» Radiation tri-blade » I placed an order yesterday to have the Rad server (downtown_Chicago) upgraded to » Pure SSD. You must admit .. Pure SSD sounds very sexy.

Rad VPS Server Gets a Pure-SSD Upgrade

The support guy said they would probably do it sometime between 1 and 2 AM overnight, when the internet is slow.

And that it involves ~30 mins down-time.

Update » the move ( upgrade) is complete! Wow. WHM loads 3 times faster. Checking my dozen different email accounts is also much faster. Now I am regretting not doing this sooner.

They actually move the site (files) to a different server .. to where all your VPS neighbors are also living the fast life of Pure SSD .. sharing the same SSD drives .. sharing the same RAID-10 array.

Ferrari stallion logo | Rear grilleIn a nutshell, a VPS (Virtual Private Server) consists of an account where you share hardware with other accounts ..

.. just like you do with a cheap-o 'shared' web hosting account.

But the VPS gives you the configuration power .. to do most anything you want with your server.

It actually "looks like" (virtual is 'V' is VPS) you have your own dedicated server. Everything looks the same.

Yet the VPS comes without the costs associated with having your own dedicated server. So it's a powerful compromise between the two extremes.

And you have telephone access to these very smart tech support guys. (Tho some are clearly smarter than others.) I never had that with Shared web hosting.

And once you learn about how to use the command line (the shell) .. ooh, that is where you unlock the powerful mojo. You can actually feel the closeness to the power.

Definitely cool shit. So much so that I think everybody should get in on the action.

I laugh at myself sometimes .. at how excited I can get over this techie stuff. I am stoked about this upgrade.

This 'upgrade' actually comes with less disk space » 40 gigs vs 100 with my old (spinning) hard drives. But I am using less than 20 gigs, so the space-shrinkage wont be a problem.

I was paying $49/month before. Now, with Pure-SSD, I will be paying $55. Such a small difference. It would've been silly of me not to upgrade.

Probably the biggest problem you have with a VPS .. is disk overload from another account on your server .. making file-retrieval p.a.i.n.f.u.l.l.y slow ..

.. retrieval from the shared array of multiple spinning-disks working together as one in what is called an array .. which all servers use for increased reliability.

The tech guy says that SSD servers dont become disk-overloaded nearly as much. "By the time we get to it [ minutes ] it has already corrected itself."

I got a serious boner when he said that. It was like the cherry of reliability sitting atop the performance cupcake.

» Wiredtree Support Rocks

This tech guy with whom I spoke today .. was the best. He is like » "Let me go ahead and check and see how much disk space you're using .. oh yeah, you're using less than 20. You're cool. That would be a good upgrade for you. We can do this for you tonight and then Calvin from billing will simply pro-rate your invoice."

I have learned a lot of stuff from these guys. I have been with Wiredtree since the owner (Zach) was fielding tech support calls on the back shift. Dude, when the owner is providing tech support, you are in good hands.

And they have this guy, Joe, who runs the support group. He must be worth his weight in multi-core processors. If I were starting a high end web hosting company, I would try to woo him away.

I chatted with him a little between support tickets. He had run support at other places. You could tell this was not his first rodeo. He was old school.

I worked them hard for info .. when I first got the VPS (2008). Because my previous web hosting provider kicked us off their production server, saying that the site was using "too many server resources".

I knew jack-squat about server administration. And there is a lot to learn .. let me tell you. I could see going in that there would be a LOT to learn. This is why I did not want to upgrade to a VPS. But I had no choice.

And these guys were very helpful. Never annoyed. Have you seen their new site design? I like it. A lot.

I just appreciate competence so much.

» Moving the Site to the NSA Server

A few years ago (2012) I receive a strange email from Wiredtree saying that there was some mysterious problem with my server and that my site needed to be moved to a different server immediately (today).

I have never received another like it. Either before or since. Very weird.

And there were all kinds of weird configuration problems involved at the new server. I mean, I spent days straightening things out ..

.. like the subdomains, for example. And there were certain DNS records that all needed to be editied by hand.

(I configured the site to have its own (radified) DNS servers .. which was very cool of me, even the support guys say. Most sites just use the Wiredtree DNS servers, which is easier to do, but less powerful.)

And it felt like I was the only one on this server .. because it was so fast. So zippy. (Later it slowed considerably.)

And the move came just a week after I posted my piece that focused attention on the problems associated with political palms.

So I would fuck with the support guys, while we were discussing other things, I would interject » "So do you guys still have me on the special NSA server? Or is it the FBI server?"

Tho Geeks vs the Government was more radical. Then there was the outrage when Aaron hung himself. Then there was Big Brother vs the First Amendment. (Which was really the Fourth amendment. Tho I didnt know that when I began.) And a few others. Plus I have been a big fan of Edward Snowden and what he did for the geek cause. So, you know.

» LiteSpeed Web Server

They also offer LiteSpeed web server .. as a drop-in replacement for Apache .. for an extra $12 a month.

The LiteSpeed web site says that their server costs $14/month, long as you have no more than 2 gigs of memory installed, after which you'd get bumped up to $20/month. My new Pure SSD account comes with exactly 2 gigs (.. dedicated for me and only me).

I see that they offer not only an open source version, but also a standard edition that is "free for personal and commercial use". So I am trying to understand what I am getting for an extra $12/month.

Update - here is what my support people said »

We only offer the enterprise version, which would be $12 a month for a 2 Gig VPS. The enterprise requires very little configuration and is integrated with WHM / cPanel. We don't install or support the standard or free as they don't integrate into WHM and have limited features next to the enterprise version.

LiteSpeed excels at servering files faster .. especially from PHP and databases .. where you tend to have a large numbers of small files.

Things like weblogs (I have 5 different installations) and forums (which I also have) tend to use a large numbers of files.

There is even a setting available in WHM (web admin) that allows you to swap back-n-forth between the two .. if you like. Between LiteSpeed and Apache.

So after playing with the new Pure-SSD server, and seeing how I like the performance gains .. I may try LiteSpeed.

The support guy said he rates the performance improvements roughly equal .. but that LiteSpeed web server would cost me twice as much ($12 vs $6). With LiteSpeed included with Pure SSD, that would be $67/month.

» Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen

I did not want to get another book. I already have a book that I am enjoying very much. But I could not help myself .. when I started reading about Joshua Cohen's new novel » Book of Numbers (June, 2015).

Book of Numbers by Joshua CohenSo I must say .. it struck me as a curiosity when I read the piece on him [ the most-revealing piece I've read, so far ] ..

.. which discusses his appreciation of/for Dostoevsky. (Who I very much admire .. as more than just a writer. As a thinker.)

I mean, they are comparing young Joshua with the likes of Pynchon and David Foster Wallace. (Who grew up in the best college town in America.) That in itself must be some kind of head-trip. How does he deal with such accolades?

» Pynchon the Recluse

Let me interject here a moment to mention Pynchon. Since young Cohen is being compared to / with him. (Old Pynchon.)

And say first that I am relatively new to literature .. cuz I have been soo into atoms and bits and other things. Many other. You know. Time-consuming things.

And I am actually more into the » writing .. than the reading. Tho yes, I get the reading part. Because the reading is the writing of the writer.

If I were to be cute or funny, I might say that I wouldnt even read the writing of the writer, if I didnt have to .. in order to gain an understanding of the writer.

But that is not true. Because you get more than just an understanding of the writer. Much more. You know. (You actually get a self.)

But in the beginning, a writer needs to develop his own voice. Because every writer is different.

In the beginning, I would read a book and then write and I would say » "Dude, you sound just like that guy you were just reading."

