Well last Tuesday—that would be March 25, 2008—I drove away from my shrink’s house for the very last time.  I suppose I will drive back to that house again, but when I do, I will do so in the capacity of an ordinary person and not my shrink’s client and she, my shrink, will be an ordinary person.

We have terminated.  That’s the word shrink people use when therapy stops.  It terminates.  

People terminate for all sorts of reasons.  Sometimes, the person goes for a while; the problem seems to be taken care of and they terminate.  Or maybe the person doesn’t like the whole process of therapy or the kind they are getting is not the kind they want, so they terminate.  Mostly people terminate, whether they want to or not, because their insurance will cover only a certain number of sessions.  Call that a forced termination. Sometimes, a shrink and a client have a big fight and call each other bad names and they terminate.  Sometimes the client moves to another town and they terminate.  Or maybe the shrink moves to another town with the result being termination.  Some times the client dies or the shrink, thus leading to termination.

I have been seeing my shrink since the fall of 1980, I think.  For years I figured we would terminate when I got a job someplace else, and then for a while I thought I would terminate when Carol got a job someplace else.  I got really pissed at my shrink over the years, but somehow that did not lead to termination.  And the way therapy seemsto have worked for me, I would sort of get over one issue, only by managing to dig up another that was deeper down that the first one.  So then I began to think we would terminate when one of us died.  I figured that would be her since she was older.  Though I did not rule out sudden death for myself, thus resulting in termination.

But my shrink beat me to the punch.  She decided to let her shrink license lapse.  I mean she decided not to renew it.  For one thing it costs money to renew the license, and then to qualify for renewal you have to take a certain number of units of classes to stay up with developments in “shrinkland.”

Of all the reasons that one might terminate I had never thought of the idea of termination by failure to renew shrink license.  That seems pretty mundane and insufficiently dramatic.  Sure I should have seen the writing on the wall.  My shrink is 85 years old, I think.  She is still pretty spry, but she doesn’t get out all that much anymore, and she has that macular degeneration thing going on. 

I guess I am thinking about it because for maybe the last six months, I would call her about now on a Monday morning to see if she would available for Tuesday (tomorrow) which is when we have been meeting for the last couple of years.  I started calling six months back to see if we were still on for 1 pm Tuesday because she started having different medial issues that sometimes interfered with the Tuesday appointment time.

But today I will not call because we have terminated.

Down with DST!

Thanks for the thought provoking comments re: DST.

I read them over just before my evening ritual for hitting the hay.  I guess I do have some relaxation moments built into my day because part of the getting to bed ritual involves my sitting in the massage chair for a 15 minute spin.

I don’t know if I was relaxed or not but I started boggling my mind with this DST business.

Thanks for Brian and his international perspective.  I had, being USA-o-centric, just assumed everybody started and stopped DST at the same time world-wide.  Not so at all. And some parts of the world are still not on DST so that must cause all sorts of communication screw-ups.  The dates for DST are, as Brian indicates, federally mandated, but for some reason that I can’t understand Arizona, my research suggests, isn’t on DST.

In the 50s and 60s apparently local governments were allowed to set the start and stop dates for DST with the result, one web site reports, that on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles!  So while DST is not observed in Arizona at all, for some unknown reason, the Federal Government does now make everybody in the country start and stop DST at the same time.

Brother Stephen mentions the sun dial and observes that if the sun is not overhead at noon a sun dial would not work or something to that effect.  Perhaps we should all go on sun dial time.  But that would seem to me perhaps the most local of all forms of time keeping.  While I don’t really understand this matter at all could sun dials east or west of each other by say a thousand miles easily be off relative to each other.  Of course, I guess that’s the way it is anyway.

I was thinking of getting a sun dial but apparently you have to set the damn things correctly towards true north, whatever that is, as opposed to magnetic north and some sort mathematical calculation is also necessary to compensate for being either north or south of the equator.

