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getting it back

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The improvement in the left shoulder is helping with motivation. It’s a bit depressing to find out that I had lost a lot of deadlifting strength, but on the other hand, it is wonderful to pick up a weight that feels heavy and not feel anything weird in the shoulder joint. So I’m trying to see this as opportunity — first off I will get to enjoy the rapid strength gains that one sees when the nervous system gets to remember how to recruit muscle fibers. Second, now that I know I’ve made a fair amount of progress with hip mobility and that I’ve loosened up my hamstrings some, maybe this is an opportunity to have better form when I deadlift and that better form may eventually translate into better strength gains. Maybe not either. That’s just speculative.

Right now the plan is to try to lift 3x a week, and alternate between a workout with deadlifts and a workout with zercher squats. With 2 of those workouts, the Tuesday and Saturday ones, I will also throw in some dumbbell swings, and a few dumbbell snatches. I can’t snatch yet left-handed because my left arm won’t get vertical enough yet, but I just want those explosive swing and snatch movements to help with how fast I can fire my hips. They might also help with regaining some of the power I’ve lost in my golf swing. I really hope that if I put the work in on this, that the strength and flexibility gains will show up in better distance with how far I hit golf balls.

—-

I saw The Adjustment Bureau for the first time recently. It’s a curious movie, maybe not as good as it could have been, and I didn’t feel that Matt Damon gave all that charismatic of a performance. He seemed very flat somehow to me. But I suppose the most interesting aspect of the movie to me was the conceit in it, one which I suppose I sort of dream about although my cold and rational side realizes it is purely fantasy, is the idea of a love meant to be, one so transcendent and fundamental that it can’t be stopped, that nothing can get in the way, not even an Adjustment Bureau trying to make alterations to keep individuals from getting off-plan.

I don’t really think there is any such thing. Or fate. Or destiny. We’re just kind of accidental along with being inconsequential. But the idea of a love that fundamental, that strong, it’s a seductive dream, isn’t it? I think there aren’t that many that don’t dream of someone they can love without reservation, without fear, without worry. And have that love given back. I imagine that there haven’t been that many couples of who loved another from early on after first meeting til death parted the two of them. Life’s too complicated for us to be perfect and life is too imperfect for us to be perfect.

But the eternal love idea is deeply embedded into our myths, our fictions, our stories, tales, movies and music and so much more. It is used to sell us products. It has been written about so many times and yet we don’t get sick of it. At times we might feel rather despairing over it, maybe especially if we have a breakup from a relationship that had once seemed and felt like it might be that one amazing transcendent love, but sometimes we get suckered into watching another movie about it or reading another story.

Perhaps the lesson is that as human beings we are suckers for fiction. And that drives our thirst for stories and movies. In fiction, we can sometimes see our better selves, the ones who don’t fail, the ones who persuade a bureau officer to lend him his hat and give the ability to jump from place to place and find the woman he loves. The one he was destined to love in spite of the interference by beings with powers that approach godlike.

Of course, in real life, it ain’t God or anything creating that interference. It is our own imperfections, our weaknesses, the fictions and lies we repeat to ourselves, the dreams we think ought to be real, but will never likely be because we just aren’t that amazing or that good. I sure ain’t amazing and I sure ain’t good. I’m too tightly wrapped up into my own self and that makes lots of people uncomfortable with me and also means that I really don’t interact all that well with others.

—-

Today’s one of those dreary winter days. A light snow/rain mix is falling. I woke up around 4 AM and only semi-dozed til the alarm went off at 5:30. Then I got up and went to make coffee along with dropping a roast beef in the crockpot along with potatoes, onion, carrots and celery. So hopefully that will make for a good hot meal when I get home after work and after I do my planned workout with zercher squats, some swings, and snatches.

