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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Bad lawmaking


Here is another classic piece of knee-jerk legislation. Lawmakers seek ban on sniper rifle. Maryland lawmakers want to add a specific model to their list of "bad" guns. They obviously don't know anything about firearms because if they did, their aim would be better.

In reflexive action, they want to add a specific, by brand name, rifle to a statewide and federal ban on non-existent "assault weapons." If these lawmakers knew their ass from a hole in the ground, they should be trying to ban every kind of rifle. These attacks were all single shot attacks from relatively close range. Any rifle, bolt-action or semi-auto, of any rifle caliber would have been sufficient for the snipers.

Maybe they do know what they are doing. As in gun owners being nibbled to death by anti-gun ducks. When the law banning "assault weapons" was passed, it named 19 models specifically, by manufacturer and model. It also named a number of cosmetic features that had nothing to do with the functionality of the weapon itself. I myself at one time owned a post-ban MAK-90 rifle, a semi-automatic version of a real assault rifle, the AK-47. The only difference between mine and the pre-ban weapon was the stock was changed. Instead of a separate piece for the handle, they reformed the stock so it became a thumbhole stock. Nothing else was changed and because of that one modification, it became perfectly legal to sell. Bad lawmaking at it's finest.

The article also mentions a list of "assault pistols." This term was totally invented by the anti-gunners. There can be no such weapon system. To assault means to attack. Pistols are used as close-quarter defensive weapons. Even cops carry their sidearms for defensive purposes only. The cops who go looking for a fight (SWAT) use at least MP5's, which are baby rifles that fire handgun ammunition. If there ever was a conception of an "assault pistol" the MP5 would be the closest fit. And you don't Mexican Carry an MP5.

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Absolute Power and all that


This made me smile. Questionable Programs is a story about how Greenpeace is violating it's non-profit status in order to carry out its left-wing agenda. You know, the "we know better" crowd. The kind of crowd that will do anything to push it's agenda. Especially when it includes property damage against whomever they call "evil." To them, there are no lines to cross, no "isn't this going too far?" They have only their own morality to guide them. And of course, their cause is Just, their intentions Pure.

Well, now they're in trouble. The IRS is after them. The IRS will be on them like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat. About time we got some good use out of the IRS.

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Take Your Time


This story, Iraqis Say New Constitution in Six Months Is Unlikely give me hope. I am proud to see that the time is being taken to get the process right. To take the time now shows that you are willing to be anal about every step of the process. When you are restarting a country, there is no such thing as an insignificant detail. I am glad to see that the US and the key Iraqis are making haste slowly and ignoring the calls for a quick transfer of power. It took a long, hot summer in 1787 to draft our Constitution, let us hope that the results from this transaction will bloom and flower equally.

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Monday, September 29, 2003

UNDER GOD


This article, High Court to Consider 'One Nation, Under God' Petition can set a rather serious precedent.

Not whether or not 'Under God' needs to be in the Pledge of Allegiance, but "Does one person have the leverage to change the entire country?"

The dimensions of this dilemma is many. Here's a couple.

Is this person right? Every movement, every revolution starts with one person and a desire. But even with the best of intentions, you can do the right thing for the wrong reasons. So we must ask, is this person doing the Right Thing in doing this? If this revolution succeeds, will everybody be better than before? My answer is a resounding NO.

In the 220+ years since we proclaimed our independence, we have maintained a secular state that recognizes that the Rights of the People come from God, and it is the mission of Government is to stay out of those affairs. In that time, we have gone from a backwater colony to the greatest country on the planet. Clearly we have done something right. Our belief in God led us to a belief in the People, and we started an experiment that had never been tried before. We have been often copied, but never duplicated.

Should one person have this amount of power? The President, nominally the most powerful person on Earth, does not have the power to do this without help. For one person to affect millions of people for no particular reason does not sit well with me. His lack of a belief in God is his problem, it shouldn't be mine. If he doesn't like it, he has the freedom to move wherever he wants to get away from it. He should not have the power to affect 250 million people by himself.

Whether or not everybody still says "under God" if he wins is besides the point. His argument that this will lead to a government based religion has not happened in the past 50 years and the chance that it eventually will is exactly zero to 9 decimal places. The reason for this is we worship God in so many different ways that there is no chance that enough of us will get together to establish such a religion. The important fact is that you realize there is a Creator who wants you to worship Him and do your best in every area you wish to, no matter if you worship Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah or Vishnu.

In my opinion, this man is doing the wrong thing for bad reasons. He is asking for something that he has no right to ask for, and no good result is possible if he prevails.


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I'm a Grandpa! (sort of)


I've told you about my Sun Conures Rocket and Corkscrew. I have some other birds as well. I also have 4 Zebra Finches as well for a total of 6 birds. I keep a brother-sister pair, Spot and Plucky, in one cage and a breeding pair, Ozzie and Silver in another. Silver laid a clutch of five eggs a couple of weeks ago, and starting this weekend, a chick a day has been hatching. Four of the five chicks have hatched, and I'm waiting on the last egg. The chicks are cute, they look like a hairy inch long worm. And they are always hungry. Now starts the 6-8 week process while they grow up. When they are old enough, I take them to the pet store so they can have a family of their own.
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Sunday, September 28, 2003

Rockets are Fun


I tried launching a few of my model rockets today. And, like NASA, I got a scrubbed launch due to weather. The wind was whipping around too fast for a lot of launches. I got one in, but it took off and instead of going straight up, it leaned into the wind and had a large amount of horizontal distance involved. It landed about 3/4 of a mile away, in chest high soybeans. If I didn't have a locator beacon on it, I never would have found the rocket.

