Inching toward winter (journaling/updates)

In other news, I’ve been doing very well on my diet the past several days. Managing my macros and keeping my carbs under 30g per day (20g or under for 4 of those days). Weighed in on Tuesday and am down to 165 lbs. (fully clothed), so that’s nice. Even decided to snap a photo yesterday (perhaps the first one I’ve taken all year).

cropped_oct312017

Not known for being photogenic, but that’s okay. Working with what I’ve got over here. Hair was frizzy after working out — didn’t feel like trying to get fancy for the camera. So anyway, I’ve been tracking my calories through MyFitnessPal for over 40 days now and am really appreciating that site. Unfortunately I’ve had to stay home and away from Former this past week in order to stay true to my diet, lest he wreck it like usual.  LoL  Missed out on his chili and tacos. Bah! But oh well. Might stop over to visit him tomorrow.

Been working out with my trainer a couple days a week (would like to do so more often but we have schedule conflicts). Beyond that, been going to the gym a day or two a week on my own. Mostly focusing on strength training, plus some cardio on the elliptical. Same old, same old there. Overall I’ve been feeling pretty good. Kind of felt like I might come down with a cold at the beginning of this past weekend, so I stayed in as much as possible and kept warm and managed to stave it off.

Besides that, the new books I’ve listened to in audio format recently were The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin Mitnick (narrated by Ray Porter); The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett (narrated by Matt Bates); The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies by Mark Booth (narrated by John Lee). Those first two were very interesting (especially enjoyed Ray Porter’s narration) — gave me a lot to think about in terms of personal security online. That last book was a bit of a wild card, and I can’t recall how it ended up on my wishlist. Actually was interesting to take in up until the last chapter or so, then it just seemed to wrap up quickly and in a super-woo-woo form of a happy ending. Can’t put much stock in the content of Mark Booth’s book, but it was something different to contemplate.

Since finishing up those three I decided to re-listen to a couple others: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman (read by the author) and Thomas Sowell’s Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? (really appreciate this one!). Made some electronic bookmarks so that hopefully eventually I’ll get around to uploading clips so as to lure others into checking these books out for themselves.

Believe I already mentioned before on here that I also listened to Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (and loved it). Would so highly recommend that one to others. It’s a must read for people curious about evolutionary psychology, biology and/or sociology.

Been getting chilly out lately. Down in the upper 30s the last couple of days. Not looking forward to snow, but it’s coming whether I like it or not. Praying this winter doesn’t kick my ass, having been spoiled by such a mild winter last year (which people around here say was highly unusual and probably shouldn’t be expected for another 40 years or so  eye-popping_smilie ). Just a matter of weeks before I have to get my snow tires put back on (usually around Thanksgiving) and start trudging around in my heavy-ass snow boots again. What fun. But ah well. So long as we don’t have blizzards then it’s not so bad.

What else? Oh, my little brother celebrated a birthday recently. He’s now firmly in his 30s. I ordered him a cake, which hopefully tasted good. As always, he’s super busy with work.

Not been getting out much these days aside from working and going to the gym and occasionally visiting a couple of friends. Haven’t set foot in a bar in weeks, therefore I haven’t kept up with any pals in that scene. Yesterday marked week 20 in my commitment to stop drinking alcohol. Still going strong with no problems there. In fact, a couple days ago when I was out driving along I got to thinking about wine, but this time it was accompanied with a sickening feeling, reminiscent of a particular brand I used to buy and a few bad nights I had with it. Wasn’t alluring. So I suppose that’s progress — no longer dreaming of wine in a tempting fashion. Rarely do I miss beer despite that being my main drink of choice. Not sure why. Perhaps I drank enough of it to suit me for an entire lifetime. lol  Probably.  Still amazed at how much money I’ve saved by not going out to bars or buying drinks to bring home. Saves me oodles of money, no joke. Shocks my friends when I calculate up what my average cost of drinking likely was in any given month. Even the one that drinks more heavily seemed surprised. Note: drinkers are notorious about NOT tracking how much we’re spending while involved in that lifestyle. Starting to think I’m having a positive influence on Former since he hasn’t been going out to his bar as often in recent weeks, nor does he seem to be drinking quite as much at home. I never nag him about it since that’s his lifestyle and his choice and I know for certain he’ll never give up alcohol. C’est la vie. But for whatever reason he seems to at least have cut down, which makes me happy in terms of his health.