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that thawing shoulder

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I just found out that I can put a barbell overhead again. Well, almost. I can’t quite get my left arm back far enough that my head gets through my arms, but I did lift a 50-lb barbell up. And that’s a far sight farther then what I could do with the left arm a year ago, or even 6 months, or 3 months ago. It’s such a relief to feel the shoulder coming back that I could almost cry about it. External rotation is still the worst with the shoulder, and I remember it being like that with the right shoulder when it froze up and then thawed out years ago. Still, overall I feel very much like the shoulder is getting into the home stretch now and 4 to 6 months from now I should have back almost all of my range of motion.

Also I noticed the other morning I can get both hands on my hips. The left shoulder still lurches forward on that, but a few months ago I couldn’t do that, couldn’t get my left hand on to the hip.

In addition to the shoulder slowly coming back, I’ve also been making progress on hip mobility. I’ve been working on the various stretches and can definitely reach a bit better than before, can turn my trunk a bit more, and maybe feel a sense of freedom there which has not been there for a long while.

—-

Still haven’t matched that 80 I shot on the golf course back in October. But I’m still pleased with the progress I’m making in understanding my swing, plus I’ve gained some better insight on the effects I suffered while playing through the frozen shoulder. One aspect I understand now and have to work on keeping out of the swing is that restricted left shoulder hurt my followthrough. I had a tendency to shorten up on it to avoid discomfort in the left shoulder, and that sometimes caused me to spin my hips in a circle and when that would happen, I would pull the ball well left of the target.

But now that the internal rotation of the left shoulder is getting better, this past month I’ve had another little glitch creep into the swing which was driving me crazy some for a few rounds — I began having trouble with a shot that was blocked to the right. Way right. Terrible. I finally figured out what was happening when I asked myself, “Okay, so how does the ball go that far right?” The answer of course has to lie in the direction that the clubface is pointed towards. So if the ball was going right, the clubface had to be getting opened way right. And then I finally felt what was happening in one of my swings. I pulled the club back, tried to maintain a sensation of the back of my left hand to the target, but on the transition I would lay the club off. I lost the flat left wrist and bowed it back some along with the clubhead dropping towards the ground. I would then pull the club through on a nice inside path but with the clubface wide open the ball would balloon out to the right. Or sometimes I tried to unconsciously save it, maybe make clean contact or maybe overcorrect and hit a duck hook to the left. So the lesson was pretty obvious for me, stop laying the club off. I’ve focused on that the last couple of times out and I’m getting much better contact again.

And now with the ways I’ve improved how I think about the swing, how I select targets, I’m almost always having at least some shots which go almost exactly like I imagine, I will have a couple of shots which go firing right at flagsticks that are open to being aimed at directly. I’m gaining an increased confidence that I can aim at things on a golf course and hit the ball to them. Especially now that I’ve identified how that laying off move had set me back some.

Of course, I still don’t make perfect swings every time, but I’m getting closer to removing most of the bad ones, getting closer to where I won’t string together a series of bad shots. There will still be bad shots, but I feel more and more like I can get back on track quickly.

—-

I got a haircut last week. There’s nothing amazing or unusual about that, except for one small detail. During the haircut, while the stylist used the clippers on me, she would put her left hand on my left shoulder. That brought back a flood of memories about the few times I have had women who I would allow into my personal space like that. It was almost sad at how much I enjoyed a sort of voyeurism into my own memories about how good it would feel to be touched by someone who wanted to touch me. I’ve seen stuff that says that people who don’t get much physical touch from others can be deprived in some ways and that it can influence them in negative ways. Has that happened to me? Has it always been that way? I don’t know. How can I know?

It doesn’t really matter in the end. No one is guaranteed happiness, and maybe there are some who are disadvantaged in certain ways to find happiness only in fleeting moments or instances. I hope I’ve tried and done my best when I’ve had opportunities. But maybe I haven’t. Who knows? Is it possible for me to answer those questions? Or anyone else really? There are no hard and firm answers there, and a grave difficulty is that in a world where people can lie, they can lie to themselves just as much. You can’t escape the problem of self-deception, it’s always there, it’s always in how we look at ourselves in the mirror — it is never a true portrait.