And that happened multiple times. So the question naturally comes forth in the form of lyrics from a famous Who song » "Who the fuck are you?"

And you must tell them. You must answer and tell them who you are.

And there is this famous writing instruction » Show, dont tell. Dont tell me that your hero is brave. Show me his courage in action.

"Just tell your story Mr. Writer-Man, and spare me the judgments. I can make up my own mind, thank-you. Especially your moral judgments. Just show me what you are talking about and let me decide for myself."

And I can feel this sassy, irreverent part of me saying » "Dude, perhaps it would be better if I just show you what I do. Then you will know better who I am."

But it is more difficult to get to this point than I had anticipated. Because, before you can show somebody who you are .. you must first know for yourself.

Most people, I think it safe to say, are more fucked up than they give themselves credit for.

And regarding the showing that you do indeed know wtf you are talking about .. this is where the hyperlink really comes into play and shines. Because you set forth your argument, your position, and you can reinforce your argument, your position, with links to your supporting documentation.

So I am definitely catching some multi-personality cross-talk going on in there.

It's a fine line, my friend .. between genius and insanity. And not everyone remembers the way back (to sanity).

The trick is to remain an impartial observer to this inner cross-talk dialogue and not get sucked in. Because it is hard to capture and write about the dialogue once you get sucked into the thing.

Tho remaining an impartial observer is more difficult than it seems. Much more.

And sometimes I wish there were more hours in the day .. so I could read more cool stuff. (Tho only recently, I had been hoping just the opposite.)

And even more than that, than the writing, I am into [ drum-roll, pls ] » the writer. [ cymbal clash ]

The noun that does the verb. The subject that gives life to the predicate.

Because these writers often reveal insights that help me understand certain parts of myself.

We are all different, unique. You know. And these differences can often be dramatic and not inconsequential, either.

I am talking about parts of myself that can be difficult to understand. I hesitate to use the word irrational .. but you feel me.

And what hope does the writer have of understanding anyone else .. if he does not understand himself?

I am only stating the obvious when I say that people can be good at seeing what they want to see. And believing what they want to believe. Regardless the connection to reality.

Which is often the convenient thing. Or the pretty thing. Definitely not the thing that looks ugly.

But, yet again I digress. Tho I no longer seem to care. Blame it on the chemo.

And I have never read any Pynchon (.. tho I can now feel gravity's rainbow tugging me in that direction).

And I feel that now would be a good time to write about this, even tho this topic does not really belong here.

» Inherent Vice vs Infinite Jest

Because I just watched Inherent Vice last night. (Not to be confused with Infinite Jest, 1996, by David Foster Wallace.)

So I may have an intuitive feel for him .. depending on the cinematic translation skills of Paul Thomas Anderson. [ Dude, you have too many names. One-two-three syllables. ]

Oh, wait. Pynchon is credited as co-writer with Anderson. That would mean he was involved in writing the screenplay, also. That would suggest the movie is an accurate translation of the novel.

Anderson got to work with Pynchon .. ooh, I would be lying if I said I didnt feel a stab of jealousy.

[[ Remind me to tell you the story of how the first date I ever went on with the Bug's mom was to a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. Before she became the Bug's mom. That is a good story. That is what got me interested in her. I am like, "Ooh, I have never met a girl like this before." ]]

The first time one of Pynchon's books have been made into a movie. By anybody.

[[ Update, the ending credits credit only PTA for screenplay. Whatever the case, I read that the film was a faithful adaptation. And that is how I am approaching it. ]]

I will share a part that stood out .. where Doc's old girlfriend (Shasta Fay Hepworth) drops by later in the movie while he is laying on the couch at his beach pad.

And she comes out topless and says, "What kind of girl do you need, Doc? [ pause ] Maybe a thing for one of those Manson chicks? [ pause ] Submissive, brainwashed, horny, little teeners who do exactly what you want before you even know what that is. [ pause ] You dont have to say a word out loud. They get it all by ESP. Your kind of chick, Doc?" [t=1:44]

» Precious Cargo that Cannot be Insured Because of Inherent Vice

Five minutes later Shasta Fay says, "They told me I was precious cargo that couldnt be insured because of inherent vice."

I normally dont watch English movies with the subtitles turned on. But I am with this movie .. because I can feel myself paying closer attention. Because of Pynchon.

I can feel myself analyzing things in the background. It feels kinda cool. Especially because of the story and the characters in this particular movie.

This is the end of the psychadelic sixties in Los Angeles. And the first thing you recognize about Pynchon is that » he gets it. More than I normally woulda expected. Far more. He nails it nicely.

I would be lying if I said that I didnt wonder about how he got his understanding. How he came about it .. whether thru first-hand experience or second-hand interviews.

One of the best things about being a recognized novelist, I feel, is that you get to interview fascinating people .. without having to write about them.

You can say simply that you are researching some background information for a new novel that you are working on and that you would like to ask some questions pertaining to thus-n-such.

Who is going to say no? To someone of Pynchon's stature?

Probably some combination there of. But how much of each? How much comes from personal experience? I can feel my curiosity stretching in that direction.

The next thing I am interested in is how he is showing you that he gets it. And here is where is he really excels.

The filmmaker has two hours. Two and a half, if he pushes it. And there is no way that a filmmaker can include all the details contained in a novel.

So you must pick-n-choose. And what do you pick? What do you choose? Which parts of the novel do you include in your movie? You pick the MOST TELLING shit.

It doesnt have to necessarily speak LOUD, but you are looking for things that tell. That speak.

And if a thing speaks to you, the filmmaker, then you must have the confidence that it will also speak to your audience.

And right about the time that these thoughts are bouncing around in the back of my head .. and I am feeling more relaxed and can feel myself falling into the story quite naturally.

And while I am admiring the story and the dialogue .. out comes Shasta Fay Hepworth .. naked except for the love-beads .. or were they shells? .. and does this very convincing and hypnotic monologue (.. part of which I quoted above).

That looked difficult to craft-out. But they made it look easy. And oh so natural. After which she lays across Doc's lap .. and basically puts her butt in his lap.

And this kind of threw me a little .. because I once had this girl come home .. and she is dressed in jeans and stylish tee-shirt. And she is talking. We are talking.

» The Arresting Quality of a Well-Toned Naked Butt that Appears Unexpectedly in Your Lap

Tho I forget about what. It didnt matter. But nothing heavy. Light entertaining stuff, you know.

And she had just come home from a work out. This is in Laguna. And it is dark out. And I am sitting on top of the bed with a pillow propped behind me and reading a book.

And WHILE WE ARE TALKING .. while she is talking .. about this other thing which I cant even recall .. she undoes the button to her jeans and unzips them.

Still talking about this other thing, she sets the other pillow across my lap and pull her pants down just below her butt .. and lays across my lap sideways.

Just like Shasta Fay did. And yes, in the same head-to-foot direction.

And this girl did that more than once. I've never had another girl do that. Ever. So I thought she was the only one.

But baasically, you are talking about fun, light stuff. And the next thing you have a girl's well-toned butt in your lap. And she just got out of the shower 30 minutes ago. Her hair is still wet.

They are not going to put their butt in your lap (for close inspection) unless it is looking good.

So I paused the movie after that because I could feel myself so distracted .. thinking about this other thing .. and all the stuff that came along with it. Which was a lot.

In the movie, the girl (Shasta Fay) is totally naked. But for me, she still had on her shirt and most of her jeans. Only her butt was exposed.

Well, I'm talking about the first time .. because it caught me so off guard. Other times she was wearing a dress. Tho yes, she did the jeans thing again.