There are three different subsets to model rocketry. There is the true model rocketry, which the rockets are generally 6" to 24" in size and use A to D powered motors. Then there is mid-powered rocketry, where the rockets are 2 to 4 feet long and use E to G motors. Then there is High Powered Rocketry, where rockets start big and go toward massive. These use H and up motors. I included motor sizes because I wanted to tell you about them. Every letter you go up, you double the total power of the motor. Two C's equal one D, Two J's equal one K. But, one K equals 256 C's.

When I say High Power Rockets are big, I mean big. As in 1/3rd scale, 1/2 scale, in one instance full scale of a real life missile. It is not out of the ordinary to see a 1/3rd scale V2 rocket at some of the larger launches. The difference is we build ours out of cardboard tubes and Fiberglas, not metal. Instead of a warhead, we have a parachute so we can recover the rocket intact and fly it again. Rockets also have no guidance system, they just go up and come back down again, hopefully the take off and landing sites are close together.

I have a high power project of my own underway. The last one didn't fare too well, you can see before and after shots of them with me. The landing on this one was a little rough. The parachute didn't come out like it was supposed to and it fell straight down from 3,000 feet, driving the nose cone about a foot deep into hard packed soil. It was a total loss. Hey, it happens.

Now comes the fun part. I am a rocket scientist. I must understand and harness the same principals of construction and flight dynamics as those big boys at NASA. The only significant difference is their budget is bigger than mine, so of course their rockets are bigger.

Rocketry is a fun sport that can be enjoyed by children and adults, boys and girls, and it is frequently a family event. Try it today and see!
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Saturday, September 27, 2003

Do Not Call
The telemarketers of today can trace their roots back to the door-to-door salesman. While this salesman did sell products that weren't in stores of the day, they got a lot of doors slammed in their faces. Not a job for the easily discouraged.

The difference between then and now is you used to be able to see the person before you opened the door. You also didn't get three salesmen every day either.

Today, telemarketing is big business. Despite aggravating millions of people, enough people accept the calls and partake of the product to make it profitable.

But that does not make it right. The right to swing your arm, so the old saying goes, stops at my nose. Salesmen by definition invade your space and demand your attention so they can sell you a product. TV commercials are louder than the show you are watching to get your attention. But there used to be counters to salesmen. People who didn't want to talk to the Fuller Brush Man would post a No Salesmen sign on their doors. Salesmen that didn't heed the signs usually ended up explaining their illiteracy to the Sheriff. And so goes our electronic list today. A great multitude of people who want to hang "No Telemarketers" signs on their telephones. They must be afforded this right.

There are no easy answers. If the list goes through, thousands of telemarketers will undoubtedly lose their jobs. A disproportionate number might very well be homebound individuals that have no other job choice. I don't like to hear of people who are struggling to get by getting kicked in the teeth. I have no alternative for them either. But they knew the job was dangerous going in. To willingly invade another persons privacy takes a personality trait that I do not have. I know, I have tried sales at various points of my life, and I felt guilty every second of it.

Privacy is a deeply held American way of life. It isn't in the Constitution, but it is in our hearts. We have the most personal space in the world. Americans for hundreds of years have gone into the wilderness to get privacy. Let's respect that, for others as well as ourselves.

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The right thing to do


This article, Eight killed in fire at Nashville nursing home, brings up the urgent need for what I call an Anti-Manager.

The job of an Anti-Manager is to break decisions made by the company. To analyze realistic "what if..." scenarios and the consequences thereof. My last job as an IT manager was in part to do just that. Y2K, key personnel being incapacitated, fires, hackers, systems breaking down, the whole works. Once you figure out what is likely to happen, then you draw up plans to combat such disasters.

In this case, the decision was probably consciously made that installing a sprinkler system was too expensive. The Anti-Manager was not there to say, "Is the sprinklers more or less costly than the bad press and lawsuits from the children of our clients that would die in such a fire, when not if it happens?"

The psychiatric facility that I have stayed in the last few times did the right thing the last time I was there. At no small expense, they installed a sprinkler system throughout the facility. I like this facility, not just because it is clean and nice and serves eatable food, but because of the services provided. They have hired a psychologist who provides training on how to plan out your life to take control of your illness, and how to handle the inevitable crises that occur. The other places I have been have more of a "catch and release" philosophy. They hold on to you until you stabilize, then let you go. Sometimes you have group therapy, but it seems more to pass the time than anything else.

But I digress.

Conservative thought needs to flow from reasoned planning of the consequences of planned actions, both good and bad. Don't say, "This will never happen...", that is wishful thinking that will blindside you when it does happen. You may choose not to go that way, but it never hurts to have a plan if you get dragged down that path anyways.

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Friday, September 26, 2003

Stupid Schools



I don't have a link to this because the only one that has a permanent link is so full of pablum that it's supporting the principal on this. Yecch.

