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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021

This is a hard, hard time for many, so I fully understand (not that my opinion here matters that much) how difficult Thanksgiving can be.  We are all surrounded by messaging that tells us to "count our blessings" and "give thanks for all that we have".  I've been there, in that place, where it was nearly impossible to see those things in the face of troubles surrounding me.  That last sentence comes with the enormous caveat that what I've experienced by way of "trouble" firmly falls into the category of first-world problems...as in I have not wanted for food or shelter.  Yet, I've also looked at a mental ledger with what seemed like more debits and credits.  "Happy Thanksgiving" was akin to rubbing salt in a wound.

With age comes wisdom though.  I think.  If not age, well then maybe with persistence.

Part of the problem here, as I see it, is that in the United States we have this knack for monetizing virtually everything.  In order to make money off of Thanksgiving, this nation creates a kind of white-bread, Hallmark Channel version of a holiday that in part serves to kick off a season of consumption.  Note that nothing screams "thanks" quite like buying things.  That last sentence was sarcasm, for the record.

Maybe the better thing to do here is to think less about visuals of golden turkeys and made-for-cable movies about troubled people magically finding reasons for thanks at the end of two hours.  We don't need the idealizing of a perfect Thanksgiving...or a perfect life for that matter.  This is because none of us have those things.  None of us.  As was pointed out to me online recently, the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence because it's actually astroturf. 

I think that Thanksgiving works best when it works simplest.  Part is this is manifest by acknowledging our challenges while also being thankful for the fact that every day we wake up we have a chance to get it right.  Getting it right can be hard, nasty business by the way, but we are all capable.  All of us. 

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the gift of persistence.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

This is what we face...

I have this posting about Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in my head, but then I saw this on an actual Facebook page.


Like roadkill or other unsightly things, I just had to stop and look at this for a few moments.  By the way, this is, I absolutely assure you, a real sentiment expressed on two different Facebook pages.  In other words, there are people who believe this to be true.  And it is horrifying.
  
I'm not going to refute this, mostly for the same reason that I don't feel the need to refute accusations that gravity is fake, the Earth is flat, and/or that we are all just living in the matrix.  No humor was attempted or intended in that last statement by the way because there is nothing funny about these kinds of anti-vaccine sentiments.  Whether it comes from a Russian social media troll farm or the imagination of some grossly ignorant conspiracy theorist, the net result is the same:  This kind of thing can get people killed.

There is, of course, a larger story here.  A story about how, as a nation, we've made it okay to be stupid.  We've created an environment where 5 sentences of completely made-up nonsense is somehow the equal of the hard work put in by scientists and medical professionals around the world.  In our desire to make everyone feel good, I fear, we've somehow managed to convince a subset of the population that they are as smart as the entire Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  When you think about it though, all of us...even the people that believe the nonsense spewed in the above 5 sentences...have to rely on other experts.  Do these same people decry the supposed "experts" who change their brake pads?  

Yes, we all need to exercise critical thinking skills, so I'm not suggesting that we believe everything we see, hear and read.  But a part of critical thinking is the acknowledgment that a "fact" is only as valid as evidence provided in support.  Critical thinking also requires work, which I suspect is the real problem here...for some, it's simply easier to believe nonsense.  It must also make some folks feel special that they now know about the "vaccine conspiracy".  In essence, this becomes a kind of mental cotton candy:  Nominally food, but having no real substance or value.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

October in the Rear-View (and other non-related thoughts)

Here's to a month that has passed.  There was a funeral to attend, but it comes on the heels of the deceased, a truly good person, having truly earned an eternal rest.  It seems that October will always exact its toll on life, one way or another.

As for me, well, this is a long weekend in Hagerstown, Maryland.  It was supposed to be a long weekend in St. Augustine, Florida, but circumstances changed those plans.  Based on flooding in that part of Florida, and an airline system that can best be described as being "in distress", I'd say that those plans were changed for the better.  Whether it was Florida or Maryland, both Ms. Rivers and I have earned some time away.  

