Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PAG! So I did something productive

IBS is a life-long affliction for me. But, since giving up artificial sweetener a month ago following reading a Time article—which includes, alas, giving up Diet Coke—I've noticed my IBS is less horrid. That and my motions on the Bristol stool scale are trending the desired mid-range of output.

This morning I had PAG—Poo After Glow—where the motion is so smooth and the feeling of empty so good that you feel inspired to do something productive.

Since I'm on gardening leave I figured what the heck I'd do some gardening. None of the special stuff, that's theWife's domain, so I just mowed the overgrown front lawn on maximum height for the mower and chopped away dead and dying branches from the trees at the back of the carport. There's a mound of decaying greenery where the shitbox old white car used to live and you can now see the fence through those pruned trees from the front of the house.

I have nicks and scratches on my hands and arms from the hacking and cutting but they're nicks and scratches of victory of me against not doing something productive.

It felt good. Now I just have to summon the willpower to ride SoTPC for my daily one hour of exercise biking.


UPDATE: I learned about the concept of "Nature abhors a vacuum" from good old Gary Gygax's Dungeons & Dragons module The Keep on the Borderlands that gave the example that when a bunch of roomy caves with water access gets cleansed by adventurers of their fell occupants that new fell occupants will take their place once the adventurers move on to the 4–6 level range of modules. 

Across the mostly bare trunks of the carport trees are a hash of spider webs. Presumably to catch insects flying between the now roomy gaps. I did a good turn for the spiders. I hope they remember that when their mutated offspring come for the ragged remnants of humanity in the great Future Then (1).

(1) Best antonym I could think of for South Park's "Before Ago". 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tiny bit in ... big result out

I can't eat cheese anymore, not since my adult-onset of allergy to the A1 protein in milk.

But theBoy had leftover grated cheese in a side bowl.

I had a pinch ... and another small pinch a half hour later. It was like taking negative medicine (do NOT take two spaced 30 minutes apart).

The onset of gas was quick and within a short time I was cooking off every two to ten minutes. I couldn't get to sleep before one am.

Then, in the morning, two shits—ironically spaced 30 minutes apart—that were both painful and fulsome. 

Cue lots of pain medication.

Oh, cheese, you sultry tummy-hurting vixen. To think that as a child I once ate an entire kilogram of you in but a single day (1).

UPDATE: Third time is a charm. Plus, when I lifted the lid in preparation for sit number three, I saw sit number two hadn't fully flushed, leaving a disgusting brown lumpy slurry behind. Why are you even reading this? That's weird...

(1) I didn't intend to. It just sort of happened. I started in the morning and by nightfall it was gone. Whilst there was no pain I do confess to remembering feeling a tad bloated. I couldn't do sport as a kid and I had depression from about age 10 onward. And yes, I ate my feelings.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Intense cat fight

theBoy had a pop-up play tent sitting in the dining room and both cats entered. They started play fighting, their melee accentuated by the confines of the tent as they bashed and thrashed against it, the tent now seemingly gone full dread gazebo and sprung to life.

"Cat fight!" I yelled with delight.

The inside tent fight ended when both cats inexplicably shot of it resuming their fight, Crouching Tiger style, in mid-air and against the walls of the corridor as their combat carried on down to the back end of the house. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Back into the garden

There's a term used in here in Australia and the United Kingdom by their respective public services—civil service in the UK—for when a servant is sent home on pay while issues are resolved.

It's called "gardening leave" (1).

I'm back in the garden. 

As an adult I've never been healthier in the head (2) but, well, cogs and sprockets of government and all that. I'm sure to return in a matter of weeks. 

I was allowed at least to work out the day, and I got to finish with an indepth free-ranging chat with my favourite, and soon-to-depart, senior figure about his career and passion to support his community. It was a most awesome coda to my having to go. It was great to just talk with someone who's done their level best to help as many people as they could and who keeps fighting on even though he could have retired years before.

I can only hope I still have that same level of passion and energy when I'm his age. 


