Archive for October, 2011

i believe i am a pattern

October 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I have been working on a poetry archive on my blog with links to each of the poems I have posted. You should definitely check it out if you’re into that sort of thing. One of the bonuses is it gives me a definitive list of what I’ve got up on the blog. This one I could have sworn I put up as I recall posting different versions as it came together but the the most recent version I came across in the poetry category was incomplete. This one I’m quite proud of as it says what I believe in a pretty tight and succinct way. Hope you like it.

I believe I am a pattern

A pattern of information

Built from millions and millions of simplicities,

Organized through emergence

I arise up from the bottom,

I am many but still I am me.

And I believe I am a pattern

A consciousness construction

Will, sense, imagination, memory

And though I surely rise up from my body

I am much more a story

Told in the hearts of everyone who knows me.

And I believe I am a pattern

A pattern set in motion

In oscillation with the tides

Not just the ocean

But the Universe besides.

In every mind’s eye there is a cup

Its not the one from which I drink

But its close enough

Occam’s Razor cuts simplest is the best

Is my idea of cup unique from the rest?

Or do we all drink

From the same cup

After all?

For I believe I am a pattern

A process not an object

Like pendulums swing together

When they’re on the same wall

My heart beats to the rhythem

Of the One and the All

And I am subsumed in

The One.

And I believe there is a pattern.

Black Iron Prison

October 29, 2011 2 comments

Phillip K. Dick talked about the Black Iron Prison as a descriptor for ever growing systems of control. I like the term and have been working on a piece about it for the last four or five years. Five years after posting this I am putting in the final (for now, I’m still not entirely satisfied with the ending) stanza. I finished it maybe three years ago and reads a little prescient with the election of Trump. I am putting together a chap book tentatively called “Words for Dark Times” and leading with this piece. I finished it on a road trip to Death Valley for Christmas I believe three years ago. That Christmas John thought it was my best yet.

Black Iron Prison

There’s a Black Iron Prison

Casts its shadow across the land

From the tar-sands of the North

To The Wall at the Rio Grande

So show us your papers

Your biometric ID

And remember a time

When you thought you were free.

And power corrupts

As always we have known

And absolute corruption

Is what we have sown

Just as the sun sets in the West

It rises in the East

and Total Control is the Mark of the Beast.


And you’ll show The Mark

to buy your bread

And show it when you sell

And without a trace of irony

You’ll call out for your Hell:

“Oh keep us safe from terrorists

Those oh so evil men”

And lock us up in cages

‘Til its safe to go out again.

And watch our every movement

And listen to every call

Analyze the meta-data

Until you know it all

And what Hitler wanted

But could not have

Will have finally come to pass

And we shall be a people

A people…

Made of glass.

Categories: poetry, politics, religeon

self esteem

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been talking about self esteem in my Friday education group. It used to be a four week presentation but this iteration is looking like six. Its a really important topic in recovery because there is an inordinate amount of self sabotage amongst folks in substance abuse treatment. Intellectually the topic appeals to me because its so difficult to do anything productive on the topic. In general attitudes and beliefs are hard to shift and our sense of self is the oldest and most solid piece of who we are. It takes years of concerted effort to make serious headway and pointing people in that direction, laying it out and providing the tools feels like activism. “You Are Awesome” my favorite Occupation sign says. Its animated my thoughts.

I also like teaching on self esteem because it excuses me a chance to explore just exactly what we are and where we have emerged from. I discuss the mirror test, an ability to recognize yourself in a mirror requires self awareness. “Hey that’s me in there.” 6 month olds, dogs, cats, and monkeys they can’t do it. 18 month olds, chimps and other great apes, elephants, grey parrots, and dolphins can. What were we doing around that age, toddling around getting into shit. At some point we all went to touch the stove, that’s how babies explore the world and someone who loved us smacked our hand and said, “bad baby, don’t touch the stove”. What’d we learn besides don’t touch the stove. “I’m the bad baby who tries to touch the stove”. We are learning who we are.

How we view ourselves is so vital because of confirmation bias, the tendency to see evidence to support what we already believe. We like to believe we look out on the world in an objective way but really we only perceive what is in line with our existing beliefs. Now what is the risk if you believe you are a piece of shit? That is why it is so vital. The thesis I try to make is to pick a concrete strategy and stick with it for years even. When you achieve mastery pick another. I learned about self esteem and started to work on it around 16 probably in my high school psychology class. I’ve been at it ever sense. I’ve made some significant progress but my journey is not yet done.

