greatbear: (me laughing)
[personal profile] greatbear
I managed to avoid LJ for just over a month. The reasons are simple, really. The posts would have revolved around my continuing spine troubles, the silly projects I enjoy partaking in but no one else could care a whit about, obscure old psychedelic rock music being played on stereo equipment older than a lot of people I know, computer problems and projects, my crushed ego that can't let me sign up for disability, the list goes on. Just looking back on the more "everyday" posts that are not about the rare special occasion or such make me sound like a broken record. So instead of the same old hash rehashed, I've just been keeping quiet. It's what I've done best in my 53 years on this crusty rock.

The coldest part of winter was often warmed up nicely during the holidays, and along with my youthful exuberance in decades gone by, I had some of the best days of my life during otherwise cold, grey days. Nowadays the grey is everywhere, from the skies to my face and to my thoughts. Today was a bit of an exception, as Jeff came home with 54(!) roses ("53 years old, plus one to grow" says he) and a nice card, and he managed, despite working his ass off in the hospital kitchens all day, to come home and make us a nice little dinner of my favorite food (chicken cutlets). The smiles and good feelings kicked aside the bad mojo for a while

Still, I felt undeserving of all that. Despite it all, I just keep feeling both worthless and somehow unappreciated. The latter is less an issue at home, but there is an inverse effect at play that is beginning to rear its head. This afternoon, a strange, odd power surge came down the line and disrupted several things here in strange ways. The heat was shut down, with the Nest thermostat suddenly disagreeing with the heating system, and I couldn't reset either.I mostly threw up my hands and proclaimed there's no heat except for the woodstove. Jeff asked a sensible question, "Can't we just call the heating company?" "You're looking at it" was my answer, and after a while, it dawned on me that I am the heating company, the builder, the mechanic, plumber, IT department, lawn care, carpenter, carpet cleaning service, appliance repair, well installer, A/V tech, works engineering, painter, locksmith, chimney sweep... you name it, and it has been all my doing for the longest time, even before I could legally drive in many cases. As small (and not-so-small) problems and issues begin piling up, I fear I might not be able to handle some of it and might need to rely on expensive outside help. So far, our attempts at doing so have been frustrating at best. My work at making a lot of things near maintenance free in recent years have been thwarted by, you guessed it, my inability to do anything. I feel I am losing this race. I'm close, but falling behind in the last couple years. Time will tell how this all plays out, but I am losing a lot of confidence in myself right now.

Tomorrow I am going for my third session of physical therapy. This therapist seems to be on a right track with my nerve issues, but at the same time I felt like I made some backwards progress. The rather dismal insurance I have requires a 50 dollar co-pay, and aside from that, most of the therapy itself won't be covered either, so this is becoming more and more expensive at the worst possible time. If the therapy actually helps, it will be worth it. If I go through a long-ish round of therapy and it doesn't do the trick, I will have wasted that money, and the next step will be very invasive surgery far more involved (and expensive) than any I had prior. I keep riding the same bad rollercoaster and the only ones benefiting are the doctors. Sorry if I am angry at times, but there you have it. I am used to being taken advantage of throughout my life, and it seems to be everywhere I go. No wonder I never want to leave the house anymore.

Well, there you have it in a nutshell. The reason I haven't been posting, and an example afterward.

So I can leave on a happier note, thanks to all who have wished me a happy birthday today. It's those wishes that made my day happier.

Date: 2015-02-03 05:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Happy Birthday Phil. I wish that I was there to give you a gentle hug.

Date: 2015-02-09 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, Tommy.

As a past recipient of those hugs, I look forward to a future set. ;)

Date: 2015-02-03 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's funny that you mention "obscure old psychedelic rock music being played on stereo equipment older than a lot of people I know" because I recently joined a band of Old Farts called the "Tri-Battery Pops."

Our upcoming concert is going to feature songs from the 60s—most with drug references—such as White Rabbit and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and we'll be joined for a few numbers by a senior citizens' choir.

I wouldn't miss this for the world.

Date: 2015-02-09 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Goodness, that looks like a lot of fun! I have a feeling that senior citizen's choir will rock your socks off. So much the better!

I wish I could be there to listen and watch. Let's hope. :)

Date: 2015-02-03 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For what it's worth, I've had such a crisis of confidence in the past couple of years that I can't think of one thing that really brings me joy or will bring me joy. I don't have any of your mechanical skills, so when Tim and I sold the townhouse, I moved to an apartment community where the maintenance is handled for me. I've tried to keep writing here. Unlike many others, I readily admit I don't write my blog for myself. The discipline of writing helps keep me going.