Why Hagerstown, Maryland?  I guess the better question is probably "why not?".  After deciding to 86 our Florida plans about a week or so ago, we bandied about a few other options for travel, and figured that Hagerstown was close enough, we hadn't been there, and we probably wouldn't encounter any snow.  Not that the snow part was likely to be anywhere we could have gone, but there's (s)no(w) sense taking any chances.  For the record, there isn't all that much to actually do in Hagerstown, which is mostly okay with us, as the destination is actually less important than just the notion of just getting away.  

How are you doing?

I've never asked that question before in a blog posting,  For the record, as of October 27th, this blog is now 13 years old.  I'd like to add "...and going strong" to that date, but that wouldn't be very honest of me.  It's been difficult to write consistently for a while now.  I think that's mostly been because of the career turmoil I've experienced for years now, virtually all of which was not my making.  Whether any of us like to admit it or not, the fact is that what we do with our time in order to earn a living is important.  In this western, American culture of ours, the notion of career has an outsized level of importance for certain.  Part of that is what has driven the United States for over two hundred years.  Sadly though, I could rightfully argue that the cost for many has been far, far too high.

It's the oversized importance of a career that I've been thinking a lot about over the past few months.  The fact is this:  It is the struggle (at home or at work) that helps us grow.  It's in facing adversity that we gain the ability to be resilient.  There just aren't too many shortcuts around that avenue in life.  Playing it too safe results in a certain degree of comfort that ultimately, I think, leaves us empty.  Granted, there can be too much struggle in our lives, especially when it comes to what we do for a living.  In my case, while I am grateful for all of the adversity that I have had to face in my professional life, in some instances I think the lessons could have been learned with just a bit less pain.  I suppose that's the case for many of us...or at least those who have taken a few chances.

The above mental wandering comes courtesy of the fact that I think I am in a good place now career-wise.  I couldn't have arrived here though without some roto-stripping of ego and my own preconceived notions of what constitutes success.  Nowadays my definition of success is decidedly simple:  I don't hate going to work & the people I work with seem to appreciate what I bring to the table.  Helping matters is the fact that I have settled in my head the fact that I have no ladder left to climb.  Simply put, I'm just going to do my thing for the next few years to the best of my ability, and whatever happens, be it good, bad, or indifferent, well, it will be okay.  I have a light at the end of the tunnel, if you will, in form of eventual retirement. 

It's difficult to write the above.  Why?  Well my mind, "when it's good it's bad".  That's a kind of short-hand way of noting that, as a pretty intense and observant child, I grew to become suspicious of any good times, as it probably meant something bad would be happening soon.  On one hand, that's a hell of a way to keep oneself on his/her toes.  On the other hand, well, it creates a kind of negative feedback loop where every bit of adversity comes with an "I told you so" mental tag line attached to it.  Nowhere was that more on display than my "retirement" in 2016.  It's taken me this long since then to really unpack some of these feelings and experiences and to arrive at this place where, to be blunt, I simply now choose to (mostly) not really care about negative people and experiences.  In fact, I have the following statement stuck to the bottom of my laptop screen:

"Give no f#$ks about those who give no f#$ks about you."

Crude?  For sure it is, but it has the benefit of being true.  In the simplest possible terms, it seems that, in life, we have a limited supply of things to care about ("f#$ks"), so it's best to use these things where they can matter the most.  Or so I am trying to learn. 

As is the case for many of the important things in life, some of this weighty career-in-perspective stuff is much less about reaching a kind enlightenment goal and more about just engaging in a deliberate practice where I work on keeping things in perspective.  In essence, there is no goal to achieve...that very notion is just more competitive business culture nonsense...and instead there is just a dedication to just trying my best to be a decent person to myself and to others.

As Jackson Browne once wrote:  "And when the morning light comes streaming in, we'll get up and do it again."

 

On that note, I think I've said enough.  

