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There were never any "good old days" — they are today, they are tomorrow
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ohh shiny
This is not the result of camera trickery, editing, or any other technological shenanigans — this is 100% human skill and talent (and, I'd guess, far more than 10,000 hours of practice). Smart of this dancer and whoever filmed it to have the glass door in the background so the reflections of passing cars can show that, realio-trulio, this is real-time.

As one of the commenters on the MetaFilter thread where I saw this said, "He pegs the uncanny valley with nothing more than movement." Another points out that at about 3:30, it looks like he gives up on the dance... but he doesn't.

And the move at 4:12 had me uttering an involuntary "Wah!"

Highly, HIGHLY recommended to watch in full-screen if possible.
23rd-Sep-2011 09:08 pm - Aw, go climb a tree
No, really. It'll be good for you.

Apparently research indicates that spending time in nature makes us feel good, but we consistently underestimate just how good we'll feel.

Since I read that, I've been making an effort to push past the "eh, maybe I'll just ride straight home..." feeling that tends to settle on me towards the end of the workday and instead have been stopping by the lake to visit with my squirrel friends. The days are getting shorter (ARGH DO NOT WANT) and today is the first official day of autumn (DO NOT WANT), so I feel like I need to be taking advantage of every remaining still-light-after-I-get-out-of-work day.

I had to laugh at myself yesterday when I rolled up and found that there were two people in a hammock under OUR tree. Furthermore, they were feeding some of OUR squirrels. I hope you appreciate the time we've spent over the past few months socializing these little beasts! I thought. And then, I wonder how many Oaklanders — how many generations of Oaklanders — had been feeding the squirrels before we started? Um. Heh.

So it was nice to get there today and find the tree empty and inviting. Quite empty, actually, as were the other trees nearby and all the ground I could see. Oh, well, maybe they'll show up later. I've got coffee and snacks. And if they wait too long, well, I'll have eaten all the trail mix. Serve them right.

Elapsed time from when I propped my bike against the tree (and hit "start" on my watch's chronometer function) to when Nervy Nose appeared on the branch behind me: 3 minutes 51 seconds.

I wound up spending almost an hour and 45 minutes up there. Partly because just as I thought "well, I'll finish my coffee and head home" Honey Brown showed up. She is such a bold little creature — she's getting very comfortable with rummaging through the trail mix on my palm. And although I haven't even tried to stroke or pet her yet, at one point there were only raisins and cashews on my palm, but two almonds had fallen off my hand and were lying on the bark of the branch next to and slightly under fingers. Little Ms. Honey Brown seemed perfectly comfortable using her cheek and nose to nudge my hand aside so she could get to the almonds.
Escher kitten-to-birds
This is going around the net in a version called "Charlie Chaplin vs. Inception", but I think it's much stronger in the original version, without the addition of Hans Zimmer's music.

From The Great Dictator:

The text of the speech:
I'm sorry but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone.

I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others' happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men's souls.
Has barricaded the world with hate.
Has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little.

More than machinery we need humanity.
More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.
Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say "Do not despair."

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men---machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite.
Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security.

By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world!

To do away with national barriers!
To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!

Let us fight for a world of reason,
a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Via and via.
no more surrogates
I stopped by the market on the way home to pick up bread and beer (the Yankee math still applies). When I came out, there was a young guy — I'd be surprised if he were over 20 — sitting on the bench near the bike rack, looking glum.

As I unlocked my bike I heard a middle-aged woman walking by address him. "Smile! It ain't that bad. Cheer up! Smile!" Gee, I thought, telling a stranger to smile is just as fucking obnoxious and patronizing when it's a woman saying it to a man as when it's a man saying it to a woman.

"I'm sleeping in a car," I heard him say. (Oh, he sounded young.)

"I've slept in a car!" she said. "I've had seven heart attacks, two strokes, and I got a hole in my back! You got it better than me!" She walked away, continuing to talk as she went. "You got it way better than me!"