Oh well, maybe tonight I’ll sleep okay enough, will feel warm in a cocoon of blankets and find tomorrow to be fair enough.

cocoons, chili, wine

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Maybe it was a month or so ago that I woke up middle of the night and found that I had kicked off my blankets and I was only under a single sheet, nearly shivering. I retrieved the blankets and felt a sense of relief as they trapped my body heat, eventually giving me a nice cocoon of warmth that I, for a while, didn’t quite fall back asleep inside of, instead I sort of drifted along in a half-awake and self-hypnotized state. Staying warm like that has become a bit more imperative this year. For unknown causes, there’s been a shift in how I perceive temperatures this year. I noticed it beginning over the summer when I began finding it uncomfortable to sleep without a shirt and bare legs too — my legs and feet would get to feeling chilled.

This change also led me to buying an additional blanket for the bed at night. We’re getting some colder nights now and when I woke up during the night Saturday into Sunday, I found that the cocoon wasn’t quite enough, that sensation of my legs and feet being cold. So I bought a blanket yesterday and it made the difference last night.

Getting older.

—-

I tried a couple of wrinkles with the chili I made yesterday. In keeping with my recent experiments using wine as a recipe ingredient, I put in a cup of petite sirah wine to see if it would pair off with the flavor of the hamburger. Other ingredients included honey, peanut butter, dark chocolate, onions, celery, a green pepper, a cubanelle pepper and pinto beans along with spices, seasoning and tomato sauce. I put it enough spices to give it a bit of zing, but I was more interested in creating a sweet kind of chili. So there was a fair amount of honey added to it.

I think it was pretty successful and you can catch a hint of the red wine in the flavors. The little bit of zing from the spices go nicely with the sweetness from the honey, dark chocolate and petite sirah.

Later, I went googling to see if there were other people making sweet chilis. Most sweet chili results were about sauces from Thailand. There isn’t so much about sweet chilis which are soups or stews.

I suppose though if this experiment taught me one thing, it’s that raisins in a chili recipe might not be so crazy as I first thought when I heard of the idea. Raisins will carry much the same flavors that a red wine would, obviously. But I still couldn’t bring myself to use raisins in a chili I would make — I’ve never liked them much as kid because of their texture.

Besides, I can be all snobbish and talk about how I can create an amazing chili with wine. You just can’t be snobbish with raisins. They’re wrinkled food for kids. Wine is for the adult palate, and even someone as unrefined as me can appreciate their nuances sometimes.

mid-September

September 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The shorter daylight is becoming rather noticeable. I wake up on workdays and it is still somewhat dark, and now not long after 7 in the evening, it is dark. So we’ve begun our descent into darkness and the eventual depths of winter.

I’ve now bowled 3 nights in the league I’ve joined and so far there is no any profound sign of improvement. I’m averaging around 125 per game. I like some aspects of bowling — trying to develop a routine, developing a consistent release and choosing a place to aim each roll of the ball. I like those, that’s a challenge I can enjoy and think about. My biggest struggle with the game is the environment of the bowling alley — it’s loud and there’s a lot of distraction going on. That doesn’t mean bowling is bad or wrong or anything, it’s just that those are aspects to its environment which are very stressful for me, and leave me feeling rather whacked-upside-the-head by the time league night is done. For other people, that’s exciting and good, it energizes them.

But I’d definitely like the sport a lot more if it took place in a quiet and subdued environment.

—-

I took a day trip out to Catoctin National Park and Cunninghman Falls last week. Cunningham Falls are the highest set of falls in Maryland. Unfortunately, with a somewhat dry summer, the falls weren’t all that impressive. Still, it was good to take a quiet day alone to myself and do a bit of hiking. It had been quite a while since I’ve hiked in a somewhat mountainous environment.

