Friday, April 10, 2009

 

8 Years, 6 Months, 2 Weeks and 4 Days...



...but, hey, who's counting?

Here's Ed from BNL to sing us out...



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Monday, April 06, 2009

 

Quick Post



Recovering alcoholics say that you have to take it one day at a time. When that isn't working, take it one hour at a time. And when it gets really desperate, take it a minute at a time.

That advice has been on my mind, though I'm not really sure if it's applicable to present circumstances. Wendy and the kids leave this Friday. I just keep thinking "If I can make it through this week, if I can make it through this week..."

Separating is hard. It's hard on all of us ... the kids and my spouse and me, too. I guess it's obvious that, of the two of us, I'm the one who's more reluctant about this change. Well, hell, "reluctant" isn't the word. "Panicked" is a good word. "Dread" seems to fit in there somewhere.

There's an old Tori Amos lyric that comes to mind, too:
I got a bowling ball in my stomach,
Got a desert in my mouth.
Figures that my courage would choose to sell out now.

The more I think about it, the more sure I am that I'm gonna retire this blog and begin again on totally anonymous terms. A few people have asked me to e-mail them my new URL, and that makes me feel good. (Just keep it on the down low, homie. And I'll use a little more discretion this time with regard to the people I tell about my blogging hobby.)

I've been trying to think of a new URL. I need to do it soon while the terms with my web host will let me get one on the cheap.

I've amused myself with a few ideas that I thought were original and fairly funny ... only to find that they're already taken...

The one that I liked the most was Fear And Loafing.com, but of course it's already registered. No, I won't provide a link. Those bums stole my idea before I even had a chance to think of it, so they can generate their own traffic.

Oh, and here's something I found at Cracked.com, of all places. This really cheered me up some, and it's surprisingly thought provoking. Go check out Cracked's Five Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't). (Language Warning)

I'm trying to focus on positive stuff, like my upcoming summer visits from my son and the fact that I've actually been eating healthier and exercising lately and I feel better for it. I really am trying to stay positive.

But I keep coming back to one thing: "If I can just make it through this week..."

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

 

Little Or No Blogging For A Little While



There's a lot going on, I might not blog much for the next week or so.

The upcoming week will be difficult. There's a lot of packing that remains to be done and other things to be sorted out. A lot of it is heavy stuff that I don't want to go into here. Writing about my feelings for therapy is one thing ... but writing about someone else's feelings is something else entirely. I don't want to do that.

On top of that, my employer announced some major restructuring and a lay-off today. I think I'll still have my job, but a big paycut is unavoidable.

I have another tumor resection scheduled for the week of the 20th, too ... so that might take some of my time.

Thanks to the friends who keep in touch with me through this blog and have sent me supportive e-mails. It's helped a lot and it means a lot. I really, really appreciate it. I started this blog mostly as a fun way to communicate with three or four real-life friends who've moved away from this area. Having picked up three or four new "blog buddies" along the way has been fun, too. And I'm really grateful for the support that all of you have shown.

But, anyway...

It's come to my attention that a certain busy-body has probably been reading my blog ... someone on the periphery of my life ... and drawing her own conclusions and spouting off. My StatCounter info shows a number of hits from the area where this particular, unpleasant little person lives. Same ISP, too. It's unfortunate, but it's one of the side-effects of this particular hobby. Therefore, I'll very likely change my URL and blogger handle soon, and revert to something completely anonymous. It's the only way to deal with this kind of nonsense from someone who apparently has little else to do. I'll send the new blog info to those six or eight of you who are the only ones I write this stuff for, anyway.

Be well, I'll talk to you soon.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

 

Stealing From A Thief



You know all that neato, gnarly stuff they tell you about physical exercise? How it is good for you completely, mind body and soul? How you're always glad you did it, even if you went into it dreading it? How it gets easier all the time ... how it just becomes more and more fun and more rewarding over time?

All that stuff is true.

Why do I always forget that? I go long periods without exercise and I get fat ... and then I get disgusted and realize I have to change, and I start exercising again and I find myself thinking "Why did I ever quit doing this?"

It's been rainy and crappy here lately, so I've been riding my exercise bike instead of walking outside. And, man, I'm really enjoying it. I look forward to the weather changing so I can get outside and do stuff, too. I put together a new playlist of heavy, positive, catchy metal songs for my MP3 player, and that makes it all even more fun. And I've come to realize that one of my favorite of those songs, Stealing From A Thief by the legendary NY thrasher's Anthrax, has an awesome message:

So I hereby adopt Stealing From A Thief as my new personal theme song.

That's right, it's my personal theme song. Cheesy, yeah ... but I firmly believe that everyone needs their own personal theme song. If you don't have a personal theme song, then I feel sorry for you.

Check out the awesome, positive lyrics to my personal theme song:

Stealing From A Thief ... by Anthrax

Don't want a life like my parents had.
Don't want a life like my rich friends have.
Don't want to live by association.
Don't want to live the great maybe.

I want a life not a name online,
I want to live in real time.
I want a life just so I can be.
I'll never ask what was in it for me.

Stealing from a thief,
My humanity.
I know my name, I know my pain,
I know my frequency.

As a kid I played "make believe."
As a man I played "Make. Believe."
As a kid I'd do anything.
As a man I've done everything.

I live my life centered and humane.
I live my life like a man insane.
I live my life just so I can be.
I'll never ask what was in it for me.

Stealing from a thief,
My humanity.
I know my name, I know my pain,
I know my frequency.

I get up, I get up, I get up and go!
I grab a hold and reach way down
To find something that I really believe.
I don't need to console myself.
If I don't like what I see, f--- it.

I'll never ask what was in it for me.



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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

 

Fear Of Silence



I keep realizing little things; things that emphasize how much I came to depend on Wendy over the past eight years.

I don't know how to work our alarm clock. It's been on her side of the bed this whole time. She's the one who sets it, she's the one who turns it on and off. It's her who always pounded the snooze button. I don't think she's planning to take it with her when she leaves in two weeks ... but either way I'm going to either have to learn to work that alarm clock or I'm gonna have to get a new one and learn to work that one.

I may have never even touched our alarm clock, in fact.