As I coiled up my cable and stowed my U-lock I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. He looked even more down than he had before. Another guy who looked to be a year or two older, who'd been at the pay phone nearby, sat down next to him and they both sat there staring at the sidewalk.

Yeah, no, I thought, and grabbed all the small bills in my wallet. "Hey," I said as I walked over to them. They looked up at me, the younger guy's expression very guarded. "You know, I think the whole making-misery-competitive thing is bullshit," and jerked my thumb in the direction the other woman had gone. "Would a couple of bucks help?"

The muscles around his eyes softened suddenly as he looked at me. "Yeah, it would."

I handed him the bills. "Take care."

As I mounted my bike and got ready to roll, they both raised their hands in a wave and called to me, "Thank you! Bless you!"

"Good luck!" I said, and headed off.

My mother was a very wise woman.* One of the things she used to say was, "I don't do comparative misery. I'll do you the courtesy of assuming your misery was as bad as you could stand if you'll do the same for me."

By the time I got home I was wishing I'd given them the $20 I'd gotten back from swiping my debit card to pay for the groceries.

* I was once talking with a friend about the various recreational chemicals we'd seen people partaking in out at Burning Man. (Actually, we were talking about the aftermath and ways in which said recreational chemicals could go wrong for people — we were both Black Rock Rangers.) "I don't remember who told me this," he said, "but stick to the vegetable drugs. If it comes in a powder or has to be referred to by its initials, you probably shouldn't mess with it."

"I told you that!" I said. "That's one of the things on my mother's list of The Best Advice In The Universe!"

I should really write down what I remember of TBAITU. "Stick to the vegetable drugs" was only one of them. And Rule Number One definitely saved me some heartache when I remembered to follow it.
sewing machine bobbin
Which I know encompasses at least a couple of folks on my f-list...

How to make a Buster Keaton-style porkpie hat:

Buster's remarks on making his hats are also available.
today's subliminal thought is
I stopped by the tree on the way home today — with the days getting shorter, I want to take advantage of it still being light after work as long as I can. I climbed up and got settled with my coffee and trail mix, then looked around to see if any squirrels were near. There hadn't been any when I arrived, so I was pleased to see one near the picnic table about 75 feet away. Tch-tch-tch! I said, and rattled the trail mix container. Tch-tch-tch! It sat upright and looked at me. Tch-tch-tch! I said again.

I swear, it took one more look at me, then proceeded to run across the grass to my tree and scritch-scritch-scritch up and around the branches to me. I so love having squirrel friends who recognize me! I couldn't tell which one it was, though. Nuts, monkey? it indicated. I shook some trail mix into my palm and held it out. A little warily, it sniffed at my fingers, then selected a nut.

It retreated a foot or two up the branch and munched its way through the nut then came back for another one. A couple of repetitions of this, with a few intervals where it would dash off to bury an almond then come back for more, and pretty soon it didn't feel the need to retreat very far to eat.

Hey, wait. That squirrel's left ear is split vertically, making a little V-shaped notch. That's a pretty distinctive injury — I think I'd remember seeing it before. If I had. Which I don't think I have. I sent Pirate a text message: Do we know a squirrel with a split left ear? Came running from 50 feet away when I went tch-tch-tch. (I checked the distance on Google Maps when I got home and it was closer to 75 feet — I think I was underestimating so as not to brag about how irresistible I am to squirrels. Heh.) A minute or two my phone chimed with his reply: Nope

The squirrel continued munching away on the nuts, rummaging through the trail mix on my hand when he'd finished the one he was working on. Raisin, bah. Raisin, raisin, raisin... cashew? Nah. Ooh, walnut! *nom nom nom*

Okay, so let's consider this. Here's a squirrel I don't remember ever having fed before, yet when I go Tch-tch-tch! from 75 feet away and rattle the plastic container, it comes running towards me to get fed?

People, these beasties are communicating with each other. You've probably heard of the hundredth monkey effect. It only took five squirrels.

