greatbear: (me laughing)
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.
greatbear: (forearms)
I guess it is that time once again. Another year drawing to a close, taking me with it to places unknown. I have to say that this year has been one of my best, despite having a great deal of medical issues. The highlight, of course, was getting married. I keep replaying snippets in my head of that wonderful day. So much love, happiness and warm feelings condensed into a single day that the effects keep lingering. I got to meet people I haven't seen in way too many years, and yet we picked up right where we left off. There was so much worry about making sure everything was right, that all melted away on that lovely Saturday in late June. As quick as it all came together, it faded away, though, yet left us both giddy and excited and, well, "different." Hard to describe, but it's a real feeling.

We had already planned our vacation to PTown last year, and we used that as our honeymoon of sorts. We had our usual good time, and the two of us felt refreshed in the way a proper vacation should, with maybe a bit extra. We had a lot of momentum and enthusiasm. Life felt worth living.

As some of you who read this on a regular basis, you know I began the year with health-related issues centering on my deteriorating back, with the year before leaving me in the worst condition yet. I metered my abilities and worked toward the big wedding day as best I could, and I did have a few setbacks. Once the ball was rolling, though, we busted ass. Mayhem Acres, rather neglected over the past few years because of my problems, became a beautiful garden once again, one that would've made my Mom proud. People who didn't attend the wedding who saw photos would wonder which park or resort we had used for our big day, and were astonished when we'd say it's our home. Those were words which made me smile every time. I've worked hard over the years, building this place from an overgrown vacant lot into a home where we can do whatever we want. Both of us vowed to be a lot more social/sociable and share in our good fortunes more often, inviting friends over for parties and other activities, as long as my health kept up.

I began making up for lost time by doing needed upgrades on the house, with a number of renovations, from a new front door and entryway, to new kitchen lighting, home automation, enterprise-grade networking, security and alarm systems and a number of other bit meant for making life easier and more comfortable in the future. Jeff decided it was time for a new car, and he got himself a nice Subaru Forester with all the goodies. This has been perfect for extended trips needing a lot of room as well as good gas mileage. I indulged my geeky kid side with a quadrotor drone and some other toys because I deserved it. Life was pretty damn good.

As that old saying goes, everything good must come to an end. Or, in my life these days, I can only get so far before my degenerative disc disease rears its ugly head once again and shuts me down in my tracks. In September, much like last year, I went from flying high to once again hunched over in lots of pain, unable to move without a cane, and in need of nasty painkillers to survive. I began the usual easy treatments with no success, then had the corticosteroid injections in my back before the holidays. This left me slightly better off, but still unable to get far without the cane, and with continuing atrophy in my legs making me weaker with every passing week. I guess I am used to this, I lived each day in a slow fog, with few accomplishments. It was also looking like I just might make it though the holidays without getting my usual cold/bug/flu/seasonal malady, but right before Xmas the two of us got a nasty lower GI bug, with mine being outright nasty. We made it past the worst of it by Christmas day, but our original dinner plans of a nice ham and trimmings with other goodies gave way to frozen French bread pizzas, potato chips and holiday cookies for dessert. Christmas day itself was almost surreal for me, after waking up I meandered into the living room and stayed there the entire day. We exchanged gifts we said we didn't want but we got anyway, we managed our little dinner after a week of gastrointestinal apocalypse, and the day closed with the ISS making an appearance in the night sky above the house. I stood outside, watching the flyover for the first time, smiling and misty-eyed, waving at the little dot fading over the horizon as it helped carry my hopes and dreams given to me as a kid with my love of science at a very early age.

Last night we wondered about what to eat, and I told Jeff I was in the mood for lasagna, though we had nothing of the sort, nor the wherewithal to make it after Jeff's long day at work, so we decided to get take-away from our local favorite Italian place. I should've known that thing were not quite on track, as it took Jeff longer than expected to return with the food. Apparently they messed up our order, gave part of it to someone else, then Jeff finally returned home exasperated with our dinner, minus some. That experience alone was making us rethink our patronage, but it wasn't until we sat down and I began eating the lasagna that the other shoe dropped. My lasagna was bad. Not improperly cooked, but spoiled. Like most restaurants, certain dishes are made ahead of time and refrigerated, and cooked when ordered. Well, apparently my lasagna carryout was made about a month and a half ago, and when I got far enough into it, my stomach turned. I endured another night of intestinal distress as a result. I've still not fully recovered.