The second time, I knew the score (.. fast learner that I am). She cannot spread her legs very well while the jeans are pulled down.

But sometimes a girl just wants you to pay attention to her. And she would like to focus your attention on her butt.

Which is propped up nicely. because of the pillow under her. The lights are on and everything.

Or perhaps she wants to be appreciated. Or to show appreciation. I honestly dont know.

I must say that I found the experience very arresting. Which seemed even stranger because she was focusing her (our) attention on this other story that she was telling me about.

And as she lays her exposed butt across your lap, the voice in your head says, "Dude, this girl is very interesting .. wouldnt you say?"

I found it a very sexy thing.

At the end of this scene, Shasta Fay says to Doc, "This doesnt mean we're back together."

"Of course not," says Doc.

And that made me laugh. That is where I paused it. Joaquin is definitely the actor for this part. Well cast.

» The Smart Skilled Sexy Provocatress

And in the movie, Shasta Fay is trying to PROVOKE him. That aspect of it was not lost on me. No sir.

My friend .. the one who pulled down her pants and put her naked butt in my lap .. she was not trying to provoke me. At least, not like Shasta Fay. But I know the provoker. All too well.

I cant say that I really understand it .. why they want (or need) to feel the fury of your wrath, especially the kind that is uncontrollable. But few men are a match for the skilled provoke-tress. Especially the smart, beautiful, sexy provocatress who knows how to get inside your head. God help you.

After her, I remember thinking, more than once, more than twice, when other girls were attempting similar tactics » "I have been trick-fucked by waay more skilled girls than you. I have been fitet'ed like a trout by the side of a river. You are wasting your time doll-face. This shit does even get me breathing hard any more."

A woman cannot provoke a man who she does not not understand. Not the kind of provoking that I'm talking about.

» Provocation of a Lover vs Intentionally Trying to Hurt or Harm

It would take me far too long to differentiate between the provocatress vs the girl who is actually trying to HURT or HARM you. But I would talk about need vs want and intention.

The provocatress does not necessarily want to hurt you, per se. She is really interested in provoking you. And yes, there is a differrence. A big difference.

If a girl tries to HURT me .. the relationship, far as I am concerned, is OVER. For all intents and purposes. Because that is what enemies try to do .. they try to hurt you.

And remaining in a relationship with someone who is trying to hurt you .. well, that says to me that you have no respect for yourself. That you are so desperate for attention that you are willing to put up with someone who wants to hurt you.

Even putting up with a provocatress can border on this self-disrespect. But that is actually more about dealing with issues .. which you can tolerate .. tho I will not get into the conditions under which such tolerance is permissable or advisable.

I was with the Film school girl for years and NEVER felt like she was trying to hurt me. Ever. Not even once. Even at the end.

Same thing with Miss Kristen Carter. "I'm not going to let you ruin the memory of this beautiful thing that we shared. I'm outta here."

I take pains to ensure that I do nothing out of malicious intent. Because this hurts and belittles yourself as well. Tho yes, I can be provacative. When the situation calls for such provocation.

Some of this stuff is childish, yes. I agree. The mature relationship participants usually say something like » "Dude, you hurt my feelings when you said this thing or did this thing."

And that brings a degree of understanding and allows the offender to attempt to make relationship restitution.

The Wow girl would say, "When you fuck up and do stupid guy-shit that hurts my feelings, you need to do THREE TIMES as much GOOD stuff in order to make up for it."

"Okay," I said.

» She Thought She Could Train You

Before exiting this worm-hole to the thoughts that accompany the impact and effect of a well-toned butt appearing unexpectedly in your lap ..

.. there was a lady, who was sort of a neutral friend between us, but really more of her friend .. the friend of the girl with the well-toned butt that I very much appreciated ..

.. who then later became more truly neutral, and even later became more of my friend, perhaps because I began to see this person more frequently.

Anyway, we always had other things to talk about, but I remember the one time that the relationship with the girl with the well-toned butt came up ..

.. she said » "She thought she could train you."

A statement which opens so many avenues of discussion that I am simply going to leave it at that.

If I can. If I can't, I will be back to elaborate on why this is such an instructive statement.

But I did not not even respond to her statement. What do you say to something like that? "It wasnt for a lack of trying."

But I remember thinking it a bizarre concept .. because I can't even train me. So, what hope is there for someone else?

"This is it, Sweetness. This is the whole package. And plenty have admired and appreciated the contents. But, if you find it in anyway insufficient or lacking .. then you should look elsewhere. If you are looking for a fixer-upper .. that aint me. Uou must have me confused with someone else. It's not that I dont admire people who can play that game .. because that aint me. I am very up-front about my (considerable) baggage .. so you knew the deal going in."

» Stopping and Looking at Pynchon

But anytime you hear a writer even compared to someone like Cormac .. you naturally stop and look.

And even without reading any of his books, knowing just that one thing about him .. that he writes in Cormac's league .. that alone makes me respect him.

[[ I have just seen the Counselor .. Cormac's first screenplay not based on a book. I am going to talk about it later. Directed by Ridley. Oh la la. I love that Scott Free logo at the beginning where the guy runs off and turns into a bird and flies away. I have wanted to see this movie for a long time. ]]

Pynchon is a Long Island boy. I know a few Long Islands boys myself.

From what little I have read about Thomas Pynchon (born 1937) it seems that his novels take you to school. That you learn a lot by reading them. Because he is so smart and knows so many things in such great detail about such a wide variety of topics.

Does this make for 'dense' reading? It probably depends a lot on the reader.

Pynchon went to Cornell, which is in Ithica, NY, which is the best college town in America, which is where David Foster Wallace grew up. Small world.

Tho Wallace did not live very long. No. He committed suicide at 46 (2008). And more than a few writers have done just that. Meanwhile, Pynchon is still going strong at 78.

But the thing about Pynchon that stands most prominently .. is that he is a recluse.

I mean, his Wikipedia page doesnt even have a photo. If you search, there are only early pictures .. and some artist's renderings based on aging algorithms.

Just like the recluse that was Salinger (more and more). Cormac himself is known to avoid the lime light. Heck, even Lemony Snicket remains hidden in the shadows of the mysterious.

Which seems counterintuitive. Because you think that the writer would naturally want to go on Oprah and promote his novels. All of them. And get a place on Oprah's book club. And many writers do just that. There is circuit and people who will take you thru it.

I will discuss more on this topic later, but I have thought about it before. And I have an intuitive feel for it. It has long been a curiosity.

Anyway, the book arrived today. Free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime. They ship so fast.

I actually woke early today .. excited because I knew it was coming. I checked the shipping tracker and it said » "Dude, your package has already been delivered. Go out and check your mailbox."

Sure enough, there it was. I am about 15 pages in. I took a break on page 15, after I read this sentence » "Aar(on) sparked a joint and we smoked it and the air was gassy and my suit was wool and Cal filed out with the girls."

If I had more time, I would quote for you a passage or two that stood out. In the story here, they are celebrating the publishing of his book. Which is about the holocaust.

They are celebrating in New York city. They are enroute to the afterparty party .. where they find » "a big black warty dyke [bouncer] bound in leather and chains, checking IDs..."

In the story, he plays a fictional character named Joshua Cohen (who is a writer).

» Dating the Jewish-Christian Church-Girl Singer

I dated a Cohen. Tho they had changed the family name to an American name with the same number of letters.

They were Jewish christians. I actually met her at a church .. here in California. She sang. Had a gifted singing voice. Little girl, big voice. (Good kisser.)

She solo'ed .. very nicely.