I, for one, welcome our new squirrel overlords. And clearly it's time to go update the Oakland Mystical Nexus entry — I don't think the current version says anything about fox squirrels. (Did you know that their bones and teeth glow red?)
Cat with pumpkin beer
When Fat Tire beer is $8.99 for a six-pack and $13.99 for a twelve-pack, Yankee math says Buy more beer!

(Hush, ancestors — I'm being frugal. You should approve.)
13th-Sep-2011 02:17 pm - Squirrels = awesome
Escher kitten-to-birds
Squirrel update, because they're more interesting than tedious things like work and such.

Things I am learning about the fox squirrels of Lake Merritt: They are apparently very visually-oriented, and they are clever little beasties.

Last week, Pirate hied himself up to REI and bought a two-person pocket hammock with extended straps for putting up in trees. Late Friday afternoon I was at my desk when I got a text message from him: "Stop! Hammocktime." As soon as I could get away from work, I headed over to Lakeside Park to meet him and spend some time in the hammock before we headed out to the East Bay Bike Party ride.

We had been in the hammock for maybe 10 minutes when up pops a squirrel on the tree stump nearby, giving us an intent look. I grabbed for my container of trail mix and rattled it at the squirrel while making a tch-tch-tch! tch-tch-tch! noise. It looked at me, looked around, looked back at me, then jumped off the stump and moved over towards us. I put some trail mix in my hand and lowered it over the edge of the hammock, only to find that we had the hammock mounted high enough that I couldn't reach all the way to the ground. No problem — the squirrel reached up, grabbed my hand in its paws, and nosed through the nuts in my palm until it decided upon a walnut. It let go of my hand, noshed its way through the nut, then reached up again for another. We went through a couple of rounds of this before it took an almond and buried it, then climbed up in the tree and stretched out on a branch where it could see us and relaxed for a while. (The sight of a squirrel stretching and yawning is SO CUTE.)

Why I say these are clever little beasts: None of the squirrels had ever seen us in the hammock before, yet it recognized us quickly as being the same monkeys who've been up in the tree feeding them before.

And then yesterday I stopped by the tree on my way home from work because I was feeling antsy from being indoors under fluorescent lights and air conditioning most of the day. (Also feeling dissatisfied and out-of-sorts over the change of seasons and the shortening days, which probably means I should be spending more time on the meditation cushion.) As I wheeled my bike over to prop it against our favorite tree, I saw a brownish lump on the ground under one of the other trees. It moved, confirming that it was a squirrel and not a piece of wood or the like, and looked over towards the tree I was under. Again, I made the tch-tch-tch! tch-tch-tch! noise. This time, it looked at me for a moment, then turned and darted up the tree nearest it and quickly made its way through the branches over to my tree. Monkey! it seemed to say. You got nuts for the squirrel, mon— OH SHIT HERE COMES HONEY BROWN TO CHASE ME AWAY! I spent a little over half an hour in the tree, and by the time I headed down had had three different squirrels coming by to get nuts and chase each other away. Pretty sure one was Nervy Nose (who's getting bolder), one was the new male, and I think the other was Honey Brown.

What delightful little creatures they are.
11th-Sep-2011 10:14 am - Inspiration from Ms. Jones
ohh shiny
I do what I want and I’m satisfied with it, whether or not it pleases everybody…. Actually, there are certain people I definitely don’t want to please. There are some people I’m like ‘Oh no, puh-leeeze don’t like me!’

If you’re out there you’re vulnerable. People prefer to disappear in life, to repress their personality. That’s not living. It’s dying. I see them all over the place, the walking dead.

I wasn’t born this way. One creates oneself.

— Grace Jones

Via Sublime Femme, which I found while looking for more photos of Annie Lennox in a suit (rowr).
5th-Sep-2011 06:27 pm - Do I know you?
orange-eyed frog
Pirate and I observed Labor Day with a picnic lunch in Lakeside Park, then some time spent up in our favorite tree, feeding our little squirrel friends.

