About Last Week

So last week turned out to be a bust, for a number of reasons. Monday was a holiday. Then dental problems, very painful dental problems, ruined part of the week. Birthday celebration on Thursday. Friday evening I was driving to San Diego for a conference on Saturday.

I only posted once last week. As of today I should be back to my regular evening postings from Sunday to Thursday (Friday and Saturday are my writing weekend). After a very eventful, and unusual, week that ruined my flow, I am hoping to have a most boring week this week.

Thank you for your patience,

Another Nightmare in Texas

Since Labor Day is a holiday, I didn’t post anything on Sunday night as per my usual schedule. Just want to remind people that this was not a slip from my regular writing schedule.

So, this happened. I am not generally a fan of Texas, but it is still heartbreaking to see the state torn by its second mass murder in a month. August was a horrible month in the United States for mass murder events, and not just in Texas. I do not imagine that September will be any better.

I am aghast at how common these have become. The only thing Republicans  can offer in the face of this growing list of grotesque incidents are their thoughts and prayers. Democrats can only display the ineptitude that allows these incidents to continue unabated. Again, I do not foresee September being any better.

Last year I had the opportunity to see Dr. Jeremy Richman speak. He talked about his work in founding The Avielle Foundation and his research into brain health and mental wellness. I thought he was inspirational and courageous, especially considering what he and his family had to endure. I spoke to him after his speech. He was warm and friendly and happily answered every question he was asked. It was heartbreaking to hear that he committed suicide. Though I had only met him briefly, his death was heart wrenching for me.

Dr. Richman’s suicide reminds me that the trauma of these mass shootings does not go away once the public has forgotten about them; the pain and suffering will endure long after life has moved on. As these mass murders continue–and they will continue as long as congress and the moron-in-chief take their marching orders from the NRA–the injury to this country will continue. Communities suffer as badly as any victims in these incidents. Now we are left to wonder how long it will take the poltroons in charge to even attempt to fix this.

The State of Politics

It was only 3 days ago that President trump did an infomercial for his Doral resort in the hopes of hosting the 2020 G7 summit there. It seems like a lifetime ago. Most of the political outrages that take place these days, as a substitute for our politics, are quickly forgotten as we head into the next outrage.

Conservative politicians turn a blind eye to these outrages pretending that trump’s antics are the normal course of business. The hilariously misnomered liberal politicians pay a constant lip service to these outrages; however, they fail to do anything substantive about it (my guess is that they do not want to upset the donor classes that they share with  the conservative politicians). The media normalizes the behavior of a national leader who rules by tweet, who lies constantly and very obviously, and who has proven to be wildly inept as a world leader.

I suppose what pisses me off the most is the fealty of trump and the Republican party to Vladimir Putin. There is a reason for this that I am aware of: I am a veteran. When I was trained in warfare in the late 1980s contemporary doctrine was that we would be fighting Russians. I was in the army when the Berlin wall fell and during Tiananmen square; I know that times change.

I don’t expect that Russia, specifically a Russia led by cold warrior Putin, is a better friend to the United States than it was during the cold war. I may be a cynic, or I may have failed to change with the times, but I cannot stomach the obeisance being paid to Russia. Not just the direct slavishness paid to Russia by the Republicans, but the tolerance of these shenanigans by the Democrats demonstrated by their failure to do anything about it.

I hope I am not the only person who feels this way.

Picture borrowed from flickr of DonkeyHotey (excellent play on words)

Toastmasters Night

The second and fourth Wednesdays of the month I am in Toastmasters. I belong to the Crown City Toastmasters Club in Pasadena, CA. Tonight I was General Evaluator and we had a good meeting; two good speeches and a couple of guests.

All this to say that this post will be short. I just wanted to post something for the evening. It may be a cheat but it is feels good to post something even if it is feeble. Also, it is a warning that this may happen again. Or, I could write about the meetings. We shall see.

Good night all!

Introducing My Reading List

About a month ago I decided that I would start taking my blog more seriously. A couple of posts ago I figured out that I had written just over 50 post in the last 7 years. As you might have noticed I am not the world’s most prolific blogger.

Part of my goal was to start reading more books. Not just reading them, but finishing  them as well. I have read hundreds of books over the years. I read some all the way through; others I read only partially because I didn’t enjoy them or I found what I wanted and didn’t need the rest. I have never really kept track of what I was reading except in the chaotic recesses of my mind.