I don't know much about how to work our TV remote, either. Wendy usually always picked what was on TV, and I rarely cared to watch anything other than the news. As far as controlling the DVR feature, setting it to record, etc, I'm gonna have to learn all of that.

And those are the little things. I don't even have the words to explain how it feels to realize that, soon, when I come home every day from work, she won't be here. She'll be gone, my step-kids will be gone. Gone. Except for the weekends and holidays and summer days when I have my son, this house is going to become a void. The silence will be suffocating.

It's been different during the times when I was at home by myself over the past eight years. Those times were infrequent and usually kinda brief. I enjoyed the silence in those instances. Sometimes, during the chaos of day to day life, I thirsted for silence. Soon I'll be drowning in it.

I can't sit in here and stare at the walls. I have to get out and do stuff. I have to visit extended family and see my friends more. If I sit here and listen to all this nothing I think I'll just become part of the nothing.

I start graveyard shift tonight. The kids are at school, Wendy is at work. She gave notice yesterday. I'd planned to get out today, but it's too rainy and cold out to go walk for exercise. Instead, I blew the dust off the recumbent exercise bike we bought years ago and used it for 40 or 45 minutes. It was tiring, but I'm glad I did it.

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Walking In Circles



I walked three miles today (Tuesday). OK, I actually walked 2.8 miles, not quite three. I know it was 2.8 because after I walked I got in my car and drove the same distance and measured it with the trip counter. 2.8 miles, pretty much exactly. Not too bad.

This is the beginning of me getting off my butt and getting some exercise and taking off some weight.

I've done this twice before. In the '90's I got fairly thin (as thin as I get) and somewhat presentable and I ended up in a serious relationship, which became a marriage/family, and then I got fat again. And then my wife left me. Not that the one necessarily caused the other, but it sure didn't help.

Then, in the year 2000, right after the end of that first marriage, I got fairly serious about my health, and I started exercising and lost the weight again. And then I started dating Wendy, and we got married and I got fat again. And now that relationship is ending.

So I'm exercising again.

Vicious cycle. I don't really know how to explain it. It certainly doesn't indicate anything good about my mental make-up. Apparently when I actually have a family to come home to I slowly become negligent about everything. The people I love, my own health, everything. And then once I end up single again I take off the weight pretty quickly, rush into a new relationship and begin the cycle again. That ain't good.

I don't really have a point to this post. Just more blogging for the sake of getting stuff off my chest. And I don't expect to solve anything by writing all this down. Just a personal assessment of some kind, maybe.

It's also kinda weird to throw this stuff out there on the net, I guess. But I suppose it's harmless. Basically, nobody is reading this crap. I heard once that more than two hundred million people keep a blog. The sheer number alone is almost an assurance of something even better than anonymity: indifference. Regardless, since this domain isn't a "family thing" anymore, I've been slowly removing all the traces of our full names.

Anyway, I think the thing to learn, here, is that I see a clear pattern in my mistakes ... and now I gotta figure out a better way to live.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

 

The Only Constant Is Change, Part 2



(This post is a follow-up to the post here.)

This is the point where the blog turns into a therapeutic (I hope) journal more than a political soapbox and joke forum. At least for a while. Nobody reads this blog but five or six real-life friends and family members and three or four "internet buddies." So it'll be alright.

So much to do, God, this is overwhelming.

So much is going to have to be packed. Joint checking account have to be closed, new ones have to be opened, vehicle ownership has to be transferred ... we even have to get the post office involved. Damn.

Wendy and I've spent the day preparing for her and the kids to move, going to banks, the DMV, etc, etc. Staying motivated is tough, considering that I'm helping to do all of this so that my best friend can move ten hours away. Over the past eight year's she was also my girlfriend and then wife, and that makes it all the tougher. Then throw the kids into the mix and, man. Man, oh man.

But it has to happen. For myriad reasons, none of which I intend to go into here, this really is for the best. This is really what makes sense and I try to focus on that.

Still sucks, though.

People are starting to put two and two together in some instances; really figuring out that this has been planned for some months. People say things like "So THIS is why you did (yadda yadda) in January instead of what I thought you'd do." Yep, that's it. Makes sense now, right?

Being single again will be weird. I haven't lived alone for ... something like fifteen years, I suppose. I tried marriage in my twenties and couldn't pull it off ... then I spent my thirties with Wendy and still couldn't make it work. And Wendy, man ... she's the one. Shes THE ONE. She was my best shot at really getting this right.

Maybe in my late 40's I'll try again. Maybe? For now, though, I really have to focus on turning myself into someone that I like to be around. I have got a lot of work to do. I've gotten so damn fat, man. Soooooo fat. I'm absolutely physically miserable. And that effects my emotions and my state of mind, and it has GOT to change. Period.

My son from my first marriage will be with me a lot this summer, and he's grown so much. He's as tall as I am now, and he's really quite the athlete. He knows I used to really enjoy tennis, he's seen video and pictures of a younger, healthy version of his father on a tennis court, and he's always asked me to teach him how to play. He and I will have a lot of time this summer just to hang out by ourselves, and I really look forward to getting on the tennis court with him, cancer permitting. The kid is inexhaustible; there's no way I can keep up with him. But I'll try.

Writing this made me feel better. And that kinda sucks, because you can expect me to do more of this kinda thing. Less laughter and ranting, more personal journal. Blah. I'm not as good at making my personal stories interesting and fun ... the kinda thing MCF does so well, for instance.

But thanks if you waded through this post. I really appreciate it.

Speaking of MCF, I think I'll sum up and finish this post with a video that he linked to yesterday. Hey, who ever had a better grasp on life than the Muppets?



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Monday, March 23, 2009

 

Scary Eye Larry



My step-dad is a good guy. He came into our lives a little later than usual, whatever "usual" is. He and my mom started dating shortly after he retired and shortly before my mom did the same. They've been married for four or five years, I guess.

The thing about my step-dad is that that he has terrible luck with his right eye. For some reason, every time he gets injured in any way, the worst part of the injury is going to happen to that same eye. A few years ago he was running a weed-eater and the weed-eater picked up a stick and flung it straight into his eye. He needed stitches and his eye was all bloody and bruised for a while.

