I Took a Long Drive Instead – And Didn’t Regret It

Last night, I posted that I would be heading out for a night hike. The minute I stepped out the door, I knew I had made a bad choice. But, since my life is chock full of bad choices, I wasn’t about to turn back.

The snow was coming down hard. The roads were slick. I got on the highway and watched as cars in front of me spun out in 360’s, the traffic desperately trying to avoid them as they headed toward the ditch. Cars flew past me. I drove about 40 miles per hour the entire time, completely content to live and live well.

As I drove, I listened to Minnesota Public Radio and got to hear the fascinating interview with Ann Kim, the entrepreneurial owner of three pizza joints here in the Twin Cities. She is not only supremely successful, but has an excellent command of that type of humor where you know you’re going to get a laugh, but you feign comedic innocence, which only serves to get an even bigger laugh.

Take a listen…you won’t be disappointed.

Oh…and I simply drove for three hours.

Give A Man a Fish….

You know the saying:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I hate fishing. Hate it with a passion.

When I was a kid, my dad took me and my older twin brothers to Alexandria, Minnesota. My great aunt Jo lived on Lake Latoka there. She owned a large pontoon boat and had a lot of old dude friends who liked to fish. She made fruit punch slushies, filled up ice cream pails with it, and sent me, my brothers, the old dudes, and my dad off to the lake.

We caught 109 fish that afternoon. I remember running from one full hook to the next, taking off fish and throwing them in the water basket. It was an exhilarating time.

The next year, my dad took the three of us to a lake in St. James, Minnesota. That is the exact opposite direction of the northern city of Alexandria, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Down there, the lakes are shallow, green, smell like toilets from hell, and give you the runs just for walking past. We had no boat and stood on the dock. There was no wind and it was 98 degrees, with high humidity.

We caught a frog and a bicycle.

On the way home, I asked my dad a very important question that would change the course of my life:

Was our success last year in Alexandria what most fishing trips are like, or is it closer to the misery of St. James?

Dad, not knowing that he was about to give a young gentleman an enormous distaste for an absolutely pointless and boring activity, answered as honestly as every fisherperson should answer:

St. James is the norm.

That was it for me. I never fished again – on purpose.

 

When a Suicidal Friend Comes Calling

“I feel like nobody loves me. My head is telling me I want to die,” she said over Facebook Messenger.

This was the fourth time in two days she said this to me. I was frustrated, because I just don’t understand suicide. I love life, no matter how shitty it is. My mind just never goes there. And it’s not the knowledge that some people can’t stop going down that mental road. Rather, it’s the fact that I can’t fix it. And I want to fix it.

“Well…you’re fucking worthless. You’re good for nothing. Nobody will miss you if you’re gone. You’ve never done one thing for me that I will tell my grandkids about. It’s as if you don’t exist,” I replied.

She became internally angry at my words and responded with a wink and a squeaked out “Thanks for that.”

The reader asks: Hey asshole! What just happened?!

I became her brain, albeit externally, saying the same shit her internal brain was yelling at her, and she reacted angrily toward my words, knowing, of course, that I was being facetious. Her internal brain then attacked the words that her internal brain was telling her, yet attacked the external brain. It wasn’t a solution to the problem, but it did give a little glimmer that there was still life to be lived. Essentially, the fact that she was angry at the external brain for telling her lies, meant that she could somehow re-channel that anger toward the incessant lies of her internal brain.

Except, that was merely the hope for that moment. There will be more lies tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. I won’t be using the same tactic (maybe), but I will still be rooting for her to live. For her success in this life. For her to maybe one day, break away from all the bad memories and thoughts that bring her to the brink, and create new memories and new thought pathways to bring more joy.

 

As Everyone Knows, Roy Moore Lost

Everyone, that is, except Roy Moore.

A few months ago, I posted some predictions on social media, prophesying that Moore was going to win, and win by a landslide. My assumptions were that the deep south of our lovely country was more into the cult of Republicanism than they were into the idea that they so forcefully demanded of their enemies – the Democrats – that everything government must be Constitutional. But, the minute Roy Moore came along, not to mention the Orange Jesus in the White House, power and theocracy trumped any illusion that they lived what they preached.

This was before the Washington Post came out with the well-researched accusations by the women from ~40 years ago.

I’ve never been more happy to be wrong. Also, by Biblical prophet standards, I can now no longer be considered a prophet. You get one wrong, that’s your shot. Sure, it doesn’t work for current era “prophets of the Lord,” but then again, that’s Republicanism.

It’s been almost six months

Short version: I’m getting a divorce.

Now, for all the lurkers who read my blog to get the skinny on my life, have at it. Now you know. For everyone else, I won’t be providing much detail about the proceedings of the divorce for several reasons.

First and foremost, this blog is public. Second and most importantly, I absolutely and unequivocally love and adore the woman I am divorcing. The divorce is a mutual decision. We will both be much happier apart than together. My greatest concerns are also two-fold – that my kids are strong, safe,  and happy, and that the woman that has defined my life for the last 17 years flourishes and becomes better and more successful than I could ever dream of becoming.

Now…onward to more writings…

 

Sure. Let’s Destroy Our Waterways.

pollutionnavigationimage400White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, stood behind the lectern and stated very emphatically,

We’re going to put the safety of Americans first, we’re not going to wait and react, as I said in the statement, the president is going to be very proactive in protecting this country.

Donald Trump’s America First Energy Plan specifically states,

…our need for energy must go hand-in-hand with responsible stewardship of the environment. Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority. President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.

Sean Spicer’s statement is shortsighted, red meat for the White House’s narrow constituency, while the statement about the EPA’s responsibility is now an outright lie. Or can be an outright lie, should the President sign the latest environmental regulatory review decision that Paul Ryan and the Congress have decided to do.