I even liked her mom, a Jewish mom. Oy-vey. Who was always well-tanned. Even in winter. She loved Palm Springs because » "the heat gives you a deeper tan".

I liked the whole family. Her little brother was downright adorabe. I could tell he liked me. Dad, too.

She was too young for me, tho. I mean, I was probably closer to the mom in age. I could tell that the mom 'got me' better .. than her daughter did.

The mom was .. what's the word I'm looking for, here? Aware? Conscious? Tuned in? Present? I'm not sure.

One time, she was scheduled to sing (solo) after we had been at a party drinking the night before. I was working in the church sound booth at the time.

She came back there to the booth just before church started and said something like » "I dont feel good about this."

Meaning something a little more like » "I dont feel good about singing a song for God when I am still hung over from that party you took me to last night."

It was a holiday work party. Those are usually nice paties. Impressive people. All the mucky-mucks show up. Engaging chatter. Pretty ladies decked out, looking hot. I would not bring this girl to much less .. church girl that she was. Feel me?

I remember thinking as she walked away from the sound booth » "I feel your pain, sister .. but you shoulda said something last night."

Or did she mean something a little closer to? » "I dont feel good about this (the relationship) .. seeing how you are obviously such a bad influence on me."

She sang the best song ever. I shit you not. It was like a "holy moly."

[[ Of course my ego wants me to take credit for that. The inspiration that I can be to some women.

Remind me to tell you about the nastiest message you have ever heard that was left on our answering machine by this girl .. who was expressing her displeasure with me .. and everything about me .. tho I think she had been drinking .. and it was left late at night ..

a message that was sooo... I dont even know the word to use to describe it .. and which seemed to go on for some length of time .. so she was obviously inspired.

The message was such that my roommate at the time said, "Dude! Holy shit. That's a good message. You should save that." ]]

» Captain's Mast with the Dog

Speaking of bad influences .. remind me to tell you the story about how I was [ purportedly, during testimony at Captain's Mast ] a bad influence on the Dog.

To this day I give the Dog shit about that. "Dog," I say, when I'm feeling so inspired, "do you remember the time?..."

The irony of the situation was such that it still makes him laugh. The idea of ANYbody being a bad influence on the dog .. well, this is funny.

I have been to Captain's Mast more than once. I was immature. I admit that. My technical skills were solid, tho. So they worked with me .. as I matured.

» My Gay Black Roommate (Human Tripod) in Maine Leaves Pot Seeds in the Ashtray

I also went to a rather serious XO's investigation with my black gay (and well-hung) roommate from Charleston after they came thru our room (in Maine) with the dogs and found seeds in the ash tray.

I said » "Dude, you left pot seeds in the ash tray. What the fuck? You tryin' to kill our careers before we even get started?"

He felt bad about it. They came thru while we were at work on Monday. The day before, he had been sitting at the desk there in the middle of our 2-bed room .. cleaning the seeds and stalks out of a bag of pot. Mr. Pre-Med drop-out. So he was very smart, academically. We got similar grades all thru school.

"I was gonna plant 'em outside our window, so that whoever gets this room after us would have some foliage to look at."

The nuclear Navy would not let you be associated with pot in any way, shape or form .. no matter how remote, and let you operate one of their reactors. They sent you off to shoveling coal on a convential surface ship. When you got out, you were qualified to get a civilian job shoveling coal.

So it was serious.

Tho he was more worried than I was. Cuz if they pressed us, he was gonna take the fall. Cuz they were his seeds. And he did a very stupid thing. So I was not very worried.

But I could see in his eyes that he was scared shitless. I tried to tell him that it would be okay .. but I could see that I was not getting thru.

And I knew that they knew [ they = the XO and his crew there interrogating us while we stood smartly at attention trying not to piss our pants ]. I knew that they knew the severity of the thing before us ..

.. the otherwise very little, insignificant thing.

This was not a nuclear ship. But they would take 4 or 6 of us folks heading off to Nuclear power school .. basically for the cost of feeding us. There was roughly a 6 month wait for the seat at school.

So they knew nuclear. These non-nuclear folks knew nuclear. And I knew that they knew.

And the situation is such that you are not going to trick-fuck two promising dudes with their whole careers ahead of them .. before it even gets started .. for a few seeds in an ashtray.

And really, who would want to be part of an organization that would do something like that? (Nobody that I know well.)

They first interviewed us separately, but then we went to mast together.

He had told them that he thought that "the cleaning lady must have left them there." .. that made me laugh, when he said that.

I just told them that I didnt know where they came from and that they werent mine.

As we walked out of there after being "dismissed," down the narrow ship's corridor .. me first, him behind .. I put my hand behind me, palm up. He slapped me smartly with a silent five.

"What did I tell you?" I said .. when we got far enough away that I knew the XO and his gang wouldnt hear me.

I glanced back over my shoulder. He had the biggest smile. Beautiful white teeth against his black skin. I could see why men might find him attractive.

"You were right," he said.

"What's that you say?" I said, working him, feeling very much vindicated. "I didnt hear you."

He was very happy. Let me tell you. I could tell his respect for me grew after that. I am cool under pressure. Always have been.

If you are fucked, you are fucked .. and fretting and stressing about it does no good. There will be plenty of time for that later. For now we stay cool and keep all our shit here in this tight little sack and try not to leave any more pot seeds in the ash tray.

I think he was embarrassed that he was stressing so much.

Plus you bind emotionally when you go thru such emotional (make-or-break) ordeals with someone. When I saw how impressed he was with me, I thought » You probably wanna suck my dick right now, dont you?" But I did not say this .. because I did not want to hear the answer.

Whoa .. did I ever get off on a tangent there or what? I will have to lift out this whole section and transfer it to its own page.

How did I even get here? Okay, I went back and looked. I will admit that, after chemo, my thinking feels less hinged .. to anything. The hinges of my thought-processes feel looser. Much looser. And sometimes the hinges just seem to fall right off.

So you can blame this on the chemo if you like. Or not.

» Exploring the Effects of the Neurological Effects from the Chemo

I still have some numbness in my feet .. the balls of my feet and toes feel weird. And a little tingly in my finger tips .. sometimes more noticeable than others.

And the back of my right middle finger sometimes feels like it is brushing up against a cobweb. But there is never a cobweb there when I check.

Weirdest of all is that I hear the phone ringing in my left ear when I yawn hard. This is reproducable. Always. Very weird. The first few times I was looking for my cell.

I am saying that I can tell that there has been some neurological "repercussions". Which I didnt notice until after the third and final chemo. There is an additive effect with each chemo treatment (administered 3 weeks apart).

A doctor would term this neurological effect from the chemo » damage. But I choose not to use that word.

So when I mention veering off course .. there is a humorous aspect, yes. Because I was doing this long before treatment ever began. But now there is an actual neurological thing behind it. (Now I have an excuse.)

It is easily noticeable to me. And I am exploring how it works. I am exploring the 'new' post-treatment me. Now that the dust of treatment is beginning to settle.

Beyond the sheer physical fatigue. That part of it, of the new me, is no big mystery.

And as a writer, I naturally spend time playing with the voices in my head. What are they saying? Or what are the trying to say?

So yes, I am being funny when I say that now, post treatment, there are so many more voices to play with, and they speak much more clearly than ever before. But not as much as you might think.

I sometimes feel like a probe shot into outer space, and now I am sending messages back from far away. There *is* that aspect to it, sure.

But the further you get from one thing, the closer you get to another. And that is what I am experimenting with right now. Brave new post-treatment world.

But the entries seem far more fragmented .. such that I will need to lift out each individual subsection and transfer it to its own separate entry. (Humans are an adaptive species.)

