Thursday, January 31, 2013

Keeping active

I get, as do many of us M.S.ers, quite a few mailings about things to do to keep oneself mentally active and fully, joyfully, engaged with living.

Here's what I did with myself today... I worked on some incidental music for a local high school's presentation of a play based on Orwell's 1984, and just moments ago, did some sound design for a video game on which my wife is part of their voice talent.

In this particular design, my wife is creating sounds of a banshee. Which didn't die happily, given the sounds of weeping and moaning that she recorded.

It is quite a thing to do, listening to your wife moaning and weeping, in really really high-quality sound. And then, playing audio tricks on it to make it even more mournful and tragic.

I don't think the people in the M.S.-support world think of "making the sound of your most beloved's weeping even more heart-wrenching" as a preferred method for "keeping yourself mentally active and happy," but such is the world of sound design for video games.

For 1984, I wrote the music for song of the state, "Oceania, 'Tis for Thee!" and I'm currently waiting to hear from a plug-in manufacturer about their product that makes something sound like it's coming off a crappy old turntable. I figure, since Oceania is at war with East Asia--Oceania has, of course, always been at war with East Asia--ain't nobody providing THX-grade fidelity to the lumpen proletariat. Crappy, grotty, barely-functional AM radios, that's what I'm thinking.

And likewise, I don't think the M.S.-support community imagines creating the sound of a horribly oppressive totalitarian state to fall into the category of "staying mentally active" (Lord knows Big Brother doesn't want anyone "mentally active") or joyfully engaged with living (the Two-Minutes Hate hardly qualifies as "joyful") but, again, such is the world of the theater.

I think I'm going to take a break (I mean that in the nicest way), and pour myself some pu-erh tea. And then, maybe, listen to something not oppressive.

Keeping myself mentally active and joyfully engages with living, y'know. Right...?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Proverbs, and walking

I'm seeing new patterns in my interactions with others. They're probably actually "old" patterns, but I'm seeing them ... newly.

Here's one...

Them: Oh, it'll be fine for you to do it (whatever "it" happens to be) this way.

Me: No, it won't.

What's most interesting, in my internal review of the interaction, is that the truth is something quite different. Sometimes the truth of it is "Actually, it will be fine, but I'd prefer something different." Sometimes the truth of it is "Actually, I've tried it that way, and it isn't fine." Both of these reveal something different about my own process; the first makes me confront my own desires, the second suggests a new question: "Now, is it 'not fine' because it's something I can't do, or is there a solution that I just don't see? Or at the bottom line, is it that it 'actually is fine,' but that there's a cost to its doing that I don't want to pay?" Which then brings me to consider whether it's just Answer A (preference) hiding in other robes, or is there a true cost? The true solution, apparently, is hidden from both of us.

Oh yeah, now that I'm doddering philosophically about this issue, sometimes the bottom line is "Actually, I've tried it that way, and several different ways, and everything that I've tried so far doesn't work, so you need to suggest something besides 'just try it' because I've done that, and that's why I know it doesn't work."

Sometimes there's a dissonance between Them (whoever They happen to be) just not seeing things from the driver's seat of a wheelchair, so they don't have personal experience with what actually is easier and what isn't. Sometimes, though, They actually do see things more clearly than I do, and because they've been incorrect before (see above, not being wheelchair-bound and thus don't immediately know what does and doesn't work because they've tried it and it failed for them too) I just assume they're wrong. Which is, in its own way, wrong.

Robert Burns in his poem "To a Louse" says, "O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us,/To see oursels as ithers see us!" And then there's the usually attributed to American Indians saying that one should "never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins."

Perhaps the solution is to swap moccasins with the other, and then walk that mile together. Then swap moccasins again, and walk another mile. 

You'll both see things about the other... and about yourself.

