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.

WHOLLY PHOHCH

I did it… had to change into a fresh set of clothes when I got home, but I DID IT. It’s been a year and a half since I was last able to drive to Dr C’s office.

Things could change again tomorrow but for now, I’m pretty pleased (and a little embarrassed that I feel like it’s such a big deal).

Stay safe.

It’s Been A Couple Of Days…

Song: “Strutter” by KISS

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

Sorry I haven’t done any posts for the last few days. I think it was a combination of being tired, thinking really hard about some stuff, and time getting away on me. Things have been fine (although today was really frustrating, more on that in a bit) and I’m doing alright. Let’s see, what’s happened over the last couple of days…

FA and DM came over on Monday afternoon around four-ish. For whatever reason, I had a panic attack shortly before they arrived, so J ran interference and took care of things until I’d calmed down and had towelled off most of the flop sweat. I don’t know why it happened, but I could feel myself winding up (which happens), and then it was almost like I could hear a tree branch break and some kind of monster fell on me. Jeebus, I hate panic attacks. If anyone reads this and has the power to do so, I will happily have five more kidney stones than one more panic attack. Seriously.

Anyway, the PRNs, breathing, and grounding did their job, and the timing worked out pretty well so I don’t think I was missing from the party for too long.

The visit was great – we talked about all kinds of stuff, ate pizza, and talked some more. I thoroughly enjoy it when the four of us get together, regardless of whether we’re inside shooting the breeze or doing some kind of manual labour outside in the sun. When DM mentioned that they should probably be heading out, I was gobsmacked that it was almost 9PM. It was a very good visit and I hope we get together again soon!

One of the things that we talked about was DM and FA’s plans to move – I think I mentioned it briefly a little while ago. It turns out things didn’t work out so they’re staying put for now. I won’t lie and say I’m not happy about that, but I don’t like it when friends or family are really hoping and planning for something and it falls through – particularly when it’s not because of a lack of effort or bad luck/timing/whatever, but because someone deliberately gets in the way. My mom always says things like, “I’m hoping for the best thing to happen,” which normally makes me roll my eyes, but I think I’m starting to understand what she means.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time playing around with my little EKG Arduino module. I’d tinkered with it a while ago and wasn’t very pleased with the results, so I did some research into what different kinds of noise in an EKG look like and how to reduce or eliminate them. I rewired everything, shortened everything, and used some aluminum duct tape to make a ground plane under the whole thing. The result was pretty good:

EKG from Arduino module

Eight out of ten doctors say that having a pulse is a useful indicator of “aliveness” (actual medical term).

On longer samples (60-120s) there’s still a downward spike every once in a while – I’m pretty sure it’s noise. I suppose it could be me but I’m not dead… so yeah, it’s probably noise.

I speed-watched through another end-of-the-world movie called The Darkest Dawn. It wasn’t bad at all (particularly with a $40k budget and only 12 days of shooting) but there were two parts that kind of bothered me, and I’m still trying to figure out what happened at the end. Apparently TDD is the second movie set in the same world and the first one does more world-building and puts some stuff in perspective. Still – for a low-budget alien invasion movie, it wasn’t too shabby.

Today was PARCELPALOOZA! For the last week or so, J and I have put in various orders for things, and four parcels arrived today. Very exciting! Everything from CPAP machine filters, to SDR parts, to parts for a new project that FA and I are working on. It was like Christmas, but warm enough to spend more than 2 minutes outside in shorts.

One of the things that arrived was a USB to serial converter. I’d been waiting for it for a while because I have a couple of cheap but interesting microcontroller/camera/wifi devices that I couldn’t program. So… I spent the afternoon playing with converter and the microcontrollers. To be more correct, I should say that I started the afternoon playing with them, then I argued with them, then I took off the gloves and fought with them. I think I was more frustrated this afternoon than I have been in quite a long time. I could not get them to connect to the wifi. It didn’t help that the documentation that’s out there is far from complete. Anyway, long story short – I wrecked both of them, did a pretty bad looking patch job, and now they’re both working.

