Sorta fitbit

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Remember how excited I was to get back on the treadmill back in January? Well, that was short-lived. The treadmill started having issues and we haven’t touched the thing since then. But this Thursday a Sears repair man came out and got the tread rolling smoothly again. So today was the day for me.

When I started in January I could do about ten minutes at a very low speed and it left me pretty winded. Now, after two months of being more active and shoveling snow, I was able to do fifteen at a much higher speed. Oh hell yes. In about nine days I’ll hit the one year anniversary of breaking my ankle and damn, it feels good to get on the treadmill and do a respectable time and pace.

I have a fitbit app on my phone. I didn’t activate it for this workout but I think I will from now on. I want to track my progress now and have a digital presence goading me onward. Besides, I hear fitbit is highly addictive and I want in. In four months I have my class reunion and this will get me towards not showing up like a blimp, not to mention saving me from going into my sixties as a lumbering lump of goo destined for the cardiac ward. I feel good.

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Caturday – Exploring Diabetes Without Owls

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This is Jasper, enjoying life again. Thursday we took him to the mobile vet bus to hopefully get him a shot for his┬ádermatitis. They weighed him and we discovered that he had lost over a pound in six weeks. That’s not good, even for a big boy like Jasper. The vet ran a quick blood sugar test and we discovered his blood sugar was over 600. Yep, we have a diabetic cat.

So now I have a dozen syringes and insulin in the fridge. This photo was taken Friday afternoon just after his shot. He took the shot without complaint and he’s feeling pretty good about everything right now. He’ll go back to the vet next time they’re in town to get a new blood sugar check. Hopefully a daily dose will get him back on track and gaining weight. I know his attitude is better and that’s a good thing. We’ve got a preparation for the┬ádermatitis and that pisses him off far more than the shot. I’m just glad he’s strong enough to get pissed at the little things.

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His was the Most…Human

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Leonard Nimoy has passed away.

“We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead… Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.” Admiral James T. Kirk

Damn, this one was not unexpected but still a gut punch to baby boomers, nerds, and anyone who appreciated a man who lived his life with passion, panache, and grace. He wasn’t just a TV actor in a cult TV series. He recorded albums (plus the notorious Ballad of Bilbo Baggins), wrote poetry and two autobiographies, directed films, had a memorable role as William Bell in the series Fringe, and was an engaging photographer (whose subjects were different than the norm but no less human in Nimoy’s lens). Really, that parenthetical goes to the essence of Spock. For all his reserve and cold logic, his human side was always accepting, generous, forgiving, angry, impassioned, and ever curious.

I started watching Star Trek in seventh grade. When it was first run my mother steered us away from it. Nothing good could come of science fiction. Then our only local TV station picked it up for reruns and had the smarts to do it in that 4:00-5:00 after school time slot. Basketball season was over. A friend of mine lived a block from school and with another friend we’d camp out on the living room floor, eager to go where no man had boldly gone before. I don’t know about the others but I guess I was relating most to Spock. Even then I could identify more with the half human/half alien outsider, a creature of cold logic and rampant intellectual curiosity BUT not without human quibbles and passions. He was perhaps the first complex TV character that I could relate to. Little did I know that a few hundred miles away there was a girl around my age who was declaring on the playground “No, I am Spock”. You know, the one I married.

So rest in peace Mr. Nimoy. You gave me and countless others an anchor to identify with, not to mention a role model on how to live life on this planet. Thank you for the journey.

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One of the Reasons I Can’t Get Anything Done Today

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Amy the Formerly Feral Kitten was laying next to Jasper on the bed in the Man Cave. He left and she immediately became distressed. So I gave her a couple pets. Soon she was jumping back and forth between my lap and the bed, kneading everything and making her little “eh” noise in her high soprano. This went on for about five minutes and then Jasper jumped back on the bed. She immediately started grooming herself and is now back to laying next to Jasper.

I actually have gotten a lot done today: scrubbed some growth off the concrete block walls downstairs, cleaned the muddy underside of a litter box, shoveled snow, washed some dishes… But I’ve been a real scatterbrain when in front of the computer. Focus and willpower are eluding me. Maybe I haven’t had enough caffeine to chase the ADHD away, maybe I just need to start typing something instead of flitting from one tab to another on Google Chrome (fifteen tabs open right now). But it’s wasted time and that always wears me down. So I’ll drink some more Diet Coke and have another go at it. If that doesn’t work I guess I could spend some time failing at guitar. It’s important to fail at more than one thing a day. That way when you do have a little victory you have reason to celebrate.

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A Stunning Loss to All of Us

Sometime yesterday, three young men from our local high school were killed in an auto accident. This high school seems cursed. I was told that in there has been a death every year for the last five years. That’s a pretty high average for a small town and it’s a lot for a community (not to mention the poor families) to bear.

When I was in my senior year one of my classmates died of carbon monoxide poisoning. That same year a girl that had transferred to another school from our class committed suicide. I mention these tragedies only to show that I’ve seen first hand what happens in a small town when a teen dies. It just steals the spirit out of everyone. The kids, the faculty, and the community. I cannot imagine, cannot even begin to fathom, what it does to a school when you lose three at once. The posts and chatter are piling up on Facebook, it’s all anyone was talking about when I went downtown this morning. The community will recover in some way. The classmates will likely bounce back because of their age and that’s what they do. I don’t know if I can say the same for their families but it is not really my place to speculate. Facing the death of a loved one is never easy but the death of a child is among the cruelest. All I can say is my heartfelt sympathies go out to their parents, their siblings, and friends. Rest in peace boys.