I have been doing well. I have read a book a week since I decided to make this a goal (this week notwithstanding, I have until Friday to finish my current book). I am quite proud of myself.

Last Friday I cam across this tweet:

I thought this is brilliant. So I decided to add a reading page of my own. I can only reliably go back to the last week of this past July, but you have to start somewhere. Please feel free to peruse my reading list, question me about it, and ask me about any weeks with missing books. Great thanks to Frank Chimero.

A Feeling of Deja Vu

So I realized that I wrote two very similar posts: Gaining Followers went up last Thursday and Building an Audience from February 9, 2014. Many things have changed in the five and a half or so years between the two posts. One thing that seems to have stayed the same is my aversion to marketing.

I suppose I could define an audience if I were so inclined. I am more interested in seeing who discovers me. I figure once I have amassed a large enough audience I might get a clue as to what my perfect customer looks like.  If I never amass such an audience, so be it. I have stated on my About page that I am comfortable enough to sustain my blog regardless of whether I actually succeed or not.

Success is a funny thing. Different people define it in different ways. For me it will be enough to meet some interesting people, read some interesting posts, and continue to follow my own interests wherever they may lead. Perhaps I may even build a tribe.

Goldie, the Suicidal Koi

I was at work on January 11, 2019 when I received a phone call from my wife. Reyna had found the one of the koi in my pond had jumped out. As far as she could tell the fish was dead.

Reyna wanted me to come home immediately. I had 20 minutes left to work and a dead fish did not seem worth the effort it would take to leave work 15 minutes early. I waited until my work day ended and embarked on the 40-minute drive home.

When I got home Reyna immediately led me to the dead fish. I recognized the fish as Goldie. I bought Goldie as a young 2 or 3 incher from a Petco about 2 years ago. I named him (I don’t know if Goldie is a he or she, I call him he for convenience) for his coloration.

As I looked down at Goldie he did appear dead. When I squatted down to pick him up I noticed that his gills were still moving. This surprised me. I thought it might be the last nerve impulses from his tiny brain, struggling to cling to life. I picked Goldie up and the gill motions increased.

It occurred to me that it had been at least an hour that the fish had been outside the water. There was no way this fish should be alive. Yet, I held the fish in my hand and watched it struggle to breath. I was amazed. I decided to let it die in the water hoping this might ease its suffering as it died.

The fish struggled to swim when I placed it in the water. It could not right itself in the water, barely able to propel itself as it floundered on its side. As I watched the fish I resigned myself to the fact that I would be scooping the dead fish out of the pond in the morning.

Saturday morning, I woke up and went out to the pond to scoop out a dead fish. Except, there was no dead fish. I saw all 5 of my koi swimming around the pond. I counted several times. 1, 2, 3, 4 … 5. I saw this fish that I had put in the water the previous evening, mostly dead, swimming contentedly with its fellows.

From what I could tell, the fish was suffering no adverse effects from its hour, at least, suffocating on the side of the pond. As I watched the fish swimming around the pond I considered whether a fish could suffer brain damage. This led to the question of how much brain power does a fish require to live a good fish life?

A human will live about 6 to 8 minutes before suffocating. They will suffer irreparable brain damage long before they die. After 3 or 4 minutes the brain damage suffered will guarantee that a human will be unable to take care of themselves for the rest of their lives, requiring around the clock care to survive.

This fish survived for more than an hour without breathing. I cannot see any ill effects the fish has suffered for this. I do wonder, though, if the other fish can tell that something is off with this particular fish. Can the other fish tell if this fish is brain damaged? Will this fish continue to live a happy and healthy life despite its ordeal?

Then it happened again. I found one morning when I was feeding the fish that Goldie had jumped out of the pond again. I figured Goldie was done for, but he moved again when I picked him up. I threw him back in the pond and he lurched away again. When I got home from work 11 hours later Goldie was doing fine.

I wondered if I had a zombie koi on my hands. Then I wondered if Koi can be suicidal. Again, Goldie seems not to have suffered any long term effects, at least there was nothing I could discern that was different from outside the pond. Do his pond mates notice anything amiss?

Goldie is humming along, seemingly, fine. He hasn’t jumped out since the second incident. Perhaps he is no longer suicidal. Maybe he is waiting for the perfect time to try again. I don’t know. I will update if anything interesting happens.

P.S.: The picture at the top of the post is not Goldie. It is a random internet picture of a koi that resembles Goldie. I am trying to respect Goldie’s privacy,