by j-a

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June, 2003


It was a smart move to attack Iraq before Iran (although maybe the intelligence was an accident, or non-existent, and they attacked it merely because it was the weakest link), thus "trapping" Al Qa'ida refugees and inhibiting them from moving into Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

But I kind of thought that the Iranian government might cave and co-operate with the "coalition" that went into Afghanistan, that they might see the writing in the sand and at least bow to their increasingly vociferous disendents. But they didn't. Instead they expedited their nuclear weapons program, and now Dubya feels he has to threaten them too.

a: "Would you consider yourself an intellectual?"

j: "That depends on what you mean by intellectual. I'm not a scholar, or an academic, if that's what you mean. I was heading in that direction, but I got waylaid by postmodernism. Or maybe that's an excuse. Maybe my own psychology waylaid me. There's a new study released, I forget who did it, where they confirm the notion that people's personalities do in fact change over the course of their lives. I've become...I've been altered, or altered myself, I've got to take responsibility for my unconscious transformation, from an exhaustively meticulous person to a rather lax and take-it-as-it-comes type. This wasn't entirely unconscious, I think--as I look back on it. I studied Zen and decided that I should wait on the world, or most of it, to come to me, rather than try, proactively, to go all out to get what it was that I desired. So, in that sense, I'm anti-intellectual. But in the sense that I believe that we should apply the intellect to problems to solve them, when they can't be avoided by waiting (and some of them can't, but just get worse; you've got to be precise in how you pick and choose), then, yes, in that sense I'm an intellectual."

Rather than strive and struggle to develop structure and logic in the stuff I write (or say to people, when I will record it), any more I simply try to fit the separate pieces into one or another of my several formats that are designed to accommodate disparate or thematically, but not logically similar, material: journals, pastiches, online notebooks, and, most traditionally, when I can summon the resolve to "work" a little bit, stories and novels that develop out of material cut and pasted from my journals into their nebulously pre-defined staging documents, where I can manipulate it, at my whim and or revelatory insight, into some kind of a (semi-)structured form (which usually takes the shape of a loose thematic structure or a sort of anti-plot).


What I want to do is document my life, as boring as it gets, and as it has been, as I backtrack and document my past; and, incidentally, to write stories and novels from the scraps of ideas/experience that do not exactly qualify as my "life." This is all I really want to do. All the rest of it is busy work, stuff that needs to be done, to survive and, more or less, prosper.

I'd like to include art and music into that artistic mix above. But, let's face it, my music days are over, and I never really was much good at it. It was all just a realized fantasy. And the art, well, I chip away at it, trying to find a medium that is congenial to my minimal desire to develop the skills necessary to look competent.

At one time, photography fit that criterion perfectly. I had a small black and white lab in the basement and was on my way toward developing (heh) an expertise. But any more, with digital cameras and the Internet, photography is ubiquitous. Still, I could get back into it, if I turned my attention in that direction.

And I'm thinking about decoupage art, and beginning to organize my resources. But will it pan out? Something, I feel, will eventually evolve, some mechanism of visual expression. I may be an old man by that time, but that's okay. That's a satisfactory realized fantasy, being an old artist living out his remaining years devoted to passively rendering images.

Myth #1: Giving money to the rich (in the form of tax cuts and corporate welfare, for example) stimulates the economy. Wrong. Giving money to the rich serves only to make them richer, according to the principle of "to them that have even more shall be given." If you really want to stimulate the economy, give money to the poor. The rich use excess money, at best, to capitalize, which serves to increase their wealth while they insist on maintaining the lowest possible salaries and wages and the highest possible prices that they can get away with, thus further restricting money flow. In the best of times, when the economy is booming, this may serve to spur the economy on a little more, but in the worst of times, factors other than recapitalization work to keep things moving slowly. But give that money to the poor instead and they will spend it, because that's what they do. And spent money is what stimulates the economy. Give the money to the poor and let them give it to the rich. If the poor would re-invest and hoard found money (which is what the rich do, calling it capitalization), then giving it to them would be counter-productive. But spending money is why the poor are poor in the first place. They spend all they get.

Myth #2: Welfare is a drain on the economy. For the above reason, welfare is an economic stimulant. What has choked the economy we're in now? Not the threat of war. Not the collapsed bubble. Those are excuses. The poor don't have any money to spend (and the middle classes have less and less and, in order to remain middle class, they're hoarding). When times start to get tough, government, in the form of "fiscally responsible" Republicans and "middle-of-the-road" Democrats, start to hoard welfare, depriving the economy of much needed cash. At the same time, money is poured into corporate structures in order to "stimulate" them, but it has the opposite effect. Corporations use the extra cash (in the form of lower taxes, tax credits, etc.) to prop up their weakening systems. The money stays locked up. The same money, given to the poor, will be poured back into the economy, signaling a coming growth. Just as a dearth of exchange signals a slow-down, a spate of it signals growth; the economy, like all forms of life, feeds on itself. The economy is life itself, the obvious activity of interaction. We all know, by an internal wisdom, an intuition, when to spend and when to hoard (unless we are hardcore poor, in which case we think we have no choice). When we feel like spending or hoarding, these feelings are amplified or attenuated by the signals we receive. If we feel it's time to hoard, but our boss gives us a raise, we don't. If we feel like spending, but we lose our jobs, we don't. But if we feel like hoarding and the fed lowers rates, signaling us that hard times are ahead, well, what would you do? The correct answer is to spend. (This may not be the good thing for you personally, but it's the good thing for the economy.) The signals business and government give us are the determining factors in whether a weakening economy will turn around or falter. It's a matter of expectation and a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the Bush government has been giving us all the wrong signals. The rich love George Bush, because he gives them money. Everyone loves anyone who gives away money. But he signals hard times, thus depressing the economy. The rich don't care. They've got money. During a slow economy, they just use it differently, to prepare for the next boom, meanwhile accumulating more as the government acts to give it to them in the form of tax cuts. If, instead, the government would increase taxes and social welfare, like FDR did (and cut it back during good times, not bad, like Clinton did), business would get the signal that it needed to become more productive, stimulating itself to earn more money. Welfare during hard times stimulates the economy by giving the poor money to spend. Corporate welfare during hard times attenuates the economy by lowering business' incentive to produce even more efficiently.


Every now and then you run up on one of those days when everything's in vain . . . a stone bummer from start to finish; and if you know what's good for you, on days like these you sort of hunker down in a safe corner and watch.
Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Yesterday, I sat outside in the warm afternoon sun and wrote myself a message: "Start paying attention for a change! Snap out of it! Snap out of the doldrum winter existence mode, or the in-turned affect that is created by the transition into summer, and embrace the warmth with an out-turned mind. Refocus. Attend. Start searching for the 'messages' again. They're all over the place, even in the winter."

But today it rained. All day. And all day I slept. And this evening I'm back in a near-winter mode. Oh, well.

When you criticize someone, you cannot prevent projection. No one is that conscious. The more emotionally involved you become in the subject, the more likely the projection will be indicative of your true, but repressed feelings. (Some projections are superficial and reflect only loosely held or ambivalent beliefs.)


Martha Stewart is finally being indicted. I wonder why it took them so long? Probably because they had to do a lot of finagling and trumping-up first. It's significant, I think, that they're not charging her with insider trading, but with several secondary charges like obstruction of justice, making false statements, etc. It tells me that they're out to get her no matter what. Why? Well, because she's not a member of the "Old Boys' Club," of course. They've characterized her as an abusive, loud-mouthed bitch, and so they're going to get her.

But I have to wonder why the women's groups are staying away from this one. I guess the women's liberation movement is over, swallowed up by corporate capitalist concerns. When women's rights groups will not come to the forefront to defend one of their own, something's up.

I don't know how to feel about all of this. On one hand, I want to say that Martha is just another rich bitch capitalist and so who cares? But, on the other hand, I see the singling out and scapegoating that's going on. And anyway, I like Martha. Even if she is guilty of insider trading, I'd like to see that she has gotten away with it. Maybe then I could make up my mind and become disgusted with her. As it is now, I don't know with whom to be disgusted.

I'm feeling very conflicted. I want to work and to get this 'no news,' or 'alternate news' thing going. But they haven't yet cut off the cable, so I feel like I have to take maximal advantage of this interim period of corporate programming to absorb the free content before it goes away. And since we seem to be in a rare period of more interesting content (or maybe I'm more sensitized to it since I know it's going away), I'm glued to the tv to see what's coming up next. [But I am managing to do a few other things, like type out these ideas, at least during the commercials (and even a few of them seem interesting), thusly acting out the conflict.


I know I always say that "waiting is," and usually I really feel that way, but lately it seems a lot like waiting hasn't been. Nothing has been changing. The cable is still on. I hope they're not going to tell me I owe another month, and at the full rate. The days pass, one after another, as if life were consistent and predictable. If I were in another kind of mood, I'd appreciate this attitude. I'm going to tempt fate by chancing a proactive move: not quite today, maybe. Today, I'm just going to go out and do some shopping, and maybe go to the bank to deal with the mistake on the savings bonds I bought in April. (They spelled my name wrong.) But tomorrow...


Got the Savings Bonds taken care of, got the food shopping done, and went to Big Lots and bought a cheap CD player ($30), because my portable has been screwing up and skipping, intermittently. I also got a heavy-duty, foot-activated extension cord for only $2.99 (to replace the one I burned up by using it with the space heater), and, ta-da, washers for the sink. I finally found them. So, this afternoon, I fixed the sink leak. It only took me half an hour. Amazing what you can accomplish when you have the right parts.