UPDATE: I had a "I'm in the garden!" bliss moment of rich blue sky, birds singing and a marvellous view of lights, plants, trees and metal statuary. Area man's garden rawks snot.

(1) The website actually has a section on gardening leave.
(2) Even though I still battle the dark forces of sudden anxiety I no longer hate my body and I am not depressed. To shed those is liberation. That and I know the suffering I endured was worth it for the outcomes that suffering produced.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Like a half-naked man-deer trapped in the headlights

It was dusk and I was on a mission to the bin. The bin sits outside our gate.

I was topless, wearing just PJ pants and a headband.

I opened the gate and stepped into the full glare of headlights coming from the house opposite.

I instinctively tried to suck in my tum but it can't have been a pleasurable sighting for the occupant of that vehicle.

Maybe they thought I was off for a hearty run? I doubt it—it's nearly zero degrees. I may be insulated but I'm not that insulated.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Shitbox ~Fin~

With thanks to the French.

The shitbox, our second car, which was once our first car, has gone to the wreckers. Long it sat in our drive in a proud Canberran tradition of having an un-roadworthy car left out the front of a house. 

Goodbye, sweet old white shitbox, you served your prince well.

Healing still healing

I had a head check from a head shrink. It went well. I just have to go back for some training in coping with fight (slash) flight. I didn't cry. I didn't emote. I was even funny.

It feels good to be almost healed.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

It was nice to hear

Following my epic collapse then recovery I shed any former-held notions of false modesty. In the past If I got praise I deflected and instead directed it to those people who helped me. A good report was because of the design, not the content, for example, even though the content rocked snot.

Well that is done with. If I do a good job I am now mentally sage enough to accept what I did was awesome. Not only that but actively promote my triumphs to colleagues and superiors alike. 

It's been a transformative experience, learning to accept praise and being able to self-praise both.

theDad called recently. He mentioned my sibling component of theMum's eulogy at her memorial service—within the church she used to attend—and that people still talk about my four and a bit minutes. "Where did he learn to do that?" theDad said someone told him.

Indeed, where did I? A serious of unfortunate events twixt a tasty mind and the full acceptance of self as an agent of change.

I no longer have doubt, I fear not the future. I'm in my bonus round and there's joy all around.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Re-moistened snot lump

I honk up goobs in the shower. I do. It's not pleasant, not for anyone. I try to angle it so the lump flies downward and thus gets swirled away with the fetid soppings of my man coating but it's not always easy to tell success. You're naked, there's steam, hissing water, the lump is small and you just can't be sure if you don't see it go down that it didn't go down.

I was in the shower. There are livid cracks in the shower glass, splintered in all directions like the arcs on a plasma globe. The cracks were once but a small single crack but I angled the shower head whilst the water heated and, well, physics. 

There, in a crack, was something. It looked akin to a boil.

I picked it off. It was wet and disgusting. Then I realised it was a now re-moistened snot lump that I must have with error dashed upon the glass.

Even I was repelled—and I was the one wot made it. 

UPDATE: "Jesus, there's a crack on the monitor! Wait, no, that's a goob..."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Feet of worse-than-clay

We all have heroes growing up—people whose talent we wish we had. 

For me one of them was Bill Cosby. Not for his TV show but rather his stand-up, my Dad having brought back pirated cassette tapes from a field trip to Indonesia. 

We listened to them on holiday trips in the car. I listened to them alone in my room. I loved the Chocolate Cake bit so much I tried to write a Basic program on an Apple IIe to have the computer write on the monochrome green screen "Dad is great ... bring out the chocolate cake!", a classic bit from a classic bit (1).

So then all of that horrid business about his personal life came out. 

It was fucked to know about it. It was fucked someone so talented and powerful as a comedian could also (allegedly) inflict so much pain and misery. Actual preying upon people. 

I know artists come with their issues—artistic genius and madness are oft twixt—but the sheer scale of what has been alleged is almost surreal. 

How do you separate the art from the artist? Can I still appreciate the art when the artist has feet of worse-than-clay?

