Fear

Day 3 of feeling awful. Whatever virus I picked up on travel is a bad one. Don’t have the energy to do much writing, so here’s something else I wrote while at sea.

***

September 11th

An auspicious day. It’s been 21 years since those jihadi cretins scared the US into becoming what we are now – an angry, fearful, fractured nation. Fear molds people and cultures into something unhappy and angry – exactly what we have become. Frank Herbert had it right when he wrote “Fear is the mindkiller…” in Dune, a classic now receiving its due. I really think that’s the key to fixing the great political divide we have at present. Deal with the fear – fear of foreigners, fear of losing a way of life, fear of invasion, fear of “the other”. And like Herbert, Churchill also had it right – “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” I hope one of the politicians aspiring to be our next President comes to understand that – deal with the fear and you have a chance to heal the division. I’ll vote for that person.

The opposite of fear is confidence – the ability to ignore fear and move ahead. Confidence that things will turn out OK, that we can meet whatever challenge we face. Hope doesn’t quite get there – hope includes the thought that we might not prevail – but confidence assures us that whatever may happen, we’ll be fine. That should be the theme for our next leader(s). Acknowledge our many fears and one by one inspire confidence that those fears need not come true. In previous elections politicians have danced around this issue with plans – a plan for this, a plan for that. But that misses the issue. Plans are logical, but fear is emotional. I imagine that’s why Kennedy was so popular – he came across as a supremely confident individual.

Politicians today run on issues, not confidence, and that’s also a trap. Issues are designed to divide us. They are presented as either-or propositions, when the world is a lot more complicated than that. The issue isn’t “guns or no guns”, it’s “guns with sane checks and balances”. You can apply this kind of common sense to every issue I can think of, but common sense is not very common among American voters.

All that said, we need to get over the shock and fear of 911, 21 years ago, and move on with our culture repair. I’m not saying forget, but I’m saying don’t let the cretinous jihadis win the long game.

Contrasting cruises

A tale of two cruises.

Previous TripThis Trip
Sunny, warm weather, June 2019Cool, damp and overcast, September 2022
Eagles everywhereNo eagles 🙁
Got to go biking, hiking and fishing at portsShort port calls with no time for exploring
Minimal days at seaAt least 4 days at sea
Easy getting on and off the shipUse of tenders in rough water at one stop
Nice casino with plenty of pokerLots of video games, but not much poker
Great meal in Victoria (Nautical Nellie’s)Better meal/visit in Victoria (Tania’s house)
Visited Sitka, my favorite AK city so farNo Sitka stop
Visited the magnificent Hubbard GlacierNo Hubbard stop
Came home healthyCame home sick, either cold or COVID
Holland AmericaRoyal Caribbean

This year’s Alaska cruise was disappointing in many ways. If I ever go again, I’ll have to take this contrast into account.

Modern music

A friend of ours in Victoria said she had given up listening to modern music, that the lyrics were all too misogynistic. I said, man, you’ve gotta listen to Tame Impala. How did I do?

“Lost In Yesterday”

When we were living in squalor,
Wasn’t it heaven?
Back when we used to get on it
Four outta seven

Now even though that was a time I
Hated from day one
Eventually, terrible memories
Turn into great ones

So if they call you
Embrace them
If they hold you
Erase them

‘Cause it might have been something, who’s to say?
Does it help to get lost in yesterday?
And you mighta missed something, don’t say
‘Cause it has to be lost in yesterday
And you’re gonna have to let it go someday
You’ve been digging it up like Groundhog Day
‘Cause it might have been something, don’t say
‘Cause it has to be lost in yesterday

Matty said life didn’t go the
Way that he planned it
Said, “Oh, what I’d give to start over
Boy, I’d command it”

So what was I ever afraid of,
Why did I worry?
And why was I ever so brainless?
Head in a flurry

‘Cause if they call you
Embrace them
If they stall you
Erase them

‘Cause it might have been something, who’s to say?
Does it help to get lost in yesterday?
And you mighta missed something, don’t say
‘Cause it has to be lost in yesterday
And you’re gonna have to let it go someday
You’ve been digging it up like Groundhog Day
‘Cause it might have been something, don’t say
‘Cause it has to stay lost in yesterday

So if it calls you
Embrace it
If it haunts you
Face it

I know it’s mad
I understand
It’s only snakes
And ladders
The period
You never had
There’s only one
That matters

And if it calls you
Embrace it
If it holds you
Erase it (replace it)

by Kevin Parker

I just can’t get these songs out of my head.

