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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Ignorance is Only Bliss to the Ignorant

"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

This phrase is constantly misinterpreted by the masses. In fact, until I researched it I didn't realize there was any more to it than the commonly uttered, "Ignorance is bliss." Once you see it in context, however, it's readily apparent that Thomas Gray was in no way promoting ignorance. He was, in fact, being nostalgic about his youth.

Ignorance has never been blissful to anyone other than those who are ignorant, and even then the ignorant suffer for their lack of knowledge and understanding in life. Far too many people choose to be uninformed about far too many things, and generally we are punished for it whether we know it or not. When we aren't the ones punished, it's always some other creature or person who is.

Animal rights is one good example of ignorance working against everyone and everything. As much as I hate the thought of animals being abused in general, I'm not going to look at this from the perspective of their suffering this time. From a completely unemotional and selfish human standpoint, let's examine why animal abuse is bad. We'll take bees as the first example. Not too many people spend much time thinking about them, other than perhaps beekeepers and those in the agricultural and environmental fields. The funny thing is, bees are one of the most vital components in the mechanism that keeps people alive on this planet. I won't post the quote attributed to Einstein about bees, because research has determined that Einstein probably never said it. Einstein wasn't a botanist, entomologist or biologist of any kind, so talking about bees wasn't exactly his schtick. However, the message within the quote remains somewhat valid. Without bees to pollinate, we would lose a very large portion of our food supply. Not all of it, but a huge amount. That's the direct impact. The indirect impact is that many of the things pollinated by bees are what support animal life in the wild. This affects anyone who might hunt for food.

I'll give a second example of how animal cruelty impacts humans, and then we'll move on to something else, but it's important for people to make connections like this. A second example is necessary to demonstrate a completely different sequence of events that many do not consider. How about we go with any sort of breeding facility for meat products. Pigs, cows, chickens and their ilk, are most often raised in sub-standard conditions. I'm not saying illegal, either. I just mean animals that are penned in tight quarters, given growth hormones and antibiotics that are unnatural to their systems, and that are often treated very badly. There are plenty of videos out there showing the beatings and abuse inflicted on farm animals, so if you're interested by all means Google it, but I won't include them here because I can't stand to watch them.

My point is this: These animals are not healthy. They're not allowed exercise because the meat becomes tougher. They confine them to keep them tender for our chewing pleasure. How healthy are the humans you know that don't get any exercise at all? The ones who stay firmly planted on the sofa, and often don't even get up to go to bed because they sleep on the couch - those are the ones I'm talking about. Chefs talk about the 'marbling' in the meat that makes it so juicy - well, that's nothing but a fat, out-of-shape animal. Now start adding those unnecessary antibiotics or growth hormones.

The other issue regarding close confinement is the fact that it spreads disease very rapidly, and quite often that meat finds its way into our grocery stores and onto our tables long before they discover anything is wrong with it. Generally people have to die before anyone notices that "X" farm's beef is not quite the safest thing around. If you confine large numbers of people in buildings, disease spreads just as quickly. Think of everything from the common cold to swine flu. Well, the same thing happens with animals who are closely quartered.

Going beyond animal treatment and things that actually impact each of us directly when we're ignorant of the facts, I want to talk about the more altruistic concerns where ignorance is harmful to others rather than ourselves. In these situations, selfish people simply aren't going to care, but I believe most people do actually care about their fellow humans. I think they often choose to shield themselves from inconvenient facts, though, so they don't have to feel guilty for pretty much everything they do in their daily routine.

One daily routine that's almost universal, is getting dressed after we wake up and changing into pyjamas when we go to bed. The question becomes, where are you buying your clothes? Following that line of thought, where are the stores you shop in getting the clothes, and/or materials the clothing is made from? Are your clothes free-trade and cruelty-free? If you're buying from Walmart, and a wide variety of other retailers, there's a good chance your clothes were made by people who are working in unsafe conditions and aren't even being paid enough to eat anything more than a bowl of rice per day.