—-

About 2 weeks ago, I came somewhat close to tapping into something that almost became a poem or something I could consider a poem. For the first 10 lines or so, the words sounded right, I could see a cascade of images, and then there was nothing more. I tried to push it along, open it up, tried to play off the sounds of the words already written down, but nothing came from them but trite hackery which left me despondent and wondering if I might ever be able to shake something out of my head ever again. I suppose maybe it’s encouraging that the impetus continues to rattle around in my head, and sometimes I get some flashes of how I might be able to turn my head within the imagery to see something more, to hear something else, to find the bits of drama and tension. Although sometimes now I think perhaps I am just too afraid of that drama and tension, I still have the shadows of the last great drama and tension in my real life and those shadows haunt me into a paralysis.

—-

Got blood drawn for an A1c last week. Results came back as 5.8%, which is pretty good as usual. I was expecting 6.0% maybe, I had a bit of a rough patch late in August when my basal metabolism cranked up higher and I lagged behind with correcting the Lantus dose.

—-

I don’t know whether it is good or bad, but I’ve been having a lot of erotic dreams lately. I suppose it’s good in knowing that I still have sexual desires and thoughts.

—-

Over the past year and a half, I’ve tried 3 gluten-free beers. Redbridge, New Grist Beer, and New Planet Off Grid Pale Ale. Of them, my taste buds think that Redbridge is the best so far and tastes most like regular beer made with barley. New Grist is okay enough, but its flavor isn’t as satisfying. New Planet’s ale was the worst of them, it’s one that I would avoid from here on out and I only finished drinking it because I didn’t want to feel like I had wasted the money on it.

—-

I find talking with others at times a near alien experience for me now. I end up wondering if anyone ever actually communicates. I don’t know, I really don’t know. Or maybe it’s just that for the vast majority of people, it works for them and they don’t think about it the way that I think about it. Or it works good enough. But it’s never worked all that well for me and now I’m here in a period of life where I’m absent any sort of confidant. Of course, it’s been like that before, but now it’s a more profound sort of absence, because there was a significant period of time where it seemed like I knew at least one real sort of communication and I had a confidant. Now there’s none and that has become like my own little descent into Douglas Adams’ conceit of the Total Perspective Vortex. The Vortex could induce madness in a sentient being by showing them a tiny dot inside a vast empty space and there was sign which pointed at the dot and said, “You are here.” I am here now. I was here before but without perspective. Then my life zigged in a amazing way and when it zagged back, it left me off at the dot but now a sign pointing at it and saying that I am here.

intentions

August 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I can’t remember exactly when I first created the word faligi in Esperanto. It happened at some point when I was trying to think of how to say I dropped something. It came fairly quickly, that if you drop something, you’ve made something fall. And Esperanto has a way of making words become transitive.
To fall is intransitive. I fall. You fall. Someone falls. I don’t fall anything. But what if you make something fall. Well, if you drop something, you’ve made it fall. And so appears our useful little suffix -ig, which turns intransitive verbs into something transitive. Fali is to fall, faligi is to make something fall.

I hadn’t thought about that for some time, but it went through my head last night when I was trying to think a little in Esperanto. So I used a conjugation of faligi, but then wondered a bit longer about my understanding of it and how it relates to English and its counterpart, to drop. To me, there are two somewhat opposite meanings contained with to drop. I can drop something deliberately, with intent — I dropped my clothes in the hamper. But there is also the accidental drop — the right fielder dropped the fly ball. In my head, if I’m translating things, I could say this — I made my clothes fall in the hamper. It would be a bit odd to say that, as it’s not a common idiom, but it would be clear enough. But if I were to say the right fielder made the fly ball fall, it would be weird and off, almost as if to say his error were intentional. He made the fly ball fall, he did it with intent.

I went googling some and found uses of faligis, the past tense conjugation of faligi. What I found showed me that Esperanto does use faligi just like how in English we use to drop. And that tells me something more about English than it does Esperanto — that when a conscious actor makes something do something, there is an implication of intent. Notice I say conscious actor, because one of the Esperanto sentences I found with faligis was “La vento faligis arbon.” In English, the wind dropped a tree or the wind made a tree fall. If a non-conscious actor makes something fall, there can’t be intent.
It’s also important to note maybe that Esperanto has a somewhat broader meaning to things. In English, we have two words, to make and to do. Esperanto is more economical, fari is to make/do and I think -ig is also a lot like that, but it just functions as a suffix to attach to intransitive verbs or to other affixes. Pliigi, to make more. Malpliigi, to make less. French has the verb faire and Spanish hacer, both of those function as a way of saying to make or to do — although a French or Spanish speaker who never learns English or some other language which like English has two verbs (or maybe more?) will never be aware that there is any difference. But in English we do.

