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Lessons at the bar.

Starting May 30 of this year, I made some changes. Stress from many sides of life, but primarily dealing with the grief from the loss of my mother, was weighing on me. While I've had my moods, they never lasted long or threatened my day to day productivity. Well, until this spring, anyway. Something had to change, and a quick consultation of the oracle (Google) made it clear that diet and exercise -- two things I wasn't paying any attention to -- were a better answer than a prescription.

Joining friends and colleagues at the gym, I somewhat fell into a strength training program. While I struggled with worries and fears, most of those played out to be more about my own assumptions and issues than anything others were actually directing towards me.

Almost immediately the activity of lifting appealed to me. It was deceptively complex, precise, technical, and yet ultimately doable by anyone as it's modifiable. With the help and support of those who make up my squad, the discoveries of what I could do quickly began. And not long after, real tangible results became evident. First to me, and then verified by unsolicited feedback from others.

One good thing about starting from zero is that there is nowhere to go but up!

I've stumbled into a whole new world. I've barely touched the tip of the iceberg... and I'm afraid I'm hooked. So many subjects to learn about (anatomy, nutrition, etc.) and eventually paths to choose.

Writing helps me to process things. I haven't truly sat down and written a complex, meaningful and cohesive piece in... years. Dribbles of consciousness here and there on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become my norm. But it's like candy, really, instead of a truly nutritious mind meal made of words. This lack of writing is part of my problem... the problem being not living the richest, juiciest life I could be. And that, honestly, I had at one time.

So as my habits of eating and activity have changed, so will my habit of writing. The material of my journey learning to lift is as ripe as anything for fruitful fodder, so... here we go.

Knock knock.

So... who is still here? I'm coming back "home" to write. Not sure if I want to write here because no one is here, or because a few are.

this world...

Friday afternoon, I sat slumped in the bucket seat of my car as I snacked on a light lunch. My birthday was Saturday, so I'd taken Friday off. Paid time off from a job I really enjoy. Having gotten up late, I'd spent some time with the dogs, leisurely wrapped Christmas presents for my family, then headed off to a massage. During a brief break before heading in for a facial, I listened to NPR.

A BBC world news segment spoke with survivors of the Pakistani school massacre. The maturity and resolve of the young men they interviewed was sobering, vowing to fight against the violence meant to break their spirits.

And then, one recounted a teacher had begged the gunman to not shoot the children: shoot me instead, she pleaded.

The gunman shot all the children in front of her, then wounded her in the arm and leg, and said, "You will watch everyone you care about die," and walked off.

The shooter. The teacher. Me. Each of the children. We are the same in the most fundamental way that we inhabit this earth. How does one explain how one soul perpetrates such evil, others suffer unspeakably, some seem to have it all, and yet others never even get a chance, hardly, on this earth?

It is moments like these that prove to me, again and again, that there is no god. No supreme, all powerful being would allow such suffering to occur. Certainly not any one worth worshiping, anyway.
When someone has proven to you that he is neither ethical nor trustworthy... don't expect him then to be ethical and trustworthy in future dealings.

Likewise, when someone has proven themselves incapable and ineffective, don't expect him to be capable and effective in the future.

And beware anyone who suggests otherwise on either count.

Welcome to acedia, population YOU.

For a bit a concept has rolled around in my head; I've tried to share it with certain friends, but the words don't do justice to the ennui in my heart. This morning on the way to work, a selection from The Moth painted it in bright Technicolor.

Todd Hanson, writer for The Onion, started in on a piece about "A slacker details his relationship with depression… and couches." The Moth delights more often than not; inciting raucous laughter, or unavoidable sobbing. Initially, Hanson's piece really failed to connect for me. More than once I almost flipped to the next podcast awaiting me. For some reason my hand was stayed, despite being way more irritated and un-entertained than usually tolerated.

But soon, the reason I stayed with it was made clear. He talked of stumbling upon a copy of Dante's Inferno that had been kicked under the couch, only because he had exhausted every diversion present in the living room in which his couch resides. (He'd watched all the DVDs, finished all the video games, consumed all the porn.) In the preface to this masterpiece, he was slapped in the face with the concept of acedia: the profound sense of emptiness that comes from not believing in anything.

