burgers for a living. Wordplay is not their forte.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy punning; but it does mean that engaging in the practice places you solidly in the sadomasochistic realm, somewhere between schadenfreude and outright self-loathing. Torturing language in that fashion should be painful.

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

I’ve experienced this all my life. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in a library or a classroom with people reading all around me, books quietly being opened, pages being turned, people whispering what they are reading to themselves, whispering to each other, and this feeling of being tickled in my brain, up and down along my arms and legs, a feeling of static electricity all over my skin surface would occur. It happened a lot.

I could not explain it. I didn’t even dare tell anyone about it for fear of being laughed at or being told I was hallucinating. The feelings persisted though, throughout my life. Anytime I was in a quiet space and these soft, rustling sounds would occur, I would get that familiar feeling.

I wondered about it a lot. I have a very active imagination. I wondered if I was telepathic or empathic or…? Even in my wildest flights of fancy, I couldn’t explain it. I dismissed the telepathic fantasy because I couldn’t actually hear people thinking, try as hard as I might. Dismissed the empathic fantasy because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with a particular emotion or set of emotions.

It was sounds and textures. Touching skin and moving my fingers softly up and down the skin causes the sensations, too. A few years ago I stumbled across the phrase autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR, and I filed away the fact that there was an explanation for this weird thing I experienced. It was brought back to mind with this episode of Shortwave.

Short Wave – The Squishy Science Behind ASMR – October 17, 2019

It’s an encore episode, yeah I know. This was the video that I first watched way back when. Back when I first ran across the term ASMR and wondered if this was the thing that I experienced.

Accidentally GracefulASMR Unfiltered | Simple Sounds and Soft Whispers – Apr 30, 2015

Last year, when the Shortwave episode first aired, The Wife and I queued up some of the kinds of videos that the episode airs clips from. ASMR Darling, CosmicTingles, JellybeanASMR and others. We established pretty quickly that she did not get a reaction from any of the videos. She also noted the thing that the host of Shortwave first questioned. These are all young women. Is this sexual?

It isn’t sexual, although it might be related to a sexual response. Hard to say. I am not turned on by these young women. I find their crowding the microphones creepy. I understand that they have to be close to the mics in order for the soft sounds to be captured, but still. The mic isn’t the camera. Try backing away from the camera. You might discover that the ASMR response is higher if you aren’t looking at the video but just listening to it.

I haven’t tried playing with floam, the gag that Shortwave ended the episode with. The response can be triggered by tactile sensations, as I mentioned previously. I’m not a big slime enthusiast. It just isn’t my thing. Slime with styrofoam bits in it always struck me as pre-dirtied slime. Really not my thing. But put me in a crowded library with people quietly reading any day. It is an interesting (if slightly distracting) sensation to experience.

Murderous Rage on the Anniversary

I’m writing in the new and improved Blogspot editing interface instead of in the WordPress interface today. That subject is one issue motivating my murderous rage. But there are at least two issues, I’ll get to the other one(s) in a minute.

The web host we have been utilizing to put ourselves online for about a decade chose this month to triple the cost of the online hosting that we had set up. Being the cheapskates that we always have been, we decided we could do better. Aside from which the Wife had found a new hosting company that looked good, run by some friendly people that she wouldn’t mind giving some more business to.

I mothballed my writing work and backed up WordPress and the website and waited for the procedure to complete for all the hosted websites that were going to have to transfer.  After a week of struggle with the host she had selected, she was unable to get an account at their place that functioned to her satisfaction. The thing that ended her week’s work with them was when they sent a confirmation email for a scheduled data transfer to the wrong email address.

They sent an email containing usernames and passwords to an address that was not on file with them as being the administrator of the transfer.  Let the enormity of the security breach that error represents sink in for a minute.

It’s the eleventh hour. The account we had at our existing hosting service was scheduled to bill us an obscene amount of money in less than 24 hours in order to keep up the hosting contract for the sites that we maintain for friends and associates, sites that don’t make us any money, and The Wife needed to find somewhere else for all of us to go.  She poked around a little bit and ended up at c|net and an article by written by a security guy (there’s a bit of irony for you) recommending the best hosting services for 2020. She decided well hell, if you can’t trust him who can you trust, right? Wrong. Wrongity, wrong, wrong, wrongness. All kinds of wrongness.

She did do some basic checking. The Wife is not an idiot. The URL registration for the hosting service she selected had been in place since 1998. c|net itself is one of the oldest publications on the web, well respected for the reliability of its information. We hadn’t heard of this particular web host before but we trusted c|net to have done their homework before recommending the service. That was our mistake. We contacted CIS.net.

At CIS.net we were assigned Chris W. to be the account rep. We paid up front for 8 years because the cost savings was going to be great and we were going to be getting a higher level of support for less money. Chris W. asked for the same information that the previously intended hosting company had asked for. Ok. No big deal. It’s just passwords and usernames, right? They will have your data when this is all over. Either you trust your data host or you don’t trust them. If you don’t, why keep your data there?

They moved this blog and its website first (I’m always the guinea pig) and the data transferred with just a few hiccups. The blog looked like it should, just missing a few images. I wasn’t too surprised by this. What I was surprised by was the insistence that I had multiple databases associated with the WordPress installation that I was running and that was why the images went missing. I’ve kept local backups and cloud backups of all the work I’ve done for as long as I can remember. The images are duplicated in at least two places. Image restoration would be a simple thing considering how few images were missing. I was annoyed but not outraged, so the move continued.

