Archive for August, 2010

August 29, 2010 1 comment

Its just been a beautiful week and today was really a perfect day. I got up and out early and deadheaded the roses and cleaned up the flower beds in the front yard. I saw the weed that looks like clover but has yellow blossoms (yellow woodsorel) in the front bed so i was going to sprinkle the left over pickling lime instead i went to the internet and am going to wait until i turn the soil there. I’ve never tested the soil but just try to figure it out by how stuff is growing.

I went to the market which seems to just get more and more crowded. I noticed most people don’t buy much, just checking out the scene. The crowd was weirding me out and it was the same at Gerbes but I still bought a lot of stuff. Came back to the smell of bacon and Dad had breakfast ready by the time i got stuff put away. I didn’t get there in time to get local eggs so they’ll be the last wet yolks i eat until next week. corporate eggs are poison now, apparently (the price was good though).

After breakfast Dad and I took Fido to the dog park. He has really grown up and played nice with all the other dogs. Properly submissive but not intimidated by the big dogs. He initiated a play a lot didn’t jump on people to bad. There was a brown dog a bit bigger than him that kept trying to get over on him (ie hump him) but she got corralled by her owner relatively quickly. He ran and ran and ran. Lot of people knew Dad, kind of wish i was still relaxed enough to just chill out there for a while  but got restless thinking of crap i could be doing. I think its a phase i’m going through.

Came home and farted around and then did some solid work on the first garden bed. I turned up about 12 square feet (where i had lettuce and arugula in the spring) and planted garlic. Shoveled in a bushel of compost. It was looking real good.  I’ve turned that ground now 5 or 6 times and its more and more loamy and less and less a big clay pit. I tried the garlic close, my two survivors were not far from each other and did fine. Chard is next. While I was in the bed I weeded and cultivated the cucumbers (got some nice ones coming and lots more blossoms though when i let the grass get away from me i had heavy losses) and the kale i planted from seed is soldiering on.

Tomorrow Belen and Sarah are coming over from breakfast. I am going to make garden omelets (kale, yellow squash, basil, oregano, time, and tomato) with little smokies. Tonight it was cool enough to bake supper. I took the cast iron skillet greased from mornings bacon and added a 1/4 ham which i rubbed with organic mustard and pushed some cloves in.  Covered that with Springfield Honey (undescribably different than Columbia honey) and threw in some purple potatoes, carrots, and celery. Covered with foil added some water and baked that for an hour and fifteen at 375. Yummm. I saved the drippings for my black eyed peas i’m making for the work potluck on Wednesday.

Categories: cooking, gardening

drinking mead and pensive thoughts

August 28, 2010 1 comment

this week it shifted. i have been tired of struggling, of feeling like i can’t do it and i will soldier on nobly until i am ultimately destroyed is not a good plan for life. this week i consciously decided i would be happy and competent and that as far as it depended on me it was all good. only took a couple of days for that thought to invade my feeling world and by midweek life was good.

today was a challenge. painfully busy, whooosh. i am asked to be in three places. i jam all day without cease and fall painfully behind. my good mood is unassailable  is my motto, my watchwords. I hit the wall when i get home. i go upstairs and change my clothes and i can’t push on to garden, get some exercise, play with the dog. i lay in bed and crush my genre fiction. after much travail and uncertainty even against long odds the protagonist is successful.

it is all good, i’m just tired. so much stuff. then i fight on facebook with the anti-mosque people. i am strident and harsh but don’t delete it, soften it or apologize for it for my Muslim friends. For Allah. Brother John read the Koran and when I asked him to sum it up he said “god is great”. what are you gonna do? Me I’m gonna drink the beverage of the gods and write some poetry, plan on going to bed early, and largely letting it go. I’m gonna write a blog post to hide the poem from casual readers. they don’t deserve to know where i’m at tonight like you do faithful reader:

I’m drinking mead and thinking pensive thoughts

Telling a work anecdote that requires so much exposition

I am left more feeling alone.

I’m drinking mead and thinking pensive thoughts

Wondering why poetry demands loneliness

A melancholy thoughtfulness not devoid of energy.

I’m drinking mead and thinking pensive thoughts

Spark shower madness the electrical cry of the cicada

Humming loud like an electric fence then…

The deafening silence of freedom

Oh that I was trapped here

To justify the loneliness

Honey sweet on the lips

Warm in the belly

Something at least

Fit for the gods.