Maybe you saw something about this in the news in April of 2013 when 1,129 workers were killed because a factory collapsed on them. Originally the death toll was 1,127, but two more people died within a month. A number of companies selling the clothing that was made there signed an agreement to improve conditions. Walmart did not. Another seven people died in October 2013 from a fire in a fabric mill in Bangladesh. Lack of transparency from many retailers makes it difficult to find clothing you don't have to feel guilty about, but if you're interested you can get some information here on where to find it. That link also provides information on the companies not doing so well, and in some cases provides a link where you can express your concern or take action in some way. Sadly you're likely to find some of your favourite brands and companies on that list, including Disney.

There is another sense in which ignorance is really not bliss, and that has to do with how it affects the people around you just in general conversation. You get this a lot with people who like to spout off with statements like, "Political correctness has gone too far." Says who? Says the person who isn't being hurt or oppressed in any fashion, (or in some cases they are and don't know it because it's so culturally ingrained). This happens with any kind of struggle for equality, be it feminism, marriage equality, racism, etc. Most statements from people who shrug off political correctness are coming from white, heterosexual, non-disabled males who are part of some sort of organized religion. You can get mad at me if you want to, and state that I'm making generalizations, but I was actually pretty specific there. Take a close look at the rhetoric being spewed by many so-called God-fearing Christians in the bible belt. Actually, a close look is completely unnecessary and might actually become a forest for the trees scenario. That kind of attitude is best seen from a distance for a wide variety of reasons.

White people do not generally experience racism. It can, and does, happen in a small number of cases in areas comprised predominately of people of non-Caucasian descent. White people almost never experience racial oppression. When I talk about oppression, I mean the action or force that causes real harm, not someone simply making a snide remark. I'm white, and have never been oppressed for the colour of my skin. Hence, I will never understand what that is like, other than by comparing it to the fact that I'm female and have experienced unequal treatment based on my gender. However, even within the feminist movement there is a great deal of non-inclusiveness when it comes to people of colour.

Men, at this point in history, do not experience gender oppression. There are some cases where they are discriminated against, such as in the case of custody and support hearings, or when they are assumed to be the abuser in a domestic violence situation. My point is that they aren't told they have less value than a woman because they're male. There were times in history, and in various cultures, where men were the underdogs. They aren't now. In a case by case comparison, it is women who are overwhelmingly treated as the less important of the male and female genders. There are people who have it a lot worse than women, however. I refer to those who are transgender, or intersex (someone who is born with both sexes - what most people refer to as hermaphrodites, although that is not a scientifically correct term). Imagine living your life as neither of the accepted genders. There are countries in which you can be legally defined as a gender other than male or female, but in the western world those people are completely discounted by the ignorant among us.

Overweight people are treated like human waste and fat-shaming is standard behaviour. Naturally low-weight people are accused of being anorexic. For some reason our size becomes the definition of who we are, and where we are situated on the social ladder. Admittedly, quite often a person's size can be attributed to certain psychological factors. Overweight people are often overweight because of psychological issues that compel them to overeat. A number of extremely skinny people are underweight in an unhealthy way, and also for psychological reasons. The problem is, there is no way of knowing which cases is which merely by looking at them. Never mind the fact that if you really stop to consider the reasoning behind either extreme that is the result of unhealthy thought processes, you realize that there is every reason to provide understanding rather than judgment. There is the pain that brought on the issue to begin with, and now there is the pain that results from their issue being so blatant and open to criticism.

Going beyond insulting and hurting people with our ignorance, there's the simple annoyance factor. Ignorant people are very annoying to people who actually take the time to learn about things. I mean, let's face it. There really is no excuse for not learning about a topic before waxing enthusiastic on it. You want to talk about how great the bible is? Fine, but maybe you should actually read it first. Don't leave out all the parts that contradict you. If you want to talk about marijuana legalization, and tell everyone why you think it's a terrible idea, it's best if you understand a little something about it. Don't be like Nancy Grace who mouths off about deaths that never happened, and violence that didn't occur, not bothering to back up your words with any appropriate sources. Maybe you want to talk about gun control, but if don't know anything about the current legislation, or the legislation being proposed, your arguments won't be very effective. You'll just sound like an ignoramus extremist of some sort, no matter what side you're arguing on. If you happen to find yourself in a conversation with someone who has some knowledge, you'll notice that you're not very well liked or respected after that.