I have been working on eliminating the word “should” out of my self talk for five years. I still catch myself thinking it. (the re-frame for “should” is “could”). I pretty much ferreted out “can’t” (the re-frame for “can’t” is “I’ve struggled with this in the past but I’m getting better on it because I’m working on it”  [not as pithy as “could” but memorable in its absurdity]). “Always” and “never” have had their place.

I teach a 2 step of do the right thing and give yourself credit. Challenging the inner critic instead of hiding from it or tuning it out. Ask it questions; “is this true?”, “does this preserve my life?”, “get me what I want?”, “keep what I don’t want from happening?”, “improve my relationships?”.

I told the story of getting shit canned at Food Town after 29 days when I was 17. Not because I wasn’t a hard worker but because I was to insecure to ask questions and didn’t know how to stay busy. Felt intimidated by the customers, not knowing where stuff was, and the bosses, easier to putter around the bottle room. I had always wanted to be a bag boy too. Mom wanted a kid to go to the store, you got to pick out the cereal and get a comic book at Crairie’s Drugs. When I was a little kid I looked up to the bag boys who brought our groceries out to the car back then. (You know when there were jobs for people to do.)

The bag boys seemed like gods. Kids who did what adults did, that’s what I wanted to be and I told my mom I wanted to be a bag boy and she said “You can’t because we’re not Lutheran and Francis Foods only hires Lutherans”. I told the story pretty matter of factly and a brother in the second row just looked dumb f0unded and said “You’re shitting me”. He couldn’t wrap his mind around a world where you couldn’t get a job because you were the wrong denomination. With all the growing problems of modernity, maybe things are getting better.

Drive By Darlins

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Just got home from the Drive By Truckers show at the Missouri Theater. Sort of my last hurrah with John as he is hitting the road early next week. It was a pretty good show and a fun evening. Stopped by Gotcha and got my Guy Fawkes mask for Halloween (don’t tell anyone but I think I’m coming as Anonymous). It was priced at $11.05 which should have been a clue but the owner asked if I knew why it was priced that way and sang a little “Don’t you remember the 5th of September…” Very cute and with a busy set of activities glad to have come up with a costume idea and gotten the thing I need.

We had dinner at Booche’s a downtown bar opened in 1884 and I had felt negligent that I hadn’t had John in for a cheese burger. We also had the chili which was quite good but they serve it in a styrofoam bowl (I bet they didn’t do that in 1884). I do like the sign on the door, “closed on Sundays, see you in church”. They have some premium beers now with Boulevard Single Wide on tap. I had had Dad in some time ago to play pool and after having him in so many breweries and fancy bars where he couldn’t get a Budweiser he tried to order a Sam Adams which they didn’t have sticking close to the classics.

Then it was on to the show with the opening act Those Darlins. They were a little disappointing live not really able to fill the room. John was impressed with the Missouri Theater which is a fine looking building and looking sharp these post-rehab days. But the Drive By Truckers were pretty good. I liked the acoustic set which really let the steel guitar shine but mostly I liked that they were sincere and looked like they were having fun. I’m really not a music guy, I’m both tone deaf and fond of my own internal dialogue so I don’t listen to much and was only casually familiar with their extensive repertoire. They opened with Carl Perkin’s cadillac a catchy little ditty and there best song was “Let There Be Rock” which they had a lot of fun with.

I should be going to bed its well past my bedtime but still pretty wound up and game 6 of the World Series just went into extra innings. Congratulations for my local peeps, keep hope alive. I have a fairly busy weekend coming up. Going floating with Kirk from work, his first time in a canoe. We’re going to the Finger Lakes and doing it in spite of the Fall chill. Saturday going to the market with Sarah and getting some horse manure for the garden since compost doesn’t work in my schedule. Saturday night halloween party. Sunday I might take John out again, would like to show him Sycamore so he says good things about Como when he returns to the Golden State.

Categories: family, politics

civil unrest

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I am disappointed to learn about the escalation on the Occupy Oakland protest. An Iraq war veteran was shot in the head in close range with a police projectile. They were firing rubber bullets, tear gas canisters & flash grenades. How ironic to survive to tours of war in Iraq then to get a skull fracture at a protest. People in wheel chairs hit with flash grenades. The over-reaction begins which will only swell the crowds. God forbid we have people sleeping in a park.

I stopped by the Como Occupation today to see how it was holding up in the rain. There was a sleeping dude under an overhang. I dropped off some bottled water, apples, hygiene kits & a poncho. I am proud to live in a city that welcomes democratic action, free speech and freedom of assembly.