I hope that tomorrow I’ll feel good enough to have a semi-normal day. Today was another day of chicken soup, naps, and light entertainment.

The downside of travel

Holy shit. The downside of travel showed up big time yesterday. When we got home Monday night, I felt great. When I woke up Tuesday morning I was sick, as I indicated in my previous post.

Then by mid-morning, I felt like I’d been in a car wreck. Full body pain, every joint. Fever, cough and congestion. Barely able to walk. That lasted all day, until about 8pm when my fever broke and the pain subsided.

It’s the same this morning – all the symptoms of a bad cold, but no fever/pain so far. I took a Covid self-test yesterday and it was negative, for what that’s worth. Today I plan to take it very easy and try to get some strength back.

No miracles here

Travel is supposed to be fun. But somewhere along the way K picked up a bad cold, and suffered a lot with air pressure differences as we flew home yesterday. I felt fine, though I did mention while in the car that “…it’ll be a miracle if I don’t catch this crap you’ve got.”

Right on cue, this morning I’m congested and coughing. No miracles. So now we have to do all the catch-up work accrued after a week away while feeling like shit. Did I mention something about travel and fun?

It’s not surprising – air travel, crowded cruise ship, exposure to people from all over the globe – this is a self-inflicted wound. Doesn’t make it feel any better. I suppose I’ll hunker down today and do as little as possible. I’m pretty good at that. Meanwhile, here’s another piece I wrote during our cruise.

***

September 10th

At sea with no Internet again, this time for 48 hours!! That’s been the case most of this trip. Since the previous post, a lot has happened and I’ve managed to get bits and pieces of information via text, TV and short connections in port.

The record heat wave in Socal finally subsided, though a big fire did break out not far from our house toward the end of the heat. The day after the fire broke out we got a little bit of rain from an offshore hurricane, so that should have allowed firefighters to extinguish the Hemet fire. I’ll find out tomorrow when we reach Victoria.

My stepmother has decided she’s ready to leave this world and is refusing food and treatment. So I’ll be back in KY for another funeral before too long, unless she relents.

I*have* gotten a lot of exercise, but I have also eaten a lot. Too much; the will is weak. Shipboard life has been pretty peaceful, but not as healthy as I had hoped.

The British PM changed, and the Queen died. That’s a pretty big shock for stodgy old Britain.

Kentucky beat Florida today! I didn’t get to see the game, but I saw the final score. That bodes well for the rest of the season.

We’ve visited Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway. The Alaskan weather has been gloomy. Most of my pictures will be either B&W or dull colors. Not optimal.

I read the latest Jack Carr book, #5 in The Terminal List series. Carr is a good writer, but his politics are starting to get in the way of the story. He’s a *serious* gun fetishist, and while that’s interesting for a while, I could do without the detailed description of each and every weapon used in the story. It’s a bit much. I like a good spy story and plot, and Carr delivers on that.

I also read a creepy serial killer story by Meg Gardiner titled Unsub. It is set in the Bay Area, and I know some of the settings well – Walnut Creek, Oakland airport, Berkeley. Good characters, detailed plot, and a cliffhanger setting up the next book.

Perhaps this wasn’t the best time for me to go on a cruise with other folks. I’ve been in serious introvert mode – early to bed, no partying, only leaving the cabin to eat or exercise. I’m not a lot of fun to be around. But that’s where I’m at.

Back in the world

We’re back in the world, with Wifi and everything. Haven’t downloaded or reviewed any pictures from the trip yet, so nothing to share at present. Suffice to say I’m very happy to have this cruise over with. Here’s a bit I wrote the first day or so of the trip.

***

September 6th, at sea with no Internet connection for the first time in memory. I forget how much I depend on access to information and entertainment. Maybe more assume than depend upon. So here I am “blogging” with no way to post anything.

