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OftenBen  ·  67 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 16, 2018

No update of substance with regard to health. More testing has been scheduled after the treadmill stress test I took showed a drastic decrease in exercise capacity. Essentially as soon as I start moving I become anaerobic because blood isn't getting to all the bits it should. Another neck-needling cardiac procedure sometime soon, inner ear testing to check for/rule out true vertigo, a few other things.

I have a long time friend and mentor who got a heart transplant last year after almost fifty years of living with a condition almost identical to mine. Last week she found out her donors name, Brandy, and some more information about her. She left behind a sister and a teenage daughter, and they have tentatively begun to get to know one another. There is no standard model for contact between a donor family and an organ recipient, everyone seems to do things their own way, for better or worse. My friend is a strong, kind and deeply affectionate person. I hope that Brandy's family will take some comfort in knowing that their mother's, sister's passing accomplished some good, and allowed my friend to continue her work improving cardiac care across the country, across the globe.

Barring some massive development in artificial hearts in the next few years, this is the path I will be on. If you had asked me a year-ish ago if I would accept a donor organ, I would have told you no. I would have told you that there is a high demand for organs, and I have lived my life without much regret. I would have told you that someone younger than me deserved a chance at more years. I would have told you that someone older than me has obligations to dependents, and it would be unfair of me to take a heart when someone's parent might need it. I would have told you lots of things, most of it true-ish. But the real reason I didn't want one is because I truly didn't think that I was worth keeping around.

I have since been convinced otherwise.

    He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

In less dire news, my request to terminate my lease early because of foundation leaks/water damage was approved. We have a cute little house to move into at the end of the month, after it's had it's carpets cleaned, a few other odds and ends. For the first time in three years, I'm going to have a yard, a garden, and nobody smoking cigarettes outside my windows at all hours of the day and night.

Cheers Hubski.

OftenBen  ·  88 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Kleinbl00's Red Pill Reading List: Geopolitic

    You can't just leave it there, man!

Aight -

    What annoyed you?

Mostly how goddamn correct you ended up being. Our original discussion was around the difference between rebellion and mature subversion with regard to making a tangible difference in world events at historical scale. You made the point that with education in the practical history if the last century or so comes the knowledge that democratic processes didn't ever really amount to bupkis with regard to the course of events. Based on the reading list, that appears to be true. Decisions that mobilize troops, actors that conduct the covert and "covert" operations of international relations before, during and after wars are simply not affected by democratic processes. There simply isn't enough time to make decisions that way. I can't tell you how many times I have read and watched Charlie Wilson's War. It drives me to liquor almost every time.

    What surprised you?

How deeply personal history can be. To use the example of Charlie Wilson's War, who the fuck has ever heard of Gust Avrokatos or Mike Vickers? How did a few guys with grudges and bad personnel reviews and a coke-n-strippers habit basically bring about the end of the USSR and change all of global politics forever? How did they defeat the monster that Churchill warned about? I was surprised how divided every nation-state's government's seem to be with regard to international policy. It highlights the damage done to the state department by 45, because it takes decades to cultivate even shitty international relations, to say nothing of developing workable, non shitty, professional and respected ones.

    What made you think?

As much as I talk about the personal nature of history writ large, it's also deeply impersonal. The Russians don't really care about the average American, they want to not be the butt of dumb/poor/drunk/low-life-expectancy jokes. They want a strong domestic economy and they have a history of not playing nice which makes people not want to play nice with them. But Nobody who considers the US an enemy gives a damn about John and Jane Doe. They either have a legitimate grievance about something done without our knowledge or approval or they have a world philosophy that precludes peaceful coexistence.

    What made you want to not think?

How goddamn correct you ended up being. I, as an individual who has no intention of pursuing international politics or covert operations will have exactly zero impact on who decides to bomb who. The best i can hope for is to be a nonviolent actor personally and vote for an anti-war candidate if one ever comes along. Otherwise better to not think about such things except to study history and try to better whatever community I can find or scratch out of the dirt for myself. Bombs will fall or they won't, either way, I'm not a part of the process. Much as I want to take all human failing on my own shoulders, Mattis didn't check in with me before he launched several billion dollars worth of whoop ass at Syria.

    What changed about your worldview?