I don't think I can. Because any time I now listen to him I don't hear the hero of my youth, I hear a likely sick man who inflicted evil. 

I guess the lesson here is never have a childhood hero.

(walks off, head hung low)

UPDATE: July 2015, now pretty much confirmed

(1) I gave up after "Dad is great" 'cos the coding took too long and failed to hold my interest.

A diamond in the rough

One of our senior people is leaving. He's about my height and on the cusp of retirement. He's also one of the most approachable-yet-hard-working senior people I've met. When I first arrived in my new role I went to an event to support him and we had an instant connection. He was even kind enough once to ring me at home to tell me how much he liked something I'd written.

I popped in to see him about some final work and, after we completed it, he asked how I was travelling. So I told him. I told him about what had happened and how I'd had all this support and been looked after. And that it was processes he fixed years before that allowed that fulsome support to be provided. 

It felt good to tell someone that's going that they made a difference when they were there. 

And you can't get better than that as a public servant—making a difference.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The future!

I was ambling towards the bus when a man glided past (1). He was dressed in standard middle-management-plus clobber of a suit plus tie but he also had on a helmet. The gliding was down to his electric skateboard.

Yes, an electric skateboard. Not a proper skateboard that has had a motor added but rather a stout rectangular platform with robust wheels. It looked like a home-built job. 

There was no evidence of how he controlled it. I suspect he had a blue-tooth enabled receiver linked to a smartphone though there was no device in his hand as he sped along.

Okay, so it's not a flying car or an efficient, legal single person means to fly like an anti-grav belt (2) but it still felt like a "the future is now" moment. 

I considered for a second whether it was a means of transit I should consider given my mobility impairment of pain-laced slow walking. 

But then I remembered my lack of balance and that I once fell off a Wii board.

That was bad enough. I have no business bringing kinetic force and electricity into it.

(1)  I wanted to say "glid past" but the squiggly red line says that's wrong.
(2) Tech level F, I believe, in Traveller.

Rocksteady got nothing on me

With thanks to the villain from TMNT.

I am rock-steady. Not Rocksteady, the aforementioned villain or the genre of Jamaican music, but rock-steady in demenour and will.

I encountered another hair-trigger, a situation that has the potential to elicit an immediate anxiety reaction, but in this particular case no reaction at all.

I didn't even leave. Not that I could, I was supporting an event, but I didn't suffer a fear in the slightest. The only nerves I had were about my current duty to support the people at hand and—due to my gaseous tummy disposition—to try to not fart when I moved.

After the hair-trigger I talked to a colleague about a project then headed back to get shed-loads of work done.

I feel like Neo from The Matrix when he discovers he's cool as shit and all nigh invulnerable to the Agent Smiths of the world.

It's a good feeling to know you are one and in harmony with your workplace.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Pringles added to the no list

Pringles have milk solids in them. I did an experiment to see how many.

Yeah, great experiment. Turns out "any" is "too many".

Vile IBS and painful post motion was my watchword. I've only just come good. 

I know, it's very much a first world problem to have—not being able to eat a tiny amount of foodstuffs from a groaningly-broad selection as opposed to not having enough food. And I've only myself to blame for self-experimentation.

What I need is a food taster from ye olde times that was the canary in the coalmine for would-be edible-inflicted regicide. A personal food taster with the same array of bodily bedevilment and ... wait a second ... that's fucked! That poor little fucker has all that to deal with let alone having to have food likely to afflict extreme discomfort just for my viewing pleasure—let alone that food tasting is now a socially-forbidden task assignation for of entourage duties (1).

Forget it. Maybe I will just be more careful about what I eat and drink. 

Perhaps in the future I could get some sort of creature specifically bred to do experiments on to see if things will harm me—only it's cheerful about it's fate. Like that pig creature in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy who nips out to shoot itself after taking orders for various parts of its body. 

Get on to that, 3D printer people!

(1) Lousy societal advancement and the expiration of the previously socially-desirable position of food taster! Though it should be noted that Vladdy P has one...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Aw, how nice is mum?