And, on a roll, I went outside and fixed the leak around the standpipe from the basement. Also easy. It's supposed to rain tonight, so I can check it to see if that patch holds. While I was outside, moving between the upstairs and the basement, getting and replacing tools, Steve saw me and brought Jody over to introduce to me. Jody is staying with Terry. He's a nice guy, but both he and Steve are drunk. Jody leaves rather quickly, but Steve sticks around. His speech is slurred, and he's not making a lot of sense. But I intuit most of what he's saying.

After discussing my tilting front steps, a subject I brought up to get him off another subject--I can't remember what--he starts to tell me about another guy who's staying with him. I've seen him around, a younger guy, a friend of Steve's, he says. Steve complains about the fact that he's staying with them. He says it's kind of difficult to get any "lovin'" when there's someone sleeping on your couch. A little bit more than I wanted to hear directly from Steve. I feign a bit of disinterest (although I am interested) because I have things to do and want to get them done while I'm still motivated. He takes the hint and leaves, but I wonder if the hint were assimilated unconsciously. That would be nice, to think that I can motivate him in that way without him knowing it, but in any case, I can motivate him, or in this case, de-motivate him.

Today started out so slowly, and it was all I could do to force myself to take a shower and get myself out of the house, and now I marvel at how much I've accomplished. There haven't been too many of these kinds of days lately. It's been raining for a while and I've just come up from checking the basement leaks. None. Major (if temporary) advancement. I set up the new CD player in the bedroom, and while I was at it, I rerouted all of the electrical cords, drilled new holes for the reading lamp to reposition it in the middle of the headboard, and drilled some holes in the shelving unit to bolt the shelves next to it to the unit so that they don't lean away and threaten to fall over. I've been planning to do that for a long time now. All of these simple little tasks that I've put off doing are now getting done. Depression is a bitch.


I awaken after having slept for only about fifteen minutes. It's early in the morning, about three am. The tv is still on, not yet having switched itself off with the automatic timer. I half-hear a news report, something about our leaders doing something, or not doing something. I think "They're not my leaders." I realize I don't have any leaders. For the first time, I clearly understand that, in fact, the president is not my president. I've said this before, but flippantly, to express a sense of rebellion, but I've never really meant it. Or maybe I did, but didn't know it. But now I know: these people who claim to represent me, these senators and congressmen, the president and vice president, all of the politicians...they're not my representatives. They don't want what I want, not at all. They don't act the way I want them to act, none of them. I know, now, that I have no leaders.

I've never had leaders, really. I guess it could be said that, when I was working at a job, I had leaders, my various bosses. But not really. They were tokens, people I deferred to in order to keep my job. I considered a few of them, in their time, competent, and I chose to listen seriously to what they told me, at least until they proved to me that they didn't know what they were talking about, until the point where I advanced beyond them, learned what they knew and implicitly understood that they had no more to teach me. I always outgrew my leaders, when I acknowledged their influence at all.

Now, I have no leaders at all, not even token ones. I am leaderless. It's a strange feeling. I am my own leader, which means that I'm my own self. When we acknowledge leaders, we give away a part of our selves, we abandon control over functions that we should be doing on own our. When people like the president choose to bomb people in the name of others, we allow it, by acknowledging him as our leader. Fuck him. I don't bomb people. I don't starve or disenfranchise people. I don't take people's money and give it to the rich. But if I acknowledge this country's leaders, I have to admit to those practices.

And yet, I am an American. You can't take that away from me. I was born here. But then, so were the Indians. Ashcroft wants the power to take away certain people's citizenship. Fuck that man! He's the one whose citizenship should be taken away. He's the threat to American security, not terrorists. Isn't that the way it always goes? That which claims to be our salvation is our imprisoner. [As is typical, I've gone way overboard again.]


Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think.
"Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff"
A.E. Houseman
But I don't have any ale left, man. And it's Sunday, and the beer outlet is closed, and I don't want to go down to the bar and pay a premium price for a six pack, so I make do. Since the humidity is high and my back is beginning to hurt, and the naproxin is barely working, and I don't have a beer kicker, I opt for the next best thing: bourbon. I got a bunch of old bottles of booze from my mom's house when she died, nearly ten years ago, and I squirreled them away in the basement. So I go down and get the bourbon out. I pour myself one shot and mix it with 8 oz. of tap water, rationalizing that it's the same as one can of beer. It's not, I know.

I've been thinking (more rationalization; this is not the kind of thinking that hurts fellows) that drinking a beer now and again, or even a glass of wine, is actually good for you. That's what they say. But who are "they?" Probably the brewers and wine makers association, disguising their message as news blurbs on tv. (Don't get me started on that subject again.)

As a plant-based food, olive oil is also a rich source of vitamin E and polyphenols, the same compounds that give red wine and tea their "heart healthy" edge. (Other vegetable oils contain some of the same nutrients, but because olive oil is produced by mechanical pressing rather than by chemical extraction, it's possible that more of these nutrients survive intact in the finished product.)
So, if an occasional beer or glass of wine is okay, then why not bourbon? Red wine has polyphenols, and beer has, what? Something. But hard liquor, I doubt, has anything beneficial going for it, except, perhaps, the stress-reducing effects of a pleasant mood, which is probably countered by the toxic effects of the substance itself.

Anyway, the stuff hit me immediately. It went straight to my head. It's been a long, long time. And here I am again, in quite a benevolent frame of mind. At least it's reduced the back pain. In fact, it's all but gotten rid of it. Now, inhibitions reduced, I'm ready to go back inside and fry up some slices of the boneless chuck roast I bought the other day, but have been resisting cutting up. Beef and booze. What else is important in life? Maybe a woman to spend some time with. Oh, well. Two out of three ain't bad.


I went up to Big Lots early this morning, as soon as it opened, because the CD player I bought last week started to malfunction. The display wouldn't light up. So I returned it. Now I'm back to scratch. Guess I'll either put up with the one I have (it works if you hold it upright, which is a pain in the ass) or see if I can find a cheap unit at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, or Best Buy.

While I was at Big Lots, I got two cheap extension cords (12 ft--$1.28; 2/6 ft--$0.94), because I'm tired of forcing biased plugs into old unbiased extensions. And I got a small bolt cutter for $2 and two four-ounce containers of cinnamon and two four ounces containers of chopped garlic for 48 cents each. Good deals.

Next, I went to Beer Minimum to get a case of beer. So for breakfast I had a huge hamburger that I'd cooked last night, topped with Swiss cheese, and a beer.

It's partly sunny today, and I'm fighting the urge to go back out again. I'm on the back porch, working, but I'm thinking it's vacation time. Summer's nearly here and I'm feeling the imperative. I have a note from the other day about fear that I never got around to writing into my journal. It seems I awoke one night to an idea that abandoning my schedule, which I had been doing, off and on, for weeks, creates a sense of loss of control, which then leads to a sense of fear about my future. I see now that this is the final phase of the transition between winter and summer. In summer, I have no fear. Everything comes easily. I tend to abandon my controls and live spontaneously. But in winter, if I do not establish strict control over my existence, I feel lost and out of sync.

Now, I feel like I'm at the beach. I'm sitting under my deck table umbrella with a beer buzz (it's still amazing to me that one beer will do it, and it seems to last so long) and regretting that it ever has to be winter. I really should move down south, way down south, like maybe the Amazon.

And one more thing. Over the past few weeks, I've been re-reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is my fourth or fifth time through it. The book is so much better than the movies. This is my summer attitude: a desire for freedom, from social constraints (it may seem like hiding inside is a form of escape from social constraint, but just the opposite is true: society constrains me, to remain inside), from cable, from corporate monoculture, from federal influence, from the universe's gravitational restrictions (that's, like, heavy, man), from the neighbor's bass, from schedules, from thinking in limited ways. I've begun a new novel. I begin all my novels in the summer. The ideas come easier when it's warm outside. Ideas flow like tree sap and harden into my outer shell. My physical existence is composed of old ideas. My life is filled with words that generate more words than normal people could create in long lines of conscious straight behavior. They accumulate in notes on paper until I am mirrored as pencil strokes. I think I'm not like ordinary folks.


Today I got an attitude back that I've been missing for a long time: I wrote in and edited my journal, and I posted several pieces from last month and integrated several pieces from an old journal into an ongoing project, which is a daily goal of mine that I seldom completely realize and which made me feel like I accomplished one small step toward some artistic purpose. I manage to do this sort of thing, piecemeal, every day, but for a long time I haven't felt like I'd been accomplishing anything. Today, I feel it.

My "daily report," i.e., the combination of writing a journal entry and posting an entry from last month to my website, is, like, my "work." It's like filing a "story" as a reporter. And the accumulation of material in projects (and/or posting "daily reports" from old journals) is, like, the daily quota that a working writer sets for himself in order to proceed toward a finished book. These two activities, both accomplished, make me feel like I have achieved my daily purpose.

It's too bad I know that a daily purpose is an illusion.


I don't want to achieve immortality through my work;
I want to achieve immortality through not dying.
Woody Allen
I know I'm going to die. I hope it won't be soon.
I hope there's an afterlife, but I don't believe in one.
I write, hoping to make some sense out of my life.
But all I seem to be doing is creating more confusion.
"Are you afraid of death?"
"No? Why not? Everyone's afraid of death."
"I died a long time ago."
"You must be afraid of it, 'cause you joke about it."
"Does joking mean you're afraid?"
"When you joke about death, it does."
"Well, maybe I'm afraid, but not of death."
"Why not?"
"Because either it's nothingness or it isn't.
"It's somethingness."
"Either way, there's nothing to be afraid of."
"What if you go to hell?"
"I won't."
"Are you sure."
"I'm certain."
"What about pain? What if you die painfully?"
"That's not death, that's life."
"Maybe that's what you're afraid of."

