Author: Lance

Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than two dozen stories published or on the way. 2019 is the year he dives into independent publishing, starting with "Thorvald's Wyrd", "Skip To My Luu", and "Turn the World Around". And he needs a more exciting short bio.
Maybe I Can Binge Watch After All

Maybe I Can Binge Watch After All

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Maybe it is possible for me to binge watch something after all.

I’m specifically referring to The Flash here. Last Sunday afternoon, I caught up to current, and now I have to wait for new episodes with everyone else. In some ways that’s interesting and some ways it’s annoying.

It’s interesting, because up until very recently, if I tried to actually binge watch something, I wound up overdosing on it and then setting it down, in some cases never going back, in some cases going back after weeks or months to see the next episode. In this case, I seem to been able to watch an episode every couple of days, or even two or three episodes per day on the weekend, with the ultimate result being that I was able to watch four solid seasons, and I guess we’re about halfway into the fifth, in a couple of months.

It’s also alarming, because it actually means that I do have the possibility of deep diving into something and not coming up for air until it’s done. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I lean towards not liking it. It could turn something into a major distraction when I’m actually trying to get stuff done.

Still, after four and a half seasons in a few months, The Flash. So far, at least, I like all the primary characters, and the growth and direction of them has mostly made sense in terms of the overall storytelling. And I like the overall storytelling, the characters have memory (and so do the writers), there’s an overarching story arc for each season, it’s layered, and there are things in the first handful of episodes that are still affecting what’s going on now. And while I have, more than once, had to remind myself that I’m watching essentially a visual comic book, once I settle back into that realization, it’s a lot of fun.

But now I have to tolerate the teasers and cliffhangers along with everyone else and I can’t just finished watching one episode, be annoyed at one of those teasers or cliffhangers, and watch the first scene or two of the next episode to clear things up a bit.

I think that’s okay. After all, it’s the way the medium is actually designed, right?

Much as I enjoy The Flash, I’m probably still not going to do Arrow. I don’t really do dark and gritty for the most part. Not my thing. I prefer things to end or stand on an uptick, and for there to always be hope. It’s nice to have small appearances here and there by various characters from different shows, and I like that it reminds us we’re watching a show that’s part of a larger universe, but I don’t see a need to explore all the parts of that universe.

Actually, sometimes I don’t like a reminder. Every year in the first half the season there seems be a giant crossover adventure that involves as many heroes as possible, spread across three or four shows that are too focused on showcasing everything all at once so no one really gets enough screen time to flesh things out. And not all of the shows are available on Netflix, so I have to go hunting for various parts story. Giant crossovers like that are one of things I don’t really like about comic books, but I get why a set of linked TV shows is going to do it. Really, it’s the same reason comic books do it: eyeballs.

But still not my thing.

I am, although movie much more slowly, and deliberately so, about halfway through the first season of Supergirl as well. I am curious to find out whether this show is going to be as addictive for me as The Flash in the longer run, because it is very much in the same heroic, hope-filled vein, and that’s working for me so far. I do feel like they’ve skimped a couple places on the special effects. A lot of her powers, only showcased when fighting villains, look really, really good, but the bits of things where she’s just flying look much more primitive to me, and not very impressive. It’s stylized, but I don’t like the style.

And then there’s Legends, and Black Lightning. I’m not sure how much potential Legends has for me, though I like several of the characters involved, and I’m concerned Black Lightning is in the same dark and gritty tone as Arrow, but I will probably check both out at some point.

Be well, everyone.

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Vacation Prep

Vacation Prep

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Have you ever noticed before you go on vacation that there is a $h!tload of stuff to do?

I don’t just mean the getting stuff ready, the prep for the actual vacation itself. You also have to do all kinds of stuff in advance for work to make it possible for you to go on vacation the first place: task to reassigned, things to get done, to email cleaned out, out of office responses, all the things that you would normally do as part of your job that need to be done still need to be done while you’re gone so you get someone to cover those. And then, whether you have older kids at home, house sitters, someone coming to hang out every day to feed and play with your pets, or nothing at all, there are still preparations you need to make for the house before you go away. It would probably be smart to be completely caught up on the laundry and dishes up to. The litter box won’t scoop itself. The garbage won’t put itself out. The leftovers won’t take care of themselves.

