Good Stuff

Song: “Hello Mary Lou” by The Statler Brothers

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Today was a good day. It’s late and I’m having trouble focusing so I won’t write much, but today was good. I had a really great time with FA, we had storms today, and J and I took it easy this evening.

I’d like to write more but I’m pretty pooped and I don’t want to fall asleep on the chesterfield again.

Stay safe.

Tired But Good

Song: “Paper Rosie” by Gene Watson [it’s a sad song]

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

Sleep seems to work out a little better for me when I’m sleeping in bed. I was very careful last night about paying attention to how I was feeling, and as soon as I started to drag I got ready for bed. As a result, I slept much better, didn’t dream about empty prisons in other countries, and I didn’t have a sore throat or headache when I woke up. I even woke up a couple of minutes before my alarm, which was both great (hey, I’m awake!) and annoying (but I could’ve slept for a whole four more minutes!).

I had my breakfast and prettied myself up for the day, then thought about how I was going to approach the things I needed/wanted to get done. Part of it depended on how anxious I was, and part of it depended on whether I was still wandering around in a fog. I worked on the anxiety part by getting everything I needed for the day ready by the front door, then doing some grounding and mindfulness, which helped a lot.

Since my nighttime quetiapine dosage has been lowered, I’ve been finding that the brain fog doesn’t last quite as long in the morning. Between that and getting up a few hours before I needed to go anywhere, my head was clear well before it was time for me to go.

I was very, VERY glad to get home this afternoon, but I accomplished everything I’d hoped to do. I drove to my Dr C appointment, went for those blood tests, and picked up the groceries. The truck started and ran like a champ, and I got a great parking spot right in front of Dr C’s building. I also took a couple of pictures of the locked doors and reminded myself that the fire hydrants were on the other side of the street.

The appointment went pretty well. Dr C is very encouraging about all of the things I’m doing, and she puts me in the driver’s seat and asks me what I think the next step should be. She then helps me with guidance and I can use to achieve it. We talked a lot about how I felt driving and being in her office today, and the difference between now and just a month ago when I still couldn’t get myself to drive. As usual, I was quite tired after the appointment (it’s amazing how much thinking goes into a therapy session – I have no idea how therapists do several sessions every day), but I didn’t feel quite as wrung-out as usual, which was nice.

I made it to the clinic at about 1:20PM, and by that time of day it was empty. That was great, because even before I got sick, sitting in a packed room full of sick people waiting for someone to stab me and put some of my blood in a jar wasn’t in the top 50 things I liked doing. I got in, gave my information, and had just sat down when my name was called. The lab tech was friendly and I barely felt the needle, then I was back out in the parking lot and on my way to the grocery store.

The parking lot at the store was pretty quiet, too, and the weather was nice enough out that I just sat in the truck with the windows open and enjoyed the breeze while I waited for them to bring out the groceries. By this point I was really wanting to get home. Nothing was specifically wrong (everything had gone well up to that point), but I could feel that cramping feeling in my gut that was pulling towards home. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the store employee approached with her cart, and between the two of us it only took a minute to get everything into the back of the truck.

The drive home was very quiet. Being close to 1:45PM, lunch hour was over and the roads were pretty calm. I pulled into the driveway, parked the truck, brought everything inside, and then flaked out on the couch for a little while, happy that I was home.

So yes, things went pretty well, and I’m quite pleased that I was able to fit three things into one trip. It helped that there was only time pressure for my appointment; everything else wasn’t time sensitive so it wasn’t going to be the end of the world if I didn’t get there right away, or even if things didn’t work out and I had to call J. I’m still a little frustrated and embarrassed that I used to be able to do this kind of stuff without thinking or worrying about it, but I’m a different person now and that is okay.

There’s no guarantee that I will be able to drive to my next appointment (or tomorrow, for that matter), and that is also okay. What’s important is that I got out today and did things today. Tomorrow will be tomorrow, and we’ll see how it goes.

Speaking of tomorrow, FA is going to come over for lunch (burritos, whoo!) and we’re going to work on stuff, plan stuff, do some scheming… all kinds of fun stuff! I’m really looking forward to it!