Tomorrow will likely be a trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  If believed in such things I would say that I'd like to encounter the spirit of John Brown.  Since I don't (believe in such things), I'm going to instead settle for a nice drive, some wonderful Fall photographs, and maybe learning a thing or three.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

October

By my reckoning, October is life's great equalizer.  Rich or poor, powerful or powerless, October doesn't care.  October is going to change the world, whether any of us like it or not, ultimately reminding us that we are not, in fact, in charge.  I will readily confess to having a checkered past when it comes to the month of October.  This is something that I can back-up with over a hundred blog postings on the subject of this month.

Anyway, in spite of past experiences...or maybe because of them...I admire what October stands for in the cycle of life.  

(Our large pink rosebush needs a rest)

Life just gets tired, in part because nothing gets to last forever.  All that happened in the Spring and Summer, all of that growth, comes at a cost.  In order to eventually grow again, life needs to take a pause.  October is that pause.

There are a bunch of other non-mock-philosophical reasons why I really want to love October.

First, I love the weather.  The temperature is just right.  There is nothing better than a cool October breeze, especially after a summer where winds were more like convection oven currents than cooling events.

Second, I confess to liking Halloween.  Not necessarily the trick-or-treating part, but just this notion that for one day out of the year, the things that I found scary as a kid were somehow rendered temporarily powerless.

Third, there is just something wonderful about falling leaves.  They have this kind of special smell, especially as you walk through them, shuffling your feet along the way.

Finally, I'm not the biggest fan of really cold winters, so October provides this kind of window that allows us to get ready for what's to come.  For me that means getting the yard ready, trimming trees, and cleaning/putting things away.

Here's to hoping that all of us learn to appreciate October.  Especially me.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

May 14, 2027

There are 2057 days between now (September 26, 2027) and May 14, 2027.  By another measure, that's 5 years, 7 months, and 19 days.  All well and good, but why is that date even worth mentioning?  Well, that's mostly because, all things being held equal, I will be retiring on (or about) that date.  Kind of strange, huh?  Well from my perspective it is, as...

  • I don't see myself as being "old" (although my body reminds me of that reality, even as I type this)
  • Amount of time prior to above I have actually spent thinking retirement?  That would be... 
  • I have kind of had this baseline assumption from childhood that I would be working forever
The alchemy used to come up with the date of May 14, 2027, is pretty straightforward and includes when our current mortgage will be paid off (not bad for having bought the place in December 2013) and my estimate of when it makes sense to begin tapping into my retiree medical saving account.  

Underlying all of this is irony associated with the fact that I am a retiree already, technically speaking, from a former employer.

May 14, 2027, seems like a long time off, but in reality, it's not.  In fact, it's about a year longer than the distance from when I was "retired" (see above) until now.  That's practically a blink of the existential eye.

I guess I could continue with the one or two-sentence quips, but that's boring.  Well, a lot of this stuff is technically boring, but I have never offered any warranties for being interesting, engaging, or even relevant when it comes to this blog.  Since 2008 mind you.

Anyway, I think that the distance between now and then is needed, as I need time to prepare.  That would be prepare from a practical perspective (i.e. being mortgage-free) as well as from the perspective of "just what the heck will I do with myself?".  I'm sure that many who are already retired could testify to the fact that the latter point will take care of itself.  However, I'm the guy who has to think about everything, all too often.

I also know that so very, very much of my life has centered around what I do for a living.  Actually, I've been told that too much of my life has centered around my professional identity, a notion that I learned the hard way, as what can be given by an employer can be taken by an employer.  That's easy to write, but pretty darn difficult to experience.  It's also very cruel in a way:  Employers want employees to commit to their organization, but yet they also want to be able to sever that commitment on their own terms, at any time, for any reason.  Maybe it's that kind of realization that ultimately signals the ending plays of a professional career.  

Looking forward, literally, I think I have 2057 days to further figure out my life and identify outside of the day job.  I still have a lot to learn, for the record.