A few years later a nasty case of food poisoning caused him to pass out, striking that same eye on the corner of his bedroom dresser.

If you shot Larry in the foot, the bullet would bounce off and hit him in the eye.

No matter what happens to Larry, the worst of it is going to find it's way to his eye. And he's really self-conscious about it. Whenever he's recovering from his most recent eye injury he always worries that the kids will panic if they see him. He has been known to lurk around the house with the lights off, hiding from visitors and warning them not to look at him. It's as though he thinks he's literally come down with the evil eye: "Don't look upon me! Your milk will curdle, your crops will burn and your women will miscarry! Cast your eyes away!"

So that's how he got the nickname Scary Eye Larry.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

 

The Only Constant Is Change



Just a bit of news for those of you who've read the blog long enough to kinda "know" me ... and for the handful of real-life friends who use this blog as a way to stay in touch:

I mentioned a year ago that Wendy and I were considering going our separate ways. In fact, I was convinced that it was going to happen. Instead, we took the last year to try to work through our problems and differences.

Long story short, we more or less finally have worked through our differences ... and realized that what we are, maybe what we've really always been, is just a couple of really good friends.

Getting to where we are now has been painful and difficult, but it's probably been inevitable. You guys have had to put up with me posting a bunch of sad song lyrics here over the past month or two just as my way of dealing with it. Sorry, that was lame. But it did help, and for the benefit of anyone who's curious, I'm doing pretty good now. We all are, believe it or not.

So here's what's up ... Wendy is moving back to New York and the kids are going with her. We'll do the summer visit thing and holiday visits, too. Hey, I've made it work for ten years or so with my oldest, and Wendy and I can make it work with my step-kids, too.

Last year when I wrote about these issues, I was fairly melodramatic. I think I said I was gonna stop blogging, take this blog down, etc. This year that's not the case. As weird as it might sound, this split is going to be good for the both of us. And we're going to make it work for the kids. You might see an occasional comment at this blog from Wendy, too, so don't be surprised about that ... I mean, honestly, regardless of everything else, she and I have managed to stay good friends. That's an end-of-a-relationship first for me, and I'm pretty damn proud of it.

And I'm also proud that Wendy and I were able to make our run last eight years, another personal best for me. I think that's amazing: Wendy put up with me for eight years. You gotta understand, dude, I really am the miserable, grouchy miscreant that I seem to be here at this blog. And she put up with me for eight friggin' years. How about a big hand for the lady, huh?

So, yeah, I might not blog as much for a while ... but it won't be because I've "given up blogging" and not because I'm depressed. I think I've come through the majority of the sadness. No, the reason blogging might be light is that it's getting warm here and I plan to spend more time outdoors, getting off my fat ass. Really enjoying my summer visitation with my son from my first marriage ... and the first of many summer visits with stepchildren.

So if you see something here at the blog that references these big changes, don't be surprised. Now you officially know what's going on.

And with that, we now return to the usual: reviewing movies, ranting about heavy metal bands, bashing liberals ... and writing horribly inappropriate and irresponsible things.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

 

Dreaming About The Dead



Lately I've been having a lot of dreams about the dead, and I have to wonder what that says about me, what it says about my state of mind, if indeed it says anything.

I've looked for answers with Google, because, of course, you can believe everything that you find on the internet.

I found a website that belches forth a message about Global Oneness in it's banner, and boasts that it is "co-creating a happy world." As you might imagine, I was damn near overcome with special feelings of warm fuzziness.

The merry band at Global Oneness offer quite a bit of information about dreams of the dead, including:
To dream of seeing the dead, living and happy, signifies you are letting wrong influences into your life, which will bring material loss if not corrected by the assumption of your own will force.

That caught my attention because the dreams I've been having are all just that; dreams of seeing dead friends and relatives alive again, happy and peaceful, not the least bit concerned about the fact that they were dead a while ago.

But I'm not at all sure how to achieve the assumption of my own will force. I can only assume that it involves a light saber. I don't have one. I do have a rake, but you seldom see brave Jedi warriors going forth into battle armed with gardening tools. So I'll have to leave the assumption of my will force for another time.

These dreams are mainly about four different people; my grandmother and grandfather, an uncle who was like a father to me, and a friend who died almost a year ago. In the dreams I'm typically amazed to see them alive and well again in familliar settings, and I usually have the sense that this is a temporary arrangement, but I can never find the words to express everything I want to say to them before they're once again lost to the warm indifference of the void. My dead loved ones are usually happy in the dreams, but I'm usually in a bit of a panic.

At a website called AnswerBag, someone asked the following question, and given that it was posted in all caps I'll assume that there was an urgency about it:
EXACTALLY WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN I DREAM OF DECEASED PEOPLE THAT I KNEW WHEN THEY WERE ALIVE BUT THEY DONT AKNOWLEDGE ME IN MY DREAMS? DOES THAT MEAN I'M GOING TO DIE?

A number of people have offered answers, including a few amateur theologists. This one is my favorite:
remember when you pass away, you are in doormat untill jesus returns to earth again.

Emphasis, I suppose, on the word amateur more than theologist.

You know, I just can't imagine my late grandmother waiting for her Savior's return while hanging out inside of a friggin' doormat. A pair of curtains, OK. A toilet-paper cozy? For sure. But not a doormat.

I continued clicking links and found something from a 2007 New York Times piece that caught my attention:
“Back to life” or “visitation” dreams, as they are known among dream specialists and psychologists ... are a particularly potent form of what Carl Jung called “big dreams...”

Later, the article mentioned the research of one Dr. Dierdre Barrett, assistant professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School:
The most common (of these kinds of dreams) was "back to life" dreams, which made up 39 percent of the dreams of the dead in Dr. Barrett’s sample. In such dreams, subjects were surprised or frightened by the appearance of a deceased loved one. Dr. Barrett theorized that these early dreams corresponded to the confusion and denial of early stages of grief.

That seemed somewhat authentic to me. Especially with regard to the death of my friend last year. His passing was sudden and shocking, and since he was a co-worker I have opportunities to think about him almost daily. Maybe I'm still trying to accept that he's gone. Maybe his death has stirred lingering grief for lost family.