Also Brian mentions that China has or is thinking about 1 time zone for the whole country.  Now that is an interesting, if mind boggling idea.  I hope I understand correctly.  Would this mean, say, that when the sun came up at 6 AM on the East Coast, it would also be 6 AM on the West Coast but no sun would be coming up.  It would be pitch dark.  So would that mean that dawn would occur at 9 AM on the West Coast while on the East Coast the sun would have been up for three hours already.

Evidence for energy savings produced by DST is very mixed.  But what I read suggests no energy savings.  What I read also suggests that we have DST because businesses want it; people shop more when there is more day light.  The extension of DST this last year was lobbied for (and won) in part by the National Association of Convenience Stores.

Cousin Lucy remarks—and I feel it to be true—that adjusting to DST (going on and off) becomes more difficult the older one is.  Those shifts can damage sleep patterns for weeks.  One country—I forget the name—has outlawed DST for heath reasons.

I don’t think I should have suffer major screw ups in my circadian rhythms because 7-11 wants to sell more Slurpees.

In The News

On Thursday morning of this last week Carol, back in her hotel room in NY, NY got a call at 5 am from American Airlines saying her flight back to SB had been cancelled.  She got right back on the horn to reschedule and lucked out, getting the last seat on a plane out of NY that would get her to Dallas in time for her flight out of there.

I saw in the paper Thursday morning that American as well as Delta had cancelled a huge number of flights, affecting the lives of about 45,000 people, for the purposes of maintenance.  Seems as if this might have been better arranged, but the FAA ordered it having found, so I heard, that Southwest Airways—not doubt to keep their low fares low—had been cutting back on the maintenance issue.  So as usual, everybody had to pay for the screw up of one, since bureaucracies exist for the systematic enforcement of injustice.

I guess they were just doing their job.  Seems as if from what I read that the fleet of planes for all airlines is becoming quite old.  There seems to have been no immediate danger, just you know when your car gets to 60000 miles they give it a big check up—because it is getting along in miles.  The same with the planes.  I guess the airlines are struggling.  A number are in the process of emerging from bankruptcy, one of the conditions of which (I mean getting out of bankruptcy) was the workers—should they wish to have any jobs at all—had to take cuts of up to 33% in wages.

During her layover in Dallas, Carol and a friend who lives there met up and went to lunch at a place called “Steaks and Shakes,” and guess what they specialize in steaks and shakes.

Speaking of which: food, I mean, and its side effects, a recent study shows that persons with excessive trunk weight are three times more likely to suffer senile dementia than those without said weight.  I know women don’t like getting weight on hips and thighs, but better to get it there than the trunk, which is where men, with our infamous guts, tend to get it.

Circadian Rhythms Again

Sometimes I can’t tell if the things I have to do and the thoughts I think are making me feel bleak or if I simply don’t have the energy to do the things I do or think the thoughts I think.  Today I am inclined to think the latter.  I managed, by some stroke of luck, to get almost 7.5 hours sleep last night, and I have to say for the first part of the day I felt, in any case, more perky. Perky!  Makes me sound like a cheer leader.

Made me think of an article in the LA Times a few days back.  Some health organization is thinking of declaring the night shift “carcinogenic.”  I am used to thinking of toxic materials as carcinogenic and possibly milk, what with the hormones in it.  But the night shift?  Turns out however that people who work the night shift are more at risk for obesity, cancer, reproductive health problems, mental illness, and gastrointestinal disorders. 

Those pesky Circadian Rhythms again.  Cells all over the body function as clocks–; and guess what?  They are set to respond to light and darkness, because, guess what?—life on earth, and that includes human life, evolved to respond to light and dark, because and guess what—it’s light and heat that makes things grow.  Another thing we can blame Darwin for I guess.