Ignorance is lack of knowledge. When I was growing up people also liked to call someone ignorant if they were rude, though it's an inappropriate use of  the word - in other words they were ignorant of the definition and meaning of ignorance. However, ignorance often results in rudeness when an ignorant person is shown to be wrong. People tend to get defensive under those circumstances, and will exhibit angry behaviour. There again ignorance becomes an issue to surrounding people. If people don't like being shown to be wrong about something, then people certainly don't like it when someone attacks them verbally or physically out of frustration and hurt pride.

Much of the anger we see in political and social issues today is based on ignorance. Quite often willful ignorance, too. They simply refuse to listen to other possibilities or compromises. They don't want to know why the people on the other side of the argument think they're right. They don't want to open up to the possibility that there might be a kernel of sense in a differing opinion. Most often they simply talk over what they don't want to hear.

"We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say." Zeno of Citium
The quote from Zeno can also be applied to our eyes. We use our eyes to read and learn. If we applies twice as much time to learning and listening, as we do to speaking, our whole civilization would improve instantly. Beliefs do not have to be static. Beliefs should always be fluid and open to new information. If reality contradicts our beliefs, we are left floundering in a state of cognitive dissonance. We can't honestly reconcile the two things, and that friction can become quite psychologically painful. Conversely, refusal to believe in a thing does not mean is ceases to exist.

It's impossible to argue with someone who refuses to listen to a counter-argument. It's called the invincible ignorance fallacy, and is a circular argument in which no evidence put forward is acknowledged. You're talking to someone who simply denies any validity of the information that has been presented, and it's something you see a lot in debates between scientists and creationists. Creationists deny any and all evidence put before them regarding evolution, or that contradicts their belief that the world is only 6,000 years old. There's actually a video you can watch with Richard Dawkins (a very well-respected scientist in case you haven't heard of him), where he is put through this, and the look on his face is priceless. He simply can't get over the woman's refusal to even acknowledge the evidence he verbally demonstrates. The full video is almost an hour long, but there are highlights you can watch where you see the complete blankness on this woman's face as she repeats over and over that there's no evidence. That's one of the best examples of the invincible ignorance fallacy I've seen to date. In one sense it makes me laugh, but in another sense I want to hang my head and cry.

I can only hope that people start consciously choosing to open their minds, learn and grow. It isn't as easy as it sounds, either. We're all guilty of closing our minds in certain ways. We're all guilty of jumping to conclusions at one time or another. It is impossible to be the perfect thinker. We work with what knowledge we have obtained, and what abilities we currently have to improve ourselves. Then again, we also have choices. No one can force us to think a certain way. We may be conditioned to do so, and many live in societies where it is forbidden to speak certain things aloud, but every person on the planet has the option of free thought.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Lure of Raptors Basketball - Why I Love This Game

Yes, Canada has an NBA basketball team. We've had more than one, actually, but at the present time we have the +Toronto Raptors and I have to say I'm really impressed with them lately. I've been a fan since they became an expansion team over twenty years ago. I may seem like an unlikely candidate when it comes to being a fan of a team sport, but I have very good reasons for my love of this team.

The absolute best thing is that heart-pounding moment when you watch someone sink a three-point basket at the most needed time. Often it's a buzzer-beater that wins the game, or even a shot that sends the signal there's no way the other team is going to win now. It's a sudden intake of breath, and then an involuntary yell to release the happiness that cannot be contained. Obviously, you have to have a loyalty to the team sinking the three in order to feel this way, but believe me when I say it can be an emotionally charged moment if you do. I've seen games where those buzzer-beaters have won the game, and it has actually brought a tear to my eye because it was such a beautiful thing to watch. You can see the relief and happiness on the faces of your team's players.