We're pretty sure there are now five squirrels who are coming by to get trail mix from the monkeys. There's Honey Brown (who was the first one to brave coming up to us), Left Ear, and Nervy Nose. Today we had two more come by, one a small, young-looking female with small ears and quite short fur on her head, and the other a male who's not Left Ear.

It is so, so great to be sitting there in a tree, holding out a palmful of trail mix to a squirrel who decides that's not close enough for convenience, monkey! and grabs your hand with its paws to pull you closer for easier selection among the nuts. At one point Pirate was sitting next to me with a big grin on his face, saying sotto voce, "I have a squirrel leaning on my hand. She's hanging upside down and leaning on my hand while she eats. She's muscular — I can feel her forelegs."

I need a squirrel userpic.
2nd-Sep-2011 07:16 pm - Much better
pearly teeth
I updated my earlier post with the link to a much better-quality video of the '84 Grammy performance.

And for those who think Ms. Lennox is teh hotness whatever gender she's performing:

1st-Sep-2011 12:27 pm - What I mean by "whatever"
To expand a bit on the "whatever" in my previous post:

I don't think the question of "did Lady Gaga rip off Annie Lennox" is a useful or even valid one.

For one thing, "it's only culture if it's shared" as Cory Doctorow says. For performers and artists, it's not merely legitimate to be inspired and influenced by previous artists and their work, it's pretty much how artists learn to do art and be artists. "You have to know the rules before you can break them" is one way of putting it. It's one of the reasons that beginning artists are encouraged to reproduce works of art by previous great artists — that's how you learn how to do it. They do it at the Louvre and other museums. Even Norman Rockwell depicted it.

For another thing, was Lady Gaga's "Jo Calderone" persona making reference to Annie Lennox's "Earl the Rocker" character at the 1984 Grammy awards? To my eye, almost certainly. But both of them are making reference to Elvis Presley and Sal Mineo.

So, to make use of the "generic all-purpose Buddhist response to criticism or voices of self-hate" that Cheri Huber recommends: "Lady Gaga 'ripped off' Annie Lennox? Whatever."
Some people seem to be trying to make a big thing about Lady Gaga's recent Jo Calderone appearance having "ripped off" Annie Lennox. Whatever. I was just glad to be reminded of this performance. BTW, anyone who wants to dis Dave Stewart's outfit or anything else in this had better not do it around me or I'm likely to start channeling the 14-year-old hooligan I never was back in 1984 (being much too shy and depressed at the time) because I think it's awesome from start to finish:

Excuse me, I will be in my bunk...
I remember well the shock I experienced the first time I read the story of Cinderella to one of our daughters; I later told my wife, Louise, that I felt like I'd just participated in a cultural experiment or brainwashing session.

Cinderella was the good girl and the pretty young woman. She was compliant, uncomplaining, hard-working (as a maid!) in the service of authority, and spent a lot of time in a dream world. Her stepsisters were women who knew what they wanted and were on a mission to get it. Thus, they were characterized as ugly and undesirable. The object of all this competition was the appropriate and inevitable goal of every woman, according to the Cinderella story, a man to submit herself to. But not just any man — this was a man of wealth and power, which allowed everybody to overlook the fact that he was so self-obsessed that after dancing with Cinderella for several hours, he still couldn't remember what her face looked like.
— Thom Hartmann, "Deprogramming Women with AD/HD", in Understanding Women with AD/HD, Nadeau and Quinn, eds.
what's up Daddy-O?
Pirate had an early-afternoon call yesterday, so we got up and out to do errands fairly early. A brisk ride to Kaiser Oakland to pick up a prescription, then downtown, Lakeshore Ave, and over to Lakeside Park to the tree.

Sure enough, Honey Brown showed up to say hi. And not long after, Nervy Nose appeared on the branch behind me:

Nervy is also getting more at ease with us.

