Akien MacIain, Secret Agent Of Happiness

2017 01 06 Random Thoughts on The Outdoors
2017 01 06 Random Thoughts on The Outdoors

I was watching a Rick Steves' travel video last night, and it happened to be on the Camino de Santiago. The walkers talked about the reverence of being out in nature, which is cool. But there was something about the way one of them said it... Then they said something about many people not seeing this living in the city and all.

And I realized in that moment that this person was talking about themselves... That they had never spent any significant kind of time out in nature. That this experience of being out in nature was completely foreign to them. And by extension, there are other people like this too.

This was somehow a realization that struck me deeply. Growing up on the farm, all the camping trips I've been on, nature is just nature to me. I mean, yeah, it's awesome and all (and I mean that in the original definition of awesome), and sacred, but it's also ordinary. For me. But not for them. I just couldn't really conceive of that before that insight. Wow.

2017 01 02 - An Akien Random Thought on Education
This past election cycle had me spending a lot of time thinking about 'how to show them the error of their ways'. Me and about a zillion other people on both sides of the divide, I'm sure.

One of the more influential things I ran across during the election cycle was a vlog entry by Mike Rowe. He wrote about how he couldn't in good conscience advocate using his celebrity status to exhort others to get out and vote. His reasoning was that voting was a privilege not a duty. That electors (us) were expected to educate themselves on the issues and then vote what they saw to be in the best interest of everybody. That's how this country was designed from the get go. The idea left me very thoughtful.

One of the other things I ran across (in many places) was how folks on the liberal side would often not bother to vote. Another was how conservatives were more likely to vote just out of a sense of duty. Another was how on both sides, too many people didn't understand the issues, and were simply on the bandwagon of their particular media outlets. Also thoughtful making.

I suspect that for some of us (me for sure), we become less likely to vote when we're unsure of the outcome. The story I seem to have inherited from my culture says that liberals are, on the whole, more educated than conservatives. Now I have no idea if this is a causal relationship, but it does seem to me that if we're more educated, that we'd be more likely to see both sides of something, and so more likely to be unsure.

Don't get me wrong, the nutjobs on the left are just as bad as the nutjobs on the right, for any random definition of nutjob. Educated or not. More education won't completely fix that.

But whether there's a causal relationship or not, it's starting to seem to me that having all the electors more educated might be a thing. That what may be in the long term highest good would be for everybody to have their highest possible level of education provided by the state.

Now, I must admit, I come to this position from a place of being rather anti-formal education. I came to it via a few significant influences.

First, I grew up in a privileged culture… And in particular, ours was a blue collar household. When the CWA went on strike, my dad stopped going in to work, and instead drove me and my siblings nuts. The message was "just do your work, keep your head down, and everything will be OK".

Second, I saw my dad as successful. Many of my peers seem to have learned to think of success as meaning money. For me, it was about having a happy primary relationship. My folks relationship was not without its problems, but we kids mostly didn't see them. My folks seemed reasonably happy. The message was "this is the ideal I am supposed to strive for".

Third, during some key moment in my life, my dad said I'd never amount to anything without a college education. Now mind you, he didn't have one. And he was successful. And I was probably in a particularly rebellious phase. The message was "Oh yeah? I'll show YOU!"

Fourth, I was ADHD boy. I listened in class, did great on tests, completely forgot about homework. And so got poor grades. I was told I was really smart and could do anything. And pretty much, I seem to be able to figure out whatever you put in front of me eventually.

Related to that, I grew up in a region with a lot of high tech jobs, and at a time when demand for labor outstripped supply. And while I had some collage level classes with microcomputers, everything about what I do today, I taught myself.

The message became "Conventional school doesn't work for me, I can figure out whatever I need to". Which has been mostly true.

But more recently, I have spent the last couple of years watching most of the Crash Course videos, along with a host of other educational YouTube content… And basically started giving myself some start on the same kind of educational overview I would have gotten in school. And this learning has made many small differences in my everyday life. Things I already knew, but now knew in more depth. Things where the understanding of them has changed since I learned them. Things I never would have seen with the limited view of the world I got as a kid. Things I am much more empowered to do something about. Things I now recognize as things that should be questioned, rather than either simply accepted or simply rejected. And even a better idea of how to do that questioning, how to determine if a claim is true.

I still think education needs to be smarter than it was when I was a kid, and I think it's in a process of improvement.

So all of this leads me to believe that universal education to the highest possible level for each person is how we build the best electorate, the best culture. We humans are most powerful when we cooperate. We cooperate best when we understand each other.

2016 09 30 I remember...
I remember...

I remember watching you cry
as I slowly made love
to every inch of you
I asked you why
You said you didn't deserve it
I replied that touching you
was like playing music
Listening to the feelings I brought up
was the joy of listening to the music
That loving you
was as much a gift for me as for you
And we held each other

I remember... pragmatism
2016 09 07
I remember...

I remember when I finally figured out that pragmatism gave me an edge.

I had been told who I should be when I was a kid. Sometimes directly, sometimes very indirectly... In words, in media, everywhere. I learned that I was supposed to be a stable husband, I learned that I was supposed to always be productive, I was supposed to be honest, I was supposed to be smart, thoughtful, giving, strong, creative, i was supposed to be able to sing love songs to my partner, I was supposed to be able to figure out how to fix *anything*...

And I really have been those things sometimes. But it's also the case that the *requirement* to be those things made it harder to see when I wasn't being those. I couldn't easily own that I wasn't living up to those ideals. And the *habit* of hiding from those shortfalls made it hard to change them. If I was upset about not meeting those ideals, then all the jumping up and down which all that upset caused might make me feel like I would make a change, but mostly history wouldn't bear it out.

I learned that change comes from being able to accept where I am. With enough compassion that I can have the mental equilibrium to compassionately notice the failure, rehearse the new behavior, and pat myself on the head for doing the things required to build a new habit.

Being pragmatic, being willing to be connected to what is, made me more powerful to change was is to what I would like it to be.

2016 08 17 I remember… Habits for changing habits...
I remember…

I remember figuring out that there was a formula that I used when I successfully changed a habit. I don't even remember now what habit I was trying to change. :)

I realized tho that a couple of times in a row, I'd developed new habits like so:

1) Decide what the undesirable behavior is
2) Through introspection, figure out what need the behavior was trying to meet
3) Figure out something else I could do that would meet the need
4) Commit to myself that I'd do that new behavior, including rehearsing it in my head.

This was all well and good, but I kept not doing the new behavior. Sometimes it was because the new behavior didn't actually meet the need (which meant more introspection to identify that fact and to develop another alternative behavior)… But most often, it was because I was trying to learn something new, and I just hadn't habituated it yet. So…

5) Notice, after the fact, with compassion, that I hadn't done the thing.

The first time I did this systematically, it was like two weeks after the event that I realized I hadn't done the new thing.

6) Reward myself with an "attaboy" for noticing the failure.

It wasn't until much later that I realized how crucially important that step was to keep me going.

7) Commit once again to the new behavior, and rehearse it again.

What I noticed was that with each successive miss on performing the new behavior, the interval between the miss and my noticing the miss got shorter and shorter. Until eventually, I was able to notice in real time and make a conscious decision to do the new behavior.

This has been one of the two or three most important skills I've developed.

I remember... Habits...
2016 08 08
I remember...

I remember the first time I changed a habit deliberately. I was 19 I think, maybe 20. I had just locked my keys in the car a second time in six months. I decided I needed a physical habit, something I did every time I turned off the car. I decided to turn the key to off and remove it in one smooth motion. And as soon as I was out of the seat, I'd slide the key fob into my pocket.

A little while later, in response to the second or third time of leaving the lights on and running down the battery, I added reaching up with the other hand at the same time to make sure the headlight switch was pushed in, into the off position.

These aren't big habits by themselves. They saved me a little stress. I couldn't have known how big a role habits and the changing of habits would play in my life. These were the first deliberate habit changes as such that I remember.

For all the things I need to get better at, this pair of habits has served me very well indeed.

Some South African recipes from Chad

Dry Ice Ice Cream
I plan to make this:

This is also on my list of things to do...

This was originally noted as being "for beef", but turkey is also amazing with it.

Prepare at least a day before hand: Put ingredients into gallon ziplock bag. Put meat into bag. Seal bag. Slosh and shake until well mixed. Vent all the air from the bag. Put into freezer.

4 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten free)
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I use Fish Sauce)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (I use coconut aminos)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

And, depending on the shape of the cut(s) of meat, possibly a little water, just enough so there's marinade and/or plastic bag in contact with the entire surface.