A local high school principal has codified in an official internal memo to her teachers something that is simply inexcusable. What makes it appalling is the fact that this has been an unwritten, yet still official, Memphis City Schools policy for some time now. By putting this into a written memo, she has given the local media and outraged parents something to hang their hats on.

This principal made sure that the teachers knew that they were to give grades no lower than a C to students.

This absolutely screams "Liberal" to me.

"Let's not bruise their self-esteem by holding them back. We need to keep them with their peer group."
I think their little ego needs a dropkick if they won't do the work. I would rather kick an 18 year old 8th grader out of school than give them a diploma and let them think they actually deserve it.

"Don't worry, they'll understand the material and catch up in the next grade."
Each grade builds upon the prior grade and gets harder as you go along. What makes you think someone who hasn't done the work one grade will suddenly turn around and do basically two grades at once?

"The entire system would be wrecked if we held back everybody who didn't pass."
If the system isn't working, a new system needs to be tried and tried again until a workable solution has been found.

"I don't want to fail those gang-bangers. They'll kill me for failing them."
This one I can believe. But that's not a very Enlightened kind of thought.

A proposal surfaced in the School Board a couple of weeks ago to fire all of the teachers and administrators at the worst failing schools, then retest them before hiring them back. It of course was opposed by the teachers union, as well as the Mayor of Memphis, who used to be the School Superintendent. The proposal went down in flames, but may come back as something else. Time will tell.

I am allergic to knee-jerk ideas. While this idea sounds good on the surface, it is only part of the problem. Teachers should be tested annually to make sure they have the knowledge to teach the material. They should receive training annually on how to teach. Nothing closes minds as quickly as material presented by Ben Stein.

Parents and the students themselves also need to take the blame on this as well. Parents are the key motivator for the students. No motivation at home, no motivation at school. Also, you can have the best teachers on the planet, but if the kids don't want to learn, nothing is going to change that. Consequences need to be made clear and then carried out if the work isn't done. If you don't follow through, you have all of the credibility of the United Nations.

While there are no simple answers, the first change must come from the school system. Once they regain the focus of actually teaching the students and not supporting false self-esteem, three-quarters of the problem will be solved.

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Thursday, September 25, 2003

IMPORTANT: My soul needs a little baring, so you, the reader, know some important things about who I am. I have several items to write about, but I am going to purposefully leave this on top for a day or so to make sure everyone sees what kind of person I really am. I don't want people to think I'm an all-right kind of guy.

I had a conversation the other day that reminded me that actions have long term consequences. With five years of verified mental illness under my belt, I can look farther back and see years more of undiagnosed mental illness. Passed off at he time as "just being weird," I was running a pretty constant 5 to 7 on the mania 10 scale. Impulsive and excessive spending, impulsive decisions, the whole works.

In May of 1997, I forced my wife into taking a vaccine shot that I thought was important. She was hesitant, but in my "normal" style, I bulldozed her into taking it. She ended up having a severe reaction to the mercury in the vaccine. Being scared and impulsive, I buried the her and the problem, making believe that it didn't exist. A year later, through nothing less than a miracle, my wife made contact with just the right person at the company that made the vaccine, by accident. This person set up a case for her. All related health care would be free, plus a healthy annual stipend was hers if I would just fill out one piece of paper. I didn't do it. I was so deep into denial about the problem, so intent on making it go away rather than solving it, I did nothing.

To this day, my wife still has a multitude of health problems and disabilities, all related to the vaccine or the cascading of problems from not treating it in a timely fashion.

There are several other intense incidents of similar fashion, but I think this one sets the bar pretty high.

Believe it or not, things got worse after I became ill in 1999. For the next four years I ping-ponged between manic 10 and depressive 10. I became dangerous during my manic swings. I became abusive to my family. My wife, who was trying to protect me, would do her best to prevent me from doing fatally stupid things. Being so manic, interruption of my impaired thought processes led to train wrecks of monumental proportions. I did my best to keep that manic train rolling, including over her if necessary. There are multiple fist-sized holes at the level of her head in various locations. While I have never struck her, I have done other equally reprehensible things to her.

If I didn't have a built-in insanity defense, I would have gone to jail for spousal abuse on multiple occasions. Instead, I was shipped off to a psychiatric facility for a few weeks where they tried some new drugs on me and then dumped me back home for the cycle to start all over again. It took a hospitalization after I got a job for things to change. My wife made it clear to everyone involved that I had my own money now and I would have to use that money to find a separate place to live.

So now on top of a debilitating illness that I inflicted on her, I have given my wife a generous case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Bring up the wrong subject or person, and she relives these and other terrifying moments of her life with the same amount of terror that she had going through the original events themselves. These memories do not fade with time. It was just such a moment that prompted this blog entry. I am unable to atone for my actions, because my wife can relive them all with perfect clarity on a moments notice. Short of Jesus descending from heaven and healing her body and spirit, neither one of us can move forward from those years of terror. She lives everyday with the aftermath of the carnage I have caused, and I live everyday with the knowledge that I am responsible for doing it.

So you see, I have some very large and noisy skeletons in my closet.