But to me it just seems common sense.  Something that seems in short supply today.  One doctor announces, “It’s a myth that we alone, among all the animals, have the power to sleep when we want.”  Frankly, I have never heard of this “myth” and am glad I have not. If there are people who have heard this “myth” and believed it, they are idiots, lacking all common sense.  But doctors like to go around correcting myths they make up because it makes them sound scientific. But maybe such people exist because another doctor sees fit to say, “People think of sleep as a waste of time…. But it’s essential.”

Who the hell thinks of sleep as a waste of time?  For God’s sake?  I can only believe such people have never done an honest day of physical labor their entire lives.  Admittedly, it has been a while.  But I have done on occasion day after day of unpleasant physical labor, and I can tell you what.  Sleep is not a waste of time.

This superstructure—this so-called society or civilization—has taken us further and further away from our nature as animals.  Maybe the whole thing—the whole superstructure—has been built up to keep us from remembering that we are animals, flesh and blood that dies because it lives.  And we forget that—tell you what—at our own risk because that animal being, in what Freud might call a return of the repressed, is going to rear up and bite you in the ass.

I believe—perhaps Cousin Beth will join me—we should start a campaign to outlaw daylight savings time.  This is a nationally mandated screw up of our circadian rhythms.  Some states didn’t get with the National Plan until after WWII.  Maybe we could start at the state level and work from there.

Day Light Savings Time is Carcinogenic!


While a few April showers may lie ahead, this is about as green as it’s going to get out on the bluffs. 


In hot pursuit of the zen of relaxation, I failed.  But decided maybe I could get out of my skin a bit by taking our walk to the ocean, even though Carol is now back in NY, NY and not here to take it with me.  So I poneyed up and armed myself with my Ipod.  Strolling along the golf course listening to Jimi Hendrix singing, Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?

Some guy on a golf cart started waving and yelling my name.  I waved back but didn’t know who he he was.  A guy from the club, I think.  Suddenly, I am known on the golf course.

I bought the Ipod classic, 180 gigs of memory.  I haven’t used a half of a half of an ounce of that.  So far though I have manged to “synch” in a collection of Jimi, and some Beatles, and Bruce Springstein, and about 17 tunes from a collection of oldies.  So there I sat on the bluff listening to Blueberry hill in one ear and the ocean in the other.  Finally I decided the ocean was best—and stopped listening to Blueberry Hill.


Brother Steve recommends meditation as a route to relaxation—well, not relaxation exactly, something more than that.  He recommended a website “Mindfulness in Plain English.”  There I found in the introduction to that document:

Suffering is big word in Buddhist thought. It is a key term and it should be thoroughly understood. The Pali word is ‘dukkha’, and it does not just mean the agony of the body. It means the deep, subtle sense of unsatisfactoriness which is a part of every mental treadmill. The essence of life is suffering, said the Buddha. At first glance this seems exceedingly morbid and pessimistic. It even seems untrue. After all, there are plenty of times when we are happy. Aren’t there? No, there are not. It just seems that way. Take any moment when you feel really fulfilled and examine it closely. Down under the joy, you will find that subtle, all-pervasive undercurrent of tension, that no matter how great the moment is, it is going to end. No matter how much you just gained, you are either going to lose some of it or spend the rest of your days guarding what you have got and scheming how to get more. And in the end, you are going to die. In the end, you lose everything. It is all transitory.


Funny to think but at the moment of this writing (730, March 24, 2008) Carol is in an airplane flying somewhere between California and Texas.  That’s where she will next set down in Dallas TX for transfer to a flight to La Guardia.   She is going to NY, NY for a conference, where she will participate in an international panel on creativity and dance.

I could have gone.  I like Manhattan.  But the last few springs I have traveled off to conventions, I come back and within a week I am sick with something, sometimes just a cold, but one spring I got bronchitis, so I decided a few weeks back that I would not go with her and felt bad about that, until it came time for the trip and then I was glad I had decided not to travel because I am feeling so darn pooped out.  