I met with a lawyer a couple of years ago and we filled out the paperwork for social security disability; but, didn't submit them. The attorney told me I would have to have proof I could never work again and that the paperwork would not be reviewed for at least four months. The only way to fast track it was to get to the point where we would lose the townhouse. I could not do that and involve Tim. But, I am not too proud to apply ... it is money I earned; I paid into the fund. If you need the money and qualify and it lends to quality of life for Jeff and you, I would pursue it.

I really miss you here. It may have taken your birthday, but I'm glad you posted.


Date: 2015-02-09 05:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I never thought I would get into this sort of situation. Well, let me rephrase that. I never thought how frustrated I would get and how far and wide it would hit me if I ever found myself out of commission for a long time. Some days the smallest things upset me. There's a heavy box in the living room that has to eventually get out to the garage. Used to be I would prop it on my shoulder trot down the stairs and walk down the hill to the garage and be done with it. Now I have to make plans just to go to the garage some days. I'm tired of asking Jeff for every little assist. I end up struggling my own way with them and get even more frustrated as a result. I sit around and look at all the things I've done over the years. I'll then remember how much more I've done before all that. And in the vast majority of these things, I did it all myself. I used to think it was nothing, because it was just something I like doing (whatever it is). While I always thought of myself as an obscure loner with peculiar interests, all this extra time on my irritatingly idle hands gave me a chance to see that I've been through a lot, been lucky more times than I should've been (I don't fear anymore being hit by lightning, since it's said it never strikes the same place twice, lol), and I have an odd roster of fairly unique experiences and accomplishments over the years. I still have my problems, and quirks, right now the most maddening is my sense of pride and ego. I feel like a rudderless ship in a fog of my own creation. I have no idea why my inability to replace a few things on my car at the moment feels like total failure at life. It's silly, yes, but I also see it as relying on others or paying for services that I have taken for granted all these decades long. I fear for my future, and our future as a couple as well.

I've paid into the system for over thirty years, but it would be just my luck to somehow be declared ineligible for any of it and be royally screwed until my retirement date or forced to work in an injured state, if that would even be possible.

I'm glad you still read and comment, and I have to remember that people do get something out of it as well, not to mention that I'd be turning my back on friends here if I left. I don't always think clearly when my mind is racing around other problems.

Thanks for being a friend, Neil. *hugs*

Date: 2015-02-11 02:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You can count on my friendship. I've been going through similar experiences and questioning of myself since 2011 when I had the first of my skin cancer scares and surgeries. I am currently in Austin, Texas. It was a last minute trip. I didn't have time to call my brother. My sister has breast cancer and it's an aggressive type. Chemo was to have started on Monday, but was delayed due to screw ups by the oncologist's office. I am acting as a paid caregiver to my nephew for the next four days. The schedule runs from 5am to 12 midnight. It's a daunting task and only hope my nephew's behaviors don't escalate. I'll be back in Minneapolis on 2-21.

If you do decide to apply for SSD, just know that most applications are rejected the first time and won on appeal.

Take good care of yourself.


Date: 2015-02-03 12:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't comment much but like the home destruction and rehab posts.

I deal with fake disability claims in the course of my job duties - do not feel shame about actually needing them. If you get better, you can get off disability. You can be part time. It's not the end-game people make it out to be; or it doesn't have to be.

I think you're wrong on one count - eljay is a great place for angry posts.

Date: 2015-02-09 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If I posted all the times I was angry, I'd look like a raving lunatic.

Could you be my lawyer if I run into problems? ;)

I would love to post more of my fixing things and fucking shit up. I just need to be able to do it.

Date: 2015-02-03 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Happy Birthday, Mr. Heat Miser!

The only good thing about your persistent back problems: I love a guy who can't run from me very well.


Date: 2015-02-09 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My problem is that I wouldn't be able to catch you if you ran away (I used to be an unusually fast sprinter). ;)

Heat Miser. That's an apt description in so many ways. Thanks, Sir Chaz. :)

Date: 2015-02-03 06:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Happy Birthday, Phil!


Sometimes it amazes me how similar you and I are. I have been out of commission for almost 2 months and spent several days in the hospital for a herniated disc. Most of my projects around the house and neighborhood have been in limbo all winter.

I hope the physical therapy helps you greatly. It has been some help to me.