3 to 4 hours before serving:

Beef: Put frozen bag into sous vide. Set to 120F. 15 mins before serving, remove from bag. Pat dry and coat lightly with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place onto broiler. Check every 5 mins until golden brown and delicious. Optionally turn over and repeat for other side. Serve. NOTE: Beef that cooked using a sous vide does not need to rest before serving.

Poultry: Put frozen bag into sous vide. Set to 145F. 15 mins before serving, remove from bag. Pat dry and coat lightly with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place onto broiler. Check every 5 mins until golden brown and delicious. Optionally turn over and repeat for other side. NOTE: It's recommended that poultry is cooked to 165F for safety, that is because 165F will kill everything in about 60 seconds. 145F also cooks to a safe temperature, if cooked at that temp for 35+ minutes. There's a curve of time and temperature. As you go up in temp, the time to kill everything is reduced. SOUS VIDE IS A VERY TIME INTENSIVE COOKING PROCESS. COOKING TO 145 IS SAFE WHEN COOKED FOR 3+ HOURS, AND WILL RESULT IN A MUCH MORE MOIST END PRODUCT.

Truffle Truffles
This is one I intend to make:

(no subject)
At the time, I thought I'd drifted away from LJ because everybody else had. In retrospect, I see I was actually drifting away before it became a ghost town. And here's why:

I remember…
First, a question: What do YOU remember about Harbin Hot Springs?

I remember the very first time I went to Harbin. No, scratch that. I have been to Harbin so many times I really have no recollection of the "first time". I know that Francesca Gentille took me there. I was still very shy about nudity at the time.

I remember camping in the meadow. I remember walking the trail to the pools. I remember someone having hung glow sticks on string all along the path. I remember watching a photo shoot at the creek at the edge of the meadow. Slender nude women with fairy wings. I remember wondering what was further up the road, but being told that was the residential area and not "open to the public". I remember many years later somebody telling me that was silly and it was fine to walk through there, just be respectful. I remember awe and wonder seeing so many parts of the place for the first time. I remember resenting the vegetarian rules in the kitchen, and always taking my own food prep stuff because of it.

I remember having sex in the warm pool, very, very quietly. I also remember one couple who got very noisy, and security came just as they disappeared from the pool and into the hot pool. I remember when it was allowed to chat very quietly in the warm pool, and I remember how they got so strict about silence eventually. I remember watching how the place grew and changed over time.

I remember Ancient Ways there… I remember Loving More there. I remember World Polyamory Association there. I remember, as a pleasant blur, so many moments there. I remember running the area at Ancient Ways that we coordinated with other parents so the kids could have a place to be, and the parents could take turns watching them.

I remember at Loving More, they created "families" at the beginning. Each morning, I was supposed to socialize with people I didn't know. Me, the introvert. Um, no. Forcing me into socializing is a non-starter for me. But it led me to start creating workshops. The first one was Poly For Introverts. I loved teaching there. Heck, I've loved teaching every chance I've ever had. I remember the conference center and how awesome it was to have warm pools we could actually chat in, like Harbin in the old days.

I remember the RV we owned for a while, and how it slipped it's brakes or something and we went rolling down the hill toward the creek (with us in it), but were stopped by rocks and branches. I remember someone coming to our aid and plugging a small hole that had been created in the gas tank with a bar of soap. I particularly remember the RV, not because of the crash, but because of the awesomeness of having our own complete kitchen.

I remember going back and forth between the hot and cold pools. I remember staying in the hot pool until I could feel my heart beating in my eyes. I remember how doing so seemed to completely kill off any infection I might have been having. A lingering cold or flu suddenly gone the morning after such a soak. I remember one winter, sitting in the warm pool, Dawn told me she was getting close to being ready to get out. So I left before her and went into the hot pool for that long. When I got out, I draped a towel around my shoulders, went and got my sandals, picked up my clothes in a bundle, and got ready to walk back to the meadow. Dawn was all dried off, and bundled up against the cold. I had steam coming off me until I got back to the meadow. Only then had I cooled enough to get dressed. That was such an awesome feeling.

I remember different walks along that path, sitting to watch the sunset, sunrise, the moon, or the moonless night. I remember walking up to the little meditation tea house on the hill above. I remember the mountain lodge and the school office.

I remember the first time I stayed in The Domes, they were sooo cool. I remember learning so much about myself up there. I remember getting the book on the history of Harbin. And learning how the place had burned before, more than once. I remember reading about and imagining the grandeur of the old hotel building.

I remember the love, the tantra, the massages, the sex, the hikes, the quiet contemplation. I remember Francesca, Dawn, Zoe, Leah…

I remember thinking that Harbin was for me what Burning Man is for many.

And I remember the fire. And how so many of us were communicating about it online. I remember reading speculation as to it having been destroyed, and then reading how it really had been.

And I remember thinking that with all this outpouring of sadness, support, and love, that it almost can't help but rise again. I will remember the fire one final time the next time I sit in the warm pool.

I remember…
I remember a Wil Wheaton blog entry ( ) linked to from Facebook that I ran across this morning. I remember how he talked about never being good enough for the voice in his head. I remember reading his description and how it sounded just like he was describing my experience of it.

I have at various times known as much about antidepressant drugs as anybody not actively in the forefront of the field. While it's better these days, in the past I have had the voice whisper how much easier it would be to just give up. I'm pretty certain that the only reason I'm still alive is because of Carlos Castaneda. In one of his books, the protagonist is "introduced to his best friend, Death" (despite the quotes, I'm paraphrasing). He is told that "whatever happens in life, you can look over your left shoulder, and Death will be there. And he will tell you that whatever has happened does not matter. That the only thing that matters is that he hasn't touched you yet". I have used my death in this way many times… Whenever the voice of depression grew too loud.

Wil's description let me see myself, my own struggle with the voice, in a new way. I can now see it from outside of myself. I can see how my dad played a key role in creating that voice. Specifically the part about never being able to be good enough. But that means it's my dad's voice, not my own. And that gives me a new weapon in dealing with it.

It's very clear to me that, while depression has roots in neurochemistry, it's also in part about habits of thought. Perhaps this will help me to identify when I'm playing my dad's tapes.

I remember…
This one is about something that happened to me yesterday. I was talking with a friend, and we were talking about how her child is growing up and has started to ask questions about sex, the way little kids do. And this friend told me she was torn about how much to tell, as she wanted to preserve the child's innocence for as long as possible.

Now that is something I've heard before, for my entire life really. I know that when I reached puberty, I had no idea what to do or how anything worked. I had an ongoing fantasy that an older woman would come to me and teach me about all this stuff. The discomforts of that, probably along with my time on the farm, left me with a very pragmatic approach to innocence. I am now firmly of the opinion that it's not our job to protect our children from the world, it's our job to train them to be ready to deal with the world. Train them in what they'll need to know as adults.

In my own home, with my kids, we were very open about the topic of sex. Some of that was related to our avocation of teaching in the poly world. Some of it was just being forthcoming and factual when they had questions. But by the time my youngest reached puberty, there were no mysteries about it for her. She knew about safer sex, and even safer sex agreements between people in open relationships.

Yesterday, I happened to call my daughter just to chat. While we were on the phone, I was reminded about the conversation I'd had earlier about innocence. So I explained to her about this conversation with my friend, and then asked her "Now that you're an adult, and have come out the other side of all that, how do you feel about having had sex be such a normal topic when you were younger?"

As well as I can remember, this is what she said: I wasn't upset by it at the time, and by the time I started having those feelings, I knew what they were. I knew about the difference between sex and love, I knew that the sense of infatuation was brain chemicals, and I knew how long they lasted. I knew how infatuation can become love over time. I watched my friends fumbling around with this, and they all wound up coming to me for answers. I knew enough not to make the same mistakes they were making. It really prepared me well, and I'm glad it worked out that way.

I was gobsmacked. I had long ago promised myself that just not beating my kids was "enough". That if I could do better than my dad did in that department, then I was a success as a parent, regardless of how deficient I might feel about specific things. And by that metric, I was a success. Sure, I wish I were more closely connected with my kids, but just doing better than my dad did was enough.

But this, this was like assuming I was getting a D in the class, only to find that I'd gotten an A.

It's worth noting that my daughter has been in the same polyamorous relationship with the same people over the entirety of her time in high school. They are still together.

I… Just… Wow. :)

I remember...
I remember meeting Sushi. Sushi was a female orange tabby cat, who's eyes were too small for her head, rendering her *mostly* blind.