I certainly haven’t cut down on smoking cigarettes though. If anything I probably smoke a bit more nowadays, unfortunately. So easy to do when I’m hanging around the apartment much of the time. Though I do smoke less when I’m over visiting Former. My lungs have been giving me a little trouble this week, as they do sometimes. Twenty-two years of smoking is taking a toll — imagine that. Though this is one addiction that has my butt straight-up kicked, so I’m pretty terrified of trying to go up against it. Keep saying I will one of these days…

Not been sleeping too well lately. Actually I sleep fine once I finally get to sleep, just can’t seem to get there. Just bounding with energy and curious about what all is going on on the internet at any given moment. Ha! Thinking about picking up some more of that bedtime (Chamomile) tea to see if it might help relax me. Probably need to find ways to exert more physical energy.

And lastly, my eyesight is very noticeably declining. Having trouble reading more and more without the aid of my new drugstore reading glasses. Former says it’s due to all the years I’ve been sitting staring at the computer screen. Heh  He’s likely right. Thinking I’m going to have to locate a coupon and go in to see an eye specialist one of these days and maybe purchase prescription reading glasses. The joys of aging…

Anyway, that’s about it for now. Onward into November!

Ten Jewish authors I appreciate

Since I keep hearing and reading online so much negativity blaming Jewish folks for everything under the sun, I figure now would be a good time to post up something positive and share a few of the notable Jewish authors in my book collection. In no particular order:

1.) Erich Fromm — Might as well begin with the most obvious since I’ve mentioned his works time and time again on here and my YT channel. Thus far I’ve read 12 books by this man (excerpts are linked where available):Escape_From_Freedom_Fromm

Not all are personal favorites, but as a collection unto themselves they’ve certainly served as interesting food for thought over time.

2.) Richard L. Rubenstein — His book The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future provided a lot to seriously consider when I first came across it about 8-9 years ago. Shared copies with friends, though I can’t say for sure if any of them actually read him.

choose-yourself_Altucher3.) James Altucher — His audiobook Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Makes Millions, Live the Dream actually proved useful during a very depressing spell a couple years back. His promotion of what he refers to as the “Four Daily Practices” (basically caring for our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health) are what I needed to hear at the time and helped improve my mindset and outlook. Happen to be re-listening to it this week for kicks and giggles — he’s a pretty funny guy. Originally came across him accidentally by way of his blog, as so many people do. He encourages people to routinely itemize ideas in lists of 10 or more (on any subject we fancy) so as to flex and expand our “idea muscle.” Good idea, James.  wink

4.) Steven Pinker — Earlier this year I completed the audio version (after initially receiving a print copy as a gift) of his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, which I did quibble over quite a bit and still am not sold on the data and arguments presented therein. But its content was worth considering. Still chewing it over. Perhaps it deserves to be mentioned that several years back I received a copy of his book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature as a gift as well, though I have yet to read that one (planning to listen to the audio version eventually instead, having recently loaned out my print copy).

5.) Yuval Noah Harari — Came across this author by random chance earlier this year and listened to his audiobook Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

6.) Richard P. Feynman — Originally I received as a gift a few years back a copy of his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, following that with listening to The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman and What Do You Care What Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character. He offered up some very thought-provoking essays (along with quirky personal stories).

What_Is_Life_Margulis_Sagan7.) Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan — After first learning of their book What Is Life? on Dr. Corey Anton’s YT channel, I ordered a used copy online. Loved it and share it with others (especially young people — makes a great gift). Followed that with the audio version of their book Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature, which contains a couple stories that particularly stick in my mind and inform my imagination. So far I’m very impressed with what I’ve come across from this mother/son authoring duo.

8.) Dan Ariely — A family member first introduced me to his book Predictably Irrational. Later, I picked up a copy of The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves. Both are worth reading.