The sad part is, I have always had a pretty good ability to analyze, define and solve problems. But when it comes to the problems I face in my own life, all I can do is beat my head and scream, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!" Even when my wife literally leads me through the problem all the way up to the solution, I am totally clueless and avoidant to the problem.

And this is one reason for this blog. Not just to document my trials and tribulations, but to induce deep, introspective self-critical thought in you, the reader. Thoughts and processes so you know where you are and why you are there. Before you can follow a map to treasure, you must first know where you are so you know where to start from. All the directions are worthless if you don't know where you are.

Good night.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

More TV. Yecch.



Tonight is more TV, Enterprise, West Wing and Law and Order. I don't care too much about WW, but I'm curious as to which way it comes out.

I also have a special work day tomorrow, I'm taking my clients to the Mid-South Fair. Believe me, you and I have a lot to talk about when I get the time to write it all down.

Good Night.
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Closet time for me



Finishing the last article and trying to fix the page has brought on an attack. I'm heading into the closet for a while. Wish me luck.
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I'm sorry, the blog is still acting up again. Please click on the archive link to the right and then click the back button.
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Pass/Fail



I found this article, YOU HAVEN'T 'FAILED' - YOU'VE 'NEARLY PASSED' and it upsets me.

In the US, we're already three-quarters of the way there with being self-esteem centric in our schools and scoreless sports. The self-esteem being taught in our schools today is a false one, because it avoids failure. This is the absolutely worst thing you can do to a child. School is supposed to teach children to handle life. Sacrificing the truth about weather or not they succeed on a test or project does nothing but set them up to fail when they get out into the real world.

Out in the real world of having a job, you have very clear pass/fail standards. If you don't consistently pass, you lose your job. The people who graduate from high school and realize that the school had stupidly easy standards feel let down because the school failed on it's basic premise.

Making things easy and not really grading also teaches children not to try. When they realize that they pass without putting any effort into a project, they stop putting effort into anything important.

Feeling good and getting a self-esteem boost when you win is easy. You just pick on someone weaker than yourself. Earning self-esteem is when you pick on someone bigger or better and winning.

Sometimes failure is the best way to teach self-esteem. No matter where you go in life, no matter what you do, someone will always be better than you. When you are defeated, you have to ask yourself, "Did I do the absolute best I could?" If you did, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. You take that and everything you learned and make yourself better than you were before. Then go out and try again. That is the American way.

Small business owners frequently fail in their first several business attempts. NASCAR can only have one winner out of 30 or so cars racing. Even the best professional baseball players only get a hit 1 out of every 3 at bats. None of these guys give up, they keep plugging at it until they win. Or should we let them "win" first time, every time?

In MechWarrior:Dark Age, the wargame that I play, there are two prizes handed out at a sanctioned tournament. First is Champion, for the guy who had the best record of the night. The other prize is Fellowship. This goes to the player who was the best sport. This is typified by who helped out less experienced opponents, who didn't lose their cool when getting the stuffing knocked out of them by a superior player and so on. The Fellowship prize helps foster a positive attitude among all of the players. Sometimes, not very often, the Fellowship prize is actually better than the Champion prize. That really makes things interesting.

We are doing irreparable harm to our children when we feed their self-esteem this way. We teach them to take the easy path that goes nowhere instead of the difficult path that leads to the stars. Please don't do this to your kids.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Sorry there's no posting tonight. In a very rare case, I'm watching TV for the whole night. NCIS, Tactical to Practical and Law and Order:SVU. I've got some stuff for tomorrow.

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Quick note. I got the note back from tech support and I did what they told me to do. Let's see if the changes work.
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Monday, September 22, 2003

The page is acting up again. Please go to the archives and then hit the back button. That way you can see the whole page.

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Fat Chance



I found this article, Overweight workers say they're often overlooked. The article is trying to make a case to add weight discrimination to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Weight is the one thing under your control. You can't change your skin color or your age. You can change your sex, but only after a lot of work and surgery. You have the ability to manage your weight. When you abdicate control of your weight to the TV and billboards, no wonder you're overweight in no short order.

People should be ashamed if they are overweight. The sad news is many people who are ashamed they are overweight retreat into the very food that made them fat in the first place, exacerbating the problem. To put the blame on anything but yourself is known as transference. It's like a tennis pro blaming the racket for his losing the match. Which is why we are seeing lawsuits against McDonald's for people being fat. The only thing Mickey is guilty of is really good advertising.

We are programmed to like fat. It gives you the highest calorie per weight ratio out there. And when you are a hunter-gatherer who might get only one substantial meal every couple of days, fat is where it's at.

But today we are a culture who lives at McDonald's. Every item there is high in fat and calories. Even the salad has a ton of calories if you drown it in Thousand Island dressing. It's okay if you have a meal there once a week, that's known as moderation. But Americans today don't know what moderation means. We are constantly barraged with ads about food. And so we are programmed when the slightest bit of hunger surfaces, we go and have a Big Mac Meal, super size the deep fat fried potatoes and the liquid sugar soda. Extra Mayo and cheese please.

A weight problem occurs only when you eat more food than your body consumes. I know the answer isn't as simple as that, but that is the fact. If your activity level is zero and you eat 5,000 calories a day, you are going to be huge in no time at all. The only good thing about my depression is that I frequently skip meals. I've lost 30 pounds and want to lose at least 10 more. I don't recommend the "depression diet" to anybody.