My daughter had been invited to a birthday party for one of her friends. This party was held at the local animal shelter, and rather than bringing gifts for the child, we were encouraged to bring money or things to donate to the shelter.

So the kids were sitting at 3 tables more or less around the middle of the room. All the parents were sitting at a table in the corner. The plan was to bring in some of the animals, one at a time, for the kids to interact with.

They explained that the kids would be able to interact fairly freely with most of the animals, but because of Sushi's blindness, the kids were allowed to come only up two or three at a time to pet her.

Once the kids had all had a chance, the employee started to head out of the room, walking past the parent's table. I said "hey, what about us?". So she came over to our table, and as she was reiterating that we shouldn't handle the cat, the cat left her arms and settled onto my shoulders. She had clearly picked me.

She was a pretty friendly cat, though fiercely independent. And she was a fighter... I remember the house in San Leandro had a window in the upstairs bath that could open, but we couldn't put a screen on because of the design of the window. We opened it often because it was needed when the house got warm. A neighbor cat came in and Sushi came out ready for a fight, and chased the interloper out with much noise and gnashing of teeth.

Even when she fell ill, she was fighting to the very end.

I remember feeling like there was no way I could do what needed doing once she got to a place of suffering... But having grown up partially on a farm, I understood why it was necessary.

She will be remembered fondly.

I wish to remember...
Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed
be doing at that moment. -Robert Benchley

I remember…
This is a collection of small things that *mostly* don't seem to exist in my world anymore. Some of these I've already written at length about, some I may yet write more about. A few of them do still exist, which I didn't know about until I started creating this.

I remember power outages that would last an evening. I remember the monthly crafts by mail club. I remember Indian Guides. I remember playgrounds with black rubber mats and climbing bars made of steel and otherwise unprotected. I remember small kid-powered playground roundabouts where we'd try to get them going as fast as possible until there weren't enough kids still on it to keep up the speed (the others having been flung off). I remember drive-in movies and how we'd play at the playground (along with a whole lot of other kids and no parents) by the snackbar until the announcement that the movie was about to start. I remember the tinny speaker hanging on the car window. I remember drive-in restaurants. I remember playing marbles at school. I remember candy "cigarettes". I remember Dick and Jane. I remember chemistry sets. I remember iron-on decals for *everything*. I remember very tall metal slides. I remember the rocking horse with big, unprotected springs to hold it to it's frame. I remember spirograph and spin-art. I remember bead curtains. I remember poptop cans. I remember when most soda still came in bottles. I remember making things out of the poptops. I remember when beanbag chairs were a big deal. I remember metal lunchboxes. I remember drinking from the hose. I remember checkers made of wood. I remember Little Golden Books. I remember How and Why Wonder Books.

I remember "please allow six to eight weeks for delivery". I remember dime stores. I remember a candy bar for a nickel. I remember when society allowed parents to let their kids out into the street without an escort. I remember milk men (very vaguely). I remember ubiquitous boomerang pattern Formica. I remember ubiquitous cheap dark brown wooden paneling (*shudder*). I remember washing machines with wringers on the side. I remember when we knew our neighbors and looked out for each other. I remember when most boys had paper routes. I remember coke machines that were horizontal, like a chest freezer. I remember wooden clothespins without springs in them. I remember when microwave ovens were new. I remember Space Food Sticks. I remember TV dinners.

I remember not needing a reservation to go camping. I remember riding in the open back of a pickup truck. I remember the oil embargo of the 70s. I remember when some cars didn't even have seatbelts. I remember gas reaching $1. I remember when it was safe to leave your keys in your car. I remember when almost all cars had bench seats front and back.

I remember slide projectors. I remember when TVs had to warm up. I remember our black and white TV. I remember stores that sold nothing but TVs. I remember console TVs. I remember TV repair men. I remember when they actually came to your house. I remember vacuum tube testing machines at the local store. I remember everybody watching TV together as a family. I remember when network TV news prided themselves on really doing their best to do objective reporting. I remember when Pong was new. I remember the introduction of the first home reel to reel video recorders (before Betamax & VHS, which I also remember). I remember 2 competing video disk technologies, both of which passed away. I remember TV before cable. I remember The Perfect 36 (TV station) and it's mascot, Carol Doda.

I remember records (yeah, I know they still exist, but they're a niche thing now). I remember 45s. I remember Close-And-Play. I remember cassettes. I remember when there were still 8 track tapes. I remember my old reel-to-reel tape recorder with the cat's eye level meter. I remember console stereos made of walnut with great craftsmanship. I remember the very first CD Walkman (big, bulky thing). I remember wind up phonographs, tho they were not common (my grandfather had an Edison disk player from 1897). I remember K-Tel commercials. I remember when Hi-Fi was the thing. I remember my dad's records, and the ones that made a big deal of being in stereo.

I remember telegrams. I remember dial telephones. I remember when most telephones were black desktop models. I remember party lines. I remember when direct dial was a pretty recent thing. I remember crossbar switching. I remember calling popcorn. I remember when the trimline phone was new. I remember when making a call on your wrist was limited to comic strips. I remember when a long distance call was a really big deal. I remember when CB was a big deal.

I remember parades were a lot more common. I remember all the Apollo flights and the moon landings. I remember Nixon being thrown out. I remember protests against the war in Viet Nam. I remember when all the textbooks at school said Lyndon B. Johnson was president, even tho that wasn't the case anymore.

I remember slide rules. I remember typewriters. I remember ditto machines. I remember laying out the school paper with razor blades and paste. I remember mom's first digital calculator (a Sharp with a tiny LED display, and that worked in RPN). I remember movies in school that predicted ubiquitous computers, video calling and instant access to information. I remember how it felt like science fiction. (And I have gotten to play a very small part in making that happen *woo hoo*!) I remember flashbulbs and flashcubes. I remember "brownie" and Super-8 cameras. I remember when the first LED digital watches (yes, LED not LCD) were a new and expensive thing. I remember rolodexes. I remember using the Atari 400, Atari 800, Heathkit H9, Commodore PET 2001, Sinclare ZX80, PDP-8, Wang VS 100, Apple ][, Apple ///, Apple Lisa, Commodore Vic 20, Commodore 64, Victor 9000, IBM PC 5150, IBM PC AT 5170, Compaq I, Amiga 1000, Apple Macintosh (the first one), and a host of later PC and Mac derivities

I remember when pretty much everybody smoked and there were ashtrays everywhere. I remember "safety razors". I remember when everybody wanted a nice tan. I remember leisure suits. I remember mercurochrome. I remember disco. I remember click-clacks. I remember when breaking a limb at school was part of what happened, not grounds for a lawsuit.

I remember Ultra Man, Howdy Doody, Laugh-In, Hogan's Heroes, Mister Rogers (when he was still young), The Courtship of Eddie's Father, The Beverly Hillbillies, My Favorite Martian, Lost In Space, I Dream Of Jeannie, Mister Ed, Green Acres, The Flying Nun, Batman, Bewtiched, The Newlywed Game, The Brady Bunch, Star Trek, The Munsters, The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple, M*A*S*H, All In The Family, Maude, Sanford & Son, Emergency!, Dragnet, Adam-12, Three's Company, Barney Miller, One Day At A Time, Baretta, Mayr Tyler Moore, Lou Grant, Welcome Back Kotter, Alice, WKRP In Cincinatti, The Jeffersons, The Love Boat, Quincy, M.E., Benson, The Incredible Hulk, Six-Million Dollar Man, The Monkees, Sonny & Cher, S-W-A-T, The Waltons, The Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson, Chico & The Man, Good Times, The Carol Burnette Show, The Bob Newhart Show, The Archie Comedy Hour, Captain Kangaroo, Superman in black and white, Batman, The Banana Splits Show, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, The Pink Panther Show, Wacky Races, Penelope Pitstop, Yogi Bear, The Thubderbirds, Kimba, Flintstones, Stingray, Top Cat, Underdog, Woody Woodpecker, Flipper, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Mister Magoo, Dark Shadows, and a host of others. I remember a bunch of entertainment options that it would no longer be politically correct to even mention.

I remember…
This is a composite memory. I remember that nothing I did was ever good enough. I was never good enough. I had to hide that I wasn't good enough. I remember working on projects, and dad would come over and tell me I wasn't doing it right, and here let me show you… And then it wasn't my project anymore. This happened so many times I remember being a still pretty small kid and asking dad why I couldn't work on my own projects. I think he relented some after that.

But I've carried not good enough ever since then. I had to succeed at everything, or the place I had in the lives of those around me would be taken away. At various times, I've talked about this in different ways, but it comes down to the same belief. Most of my jealousy came from that.

