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22nd July 2016

1:34am: The Irony is Thick
I just listened to Laura Ingraham speechifying at the Republican National Convention. Most everything she said was ... unexceptionable. She's a Republican Party Mouthpiece, and she touted the Republican Party -- including it's policy-free promises of some vague "better".

But... she made a special point of saying that the "liberal media" has been too lax to uncover the government's "business as usual" corruption. She told them: "Do your jobs!"

Isn't that exactly what Barrack Obama has been telling the Republican Senate for the past 150 days?

(Howl with me)

16th November 2015

5:43pm: What you think about can affect the way you think.
... and the way you speak.

I’ve recently been studying Complex Analysis, which includes studies of the way a function behaves “in the neighborhood” of a singularity or “in the region” of some boundary on the complex plane. I tell you that just so that I can relate this story and make sense:

I’ve just recently performed periodic maintenance on my hot tub. This involves draining the water completely, scrubbing the inside of the tub with bleach, cleaning the filter, and refilling the tub with fresh water. I had gotten to the “refill with fresh water” part of the process, and got distracted on another project. I suddenly looked up from what I was doing, shouted “Shit! Spa!” and ran out to the back yard. Sure enough, the tub was brim-full, with water falling out all around the edge like a fountain in the park.

I shut off the hose and removed it from the tub, and then opened the stopcock on the drain hose to let some of that water out. I then went back inside and reported: “The water is now moving in reverse direction in the region of the spa, but in the same direction in the region of the lawn.”

…Okay, I don’t usually talk that way, so *I* thought it was funny…

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4th December 2014

2:02pm: In Which I Heroically Prevent Office Bloodshed
I walked into my office suite today, to find two of the employees arguing.

PERSON1: "*%*&!!@*!!"

PERSON2: "!*+$$*!??!"

ME: "Knives at sixty paces."

[Dead Silence]


[General Laughter]

(1 howl | Howl with me)

27th October 2014

10:58pm: Public Service Announcement
If you live in the United States of America, be sure to top off your gas tank on Monday.

In my living memory, the price of gasoline has always, always, ALWAYS been depressed in the month leading up to a national election. This is not an artifact of the improvement in our economy; it is an artifact of a concerted effort on the part of those who control oil prices to assure you that Things Are Not So Bad.

In this particular iteration of this phenomenon, the prices of gasoline have been reduced by about 70 cents per gallon from a month ago, or just over 20% in my locality. I cannot remember any previous reduction that extreme; my interpretation of this phenomenon is that the Oil Powers That Be are particularly worried about how you might be voting on Tuesday.

In any case, I predict that the price of fuel will begin to jump right around the time that the polls close -- for reasons that make complete economic sense, mind you -- and that you are not likely to see gasoline this inexpensive for at least two years (specifically, until roughly the first week of October 2016 -- a month before the next national election). So, be sure to fill your tank on Monday.

(1 howl | Howl with me)

24th August 2014

12:26pm: I almost screwed up BIG-TIME
Last week, while discussing all the changes coming down the pike at work, I mentioned that I didn't think I had time for the UMSL thing in this next quarter. My supervisor told me "Don't even think that." So... I got on the UMSL website to look at the fall semester. It starts tomorrow, 25 August. Thank Goddess for online registration!

I'm going to be taking Mathematical Statistics I. Oddly enough, I'm excited about this course. My last statistics course, Applied Statistics, was a complete bore and almost a total waste of time. It was a "This is the technique; apply it" kind of course. This 4000-level course will develop the mathematical principles behind the techniques presented in the 2000-level course; that will help me to understand those techniques.

More and more as I get older, I find that when people want to tell me "What", I ask "Why". The flip side of that is that when people ask me "What", I try to explain both "What" and "Why" until their eyes glaze over. I apparently feel the need to understand, not just to know.

(4 howls | Howl with me)

12:17pm: Sunday -- Life Maintenance Day
It's noon.
I haven't gotten dressed yet.
I can't go on like this. I've got to shake off this post-divorce depression.

So... today is the only day of the week that I'm not working at work. It's time to work at home.