One benefit to watching basketball over other sports is the almost complete lack of violence. Don't get me wrong; I like watching boxing and MMA every once in a while. However, those sports are specifically about fighting. There's no other point to them, and we enjoy them based on that. With many team sports, though, you get fighting that was never intended to be a part of game play. Hockey comes immediately to mind. I used to watch the games back when the Edmonton Oilers were winning the Stanley Cup with some regularity, but I lost interest when the joke, "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out," became a reality. Players were getting charged with assault, and I was left wondering why it took so long for that to happen. I would never be able to sit still long enough to watch a baseball game, and football is a broken neck waiting to happen. It's not something I'm even tempted to watch.

Something I'm seeing a lot of with my team lately is some amazing ball-handling, and the lack of selfishness with constant passing. It gives me such a good feeling to watch a team really play a game together. +Demar Derozan has been called the 'go-to guy' for the team, yet he keeps passing to everyone else, not just giving them an opportunity to be a part of the play, but also giving the team a real shot at winning a game. They don't play like they're thinking of their own stats. They're playing together. It's hard for me to explain why that affects me so much, but it's heart-warming all the same.

Aside from action on the court, though, the Raptors are involved in a lot of things in the community. Day before yesterday they visited Toronto Sick Kids to hang out with the 300-plus patients there, handing out gifts and just giving their time and attention to some kids who really need a boost. They're involved in the community in ways that other teams are following. They were the first NBA team to honour the work of military personnel, in fact. Every year they have a Canadian Forces Night, and they wear their camouflage uniforms. They honour the forces with special programming where they meet and greet the Canadian Forces personnel who attend the game, along with other activities. Sales of the camouflage jerseys have raised a lot of money for the Military Families Fund, and there are additional percentages donated to other military programs.

After so much time having to listen to the cackles of people who thought of the Raptors as nothing but a joke, and hearing comments like, "The Raptors are still a team?" I have to say it's beautiful to see them where they are today. They're currently third in the Eastern Conference, behind Indiana and Miami, and are firmly lodged at the top of the Atlantic Division. Imagine the satisfaction for a loyal fan, seeing the amazing possibilities ahead for the team. We're looking at a play-off appearance this year. Some of the stats for the players in comparison to other league players are inspirational too. They've got the highest three-point percentage in the Eastern Conference since January 1st, and I truly believe their stats are going to stick.

You see, they started this year a lot like they were playing last year, and I admit it was a scary thing to see. They would start a game strong, and then lose by just a few points. Constantly they were just nudged out of a win, and I thought they were going to let it drag them down, but they never gave up. They're showing that attitude in-game, as well. Even when things look terrible for them, they scratch and claw their way back up. It's been amazing to watch that spirit when they play.

I have my favourite commentators, and since I watch online I have my choice of broadcasts. I prefer sawlive, as they have the Raptors commentators I know and love. I miss Chuck Swirsky, but we've still got +Leo Rautins, Jack Armstrong, Matt Devlin, and Rod Black. Familiar voices, all, and comforting in their continuity. When I used to watch on TV, they were the guys I listened to. Thankfully internet technology means I don't have to pay for a cable subscription anymore. It used to cost me a fortune to be able to watch the games, but the online broadcasts make TV obsolete.

Between Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozen, Terrence Ross, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and John Salmons, I'm simply blown away by the dignity and performance I'm seeing. I'm probably missing a few players that have impressed me, since the whole team has been impressive. Sadly, Tyler Hansbrough has been out with an injury for about eight games now, but when he was playing he certainly brought something to the team.

There's something really special about watching a sport that seems so purely about the game itself. There have been rare incidents, such as Ron Artest running up into the stands to go after a fan who was throwing things at the players, but they're so few and far between as to become legends when they happen. There's even a lyric in a rap song that references the incident with Ron Artest (who has legally changed his name to Metta World Peace, by the way).

