Dark Night July 22nd, 2012
48 hours ago. I didn’t know anyone directly affected by the mass shooting in Aurora CO on July 20; 2 degrees of separation, weakly, yes, and I live less than an hour’s drive away. It leaves a mark though and so I will leave one here to remember it and some of the thoughts swirling in my head right now.
In the day following the shooting, I was curious whether anyone might have sixth-sensed this. I didn’t broadcast the question, but I asked a few close friends if they had any anomalous experiences beforehand. Generally, no they did not, though I did read later that a couple of other friends had strange feelings. I myself noticed only a few oddities: dreams I remembered and wrote down on waking the last 3 nights, choosing “dependent arising” as my gmail status earlier (for reasons nothing to do with the movie title The Dark Knight Arises). And while I’ve come to think of my Facebook news feed as a sort of crystal ball, I failed to ‘take a reading’ that day. I wonder if I would have noted something of significance in hindsight. While I cannot know this, I ran across someone else’s story that fascinates me. The story of one of the shooting victims, someone I did not know named Jessica Ghawi (aka Jessica Redfield).
Less than 2 months earlier, Jessica left a food court at a Toronto mall because of what she describes as an “odd feeling”, and minutes later a mass shooting ensued there which left 2 people dead. She devoted 1100 words to it in her blog. I wonder whether she had any odd feelings here in Colorado the night she died. I wonder whether she talked herself out of believing her strange feelings on June 2 were something beyond coincidence. I wonder this because I wonder it for myself; these feelings sometimes appear misleading and false and some people think I’m nuts for trusting in them. I never knew her but I wish I could ask. Her post sounds like something I might write. I can’t ask, and we probably won’t know.
Gun control. While I don’t think a ruling on this heated topic should be made based on an event like this, I’ve seriously and genuinely wondered what the situation would have been like if there had been gun-toting citizens there. There in a packed theater, 12:30 at night, dark, tear gas, gunman with 4 weapons and “dressed head-to-toe in protective tactical gear”, panic, confusion. My guess would be all the people with guns would shoot each other because of confusion over who the real shooter was. Maybe fewer unarmed people would have been shot. We probably can’t know.
Last time I was at Beta nightclub it was unbelievably packed (really now, Paul Oakenfold on a Saturday night is too big for Beta). Take the Aurora theater massacre, add drinking to the mix and everyone standing not sitting and then imagine a shooter. People would be trampled to death. (Remember Bali…) Hopefully we won’t know, or won’t know again.
Finally… against my mother’s wishes I saw a movie last night. In a theater. In Denver. At midnight. I’m still alive, why act like I’m not? Enjoy the gift that is the present.
41 Years, 59 Miles May 31st, 2011
Yesterday was my 41st birthday, so I biked 59 miles.
I got this crazy idea from my friend Burt, who, since turning 50, has set and followed a goal for himself: each birthday he runs 100 minus his age in years, in miles. So I thought, if he can do this as running, I will try it biking.I left at 9 am and got back around 3. I decided to head west to Boulder and then north to re-explore some country roads I used to enjoy when I’d bike from my former house in north Boulder. I saw approximately 64 cows, 33 horses, a dozen random unidentified farm animals, 11 rabbits, 43 prairie dogs, 8 squirrels, 2 dead snakes, 1 snake skin, 2 dead birds, 159 live birds/ducks/geese. Around halfway I found myself in Longmont debating about where to get lunch and just standing there I somehow managed to fall off my bike, getting sidewalk rash on my knee and injuring my middle finger. (I’m hoping it’s not broken, if it turns out it is then there’ll be one more bird to speak of…) Anyhow, this is called “making memories“; it was Memorial Day, after all. I added these fresh right-side ailments to my already bruised right foot (where I dropped something on it Saturday) and sore right wrist (fell hard on it snowboarding last week).
A description of this ride would not be complete without mentioning the weather. At the start of the day there was fog and a cool mugginess, which turned to general cloudiness with hints of sunshine. Then when I was enjoying the beautiful but unsheltered St. Vrain Greenway Trail southeast of Longmont, somehow it started hailing and raining. Pea-sized hail falling at 45 degree angles eventually results in one or two hitting your face and this stings a little. I was glad to have a helmet. Heading south from there on County Line Road I noticed a bank of clouds black as night to the east. The image of a man suspended on his bike in the Wizard of Oz briefly came to mind. But, then the sun came out. However, I wished the hail would come back when the 30 mph winds kicked up. This meant my last 8 miles were entirely uphill even on the downhill, being sandblasted and tossed around unpredictably. I was glad to have a helmet.