I take these things significantly less personally. I try to take Dan Carlin's 'Martian' perspective on world events. I'm more interested in the politics of my state and city than national and global events simply because they are more likely to affect me and my opinion of them has a snowball's chance of actually causing some change that might be helpful to the next generation. Hopefully we michiganders can get our asses in gear and save the great lakes from NESTLE and the petrochemical companies running leaky pipe under the Mackinac bridge. Think global act local has never made more sense to me.

    What stayed the same?

I'm still not gonna vote blue team just because. Lesser evilism is no more appealing to me now than in the past. Maybe the blue team will have its house in order the next time national elections roll around. I am not hopeful in this regard. I am reminded of Obama's analogy of the US and national policy as an ocean liner, and of the colossal force needed consistently to bring about a minor course correction. The whole business reinforces the little house on the prairie fantasies we have discussed and you have derided in the past. I don't get to opt out. In some clockwork orange ish way, I get to watch the whole thing unfold and I don't get to look away.

In short, I need to read more. For some reason, no matter how much I listen I still can't seem to get through Durant, even at 1.25x speed. I think I have 17 hours left on the first volume, we're currently discussing the origins and structure of Hinduism.

OftenBen  ·  90 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Kleinbl00's Red Pill Reading List: Geopolitic

Well, I just realized I finally finished this list.

OftenBen  ·  192 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 10, 2018

Ooops.

It's almost non-news to us, ha. Just formalizing something we both have felt and known for a while.

OftenBen  ·  342 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: If someone gives you a badge, can you then give it away?

You don't get to give away badges that your content has been given.

OftenBen  ·  529 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 8, 2017

Of the two full-time projects that pay my salary: One is wrapping up and while there is some ongoing data collection, it's done paying out. The other is closing enrollment and is reducing in scale of time commitment dramatically. If I pursued no other projects, I'd be down to part-time come April or so.

BUT

I have been pursuing other things, with vigor. One research study ends? I'll start my own! The pilot program is expected to launch in May, assuming no hiccoughs with IRB. If the pilot data validates my feasibility tool, we're going to be applying for a grant to make it a multi-site study, possibly international if I can leverage my contacts in Rio, Copenhagen, London and/or Rome. This job is reducing from full time? I'll apply for a new one, at the suggestion of my bosses and with their full backing. If I'm accepted, I'll be directing clinical research operations for all of pediatric cardiology. Feelin' like a super badass, gotta admit. The hard work is finally starting to pay off.

My robust pleasure source and I keep finding excuses to spend the night together.

'Your house is closer to the hospital!'

'Your apartment is closer to my appointment on saturday'

'I'm worried my heat is going to go out and you're really warm.'

She's meeting my friends in two weekends, we're taking a short trip across the state for a concert.

Friday night I'm performing Beethoven's 9th with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under the direction of one of their founders, Ivan Fischer. We've been working on it for months and my German diction has never sounded better.

Thank you all, for everything.

Small edit, I've also lost a ton of weight in the past 3 weeks with no change in diet or exercise. I ate pizza yesterday and stepped on the scale this morning and it read 167.

OftenBen  ·  697 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 24, 2016

Have a surgeon and a date picked for the neck-needling procedure, it will be after I come back from my conference next month. I should be more worried about the business end that winds up in my right ventricle but the actual procedure doesn't scare me. It's the 'getting the probe in' and the recovery that worry me. Unfortunately, I will be conscious for the procedure. How conscious exactly is hard to say, but the anesthesiologist seems content to err on the side of more drugs rather than less drugs in my case. To quote him 'If it were solely up to me I'd have everybody knocked out for this procedure. When you come up here for yours, given your history, I'll add a little dissociative to your cocktail and keep the ativan on hand in case it's not working like we anticipate.' So, conscious, but likely too zonked to really be aware of being conscious. Yay medical science. He was also very happy with my weight loss, evidently the difference between 225 and 185 is substantial, anesthetically speaking. It widens the margin between 'Enough drugs to make surgery possible' and 'overdose' by a lot.

Choir starts back up next week, and I'm super excited to get back into that pattern. I've missed the routine of rehearsal. We're doing Beethoven this fall, I think. A few collaboration concerts with the Detroit Symphony and possibly the Toledo Symphony again.

My date went swimmingly, we're going to get dinner sometime this week. It's nice to reaffirm that there are kind, intelligent women that I get along with, if nothing else comes of it. Still 'talking to' a few other women too, because that's just the reality of dating, but it feels dishonest to some degree. I'll probably just put the rest politely on hold until I get a better vibe for where things are heading.