I've had a lot of ups and downs in the past few years, and despite the setbacks this year, this one was overwhelmingly positive. The first week in January I will head back to the doc once again, for a second booster shot in my spine. As had happened with a setback in May that had me crawling back to the doc for those frighteningly long needles in my back, the second time did the charm, so I am hoping this time the double shot does the trick. I know my time hiding from the knife is fading, and one of these days I have to decide if I want to fuse my back with plates and screws giving me permanent limitations for the rest of my life is the thing to do, or keep going as I have been, hoping for the best. The other thing is the ultimate realization that I can no longer function as I have for my first 50-some years, and finally apply for disability assistance. My savings are running thin, and I'm too far away from collecting my pension. My ego keeps me from doing this, because, despite knowing and being told differently, I feel this is giving up. I've been too independent in my years, and I am used to doing things my way, on my own terms, to build and maintain my existence. Mom and I were practically dirt poor, and I did my best to use all my abilities to change that completely. Those abilities did well for me, Mom, Jeff and many others through the years, and I hate seeing them fade. I'm hoping this new year brings some surprises of the pleasant type rather than an early gateway into assisted living.

May you all have a fantastic 2015!
greatbear: (old graybeard)
So, frustration has been the key work in recent days. No real improvement in pain levels or mobility, so it looks like this week I push on to the next level. One thing for certain, between pain and pills, my body chemistry and rhythm are fucked up again, I can't sleep at night, and I try going through the day until I start dozing off in the middle of whatever I'm doing. The narcotic pain killers help me to get some sleep beyond what is comfortable or sensible. Not getting a lot of exercise day in and day out leaves me with lots of unusable energy. Rather than climb the walls, I find little things to pass the time and feel useful. Even this has a special little bothersome horror for my brain. You guessed it, it makes me want to do more stuff. lol

I've been taking some time to organize video and music I have stored on the servers here. Keeping with a method I've had for decades, a drive on the server acts as a repository for all my digital music. About 8 years ago when I built the current server, I loaded it with a half dozen 1 terabyte drives. Seemingly huge at the time, most of them are now at or near capacity. The drive containing the well-sorted music held on the longest, but last night while adding several dozen more albums and artists into the heap, I finally get a notice from the server saying the drive only has about 50GB left. I anticipated this about a year ago, I bought a 2TB drive as a replacement. The current drive is being backed up as I write this, then all the data from the current drive will be copied onto the new drive, I will then swap the drives and put the old one in a safe place as a backup. It will take me what will hopefully be a long time to fill the new drive, after all, it's only music. Granted, I am dropping bigger and bigger files on it, everything is high bitrate mp3 or better, with lots of lossless and high res 24 bit/192kHz these days, the latter being a few gigs just for one album at times. When the new drive gets to be too small, I repeat the process. There's no practical way to make offline backups for a terabyte or more of data other than stockpiling drives. I have a separate server that is tasked solely with automatic backups of data stored on most of the PCs here, and I have begun the rely on two NAS units with lots of capacity to hold online backups of the backups as well.