I don't believe in punishment for your "sins," except for here on earth, where I see people being punished all the time, as if they are in their own personal hell, having created it themselves. I don't believe in organized religion of any kind, or in the theories and dogmas they create. Culture and heritage is one thing, but religion is another. It makes you crazy; it makes you think totally irrational things, and mostly because you're afraid that if you do not believe, you will die and go to hell. You are going to die, no matter what you do. And you're probably not going to awaken in some other place. Religions want to make you feel inferior, so that they can control you. And so they play on your fear of death.

The great thing about Woody is that he recognizes his essential Jewishness without trying to make others feel inferior. He's open-minded to a point where he doesn't feel he has to adhere to religious superstition. Early on, in the sixties, I recognized a spiritual kinship with him. (Did I ever mention that I saw him once in NYC in the late sixties, crossing Broadway somewhere around 43rd Street? I wanted to say "Hi, Woody, How ya doin'?" But I was too cool.) This is what we need, rational artists who will try to spread the word. Woody, because the French love him, is trying to reconcile our countries. And the super-patriots are making fun of him and calling him a has-been. They have a lot of nerve, they who never-were. I like the French, I always have. If they have not liked me so much, because I am American, well, I understand. I don't like me so much sometimes for that reason. We need to spend a lot more time working out ways that we can get along and recognize each other's strengths instead of focusing on our weaknesses. But we won't, because we're human. C'est la vie.


It's ten-thirty at night and I'm wide-awake and want to work. I'm all out of sync, still. I moped around all day and intentionally didn't take a nap, even though I really needed one, so that I would sleep all night and be ready to get up early in the morning to go out shopping. But now I don't know if that's going to happen.

They came and cancelled the cable today. I didn't realize how addicted I really was. I spent several hours rewiring the tv connections and adjusting VHF and UHF antennas to pick up local stations, which is exactly not the point. I'm supposed to be doing without tv.

When I had the cable, the whole point of canceling it in the first place was that I felt that I had to watch it, to get my money's worth. Why pay for a cable if you don't watch it? Thus, it was logical that I cancel it. Huh? Anyway, I knew I was addicted, but I never considered the withdrawal symptoms.

Now, I want to occupy my extra time with diversion away from my thought processes. I've got to develop a strategy that takes me back to my pre-tv days. Silence and solitude. And reading when I want to be mentally stimulated. Mental stimulation via tv is an inferior process.

After I take a shower, I feel more relaxed. Now, I don't want to work. Now, I'm getting sleepy. Nightline is on with a fuzzy picture and a buzzy voice. I'm falling asleep not listening to it.


I slept all night, without awakening. I haven't done that in a long time. This morning I listened to NPR and the BBC on the Net while I did some computer work. I'm adapting, I think, but it's difficult to pay attention, to refocus to this different mode of input. I've been spoiled by corporate crap tv. I want to be spoon-fed the news in a repetitive fashion so that I don't have to pay close attention, knowing that, eventually, after repeated airings, it will sink in. And already I miss the good-looking newswomen. But it's all only make-up anyway. Smoke and mirrors.

I think that women who wear make-up are ridiculous, and some of them even look ridiculous, the ones who aren't on tv. Make-up for tv and movies serves a purpose, compensating for unflattering lights and shadows. But in real life, at best, women who wear make-up are caught up in a mindless social game that convinces them that they can't look good unless disguised or changed to pretend that they're someone else, a favorite tv or movie idol. Worse, the disguise reveals levels of low self-esteem and buried psychic pain.

I went out shopping at about ten-thirty this morning. Got food, of course, and then stopped by Big Lots for a ratchet drive screwdriver and socket set ($7.99), four more bottles of chopped garlic and cinnamon (might as well stock up while the price is right), a large bottle of freshly chopped garlic ($.99), a three-way adaptor for three-pronged plugs ($1.29), a Y-adaptor for three-pronged extension cords ($1.88), and a king-sized comforter ($19.99) with a matching pillow sham ($2.99) (The comforter I have, which I inherited from my mom's house when she died, is getting kind of threadbare.)

Back at home, I declare a vacation day.
"I'm on vacation."
"How long are you on vacation for?"
"Until about sometime in 2010."

After a brief stint on the computer, I make a cup of coffee, grab my book, and go out back to read. But that evil book (Fear and Loathing) is putting ideas into my head. After a few chapters, I go back inside to get my laptop. I begin to think again that I'll continue to write the Matson saga. And while I'm inside, I dig out the old hash pipe and a miniscule amount of remaining stash of homegrown that I have hidden away in the back closet, untouched for years.

Three hits later and despite its age, I realize the stuff still works. Colors. I haven't noticed real color in so long. And spaces. Spatial perception. I really am an artist, but deprived of my former artistic insight. No wonder I can't create visually any more. And that heady, fuzzy, tipsy feeling that has pretty much disappeared from my life, except for the few minutes after awakening from long, deep sleeps. And that laid-back, lazy feeling, like what could possibly be so important as to want to do it now. And that heavy pounding of arteries and veins that is perhaps exaggerated by attention or perhaps genuinely pathological in me, but unnoticed in a "normal" state of mind. And that breathlessness that precedes heart skips, which precedes a loss of rhythm. And that feeling of paranoia, that I'm going to have to go to the hospital again, which is going to cost me two thousand dollars a day and throw my financial situation into chaos. And that sense of foolishness that is a more recent phenomenon that caused me to wise up and stop drinking beer and coffee and smoking pot and PCP, and snorting coke, and popping meth and dexies and THC and... Maybe I'll stop this right now, before it's too late, and just pretend I'm high, and try to induce a sense of altered consciousness via social expectation and suggestion, and go back to protecting my health while secretly acting as if I'm Raoul Duke instead of actually being him. I'll do what the women do with their make-up and compensate for my low self-esteem with mirror sunglasses, flowered shirt left-over from my army stint on Oahu, a half-pint bottle of vodka in my back pocket that has been emptied into a almost empty quart of old tequila in the basement and refilled with water, and a happy, distant, knowledgeable stare that people mistake for experience, indicative of being somewhere else while my body remains on this level of existence, out of which I am brought when someone dares speaks to me too long, requiring my response. It's been a long, long time since I was way too cool for my own damn good.

I've got to settle down and get back to a place of stasis again. As I type I occasionally put my fingertips to my neck and monitor my pulse. I haven't felt like I had to do that in years. Over a period of five or ten minutes (time is a bit distorted) I feel at least three separate missed beats. My back aches in that way that it used to, not really feeling any different than it always is, but attended to more readily and with a finer sensibility. I go back inside to take some naproxen, hoping that it will reduce spinal inflammation and perhaps save me from an episode of arrhythmia. Nostalgia. Yeah, there were a lot of good times way back when, but there were a lot of bad things too. Bad craziness. All in all, it's a wash, and I'm a whole lot more aware now.

But life is more interesting under the influence. I may seem to act no differently, and it may be a fine distinction, but laziness is not ennui. I want to say that walking along an edge, balancing mental interest against physiological stability, is a valid strategy. But that is only true if you do not cross the line. If I end up in the hospital again, I'm going to be kicking myself in my metaphorical ass.


Let me make one thing perfectly clear: there is no such thing as a lame personal website. [P]ersonal websites...are an expression of the person. They are something the person wishes to say about themselves [sic] to whomever is truly interested. They are usually not intended to engage the population at large and keep them fascinated with the subject matter. To deride their [sic] website is somewhat akin to deriding the person themselves [sic], which is the normal pastime of those who are too feeble of mind and vision to be able to see the real value in other people. Such a shame; they are doomed to miss so much of the wonder of the world, unless of course, something opens their eyes.
Vince Barnes, editor
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Conventional writing is so narrowly defined that, being a conventional reader, you are programmed into thinking that alternative forms of "literature" are trash writing, not valid form and content at all. This is not the intent, just the result, of publishers when they try to homogenize the output in order to maximize profits. It's not that even they want alternate writing to go away. They'd love to publish it, if only it made money. Everything else being equal, they'd have it compete, so that they could lap it up and extend their profits even further. But it cannot compete, because by the very nature of homogenization, it is excluded. It's a circular argument, made more profound by current marketing practices that tend toward hyping only the money-makers with the most potential.

Writers, even truly postmodern writers (not the ones who write for tv and movies; they aren't true artists, but pimps and whores) can't become known in the postmodern world, except via postmod, popular means unrelated to writing, which they may then translate into a small audience by means of the renown gained elsewhere.

And yet there are great writers who write alternatively. But even that can be a ruse. "Poor" writers, ones who use bad grammar or disconsider grammar altogether, can have every bit as much important ideas to communicate as mainstream writers have--maybe even more important ideas. Their material, mostly unpublished or marginally published (i.e. on personal websites, reflects a far larger segment of society than that of mainstream writers, who, it is supposed, perhaps correctly, are chosen to lead the world into the future. But mostly, what they end up leading is other writers who, wanting to be successful, follow their example and "create" "new" works of similar form and content, trying to swim out into the mainstream.

Alternative writers are, thus, criticized and ridiculed by the mainstream, and even by other alternative sources, for being, at best, dull, when what they are, really, is representative. They used to be considered outlandish, or obtuse, or unrealistic (in an age of realism), and they still are; but the most (post)modern of them are now disconsidered as irrelevant and boring, when it is exactly this avant-garde group that produces the most relevant material, the future of ideas. The most profound example is "The Dullest Blog in the World," a parody of the phenomenon it represents. It is, at the same time, a satirical and serious expression of the movement. It emulates unknown writers who express themselves in online journals, and some readers take it seriously, and some do not, but all who respond via posted comments represent a further extension of the phenomenon.