I'm going to go to New Orleans for Halloween I decided. I'm going to roadtrip both ways, probably spend a night in Nashville on the way home. I'm going to try and see something spooky, visit the crypt of Marie Laveau, eat copious amounts of spicy food.

OftenBen  ·  1021 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How would you stop mass shootings?

As long as you have high levels of personal agency in a society you will have high potentials for violence. This whole debate is infuriating to me, because 'ban guns' is just playing whack a mole with the real issue which is 'How do you prevent individuals with antisocial tendencies from expressing them?'

Outlaw guns, we'll see a rise in the amount of bombings. And TONS of things can be made into pretty lethal explosive devices with very little know how.

Chlorine gas is toxic as hell and is made by infants on accident when they get into the cleaning supplies. We don't outlaw bleach, we keep it out of the hands of infants.

OftenBen  ·  1088 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Dear hubski, why are you proud of yourself?

Well, when I joined hubski I was only going to school half-time with terrible grades, pretty overwhelmingly depressed with all the fun that brings, and I was certain that even if I graduated I'd never get a job that would allow me to live independent from my parents.

Since then I've graduated, found meaningful full time employment that continues to pleasantly surprise me with perks. I got a pretty kick ass new apartment (For the area/my price range) and I'm slowly furnishing it myself. (Still need a dining table and a bed that doesn't need an air pump.) This is all pretty normal stuff, but for somebody who struggled for a long time to find a good argument against suicide, it's a big deal.

OftenBen  ·  1183 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Is LSD about to return to polite society?

I feel like something strange happened some time before I was born that goes beyond drugs/psychedelia. I look at pictures of Iran from the 60's and 70's, an iconic video taken at like 2am in a 7/11 in Orlando in 1987 of just people going about their random inebriated business, and how relaxed everyone seemed, how casually friendly they were. I look at all of this and I can't help but feel like as a species we missed something. Like we accidentally retarded our development at a key moment, and the past few decades have been playing catch up to where we were supposed to be. It might just be that I don't yet have kb levels of relevant geopolitical history, but I feel like the world stage that we inhabit now is somehow lesser than it was, lesser than it 'should be.' Maybe that's nonsense, but it's a fairly keen feeling I get from time to time.

OftenBen  ·  1215 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 25, 2015

Can it be both? Neither? (I'm doing my best to think outside of binaries, so the word 'or' has become a sign for me to pay attention)

OftenBen  ·  1243 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 25, 2015

No class today, because my favorite professor slipped on ice and broke her wrist. So, with no deadlines pressing, I sat down with some warm socks, a blanket, a big mug of tea and an excellent book. Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher, third in the series Codex Alera. I just finished it and damn do I hate book hangovers. I WANT MORE!

I'm getting authentic Lamb tikka and naan in a few hours with my special lady friend, and I'm terribly excited to see her. We haven't managed more than a few, admittedly long conversations over the phone since V-Day, with various prior arrangements keeping us engaged in our own stuff over this past weekend.

And I must apologize for my disposition lately, I pushed at the dark and it pushed back. So to all/any who took offense at my accusatory tone, I am genuinely sorry. When I write in that way, I hear it differently than it comes across. I can get myself so worked up I feel like a cornered animal and behave accordingly.

OftenBen  ·  1376 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What does it mean to forgive?

lil is wise, and gives sage council.

Personally I have struggled with self-hate for a long time. Then I was upset at myself for hating myself.

When I started being mindful, and when I started accepting, just a little bit, that I might actually be allowed to be loved, I started to forgive myself. It didn't happen quick, and I still have to work on being forgiving, but it is possible.

Now, when I make a mistake, forget an assignment for school, burn some food, spend too much money, etc. My first response isn't 'You idiot, how could you be so stupid!' or 'Greedy, weak willed bastard, how could you do that?' Well, it is sometimes, but less of the time than it used to. My first, and healthier response is instead 'You are just as human as anyone else. You are allowed to make mistakes. You wouldn't judge a loved one so harshly as you judge yourself, so why would you judge yourself that way?' and in recognizing that, also recognize that if there is a way to make right what was wrong, to do it, and happily.

The reason that I judged (And still judge) myself more harshly than I judged the mistakes of others, because I did not have the same love for myself that I did for others. I also hold myself to a higher standard than I hold others, but that's a separate issue.