—-

I’ve been reading Kristnaska Kanto, A Christmas Carol. It’s been introducing me to few more new words, but what’s also a good challenge in it is that the translator liked to mix word order up some. Lots of the Esperanto translations of English works into Esperanto tend to be mostly SVO for sentences and adjective-noun for those pairings. But this translator mixes in a lot of sentences which begin with objects and uses noun-adjective for those pairings. It’s good for me to read things like that because it helps to reinforce how the -n acts as the accusative or object marker in Esperanto, and how nouns and adjectives are marked in Esperanto. There’s a bit of instinct in me to still think with an English language pattern. And when you’ve thought with that pattern for most of your life, maybe 40 plus years of thinking that way, it’s a stubborn stubborn thing. Afero obstina aux obstina afero.

I suppose sometimes I wonder if there is anything useful in looking at languages and trying to learn them as my relatively older age. I try to pep myself up some by saying that it might be good to help keep my thoughts from becoming too rigid. It seems sometimes that as people grow older, they become more rigid in how they think. And maybe the best way to avoid that is to try to keep learning. And how we use language is very much tied in to how we think. I’m nowhere close yet to being able to use another language with maybe even a 1/4 of the speed and skill with which I use English, but Esperanto is becoming pretty strong in comprehension and production is getting better now.  It’s almost a weird feeling sometimes when I read a lengthy passage of Esperanto and I realize that it was all Esperanto to me and it all made sense.  But I’m still humbled by those who can switch between 2 or more languages, and have only a small dropoff between their native language and the second language.

Although I suppose maybe it’ll be a bit odd that in all likelihood the large majority of my use of any other languages that I might learn to sufficient fluency will come in the form of reading or watching movies. The irony is in how language is to function as communication between people, but I won’t have that intimacy. There’ll be the separation of paper or film. Ah well. That’s okay, I guess. It’s kind of that way for me in English anyhow.

not so grim

August 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Not happy news yesterday, but something positive. I found a letter from my health insurance company and it informed me that the plan my employer is part of had failed to meet the PPACA’s requirement that 85% of healthcare premiums go to health improving medical expenditures. The plan had only spent 83.7% of the premiums collected, so a rebate of 1.3% was issued to my employer. The company can now decide whether to use that rebate towards next year’s insurance plan, or issue a rebate to the employees, or use that rebate to reduce our co-pays.

– For people who buy insurance through their employers, those rebates won’t come directly in the mail. They’ll first go to the employer, which decides how to distribute it. Employers who offer insurance can either send out individual checks to their employees, or put those rebates toward lowering future premium costs.

The employer could also use the rebates as a lump-sum reimbursement to the accounts that pay premiums, or spend it in other ways that “benefits its employees,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.  This can include lowering copays or adjusting cost-sharing to cut group insurance costs.

Source
This is one of the smart things that the PPACA does.  Instead of that money disappearing into the insurance company ether and being used, say, for some guy’s swimming pool, the money comes back to the consumers, so we can use it for our own needs. It’s smart because this is what we should be looking to do to help improve healthcare in America, that money being spent towards coverage is being spent on health coverage. It is something that almost every other advanced first world nation has already been doing, whether by having the government involved directly in how the money is spent or by regulating the insurance companies which are doing business. But for a long time now, we haven’t had any real sort of efficiency check like that upon the health insurance companies — they were nearly opaque boxes that we tossed money into and had no substantive glimpse into what was happening with that money.