Whoo… just thinking about that stuff is making me tense up again.

J’s got a lot of stuff going on at work nowadays. Sounds like there are more dark clouds on the horizon, and some of the people she works with are wandering around blindly, unaware that anything is going on. I don’t envy her the stuff she has to put up with right now but I’m proud of her for how well she’s doing it. Plus, she hasn’t kicked me in the face when she gets home from work (yet), and I appreciate that, too. I hope that whatever’s going to happen just happens so it’s done and over with and she can figure out what she needs to do and move on. Fingers crossed…

FA is coming by on Friday for a burrito lunch and to work on her new project. There’s one more shipment that has a couple of parts we need so I really hope it gets here in time, but it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t. We have no shortage of things to talk about or tinker with. I’m really looking forward to it!

Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr C. I want to drive there myself. I’d planned to go out and give the truck a once-over today, but with banging my head against the wall for four hours I lost track of time. My appointment is at noon, so it would be great if I had enough time to go over the truck in the morning and maybe drive around a bit before I headed to my appointment. It would be really, really good (for a lot of different reasons) if I could get out there and drive to my appointments. I will let you know how it goes!

Stay safe.

Samplesizezero.com Privacy Statement

With all of the privacy concerns regarding content and identity on the Internet, I started to think about whether I should create one for my blog. Samplesizezero.com is a tiny site that gets very little legit traffic, so it might not be necessary, but here we go:

1) Samplesizezero.com is owned and managed by me (Mark), not a company, not a partnership, not any kind of organization. It’s a blog about my adventures and experiences with mental illness. Despite the mounds of spam I get asking me if I’d like “super gret[sic] content for yuor[sic] BLOG SIGHTE[sic]”, I employ no other people or work with contractors.

2) I do not make money on this website. Any products or services or anything else I mention is not an endorsement and I do not get any kind of kickbacks from saying that I liked a particular board game or movie, although if I did start getting kickbacks that’d be awesome – and I’d mention who and what and when right here.

3) I am using a free WordPress theme, which unfortunately brings along with it a couple of cookie trackers. Please, by all means, until I scrape up some cash to buy a similar theme to what I’m using (I like the format), use all the adblockers on my site you want. Myself, I use AdBlock Plus, Ghostery, and the DuckDuckGo add-on for Firefox (even when visiting my own page). SERIOUSLY – BLOCK THE CRAP OUT OF ALL THE COOKIES/TRACKERS/WHATEVER YOU WANT.

4) Any of the content you provide to this site (whether it ends up being approved and posted or not) is yours and yours alone (unless you stole it from someone else, in which case it’s theirs and theirs alone, or it’s threatening/abhorrent/illegal, in which case it’s the police’s then, too). If I am cross-posting an article from another site or get a post from a guest writer, it will be clearly indicated as such.

5) You may copy-and-paste your posted comments and save them at your leisure; note that comments by other posters is their content and you may not scrape their work.

6) You have the right to leave samplesizezero.com at any time; there are no penalties and there’s no user account to shut down. Best of luck in your adventures!

7) Aside from administrative and post creation accounts (both used by me), there are no accounts on samplesizezero.com; all comments are done individually without logging in. If I don’t like your comments, I will moderate them into the sun. If you are spamming or scraping my site, I may block your IP address or a block of addresses yours resides within. Once you’re blocked, that’s it – I don’t keep track of who I block when, so it’s just easier to leave the blocks in place.

8) Samplesizezero.com (aka me) will happily work with government agencies who wish to use information from this site or provide information to this site. Any other requests will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis; any requests for information by the police will be handed over after they provide the appropriate paperwork.

9) Samplesizezero.com is a blog about my own experiences, with the occasional guest post or cross-post. It is NOT a medical, psychological, psychiatric, or other professional source of information. I am not trained in any medical or psych areas; any of the exercises or techniques I mention are things that work for me but may not work for you. It is up to you to decide which techniques you wish to try (if any).