(And yes, I'm quite sure it works with wheelchairs for non-walkers... we just need someone to write that new poem for us. Poets among us... this one's for you, I think.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

They work

Another fine treatment with my acupuncturist/MD. Got a point done that I think is called "Fluid Secretion Gate." South-Park fans will probably have all sorts of unpleasant images coming to mind, so let me reassure you that no, it isn't those secretions or those fluids. It's metaphoric, not anatomical. Now, personally, I have no idea what it means, but the name is... intriguing.

Flu shots are all the rage on the news and the webs. My doctor's take, for me—I hasten to remind you, your milage may vary, he wasn't talking about "you," or "people," he was talking about me, I'm just sharing what he said about me—his take was that it's a crapshoot at best whether the bug in the shots is the bug that's the one that's going to attack if, IF, such attack actually happens; you're getting sick for a day because of the shot but shouldn't, probably, be sick longer, but whether it'll actually keep you from getting sick, it's a crapshoot; and for people who have wack immune systems due to M.S., his words were "nobody has any idea." One thing I have seen on the Internet directed to pretty much everybody, boiled down to "Dude: wash your hands. A lot." Washing my hands copiously and repeatedly kept me completely disease-free during the last Big Flu Scare of a few years ago, and I was surrounded by five hundred adorable disease vectors (those'll be the high-school students). And, when I saw said adorable disease vectors applying pseudo-bug-killing slop on their hands, I gave them the same advice: "Forget that stuff. Go wash your hands." And they didn't get sick either. So, that's what I know and how I'm dealing with the Flu Scare.

The formula my herbalist is currently having me take, may be actually helping something repair itself. It may be too early to tell for sure, too soon to order the flowers and write invitations to the party celebrating a victory over The Disease; but as of this morning, something that had been failing had started working.  We'll see if this continues, but... hope springs eternal. I'm sorry it isn't something grand and glorious like POOF! My legs work! I can walk without wall-walking or walker-walking! or POOF! I can play the organ again! Or anything like that, more's the pity. It was one of those neurological failures that only I, and occasionally my doctor if I give him gory details, will ever know about... but things working are things working.

It may very well be, in a small quiet way, testament to the power of persistence and ingenuity with Chinese medicinal herbs and traditional five-element acupuncture; both of which are, interestingly enough, administered by people who are familiar with, and known as scholars within, the traditional-Western medical world. Chinese medicinal no-adverse-side-effects herbs in custom-formulated prescriptions; acupuncture treatments specifically tuned to and for YOU... You can't mass-market them, you can't copyright them, they'll never be able compete on the national, lobbyist-infested level.

But, they work. Oh boy, do they work.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mythbusters in the rain

I'm discovering a different relationship with rain.

I spent seven years in Connecticut (New Haven, on the coast, the southern part of the Long Island sound). It rained there... a lot. Way more than it rained in my natal lands of Los Angeles California, where (effectively) I'm living right now.

Raining in Connecticut? Well, it does that. Put on the rain stuff and just go through it. No big deal. Same with snow. And hail. And pretty much anything else falling wet and cold from the sky. No big deal. I wasn't driving through it, I was always walking through it, a mile or more a day. But, after the first year or so, no big deal.

This week, it has been raining in southern California. And I'm in a wheelchair. And life is very different in the rain, in a wheelchair.

(I really didn't need to just see the Mythbusters episode testing whether you get wetter if you walk or run through the rain. They found that "walking makes you wetter, running keeps you drier." Well, boys, try that in a wheelchair.)

My chair spends its "automotive transportation" time in the open back of my truck. Then I get quite wet while I stand in the rain hauling the chair out of the back of the truck. Then I get wet siting in the rain, moving as best I can (quickly enough for most practical purposes, on a smooth flat surface). There's a brief and glorious dry period inside wherever it was that I went, and then the whole "out in the wet" process is repeated as the chair is returned to its home in the truck.

Most days, in it-never-rains-in-Southern-California Los Angeles county, it's a non-issue. In the rain... it is.

So, I'm adjusting my travels to prefer locations with covered parking lots. Or wait for the rain to stop. Or just stay home.