Rumor has it a coalition of law enforcement entities will try and clear out the San Francisco protesters tonight. People in masks have torn down the fences around the area cleaned out by the cops and are building a memorial to Oscar Grant, the unarmed guy gunned down by BART police.

All of this both troubles me and gives me hope that the movement will grow and change will happen. It has shifted the debate and energized folks for change. These are good things in spite of the cost as change needs to happen. If you don’t have people invested in the system then they withdraw their consent to business as usual and things get rearranged.

It doesn’t matter that there are no simple concrete demands. Radical action wins victories for liberals.

Categories: politics

spoiler alert

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

My fourth day of road tripping in a row and I am holding up strong. This morning rode out to Chesterfield for a conference with a co-worker and really enjoyed the trip. You only get to know someone so well at work when things are busy and not a whole lot of time for life stories and the like. We left at 5:15 am to be in Chesterfield (St Louis suburb by 7:30) so I set an alarm. It had been years since I had and it probably allowed me to get better sleep then having to be more conscious of the time. It was business attire, don’t ask me why so i wore a shirt and tie. Getting talked  at for a day ain’t worth wearing a suit for.

The drive out was fun and MFH always puts out a nice spread. It was at some version of the Hilton and they had little breakfast burritos and surprisingly good coffee with fresh melon and pineapple. The morning presentation was on Health Literacy. A bit of yawner there for most of the presentation. Most people read poorly, a sizable chunk not at all. If you put out stuff so people can actually understand it things don’t suck as much. Captain Obvious made those points taught the “teach back method” which is pretty much what it sounds and then the last 10 minutes through out all this great practical stuff faster then you could write it down. Short sentences, no more then 2-3 syllables, simple fonts, helpful pictures and diagrams, lots of white space, good paragraphing, no italics or ALL CAPS and stick to the Need to Do not Nice to Know. Might be other good stuff in my notes.

Someone also taught how to optimize Word’s reading level assessment tool, you do chunks avoiding numbers & headers and the like that can throw it off and never write above a 6th grade level. It was cool stuff and raised it in my consciousness so I shouldn’t complain. Especially not after the lunch we had, rare roast beef with all the fixings and a sweet array of cakes.

The afternoon started with this activity that turned out kind of fun. We were given instructions to a card game similar to spades with no trump, ace high, two of clubs leads. The winner of the first game advances to play other winners. You’re not allowed to talk. We tied at my group but I was feeling pushy and like playing cards so I silently offered for our team to advance.

We lost the first trick and I threw a king on the next only to see my partner throw on the ace. I was still reeling from the fact my partner had no strategy whatsoever as there wasn’t even a rule about following suit when my partner led into my ace of clubs. The other team raked in the trick which led to a non verbal argument that got a little heated. Ultimately we were told to play cards by the facilitator after I had note pad taken away and was pantomiming why it was my trick. They kept the trick but I kept the lead and we took the rest of the tricks but i wasn’t so into it. The trick of course is we had different rules, his said ace low mine said ace high.

That was cool but then it was the return of Captain Obvious as we talked about it for over an hour with people making the same of course points. Then like a weird replay she broke out these cool tools you can use to evaluate a coalition and went over them hyperfast in the last 5 minutes.

Nonetheless not bad as these things go. We went to Trader Joes before heading home.  I cooked some dinner and am gearing up to watch Horde. this time i mean it.

Categories: health, travel, work

dogs and domestic violence

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Took a long drive today north on 63. It was pretty fall color the maples seem to be coming along now. Smokey rode up front and true to her cattle dog nature barked at a lot of cows. Sheep she’s not interested in except the second glance she gives to hay stacks and picket fences, just to make sure they’re not cows. Horses she grants honorary cow status. I dozed through the wild turkey siting (I wasn’t driving). We were early for our thing so took the dogs to a park in Montezuma. Was pleased to see a lot of old school playground equipment although they had the little plastic crappy stuff too. I immediately thought about walking the dogs up the teeter-totter. Smokey was the only one was game and jumped off when she passed the center of balance. Managed to get all the dogs on the merry-go-round. They were not fans.

Had an interesting experience in the court house (not my case). We were talking about the proven inefficacy of DARE with a lawyer and he mentioned it was a program mentioned by name required by legal statute. He mentioned it was the same way with domestic violence programs (The Duluth Model) which I responded was a good idea because otherwise you’d have people doing all kinds of stuff that beyond not being helpful might be harmful like anger management.