As I was sitting uncomfortably in the Mayhem Lab where all this IT infrastructure quietly hides, I've also realized that I am maxing out some of the electrical circuits I put into the space. This was inevitable too. When I built La Casa back in '88, I slightly raised eyebrows at the electric company when I specified a 400 amp service for the house and garage. This is split between the house and garage, with each having a 200 amp, 42-slot breaker panel. Before the house was completed, because of the all-electric nature of the house (no gas, water or sewer were available) the breaker panel in the house was not enough to hold all the circuits, so an additional subpanel was needed. As I added more goodies to the house and built the workshop in the basement as well as the lab, I tore out the little box that held ten circuits and put in a 20 space panel. The workshop, with the woodworking machines and lots of outlets and other goodies got its own dedicated 20 slot box as well. My plans are to add two more 20amp circuits to the lab, plus a new lighting circuit for the basement. Problem is, I have only two spaces left for three circuits in the main house panels. Soooo, my little lab wiring update will force me to pull out the 20 slot panel and install a second 42 slot in its place. There is a method to this madness as well, since I plan on installing a backup generator as well as solar electric panels in the not too distant future. By juggling the electrical loads between the panels, I can segregate the critical loads (lighting, water pumps, fridges and freezers, the lab and the like from the unnecessary heavy draw items like the heat pumps & A/C, electric heaters and other things that don't need to be run off the generator. This, along with other means of performing "load shedding" lets me have better control of what gets critical power in order to make the best use of it and lower costs. This sort of thing is actually fun for me, and despite having an electrical service more befitting small industry, our electric bills are not that outrageous as one would think. It also adds to my sense of security in cases of emergencies and really bad weather. Like all too many things, I take the electrical installations here very seriously. I use commercial/industrial rated components, and the seemingly excessive numbers of individual electric circuits is done in order to prevent any possible overloading of the individual branches, and to prevent a tripped circuit from causing an unexpected issue. For one example, the branch circuit the feeds the two freezers in the basement was also shared with a pair of infrared heaters in the bathrooms. The branch was sized accordingly, and was never going to be overloaded even if both freezers were running along with the heaters. One day the bulb burned out, and given the bulb's 250 watt rating, it went with a huge flash. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it also tripped the breaker. It took me a while until I found water on the floor in front of the freezers and the food in danger of soon thawing out. Luckily I saw this in time, reset the breaker, then eventually moved the heaters and freezers to their own dedicated branches. In the case of the lab, the computers, servers, etc are on one of two dedicated lab circuits I put in, along with a separate lighting circuit, a shared electric heating circuit and a 120/240 volt special purpose outlet. As my relatively tiny 10x12ft lab accumulated more and more test equipment and other goodies, the two branches have become maxed out. I have some specialized soldering equipment that takes a lot of power when in use, an infrared heating table takes 16 amps just by itself, the hot air reflow unit is 7 amps, a heat gun I use along with all that is 13 amps, and this isn't counting all the test equipment, extra lighting and the surround sound system with subwoofer that is often playing while I am working. The little room gets hot in a hurry, so fans are needed. I am trying to figure out how to install some sort of air conditioning to all of this as well. As you can see, when I get into something, I go all out. :)

Maybe I am just more than a little bit strange, but this is also my way of building a nice place for the two of us to enjoy our myriad pursuits as we close in on retirement age. I want a lot of this done so I can cruise along and not have to worry about anything done half-assed. I've done a lot of involved work over the years, with the eventual result being able to forget about the work and just use it in day to day life. For example, I did a large amount of plumbing upgrades a few years back. I "built in" many means for any future updates if needed. Adding solar water heat, for example, is all about installing the system and connecting two pipes to what currently exists. If a filter, water heater, softener or other major component needs to be replaced or worked on, flipping a few valve levers lets the water stay on and uninterrupted while the problem piece gets removed. The modular nature of a lot of the work I did over the years has been paying off later on. All the climbing around now will make life easier when I am older and unable to deal with it like in my younger days. Sadly, I've been getting a lot of previews as to what that sort of life is going to be like. I just wish my body would stay together to let me get the work done so I can have my enjoyment later. One big plan that vein is an extension of the deck by the sunroom and the installation of a hot tub/spa, something I was hoping to complete in the next couple years. The funny thing is, technology and materials are finally catching up to a lot of the ideas I had many years ago. I never finished the sunroom remodel due to health reasons. Part of that involved hidden lighting and automatic shades. Back then it was not easily done, but now it will be something that will integrate perfectly into bits and pieces I've been adding this year. It's also more efficient and connected than ever. The geek in me is having a lot of fun with it all.