9.) Leonard Mlodinow — His audiobook Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior remains among my favorites. Following that, I purchased a print copy of his and Deepak Chopra’s book War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality, which I happened to find fascinating. Wasn’t a fan of Deepak Chopra prior to reading that book but came to see their viewpoints as not necessarily diametrically opposed to one another, despite initial outward appearances (even after watching footage of them debating). Can’t make a clear case for why I see it that way — it’s just how their written back-and-forth arguments resonated with me. I personally found both books valuable.

Deathbird-Stories-Ellison10.) Harlan Ellison — Can’t recall how I first came across his books, not being a regular reader of fiction, but somehow his collections of short stories crossed my radar. The two books I have read by him thus far are Strange Wine and Deathbird Stories. His writing skills are undeniably impressive, and it’s a pleasure to occasionally take time out to retreat into the products of his imagination.

Surely I could locate several more Jewish authors within my book collection (Elie Wiesel, Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Karl Polanyi, Karl Popper, Viktor Frankl, Isaac Asimov, Michael Pollan, Stanley Milgram, Jonathan Haidt, Robert Heilbroner, Steven Levitt, Ayn Rand, Thomas Szasz, Jared Diamond, etc. — come to find out enough to populate another list or two), but my goal today was simply to list the first ten that came to mind.

And perhaps presenting this list will serve as a deterrent to those online who might otherwise feel the desire to ask me, as someone did just yesterday, if I’ve considered “the Jewish question.”  ??  To which I flippantly responded about my appreciation for several Jewish authors (hence what motivated me to create this list in the first place) and for Mel Brooks’ films, on top of being an enthusiastic lifelong fan of Weird Al Yankovich who just so happened to marry a Jewish woman. So…there’s your answer, in a nutshell. And if being anti-Semitic is expected or required of those who align themselves with the so-called Alt-Right, well then, that’s just one more movement/political camp I need not concern myself too much with. Not a fan of movements of any kind anyway. Nor of categorically demonizing and scapegoating whole groups/classes/races of people based on arbitrary criteria so as to suit ideological ends. That’s not my bag.

Late-night journaling in early July

Now 3.5 weeks into my commitment to stop drinking and feeling fine. No big problems thus far. The cravings come and go, but they so far haven’t proven too difficult to resist and move past (other than that one snafu night a couple weeks back, but that being the only one — feel like I have to note that for full disclosure purposes — keeping it real, heh). But yeah, so far so good. People drink around me sometimes but it hasn’t really bugged me much. One night my former partner’s beer started beckoning me, so I prepared my stuff to leave and let him know I felt a bit tempted, then I wound up reverting my attention to a National Lampoon movie on the television and forgot about it.

Though the cravings do remain and are very real. Just that they’re not as difficult to combat as I’d imagined they would be or as they were during previous times in trying to quit drinking alcohol. Still do kinda miss a big frosty mug or pint glass in my hands, but not too much. My beer can fetish is easily enough remedied by toting my Schweppes seltzer water cans around instead. Fizzy yet no calories. Goes down easy and keeps me distracted from the barley pop. Obviously lacks any kick, which I do sometimes miss, but I remind myself promptly what all tends to accompany that kick. All it takes is a trip down memory lane (even memories from this year alone) to cure me of wanting a repeat of any of that. So not worth it.

Been spending a lot more time online lately, seeing as how I have a good bit more time on my hands. Watched countless videos by Kevin O’Hara on his AlcoholMastery channel over the last three weeks, all of which have proven helpful. His calm demeanor and Irish accent is very soothing while the information and experiences he shares really resonate with me. Also wandered onto other channels on YT to listen to others’ experiences on quitting drinking, including a few millennials. Good to see so many of them recognizing the problems with that lifestyle so early in life, though I’m saddened to hear the sordid details of some of their tales. Can relate to plenty of that too. They tend to refer to their issue with alcohol as “binge drinking,” but like my former partner pointed out earlier tonight, that’s what older and heavier drinkers refer to as “novice drinkers.” Which is to say that every drinker starts out with bingeing; over the years it develops into a more steady (and generally daily) habit. It’s a progression.