Typical Colorado weather? Probably. I do like the drama and variety… just not the wind!
In spite of little planning for this ride, I was at about 58 miles when I got back to my apartment so only had to do a little extra tooling around to reach 59. See my route.
I know what you’re thinking: this girl knows how to party on her birthday, huh?
Well, I do find life isn’t complete without both yin and yang. It so happened that someone I know was having a birthday party in the afternoon, at a stunning house in north Boulder with sweeping views, great food and drink, even a dancing violinist and various other activities. His birthday was actually last week but I thanked him graciously for having a party to celebrate. Then 2 of my good friends took me out to dinner + dessert for a bit more of a personal celebration. So I had an all-around great day!
Oh, and on my drive back home I added a coyote to my wildlife sightings.
Japan’s Devastation March 14th, 2011
Some headlines, facts, estimates and other phrases found online 4 days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Sad times. Help if you can. Be grateful for what you have.
- An 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami have crippled Japan
- USGS upgraded to 9.0-magnitude, occurred on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:46 PM at epicenter, 130 km (80 miles) E of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
- In pictures: Mounting shock
- The landscape of parts of Japan looks like the aftermath of World War Two
- at least 10,000 people are believed to have died
- “There was 30 minutes’ warning”
- the wave sheared house after house off at the foundation, leaving only concrete bases and wood floors scoured eerily spotless by the rushing water
- Japan Begins To Dig For Dead Amid Nuclear Crisis
- 2,000 Bodies Found On Miyagi Coast
- No one to rescue in Natori
- Japanese finding more tsunami victims; survivors face deprivation
- In Sendai, long lines of quiet desperation
- “I don’t know if it’s good that I survived”
- Body bags run short in ‘overwhelmed’ nation
- 300,000 homeless bed down without electricity
- Millions face a fourth night of fear following Friday’s quake, tsunami and resulting nuclear emergency
- Freezing temperatures are expected to exacerbate the hardships for Japan’s quake survivors
- The fuel rods in all three of the most troubled Japanese nuclear reactors appear to be melting
- A third explosion in four days rocked the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant
- Engineer: Nuclear Plant Not Designed To Withstand Quakes/Tsunamis
- 17 U.S. Military Personnel Test Positive For Radiation
- German Airline Screening Japanese Flights For Radiation
- Germany, Switzerland Suspend Nuclear Plant Approvals
- Japan accident dims odds of U.S. nuclear revival
- Ultimate impact of damage to Japan nuclear reactors still unknown
- Chernobyl Outcome Unlikely
- Risk of radiation reaching U.S. said to be remote
- According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there are no signs of fuel melting at Japan’s nuclear plant
- Fearmongers go into their own meltdown: ..the Western media’s obsession with what is happening there is seriously overblown and reveals more about us and our fears than it does about the reality on the ground in Japan.
- the most powerful measured seismic event in Japan’s history
- the fifth most powerful to hit the world in the past century
- more than 160 aftershocks in the first 24 hours — 141 measuring 5.0-magnitude or more
- preceded by a series of large foreshocks over the previous two days, 4 earthquakes greater than magnitude 6
- the quake caused a rift 19 miles below the sea floor that stretched about 250 miles long and 100 miles wide
tectonic plates slipped 59 feet (18 meters)
- coastlines moved up to 8 feet
- the quake also shifted the earth’s axis by 4 inches, shortened the day by 1.6 microseconds, and sank Japan downward (by about two feet?)
- some waves reached six miles (10 kilometers) inland
- 30-foot walls of water
- the tsunami’s waves necessitated life-saving evacuations as far away as Chile
Insomnia January 11th, 2011
I haven’t slept well since early October. I know a lot of people experience insomnia at some point in their lives and it can take different forms. My brand of it goes something like this: when I get tired, I can usually fall asleep, but I wake up within just a few hours, and then I can’t fall back asleep. There have been times I’ve woken up feeling fresh and like I’ve had a decent night’s sleep; then I looked at the clock and discovered that only an hour had passed. Other times, I’m just not tired until 2 or 3 am; then I sleep, only to wake up around 6 am. If I go to sleep at a reasonable hour, I usually wake up around 3 or 4 am. Once or twice a week I find I need a 3-hour afternoon nap, and if I can indulge in it I usually wake up at nightfall feeling refreshed, inspired and creative.