I was comforted some by this quote from Roger Knudson, director of the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Miami University of Ohio:
"I don’t want to get over my father. That’s not to say that I want to suffer on a daily basis or that I don’t want to understand that he is dead. But I look forward to dreams in which my father will come again. What does it mean to ‘get over’ it? I think that is crazy."

Emphasis mine.

I like that. And I'm gonna leave it at that.

Hey, it beats a friggin' doormat.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

 

Lost Has Apparently Crossed The Line



Wendy is finally watching the season premiere of Lost. I'm aware that it's on, but I'm not watching it. I'm websurfing.

At one point a moment ago I heard Wendy say "Oh, now that's just not realistic."

I'm peripherally aware of some of the plot elements that Lost has introduced over the years. Polar bears on tropical islands, gigantic monsters, time travel, conspiracies, magical healings, etc. But Wendy has never blanched at anything they've thrown at her before. So I just had to turn around and ask what had finally impressed her as utterly implausible.

Her response: "Someone just opened a dishwasher and the knives where in there blade-up. Nobody would put knives in a dishwasher blade-up."

I guess there's only so much of this farfetched crap that one person can swallow.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

 

Surgery, Chemo, Faith and Family



Today's surgery was successful, if inconclusive. I got to go home afterwards, it really was outpatient this time. However, I'm going to have a fifth resection at some point in the coming months. I had my first round of chemo today, too, and it's as unpleasant as they say it is. I feel kinda zapped right now.

On the upside, I had a long talk with my mother today and I "outed myself" with regard to the way my feelings on religious faith have evolved (devolved?) over the past year. I was dreading that, but my mom surprised me by being totally understanding and supportive. Concerned, yes, but supportive. Downright Christian, even. She said she'd very likely feel the same doubts that I've been feeling if she'd had to deal with some of the things that have cropped up since early '08.

I was worried that my mom might flip out on me. I've been surprised by some of the reactions I've gotten when I tell the people closest to me that my religious faith seems to be gone. Some people are basically OK with it and want me to know that they're there for me regardless. Other people have made it clear that their friendship is conditional. In some instances that's really been painful. I never know how any given person will react. But I don't really regret having been honest. I'd rather be hated for who I really am than loved for who I'm pretending to be.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

 

Surgery



I'm having surgery again Thursday morning. Another tumor resection. It's possible that I'll be away from the computer for a few days if I need to spend the night in the hospital ... but more likely than not I'll be back and blogging again in no time at all. Talk to you then.

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Unity?



Unity is assimilation.

Unity is conformity.

Unity is being a sheep. It’s going along with the crowd and not asking questions. Unity is not making waves. It’s letting someone else do the thinking for you.

Unity is the death of individuality. Unity, in the present context, is everything I've ever opposed. And we're going to have this President's version of "unity" shoved down our throats for the next several years.

Now more than ever, screw unity.

Who is John Galt?

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Friday, January 16, 2009

 

Disparate Diatribes





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Sunday, January 11, 2009

 

Busy



For the next four days or so I'm gonna be busier than a one-armed cat in a room full of paper hangers. Or words to that effect. I don't expect to have much time to blog, but we'll see. I've got some overtime I'll probably have to work, etc. So that's all for now, talk to you later.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

 

Failure To Communicate



At work, in the break room:
CO-WORKER: "Hey, do you guys still have that old computer you aren't using?"

ME: "Nah, I traded it."

CO-WORKER: "You traded it?"

ME: "Yeah, I traded it to a friend of mine for his daughter."

CO-WORKER: "You gave him an old computer and he gave you his daughter?"

ME: No. I mean I gave it to him for his daughter to use. And he gave me some guitar gear. For my son to use.

CO-WORKER: "Oh. Well, that's nowhere near as interesting."





Over a terrible cell phone connection, I'm in the car:

ME: "What's with this big box addressed to you in the back seat of the car?"

WIFE: (Garbled) "...my dad sent it."

ME: "So what's in the box?"

WIFE: (Garbled ... sounds like) "...piss jugs."

ME: "Did you say piss jugs?"

WIFE: (Garbled ... sounds like) "...his trucks."

ME: "What? His trucks?"

WIFE: (Garbled ... sounds like) "...Hess Trucks! Hess Trucks! It's the Hess Trucks that my dad sent the kids for Christmas!"

ME: "Oh. Yeah, your dad gets the kids those trucks every year."

WIFE: "I know."

ME: "The kids hate those trucks. They never play with them."

WIFE: "I know. I've told my dad that a number of times. But he likes Hess Trucks, so he keeps getting the kids Hess Trucks."

ME: "Oh. (Pause.) You know, a box full of piss jugs actually would have been more useful."


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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

 

Mo Pills, Mo Problems



The other night at work I had kind of a ... medical anomaly? Yeah, let's call it that.

I haven't written about it here because I'm still trying to sort it out, because it's still kinda hazy, and because it's kind of embarrassing. I did allude to it yesterday, but that was just me being my usual smart-ass self. I haven't really faced it, I haven't even discussed it much. I've only talked about it, as of now, with a couple of my most trusted friends and with my doctor. I'm writing about it now because, if for no other reason, writing helps me think clearly. But also because I do want to pass along something I've learned ... something I learned the hard way ... with hopes that it might be useful to someone.

Here's what happened:

Well, let's start from the beginning. I'm a shift-worker. I work a swing shift. To keep it simple, it boils down to a week of graveyard shift, followed by a week of evening shift, and then a week of daylight. Because of that I have a hard time keeping any kind of regular schedule with anything. That can make life a pain in the ass, but it can be even worse than that if you start forgetting to take your prescription drugs.

I'm on a number of drugs, some to treat the symptoms of bladder cancer, others for other problems, like allergies. I've also been on Effexor (venlafaxine) for several years. Effexor is a drug that's designed to treat depression and general anxiety.

It's been a long time since I've felt that taking Effexor was doing me any good. I've continued taking it, though, because missing doses has caused horrible side effects for me. Most commonly, I have really awful nightmares ... but I've also experienced mood swings, depression, anxiety, etc. It's funny: I started taking this drug to deal with depression and anxiety, and eventually it stopped helping me at all, but did start causing terrible depression and anxiety if I missed a dose.