I did, however, discover that when I was traveling through the rain in a powered wheelchair (which I had in my last year working for the high school) that I get windchill on my legs, and my shins get wet--because those are what meet the raindrops first, as the "ship of state" whisks itself through the rain.

Not a particularly "Mythbusters-worthy" experiment, testing whether you get wetter in the rain walking in a walker, using a self-powered wheelchair, or a motorized one? I'll tell you right now... you're getting wet. Very wet.

But... it'd be fun to watch.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Something old, something new

Are things... changing?

So, a friend of many years in the past sends me a Facebook note, and says, "I need such-and-such music written for me." So I did.

Another Friend From The Past sends me a Facebook note, asking me if there was any way their group could do some of my music? Yes, I'm sure they could. Lemme see what I can do...

And, in the middle of writing this blog-post to you, a nap. Not one that I had planned. It just kinda... happened. Given how much better I'm feeling right now, it was definitely necessary... but I thought that I had gotten over the "You have to sleep now now now" stuff that had, for several weeks, been ruling my life. I thought I had gotten over that. I guess not.

So, are things ... really changing? This afternoon, I feel like I've backtracked, back to a same-old, same-old,  time of unavoidable mandatory comes-over-me-whether-I-want-it-or-not napping. And yet, I started the day by writing music..

Something old, something new... Writing music is definitely "something old," but it has been something I haven't really been able to do for way too long, and today, it was no problem at all—and within the context of what I've been able (or not able) to do for months, writing music again is definitely "something new."

With luck, I won't have "something borrowed, something blue" added to my M.S. experience. "Something blue" in the world of Neurological Issues... is probably not a good sign.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Quite the day

Today began very discouraging, as my first activity required me to interface with the Social Security System's Medical Machinery.

Apparently, to determine whether I'm disabled enough, they didn't want to just listen to all the medical people who have seen me in person to do complex medical tests, or the doctor I've been seeing for twenty years, I need to see one of Their Guys. Just in case, or something.

So they send me, a Guy In A Wheelchair, to this medical company that answers questions of this sort. Now, remember, this is a company that Social Security hires to investigate people's disabilities. Disabilities, mind you.

And so, being a state agency and all, it's easy to understand why they chose someone in this building:

Ramp? What's a ... "ramp"?

Fortunately, the person who happened by as I was sitting there in the wheelchair wondering what to do used to work in a hospital; he was very quick and very generous in helping me get my chair up those stairs (I was able to drag myself up the steps myself, somehow).

Hardly a "medical" experience... The I-guess-he-was-a-doctor (who neither introduced himself nor even greeted me) seemed to have a script he was working from, he seemed to have very little interest in me or my actual experience of my disease; or even things like "Would you like the number of the people who just gave me an MRI?" I suppose if the bottom-line presumption is "You, and your entire medical team, are trying to rip us off," there's no wonder he had little interest in, well, anything, except what he saw in front of him, but he seemed to have such little interest in me, I honestly have no idea as to what he was actually looking for.

And later that very afternoon, my wife and I went to a tea-tasting offered by a tea emporter. This is what greeted us...

My day started somewhere intended to receive handicapped people, where the first thing that greeted me, in my wheelchair, was a set of steps, where I was "medically" evaluated by someone who had zero interest in my last MRI... and the day ended at a tea-importer's shop that had been set up to facilitate learning about, and enjoying, tea.

Thought, consideration, and passion for your chosen path, reveal themselves very, very, quickly, don't they?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Victory (small, but victory anyway)

A first, that's actually a very non-first, because it was something I used to do all the time. And enjoy doing... but that I haven't done since oh, I honestly don't remember. Gardening stopped sometime after The Diagnosis, somewhere around the point at which I needed some sort of help walking with canes. So... what did I do?

Gardening. Not much, but some, nonetheless.

