Job hunting

I’ve been actively seeking a job for about a month. The current telecommunications work I’m doing has me traveling to much, and enjoying it too little. I’m reshaping my life. Lifestyle design, as Tim Ferriss calls it.

It’s odd, how things line up. When I started reading 4-Hour Work Week, I was in my final weekend of Evita. The show about Argentinian Eva Peron, and here the author is talking about tango in Argentina.

Some might call it coincidence. But I call it serendipity. My life has been filled with too many “coincidences” for it not to be something more.

For instance, I’ve never found a job looking for one. Yet, I’ve been working since I was 15. And in numerous positions. Somehow, every time I need a job, I get offered one. When I’m not even looking.

The past month nothing has come available for me. And yet over the past week, so much has happened. I’ll be hosting my own radio program (much like how Eva had her own weekly show in Evita…) and it looks like I may be going back into fundraising.

Without even trying. Serendipity.

The Art of Stopping Time

I’m often contemplating the lack of time that I have. Mostly I believe it’s self-inflicted. For instance, I’ve signed on to two new shows over the coming six months, and I’m currently working up in Georgia.

For starters, we all have problems. Little foibles that make us who we are, the struggles that define us. Or, that we assume define us.

In some of my recent reading, I’ve found that we can exert more control over how we spend out time. Get off the social media (I barely use it myself now). Quit checking email (but what if I miss something?). We’re all guilty of time-wasters. The things that we tell ourselves are important, when really it’s just FOMO: fear of missing out.

I like this tale from Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

-found on BeMoreWithLess.com

Kill all drug dealers

Back at it. And this week, like all weeks it seems, is not uneventful.

  1. I don’t support the death penalty.
  2. Drugs are sold because they are profitable. (Hello capitalism.)
  3. Addiction is a disease
  4. Dealers exploit addictions, much the same way tobacco companies did (do), and, perhaps, social media companies do…

How to fix it.

I don’t know. Lots of possible ways. Killing the drug dealers just makes gaps for other drug dealers to come in. And in a world where dealers will kill each other to make room in the market, who among them wouldn’t be happy to have the President sanction those murders?

I personally like the German way. It is illegal, but there are buildings where users can go to partake in the hard stuff. (Marijuana should just be legal all the way around.) In these buildings, there are clean beds, clean needles, medical professionals, access to help, and the cops don’t go in there. So, you’re safe. If you have a problem, there are people there to help. When you’re ready to admit that you have a problem.

Less drug-related crime, less festering on the streets.

Monthly Reading

February 2018

Books Bought:

  • The Emerging Mind: The Reith Lectures – Vilayanur Ramachandran
  • Get in Trouble: Stories – Kelly Link
  • A History of Japan – H.R.P. Mason & J.G. Cainer
  • Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore – Lance Parkin

Books Read:

  • Later Essays – Susan Sontag (unfinished)
  • Head Strong – Dave Asprey (unfinished)
  • On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil DeGrasse Tyson
  • American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For – David McCullough
  • Origin – Dan Brown

“Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’ barely gettin’ by.” But, I’m usually at work at 8, which means leaving the house by 7. Hopefully I get home by 6 in the evening. Then rehearsals typically start at 7, though when the show started tech week on the 19th last month we were expected at 6:30. That means for the first couple of weeks of February, I didn’t get much reading time.

Tried to make up for it though! Went through a lot of essays this month, purely by accident. Had picked up the Sontag in January purely by happenstance. Have only read three essays in the book, the first three from Under the Sign of Saturn, originally published in 1980 and collected in Later Essays. The three are “On Paul Goodman”, “Approaching Artaud”, & “Fascinating Fascism”.

A week or so ago, I wrote in my journal: “…her seeming mastery of language and the written word is staggering. As I read (or try to read) her essays, the sheer polysyllabic content is overwhelming. I’ve never seen [contemporary] writing (that I can recall) of such eloquence and yet so confusing.”

I say this with respect and admiration, for as many times as I may have to reread a sentence, I know I’m getting something from it. I’m thinking. I need to read her with a notebook nearby, because ideas flow from her writings and I can’t help but grab them and get them onto paper.

Interestingly enough I purchased a secondhand copy of Antonin Artaud’s The Theater and its Double (still unread) several years ago, and while reading Sontag’s critique of Artaud I think I’ve decided to leave it unread, at least for the time being.