I sometimes feel as if I am in some sort of race, one to make life simple later on with some concerted effort now. These health/injury setbacks become extremely frustrating. I am getting a taste of the payoff, but the goal isn't reached yet. Life keeps teasing and testing me at the wrong time.
greatbear: (old graybeard)
Earlier in the week I pulled the plug on my LJ. I had mostly run out of uses for this, and, to be honest, no longer felt the need to have an outlet for what I would call "personal" matters and discussion with the internet in general. It has been about 20 years (!) since I had ventured out onto the internet in a personal capacity, rather than a technical/professional way for work reasons. It took a lot of courage on my part to make that change, and it wasn't long before I was pouring my heart into online interactions, making literally hundreds of friends along the way, even enjoying a bit of both figurative and literal rock star status along the way. I soon learned that much of this was fleeting, with the vast majority of people eventually moving on, leaving what I thought was some incredible friendships, relationships and great causes to founder and die. Perhaps it was the value I had placed in these relationships, or my investment in them, emotionally, mentally and physically, that left me not only disappointed but also feeling left behind once they had evaporated. It took a while, because for the 32 years prior I had been very much a loner until that time, but I learned to reconsider the experience as more of a crucible, or distillery that helped to separate out the fleeting and leaving the best behind. Maybe more like how maple syrup is made I suppose, where it takes a great deal of sap to be carefully boiled until the sweet syrup remains. What came out of these hundreds of fun (for the most part) interactions and countless good (with a bit of bad) memories is a sparkling core of truly great friends, that to this day still amaze me with some of their actions. I sought to leave my online world as I had formed to to simply concentrate on the product from it. After a couple days (I bet you didn't even notice) I switched this back on, not so much as a continuing place for me to pile my thoughts, but for the few remaining people I know and love who remain here. Without my LJ being active, I had no way to interact with y'all. My analogy is this is like a small town of bygone days where people would run into one another while out and about, or take the time to walk from house to house to say hello and talk over the fence. I guess I can't board up my place yet still remain neighborly, given how this system is set up.

This is not the Livejournal I set up shop in over ten years ago. Like so many other online "spaces" in the past, what began for me as a thriving community has become rather barren. Those who remain, however, and still making great use of the medium, and maintaining fantastic connections. What skeeves me these days is the reduction in quality of the service, the politics of the Russian owners and general disregard for the stateside users that really made the community what it is. The latest technical hell here is the never completing page loads. Sure, the pages seem to render properly and mostly stuff works, but some connections never complete, with the page loading indicator spinning away. This is often a sign of bad server configurations, and sometimes of a more dangerous nature, with open connections lying in wait for malware or other bad mojo. This has been going on for a few weeks now on my end, regardless of what computer or connection I access the site with. Aargh. Oh well, the neighborhood falls apart even more, the landowners letting the place fall apart around the remaining denizens.

I will keep my door open for a little while longer, I guess, at least until the wedding and a bit after. Then, well, we'll see. These days I am busy with as much as my day can hold, trying to get the house and yard fixed up, putting the final touches on a huge network upgrade to accommodate new home security and automation now and be usable into the foreseeable future. La Casa Mayhem is my only true home, I built it with my hands as well as a lot of outside help, and I plan on living the rest of my years here. As my health has taken several downturns in recent years, I now have a sense of urgency to get lots of things done while I am still able to do them in order to be able to have some years later to relax and simply enjoy the spoils of all that labor and thought. I am lucky to be able to (sometimes barely) be able to get around, and I am measuring my time wisely. With the wedding coming up in less three months (!) now, I gotta kick it into high gear. I am overlapping projects to my best advantage. I will be redoing the entryway to the house, with a new front door, paint, floor, lighting, landscaping, and more. I am sitting here configuring and testing security cameras I will be installing while I crawl around doing these other upgrades. Several hundred more feet of network cabling has to be installed too, and I am pleased with how this all is shaping up. In the spirit of the days past, here's a photo of the goings-on as I test one of the cameras down in the Underground Concrete Bunker before I finally get it put where it belongs on the outside.