When Gene passed, I could see how much his passing effected a lot of people, including people who hadn't seen him for years. Now I've started to see how that's true for me too. And as I think about it, through the coaching work I've done, both with Dawn and on my own, I know that work has deeply touched many lives. Through SoundFit, I've come to have a clearer perspective on what I bring to my workplace as well.

Maybe I don't have to keep losing out. :)

I remember...
I remember Eugene Rominger​'s memorial. I remember the old faces and the new. I remember that the remembering was lighthearted and joyful for the most part. I remember Anthony Adragna​'s stories about explosions. I remember Robert J. Stear​ telling me later that it had drawn out memories for him that he'd completely forgotten about. I remember hearing about how Alex Medeiros's career in computers got started, and I felt really good for him. I remember Bear Thesmith was there, and that made me glad.

I also remember deciding that the lead up to this event was decent grounds to clean all the things, since we hadn't really done spring cleaning yet. I remember not figuring out how to successfully make the churros cookies until a couple of days after the event (the secret is to use a cake decorating bit to squeeze them out onto baking parchment sitting on top of dry ice. Then as soon as they're solid, getting them into the hot oil).

I also remember realizing that despite what a recluse he was in many ways, that all these people spent the time and energy to come to this. And it put my own poor sense of value into a new perspective.

I am grateful for this memory. And for all the folks who could make it.

I remember…
I remember when Gene died, it left me very busy… I had a bunch of things to take care of related to the memorial, I had a lot of processing to do (which I did online), and I allowed all this busy to get in the way of my I remembers. I remember thinking of countless things I thought I should remember to put down. I remember that part of why was because with Gene's passing, all the things in my life suddenly seemed more urgent.

I am contemplative thinking on this memory. I think I lost sight, with all the feedback from others, that I was doing this for me.

Sam's Turkey Patty Recipie
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 onion, caramelized
1/2 to 1 tsp poultry seasoning (erring to the high side of that)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika

mix. squish into patties. cook in hot pan. maybe with a little oil. eat. say "Aaahhhh..." :)

I remember...
I remember...

I remember my mom had a subscription to the Fad of the month club... Or the National Handcrafts Institute... Or the National Handcrafts Society. Was all the same thing. She got packages every month, and I don't remember most of them. The web doesn't have much on this, I've found the ones I could.

I remember my folks getting me a subscription for a while. I remember using the parts to one of the projects to create a game... Mostly it was a game in my own head. My brother told mom I wouldn't let him play too, and she told me I had to let him. Let him play inside my head... Nope, couldn't figure that out. So I tried to invent something based on the same set of ideas. He grew bored right quick. But by then, I'd lost whatever it was I had going on before he joined me.

I remember playing with some of mom's projects when we were kids... We weren't supposed to. We of course broke them. Was probably one of the earlier times of me getting hit by my dad, and one of the earlier times of me starting to see the world as fixable. When things broke, we could fix them. Not all the time, but most of the time.

That lesson about fixing things still drives my life today.

I like this memory.

Here are some of the images:

Moroccan Lamb Stew
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped dried dates

3 lb. ground lamb
2 1⁄2 cups lamb stock

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄4 tsp. saffron threads
1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Chop all things needing chopping

Carmelize the onions and set aside.

Cook lamb in skillet (oil if needed). Remove from pan and set aside covered to keep the heat.

Deglaze skillet with stock

Add carrots. Cook the carrots to just barely soft while cooking down the stock

Add remaining ingredients

Cook until parsley is tender and everything else is nicely mixed and warm (in case the set aside items cooled)


Asian Ground Meat, Pepper and Onion Saute
1 lb lean ground meat of your choice
3 cups bell peppers, chopped (I used a combination of red, yellow & green)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh gingerroot, minced
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup animal (bef/chicken/lamb/etc) stock
3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste
1⁄4 cup water

In a large skillet, over over medium heat, cook and stir the ground meat until evenly browned. Drain and set aside.

Add the peppers, onion, garlic and ginger.

Season with parsley, red pepper, and salt.

Cook and stir until tender.

Return the meat to the skillet.

In a small bowl, mix together the stock, soy sauce, and chile paste.

Cook until heated through and sauce comes to a boil.

Cook down by half, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened.


I have learned…
Probably one of the most important lessons I have learned is that my best relationships are the ones where I allow the other person to simply be who they are… And I choose how close I can comfortably be to that. How close I can comfortably be is a moment to moment thing.

I've been in relationships where I wanted the other person to be different than who they were being. Like agreeing to an open relationship, then getting jealous, and trying to make agreements to limit their behavior in some way. Or remaining in a relationship where I felt judged by the other person, and trying to find some magical tool that could make it all better.

When I do that, I'm saying "I love you! But if you'd just be somebody other than who you are, I'd love you!" Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

This doesn't mean my partners and I don't challenge one another to be better. Leah's been exercising a lot and I do strive to keep up. But that's my choice, not a requirement of hers.

I am grateful for this learning.

I remember...
I remember we painted rooms at Dawn's house. I remember that night talking about you having a job interview or something the next day. I remember realizing you painted in your good shoes and now the black shoes were covered in a starfield of little white spots. I remember that there wasn't going to be time before the interview to get new shoes. I remember telling you to give them to me, I went and got a Sharpie, and for the next I have no idea how long, I colored those dots one by one until they were all covered up. The other side of ADD is hyperfocus, and it sure came in handy. And you had black shoes to wear to your interview.

This is an amusing memory.

The Status Of The Thumb
Now that it's scabbed over, it doesn't look anywhere near as bad as the open wound led me to believe.
Click here to see the scabCollapse )

Injured Hand
I injured my left thumb on 5/17. This is a record of it's progress.
Click only if you really wanna see the injury...Collapse )

I remember…
I Remember has usually been about incidents, occasionally about incidents and people, but mostly about snapshots I remember.

The death of my friend has left me aware that I wish I'd said all the things to him that I said after he was gone. Mind you, he did know the place he held in my heart. Nothing I've said would have *surprised* him. But I am left with a mild regret.

And it's one I don't have to repeat. So beginning today, I'll be trying to detail some of who people have been for me, before they're gone. These take a long time to write, so they'll come alone rarely.

Thanks for reading…

I remember…

I remember David Shultz.

I remember meeting you in high school. Meeting in the Drama Class. I remember quite accidently spelling your name right on the first try and you commenting on how most people got it wrong. I remember your bedroom *before* the San Ramon house, and the Led Zepplin poster on the wall. I remember chatting with you all through your drafting classes. I remember talking about the maglev train you wanted to help create.

For the longest time, my world revolved around you. You seemed so certain of where you were going, and not having anywhere to go myself, that was so seductive. We were constantly plotting this or that. You became my best friend. I remember the bookstore, and how we'd hang out with Sharon. I remember cooking pepper steak in your kitchen, and you being surprised that you liked it because it had onions in it. I remember taking amusement at the sound of bottles being crushed in the trash compactor as we cleaned up after one or the other of your other parties. I remember how we spent time with Dale Ross, the physics wiz who was astounded when we used a lever to lift his car. I remember working with you on plays, and the school dances. I remember we even had a small clump of double dates when we were both chasing different women. I remember jumping from your car as you drove away from my house… I remember jumping onto your car as you drove by, and climbing in at a number of places. I remember countless hours just hanging out, driving here or there, listening to Queen, Styx, ELO… I remember going to a Styx concert… Was it in Berkeley? It was my first concert. I remember hanging out with Laura Finco and her girlfriend (who's name now escapes me). I remember the time the 4 of us were driving across the bay bridge and they were signing at each other, and Laura made some comment about the angle not being good so she couldn't hear her. And we all laughed at that.

I remember you loaning me Richard Bach's book "Illusions". I don't know to what degree you're aware of it, but that book profoundly changed my life. That book gave me a new set of ideas about how the world works. That book made me see what religion really meant *to me*, and allowed me to see that my religion was not my folk's Christianity. That book got me through so many difficult times. In fact, it's only now, as I write this, that I realize that the most important lesson I got from that book was that there are alternatives to learned helplessness.

I remember going to college. I remember hanging around with you and Judy Cope, Mike Delgado, and yet another host of additional folks. I remember we sat the same tables at the same times of day. I remember you organizing a trip to Wrath of Kahn in the theaters, and how I connected with Judy there. I remember you taking a swing at me because I'd made a connection with somebody you were interested in. I think it was Judy? Or was it Clovis? Doesn't matter. I think I remember that it wound up eventually creating more connection, not less. Though it took a while before it was even clear to me why you'd taken a swing at me.