I mean, I’m not Arthur Dent. I’m not going to come home after being away any the three least fuzzy things in the fridge and thereby prevent myself from being patient zero in a space plague.

And then you come back, and you have all the vacation laundry to do, all the things to put away, all the things you brought back that need to be taken care of, and is all the housework that you really should have done before you left but didn’t, and some the garbage got missed, and there were two now unidentifiable leftovers tucked in the corner the fridge hidden behind the milk that you also should have drunk before you left. Then go back to work and there are hundreds of emails and a pile of paper on your desk and a long list of problems and issues that could’ve been taken care of in your absence but weren’t.

Just disregarding the financial cost of your relaxing vacation getaway, is there really a net gain in terms of stress and relaxation?

Make no mistake, I’m not saying you shouldn’t travel, but we seem to put an awful lot of baggage onto and in and around what’s necessary to do the actual traveling. Sure, maybe it’s easier if you don’t have kids or pets or a house or a job or any kind responsibilities at all. Maybe all those things together are building your background stress levels, not always in a bad way, to the point where you do need to go and relax for a week.

But maybe even if you do have all those things it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Maybe we just make it one.

Maybe I don’t have to make one.

Be well, everyone.

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Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion

Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion

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Or, in the original German, Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion.

Usually abbreviated as Space Patrol Orion or Raumpatrouille Orion.

A classic 1960s science fiction television show, a cult classic, in fact.

What’s that, you’ve never heard of it?

Well, that’s probably because (as you’ve likely guessed) it’s 1960s German science fiction television, filmed in black and white, never dubbed, and, possibly only recently becoming available with subtitles. The only place I’ve found so far is on YouTube, at least in a way that I can enjoy it.

How did I even find out about it, you ask? Well, on Facebook (yes I still have Facebook) a friend of mine posted a small clip from it that he gotten from some group or website or shared to him by some else with a couple of odd dancing scenes. Filmed in 1960s, in black and white, the caption was something like, “this was how people in 1960s thought we would dance in the future.” It was weird, stylized, formalized, and very structured. It was also very 1960s. So I decided I wanted to figure out the show it came from, to see if that was just as 1960s. In this day of everything interlinked everything else, it actually didn’t take an awful lot of Google to track down in German and only a few seconds longer to locate a version with subtitles.

And I quite enjoyed the first episode.

Special effects aside, and those were probably pretty impressive in the 1960s, especially the robots, the show is clearly a product 1960s. It’s hard not to set it beside the giants of the science-fiction TV genre from the same time and see it compare favourably, most specifically with Star Trek. There are certain similarities in outlook and ideas, but it’s also very, very different. A similar level of specialized technology and technobabble, some keen fashion sense on the uniforms. Sometimes, the pacing is what we might consider slow when put next to modern TV, but it works. Still comparing to Star Trek, in some ways the writing is less mature, and in some ways more complex. There is an overall story arc to the seven episode series (yes, only seven episodes, unfortunately) which, in North American TV was unheard of in time. Two episodes with the same story linking together were difficult in those days. But not, apparently, in Germany.

And there was a lot more attention to background. Less use of background painting, and more physical sets, and in social places there were plenty of extras actually being social. See the aforementioned dancing, which never seems to be a real focus, but whenever characters are gathered in the bar on the base, which happens regularly during off duty time, there is futuristic music playing, and futuristic dancing going on.

There’s an attempt to give the show international flavor, although not quite as international Star Trek, and mostly through the use of names. It is 1960s Germany, after all, and their choices of actors were fairly limited in that regard, so you get a German actor as an Italian character, a Swedish character, a Russian character, and so on. Not so different, really, but with fewer ethnic backgrounds available.

It’s actually pretty cool to watch, and it’s sent me on the beginning of a search for other classic, non-English, 1960s, 70s, and 80s science-fiction to watch. I can pick up a word or two here and there of a number of languages, especially numbers, but don’t speak anything competently other than English, so I’m glad for subtitles (and actually prefer them to dubbing as that usually disrupts the tone of the speech for me). But there’s a lot more out there than North American entertainment. It’s a big world. As I get older, I want to explore more of it.

The link to the first episode (subtitled) of Orion on YouTube is at the end of this post. If I come across anything else really cool in my search, I’ll probably pass that along, too.

