Sources of anxiety and inspirations for preparations for the unforeseeable

Inspirations for preparations for the unforeseeable can be sources of anxiety as we face the daunting challenge of daily decision making under uncertainty. Loss aversion drives our avoidance of situations some others may view as opportunities, and our days turn to weeks, months, and years chasing sunk costs that can never be recovered.

Like the gambler who cannot acknowledge the losses of the day, what could be vanishes in the face of what never was.

Carpe diem, seize the day, one day at a time, lest you win the race to the grave having never quite lived.


Snow Clones?

Streams Of Destiny

Warning: snowclone advisory: explicit self-referential material follows.

[But this article does not have the level of self-reference that Godel, Escher, Bach does.]

No doubt some of you have heard of snow clones while others have not.

Wikipedia is not the level of authority that peer-reviewed literature is.

…but for convenience we cite from it here: “Asnowcloneis aclichéandphrasal templatethat can be used and recognized in multiple variants. The term was coined by Geoffrey K. Pullum as aneologism in 2004, derived fromjournalistic clichésthat referred to the number ofEskimo words for snow“.

[Geoffrey K. Pullum, “…is a co-author ofThe Cambridge Grammar of the English Language(2002), a comprehensivedescriptive grammarof English. He is also a contributor toLanguage Logand Lingua Franca atThe Chronicle of Higher Education.“]

We have all heard variations: “the Eskimoes…

View original post 290 more words

What’s the Point?

All in a Day's Breath

The Point by Harry Nilsson (courtesy

How many of you remember this absolutely delightful and magical story from the early 70’s? I loved it since the beginning and have listened to it over and over and over again. What might it be that makes it so appealing? Well, that would be aside from so many delightful aspects of the story of a little boy, Oblio, born with a round head when everyone else in his village had pointed heads. Can you imagine such a dreadful thing?

Although his mom and dad loved him very much, they felt sorry for him, so his mom made him a cap with a point in it so that he too could have a point and be accepted by the other villagers. He did have a wonderful little dog though, and his dog’s name was Arrow. Now, like most dogs (and other creatures), Arrow…

View original post 335 more words

A Pinch of Emily and a Dash of Brit

The Dark Mystery Of Emily Dickinson’s “Master” Letters – The

I did not know of this before today.  Having recently watched the second season of “The OA” on Netflix, this is too good to pass up.  
A pinch of Emily and a dash of Brit woven into a carpet leading into the Twilight Zone… …I wonder if Robert Frost could make it any more chilling?
No doubt some Poe boy will add to the mystery.

Dishwasher Paranoia

Some guy will come out and eval your house, identify the parts needed for your home repair with AR.  An Uber or Lyft will deliver the 3D printed parts unless he prints it on his truck.  Once you are in the database, won’t need even that much.

New construction will start with the parts in a database.  Your dishwasher will be smart enough to rat you out to the police with a DNA sample from your dishes.
“Upgrades,” the tech will tell you.
It all sounds like Robert Heinlein/ Arthur C Clarke / Isaac Asimov style SciFi, but almost all of it is here, including the paranoia about the dishwasher.

OAS2 Spoiler Alert: Mental Health Scenarios

To be certain, I am a fan of the works of Batmanglij and Marling. “The Sound of My Voice” is a favorite movie. The OA caught my attention a few years ago.

The first season of “The OA” was a powerhouse if a bit incoherent. I liked it. The second season has a little less punch but it’s far more coherent. That is likely a trade-off, and I will admit that I am uncertain which I like better.

But the coherence is necessary if the show is to have subsequent seasons. That fact looks clearly like a lesson from “The Sound of My Voice.” SOMV ended in a way that made a sequel difficult, as did one of my other favorites from that period: “The Master.” (I miss Philip Seymour Hoffman.)

The same could be said of OA season 1. OAS1, however, did have enough hooks in the story to make OAS2 possible.

For me, the series is a rich source of writing prompts. But…

<Spoiler Alert>

…OAS1 and OAS2 do suffer from a serious problem: “don’t try this at home.” Some people might interpret the show in a way that they are inspired to take risks that can bring harm to themselves or others. Again, “don’t try this at home.”

Don’t jump up and start dancing and wiggling your fingers if you see a school shooter coming.

OAS2 suffers from another flaw that only some people will catch but that bothers me deeply: some aspects of the mental health settings are out of the 1950’s and others are just wrong or inconsistent.

In the Joe Biden (San Francisco) timeline, is Hap an MD psychiatrist or PhD psychologist? He sounds like one at times, an MD especially in OAS1 in the morgue scene, yet acts much like a PhD in other parts. Ditto for Homer in OAS2, especially when he says he decided to go into “clinical psychology” (PhD).

Some might think I am splitting hairs, but the training and mindsets that emerge from that training can make a huge difference in how the characters would act and what their character arc would be. The problem is even deeper. While in theory anyone can enter either program with the right grades and test scores, in reality MDs are typically chemistry majors or biology majors and those are quite different tribes from the tribe of psychology majors who aim for PhD in Clinical Psyc.