There’s this little thing called The Congressional Review Act. It was instituted in 1996, part of Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America, and signed into law by Bill Clinton, himself. This allows Congress to review and roll back any regulations, instituted by any administration, recently enacted (within the last 60 days the legislature has been in session, currently this means that they can review all regulations enacted back to June, 2016). It works just like a law. If they disapprove with a simple majority and the President signs it, the regulation goes away. If the President vetoes it, as Obama would have done, they can overturn his veto by a 67% majority and the regulation also goes away.

Back in December of 2016, Obama finalized a regulation that requires surface mining companies (not just coal, as Paul Ryan is trying to make you think…heavy metals, as well) to not pollute waterways outside of their permit areas. After all, any kindergartner knows that water runs downstream and dumping waste into a stream, river, or lake, will end up polluting ecological communities downstream. This is just common sense.

We have Superfund sites that have been operating for years, decades even, where the entire mission is to clean up the downstream pollutants. Superfund sites are reactionary. Much like disallowing visas from Saudi Arabia would be, after the attack on September 11, 2001. A mining company comes in, legally pollutes the land and waterways, and then leaves or goes bankrupt, and the government (the EPA) is left holding the bag. The citizenry of the United States pays billions of dollars a year to clean up the environmental damage to our water and land.

Much like the current administration states that the “extreme vetting” refugee rules are proactive, rather than reactive, an argument that can be proven (and debated) on its merits, they also say that the “mission of the EPA is to protect (should be read: proactively) our air and water.”

But Congress is now using the Congressional Review Act to completely eliminate that rule, rolling back the proactive protections of our environment, going back to only worrying about the permitted areas, or at least removing the protections from regulatory oversight, making it easier for a mining company to circumvent responsibility for polluting our downstream waterways.

This will not only continue to cost America’s taxpayers billions of dollars in Superfund cleanup, but will fly in the face of the forcefully proffered “intelligence” of the Trump Administration to govern proactively. And it most definitely will disallow the EPA from carrying out its White House defined “essential mission.”

 

Felicity is fine, considering

reliefSo yes. It was just a migraine. Sure, that seems like a terrible thing to say, being that a 9-year-old little girl may have to suffer severe and debilitating headaches for the rest of her life, but it’s much better than the alternative. Brain bleeds, strokes, and large tumors that cause the head to be shaped like that cone headed family in that one show from long ago all went through my head.

The doctor gave her a cognitive test, mixing up numbers and having her repeat them backwards. Then he checked her extremities and balance, examined her eyes, checked vitals, and went through a thorough analysis of what happened and what we can expect. The fact that sleep and Ibuprofen made the headache go away was an excellent sign. She was diagnosed with a classic migraine that begins with an aura, causing vision to be distorted.

I get those. They’re fascinating. I first see a bright spot in my vision, then text goes awry. After a few minutes, everyone around me is walking around headless. I completely lose vision in my right eye, replaced by a pulsating light. The light comes directly at me, my glasses melt from my face in true Salvador Dali fashion. Then, about 20-minutes later, it all evaporates. If I haven’t already taken Excedrin Migraine, I will begin to feel a dull pain in the front of my head, then it will build, and keep building, until I’m stumbling around, speaking incoherently, and bumping into walls.

I usually like to continue coding my medical device control applications at this point. Powering through a migraine is a rite of passage for a pace maker developer. (That was a joke, by the way.)

If I do take migraine meds, the headache is meh. Nothing doing. Thus, I don’t usually complain about them, being that I have dear friends, including my bride, with pain that is much worse and more frequent.

After the doctor, I ran home and grabbed The Boy, Fred. He’s 12. What happened next is causing me great fear and worry. He was home because he didn’t want to go skiing with his class, and one of the options was to stay home and rot on your iPad. So we went to McDonald’s.

“Young man. What would you like to eat?” the nice woman behind the counter asked him.

“I’ll take a Big Mac Meal with a side salad instead of fries. Make it large, with a Coke.”

My little boy who can get a cheap kids meal, even a few items off the Dollar Menu, now has tastes. And opinions. Both cost money. Soon, the bloke will be ordering caviar and schnitzel.

I need a second and third job.

It’s Just a Headache, Joe. It’s Just a Headache.

How-to-get-rid-of-a-headache-naturallyWhen I was in the second grade (for all you Canucks, Grade 2), I had a friend named Amy. We sat together, talked all the time (only when we were supposed to, of course), and I still remember what she smelled like. She was my best friend.

One day, I walked into class, and she had her head down on the desk, laid into her folded arms. She was moaning about something. I asked her what was wrong and she informed me she had a headache. A bad one. Asking her if there was anything I could do, she told me to go get a wad of paper towels, soak it in cold water, and bring it to her. I obliged.

Thus started the new dance of our lives together for the next few months. In those few months, she was diagnosed with a fast moving brain tumor. She had surgery, leaving half her head shaved and a massive scar. The shaved head didn’t matter so much because she lost her hair – just before she died.

I remember her death and life, vividly, but not my response to it. I probably looked at it through the lens of religion, worrying about her eternal destiny, being her family belonged to the Mormon Church. Mormons were bad. Hell-bound. I lost my opportunity to grieve for my friend.

But, at the moment, grief doesn’t really hit me. Right now, it’s worry.

My 9-year-old daughter, Felicity, woke up this morning with a headache.

“Daddy? I keep looking at things and they disappear. I can’t see.”

It quickly devolved into a very bad headache where she needed to skip school, lay down in bed, and keep the room completely dark. I have a doctor’s appointment at 12:45 PM today, and am hoping it’s just a headache.

I want to tackle my memories of grief, focused on Amy, and not discover them anew with something more recent, and even closer to tearing my real heart out.