I recently came into possession of some Ritz "Butter and Garlic" crackers. Someone gave them to me, I would never have bought them on my own. When you look at the nutritional information on the side of the box, it says: Calories per serving: 80 not too bad Calories from fat: 35 that's only...Let's see...44% FAT Serving size: 5 Crackers. 5 crackers? 5 crackers! 5 stinking crackers! Nobody eats just 5 crackers! Of course, you don't eat just 5 crackers, you usually eat an entire sleeve, which is about 35 crackers. That comes out to be 560 calories. And that's just a snack. 560 calories is supposed to be 25% of you're total intake for the entire day! Put that on top of three super sized meals and no wonder this country is so overweight.

Weight control falls under the Conservative ideal of personal responsibility. If you're overweight, it will take a lot of time, effort and sweat to get back to a healthy size. And when you achieve that goal, you also gain something else. Good, solid, deserved self-respect. Self-discipline. The ability and confidence to solve any problem ahead of you. That makes it all worthwhile.

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Vote early and often



One of the items on my list today is to vote. Memphis has an election on October 9th and we have early voting for the couple of weeks before it.

Voting is one of the two obligations that every citizen should do. The other is some kind of personal service. Peace Corps, Americorps, military, take your pick. Spend some years of your youth and work in a low pay job that makes a difference around the world. I personally lucked out. I spent 13 years in the Navy and spent half of it in Hawai'i. :)

It is the job of the citizen to keep his mouth open. Let your elected officials know what you think. Vote for who you think will do the best job, even if it seems to be the lesser of two evils. If you don't vote, you don't have any grounds to complain when you get screwed by them.

You may think "my vote doesn't count," but the only way it doesn't count is if you don't vote.

Vote every chance you can. And thank God you have this sacred power.

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I envy you guys



I would love to get up at 6am again. It would give me plenty of time to surf and find appropriate stories for you to read when you get to work. It would give me hope that I can face the day. I got 9 hours of sleep last night before the alarm went off at 8 this morning, and I still stayed in bed until 10:30. This angers me to no end. I want to get up, but the depression drags me back down again. The ironic thing about it was it was like someone threw a switch. One moment it was impossible to get up, the next moment no problem. I wished that would work for the rest of the day. I'm working myself up to actually shave and brush my teeth next.

Living with depression is like living with an extra 100 pounds. But instead of it being around your waist, or in a backpack, it's all carried on your neck and shoulders. It drives your center of gravity forward so you are off balance. It curves your spine so you're always looking down. It makes your knees buckle so every step is unsure. If you're not careful you can be driven to your knees. When I am overwhelmed I literally feel every pound on my neck and shoulders. When a decision or problem weighs heavily on you, that load can be shared with family and friends. I don't have that luxury.


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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Do you see what I see?



I don't know if y'all are seeing what I am or not. About 2/3rds of the current post is the only thing that shows up. To see the entire post and the rest of my prior posts you'll have to go to the archives. Sorry, I don't know why it's doing it or how to fix it. I'll be asking for help on Monday.

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To Be a Conservative.



There is a difference, as the old saying goes, between good, sound ideas and ideas that sound good. I think this pretty much means the difference between Conservatives and Liberals. True Conservatives have definite, solid reasons and reasoning behind their positions on any subject they take a stand on. Liberals will, by and large, either default to "Because it's the right thing to do." or start spewing meaningless statistics from a left-wing group. These statistics rarely stand up to critical review.

Let's take gun-control for an example. I have a clear bias, I am pro Second Amendment, I am a life member of the NRA, and before I got sick I had a Concealed Weapons License.

A Liberal will spew "10 children a day are killed by guns." Of course, who wouldn't want to save 10 children a day? That's the emotional hook. But if you found out that most weren't children, that they would probably die even if there weren't any guns, would your position change then? Would that prompt you to determine the source of the problem, rather than treating a non-existent symptom? The bad news is they fail to define "children." You are left to think 7 and 8 year-olds, while in fact, about 8.5 of those 10 are actually 15+ years old. And to round it up to 10, they had to include 18 and 19 year old ADULTS as well.

"...[T]here were just 20 fatal gun accidents among children under the age of 5 in 1998. Contrast this with phony claims you hear about "10 children a day killed by guns." The greatest part of that factoid comes from gang-related homicides perpetrated by inner-city, 17-to-19-year-old male criminals.

(Excerpted from the article "Not-so Safe Storage Laws" by Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant & Dr. Joanne Eisen of the Independence Institute, published in National Review Online 10/18/00.)


Of course the death of a child is a tragedy. Even if the "child" is a member of a gang, capable of performing deadly violence on anybody who gets in his way. But it is by no means an accident. That young adult made a conscience choice to get involved with groups known for consistent and brutal violence. In some of these groups you actually have to commit a murder to be a member of the gang.

John Lott, in trying to show gun control actually works, decisively proved to peer review that 2.5 million (2,500,000) crimes are prevented every year by armed private citizens. Now for the sake of argument, let's say that we were able to get rid of all guns in private hands. Would that cut down on the "10 children a day"? Probably not. They would use baseball bats, or knives, or whatever was on hand. Would that cause more crime? Absolutely. By at least 2.5 million a year.