I'm not what anyone would call a fanatic when it comes to basketball. I can't generally list stats, I don't memorize the players from other teams, and I don't usually know the standings of any team but the Raptors. Still, it's hugely rewarding after a long haul of hard times, to watch your team break out and start doing some damage. I don't know about y'all, but I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy right now.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness, Just Less Misery

Until my daughter found a job again, we were living very close to the edge. Thankfully neither of us has any bad habits that take up what little money we were bringing in. We don't smoke, drink, or do any illicit drugs. However, not having money meant we couldn't do anything beyond pay bills and buy food. We were okay, but it's not the best existence in the world. The thing is, if you're lucky you can shut off all impulses to spend, and in my case anyway, I became even more introverted than usual.

It wasn't until we started having  decent money coming into the household again, that I slowly broke out of that shell I was in. It's funny, but the smallest things can make such a huge impact in a person's life. In my case, it was when we went out and spent money on stuff for organizing the bathroom. We had nowhere to store anything except a small medicine chest, and that bathroom is very tiny. So we bought an overjohn (one of those cabinets that go over your toilet, hence the word 'john' being included), a toilet paper holder, a proper garbage can with a pedal-operated lid, hooks for the door, a shower organizer, and a new shower head. It turns out that it was money very well spent, because it was inspiring to me.

You see, suddenly one room in our house was no longer hopeless. It felt nice to go in there and see those things. Everything we bought had a nice bronze finish, which really spruces things up, and now we had places to actually store the things we needed to have in the bathroom. Well, wouldn't you know it, I just had to keep going on other things. Like magic, poof, I reorganized my bedroom so that I was finally able to get some writing done again. Now I'm starting to take on other areas of the apartment. My daughter already has her own bedroom set up properly, so that's another room that isn't a disaster area.

Admittedly, my lack of domestic inclinations has a great deal to do with the fact that the rest of the apartment looks like a bomb went off. We do not do any living in our living room, so it's become something of a dump site for everything we don't put into our bedrooms. I'm at the point, however, where having a couple of rooms looking nice has been pushing me to get everything else looking that much better. No room in my home will ever be perfect, simply because I just don't care about perfection. I want to live in my home, not photograph it for the cover of a magazine.

Still, I actually went to the extreme step of washing some dishes this evening. My daughter is at work, and when she comes home and notices what I've done, I'll have to be ready to perform CPR. Too bad I don't have a defibrillator, because the shock will be great, and there's a very real risk of heart attack. I abhor doing dishes as a rule. Sticking my hands in dirty dishwater actually makes me want to gag. The idea of soggy bits of food floating around and touching me is almost more than I can bear. I think the issue stems from my stint as a dishwasher in a restaurant, back in the day when people could smoke in them. Just imagine the nasty mess in the bus-pans. Unfinished drinks with their ice cubes floating around, mixing with ashes and cigarette butts, pieces of steak, particles of eggs and pancakes. Quite literally a miasma of gross. I was sixteen years old then, and it probably scarred me for life. Mama's don't let your babies grow up to be dishwashers!

I'm very content being in my bedroom these days. I no longer look around with the faint urge to clean where I end up saying, "F*ck it," because it's just too much bloody work, and then going back to whatever game I was playing. I look around with a sense of satisfaction and comfort. My ferret still digs in his food dish and spills it on the floor, so I'm bound to have a mess of some sort, but that's how it is with any kind of pet. Thankfully he doesn't shed a lot of fur. He has his newspapers to make his other messes, and that makes them a cinch to clean up.

It blows my mind what effect a little bit of money can have on a person's life. It doesn't have to be a lot. Just enough to get a ball rolling. Inertia takes care of the rest. Curiously, I'm still in the midst of doing even more dishes. I should really get back to those, and then start tracking down that defibrillator. eBay probably has some for sale.