What these people and the various other contributors to similar and non-similar formats have in common is the idea that they have something worthwhile to say that isn't being adequately expressed mainstream. And it is the advent of the Internet that is responsible for this wider ability of human expression. It's a people's medium, first and foremost, despite corporate attempts to gobble it up.

I read this stuff and appreciate it, far more than I appreciate publishing house material. This is the forefront of expression, the true voice of the people. Any more, we don't so much need spokespeople to publish on our behalf. We have the means to say it all ourselves, and if you don't want to listen, if you want to continue to think that our mainstream writers are adequately expounding our social problems and concerns for us (did they ever?), well, then, go ahead and believe what you want to believe. There's plenty of room for your mainstream ideas to flow, like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic that everyone thinks is so great because it warms Great Britain. But the world of self-expression is a bigger ocean. I listen.


I feel like I'm in control when ideas are not backed up, when I'm all caught up and documented. Real control, if it exists at all (and I very much doubt that it does), would be that time when everything is "caught up," when all planned projects are completed, the grass is cut, the hedges trimmed, the barbeque wire-brushed, scrubbed, and ready for the next round of steaks, all of the porch and deck furniture neatly arranged and squared off, the house with a new coat of paint, every carpet in it vacuumed to perfection, all surfaces dusted and waxed, and you went to church on Sunday morning and prayed for peace in the world.

But let's get real: that reality doesn't exist. There are always projects to be done, if only in your head. I put mine on paper (or in pixels). That's how I exorcise my demons. If they're spelled out in black and white, I'm in control. When I'm feeling a bit chaotic, I make a list of things to do, and then I feel okay. I have a plan. Never mind that the plan will never be completed, and probably never even started. I made the plan, I put the ideas in order, and now I feel just fine. I'm back in control again. I know what to do, even if I never actually get around to doing it.

Today, I feel like I'm in control again, especially after having written this all out. I'm okay until the next time I awaken in the night out of dreams that inform me that, after all, I can never do enough to make my life correspond to that ideal that is conjured up by my superego while I've been focusing my attention elsewhere, making lists that it has surreptitiously populated with impossible ideas. Other than the sleep and dreams, though, I am fine. But then, aren't we all? Well, no, I guess not. I should count myself lucky and leave it at that. I have a method that works to keep me relatively sane, and reality at bay.

Alright! Things are finally starting to come together, it seems. I'm reading prolifically again--and not only the "light" stuff like Fear and Loathing. I'm really getting into some heavy critical theory too, like Contingent Meanings, by Jerry Varsava, and it's starting to stimulate my intellect. It's been a while since that's happened.

And talk about heavy ideas, here's one for you. This just came to me out of the blue while I was watching two squirrels "play" in the branches of my neighbor's tree:

Male "wandering" (i.e., leaving the fold and literally searching for "adventure") is an instinct that enables diversity by spreading genes beyond the immediate clan.

I intuit this as I wonder if the two squirrels in the tree next door are related, adults from the same brood, cavorting incestuously. How do local animals find alternative mates?

I tend, any more, not to wander far afield. No wonder I'm living a celibate life. But spring is over and summer is nigh, and a not-so-young man's fancy is turning to...observation:

Late Afternoon

A wide-eyed rabbit dines on clover on the lawn.
A squirrel gathers some unknown feast in the tree above it,
climbing thin branches, swinging, settling, harvesting.
A chipmunk, checking to see if I have yet departed,
pokes its head out of its hole in the far end of the wall.
An oblivious vole, creeping along the same wall base,
freezes, having suddenly become aware that I am here.
Confused, it darts back, then forward, then back again,
finally making a desperate dash past me to get to where
it was previously going, while birdsong fills the air,
issuing from beyond the wall of trees that filter
golden sunlight into green. This is my summer life,
extended beyond the winter ego I become, when
the diversity I am retreats into protective dens.

Yesterday I set up the b&w tv in the bedroom to see if it could get a better signal than the color tv. And I did. But today I think that maybe it isn't the tv, but the location. So, I run a cable from its antenna to the color set, and I get much better reception. But when I put the b&w over next to the color set, I lose that good reception, but not all of it. It isn't as bad as it originally had been. So, I decide, it's a matter of position and antenna. (Duh!) And, something I forgot that I had known long ago: unshielded wires, and even shielded ones sometimes, act as antennas that can interfere with reception or make it better, as do electrical lines and even lamps or any nearby metal structure, even if they're not directly touching an antenna or cable. I move the cables around (the color set's antenna isn't shielded) until I get the best reception possible.

But it's still not good enough to record from. The VCR on playback will not consistently track the fuzzy signal, even though the tv that's monitoring the signal while the VCR is recording indicates that the signal was not broken during recording. Ultra-modern, "automatic" video equipment is engineered too precisely for use in a broadcast medium.

I move the b&w tv into the living room and find that I get lot better reception there (except on channel 53, which is my favorite local station). Next I move the VCR and hook it up in the living room, because I want to be able to record from PBS, which is near-cable quality on the b&w there. And it works! I want to test the VCR playback, but I can't record and monitor with the same wiring, because the b&w antenna take-off for the VCR is the same connection as the antenna input for the b&w and I don't want to be switching wires back and forth once I get the connection arrangement finalized. So, I get the small five inch tv that's been sitting on top of my old computer unused since I installed an AVI tuner in my new computer. I hook that up as a monitor for the VCR. It works.

Next, since I'm going to want to watch tapes in color, I go and get the color tv from the bedroom. This is a big decision, and it takes me a while to decide to do it, because: 1) I want to watch tv in the bedroom as I'm falling asleep, and the color tv is the only one with an automatic shut-off function; 2) channel 53 doesn't work in the living room; and 3) I want to watch taped movies in bed, not in the living room, where it's chilly in the winter.

But compromises must be made, I guess. I can use the electric space heater in the living room in winter. And I don't really need a tv in the bedroom, do I? I can read myself to sleep. It's a drastic decision, a completely change of lifestyle, but I go ahead and do it. After all, isn't this what canceling the cable was supposed to achieve in the first place? Actually, no. Not really. The primary purpose for canceling the cable was to save money, because the lame and repetitive content wasn't worth the cost. But I go ahead and make the move anyway. And I get even better reception on the color set when I wire it to the b&w antenna, except on channel 53. But still, when I do a recording test, I find that the signal is not consistent enough to permit playback without breaks. Shit!

By this time, I'm exhausted. It's eleven pm, and I want to go to bed, so I decide that I'll leave further experimentation until tomorrow. But, in the bedroom, lying there, no tv, I feel abandoned, bleak, and lonely. My favorite friend is missing. I go and get a book, but I find it boring. I run across my mind a list of books I am in the process of reading, but none of them seem any more interesting to me. I turn out the light and lie in the dark, but I can't fall asleep. My mind is actively searching for ways to improve the television situation. After about fifteen minutes, I get back up, go and get the color tv, and move it back into the bedroom, admitting that I'm a tv junkie.

But even with the tv on, I don't want to go to sleep. I've pushed through the exhaustion and am now only tired. I wonder if I could arrange the connections in such a way to have the best of both worlds, living room and bedroom. I realize that there's still a cable running between the rooms. The cable comes into the house into the living room, where it's split in three directions: living room, dining room, bedroom. I go back out into the living room to locate the cable to the bedroom and hook it up to the b&w antenna. It's difficult finding which of the three cables it is because they all run behind furniture wedged in place by bookcases. I begin to pull on the cables, and I locate the cable feed. One down, one to go.

I pull out the old floor model tv that stopped working a while ago and now serves as a tv stand for the b&w ala Jeff Foxworthy. Oh, no! I might be a redneck! I crawl behind the big tv and follow the cables to the last piece of furniture before the wall, a small end table stacked with seashells from a trip to Cape Cod many years ago. A three-tiered knick-knack shelf sits atop the table with even more shells on it. Everything is covered with a thick coat of dust. I yank on each cable, trying to detect movement at the wall, but I yank once too hard, and although I determine which cable is which, my action pulls the knick-knack shelf over and shells come crashing to the table and the floor. I resolve to clean it up later, tomorrow. That corner, in fact the whole room, needs a good furniture-moving cleaning anyway.

I plug the cable into the tv, hurry into the bedroom, and discover that it works. I now have the capability of watching PBS, WTAE, and a marginal WIIC in the bedroom via the antenna in the living room, and FOX53 via the color tv antenna in the bedroom. Next, I have to set it all up so that it receives through the VCR. To that end, I move the VCR back into the bedroom, connect a switchbox to the two inputs and run the output to the VCR, then connect the VCR output to the tv. It works. I arrange all of the wiring so that the best signal is achieved. Then I sit back for a few minutes and watch, flipping between channels, which is a bit difficult, because when I want to switch from one mode to the other, I have to: a) switch the tv to/from channel 3; b) switch the switch box that redirects the signal between living room and bedroom antennas; c) switch the VCR between VCR and tv mode; and d) if I'm in VCR mode, select the channel on the VCR. But it's worth it, I guess, especially since, usually, there's nothing worth watching on most of the channels anyway and switching between them, i.e., channel surfing, won't be an issue. It's now two am. I fall asleep with the tv on a rebroadcast of the local news.


When I create a work of "art," I allow you, for more or less brief moments, to see a scene, or feel a feeling, or hear a sound, or perceive a situation, or experience a relationship in a way approximating the way I have seen, heard, perceived, or experienced it--or imagined it, maybe, in the case of fictive art. This is the purpose of art, communication. Because we can't communicate well enough, directly, we artists--or at least we feel that we can't (and it's probably true), we create art.

Tonight I think to reconnect the cable to the tv antenna system because when I was playing around with it before, I noticed that I was getting a bleed-through of cable channel two, which is the Hallmark channel. I connect it up to the system with a splitter and I get a perfect cable signal. But the connection deteriorates the antenna connection, probably because of the way I've got it hooked up, with a number of different adaptors. I've got to go out and buy a simpler set-up. I wonder if they still sell rabbit ears.