I just hope my creaky old body holds up as I do all this work, if not, I am truly screwed. Our little wedding is shaping up to be a big deal. Certainly it's the most important day of my life in decades. I can only hope all turns out as we are working and planning it out to be.

Seeyas 'round.
greatbear: (walken)
I'm currently sitting in the bowels of Ice Station Mayhem watching the temperature outside drop with every glance at the thermometer. It's currently 4 degrees F, and still steadily dropping. The house is toasty warm, with the woodstove working at near blast furnace levels thanks to the howling winds outside causing the flue to draw like crazy and fanning the fire. I have the electric heater on in the basement workshop where I was prior, and here in the infrastructure bunker the computers alone have the otherwise unheated room at a balmy 84. I don't envy Jeff having to head out in the crackling cold at 5am, the temperature being predicted into the negatives possibly by then, and a high of a steamy 17 for our Tuesday. Brrr! My Russian heritage normally has me tolerating even rather extreme cold, but ever since my first back surgery, it's taken a while for me to regain that tolerance while recovering. Add in creeping old age, and I prefer warmth more than ever. I have another round of PT tomorrow afternoon, so I can shake my cane at Old Man Winter if necessary.

Warning, extreme geekery ahead! Danger! Introspection! )
greatbear: (forearms)
I know, I'm being a bad blogger, no real content for some time. I've been mostly busy, but not a whole lot of that busy-ness I figured would be post worthy. Let me try and fish up some highlights.

Jeff's college-bound nephew has been staying with us a couple days. In true Awesome Gay Uncleâ„¢ fashion, we've been taking him back-to-school shopping. Between the Columbia Mall and Costco, the trunk of the Strat is packed tight with everything from a printer to clothing with a bit of everything else in between. He's excited about his future, I'm happy to play a part in that as, of course, is Jeff.

When I take our proud freshman back to Pennsylvania, I have to pack the car with several big coolers, because dad bought an entire pig (well, the parts of said pig, actually) and is giving us half. Last year around this time while we were on vacation, we lost two freezers full of meat and other foodstuffs when the power was out for about a week. Part of that was meat we had shared similarly in the past. This offering was a gift from dad simply because he has now reached a point in time where he has settled down in his new place since the fire and feels this was maybe some sort of repayment for our efforts during his rough time. Well, no repayment was ever necessary, but this will be appreciated. Mmmm... porkchops...

Since our trailer sustained some minor damage from the radiant heat from the fire, we had coverage from the insurance company to have it repaired. We had hoped to do this before our trip to PTown, but it seemed the outfit doing the work had problems getting all the necessary parts. Wisely, I put off the repairs until we returned from the trip just in case the time in the shop took longer than the week we were initially quoted. I shlepped the trailer up to the shop the day after returning from vacation in mid-July. It is still not finished. Various excuses from wrong parts to health issues. While I was disappointed to cancel our other planned camping trips involving the trailer for the year, I'm now glad I did. This ordeal would've been far more frustrating otherwise. I'm hoping the thing will be done in another week. I'm tired of crashing my knees and shins on the hitch/ball mount still sticking from the back of the truck. I know once I removed it a call would come to pick up the trailer. #firstworldproblems

Years ago (omg 70s!) I used to have a Univox Super Fuzz distortion pedal, back in the days when I was pretty serious about playing guitar. This was a basic stompbox from the mid-late 60s with a limited repertoire of sounds (two filter settings, an overdrive and gain control) and, frankly, sounded like crap by comparison to newer tech in the early 80s. So, I gave it away to a friend who was getting into guitar. He had it for a while and got rid of it too, I think he sold it or gave it away. It's long gone. The other day I came across a database of various effects along with links to ones currently for sale. I looked up some of my past gear, some of which is going for more than I paid for them new. The Univox? People want 700-800 dollars for ones in worst shape than mine was! I think I paid a princely sum of about five dollars for it back in '76. Sadly, I am considering selling off some or all of my axes, amps, effects and other music gear, I haven't played in years. I get frustrated when I try, injuries, age and total lack of practice have a tendency to do that. I was never really that good to begin with, but I had fun while it lasted. Then there is that unbelievable convergence of circumstances that ended up with a brush with some of progressive rock's greatest artists and an inclusion of my random guitar noodling on an actual released album. If nothing else, I can play Six Degrees of Separation between me and most of my rock/fusion/jazz heroes using only a finger or two at most to keep track. I still love music over my other pursuits, but I'm content being a listener these days.