Stay safe.

Going To Be Busy Tomorrow!

Song: “Strutter” by KISS

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

I fell asleep on the couch again last night, so I didn’t sleep so well and I’ve had a sore throat and a headache for most of the day. It’s my own fault – I should really be able to recognize when my broadcast day is over and I need to get my butt into bed.

I also had a really vivid, weird dream last night. It’s a little foggy now, but I was taking classes at college and (for whatever reason) had to get into an airplane and fly to get home. Something happened and I ended up in a prison in Singapore. My cell was very small and everything was made of stainless steel, including the mattress and blanket on the bed. The light was very bright and I could hear a loud hum coming from down the hall (which was painted hospital green). There were no signs of any other life in the prison – I couldn’t hear anyone and nobody answered when I yelled. Then I started to worry that I needed to drop my classes because I hadn’t actually been to any, and if I was stuck in prison it was unlikely I’d make it to the next one or two.

It didn’t wake me up, and it wasn’t a bad dream – just weird. I have no idea where it came from (although the hum may have been from the fan that was running nearby). A stainless steel blanket? Singapore? No idea.

I spent a lot of time today working on that signal generator project and finally got to the point where I can change its frequency whenever I want from a keypad instead of having to reprogram the whole thing. I’m very pleased with it and it’ll be nice to finally have a signal generator for use with other projects!

If everything goes well, tomorrow will be a busy day. I have a Dr C appointment at noon. Ooo, maybe I should ask her about my dream. Hmm. Anyway, I also put in another grocery order this evening and I set the pickup time for after my appointment. I also have some blood tests I need to get done, and the laboratories always seem to be quiet in the mid-afternoon. SO… my plan is to get a better sleep tonight, drive myself to Dr C’s office, then go for the blood stuff right after that and pick up the groceries on the way home. Fortunately, everything is in a pretty straight line pointing to home when I leave Dr C’s office, so I’m not driving away from home after my appointment is done.

I really hope this works out. I don’t do so well nowadays with deadlines but Dr C suggested a little while ago that I call the store and see what happens if I show up after my pickup time has elapsed; turns out they really don’t care as long as it’s not busy. So I think that as long as I can get into the truck and drive to my appointment, things are going to work out okay. J (bless her) also pointed out that if I have trouble to just call her and she’ll take care of things, so I think that will make things a lot easier. Wish me luck!

Stay safe.

BHAUGAAGHHHGHHHH

Okay, okay… get it together…I needed to do a quick bit of soldering just now so I went downstairs and got everything ready… then dropped the header on the floor. It bounced on the carpet and fell under the shadow of the workbench. In case you’re not familiar with what it looks like, here’s an example (although the one I was soldering was 12 pins long):

Header pins

Image by oomlout – Flickr: 6 Pin Header – HEAD-06, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23322739

Of course, when I usually go to pick up stuff off the floor, I fumble around with it… but this time, I picked it up and dropped it in my hand no problem. I wasn’t completely paying attention so I didn’t realize why it felt weird until I was ready to drop it AND IT DIDN’T DROP AND IT WAS CRAWLING AROUND MY HAND OMG I PICKED THIS UP INSTEAD:

Disgusting centipede I picked up by accident

Image by Dee – https://www.whatsthatbug.com/2014/12/21/soil-centipede-2/

J is upstairs sleeping and I didn’t want my legs broken so I danced around and made little squeaking noises until I got ahold of myself and very, VERY carefully found it again and disposed of it.

I’ve got a nasty case of the heebie-jeebies, I feel like stuff is crawling all over me and in (what’s left of) my hair. I need to:

  • Never, ever, go downstairs again.
  • Start wearing my glasses.
  • Not solder after midnight or when it’s dark, dummy.
  • Spend the next three hours taking the hottest shower I can stand, then towel off and do it again.
  • Tear the basement back down to the cement, buy out every last lizard from the pet stores in the city and throw them in the basement to eat the bugs, then fill the basement up with water and make one path that the lizards can escape through, and once they’re gone, throw in a couple hundred kilograms of salt and heat up the water in the basement to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for the next two to three months, then return it to a rolling boil and keep it there until the basement is empty.
  • Buy some rubber boots and tape the tops so they’re sealed to my legs.