Sometimes I have to think that Tom Cruise was at least partially right.

Oh, and before I forget, one of the drugs I take for the effects of bladder cancer is oxybutynin, a drug with it's own gnarly list of possible side effects. I've been on that for six months or so.

As near as I can figure, I think I missed taking the Effexor for two days, and I might have taken too many oxybutynin tablets the other day. Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm also on zolpidem for occasional use to help me with the sleep loss associated with bladder spasms, shift work, etc. The zolpidem tablets look EXACTLY like the oxybutynin tablets, and it's possible to take one when you mean to take the other if you're not careful and if you rely too much on one of those weekly pill-box things.

As for me, my daily drugs are served up in a cornucopia.

OK, anyway, enough beating around the bush. The other night I had a splitting headache that was one of the worst I've ever had. (I've been having them for a week or so now, and I've been taking Advil Migraine for them to try to fight them off. More drugs. Yay.)

I'd had one of those headaches all night, and then all of a sudden at work I started having intense pain in my back and my shoulders on the left side. As of now, that's probably been correctly diagnosed as muscle spasms brought on by stress and poor health.

But here's the thing: When I started having that pain in my left side, I was sure I was having a heart attack. I honestly thought I was dying. No shit, man. I thought I was about to drop dead at about 3 in the morning in the damn paper mill where I work.

And so I ended up short of breath, nauseous, and having a full-blown panic attack.

Now, I have had problems with anxiety and depression before, but I'd never had an all-out panic attack before, and I had no frame of reference for it. All I knew was that I was sure that I was dying. I thought I had minutes to live. I ended up being transported to the hospital in an ambulance, with an oxygen mask and an IV and the whole thing. It wasn't until I was in the ambulance, almost at the hospital, that I began to realize that I wasn't really dying.

Anyway, to try to wrap this up, 90% of what happened was brought on by not being careful enough with my prescription drugs. I've been pretty casual about the drugs I take ... obviously too casual. I've been too quick to do stuff like buy and take Advil Migraine pills instead of consulting my doctor when I have a headache for days. And, worst of all, I've been too lax about making sure that any doctor I see knows each and every drug I am on, the exact dosage, and the reason that it's prescribed.

I saw my doctor yesterday and some major changes were made to my prescription schedule. For one thing, I'm being weened off of Effexor. With drugs like that, you can't just stop taking them. You have to have your dosage slowly decreased over a period of months. It'll probably be four months before I'm off that drug entirely.

My doctor also gave me a "put up or shut up" exercise program and diet.

So the lesson I learned is that it is very important to be very aware and very involved in any prescription drug schedule that you might be on. Make sure that every doctor you see knows exactly what you are taking, how much of it, and how regularly. And make sure that you take your pills when you're supposed to take them. And in the correct dosage.

Really, this is elementary school stuff. But morons like me never learn anything the first time.

The older I get, the more likely it is that I'm going to have to take more pills each day, not fewer. So that makes it all the more important. But regardless of your age, regardless of the number of prescriptions you are on, and regardless of how long you've had to take or will have to take any given drug, remember the importance of your prescription schedule. Don't brush it off or be neglectful about it, like I have been. You don't want to have to learn this lesson in the back of an ambulance.

So there's my cautionary tale. I hope it's useful.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

 

The iPod Thorazine Shuffle



I wish I had a giant iPod wheel on my forehead. Or even one I could just carry in a small, round pillbox. Some kind of wheel that I could turn to administer mood-altering chemicals, complete with a little soft rock. You know, both kinds of feel-good hits.

I'd trace my finger around the wheel and find just the right mood or the right thought or just the right tone of ambivalence for any situation. It would be so cool to be able to simply spin the wheel and say the right thing to anyone. Say exactly what they want to hear without having to think about it at all. All through the magic of uppers, downers, and DRM protected digital media.

Let's say some friend hit me out of the blue with some serious grievances about my current feelings on religion. I'd spin the iPod wheel, drop a Benzodiazepine, and play The Doobie Brothers, singing that "Jesus is Just Alright." And we'd all share the groovy experience provided by my personal iPod Thorazine Shuffle and everybody would be brothers and sisters, man, and all would be groovy.

Or someone else could confess some recent betrayal or deceit that I'd suspected all along and I could spin my iWheel and get a Benzodiazepine hit ... then call up Don Henley's "Heart Of The Matter" and pretty soon the shrunken, aging eco-Eagle would be pontificating about forgiveness: "There are people in your life who've come and gone / They let you down, you know they hurt your pride / You better put it all behind you baby; cause' life goes on / If you keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside, baby..." Yeah, Don, groove on, groove on, baby. The way you bring that soft rock groove makes me think everything is just oooooooohh kaaaaaaaay. And, well, the Benzodiazepine helps.

How awesome would that be. In the meantime, we'll have to settle for the iTop, a new laptop from apple that lets the machine do even more of the thinking:


A step in the right direction, for sure. The iWheel solves all. It knows all, it is all, the iWheel is the avatar of peace. But we're not quite there yet. Gov't Mule has just the prescription:


"Stand by to stand by,
Ain't no need to worry today.
The (iPod) Thorazine Shuffle gonna make everything OK."


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Saturday, January 03, 2009

 

The Rattlesnake



I don't really remember where I heard this story, but I think it does us all good to reacquaint ourselves with it's lesson from time to time:

An old Indian woman is out one day, looking for firewood in a heavy snow. After a while she discovers a rattlesnake frozen by the river.

Overcome with compassion, she takes the barely breathing snake home to nurse it back to health. Over the course of long winter months, the woman tends to the snake as though it were a member of her family. She feeds it, keeps it warm, nurses it slowly back to health. Eventually, the rattlesnake regains is strong again.

One day in early spring, the old woman is cleaning her tee pee and gently picks up the snake to move him out of the way. As she lifts the snake, he spins in her hands and bites her, injecting a lethal dose of poison.