Meanwhile, for a bit of mind-bending cognitive wtf dissonance, consider Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate vowing to repeal Obamacare. Of course, Romney was the governor of Massachusetts when Romneycare was enacted into law, a law which mandates that Massachusetts residents buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Yeah, basically the PPACA was modeled after Romneycare, there are some differences in scale and scope, but they are basically the same. Romneycare was supposed to be Romney’s signature accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts, now he is running for president and threatening to repeal the legislation he helped to garner support for in Massachusetts.

But in today’s America, and to today’s Republicans, Obamacare is evil and must be repealed. And Mitt Romney, who has never met a principle he couldn’t waver on except for the principle of stuffing more money into his own pockets, now is opposed to Obamacare and opposed to his own gubernatorial legacy. Yet, on Romney’s bizarre foreign tour, he went to Israel and gave a speech where he praised the Israeli healthcare system — a system which mandates that all Israeli citizens should have healthcare coverage. Now it’s a week later and he’ll be back in the US, and telling us how we should get rid of a law that will bring coverage to 30 million Americans who currently don’t have coverage.  But remember, Mitt Romney is a guy who has no principles to stand upon except those which enrich his pockets. Mitt Romney is the guy whose horses have better healthcare than 30 million uninsured Americans and many insured Americans. Mitt Romney is the guy who extracts money out of American companies, carves them up like a butcher and sends the profits off to his overseas accounts where that money sits and does nothing for America.

And you know what? Do we really want a guy who did that being put in charge of the American government? The government of America is not venture capital firm or a business. Its job is not to generate profit, its job is to take care of the American people, our society, our infrastructure, to protect the rights of citizens, to promote the general welfare (not promote the welfare of the elite wealthy). A dystopic novel written about Romney as president would see him offshoring Americans to other countries to work in places without employee protections or minimum wages. He would probably sell off governmental departments to the highest bidder. He could do all that because it wouldn’t affect him in the slightest. He would still be fabulously wealthy and not have a single worry about bills to pay, about whether or not a doctor can see him about his health concerns.  He has no concept of everyday life in America, he doesn’t know it and he doesn’t care about it. All he’s cared about is pandering enough to a nearly insane Republican base that only loves themselves and consider well over half the country to not be American enough.
Rant over. I suppose it’s shit like this that weighs heavily on my mood these days. There’s lots of personal stuff too, but the political landscape of America is bizarre and frightening. The Republican party has spent 40 years courting the crazy bloc, and the crazy bloc is taking over. It’s hard to sleep at night knowing that they might have some chance of winning in November.

Rather far

August 2, 2012 Leave a comment

My mood is variable lately.

I’ve been pondering the idea of emptiness. Complete emptiness could be comfortable maybe. An idea of absolute nothingness. But that can never be. You end up with something around the emptiness.

The thing that’s awful is that I can’t empty my thoughts. They keep going on. And what’s weighing on me most is that I just don’t know how to talk about them with anyone. Everyone I know, they don’t know. and I don’t know how to begin to talk about them. And it’s frustrating me. And when I encounter any sort of disagreement, it gets more frustrating. It’s a sensation like my thoughts have veered into a territory where there is no agreement. Maybe I am going insane. I don’t know.

I know I’m agitated by how I have to rock side to side while I write this. It’s about the only comfort I’ve got. Rocking myself that way. It doesn’t do anything to shut up the voice in my head, but at least it’s a sort of rhythm, perhaps a reminder some of the rhythm I could sometimes find in words, when I could scribble out some half-decent lines that might pass for poetry, if looked upon with gentle eyes and murmured with forgiving lips.

But there is no gentility or forgiveness in this world. At best, there is a finish and nothing. At worst, there is bitterness or contempt.

This last week I took an old sink down to the garbage pickup. I almost cried, seeing a sink of 50 years old being put out to trash. That’s craziness, isn’t it? I can’t be right in the head with craziness like that. People that are right in the head throw out sinks when they’ve gotten too old and need to be replaced. People that are right in the head forget. Memory is madness. Or too much memory is.

I remember too much shit.