In no particular order...

wash dishes
clean off kitchen counter tops
wash laundry
take out trash
take out recycling
mow back yard
mow front tree lawn
weed front steps
weed front terraces
weed back terrace -- try to keep the mint in place
test & balance spa water
change sheets on bed
hang/put away clean laundry
clean upstairs -- make ready for new tenant
grocery shopping
buy shoes
sort, catalog & box M15 red
sort, catalog & box M15 green
sort, catalog & box M15 colorless
prepare backpack for school tomorrow: textbook, paper, writing implements, laptop, school clothes, MetroLink pass

So, there are 20 useful and productive things I could do today. Let's see how many I can do before bedtime, hey? I have a fruit pie and ice cream in the freezer; if I get a reasonable number of these things done today, I'll give myself a treat tonight.

Let me say, I am completely gobsmacked by how difficult it is to find/buy a sensible pair of sandals in St Louis in the high summer. While I was out, I recalled that the last time I did battle with trumpet vine, I really wished I'd had a wheelbarrow. So I bought one. I'll have to assemble it; by then it will be getting dark. So, I'll content myself with a preliminary attack against the Plant Invaders today, using chemical weapons.

EDIT: Oops. Got into a political discussion with my neighbors while I was taking out the recycling. Dark now. I'll have to do Plant Wars another day. But it wasn't wasted time; talking to people about things that matter to them is almost never wasted time.

FURTHER EDIT: Standing around without moving, wearing short pants at sundown is not a particularly good idea. What do the mosquitoes eat when they can't get woof?

BONUS: I used a $20 birthday gift certificate from Casual Male XL before it expired. Didn't get sandals there, as I'd hoped, but I did get another good-quality belt that fits me, and I needed that.

FINAL RESULT: No pie for woof. I don't consider 60% a passing grade on any test. That said, I'll take it as a victory over the post-divorce depression. After all, I set a goal. My next goal? To get up and go to work on time!

(6 howls | Howl with me)

5th June 2014

12:08pm: I Am Disappointed
I received an email from the Democratic National Committee, telling me all about how Senator Lindsey Graham is talking about impeaching President Obama. The point of this exercise was to persuade me to donate money to elect Democrats.

Now, let's see how this appeal plays to an educated voter:

"Impeach" does not mean "to remove from office". It means "to bring an official to trial on charges of High Crimes or Misdemeanors". According to the Constitution of the United States of America, in the case of an impeachment of the President, the Senate would sit in judgement during such a trial, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

BUT. The power to levy this charge of "High Crime or Misdemeanor" rests with the House of Representatives -- currently held solidly by Democrats. Even if the House were so inclined, they would be hard pressed to find a crime of which to accuse the President; it's not illegal to do the job that the American People elected him to do. The good senator can flap his jaws all he wants, but he has no power to impeach the President.

The DNC has sunken to Rovean sound-byte politics in its fund-raising efforts, trying to frighten me with implausible scare scenarios. As an educated voter, I am insulted.

This does NOT tempt me to donate money, but it does tempt me to unsubscribe from their email list.

(Howl with me)

26th May 2014

1:16am: A culinary experiment
I've tried an experiment: a variation on a low-cal meal that even a bachelor who hates cleaning up the kitchen can handle.

I think I'll call it 1-2-3 Salad.

1 Cucumber
2 Tomatoes
3 Green onions
6-8 oz plain nonfat yogurt
1 heaping tbsp minced garlic

Peel cucumber and cut into bite-sized pieces
Wash tomatoes and cut into bit-sized pieces
Chop onions.

Combine vegetables in a mixing bowl with garlic.
Add yogurt and stir until everything is well coated.
Garnish to taste with red and/or black pepper.

Makes one large or two small servings.

Result? It's amazing how effectively plain yogurt can neutralize garlic. Next time, I'll try 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of garlic. Also, maybe it ought to be 1-2-4 salad... Otherwise, it was quite acceptable as a light weekend meal, it took perhaps 9 minutes to prepare, and the cleanup consists of one knife, one spoon, one bowl, and one cutting board.