Twenty-four hours since the ship left Seattle and we’re still in open ocean west of Vancouver Island, trying to clear the island and enter the Inside Passage. Vancouver Island is massive – I still want to explore it sometime.

I spent a lot of last night and this morning reading (re-reading, actually) Barry Eisler’s masterful book The Killer Collective. In this book Eisler brings together all his memorable characters from multiple series into one great story. John Rain, Dox, Delilah, Larison, Kanesaki, Livia Lone, Hort, Ben Treven – they’re all there. I love the guy’s writing, and I especially love the John Rain character. My still-unfinished book’s main character is modelled somewhat on Rain.

In addition to reading, over the last 24 hours I’ve hit the gym for the first time in…a very long while, plus walked about 5 miles. Not a bad start. I still hope to be the exception to the rule, the one who leaves a cruise a few pounds lighter. We’ll see.

I am enjoying the peace and quiet in the cabin, with the gentle roll of the ship. There’s a lot to do here, but I’m really not interested in any of it. The luxury of no appointments, no real schedule and no expectations is just that – a luxury. We’ll see how that feels after 2-3 more days.

Sleepless in Seattle

Cheesy title, but I couldn’t resist. The title more describes K than me. She had a bad night’s sleep, so I had a slightly bad one. My ability to fall asleep on demand gave me a few hours of sleep early in the night.

We’re not seeing any of Seattle this trip, other than the trusty Hilton at the airport. Seattle is a great foody town, lots of neighborhoods to explore, but we’re only here to meet up with the ship a few hours from now.

Today we sail around Vancouver Island (somewhere I’ve always wanted to explore) and then make our way up the Inner Passage. First actual stop is Ketchikan, AK.

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting and probably true take on nanotechnology. Marketing and catchy names trump reality. It’s just outrageous enough to be true.

Go North, young man

630am, it’s 88 degrees with 100% relative humidity. That’s 23 degrees higher than normal at this time of day. This heat wave is really something else. People here justify the high price of housing, saying “…we pay for the weather.” If that’s so, I want a refund.

September and October have always been bad weather months here in our slightly-inland part of San Diego County. Always hot, always dry, and the occasional hurricane-force Santa Ana winds. This is prime wildfire season. These two months are just something to suffer through while waiting for the pleasant weather of December and January. Next year I think I’ll just shut down the house for these two months and spend the time in Louisville.

While I’m whining about the weather, there is some indication that the extended heat in the West is going to produce an unexpected result. A new study published in Science Advances shows that as the Pacific Ocean heats up, it’s going to produce more frequent and more extreme “atmospheric river” conditions bringing rain to California and Nevada. A lot of rain. Their models show a high probability of Pineapple Express storms bringing deluges of water to California, up to 36 inches (!!) in a single month. The article is pretty dense, but it basically says as the ocean heats up, California is going to experience massive flooding and runoff damage due to these extreme storms. So yeah, we need water, but not delivered like this.

So I think I’ll view next week’s cruise up the coast of Canada and Alaska as a house-hunting trip. Get ahead of the crowd and buy some property in British Columbia, or Sitka. My descendants may thank me.

Alaska bound

Only two days now until we board the Quantum of the Seas for a week-long cruise to Alaska. I’m looking forward to it. I’d like to make it a healthy trip – lots of exercise, little or no drinking. That’ll take some willpower, so…we’ll see.

Title image above is from Sitka in 2019. I didn’t get a lot of pictures from that trip – I plan to remedy that this time. Turns out I got quite a few pictures in 2019, but my Apple Photos app decided to hide them from me. Their “Places” feature doesn’t work so well. Here’s a nice picture of a 150 foot tall glacier wall.

The weight of sleep

A decent night’s sleep is worth its weight in gold (how much does sleep weigh?). The world is a little less grim today, or I’m a little more optimistic.

Joe Biden’s speech last night was great. He’s not a polished speech-maker, but it was the content that I liked, not the delivery. It’s time to call out the MAGA crowd for what they are – selfish, petulant, ignorant and dangerous children. They want what they want and if they don’t get it they’ll resort to violence and anarchy, laws and logic be damned. And Biden did that. It’s time for people on the side of law and order, of Democracy, to speak up and fight back against the MAGA bullies. Good for Joe.