Monday, September 20, 2021

An AC Post Script


Early Morning

As I was laying in bed this morning at about 5:50am, the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song "Wasted on the Way" was playing in my head.  I don't actually like the song, but I do appreciate the lyrics and underlying sentiment.

Look around me
I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way
It used to be
I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started
Long before I did

I'm not sure what that actually means in the context of the last few days or even this morning.  More "spiritually in-tuned" folks probably have an answer for that sort of thing, but since I've claimed no such power(s) myself, I'll just have to be left wondering.  Note that it's entirely possible that we all have what seem like "deep" experiences for absolutely no real reason.  Some things just are.

Back to the world of the firmly grounded in reality, I do think it's important to spend a little bit of time thinking about the lessons that life continually tries to teach us, even from a trip to a beach town in despair.  That's not "spiritual" or "new age", but in my mind infinitely practical.  Since I also love lists, here we go:

  1. I don't take enough time off.  Granted that part of this is beyond my control.  A dirty little fact about corporate layoffs:  Each time you start a new job you end up starting at the bottom of the vacation time ladder.  When you are 30 that's okay.  When you are in your 50's?  It's terrible.
  2. It feels as if I waste too much time.  Wait, was that why "Wasted on the Way" was pinging around in my head this morning?  When I take a step back, well the "step back" afforded by typing at 7am in a hotel, I wonder if I don't spend enough time actually doing and creating things that bring me some enjoyment.  Like this, for example.
  3. It's kind of amazing the amount of stress I put myself under, and how that impacts me physically.  My physical body was actually acting differently (in a better way) over the past few days.
  4. Societal dispair.  I saw far too many instances of folks...both young and old...literally passed out in the broad daylight over the past few days.  I know that comes across as rather naive, but for the most part, as we go about our busy lives, it's easy to forget that some folks are barely hanging on with the smallest of threads.  Our system in this country for helping those with mental health and substance abuse needs is horrible.

I don't know what I can change...what I can do differently about these things...but despite what we see in the movies, these kinds of things are seldom about grand changes in life anyway.  More realistically, I do think that life gives us things we can use to make small, but ultimately meaningful, changes in our lives.  In the time of this pandemic, the analogy is pretty clear:  Our advanced civilization can be dramatically changed by the smallest (of living) things.  Maybe that works for experiences as well.


********

Evening

The trip home was swift, including a Rivers family visit along the way, laundry has been washed, and a few chores have been completed.  I even posted some pictures to the Facebooks.  Left yet to do is write a few reviews and possibly let the State of New Jersey know what I think about their marijuana legalization law.  It is now time for the inevitable crawl back to reality, all be it may be a tad bit wiser and entertained.  For the record, I'm going to avoid 7-11's for the foreseeable future.

Next up?  That would be Florida (or, as they say in Long Island, "Florider") in November.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Late Summer in Town Decay, Part 3

Early Morning

The good news?  The addition of another pillow + general exhaustion meant that I actually slept reasonably well last night.  The getting up at 6am part isn't all that unusual for me, as all it takes is the slightest mental spark in my head and immediately my thoughts turn into blazing fires of ideas.  That's more of a curse than a blessing, but it is who I am.

In the "something I forgot to mention yesterday" department:  The Weed Fan.  We discovered that the smell of weed coming from other places in the hotel is made worse when the bathroom fan is off.  This was a discovery backed by an actual experiment, mind you, which is a lot more than most anti-vaxers can say.  Apparently, the smoking floor of this hotel (yes, such a thing still exists, at least here) is right above us, and I suspect that the bathroom exhaust fans of said rooms carry the stench into the ventilation system.  With the fan off in our room, the smell enters.  With the fan on, the negative air pressure in our bathroom helps prevents the smell from entering.  To quote Thomas Dolby, "Science!".

For the record, our observations about Atlantic City were predicted earlier in the year:

https://www.shorenewsnetwork.com/2021/02/28/in-2021-the-jersey-shore-can-become-the-largest-beachfront-pot-party-in-america-and-theres-nothing-anyone-can-do-about-it/

The punchline, of sorts?  New Jersey apparently has the worst marijuana legalization law in the country.