Do you see the difference? I did a yahoo search and found a bunch of sites, more of which were promoting the "10 children a day" than were opposing it.

They are too fixated on the factiod to question it. Liberals don't care that most of it is gang-related. If you take away the gang members, the rate drops to about 1.5 a day. Less than drowning. Less than poisoning. Liberals don't like guns, they don't like the common citizen having so much power and responsibility, so they are willing to quote any absurdity to justify their position. And the people who do it because "it sounds good" fall right in line behind them.

On any subject, which category do you fall under? Good, sound reasons or reasons that sound good?
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Living with depression



This is the reason for this blog. For me to tell you people what it is like to live with a mental illness. My alarm clock went off at 8 am this morning. I am trying to get up at the same time every day for stability. That means no sleeping in. I got up long enough to feed my birds, then I was driven back to bed to hide from the world. This wasn't a fear attack, but rather a "I can't face anything" type of attack. 8 o'clock suddenly became 11:30. I am angry over this. But then the definition of depression is "anger without the enthusiasm."

On a 10 scale of being depressed, I am about a 5. This slope I am on is steep and slippery. Below me lies closet time and suicide attempts. Above me lies normalcy. I struggle with easy things. Personal hygiene is a monumental task. I don't smell, but if I shave twice a week, that's good. If I brush my teeth 5 times, that's outstanding. Taking the trash 30 feet outside the back door might as well be climbing Everest. I know these things need to be done. I want to do them. I know they are not hard to do. But actually completing the task is nigh impossible.

But I also have an added danger in my life: mania. "Normal" bipolars spend months or years on either side of the scale before falling off the other side. I myself was mistakenly diagnosed as ADD instead of bipolar. I spent most of my life on the manic side. A fast cycling bipolar can literally switch in seconds. Several of my suicide attempts were preceded by a severe manic swing. I experienced a perceptual narrowing (I overfocused on something small and insignificant) on something dangerous. When my wife got through to me about how stupid I was being, I would go from a manic 10 to a depressive 10. These severe manic swings also led to trips to the hospital under police escort. I was on a first name basis with the police that specialize in handling emotionally disturbed people. Luckily the Memphis police don't carry Tasers, I would have been brought down at least twice that way.

Let me clarify something. I was a standard bipolar (diagnosed as ADD) until I started taking Effexor in January of 1999. This drug piledrived me into a depressive swing and I have been like a ping-pong ball ever since. My first hospitalization was in early 2000 and I have had at least 15 hospitalizations, the last one in November 2002. My last manic episode seems to have been in May, and I have settled on my "slightly depressive" spot ever since. Now is the time to move up emotionally. Wish me luck.

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Saturday, September 20, 2003

I'm sorry Mr. Ashcroft



I happened across this article, Ashcroft rips 'Patriot' critics and I have to stand against the AG on this one. I think it is always a bad idea to pass 'knee-jerk' legislation. It violates a lot of freedoms and rarely actually addresses the problem it is supposed to solve.

Ashcroft's comments came after the release of a memo he wrote disclosing that the Justice Department has never used a controversial section of the Patriot Act that allows authorities in terrorism investigations to obtain records from libraries, bookstores and other businesses without notifying the subject of the probe.


Just because you haven't used provisions of a bad law doesn't mean that you won't in the future. I don't know everything about the Patriot Act, but I do know that opening doors like this make them very hard to close. I know they already do similar things in RICO and Drug related cases. I still don't like it.

With today's interlinked society, your buying habits are closely scrutinized and studied. Why? So you can be targeted with personalized advertising, to get you to stay brand loyal or to jump ship. Every time you use a check or credit card, a record is made with your name and info, to be kept on file at that place of business for who knows how long. To have a barcode on your receipt means that store is tracking you by name. They can tell you what you buy, how much, how often and if you prefer store brand over brand name or not. They know which credit cards you use, and can guess how many you have in total based on statistical averages. Use a frequent shopper card? You're in it up to your eyeballs now. I could go to my local grocer, drop my FSC in the basket, and just walk the aisles, and 90% of my shopping would automatically fall into my basket, based entirely on my past shopping habits.

I'm bipolar, not paranoid. I know all about the data mining being done on me every day because I used to be a data miner. Because of my financial and emotional position, I don't make impulse purchases anymore. Every dollar spent, every transaction is checked and verified internally before I actually spend the money. If it is necessary, I know where, when and how to make a "transaction free" purchase. And the answer isn't just paying cash.

To allow law-enforcement access to those records for any reason without a court order is scary to me. The tools are there for police to find data that didn't exist 10 years ago. There are commercial tools that document sales that didn't exist 10 years ago. I don't mind the tools, I mind how easy it is to get permission to use them. To be able to call an investigation "Terrorism related" and get a pass on any meaningful control scares the daylights out of me. The depth that the governmental anal probes can reach get a little deeper every year. If law-enforcement on any level decided to perform a a maximum effort investigation on me, very little outside of my own thoughts are safe. Considering the content of this blog, even my thoughts can be scrutinized. Scary stuff.


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The Dreaded Knock



I got a rude awakening this morning about 1:30am. The apartment got a loud knock for some reason. The only two knocks you get at that time of the morning are "police raid" or "death of a family member." It dumped a large amount of adrenalin into my system and took a while to go back to sleep.