The old woman lays dying on the floor of her tee pee. Wracked with emotional and physical pain, she asks the snake why it bit her. "How could you do this," she begs. "I saved your life, I brought you into my home and spent all this time tending to you, nursing you and caring for you. Why have you killed me?"

As the snake crawls away, looking for his next victim, he looks back at the old woman and hisses: "You stupid bitch. I am a rattlesnake. You knew that before you saved me in the first place."

I'd really be ahead to remember that lesson. Maybe I'd stop f--king with snakes over and over again.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

 

Goodbye, Old Friend



After countless hours of loyal service, my Creative Zen 4 gig MP3 player has done bit the dust.

I think it was a corrupt MP3 of Willie Nelson's Crazy that did it. The MP3 player got locked in a constant loop of that song and then after a few minutes it just locked up and now won't do anything.

For what it's worth, up until this happened, I never had a hiccup out of the thing. It was a darn good investment and I'll miss it.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

 

2008: The Year At SouthCon



A look back at the year as it closes ... each of the thumbnail pictures below is clickable. Click one and it'll take you to the relevant post.

This is 2008 as I followed it at the blog. The political, the cultural, the personal and the trivial. Mostly the trivial.













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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

 

Christmas Preferences



MCF kinda tagged me:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I'm no good at wrapping gifts, Wendy handles that here. If I try to wrap something I usually end up with tape in my hair, on the ceiling, etc. I don't like gift bags, though. I think they're kinda chinsy.


2. Real tree or Artificial?
I prefer real trees, I like the smell. But we've used an artificial out of convenience for several years.


3. When do you put up the tree?
We put ours up last weekend. We usually put it up in the first week of December of so. My mom and stepdad are nuts, theirs goes up before Thanksgiving.


4. When do you take the tree down?
I always want it down right away after New Year's Day. Sometimes it's later than that coming down due to busy schedules, etc. But I can't stand to still be looking at the tree more than a day or two after New Years.


5. Do you like eggnog?
Love it. I love eggnog and fruitcake.


6. Favorite gift received as a child?

I posted this picture of myself on Christmas Day when I was eight once before:

By the way, in spite of the appearance in that picture, I do have and have always had a left eye.



7. Hardest person to buy for?
My stepson, Liam. He's just not a materialistic person. He rarely wants much of anything and we have to try to come up with stuff off the top of our heads. I remember one year when he was four or so, we asked him what he wanted most of all for Christmas and he said "Soup."


8. Easiest person to buy for?
My stepdaughter, Willow. She wants everything.


9. Do you have a nativity scene?
We do, it's behind me this very second. It's a small one, you could sit the whole thing up on a chair, but it's a Nativity nonetheless.


10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
We haven't done either over the last couple of years. We've been busy. I can remember one Christmas three or four years ago when we spent twenty bucks on postage for Christmas cards. I thought that was excessive.


11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Someone I was once married to always got me something last-minute, half-assed and uninteresting. One year I told her I'd like to have the movie Wag The dog and she instead gave me Primary Colors. Her explanation: "Same thing."


12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Every year I have to watch at least one production of A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version is my favorite, I'm a big fan of his). I also always have to see the original, animated 1966 television production of Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

You know, it never occurred to me until just now that they are essentially the same story. They're both stories about miserable old men who find redemption at Christmas time. Hmmmm. What's that say about me?

I love Boris Karloff's narration in ...Grinch. To me, that's one of the distinct sounds of Christmas.


13. When do you start shopping?
Wendy and I try to pick things up year round. We keep our eyes open, look for clearance sales, etc. Wendy is especially good at this.


14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Yeah. Once or twice.


15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Homemade Chex mix, eggnogg, fruitcake.


16. Lights on the tree?
Yes. Are there people who don't put lights on their tree?


17. Favorite Christmas song?
I love Christmas but I've never liked Christmas music. Purely for nostalgic reasons, I don't mind hearing this:



18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I've never traveled at Christmas and I don't think I ever would. I can see me holing up in my house, REFUSING to travel, and ultimately pissing off members of my family. Christmas traffic? Bah. Humbug.


19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
I thought they already had names. Why do I always get stuck doing someone else's work? Let Santa name his own reindeer.


20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
We haven't used a tree topper in years. We never could find one we liked and at some point someone said "Do we really have to use a tree topper?" The consensus, apparently, was that we don't.


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
When I was a small child we always did it on Christmas morning. Then, once my sister and I were both young adults, my family switched to Christmas Eve for a long time. I don't think there was ever a decision to make that switch, it just kinda happened. Now that I have a family and kids of my own we're back to Christmas morning.


22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Like I said before, I don't dig Christmas music. And cloying, manipulative songs like this one especially get under my skin.


23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
We have Marvel Comics, Simpsons and Spongebob ornaments on our tree. I really enjoy those. My favorite ornament that we have, though, is either our Charlie In The Box misfit toy ornament or our Bumble ornament or our smiling Grinch ornament.

The Island of Misfit Toys was always my favorite thing about the Rudolph Christmas special. And I'm sure that says something about me, too. It always bugged me, though, that they all wanted off the island. They all complain about having to live on the island, feeling unloved, unwanted. I always thought "Why don't you guys love each other?" You wouldn't think misfits would feel rejected by other misfits, would you? And then, at the end, Santa gathers them all up and delivers them to children. But they'd all been complaining just before that no kid could love them because they were all misfits. So what kind of cruel joke is that? Stanta takes them off their island, where at least they had each other, and delivers them to kids who can't possibly love them.

Was he trying to teach them a lesson about how they could have been happier on their island if at least they hadn't taken each other for granted?

What's up with that? Is it, like, Santa's vicious attempt at ironic punishment? Is Santa like a Christmas version of John Doe from Se7en? Sick freak.

I mean, think about it. Santa clearly hated misfits. He even wanted Rudolph banished until his nose proved to be useful to Santa's own purposes. Santa just hated anyone who didn't conform to his rigid standards. His name should have been Saddam Claus. Vicious bastard.

No wonder his wife was trying to kill him with fatty foods. "Eat, Papa, eat!"

You know, this quandary probably made an early contribution to my lifelong mistrust of authority.