Orion, a serendipitous find through an unlikely moment, has made me wonder what else I’m missing, and it’s made me wish I had a lot more disposable income so I could go to some different science-fiction conventions around the world, and see what things are like beyond my own borders.

Maybe someday.

Be well, everyone.

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I’m 48 and Dad Is Still Teaching Me Stuff

I’m 48 and Dad Is Still Teaching Me Stuff

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I don’t know if he realizes that or not, and I’m sure it isn’t his plan, but I think it’s true nonetheless.

I’ve said for a long time that life is too short to learn from only your own mistakes and decisions, and that’s a piece of it. I’ve also said for a long time that you can’t choose you can’t choose what the universe throws in front of you, only how you react to it, and that’s a piece of things, too.

The life he’s led has not always been easy one, and in some ways he’s paid the price that physically, and some ways mentally or emotionally. He has made his own choices all the way along. We all do. I expect that the vast majority of those choices were what he thought was right or necessary at the time. Some of those choices have been harder on his body than they needed to be, then he needed to be. Closing in on 75 years old, his health is not everything it could be, and the diagnosis a few years back of COPD did not really make any improvements. I understand difficulty in quitting smoking, and shared it closing on 18 years ago, but not after nearly so long at it, and I had the luxury of growing up in a time when there was always more information available than the day before. That really wasn’t the case in the same way during his formative years.

But that second piece, the choosing of how you react things, is also in the mix here, and probably a whole lot more. He’s picking the stubborn path, meeting what the universe is throwing at him in terms of his health and bending only as much as he has to so he can continue to live the way he chooses to. An oak tree.

He’s also choosing to live with regrets, and whether anyone else can see it or not, I can see those in him every time I go to visit. He knows how some of his choices have affected the people he cares deeply about, his family. Rather than trying to address those, reconcile them, and forgive himself, he’s swallowing them, stuffing them down as far as he possibly can and letting everyone be who they are. I’m not sure who all knows just how much he’s not dealing with things. I suspect I only have a small idea. I suspect there’s a lot more to it.

He’s also showing me potential glimpses into the future. We are a lot alike, although we are not the same person. We did not grow up in the same time, or in the same kind of places, and we did not make the same choices. When he was 48, I was 22, and I didn’t really seem a lot because I was in school. When I saw him, he was still presenting as the strong man that I grew up with. Over the next few years, and through scattered visits over time, I would slowly discover what most sons eventually discover about their fathers. There comes a moment when you realize that you are better, stronger, faster than your father at most things that aren’t a direct result of their specialties. And it is one of the saddest days of your life.

It’s also a too jarring reminder of the march of time and of your own mortality.
Make no mistake, there’s still a ridiculous number of things that he knows far more about than I do, but I can recognize some of what age has stolen.

I was a couple of years older when my son was born than dad was at my birth. But 46 and 48 are not too different. Measured against his father, there was a much larger gap, but dad was the youngest of seven. Pop lived to eighty-four with, a life filled with harder choices, and some of them, to my eyes, almost deliberately destructive. Did dad use that same measuring tape at some point? Does he still?

I’m not my father, but I certainly have those thoughts very, very often. I don’t need to be remembered by anyone other than my family, really. Beyond that, if I leave some stories behind for people to enjoy, that’s great, but what I really want is to leave enough good memories for my children to carry them through after I’m gone.

I hope I have inherited my father’s stubbornness, and I know I’ve inherited some of the desire for frequent solitude, but I am my own person, and I make my own choices. I love my father, but I do still find it difficult to talk to him sometimes. I don’t think I should, but that’s my problem. He’s still teaching me things, still setting examples. Sometimes those are examples I want to follow and sometimes they’re not, but there’s one I do like, for sure.

To steal a line, do not go gently into that good night. He will continue to not go gently for as long as he can, I think, and he does recognize what his eventual departure from life will mean to others. He may or may not recognize anything resembling the full extent of the impact to his children and grandchildren. None of us do, probably, but that too, in a lot of ways, is part of the human experience. Growing up, growing old, losing people, being lost.

I love you, Dad. I hope someday I’m able to effectively tell you. Whether day that comes or not, I hope I demonstrate it at least a little, and I hope you do know it.

Be well, everyone.

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Dunning-Kruger vs Shuhari

Dunning-Kruger vs Shuhari

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Lovingly borrowed from Psychology Today.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a close personal friend of mine.