I loved Asterix comics as a kid. LOVED THEM! Indeed, thanks to being OCPD I had a ritual of eating hot cross buns on Good Friday whilst reading Asterix and Cleopatra after I enjoyed the inaugural experience when I was about 10. 

In spite of her MS and her being scooter-based in the last 15 or so years of her life, with dementia claiming the last three, my mum volunteered at St Vincents in town. She was one of the people that sorted through donations. She did it most weeks right up until she went into full-time care.

Donations included books. And, in this specific case, a stack of Asterix books in near-dead condition that were expired stock from local school libraries. They were beyond saleability and would have been thrown away.

Except mum kept them—for me—because she knew I would love them no matter their condition. I have them here in Canberra, in the shed where I write. Battered, torn, the index cards still glued on the inside back cover, but mostly intact. 

Always thinking of us even as she lost her ability to think.

I do miss her so.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


A recent acquisition to our org, and semi-fresh from uni, was providing me an account of what happened at a conference she'd attended. She's twenty nothing. As a throw away question I asked which organisation at the conference had the coolest tat. 

I got an instant message window pop up. She had a query. "What does tat mean?"

She'd asked around the office and no one knew what I had meant. I'd presumed knowledge of tat as a word for cheap ornament-type crap such as a snow globe from a beach town. In this case, being a conference of both government and corporations, then I meant stress balls, pens, or even a treasured corporate-branded thumb drive which some orgs would have as hand outs for conference participants. 

I told her I meant tat meant "merchandise" and described as per above. 

I felt every inch of my 40 plus journey. 

Of course, it's not an Australianism. It's a British term which I learned from Viz

That's a small comfort. 

(Gets hot water bottle, achingly clambers into bed then idly tongues the first of his missing tooth gaps)

Friday, April 10, 2015

It made me sound like a murderer

I am a two-finger typer. I have semi-dodgy hands with a poor grip so it's the way I've learned to type. I'm quite fast, though there's some backspacing if I go too quickly such as now. 

However, in part from having learned to type on a mechanical typewriter as a kid, and then migrating to clunky keyboards, I have heavy finger fall. 

My workplace is quiet, apart from when people talk. Except, of course, if I am working because I sound like an old-timey telegraph clicker when my fingers are flying.

E—, who actually used a typewriter at the start of her working life, came up behind me. 

"So," she said, sipping her coffee with quizzical menace, "how many keyboards have you killed?"

I had to admit I had killed a few. 

"Er ... about eight, I think."

In my defence some of the keyboards I used were well-used before I got to them and finished them off like a mountain folksman with a wounded tourist. But my heavy finger fall wears away the keys' characters and makes them likely to both stick and loosen. In her defence I've probably killed about 12 or so.

When one is on death's cusp then I log a job, the new keyboard turns up in the internal mail in a lovely long, thin box and the old one sayonaras into the bin. 

(dusts hands).

On the bright side if keyboards were murder victims then I would be classed as a serial killer.  

It would fully give me prison cred. No one fucks with a serial killer. Unless, of course, they're in for life and they gain mad rep with your slaying

I can now totally see myself being ganged up on by a gaggle of fucked-up computer mouses.

Greatest political debate in US history

Idaho GOP Governors Primary Debate (May 14, 2014)

A short black is wakey work medicine

Thanks to my adult-onset acquired allergy to the A1 protein in milk I can't have delish milky coffees since cafés use commercial milk which is mostly A1. But I can have coffee without milk—if I can stomach it. 

Today I had my first short black. 

It cost three dollars.

It would have barely filled a shot glass. 

I dumped half a pack of sugar into it then stirred the solution with a long thin wooden stirrer. I took it outside then sipped.

It was disgusting. Like medicine-as-a-kid disgusting. But, having shelled out big bucks for a comparatively small black pudlet, I needed to take that medicine like a boy with big boy pants on and I threw back the rest.