After a while, Pirate grudgingly acknowledged that if he wanted to be home when his ride to work showed up, we had to get going. He headed down the tree to ground level and I passed down the coffee mugs. I was just about to stand up and put my pack on to climb down when Honey Brown came back. More nuts, monkey? she seemed to say. Just a few?

So I shook some more trail mix into my hand and held it out. As she took it, I realized This isn't Honey Brown, this is Left Ear which means that all three of our squirrel friends came by to visit.

At this point, Pirate was on the ground looking up saying, "Dammit, squirrels, I have a job to get to. Stop being cute and let Lexi out of the tree!" *annoyed sigh* "Sorry, babe, I think I may have to leave you here." But then Left Ear took a filbert and headed off to bury it, and I took advantage to make my escape. *grin*

I'm about to head out now to the Jack London Square farmers' market and do an errand or two, and may well stop by the tree on my way home ("on the way home" = "it only adds two miles to the ride", heh) to see if the squirrels are around.
From today's column:
I wish I knew what a "typical liberal" is - the word has meant so many different things in its lifetime, and even now means something else in the United States than it does in England, Australia or Canada.

But it doesn't really matter what it means, because Fox News has taught its followers that "liberal" is an all-purpose ad hominem epithet. A liberal is a person who believes things other than what you believe, and as such is very close to committing treason with his mouth. It's like "bastard," a word that used to have a very specific meaning (and still does, in legal contexts) but now just means "a bad person." This is a slander on bastards everywhere, but no one has yet thought to fight that fight.

"Bitch" is another one. Used to be a female dog, now it means "a woman who dishonors her sex by being intolerant of sundry amusing games and remarks." Or so it seems to me. There are also, of course, really rotten women in the world, and I choose to call them "really rotten women."
24th-Aug-2011 01:14 pm - From current reading
today's subliminal thought is
Again, from a book on ADD/ADHD, but applicable more widely, I think.
…over time, this small daily washing away of self-esteem adds to the feeling of not measuring up in some fundamental way. Over the years it silently erodes a basic sense of competence and self-worth, instilling a strong need for self-protection.
— Sari Solden, in Women with Attention Deficit Disorder
23rd-Aug-2011 09:31 am - Prompted by something I read
Pondering: Does it make sense to speak of being "from a counter-culture"? If you're from it, isn't it just your culture? A counter-culture seems somewhat like a pidgin; once it's been around long enough that children have been born into and grown up with it, it becomes a real, organic thing in itself.
22nd-Aug-2011 11:12 am - Squirrel squee
Although only second-hand this time.

Apparently the squirrels we get around here are fox squirrels (Sciurus niger). Coincidentally, one of the photos on the Wikipedia entry for fox squirrels was taken at Lake Merritt.

And a reader of the local newspaper's animal/wildlife column sent the columnist a photo of the nest of baby fox squirrels that he'd found in a sheltered rain gutter on the side of his house. Luckily it's the dry season now, so the babies should be grown and gone by the time the gutter needs to be cleaned out to avoid flooding. (WUZZA WUZZA BABY SQUIRRELS!)
20th-Aug-2011 03:59 pm - Continuing with the squirrel spam
orange-eyed frog
I went by Lakeside Park today. When I rolled up, there was a squirrel poking around on the ground near my favorite tree. "I wonder if that's one of the ones I know?" I thought, then locked the bike and headed up the tree. I hadn't been up there five minutes — I'd barely gotten settled with my coffee and donut and trail mix container — when Honey Brown poked her nose around the trunk. Hi, monkey! Nuts for the squirrel? she seemed to say.

She's getting very comfortable and confident around me:

*big grin*
18th-Aug-2011 08:49 pm - Glad I took the long way home
Escher kitten-to-birds
I decided to go home after work by way of Lakeside Park today — I hadn't gotten out for much (any) of a walk at lunch, so spending some time outdoors sounded like a good idea. And, of course, there was always the chance that I'd get to see one of my squirrel friends. So I headed towards the lakeside labyrinth, put my U-lock around my frame and rear wheel to prevent anybody doing a run-up-and-ride-off with the bike, and proceeded up the tree.

