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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eponymous Posting

In my attempt to "Stave it Off" I have taken a few anti-depressant steps. They didn't have anything to do with medications, but I think I might be on the right track. First, I played softball yesterday in the gorgeous afternoon sunlight. My knee didn't feel right, but it didn't hurt either (so I felt a little hopeful relief about that.) Secondly, I stopped listening to Low and put on a Finley Quaye CD. Lastly, I found my Evil/Good switch on my back and flipped it back to good.


Before and After: Instant results!

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Extra Innings

Saturday afternoon, the Lookout Landing Baseball Bloggers had softball day part deux. Pictorial evidence can be found here.

The important thing is that long after the season was supposed to be over, I got to sneak in another afternoon of softball (even with my gimpy knee.) And, as a special treat, I got to hang out with Phil and Jimmimoose, who drove up from Portland for the festivities. Playing softball is way better than being depressed.


Jimmimoose makes a highlight reel catch... I was quietly psyched that I got the shot.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Went to see Low at the Triple Door

The venue is an excellent idea. The audience sit in scalloped table booths that stretch back to accommodate 150-200 guests. There are balcony boxes above. The food is taken from the Wild Ginger menu, and the cocktails are good if pricey. I think they rarely get acts that I want to see (judging by the posters in the bathroom) but I got to see Low there on Wednesday night with my old friend Danny.

Oddly, the last time I did something social with Danny was when we went to see Low at the Tractor Tavern with my mother... about 7 years ago.

Danny and his girlfriend Jennifer liked this tune the best:



And this was my favorite.


"When they found your body, giant x's on your eyes...
and with your half of the ransom, you bought some sweet sweet sweet sweet sunflowers
and gave them to the night.

"Underneath the Star of David, a hundred years behind my eyes...
and with my half of the ransom, I bought some sweet sweet sweet sweet sunflowers
and gave them to the night.

And looking at other Low videos on YouTube, I thought this was the best:

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Published Elsewhere - Quoted in Entirety

Art of Darkness by Zach Gartenberg

A writer for the New York Times Magazine (Sept. 16, 2007), in reflecting on Owen Wilson's recent suicide attempt, wrote about her own experience with depression: "each time it occurs, I am struck by how paralyzing and isolating the experience is; it remains essentially impenetrable to people who can't (or don't care to) distinguish it from a random bad day." Later in the article, she remarks: "people who want to end it all have lost the necessary illusions that make their life bearable." Depression is an illness that affects many creative people. Those who have the keenness and verbal acuity to describe the experience often lend it an aesthetic meaning by virtue its profound and inscrutable painfulness. But there are serious disadvantages to making an artistic object out of a mental illness; literary treatments of this kind, it should be recognized, often ignore the practical and distort the difference between sickness and health.

Depression — to bring matters close to home — subverts the attempts of many students to have normal college careers. A student begins the semester at point A, and point B is not the end of the semester, but a premature departure for home — or the hospital. It is very difficult to halt the trajectory from A to B, and the reason for that has been suggested by writers on depression from William James to William Styron. The ubiquitous view of these writers is that their condition is too subjective and complex to be accurately described. If normal people can't recognize it, and depressed people can't communicate it, how can it be addressed effectively and in time? Yet the picture of depression as inaccessible to normal people merely reveals this difficulty without offering a positive solution to it.

Depression, while a mood disorder, ultimately affects and is expressed through one's behavior. And this fact does suggest ways to understand and deal with it. There are objective ways to tell that your friend is depressed – I mean clinically depressed – without reading his mind. (One indicator is that he seems to have withdrawn from the general sphere of human activity.) Most important, it is ultimately through regulating one's behavior that serious depression can be dealt with. By that I mean doing a few very practical things, impossible for a depressive person in the midst of an episode, absolutely essential for that person while not in one: taking medications as directed, exercising, eating healthily, talking to people, seeing a therapist. It is therefore unproductive to dwell, as many writers do, on the inscrutability of the experience of depression, when its symptoms are visible to sensitive observers and preventable by the very people who are at risk.

One can, I believe, only mitigate the effects of depression in concrete ways. Intellectualizing the experience, rendering it poetic, and exploring its enigma can be nothing more than challenging literary exercises. There is nothing wrong with taking up such exercises. But, while reading works like Styron's "Darkness Visible," one should bear in mind two things: (1) that meaningful accounts of depression can extend beyond the phenomenology of the illness; (2) that it is often by refusing to give depression's internal pain the time of day that the afflicted learn to cope with it.

What is misleading and perhaps harmful in writing on depression, however, is the notion that depression is what happens when one no longer has any illusions to prop him up. The message of the writer for the Times is that we must distort reality in order to tolerate it. Depressed people, she seems to say, see it like it is, and it does not look good. But that would seem to relieve them of combating their condition and all of the untrue thoughts that come with it. A sense of barren disillusionment is surely a feature of the experience of depression, but, in fact, the experience itself rests on illusions – that one is worthless, that things are hopeless, and so on. The idea that a healthy person is in some deep way deceived about the world is itself an illusion, one to which many writers on depression are prone. Writers who depict things this way lose sight of what is most important for those with depression to remember: that it is when one is healthy that one sees clearly.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Onions and Zucchini Blossoms











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BummerMan Weekend

My knee hurts. It's been over a week. I still can't run or jump or skip or be merry, like all the other little lambs. I have a new tennis racket that I can't use. I probably won't be able to play basketball for the second straight week.