I remember the clipboard computer we noodled about building, that shows up in the tablets of today. The clip was really unnecessary, clearly.

I remember designing worlds for role playing games. I remember learning Trillian Credit Squadron from you. And how we went to a con where there was going to be a tournament, but we arrived too late. I later played the winning ships from that con against our "jump-shuttle enabled" fleet, and we won easily, but that was after the tournament was over. I remember role playing games with David Ebling, his wife Janet, Ron Tolvar, and small host of others.

I remember you introduced me to Clovis Carleton. She enabled me to take what I'd learned from Illusions and remake my life with it. It was one of the most important romantic relationships in my life.

I remember at Faire, when you led a parade and yelled "make ye way for a bunch of drunken Scots!" And then got into an argument with a tree because it wouldn't get out of the way.

I remember working in Livermore and hanging out with you, Phil Rostonovitch, Eugene Rominger, Josh Scholar, Frank Fuller, Jack Thornton, Ken Rose, Scott Emery and a host of others. I remember swordfighting for practice in the parking lot outside of SofTalent. I remember exploring the coastal defense batteries with you and those folks. I remember knife throwing practice in the office.

I remember you beginning to delve into paganism, and how for a time, that created yet more overlap for us. I remember the Tuesday Group… I remember holding rituals in Tilden, at the costal defense batteries, so many places. I remember how as part of the Tuesday Group you officiated at my wedding to Dawn Davidson. Black robe, white overmantle, and the green circular tree ornament that Gene created for you to wear.

I remember one encounter where I was intoxicated and so not at my best… You turned to Dawn and said something to the effect of "is this really what you want?" I don't think I ever said anything, but I was so angry at you for that.

I remember that after that, we drifted apart somewhat. You took a place sharing a house with Clovis and a few others. I remember you drifting to a different part of the pagan world too.

I remember that a small part of why we drifted apart was because of increasing resentment over my getting excited and invested in your ideas, but then you seemed to grow disinterested. Planus Interruptus. It left me feeling like following you wasn't ever going to get me anywhere. I remember many years later when we talked about this, and got it talked through. I am really glad of that.

I remember year after year seeing you organizing things for Pantheacon. It seemed like you'd really found a good niche. I remember hearing that you and Angela Carlson were attached. It made my heart glad for the both of you.

I remember helping you with a last load on your move into a place that apparently you spent longer in than any other up to that point. 15 years by the time Gene passed.

I remember you and I chatting after Gene's passing. I remember realizing only then that you might be ADD too. I remember you being kind of amazed at the 3D Scanner I'd designed. I remember being impressed with your working as a minister to folks in prison. I also remembered a lot of times where I'd been your minister. I really, really liked remembering that. I hope you did eventually listen to the tapes I gave you of Richard Bach reading Illusions.

I am grateful you've been in my life.

Sam's Chocolate Evil
Chocolate Evil
(yield: about 1 quart)

1 12oz bag of dark chocolate chips (I recommend high-quality, like Guittard, at least 60% cacao)
12oz heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
pinch of salt

Put the chocolate chips and heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat, until the chips are all soft and you can stir it into a smooth ganache. Set it aside to cool to body temperature. (Alternately, heat it in a bowl over boiling water, it takes about the same amount of time.) Add the vanilla once the chocolate is cool enough to touch.

Heat the sugar, water, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to boil for two minutes. While that is boiling, beat the egg whites with a mixer until they form soft peaks. (If they're slow, you can turn the syrup off and let it stand while you finish off the egg whites.)

Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the sugar syrup in a thin, steady stream near the edge of the bowl (hitting the whisk makes for a mess). The whites will double in volume. Keep the mixer on medium until the whites cool to body temperature, about five minutes. Turn off the mixer.

By this time the ganache should be between body temperature and room temperature. With a rubber spatula, fold the ganache gently into the egg white mixture. Be sure to get the edges and bottom of the bowl. Pour it into containers (I recommend plastic ziploc trays or screw-top widemouth storage containers) and place in the freezer. Chill for at least five hours. Serve sparingly, it's very rich.

Keto Chocolate & Pecan Cookies
Ingredients (makes 60 cookies):

4 large eggs, free-range or organic
¾ cup extra virgin coconut oil (160g / 5.8 oz), add ¼ cup if too dry (total 220g / 7.7 oz)
¾ cup Xylitol (80g / 2.8 oz)
½ cup raw cacao powder (40g / 1.5 oz)
1 cup fine coconut flour (120g / 4.2 oz)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 bar dark 85% chocolate (100g / 3.5 oz)
60 halves pecan nuts (90g / 3.2 oz)

Note: When looking for ingredients, try to get them in their most natural form (organic, without unnecessary additives).


Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with melted coconut oil. Add Erythritol and stevia and mix in well. Erythritol doesn't dissolve unless heated. For best results, powder it first.

Note: To boost the flavour, you can use chocolate or cinnamon flavoured stevia or add a tablespoon of natural sugar-free chocolate extract.

Add cinnamon and cocoa powder.

Mix in well using a whisk.

Add the coconut flour and process well.
Note: Sifting the coconut flour through a strainer will help you avoid hard lumps from getting into the pastry.

Place the dough into a plastic foil and in the fridge to harden for at least 1 hour.

After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F. Using the foil or two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough out until it's about ¼ inch / ½ cm thick.

Use a cookie cutter to create your shapes. I used a 2 inch / 5 cm cookie cutter.

Place the cookies on a baking dish lined with parchment paper leaving little gaps between each cookie. Roll the remaining dough and repeat until all the dough is used up.

Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and let them cool down. Make sure that the they are completely cool before you add the chocolate topping.
Note: Coconut flour tends to burn faster than regular wheat four. Keep an eye on the cookies to prevent burning!

Melt the chocolate in a water bath. Using a small ¼ tsp measuring spoon, pour the chocolate on top and press the pecan halve in. If you have any chocolate left, just spoon it on top of the pecan halves.

Transfer to a serving plate when the chocolate is completely solid.

Why try soaking nuts - Some people have digestive issues when eating nuts. It's actually not that rare. However, it's not always caused by an allergy and they don't have to stop eating them. There are "anti-nutrients" such as lectins, phytates and enzyme inhibitors that seem to be the reason for many people having digestive issues when eating raw nuts. While roasting helps to reduce the "anti-nutrients", soaking the nuts first is even more effective.

Soaking and dehydrating not only makes nuts deliciously crispy, but their nutrients are better digested and absorbed by your body.

Pecan nuts need to soak for at least 6-8 hours, cashew nuts 6 hours and hard nuts like hazelnuts or almonds 8-12 hours.

Simply place them in a bowl, cover with water and leave them to soak overnight. Drain and spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dehydrate at 55-65 C / 150 F for 12-24 hours, turning them occasionally, until completely dry. When done, store in an airtight container.

Original recipe:

Tuna Carpaccio?
When is it a carpaccio and when is it a cerviche? I don't know. This one was originally a salmon carpaccio, but given it's acid content, it does the same chemical cooking that a cerviche does.

~2lb fresh tuna (fresh frozen is fine)
2 lemons
2 tbsp chopped dill
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp capers, drained and dried
baby spinach leaves to serve

Rinse and dry the fiah, then wrap in cling film and freeze for 1 hr to make slicing easier. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest from one lemon and squeeze the juice from both. Mix in a bowl with the dill, shallots, sugar and 1 tsp sea salt.

Add the olive oil and whisk to amalgamate.

Unwrap the fish and set on a large chopping board. Cut wafer-thin slices on the diagonal, as you would smoked salmon. Arrange a layer of the fish over a large shallow dish, then spoon over a little of the marinade – spreading it to evenly coat the fish. Continue slicing and layering, finishing with a layer of marinade. Cover with cling film, directly over the fish, and chill for at least 2 hrs or overnight.

To serve, arrange the salmon slices over a platter and scatter over the capers and some salad leaves.

Adapted from:

I remember…
I remember John O' Groats, the northeast corner of Scotland. I remember we arrived when everything had closed up. Knowing the importance the point had once had, I expected more. A museum or something. We continued up the road.

I remember driving the northern coast road and there still being traces of sunlight reflected in the sky past 9PM. It gave me a moment of wonder.

I remember the little B&B, which I haven't been able to find the location of. Gills, maybe? Thurso? Not sure. Run by that older couple who welcomed us in and were so concerned over our wellbeing after the accident. They apologized for dinner having been put away, but they'd be happy to make us some sandwiches? And then we had to tell the story again, at their behest, to the rest of the guests. They all laughed at the cop's "Next time, get a MAP!".

