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small steps toward justice

Two years ago, I submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice.

My older son’s school had recently changed owners. I was sad to see the old owner go; she’d been so sweet to both my sons. On the other hand, she’d had to close the school baby room, which meant I’d had to move my then-infant son to a school that cost more than twice as much.

The new owners would be reopening the school’s baby room. If I could move my younger son back there, I’d pay half as much for his daycare. I was relieved by the prospect.

Unfortunately, two factors converged against his enrollment.

First, he’d recently been diagnosed with a severe egg allergy. Where he went, so went his EpiPen. Read more…

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Between books and life

[audio]

Library audiobooks were supposed to save me money.

Unfortunately–or is it fortunately, for other reasons?–I happened to check out Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile two weeks ago. I only made it a few chapters in before I realized I’d need my own print copies to highlight, annotate, and reference.

The book was so much more illuminating than anything else I’ve read, I decided to buy the four-book Incerto series it concluded. I listened to two of the three other books, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, while waiting for my Incerto box set to arrive.

Well, other audiobooks will save me money, I thought. So there’s that.

box set.png

The last time I was this excited about a box set, it had “Buffy” in the title

[vignette]

Last Monday, I left work sick. I briefly explained my concerns to a friend.

“Don’t be afraid to take medicine!” my friend replied. Read more…

each here, and each now

A few months ago, I wrote about visiting a new-to-me nurse practitioner. She was less interested in the mole I wanted checked out and more interested in my anxiety.

She recommended that I look into kundalini yoga. I said, sure, I’ll definitely do that.

I did nothing of the sort.

A few weeks ago, I read a book by a doctor who recommended kundalini yoga for its stress-relieving properties. Yeah, yeah, I thought, it’s magic, but no, thanks.

Then some serious insomnia hit me. I figured just about anything would be better than staring at my ceiling, wishing I were asleep. I followed a routine I found online, and was asleep within a few minutes of wrapping it up.

A couple weeks have passed and I’m starting to feel great.

Well, mostly.

I tried a new routine yesterday. “Ha! This is easy!” I thought, for the first 70 seconds or so.

Now, naturally, I’m sore all over. But you know what? Even the soreness every time I move is kinda nice. It reminds me what it’s like to be truly lost in the moment–in the movement–instead of thoughts and worries. 

Each little twinge reminds me that “here, now” is a pretty sweet place to be, each here, and each now.

so-called imbalances & so-called cures

In 2013, I began to suspect that mental illness was more than a simple matter of “chemical imbalance.” I didn’t say much about this suspicion, because I had very little–apart from personal experience–to substantiate it.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading Robert Whitaker’s 2010 Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Above and beyond confirming my suspicions with abundant (non pharma-funded) research studies, he tore apart the whole idea of mental illness as resulting from “chemical imbalance.”

Whitaker’s research suggested that “science” here was designed to fit very profitable pills from the beginning. Furthermore, and most alarmingly, he discovered strong correlations between medication and worse long-term outcomes. It was as if, he hypothesized in the book’s early pages, the medication itself was responsible for today’s mental health epidemic, with outcomes far worse than those reflected in a century’s worth of mental history data and for far, far more people.

There’s no way to summarize nearly 400 pages of meticulous documentation here. I won’t even bother, though I will encourage you to read the book if you’re curious what science actually supports.

What I do want share is a startling segment from the 2015 research afterward. It’s one thing to have a critic suggesting standard wisdom is far from wise; it’s another to have a member of the critiqued group confirming the same.

In a section titled “The Death of the Chemical Imbalance Story,” Whitaker includes an excerpt from an article written by the editor-in-chief emeritus of Psychiatric Times: Read more…

nope –> yep

about a week ago,
i finished reading
my 90th or 100th
thoroughly depressing
political book
in a year

my mind went, “great!
on to the next!”

alas, when my
eyes landed
on my to-read
pile, my body
replied with
a
visceral,
NOPE!

(enough grimness;
enough despair;
enough aching,
for now)

a week later,
my mind
continues
to say, “read more!
don’t become
complacent!”

meanwhile,
my body continues
to say,
NOPE!

so i tried
reading a health book
on my ereader
on break

one of my son’s
diary of a wimpy kid
books popped onto
the screen

i navigated away,
to my library,
and felt that
now-familiar
NOPE!
when i looked
at all the
“adult”
books

so i went
back to my son’s book

for ten minutes,
i laughed
from
my belly;
mind and body
together
hollering,
YEP!!!

Categories: Books, Health Tags: , ,

missed

Where software and clothing converge

For many months, I lost touch with the physical world while immersing myself in a virtual political one. To sustain that, I had too much coffee and too much beer; coupled with the fact I was no longer getting outside to move, I gained a lot of weight. 

I’m not too concerned with my weight as an isolated factor. I see it as a symptom, not itself a problem. Happily, after almost four years of figuring out which foods hurt my body and which ones heal it, I know exactly how to tackle the root causes of my feeling-crappy-ness. Doing so, I’ll feel much, much better … and my weight will change as a result.

What had bugged me, then? My clothing! I got to the point where I had four skirts and zero pairs of pants that fit me. I didn’t want to invest a bunch of money in clothing I’d only wear once or twice, so I spent a month wearing my least favorite clothing before deciding I had to change something.

How, I wondered, could I spend only a few dollars to cover a transition period? The answer came to me by virtue of my work in software licensing.

For ages, most companies bought their own hardware to run their software. Maintaining hardware was expensive and time-consuming, so that cloud computing was pretty exciting: all the software benefits, none of the hardware costs!*

Using software in the cloud, someone else has to maintain the hardware. With that “someone else” investing in all that infrastructure, the client company can use a little or a lot of hardware capacity … without having to constantly worry about hardware itself.

In a word, cloud computing offers easy scalability.

I needed that, but in clothing–something that would easily scale up and down with its hardware (me).

You know what provides scalability? Maternity clothes!

I bought a few pairs of pants and a few pairs of shorts. For the first time in a month or so, I actually felt good in what I was wearing.

It cost me all of $40, and will keep me covered across many sizes.

So, hey! Here’s to scalability, and making small investments to feel a little better now!

* There are plenty of other costs, by the way. Just don’t expect techies to care too much while oohing and aahing over new technologies!

Categories: Health, Learning Tags: ,
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