There are human perceptions and activities that may occur only rarely, such as creativity. The association of ideas involved in acts--even small ones--of creative genius seem to imply substantial investments of brain resources. These creative acts indeed characterize our entire civilization and mankind as a species. Yet in many people, they occur only rarely, and their absence may be missed by neither the brain-damaged subject nor the inquiring physician.
Carl Sagan
The Dragons of Eden
I awaken today with the idea that I haven't been writing with the kind of spontaneity and freedom that I used to. (This is residue from having watched Ken Burns' American Stories on PBS last night.) Words used to flow like Kerouac's jazz writing, at least at times. Now, I ponder them and stumble over them, and hesitate starting to write at all, sometimes putting it off all day long, only to try to do it later in the day or night when I am not so keen as I am when I first get up. Now, I'm not brain-damaged--at least not in the usual sense of the phrase. But I sometimes get lost amid the distractions of life, and even if I had a physician/therapist, I doubt that (s)he could focus well enough on my psyche that (s)he would have the dedication and/or interest beyond mere practical workaday procedure to readily point out to me where I have gone off on a tangent.

[I realize that this is way off point re the quote above, which is concerned with how individuals use their brain structure both specifically and redundantly, but I'm trying to write a transition here and associate concepts with what I will write later--though not very well, I might add. And yet, I am managing to associate well again and thus stimulating a free flow of ideas. Yet, when I associate freely in this way, my writing is far less coherent, because I'm trying to pack too much into it to capture the free-flowing nature of my thought process, whereas when I write slowly and ponderously, "non-associatively," I am more logical and thus can be more conventionally understood.]

I haven't been doing a lot of things I used to, and that is not all bad (eliminating potential brain-damaging behavior of the past). The other day I realized that didn't go to bed at night the way I used to (when I even go to bed at night at all). I used to collapse into bed exhausted, not bothering to wash, brush my teeth, or anything. I realized this when, the other night, I had gone to bed and was watching tv and, when almost asleep, I remembered I hadn't brushed my teeth, so I got up and brushed them. When I was working at a job, I wouldn't have bothered; I was so stressed out that once in a prone position I tended to remain there, no matter what, even if I wasn't yet ready to fall asleep. Now, I get up at will, even when I'm tired, to do a thing that will motivate me.

It's said (on the Ken Burns show last night) that Thelonious Monk would go for days without talking to anyone. Shit. I got that beat, by far. But I admire the man for that. But I admire musicians in general. I so much want to express myself as a musician does. But I don't have the talent, nor the motivation to develop it. I express myself in words in this same way (but not so much lately), going over the same themes again and again, changing them slightly, or a lot, riffing, pure expression, not much more, spontaneous wordplay, repetitious day-to-day, or month-to-month, or year-to-year. I do have the motivation to develop this same method visually, and I'm going to get down to it one of these days, so that I can, when I choose, once a day or so, create a work of art in a few minutes to an hour that is viable and competent. Just wait. You'll see.

First thing today, I get the tape I recorded from the new tv set-up and I play it on the video cassette player that's attached to my computer, because that player has an auto tracking device that can be overridden by manual controls. I discover that even in auto mode, the player plays the tapes. So, I can record and watch tv. I might have to move the player into the bedroom if I end up recording a lot of tv programs, so that I can watch it on the tv instead of on the computer, but for right now I only plan to tape a few informational types of things.

Hey! Wait! I have a cable connection between the computer and the bedroom, via the living room. I can make that connection at the antenna junction between the cable and the antenna. I'm going to have to try that.

I think I may be changing my mind on this subject. Like, maybe the postmod journalists are right and the old school ones had been wrong. No matter. The point is valid, even if the logic isn't. The new journalists are still assholes, just like me. I took my original position because I fell into the trap of thinking that journalists should be something better, that they should aspire to a higher standard of evidence than the rest of the poor slobs who peruse the news. But they don't, and for the most part, they probably never have. Still though, I think I heard something on tv (now there's a good source) the other day in a story about what's-his-name that got fired from the NY Times for making up his sources, that editors used to require two sources before a story was printed. I thought, "What? You mean they don't any more?" I think that a minimum of two sources should be the least they should require.

It's like the justice system, sort of: juries shouldn't be allowed to convict people on circumstantial evidence. It's just not right. "Well, he probably did it because look where he was and how he was acting and the fact that he said he hated his wife, and the way his mother-in-law didn't trust him..." and on and on. If someone, or maybe even two people didn't see you do it, or if your fingerprints aren't all over the murder weapon for no good reason and you don't have gunpowder on your hands and clothing or you weren't discovered at the scene of the crime babbling with a knife in your hand that you didn't really want to kill her, then, by God, just maybe the circumstances are nothing more than coincidental. What about reasonable doubt? If I were on a jury (and I have been, and voted accordingly on this principle, and motivated the jury to find the defendant innocent, even though he probably was not), I would have reasonable doubt about all circumstantial evidence.

But then, the news is not a murder trial. So all I'm trying to say is, let's stop treating it like it is. If we're not going to adhere to "objective" standards, then let's just admit that all news sources are rags like the National Inquirer and leave it at that. Why have professional standards when everyone wants to believe that there is no such thing as objectivity at all, which I happen to agree with, by the way. And if it's true, then how can we be so self-righteous as to convict anyone of anything at all, either in the courts or in the news?

The answer to this dilemma, of course, is that we take a middle road between objectivity and subjectivity, and we do the best we can. Simple people (like me, sometimes, when I don't want to think complexly and coherently) want the world to be in black and white, but it's not. There's a lot of coloration. It's very easy to arbitrarily decide for yourself (or your readers) what the truth is and then set about to "explicate" it. But we live in a world of finely drawn gradations that defy such "objectivity." Nothing is true if it can be put into words, or at least into as few words as possible. The world is too complex for that sort of approach. A news story, to achieve the maximum objectivity possible, would have to be written as a novel, or at least, for the simpler stories, as a novella.

This is why Hunter Thompson gets to the truth better than the average newsperson. He allows himself to go off on tangents that seem irrelevant, but are not, when you consider that spontaneous association involves using a creative part of the brain that lies dormant when you try to be so rational as to limit yourself to the "facts at hand" and thus exclude much of the "story" that would provide a broader sense of truth. Sense of truth is what we're after here, I think. If we can never be truly objective, at all, then we might as well go for an intuitive sense that what we are reporting about feels right, that we are not just hacks who put in the time and crank out a specified number of words to fit into a daily column or a standard newspage format. But that's just all my own opinion, of course. There's no real objectivity to it.


Further thoughts on the tv antenna situation lead me to revise my current setup and want to put the switch box in the living room to allow me to switch between the cable bleed-through Hallmark station and the three local stations, sacrificing the fourth local--unless I buy another switch box or juggle cable connections in the bedroom when I want to watch WPGH. But, more importantly, I probably won't ever want to record that channel and the connection in the bedroom is a press-on instead of a screw-on anyway, which is what the connections in the living room are, screw-ons. Another solution is to replace the screw-on connectors in the living room with press-on ones. But I've been avoiding the most obvious solution of all: buy a good outdoor antenna. I wonder if they still sell them.

Standing at the kitchen sink with the hot water running, doing dishes in preparation for cooking lunch (breakfast, really), I get a heart palpitation, and then another, and then another, and they seem like they will not stop. They last for about ten seconds, which seems like a hyperbolic eternity--or at least, minutes. It scares me. I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. I can't afford that, so I've got to start being good. No more alcohol or caffeine. I had a cup of (real, i.e., not decaffeinated) coffee this morning. That's what must have done it. It's a shame. The only time I feel really good, about what I'm doing (anything) or about myself is when I've had a cup of coffee. Beer is easier to give up, because it doesn't do that for me, but only makes me lazy (and accepting of my less than productive fate). But coffee makes me happy (read "manic"). Oh well. Even decaffeinated coffee or tea helps a bit. It's the small amounts of caffeine in them.


Jim dropped off the dog yesterday in preparation for them going away on a week's vacation. And he brought his three remaining fish over too, a Zebra and two Tetras. I put them in the little two gallon aquarium that I got from that house we cleaned out.

An idea prompted by an e-mail: At one extreme, there is the young girl who finds "true love" (whatever that may be) in grade school with a neighborhood boy, dates him exclusively throughout high school, marries him a few years after graduation, and they live happily ever after and never get divorced. At the other extreme is the woman who has been dating all kinds of men since the first moment she had become aware of boys, and never having been able to find one she can tolerate, let alone love, somewhere in her mid-twenties she begins to complain about how there are no good men "out there." She has had "messed-up" boyfriend after boyfriend. Well, all I can say is, maybe, she should be looking in a different direction for the cause of her dilemma. Maybe it's not the men she's dating that are so "messed-up." I mean, at best, she's the one who's making the choices, right? And worse, maybe she's finding her own faults projected onto their male personalities. Or maybe she's the kind of person who will never be satisfied with anything, ever, no matter what. Or maybe she had a bad father (or some other kind of aberrant upbringing) and is projecting that onto boyfriends and expecting poor results ala a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever the case, accept responsibility for the way your life is going, honey. We all make our own lives what they are. There are no victims in this sense. Get over it, whatever it is.


Happy Midsummer's Eve. (Or should that be merry?) I celebrated the night in the best way I know how, in the spirit of old William Shakespeare himself, by breaking my hard-established daylight schedule and staying up way past midnight watching our postmodern equivalents of popular plays, i.e., movies [The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (stupid), The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (had to stop watching; as lame as the first movie, and I'd had enough of that kind of stuff), Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes (okay), Insomnia (great), and 28 Days (pretty good; cute)].