I remember the Castle of Mey. I hadn't really thought before that about the connection between modern British Royalty and the… Well, the dirt. All the agricultural things that happen out in the hinterlands that they connect very directly to. I was impressed.

I remember RSPB Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of mainland Britain. I remember stopping well before the lighthouse at this tiny little building that was the Tourist Office, the Post Office, a Tea Shop, and three or 4 other things, all in this tiny building that was only manned a few hours each week. I remember stopping by the lighthouse and reading all the plaques they had there. I remember driving around in the area on the inland side of the lighthouse, right there at the edge of the coast. I remember abandoned pillboxes and other concrete buildings from WWII, now just shells. I think there were one or two plaques there too. The whole area was open, empty, desolate, and rich in history and hospitality.

I think I remember staying a couple of days in Thurso… Tho I may be mixing up Thurso and Gills in the mists of time. I remember very clearly staying a couple of days, and having a window that looked out onto the bay. I remember the window was the first one I'd seen that could open at 3 different angles. And I remember the view onto the bay.

I remember countless small stops along the way at places that had tourist places with history and gifts, some made in Scotland, some in China. They've all kind of blurred together in my memory. How many different boot knives can really distinguish themselves before they blur together, eh? Scraps of tartan? Cute little signs with this or that witty saying about Scotland? Is there any part of the world that doesn't have that at this point (with it's own local bent, of course)?

I remember Smoo Cave. I think the name was nearly as amusing as the location. I remember the cave itself was pretty neat, with dramatic lighting and a tour on a boat. I remember learning all about the geology that created it and the history of the site. None of which I have retained through the passage of time.

I remember Durness, and how we found little internet booths we could use (rent maybe?) and catching up on some email with the kids. I remember you shopping at the crafts booth and finding something or other for Victoria… And seeing more things that would also would have been neat, but we didn't have the room.

I remember wanting to see Point Wrath, but it was only accessible via scheduled tour bus and we'd missed the last one. I remember we couldn't drive out there ourselves because it was MoD property, and used for training and testing on munitions.

I remember…
I remember thinking over and over about how I wanted to share something with you, only to remember a split second later that you weren't here any more.

This is a sad memory

I remember…
I remember sitting in the bathtub. I remember you, sitting in the red corduroy dress, and you were complaining at me about something, I have no idea what it was. Perhaps you were saying you were bored. I hay have asked you to remove your shoes, I'm not sure about that. I remember standing up in the bath, steeping out with one foot, picking you up, and lowering you into the bath with me, dress and all. I remember you being shocked, but eventually amused.

I really like this memory

I have learned…
I have struggled with depression since I was a kid, though I didn't realize I was even having difficulty until I was in my teens. And even then, I wouldn't have called it depression.

I think my mom struggled too… She had a job outside the home for a few years, but eventually she "had a nervous breakdown", which of course can mean just about anything.

I didn't think of it as depression until I was in my late 20s or early 30s. I've tried many of the available meds, and the sexual side effects most of them had drove me away from that.

Dealing with this my whole life, I've thought of suicide an awful lot of times.

When I was in my early 20s, I read a book by Carlos Castaneda in which one of the characters is "introduced to his death". His teacher tells him death will be his best friend. That no matter what else happens to him, he can look over his left shoulder at his death, and death will tell you "It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I haven't touched you yet".

This has been very powerful for me. The way it's expressed itself in my life has been that no matter how bad things have gotten, I've been able to say "well, if it gets worse, and I can't stand it any more, THEN I can do myself in". And even when it's gotten worse, this has enabled me to keep standing up to it. My death really has become a friend.

Dealing with Gene's death has cast a different light on this. Even though I didn't have to "clean up the immediate mess", I am still cleaning up messes. Messes in my own head. Dealing with the Gene shaped hole within me.

I know he didn't think anybody would really miss him that much. I *might* be the person most deeply affected.

But I think I've learned that me doing what he has done would have much more far reaching implications than I'd ever imagined before.

I remember…
I remember feeling cut off. Like I didn't know how to connect.

I remember being very young and walking around the perimeter of the yard at school, because I didn't seem to know how to fit in with the others.

I remember being a little older and looking at the girls at school in their dittos. They really did drive me to distraction. I remember being fascinated by the front abdominal curve that the high waisted and tight fitting jeans afforded. And I remember feeling cut off from being able to connect with those girls. I remember it was very painful.

Even later, I remember sex parties. I remember one of the early ones I went to, many years ago. I was so excited to be invited. And not only that, I was going to give an "opening ritual" that I'd written specifically for the event. I remember that as we were prepping, we discovered that I was having a herpes outbreak. I remember going from being excited to being appalled. I remember thinking that if I went, it was going to be like a starving man at a buffet but prevented from actually getting to the food. We made an agreement that we'd leave after the opening ritual, and spend time just the two of us.

I remember delivering the opening ritual. And it was amazing. Everybody felt more connected after the opening ritual than I'd ever seen at any point in any sex party, and we hadn't done anything but the ritual. I remember my partner being so excited that she really wanted to stay.

I remember I had crappy boundaries, and grudgingly said OK. We went to the host and asked about a fun compound for me, because that would make it easier to be in that space. The host suggested a different fun compound instead, assuring me that it'd be much better for this event.

I remember that I reacted poorly to the compound. I remember it was the worst night of my life. Worse than going to the ER because of gallstones. My partner wouldn't play with me, because then she wouldn't be able to play with anyone else. So I really was starving and on the outside looking in. Listening to the sounds of play from upstairs. I was a tight ball of rage for the next 8 hours.

I remember my first actual cuddle party. It wasn't that long ago, on my birthday, May 8 2011. It was held at my place. I remember growing more and more discomfited through the very early moments of the event. I remember quietly disappearing and stealthfully fleeing from the event.

I remember last night, mulling over things about Gene with a friend. Something about how Gene also didn't feel like he deserved anything made me see that he wasn't the only one. For the first time I was able to see that, through all of these experiences, I had felt like I didn't deserve it. The beatings from my childhood left me believing I was so awful and worthless a human being that I deserved nothing. Except maybe to be hurt. Being so undeserving, clearly nobody would want to connect in physical or sexual ways with me. I've known for some time that I had problems with my sense of worth, but last night was the first time the words "didn't deserve it" fit.

Somehow I'm now able to make some distinctions now between esteem, worth, and deserving. Esteem because of what I'm capable of, I have that. Deserving… I've never had that. I've never felt like I deserved anything. Not even a rest. Everyone else deserved, but not me.

I remember conversations about privilege, and how I reacted to them, because they all talked about white males feeling like they deserved this or that just for being white males. Those words made sense to me as words, but they didn't have emotional meaning for me. I've never felt like I deserved anything. Because of this, the privilege conversations just felt like another way to say "see, you really are awful, you deserve nothing".

I've felt like I could figure out how to get some things, how to build some things, and when I was young, how to cheat in some way to get things. Like stealing dad's m&m candies when I was 7. I learned to do a lot of things really well, like sex, massage, being handy around the house… But these were all me trying to bribe the world to keep such an undeserving person around.

I never felt like I *deserved* anything. Even what I have now. I have carried this my whole life. Now, in this moment, even sharing this is hard. I don't know why, maybe because I fear the world will confirm this lack of deserving.

But maybe identifying this distinction of "deserve" will make some kind of difference. Maybe I can at least tell myself I deserve to rest from time to time.

Big Daddy's Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce
LK Compatible Version. Modified from


1 cup prepared yellow mustard
3/4 cup zylitol
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dried minced onion
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (hickory flavoring)

Yield: Makes about 2 1/4 cups


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Mix all ingredients except soy, butter and smoke. Simmer 30 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 more minutes.

I Remember…
I remember hearing of Gene's death. I remember enough about it that there are probably two additional posts as of now. Might even wind up with more, I know I have more things to remember with him.

I remember my Dad's death. I have written of this before here.

I remember another several deaths. Matt Shelton, Joe Brown, My mom, Tom Hemsley, Ingred Harder, Grace Brown, Merle Hemsley, a few cats…

I remember being puzzled about how little most of them seemed to effect me. My mom passed after a long coma, and it was more relief than grieving. I guess I grieved her passing before she passed.

Gene's death has impacted me more than any other. In some ways, it's the first time I've really faced the death of someone who mattered so deeply to me. The first time the death had a day to day impact on me, so far anyway.