24. Favorite Christmas memory?
I can't put it into words. There are sounds, smells, etc, that will cause me to remember something that is impossible to voice, but something real. It's just a remembered feeling of the childhood magic of Christmastime.


25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
This.


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Monday, November 24, 2008

 

This Parenting Thing



I've talked to other parents, people who've been doing this a lot longer than I have, and they have told me that none of this is unusual.

So I'm not really worried. I'm not. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

But it's become unavoidable that I accept the fact that my son Joey and I are very different people. And the older he gets, the more apparent that becomes.

He's only a few inches shorter than me now, and it seems like yesterday that I had to bend over so that he could reach up and hold my finger while he walked. Why does everything have to change so fast? Nothing else in my life is changing this quickly. I'm still the same fat, redneck a-hole I was twenty years ago. My son, meanwhile, is changing so quickly I feel like I could actually sit and just watch him change.

And, oh boy, are he and I ever different. When I was his age, I was an introvert. He's "Mr. Cool." He's popular. I was a book-worm (and I still am), and he's an athlete. He's a burgeoning musician, I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. He's got the confidence of Alexander, I was a wallflower. He is fearless. I, on the other hand, didn't start riding roller coasters until I was in my mid 20's. He's smart as a tack, really brilliant. I, in contrast, was smoking a lot of pot by the time I was 14.

He's given me more jaw-dropping moments just with his amazing insight than anything else in the world. He just blows my mind with his perception and his perspective.

So, anyway, I found out today that he's been getting in trouble in school lately. He apparently didn't turn in some of his homework and told his teacher that "this is America, and I don't have to do your homework if I don't want to." Deep down, the part of me that mistrusts all authority thought "Yes!" But that was quickly squelched by the realization that you've got to pick your battles, and deciding not to do your homework just to assert your will is a lunk-head decision.

I talked to him about it, and I hope he understands that I do want him to keep thinking for himself and not to feel that he has to do this or that just to fit in ... but I want him to have the sense to realize that there are things you have to do just to get by. Even if they're boring. Even if they're tedious. Even if you have things you'd rather do. Homework is one of those things that you pretty much have to do. Do enough of the things that you have to do and you get to do more of the things that you want to do.

Whereas, if you don't do the things you have to do, you get punished ... you lose privileges ... and, eventually, other people have to start carrying your weight. You can't remain "Mr. Cool" that way.

I hope I got that one right, and that he's learned something.

Jeez, it's tricky. The thing is, this kid is about ten times smarter and craftier than I ever was at his age. Probably more than I am now, for that matter. Nonetheless, he is, without a doubt, the best thing that's ever come into my life. I just hope I can stay frosty for the next few years ... because he's right on the cusp of the teenage years, and God know's he's gonna keep me on my toes.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

 

Videos For Friday



Man, what a week, huh? My head is still spinning.

Here are some videos to close out a week's worth of fairly active blogging on my part.

This first video is political AND personal. It's a little long, like six minutes, so I understand if you don't want to watch it. My 9 year old stepson, Liam, really followed the Presidential election this year. He watched and read a lot of news, and he asked me a lot of questions about it. And he and I had a number of conversations about Obama and McCain. So I got out the video camera:


Of course, he's been influenced by my conservative perspective. The day will probably come when he and I don't see eye-to-eye on any number of political issues. But I go out of my way to make it clear to all of our kids that agreeing on everything isn't what's important. What's important is that we keep talking and keep listening to each other, and that we share our opinions with love and with respect. We're a family. That trumps everything else. You can disagree with someone in your family on political matters and still love and respect them.

This next one is the latest from the Mighty Zo Rachel. I've been following his YouTube channel for only a few weeks now and I check it daily to see if he's posted anything new yet. In this video Zo talks about the aftermath of Election 2008 and offers some good advice to his fellow conservatives:

Man, we need to goad Zo into getting into politics. I don't know where the hell the man lives, but he needs to start out running for city council or the school board or whatever. And then work his way up to state office, and then on to Federal office and then the White House around 2020. I'm dead serious, dude. He strikes me as a communicator, a leader, and a man with a clear, conservative vision. That's what we need. Zo Rachel For President.

OK, check this next bit out: Presidential dog Barney is taking some hate for having allegedly bitten a reporter:


It looks to me like Barney might have gotten a little snag on one of this guy's fingers. But that ain't the point. Here's the point:

If you know anything about dogs, you already know what this reporter did wrong. A dog is a living animal. An animal, not a toy, and as an animal it has to be approached in a certain way. That reporter didn't know a damn thing about Barney. All dogs are different, some are jumpy, some are territorial, some are nervous, some are just mean. You have to know what kind of dog you're approaching and you have to approach him properly.

Never just put your open hand on a dog. Don't offer your open hand to a dog, either. He might respond well to that, or he might feel threatened by it. Barney seemed to have felt threatened. And he did what dogs do when they feel threatened.

The reporter is lucky. Had Barney been a moody Mastiff or a St. Bernard, he might have taken the ends of two or three of those fingers.

When you approach a dog you don't know, first of all, ask it's owner or guardian if you can pet the dog. If you're given the go-ahead, the first thing to do is to offer the dog the back of your closed fist for the animal to smell. If he doesn't like what he smells, or just generally doesn't like you, he'll let you know with a growl or a snort, or he'll back off. If he accepts your fist with a tail-wagging and general happiness, that would be the time to go ahead and give him a little scratch.

You don't lay your open hand on a strange dog. You just don't do it. You might get bitten. Let's hope that reporter has learned and will remember one of the basic lessons of human - dog interaction.

OK, let's wrap this up with a little raw Anthrax, "Caught In A Mosh" and "Got The Time", recorded live in Sacramento in '98. This was back when 'Thrax had their best vocalist ever, the mighty John Bush. The technical quality of this clip just ain't all that happenin' ... but the energy is there and I'm sure it was a great show.


Coming Tomorrow ... SouthCon presents me hosting my own made-up version of an episode of MTV's Headbanger's Ball. It oughta be a lot of fun.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

 

MCFAT: Ecks Ecks Eye Eye Eye



MCF's latest round of questions:
1) Do you like Halloween? Why or why not?