Categories: feelings, friends, poetry, politics


It has been incredibly gorgeous all week, pre-Fall seems to really be here. I mowed the lawn earlier in the week so got to advance the cause and plant the 3 daylilies I bought at the Farmers Market from the local daylilie society. I just went with some cheap ones not knowing much about them. Dad suggested I plant them at the head of Myrtle’s grave where we have the Greek Myrtle patch going well (though it didn’t flower much). Its pretty sunny, but gets really dry and is a red clay patch. I shoveled about 30 #s of cow manure I had bought between compost batches and turned it up good. I was glad I did a little research although I probably would have put them in the same way. I learned that you are supposed to remove the seed pods after they flower so they flower more the next year. I inherited some orange ones from previous leslie laners and they don’t produce the 200 to 400 flowers the interweb said i could get. Besides the seed pod thing they also are in what I call the shade bed (I suspect they were planted before the neighbors built their privacy fence). These are much sunnier and when I divide them in the spring i might move them to a sunnier spot. The interweb suggested covering a hillside like ground cover and that might be something to start working towards. The coolest thing about daylilies is there is a whole culture on making new varieties. A local guy is prominent in that and has them in his front yard down on Broadway. I put in “Bold One” (Lenington ’64 Dip” M 7″ Gold with purple halo), “Radar Love” (30″ M 5″ Fra Noc Ext Rose raspberry self), and “Camden Gold Dollar” (Yancey 1982 19″ EMRe 3″ dip Deep Yellow Self). I don’t know what all the info means but I might need to know some day. And to put a nice end to an awesome day Dad is grilling steaks and potatoes and I put what may be summer’s last sweet corn on to boil. yumm.

Categories: gardening

black outs (notes)

Blackout (alcohol-related amnesia)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A blackout is a phenomenon caused by the intake of alcohol or other substance in which long term memory creation is impaired or there is a complete inability to recall the past. Blackouts are frequently described as having effects similar to that of anterograde amnesia, in which the subject cannot create memories after the event that caused amnesia. ‘Blacking out’ is not to be confused with the mutually exclusive act of ‘passing out‘, which means loss of consciousness. Research on alcohol blackouts was begun by E. M. Jellinek in the 1940s. Using data from a survey of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members, he came to believe that blackouts would be a good predictor of alcoholism.[1] However, there are conflicting views as to whether or not this is true.[2]

Alcohol and long-term memory

Various studies have also proven links between general alcohol consumption and its effects on memory creation.[3] Particularly, these studies have shown that associations made between words and objects when intoxicated are less easily recalled than associations made when not intoxicated. Later blackout-specific studies have indicated that alcohol specifically impairs the brain’s ability to take short-term memories and experiences and transfer them to long-term memory.[4]

It is a common misconception that blackouts generally occur only to alcoholics; research suggests that social drinkers, such as college students, are often at risk as well. In a 2002 survey of college students by researchers at Duke University Medical Center, 40% of those surveyed who had consumed alcohol recently reported having experienced a blackout within the preceding year.[5]

Types of blackouts

Blackouts can generally be divided into two categories, “en bloc” blackouts, and “fragmentary” blackouts. En bloc blackouts are classified by the inability to later recall any memories from the intoxicated period, even when prompted. These blackouts are characterized also by the ability to easily recall things that have occurred within the last 2 minutes, yet inability to recall anything prior to this period. As such, a person experiencing an en bloc blackout may not appear to be doing so, as they can carry on conversations or even manage to accomplish difficult feats. It is difficult to determine the end of this type of blackout as sleep typically occurs before they end.[6] Fragmentary blackouts are characterized by the ability to recall certain events from an intoxicated period, yet be unaware that other memories are missing until reminded of the existence of these ‘gaps’ in memory. This phenomenon is also termed a brownout. Research indicates that fragmentary blackouts, or brownouts are far more common than en bloc blackouts.[7]


Blackouts are commonly associated with the consumption of large amounts of alcohol; however, surveys of drinkers experiencing blackouts have indicated that they are not directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed. Respondents reported they frequently recalled having “drunk as much or more without memory loss”, compared to instances of blacking out.[6] Subsequent research has indicated that blackouts are most likely caused by a rapid increase in a person’s blood-alcohol concentration. One study, in particular, resulted in subjects being stratified easily into two groups, those who consumed alcohol very quickly, and blacked out, and those who did not black out by drinking alcohol slowly, despite being extremely intoxicated by the end of the study.[8]


Benzodiazepines such as clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax), which also act as GABA agonists, are known to cause blackouts as a result of high dose use.

