Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Mechanics of Morality

When we look at Christians with their passionate promulgation of moral edicts, hardly a day goes by without some Christian leader caught in flagrante delicto committing some sin against which they strenuously preached, even with the greatest desire to do good, they fail. Like the Apostle Paul, "The good that I would do, that I do not do; that which I would not do, that I do." Two millennia of exhortations not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to murder, etc. And still, there seems to be an even greater prevalence of immoral behavior. If the preachers of morality are to be believed, not only has immoral not decreased, immorality has become even more common. Their cure for this complete failure of Teaching Morality? The promulgation of even more vehement moral edicts. The medicine has not worked, therefore we must try even stronger doses. The cure for this failure of morality? More morality!  Like an addicts, they all swear that just a little more of their preferred poison will set them right.

Occasionally, the local morality fits with someone's character and way of life. Such a lucky soul is called "good." Those poor souls whose character and way of life are not so suited to the local morality are called evil and bad.

Proscribing desires and "immoral" behavior does little to change an individual's inclinations or behaviors. The desires proscribed by the local morality do not go away because they get called bad names. They find other ways to achieve release and expression. Any one who has seen church politics firsthand will tell you that egoism, selfishness, the lust for power, petty vindictiveness do not go away merely by uttering a few prayers and phrasing the decision-making process as finding God's Will or some other such silliness. No, morality is largely ineffective as means of regulating individual behavior and psychology.

Morality does, however, declare some parts of human life as not fit for public discussion. These "immoral" parts of human life when mentioned, if at all, are spoken of in whispers as something shameful. As something "good" people don't have, don't do and probably don't even know about.

The easiest and clearest example of this is teenage sexual behavior and "abstinence-based sex education." As if, telling teenagers not to have sex will prevent teenagers from having sex and stop teen pregnancy. Oh, if only someone had only thought of this before! The long sought after solution! And it is so simple. The people who advocate abstinence-only sex education don't remember what it was like to be a teenager.

No. In school districts in which abstinence-only education has been abandoned STD rates decline along with the rate for teen pregnancies. Morality creates problems. It increases human suffering and misery. Morality allows adults to avoid their own discomfort at the cost of the well-being their children. Morality encourages hiding one's "immoral qualities" so as to appear respectable to one's peers. In practice "immoral qualities" means anything that would set one apart from one's peers. Morality encourages cowardly, sanctimonious conformity. What is the weapon to enforce conformity? Ostracism, slut-shaming.

Morality doesn't change human motivations, not does it lead to behavioral changes. It smears filth on parts of human life. For those of us not playing on Jesus' team, necessary parts of human social, emotional and bodily life. We will do what we would absent moral disapproval, only now we get to feel bad about it all. Morality, and Christian morality in particular, tells that human beings are all failures, whether we admit it or not. "No one is good, no not one" (from one of the Apostle Paul's Epistles, I forget which).

If everyone is a moral failure, it follows that every one is in need of Baptism in the Blood of the Lamb. No exceptions.

However, human beings are uncanny amalgations of weakness and strength, good and evil, divinity coming led with the most abject filth, all mixed inseperably together, so that to do human nature justice we would have to invent new gods and demi-gods as well as demons and devils.

Any more, when I think about morality with its weary some cycle of failure and redemption followed by failure followed by redemption (sometimes called forgiveness of one's trespasses) followed by failure ad nauseum, I can't help but think that it's a scam for the benefit of the Preacher Class and anyone else claiming to traffic with higher powers. They tell us what to feel bad about, and they tell us what to do so as to stop feeling bad, for a little while at least. Curiously, none of these preacher-types don't have a cure for sin that doesn't require repeat donations to their church.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Something About Monogamy and My Divorce

It's probably bad form to take more than a few months to get over the break up of a romantic relationship that only lasted a decade or two. Protracted mourning of a disastrous end even to a deeply felt and profoundly meaningful relationship is felt to be something shameful, a disgusting wallowing in a disappointed self-pitying infantilism.

