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IMPORTANT:

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My soul needs a little baring, so you, the reader, know some important things about who I am. I have several items to write about, but I am going to purposefully leave this on top for a day or so to make sure everyone sees what kind of person I really am. I don’t want people to think I’m an all-right kind of guy.

I had a conversation the other day that reminded me that actions have long term consequences. With five years of verified mental illness under my belt, I can look farther back and see years more of undiagnosed mental illness. Passed off at he time as “just being weird,” I was running a pretty constant 5 to 7 on the mania 10 scale. Impulsive and excessive spending, impulsive decisions, the whole works.

In May of 1997, I forced my wife into taking a vaccine shot that I thought was important. She was hesitant, but in my “normal” style, I bulldozed her into taking it. She ended up having a severe reaction to the mercury in the vaccine. Being scared and impulsive, I buried the her and the problem, making believe that it didn’t exist. A year later, through nothing less than a miracle, my wife made contact with just the right person at the company that made the vaccine, by accident. This person set up a case for her. All related health care would be free, plus a healthy annual stipend was hers if I would just fill out one piece of paper. I didn’t do it. I was so deep into denial about the problem, so intent on making it go away rather than solving it, I did nothing.

To this day, my wife still has a multitude of health problems and disabilities, all related to the vaccine or the cascading of problems from not treating it in a timely fashion.

There are several other intense incidents of similar fashion, but I think this one sets the bar pretty high.

Believe it or not, things got worse after I became ill in 1999. For the next four years I ping-ponged between manic 10 and depressive 10. I became dangerous during my manic swings. I became abusive to my family. My wife, who was trying to protect me, would do her best to prevent me from doing fatally stupid things. Being so manic, interruption of my impaired thought processes led to train wrecks of monumental proportions. I did my best to keep that manic train rolling, including over her if necessary. There are multiple fist-sized holes at the level of her head in various locations. While I have never struck her, I have done other equally reprehensible things to her.

If I didn’t have a built-in insanity defense, I would have gone to jail for spousal abuse on multiple occasions. Instead, I was shipped off to a psychiatric facility for a few weeks where they tried some new drugs on me and then dumped me back home for the cycle to start all over again. It took a hospitalization after I got a job for things to change. My wife made it clear to everyone involved that I had my own money now and I would have to use that money to find a separate place to live.

So now on top of a debilitating illness that I inflicted on her, I have given my wife a generous case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Bring up the wrong subject or person, and she relives these and other terrifying moments of her life with the same amount of terror that she had going through the original events themselves. These memories do not fade with time. It was just such a moment that prompted this blog entry. I am unable to atone for my actions, because my wife can relive them all with perfect clarity on a moments notice. Short of Jesus descending from heaven and healing her body and spirit, neither one of us can move forward from those years of terror. She lives everyday with the aftermath of the carnage I have caused, and I live everyday with the knowledge that I am responsible for doing it.

So you see, I have some very large and noisy skeletons in my closet.

The sad part is, I have always had a pretty good ability to analyze, define and solve problems. But when it comes to the problems I face in my own life, all I can do is beat my head and scream, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!” Even when my wife literally leads me through the problem all the way up to the solution, I am totally clueless and avoidant to the problem.

And this is one reason for this blog. Not just to document my trials and tribulations, but to induce deep, introspective self-critical thought in you, the reader. Thoughts and processes so you know where you are and why you are there. Before you can follow a map to treasure, you must first know where you are so you know where to start from. All the directions are worthless if you don’t know where you are.

Good night.

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More TV. Yecch.

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Tonight is more TV, Enterprise, West Wing and Law and Order. I don’t care too much about WW, but I’m curious as to which way it comes out.

I also have a special work day tomorrow, I’m taking my clients to the Mid-South Fair. Believe me, you and I have a lot to talk about when I get the time to write it all down.

Good Night.

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Pass/Fail

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I found this article, YOU HAVEN’T ‘FAILED’ – YOU’VE ‘NEARLY PASSED’ and it upsets me.

In the US, we’re already three-quarters of the way there with being self-esteem centric in our schools and scoreless sports. The self-esteem being taught in our schools today is a false one, because it avoids failure. This is the absolutely worst thing you can do to a child. School is supposed to teach children to handle life. Sacrificing the truth about weather or not they succeed on a test or project does nothing but set them up to fail when they get out into the real world.

Out in the real world of having a job, you have very clear pass/fail standards. If you don’t consistently pass, you lose your job. The people who graduate from high school and realize that the school had stupidly easy standards feel let down because the school failed on it’s basic premise.

