Bliss

I was right. Freed of gravity in the pool, every bone and joint, every muscle, even my arthritic little finger, stopped hurting. To my mind, if heaven existed it would have to be nothing more than a surcease from pain. And perhaps a pile of good books. The pile would not have to be all that big. My memory is so poor I can’t remember all the details of the best literature I’ve read, and I love rereading and rediscovering.

It’s like returning to a forgotten favourite place, finding it completely unchanged, yet observing things about it you know were there, but you never really noticed before.

I have just received in the mail the latest posthumously published complete volume of Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea collection. The novel that became a trilogy then five, then six novels plus more short stories. I have written before that this work, along with Tolkien’s Hobbit tales, contains, in my opinion, all one needs to know about being a decent human being, without the crappy trappings and hypocrisy of religion.

This is the third time I’ve bought the Earthsea volumes, but the first time I finally collected them all in one.

But I digress. I spent a full three hours in the pool today, despite the rain, and despite the water being the coolest I have experienced since I started swimming there. I was not swimming the whole time. Over an hour was spent leaning on a lane marker in conversation with two delightful people on a wide range of subjects from travel to racism and fish and chips and depression and exercise. I hope I meet them both again.

Returning to gravity was as unpleasant as always. I could hardly climb into the car. A quick trip to Aldi turned into an exhausting trek, and I’m buggered. In fact, it is now mid afternoon and I think I may have a late lunch of slow cooked vegetable soup and spend the rest of the day in bed with Ursula.

Thesis Proposal

They are strange creatures. I have studied them for some time, and still find their behaviour inexplicable. Despite almost constantly killing each other in various Skirmishes, battles and wars, anywhere, and at any time, around their planet, they rarely eat each other, even after mating. They don’t even eat their own young, although they can catch them easily.

Their genetic code differs greatly from ours. I have been unable to learn anything from those I have eaten. Thus I must learn from studying their behaviour, a task that seems dauntingly difficult.

They have no claws or ovipositors, but have developed an astonishing array of synthetic weapons with which to attack each other.   So far I have not determined the criteria on which they base their decision to attack, nor on their choice of weapon, which ranges from sharpened objects of various types and hand held projectile throwers, to extremely large mobile devices, having cooperative crews of many individuals and capable of throwing  projectiles and explosive devices over a great distance.

This interesting social construct of cooperative communities is a most alien concept, difficult to grasp. It consists of numbers of individuals, from small groups to large area-wide populations, and of any gender working together to construct habitats and also to craft these various devices with which to attack each other. In some areas, these attacks are ritual in nature, and death rarely results. In other areas whole communities attack and slaughter other communities, with devices designed to make holes in vital organs, or to disintegrate them entirely.

How they learn the skills required without eating each other I have yet to discover.

How individuals decide to cooperate with some, yet attack and destroy other groups, I have been unable to determine. It may involve territoriality. There appears to be some form of genetically coded ritual involved. They may not be able to consciously choose, despite the appearance of rational behaviour on occasion.

A difficult ritual to understand, from my perspective, takes place on designated pathways where individuals or small cooperative groups enter various forms of mobile device and ritually pass each other at high speed, apparently seeking suitable prey. These pathways cover most of the land mass where terrain permits and cross territorial boundaries.

At seemingly random intervals, somewhere along these paths one device will crash into another, or into some feature of the environment. This may result in injury or death of some or all participants. For some reason, survivors rarely attempt to finish off and eat any others still alive. In fact they cooperate to ensure any injured or damaged individuals are taken away to places where they can be repaired.

It is this custom of repairing themselves that I find the most inexplicable of all. After doing their best to kill and maim each other, they then go to great lengths to to repair damaged individual survivors, rather than eat them. Without that, how do they learn from each other?

How the individuals who carry out the repairs are able to restrain themselves from eating those damaged ones needs to be studied further. Perhaps they use some form of inhibitor to suppress the natural cannibal instinct. They may be a separate sub-species genetically primed to repair rather than attack. If their genes have somehow combined with those of the general population, it may explain the strange dichotomy of behaviour planetwide. How it helps with the continuation of the species will take considerable further study. I may be witnessing some new evolution of the Survival Directive.

I shall not return to mate and be eaten until I have incorporated a satisfactory explanation of the above phenomena into my matrix.

Getting Better is Not as Easy as You May Think

The first step towards getting well is admitting you have a problem. Since I recognised my condition, I have striven to overcome it with alcohol, drugs, and mindless activity. But I must always be alert, because the golden retriever of cheerfulness can sneak up on one at any time and inevitably leads to serious disruptions of normality.

It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder…..

https://jme.bmj.com/content/medethics/18/2/94.full.pdf

Impulse Control

At the Really Really Fat Persons’ Support Group today it was the turn of the psychologist. We learned about triggers, thoughts and feelings, and ways to control our base gourmand impulses.

I took the impulse control lesson to heart, and practiced it on the drive home. As I drove up to the corner where Beefy’s Pies is located, I had a sudden impulse to drive on by and just go home for a salad later in the evening. Why this even occurred to me at all I have no idea, but I fought it manfully with the deep breathing technique I had just learned.

I turned into Beefy’s car park and went to order 1875 kJ of delight. Just to demonstrate to myself I had this impulse rubbish under control, I deliberately and considerately ordered chips and a cappucino as well. Add on another 1800 kJ. That was lunch and dinner taken care of in one fell impulse control. Sod the lettuce.

On to the pool, where I proceeded to burn off the surplus energy. Two hours and an estimated 6,000 negative kJ later it is 6:30 already and I am wondering why it’s dark. How did that happen? The pool is becoming my Happy Place.

Now the uncomfortable return of gravity. It’s time to go home.

All I need this evening is a mandarin and a mineral water.

