Monday, October 19, 2015

Adventures and Aspirations. And more photos from my smartphone.

I'm at that long-awaited point in my life when my foreseeable future finally looks pretty good. For the past few months, I've been busy, among other things moving house yet again – for the lucky thirteenth time in my life!
` And, have been having technical difficulties getting more articles in my blog and podcast up and running. Also, there's been a huge amount of stuff going on, a bit of which I'll mention below.
` But all this has not been without having some fun and adventures in between! Not to mention, I've encountered Steven Pinker, Michael Shermer and Tony Ortega, all within in the past few weeks!
` And last month, I took a little trip to a place in Oregon where the giant sea puppies haul themselves onto a dock en masse and bark hypnotically.
Auuurt, auurt, auurt...
At The Amazing Meeting 2015, I told numerous people that I was about to publish the first episode of my skeptical podcast, Skeptophony. When I got back, I immediately began work on Episode 2 and try to figure out how to upload podcasts. And then I came down with a serious case of Con Crud and couldn't get myself to do anything until the end of July.
` Even taking a walk was too much for me at times. I discovered that if I just let myself take lots of naps for a few days, I seemed to feel much better than I had years. Which is especially dramatic considering the past few years.

` Able to get back to my normal, more wakeful schedule, I stopped being able to sleep so well. At the place I was living at the time, a number of factors interfered with my ability to sleep, and I was starting to realize this must be causing not just psychological problems, but serious fatigue and soreness that was really slowing me down.
` My body was unable to rest and recover well enough from the previous day, which also interfered with my physical rehab routine, so it became a slow spiral downward again.

Sometime during all this, I listened to an episode of Skeptic's Guide to the Universe when they were talking about how multiple days of sleep deprivation causes people to suffer from memory problems, increases their proneness to accidents, and slows their brain processing speed. It basically makes you stupid, feel depressed, and also kills your sex drive.

I've been suffering from some level or other of shortchanged sleep for most of my entire life, from surviving some major family dysfunction to several years in which I lived with and next to many very dysfunctional people. Let's not forget the chronic health problems, physical problems, and decades of trauma-related problems which also interfered, and most of which I've made enormous improvements on.
` Chronic sleep deprivation is also a causal factor in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, weight gain and skin aging. It amazes me that I am now as healthy as I am, and that I don't look half bad.

The sunglasses shield me from the sea lion hypnosis as well.
Since I've moved to a much larger and quieter living space. I'm no longer woken up every other morning by a leaf blower directly outside my window. I have privacy. And a big floor to do physical rehab stretches. I no longer have to keep the same sleep schedule as someone who works graveyard.
` It's very unhealthy when a number of such things interfere with your life and sanity.
` Now, I feel a lot more awake and 'present', have been getting more naps when needed, and bringing myself back to health. My struggles tend to be wonderfully mundane, for example, battling between feeling so hungry that I can't sleep, while struggling to stay awake long enough to eat something.
` I'm very active, and when I get enough sleep, taking an 80-minute brisk walk with some wind sprints isn't difficult. But, when I don't get enough sleep, my entire body aches and it's a challenge just to do 45 minutes of walking. Lifting weights for physical rehab is also immediately fatiguing.

And don't get me started on how it affects my mind! I really do feel like I'm 'losing it' when I don't get enough sleep, but after a week of recovery I feel perfectly fine.
` It used to be difficult for me to reach this state of lucidity, but the better my health gets, the easier it gets. Now, I feel that way most of the time and work hard to maintain it and, so to speak, 'keep the colors bright'.

Day of the Dahlias!
That, along with my blood sugar, are the only two major health factors in keeping myself coherent from moment to moment. I used to have to deal with too-large responsibilities while enduring ill health and unhealthy living conditions, but that has changed:
` Now that I have a break from all of it, I notice the enormity of the impact on lucidity when losing sleep and low blood sugar are involved.
` This is definitely not something to mess around with. Thankfully it's now easy for me to meet my own needs at the bottom steps of Maslov's pyramid, and I'm now starting to work my way up. You have to start somewhere.

In further keeping my mind functioning, I'm interested in mastering my ability to keep calm in a float tank. They say that once you're able to do that, amazing things can happen in your mind, especially after about an hour of meditation. Alas, this establishment only allows one-hour sessions, so I will have to find someplace else if I want to get serious.

Unfortunately, I have been unable so far to devolve into an Australopithecus.
Not only is my mind feeling stable, so is my body.