There's the Original Trail! » Dealing with Entry Fragmentation

I can see now how I veered off course. Up above I mentioned that maybe the church-girl meant that she "didnt feel good about this," meaning the relationship .. that I was a » bad influence on her christian mores ..

.. which made me think about the Dog and what they said at our Captain's Mast .. an ironic thing that I still give him shit about ..

.. which made me think about the Captain's Masts (plural) that I have been to. Which reminded me of the XO's investigation-mast, which could have proved even more damaging, career-wise, than the Captn's Masts. I will not even mention going to see the Commodore with the Master Chief.

Tho you probably want to know why the Dog and I had to go to Capn's Mast in Hawaii. That is a good story. Remind me to tell you.

Anyway, we are now back to little Miss Cohen. Tho she did not go by that name.

Anyway .. whatever "the thing" is .. the church-girl singer had it going on that morning .. a little hungover. (Something that I bet Ray Charles could appreciate.)

She was a cutie. She married a dude closer to her age. Smart move. Started a family. No doubt she's a good mom. The very next dude that she dated.

» They Always Marry the Very Next Guy

I cannot tell you how many girls marry the very next guy that they date. For many years I had an unbroken record. Such that I started to tell girls at the onset » "Ya know, I should probably tell you .. it probably means nothing .. but every girl that I have dated since 19xx has married the very next man they dated after me."

"And why do you think that that is?" one girl asked.

"Well, clearly," I said, "I train girls so well with my patented training system that the next guy can easily see the value in such a woman so clearly that he obviously wants to marry them because he knows he'll never find another like her."

"Oh, is that right?" she said, surprisingly more annoyed than amused. "Maybe you should start charging a fee."

"That's a good idea," I said. "I hadnt thought of that. How much do you reckon such a service might be worth? I might be willing to give you a free trial."

My point is .. altho I might not understand women very well .. I *do* understand men .. and I can tell you what they like and (more importantly) why they like it.

And I have turned more than one of these girls into ultimate relationship warriors. With relationship skills that other men can and do appreciate.

Tho that girl, who I told, broke my streak .. and called to let me know about it. "You obviously did not learn the lessons very well," I said. So I stopped telling the new ones. (Maybe she did it out of spite.)

While I may not understand women very well, I do know a lot about relationships .. for the same reason that I know a lot about computers » because I have made so many mistakes.

I know so many things about relationships that will not work. Dont get me started.

And relationships are important because they are the vehicles through which we receive so much pleasure and so much pain.

An while some would like to explore the pain part, I am so over that. I get that part. More than I care to. Far more.

Sometimes I think that some girls like to dump their emotional vomit from a previous relationship on you.

I am like, "Uh, you have the wrong person. Excuse me, I hear my mother calling."

Book of Numbers by Joshua CohenSuch high expectations. It's not fair for young Joshua. Rarely are such dizzying expectations met.

A movie, for example, might be great. But if you heard all about it and were expecting something to blow away Casablanca .. now you are expecting the impossible and you will likely walk away disappointed.

It's really a matter of perspective. Glass half empty vs glass half full » same glass.

He begins his novel (Book of Numbers) with a passage from the other Book of Numbers.

I sincerely tried to stop myself from buying this book. But it is about what it means to live in the internet age. Which in itself represents a huge change. We probably have no idea of the power made available to society and its effect on our culture.

And some of these comments that people have written about him and his book .. my goodness. Such gracious words. "Can such a thing be true?" I wondered. Obviously, I have decided to take a look-see for myself.

The book reminds me of the reviews for the SICP .. in that they both have lots of ratings at the extremes. The people who get it .. vs the those who dont.

SICP is probably the best book on programming ever written. If I were building a programming ultimate warrior, I would introduce him to the wizard. These are the gladiators of our digital future. "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius and I am here to digitally fuck you up. Stop me if you can."

It has already begun. And it continues to escalate.

My condensed single-volume bio on Dostoevsky is certainly ranked higher, consistently.

Here is a review from the Times dated July 2, and another from the Guardian dated July 3.

Here is one from June 7, and another from June 12.

Sometimes I think about what the film school girl said .. that she didnt want to know anything about a movie before she saw it for the first time.

She wanted to see it without any influences .. one way or the other .. going into it. I mean, she would put her fingers in her ears like a third grader and say, "I'm not hearing you. I'm not hearing you."

Only after the first viewing would she research the film.

She got her undergrad degree in Critical Studies, which is like a glorified version of Siskel & Ebert. But you DO learn the language of film and filmmaking. Cool shit, for sure.

Her masters is in Production, which is where you actually MAKE the movie. Directing, editing, cinematography, sound. And most students feel that is where it's at. Hard to disagree.

So the two match up nicely. Both her undergrad & graduate degrees were from USC, where her dad went and where the Dog earned his masters.

One day a week she slept on the Dog's couch up in the Hollywood Hills instead of driving all the way back to Orange county, when she had a late class followed by an early class the next day.

So when I see these articles about Cohen, I sometimes feel like I'm peeking into things that I shouldnt.

One of the things I do when I am with a new writer .. is that I try to get into the 'sync' with him.

To learn him. To learn his timing. His pacing. Which can take a while .. depending on a number of factors.

But I can already tell that I like his timing, his pacing. His energy. And it resonates with what I read about him .. which was » I dont know anybody else that does what he does like he does it.

That's probably not the neatest way to say it, but you catch my drift. Like he gets his own (new) category in your literary mental filing system.

» Joshua Cohen on Dostoevsky & The Double

When I read the piece on Cohen in The Atlantic, I was struck by his following statement »

I first read Dostoyevsky when I was 14 years old, and was entranced. Dostoyevsky truly is a writer for 14-year-olds, and I mean that in the most approving way—approving of his energy, and rage, his endless pessimism, and endless innocence.

Because I dont understand that. To me, Dostoevsky seems designed for » the world-weary traveller. The intelligent, thoughtful world-weary traveller. Who has seen a little too much. Perhaps this is because I first came to Dostoevsky later in life.

[ The Double was made into a movie and released just last year (Certified Fresh) starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia. I have not yet seen it, but it is on my list and I am very much looking forward to seeing it. ]

» A Teenager Reads Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground

Cover of the Everyman's Library copy of Notes frtom Underground (1864) by Fyodor DostoevskyAnd I thought about Jorge .. who was here one weekend. Who I think is considered special ed. I think he was 19 at the time.

And he grabbed my hard cover copy of Notes from Underground that was sitting on the bed and asked about it.

He adjusted the pillow from a reclined position and started reading as I gave him the nickle intro.

Two hours later he was still reading. People had been urging George to read for years. Bugging would be the word he would use.

Finally I said, "George! You get this guy?"

"Yeah," he said. "He's angry. He's angry about a lot of things." And he kept reading.

You could see the psychological immersion in his face. In his eyes. (George has valid reasons to feel anger and he has that hot latin blood which boils easily.)

That's what I thought about when I read Cohen's statement. It resonated with an observation that I had made but didnt understand.

Life at 5 Months Out of Radiation/Chemo Treatment » Seeking a Return to Normal

Did you notice the first full moon of the summer the other day? I was sure glad to see that. Cuz it means I'm 5 months out of treatment. Mending a little more every day.

And there will also be a rare blue moon on Friday the 31st of July .. which is defined as two full moons in the same calendar month. And which we be the last blue moon until January 31st , 2018.

Back in the day when I was hurting from treatment .. I thought » "Just hang in there 'til summer. Summer you will feel much better."