Predisposition to blackouts

Research indicates that some users of alcohol, particularly those with a history of blackouts, are predisposed to experience blackouts more frequently than others.[9] One such study indicated a link between prenatal exposure to alcohol and vulnerability towards blackouts, in addition to the oft-cited link between this type of exposure and alcoholism.[10] Alternatively, another study has indicated that there appears to be a genetic predisposition towards blacking out, suggesting that some individuals are made to be susceptible to alcohol related amnesia.[11]

What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain

Aaron M. White, Ph.D.

Mechanisms underlying alcohol–induced memory impairments include disruption of activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a central role in the formation of new auotbiographical memories.

In addition to impairing balance, motor coordination, decisionmaking, and a litany of other functions, alcohol produces detectable memory impairments beginning after just one or two drinks. As the dose increases, so does the magnitude of the memory impairments.

Early anecdotal evidence suggested that blackouts might actually reflect state–dependent information storage—that is, people might be able to remember events that occurred while they were intoxicated if they returned to that state. Regardless of how compelling such stories can be, clear evidence of state–dependent learning under the influence of alcohol is lacking. In one recent study, Weissenborn and Duka (2000) examined whether subjects who learned word lists while intoxicated could recall more items if they were intoxicated again during the testing session. No such state–dependency was observed. Similarly, Lisman (1974) tried unsuccessfully to help subjects resurrect lost information for events occurring during periods of intoxication by getting them intoxicated once again.

During the 2 weeks preceding the survey, an equal percentage of males and females experienced blackouts, despite the fact that males drank significantly more often and more heavily than females. This outcome suggests that at any given level of alcohol consumption, females—a group infrequently studied in the literature on blackouts—are at greater risk than males for experiencing blackouts. The greater tendency of females to black out likely arises, in part, from well–known gender differences in physiological factors that affect alcohol distribution and metabolism, such as body weight, proportion of body fat, and levels of key enzymes. There also is some evidence that females are more susceptible than males to milder forms of alcohol–induced memory impairments, even when given comparable doses of alcohol (Mumenthaler et al. 1999).

a recent study by Hartzler and Fromme (2003a) suggests that people with a history of blackouts are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol on memory than those without a history of blackouts.

n an impressive longitudinal study, Baer and colleagues (2003) examined the drinking habits of pregnant women in 1974 and 1975, and then studied alcohol use and related problems in their offspring at seven different time points during the following 21 years. These authors observed that prenatal alcohol exposure was associated with increased rates of experiencing alcohol–related consequences, including blackouts, even after controlling for the offsprings’ general drinking habits.

Substantial evidence now indicates that alcohol selectively alters the activity of specific complexes of proteins embedded in the membranes of cells (i.e., receptors) that bind neurotransmitters such as gamma–aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, serotonin, acetylcholine, and glycine (for a review, see Little 1999)

More than 30 years ago, both Ryback (1970) and Goodwin and colleagues (1969a) speculated that alcohol might impair memory formation by disrupting activity in the hippocampus. This speculation was based on the observation that acute alcohol exposure (in humans) produces a syndrome of memory impairments similar in many ways to the impairments produced by hippocampal damage. Specifically, both acute alcohol exposure and hippocampal damage impair the ability to form new long–term, explicit memories but do not affect short–term memory storage or, in general, the recall of information from long–term storage.

Research conducted in the past few decades using animal models supports the hypothesis that alcohol impairs memory formation, at least in part, by disrupting activity in the hippocampus (for a review, see White et al. 2000b). Such research has included behavioral observation; examination of slices of and brain tissue, neurons in cell culture, and brain activity in anesthetized or freely behaving animals; and a variety of pharmacological techniques.

Categories: health, the mind, work

long week part 1

August 23, 2010 1 comment

Its been a long week. Work continues to be frenetic and i was just coming back from being sick so i was trying to take it easy. Tuesday I met with Cori who was asked to officiate at one of her childhood friend’s weddings. We met at Lakota and I sat in the rocking chair and drank a really good late’ and told Cori all the stuff about weddings I wish someone would have told me. I hadn’t had a lot of experience with them and was in fact dubious about the whole concept when i did my first wedding. the biggest surprise was the necessity of your role of running the rehearsal. Why someone asked to say a few words should be laying out when the flower girls come up the aisle and how long the music plays and all kinds of other stuff. I talked to her about the workarounds for misogynistic artifacts in the ceremony like the pronouncement and you (you action oriented being who acts on the world) can kiss the bride (the passive thing akin to all the other things to be acted upon). I talked to her about honoring your own sense of the divine but presenting from the perspective of the bride and groom in a way that is inclusive to all present. I talked to her about weaving the best language from several translations when quoting the bible which allows you to drop male pronouns (we both like replacing it with god). Pointed out the classics 1 cor 13 & the verse out ecclesiastes i believe, “two are better than one, for how can one be warm alone? And if one should fall into a pit who will pull them out?” sweet. the sacredness of laying together you can’t better than that.