On a more serious note, as if the above isn't serious enough, I think that this is my/our last trip to Atlantic City.  While both Ms. Rivers and I have enjoyed the nostalgia of coming back to a place that represented a few happy moments in my childhood (the Atlantic City of pre-gambling days) and in hers (coming back from the Dominican Republic and staying in Ventnor as a child), the reality is no amount of memories can mask the general despair we have seen in just a short period of time.  This is not a good place.  To be brutally honest, this was never a good place, but it was an interesting place.  However, there comes a time when "interesting" is easily overwhelmed by despair and that threshold has been crossed in AC circa 2021.

There is a much, much larger tragedy in this place over and above the rambling of some 57-year-old man hungry for the nostalgia of his childhood.  The bigger story here is of a place where, in 1977, hope was dangled in front of a community in the form of State-sanctioned gambling.  The money would be flowing in and would trickle down into every corner of society.  That failed.  Miserably, I will add.  While failing to tacitly admit that mistake, the government continues to poke at the concept like some kid prodding a dead raccoon with a stick, waiting for some magical life to return.  Those pokes have recently included sports betting and legalized marijuana use.  The former doesn't seem like it has helped, and the latter has just made it worse.  It makes one think that this was never actually about creating a better community for an old Jersey Shore town.

The above reminds me of one very basic fact when it comes to legalized gambling:  The only winner is the house.  Not the gambler.  And certainly not the residents of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

On a less contemplative note, today's activities include some time on a boat, some photography, and perhaps dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  I'm planning on avoiding 7-11's this time around.


********

Evening

It's all fun and games until the dolphins show up.

The highlight of this afternoon was some dolphin-watching.  For the record, taking photographs of fast-moving dolphins from a moving boat isn't the easiest thing in the world.  Nevertheless, it was fun.

(heading out to troll for quahogs)

It was also relaxing to tool about the back-bay of Atlantic City.

The other highlight was dinner at the Hard Rock Casino, which strikes one as being this kind of self-contained city, not all that dissimilar from a really big cruise ship.  We also spent some time after dinner with our typical "let's waste $20 each on the slot machines".

We suck at gambling...especially me.  It literally took about 5 minutes to blow through $40.  Wonder how a company can basically afford to build a self-contained city?  That would be from folks like us.  All well and good, as gambling in a casino is as much a study in sociology as it is anything else.

With dinner, 5 minutes of slot play, and a stroll completed, it's time for the AC2021 trek to come to an end.  I can say, looking back on just our little bit of time here, that it has been interesting.  As I noted this morning, I doubt we will come back.  AC doesn't need us, by the way, and at some point, the novelty of re-treading childhood steps grows old, especially among the clouds of ever-present second-hand marijuana smoke.  

One of the things we were wondering about was how COVID impacted the situation in Atlantic City, especially given it struggling pre-pandemic.  My best analogy?  "Atlantic City now is a bit like a Diabetic AIDS patient who then catches COVID".  

Tomorrow we head back to the real world.  

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Late Summer in Town Decay, Part 2

Early Morning

I told Ms. Rivers that, with 1000% honesty, I can count on one hand the number of times I have woken up in the morning and felt completely refreshed from a wonderful night's sleep.  That number hasn't increased after last night.  In fact, saying that I didn't sleep well last night is a bit like saying "the Yugo may have had some quality problems"...as in a bit of an understatement.  Cultural reference noted directly below.

(I actually love this guy's car reviews, and that's not just because he said nice things about the Toyota C-HR.  Check out his channel if you are into cars.)

Anyway, today promises to be an interesting day, if for no other reason than the fact that I don't think I got more than an hour at a time of uninterrupted sleep.  Maybe that's AC's partial karmic repayment for yesterday's blog posting.  Maybe that's because the hotel bed feels like it was stuffed with recycled plastic soda bottles.  Actually, it's probably because of the quantity and quality of pillows available at the hotel we are staying at this time around.  To that latter point, well, I'll have to work on it.