Date: 2015-02-09 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You can't be down for the count, I am inspired by your house rehab posts more than you know. Seriously. :)

So far the therapy is a slow process, too slow for my liking (which would be one treatment and then be able to climb Everest), but it's not giving me setbacks either, which might mean they are onto something. The therapist is treating this as a form of Piriformis Syndrome, which is pain caused by spasms of the pirformis muscle located beneath the gluteus maximus, and since having lost a great deal of muscle mass in my legs during these ongoing spine problems, I have had deep pain and spasms in the area and the atrophy does tend to cause spasms that can affect the sciatic nerve. There are other thoughts and therapies also in the works as well, so we'll see how it develops. I sure hope this is going to do the trick.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, Glenn! And I hope you are back on your feet putting the This Old House crew to shame. Seriously, you do.

Date: 2015-02-03 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This could have been four separate posts...all of them interesting.

I don't quite understand why you think that writing about what is going on in your life is boring to others (a broken record). I thought that your description of your birthday, the roses, the making of a nice dinner after Jeff had worked all day...was rather nice.

I hope the physical therapy works for you

Date: 2015-02-09 06:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I tend to not think so positively when I am dealing with so much constant pain, and I look back over my older posts and most that deal with my talking about projects don't garner a lot of comments, a sign I take as being uninteresting. It might be different if I would include photos, I guess, but the majority of people who used to comment about my car work have left for greener pastures, so it started making less sense to bother with those. I also don't like writing too much about my ongoing condition, I hate to feel like I am looking for sympathy, and too much of that makes me look like I am some sort of old man that does nothing but go on about my various pains and aches (I do, but that's beside the point.

I did write here because I did have some good things to say, and I will try and do more of this as conditions allow. I tend to be silent when I'm not feeling good despite some good things that have also been happening.

So far, the jury is out on the effectiveness of the therapy, but then again, I just started, and there seems to be some improvement, albeit very minor. I have several more sessions in store in upcoming weeks, and I hope I benefit by them.

Date: 2015-02-09 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There are others out (Duh!! me) who are dealing with pain each day...and so you wont get any flack from me about your writing about dealing with...You might even get some support

..and besides, its your journal, you diary, your record of how you are dealing with life. So ignore your thoughts about others reading and not their possibly not caring. Write for yourself

Date: 2015-02-04 05:38 am (UTC)
ext_173199: (Buddy Bears)
From: [identity profile]
Hugs 'n beard tugs, Phil. I may not always comment, but I read everything you post.

Date: 2015-02-09 06:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Furr. You're an LED light in some of my dark times. ;)

Date: 2015-02-04 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
First, happy birthday young man! Being around to accept Jeff's roses is the important thing in my book.

Older stereo equipment? Oh really, do tell! As a recovering stereo addict this got my curiosity bubbling.

Keep posting, eh? A lot more people than you might expect want to hear from you.

Date: 2015-02-09 06:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for the birthday wishes! Yeah, the roses were rather overwhelming. Don't tell Jeff I cried later that night after he had gone to bed. ;)

A nutshell on the stereo gear, I might make a post later that might do double duty in a couple hi-fi forums. I have an old Pioneer SX-828 receiver I've had since 1980, it was a top-of-the-line model in 1972. It has worked well for many years, and only recently did I mothball it because it was being bothered by DC leakage currents and corroded/dirty switches and pots. I pulled it out of storage and began working on it late at night as a keep-my-sanity project after Jeff goes to sleep. In short, I recapped most of the unit, replacing decoupling and interstage caps in the preamp boards, all the caps in the phono pre, and almost all in the power amp section. All the switches and pots got multiple cleanings and treatments, and the tuner and power amps got full alignment. Most of the chassis was disassembled, moving stuff lubed, display panels and meters cleaned, and the whole interior and exterior got a nice cleaning. There are a couple cosmetic flaws, but not much. I treated it well over the almost 30 years I've had it.