WHY DOES NATURE HAVE TO BE SO DISGUSTING??? SERIOUSLY, WHY DOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS EXIST? I mean, I KNOW why, but WHYYYY???

No sleep for Mark tonight, methinks.

Stay safe.

Med Reductions OK So Far

Song: “Any Way You Want It” by Journey

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

The last few days have been a whirlwind. FA came over Friday and we had fun working on stuff and having burrito lunch. That local burrito shop has yet to disappoint me, it’s always so good!

The weekend was busy but… not busy? I can’t really remember what happened, other than J and I watched a great documentary about the Voyager program called The Farthest – Voyager in Space. I enjoyed it a lot, and I think I’m going to watch it again sometime. Lots of good footage, lots of interviews with people who actually worked on the program… it was very interesting how the people who designed, launched, and ran the craft almost see them as their children.

The other day I found a little static bag with a board in it that I couldn’t remember buying and couldn’t figure out what it was. Eventually (and with J’s help), I figured out that it’s a little signal generator module. I hooked it up to an Arduino and somehow got it working, but now I need to figure out how to easily set the frequency by a button or something instead of having to re-program the whole thing. Do I want to use a keypad? A little joystick? Some buttons? One button?

The new stuff I’ve been doing in STO has been going pretty well. I had a chat with the fleet owner and we talked about the kinds of stuff he’s looking to do and I told him my ideas and what I was hoping to do. I’ve puttered around on the internet for over 25 years now, and even when I was a kid and we had a party line we could make long-distance calls… but even now, I still find it fascinating that I’m able to talk to somebody in Tennessee about a video game that has players in it from all over the world.

The roost box printing experiment failed. The front panel came out perfectly and looked great, but after I did some figuring I realized that to print the whole thing would take over two full spools of filament. Whoops. So it’s either back to the drawing board or break down and make them out of (gasp) wood.

The medication reductions Dr W and I made last Wednesday have been fine so far. We dropped my prazosin from 9 to 8mg and venlafaxine from 450 to 375mg… and I don’t think I even noticed it. I had three nightmares (tent and life jacket) over the weekend but I think it was more a coincidence than being related to the prazosin reduction. Plus, now I don’t have to break a pill in half every two nights!

J and I met with some folks at a local church to talk about some volunteering possibilities. The meeting went very well and it looks like we’re going to give it a try. There are still details to work out but I think it’s going to work. A few really good things: it’s really, really close to home, there’s no set-in-stone schedule, and the people are interested but relaxed about it all.

There’s an event going on at a local hardware store (the one that FA and I wander around in) tomorrow morning. I was thinking of going over, but no matter how I work it, I’m not going to be in any shape to drive to get there in time for the free tools. I might go in the afternoon – there won’t be any free tools left but I hear they’re giving out hot dogs, and anyone who knows me knows that I am a (large) fan of hot dogs. We’ll see!

Stay safe.

Need To Keep This Short

Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

I just realized what time it is, and I REALLY need to get to bed. Today was pretty decent, though. BULLET POINTS!