We have a purple-flowering "Rose of Sharon" hibiscus right outside the front door. I spent a few minutes today, enjoying the outside air and the last dregs of afternoon sun, with a pair of hold-'em-in-one-hand clippers, trimming bits that were too tall, or crossing other bits that were doing better than the crossing pieces. A little bit of shaping, a little bit of "let's make it easier on this plant to get the sun it needs," a little bit of giving things "room to breathe" (plants need air, but they don't have lungs and things like that, but you get the metaphor).

Things came crashing (literally) to a halt when I dropped my clippers, and retrieving them was beyond what few abilities I had left, so the trimming came a little early to an end, but... the plant looks happier, it's going to look much happier when it starts growing leaves again (today it's in the "stick" stage of growth), and I did gardening. Not much, not large-scale, but still! Gardening! After years and years and years of not really caring much—not caring at all—for my garden.

I don't know if I can proclaim that the doing of gardening for the first time in dunno-how-many-years "the shape of things to come" or anything as grandiose as that, but... it was a victory. I wasn't able to do much, I had to have help retrieving a dropped tool, but I Did Something. I Accomplished Something.

And that's a victory. And on the Neurological Highway... as in Just Plain Life, victory is still victory.

And that's good enough.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Androcles and the splinter; side effects we WANT

A good treatment at the acupuncturist's, today. He tells me he did a lot of "hot" points (Chinese-medicine-style "hot", not Jalapeno "hot"), many points specifically geared towards raising my vitality.

One thing that was especially encouraging was that I told him about an organ system that my herbalist said that he was treating, and my acupuncturist said "I've been watching that for a while, and I've been working on it too." He was surprised, and very much pleased, that both he and the Herbal Guy were working on the same kind of thing, just approaching it from different angles, different directions. It's quite reassuring when both Western/Eastern crossover Medical Guys are seeing, and treating, the same things ("big-picture" style, at least).

Still need to burn through some of my past that's still weighting me down (I touched on that in our last exchange). I'm sure you've had moments in which you've opened a door and said "What is that smell?" and that stench was inescapable until the [whatever] is completely cleaned out, and the offending material has been removed and discarded... Pretty much what's happening/needs to happen, except on a spiritual rather than a "refrigerator" level.

An Androcles-and-the-lion-esque splinter in my paw, spiritually speaking. Except in this case, I need to be my own Androcles, and first, I need to find the splinter before I can remove it.

Boy, am I looking forward to finding it. Not looking forward to looking for it, but definitely looking forward to removing it.

And OH yeah... something my MD/acupuncurist told me that I needed to look into and do... iyengar yoga. "A tough path," he said, "but I know people whose lives have been completely turned around by it."

Another prescription, but this one with very clearly known side effects: those being, increased mobility. And, y'know, inner peace. That sort of thing.

Side effects we can live with, aren't they?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Realizations; and, just like life

Two things struck me today.

First off... Clearly, I'm still processing my, well, "processing," I guess. Stuff that I thought I had gotten over, I guess I haven't. "Guess"? Frak no, there's no guessing required. Driving somewhere that's nowhere close to [this particular unnamed for the moment place], but passing a freeway off-ramp that would have taken me there, I was suddenly hit with "They hurt me." I still haven't let go of the place, the people, and the hurt. Well, there's no way to circumvent or accelerate "processing," so that's going to be, alas, on my to-do list... because, after all, until I finish with it, I won't really be able to move forward.

Doesn't have much to do with M.S. (although me having that disease played a part in Issues With The Unnamed Place), but being able to "process" properly will certainly help me dealing with whatever potholes I may encounter, while traveling the Neurological Highway. Or life, for that matter...

And the other thing that struck me today is that everyone... everyone... is going to have to deal with a wheelchair, eventually. Maybe (as happened to me) it's because you yourself are getting stuck in one. Or maybe it's a parent that you'll be pushing around. Or a spouse. Or a child. Everyone is, eventually, going to have to learn how to deal with a wheelchair.