I picked up a set of KLH model 20 speakers from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a total of six dollars. Those got a recapping of the crossovers, a cleanup of the tangle of interior wiring, a set of binding posts to use for input connections in addition to the original RCA jack, and I did some experiementing to find an aporpriate substance to re-seal the cloth surrounds of the wofers. In the past, I used rubber cement with good luck. People say it's not a good choice now, and I think it's because the stuff is "reformulated" these days to make it safer. Well, I also have all the equipment needed to mount and balance tires, and I also have to deal with punctured yard equipment tire and bike tires all the time. I use rubber cement for those patches and fixes. That rubber cement is a different animal, more akin to the old office supply stuff. During the replacing of tired on my tow-behind yard vac, I knocked over the can of rubber cement while patching an inner tube. I sopped it up with a shop rag and hung it on the arm of the tire changer. I remembered that rag and went out to find it after not being in the garage for months. I know the majority of the cement evaporates, leaving a very thin film behind. The rag was still nearly as flexible, but it had a nice even coating of the cement left behind. I tried this on the surrounds and it worked perfectly. I did some tests with my audio test gear to see the difference in resonant frequency between a treated and untreated surround. Just the slightest change, maybe three Hz. So I treated the second one and was very happy with the results. I will retest to see if the cement hardens any more and tightens up the surround. The speakers need some cosmetic repairs, and those, along with the receiver will get dealt with when I finally clean up the wood shop area of the basement (I have a huge pile of junk that has been waiting to go before my last surgery sidelined me). That area has room to work as well as ventilation and filtering that won't stink up the house with fumes.

Lastly, I had earlier fixed up a Pioneer PL-510A turntable I was given several years ago. I recently got all these pieces together, connected them and let them rock out. these are all early-70s vintage, and these, along with a few other similar vintage components will all be assembled into an analog-only, two channel rig of nirvana. The turntable needs new veneer on the base, the original vinyl stuff is peeking and flaking around the bottom edge. With the workshop in order, I'd like to replace it with genuine walnut veneer or even make a new base out of solid wood. Woodworking for the moment is completely out, I can't stand and do any sort of work, especially that which involved bending or working with my arms in front of my body. That makes me very angry.

I will try and post more, I promise.

Date: 2015-02-04 06:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sorry I missed wishing you a happy birthday on the proper day. I hope things going forward improve. Big [soft and tender] hugs!

Date: 2015-02-09 06:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Mike! Belated birthday wishes are just as good, well, until a couple weeks before the next one. ;)

Date: 2015-02-05 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Belated Happy birthday! Not here as much as I used to, so missed that.

Well I like to hear about the projects, and try me on the 'obscure old psychedelic rock' you might be surprised...I've been listening to the Amorphous Androgynous Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble mix series, and stuff that friends who are heavily into psych vinyl suggest - so that's Mort Garson (Wozard of Iz, OK more of a spoof of psych, but his Lucifer goes into Haack territory, as well as cheese like the Hair album), Beaver & Krause, Espers, Pierre Cavalli, along with the Arvo Part I listen to for, err, fun. ? Oh and Aphex Twin who is posting pretty much his whole back catalogue of unreleased tracks onto Soundcloud:

As regards being the resident handyman, you might want to let that go if you can...stressful being the 'go to' person, I am with computers, and it might help to cede control there rather than being depressing it could be more liberating not butting up with what you can't do and focus on what you CAN do. Because the stress won't help your health I can tell you.


Edited Date: 2015-02-05 07:28 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-02-10 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Tim!

There seems to be a big uptick in neo-psychedelic and space rock these days, something I quite enjoy. Bands like Moon Duo, Karda Estra, Magic Bus, Aphex Twin, Steven Wilson, Mondo Drag, Anima Mundi, Oresund Space Collective very well could've lived in the 60s and early-mid 70's making the music they do. I find myself listening to psych and space as productive background music, given how my brain works I guess. I was pleased to find a rip of a Canadian band called Troyka that had one s/t album in 1970, I had picked an 8-track tape of it in the bargain box at the Ft. Meade PX in the early 70s, there was nothing I knew in that box of very cheap cutouts, but, given my Russian heritage, I picked it up. I immediately fell in love with that crazy, quirky album. The tape has been long gone since the late 70s, but I remembered a couple songs in particular, most notably "Berry Picking" that would hit me as an earworm every couple of years. Playing that album in recent weeks was a huge time machine trip for me, since I had bought it in the winter and I always associate it with cold and snow. The album art even featured the band standing somewhat uncomfortably in the snow. When I reached "Berry Picking" I automatically sang all the words as if I played it last week. It made me go digging around for some of the old psych, space and prog I remembered and had from that time period. Zappa, Tangerine Dream (Rubicon-era), Hendrix, PFM, Can, Rayuela, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (who just released a new album and he's like 80 years old by now), King Crimson, Poseidon, early, pre-fame Yes, lots more. Since the internet freed artists from the grip of record labels and their focus on current music and their ignoring of formats they think won't sell, a lot of ignored and forgotten styles are coming back these days. People are tired of the three minute song formula, young folks are discovering old progressive rock music (the best comment I read about someone quite young hearing Yes' "Gate of Delirium" for the first time, "This sounds like music from another planet! I love it!") The long tail of the internet collects artists with long back catalogs but never received much airplay, if at all. Now these obscure old 60s and 70s bands along with the familiar ones like Pink Floyd in the psych era are inspiring the young people today. They might not get famous, but they are having a lot of fun.