So as I delve into Sontag, I seem to be neglecting the prose that I’ve been accumulating (Resurrection BluesTo Kill a MockingbirdA Darker Shade of Magic). The only fiction I managed to consume this month was Dan Brown’s Origin, a novel of the ever-vigilant symbologist Robert Langdon. (Cue Willem Dafoe’s, “Symbolism, symbolism…”)

The book had its triteness, certainly. But parts of it kept me guessing, and I love the research that goes into Brown’s novels. Also, a part of the story takes place in Budapest, which I visited last year for the first time, so it was enjoyable to hear about things that I recall seeing. (Just watched Red Sparrow as well, and it too had scenes in Budapest. I did very much like my time in Hungary.)

The technological futurism and physics-based universal beginnings had a through-line in my reading to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics. This man is highly informative, fun, and I greatly enjoyed reading this book. My favorite part was in his describing of English astronomer William Herschel, who in 1781 discovered the planet Uranus. Herschel wanted to measure the temperature of light, and using a prism split a sunbeam into its component parts – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. (Tyson: “Yes, the colors do indeed spell Roy G. Biv.”)

Placing a thermometer in each strand of colored light, and one for control just adjacent to the red, which he assumed would be room temperature, he took his readings. Yet, the “control” thermometer ended up rising higher than the red light. Again, Tyson:

“Herschel wrote:

‘[I] conclude, that the full red falls still short of the maximum of heat; which perhaps lies even a little beyond visible refraction. In this case, radiant heat will at least partly, if not chiefly, consist, is I may be permitted the expression, of invisible light; that is to say, of rays coming from the sun, that have such a momentum as to be unfit for vision.’

Holy s#%t!”

I had the pleasure of the audio book the first time through, so hearing Tyson saying, “Holy shit!” was worth the listen alone. But even prior to that, knowing that in the 18th Century this astronomer discovered basically the farthest planet from us in our solar system was attention-grabbing. Tyson loves this material, and it comes through in how he writes it, and how he speaks about it. And it makes the reader just a little more interested in the science, I believe.

Two more books of essays, On Tyranny and American Spirit had to do with what it means to be American, ranging from the beginning of our Nation to today. Enthralling, overall. From McCullough I learned about the founding fathers. About the feud between Jefferson and Adams and how they reconciled (I believe aided by Benjamin Rush), and that they both died on July 4th, 1826. Adams’s last words were, “Jefferson still survives,” yet Jefferson had just five hours preceding Adams.

Some of McCullough’s speeches, collected in American Voices, reverberate with hope, and love for the history of this Country. He shows great admiration for our founding fathers, and in reading his works I’ve found a renewed interest in the early American experiment (also owing to the successful Broadway hit Hamilton.) McCullough writes of history as Tyson writes of physics: with unbridled affection.

For all the optimism that Voices espouses, On Tyranny presents a more pragmatic and cautionary view of the state of our Nation. Snyder writes in his prologue:

“History does not repeat, but it does instruct. As the Founding Fathers debated our Constitution, they took instruction from the history they knew. Concerned that the democratic republic they envisioned would collapse, they contemplated the descent of ancient democracies and republics into oligarchies and empire… In founding a democratic republic upon law and establishing a system of checks and balances, the Founding Fathers sought to avoid the evil that they, like the ancient philosophers, called tyranny.”

What follows are twenty warnings, nineteen of which are accompanied by short essay, cautioning the reader that much of the divisiveness of the past two years looks frighteningly similar to the rise of fascism in Europe during the thirties and forties. The author, Levin Professor of History at Yale University Timothy Snyder, makes convincing arguments, and uses case study and rhetoric to show the potential danger. Yet he advises that the citizenry can make a difference, not to rely on populist sentiment, and be careful  as to avoid complacency.

Some might argue that On Tyranny is a thinly veiled criticism of President Trump and the way in which he ascended to the presidency. My response would be, we need more criticism, lest democracy itself die.

In my *cough* *cough* free time, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Some of my favorites are Marketplace, Echoes, On Being, and Bulletproof Radio. Occasionally I will drink my morning coffee bulletproof, meaning with butter and MCT oil (or coconut oil). Having been diagnosed with RA back in 2012, I recently decided that I wanted to see how far I could hack my system.

I’ve barely gotten into chapter one on Head Strong, so no progress to report yet.