10) Samplesizezero.com is a small blog based almost entirely on my experiences, feelings, and encounters. Nobody is going to buy it. If I decide to shut it down, it will disappear forever. Nobody else will get the data (of which almost all of it is a bunch of my journal entries, anyway).

11) As far as your private data, all I keep is the comments you post and the emails that tell me that you’ve posted a comment, and the Contact Form emails I get when you fill out a Contact Form. I don’t do statistics on it, I don’t care if you live in Rotterdam, Phuket, Detroit, Brisbane, or next door, and I certainly don’t care where you shop for pork chops or where you buy transmission fluid from. They’re there because I’m too lazy to delete it (and getting emails that aren’t spam makes me feel good). As with (10) above, if I decide to shut this site down, all of those posts and emails will be deleted.

12) I don’t expect the terms of this site to change often, if at all. Should there be a need to change, it will be communicated as a normal post (like this one was) and can be found under the Privacy link.

Here ends the samplesizezero.com Privacy Statement. This is version 1, posted on 2019-08-30.

If you are feeling lost, scared, don’t think you can do this anymore, or are considering hurting yourself, please call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room or Crisis Centre, or contact a friend or family member who can get to you quickly. There are websites and phone numbers on the Resources page that may be helpful, too. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT YOU AND WHO WANT YOU TO FEEL BETTER. IT TAKES COURAGE TO ADMIT YOU NEED HELP, BUT YOU CAN DO IT!

Stay safe.

Where Did The Day Go?

Song: Playground Theme From Donald Duck’s Playground (C64 Game) by Al Lowe

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

It was much brighter and sunny outside today. I didn’t sleep well again and tried the “get up, breakfast, take nap” technique but it didn’t work. Oh well.

I don’t know where the day went. And I don’t know why it’s already quarter after midnight when I’m starting to write this.

I spent quite a bit of time on electronics stuff, making cables for my garden project and fiddling with some Arduino things I’ve been thinking about.

A bird house is something I wanted to build back in the spring but I didn’t get to it (I’d like to put a camera in it to watch them). Anyway, I was wondering if making and putting up a birdhouse now would be a good idea since summer is almost over and I didn’t want them to fill up with snow and be useless. I did some investigating and it turns out that there are quite a few birds that stick around in the winter, and there are three things you can do for them that helps them out: put out (the correct) food, have a heated birdbath that keeps water from freezing, and provide a roosting box for them to shelter from cold and bad weather.

I’ve looked at a couple of plans for roosting boxes and they differ from birdhouses in that the entry hole is near the bottom (to help retain heat at the top), there are perches inside for the birds to sit on, and it has thick walls and/or insulation. The birds don’t lay eggs in the winter but if the weather is nasty they will pack into whatever shelter they can find to try to stay warm. The perches are needed because if they’re all piled on the floor, the birds at the bottom can suffocate.

The roosting boxes don’t seem to be all that big, and I think I am going to try to make one that’s convertible to a regular birdhouse in the spring. I’m waffling over making it out of wood or printing it up, but either way it’s probably going to have a lot of insulation to keep the little guys warm. J and I don’t use the deck in the winter; maybe we can put a roosting box and a feeder or two out on the deck railing for the cold season. Something to think about.

J got home later on this evening – she had another crappy day at work and wanted to mindlessly browse the mall to relax a bit. When she got home, we talked for quite a while and then watched two more episodes of Schitt’s Creek. We’re into season four now.

There’s nothing critical going on tomorrow, but I hope to FINALLY get that stuff outside (although I realized I need to switch the end on one of the cables, whoops) and into the garden. After that, who knows. Maybe my parcel will arrive and I’ll have some new stuff to play with (and hopefully not wreck). J has the afternoon off and it’s a long weekend coming up, so that’s going to be great!

Stay safe.

Dark And Gloomy Out

Song: “Spider-Man” by The Ramones

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

I had trouble sleeping again last night. I tried to pay attention and see if I could figure out whether I was thinking of something or if I was uncomfortable or whatever, but I didn’t have any luck.