Given that wheelchairs are bound to be a constant in the human experience, why the @#$@$@#$ don't people build everything more wheelchair-friendly? Well, a friend of mine who used to be a professional lobbyist (I dunno for what/who) said that people—everyone, no matter what their job may or may not be—will solve their own problems; or, at best, the problems they're aware of. I understand how this works, it annoys me because jobs I've had, I've had to find problems and solve them before they happen, and if I can do it, so can other people. Or so I assume... OK, let's be even more honest, presume.

So, gotta keep warm, gotta take my herbs, gotta do some "internal house cleaning." Gotta do some forgiving.

As I've said, the M.S. journey is... just like life.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Another no-side-effect prescription

Man, what an interesting day at the herbalist's. He took quite a while developing today's formula, and spent several minutes answering a lot of questions. He left my head spinning, given the amount of information he tossed my way, but it was fascinating, and he was wonderful in answering my questions. I wish I could repeat, even partially, the amazing things the told me...

But here's the bottom line. My experience of "the disease M.S." is not simply a result of scleroses and stripped myelin, even though those may indeed be present. My herbalist says that what's going on with me right now is indeed auto-immune wackiness at its roots, but it's much more than just myelin stripping. Some examples of what's going on: An infection in the sinus has one kind of cross-reactivity, the body's over-enthusiastic mis-directed attacks on pesticides and/or other crap that's just floating around the world have another kind of immune-system cross-reactivity... And thing upon thing upon thing malfunctioning means that this organ's acting up/wrong, which makes this other organ stops working correctly, which means that those other organs aren't going to behave properly... So, like I said earlier, there's way more to it than missing myelin. And from what he tells me that his practice indicates, what's missing/malfunctioning can be addressed by careful administration of specific herbs, with each herb directed to assist or correct in whatever's going wrong with the patient at the moment.

And here's one suggestion that I received that both this herbalist and my acupuncturist/neurologist/MD agree upon. If you recall an earlier posting, I had pain and spasticity absolutely and instantly vanish when I got shot with the IV gadolinium stuff they use in MRI's. Well, subsequently I got tested to see whether it was the gadolinium that made the magic happen, and it definitely didn't, so I figure... what else is in that shot? Something to carry the gadolinium, of course, and ... saline solution. So, besides MRI contrast medium, I got hit with a jolt of water and electrolytes. So, I asked both the herbalist and the MD, if I want to get my spasticity and leg pain to back off... maybe the first thing to try is just to drink more water?

They both responded with an enthusiastic YES! Give it a try!

I'm sure that in general I'm not as hydrated as I could/should be, given the puzzling and flat-out-MIS-behavior of my bladder; I'm careful not to drink much before I'm going to drive for a long time, so I don't have to deal with "oh great... NOW?!?" moments on the freeway. But if I'm not leaving the house, I really just need to drink. More. A lot more. And just deal with the bladder nonsense, which while I'm at home, isn't that nonsensical. Well, yes it is that nonsensical, but at least I don't have that far to run before "the issues" get seen to.

Well, here we go again... another treatment prescribed that has basically zero side effects. Except needing to stay near a bathroom.

Given the world of side effects that I've heard beguile us who travel the M.S. Highway... no pain, no spasticity, stay near the bathroom? That's a deal I can live with.

And so, as I'm finishing typing this, my leg's getting twitchy, so... Water, here we come!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chair Wars

Not a long time ago, or all that far away....

Chair Wars... continues.

In my college years, I was known to do (I like to think) humorous Super-8-sound films, including a send-up of the George Lucas universe. Among other things. Given the ease of Digital Everything nowadays, the ADA-Unfriendly World may very well provide enough material to do another one. Who will be Vader? Who will be Yoda? I ain't carrying anyone on MY back while I'm fighting with the chair, that's for damned sure.

Planning continues for my Great Solo Adventure to Texas. Solo, but for my friend the wheelchair. Spent some time in it yesterday in the company of friends in a lovely park in Santa Monica... my state varied between "This is easy... and fun!" and "I'm getting a little too tired to make it all the way" and "Oh @#$@#$ I was nearly thrown out of my chair" as I went over (but fortunately not "went over," head-over-heels "over") an almost-wheelchair-friendly divot at the end of a ramp.