One of my brother's fish died, the littlest tetra. It hadn't been eating like the other two since he'd brought them over. All it would do was stay in one place and sort of quiver. Probably in shock from the move. I gave him an appropriate burial at sea (toilet).

I finally finished a new short story, "A Short Story is not Necessarily a Short Story." It's good to be back on track again, producing fiction. I'll post it next month, maybe. But maybe not. This one is conventional enough, in an odd sort of postmod way, that I might try to sell it first.


After canceling the cable, I find that I'm watching just as much tv as I ever have. And the quality of the broadcast channels' programming is no different than that of the cable channels. And my interest is no different either. Even the news programs have pretty much the same content, including the local news programs, which run national feeds half the time. I still get all of the same kind of information and "entertainment" that I had been getting before. My life hasn't changed at all, really. It would have changed, it had threatened to change, when I first canceled the cable and had not yet discovered ways to receive the broadcast channels without an antenna. But now, everything is back to "normal," except that I'm not paying out forty-five dollars a month. So I guess I'll keep it this way, for now.


Off and on throughout the afternoon my heart's been skipping beats. This phenomenon has not quite advanced to the stage of palpitations, but it's close, especially since it is so persistent.

I'm theorizing that it's the humidity, which is high for the temperature. (The higher the temperature, the more water the air can hold, so for any given volume of water, the higher the temperature, the lower the humidity.)

I had been drinking coffee and tea, a cup or two a day, but only decaffeinated, which means minimal caffeine, so I suppose that could be adding to the problem too.

And then there's the other cause, my back, which when the vertebrae become inflamed, puts pressure on the nerve bundle to the heart. But, although there hasn't been much pain (only a sort of ache), yet still it has been slightly bothering me.

I notice that when I come inside, out of the heat and into the cooler house, and I lie down for a few minutes, the skipped beats stop. It makes a good case for taking it easy (not that I need encouragement).

I've come to the conclusion that (my) life requires a balance that becomes more and more critical as I age. A little bit of this and a little bit of that is okay, so long as I don't go too far in one direction. My life has been one of big swings in opposite directions. Time to change.


Q. why do you think women tend to move between wanting sensitive caring men and "bad boy" types?

A. women want security and understanding and also adventure and excitement and it's hard to find these qualities within the same person. it's the same as why does a man want a hot seductive playboy bunny but also a wife and mother. you want security..something you can rely on and trust....but you also want adventure and excitement.

email from ana voog
I guess I've always felt that I'd rather be more of the adventurous and exciting type of guy than a secure and understanding life-mate--if I had to choose between the two. I'd rather be the guy that someone else's wife longs after than the guy who is (if only potentially) cuckolded. Most often, especially now, I'd rather that a woman love me from afar if she's committed to someone else than to love me less or not at all up close, when she will cheat on her mate in order to be with me and then struggle with her conscience re whom she should be with. This aspect of human nature, wanting two different (almost paradoxical) things from the same person, is the cause of a lot of relational strife. Better to settle for one and not the other. Better to be wild and despised or disregarded by most of the population than settled and accepted, because if you try to have it both ways, you're going to be despised or disregarded anyway. Actually, that's a good case for having it both ways. I guess you can't get around human nature.

More skipped heartbeats again today. It seems to be happening only in the mid-afternoon, when it's the hottest and most humid. Maybe I should resort to a mid-day siesta until the hot times pass. Sounds like a good idea, and not only for the hot times.


I never exactly knew what Gonzo journalism was. I assumed, based on my re-readings of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, that it was drug-addled babbling. But it turns out to be, I assume again, stories by a journalist written from a personal, rather than a "professional" point of view, the sort of thing I've been doing all along, except that my reporting, that is, my ostensible story focus, has been more about my own personal life instead of national or international events. So, as it turns out, I'm a Gonzo journalist--of a sort. I should have known that, but I didn't.

I'm starting to get into weeds. I'm developing an aesthetic for them. I have to admit that I've been brainwashed by middle American anti-values, carrying on a blind vengeance against weeds, weeding them out wherever I find them. But now, I realize, they're just okay. Some of them are even beautiful. If it weren't for social opinion (and potential bug problems), I'd let my whole lawn go over to weeds. But for now, I'll settle for confining them to the borders of the yard, the terrace that runs along my back patio, and the old garden beds that have been taken over by some sort of low-lying, broad-leafed ground cover.


Lawyers for the recording-industry trade group could be busy this summer, suing hundreds of people caught distributing copyrighted songs over the Internet. The RIAA threat is aimed at anyone swapping illegally gotten music. Even you."

"The RIAA, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to not only alienate their own customers but attempt to drive them into bankruptcy through litigation. So therefore they probably won't be able to afford to buy any music even if they want to," said Grokster President Wayne Rosso." [Wired News]

Critics say the music industry has declared war on consumers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says the lawsuit plan shows that the industry has lost touch with reality. [NBC]

This is nothing more than a desperate stab at intimidation. The RIAA doesn't know what else to do, so they're going to harass people until they get their way. What they hope to achieve is to break the back of Internet file trading, but what they're really going to achieve is to alienate millions of people, so that in the future, everyone will end up looking suspiciously at the organization, and the artists and labels they represent--if they don't already look at them that way, for their recent antics. Mistrust is no way to build a fan base, and anyway, the Internet is just the global counterpart of backyard swapping of songs taped off the air or vinyl. The real issue is will the government and/or the music industry desist from eroding away our right to privacy? Probably not.

I heard a report on the BBC yesterday about George Orwell. (It was his birthday, one hundred years ago.) The interviewee maintained that Orwell's time had passed, mostly because his visions didn't pan out because he hadn't taken into account the phenomena of capitalism and consumerism in America. Wrong. If you take his visions literally, then, okay, they didn't come true. (The interviewee maintained that they did come true, or almost, in Communist Russia and in Nazi Germany--or, more correctly, his books were allegories for those social movements.) But metaphorically, the things he wrote about still exist today, and in a more cogent form than ever. Big Brother is alive and well. And we seem to be getting closer to Newspeak every year, especially in America.

Attempts to prosecute Internet file traders play right into this oppressive corporo-governmental mentality. Yes, copying copyrighted music is wrong, even illegal (oooo!). But it's a fact of life, and it's always going to happen. But the corporations will be happy if they can stop most of it. As it is, now, they can't stop any of it. It's become a direct clash of wills between the individual and the corporations. This is the first time since the invention of the printing press that individuals have had an edge in the ongoing information battle with the "Lords of the Manors." When the lords prevail, the free Internet will be gone, and by that time, Big Brother Bush and his Big Bulldog Ashcroft, or their successors, will successfully ride herd over the individual citizens of Amerika--and probably the world, Islam included.

And while we're on the topic of individual freedom, "the Free Software Foundation believes that no piece of software should ever be 'owned.' " [] How about, as a compromise, allowing developers to "own" the software for the same amount of time as inventers "own" their patents? (Writers own their writing for their lifetime plus fifty years.] Or maybe that's the way it is already. I don't know. All I know is that "open source" is a great idea, and those corporations that oppose it are running scared. Why, it's a threat to the basic ideals on which our great democracy is based: the freedom to own things and make money from them! Where would we be if everyone started to give everything away for free? Well, in Utopia, maybe?

And yet another form of threat to freedom:

I agree, and if the move forces libraries to forgo federal funds, well, that's a good thing too. Freedom from federal influence can be a good thing sometimes.


I'm doing a lot more reading lately. It lets me learn about people without having to go out and actually meet anyone. Meeting new people is highly over-rated. Inevitably, after I've gotten to know them, even for a short while, I begin to see how they act out the needs that they can't fulfill within themselves (which, to my mind, is the whole point of life, to learn how to psychologically develop toward independence).

Everyone is running around trying to fulfill lame, usually psychological, needs. People use each other to this end. No one really wants to know who you are, for your own self. They want to know how they can manipulate you in order to satisfy their needs. This used to unsettle me, to realize this in any given instance. Any more, though, it just gets boring. Having pretty much given up on finding any direct and honest people in the world, I've turned to books. You don't find too many of them there either, but at least you know that they're not going to start trying to twist you around in order to get what they want.

I read books (and watch movies), hoping to find that one little bit of information that will act as a catalyst to precipitate a coagulate of art out of my solution of knowledge. Eventually, I'll hit upon a single idea that'll pull a whole collection of similarly related material together that previously defied unification. But what I'm really looking for is that one idea that'll pull my life together once and for all. I think that this is probably a futile quest, but I'll never give it up. If I did, what else would I do with my time?

Jim comes over to pick up the dog and the fish. One of the fish had died, the first day after he'd brought them. As he's leaving, he expressed interest, again, in the cap on the old pickup. I tell him that just that afternoon I had almost called someone to come and pick the truck up. He'd better hurry, I say, if he wants the cap. We measure it, to make sure it will fit on his truck. It will. He says that maybe he'll be over soon to get it. And then, as he's leaving, he says he might be over tomorrow. But I know he won't be.

After he leaves, at six pm, feeling an emptiness in the house in the absence of the dog, I decide on the spur of the moment to go shopping for some things that I'd been putting off getting for long time, not having wanted to go out. First, I go to Eckerd to check out the new teeth whitening products that are being marketed on tv: Crest Simply White, Colgate Night White, and Rembrandt something-or-other. They're all the same. I got the Eckerd brand, which contained the same ingredients; but later, when I will try it out, it will seem to be the same old stuff in a new package, but with a slightly easier application procedure, stuff that doesn't work so good, just marginally, and requires consistent application to achieve acceptable results, the claim about the effects lasting six months being just more hype.