I’m sure you seem to means, my favorite being that the first rule of Dunning-Kruger club is that you don’t know you’re in Dunning-Kruger club. Boiled down, without math or graphs or anything, it’s a cognitive bias that essentially says the skills you need to understand whether you are good at something or not are the same skills that you need to actually be good at that thing.

If you’re unaware of the effect, graphically it looks like a super steep line when you first learn something, peaking way above actually being good or knowledgeable about that something. So, early on, when you learn just a little bit, you think things are easy and that you’re really good at it. And then you learn a little bit more, and there’s almost as steep a drop-off into understanding just how ignorant of the subject you are. It drops into a bowl that, very slowly over time and learning, you come out of until, at essentially expert level, you figure out that you’re more or less doing okay.

Thank you, Wikipedia.

There are also a variety of concepts of cyclical learning spread across the world, but I like the Japanese version the best, which I may have discussed before: Shuhari. Emulate, adapt, transcend.

I try to look at both of these things together, really. A lot of the time, I know just how not good I am at something. In terms of cyclical learning, I’m still in the emulation phase. Looking at what people are doing around me, seeing the things that work well and don’t, and adapting my practices as result. I read, study, learn.

On good days, when Mr.’s Dunning and Kruger are my friends, I actually feel like I’m on the upward curve of the bowl. I’m in the adapt or extend phase of learning, providing the right example to the people around me, and being good at whatever job it is I’m doing at the moment. There are even flashes of transcendence, moments, hours, even days sometimes when I feel like everything is just working right, when I’ve got a grip on things, when I’m making things work, when everything is going well and I’m making a difference. Those never last, of course.

Most days are a mixture of the three, with, over time, more and more in the middle zone, where I’m maybe on the upward curve, mostly in the adaptive phase. But then there are days, or even weeks, that kick my ass.

Every morning, I should stop and wonder what kind of the day today will be. On Monday’s maybe it’s what kind of week.

I guess I just have to wait and see, and do my best at whatever I turn my mind to.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for January 2019

Writing Report for January 2019

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A good beginning to the writing year: 31 writing days out of a possible 31.

Accomplishments in January:

  1. Welkiri Corps: now coming in at 39,443 words, and I think it’s going to just tick 50k by the time I’m done, although it might be a little lower. I seem to be careening towards the end point right now.
  2. Battlefield: just broke the 43k mark today (43,352). Currently forecasting a 77k first draft, which is tighter than usual for a first draft plot for me, drifting only 5k from the original 72k estimate with the 25th (of 46) chapter almost complete.
  3. Editing: finished the final draft of Hero’s Life. Hopefully drafting the third book in the trilogy, Fallen Heroes, this year.
  4. Also editing: all but one short and two novelettes of the chosen Undead stories are at least at third draft status, with 8 out of 40 at final. The short (currently 5400 words) will probably finish 3rd draft tomorrow.
  5. Still editing: working my way through the “make it pretty” draft of Fractured Unity, just over half way through chapter 9 (of 20).
  6. 17 blog posts.
  7. 12 journal entries.

Total word count for the month of 81,661, averaging over 2.6k words per day. I think this was an above average month for what I’m expecting for the rest of the year, even with missing a commuting day due to have to replace a car battery. I worked from home that day and lost the dictation word count, doing some editing in the evening. However, I did also do two solo trips to Ottawa, once using about half the trip for dictation for 6k words and once using all of it to hit 12.7k, so there’s pair of significant boosts there. I don’t expect those trips to be normal, at least not going on my own.

On the publishing side, things were a bit lighter than I originally intended.

  1. I did get all of “Between a Rock and a Klingon” posted on Wattpad.
  2. I also mostly did the cover design for “Thorvald’s Wyrd” but haven’t managed the internal layout yet.

Next up:  February Goals. The open ones, at least. These are heavily reduced due to the vacation my wife and I are taking. Not bringing a computer along.

Goals for February:

  1. Short Fiction: it’s just possible that I’ll get Welkiri Corps done by the end of Feb, but with the vacation it’s more likely that it will take a week or so into March. Looking for at least 6k here.
  2. Battlefield: 12,000 words. There are only 19 commuting days in February for me, with no vacation involved. Looking at the time I’m taking off for flights and recovery, I’m down to only 12.
  3. Short fiction editing: the last Undead stories to 3rd draft, and start into the final drafts of the 32 that aren’t there already.
  4. Third draft of Fractured Unity to be completed.
  5. Non-fiction word count goal for the month is a mere 5000 words.