  • I worked on the roost box stuff today, I think I’m ready to start a test print of some of the parts tomorrow.
  • I also did some more electronics stuff, I have a new Raspberry Pi 4 to replace the old Pi 1 that’s currently backing up our home storage, and I also fiddled with some more Arduino stuff.
  • Had the SDR playing airport traffic in the background, it’s pretty great.
  • I got invited to be one of the Grand Marshals in a fleet in Star Trek Online; I looked through the chat rooms and found a music player so I started playing music in it while I was working on other stuff. Turns out the rest of the Armada could hear it, and over the next 2.5 hours more and more people were sending me comments about how great the music was. It’s true what they say – you can’t go wrong with the Undertones.
  • J’s aunt picked me up today and took me to my Dr W appointment (THANK YOU!!!) and we had a really good chat in the car. I’m quite comfortable talking to her about all kinds of stuff – she’s a really nice lady and a good person and I enjoy our talks. We are going to set up another games and potato chip afternoon sometime soon!
  • My Dr W appointment went pretty well. Poor guy has a nasty head cold but he was pretty pleased to hear about me getting to my Dr C appointment and picking up groceries on my own. We talked about medications again and decided to try reducing the venlafaxine and prazosin a bit. I’m a little more nervous about the prazosin because I’m taking it to keep the nightmares away, but it would be really great if I can reduce things and still feel alright. I’m likely going to be taking stuff for the rest of my life and I’m okay with that, but I’d rather take just what I need. So yeah, another medication reduction step!
  • I’ve been really enjoying texting with my nephew and it seems like he’s enjoying it too. Some of that is probably because he doesn’t know all of my dumb jokes yet, but it’s wonderful to be able to keep in touch with him so easily. I hope his experience with his first cellphone is a positive one.
  • J and I have been watching The Umbrella Academy again, it’s pretty good but I think I’ve figured out where things are going…
  • FA is coming over on Friday and it will be a blast to hang out and tinker with stuff!
  • I have tomorrow “off” and I plan to at least get the roost box test print going and the NAS backup Pi ready.

Stay safe.

Another Step, Some More Homework

Song: “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

The last couple of days have been pretty good. It’s been a lot cooler out, anywhere around 12-15C out with a breeze and overcast. That’s pretty much my ideal “summer” weather, and I took advantage of it, spending a couple of hours outside on Monday doing yard work and playing around with our new leaf blower/sucker. It worked pretty well, but after an hour or two, it felt like it was getting heavier and heavier. Our garden is just about finished for the year, but the sunflowers are starting to bloom! They’re really small but they still look pretty happy:

SunflowerWe had some rain Monday night and some water got into the basement. Not a lot, just a little puddle at the edge of one of the walls, but it kind of freaked me out. Thoughts of sewer backups and clogged weeping tile drains had me tiptoeing around with a flashlight and tools while J slept, until I was finally satisfied we weren’t going to wake up to a poonami or turdalanche in the basement in the morning. Turns out the problem was that the tubing got disconnected from the downspout and rain was being poured right against the foundation. So, a bit alarming but an obvious cause and easy solution.

My nephew got his first phone last week and I got the go-ahead from my sister to start sending him texts. It’s been pretty fun chatting with him sending him silly animal videos, and I am really enjoying being able to keep in touch with him. Since travelling to go visit him isn’t really possible for me right now, at least I’ll be able to text with him regularly and say hi.

Dr C and I have been working on the getting out of the house and driving stuff for quite a while now. Back in May I drove to my first Dr H appointment ever, and just last week I drove to my first Dr C appointment in a year and a half, both of which were difficult and awesome at the same time. Another piece of homework Dr C had given me was to go and pick up some groceries (other than walking to the store down the street). Well, Monday night I put in a grocery order online, and yesterday afternoon I got in the truck and went and picked it up:

Picking up groceries!Everything was going alright, except when a couple of fire trucks and an ambulance went wailing by, which always gets me a little antsy. Then, when I was on my way home, someone decided they REALLY wanted to turn left so they turned into oncoming traffic, straight at me. Did this kind of stuff happen all the time when I was driving regularly and I was just used to it, or am I a magnet for weird stuff now?

Anyway, I got home safe (and mostly sound) and made some improvised faux-pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches for supper. In addition to feeling pretty good about getting out and getting the groceries, it was really good to be able to surprise J and take a bit off her workload by doing the groceries, and I have enough stuff to have supper ready when she gets home from work for the rest of the week!

This afternoon I have a Dr W appointment. J’s got a lot of stuff going on at work and despite my recent successes I don’t think I can drive myself there, so J’s aunt has volunteered to drive me around. It’s really nice of her to offer to do that again, and aside from the fact that I’m going to see my psychiatrist, I’m quite looking forward to the car ride and talking with her. She’s an interesting and very nice person.