Making things easy and not really grading also teaches children not to try. When they realize that they pass without putting any effort into a project, they stop putting effort into anything important.

Feeling good and getting a self-esteem boost when you win is easy. You just pick on someone weaker than yourself. Earning self-esteem is when you pick on someone bigger or better and winning.

Sometimes failure is the best way to teach self-esteem. No matter where you go in life, no matter what you do, someone will always be better than you. When you are defeated, you have to ask yourself, “Did I do the absolute best I could?” If you did, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. You take that and everything you learned and make yourself better than you were before. Then go out and try again. That is the American way.

Small business owners frequently fail in their first several business attempts. NASCAR can only have one winner out of 30 or so cars racing. Even the best professional baseball players only get a hit 1 out of every 3 at bats. None of these guys give up, they keep plugging at it until they win. Or should we let them “win” first time, every time?

In MechWarrior:Dark Age, the wargame that I play, there are two prizes handed out at a sanctioned tournament. First is Champion, for the guy who had the best record of the night. The other prize is Fellowship. This goes to the player who was the best sport. This is typified by who helped out less experienced opponents, who didn’t lose their cool when getting the stuffing knocked out of them by a superior player and so on. The Fellowship prize helps foster a positive attitude among all of the players. Sometimes, not very often, the Fellowship prize is actually better than the Champion prize. That really makes things interesting.

We are doing irreparable harm to our children when we feed their self-esteem this way. We teach them to take the easy path that goes nowhere instead of the difficult path that leads to the stars. Please don’t do this to your kids.

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Fat Chance

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I found this article, Overweight workers say they’re often overlooked. The article is trying to make a case to add weight discrimination to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Weight is the one thing under your control. You can’t change your skin color or your age. You can change your sex, but only after a lot of work and surgery. You have the ability to manage your weight. When you abdicate control of your weight to the TV and billboards, no wonder you’re overweight in no short order.

People should be ashamed if they are overweight. The sad news is many people who are ashamed they are overweight retreat into the very food that made them fat in the first place, exacerbating the problem. To put the blame on anything but yourself is known as transference. It’s like a tennis pro blaming the racket for his losing the match. Which is why we are seeing lawsuits against McDonald’s for people being fat. The only thing Mickey is guilty of is really good advertising.

We are programmed to like fat. It gives you the highest calorie per weight ratio out there. And when you are a hunter-gatherer who might get only one substantial meal every couple of days, fat is where it’s at.

But today we are a culture who lives at McDonald’s. Every item there is high in fat and calories. Even the salad has a ton of calories if you drown it in Thousand Island dressing. It’s okay if you have a meal there once a week, that’s known as moderation. But Americans today don’t know what moderation means. We are constantly barraged with ads about food. And so we are programmed when the slightest bit of hunger surfaces, we go and have a Big Mac Meal, super size the deep fat fried potatoes and the liquid sugar soda. Extra Mayo and cheese please.

A weight problem occurs only when you eat more food than your body consumes. I know the answer isn’t as simple as that, but that is the fact. If your activity level is zero and you eat 5,000 calories a day, you are going to be huge in no time at all. The only good thing about my depression is that I frequently skip meals. I’ve lost 30 pounds and want to lose at least 10 more. I don’t recommend the “depression diet” to anybody.

I recently came into possession of some Ritz “Butter and Garlic” crackers. Someone gave them to me, I would never have bought them on my own. When you look at the nutritional information on the side of the box, it says: Calories per serving: 80 not too bad Calories from fat: 35 that’s only…Let’s see…44% FAT Serving size: 5 Crackers. 5 crackers? 5 crackers! 5 stinking crackers! Nobody eats just 5 crackers! Of course, you don’t eat just 5 crackers, you usually eat an entire sleeve, which is about 35 crackers. That comes out to be 560 calories. And that’s just a snack. 560 calories is supposed to be 25% of you’re total intake for the entire day! Put that on top of three super sized meals and no wonder this country is so overweight.

Weight control falls under the Conservative ideal of personal responsibility. If you’re overweight, it will take a lot of time, effort and sweat to get back to a healthy size. And when you achieve that goal, you also gain something else. Good, solid, deserved self-respect. Self-discipline. The ability and confidence to solve any problem ahead of you. That makes it all worthwhile.

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Vote early and often

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One of the items on my list today is to vote. Memphis has an election on October 9th and we have early voting for the couple of weeks before it.