Switching over to publishing:

  1. I do still want to try to get 10 short story submissions in.
  2. The first batch of query letters will go out for Ancient Runes. Yeah, that was supposed to happen in January.
  3. “Thorvald’s Wyrd” layout to be finished so that it can actually become an ebook and start posting on Wattpad.
  4. Cover design and layout for Skip To My Luu. I’d like to get this up and rolling as well.

The total word goal for the month is only 23k. Very low, but in line with time off and other plans for the month. A vacation that costs only a week of commutes will drop the monthly goals by 9250 words. I’ll adjust accordingly. I’m taking 7 working days and there’s a stat holiday in February, too. March is back to normal and I’ll likely be looking for a similar set of word count goals as I’d originally set for January, something around 40k.

Be well, everyone.

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I Blame the Internet

I Blame the Internet

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But I’m not sure how to fix it.

Maybe I should reel back a little bit. It’s not a new problem I’m talking about, but it seems to get worse every day. There was a time, I think, when people were mostly polite to each other. But that day seems to be kind of in the past. There is a lack of respect for individual people by individual people. I’ll give an example.

A while back, we brought home a new pet, a ball python, a chunky, docile little snake who will never get appreciably bigger than the 3-ish feet long she is now. She’s cute, and I think reptiles are neat, and so I blogged about it and posted. And in among the various likes and positive comments, I had a couple of friends who felt the need to comment negatively, and not just some innocuous little comment about how they didn’t like snakes, which I could have lived with. One who suggested, and not terribly politely, that I was out of my mind and what was wrong with me? Another went so far as to say that if such an animal came into their house it would be dealt with in summary fashion, likely being chopped up into little bits.

I got publicly irritated with both of them. One of them possibly to the point where they may have snoozed me or blocked me. I’m okay with that. Keep thinking you’re an animal lover when you can laugh off telling me one of my pets was only good for killing.

In what social context is it essentially okay to be a dick to someone and tell them that their opinion or thing they like, not only doesn’t matter to you, but is worth your time to denigrate?

I blame Internet.

It’s mostly not anonymous anymore, if it ever really was, but it seems to have taught us to behave however we feel like behaving, say whatever we feel like saying, because there are no consequences. It’s not a real interaction so I can say whatever I want. Free speech, you know, freedom of expression.

To which I remind you that free speech isn’t freedom from consequences.

You are absolutely free to say whatever you want, think whatever you want, do whatever you want, so long as you’re willing to accept the consequences. I’m free to disagree with you, and free to do it out loud if I don’t like your opinion, particularly when it pertains to something that matters to me. It’s entirely reasonable for me to tell you that I think you’re being an asshole. And if you get offended, well, too bad.

There is an old, old cliché that runs along the lines of if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I like a slightly modified version: if you can’t say something nice, say something nice about someone else.

Now, I am almost famous for trying to see things in a positive light, the best light I possibly can. I do get irritable, and I do get grouchy, I do have issues sometimes with people, places, things, processes, whatever. But I try to pay attention to what’s coming out of my mouth or keyboard, regardless of what’s going on my head. I am a firm believer in Wheaton’s law. It’s the same cliché, but expressed in more modern terms, and very succinctly. Wheaton’s law: don’t be a dick.

Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? I don’t understand why it’s getting hard for individuals in our society not to be dicks to each other.

Where, exactly, along the line did we collectively get the idea that not only do I have the right to express my opinion, but that I’m entitled to an audience, that anybody who happens to be nearby has to listen to it?

Sure, you have the right to express your opinion, but why should I care what that opinion is? Why should I have to listen to it? Why, having been forced to listen to it at some point, should I have to agree with it or accept it?

The answers is quite simple, actually. I don’t have to listen. If I do hear, I don’t have to agree. If I don’t agree, I’m just as free to tell you that as you were to express yourself in the first place.

And sometimes I will.

Recent experience shows me, however, that there’s a good chance that if I call you on being a dick, your interpretation of that is going to be that I’m the one being a dick. Well, I can probably live with that. If you can’t, it’s kind of not my problem.