I got an email from an old friend Tarjan, which reminded me of Garrett, which depresses me... since Garrett isn't my friend anymore, which is one of the sadder facts in my life. Writing to Tarjan also reminded me of Ivy, another person with whom I no longer have any contact. Tragedy abounds.

I went to see a movie, to escape my blues. I saw Shoot 'Em Up, hoping for escapist entertainment. Instead, I got the worst movie I have ever seen. Yes, it was worse than Crash. It should win every Razzie award this year. I'm depressed that I wasn't proactive enough to actually walk out of the theater.

But Soapy loved it, which confirms that I have nothing in common with my friends. Which makes me feel even more alienated.

And then I went to Vashon Island, in order to surround myself with beautiful Washingtonian nature. Vashon Island sucks. I've never seen an uglier less inviting patch of rural west coast.

And I have a lot of laundry to do.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Baseball's Tarnished Modern Era

I don't like the idea that people only get riled up about Barry Bonds. Ignoring the race question for the moment, I dislike the focus on Bonds because people feel like taking over the #1 all-time home run record is the only record that's important. This post is really about Ken Griffey Jr.

As a kid, I poured over the all-time numbers. My buddies and I could all recite the top ten home run hitters and their totals. And I knew all of the next 20-30 (though maybe not in order.)

This year more active players leapfrogged hall of famers like Dave Winfield, Stan Musial and Willie Stargell in the all-time lists. And these guys had already been pushed down the list by modern steroid-using players like Bonds, McGwire and Sosa... as have Mike Schmidt, Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx.

Now I ain't no George Will, but I'm conservative enough to mourn the idea that some of these great ballplayers are being pushed into obscurity. Aaron, Ruth, Mays isn't some kind of holy trinity to me. But...

Bonds
Aaron
Ruth
Mays
Sosa
Robinson
McGwire
Killebrew
Palmiero
Griffey...

sounds more like a Letterman top ten list than the top ten sluggers of all time. Five of them played during the steroid era (and of the lot, only Griffey's name remains unlinked to illegal substances.)

I posted this argument on a sports blog recently. I figured that with four of the top ten homerun hitters of all time being KNOWN USERS of steroids/HGH someone would be bothered by this. Apparently, they weren't. They claim to be so good at seeing past the numbers and recognizing the context those numbers are achieved in that it doesn't matter to them.

My rebuttal was that the initial twinkles of fandom (the ones that start when you're 11 years old) don't account for dead ball eras or park adjustments. And I think Bud Selig, and everyone else entrusted with the well-being of the national pastime, have a duty to try to keep the nature of the game as similar as possible across eras. So that numbers are roughly comparable.
My argument isn't that HGH or Steroids are wrong. But that we dishonor the history of the game with a system where 20-40% (my unscientific estimate) of players are using some kind of doping advantage, and the rest are not. If everyone is taking human growth hormones, great.... it's an even playing field. Instead, we have a game where a few players wind up putting up some pretty crooked numbers.

But, as a thought experiment... let's say Ken Griffey Jr. is the one guy out of this generation of super-sluggers that didn't cheat. How much MORE special does that make his accomplishments then compared to all the rest? What if he were the only modern addition to the top 10 list... coasting in at number six with this year's totals? What if we were all witnessing the ascendancy of this generation's finest player into the pantheon of "greatest players ever"? Instead we saw an entire new cast of characters dethrone Hank Aaron and push their way into the record books. We saw hall of fame veterans committee members grumbling about this new crop of steroid-fueled mashers rather than embracing the newest generation of stars. And we saw images of these same sluggers lying, or refusing to answer questions, in front of congressional committees.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Excellence in cartooning

Simple, not requiring any great art skillz, but it gets the job done:




(click on the image for a more legible version, and to access the host site)

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Puzzled

My boss Steve got me with this one. And he waited three months to tell me the answer.

What English word changes from masculine to feminine and from plural to singular when you add an "S" to it?

If no one gets it, I'll post the answer in the comments section.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In Pursuit of Life's Petty Goals

I have a list somewhere in the back of my mind. I add to it and cross things off now and then. It contains all the vain little goals that seem like they might bring me satisfaction. When I'm old and spend more time looking backward than forward, I imagine that having a list with lots of check marks next to it will help me embrace my senescence.

There are all sorts of things on the list... writing a novel, recording a CD worth of original music, hitting a walk-off home run, etc. One of the newer items on the list is having an original crossword published by the New York Times. Today I sent my first submission to Mr. Will Shortz. I've been told response time can take up to four months, so I may not hear back until 2008.

I had Diane proof the first version of my submitted puzzle and reworked it significantly after she finished it (I replaced the lame word DEFOAMER with RECORDER which meant redesigning about 25% of the grid.) Apparently the Times even pay people $200 per puzzle. I really don't care about the money... I just want to save a copy of the NYT with "Puzzle by John Streimikes" written on it. I'm sure that will help me believe that my life was well-spent when I have to face my mortality some day.

So what's on your list?

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