RIP Bill Paxton

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Actor Bill Paxton, who I first saw in the 1985 nuttiness, Weird Science, passed away yesterday from complications due to surgery. He was 61.

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Partied out

Germany Christmas Geese

I’m a highly sensitive person. I’m still learning what all that means. One of the things that is hard to deal with is enclosed spaces with people.

I was at a birthday party last night at a sports bar. I go to this place every month or so for a get together with friends. This was one of the rare times when I was there at night with a large group in the dining hall, which is about 25×15′ with wood paneled walls and large windows. There were about 30 people in there.

This is a 30 second clip of the sound that I recorded. I’m using the image of the geese because they make a similar sound if you strip away everything else that’s going on in the scene.

Imagine an hour or two of that when you feel stuck there and it’s slowly It’s really difficult to get across to people who are not affected by this how irritating it is to be stuck in an enclosed space with more than three or four people for more than five or ten minutes without taking several breaks. It’s like walking around with a shoulder-width metal box on your head with random strangers hitting it repeatedly with objects of different sizes. Yes. I could go outside but if I do that I’ll dread coming back in. This same group outside wouldn’t have been a problem.

Seeds of Disillusionment 

China Drought

Well I landed at UT Austin, surrounded it seemed by Fundies, all grimly determined to save me, and the common denominator was that if I died that night I’d go to Hell. If there were time travel and I could go back to 1981, I’d tell 18-20yo me that, “1. Relax, you’re probably not going to die tonight. 2. These people are just as clueless as you are. And 3. The afterlife is overrated.”

16 Feb., A day without immigrants

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There’s an Asian buffet not far from the office that I visit almost every week. I have my news sites routed through the Feedly app, but I didn’t look at it yesterday. For a couple of months I’ve been getting takeout at the restaurant. There’s enough time to grab a few items and get back with a little time to spare before I have to start working again. So I left at about 11:30 to go get lunch. The first thing I noticed when I got in the parking lot was that it was empty. Normally the front and one of the side parking lots are nearly full. On Thursday there was nothing. My initial thought was that I had arrived at some really odd time and there’d be maybe two or three people in there eating. I get to the door and there’s a sign saying

CLOSED
SORRY FOR THE
INCONVENIENCE
FEBRUARY 16

Before I left I had noticed in Facebook’s ‘Trending’ sidebar something about the ‘A day without immigrants march,’ but I didn’t click it. Honestly I assumed that it was some sort of counter-protest held by the President’s supporters. It just seemed like some group bigoted showings-off that people who seem like sore winners would put together.

When I got back to the office I typed into Twitter, ‘Evidently there’s something called ‘A day without immigrants. Looks like Austin is getting its douche on today.’ I mentioned it to a coworker who told me what was really going on. This was actually a good thing, but it wasn’t universal. After I got off work I called another restaurant to see if they were open and the manager said that he’d gotten several calls asking the same thing but didn’t know why. I explained to him what had been happening.

The thing is, I’ve become so jaded with people that I often expect the worst from them. In this case this was a gesture to demonstrate just how much of what we enjoy here in America comes from people who weren’t born here. The fact that some businesses stayed open and their owners and managers didn’t know about the protest tells me that we’re going to need more reminders of this truth in the future.

Immigrants are part of our culture and always have been. We need to show our appreciation, not take people for granted. Especially now that things have become so clearly uncertain.

Hard looks

eye-enhanced

Camera vector designed by Freepik

What is the difference between looking at something and taking a hard look at it, or between hearing something and listening intently?

-Alan Watts, Not what should be but what is, 1969

The human eye has no zoom function and yet I find myself, all the time, squinting at things as if I had such an ability. That’s me trying to focus on things, greatly influenced by years of science fiction. I always liked Steve Austin’s bionic eye whenever The Six Million Dollar Man was on TV.

Squinting is a waste of time when what you need to do is move closer to the thing you’re trying to see. Or I guess  you could take out your phone and shove it at whatever you’re wanting a close-up of. But you’re still going to have to bring it closer to your eye to see the detail in the image.

The same goes for trying to focus your hearing. The Bionic Woman had the high-tech ear and could pull in the smallest sounds from great distances. But I don’t. I can’t. I have to turn up the volume or move closer to the source of the sounds. Anything else is me going through the motions of hearing and seeing better while causing the opposite.

I  guess on one level it’d be nice to have these abilities but you’d have more things that would start to fail once the warranty runs out. It’s funny that I’ve engaged in these useless behaviors without noticing for most of my life. The other day I was at the store looking for a particular brand and size of chili powder. You all know how grocery store shelves are stocked. The spice section is rows and rows of similar-looking bottles of varying sizes and here I go trying to scan the shelves and zoom to get the label on the chili powder to pop out at me. Then I caught myself, and Alan Watts’s words came to mind. So I moved closer to inspect the chili powder section for what I was looking for. As it turns out, it wasn’t there. I don’t know how long it’ll take to break this habit. But at least I’m aware that I do it.