Short on time again, nothing really interesting on the news web sites. I'll post something conservative tomorrow when I have the time.

UPDATE: I meant to say the apartment ABOVE. I did not get the knock, but the people above (or maybe even next door).
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Friday, September 19, 2003

What I do



I've already stated that I work part time. I put in three days a week at a Drop-In Center, which is a socialization center for people who have a mental health diagnosis. It's a job requirement that the staff also have a mental health diagnosis as well. It's so we can better relate to our clients.

I drive for the center. I go out and pick these people up and take them to the center. In the afternoon, I take them home. In between, I interact with them.

These are people who by and large will never be a contributing member of society. A good portion of these people also have developmental disabilities such as mental retardation on top of being schitzophrenic, or bipolar, or whatever they have. Seeing these people struggle against what you don't even think about helps me do my best to make it through the day. Most of them are happy, because they can't even conceive of the things that are beyond them. They look forward to coming to our center like normal kids look forward to going to Disneyland.

Me? I feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon. I remember when I was an Information Technology Manager, my work affecting hundreds of employees and thousands of customers. I used to eat stress and deadlines like candy. Now I must carefully manage myself. If I get too excited or stressed, I end up on the manic side of the scale. That means my productivity drops to zero and I run around like a headless chicken, followed quickly by my ending up back in the closet, screaming like I'm being tortured. I dream about being an IT manager again only 3 to 4 times a day. Followed by the realization that I still have a long way to go, plus there are things that must change externally to me as well before I can go job hunting again.

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And I thought I was crazy



This article, Albright Still Unqualified, rips the Clinton Secretary of State a new one. I always knew she was in over her head. I just didn't realize that she put on cement overshoes before wading in.


The Democratic Party's fixation on race and gender explains why black Supreme Court justices can't be conservative, why Hispanic parents should not want their kids to learn English, and why members of both hues should all think alike. It explains how you get Gray Davis supporters shouting "He's a for'ner!" about an immigrant candidate, and how you get the Democratic governor responding that if you can't pronounce the word "California," you shouldn't be governor. It's also how you get the Democratic Party of Minnesota discouraging black Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Alan Paige from running to fill the late Paul Wellstone's Senate seat in last November's elections.


I for one would not want to discourage Alan Paige from doing anything he wants to do. He was a fearsome linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings back in the 70's. I have no doubt he could still stick your left foot in your right ear if he wanted to.

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Gotta go to work



Today is one of my work days. I did manage to get up early and make it through my blog and news list. I'm running out of time, so posting is light this morning.

Right now my two Sun Conures Rocket and Corkscrew are on me, cleaning me. They're not happy unless they can spend some time on Daddy. I even have a special shirt for them to tear up. They are especially noisy when I get back from being out. They don't quiet down until I put on their shirt and let them out. I keep their visits down to about 10 minutes or so, then put them back so they can have a "poopy break" so they don't do it on me.

The one thing I wanted to comment on is this story, where Governor Davis made an interplanetary gaffe:

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth," he said.


As if California didn't have enough trouble with illegal Mexicans, they have to worry about illegal Venusians and Martians as well. Heh.

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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Thursdays are Fun Days



Thursdays are my fun night out. I play a futuristic tactical game called MechWarrior:Dark Age where the main battle unit is a BattleMech, a 40 foot tall humanoid robot bristling with weaponry and a man at the controls. It's about the year 4,000 and Man has spread to the stars. It's based on the old (but still played) BattleTech. It's a fun game that can be played in an hour or two and doesn't require pages of charts and stats. Everything you need to know about a unit is on the base, which is clicked as the unit takes damage. So the stats go downhill as the units get more and more damaged.

This and model rocketry are my only two hobbies at the moment, things that actually get me out of the apartment to mix with other people and have fun. I get to do this once a week at most. We used to have eight tournaments a month, but changes at the company that sells the game have cut things back to four events a month. You see, this company hands out free prizes if you win. Not a lot of other game companies do this.

Anyway, I loaded my stuff into the car, went and got my son and we went to Midtown Toys and set up. He played, I refereed. For some reason, we don't have a lot of players in this area to begin with. Tonight it turned out to be my son and one other player. No multiple battles, no exciting finishes, tonight was a 5 on that 10 scale of fun. I did get to talk with people of like-minded interests for a couple of hours, which is more than I usually do. I also got to spend some quality time with my son, which is always cherished time with me. That's always a 10 for me.

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to post more today, but I also had to take my wife to a doctors appointment. I am going to respect her privacy and not delve into the details, but I am worried. If you pray, please put her in your prayers at night.

Thank You and Good Night.
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Balance



My work hours are 10:30am - 7pm. With this in mind, getting up at 9am is perfectly acceptable. One of the reasons for this blog is for me to adhere to more acceptable hours. I got my alarm to go off this morning at 8am and I managed to get out of bed without an attack. After getting up at 8:00 for a couple of days, I'll shoot for 7:00. I'm not sure what I will do at that hour, but I'll find something.