In spite of all this, I’m not as tired as I’d expect to be, and in general I feel more alert than I’ve felt in a long time. I drove 14 1/2 hours in one day on my recent vacation and felt great through all of it in spite of having had only a few hours’ sleep the night before. Maybe I’m just at a point in my life when I don’t need as much sleep?
I did worry earlier on about the REM sleep I must be missing, and what that might be doing to me. At one point just after Thanksgiving I did a pair of crazy things that I thought might help me sleep again. It didn’t turn out well and I realize I probably shouldn’t have done them, but strangely I don’t really regret those decisions… although I don’t like to think about whether I’d do them all over again. In any event, I think I was looking in the wrong place to find my sleep again. But then maybe I didn’t know the right place to look.
How to cure insomnia? Is there a cure for my insomnia? Perhaps not, maybe it just has to run its course. I suppose I could try drugs or work on improving my sleep hygiene like my doctor suggested. Truthfully, I’ve grown to like sleeping odd hours and not sleeping a whole lot, as I’m not a real big fan of routine. My professional situation doesn’t stand in the way of this right now, either; I’m not working, but I’m working on eventually working, in my own time… and I’ve found I kind of like doing something productive well into the wee hours of the night.
I suppose this sporadic sleeping can’t go on forever, though (nothing does; but, that’s another blog post). Perhaps it will just gradually resolve itself. Probably as soon as I do start working or otherwise wanting to be more productive, I will suddenly need lots of sleep again. Or I suppose I could try what my doctor told me. Maybe I will someday.
Resolutions and Laughter December 31st, 2010
Today is that day when many people set New Year’s resolutions. According to one study, about half of us make them, and only about a fifth of these people will succeed in keeping them.
I’m in the first half that doesn’t make resolutions. Not because I don’t have goals or I think that I can’t keep them, rather it just feels wrong to wait for a date that comes once a year to make important changes or affirmations.
Instead, I try to keep a list of things I want to do and a list of things I’ve done. After I had been doing this awhile, I realized there are a few things I should try to do every day:
- explore somewhere new
- learn something new
- meet someone new
I think the first one is the most important; not only is laughing personally fun, it can be positively infectious. I don’t feel like I did enough of it in the past few years, so I’ve been making up for lost time. In doing so, I realized that my laughter falls into certain categories. I’ve seen others describe laughter in as many as 16 stages, but I approach it a little differently and have come up with a more manageable 4 types:
- Normal Responsive Laughter – this is your basic situational laughter that comes from jokes, sitcoms, irony, mildly goofy friends, etc. It generally includes snickers, chuckles, cackles, etc.
- Giggling – this type originates more from a generally happy feeling within rather than from some external source. Just after Thanksgiving I was having a good day at Eldora with my cousin Mark and I found myself in this stage, giggling at my snowboarding foibles. (As an aside, I know I’m in a happy place when just saying the word “foibles” starts me to giggle.)
- Side-splitting / Pulling a Muscle – I considered grouping this one in with the next stage but it isn’t quite the same thing. It’s sort of an extreme on the Normal Responsive Laughter type, accompanied by a brief jolt of physical pain in the abdomen somewhere, but with no crying. Usually I have to rely on a good friend surprising me with something that should have been obvious for this one. Or possibly something from Urban Dictionary.
- In Tears – this is probably the orgasmic equivalent on the laughter scale. It happens infrequently for me (I’m talking about the laughter kind; the timing of the other kinds are none of your business). Like other orgasms, it’s best when shared. I remember a time in La Crosse with my friend Travis, heading down to the bars on 3rd Street one night, I don’t at all recall what was so funny, but for several minutes I was uncontrollably in tears.
Happy New Year everyone – make those resolutions if you have to, but don’t forget to laugh!
Your Fears Erased Here Daily December 20th, 2010
Neat idea, huh? A lot of people like the airing-your-fears-out-in-public aspect, but I thought it would work even better to do this on a whiteboard in my closet where no one else can see, ‘cause the worst fears are often far too embarrassing or personal to share.