I want to remember this feeling. It's not pleasant. But loss is also part of being human. Being able to feel bad makes feeling good have something to contrast against. It makes me not take it for granted.

With Gene's death, I remember not being able to hold it together, dissolving into tears. Oceanic waves of emotion. Repeatedly. Dad, some tears right after he passed. The others, sadness.

I think this is the first time I've really experienced death so keenly. I'm learning what it is to really mourn someone. I even asked Leah the other day how to tell if it was depression or mourning. Then, 5 minutes later, I was watching her get dressed with this deep contentment. I guess it's mourning.

As of now, I think that even when it has faded, this loss will be with me forever.

I remember…
I remember has usually been about events as I observed them, because when I started this, my only plan was leaving snapshots for myself made of words. Now that this has impacted others, and grown to include things I've learned… I find myself wanting to save more. I would that I could have saved the ways things Gene made me feel. Like, yesterday, I wrote about my brother-by-all-but-blood, Gene. I wrote about the history, but not the feelings.

Gene made me feel things.

Today, as I dwelt on the end of his life, I briefly felt anger. Which surprised me. It wasn't here for long, but I was angry that things had to work out so that I would lose him.

Today I also felt profound sadness. An oceanic feeling of ebb and flow that I couldn’t but ride along with.
Yesterday, after I found out, was different… A shattering sadness. I suddenly found all these loose ends, this Gene shaped hole torn out of my life. As I've grown older, I have fewer connections, and each one became more important. You were important to me.

Gene made me feel powerless in the face of his depression. I wanted so much to help, but it seemed to me he needed a primary partner in his life, and I could not be that. Gene in love was so warm and bright. I saw him that way a couple of times. So… well, so not like Gene… And yet the best expression of him.

Gene's relationship with my families (yes, plural) was a wonderful thing. Watching him with my kids, or he and my dad talk so very long ago, was always a quiet, contented joy.

Gene made me laugh. He would clown around in his often quiet way. And then sometimes the quiet would just be the lead in for a much louder punch line.

Gene made me feel heard. There was nothing I couldn’t say to him. He gave me the most generous of listening. It made me feel less alone in the world.

Gene made me feel smart. I could tell that, while I admired much about him, there were things he admired about me too. While I wasn't quite the McGyver he was, I was awful close. And we could brainstorm for hours about how to do this or that impossible thing.

Gene made me feel stupid, but not in a painful way. I would be trying to figure something out and whip out some tool or part or whatever that I didn't even know existed, but that solved whatever it was perfectly.

Gene helped me to feel safe in the world. I knew if I ever called him with problems like the one he called me about a couple of weeks ago, he'd be there for me no matter what. Even if he didn't agree with whatever it was, the support of family was there. I feel just a little lost now without it.

Gene also made me feel like he had my back for smaller things, for playful things. Like some of the things we did at Faire. I remember David leading a parade yelling Make Way For A Bunch Of Drunken Sots! And Gene was right up there at the front of our little parade with David and I. I felt free to be joyful with him.

Gene was also there when I needed to vent pain. I don't know how many times I felt like life was crashing in around me, and yet I knew I could go to him. He helped me be strong and carry on.

For all of these things, and so many more… I feel grateful to have known you.

I remember…
I just found out about a death in my family. The person I have regularly associated with longer than any other, Eugene Rominger.

This man was more a brother to me than my own brothers. I will miss him terribly. As I sit here with tears running down my face, writing on some small bit of the things we shared seems like the only sensible thing to do.

I remember being just 21, and going to a party at your place. Clovis in spike heels and Cindy just her huge 6' self. I came in with a girl on each arm, but in both cases, I had to reach upward. That was the day we met.

I remember wrestling with you at the place Clovis and I shared in Dublin. We rolled off the back of the couch and you got a huge cut on your back. Not enough to go to the ER, but enough that you carried the scar ever since.

I remember you sold that motorcycle to Clovis. Wards branded, a small Italian motorcycle. I taught myself to drive it.

I remember that for a while, your motorcycle was your only transit. I thought you were so cool to be able to do that.

I remember countless Ren Faires, in Novato, Hanford, Yosemite, LA… In your brown kilt, with the knives you'd made yourself as decoration. I remember sharing beer, and mead, and schnapps… I remember the cooler you made that looked like a barrel, disguised so it could be on stage with us.

I remember talking about making mead, you eventually did make beer. That was one of the many things I admired you for.

I remember a double date where I made a fool of myself because I was so captivated by your date.

I remember all the things we shared just because both of our fathers had been in the Navy and worked for Pacific Telephone.

I remember how you found it amusing the way I would fall for girls. You said I tended to pick the neurotic ones. You also said the one I have now was far better than the rest for me.

I remember you worked on one of the SpaceX teams for a little while, and built stuff that so amazed me.

I remember the group that met every Tuesday. How we studied the Bradshaw "On The Family" videos. And talked about them and related ideas.

I remember you being my best man when I married Dawn. I remember the tree sculptures you made that one could mount on walls… Or on the priest performing our wedding.

I remember looking up to you in so many ways. You were far more adept with tools and with visual arts than I. I wished I had those skills.

I remember going camping with you, and how in our intoxicated delirium we cut into the lightsticks and dribbled little glowing green dots everywhere.

I remember you being an uncle to my children. "Unca Gene!" they would cry when you came over.

I remember you coming over to help when Gary put a pick through our water line trying to remove a stump. It was a holiday weekend of some kind, and getting a plumber was just going to take a couple of days. But we had zero water. So we used JB Weld, a tomato soup can lid, and a hose clamp to patch it up until the next normal working day.

I remember helping you move, more than once, they all kind of blur together.

I remember you living in Alameda, helping you move in there. Helping you build your elevated waterbed.

I remember all the things we shared about ourselves with each other. You knew me better than most.

I remember knowing that you were depressed, and had been for years, but I had no idea what to do about it. Just kept being there for you.

I remember you finding out you had a heart problem. I also remember years later when you found you'd been misdiagnosed, and didn't need to worry about salt after all.

I remember so many times of helping you with this or that little problem with your various computers.

I remember you moving to the house with the audacious pool, water slides and grotto.

I remember the huge lot of planting you did at that place. Gourds, veggies, countless things.

I remember cooking for everybody that came to that house that one weekend. For the most part, everybody was wowed by the food. But you thought the chicken too salty.

I remember Leah, Allegra and I camping in your front yard at one event because all the other rooms were booked. And Allegra got sick just outside her tent.

I remember buying your last motorcycle. And your room mate's (for parts), since they were only a year apart.

I remember you moving out of the pool place and into the trailer where you spent your final days.

I remember going shooting with you and Leah those two times. That was a lot of fun.

I remember the times you helped with SoundFit. I remember all the discussion about how to build kiosks. How we built prototype 3 in your living room out of foamcore, and you were impressed with my singlemindedness. I remember how you lent me so many tools, like the table saw, vise grips, metal shears… I remember how you were an awesome advisor to call whenever I got stuck.

I remember talking with you about permaculture, and what it would maybe be like to eventually buy some land and do that.

I remember the weekend days where we'd both put on Skype and just kind of be together while we did our various things around our respective houses.

I remember you showing us the glass artist's studio that was trying to fall into the creek in Harmony, on highway 1.

I remember building the sous vide with you, and how amazed you were at the quality that resulted.

I remember helping you build the LED light for the living room that only worked for a month. I remember feeling glad that I could help you with a project.

I remember sharing Diede with you as a new friend. And because of who she is, she could connect with you in a touch was without it being a sexual way. And it was like watching rain on the desert, and the very beginnings of the desert floor blooming. Her snuggles began a healing process for you. It was awesome to watch.

I remember sharing with you the sound I found on YouTube of the sounds of the #5 Crossbar Switching Center. So dear to me from my childhood.

I remember you calling to tell me you'd been arrested. I remember you told me that you'd understand completely if I wanted to distance myself from you because of that. I asked you who the fuck you thought you were talking to. No, I wasn't going to distance myself from you in a time of need. I remember you asked me to come help you hold a garage sale to raise some money. I remember you telling me you were guilty, and that you'd be going to prison. I remember you wanted to gift me a huge number of your tools, because you had no place to store them for years. I remember coming down and packing the car so thoroughly that I was worried about whether it would make it home. I remember you telling me that you thought prison was going to be intolerable for you. That you were not aggressive enough to do anything but be somebody else's property. I remember the drive home slightly tensed the whole way because of the load on the car. I remember calling you to tell you we'd be going to Big Sur and did you wanna come for the day? You said sure, if you were free at that point. I remember waiting to hear about news from your arraignment. I remember running across about 3 different things on the web that I just had to share with you, once I knew you had email again. I remember finally hearing from Bear, tonight, that you'd taken your own life.