I’ve got this.

Aberdeen

I’ve been a wanderer all of my life, and many’s the sight I’ve seen…

There is no Aberdeen to which I long to return. My whole life has been spent moving on. There has never been anywhere for me to return to, because it was no longer there after I left.

I can remember two homes in England before I was five. We had five more homes in four towns in New Zealand before I was eleven.

The most stable period of my youth was my teenage years in West Auckland. After that I moved around a lot again, until I acquired a family and had a second, relatively stable, period with them in only three locations. And that didn’t last either. Not nearly as long as I wanted. It was not my choice. Which does not mean it was not my fault. I don’t know.

What I do know is there is nowhere to which I can return. No family seat, no family. Just scattered relatives. A few friends.

In the small hours I wonder “What if?” There is no answer except the soft early call of the magpie who roosts in the trees behind my caravan.

I ponder the events that led me here. Living with anyone is difficult. When does the effort become too much? Is the person wiser who decides “enough” or the one who keeps trying? Who is at fault, when someone calls enough? Perhaps the fault must always be borne by both.

I am trying to be more zen in my introspection and self-appraisal. I accept what is, but still can’t help wondering what if? I am the sum of my memories. I owe it to myself and the world to ensure my memories are honest and clear.

I was not a good son, I was not a good brother, I proved to be a poor husband, Twice. I truly don’t know any more what kind of father I was. I want to write accurately about my memories. Of what made me what I am. That will not always put me in a good light, but it also may not please those who get to see themselves as I saw them. They may see my perception of causality as blame. But one does not blame the sun for sunburn. It is what happens.

Well. Wow. I didn’t know that was where I was going when I started this post.

Poor Old Horse

I’m paying for all this activity with extra aches and pains, but I keep telling myself it’s a good thing, and it will get better. As long as I keep my knees from twisting while they are flexing. It happens sometimes while pedalling. That fuckin’ hurts badly. I cannot ride with the ball of my foot on the pedals because the positioning of the seat, handlebars and pedals do not allow me to bend my knees that far. So I pedal with my heels. Because I am a bit splay-footed my knees poke out sideways. I need to be careful to avoid the sideways twinge. Pain is a good tutor.

Now while I ride there is a more acceptable sort of pain developing in my thigh and calf muscles, which tells me they are burning energy and performing work. I am now pedalling all the time, with the electric assist set to minimum. The boost is off, so the accelerator doesn’t work. That means the bike only helps when I’m actually pedalling. I’ve been heading out further afield and encountering some slightly more challenging hills. Definitely need the gears. I know I’m contributing significantly to my own progress because apart from being able to feel it, I’ve learned to read the LED lights that tell me how much contribution the bike is making. Also I’ve used up less battery charge by the time I get home even though I’m venturing further.

I’m still marvelling to myself how much I’m enjoying this effort.

In the water, things are even better. The initial shoulder aches and pains last less than fifteen minutes at the beginning of my swim. After that, endorphins or muscle memory or something kicks in and I seem to be able to just keep swimming. Slow and steady. Today I swam another 140 minutes, yesterday 130. I still resist my tendency to count Strokes and laps as I go, cycling through mantras like “Just keep swimming” “Om mane padme Om” finally, to trying to fit sea shanties into my rhythm. While trying to remember all the verses and versions. To quote Dylan Thomas; “Time passes”.

As an aside, by sheer coincidence, today was “Talk Like a Pirate Day”.

Yaarrrr!

Poor Old Man

A poor old man

Came riding by.

And we say so,

And we know so.

O, a poor old man

Came riding by,

O, poor old man.

Says I, “Old man,

Your horse will die.”

And we say so,

And we know so.

And if he dies

we’ll tan his hide.

O, poor old man.

And if he don’t,

I’ll ride him again.

And we say so,

And we know so.

And I’ll ride him

‘Til the Lord knows when,

O, poor old man.

He’s dead as a nail

In the lamp room door,

And we say so,

And we know so.

And he won’t come

Worrying us no more

O, poor old man.

We’ll use the hair of his tail

To sew our sails

And we say so,

And we know so.

And the iron of his shoes

To make deck nails,

O, poor old man.

Drop him down

With a long long rope

And we say so,

And we hope so.

Where the sharks have his body

And the devil takes his soul!

O, poor old man.

Another Version

Poor Old Horse

They say, old man,

your horse will die

(And they say so, and we hope so)

They say, old man,

your horse will die

(Oh poor old man)

And if he dies then we’ll tan his hide

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and if he dies then we’ll tan his hide

(Oh poor old man)

And if he lives then we’ll ride again

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and if he lives then we’ll ride again

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s after years of sore abuse

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Then we’ll salt him down for the sailors’ use

(Oh poor old man)

He’s as dead as a nail in the lamp room floor

(And they say so, and we hope so)

He’s as dead as a nail in the lamp room floor

(Oh poor old man)

Aye and he won’t bother us no more

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and he won’t bother us no more

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s Sally’s in the garden and she’s picking the peas

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and her long black hair’s hangin’ down to her knees

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s Sally’s in the kitchen and she’s baking the duff

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and the cheeks of her arse are going chuff, chuff, chuff

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s down the long and the winding road

(And they say so, and we hope so)

And it’s down the long and the winding road

(Oh poor old man)

It’s mahogany beef and the weevily bread

(And they say so, and we hope so)

It’s mahogany beef and the weevily bread

(Oh poor old man)

And I thought I heard the Old Man say

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Just one more pull and then belay

(Oh poor old man)

Just one more pull and that will do

(And they say so, and they hope so)

For we’re the lads to kick her through

(Oh poor old man)

Questionnaire


How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.


For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.


What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.


In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.


State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

Wendell Berry

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