Monday, 13 January 2014

When Life Hinges on Chairs and Toner Cartridges

I didn't fall into a black hole, though it might seem that I must have done. I wasn't despairing about my current circumstances, or feeling depressed. The closest to that was exhaustion. You see, my life apparently hinges on a properly situated chair, and obtaining toner cartridges. Most of the delays I face at the moment are because I'm unable to print. Sound ridiculous? Let me explain. You see, Revenue Canada owes me a lot of money from back taxes. In order to file my returns I need to print the forms that need to be filled out. I can't do them and submit electronically because I'm too far behind on them and can't create a log-in, so they all have to be done in hard copy.

So, I ordered toner cartridges for a really good price from eBay, and idiotically forgot to change my address on there, so they got shipped to my old address in another city. It's a huge rigamarole for me to get there, but my ex went to pick up his mail and got the cartridges after they'd been sitting there for weeks. I finally was able to arranged for my daughter to pick them up from him, since she works very close to where my ex is living now. Well, he was late getting home and they missed one another, which means waiting even longer to get them.

You may wonder why the money is so necessary. Well, I need to get a car. I need one very badly. I have to be able to get to doctor's appointments all over the place, and I need to be able to run errands. My injuries are such that I'm not even supposed to be walking, yet it's a 30-minute walk for me to get to my family doctor - never mind the specialist I see in another city. Buses are a huge hassle, especially when you need to walk several blocks to make connections, or they don't travel where you need to go.

Another reason I need money, especially after yesterday where we had three blackouts, is because my computer is dying a slow and painful death. Well, painful for me anyway. It becomes agony for an impatient person to have to wait for a laptop to chug along and do something that should have been accomplished in a microsecond. My poor laptop has been subjected to a fair bit of stress. A lightning strike dinged my LAN cable input, so I have to use wireless now. The blackouts have messed up my sound through my speakers, and they killed one of the connections that involve my battery charging - so if my laptop is accidentally unplugged, or the power goes out, it just shuts off. I have no battery backup. Never mind the fact that it's about 6 years old now, and you might as well brand it an antique. Computers this old are laughable.

A new computer means being able to do my own online show, too. I've got big plans for it. Check out the Aberrant Rain page on my personal website if you're curious as to what it's all about. For that matter check out my website in general, and don't forget to bookmark it! You can find the home page at www.rainstickland.com. Welcome to my strange little corner of the world.

So, you see, I haven't been entirely unproductive. I just haven't been doing any writing really. I did write one piece for a new website I'm contributing to, called The Simple Keys. It's a piece I'm rather proud of actually, and something I've been meaning to write about for some time. It's called, "Don't Just Survive...Thrive! Rape and Abuse Don't Have to Destroy Your Life." It's subject matter that's pretty important to me on a very personal level, and I'm very open about what I've gone through simply because I want to give hope to someone else who may not have healed from their own experiences.

The biggest reason I haven't been writing is because I haven't had a proper chair set up with my desk to be able to sit up and write. My laptop has been on my night stand so that I could lie in bed to use it. It's not laziness that has me in bed, in case you're not familiar with my previous blog postings. It's injuries. I've got major damage to my hip joints that will require four separate surgeries within the next eight years. Good times.

I spend a fair bit of my time heavily medicated, which is another reason for my writing hiatus. I have to switch things around all the time because some drugs lose their effectiveness, while others cause damage to my liver. Thankfully the liver is an organ that heals itself if it stops getting pounded by something. I'm on a good drug now that's non-narcotic. It's a neuropathic pain reliever. It helps with the pain in my nervous system, dulling the pain signals that go to my brain. It doesn't get rid of it entirely, but it makes my life a hell of a lot more comfortable.

I can't guarantee that I'll be able to contribute to my blog all the time anymore, though I will certainly try to add to it far more regularly than I have been - which has been not at all for about three months now. Some people wondered if it was the presence of a new man in my life, but it wasn't that. He's very encouraging when it comes to my work. He's not possessive of my time, or threatened if I'm focusing on other things. Besides, he's well aware that I'm crazy about him, so insecurity will not have a foothold there.