Next I go to Home Depot and get: five fence posts to fix the fence that's falling down behind the shed; hand-operated (as opposed to electric powered) grass shears, to trim the various sections that I can't get to with the mower and don't want to be bothered getting out the weed whacker and running a power cord all over the place; duct tape, because my current roll is running low; a sink stopper for the bathroom sink (I've been looking for this, that is, the correct size, for a long time); and a box cover for the junction that box that we installed when I had that power problem a while back.

Next, I go to Michaels to check out some oil paint supplies, thinking that I might go with some professional techniques, like applying gesso, using a fan brush, etc., since I've been putting off doing some art projects until I went to check these things out. But I opt not to buy anything (it's all too expensive) and decide that I will continue to work with ordinary everyday household paint and equipment, when I do not have old oil colors, etc., thereby mixing mediums and doing whatever is expedient to get the image onto wood panels (instead of expensive canvas; I have a whole lot of old wood). It hardly matters to me that the less-than-professional supplies will result in a more rapid deterioriation of the finished "work of art." The important thing to me is the immediate effect, and the evidence that I have actually done something productive with my time. So, having made this less-than-professional decision, what excuse can I now use to avoid starting to paint again?

Visual art has always been a motive that has more or less eluded me. I can't seem to maintain a consistent work ethic. It's a matter of starts and stops, usually because, if it comes to a choice between art and writing, I choose writing. And there doesn't seem to be enough motivation for both. And writing expresses my inner self far better than visual art does. It captures the ongoing, stream of consciousness or "now" state better, for me. Yet I recognize that same state in artists who choose visual or graphic arts. I just can't seem to summon it in me when I set about to work at them. I always fall into the trap of thinking that (visual) art is a commodity, a product you produce, whereas writing doesn't seem so much to be that sort of thing to me. Writing is a process, an expression, an explanation, of who and what I am. Yet I know that art is not a product, any of it. Art is not a noun. You can't buy art. (You buy artistic residue.) You experience art. Art is a verb. When you create a work of art, you art. When you visit an art gallery, if you do it right, you empathize with the arting of the artist.

Back at home, I immediately set about to install the box cover. But it is not so easy. The old box that Jim had brought with him to install has a corner flange that's bent so that the bolt won't go in straight enough to allow the cover to fit on flat. I try pounding on it, but it won't straighten out. After much frustration, I finally get out the old standby, vice grips, and grab it and twist it back into place. Then I go outside and spend about half an hour trimming the grass from between my decorative
weeds on the terrace along the back patio. I carefully trim around the wild garlic, and the peppermint, and the lemon balm, hoping to cultivate them into spreading. But I give it up when I get over to the poison ivy. I don't know if I want to remove it or to just let it grow and learn to live with it, because it is a nice looking vine. But in any case, it requires more careful handling that simply hacking away at it with grass shears. If I decide to remove it, I'll need gloves and a focused, attentive attitude, and this evening I'd rather just wing my way through life and let it be.


Well, my next door neighbor has upped the ante again. The bass speakers in his car are more powerful than ever. I can barely hear the members of his own family screaming at him to turn the thing down when he test plays it in his driveway and reverberates the neighborhood like a whale communicating through the oceans of the world. I try to be understanding though, because I can see how the technology serves to gratify his need to counteract a low self-esteem. He can drive through a neighborhood and demand attention (which he probably interprets as respect; it's not) while influencing the core essence of every person within hearing (feeling) distance, which is pretty far, low-band sound waves being what they are. And who knows how far their influence reaches unconsciously. And when people get upset at him, he succeeds in jacking off the unhip public (who are mostly whitebread). So I try not to be disturbed by the phenomenon, because I want to believe that I'm cool too. But it's a struggle.

This evening, I decided to put new screen in the screen door. Bugs are getting into the house through the gaps in the screen, which doesn't bother me all that much, except for the mosquitos. I don't want to end up with West Nile or whatever the next manifestation of the final-day plagues will be. I remove the old screen, cut a piece of mesh from the roll that was in the basement, and begin the installation. But I discover that it doesn't hold so well. The mesh is kind of thin. The last time the screen door screen was replaced, my ex-wife did it. She's the one who bought this roll of mesh. But it's not the same as the stuff I took out of the door, so she must have thought that this stuff couldn't be used and went out and bought some heavier metal stuff. (This stuff is plastic.)

But I continue on anyway, and it goes pretty well, until the end, when the final few inches will not hold, which threatens to cause the entire screen to loosen up. So I turn to another old stand-by: duct tape. I roll up a one-inch length until it's slightly larger than the molding that holds the screen in, and I force it into the groove. It works. I go around the whole perimeter and slip shims of doubled over mesh underneath the molding in critical places, hoping it will hold it in place better. It still seems kind of iffy. But I put the screen back in the door, postponing cutting off the excess mesh until I'm sure it's going to hold, because if I cut it off and then discover that I have to do further shimming, and the mesh pulls out of the groove, I'm not going to be able to get it back in again. I should have doubled the mesh over on itself before I installed it. Lesson learned, except that I'll probably forget it before the next time I have to do this, some eight or ten years from now.

Then, I start to think: What can I use to seal the mesh/molding down that won't be impossible to remove the next time this needs to be done? I run as many substances I can think of through my mind, but only two seem like good possibilities: bolt-lock and fingernail polish. Bolt-lock will chip away when broken loose; but it's blue and will stand out like a dwarf on a basketball team. Clear fingernail polish might do the job, and it's removable with acetone (finger nail polish remover). So I add those items to my shopping list, along with a new handle for the door, which I tried to repair, but gave up on.


I'm sitting out back in a hard plastic lawn furniture chair, typing into my journal with my back and bottom aching, when I think that I should have a more comfortable way to do this, and then it hits me: Friday, when I was out at Home Depot, I saw a portable nylon and aluminum folding chair with two beverage holders, one in each arm; and it costs only $9.99. So I shut down the laptop, got a tarp out of the basement to cover everything up on the plastic picnic table, in case it rained, and I hurried out to Home Depot to buy the chair. (There were only two left.) And while I was at it, I got a door handle for the screen door, since I'm tired of pulling the handle off the every time I close the door; and I got a strainer for the bathroom sink drain; and I stopped at Eckerds and got a bottle of clear nail polish and some nail polish remover, so that I can seal the new screen into place to make sure it doesn't loosen before I cut off the excess screen at the edges.

I get back home, get a beer out of the basement (because I have to test out the beverage holders on the new chair), put the strainer into the bathroom drain, go outside and set up the chair and sit down and drink the beer. Then I go and get a smaller tarp out of the basement, because the one I got before is way too big. I figure I can put all my stuff on the chair and drape a small tarp over it, and then I won't have to schlep all my stuff in and out of the house every day. I can leave it all out in back until fall.

Now, I'm sitting in my comfortable chair typing this on my laptop. I'm slowly becoming more and more portable. Pretty soon I'll be going on the road, like Hunter S. Thompson in his heyday. (Yeah. I wish.)

This evening, experiencing a fit a mania that I should have recognized far earlier when I rushed out to buy the chair, I got out the hose, turned on the outside water, laid the two tarps out on the lawn, and sprayed all of the disgusting fetid residue off of them. Then I finished the screen installation by painting on the nail polish and trimming off the excess screen. And then I installed the new door handle. During this installation, it began to get dark, and the front porch light is burned out, and rather than take the time to replace it, I struggled with a flashlight, trying to hang onto it with one hand while I held things in place with the other and used a screwdriver with the third. After, I finished, I went and got a light bulb and replaced the porch light. The installation would have gone a lot easier had I done this earlier, but I have a conditioned aversion to breaking my momentum while I'm working on a project when I've finally got things going. When I interrupt myself, as often as not, I end up getting distracted and not finishing the project. I sometimes have problems finishing things. Motivation wanes.


"Suckhole," I was thinking by then. "Suckhole" is my friend Harry's word for a stupid accident that ends up altering the future you had in mind. Usually suckholes are minor: You go into a bank to get change, meet someone in line, and decide to have lunch. Or the bank is being robbed, and at the very least you have to be interviewed afterward by the police, and stand around for hours as some sergeant takes everybody's statement. Or you get taken hostage and held for so long that you decide to ingratiate yourself with the bank robbers by becoming one, and end up doing time, and so years pass before you find yourself back at the bus stop, dubious enough by then of the efficacy of your own beloved intentions to be carrying the proper change, at least.
Jim Paul, Medieval in LA
This morning, as I am about to get up, I experience a small suckhole, the first one I consciously recognize in the moment since I read about them in Jim Paul's book. A suckhole is any occurrence or event that disrupts your plans or normal routine by sucking you into some alternate activity, diversion, disaster, or whatever. As I'm lying awake at 11:30, ready to get out of bed, I hear a knock on the door. I quickly put on a pair of shorts and look out the front window to see my brother's truck. I figure he'd come to get the cap from my pickup. I'd forgotten he had called yesterday (actually Joyce had called, and then put him on the phone), reminding me that I had said that I'd "help" Jay with his final algebra make-up test, since he hadn't been attending school, but had been tutored, due to his problem; and in order to be moved on to his senior year, he had to complete a series of at home "tests."

Jim tried to read me the problems over the phone, but I couldn't remember how to do them, so he said he'd drop the book off this morning, which he does. He says that when they went up to Boston last week for a hockey tournament, they'd visited my sister (who's a teacher) and she'd helped Jay through most of the algebra, but they missed three problems (division of polynomials) because they didn't turn the last page over. [Jay will tell me, later this day when they come to pick up the results, that Dianne didn't know how to do them. So Jim was lying to me when he told me that they missed them. He probably felt he needed to say that to prevent me from feeling like I was being used, or something. This is just a very minor example of the kind of manipulation I was talking about the other day.]