I picked up some Kaldi’s coffee while i was downtown. Lakota roasts there own but they’re more second wave with everything really dark (good for Lates’). Kaldi’s is third wave and has lots of single lot beans, in season, from all over the world and roasts them light. I got a Honduran and the Ecuadoran Single source they’re hyping on their coffee of the world program. They’re both excellent but the Honduran is better. Best of all the popster picked up the coffee tab this week.

Thursday was a big night, I did my last ever batterer intervention group. I have worked part time for four years doing a group a week, a couple years two, for over 250 groups. Its been fun, actually work I enjoy quite a bit.  Its just one more thing I have to do so I decided to drop it as part of my de-stressing my life. It was an OK group, exciting for what it was, two years of non stop good groups, nice run. Afterwards I met up with Sharon, Nance, Erika, and Kristin four of my co-facilitators through the years. We had beers and I had cheese fries  and we got caught up. It was nice. Its helpful to feel appreciated when your struggling a bit, seeing people recognize it and that they care about you and are glad you’re doing it. The family reunion, the surprise birthday party, and then the MEND thing has all reinforced that message.

The Cost of Distraction: What Kurt Vonnegut Knew (via The Frailest Thing)

spoiler alert this is a complete summary. i really learned a lot from Kurt Vonnegut, read him early and his surrealism really informed both my sense of the absurd and my fondness for multiple realities. i think i gave a workshop at a conference he was supposed to key note but i may have conflated him with someone else, but as Vonnegut shows it doesn’t matter, life is story. I like this analysis on having all the problems of a tyrannical regime taken upon ourselves through our own poor choices. be present. be real. listen in the stillness.

The Cost of Distraction:  What Kurt Vonnegut Knew "The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal." So begins the late Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 short story, "Harrison Bergeron." In 2009, Chandler Tuttle released a 25 minute film version of the story titled 2081, and you can watch the trailer at the end of this post. Vonnegut goes on to describe the conditions of this equality: They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. N … Read More

via The Frailest Thing

Categories: Uncategorized

detroit jazz festival

I and the intrepid Trevor Harris are flying to the the Detroit metropolitan area for Labor Day weekend to see some jazz and some old friends. Friday night we will be at Jeff & Becky’s in Farmington Hills after flying into Detroit Metro and renting a car. We plan on catching some shows: Listed is time/performer/stage name. Shows with a * are can’t miss:

Sat Sept. 4:
1:30pm/Muruga Booker/Carhadrt Ampitheatre
5:15pm/Danilo Perez/Carhardt*
7:30pm/Terrance Blanchard/Carhardt**
9:45pm/Mulgrew Miller/Absopure Waterfront*

Sun Sept 5:
1:30pm/Johnny O’Neal/Mack Avenue
2:00pm/Maria Schneider Orchestra/Carhardt**
7:45pm/ray Brown Tribute w/Christian McBride/Carhardt*
9:45pm/Mambo Legends/Chase Main Stage

Mon Sept 6:
1:30pm/Roy Haynes/Carhardt
3:15pm/Branford Marsalis/Carhardt*

We will be staying saturday and sunday at the corktown inn on Trumbul. its not my normal type of vacation but i am looking forward to it. If you are in the area you should come up and catch a show.

Categories: friends

gardening neglect

August 16, 2010 3 comments

I finally got out and got to put in some time into the yard. It has been so hot and I was sick I just stopped going outside. Friday was the party, and Saturday I helped Harry move and cooked. I cooked down a few pounds of Betty’s tomatoes that needed to be used and added a half dozen black plum tomatoes in the cast iron skillet where i’d browned a big onion, 2 hot banana peppers from the garden, and three cloves local garlic (tart & tangy this year). I cooked that down added 1/4 tsp cayenne and 3/4 cup peanut butter, and let that simmer for a bit. I served it with squash with butter and brown sugar over rice. yummy, but that and a nap and not a lot of garden puttering.

So today I hit the grass as soon as the morning dew dried up. I mowed the front and weed whacked the tall & stubborn fellows. I pulled off my laundry before I did the back and put out my second after i finished. i also found the rosemary and the title of the post. It is dried out and likely dead. I’ll either collect it and use it or if it springs back now that i’m watering it again. Its sad because i’ve had it for a couple of years and it was looking great and i just killed it by not being aware, hiding from the real world in the ac.