Human Sexuality in all its varieties is a peculiar thing. Many times it is not at all what a person expects it to be. Just look at the coming out stories of many gays and lesbians, especially of those poor souls coming from conservative Christian homes. The heart wants what the heart wants, or rather the genitals want what the genitals want. Sexual monogamy is not a necessary prerequisite for intimacy. Sexual monogamy does, however, make possible it's own peculiar forms and possibilities for intimacy. When a monogamous relationship is also heterosexual, there is a seemingly infinite abundance of possible forms to choose from to reinforce and deepen intimacy between a man and a woman. Even now marriage is still primarily between 2 people. The ideal marriage is still looked upon as founded on commitment to one another and on the creation of intimacy. And what is intimacy? Perpetually finding oneself with unfinished business with another person.

Once upon a time marriage was not felt to be a mere personal choice akin to selecting a wedding gown or a restaurant for tonight's dinner.It was arranged or it was a calculation to achieve an end. The idea of God sanctioning marriage made it more than private, personal choice, hence the difficulty if not impossibility of divorce.

If marriage is something other than yet another personal choice, then there are standards for determining what counts as a "good" and ideal marriage, and what does not, as well as everything in between. This means some possible marriage arrangements are excluded and others are deemed praiseworthy. Once marriage became primarily a matter of personal choice for idiosyncratic reasons, same-sex marriage was inevitable. It also meant an increasing divorce rate and greater likelihood of infidelity.

Considered as a simple personal choice, it does seem that needing more than a few months to get over a disastrous end to a relationship is excessive. It is not prudent to invest oneself so deeply and committedly in a relationship, romantic or otherwise. The only payout for a broken heart is irredeemable pain. Consequently, grief and severe depression lasting years resulting from a disastrous end to a relationship is one's own damn fault. The egoism that would declare one's love for anyone to be of such high passion, is unseemly. One should just get over it already. It is a pain no one wants to hear about, at least not without getting paid to listen.

I know in my case the roots of my untimely conception of marriage. Growing up, we moved around a lot. I attended 6 or 7 grade schools before high school. Life was always unsettled. New schools, new "friends", new bus stops, new schedules. As I've written elsewhere there were ongoing conflicts between my parents. There would be months at a time when they would only communicate with one another through us kids. And there were always conflicts about money. And there were other grounds for conflict which I am forgetting or of which I was only dimly aware. But all through this like the foundation of the world, my parents stayed married for 38 years before Dad found himself a woman half his age & twice his size. Even though I was 24 or 25 at the time, the divorce hit me hard. I don't think I ever really understood why until now.

Zoya leaving me almost killed me. I was in a severe depression for 4 or 5 years. The sudden, unexpected, brutal disillusionment. The discovery that I had been living in a fool's paradise undid me. Given the depth of my disillusionment, it's painfully obvious to say in hindsight that I should have known better. Anyone who's read much of this blog will recognize right away that an awful lot of "who I am" is tied up with being as severely honest with myself about myself and about the world around me as I can possibly be. My grand disillusionment was especially bitter and demoralizing.

De omnibus dubitandum. Be suspicious of everything! (generally attributed to Descartes) Very specific experiences lie at the root of the appeal of that phrase to me and I won't discuss them here. Mainly because it was a modus operandi that I had already adopted long before I ever heard of Descartes. My grand disillusionment raised troubling questions that had to be sorted out. Was I especially prone to self-deception, did it even make sense to find my out of mazes of my own making? To what extent could the "grandness" of my disillusionment have been mitigated? Or was the whole project of de omnibus dubitandum doomed from the get-go? To what extent had I become fat and lazy, complacent even, to believe that I had worked out that part of my life?

When I think now, of how I felt about my marriage to Zoya, I remember feelings of certainty. It was a certainty that I arrived at reluctantly. I was careful but over the time that we were together my fears and suspicions were gradually laid to rest. I could find no reason to doubt that I had found a certainty that was above and beyond the comings and goings of feelings and moods. I was living my life emotionally, spiritually, professionally, socially, and in every other conceivable way as if I was going to be married to Zoya for the rest of my life. When we met I thought she might be the woman with whom I would spend the rest of my lie. Over time, that hope gradually turned into fact and the cornerstone of my life & place in the world. Divorce? Infidelity? Those things happened to other people.

After the dissolution of my marriage, I was left alone with my questions and my conscience. Being left alone with one's conscience is the most brutal spiritual experience that I can imagine. What it really means is that my conscience became my torturer-interrogator. Everything had to be reexamined, subjected to minute scrutiny. Every thought, every feeling, every whimsical passing fancy had to explain itself and justify itself. The starting point was, as would be expected for someone brought on a nasty version of Christianity, my completely abject worthlessness. Not even as a human being, my humanity was also thoroughly cross-examined and worked over. I think of this process as reading my own entrails much in the same way ancient diviners would read bird entrails in the Roman Empire. It was as much punishment as it was truth-seeking.