Very glad to have come to my senses finally. Been knowing I had to get to this point sooner rather than later, but I struggled with it over the last couple years and wouldn’t give up the drinking. Not until I got seriously pissed off, at both myself and a good many of my fellow bar patrons. This is one example where getting angry really paid off. If one can harness it, that is. Which I finally did, partly by choice and partly because I was going to blow my lid otherwise. So sick of some of the losers I found myself in the company of at these various watering holes over the years, culminating in me arriving at the worst pub I’ve ever set foot in. But I’m grateful for what major assholes some of those people proved to be — made my decision so much easier finally. Gave me a terrific wake-up call like no other. Showed me what lay in store for folks who give in to that lifestyle and take it too far. Also showed me what a bunch of bitter jerks we can be when our lives wind up reduced to shallow indulgences that do us no good. So, for these reasons, I’m glad I waltzed into that joint earlier this year and took time to get to know those assholes. They definitely made an impression on me, and I’m pleased as punch to keep putting distance between myself and folks like them. Full-on misery loving company there. Good riddance.

Not that assholes are limited to that one watering hole. Assholes abound all throughout the barscene. I don’t doubt I was an asshole too. Kinda goes with the territory.

And I’ll probably remain an asshole-of-sorts. Just glad to no longer be ingesting a chemical that messes up my mind to where I say so many of the wrong things and frequently enough can’t even recall what they even were. Tired of feeling guilty about that. Also tired of dealing with idiots who love to get a reaction out of more emotional folks like myself. Too difficult for me to check my emotions and remain level-headed once I’ve had enough to drink. I tend to get far too reactive and mouthy. Irritated by disrespect and unnecessary bullshit, or I create it. And we’re all so prone to talk over one another’s shoulders and misunderstand each other’s intentions. They react, I react, and all communication bogs down. Hence why they prefer to keep talk so light and stupid, thinking that will stave off reasons for people to argue. But it doesn’t work that way for me. Their attempts at light and stupid tend to grate on my nerves. Just don’t possess enough patience any longer to deal with all of that. Something went snap in me over time and I no longer wish to put up with my fellow barhounds’ bullshit. Went beyond stupid, beyond depressing even. Became downright pathetic. And I do include myself in that assessment as well.

It’s all still on my mind day to day as I adjust to this new way of being. But more and more I find myself thinking about other matters and letting the bad aftertaste of dealing with those jokers slowly fade away. Will take time though. Dealt with those sorts for too long. Became one of them, at least so far as I was able to. And now that’s over and there’s all kinds of new terrain to explore.

Been re-listening to some of my audiobooks lately, including Taleeb Starkes’ Black Lies Matter and Dr. James Hollis’s What Matters Most: Living A More Considered Life. Put the last bit of volume 1 of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago on hold a few weeks back, with plans to finish it soon enough. Picked back up my print copy of Otto Rank’s Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development now that I have nifty reading glasses to aid me. Already mentioned on another recent post reading Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. A couple weeks back I listened to The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault, which was just okay. Before that I listened to A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History by Nicholas Wade. And also The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, which was an interesting story. And a couple other titles that slip my mind right now.

Yesterday afternoon I rented 3 of the remakes of The Planet of the Apes films, in preparation for watching the newest one coming out later this month. Don’t know much about these movies, having only seen bits and pieces of the originals. The storyline sounds interesting, so hopefully it lives up to the expectations. Thinking of cooking up spaghetti Friday evening and nestling in to begin this series. A friend of mine also wants to see them, and my former partner said he too might try to sit through one of them (not much a movie-watcher usually). Might be fun. (Might also finally break out the new popcorn popper I received as a gift months back.)