At this point it looks like FA will be coming over again on Friday! We’re going to eat delicious, wonderful burritos, and work on her project again some more. I’m really looking forward to it – I always have such a good time hanging out with her!

Stay safe.

So… Busy Day

Song: Main Theme From Lazy Jones (Commodore 64 Game) by David Whittaker

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

I’ve already mentioned the big things that went on today, so I’ll keep this to BULLET POINTS:

  • I DROVE TO MY DR C APPOINTMENT TODAY!!! ALL THAT WORK AND SWEAT IS PAYING OFF!!!
  • The appointment was a little more difficult than normal, though, because I was worrying about whether I’d locked the truck, parked in front of a fire hydrant, backed over some pet or their owner… not altogether surprising but that’s okay.
  • Had a good chat with my folks.
  • Spent a lot of time writing (that Twitter thing was eating at me – I started writing that post last night).
  • Tinkered with some electronics, the crappy patch job I did yesterday is still working.
  • Tried out the SDR upconverter, had no idea what I was doing but I found a very faint station that was in what I think was Spanish.
  • Did some cleaning.
  • Looked up types of winter bird feed.

FA is coming over tomorrow, it’s going to be great!

I drove myself to my appointment, woohoo!!!

Stay safe.

Had To Get That Off My Chest

J pointed out that my previous post reads much differently than what I usually write. I agree – usually I’m not that irked about something (although the “stupid YouTuber in Japanese forest” incident was pretty close), but for whatever reason, those Twitter messages really got my goat and I didn’t want to sit around and stew over it.

Sorry for the swearing (don’t tell my mom).

Stay safe.

Seriously? Come On, Dude…

Trigger Warning: this post may contain content that can trigger a shift in mood, comfort, or mental status. Proceed at your own risk.

NOTE: This post contains swear words. Sorry about that, but I couldn’t find any other words that properly articulated what I wanted to say.

Why do some people assume that having a mental illness, disability, or not being neurotypical automatically makes someone’s opinions, thoughts, or dreams invalid? Are they under the impression that people with a “condition” aren’t able to string together coherent thoughts? Or is it that they think that people with a “condition” can think, but just not well enough to be able to make sense of the information and world around them and properly comment on it? Or is it that they think that “those people” think… I don’t know… wrongly?

Why is this? Why is it such a big deal when someone has a neurological or developmental or mental disorder?

I’m guessing here, but I think that sometimes it’s as simple as discomfort. You know how some people get all weird and don’t know where to look when someone in a wheelchair is nearby? That kind of discomfort. They don’t know what to say or what to do, and in their efforts to try and not act strangely, they end up acting really strangely even though the person in the wheelchair is still a human being who has dreams, desires, and fears – just like them.

Maybe it’s because we’re conditioned. Thanks to movies and TV shows (and history), anybody with “problems” gets rounded up by men in white coats, strapped into chairs in old brick buildings with bare walls, white sheets, and very harsh fluorescent lighting. Forced injections, lots of screaming, people rocking back and forth in a corner, electroshock… that sort of stuff.

It could be fear. The gunman who shot up a restaurant. The woman who pushed kids onto subway tracks. The guy who blew up a building. That kind of stuff makes the news, and it seems that the knee-jerk reaction is to assume that someone who commits a horrible act has to have a mental or developmental or neurological disorder. Nobody hears about the mechanic down the street with Down syndrome, or the autistic lady who runs a daycare, or the kid with dissociative identity disorder who saved the sick puppy he found on his way home from school.

It could also be that someone’s just being an asshole. Twitter is truly the most horrible place on the Internet, but some people seem to go out of their way to stand out. Take the recent Twitter posts by Maxime Bernier, a Canadian politician and leader of the PPC, a federal political party. I don’t like talking about politics or politicians, but this particular set of posts made me angry:

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostOkay, I see what you’re saying. Greta Thunberg is a 16 year old Swedish girl who has been getting a lot of attention lately for her work raising awareness of climate change. The climate change debate is a very hot topic, and there are people ringing alarm bells on both sides. “…to give up our freedoms and way of life” might be a bit much, but I see what you’re saying.