I felt like Daffy Duck when he's forced to drink the bad cowboy's special super alcoholic drink

But, I did recognise that on a personal awake level the shot glass of dark misery kicked me from Friday arvo-sleepy-when-home? to w-e-e-e-e-e-e, let's go have a meaty chat about future staffing processes

I have discovered wakey work medicine. It's just a shame about the taste.

New pit crew slip in smooth

With thanks to Smoove B.

I have a bevy of workplace support to help with my illnesses of depression, anxiety, and too-many-afflictions-to-list. This includes case and rehab managers with up to four people holding me up, not including my immediate team mates. It's an incredible commitment and I'm utterly fortunate to be blessed with it.

But, the APS is a big machine and big machines have many parts. Sometimes parts move on and two new case officers came in to replace two that left.

I recently met with them. I got them up to speed with my assorted maladies and case history then focused on how I was pointed at the future and brimming with wellness in spite of the return of, albeit moderate, anxiety. 

I didn't cry. I didn't even get angry. I was matter of fact and I was hilarious. I told stories of dumb things in my APS wake as well as tales of victory and adventure. They laughed uproariously and they left confident and satisfied that Mikey is nearly healed. 

I talked for so long we went 40 minutes over time but they didn't care.They stayed, they asked questions, they smiled and they laughed. 

We had an instant rapport and both were blessed with high emotional intelligence. It was hands down my best first contact with case managers experience to date.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

So I went for a rolling surf

The other day I got a nasty spray of anxiety as work began and, as part of CBT defences, decided to go for a walk.

I realised I could combine the walk with additional work taken on by me to support some colleagues and pick up boxes of their reports to make sure my building had enough available. 

I told the others and off I went. I walked fast, the anxiety still fresh, but as I mulled over the news that caused the anxiety I was also thinking about my current duties and methods to attack them. 

I made it to the place with the boxes and, given their heft, I asked to borrow a trolley and told them I'd return it right away.

It was the longest trolley I've seen in my life, longer than a surfboard. It nearly didn't fit in the lift.

Then off I went with my boxes and rolling surfboard trolley. I was still anxious—faster breathing and a need to walk fast in spite of the trolley—and I magnificently sweated through much of my hat, a hat I'd forgotten had been emblazoned with a stuck-on matchbox-sized owl shape and whale shape. Given half the hat was slicked with sweat—the whale half—it looked like the front of my hat above the brim was a picture of a whale at sea with an owl flying above the land.

Classy. That's like a motel wall painting.

After I dropped off the boxes I returned the surfboard trolley. I was more strolling than walking and my anxiety had tapered right back. I found myself just enjoying being outside. Most importantly I wasn't fixated on what caused the spike of anxiety. I stayed out the day.

Yay for CBT and near-immediate defeat of the jitters through physical activity and helping others.


Monday, April 06, 2015

Nearly shot a wad right up my port hole

I use gel-based alcohol hand wash solution for hand washing post toilet at home. The other day, without thinking, I squirted a great big gob right into my hand that was holding a USB stick (1). I deftly managed to tilt the stick to one side so its gaping, welcoming-to-wad maw was facing away from the sluggish torrent and all it got was a bit on the outer case.

Phew. I have no idea how, if at all, you could get gel-based alcohol hand wash solution out of a USB stick's hole. Scrape it out and hope it dries? And even then would gel-residue coating the insides be a risk when it's jacked in to a port?

I once put a USB stick through the wash. It was about eight years ago when a 250 meg stick cost $70.

I was most irked. Even now, when I check all pockets before the wash, I am hunting for sticks in addition to tissues even though I've not carried a USB stick in my pocket for two years (2).

Gel-based alcohol hand wash solution and a USB stick; not a marriage made in Silicon Heaven.

(1) I didn't go to the toilet with the stick in my hand. I picked it up from the above-toilet-shelf after going but before the gel squirting. I just felt that had to be made clear. And no, I don't use my phone when I am sitting on the toilet. I'm not a psycho.
(2) Then my work-home-work USB stick was a special one which cost over a hundred bucks and which were not being made any more. To lose that stick would have driven me to burn through a spindle of CDs instead. Alas constant daily use means a limited lifespan and I burned through four of those sticks in four years.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Hilarious fake-hijack of not-Reclaim Australia twitter feed

I was having a lie on the big bed and reading The Guardian when I happened upon their article on Reclaim Australia rallies being held around Australia.