And here's the deal .. cuz I have been paying close attention .. very close, let me tell you. I do indeed feel » "back to normal." For the most part, anyway.

Until, that is .. until I try to do something physical. Then I know that my ass still draggeth, considerably. And the more I try to do, the more physicality involved the activity, the more I can tell that I am NOT back to normal.

Because I thought I would be by now. But I can see that was just wishful thinking. Maybe I will be there in a few more months. Who knows? Everybody is different my oncologists say.

Maybe in a few months I will have my shit back. But here at 5 months out .. I would say that (physically speaking) I am 15 or 20% of my old self. No more than 25%, and that only on a good day. On bad days I feel 5 or 10% of my former self. I dont do much of anything on those days.

But 10 or 15% is so much nicer than 0% .. when you have no stamina at all. Zilch. I am talking about physical endurance. Where it is frustrating to tired so quickly.

And if you push it beyond prudence .. your ass will be feeling it the net day .. and maybe even the day after. Where you will say repeatedly thru-out the day » "That was a stupid thing to do."

I remember telling the Dog during one of the rougher parts of treatment » "I did not know you could be this tired and still be alive."

And that was not a joke, not hyperbole. I dont think a person could acccurately imagine what I am talking about .. because I could not imagine such a thing myself.

In looking back on my excursion thru cancer treatment .. I can now see that the absolute worst day .. if I had to pick a single day when I felt the worst of all ..

.. .. woulda been Feb 9th .. two weeks after the final radiation / chemo on Jan 26. I will not gross you out with elaborating on all the things that combine to make this day the worst of the worst ..

.. but I find it more than curious that it falls on the day that Dostoevsky died. Dont get me wrong .. I felt like total hammered dog shit both before and after that point. Well before and well after. But that was definitely the pits of the pits.

And that is what Dostoevsky does .. he takes the reader down to the pits and says » "Lookie thar .. aint that some shit."

» One Month to Gain a Pound for the Most Buoyant & Resilient Person

It took me a month, but I actually put on a pound » from 145 to 146. That was a lot of work, so I feel a big surge of accompliment. It might've actually been 6 weeks.

Sea lions resting on an ocean buoyThe weight-gain is slow-going. I started hitting the protein drinks heavy. Trying to eat everything I can.

The Dog said » "I cant picture you at 145, dawg."

I said » "I cant picture me at 145, either .. until I take off my shirt and look in the mirror. It looks scary sometimes. Like there's not much of anything left."

In Hawaii, the dog told me that I looked like » "A hundred and sixty-five pounds of blue steel and sex appeal." The dog is good for the ego. (The dog even makes you feel good when he is giving you shit about something.)

It is difficult for me to believe that I am celebrating the gaining of a single pound .. at such a (frighteningly) low weight. But this is the point I am at.

It feels like one of the biggest victories of my life. Cuz I have been working at it so hard for so long. That was a hard-fought pound. You cannot imagine.

There were so many times that I did not feel like eating, yet made myself eat, anyway.

After treatment ended and I stopped losing the weight so fast and my appointments with my omcologists became less frequent .. I quit paying attention to my weight, because they are the ones who weigh you .. every time you see them.

So I hadnt weighed myself in a week or two .. and when I stepped back on the scale, I saw that I had lost another 10 pounds .. from 30 to 40. That scared me. Cuz I didnt even realize that I was continuing to lose weight.

And I learned that I cant go by the way I feel .. whether I'm hungry or not .. or whether I feel like eating. That obviously didnt work now. I had to eat even when I didnt feel like it .. which is pretty much all the time.

So it is like work .. which is something of a mind-warp, because we normally associate food and eating with the most pleasurable of things. It's kinda hard to describe because it is reverse or backwards our normal intuitive associations. At least, for now.

So I am hoping autopilot takes over again. Which is why gaining that pound means so much to me. Because that means, if I can gain one pound, I can gain another.

Speaking of the point I am at right now .. I have not seen my son since this whole carcinoma thing began. A year. His mom called at spring break to see if I was up to it. But I was not. Not even close.

But I am getting closer now. And I will tell you .. I am a little scared to see him .. after a year. Because he will have grown. (While I have shrunk, considerably.)

And in that instant, you see just how much development (life) you missed. And it is kinda overwhelming .. but you hold your shit together, you know.

I mean, I would get him after not seeing him for a week or two and when he came to the screen door .. it was like a sharp poker in the gut. "Look at what you missed." I have found no defense for the sharp, steely poker.

And I dont want to lose my shit when I see him. Because my shit has been kinda loose, lately. You know.

» Two Double Espressos & a Giant Tiramisu on an Empty Stomach

I had coffee recently with a girl who I hadnt seen since before diagnosis and treatment. She used to live here but moved away last year. She returns every now-n-then to try to clean out her storage and see her Newport Beach doctors.

She said I looked great.

"I thought you would be gray," she said. "But you still have your color. You do look a little thinner."

"I'm a LOT thinner," I said. "Thirty-five pounds thinner. And my weight is stuck here at 145. If I took off my shirt, I bet it would scare you. Or maybe turn you on. How much do you weigh?"

Sea lions resting on an ocean buoyLater she said » "You're the most buoyant and resilient person I know."

Which is not so very different from what the wow-girl said.

I said » "It's easy to be buoyant when you have been declared cancer-free. Sure. When you are sipping on a double espresso in a fancy Italian restaurant, and snacking on the finest homemade tiramisu in town for brunch. But I was not so buoyant during treatment .. let me tell you."

I called cousin Patty when I got home and told her what this girl had said.

"If people gotta call you names, Cuz," I said, "those are good as any in my book."

"Hey." she said. My book, too."

Now, after you are pronounced cancer-free, it is easy to laugh and joke. But your ass is not laughing very much during treatment. No, sir. During treatment your ass is scared and cold and tired and emotionally exhausted and dragging on the ground some 10 feet behind you.

So now I laugh. Ha-ha-ha. Because everything seems funny.

The coffee shop we went to had just closed 5 minutes before we got there. Drats! So we went to this nice Italian restaurant and sat at the bar where I ordered a double espresso and a piece of tiramisu.

I really wanted the crème brûlée, but that would've been gone in two bites. The tiramisu came with many more calories. It was a huge piece. I actually ordered a second double espresso .. all on an empty stomach.

I was zoom-zoomin' nicely on the caffeine & the sugar and enjoying it very much. (I have been enjoying pretty much everything this last month or so.)

But yes, my energy level has been such that it takes quite a bit of primer to get me going.

Empathy & Compassion » Are They Really a Choice? For Everybody?

This girl is a writer. Or, at least she was .. for a decade or so. Got paid money and everything. And she also used to teach English in grade school. So she is able to express herself more clearly and in more detail than most people you meet.

So I am able to ask her more pointed and more detailed questions than I can ask the average person. And she does not get offended by my probing.

I should note that, when that conversation came around .. to talk of English grammer and structure and subject, predicate, etc. (She has been to countless writing seminars, up in LA, especially for screenplays.) ..

.. that is like nails on a chalkboard for me. I was actually surprised at how much it bothered me. I could easily make this a lengthy discourse, but won't.

But I write according to rules not always sync'ed with the rules of English grammer and plot construction. It's more of an intuitive feel.

I once sent a manuscript to some agents in New York. They wrote back and said » "You're not following the formula."

I thought "Uh, that's the point. I can see that this path is obviously not for me. Better try something different."

I mean, if your characters arent having sex by chapter 3, you are deviating from the formula.

And you know how I can sometimes pay no attention to boundaries established by ___________ (« I may return to fill in that blank with a word, or you can go ahead fill it in for yourself).