Sometimes, if you can’t say something nice, and instead choose to say something that isn’t nice, the appropriate response is actually for me to tell you to shut the fuck up. I’m sorry if that offends you, and I’m not usually going to go straight to that, but we might arrive there eventually. I’ll regret going there, but not for long, and not stress too hard about it after the fact.

In Wheaton’s name, be well, everyone.

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Taking Things for Granted

Taking Things for Granted

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Knee painful – skeleton x-ray, 3D Illustration medical concept.

Human beings tend to take a lot of things for granted.

It’s not a matter of faith or knowledge or hope or anything, but an underlying assumption that what is right now will always be. How we reconcile that in our own heads with another well-known axiom that change is constant is a question somebody far smarter than me is going to have to answer. I can make guesses on things based on my experience, but what it really needs is a whole lot of experts on human psychology, biology, and probably at least one or two other fields.

But the fact remains that we take a ton of stuff for granted.

Case in point: me, right now.

When I was 16 or so, and in those days there was still a bit of roughhousing considered appropriate even at that age, I got thrown harder than my attacker intended and landed badly, knocking my left knee out of joint in a bad way. Being a 16-year-old boy, I ground my teeth, got two friends to help me mostly stand up, and slammed it back into place with my fist. Right, thank you, carry on, gentlemen.

It was certainly tender for a while, but healed quickly since I was young after all. And the idea that there might’ve been long-term damage didn’t setting until much, much later. In my 20s, was the occasional irritation, in my 30s, it was more than irritation, and that carried into my 40s. But not far my 40s, not far at all.

At its worst in my 30s, I actually had some imaging done, and they were able to tell me that there were some free-floating cartilaginous bodies behind my kneecap that every so often got stuck someplace and had to work itself losing. They would, one hoped, grind down over time until they were no longer an issue. Alternately, there was the possibility of some relatively minor surgery to crack open my knee, take the offending bits out, and let it heal. This so long as it didn’t get any worse, was not really considered an option of time.

And then, a year or so later, I stopped having the every few months flare up. And it’s probably been six or even seven years since I had my last issue. I was in the clear, but, a couple of weeks ago, when the twinges started, I knew exactly what they were and so started to baby it a little bit. A little heat, a little ice, you know the drill. Except it didn’t go away, and actually got worse, until it drove me to the bench in a karate class, which has never happened before and made me kind of angry.

Since the incident, my left knee has never been fully mobile compared to my right, and my lack of flexibility on top of that probably didn’t help much, although the tight tendons typically would help the kneecap in place better, but it was functional and let me do whatever I wanted to do.

See, right there, taking current normal for granted and assuming that it will continue to be normal for the indefinite future. And it was, for a while, until it stopped.

My current normal is that I don’t enjoy stand when both legs are involved, and walking for more than a few steps is not recommended. I’m in considerable pain most of the time, and since I’m most of the time too stubborn to take painkillers, that’s not really changing. The thing is, I have done painkillers couple of times, and I think they’ve made me careless. It doesn’t hurt, so I can do more. Except, even without the painkillers, I’m doing too much, because I’m stubborn.

Youthful stupidity combined with middle-aged stubbornness. Good mixture for making an old injury worse, which I’m certain is what I’m doing at this point. Luckily, I have a doctor’s appointment the middle of next week, which was supposed to be a sort of semiregular blood pressure checkup, and now is going to be all about the knee. Well, the checkup will probably still happen, but to my mind it will be quick and cursory to make sure I have no other major issues and then we’ll move on to my real problem.

The fact that has gone on for three weeks now and has not only not gotten better, but it’s gotten worse, the whole not being able to walk very well thing is about a week old, and is leading me down the mental path that’s that surgery that was not recommended in my late 30s is probably almost a guarantee now in my late 40s.

I saw what really wasn’t an entertaining meme a while back: “Welcome to your 40s. If you do not have a mysterious ailment, one will be assigned to you.” Except, mine is not so mysterious and I already had it. I don’t know if that makes me ahead of the meme or not.

Be well, everyone.

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People Are Hard

People Are Hard

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Hard. Complicated. Difficult to understand. I think a big part of that problem is that every person is different, even if we can consider certain general personality traits that reach across many people.

I think I’m wired differently than most people, although I’m not sure that was always the case. I do think it’s possible to adjust your own mental wiring, to decide there are things you don’t like about yourself or your personality and consciously over time change them.