One of the signs of clinical depression is excessive fault finding in oneself. When in a severe depressive episode a person might seem calm, even inert, to other people, but internally, there is a raging hell-storm of anger, self-recrimination, fault-finding, hurled epithets, all fueled by an eagerness, a lust even, to believe every possible bad thing about oneself. In high school I went through something similar as a culmination of a series of unacknowledged traumas. Then, as with this last hell-storm, I had no one close to me to whom I could turn for understanding or a kind word that was more than perfunctory, rote encouragement that only betrayed complete ignorance of my emotional life.

This is what I mean by being left alone with one's conscience. If memory serves, in the Book of Job, Satan is referred to as "the Accuser." It's hardly surprising that I had difficulty performing even the most minimal self-care: eating, occasionally showering, getting out of bed. Anything beyond that like brushing my teeth, eating a balanced healthy diet, keeping in touch with friends and family, etc. were far beyond me. Obligations beyond the bare minimum turned into occasions for self-blame. I looked at myself and saw only failure, despair, powerlessness, filth, disgust with myself, and then disgust that I occasionally found my enjoying the self-flagellation, the hope/belief that it all made me somehow superior.

Even if it didn't always seem so at the time, it all really was about answering my questions. Was I especially prone to self-deception, did it even make sense to find my out of mazes of my own making? To what extent could the "grandness" of my disillusionment have been mitigated? Or was the whole project of de omnibus dubitandum doomed from the get-go? To what extent had I become fat and lazy, complacent even, to believe that I had worked out that part of my life once and for all?

I've believed for a long time that there is an internal arrangement to our drives, passions, and desires that had its own logic. I used to call it the logic of one's passions. Used to, this was called a person's character. The internals come to an arrangement and ranking based on their relative strengths (not the same as felt intensity). This internal arrangement then shows itself outwardly to other people in how the person arranges and organizes his surroundings through words and deeds. I had this all more or less worked out long before I stumbled across Heraklitos' "Character is destiny."

What does this have to do with anything? We engage the world because of our character and with the panache that our character requires. We love what enhances us. In what I would call deep intimacy, our beloved allows us to take the logic of our passions further and further, to infinity and beyond, to quote Buzz Lightyear. The desire for intimacy, and especially for deep intimacy once tasted, creates phantasms which when shared only deepen and prolong intimacy. When these phantasms are not shared but haven't been contradicted by reality—yet? The phrase "fool's paradise" comes to mind.

My inability to form enduring convictions is profound. Maybe it's because of my ADD, maybe it's something else. But looking back, it was always perfectly clear that I would never have been able to remain stuck in the conviction that I was a worse than a worthless piece of shit [shit, worthless shit, even, is still worth something as fertilizer, maybe there's a metaphor hidden here]. My spiritual restless is congenital.

Another way to describe that hell-storm of the last several years is as wrestling with my conscience. The story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord was always one of my favorite Bible stories, even as a small child. Sometimes those years appear in my memory as an endless trek through some featureless, barren arctic wasteland under dull gray skies, with little memory of where I came from and less knowledge of where I was going. Endlessly slogging along day after day.

These last few years did give me the right to be confident in some answers to my questions. No, I am not unusual in my propensity to self-deception. Willfully avoiding acknowledgment of some of the unpleasantnesses of one's life is intrinsic to being a social animal. Avoidance of unpleasant truths is necessary for social life, and especially agreement as to just which unpleasant truths are to remain unacknowledged.

I also learned a couple of things about myself. The isolation that my father inflicted upon us all created two things: an awareness of a capacity for profound intimacy coupled with an equally great ignorance of the means to create that intimacy. Or maybe the feeling of ignorance is misleading. The means to create intimacy: time, repeatedly sharing little moments, experiences together until suddenly hitherto an unnoticed shared privacy with endless unfinished business.