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19th May 2014

8:33am: A completely arbitrary milestone
Since I left the Army several-mumble years ago, I had gained weight at an average of 3 pounds a year... creeping upwards from a very fit 220 pounds to a plateau of just over 330 pounds. That is to say, once I hit 330, my weight gain slowed significantly. My highest recorded weight was 338 pounds, last May.

I have to admit that this is far beyond the design specifications of my knee joints, which complained bitterly every time I did anything strenuous, like stand up out of a chair. I have learned to circumscribe my activity to pamper my knees, having torn a meniscus once (which required surgical correction). I don't care to go through that again, or anything even remotely like it.

My physician suggests that I would be much healthier than I am if I weighed 250 pounds. My own goal is that mystical, mythical, completely unrealistic 220 pounds. As a practical matter, it would be good if I could look down from a standing position and see my toes without leaning forward.

So... I have been consciously trying to lose weight. As you might imagine from the above, my efforts have not included a whole lot of high-energy exercise... no more than a walking speed, thankyouverymuch. But I have been moderating my diet, and following my own set of rules about what I eat. I haven't given up entirely on anything, but I do things like "no grease or starch until after a plateful of salad or vegetables" and "when belly is pleasantly full, stop eating".

When I weighed this morning...

This is the first time that my weight has been under 300 pounds in ... years. Though I've lost just over 10% of my highest body weight in roughly a year, I've achieved nowhere near the weight-loss performance of a hybernating bear. But hey... progress is progress, right?

[semi-related rant] English is a completely irrational language. We speak of "losing weight", but we really mean "losing mass". We even measure our mass in terms of pounds, which are units of force. The typical American doesn't even know the standard English unit of mass, which is called a slug. But whatsa woofta do? As long as we are trapped in a 1G field, units of weight and units of mass can be used interchangeably without anyone noticing. [/rant]
Current Mood: pleased

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3rd May 2014

11:47pm: So True, It Hurts
Maybe it's just the way that it resonates with my life at present, but when I read this, I felt a short pang of anguish.

This is not just Truth; it's Fact. Engrave it on your soul, and remember it always.

Thanks for the link to my lovely and talented friend ysabetwordsmith.


No, really -- this is important. For those of you who did not click through to see what I'm talking about, it's here. Read it.

Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, intimacy, friendship, etc. The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage. Love is in people. And people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage. You have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

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17th March 2014

10:15pm: Apropos of Not Much
Today was Saint Patrick's Day. I observed this "hallmark holiday" with spinach, lettuce, pickles, scallions, and Diet Mountain Dew.

I ate green food. Just like any other day.

Which is all the observance that this day deserves.
Current Mood: apathetic

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3rd March 2014

5:40pm: Yahrzeit
Today is my father's yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death. I note the date, but it doesn't really have much of an effect on me.

My father might, or might not, have contributed to the chaos that eventually led to my divorce. Not himself, per se, but the effect of his advent in our lives and the need to take care of him. He injured himself (doing something stupid) on the way from Florida to his new home in St Louis, and never did recover or establish any kind of normal life. His was a complex adventure in healthcare, and rehabilitation, and more healthcare -- right up to the day a year ago when his healthcare was provided by a mortuary. My wife and I, perforce, were dragged along on this adventure, and the stress of the work and its aftermath certainly had an effect on our marriage.

Now, I'm looking back at a sick old man who was alternatively a sweet and fascinating gentleman, and a manipulative son-of-a-drunk. I can't summon up any tears for him... those would be reserved for my impending divorce.

Vijay Noah
30 January 1931 - 3 March 2013
Current Mood: pensive

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17th January 2014

12:16pm: There are things I forget to say
Last evening, I attended a counseling session between beckyzoole and her therapist. I was invited to attend it, as well as the session next week.

I didn't have any great hopes for any good outcomes, but Becky wanted me to go, and it didn't cost me anything but time.

In any case, there are probably a whole lot of things that I have attempted to communicate to Becky over the past months and years, that seem glaringly obvious to me and come as complete shocks to her. Sometimes I've managed to say something in plain English, but sometimes I use words that mean one thing to me and other things to other people. It hardly seems to matter, as Becky has been consistent in misinterpreting or outright denying just about anything I've said to her in all seriousness for too long now.