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostThe 16 year old has an agenda. Agreed. I also have an agenda. So does my mother-in-law. So does the old Japanese fellow who fixes watches at the repair place down the street. Everybody does.

I’m not as cool with the second part of this particular tweet, though. It reminds me of the kind of catastrophizing I do when my OCD is hitting me really bad, like when I’m scared that the kids next door will die because I left the freezer lid open. Take a few breaths, try some grounding [https://www.samplesizezero.com/grounding/], give your therapist a call.

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostI’m no political expert and can’t really comment on the first part, but I didn’t know Ms Thunberg is autistic. I’m going to look that up.

Huh. Interesting. Oh well, no big deal… right?

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostWow. Okay, now you’re just being an asshole. I’m guessing you Googled her, found a Wikipedia page, and then wrote down the things that you thought would stand out. I assume by “mentally unstable” you mean that she can’t possibly be thinking properly, right? You forgot the “selective mutism” part, by the way.

I’m not sure why you point out that “she wants us to feel the same” because you also want people to feel the same as you do, right? Isn’t that kind of the thing behind people arguing over something? To get others to see things their way? Isn’t the whole point of a political party to get enough people to feel the same as you do so they’ll vote for you? Come on, man…

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostThis is a 16 year old kid who wants to save the planet. Didn’t you want to change the world when you were a kid? Wait a second… didn’t you start your own political party because you didn’t win the Conservative leadership and you think everyone else should follow your plans instead of the guy who more of your colleagues voted for?

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostNo shit your concern is not for Greta Thunberg’s feelings. Hopefully she is either ignoring you or has never heard what you’re spewing. Oh, and the whole “if we let her and the movement she represents” thing? She’s a 16 year old kid from another continent – how is she (and the movement she represents) going to impose her will on everyone? I agree that our political system is far from perfect, but we do have elections where the citizenry chooses which party most closely aligns with their own values.

Instead of slagging the kid for her views and telling people not to listen to her, why don’t you present your own message and build your following that way?

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostI just did some checking – far from exhaustive, I’ll grant you, but I did not find any articles that mention that the frequency of childhood suicides has increased because of Ms Thunberg’s climate activism.

I did, however, find several articles that show a clear link between bullying and suicide. Just in case you’re wondering about the bullying part, it could be something like some kid pushing another kid around on a playground… or an adult in a position as a person with an audience (like, say, the leader of a political party) who ridicules people online, or calls them a menace, or claims they’re mentally unstable.

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostYou’re right – whether Greta Thunberg is being manipulated is definitely her and her parents’ problem.

Extending that argument a bit, anyone who is influenced by Thunberg’s words and actions should be responsible for how those words and actions influence them. You have a voice and want to influence other people – why should she not be allowed to? Do you not trust people to be able to think for themselves?

As for the second part… I’m at a bit of a loss for what to say here, other than stating that a 16 year old “should be denounced and attacked” – no matter how you meant it – makes you look like a whiny, scared little prick. Did you get all bent out of shape when Malala Yousafzai came through with her message of human rights? She had brain damage from when those thugs tried to murder her, you know. She probably wasn’t thinking properly either, right?

Back in the day, I was taught that if I was to get into a fight, I should try to fight the biggest, meanest looking person as possible. That seems like bad advice, but consider this: there’s always a chance I could beat that big monster dude, and if I did, people would be pretty amazed and I would walk/limp/stagger away as a hero (yes, I was stupid when I was younger). Sure, the chances were pretty good I’d end up wandering around with a baggie full of my own teeth, but that’s the risk. I could, however, pick a fight with the 93 year old paraplegic with the oxygen mask. I’m almost certain I could kick her ass, but I’d probably look like a bully and a boob for picking a fight with a 93 year old paraplegic with an oxygen mask. On the off-chance that she won, though… well, I’d look pretty goddamn pathetic.

Maxime Bernier, able-bodied and well-educated man of 56 years, picked a fight with a 16 year old who is, in his own words, “Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear.”

He lost.

And he looks pretty goddamn pathetic.

Stay safe.