Do I think everyone should be monogamous? Why? Just because that is the kind of relationship that I am happiest with? Human sexualities are diverse. Many people get hung up on monogamy because it was so highly valued for so long. Now that sexual relationships, marital and otherwise, are usually matters of personal choice? Clearly & obviously not. Monogamy is one way among others of going about having sex. Human beings have a need for intimacy. Often sex is used as means to intimacy, or it is felt that sex ought to be a means to intimacy. In other words, for many people monogamy means failure, and with failure guilt and resentment along with the compulsion to place blame. As soon as the word "ought" appears, the topic of discussion changes to something that is not how things are, but to an imaginary, wishful de-acknowledgement of the realities of the present.

These things that I learned from struggling with my conscience all presuppose that I take my side against my conscience. To clarify, there are two ways a conscience can work: as a means to punish bad behavior and as a means to reward good behavior. Everyone has these two aspects of conscience with one or the other predominating at different times in different situations. The harshness of my conscience is the culmination of childhood experiences of verbal and physical abuse. There is one thing that my father did do that probably saved me from a psychotic break in high school: if I told him the truth when he asked me if I did something, he wouldn't use his belt on me, even if he really, really wanted to sometimes. Simple punishment is not enough, punishment has to be deserved. And deserving is a mixture of values and facts. Consequently, the accusations leveled by one's conscience have to be true and as accurate as possible.

* * *

As a practical matter, what does this all mean for my divorce. Simply, we had different expectations. I loved her more than she loved me (assuming she ever did, and that I wasn't mainly a convenient tool for having children).

Two final remarks. 1) If I hadn't invested myself so thoroughly in the life Zoya & I had made together (foolishly or not), I wouldn't have suffered such a profound disillusionment, and put myself through such a thoroughly torturous interrogation. And, 2) interrogation of one's conscience is not just to oppose its accusations. In my case, I found the accusations particularly alluringly probable, tempting me to solid unflinching belief in the truth of the accusations that my conscience made. Wrestling with one's conscience ends up opposing any temptation to embrace a belief or course of action as being perfectly and unquestioningly the right one.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

An Alternative to Tired Old Metaphors for Consciousness

The metaphor for consciousness always seems to be some variant of a mirror. Consciousness reflects reality. Consciousness of something. Consciousness as representation of the grammatical subject and the world as the grammatical object. But always consciousness ultimately as a mirror and as representative of the grammatical subject even by those who should know better, like neurologists and psychiatrists.

We are habituated to thinking of the objects of perception as "out there" in the world. We habitually divide our sensations into perceptions of objects (that are not us) and self-perceptions. Again we fall back into the habit of subject and object.

An old criticism of the idea that language, truth or consciousness reflects reality similarly to a mirror.

Image/Concept formed by Perceiver <=====> Object of perception.

In order to determine whether or not the concept/image/thought etc. is accurate, knowledge of both the concept of the perceiver and the object itself must be compared. In a quasi-Christian context this comparison would be done by God. And because we as human beings are made in His Image, we partake of His ability to perform this comparison. To the extent that we are like God our thoughts and perceptions conform to His knowledge and true-seeing. But if the epistemological hocus-pocus of God is set aside, the whole idea of what an object is really like falls apart. There is no longer any special perspective from which to see. Sight is no longer a special metaphor for knowing and for consciousness.

Maybe a different metaphor for consciousness and language. The metaphor of a mirror likens knowledge and consciousness to a kind of seeing with seeing as the closest possible approximation of true apprehension. Let's try a drop cloth like painters use when painting the walls of a furnished room. Imagine now that the furniture is invisible. The cloth drapes over furniture it both obscures and reveals features of objects beneath it. It is easy to imagine how drop cloths made of different fabrics would conform more or less closely to the shape and outline of the invisible objects in the room. Some would be stiffer and coarser conforming less to contours and details, while others would be finer and more delicate. It becomes meaningful to talk about degrees of perception and of knowledge.

Another possible metaphor, maybe not so much for knowledge or consciousness, but for language is that of a fisherman's net. Rather than thinking of language in terms of individual words and phrases that match up to objects and relations of objects in the world, language in its own larger grammatical and stylistic structures make the capture of objects and perceptions of the world possible.We cast our net into the chaos of our sensations and draw forth the world.

The question we should ask about consciousness is "what if consciousness is not consciousness of something?" What if that "of-ness" is part of consciousness? What if this "of-ness" is some grammatical hocus-pocus? Some linguistic sleight of hand that always fools us?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

What is the value of Truth?