Voting is one of the two obligations that every citizen should do. The other is some kind of personal service. Peace Corps, Americorps, military, take your pick. Spend some years of your youth and work in a low pay job that makes a difference around the world. I personally lucked out. I spent 13 years in the Navy and spent half of it in Hawai’i. :)

It is the job of the citizen to keep his mouth open. Let your elected officials know what you think. Vote for who you think will do the best job, even if it seems to be the lesser of two evils. If you don’t vote, you don’t have any grounds to complain when you get screwed by them.

You may think “my vote doesn’t count,” but the only way it doesn’t count is if you don’t vote.

Vote every chance you can. And thank God you have this sacred power.

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I envy you guys

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I would love to get up at 6am again. It would give me plenty of time to surf and find appropriate stories for you to read when you get to work. It would give me hope that I can face the day. I got 9 hours of sleep last night before the alarm went off at 8 this morning, and I still stayed in bed until 10:30. This angers me to no end. I want to get up, but the depression drags me back down again. The ironic thing about it was it was like someone threw a switch. One moment it was impossible to get up, the next moment no problem. I wished that would work for the rest of the day. I’m working myself up to actually shave and brush my teeth next.

Living with depression is like living with an extra 100 pounds. But instead of it being around your waist, or in a backpack, it’s all carried on your neck and shoulders. It drives your center of gravity forward so you are off balance. It curves your spine so you’re always looking down. It makes your knees buckle so every step is unsure. If you’re not careful you can be driven to your knees. When I am overwhelmed I literally feel every pound on my neck and shoulders. When a decision or problem weighs heavily on you, that load can be shared with family and friends. I don’t have that luxury.

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Do you see what I see?

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I don’t know if y’all are seeing what I am or not. About 2/3rds of the current post is the only thing that shows up. To see the entire post and the rest of my prior posts you’ll have to go to the archives. Sorry, I don’t know why it’s doing it or how to fix it. I’ll be asking for help on Monday.

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To Be a Conservative

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There is a difference, as the old saying goes, between good, sound ideas and ideas that sound good. I think this pretty much means the difference between Conservatives and Liberals. True Conservatives have definite, solid reasons and reasoning behind their positions on any subject they take a stand on. Liberals will, by and large, either default to “Because it’s the right thing to do.” or start spewing meaningless statistics from a left-wing group. These statistics rarely stand up to critical review.

Let’s take gun-control for an example. I have a clear bias, I am pro Second Amendment, I am a life member of the NRA, and before I got sick I had a Concealed Weapons License.

A Liberal will spew “10 children a day are killed by guns.” Of course, who wouldn’t want to save 10 children a day? That’s the emotional hook. But if you found out that most weren’t children, that they would probably die even if there weren’t any guns, would your position change then? Would that prompt you to determine the source of the problem, rather than treating a non-existent symptom? The bad news is they fail to define “children.” You are left to think 7 and 8 year-olds, while in fact, about 8.5 of those 10 are actually 15+ years old. And to round it up to 10, they had to include 18 and 19 year old ADULTS as well.

“…[T]here were just 20 fatal gun accidents among children under the age of 5 in 1998. Contrast this with phony claims you hear about “10 children a day killed by guns.” The greatest part of that factoid comes from gang-related homicides perpetrated by inner-city, 17-to-19-year-old male criminals.

(Excerpted from the article “Not-so Safe Storage Laws” by Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant & Dr. Joanne Eisen of the Independence Institute, published in National Review Online 10/18/00.)

Of course the death of a child is a tragedy. Even if the “child” is a member of a gang, capable of performing deadly violence on anybody who gets in his way. But it is by no means an accident. That young adult made a conscience choice to get involved with groups known for consistent and brutal violence. In some of these groups you actually have to commit a murder to be a member of the gang.

John Lott, in trying to show gun control actually works, decisively proved to peer review that 2.5 million (2,500,000) crimes are prevented every year by armed private citizens. Now for the sake of argument, let’s say that we were able to get rid of all guns in private hands. Would that cut down on the “10 children a day”? Probably not. They would use baseball bats, or knives, or whatever was on hand. Would that cause more crime? Absolutely. By at least 2.5 million a year.

Do you see the difference? I did a yahoo search and found a bunch of sites, more of which were promoting the “10 children a day” than were opposing it.

They are too fixated on the factiod to question it. Liberals don’t care that most of it is gang-related. If you take away the gang members, the rate drops to about 1.5 a day. Less than drowning. Less than poisoning. Liberals don’t like guns, they don’t like the common citizen having so much power and responsibility, so they are willing to quote any absurdity to justify their position. And the people who do it because “it sounds good” fall right in line behind them.