What else? Trimmed my hair this evening. It needed it. The bleached tips are drying out and in need of gradual removal. Oiled it up tonight with argon oil (and coconut oil on the tips) after putting my usual drops of jojoba oil in with my conditioners. Managed to create a nice layering effect in the back this time around. Took some time and patience but I like the result. Been trimming my own hair for a couple years or more now and so far so good. Thinking of dyeing it again sometime soon, though I can’t settle on a shade. Went with black with reddish copper tips last time, but the black dye faded all throughout pretty fast. So much for Garnier Nutrisse being a permanent dye. The black dyes I’ve used in the past were steadfast, but not that stuff. So nevermind that brand. Leaning with going for a golden medium brown to slightly lighten my original color a bit. Done it plenty of times before to nice effect. But I’m also toying with going more amber, though it seems everybody is going for red hues these days. But solid black looks flat, and my hair is already dark brown. Burgundy shades are out since they too are all the rage right now. So medium golden brown it probably will be. Avoiding the frosting this time since it’s so damaging to my hair. Been dyeing my own hair since I was a young teen, rarely opting to go the salon route, and I’ve been mostly pleased with the results. Saves money to do it oneself, plus I’ve had my hair botched worse by stylists than by myself.

Little pretties like that make me happy. Still meaning to get around to doing my complete pedicure and possible manicure. Been lazy lately though. Have to stick with neutral shades when I do it myself since I don’t have the skills that the Asian nail tech ladies possess. Best to leave the application of dark and bright shades to them. Someday I’ll be able to afford their services again. Just have to catch up my finances for a spell before indulging in such luxuries.

That’s about it for now. Taking it easy, relaxing when not working, exercising occasionally, still staying up late most nights but aiming to wake earlier, sharing meals pretty regularly with my former partner (he’s been particularly generous lately in inviting me over for dinners — probably part of the reason I’ve yet to lose any weight these past 3 weeks), and keeping the alcohol out of my mouth (in the words of Kevin O’Hara). Oh, and on the 4th of July my former and I went on a walk to observe the local fireworks, which was nice. We rarely walk together much anymore, so that was good. Didn’t bicker too much either.

Another evening of existential reckoning (oh joy)

Was actually perusing a Sam Harris clip like I so very rarely ever care to do. Never been much of a fan of the guy. But found a segment where I agreed with him how people are factioning off into political tribes. Guess this is what Religions dying can morph into. Gotta put that energy toward something, somewhere. And now politics is the name of the game. The new beacon on which to direct our religious devotion.

Human beings are religious by our very natures. Have always been inclined toward religiosity and still are. Evolved this way. So even though we like to think we’re dropping all that and turning our attention toward the formation of a secular society, that inclination still resides within us, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Expresses itself in various ways. Political tribalism to whatever degrees. New herds to lose ourselves within.

Lots of things to lose oneself in nowadays. So much freedom we barely know what to do with it.

Freedom to make all sorts of (good or bad) choices too. That’s one of those natural rights granted to us by Nature. Some call it Free Will, though it can’t help but come with limitations.

Still. Pretty darn free in the U.S. currently.

Free to buy an assortment of delicacies and enticements. Free to partake in a number of legal drugs, including alcohol (and marijuana in some states). Free to think whatever we want. Free to vote for whomever we want, assuming our nation’s voting apparatus is even trustworthy any longer, and assuming you’re not barred from doing so due to certain felony charges.

Free to read books. Tons of libraries around for folks who lack funds. Inexpensive entertainment as well as educational if we push ourselves to seek and explore. But that’s a choice. Comes back to exercising all this Freedom we’ve been blessed with.

Choices. Attention paid to where? Habits. Options. Alternatives. Decisions. Backed by actions.

Come to find out, it’s very easy to get lost in this 21st Century. lol  True story.

Values. What matters most?

What were the seven deadly sins again?

SLOTH

ENVY

LUST

GLUTTONY

GREED

PRIDE

WRATH

Good to keep in mind. As I sit here tonight as a sloth, once again, pondering while wandering around the internet. Satiating my legal vices. Ever look at that list and wind up having to check every box? Whether past or present, all the same we are afflicted by excesses that can prove destructive, and not only to our own selves. Obviously.

So then what? Wait for motivation to come and sweep us along on our way? Doesn’t work like that.