Date: 2015-02-11 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Psych is pretty big here and Australia along with shoegazey stuff - bands like Peace (not my thing but current NME front cover stars - then again they call Tame Impala psych which is a stretch, also Django Django isn't, but Toy from a while back is, as is Melody and others), but my favourites like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard who I played on the podcast aeons ago as a tiny band but seem to have gotten big, Melody's Echo Chamber, Horrors went psych a while back, The Limíñanas, and a whole lot of hauntology stuff one Ghostbox that edges around that via library music, Advisory Circle etc. Even psychobilly or gothabilly, like the Wytches who I really love and are great live...

Will check out those bands too!

Date: 2015-02-11 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh Troyka sounds just like my thing! A lot of bands seem to be getting resurrected or reissued like that...everyone moans about the internet and piracy, but that's why - people finding and buying/ripping stuff online, and then wanting more.

Date: 2015-02-11 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That is my favorite song from that album, and it stands alone from the rest of the tracks because it is an airy instrumental, very simple and with no pretense. The band makes use of some Russian percussion (heh, I like how that sounds) and other instruments throughout the album. It's kind of an uneven album, and at times the vocalist sounds high or drunk, but that was sort of the norm back then. Digging around earlier trying to find into about the band I read they apparently came from a part of Canada with a concentrated Russian or Slavic population, and so there's that influence in the music. And troyka means three in Russian. I think this re-release happened in 2003.

Date: 2015-02-11 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Listening to the rest of the album it reminds me of Edgar Broughton Band, or Beefheart in places. Very cool.

(I got into psych in the 90's in a very odd way - I was a fan of David Holmes and he did some very eclectic mixes:, and they had There's No Vibration But Wait by EBB on there, I got the album...not sure many people would have jumped into that deepend...but I loved the album, still do - if someone was to say 'what's your favourite psychedelic song?' it'd have to be Aphrodite.)

Date: 2015-02-07 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey,HAPPY BIRTHDAY Phil ! Don't be too hard on yourself for writing about your helps to express that frustration and none of your friends thinks any less of you for it.So,tell me what psychedelic music are you listening to.I'm 66 and listen to that stuff all the time.I had Zappa's concert when he performed at the closing of the Fillmore East on this morning and Clear light too. Like you,I haven't been on here at all for the better part of a month.Been writing about my trip up to Canada last summer on my blog on Google.Keep at it and things will improve.
Edited Date: 2015-02-07 05:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-02-10 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Belated thanks, Ed! ;)

Tim, in a comment above asked me a similar question. This was part of my answer regarding the old stuff:

I was pleased to find a rip of a Canadian band called Troyka that had one s/t album in 1970, I had picked an 8-track tape of it in the bargain box at the Ft. Meade PX in the early 70s, there was nothing I knew in that box of very cheap cutouts, but, given my Russian heritage, I picked it up. I immediately fell in love with that crazy, quirky album. The tape has been long gone since the late 70s, but I remembered a couple songs in particular, most notably "Berry Picking" that would hit me as an earworm every couple of years. Playing that album in recent weeks was a huge time machine trip for me, since I had bought it in the winter and I always associate it with cold and snow. The album art even featured the band standing somewhat uncomfortably in the snow. When I reached "Berry Picking" I automatically sang all the words as if I played it last week. It made me go digging around for some of the old psych, space and prog I remembered and had from that time period. Zappa, Tangerine Dream (Rubicon-era), Hendrix, PFM, Can, Rayuela, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (who just released a new album and he's like 80 years old by now), King Crimson, Poseidon, early, pre-fame Yes, lots more.

I also set my music player to shuffle certain genres to make it a surprise, and I listen to online radio, especially, who have regular show times highlighting different prog, space and psych music and eras. Some of it I hadn't heard in decades, and completely forgot. I loved my prog rock in the 70s, and I had a chance to become part of it by a crazy twist of circumstances in the late 90s. As I was telling Tim, who has been becoming a fan of today's neo-prog and psych, a lot of adventuresome artists are rediscovering the old stuff, and because of the net, they are able to find and explore this stuff that mainstream radio and labels have long since cast aside. People are wanting more than short form songs that were designed by committee. Now they can explore and break out of time and conventional restraints.


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