As Jim is leaving, I point the new doorknob out to him. He asks me if that was my project for the year. He's joking, but it belies a hidden attitude: because I will reveal that I sometimes choose not to do anything, but would rather feel like I'm retired and on a permanent vacation, he believes that I never do a single thing and sit around all day cerebrating, which to him would be a fault. But I see through the agenda and realize that he's projecting, that he's the one who wastes his time, drinking and letting his business deteriorate. And he feels somewhat envious that I have the freedom that I do. [And I feel somewhat guilty, for the same, and so am overly sensitive to his jokingly critical comment.]

But after he leaves, I do get pissed, not about his attitude (well, maybe there's a bit of unconscious displacement here), but because these math problems have to be done right away because Jay needs to turn it in tomorrow. They do this to me all the time, as if I have no life and can drop whatever it is I'm doing (which is probably how they feel, actually) to attend to their minor problems. And not only that, but I object to actually doing the work, as opposed to guiding Jay through it, as I'm sure my sister did.

But then I get to thinking. What's become of me? Is this really me thinking this? [I know this should be "I," but I just can't bring myself to use that awkward grammar.] I mean, when did I become so goddam upright? Where did I get all this rectitude? There was a time when I wouldn't have thought twice about undermining the authority of the school district, or anyone, by "cheating" on an exam, or whatever. What's happening to my rebellious nature? And if Jay's own parents don't care if he cheats, why should I?

I start to do the problems, comparing them to the examples in the book, which is very sparse of instructions. I struggle through the first algebraic long division problem. It all starts to come back to me. I finish it in less than ten minutes. Then I get to synthetic division, and I can't figure out what the fuck is going on. It takes me more than half an hour to do a simple problem, but I finally figure it out. Simple, really. I seem to remember having done this in school. I breeze through the third problem and feel quite pleased with myself.

I was a whiz in math in high school and college and should have gone on in that field, but I floundered when I got to college and had to work hard at understanding the math as applied to advanced physics. I did okay in straight math, i.e., calculus, differential equations, set theory, etc., but physics got me down. I could do it, but it was too much work. And being on my own, I figured I could do anything I wanted to, so I switched majors, to psychology, and then to English literature, before eventuating back to psych to finish up.

Math was a nice exercise, but I wanted some meaning that math could not provide. If only I knew that the "answers," such as they are, existed all along in cosmology, which had been my original goal--astronomy that is, before I lost (or found) my way. I had that (pre)vision in high school, mostly unconsciously, but I forgot it when I discovered the freedom and the wherewithal to pursue the inner workings of my own mind. But now, I re-discover the pleasure of working math problems. I digga dis shit.

As I get up and down from my chair at the computer and transit easily into other parts of the house, I realize that I miss the dog. I don't really miss her; that is, I don't feel like I want her back. I don't. She's just okay; she's not so much of a bother, if you discount having to clean up the crap in the yard; but I can live without her. But I'm aware of her absence, of not having to step over her because she lies immediately behind the chair in the office when I'm working, or because she lies immediately next to the bed when I'm sleeping, and when I get up and swing my legs off the bed, there she is, underfoot, and not moving unless I prompt her to, which I don't want to do, disturb her sleep, and so I have to put a foot in exactly the right place to avoid stepping on a paw or tail.

But most poignantly, I miss the presence. I awaken in the night thinking she's still there, feeling a living being nearby, only to realize that it's an illusion--or a projection of an unseen reality onto a memory. I used to feel that all the time, that unseen presence, and I can elicit it at will, awakening in the night or in meditation; but usually I don't, because I know (or theorize) that it's an illusory phenomenon, "proven" by the experiments that sleep researchers did by wiring up subjects' brains and stimulating certain cortical areas, causing them to feel the presence of an "alien" being. I wouldn't mind experiencing this kind of thing, "seeing" ghosts, or aliens, or spiritual phenomena, or whatever, and I know that I can (I have; but that was under the influence of psychotropic drugs), if I so choose, but I don't want to be deceived, especially by my own brain. I'm deceived by it enough as it is, when I don't realize that unconscious activity is going on that causes me to act in certain ways in which I would not otherwise want to act.

Richard McNally: We would ask them how did these things [alien abductions] begin for you and the typical example, the person would say, Well, I was lying in bed one night, lying on my back and suddenly I woke up a few hours before dawn, my eyes opened and I noticed suddenly that I was totally paralysed. I couldn't move at all, I was terrified. I suddenly felt a presence in the room, there were figures looming around my bed, lights flashing sounds buzzing. I could feel electrical sensations shooting through my body, and my body seemed to levitate off the bed. This of course would appear to us to be a classic example of sleep paralysis with hypnopopic [hypnogogic?] - upon awakening - hallucinations. Kind of dreaming with your eyes open.

Robyn Williams: This is common, is it?

Richard McNally: Sleep paralysis itself occurs approximately at least once in 30% of the population but the full experience of the paralysis plus the hallucinatory phenomenon has occurred from approximately 5% of the population. It's no more pathological really than having a case of the hiccups; it occurs when people have their sleep thrown out of sync--you know, jet lag, taking naps in the day and so forth.

I remember a time once when I awoke to this experience, when I had first moved into this house, shortly before db had moved in with me. This place had a strange atmosphere for me then, and I wasn't at all comfortable with the locale. During the day I would work in the backyard and everything would feel fine, but toward evening I began to feel differently and didn't like to be out there. The bedroom looked out onto that area, but I never liked to look out there. On the night that I awoke, paralyzed, unable to "wake up," despite the fact that I was well aware that I was awake, I felt like someone was nearby, I felt a sort of "presence." This was long before I'd become familiar with the "presence phenomenon." I thought someone had come into the room, and I lay there perfectly still (what else could I do?), observing as best as I could in the dark until I was certain that I was alone. But the feeling persisted. Eventually, I regained the use of my body, but the feeling of a presence didn't go away so easily.

I felt this same presence at other times and thought that the house might have a ghost, especially when I'd get these strange phone calls from an old woman who would, if anything at all, say only one indecipherable word and then hang up. (Something she would just breathe lightly, but with a slight rasp, so that I assumed that it was this same wpoman who would sometimes make strange terse remarks; the phone number did not come with the house; it was a new number.) This went on very infrequently for about a year, and then it stopped, along with my "fear" of the place at night. Then, a long time later, shortly after my mother died, I got a similar call. The caller, an old woman, said only one word, "Joe?" as if she were asking if it were I who was answering. I felt as if I were standing near a Tesla coil. I listened intently, not daring to speak; but the caller quickly hung up. I thought it might have been my mother, calling from another world. Only later did I remember the calls I used to get when I first moved in. Hmm. Maybe it was my grandmother.

I could easily, back then, and even now, allow this kind of experience to convince me of the existence of ghosts or aliens or angels. But as Bill Murray says in Ghostbusters: "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

Richard McNally: Oh well it's very typical. I mean you'll find that the lights flashing, and hearing sounds, people walking around the room and figures in the room: the phenomena is [sic] very similar but the interpretation of the phenomena differs. So for example this phenomenon is doubtlessly the basis for belief in ghosts and in Europe and the Middle Ages the incubus, the succubus, these agents of the devil that would visit people at night and sit on them and suffocate them and so forth are common interpretations. In Newfoundland they call it 'being visited by the old hag'. In the southern United States it's being 'ridden by the witch', and so you have this psychobiological phenomenon that gets interpreted in diverse ways and the alien abduction encounter is only one of them.

My favorite theory is that it is mental contact with people who are alive--well maybe some who are dead too--people with whom you have a psychic kinship, or a (meta)physical one, as when (the theory goes) we transcend our ego-existence and rise to a higher form of consciousness where we share our thoughts/perceptions with other "lower level" life forms whom the meta-being also incorporates.

But what do I know. I'm a weirdo radical psychologist.

This evening, continuing the productive strain I've been on, I finished the grape vine arbor that I started building last year (after an abortive attempt the year before). If I go to heaven, if there is one, which I doubt, God, or someone, is going to stand me up in front of people and say "Look at this guy. This is what you should have been doing with your life." I'm sure He'll also have occasion to use me as an example of what people should not have been doing, but in this specific case, He will tell people how I did not waste resources, but conserved and hoarded and used other people's "trash" to maximize my opportunities here on Earth.

I think of this as I finish my vine arbor. I needed a top for it because the vines were twisting, bending the two uprights, and I couldn't get the vines to stay up on top, as they kept sagging with the bending uprights. So I looked for a piece of wood to top the structure, but I couldn't find one that would stay in place on the pointed uprights. So I went down to the basement into my wood stock and I found a piece of right-angle molding that I had salvaged from some scrap wood that someone had given me to burn, and it turned out to be exactly the right length. The angle fit perfectly on top of the pointed poles, and I tied it in place with twist ties, since after the vines grow around it, they will provide a more permanent attachment. Now, I've got the vines rerouted up over the top of it and I can walk up the steps and through an archway of vines. If I hadn't had that piece of angled molding, I wouldn't have been able to complete the project.

And just before it got dark, I began digging up all of the sassafras that has been sprouting all over the yard and in the garden beds that I've been keeping cut down to avoid having the yard overtaken by the huge trees. One tree in front of the shed that I didn't cut down soon enough has gotten so big and leans at such an angle trying to get out into the light from under the shade of the larger trees in the back lot behind my house and in the neighbor's yard that it threatens to collapse and land on top of my or my neighbor's house. I wish I had cut that down when it was small.

Anyway, now I have a supply of sassafras roots for tea, but it's not enough to last me through the winter, so I/m going to have to dig some more.