First things first. I'm interested in the those beliefs that people have about the world, human nature, the meaning of life, etc. The Big Truth(s) that are felt to be about other people and to be sufficient justification to employ force against other people [I could have just as well have written “organize society”] when politically feasible. Factual truths are a lesser concern here. The sheer variety of what people believe and have believed in the past is astonishing. Even with the fairy tales told by some about the eternally unpleasant consequences of adhering to the wrong Truth, there are very few, if any, harmful effects to be observed. Obviously, with such a stupefying diversity of beliefs as to the content of The Truth a question naturally arises. Does the actual content of Truth matter at all? These various beliefs about the content of Truth cannot all be correct. Further, the absence of observable harmful effects also means that there is no penalty for errors in believing some doctrine or ideology to be True even if it is erroneous (which is much more likely, just going by the numbers). It is a common superstition about Truth that not everyone's Truth can be true.

I had occasion to read about Wittgenstein's Bug in a Box. Everyone has a box and no one can look in anyone else's box. All we know about the contents of another person's box is what they say about it. Usually this is used to demonstrate that the meaning of a sensation for instance pain is in the language used to describe and talk about the sensation. The Bug in a Box also applies to the concept of Truth.

Roll this around for a while. There is widespread agreement on the value of Truth. At the same time, there is much disagreement as to what this Truth actually is. Truth’s possible contents also includes the doctrine that Truth is empty or meaningless, i.e., “the Truth is that there is no Truth.” The plethora of possible Truths is no argument against the utility of the concept. One’s superstitious valuations and attitudes towards propositions, beliefs or ideologies brings advantages and disadvantages.

I might have been a little hasty in saying there are no observable adverse consequences to mistaken belief. There is often a hefty penalty from one's neighbors and compatriots for believing differently, but that is not a consequence of one’s “erroneous” beliefs. Ostracism and persecution for one’s beliefs is a consequence of believing not that The Truth possesses infinite value, but the content ascribed to The Truth in one’s locale possesses infinite value. It is tediously commonplace for this distinction to be ignored, assuming that it is even recognized.

When looked at closely, the beliefs and superstitions about Truth and its contents are used to justify and explain a way of life. If, for the sake of argument, the Truth of Conservative Evangelical Christianity is taken as True, then, of course, a life in which homophobia, misogyny, rigid gender roles, mindless conformism, and a shocking lack of curiosity about God’s Works are all prominent makes perfect sense. If, however, Truth is a placeholder whose content is irrelevant and probably erroneous, then a hard question comes to the fore: why ascribe Truth to this rather than that? Why, precisely, do these beliefs appeal to you and not those others over there?

My own answer is simple enough. Traditionally, we believed that our actions, morality and ethics were a consequence of our beliefs and truths about the world. I suggest an inversion: first comes a way of life with our predilections, desires, fears and habits. Then, come our beliefs and superstitions which make our habits, predilections and hard-won insights appear reasonable and prudent, even wise.

Traditionally, the search for Truth was carried out with much fanfare and apparent attention to scruples, honesty and conscientiousness. The values and way of life that made the most sense in light of this newly found Truth was felt to be, if not the only one possible, then certainly the best of all possible ways of living. All of this was done “unconsciously,” I should add. Has a view of the world ever been constructed and worked out with conscious intent to praise and valorize a particular way of living?

Would the results of this project be any less valuable merely because they do not lay claim to the finality and exclusivity traditionally ascribed to Truth?

God is dead and free spirits are running amok.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Couple of Christian Syllogisms & A Brief Observation About Human Sexual Practices

To sin means to choose against the Will and Laws of God.
Same-sex love is sinful.
Therefore, same-sex love is a choice, i.e., a lifestyle.

If same-sex love is not a choice then it cannot be a sin. Thus, the importance of the “gay gene" for some people.

* * *

Consider the sex live of bonobos. Not every animal has a sex life. Only those that copulate for reasons other than procreation can be said to have sex lives.

An alien anthropologist studying human sexual practices without the benefit of understanding human speech would very likely dub homo sapiens the “horny animal.”

Someone (Freud I think) said “We are all perverts.” We desire sex independently and far in excess of procreational needs. Orgasms and release from sexual tension are frequently achieved through manipulation of genitalia without any possibility of procreation. This is one benefit of tool use and opposable thumbs.