On any subject, which category do you fall under? Good, sound reasons or reasons that sound good?

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Living with depression

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This is the reason for this blog. For me to tell you people what it is like to live with a mental illness.

My alarm clock went off at 8 am this morning. I am trying to get up at the same time every day for stability. That means no sleeping in. I got up long enough to feed my birds, then I was driven back to bed to hide from the world. This wasn't a fear attack, but rather a "I can't face anything" type of attack. 8 o'clock suddenly became 11:30. I am angry over this. But then the definition of depression is "anger without the enthusiasm." On a 10 scale of being depressed, I am about a 5. This slope I am on is steep and slippery. Below me lies closet time and suicide attempts. Above me lies normalcy. I struggle with easy things. Personal hygiene is a monumental task. I don't smell, but if I shave twice a week, that's good. If I brush my teeth 5 times, that's outstanding. Taking the trash 30 feet outside the back door might as well be climbing Everest. I know these things need to be done. I want to do them. I know they are not hard to do. But actually completing the task is nigh impossible.

But I also have an added danger in my life: mania. "Normal" bipolars spend months or years on either side of the scale before falling off the other side. I myself was mistakenly diagnosed as ADD instead of bipolar. I spent most of my life on the manic side. A fast cycling bipolar can literally switch in seconds. Several of my suicide attempts were preceded by a severe manic swing. I experienced a perceptual narrowing (I overfocused on something small and insignificant) on something dangerous. When my wife got through to me about how stupid I was being, I would go from a manic 10 to a depressive 10. These severe manic swings also led to trips to the hospital under police escort. I was on a first name basis with the police that specialize in handling emotionally disturbed people. Luckily the Memphis police don't carry Tasers, I would have been brought down at least twice that way. Let me clarify something. I was a standard bipolar (diagnosed as ADD) until I started taking Effexor in January of 1999. This drug piledrived me into a depressive swing and I have been like a ping-pong ball ever since. My first hospitalization was in early 2000 and I have had at least 15 hospitalizations, the last one in November 2002. My last manic episode seems to have been in May, and I have settled on my "slightly depressive" spot ever since. Now is the time to move up emotionally. Wish me luck.

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I'm sorry Mr. Ashcroft

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I happened across this article, Ashcroft rips 'Patriot' critics and I have to stand against the AG on this one. I think it is always a bad idea to pass 'knee-jerk' legislation. It violates a lot of freedoms and rarely actually addresses the problem it is supposed to solve.

Ashcroft's comments came after the release of a memo he wrote disclosing that the Justice Department has never used a controversial section of the Patriot Act that allows authorities in terrorism investigations to obtain records from libraries, bookstores and other businesses without notifying the subject of the probe.

Just because you haven't used provisions of a bad law doesn't mean that you won't in the future. I don't know everything about the Patriot Act, but I do know that opening doors like this make them very hard to close. I know they already do similar things in RICO and Drug related cases. I still don't like it. With today's interlinked society, your buying habits are closely scrutinized and studied. Why? So you can be targeted with personalized advertising, to get you to stay brand loyal or to jump ship. Every time you use a check or credit card, a record is made with your name and info, to be kept on file at that place of business for who knows how long. To have a barcode on your receipt means that store is tracking you by name. They can tell you what you buy, how much, how often and if you prefer store brand over brand name or not. They know which credit cards you use, and can guess how many you have in total based on statistical averages. Use a frequent shopper card? You're in it up to your eyeballs now. I could go to my local grocer, drop my FSC in the basket, and just walk the aisles, and 90% of my shopping would automatically fall into my basket, based entirely on my past shopping habits. I'm bipolar, not paranoid. I know all about the data mining being done on me every day because I used to be a data miner. Because of my financial and emotional position, I don't make impulse purchases anymore. Every dollar spent, every transaction is checked and verified internally before I actually spend the money. If it is necessary, I know where, when and how to make a "transaction free" purchase. And the answer isn't just paying cash. To allow law-enforcement access to those records for any reason without a court order is scary to me. The tools are there for police to find data that didn't exist 10 years ago. There are commercial tools that document sales that didn't exist 10 years ago. I don't mind the tools, I mind how easy it is to get permission to use them. To be able to call an investigation "Terrorism related" and get a pass on any meaningful control scares the daylights out of me. The depth that the governmental anal probes can reach get a little deeper every year. If law-enforcement on any level decided to perform a a maximum effort investigation on me, very little outside of my own thoughts are safe. Considering the content of this blog, even my thoughts can be scrutinized. Scary stuff.

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