Some good books I’ve been contemplating on over the last several months are:

Thinking of canceling my Audible subscription for a spell so I can just refocus on these and other titles. Those books there are really informative and thought-provoking. Not needing to continue on in my studies until I get re-oriented with the aid of those books. They do help. But of course it ultimately comes down to one’s individual efforts. Application of lessons learned.

A dreary night indoors in November

Not going out tonight. Too cold and drizzly. Instead occupying myself with laundry and putting away my summer clothes in bins.

Work is done for the day so I might as well enjoy my time before things kick into higher gear later this week due to holiday work obligations. Glad to make more money and am trying to generally spend less these days. Also updated my business website finally so now I feel comfortable advertising locally once again. Wasn’t as tricky setting up the ftp info once again in the macromedia software as I’d worried it might be. And that software actually proved compatible with my newest computer, so that’s a plus. Need to purchase a new printer soon though since mine crapped out (again — darn things only last 3-4 years before giving up the ghost).

Recently finished listening to a great audiobook by Mark Manson titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Highly recommend that one. It’s funny while also offering practical wisdom to counteract the “we all deserve an award” mentality permeating society these days. Plan on re-listening to it sooner rather than later.

Currently I am listening to the audio version of Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. The first portion, which I’m still working through, serves as a memoir where he tells of his upbringing and challenges with religion (his father was a Protestant clergyman and several other family members were theologians) and his struggles in school (wasn’t good at math; grew more isolated over time due to differing viewpoints from his peers). As a fan of Carl Jung’s work, it’s interesting to learn more about who he was and how he came up and also how his mind developed over time. A kid like him born into today’s society would likely wind up labeled and drugged by psychiatrists, ironically enough, which could very well have stripped someone like him of his potential.

Previously listened to the audiobook America the Anxious by Ruth Whippman about her relocation from the UK to California and her observations of our “positivity” culture. She came out realizing that the intense and focused pursuit of happiness doesn’t tend to wind one up there and instead makes people miserable. Her research provided and examined was illuminating and even counter-intuitive in places. Really enjoyed her witty writing style and believe mothers most especially would find her work amusing.

Next up in terms of reading material, I’ve placed the following books in my wishlist by Thomas Sowell: The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, Intellectuals and Race, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, and Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Hope to order at least one of his titles in December. Also hoping to eventually get to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (a three volume series).

What else? Obviously been looking more into the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in recent weeks, seeing as how we keep hearing more and more about it. Sounded like a reasonable movement initially, but then it’s evolved into something else, something a bit more sinister in terms of expressing racial hostility toward white people. I’ll continue trying to make sense out of what’s unfolding there.

Been slacking in going to the gym this past week. Was busy at times, but otherwise just lazy or not in the mood.

My former and I began fussing with one another again over the weekend, so we’re taking a few days away to do our own things. Per our usual cycle.

Met a nice guy recently, a friend of a friend, who works in an environmental science lab setting. Seems like a cool dude. Hung out with him and his friends a couple days last week. In his 40s with no kids, never married, in the process of buying a house. Seems like a stable individual. Will be taking my time getting to know people — not interested in jumping into anything any time soon. But he seems to like me and isn’t opposed to exploring various topics, so that’s cool. Either way, I’m pretty sure we’ll wind up being at least casual buddies.

Was called by a client/friend, an older lady I’ve worked for for years, and went over to visit with her yesterday. Been months since we last chatted since she’s retired these days. Was good to see her. Said she’s looking into getting a gun, so we discussed her options, and I need to email her later some info she requested. She goes out east in the winter to stay with her daughter, and they’re a bit concerned about home protection due to riots and rising crime in Charlotte, NC. Can understand her worries there and will try to find some solutions that may prove most compatible to her situation.

Not much else is going on, at least not worth noting on here. Preparing for winter to arrive. Needing to get my rotors and brakes worked on hopefully this weekend. After that we’ll ready the snow tires since they usually go on right after Thanksgiving each year. Mundane stuff.

Early April 2016 update

Ordered a couple new audiobooks on Audible last night: On Writing by Stephen King and The 50th Law by Robert Greene and rap artist 50 Cent.