I got up and had breakfast and found I was really tired, so after breakfast I figured I’d see if I could get any more sleep. I got into bed, did some breathing… and somehow fell back asleep for another hour and a half. That 90 minutes of sleep sure made a difference – I felt a lot better when I woke up. I’d like to not make this a habit – waking up, eating, then going for a nap sounds like something out of a Garfield comic – but it sure helped today.

As the day went on, it got darker and gloomier out, with rain on and off. I listened to music for a while, then switched over to airport traffic. Man, those air traffic controllers can talk fast and be very calm at the same time!

I did some cleaning around the house and worked on some electronics stuff. It went pretty well, and the kitchen is much less horrible now. I misplaced the breadboard that held the “garden” part of my garden electronics thing so I rebuilt it again. Of course I found the original one right after I’d finished the new one, but it turns out I built the new one in a way that used fewer parts and less space. Hooray for losing stuff!

One of the movies on my speed-watch list was I Kill Giants. I’d heard good things about it so I figured I’d take a look and knock it off my list. I had expected kind of a quirky drama/comedy but shortly after starting the movie I could tell I was wrong. I stopped speed-watching, went back to the beginning, and watched the whole thing through. Definitely not a comedy… REALLY not a comedy, but I enjoyed it.

J had some stuff to do after work so she got home a few hours later than usual. We talked for a bit and then watched two episodes of Schitt’s Creek. The writing and acting in that show is pretty great, and I like how the characters are evolving.

Tomorrow I have a Dr W appointment. I’m not really looking forward to it because I still don’t know what the right answer about the medication stuff is. He is very good about being available, though, so if we make a change and it’s not working well, it’ll be easy to get ahold of him.

Stay safe.

Monday, Monday

Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

The weekend went well. J had a good trip out to see her folks, I drank a lot of diet Dr Pepper, caught up on some shows, and I think I’ve finally – FINALLY – chased down and eliminated the Raspberry Pi SDR noise. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to nap and I didn’t sleep all that well again. Win some, lose some.

Last night was about the same. It’s taking me an awfully long time to get to sleep and I don’t know why. If I wake up, it’s tough to get back to sleep. I don’t think there’s anything new or different going on as far as anxiety or thoughts go. My mom and aunt are also having trouble sleeping, they’re blaming it on the weather changing. With no other ideas, I guess I’ll go with that for now.

Today was a decent day. It took me a while to convince myself to haul my butt out of bed but once I was moving I had a pretty productive day. I’ve been fiddling some more with the SDR stuff and ordered some parts for it today, and I spent a lot of time rethinking and redoing the power for my garden project. Yes, it’s almost September… and yes, I know I was talking about this back in June, but if it works, it’ll work all year round (except for the sprinkler part). So I spent a lot of time measuring and chopping and soldering.

I texted and emailed with FA a bit today, she has an interesting project coming up and we discussed it a bit. I like thinking about different stuff like that – it feels good to bend my brain and I like having new things to ponder.

We got a couple of good downpours (and some good thunder) over the last day or two and the lawn has greened right up. FA and I were talking about that exact thing last week and we were wondering how quickly grass could actually change from yellowish to green and how it would do it. I should’ve put out a time-lapse camera to record what the lawn did. Speaking of which, our ZZ plant sprouted a new… branch? Stalk? Leg? Whatever they have. Anyway, it’s growing like crazy.

J was feeling quiet this evening so I puttered around with some stuff upstairs and then went downstairs to give her some room. She was feeling more like herself later, I think there’s work stuff going on again that’s bugging her.

Not much going on this week except for a Dr W appointment on Wednesday. He’s going to ask me about whether I want to reduce some medications again, and I’m not sure what the answer to that question is. If I don’t need the stuff then I would rather reduce or get rid of it, but I haven’t been sleeping well and past reductions have made it difficult to get to sleep for a few days. I need to do some thinking tomorrow.

Stay safe.