Speaking of luck, I've been working on the fleet of vehicles here at Mayhem HQ, it seems all of them have, in one way or another, needed or are needing rather expensive maintenance and/or upgrades. The truck needed tires before our big trip, plus some PM and upgrades. The Stratus, being a 2000 model, needs some attention too, I have a small pile of wear items that I've been putting off installing, plus it too needs new tires. Even the Mini Cooper is needing attention; though it still seems to me like I recently bought the car, it's over ten years old already and starting to show its age. It hadn't been driven in some time, so I decided to finally give it some TLC and needed repairs. I had it idling in the driveway with the hood open as I fixed the rear wiper and window washer. I turned off the engine and began heading to the house, and I hear hissing sounds. I turn around to see smoke billowing out from behind the engine and then flames. I run and get the fire extinguisher and put out the fire. Seems an oil line from an aftermarket oil catch can had broken, once I shut off the engine the oil leaked into the hot exhaust header and ignited. There was very little damage, luckily, and it took all of five dollars to repair the damage and cause of the problem as well as some time to remove some heat shields and other parts to clean up the remaining mess. This could have been a lot worse. Later that day I was going to take the car to run errands, if the hood were shut and I walked away from the car, the flames would most likely have reached a nearby fuel line and the car would've been toast. So, despite the relatively minor setback, it actually did more to get me thinking about things.

I look at life from both sides now (what, more music? =D). My health isn't the greatest, but I'm still getting on with life as I can. Jeff's parents lost their house, but I am glad his dad was with us and his mom safely in a nursing home at the time of the fire. Dad has a new place he can be proud of, and even though he lost a lot, we are finding some goodies in the salvaged stuff still to this day that might not be much, but mean a lot. I lost my job last year, but I'm in a position where I can go on hiatus and take care of things here while I decide what steps to take. I don't know if I want to get back into the same type of mind- and skill-heavy work I am accustomed to, or something less challenging for my older years. I stay pretty busy here at All That Is Mayhem, Jeff has a good job now that does keep him on his toes, but we manage to get out now and then for fun, friends and culture when we can. We have some cool things coming up to look forward to. I remain very independent and have abilities, skills and the means to give us a good life and not worry too much when something unexpected comes up. As long as I have my health, my home and my Jeff, I think I'll be alright for a long time to come.
greatbear: (glasses)
Okay then. Yeah, it's been a bit over three months since I last visited this space. Life became very busy, and I minimized my online dalliances as I often do when I shift focus into things needing lots of physical and mental effort, as well as applied time. I did try to visit the ol' friends list and comment here and there, but even that took a back seat further down the aisle. After a while I noticed something, quite different from years past.

Nothing.

Where there was once a peripheral exchange of emails, messages, phone calls or other keep-in-touch forms of communication outside the sphere of LJ (and Facebook, for that matter), instead there was practically nothing. Exactly one person asked if everything was okay, etc. after a couple months had gone by. I measured this against my original hesitation (in the halcyon dialup days of internet communication in the early-mid 90s) to use the medium in a personal sense to make friends and how incredibly life-changing that decision had been. Perhaps it was the newness, the novelty of instant communications spared from the constraints of time and distance that drew people together and facilitated the interaction, which so often culminated in people traveling hundred or thousands of miles to finally meet in person those friends they had made online. It was wonderful. It's how I met Jeff, and our relationship is strong a dozen years later. Over time, though, it seemed that the interests in such meetings on a grand scale kinda dissipated, but the online interactions remained pretty strong. Now even this seems to be petering out as well, and I'm mostly at a loss to figure out any particular reason(s) for it. Like that old saying goes, it was fun while it lasted.