But still... sometimes, looking back over a conversation, I wish I had said a thing or two differently than I actually had. One thing that I probably should have made an opportunity to say last night (and did say, but not in these words and perhaps not effectively), is:

The reason why I am adamant about going through with this divorce is that this is an act of self-defense.

I have alluded to baggage from my prior marriage. I have said outright that my first wife drove me to bankruptcy out of spite, and if my second wife drives me to bankruptcy from thoughtless spending, the effect is the same. But I haven't said in so many words that divorcing her, so as to protect myself from her careless and thoughtless spending habits, is an act of self-defense.

She told me that the threat of divorce will not "manipulate" her into changing her behavior. My response at that time was, "So be it. Deal broken." As with so many other things I have tried to tell her, she didn't think I meant it.

Since then, she has made all kinds of promises to do better. She has gone so far as to cut up a credit card right in front of me. But credit cards are easily replaced, and her track record of keeping promises is piss-poor. Trust is broken; her word is no good. She's going to have to SHOW me that she wants to do better, and that can't be done in a few weeks.

In the meantime... you don't plan for the enemy's intentions; you plan for her capabilities. I have to neutralize Becky's capability to bankrupt me, and that means to eliminate my legal liability for her debts.

I feel as if I have parry injuries, not to my forearms, but to my soul.

(6 howls | Howl with me)

31st December 2013

11:00pm: Thoughts as the Year Winds Down
2013 was not a good year.

Painful stress at work, for all of the last half of the year. But we got through it.

Lethal stress at home. My marriage did not survive.

Now, heading into 2014, I feel as if I'm at the front end of a prison sentence, following a conviction for the crime of Bad Judgement. I have written elsejournal that I need to "come to some part of my life that Becky has not already spent". Upon reflection, that is not entirely true or entirely fair. While it is true that financial stress has been a major factor in my life for the past ... forever... it has most certainly not been all Becky's fault.

In point of fact, much of it has been -- big surprise -- my own doing. I tried to give her, and myself, too much, too fast. I accepted a huge debt load, and after selling off my birthright (okay, my portion of my mother's estate) to reduce the crushing debt, I turned right around and accepted another crushing debtload to make repairs and improvements to the house.

So be it. I am now embarking on a new adventure... an adventure in indenture. I have to redeem my word -- because it's the only thing I have left. The process will take me 4 1/2 to 5 years, PLUS whatever it takes to pay off the inevitable disasters that befall every life, MINUS whatever income tax returns or other windfalls may come my way. This presupposes that I will be able to continue working 55 hours per week, that I never become too ill to work, and that I never take or need a vacation. Wish me good luck with that...

There are so many songs in me that won't be sung.
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue.
The time has come for me to pay for yesterday,
When I was young.
Current Mood: resigned

(1 howl | Howl with me)

26th December 2013

1:30am: Life Imitates Surreal
I was at work this afternoon, and got a phone call. It was Becky, crying and saying,
"Tell me it's going to be all right; I'll believe you."

That's ironic, considering that she wouldn't believe me when I told her anything else. But that aside... I couldn't do it. I don't know that everything is going to be all right, and I could not lie to her. Instead, I told her that it never gets easier, but one way or another, eventually it gets over.

That ruined my day... I just didn't get very much work done after that.

So... a little mood music, Maestro. I couldn't find an original recording, but here's a reasonable cover...

Current Mood: crying

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22nd December 2013

11:56pm: Baby Steps
Okay, so I didn't get a whole lot of house cleaning done this weekend.

I did spend a lot of time sitting. And looking at nothing much, with my mind sort of circling the drain. Depression sucks.

BUT... I did get some things done:

1) Laundry. There are two washers and two dryers in the basement; there is currently no tenant upstairs. So I used all four of the machines.
2) Changed the sheets on the bed.
3) Dishes. Um. Got to find the dishwasher user manual, and figure out what to do about a clogged dishwasher drain. Either that, or get real intimate with a mop ... or do dishes by hand.
4) Trash and recycling. I just don't generate a lot of trash. Emptying the trash cans about once every two weeks does the job.
5) Library... is still a junk room. Next week...