Speaking of hotels, the last few times I have been in AC, the accommodations have been at one of the casinos or casino-affiliated properties.  This time around we decided to try something different.  This wasn't, by the way, a question of price, but more of just general interest and trying to find somewhere that had decent reviews.  I'm not going to mention any names, but so far it seems like the reviews for this current location may have been written by the hotel management.  

One of the things Ms. Rivers and I wanted to do over the weekend was catch up on some leisure reading.  For her, that entails "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens.  Me?  I have a book about the history of the Ginko tree that I want to finish.  These two choices can tell you a lot about our personalities, namely that Ms. Rivers seeks to escape into a highly-rated literary masterpiece.  Me?  I just want to learn why a tree that existed with the dinosaurs roamed the Earth can be found growing on Mulberry Street in Scranton.

I am going to acquire and plant a Ginko tree.  Mark my words.

On that note, it's time to begin a day of sorts.  

********

Evening

By the time we had gotten back to the hotel this evening, there had been about 16,000 steps logged and my right big toe joint was significantly larger than its left foot compatriot (I have arthritis in my right big toe).  The space in between was interesting.

Point of Interest:  Breakfast.  Ms. Rivers told me after eating breakfast that, as I was consuming my morning feast, a man outside the restaurant (I was sitting with my back to the front window) put out a "joint" on the window sill, placed it in his bag, and headed into our mutual establishment.  

Point of Interest:  Shopping.  After breakfast, we headed over to the Tanger outlets in AC.  It was refreshingly scarce when it came to the shopping population.  Maybe that was because it was 10am.  Maybe that was because there is a pandemic.  Maybe we were just lucky.  Anyway, Ms. Rivers found sunglasses and we found a Bass Pro Shop Store.  That's not so interesting except for the following point...while AC itself is a very diverse community, the inside of the Bass Pro Shop, which had more shoppers than the other stores we visited, looked like a greenhouse full of lilies (as in it was very white...as in Lilly White).  As to why that was the case, well, that may be a bit above my pay grade.  

Point of Interest:  Brigantine.  In the afternoon we headed over to Brigantine, ostensibly to find a gift shop, but ended up instead going to the public beach.  The gift shop was closed you see.  Anyway, we were actually really impressed.  So impressed that, maybe one day, we will go back there for a real vacation.  This trek included Nathan's hotdogs and ice cream for a mid-afternoon meal.

(On the beach, Brigantine NJ)

Point of Interest:  The Boardwalk.  Late afternoon and evening were spent on the Boardwalk, where we marched a few miles, grabbed a bite to eat, and just generally enjoyed the sights and sounds.  Well, "enjoyed" isn't a great descriptive term, as there is some Grade A sad stuff going on in this town.  Between the already many-times-mentioned rampant consumption of marijuana in public, visibly intoxicated folks drinking out of open containers of liquor, and the truly mentally troubled/substance abuse inflicted individuals, I wasn't necessarily well-served by my habit of noticing almost everything.  In many respects, this is truly a sad place.  

Point of Interest:  The 7-11.  No busy day in AC is complete without at least one solicitation.  More specifically, later this evening, Ms. Rivers was looking for a snack, so I dutifully volunteered to march to the local 7-11 to pick up a few supplies.  Was I frightened to go out and walk a few blocks at night?  No.  Being my size, I'm not exactly what someone would call an "easy target".  Anyway, as I was getting ready to leave the store, I noticed what I thought to be a young(er) lady smiling and waving at me from outside.  I did my best to not react.  As I was actually leaving the aforementioned 7-11, she held the door open for me and said in a somewhat sweet voice "Sir, can I kiss you?".  I declined the offer and headed back to the hotel.

It has been a busy day.

More to come tomorrow.




Friday, September 17, 2021

Late Summer in Town Decay, Part 1

So long ago, wasn't it a dream?  Was it just a dream?