I am getting my usual spring allergy attack and still do not seem to have adjusted to the change in the clock.  I wake up these days at around 530 and can’t get back to sleep no matter how I try.  So I get six or six and a half hours sleep.  That’s just not enough.

I have a few days here that I might use to rest up.  The last quarter isn’t quite wrapped up.  I am waiting for the Teaching Assistants I supervise to post their grades, but I do have things pretty well set up for my class next quarter.  The problem though I am learning is that to rest up one must be able to relax.

Being tired and having a little time off might seem an opportune time to relax.  But being tired is not the same thing as being relaxed, and having the time to relax doesn’t mean one will do so.  I mean I would like to give it a go, but I don’t think I know how to relax.  I need perhaps to take some classes in the art of relaxation.  I should perhaps consult with niece Caroline who majored in Leisure Studies on some things I might read about how to relax.

But that’s a problem itself.  Reading up on relaxation isn’t the same thing as relaxing.  In fact getting up a reading list on how to relax seems a kind of chore that runs contrary to one’s overall goal—i.e. to achieve a state of relaxation.

The metaphor is low but it seems to me there should be some sort of relaxation sphincter somewhere in the psyche.  When I attend to my bodily functions I am only able to do so by the relaxation of certain sphincters, and I must say—at the risk of appearing perverse, polymorphous—that I experience the relaxation of said sphincters as very positive.  Yes, true nothing is done precisely but something is accomplished.  Or the other way around perhaps.

I should go no further with the sphincter metaphor.  But the fact that I can’t find that sphincter, if there is one, and that I can’t even conceive of relaxation as something other than a problem with possible metaphysical dimensions would seem to indicate I am pretty far from being relaxed.

Potato Salad

Easter Day in Santa Barbara turns out gorgeous, clear skies with a little haze, and 75 degrees.

Usually Carol and I go to an Easter party a friend holds every year with plenty of food and Easter eggs stuck everywhere for the children.  But this year he and his wife did not have the party because she is recovering from major surgery.  I had been thinking about him and wondering how he was doing and his wife too.  So Carol and I went to the Farmer’s Market and bought some white roses, and we drove to their house.

Carol had called ahead the day before to ask if it was OK if we dropped by for a few minutes, and I made up some potato salad to bring along.  They have always been so generous with their food.  That was all I could think to do.  The potato salad, I mean, that I made Southern-style I think with eggs, pickles, onion and plenty of Real Mayonnaise.

I enjoyed seeing them.  But we started somehow into talking—I have known my friend and his wife for nearly 30 years—about people who had died and when exactly they died and of what and whether it had been expected or not, and if expected, how long had the end gone on exactly.  And what of the wife or husband or whoever had been left behind, and did one know if so and so was still on this earth or not.

Like that.

I wasn’t depressed or anything.  This just seems to be how the conversation goes when one reaches, I guess, a certain age.  I remember back in my callow youth being around some elderly people in a damn Jacuzzi somewhere or other—and all they could talk about on and on in the minutest detail was their most recent surgery.  This was back in the day of the triple bypass; so there was a lot to talk about with livid scars as visual aides.  And I remember thinking, Jeez, is this all these people have to talk about.  I know better now.

We were there an hour I guess.  Another couple came over too; and we started in on another round this time less about people who had died and more about people in the process of dying or suffering from some major physical problem with significant implications for continued quality of life.

 Then we drove home.  And I vacuumed the living room carpet.  The vacuum had been standing there next to the entrance to the living room for a couple of days.  I had managed to vacuum the upstairs carpets and I had vacuumed down the stairs and I don’t remember what happened exactly but I got stuck there and didn’t get into the living room.  So as soon as we got back in the condo I changed clothes back into my every day walking around duds and finished what I had started.

Still a gorgeous day.  And there’s some potato salad in the refrigerator.