On the bright side, I do have some incentive to "get my house in order". Margaret is coming to visit me in four weeks, and Holly is coming to visit me in seven weeks. Each will stay for a weekend. I hope the weather cooperates, and fear it won't.
Current Mood: depressed

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20th December 2013

5:08pm: Tomorrow is Yule
My plans for Yule are:

1) Go to work. Try not to work more than 1/2 day.
2) DO NOT EAT anything sugary or fattening.
3) Clean my house.

Seriously, it's time for the "library" to become a library, and not a junk room. And the furniture in that room is subject to being removed at any time... so the room ought to be accessible.

(Howl with me)

5th December 2013

8:19am: Random Thought Upon Waking
For some reason, the first thing I thought of upon waking this morning was a Haiku:

The alarm clock rings
To wrench me from blessed sleep.
Die, evil creature!

(1 howl | Howl with me)

2nd December 2013

6:15pm: Saturday Night
Last Saturday was an echo of good days gone by.

I left work at 1630, and went home. Tidied up... cleaned the toilet. Put out fresh towels in the bathroom and fresh chips & dip in the living room. The Magic players started arriving shortly after 1930. While we were deep into the first game, beckyzoole arrived with her son-in-law, AEH. (They couldn't make it for the beginning of the party, as they were involved with Mandatory Family Fun. But they got there.)

AEH has been playing Magic for some 4-6 weeks, and has already absorbed a remarkable amount of Magic theory. I heard him discussing one of his recent deck designs... and was impressed when he called it a "ramp deck". This is a middlin' common deck archetype, but only Magic Players use that term, so far as I know.

Several games were played. A good time was had.

After the last of the players had gone, I put together a cooler full of stuff from the refrigerator and freezer for beckyzoole to take with her -- stuff that she can use, but I never would. We sat down and talked about necessary arrangements, then I helped her load stuff into her vehicle and she left. Nothing became unpleasant at all, at all.

I think she forgot the epizote.

I got to bed at about 0420... and awoke dismayed to discover that I had slept for 12 hours. Depression sucks; I had intended to spend all day Sunday studying for my final exam on Thursday.

Catch-up time...

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7th November 2013

10:38pm: Crying Now
Oh, Goddess! How I am crying now...

After singing this a couple of times, I did start to cry. A little bit. For a few minutes. The funny thing: it isn't the fourth couplet that turned on the spigot; it was the third. What she did didn't make me cry; what I did made me cry.

In the shower this morning, for no discernible reason, I started to sing "You Needed Me", the song that we danced to at our wedding. I got as far as "...you even called me fr-" when I collapsed in uncontrollable sobbing, leaning against the wall for support while hot water sluiced down my back. And all day at work today, though dry-eyed and in control, I've found myself humming "The Minstrel Boy" under my breath while working. It has become an ear-worm.

No, it's not hard to figure out what's on my mind lately...

These poems -- these words -- have a magic power to affect my emotional state. I have always held -- you might even call it a tenet of my religion -- that words have power. Words are potent. But with beckyzoole, words have ceased to have power, or even value -- not even to convey information. I cannot talk to her.
Current Mood: mourning

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6th November 2013

11:40pm: Numb
Okay. It is already known by everyone who has any interest that beckyzoole and I are separated, and proceeding to divorce. For all of you who want to know why, I can only say: Sorry, I am not prepared to talk about it. Suffice it to say that we had issues, which went unresolved for too long, until they became deal-breakers. I'd rather not say any more, because I love my wife and am not willing to speak badly of her.

That said... my counselor has suggested that I should journal my emotional state, as a means of demonstrating to myself over time that I am getting through this bad part of my life. I'm not good at that... but here goes.

What I am is ... numb. Angry, yes, but mostly numb. I am going through the motions of maintaining my life... eating, sleeping, going to work, doing laundry... but it's mostly a mechanical process. I find no joy, and little interest in it.

I know that I'm eventually have to going to cry. But ... numb. Can't cry. I seem to be in the ironic position of needing to make myself feel worse so that I can get better. How does life arrange these things?

Well, anyway. Maybe I can drive myself to tears if I write some wooferel. How about something to the tune of "The Minstrel Boy"?