Ran into the lawyer again at the clerk’s window and he was chit-chatting withe the prosecutor about a deal on an assault case where they wanted amongst other things anger management. He hooked a thumb at me and said” this guy says anger management is no good”. The prosecutor asked why and I told her it feeds into the excuse making function. “Honey don’t push my buttons you know I got that anger problem” and that it was harmful in domestic violence situations. She said it wasn’t a domestic case and I told her I still had never seen any evidence it was an effective intervention and that I had had good success with anger issues in my batterer intervention class and told her about this dude I had had come through for road rage after not being helped by anger management several times. No one had ever told him anger was a choice. She said “well he did have an assault on his girlfriend sometime back so we’ll try it”.

Nice being in the right place at the right time. There is so much education to do on this topic. Speaking of, if you’re not familiar batterer intervention is rooted in identifying power and control tactics that are at core of the issue. Domestic violence is purposeful and instrumental, which means its done on purpose and done for a reason. Anger management makes it seem like an accident.


Categories: dogs, domestic violence, travel

haunted st louis

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Made it back to Columbia a couple of hours ago after a bit of a whirlwind trip to St Louis. I feel a little warm and increasingly tired and am thinking I might be getting sick. It was a fun trip though. Yesterday I was up early and got my weekend stuff done (water plants and such) in a hurry and was packed pretty early. I picked up Jillian and we went to the market. Mark’s birthday is Monday and he was having a fire in his backyard so I got him a Patric Chocolate bar and I gave him a jar of the green tomato chutney I made.

There was also a big box of green tomatoes so I have the opportunity to make relish or what have you. Its sad seeing the end of the vine ripened tomatoes for another year. So after the market we drove out to St Louis. We had a little nap time and i read most of a herman hesse novel I hadn’t read. His fourth one named after an estate. Its pretty good and looking forward to finishing it next time I’m out.

We were wanting to go to a haunted house and went to the Lemp mansion which is reported to be haunted.  The Lemps were per-prohibition brewers and the first Lemp committed suicide after the death of his good brewer buddy Captain Pabst. There were two more suicides and the mansion was pretty cool. There are some working gas street lamps outside and I’ve not seen that before. The haunted house turned out to be at the brewery and not open til 6 so we came back. It was pretty fun. Haunted house technology improved in the last 10 years or so since i’ve been. The Lemp place had a lot of smoke and you walk down this two flight spiral staircase that you can barely see. It was the scariest thing because when it had you walking into strobes or total darkness I was always afraid I would be falling down the next flight of stairs.

Sarah and Jillian were into it and the line was just long enough to bond with some strangers and build some anticipatory tension. All in all it was a fun evening.

Mark had his fire and drank some hot mulled cider and rum and some Black Bear Bakery goods and smores. Being in St Louis had to watch the World Series. Left me as the only one rooting for the Rangers, probably best they got beat.

Slept hard and work up tired, read some more Hesse waiting for everyone to get up. We cooked a big breakfast fried potatoes, eggs & tomato, turnip greens and fruit salad. After that Mark’s dad came over and it was first I’d met him, a cool retired social worker and we helped Mark rip up some bricks and shovel down a high spot in his backyard to improve drainage.

Drove home after, not got time to carve pumpkins so left them all but one as gifts. There was a rubber necker traffic slow down and it felt good to be patient and enjoy the Fall color and sunflowers and just rest. Made it back for some dinner and am gearing up for Walking Dead season 2 episode 2. Hope its better then episode 1, feeling a little soap operaish.

Categories: baseball, friends, travel

my house smells like vinegar

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Well I missed a day on my blog every day in October challenge and its almost 7:00 so I don’t see getting caught up. I just wasn’t feeling it last night, watched a little World Series and went to bed early. I got out of work on time but came home tired. I lay down for a nap but didn’t go down. I read a Fantastic Four comic from 1981. It talked about austerity measures when the Torch was trying to do a little  record search. Everything that is old is new again. I think I’ve written how the whole economic downturn has made me nostalgic for the 80s. The way things are going it will soon enough be the 30s.

I got a late start on dinner, making a meatloaf to celebrate the cooler weather of Fall. My cooking is pretty seasonal both with what ingredients I can garner and how I cook. Summer to keep the house cool and winter for the opposite.