I tried for a short time to revisit Facebook for a while. Despite some solid communication with long lost folks there, the prospect of constantly battling with how that service is run and the near perfect record of changes hostile to privacy and control of information along with the sheer bulk of commercial interests oozing in every nook and cranny pushed me back out again. LJ, my last haven, seems to have gotten so balkanized and a bit deserted. Had I started off this post with "Hey, I'm back" or similar, I would have been chided by some as if I was breaking some unwritten rule. There could even have been some unfriendings.

I suppose it all boils down to things more or less coming full circle for me. I started off kept to myself, a loner in life. I discovered a means of communication that worked well with my personality, and I had ended up with a lot of friends, many similar to me as far as how they use online interactions as a preface to making real-life friendships that last. It's not a perfect system, we are all human, of course. I do know for sure that in the near 20 years I have sat at various keyboards and screens making friends with people all over the world I am forever changed for the better. Now as I enter my fogey years, I can feel comfortable with the manageable circle of friends I have made online as well as those predating the "cyber" era. I also need to come to grips that, in some aspects of life, I am pretty much that original loner I started off being all those decades ago. Sometimes I am totally alone in some of life's situations, despite having varying "levels" of friends, and an ever decreasing group of loved ones. I just don't want to end up like some I have seen recently, seemingly abandoned in nursing homes with not much more than a paid staff for company.

I don't intend to pull the plug on this here LJ, at least not anytime soon. Despite all the faults of the service and folks jumping ship, what remains, at least for me, is a nicely sized group of interesting people, I might not say much anymore, but I am watching. Thanks for being there.

Slayed

May. 6th, 2007 11:54 pm
greatbear: (mini me)
1450-some miles? Done.
Triple-digit speeds? Approached.
Tires? Pretty much shot now.
Broken stuff? None, though I lost two aluminum billet caps that were not supposed to come off.
Friends? Old ones gretted and hugged, new ones made.
Dragon? Slayed.
Demons? Confronted.
Me? Spent.

It was a good trip. And it was more than just a chance to wear out some tires and chit-chat with friends this time, though I did quite a bit of that. Among the .9G+ turns, the smell of brakes and rubber, the surprisingly good food found at ramshackle roadside eateries, the mob scene of MINIs and the gathering of friends, I found a lot of myself around every turn. It's a healing process. It's what I like to do, it's what Mom would urge me into, it's a chance to be myself. Yeah, it appears strange to some, but it's so, well, me.

I'm exhausted. I'm home, and I'm happy.

I'll write more soon.

Off to sleep for me.
greatbear: (fuzzy)
Reading about the massacre today at VA Tech was yet another moment that makes me think we might be seeing the downfall of the human race in progress. Climate change is currently on us, as the Northeast is getting socked in by snow or heavy rain, and I watch shingles flung off my roofs. Greed and self-centered behavior is the rule of the day everywhere it seems. It also seems people dont really care. I know I preach to the choir when I write here, since many, if not most of my readers share feelings similar to mine. But I look around at people during my daily grind and I sense that many seem to be lining up like so many lemmings in a marathon run that just might not have a pretty ending.

I think the human race is becoming a victim of it's own success.

I however always seem to hope for and see in people their ability to rise above adversity. Unfortunately, it often takes a catastrophe of large proportions to bring out that quality. You tend to not see it in those who 'have it made', as it were. And for the longest time, aside from a few spots of calamity, people have never had it so good, and it often shows but for the worst. Instant gratification is the word of the day. Mind-numbing venues of endless entertainment. Point-and-click, and it's yours. Use that cellphone any time you want. The list goes on. If not measured against disaster, lean times for all or some great calamity, people feel an overwhelming sense of entitlement and greed.

It is said that 'all good things must come to an end'. I feel this is true, for if nothing else, it gives us a gauge for when the next 'good things' come about. It gives people a common goal. And in the worst of times, you will often see the best that mankind has within itself.

I cannot help but feel that mankind will soon have to withstand it's greatest test yet. Let's hope for the best.

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Phil

December 2016

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