Now my Fox and I are no longer bound
And it weighs most heavy on my spirit.
When she broke her vow I complained aloud,
But in her pride she wouldn't hear it.
So I broke the ties, and I closed my eyes
And I walked away from my Lady.
Now this sword of mine my own heart may find
For my own true lover has betrayed me.
Current Mood: need to cry

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11th May 2013

8:59am: You Know You Want To...
It's Saturday morning, and I'm at work. My Beloved Wife Unit just called me to report an amusing situation.

She's driving down Interstate 64, westbound. Ahead of her is a Mexican Roadblock of a rather unusual nature.

Speed limit is 60 mph. In the left lane is a police vehicle, moving at a cruise-controlled 63 mph. In the right lane is a police vehicle, moving at a cruise-controlled 63 mph. The center lane between them is completely empty.

Three lanes of traffic are piled up behind them, moving perforce at 63 mph.

The invitation is clear. There are no takers.
Current Mood: amused

(Howl with me)

3rd March 2013

10:24pm: It's Over
I am writing this at about 2210 on Sunday evening. At about 1915 this evening, my father passed beyond the veil died. Becky and I were both at his side, each of us holding one of his hands.

After a year and a half of medical roller-coaster and never a chance to live a normal life in a normal home, my father has at last found peace and a cessation of pain. My best beloved Becky and I are breathing sighs of relief.

I want to thank all of you who have sent your good wishes and offers of help. You are all precious to us, and we're grateful to have you in our lives.

I will be taking the next three days off work, to settle his affairs and arrange for his new career as a training assistant for medical students. He wanted to go to medical school when he was younger; now he will have his chance.

(3 howls | Howl with me)

1st March 2013

6:46pm: My Take on Gun Violence
I have been reading a series of letters to the editor of the St Louis Post-Dispatch, written by various physicians from St Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Some of these medical professionals are calling gun violence a "pediatric medicine crisis", while others say it is not a medical issue at all (other than its mental health aspects), but rather a social issue. My opinion? I'm of several minds.

1) It is indisputable that every American has the right to defend himself, his home, his family and his friends -- as well as any random innocent passerby -- from anti-social assault and/or invasion. We cannot rely on police to do it for us; in this age of lethal, concealable weapons, the typical police response time is long enough to see dozens or scores of people dead or injured before the police arrive.

2) It is equally indisputable that weapons held ready for quick defense must be quickly deployable, but that they become a liability if handled by irresponsible persons. The very qualities that make them effective defenses or deterrants also make them potentially deadly threats to the households that they are intended to protect.

3) It is equally indisputable that if a society criminalizes the possession of weapons, only criminals will possess weapons.

These three propositions are all valid, but are mutually contradictory or anti-synergystic. It will take better minds than mine to find the best compromise between these and dozens of other factors that make our society so complex. All I really know is that "gun control" is synonymous with "hitting only what you aim at". Some folks claim that gun safety training does not reduce gun violence, but marksmanship training will at least reduce ACCIDENTAL deaths or injuries from gunfire.

My answer? I am a security professional, and I own firearms... but my first response to a home invasion will be with a broadsword -- a weapon that I trained with for 11 years, but I'm fairly sure will never be taken from me and used against me. The average confrontation range in a home-invasion scenario is seven feet. At that range, the chances are much better than even that the invader will be not simply disarmed, but dishanded as well.

To all you burglars out there: Are you certain that the home you are planning to invade is NOT MINE? If not, you might want to consider another line of work. Thank you.

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18th January 2012

8:53pm: Political Meme
I have to admit, some people simply flabbergast me when they express political opinions. I simply cannot understand, how, being who they are and living under the conditions they live under, they can possibly hold the convictions that they hold -- because those convictions seem to me self-evidently in opposition to that person's self-interest.

So, I'd like to put forth this one, simple question: As one considers the political issues, non-issues, and general rhetoric that will fill the next 10 months, each person should ask him- or herself, "Am I better off now than I was four years ago?"

Never mind the rhetoric. Never mind the mudslinging. Never mind the empty -- or possibly not empty -- promises. Simply gauge your current economic and social condition, and compare it to that of four years ago. Then vote accordingly.

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