One thing that I must be careful about is doing too much. My life is boring and vanilla as possible on purpose. Last week, in one day I paid the families rent, washed my overflowing dishes, did my laundry at the Laundromat, then took my family out for something to eat. Halfway through the outing with my family, I was overcome by a fear attack. I was able to hold together until I took everyone back to my apartment and I had to hide in my closet for a while. I also had to repeatedly thump my head. Not hard enough to bruise, but enough to provide a small physical shock to the brain. It serves as a "reboot" for the brain, providing a small measure of comfort to me.

The first indication that my life had forever changed was me crawling into the hall closet and started screaming and crying while beating my head into the wall. I was two weeks into taking an antidepressant treating what I thought was adult ADD. I was in the closet because I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had let down everybody that I had known. I was out of control and my only saving grace was my loving wife crawled into that closet with me and calmed me down. But that was the first of many, many times in that closet. Over the next 6-8 months, I think I spent more time in there than I did out. I went in there for the sensory deprivation. My thoughts would spin out of control and the only way to get them to slow down was to go into that dark, quiet place and let time pass.

So with all things in life, I must find a balance. I have been on the low side on purpose because my primary diagnosis is fast cycling Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't ever want to go manic because I would be out of control and that would be very bad. Trust me. So this blog is part of my effort to creep back to the center and balance, instead of staying on the depressive side. While being manic is a danger, I want to be able to do more, so by doing more, I hope to be able to do more. We'll see.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Something Conservative


I happened across this article, The Goose is Dying. A quote is below, but I wanted to comment on it. Half of the money the federal government collects is redistributed to other people. Since I am on SSDI, I am one of them. The last I heard, only 26 cents of every dollar collected actually makes it to the person that it's intended for. 74 cents disappears into the bureaucracy as overhead.

If 10 percent of an economy's national income depends on government spending and control, then its economy can be called 10 percent 'socialistic' and 90 percent free-market. Today, shockingly, fully 42 percent of the economy is socialistic, that is, utterly reliant on government spending. Thus only 58 percent of the economy is free, and that figure is rapidly diminishing.
Call it "creeping socialism" - it's happening one step at a time, so it's hardly noticeable until we wake up one morning and discover that Karl Marx has replaced George Washington as the father of our country.


There is also this article, NYC'S Latest Gun Misfires in which John Lott muses over the latest anti-gun knee-jerk measures being considered by the "Republican" mayor of NYC and the City Council. When John Lott writes about guns, you better listen. He started out as a liberal meaning to come up with the quintessential study showing that gun control works. He found out the exact opposite so strongly that he switched camps and became an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment.

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WEDNESDAYS ARE IMPORTANT DAYS

Wednesdays are very important days for me. This is the day that I meet with my case manager. This is a licensed social worker who comes by to check up on me. He makes sure I've been taking my medication, that I'm still stable on it, that I haven't been doing anything stupid, etc. I see him weekly, because of my past history of instability means I must be closely monitored. I used to see him twice a week, but budget cuts cut it down to one. I'm one of the "lucky" ones, most under case management only see their case manager once a month.

Today was doubly important because today I also checked in with my medication nurse. She is a licensed Nurse Practitioner who is in charge of my current drug "cocktail." Between my NP and I, we decide on a monthly basis as to how well my medication works and if any changes are warranted.

Without my medication, I would be dead, literally. When I am not on the correct medication (or none at all) I have an overriding urge to blow my brains out. A constant mental picture of pointing a gun at my head and pulling the trigger. I have been ill for five years now and it has only been the last year that this urge has been under control. I stopped counting suicide attempts when I hit an even dozen. I have tried hanging, pills, guns, even a half-hearted attempt of suicide by cop. I've had the SWAT team out to the house twice that I can remember. Just think about that. Average one suicide attempt every four months for four years. Not good. I never really wanted to die, I just wanted the urge to go away. That was how desperate I was.

Now imagine what kind of pressure that puts on a wife and child. My wife has PTSD from all of the out of control meltdowns that I went through before trying to kill myself. To this day I cannot raise my voice for any reason in front of them. The pets are even scared of me when I raise my voice. I am separated from my family for just this reason. I do get to see them, but it's as a visitor, not as a true husband and father.

So you see, it is very important that I have the correct medication and stay on it.
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GREETINGS AND WELCOME


Thank You for visiting my humble blog. Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a 42-year-old man who is living with a severe mental illness. I used to own my own home, I used to have a family. I used to be an IT Manager, pulling down $50K a year. Right now I live alone in a one-bedroom apartment, working part time to support myself. More details in later posts.

I meant to get up early and start on this first full entry, but I had an attack this morning. What I mean by "attack" is an attack of fear. I am afraid to get out of bed. Nothing that I'm afraid of, I'm just chilled to my bones with fear. I fight it as best I can. I toss about in bed, punch my pillow, yell at myself, that kind of stuff. It is frustrating to be rational and fearful at the same time. To know that there is nothing to be afraid of but yet still afraid is very disconcerting. So I got up 90 minutes late. There have been days I have missed work because I can't fight the attacks. Luckily I have been able to keep the attacks to my days off, as I only work three days a week. That's all I can work for several reasons.

I'm up now, so I'm going to go surf and see what I can see. More posting later.


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Oops. Still working out how all this stuff goes.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Just created. Tune in a day or two from now for something more substantial.
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