So, a little over a week ago I started doing just that, and things were going along as expected. But a few days later, I found myself staring at it one night, and I couldn’t think of anything to write. Then again the following morning, I still couldn’t think of anything to write. I wasn’t sure if this had anything to do with just getting into the habit of putting this stuff down, but, it was a great feeling nonetheless.
I did eventually come up with something by nightfall, a healthy fear that I know I can actually do something about:
Since then I’ve recovered more fears, both the healthy and unhealthy kind (though I would argue that you need both to really be healthy), along with an (I think) irrational one that sort of came out of left field. I guess irrational ones can be useful too – it served as a reminder that maybe I should think more carefully about being so openly exuberant, lest I be misunderstood.
Anyway, I guess this means I’m back to normal now.
Making Memories December 17th, 2010
Little did I realize that Tracy’s idea of “snowshoeing” is trudging straight up the ski slope about halfway up the mountain. And fast, because we’re running a little bit behind.
Effortless for her, sure, but my lungs don’t adjust well to elevation when I live at 800 feet. Hence I don’t fare so well, gasping, sputtering, muttering, grumbling, cursing…
Somewhere during this drudgery she tells me to think of it this way: I won’t forget this, she is “making memories”.
How poignant. How true. I will never forget. How can I, when my lungs still have scars with her initials carved into them. And I am glad for that, because, yes, it is one of my fondest and most memorable memories. That’s the good stuff. Thanks, Tracy.
I think I’ll be a bit more prepared this time though, living at mile-high. So, you’ll have to find something else this time. Bring it on!!
Otherworldly Experiences December 14th, 2010
When I was in high school, a good friend of mine was Native American and lived on the nearby Lac Courte Oreilles reservation. She claimed her house had been built on an American Indian burial ground and was haunted. She had some stories of physical manifestations of these spirits, but I don’t remember all the details. While this sort of thing has always interested me, I don’t recall really thinking much of it, until one night. I was staying at her house, and we had just settled in in her room. I think I was on the floor, and she was in her bed. We were chatting on and off about things, not yet tired enough to sleep.
All of a sudden I had a very strange feeling, like someone else had just entered the room. But the door was closed and had not been opened. Before I really had any time to think about what it might be, Jennifer exclaimed: “Oh my God, they’re BACK!!”
Nothing manifested itself physically, and the strange feeling departed, but Jen did confirm that it was sensing the spirits or ghosts that caused her to make that remark.
If this was not a case of spiritual activity, the only other explanation that fits is that one of us read the other’s mind. Either of those things are unbelievable to most skeptics. I wonder what a skeptic would say if he/she experienced something like that.
I will always remember that moment as one of the most awesome experiences of my life. Not really very dramatic, I know; something like that would never make it into a TV show or movie. But it was very real and personal to me.
At other times in my life I’ve tried seeing if I could send or receive psychic energy (telepathy). With another childhood friend we tried a crude type of concentration exercise on each other using a deck of playing cards. I could not receive at all, getting almost none right, but she did get more than a few cards right when I tried sending / her receiving. I also took a class once when I lived in Greensboro, covering various phenomenon including past life regression, clairvoyance, etc. We did the card thing there too. Again, I was lousy. The instructor was very good though, getting most of the cards right. I suppose he could have found a way to “stack the deck”, so to speak, but, it seemed genuine.
Some things have happened to me lately, making me question whether I am sending and/or receiving telepathically. Maybe I spent too much time playing Spider solitaire this past summer and that had some sort of strange hypnotic effect. Or maybe I simply spent too much time in Boulder (maybe it’s good I moved to Lafayette, out on the plains a dozen miles away from that wonderful hippie town). But at least twice I think I have received. Maybe once I sent. I was trying not to; I was really just trying to be observant, thinking maybe I’d find an answer to a question, not influence anything. I’m not real sure, and I may never know.
In physics there is something called quantum entanglement (Einstein mockingly called it “spooky action at a distance”), and I wonder about whether it has anything to do with otherworldly phenomenon. (Actually… I just realized I’m not alone in thinking that.) In college I minored in physics but I only did well in it because I could do the math; I didn’t really care about or grasp what the theories were. Now, I can’t do the math, but I want to know more about the theories, because there’s actually some really intriguing stuff there. Around Halloween I picked up a book called Quantum Reality and read a few chapters, but I’m a procrastinating reader so it is now just gathering dust on my headboard. I’ll probably get back to it someday though, and give a report here.