I'd been up the tree for half an hour or so when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye that turned out to be a squirrel heading my way. As it got closer I shook some trail mix into my palm and held it up. The squirrel was skittish, and it took a little coaxing to get it to come close to me, but it did eventually and helped itself to a nut. As I got a close look at it, I realized (again) Hey, that's not the same squirrel.

It's not Left Ear (no callus/scar on the tip of the ear; plus, not male), and neither is it Honey Brown (wider, shorter nose, plus it has a horizontal around-the-muzzle marking that Honey Brown doesn't have).

I've dubbed this one "Nervy Nose" for the time being. *grin*

I think I need a userpic that says "Feed ALL the squirrels!"
ohh shiny
Saturday morning I resisted the siren song of the snooze button and got up earlyish and rode downtown with Pirate instead — he was working Outside Lands all weekend, so riding in together was one of our few chances to see each other when we were both awake. He headed to BART and I peeled off to Farley's for coffee and a donut (mmm, Pepples). After eating my donut and screwing the lid back on my travel mug (the latest entrant in the ongoing search for the perfect travel mug is the Klean Kanteen 16-ounce insulated) I headed for Lakeside Park, to my favorite tree beside Lake Merritt.

I climbed up in the tree and made myself comfortable with my coffee and a container of trail mix. The sun had burned through the overcast and it was a nice morning, so I hung out for a while drinking my coffee. After about 45 minutes, I heard a scritching on the branch behind my backpack. It was my little friend from before, the one we're calling Honey Brown*. I offered her some trail mix and she took a nut and retreated to the branch to eat it.

We hung out for some time as I offered her more trail mix and she accepted it. I can report that walnuts are favored for immediate eating, almonds and hazelnuts are preferred for carrying off and burying, and cashew bits and raisins are really not very interesting. At one point while she was off burying a nut, I put a handful of trail mix on my lap and waited to see if she'd come back. She did, and it didn't take her long to come get some more. To my delight, she stayed there to eat it... and then some more, and some more.

She ate the walnuts, turned up her nose at the cashews and raisins, then picked up a hazelnut and disappeared down the tree to bury it. I spent a while sitting there as she would come back, get a new nut, and head down the tree. Periodically she'd get distracted chasing off a gray squirrel that kept poking its nose in, trying to get some trail mix (and succeeding, any time Honey Brown would let it get close enough for me to give it a nut).

At one point I needed to shift positions and put a handful of trail mix on the branch in front of me instead of on my lap. After a bit I looked down to see that she was back and was eating some raisins.

Only... Wait, that's not the same squirrel. This one was a little bigger, a little broader in the nose, and had a callus or scar on the tip of its left ear.

And as I realized that, I heard a scritching from the branch above and behind me and felt OMG tiny paws!! on my shoulder, where Honey Brown had just appeared and was looking at me (and at the other squirrel) with an air of "so, more nuts, monkey?" Unlike the gray squirrel, she didn't seem (much) inclined to try to drive this new squirrel off, and they both ate the nuts and took some to bury. At first I thought that maybe Left Ear was Honey Brown's mother (she's a delicate, young-looking little creature, and I could easily believe she's less than a year old) but I finally caught a rear view and I'm pretty sure Left Ear is male. (Not as obviously OMG MALE as the male squirrel I saw chasing a female across campus one spring — how'd he climb trees with those things bouncing around behind him? — but still fairly clearly so.)

By the time I'd gone through my entire container of trail mix (probably a cup and a half) plus an extra mini-package I found in the bottom of my backpack, they were obviously fairly full. Honey Brown was climbing about in the branches of the next tree over, and when I looked up I realized that Left Ear had been hanging out on the branch over my head for at least five minutes.

He didn't seem alarmed when I stood up to get ready to leave and moved over to get a closer photo of him.

He wound up staying there, with an air of "I could move, if you gave me reason to, but—" *yawn* "—not going to if you don't", as I put my pack on and climbed back down the tree to ground level.