The Wife got to work setting up an email server for a customer next (a paying customer. One of the few) It looked great when she finished it even if she did think so herself. Two hours later it all disappeared from CIS.net’s servers. She contacted our account representative to see if there was a backup of the work she had just completed. Chris W. said that they could save and restore all that work she had just done if she signed onto their backup plan. The costs were the same as for other hosting services we’d checked with, but slightly cheaper.

(most of you can probably tell where this is going now)

While waiting for them to back things up and restore the missing mail server she had just set up, we discovered that our previous host would let us pay by the month to keep the service running. We promptly paid them for another month so that at least we could stop worrying about them deleting the data from that end of the transfer. The next day during a check-in she noticed that the mail folders in the restored backup were structured… stupidly. Like someone who didn’t know what they were doing would set things up. This cludgy restoration (not her original work at all) did work, so she got the client’s system and phone returned to them and the we sat down to take a well-deserved break in a hectic week of non-stop data terror.

In the middle of what was just the first of several movies we were planning to watch, the phone rang. Another subscriber for the destination that our data was heading for at that very moment was calling to let us know that CIS.net was not what it presented itself to be. They exchanged emails and we abandoned our movie night. After several hours of rigorous research on the Wife’s part she discovered that our data was being transferred to a honeypot set up to scam fees off of people dumb enough to transfer their data to the host.

Needless to say, she pulled the plug on the transfers. Will get a refund from the credit card servicer for the payments we made to them already. We picked a third host, one we had heard of this time, and we started the transfers again. That was when the fun started. And when I say fun, I mean the murderous red rage. But a fun rage, y’know?

The owners of the honeypot, alerted to our intent to abandon them before they had made a cent off of us, proceeded to transfer all of our domains to their registrar, whoever that was. Then they went in and deleted our accounts and all of the data from our original host (decades of pointless backups made meaningful. Yay, I guess) they changed all the passwords they had access to for the data that had been transferred, they diverted related email addresses and engaged in other assorted assholish moves in order to try to keep us from clawing back our domains and our data. They hoped to make some money off of us. I don’t think they know who they are messing with. If they did they wouldn’t be messing with us. There is no money here to be had. Just pain. Happy to share the pain with them if that’s what they want.

That problem is getting rectified as I type. The WordPress on the new (third) hosting service will be available soon and I will migrate this over there when that task is done. Have migrated it over now that it is available. Migrated the words and expanded on them with some words suggested by the editor-in-chief. I hesitate to write too much here without backing it up because I still don’t know how secure this site is and I won’t know for sure until at least a week has passed (two weeks and I still don’t know. I parked a new domain for the blog today just in case. -ed) This is not helping me find my inner peace. Not helping me get past the rage at having my stuff messed with in this way.

That is the thing causing a murderous rage that I/we can fix. So we are fixing it, because we can. This is not the thing that is causing the most rage at the moment, believe it or not.

Today is our thirty-first anniversary as a couple, the Wife and I. Every year on our anniversary we celebrate our relationship doing the thing we bonded over all those years ago. We go to a theater and we have a movie marathon, two or three movies in a row. We have dinner out as well, but for the last decade or so we have gone to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch our movies, so we get dinner and a movie together. That just makes more time for movies. Win-win.

Not this year. This year the Orange Hate-Monkey has made it impossible to go to a theater and have a good time. He has broken a thirty-year tradition of ours with his bumbling lack of leadership during this coronavirus crisis. He hasn’t managed to kill a family member with this disease yet, but I’m sure he’ll get to that eventually.

Why do we miss the rituals put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic?

To top it all off several friends and the Wife all felt compelled to let me know that the Blue Angels were going to do a fly-over to celebrate the healthcare workers that have risked everything to keep people alive over the last few months. The Blue Angels will be flying over Austin. On our anniversary. Because the Orange Hate-Monkey thinks a patriotic tribute is what we need in this time of crisis.

The fly-overs are his idea of dealing with a pandemic. Not making sure there are enough masks for the essential workers to rely on. Not making sure there is enough protective equipment for the healthcare workers. Not paying them and the rest of the essential workers more money. Not training more people to take the load off of them in this time of crisis. No. His idea is to make us all look up and marvel at our own stupidity in spending so much of our precious blood and treasure on a military machine that cannot keep us safe from the threats we are facing.

This is the next war that we failed to build an army to deal with, to paraphrase an old truism. This pandemic is what a failure of leadership looks like. Man those fighter jets sure look great up there. Too bad all those billions spent making them and training those pilots wasn’t used to research antiviral medicines instead. We might have been able to go out and enjoy the summer, or at least been able to go out and see a movie, have some dinner in a restaurant, if we had spent that wealth a little more wisely. We might have developed a Malaria vaccine, a general Influenza vaccine, who knows what, with that kind of investment.

Instead we are sheltering in our houses hoping the markets don’t run out of food before the summer is over. At least I can write Happy Anniversary to the Wife on the blog now. We got our end fixed. How about it, Donald Trump? Want to try your hand at doing your job now? Yeah, I didn’t think so.