Finally I have managed to get my old chair set up in my bedroom in such a way that I can write properly again. I'm in as comfortable of a position as possible, though it may take some getting used to. The last few weeks have been a bit of a horror show for me when it comes to pain, and we had a cold snap that made it even worse. It was hardly encouraging to my writing. I was getting ideas for a number of pieces, but just wasn't able to bang them out on the keyboard. Well, hopefully I have resolved that issue and will be back in fighting form. At least for a while.

To be honest, I've been feeling somewhat discouraged about my current physical situation. You see, I finally got to see an orthopedic surgeon, but it turned out he no longer does surgery at all, and he never did hips. He didn't even know of any other specialists that do. Most of the orthopedic surgeons he knew worked on shoulder injuries. Well, he is in a wealthier city, and those wealthy people do need to be able to play their golf games. I, on the other hand, live in an economically depressed city, seeing as I'm somewhat economically depressed myself at the moment. Apparently there are some world-class surgeons here who work on hip injuries. Yippee...except that it may take a year for me to get in to see them, and then be put onto a waiting list just for my first surgery. We'll have to see what happens there.

When you're fighting to get proper care, you're in constant pain and living on drugs, and you can't get around to your appointments without a great deal of struggle, after a while you just get tired. I'll bust my butt for months to get somewhere, make a little headway, and just get worn out from it all. Then I just kind of give up for a while. I simply can't keep fighting. I don't think anyone can fight all the time. Especially when you get one piece of discouraging news after another. I got excited when I finally got in to see a specialist about my hips, and it was a huge let-down to find out he couldn't help me at all. Not only that, but after some research and finding out it was going to take many more months just to get in to see someone who could help me, I just had to take a break from it to some extent.

I think I'm back for another round of struggle, though. I'm not entirely certain, but it seems as though I'm starting to get a few things done again. I did manage to make my bedroom conducive to working and writing, which was a huge deal for me. It isn't easy to do housework of any kind when all you want to do is curl into a fetal position and moan, never mind moving furniture around. Still, it had to be done if I was ever going to get moving with my life. Maybe after this I'll be in a lot of pain again for a while. Who knows? At least I've got things set up for myself, though.

I used to write a blog posting every single day. I liked having that outlet, I guess. It wasn't just about personal stuff either. I wrote a lot of opinion pieces on various political and social issues. I don't want to be one of those people that are screaming about things all the time, though. I need to be more positive. Are there things that need changing in the world? Sure there are. Are there things that piss me off? Absolutely. The problem is, yelling about it just makes everyone mad. Yelling at someone for it doesn't change any minds. I decided a long time ago to approach things from a different angle, so when I write pieces now I'm going to try to write about what I think the solution is, or just outline possibilities. I have no problem with detailing the issues I'd like to see resolved, and spreading out the bits and pieces of them so that we can all look at an issue from various angles. I think that would be a much better approach than just getting upset and making everyone else either upset or defensive.

Nobody knows what the future holds, of course, so I can't say for certain where I'll go with my work, or even where I'm going with this blog, but I'll certainly be writing a lot more in the near future. One thing I should note, however, is that I intend to do a lot of fiction writing. That means I need to be in a slightly different frame of mind. My postings on here will likely reflect that. I'll be doing research on subjects that pertain to the new book series I've started, which means my curiosity will compel me to delve far deeper into a topic than I need to, as well as meandering onto other topics that pop into my head. I'll be sure to find out a whole bunch of weird and interesting facts that I just have to share with everyone.

My new fiction series is going to be about demons, but in a new and intriguing way. I don't know about all of you, but I'm starting to get a little bit tired of seeing the scads of books and movies in the vampire genre. Sure, I would love to stop aging and be immortal, but it's not bloody likely (pardon the pun), so I think we probably all want to move on to something else for a while. Anyone who reads fiction probably isn't looking for a lot of realism, but the same subject does get tiresome after a while.

Okay, now that I've updated everyone, and gotten back in touch with my writing identity, I think I need to rest up for a bit. I've got a lot of work ahead of me, and everything I've been doing to get ready for it has tuckered me out! Back to playing games for a while tonight, and then I'm going to sleep. I hope everyone is doing well, and that life has been treating you kindly so far in the new year.