One thing that really scares me is the slant of driveways. Maybe I'll be "sucked," gravity-well-of-the-black-hole-style, down the driveway into the street, or to a sudden nasty stop at the divot at the interface of the driveway and the street... Well, at least I've had some experience with "Now, how exactly am I going to fall?" moments. Then again, maybe I'll be sucked over sideways... again, gravity-well-style.

Man, life in a wheelchair is the most amazing Physics-Class-Experiment-Demonstration experience.

And quite a surprise (and not a good one)... the wheels on this chair are not all that wide, so the whole thing can skid down too extreme a ramp.

Just called the hotel I'll be staying at in Texas; they said that their individual hotel doesn't have a shuttle from the airport, but the hotels on the Riverwalk all have a common shuttle. I think I may take up the travel agent on their "rent someone who'll take care of YOU" service... dunno how much it's gonna cost yet, but being a stranger in a strange land, all alone but for my wheelchair and not knowing exactly what I may be facing, it may very well be worth the price.

Another adventure, either today or tomorrow... the wheelchair ramp at the post office, because I have to go there to mail something to someone in Indiana (I think). Or, I may make the (not all that long) drive to the post office without the ramp. We'll see what tomorrow hold.

Later today, a break with my wife at a favorite Taiwanese Tea Place. Did some good computer work earlier today, even managed to haul some dirty clothes to the washing machine. And didn't fall over. Or drop them. Will I do another load? Dunno... Will I go to bed, so I'm properly rested and ready for the Tea Adventure?

Heck yeah.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Architecture imitates life

The adventures with The Chair and The Inescapable Fatigue continue.

The Chair... this one's easier to describe. Let's start there.

I'm really enjoying shuttling myself around in the wheelchair, especially given the glacial speeds that I move when using a walker. I feel like I can really get around. Getting things off shelves, not so much, but I still have enough leg-a-bility to stand up and reach things, and to negotiate roads that are too narrow for the chair, or to make my way around short distances such as inside bathrooms.

What I hate, still, are doors that push back/pull away from me, and wheelchair-unfriendly (if not downright wheelchair-impassible) thresholds.

It's a world of very basic Newtonian physics. Action creates reaction. Door pushes away from you, you roll away from it. Door pulls on you, you roll towards it. One of our number very kindly pointed me to some lovely training videos about going through doors, and I got some good ideas from them, but those particular "See how easy it is to open and go through doors when you're in a wheelchair?" scenarios involved a door that opened and STAYED open, out of your way, and the threshold was completely flat.

None of those things seem to happen in the real world.

And here's a tragi-comic thing... there's a bank I need to go to a couple of times a month, which has a door that is phenomenally easy to open. I love going through this door.

This selfsame bank is two, maybe three, doors down from a pharmacy that I likewise need to visit occasionally. A pharmacy that even sells walkers and wheelchairs and other assistants to the disabled.

That pharmacy's door won't open easily, and pushes back hard when you try to negotiate it.

I told the pharmacy's owner. His response was basically, yeah, we know, we've talked to the building owner, as far as we cam tell he doesn't care. It's just a matter of adjusting the door-closing mechanism not to push back so hard, but apparently, that can't be done. Building owner doesn't care.

Against "just doesn't care," there's very little winning. Kinda like a door that won't stay open, because it'd much rather close itself.

Architecture imitates life, it seems.

As to the Inescapable Fatigue... I'd talk about it, but I'm fading fast and may have to go back to bed now now now now and go to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. I may have a few minutes left of "poking at things" but the day of creativity I'd hoped for? Well, as of right now...

Not a chance. Gotta go to bed. Now.

PS: Oh by the way... that MRI that I had a week or so ago? Diagnosis is in... Seems that I have M.S. Well, I feel better worse nothing in particular. Unsurprised is about as far as I'd go.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Janus, the god whose name appears in the month of "January," was the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. Only fitting that here we are, January 1, and I'm dealing with things that are past, present, and yet to come.