As I have noted here on a few separate occasions in the past, I have a special connection to Atlantic City (New Jersey), as does Ms. Rivers.  See HERE.  We've come here a few times over the years, and this year just happened to be the right time to make the trek back.  In fact, so far this year, this is as close as I have gotten to a vacation.  See switching jobs (but so I digress).  Anyway, we are spending a long weekend here in this place that has seen probably one too many deaths, resurrections, and deaths over the years.

Some might call that last sentence offensive to Atlantic City (AC), a point which I understand.  There is, however, a certain charm to this place, no doubt imbued by memories of a childhood past, at least for me.  I view it now as a kind of anti-matter Disney, but for the gambling sect.  That last analogy might be another reason why I just find AC so fascinating.

Anyway, a few observations over the next few days of the sight, sounds, and smells of AC are in order.

I'll tackle that last point first.  Smell.  Specifically, the smell of marijuana, which seems to attack the nostrils here on frequent occasions...a point made all the more relevant by the fact that, as I write this, I've also actually been here for a bit over 3 hours.   Now personally I don't really care for or about marijuana, which is something I have noted a few times over the years.  While the argument can be (successfully) made that it (weed) isn't worse than booze, a simple fact remains:  I don't have to smell someone's booze as I walk by them.  By way of back-story, see THIS article.  As other States march towards inevitable decriminalization, I think this is something of a forgotten issue.  Granted that my sense of smell is probably my best functioning of the normal 5 (it sure as heck isn't sight...), but someone with half a functioning nose could detect the not-so-fragrant order of burning weed.  

Am I over-reacting?  Maybe.  But just as it's someone's choice to indulge in this particular drug, it should be my choice not to be exposed to it in public.  Old man rant concluded.

As for the rest of the long weekend, we have no fixed plans, other than walking, eating, and, in my case, photography.  AC is a fascinating place to take pictures.  Its old beach town bones are still showing in places, complimented and often replaced by the gaudy nature of the modern-day casino business.  Oh, and it has an ocean.  As I said, fascinating.

On that note, more to come.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Month in the United States, and while I don't typically promote causes in this corner of the Internet, I'll make an exception in this case.


It's very, very hard to describe what it's like when someone close to you either attempts or succeeds in taking their own life.  In fact, I would say "hard" isn't a good enough word, but I'm at a loss to come up with anything more potent at the moment.  It is something that bites you to your very core, something that stays with you for the rest of your life.  It's also something that forces you to ponder questions that simply can't be answered, including "...could I have prevented this?".

There's also what happens afterward, in the days, weeks, months, and years that pass.  This is the notion that the burden of those feelings we carry as survivors, while ever so terrible, pales in comparison to how our loved one was feeling when they made their decision to end a life.  I can not imagine that level of pain.  All I am personally left with is this hole in my life that simply can not be filled, and the possible idea that there is some kind of after-life where all of this will be reconciled.

That last phrase ("...some kind of after-life..."), above, is a tough one for me to write and even tougher for me to put any faith into, as "the next world" is a bit above my philosophical paygrade.  Faith, it seems, is an easy concept to define, but a very difficult one to practice sometimes.  Especially when one is left with many "why did this have to happen in the first place" kinds of questions.

I can't really write much more on this topic without talking about some details that are best left off of the Internet.  That's a sign that it's time to stop.  Stopping a posting though is a heck of a lot easier than stopping grief (which can not be stopped...only...maybe...reconciled in some fashion; see above).  So, what I'll leave in terms of commentary is this:  Please take your own mental health, and that of your family and loved ones, seriously.

Additional information on suicide prevention can be found at:

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://www.nami.org/Home

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention

https://www.pa211.org/get-help/mental-health/suicide-prevention-hotlines/

https://www.claremoreprogress.com/news/5-things-to-know-when-is-national-suicide-prevention-month-why-it-s-important/article_72c09a42-1038-11ec-9ee4-e7cbffeb09dc.html