Adams and Obama

I received an email with a link to Obama’s speech on racial issues, so I read all the text and watched most of the Utube video.  And was, well, unimpressed.  I had hoped to be transported, but felt very far from that.  The content wasn’t new and the deliver was far too measured and methodical.  I felt as if I were sitting in Sociology One.  Although, brevity being the soul of wit, he did manage to say in about twenty minutes what most sociology courses take ten weeks to say.

I was thankful for that.

Though probably my impression of Obama’s speech was informed by John Adam’s little speech right before the Declaration of Independence was signed.  That’s not a fair or just comparison.  Adam’s speech was transporting partly because he delivered in a situation far beyond his control and because he recognized and registered that situation as being beyond his control.  He knew the Declaration was risky business.  Should the colonies come out with the shit end of the stick, the signers of the Declaration had a good chance of losing property and life.  Either that or be signed on as collaborators when the British retook control.  Ignominy or death.  Those were his options.

Of course there was another: that the Colonies would win and probably in the innocence of his child heart Adam’s was in denial.  No, nothing really bad was going to happen.  Still when he said he would stake his life on the justice of their cause and the principles from which it was derived, I believed him.  To risk his life, limb and property for an idea or an ideal, that’s pretty heady stuff.  Of course, the idea and principle have become pretty rusted over.  But being ideas, the damage is far from fatal and they still could be burnished up.  What with a lot of elbow grease.

What would Obama die for?  What is there for Obama to die for?   So the context was not there—one that might provide a transporting dimension.  What does Obama stand to lose?  An election?  Is Obama willing to die to be president?  And if he is so willing, I must ask if his priorities aren’t all screwed up.  I don’t know honestly what I would die for, but I am pretty sure I would not die to be the President of this Republic.

Right now that office reminds me of those public restrooms you can find in Greyhound bus stations.  One enters a booth to find it so befouled by its previous occupant that no way I am going to go in there.  This stench would drive me from the room and my flesh would crawl.  I don’t think that place worth dying for, not at least without it having been previously disinfected.  And that would be the most minimal of requirements.

Adam’s Speech

Last night I watched part of the show on John Adams now running on HBO.  I found particularly affecting Adam’s speech delivered just before the vote confirming the assertion of independence.  He was a learned man and able to capture the largeness of the moment.  Never before, he argued, in history, had the opportunity arisen for a country to create its own government, one moreover responsive to the will of the people, and while he was aware of the risks involved, such an opportunity he said could not be allowed to pass. 

I felt like crying.  I was raised to believe in the greatness of America.  I don’t know when I began to have my doubts exactly.  I know in high school that I had problems with a government that advocated capital punishment and our attitude towards the Reds seemed to me—I don’t know—un-Christian.  Still with Kennedy in office and great leaps forward in the area of Civil Rights, I felt the gap between our professed ideals and the actualities of life in American might be closing.  I remember when a friend told me in college that 10% of the people controlled 80% of the wealth in this country I just didn’t want to believe it.

And since that time, if I have been critical of the country into which I was born, I have been so, not because I ever felt the ideals espoused by the founding fathers were wrong but because of the failure of the government and the people to live up to them.  Sadly, the distance between the promise and the actuality has grown so great that the principles of the country now seem tired maxims, hackneyed phrases, and the stuff of jingoistic patriotism.  They have no meaning beyond the use to which they are put for the purposes of politics.  With the result that events occurring at this moment—the elections—feel to me as if they might as well be occurring on Mars.

Adam’s little speech caused me to reconnect with that younger and more childlike self that did believe in those ideals as things that might come true.  I was hurt at that moment to feel how very far the country has slipped from its initial promise.  Still I wonder if it is not better that I felt hurt.  I don’t think the young people I work with today would feel hurt.  They seem, when I ask them, to feel, to a person, that government is just not to be trusted. And in light of the events of the last thirty years, I understand why they don’t trust, not just on the basis of things they have seen and heard but in response to the prevailing view that government is somehow inherently a bad thing.