Began King’s book today and am so far enjoying it. Been a long time since I’ve read anything from Stephen King, having become worn out on his novels back in the mid-’90s. Believe the last one from him I read was Gerald’s Game. But Stephen King’s writings made a strong impression on me during my youth, beginning with reading Cujo when I was 8, that being the longest book from any author I had managed to read up until that point. Scared the living shit out of me for years.  lol  Read a few other titles from him and watched several of his movies over the years. He’s one wordy dude and I got to wishing they wouldn’t pay him according to word count. But his On Writing is different, a bit lighter than his usual fare (for obvious reasons), and actually rather humorous thus far. The man’s an experienced writer, no denying that, so I’m interested to learn more about how he approaches the craft.

The second title mentioned up above, The 50th Law, appealed to me after watching several interviews on youtube of Robert Greene where he discussed his time spent with 50 Cent. Sounded interesting, though I’m not much of a fan of 50 Cent’s music. Used to listen to it some, but haven’t kept up with it over time. Have previously listened to the audio versions of Robert Greene’s books Mastery and The Art of Seduction. He just came back across my radar recently so I’ve decided to give this latest book by him a listen in coming days.

About two weeks away from heading down South. Continue reading

February and March 2016 Reading Material

Been sticking with audiobooks mostly recently since they’re easier to digest at this time.

Put on hold nearly three-quarters of the way through Sheldon S. Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated. Honestly, I’d heard so much about it in advance that the main takeaway was already familiar to me and, beyond that, much of the book was framed from a democrat’s perspective, which wasn’t what I was looking for (as a long-time independent with no allegiances to either popular political party). So I’ll finish it at my leisure when more interesting titles aren’t pressing for my attention.

Did finish listening to Erich Fromm’s Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought and liked it at the time but haven’t found it terribly memorable or remarkable in the weeks since completing it. Just a bit more information on Freud from someone more closely familiar with him and his writings throughout the entire course of his career, not only those that remain popular today.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine proved thought-provoking and interesting and is one I intend to re-listen to in future months. It’s intended for shaping a philosophy for a modern audience rather than simply being a recount of historical texts.

Another I finished recently and loved was Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. This collection of essays was amazing, particularly halfway through and onward. If you’re curious about cellular life and evolutionary changes, this one is a real eye-opener, along with their (print) book What Is Life?

The Medicalization of Everyday Life: Selected Essays by Thomas Szasz was terrific and I look forward to listening to it again and capturing excerpts from it to share with others. Very important thoughts expressed in that one, ranging from the concept of “mental illness” being taken too literally when it’s actually metaphorical in origin, to what’s labeled as a “mental disorder” in the first place and how that list has been expanding decade after decade to include all sorts of human behaviors that arguably have no reason to be added other than to pad more mental health workers’ pockets, to exploring one’s right to die with dignity and who gets to decide and dispense drugs used in such cases, to describing how insane asylums and “mad doctoring” came into being originally, etc. Having read one of Dr. Szasz’s books years back and watched several speeches by him since, I am a fan of this man’s work and found this book to be particularly engaging and most appropriate for those new to his writings and critical position in regards to the mental health field.

We Are What We Pretend To Be by Kurt Vonnegut is a collection of two stories written respectively at the very beginning and the very end of this author’s career. The first story, Basic Training, was rejected for publication back when he was first learning and honing his craft, though I enjoyed his character development there and was a bit astonished that it ended on a sweet note. The second story, If God Were Alive Today, was more along the lines of what we’ve come to expect from Vonnegut and is said to have been a sketch of sorts intended to be fleshed out into a longer novel which was cut short by his death. Enjoyed listening to his daughter discuss the background info of these two stories and tell us more on what it was like interacting with her father once she was grown.