Yeah, I love it. I just always have. I do enjoy horror movies, ghost stories, etc ... but probably no more than many other people do. So I like Halloween because the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, et al, do all those specials with names like The Fifty Scariest Places In South-West Detroit. I eat that stuff up. That's what Tivo was made for.

2) What is your favorite sound effect?

The Wilhelm Scream is a fun one, if only for trivia purposes. But I have to admit that I'm not that good at spotting it when it comes up in movies.

On a more personal note ... every year, about this time of year, I edit our year's worth of home movies down to one half-hour or so of highlights. Then I put it on DVD with all the amenities: Opening credits, sound effects, background music, etc. We send the finished product out with our Christmas cards.

I've learned from all this editing and producing that you can't go wrong by adding Yakety Sax to the soundtrack of just about anything. Here's a demonstration, a video that prominently features one of our dogs. I uploaded this to YouTube almost two years ago:

Yakety Sax is my go-to music for just about any video footage. If you speed up a bit of video and add that song to the mix, you usually end up with comedy gold.

I thought about this for a while a little earlier, and I asked myself, is there any video footage that isn't improved by adding Yakety Sax to the background? I decided to do a little experiment:

The jury is still out on the results. Nonetheless, for my money, Yakety Sax almost always brings the funny.

3) How do you feel when studios recast roles to different actors in sequels to popular films?

It depends on the reason. If an actor holds out for more money and the studio says "Screw you, pal," I usually side with the studio. No actor is irreplaceable.

Having said that, there are instances where a given studio has gone with a more "bankable" star, and with disastrous results. I'm thinking about the first Batman movie franchise.

And as a Batman fanboy, I'm so happy with Christian Bale in the current films that I'd hate to see him replaced.

But no actor should own any given role purely as a matter of principle.

4) Fire or Ice?

Neither.

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: Who is Zsaji?

Uh ... ZsaZsa after a few too many?

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

 

Seriously Scary



Hey, look! Somebody took a video camera and went trick or treating at the homes of some of my extended family!

Jack Chick.... (shudder).

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Brainy History



This website is pretty cool. It's one of those sites that has a list of historic events, births, deaths, etc, for every day of the year.

Thanks to this website, and assuming that it's accurate, I've just learned that:

So have fun with Brainy History ... but be careful. Once you learn something, you can't unlearn it.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

 

Light Blogging For A While



I'm fighting another godawful post-surgery infection. I was supposed to start back to work today, but it didn't happen. Passing blood and having spasms, etc. The usual bladder cancer joy ride.

I'm gonna do a little less blogging for a little while. Part of it is that I don't want to blog while I'm sick. That leads to self-pity, etc. No need for that. But I'll be back at some point, as usual. I'm just gonna take a few days off.

Another part is ... well, you know how it is with blogging. It's like a bungee cord. There's a tendency to stretch down deep into it for a while, then pull back.

If I don't talk to you guys again between now and November 4th, PLEASE VOTE! Even if you vote for the wrong guy! ;) And I'll get this out of the way while I'm at it, since I might not be back until after the 4th: Congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama for getting past one of our country's last major hurdles. Of course, I'm talking about him becoming our first openly socialist President. Ha ha.

I'll wrap on the topic of politics with this. Just watch this clip. If this doesn't sum up Obama and the coming four years sufficiently for anyone, then I don't know what it would take:

The one good thing about the next four years (I really believe this) is that it's going to be a grand education for those young people who actually are paying attention. More new conservatives will be born of the Obama administration than any time since the Carter administration.

It'll almost be worth it.

Oh, I do want to mention this friggin' whacko story, before I wrap for a while, though:

Skinheads held over plot to kill Obama

Two white supremacist skinheads were arrested in Tennessee over plans to go on a killing spree and eventually shoot Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, court documents showed on Monday...

The plot did not appear to be very advanced or sophisticated, the court documents showed...

"The individuals began discussing going on a 'killing spree' that included killing 88 people and beheading 14 African Americans," (ATF Agent Brian) Weaks said in the affidavit...

The men planned to wear white tuxedos and top hats during the assassination attempt, which would have involved driving as fast as they could toward Obama and shooting him from the windows of the car.


It sucks that I feel compelled to mention ... to even provide a link proving ... that I've always hated skinhead Nazi dipshits. God KNOWS I don't want Obama to be elected, but I've resigned myself to his Presidency and I'm gonna make the best of it. Still, regardless of my opposition to most of his policies, I really hope it's apparent that I'm not a racist, not a skinhead, not the devil, etc.

And I want to make it clear that I think these two skinheads who've just been arrested for "plotting" to kill Obama and other people are evil and repugnant and etc, etc.

Having said all that, I'll also say this: Their "plan," if you want to call it that, is so pathetic it's laughable. Driving a car as fast as they could and shooting from the windows while wearing white tux's? Who do they think they are, the formal skinhead Starsky and Hutch? I'm wracking my brain trying to think of what moronic movie these dolts were watching when they came up with that idea and I just can't guess. Has anyone ever actually made a movie that stupid? Has Jerry Friggin' Bruckheimer ever even made a movie featuring a scene anywhere near that stupid?

I realize that anyone who makes a threat against a public official has to be arrested, and all of these threats have to be taken seriously. And on general principle my gut reaction to skinhead nazis is that they should simply be taken out behind a barn and put down. But, honestly ... white tuxedos? You just gotta laugh at these idiots.

And I hope it's clear that I'm laughing out of bewilderment, frustration and disgust.

So, anyway, that's enough for now. I'll be back later.

In the meantime, a little bladder cancer music ...



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Saturday, October 25, 2008

 

Halloween Fun



In just a couple of minutes you can visit the Jack-O-Lantern animated .gif maker, load up a picture and have an animated Jack-O-Lantern featuring your face or any face you choose.


That's my own big, gnarly head staring at you from the backside of that pumpkin.

Since I got lonely I made pumpkins for all - three - kids, too. Something about the contrast ... or the lack of contrast ... makes the kids Jack-O-Lanterns look especially creepy.

And then I took the goofiest picture of Wendy I could find and turned her into a pumpkin, too. She's gonna kill me over that.

Man, I really enjoy the Halloween season.

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