I could also go on about my current stages of physical rehab, and how I was having trouble getting my outer right glutes to even fire properly, until I discovered that there's been an increasing number of little things in my daily life that were interfering. I will say this:
` I've taken steps to reverse this damage and selectively exercise these muscles, which are currently the weakest link in my posture. Second place goes to the muscles of my left inner leg. Both are now coming along quite nicely, faster than they have since I first began focusing more on them a year ago.

` Coincidentally, in looking back through my blog, there's a post from a year ago about my progress up to that point. It's called, "Here's to a better year, and better neural and muscular hypertrophy" and has pictures of me from behind. Although I'm still not quite 100%, I've greatly exceeded my expectations! (Should I bother to take another photo...?)

At last, the strength of near-symmetrical musculature is mine! After so many years of limping, not knowing what was wrong, my good friend Dr. Hypno pointed out that I had some serious kinetic imbalances, and has been my personal trainer in helping me to fix them.
` Yes, in addition to helping me get over the effects of decades of trauma, he's done a tremendous deal to help me fix my physiology as well. I owe so much to this man.
Taking a little walk while at the Temple of Satan's picnic.

It's also great to have my car back. Some of you may remember a post from last year, shortly after I bought my car. It was so nice to finally have another car that I didn't have to make payments on!
` But then, when Dr. Hypno's Doom Van wouldn't start one morning when he went to go to work, I let him use my “new” Badass Used Saturn Ion. I later told him he could borrow it at least twice a week to get to his job until the van was fixed, which I figured might be a few weeks.

In this post from last December, I mentioned how a mechanic was unable to tell him what was wrong.
` Since then, another mechanic with better diagnostic equipment came over and assured him that it was not the wiring, but rather the coil. So, after already having replaced such parts as the starter, Dr. Hypno then bought a new coil and replaced the old one.
` It still didn't work. But there did seem to be some kind of computer or electrical problem, the same that he had previously noticed.

It wasn't until this August that a sticker was left on the Doom Van's windshield, saying that it would be towed by the police. I was in charge of emptying it of the stuff he was storing in it, and getting help hauling it to my storage unit.
` Dr. Hypno called a tow truck to come the next morning, but it didn't show up. Leaving the situation unresolved, he went off to his current job. Which he was unable to take the bus to, and thus was taking my car every day. Because of this, he finally had the money for making some amount of repairs, so this was a huge relief for me.
` After several hours, it became clear that the tow truck wasn't going to make it, so he called another one and canceled the first one (which came anyway, many hours later, to the driver's non-amusement).
` I made sure the van got towed to the right place, a nearby mechanic's shop, where they immediately found the problem: A $10 wire.

All this time.

A fucking. Wire.

For. Ten. Months.

Next on my own to-repair list is the drive belt and the radiator hoses. I don't currently have car insurance, so I haven't been driving it anyway, other than to take it to the mechanic's shop and E-Check. It passed, and I was able to buy new tabs!
` Finally, a year after purchasing my car, I should soon be able to drive it safely and legally again!

The setting moon, red with forest fire smoke.

Although Dr. Hypno has made the biggest difference in my life, was it really so sensible for me to let him borrow my car for such a long period of time? Or not to do more to help get the situation resolved?
` Even more questionable, was it a good idea to stay around my ex just enough to take care of him and drive him to the ER when necessary, even though it's had devastating effects, including the nerve damage in my face?

My face!!

The setting sun, also red with forest fire smoke.
I'm so thankful to have a place to live where I can have my own space and my own stuff, it's fairly quiet most of the time – except for occasional constructiony days. Having some space in which to decompress, including the best office ever, has been much-needed.
` I even have a comfortable place to read books, without straining myself in any way. Hoorah!

Also, I want to thank Steve Novella and Cara Santa Maria from SGU for helping to inspire the article I'm writing for Skeptic Magazine.

I will get back to that as soon as I'm done with my library book. It's due tomorrow!

And as for what's going on with Skeptophony, and more about some of the things going on in my life, well, that would only make this post longer, so I'll just leave you wondering that until next time.
` Until them, I would like to make two points:
1. This post has been sitting on my computer's hard drive for quite a while, collecting more stuffs until it became this long.

2. There are many other posts that have been doing the same thing. One by one, they will begin to appear on this blog.

3. Same goes for my other projects, which I shall be posting about on my blog.
So, don't be surprised if all this stuff starts appearing at once, like sea puppies on an empty series of piers.


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