Confusing the two is like confusing bicycles and canoes. Both are vehicles, and neither are quite like sports cars or jet boats (seasoned professionals in the respective fields).

Some of the mental health is out of the 1950s, 1970s at best. For a movie MUCH closer to how modern mental health operates, watch The Dream Team with Michael Keaton et al. As an aside, Keaton’s Clean and Sober was brilliant both in general and in terms of its portrayal of treatment and early recovery from addiction.

“Managed Care” destroyed “field trips” for the most part, except maybe outside AA meetings sometimes, and much of mental health has been affected (unfavorably) by “managed care,” but I have a “shout out” to the idiots in Hollyweird in general: GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. MAKE A BOLD LEAP INTO THE ’90’s. At least rise to the level of “Clean and Sober” and “Dream Team.” (Now that I think about it, “Michael Clayton” also gets it right.)

Locked units don’t have unattended supply closet doors unlocked. That is a firing offense, and the staff know it. The staff don’t let people go to the back just because someone shows up and claims to be a detective. Patient ID numbers and other essential security are required, otherwise staff members repeat “I can neither confirm nor deny” and ask the person to leave. The “detective” threatening staff with “calling the police” doesn’t happen, in fact it is the other way around, especially if he doesn’t leave immediately after the request for the security info.

And staff never chase a non-patient who is leaving. They call 911, and the police do that. If SOA2 wanted to get this right, they would have Alfonso (in the Joe Biden timeline) and some of his FBI co-workers show up and “take over” once the police apprehended the pair. That would have been a little more believable, and some interesting plot twists could have been spun out of it.

Want to make Hap more interesting in the Biden (San Francisco) timeline? Give him a corrupt local police Sergeant who does some of his dirty work, and make Alfonso (in the Biden timeline) of the FBI at cross purposes. No need to make this police procedural, but it is a side plot that can remedy some of the problems and also lays the groundwork for a spin-off.

Frankly, the list of mistakes is too long to put in a blog entry, and this entry is already in “tl;dr” territory.

The show still excels beyond most of what is currently available despite these errors (which irritate the hell out of me). I love the near death experiences and strange dance like rituals and hints of walk-ins and starseeds. Just don’t screw up the mental health stuff.

Consider an old passage from TV Guide when it was still on paper in the 1990’s regarding the X-Files: we can accept two headed space aliens on the X-Files but revolt when someone tries to convince us that Muldur and Sculley can make it from Baltimore to Northern Virginia, across DC, in ninety minutes.

Same here.

</Spoiler Alert>

Frequent Fliers and Repeat Offenders

“Why is he here?” Not a scream, but the anger in his voice bubbled out. He was a street bum level schizophrenic. He wondered in and out of his Section 8 housing. When he was on his meds, a local pimp squeezed him for money. The hookers in the housing weren’t enough money. Out of cash, he would go out on the streets and panhandle. Off his meds, he would land here.

He had seen the lawyer before. The lawyer was visiting clients at the jail the last time he landed there after directing traffic in the nude at 2 AM on a Tuesday. He didn’t like the guy. He didn’t trust lawyers.

The unemployed, broken, old fat guy lawyer looked at him then glanced away, pretending to stare at something outside. He knew he had to be here, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Sharyl stayed mute. Most of the time a borderline would be on the trauma unit. But after she attacked another group member, she pretended to hear voices so she wouldn’t go to jail. The psychiatrists knew just what to do: they put her here with the schizophrenics. But it was not punishment, it was for evaluation.

Rosalyn spoke up. It was her turn. “I went to a meeting. They told me I was powerless over my addiction. I admitted I was powerless. So, I knew what to do.” She stopped the booze and cocaine. Once she stopped taking the major tranquilizers, she was headed back here. “I did it. And then I could hear God. I could hear the God of my understanding. I could hear the angels, their voices. I could hear them all, everything.” She began decompensating into echolalia. “The voices of the angels are everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere.” She perseverated.

The social worker stopped her. “Thanks, Rosalyn.”

Sharyl “knew” that she was “better than the others.” Her husband had been in the Navy, and that was a blessing since he beat her in his alcoholic rages. Blacked out, he never remembered anything. Her father had done the same thing. So did her lovers. Since they were evil, she knew it was OK to put shit in their food.

Who could blame her?

“How are you today, Sharyl?” The question seemed worn in this setting.

Sharyl had an array of standard responses and stories. She knew to tell the sad ones and cry so that the therapist would believe that she was authentic.

Parts of the stories are true. The best parts were lies, stolen from other patients.

The social worker had heard thousands of variants. The content didn’t matter. She wanted to see how the emotions were processed. And she knew to pretend to believe the borderline even though she didn’t, she knew better.

The same was true for the lawyer.

The other Sharyl was depressed. Why was she here? She wasn’t crazy.

The social worker sat back with a subtle sigh. The stream of misery seemed endless.

Some people made actual progress, but the only ones who came back were the ones who failed, frequent fliers and repeat offenders.