So, so cool. Definitely going to be spending more time up that tree. Yeah, this could get a bit costly in terms of increased trail mix consumption. I think it's worth it. *grin*

* Pirate and I had been up the same tree Monday after work when she came to see if we had any trail mix for her. We did, and at one point she came walking boldly up underneath his raised knee to get to the nuts. "Look at that!" Pirate whispered. "Little brown squirrel's a brave one!"

"Honey squirrel don't care," I replied, "honey squirrel don't give a shit." Only Pirate wasn't familiar with the meme and thought I meant it as a name. It didn't take long for it to turn into "Honey Brown".
15th-Aug-2011 11:51 am - From current reading
"One thing that's really challenging about living with an invisible disability is always having to say the hard thing out loud, whether that's asking for help, explaining why you cannot or will not do something, explaining your unique thinking process, or something else that is unexpected."
— Hope Langner, "ADD: An Invisible Disability" in ADDvance, July-August 2000
quoted in Journeys through ADDulthood by Sari Solden
out of these shadows
[Brief and minimally-edited because I'm in a hurry.]

I am getting SO DAMN TIRED of reading discussions about depression in which people say "you shouldn't recommend exercise to a person with depression; I have depression and my inability to make myself exercise just makes me more depressed" or "you shouldn't recommend antidepressants" or "you shouldn't mention eating a healthier diet" or anything like that.

So just what the hell DO you recommend, then? "You shouldn't even bother"? "You should just lie down where you are and die"? Thanks, no, my depression tells me that enough already, I don't need to hear it from you.

I think part of what pisses me off about this is that this usually comes up in the course of a discussion in which the people making the recommendations have self-identified as having experience with severe unipolar depression. This isn't people pulling things out of thin air, or referring to something they read in Reader's Digest, or what Oprah said — this is people who have in-depth personal experience with being unable to leave one's residence for weeks on end, or being unable to feed oneself reliably, or going into the kitchen to find that the dirty dishes in the dishpan are invisible under an eighth-inch-thick layer of moldy scum floating on the water, or losing a job due to the depression, or any of the other myriad horrible experiences of life with depression.

Something specific that somebody recommends didn't work for you? Fine. Not terribly surprising. For all our commonalities and the few universals ("oxygen required", check; "nutrition and hydration required", check) we humans are highly variable; something that helps one person may not help another.


If somebody is struggling with depression, they will be better off if they can get themselves moving than if they can't. Yes, part of that is simply that being able to make yourself do something is likely an indicator that your depression is less overwhelming than the depression being experienced by somebody who can't make themself do something, but most of it is the fact that there are few exceptions to the rule that exercise and physical activity is just plain GOOD for animals.

Speaking from the perspective of somebody who has spent 35+ years struggling with this damn disease, the more time goes by the better I (think I) understand that compassionate like a brick wall aspect that Zen teachers get. It can feel like getting hit with a bucket of cold water to pour out your pain and sadness and suffering to this supposedly-enlightened, merciful teacher and in response get "Yes, and...?" *shrug* "That's just feeling. That's just emotion."

It can feel like having a door slammed in your face to be told that as far as getting better from depression, nothing's going to work until you make it work.

But it's the truth. Somebody who's stuck in a place of helplessness and believing that there's nothing they can do and that their only hope is from others (whether they're doctors or therapists or spiritual leaders) is unlikely to ever recover from the depression.

You have to make it work. You have to do something.

Maybe it takes all the energy and willpower you have right now just to pick up the phone and call your doctor. That's great — that's doing something. Maybe it's deciding to take your medications consistently. That's doing something. Maybe it's deciding that you will walk around the block once a day... and when you realize it's been three days and you haven't done it you go walk around the block instead of letting the depression tell you that flaking for three days proves you're hopeless. That is doing something.

But if all you're doing is saying "Don't recommend [x], don't recommend [y]" you're not doing anything to help yourself and you're not doing anything to help anybody else.
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