I made a sizable loaf with some local grass fed beast and some sausage. I was going to set some aside for weekend breakfast but am going out of town so i put it all in. I added onion, garlic, turmeric, basil I dried out of the garden, some snack crackers Brenda gave me, and a local egg. I coated it with mustard from the market and Sticky Pig barbecue sauce out of Centralia. I added a few potatoes around the edge and some better then bullion in the empty mustard jar with some water and poured that in. Should be good I expect.

I wanted to use up the mustard so I could use the jar for my Green Tomato Chutney project. Last night I thin sliced the tomatoes 2 yellow onions and three little red ones from the market. I coated them in 4 tsp of canning salt and let them sit. Today I brought to a boil maybe 10 oz of malt vinegar, 8 oz of apple cider vinegar and 2 oz of balsamic vinegar. I added less than half a bag of brown sugar and a bit less then a cup of local honey. When that was boiling I added half a container of roughly chopped raisins.

The recipe I’m using is English and all the directions are in metric and I didn’t really check how much stuff i have so I’ve been winging it a bit. I had to get up and add the pepper I forgot. I added about 3 teaspoons of fresh ground mixed pepper. The recipe called for white but that seems cosmetic. Now I’ve got to let that cook til the moisture is gone and it looks like chutney, then slop it into jars. I hope its good.

Been steering clear of the news. I’m not much into the graphic pictures of dead dictators. I did predict we would see Kadafi’s head on a pike. A little slower then I expected but the outcome is the same. Its not a good time to be a dictator. I expect more disruption as the world economy fits and coughs and limps along for the foreseeable future.

We also are pulling out of Iraq, apparently. What a mess. Quicker out then I thought. I guess Obama has to keep some of his promises. Can’t believe they gave that guy a Peace Prize. Better check the chutney. Coming along nicely, might be up later then I planned. I was optimistic about how long that was going to take, looks like its going to need to boil for a couple of hours.

I have the Horde to watch. French crime noir zombie flick, its gotta be good.

Categories: baseball, cooking, politics

an engaging world series of chutney debates

October 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Watching the world series and my brother is telling me about those big braided necklaces that so many players wear. He says they have bits of metal in them and baseball lore has it that it improves the game, “an ionic baseball stitch braided necklace”. Baseball is full of magic and superstition. I remember in my Magic, Witchcraft & Religion class in college we read a piece on baseball magic. The anthropologist compared baseball magic to Polynesian fishing magic. In the communities studied there was lagoon fishing and deep sea fishing. Lagoon fishing was pretty safe and relatively easy and had little ritual. Deep sea fishing was uncertain, dangerous and had a big pay off. Deep sea fishing had lots of taboos and ritual and magic tricks to guarantee safety and success. When you look at baseball players there is little ritual and superstition around fielding where percentage success is in the high 90s. But batting has lots of ritual and magic tricks when you’re 1 out of 4 or 1 out of 3 if you are a superstar.

Mostly I don’t care because my team is out. I could root for the Cards living in Missouri but I like the Texas Rangers. They’re just more of a ball team and less an assemblage of hard hitting free agents. I was actually more into the debates last night even though I don’t have a dog in that fight either. Overall I was pleased with the debate better then some of the past ones with less sound bytes and more real answers. Some of the sparking annoyed me. Tonight’s Tribune had the picture of Romney putting his hand on Perry’s shoulder which I used as an example of what not to do in a staff training I put on today. Unless you want someone to punch you in the nose.

I called it “the ethics of engagement” and it came off pretty well. I laid it out on a graph that I developed for another training with Bond Strength on one axis and Bond Integrity on the other. High Bond Strength and High Bond Integrity leads to engagement. Strong therapeutic alliance with your client but you’re still separate like two gears interlocked where we get that metaphor. Strong bond strength and low bond integrity leads to enmeshment, an unhealthy emotional attachment. High bond integrity low bond strength is what I call Arms Length Professionalism which is what I am afraid is taught out of fear of enmeshment. Low bond strength and integrity I call Case Failure, client drops out or is otherwise unsuccessful.

It was a nice framework to talk about how to engage and how not to enmesh. I also touched on transference and counter-transference and normalized those feelings and talked about their need to be managed not eliminated. It was a little draining though when 1/2 hour later I had an 1 1/2 group to do. three hours of presentations in quick succession wore me out.

It was my late day and in the AM I got out and got the stuff I need to make green tomato chutney. John talked me out of green tomato jam. The recipe looks good and being British got us started talking about the metric system. If it wasn’t for Reagan we would be using it. It made us wonder if the kids are learning it.

Categories: baseball, politics, work