"Tell me," I say, as I take another sip of espresso, feeling the hair stand on my head "if I am stepping over any lines or crossing any boundaries .. but I am curious about something you said earlier."

And she is like » "Sure, I can elaborate on that for you. No problem," as she took a sip of her $10 glass of white wine. She actually seemed to enjoy my probing into her personal thought-space.

I mean, I had been thinking about how to ask her about this thing of hers .. without offending her. But I wanted to. And sometimes I will just go ahead and ask anyway. But I did not feel right about doing that with her .. at least, not then.

And while I am thinking about this (.. how to pose my question with tact) she says (sipping wine) » "I talked to my niece the other day .. and she is having boy problems. And she wanted to know how you know if a boy really likes you. And I told her that 'he will ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT you. He will want to get to know you better. What do you think?"

And when she said that, I knew that was the open door I was supposed to walk thru. Beautiful timing.

So I said » "It depends what phase of the relationship we're talking about. If we're talking about the very beginning, which sounds to be the case with your niece, then guys, if they really like a girl, will want to impress her. Which usually involves conveying to the beauty before him just how studly he really is. Which usually involves a lot of talking about himself and his strengths. I have done this myself. So I know from personal experience. The human version of chest-beating bravado. So I would add that caveat to your assertion. Speaking of which .. tell me if I am stepping over any lines..."

It was too beautiful. I could have asked her anything at that point and she would have thanked me.

I will say, tho, that youthful conquests are often about that very thing .. the conquest itself. But as you age and mellow and learn a thing or two .. and learn what you like and what you dont like .. and your strengths and your weaknesses ..

.. as you mature, and particularly if you age well .. you are no longer looking for conquests, but rather for resonance. Someone with whom you naturally jibe.

Conquests are about putting two things together that would not ordinarily be together if macho man did not exert considerable social and cultural force sufficient to bind the two things .. for some length of time, whatever that might be.

But resonance is about » letting two things come together .. naturally .. propelled by unseen waves and forces in the universe .. such that there is little or no effort required .. to resonate together. There is no forcing required, only letting. You go with where the flow is taking you.

Maybe this is just fantasy. But it is my fantasy. And I am exploring my fantasy based on an intuitive feel. And I am finding interesting things .. that I may share later.

I will continue this vein later, but for now, you can read the article that brought her recent thoughts back to mind .. see here » Empathy Is Actually a Choice.

Tho I will say that she obviously disagrees with the general of thrust that article. And there are times when I have my doubts, too.

It's funny .. cuz we just had this very conversation (more or less) and then an article comes out in the Times about the very thing that we were discussing. So perhaps this is a conversation that we should explore further.

» My Writer-Friend Who Would Rather Talk Than Write

I sent her an email with the link and said that I would obviously very much be interested in her thoughts on the piece. Tho she is funny, in that altho she is a writer, she doesnt like to write (email).

She will gladly talk to you on the phone for hours. (And has.) But when it come to writing, she is not into it. (Perhaps because she is writing a book. Historical fiction.)

The radiation scarring of my voice box makes me not want to talk very much. Plus, I try to embrace any opportunity to develop my skills of expressing myself clearly and concisely as possible in writing.

I met this girl at a church, so we sometimes (tho not often) discuss how things relate to scriptural doctrine. And since scripture tells the christian to imitate God and since God is » full of compassion .. " doesnt that mean you should at least TRY to be compassionate and empathetic? Like Jesus."

I mean, that's the way I read the scripture on the topic of compassion. There are many places that instruct the christian to be patient and kind and thoughtful and loving and compassionate and all those kinds of things.

But I realize that the different strains of religions (denominations) can interpret things differently. They may read it differently from you. Sure, I get that. (The interesting thing being an understanding of the variations in mindsets between the various different interpretations.)

That is something I find fascinating .. cuz you naturally want to proceed to » the WHY phase .. and that is where the fun begins.

And sure, some people are easier to love than others. I will concede that. No argument here, my friend. And some are more difficult.

It can be diifficult to love someone who is always attacking you and criticizing you and complaining about everything you do and who tries to blame you for everything that goes wrong in their life and who tries to make you the sole source of all their woes. No?

But it's not really about you, because they are like that with everybody. (Everybody except themselves.)

One of the wisest men who ever lived .. said that it was better to live up on the roof (in the rain) or in the corner of an attic .. than with a complaining woman. He liked that proverb so much that he actually said it twice.

When I read that verse, something inside said, "You must admit .. Solomon's got a point there."

I am very much drawn to kind, loving & compassionate and empathetic people. I mean, who isnt? And if we reap what we sow, then I want to sew lovingkindness and compassion and empathy. Certainly as best I'm able, anyway. Because I want to reap bountifully.

Which is something I can do. I can do most anything that does not involve a lot of physical exertion .. because I tire so quickly. [ Seeing that my red blood cell count and my white blood cell count and my hemoglobin (indicating a lingering anemia from the chemo) are all still a good ways from even the bottom of the normal band. But climbing slowly.]

I mean, I slept hard for 12 hours straight .. just after spending time with her and talking to her. Like I said, I seem to fatigue frustratingly quickly. And if I push it, I'm wiped out for the next day or two. (Or three.)

Tho it has been my experience that the more things I have suffered thru .. has definitely expanded the breadth of things for which I can empathize.

Perhaps there is a less painful shortcut to compassion. But I have yet to find it. Or perhaps I am just one of those people who learns things the hard way.

» "Dude, they are totally reading your shit."

Sometimes I will see an article (usually interesting) appear at the Times on a topic shortly after I have discussed that very same topic, or something curiously similar. And my ego jumps up and says » "Dude, they are totally reading your shit."

But with this article, I never said anything. To anybody. Which makes the timing of it all the more curious. I mean, I would not even be writing this vein if that article did not appear.

So it feels like somebody is reading my mind. Or like I find myself in sync with others.

That kind of stuff makes me think. What is going on behind the scenes that I cant see.

But this topic [ is empathy really a choice? ] is something that I have thought, from long ago, from since before this writer-girl came along .. and something I have pondered from many different aspects and angles.

So it is interesting for me to compare my notes on what I have found (via personal experience) concerning this particular topic with that of others .. particularly if they can articulate well.

Choosing Not to Empathize or Emotionally Unable » What's the Difference?

But here's my point » if you happen to be invoved in a relationship with one of these people .. whether they CHOOSE NOT TO empathize (like Daryl and Michael & Willaim assert), or whether they are EMOTIONALLY UNABLE to empathize (like my friend claims and where some of my intuitions fall) .. does it really matter?

And I should note that there are times when I wish I didnt give as much of a fuck .. because it felt like my heart was breaking.

So, in that sense, the empathy / compassion thing does NOT seem like a choice. Follow me?

So I kinda agree with this girl .. on some points. At least, compared to the assertion made by Times' article.

Either way, you will find yourself in a relationshop that is lacking empathy and compassion. And who would ever want that? What self-respecting person would tolerate such a thing? (Only those who have low self-esteem.)

On a related note, consider what Feyman said on the subject » The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.

Here is an article that says 5-to-8% of people "lack empathy". This makes me think of what Dostoevsky said about his definition of hell.

Tara's response to the question of how you define a narcissist is so good that I'm going to copy-n-paste the whole thing here »

I think the general understanding about narcissism is that it’s just a braggadocio boastful person who is full of themselves. If someone is full of themselves and boastful and talks a lot about themselves, that’s not hurting anybody.

What I’m concerned about, if you’re dealing with a narcissistic personality disorder, you’re dealing with somebody who does not have the ability for empathy or to emotionally tune in to their partner or their children. They come into the relationship with this charming and very seductive beginning. But that turns into emotional warfare.