By their name alone you can certainly presume nativism is its motto.

The rally was apparently asking for no Sharia law in Australia not understanding it's a voluntary extra-legal system that parties take part in if they happen to be Muslims.  i.e. it's none of our fucking bee's wax. If you want to Sharia then Sharia away, it in no way affects other people just because it exists.

Hilariously, according to the article, during the protests Reclaim Australia's twitter feed was hacked, or rather, fake-hacked because the organisation denies the account is theirs.  In other words it's a fake-hijack of a fake Twitter feed.

Here's the excerpt.

Organisers denied any connection to a Twitter account in the group’s name that appeared to have been hijacked before the rallies. Someone calling himself Jeremy took over the feed and appeared to be confused about the point of the protests.

At one stage he claimed his car had broken down and asked if anybody could lend him $20.

After Jeremy declared he was going to smoke cannabis in a park (“peace out”), the account appeared have been reclaimed.

The statement shortly after apologised for his tweets, which it said were “not consistent with out values”.

“The person in charge of the account has had their access removed and will be disciplined appropriately,” it read.

However, a spokeswoman for the group, Catherine Brennan, told Guardian Australia the account was “100% fake”.

The whole concept of a fake-hijack of a fake twitter account aside the whole narrative as performed on the account cracked me the fuck up, especially the car breaking down.

Total gold.  

Anxious retreat but I loved the massed anthem

The other day I went to a disco for children. It seems an unusual place for someone with anxiety—who is recovering from severe anxiety—to go but theBoy was going and I wanted to be a part of it.

I found a chair in the hall and sat. The first 15 minutes were okay, though it was loud, but then a two-year-old in a pram about three feet from me screamed at 180 db for about eighteen seconds. It was like she'd crawled to my ear, then in it, then along the canal until she got right next to the drum then unleashed.

I can still feel the after effect of that scream.

Astonishingly that's not what eventually drove me away. It was the sudden loud popping of sausage balloons which had been twisted into a sword shape violently exploding within near ear shot—three in quick succession.

I was in fight (slash) flight, tensed in the chair with cat-like readiness, when theWife turned up, took one look at my wild-eyed face and ordered me from the room. 

I went into a nearby (1) shopping centre, had some sushi (the line for the disco's free sausage was too long), then returned to sit outside but about 30m from the disco's door.

I could hear the music pumping still, and I was far enough away that the sound wasn't anxiety producing, but mainly the "ThumpThump" of whatever song was on was the only discernible part I could recognise.

Then "Let It Go" from Frozen came on.

The music was drowned out by the sudden mass singing by girls and women, from kindy kid to granny. I could hear their singing clearly from my position well outside the sound zone.

I'm not sure what it is about "Let It Go" that's made it synonymous with women. Perhaps it's the themes of Elsa's acceptance of her gift and exultation of raw power combined with her struggle against being oppressed by the patriarchy? That's a journey women have struggled on and still struggle on since women have been women. And who doesn't want to suddenly have the power to freeze their enemies while freeing themselves from male-dominated societal constraint?

At any rate move over, Helen Reddy, it's Elsa's turn to roar.

(1) I just paused writing to kill a suspected white tail spider that crawled across my monitor. I thumb squished it. That was probably a silly risky way to kill a venomous arachnid. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Epic King pwn

From this Salon article. Mad props to Stephen King.

A mistake

theBoy and I were hanging out on the big bed when I told him the story of the time he pulled up my shirt and jabbed me in the belly button when he was three.

He laughed hysterically at the idea of it.

I was foolishly lying on my back when I told him, where I am at my least agile, and so he attacked me and did it again. 

And yes, it hurt. 

That was a mistake. 

Always have two escape routes and a defensive stance when talking to him about his mischievous before ago lest he repeats it right there and then.