Even the Christian crazies who strive to only have sex for procreation still have sexual wants and spontaneous physical reactions to the presence of an attractive member of the opposite (and sometimes same) sex. For instance, absent specific olfactory stimuli from a bitch in heat a male dog does not copulate. Nor does a bitch not in heat. Human beings always seem to be in heat. Sinbad said, “If we ever encounter a space alien, no matter how ugly, some guy will want to have sex with it.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bob's Playlist #10

Here is the playlist for September 7, 2015.

* * *

1. Billy Squier, “Lonely is the Night” [Some 80’s rock. The lyrics aren’t as good as some but better than most. The song makes a go at profundity and meaningfulness.]

2. Billy Bragg & Wilco. A double album recommendation: Mermaid Avenue & Mermaid Avenue II. [Even after he was disabled from Huntington’s and no longer able to perform or play, Woodie Guthrir continued writing. There are thousands of lyrics dating from the late 50’s and the 60’s up until his death in 1969. Billy Bragg & Wilco wrote and arranged the music for Woody’s lyrics.]

3. Johnson Boys, “Violin Blues.” [Better known as a guitarist, Lonnie Johnson first learned to play blues on the fiddle. Blues fiddle tunes are a rarity, but hearing blues on played on the fiddle is like hearing it again for the first time.]

4. Hank Williams, Sr., “Kaw-Liga.” [When I was a child I walked around singing this one and “Hey, Good Lookin’.”]

5. Belleville Outfit, “Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby.”

6. Devo, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” [You’ll never hear the word “baby” in quite same way. Mick Jagger is supposed to have approved strongly of Devo’s version.]

7. Nina Simone, “Here Comes the Sun”

8. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, “The Boogie Bumper.”

9. Edith Piaf, “L’Accordeoniste.”

10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Mosquito.”

Bob's Playlist #9

This is the playlist for August 31, 2015.

* * *

1. Carolanne Pegg, “A Witch’s Guide to the Underground.”

2. John Prine, “Paradise.”

3. Tulku, “Anni Rose.”

4. Debashish Bhattacharya, “Mahi Shakti

5. Tommie Bradley, “Window Pane Blues.”

6. Mahlathini & the Mahotella Queens, “Nyamphemphe.”

7. Nathalie Natiempe, “Tangaz Pa Tro For.”

8. Hopeton Lewis, “Rivers of Babylon.”

9. Radiators from Space, “Television Screen.” [I really like the line “Rock and roll heroes singin’ the rich man blues.” The song predates the advent of Fox News by a decade or two.]

10. Devo, “Theme from Dr. Detroit (Dance Mix).” [Dr. Detroit is why Dan Akroyd will never, ever have the lead role in a movie. I’m recommending a Devo album: EZ Listening Disc. It’s an odd collection even by their standards. It’s 19 of their songs remixed & reimagined as Muzak. ]

Update & Where I've Been for most of the Last Month and a Half

First I fell behind in posting the weekly playlists. I made the playlists for the 2 weeks following the one posted on August 24th. I had them on a USB stick at home that I kept forgetting to bring with me to the library.

Early in the morning on September 14th (or late in the evening of the 13th) I started running a fever. At about 3am it spiked at about 103 degrees. Dangerously high. I called an ambulance. I was admitted to the hospital. It was another flare up of cellulitis. Because of an ulcer on the sole of my right foot, I was admitted to the local hospital for a course of IV antibiotics. There was concern that the infection could get into the bone which could easily result in amputation. My podiatrist and I discussed surgery for the underlying problem.

Surgery was scheduled and then postponed a week because of a medication error. I spent a week in the hospital, then a week in a nursing home, then had surgery, then another 10 days in the nursing home. I went home on the 6th of October. Since then I've been getting around with a walker for longer distances and putting weight on the heel of my right foot for shorter distances.

During those 3 weeks in the hospital and the nursing home, I was with out internet access. So, of course, I fell way behind in everything connected to this blog. I did do a couple of things that should make it easier to keep this blog current. Most importantly I procured a smartphone with a data plan. The data plan is 2gb at 4G-LTE speeds and unlimited at 3g (I think) speeds. I've found the slower speed usually adequate for simple browsing: reading news and checking email.

Prior to this last stay, I went to the library for internet access every day that it was open. Now, while my foot is healing from surgery, I only go once a week. Both in the hospital and in the nursing home, it was impossible to sleep. I probably averaged 4-5 hours a night. Now that I am mostly caught up on my sleep, I intend on getting into a new routine of posting almost every day.

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