Acedia was felt to be "a sin of the worst kind, for it was specifically the sin of the failure to pursue god; a lack of making the effort necessary to seek out the joy of god, or of more generally of creation."

While I don't suffer from this sin fully, I've gotten whiffs of its pain in part due to a lack of understanding how some of my interests, pursuits and methods fit into a paradigm where they are not all disheveled, unrelated, and without merit; quite the opposite: putting the pieces together, they form a very coherent and compelling picture puzzle. Complete in its complexity, and not lacking. Click all the pieces together and the machine starts to hum; leave them scattered about and each is less than its consummate part of the whole.

I've long sought something which I had all the time; at times I recognize it, but at some point I'll "lose" it again, only to overlook it day in and day out until some strange cosmic alignment makes it stand out again.

Moments of clarity. I can only hope for more.


The brain has the ability to create worlds so real that upon waking it takes a moment to sort out whether you are now awake... or are you now asleep, and were then awake? The accurate recreation of visceral experiences -- fear, flight, falling, orgasm -- are they reactions of the limbic system to thoughts, sights and sounds created by the brain, or vice versa? Does the limbic system fire and the brain throws together a story to coincide?

And to think: this is possible using but a small portion of our brain's power. What are we truly capable of?


For years I've toyed with the idea of picking up an instrument again. Went into the music store, asked to sit with a sax, the task of sucking on a reed (taste, feel, habit) stirring up all manner of emotions in me. Rented it, but it sat unused in the case for a few months. (The clerk hung around and listened, and was surprised when I told him I hadn't touched one in 20 years. I'll admit, so was I.)

Recently I downloaded a finger piano for the iPhone and plunking out the simplest of things almost brought me to tears.

I tinker with the djembe that's sat in the dining room for some time. I need a class, and a drum group.

It needs to happen. But, I need to find a way to work it into my life, my habits, my goals. Practice, especially as one gets back into the swing, is best a solitary task. But then, I'll need musical companionship, for both joy and growth. Luckily there are a number of local bands. The time commitment will be the biggest issue, but really, I will simply trade some of my current downtime doing things which are less enjoyable, less rewarding.

As I'm trying to limit outflow of $$$ that isn't necessary right now, I can't just run out and buy a keyboard. Getting creative, I made a Craigslist post offering trade of creative services in exchange for a used keyboard.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

New venue.

I'm going to play with Blogger for a while, so tune into Dogs and Dragonflies. The layout is stock for now, but I'll be working on it.

Rockfish and Cabezone, I love you.

rockfishA friend went fishing yesterday on the coast. His party caught their limit, and as a result had more than they knew what to do with since they don't have a freezer. As a result, Scot was gifted with sides of rockfish and cabezone, along with three very good sized Dungeness crabs.

We took our bounty over to Leah's, and invaded her kitchen. With no fillet skills, I did my best to debone, and then dipped the fillets into beer batter (using Rogue's American Amber) and fried them up in a pan. Fresh fish is a beautiful thing; you are close enough to the reality that something has given its life for you that it's a sobering experience to prepare it. The flesh of rockfish is substantial and firm, and fresh fish has no "fishy" smell, and the texture is squick-free. The only smell you can catch is a slight whiff of saltwater. Perhaps it helps that many of these fish don't have scales, for I remember the fishing of my youth (bass, etc. in Indiana) to be much more fishy.

dungenessThe results after a quick bath in hot oil was buttery fish that fell apart, with a firm texture and sweet taste -- just how I like my fish! A light crunchy batter only accented it.

One would swear the boil used by our benefactors was pure butter, as the crabs were rich and sweet. They were boiled but not cleaned, so Scot went to that work, and showed Leah how to do it. I did my part by standing in close and watching. I can do it, but I tend to pull off the shell and then turn my head away, blindly pushing stuff off and flinging the crab around, spraying who knows what who knows where.

None of us have sets of proper tools for eating crab. When we last had Alaskan King Crab legs, we used a meat mallet to break them. They got out a pair of wide nosed pliers to act as a cracker, and we used fondue forks to break/reach inside.

This lead to the unexpected; one leg exploded in my hand, spraying us all with crab. Dan had some smack in the middle of his forehead.

They live out in the middle of nowhere, but I'm sure the closest neighbor heard us laughing.