Next, I’ve been listening to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human: A Book For Free Spirits, which includes his Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions as well as The Wanderer and His Shadow. I continue to have mixed feelings on Nietzsche, hence why I purchased this audiobook and am taking up time with it, to gain more insight into where he’s coming from. There seem to be contradictions across his thoughts, not that this bothers me so much as it leads me to recognize just how much he was speculating and projecting. At the beginning of his Maxims portion he speaks of having done the work and gone through the transformation necessary to speak on such matters, but I am not completely convinced based on what information we know of him posthumously. He was a smart and deep thinker, no doubt about it, yet he seemed plagued by his own deficiencies and unable or unwilling to come to grips with them, resulting in him coming across as looking down on so many others, particularly those with religious predilections. And I get the impression, again and again through reading his works, that his attitude reflects back more on him and his state of mind than on those he’s pointing out scornfully. Probably didn’t help that his primary philosophical mentor was Schopenhauer. Either way, Nietzsche remains a bit of a mystery to me. He wanted so much to see himself as belonging among the “ubermensch” he so admired, and yet his health and personal disposition held him back, and this he seemed unable to come to terms with. I study him for this reason — Nietzsche appeared to be a walking paradox in his own right.

Yesterday I began listening to Jon Taffer’s book Raise the Bar in order to gain more insight into the bar and hospitality industry and general management. Just an intrigue for me at present.

Two audiobooks ordered today that I look forward to getting to in weeks to come are Tribes by Seth Godin and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

As for print books, the main one I’ve been picking up recently out of my collection is Art and Artist by Otto Rank. Have a long way to go before completing that one though. Not an easy read by any stretch. But I’ve heard so much about it and feel compelled to take in his ideas, knowing how much of an impact they had on other authors whose work I respected, like Ernest Becker.

New reading material for 2016

Figured I’d list on here some of the books I’ve ordered and plan to read over the coming weeks and months. It’s an eclectic mix, like usual.

The one I’m most excited to finally delve into is Sheldon S. Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Had that one in my wishlist for several years now and then noticed recently it’s available in audio format on Audible. Audiobooks are more my speed at the present time. So, looking forward to that one and its explanation of how economics and politics have fused within the American system and how this has created a new form of totalitarianism unlike what was witnessed in Europe and Asia around the time of the World Wars, albeit capable of being very destructive and controlling in its own right. Those who know me know I speak a lot on the encroaching threat of totalitarianism in the U.S., and with any luck this book will aid me in further fleshing out what I’m trying to make sense of so that I am better able to articulate these concerns in speech and writing.

Since I’ve been really digging the works of Dr. James Hollis, I ordered another of his audiobooks titled The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife. Read very positive reviews on it. Been listening to his Through the Dark Wood and Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life each a couple of times now with plans to continue re-listening as time goes on. Because this is an important subject for this phase in my life and he’s the only author/psychologist I’ve found thus far who’s resonated with me in illuminating this fork in the road.

Another I ordered from Audible is Erich Fromm’s Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought. Am an avid fan of the writings of Erich Fromm, having now read approximately 11 books by him over the years. Though I’m already familiar with his critiques of Freud, I figured this would still prove to be a worthwhile listening experience while out and about during the day.

The print books I ordered recently and have yet to pick up since they were delivered to my former companion’s house (can’t have books or anything else delivered to my apartment seeing as how my neighbors like to steal packages) include Ego and Archetype by Edward Edinger. Read good reviews on that one while searching for more Jungian authors to explore ideas with. Another is The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead by Stephan A Hoeller. For kicks, I also decided to try Nathaniel Branden’s How to Raise Your Self-Esteem: The Proven Action-Oriented Approach to Greater Self-Respect and Self-Confidence. Heard mixed stuff on that guy, but ah well. And then, the wild card of the bunch: The Satanic Witch by Anton LaVey. Yep, that one promises to be an oddball, never having read anything from that man or any other self-proclaimed satanist. That book just came across my radar by chance when someone on youtube complained that we Western women are basically being lulled into following exactly down that particular path in terms of our behaviors and attitudes, so I wanted to read it for myself to see what that guy was going on about.

So, these should keep me busy for a little while. Oh, and one other book I borrowed off someone recently is I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Strauss. It’s about the so-called Borderline Personality Disorder. Just curious to read what was written about it in 1991, skeptical as I can’t help but be when it comes to psychiatric jargon and claims.

Then this morning while typing this I noticed Audible gave me a free copy of Charles Dickens’ The Chimes. So there’s that one now too to eventually get to.