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Caturday – We All Look a Little Scraggly Sometimes

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Yeah, Jasper looks horrible in this horrible picture but you know, he’s old. He does look a little bit terrible. He pees about six-seven times a day and drinks gallons of water, he used to poop like an elephant and now the kitten out-produces him, and he get very insecure and paranoid at night. Sneakers is marginally better, he’s at least having fewer senior moments but I think his kidneys are almost as bad as Jaspers. Not much you can do at this stage but keep them happy and comfortable, monitor them for signs of discomfort, and enjoy their company. Jasper just insisted that I hold him and thump his sides. Sneakers still climbs on my chest if I lay down on the bed. Their personalities are intact and that’s a good thing. It’s hard to watch them decline but a lot easier than dealing with ancient humans. And that’s all of have on a dangerously cold Caturday.

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We Are…The Talking Dead

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Yup, that’s pretty much it.

A few years ago I wrote a post criticizing the Walking Dead (http://jeroljohnson.org/2012/03/29/i-got-99-problems-but-carl-aint-one/). It was during the wretched season two and I predicted that the show would tank unless they fixed their writing problems. Well, I was wrong. The damn show is more successful than ever and yet they have fixed very little. AMC continues to rake in the cash and we continue to watch this dreary, poorly written, nonsensical polished turd.

It’s partly the characters. Some of them are great. Daryl, Carol, Rick, Michone…and um, well it’s a pretty steep dropoff after that. My wife has a button that says “If Daryl Dies…We Riot.” She also has a bigass Daryl Dixon action figure. Oh yeah, she loves her redneck archer. I do too. He’s an intriguing character. Too bad he’s stuck with indifferent unimaginative writers who wouldn’t make the cut on a CW series. Oh that’s right, I went there.

The trouble is twofold. One, too often the plot only moves forward when someone does something stupid. Incredibly stupid. Siskel and Ebert used to call that the idiot plot. It’s a plot where if one person does not act like an idiot, the whole movie would just end. In the Walking Dead, it’s like that every episode. Tyreese walks by a room that clearly has a zombie in it. Does he, a character that has stayed alive through all kinds of terrible situations, off the zombie? Or does he just walk into an adjoining room to get distracted and not even check if that zombie could enter said room? That’s right, he picks the dumber option. And the entire episode hinges on a stupid decision. Episode after episode hinges and swings on someone being a complete brainless twit. It got old in season two and it’s even more ancient now.

Problem two is the fundamental lack of imagination or insight. I get that Kirkman and the rest kind of view this as an existential exploration into how we try to keep our humanity in the face of unrelenting horror. The trouble is the writing here is nowhere near up to that task. Instead you get clunkers like Rick invoking that wretched “We are…(duh dah dah dum)…the Walking Dead” line last Sunday. Um, we get that. It’s in the title. In fact, not invoking that for a few seasons but have been the most subtle thing these writers have done. But seriously, no one involved in this show is Cormac McCarthy and it shows far too often. You’re a zombie show. Stick to that.

But the lack of imagination is not limited to just the subtext. Even the day-to-day existence of Rick’s little group is stunted with people not thinking things through. Last episode had them stumbling along the road, out of food and water. Hello, you all had vehicles and were well-provisioned an episode ago. They showed them abandoning a van but we were never given much of a reason why. If I or anyone else with a modicum of intelligence were in this situation, I would think we’d do better. They’ve moved from Georgia (thank god, circling around the same terrain for five seasons had become old) to Virginia (hey, it looks like Georgia) without looting every town they’ve come across. You’ve got enough well-armed fighters to do that but nope, we’re out of food and water. And how do they keep that goddamn baby alive? Why aren’t they thinking about where they are going? How about some place that would be easier to defend, with a water supply that they could grow food in?

But that brings us back to the theme of the show. Doing something that makes sense would end the endless cycle of tedium punctuated by a great episode now and then. If we’re sticking to a theme of holding on to your humanity in the face of endless horror, you’re stuck just wandering around instead of doing something that makes sense, some sort of resolution and redemption would have to happen. Remember why Gilligan’s Island got so irritating when we were kids? It was because even a kid knew that these morons would never get off the stupid island and it got old fast. The Walking Dead believes it can only function if we stay on Gilligan’s Island, recycling plots and killing semi-important (but never the crucial) characters. You think they’d kill their lead, like George RR Martin did in Game of Thrones? Oh not on your life. Here’s Tyreese. You people like him. We’ll off him and act like we’re getting gritty. Bye-bye Beth. We’ll act like you matter even though your own sister didn’t mention her for months. It’s getting old. Either escalate the horror or start working your way off the island.

Sadly, I will continue watching this. My wife is too attached to the characters to give up. I had hopes when the first couple episodes of this season frankly kicked ass but then we went straight back into the same-old same-old. If I had my druthers I’d just walk away. There’s so much great television out there that is far more worth my time. Instead I stagger to the TV every Sunday night. I am…the Walking Dead.

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