I also lost my 2nd fennel which i didn’t get in the ground and then noticed the one i did get in the ground is gone too. Disappeared. Beaten down by heavy rains and the soil turning into cement and massive high temperatures. everything’s struggling. Its widespread and common and the weather sucks it said in the trib gardening column. I’m starting to get more tomatoes. the yellow tear drop ones have done well as a volunteer. Theres a beef steak looking volunteer about ready and the other hybrids are starting to turn orange. As are the green zebras? struggling plants, low production. I need to cultivate.

Crab grass is tall and am weeding. When i get done weeding i’ll cultivate. when i’m done cultivating i’ll turn over the fall bed. theres some space in the 2 beds and I hope to add 4′ to bed 2. theres some squash so i won’t hit it all and then may get into bed 3. Gotta get Dad on the coldframe project.

Categories: cooking, gardening

on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of my birth

My 42nd year has begun well. Friday the 13th again and captivated by rich symbolism of life the universe and everything. I really started to get into it in the evening before. I started getting facebook greetings and I decided to respond to each. I got excited about the birthday horoscope when i remembered with an evening paper like the trib it would be there now. last year i hung it on my refrigerator and pondered it all year: “question your need for a more universal commitment”.

the day itself started like most do with coffee then off to work. i had been struggling through a cold for a couple of days and working anyway because the state auditors were in reading charts, sitting in on my groups (good feedback there) and giving me a test of knowledge quiz on one of my clients (nailed that too). But its a big deal and didn’t want my work to wash onto my colleagues who were dealing with that stuff full time.

So even though i was tired with an occasional hacking cough and runny nose but i was feeling better. work was ok 2 no shows so i actually got to pick which of my back log of duties i would knock out. that was twice this week that’d happened.

i told everyone it was my birthday, enjoyed the folks i had sessions with, and the day passed quickly. after work i did a bit of weeding in the garden and a lot of responding to facebook birthday well wishes. a couple of them had questions so i had to respond and some were really sweet from people i don’t see enough so i decided to respond to them all. it was very heartwarming.

harry drove and we stopped by to pick up amy and the cake. dad hadn’t seen the house so we all went in. Amy answered the door and Olive ran out and we corralled her and walked in and as I came around the corner, “Surprise!”

There was a whole party there with my best friends. i was totally caught off guard. it was so sweet. Belen made gazpacho which was really good, there was humus, cucumber salad, Christina made a gluten free pasta salad, and there was gluten free beer. i was touched by everyone’s thoughtfulness. I got a trappist beer from Nancy, 11% and since i’d already had 2 beers i split it three ways, figured that made it a beer and three is plenty at42. Michael grilled burgers, 6 oz patties stuffed with blue cheese or a 4 oz wrapped in bacon. they were both excellent.

it was great to just get to chat, see old friends, meet some people, and just hang out. maybe i shouldn’t have been so easily surprised when people had asked me what i wanted for my birthday i’d said “a party where i didn’t have to do anything”. thanks people.

Categories: feelings, friends


I would post a lot more about books but I also use visual bookshelf for book reviews so I don’t do that so much here. However, recently I re-read Neal Stephenson’s Anathem and wanted to say a few words. Its a really powerful and amazing book that I couldn’t recommend more. In it Stephenson posits a world with a much longer history. The people of math and science are kept in monastic seclusion to limit their impact on the world through advanced technology in the past praxic (industro-technological) ages. Its from a perspective of a young fraa (secular monk) in a decennial math (each group is secluded for a year, 10 years, 100 years, or a thousand years from the secular world so as not to contaminate each other). During Apert the 10 days of interaction with the secular world he is most struck by how distracted everyone is by their jeejahs (cell phones and hand held devices) and I have adopted that term as well. Jeejahs seem to be the plague of the modern age. Even otherwise intelligent and focused people can’t hardly do anything for 20 minutes without looking at their jeejahs and jeejah noise is ubiquitous. Having moved back to a land line I have really noticed a difference. I always found the ringing of the phone a distraction and kept it on vibrate. Even now coming up on a year of being cell phone free I still get ghost vibrations in my upper thigh and pat my pockets. Having near continuous access to the internet has its advantage, as does convenience, and emergencies and all that, but at what cost??

The other piece of the book deals with what he calls The Hylean Theoretical World. What I think he is talking about is Plato’s World of Pure Ideas, which if you are a regular reader of my blog you know has been a big part of my philosophy for a long time. Its where I think Heaven is and what the purest most true part of ourselves are made of. Where the rubber hits the road i think its the most real reality. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you want to wrestle with a really fun fast moving adventure story about ideas than Anathem might be for you.

I might try re-reading Snowcrash next.

Categories: books, philosophy