The Alan Moore bio and Kelly Link book were remanded purchases. Any time I walk by those bins, I find myself fishing for at least ten minutes through the titles that they have available. A History of Japan was a purchase prompted by my brother asking me a simple question about imperial history, and I couldn’t recall. For years I was hypnotized by Japanese culture and history. I picked it up for reference, and have been begun Japanese language lessons to refresh my dismal vocabulary.

Emerging Mind is part of a larger collection of books on thought I’m acquiring, for something I intend to write later this year. One part philosophy, one part science. For the rest of March, I think I’m focusing on Sontag.

Until next time…

Some health news

This last week I went in for extensive bloodwork. Starting at baseline for where I am, I needed to know what kind of surprises would be in store for me as I make my way to health once again.

As I mentioned previously, the diagnosis of RA caught me off guard, and I’ve never been satisfied with. Now, I’m doing my due diligence and researching everything I can. I’m altering my diet, my sleep habits and my exercise routine.

As of right now, I’m looking at the following markers:

  1. Rheumatoid Factor: 25.3 IU/mL (Above normal range of 0.0-13.9)
  2. C-Reactive Protein: 4.33 mg/L (above normal range of 0.00-3.00)

This is the starting line. This is where I begin my quest to heal myself.

While in the wood

I’ve just returned from camping, with a self-imposed ban on most media sources. I only just learned of Rex Tillerson losing his job, McCabe’s firing, the “election” in Russia going to (surprise, surprise) Vladimir Putin, the Maine House race and candidate Leslie Gibson needing to drop out after saying some pretty nasty things about a Parkland teen who survived the Valentine’s Day shooting, and just basically every other thing from the past ten days or so.

It feels like I missed so much, yet it’s more of the same. I’ll be back next Sunday with something more substantial for a political commentary.

What I did learn was the cold weather in my tent was difficult to keep at bay, and next time I’m going to find a less rocky place to set up camp. My side is still bruised.

Fighting the Unseen

It’s scary. It’s daunting. It’s the Unknown. The Unseen.

And while it takes many forms, this time it’s so personal that fighting it seems nearly impossible.

In the summer of 2011, my body started having unusual symptoms. It started in my right foot, and I had believed it was a sports injury of some kind. I was avid gym junkie, working out on average one to two hours per day, four or five days a week. I would run, cycle, lift weights, jump rope. I was in good shape. Probably the best shape of my life up to that point.

When my foot started aching, I tried resting it. After several weeks, with no improvement, I sought out some medical advice from a friend of mine – a certified physician’s assistant. The diagnosis, she thought? Plantar fasciitis.

So, I picked up a little shunt for the foot, and one night I put it on. I awoke in the morning with such pain running through my leg, I thought I would cry. It was throbbing, and it felt like a vice was squeezing the insides of my foot. It took a day or two before the pain subsided to the point that it was previously.

Now approaching September, it had spread. My leg was stiffening, and I wasn’t moving as easily as I used to. I had stopped working out. I couldn’t control my leg. I went for ex rays on the foot, visited a podiatrist. No breaks, no unusual skeletal or muscular problems.

In October I visited a them park. Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights. I went unaided, but probably with a bottle of aspirin or Tylenol. Popping them temporarily relieved the pain. By the end of the night, only six hours on my feet, I could not stand without assistance. I was shambling, no longer walking. I thought perhaps I was dying. That some mysterious neurological ailment was shutting my body down, piece by piece.

The next month was the worst, and I walked with a cane. It took nearly fifteen minutes to get out of bed. Every part of my body was in terrible pain. The zest I had for life was leaving me. I had scheduled more doctor appointments, CAT scan, MRI, blood work. The doctors thought it important to rule out cancer.

The doctor noticed high sed rates (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) in my blood levels, and referred me to a specialist. A rheumatologist. In the interim I was prescribed Celebrex, a strong, nasty anti-inflammatory. And, it worked.

For the next three months, before the specialist could see me, I took Celebrex and began feeling revived. Energy levels came back, pain subsided, and I had a semblance of life again.

In January, 2012, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Suddenly, my invisible affliction had a name.

And yet, there was something unsettled for me regarding this diagnosis. That will be the crux of what I write about in this medical series, as I explore new options for my health. Because over the last six years I’ve been on numerous medications, suffered flare-ups and bouts of depression and anxiety, visited with holistic specialists, and have wondered whether I would ever have a normal life again.

I don’t yet know the answers, but I’ll share the questions on here, and what I find out.