I remember not being sure I'd heard him right at first.

I remember calling Dawn and Allegra to tell them. I remember the more I spoke about it, the more incoherent I became. So I decided to write this. I remember realizing that you'd made it clear this was what you were thinking, I had just not put the pieces together.

You were my longest friend, you were my brother, and I ache with missing you already. I hope you've found a happier place.

I have learned…
I have learned that a feeling is a feeling. It's not "what is". It's my reaction to something in front of me, based on my habituated thought patterns developed in the past (stories).

In my past, if it was negative feelings, the urge to make them stop was *HUGE*. Either I had to take action to make them stop, or somebody else did. I made deals with my partners to not do things that upset me. I tried to make sure that if my partner was doing something that would make me jealous, I had a date of my own to distract me.

Now I try to be with the feeling first. To empathize with the part of me having the feeling. To parent myself in the way I wish my parents had. Only after that's well and truly complete do I look to see if there's more to do.

It seems to take a lot more effort, and I don't always remember to do it… But with time and practice, I'm doing it a little more often with each passing month.

This is an awesome learning.

I have learned…
I have learned how to do a good enough job at cleaning my teeth to get my dental hygienists' approval.

I floss with a Waterpik, then using a Sonicare toothbrush, I brush using Tarter Control Listerine instead of toothpaste.

I like being told that my my dental hygienist approves of the job I''m doing.

I remember…
I remember driving from Wick, up the A99, to John O' Groats. It was a really lovely drive. We were going well below the speed limit, something like 45, because we were just looking around so much. Several times, I had pulled off to the left to let folks pass.

It was something like 4 in the afternoon. We were 2.6 miles (as the crow files) short of John O' Groats (the farthest northeast point of the British mainland). A place called Granton Cottage, just south of Everly, just north of Tofts. I pulled to the left to let someone pass. We had maybe 6" of the car out on the street, because the available space was so narrow. I had kind of pulled into the driveway just a little between the mile markers or reflectors or whatever they are. Here, see for yourself

The vehicle behind us went by, and we stopped to look at the map. While we were doing that… CRASH! We're both thrown forward.

We were hit by a woman who could just barely see over the dash, who had very thick glasses, who have the impression of nearly complete bafflement, and looked to be slightly older than god.

Her car was totaled. Ours was crunched on one side. The police were amazing. The police in the UK seem to use cell phones instead of police radios… At least, that was true way out there in the boonies. Police here are often hard professionals. The police there really wanted to help.

The cop told her he wouldn't charge her if she'd hang up her keys. I am not kidding.

The cop also called the insurance company for us, and tried to describe to the guy where we were. The guy on the other end said "well, can they get to London before the shops close?", "No they can't get to London by 6, do you have any idea where we're talking about?", "How about Manchester?" "NO!, they probably can't even get to Edinburgh before the shops close!", "Where's that?". Much more hilarity (from our perspective) ensued. Eventually they worked out that the car was still drivable, and that it'd just be dealt with "later". The call ended with the cop telling the insurance person to "Next time, GET A MAP!".

After that, the cop borrowed duct tape from the tow truck driver, and he and I taped up the fender "well enough". We were on our way again.

The police report said almost nothing. There was an accident here, on this date, at this time, between these people. Before the trip, we had asked Discover if the insurance would cover us, they said yes. However Discover didn't cover auto rentals in the UK at the time, and since we hadn't saved the name of the person who told us that, we were SOL.

This is a *mildly* amusing in retrospect memory

I remember…
I remember driving up the east coast of Scotland, visiting one small town after another. We would check in to a room with no idea where we would stop next. But by next morning, we'd have worked something out and be on our way. It was one of the less structured trips we took, and it was pretty relaxed.

I remember all the little inns and B&Bs we stayed in, and how friendly the people were. I remember noticing how these buildings we so much older than anything I was used to, and how they'd been modified to suit various needs over the centuries.

I remember going around a particularly green curve in the road and coming across a construction sign that said "Heavy Plant Crossing". We laughed about Ents wandering the Scottish landscape.

I remember running across the stone age Carn Liath Broch between Golspie and Brora, along the coast. I remember walking around in there, reading the signs about the place, looking over the top of the wall to the sea. I remember trying to piece together the information on the signs and what we were looking at. How did they use this space? Off to the south we could see Dunrobin Castle, and the sort of bell shaped roof to the clock tower.,+Wick,+Highland+KW1,+UK/@57.987616,-3.912333,3a,75y,173h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sBlteKpA2UPidKOSt6kxfcA!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x489ad1c932122449:0xb711d561bf63dcfa

I remember the Caithness cheese farms, where we got to sample locally made cheeses. It was some of the best cheese I'd ever had.

I remember it was green and forested, then around Caithness it opened up. Vast fields that once grazed sheep, and killed the dreams of so many croft holders. Their empty stone cottages, open to the sky, and littering the landscape with the reminders of the folly of chasing money at the expense of others. I remember we asked about the statue on the hill, and being told about George Leveson-Gower, who's statue sits atop Ben Bhraggie, and who was responsible for evicting all the tenant farmers because sheep might be more profitable.

I remember the enormous fields of heather, which were just past their peak and had faded to a grey/brown with purple overtones. And brilliant yellow creeping buttercup, which hadn't quite turned yet. I remember a field of "standing stones" that were very small, but clearly had been there a very, very long time.

I remember the small towns we stopped at along the way, as we headed toward Wicks. How they all closed up by 5.

These are very pleasant memories.

I remember…
I remember Tulloch Castle. I remember that it was the first castle I'd ever stayed in. I also remember being quite surprised at how small it was. I'd never really thought about the range of castle sizes until then.,-4.433199,3a,75y,356.59h,91.95t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1spDiT3IMHbhCY2XoUAu594A!2e0!6m1!1e1

I remember the wedding in that small, cramped chamber below the entry. I remember Dawn, Victoria and Allegra all in green. I remember wearing the hunter green suit and being a little sad that I outshone the groom. I remember the endless photos on the lawn out front. I remember the photo of Merry, Dawn, Victoria and Allegra seated in the main hall. I remember dancing in that green suit at the banquet afterwards. I remember Allegra enchanting everyone we talked with at the banquet. I remember the back stairs all in simple metal gratings and whitewashed walls. I remember the utility courtyard out back and all the pipes attached to the outside of the building to provide modern plumbing and electrical. I remember sneaking up to the roof and catching an amazing view. I remember the whisky tasting in the evening, and the talk of ghosts in the ballroom. I remember the amazingly thick curtains and outer walls. I remember the amazing Scottish bacon served with breakfast. I remember the ornate formal dining room that breakfast was served in. I remember the little pub at the ground floor. I remember the thistle displays in the insets in the walls of the stairwell that led up from there. I remember meeting Victoria's friend, James Evans. He and I corresponded for some years after that.

I like this memory

I have learned…
I have learned that these little notes, be they memories, lessons, or some other thing, are the perfect way for ADD boy to write. I can accumulate these and perhaps even do something with them in the future, like create a book.

I've also learned that these little lessons don't have to be about big things like how to combat jealousy, they can be about little things like how to make a pan last longer.

I have learned…
I have learned a little trick for extending the life of my nonstick pans.

I put a nonstick pan on the stove with nothing in it.

I turn it to medium, and let it get all warmed up.

I measure the temp of the pan with an infra red thermometer.

I keep slowly turning it up, and then letting it stabilize… until the steady state temp of the pan reaches 330F.

Then I mark the control dial with a sharpie… Red above that point, green below that point.

It's not that I have to stay in the green all the time… If I'm cooking something with a LOT of water in it, setting it on high might well result in a pan temp of only 220F or so. But it does mean that above that demarcation, I have to pay a LOT more attention to the pan temperature.

I really like this little trick. I expect it will extend the life of my nonstick pans.

I remember…
I remember learning to drive in Scotland by just leaping into it. Which wouldn't have been a big deal except for the fact that we were also trying to run an urgent errand during rush hour on a Friday evening.

Dealing with being on the wrong side was hard, but harder was remembering all the differences in turning that came from that. At one point we ended up going the wrong way on a one way street! Fortunately, I pulled over and let all the traffic by, but what an unpleasant surprise!

I drove from Edinburgh airport down to the Royal Mile. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I remember getting to our destination, getting out of the car, and just waiting there until the shaking subsided.

This is an "amusing in retrospect" memory.


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