Narcissists are people who lack empathy, who are not accountable for their behavior. They set up their world so it’s about themselves. They exploit others for their own gain.

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you eventually discover you are there to revolve around them and to serve them.

You can only imagine the shock that happens for people when they get seduced into something they think is the best thing that ever happened to them and it turns into this kind of relationship.

I will leave you with that lovely food for thought and move on to other things, now.

The Michael Douglas Disease » HPV-16 Positive Squamous-Cell Carcinoma

I told this girl about how my oncologists there at Moores ran some extra tests (biopsies) because I have never been much of a smoker or drinker and how they determined that my tumor tested positive for the HPV-16 virus, which they say was the 'cause' of the squamous-cell carcinoma.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)And she says, as if she knew all about it » "Oh yeah, you had the Michael Douglas disease."

And I thought » "The Michael Douglas disease? Wow, that makes me sound very slutty."

No?

I mean, I was looking over the list of risk factors for this type of carcinoma .. and I am scoring rather well .. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say.

You know, because they mostly deal with sex.

Things like age at first sexual encounter. (Because sex at a younger age gives you MORE TIME to contract the virus). And number of sexual partners. (because more partners gives a higher chance that one of them gave you the virus.)

I did not have a good feeling when I was reading those. No, sir. Seemed like the percentages were adding up quickly.

The voice in my head said » "Dude, you're gonna be over a hundred percent here real quick." So I stopped reading.

I asked my chemo doctor » "Is this [ contracting the HPV-16 virus ] a sexually transmitted disease?"

She said » "It CAN be transmitted sexually."

But my radiation oncologist says » "You can have this when you're a kid." [ before you have ever had sex ]

So sex is obviously not the only way that it can be transmitted.

I have never had a sexually-transmitted disease. Ever. Not even once. And yes, I have been tested.

I once had an old girlfriend call and say, "I am having some girl problems and it would help the processs of elimination if you could get tested for this thing."

"Sure," I said. "What are friends for?"

Tho I confess that I was not prepared for the feeling when the doc stuck that q-tip up my pecker. Whoa. So I feel like I made a big sacrifice for this girl. But I was clean. Todo limpio.

You probably dont believe me, but I have never been slutty. Even if I wanted to be .. I dont think I am capable of it. [ I can get kinky with the best of 'em, sure. But never slutty. ]

Take Michael Douglas, for example. Now you know that he has only had sex with the very finest of women. USDA prime. Only the choicest cuts for him. He is not eating slutty baloney sandwiches. Feel me?

He has his pick of top shelf women. Educated. Cultured. Refined. Poised. Fit. Vigorous. Whatever he fancies. I am not telling you something that you dont already know.

I do not know how many sexual partners he has had, but I would wager that it is more than me. Probably a lot more. Tho you never know.

And I'm sure that most women would consider him a handsome man .. even at his current age. He is not George Clooney, no. But who is? (Heck, not even Brad Pitt is George Clooney. Apparently.)

Tho I have not been slutty, I still have been sexually active. Sure. I doubt that I am in Michael Douglas' league, but I have thrown down my fair share of talent .. thoroughbred talent.

And they were not complaining .. let me tell you. No, sir. Rather, they are like, "Ooh, I must say .. you do that shit good. I feel like a new woman."

I am like, "You aint seen nothing yet, momma. You look unsteady there. Wavering from side to side. Need assistance walking? Watch out for those chirping tweety-birds that are fluttering around your head."

You know what they say, dawg » "Practice makes perfect."

» The Bitch Obviously Deserved It

My experience with women has been » if you can ring their bell .. and ring it well, on a regular basis .. all shortcomings and liabilities will be overlooked, ignored or forgiven. "Axe murderer, you say? The bitch obviously deserved it."

And if you cant .. then no amount of virtues, however long the list, will ever be enough. No matter what you do for them, it will never be enough. They will blame all their troubles and woes on you. (You will know them by their fruit.)

"Ding!"

I would never have believed such a thing possible. But, like I say, I do have some experience in this area. Decades of research. Not as much as Michael Douglas, no. But more than enough to recognize patterns and construct a unifying equation.

This resonant bell-ringing is not as easy as it sounds .. because every girl is soo different. Like orders of magnitude different. And if you want to ring their bell well, you must get into their head-space and figure out what makes them tick.

And this takes time. And trust. As you continue to probe deeper and deeper into their most remarkable inner world. (Guys are comparatively one dimensional and uncomplicated.)

What you learn with girl #1 doesnt apply to girl #2. And what you learn about girl#2 doesnt apply to girl #3. New girl, new book.

My inner-voice critic is saying, "Dude, you are starting to sound slutty here. Knock it off and move on."

» Celebrating Life as a Cancer Survivor with Caffeinated Thoughts of Kenya & Ethiopia & Nicaragua

Coffee Roaster at Kean Coffee in Newport BeachAs part of my cancer survivor's continuing celebration of life .. I order a bag (12 oz) of this Kenyan coffee from Kean's in Newport Beach.

Wow. This is very good. Remarkably good.

I took a sip and read about Obama over there .. and think how he might've been picking these beans in some not-too-distant alternate universe.

They ship fast with 2-day shipping ($6.70 priority mail). You should order yourserlf a bag or two before they run out.

The Ethiopean Ardi and the Nicaraguan San Jose are also good. But the Kenyan is in a league of its own. It smells so good that I ground up an ounce and put it in a cup beside my bed. The whole room smells like a coffee shop. Sweet dreams, handsome prince.

Actually, I would not recommend the Nicaragua. They have had other outstanding Nicaraguans before, but this is not one of them .. at least, not compared to the Kenyan and the Ethiopean.

Some day I want to see what a $25 bag of coffee taste like. [ I am a French press kind-of-guy. ]

My favorite shipment of the year is when they get their (seasonal) Ethiopean Sidamo. Which has already came and went. ("Rats.")

Speaking of celebrating life as a cancer survivor while appreciating things that are in a league of their own...

» Inspired Writing Months Swollen with Hundreds of HTML Kilobytes

Rad note » due to the sheer enormity of this month's entry [ ~300 KB HTML ] .. second in size only to the grandaddy of them all » May, 2014 [ 375 KB HTML ] .. I have since learned my lesson and broken-in-two this month's entry.

Something that has never happened before. But obviously I am / was inspired during these months. Normally, if I get to 100 KB in a month, that is a big writing month. Such as I did with both May, 2015 and April, 2015.

I am using uncompressed numbers .. as they sit on my hard drive. But I have configured my server to compress (gzip) all text files the site sends you. Because text compresses nicely. You get a roughly 3-to-1 compression in file size.

And this number represents text-only .. no graphics or images. And thos usually weigh in much heavier .. maybe 5 to 7 times the weight of my HTML.

So you have to be judicious with image selection and sizing and compression .. because they cost a lot of weight.

But it is true that I had been declared cancer-free only a month earlier .. so I am naturally feeling soo happy. So relieved. So it is only natural that I would want to hang out in this month of joy and celebration a little longer than I had before.

Because it was not so long ago when I was not sure what kind of July was in store for me .. if any.

Anyway, once you start linking to the various headings, you can no longer break up a big page into smaller, bite-sized pieces. And working with the big pages can get unwieldy.

These monthly archives, such as you are reading now, are sort of the raw material .. that I use to mine for the entries using the Movable Type publishing platform.

Anyway, here is the link to » PART 2/2 of the July, 2015 archive.

At the end of that page is a link that will return you to this page (at the top).