I grew up in a certain environment in a certain time. Paired with my genetics made some significant impacts and adjustments to how I look at the world, how I perceive people, and how I react to things. But our experiences change us, and if we continue to learn and grow, we will never be the same person from one day to the next. We learn and understand new things and some of those new things change us, and some of those new things we change. More frequently, both, if there other people involved.

But we can consciously make the choice to change how we think and feel about something or someone. Or to not change how we feel. We can decide we don’t like how we react when confronted with a certain circumstance or situation and then we can decide what we think the right reaction should be. After that, it’s just a matter of practice, when confronted by that situation, of stopping our initial reaction and consciously replacing it with what we want that reaction to be. Eventually, given enough repetitions, the reaction we want becomes the preferred one, and probably even slightly more tailored over time.

But is that my wiring or general human trait?

Over the last decade or so, I keep hearing the phrase brain plasticity, about how things can adapt and change inside your brain even deep even old age. About how we can change and learn and grow at any stage in our lives, if we want to.

But not everyone does, and not everyone wants to. You can’t choose the things or situations or people the universe puts in front of you, but you can choose how you react to them. And while self-interest is important, it’s not the only thing. I’m not quite certain how we got to the point culturally where it is the only thing.

I’m angry about a lot of things, all time, culturally and socially. I don’t do as much as I could to change them. I could do more.

Self-interest is important, but it’s not the only thing.

And there are times, and quite a few people, where self-interest crosses over into selfishness.

I like to be the soft and fuzzy guy, the guy who puts things in as positive a light as possible, who sees the best in everyone. Some people make that difficult, but sometimes, there comes a moment, a realization, when you have to cut things short with that person. Some people refuse to be reached, refused to engage in actual conversation. I usually keep trying to engage long past that point. A character flaw, maybe. I do believe that most people are reachable, most people are able to have actual dialogue, even if it seems like an increasing proportion of them don’t want to. That’s a learning process for me. Something that, maybe, I have to alter my reactions to.

I do like to be soft and fuzzy, I do like to find the silver lining in things, I do like to see things and people in the best light possible. But when the person I’m dealing with doesn’t, and walls, and can’t even consider meeting me partway, am I throwing good time after bad?

People are hard, people are complicated. Don’t expect that to change.

Be well, everyone.

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Yeah, It’s Cold

Yeah, It’s Cold

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It’s the 22nd of January, 2019

And it’s cold.

In fact, it’s been cold for days. The night-time and early morning lows have been well under -20 with, I think, this morning has been the coldest yet at about -26. My car is not enjoying it. And not enjoying it to the point where it actually completely refused to start yesterday, and required no less than four attempts at jumpstarting, before we elected to take it to the garage and have the battery checked. That battery had not given me a lot of issues, or really any, so far this winter, but it has not been nearly this cold.

The battery that came out is probably about six years old, which is probably about how old the first one was. Talking to Paul, the guy who runs the garage, Honda batteries typically tend to be on the rather small side and not really built for winter as Canada understands it. Most of southern Asia doesn’t really have winter per se, and Japanese winter, even the extreme north of the main island, is actually quite tame compared to what we’re used to here.

But that means we put a battery in both cars in the last week. The Pathfinder, which is a Nissan and therefore also a Japanese car, was purchased by us at the very end of 2013. So that battery lasted on five years and a couple of weeks, plus however long it sat on the lot for test drives. Apparently, most the time, five years is that what you can expect a battery. Less if all of your driving is extremely short distance, and more if it’s all highway. My driving is mostly highway, so I’ll get a little more, but although I didn’t remember having the battery done, I certainly didn’t get 12 years in. It wasn’t a Honda battery people that. It’s not a Honda battery that came out of the car. And, at -26, even with a fresh battery, my little old car that’s done so well still needed three attempts to start and stay running for more than a minute as I tried to warm it up this morning.

What’s that you say? Climate change, global warming? Yep, that’s still a thing. And it will continue to be a thing. More energy in the system means that the extremes get more extreme. We will continue to have cold snaps like this, and when they happen, they will be brutal. Sometimes, they’ll go on for a long time. This one I think is going to lift within the next couple of days and we’ll be back to what we consider a normal winter in recent decades. Which doesn’t mean it won’t get cold again.

And it’s pretty damn cold the last few days.

Be well, everyone.

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