Undiscussed in my chat with you on Dec. 31 was my trip to my credit union. A wonderful place, somewhere that has treated me way better than a bank, since the 1970s. But the 31st was the first day I tried to enter it while in the wheelchair, in full-on "self-propelled wheelchair" mode.

The "wheelchair ramp" from the parking lot isn't even remotely close to ADA specs. If I remember correctly, the ADA rise:run ratio is 1:12; this ramp was maybe, maybe, something like 1:4. I couldn't pull myself up the ramp pushing wheels, I almost couldn't pull myself up pulling on the (only one-side) railing, and I would have flown backwards hadn't someone seen my plight and pushed me up the final foot or so. Perhaps someone used to the wheelchair, with a Schwarzenegger-esque upper-body strength, might have been able to do it, but me? Wasn't possible. And the ramp was so steep going down on the way out, and came to such a sharp stop at its end, that I was nearly thrown out of the chair.

Fortunately, I can (huge air quotes) "walk" well enough that I can lock the wheels in the wheelchair and use it kinda sorta like a walker and kinda sorta make it up the ramp, but approached from a wheelchair as a wheelchair, it's full-on dangerous.

And, I don't really know what to do about this. Do I send them a letter? I don't want to threaten them, it really is a nice organization full of very nice people that I've had a good relationship with for a very long time, but a "helpful" ramp that is flat-out impassable and even dangerous is bad, bad, bad. Plus, there are all sorts of grandfathering rules about buildings that don't have to be brought up to code, for whatever reason, and this thing has been housing the credit union for more then 25 years... so, either they officially "don't have to care" because their building has been grandfathered, or they do have to care and it's gonna cost them major bucks to fix it. 'Course, if I actually did hurt myself because the chair flipped me over onto the pavement, that'd cost them much, much more. And an interesting question is, why is it my problem to care about their mis-built building? I really don't think it's in the realm of Genesis-style "Am I my brother's keeper?" But it is an interesting question.

And here we are, today, some of which I spent working on a letter to the Grownups In a completely different/unrelated organization that I'm a member of (details aren't important in this context) that, IMHO, doesn't return value for value in what it charges for the meals that its in-house restaurant serves. Part of my challenge to these Grownups is to go to a couple of restaurants that I recommend (which are quite good ones, well reviewed in the press, even), spend exactly what they's spend at the organization's restaurant, and ask themselves, which one of these restaurants returns true value for the dollars spent?

And, I come again to the question, why is it my problem? If they want to manage their restaurant the way they want to and I don't agree with it, I just vote with my wallet and don't buy meals there... but I do pay dues to said organization, so I at least theoretically have some stake in its operations, even if it is a tiny one—at least from Said Grownup's point of view. But is enough of My Problem to spend what little energy I have crafting arguments for them to see their organization from someone else's point of view?

Am I spending moments of my life and what little energy I have trying to force-feed enlightenment upon other people? If so, I should know better by now... Living in that space has already cost me plenty and never got me anything besides fatigue, agony, and sorrow... hardly a "good" return on investment. A well-deserved and perhaps necessary one... But definitely, a very, very, painful one.

There was a saying in the Science of Mind church that I was a member of (and organist for) in my teenage years: "I bless you and release you to your good." All I can do for you is bless you and let you go to meet what awaits you...and here, blessing you and releasing you is all I can do.

It's also a Zen thing... to be able to look at something, and say, "That's the way it is," and then say nothing else. And take no effect from it, and certainly not keep carrying it around with me. To not make things "my problem." Because they really may not, in the final analysis, be my problem, unless I insist upon it and chain it to myself and weigh myself down with it, Jacob-Marley-style.

Is it age that brings me to look at things this way? Is it the changes I've lived through thanks to The Disease?

Who knows. Does it matter? Nope.

But that's definitely something to do, not just in the "new year," but just in life... to be faster to bless and release than I am to claim a problem. After all...

I got enough of them. Oh my, yes I certainly do.