It all started with the MAGA leader, Herr Drumph. This Politico article – How Trump Taught Everybody to be Obnoxious and Cruel – is 100% right. People always had a mean side, but they kept it under control and hidden until Trump showed them they didn’t have to. He normalized cruelty for those who tended that way anyway.

Welcome back

It really hasn’t been a great welcome home in California. The flights were OK – packed as usual, but I’ve come to expect that. Southwest is a master at load optimization.

First up, I broke my “don’t talk to your seatmate” rule on the long flight from Chicago to San Diego. I should know better. But the guy in the middle seat really wanted to talk, so I gave in. It was fine for a while, but then he decided to try and recruit me into the “Jesus is the only way to heaven” club. I patiently explained that I couldn’t believe in a God and a system that would intentionally send most of the world’s population to eternal torment; that if God was that cruel I wanted nothing to do with him/her/they/them. I’ll give the guy credit, he didn’t waver. But it went downhill from there.

Next, we got to San Diego around 4pm, and for some reason the freeway traffic was bad. Worse than usual. But we stopped and go-ed our way north in separate cars (we departed on different days). All was fine until a white Toyota from AZ merged into my lane and almost hit me, so I blew my horn. The guy driving went nuts and I found myself in a Mad Max-style vehicle joust for the next mile or so. I would try to change lanes and he would block me. I tried passing him on the right and he swerved at me, driving me off the road multiple times. All the while he’s shaking his fist and giving me the finger, as if I had insulted his mother by honking at him. I finally managed to get by him and get 3-4 lanes away. This is the kind of high stress and dangerous encounter that has become all too common on CA highways. I’m too old for this shit.

Finally, the heat. It was 99 degrees in Fallbrook yesterday, and it’s expected to hit the 100s in a day or two. A solid week of 100 degree, crispy-dry heat. There was already a wildfire burning south of San Diego, and I could see the smoke during my drive north. It’ll be a miracle if we get through the week without a big fire breaking out in northern San Diego, in our neck of the woods. More stress.

The good news is I’ve only got four days before we walk onto a cruise ship and escape to Alaska. Some exercise, a few bottles of wine, and some peaceful scenery and I should be able to chill out.

Woke up this morning

Back to the Left Coast today, just in time for a Biblical heat wave. Bad timing, kind of normal for me.

Next week we’re off to Alaska for what should be a relaxing cruise. I plan to spend the time becoming the only person in history to lose weight on a cruise ship. I *do* enjoy walking round and round the ship, watching the scenery go by.

By the time I get back to KY, Fall will have begun if not in full swing. I hope for some colorful leaves and a successful UK football season. And of course it’s only 2 months and two weeks until the first official UK hoops game. So there’s a lot to look forward to.

With Dad now respectfully buried, I think it’s now OK to note that I share John Prine’s sentiments about burial.

Woke up this morning
Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen and died
And oh what a feeling!
When my soul
Went thru the ceiling
And on up into heaven I did ride
When I got there they did say
John, it happened this way
You slipped upon the floor
And hit your head
And all the angels say
Just before you passed away
These were the very last words
That you said:

Chorus:
Please don’t bury me
Down in that cold cold ground
No, I’d druther have “em” cut me up
And pass me all around
Throw my brain in a hurricane
And the blind can have my eyes
And the deaf can take both of my ears
If they don’t mind the size
Give my stomach to Milwaukee
If they run out of beer
Put my socks in a cedar box
Just get “em” out of here
Venus de Milo can have my arms
Look out! I’ve got your nose
Sell my heart to the junkman
And give my love to Rose

Repeat Chorus

Give my feet to the footloose
Careless, fancy free
Give my knees to the needy
Don’t pull that stuff on me
Hand me down my walking cane
It’s a sin to tell a lie
Send my mouth way down south
And kiss my ass goodbye

Repeat Chorus

John Prine, Please Don’t Bury Me, from the Sweet Revenge album, 1973

I do love me some JP.