Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Smattering

I'm told it's ragweed that's making my sinuses behave so badly these days. I sneeze, my eyes water, and I snort. Many nights I resort to taking benadryl, but even as benign as that is, I'd rather not take it.

Tonight, dang it, I will go to bed without it.

***

Just a smattering of stuff here, a little bit of this and that...

***

I'm listening to an iPod loaded, mostly, with songs from ...and Back to Earth Again: Ten Years of Meteor City, a terrific birthday gift from the mighty Michael Toland (who also wrote a big chunk of this box set's liner notes).

***

I've sought a particular clarity for the last couple days, and it finally came tonight, like some gift from above.

And though it hit me after having a fine talk and a cup of coffee with Henley, it's definitely the culmination of all the input I've received from my friends over the last couple days. I'm blessed to have people who listen and talk so well. I've been seriously mulling a big change in my life, and everyone I've talked to about it has given me terrific, well-considered input. Thank you all.

***

Today, my job was interesting.

This morning, I helped a Spanish-speaking client seek benefits.

This afternoon, I told a belligerent European client that he was scaring everyone around, and that he had to leave the building. Lo and behold, he did.

Later this afternoon, I helped two Asian clients apply for benefits.

One shift, three languages, not including English. Cool.

***

Ah... choo! I give up. My head is oozing. Bring on the benadryl.

***

One other thing about New Orleans: As our plane took off and I turned on my iPod, the first song I heard was "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" by Mother Love Bone.

Naturally, the first lyric was, "Chloe does the the tables/in the French Quarter."

Hear it here:


I'm no expert on the band, but it's well known that they band was poised to get big when frontman Andrew Wood died of a drug overdose. His friends in the Seattle music community were rattled. I know that some of them claimed they didn't know he had a drug problem.

I have too many junkie heroes.

***

Just had a Reese's Fast Break candy bar. I'm livin' large.

***

Whit heads to Indiana tomorrow to be with his parents during a very important time. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers if you will.

***

Good night.

Monday, September 29, 2008

On the Mind

When the mind begins to become still, we then begin to truly see it. When you first try to stabilize and pacify the mind, initially it will become very busy because it’s not accustomed to being still. In fact, it doesn’t even necessarily want to become still, but it is essential to get a hold of the mind to recognize its nature. This practice is extremely important. ... Eventually you will find yourself in a state where your mind is clear and open all the time. It is just like when the clouds are removed from the sky and the sun can clearly be seen, shining all the time. This is coming close to the state of liberation, liberation from all traces of suffering. ... The truth of this practice is universal. It isn’t necessary to call it a religion to practice it. Whether one is a Hindu or a Moslem or a Christian or a Buddhist simply doesn’t matter. Anyone can practice this because this is the nature of the mind, the nature of everyone’s mind. If you can get a handle on your mind, and pacify it in this way, you will definitely experience these results, and you will see them in your daily life situation. There is no need to put this into any kind of category, any kind of "ism."

--Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Snake Drive, Alligator, Frenchman, Bogalese, and the Ghost in the Sheraton

This one might be a bit disorganized...

***

I'm back from New Orleans, where I had a fine time attending an agency conference.

Well, it had some hiccups. Like showing up to find that my room wasn't paid for. Or that I wasn't actually registered for the conference.

But I got those things taken care of.

***

Friday the conference organizers were kind enough to give us some time off. My coworkers chose to do things in the French Quarter while I rented a car and drove to Ponchatoula to see some family.

The car, a Mercury Sable, was a certified piece of junk. It smelled like old sweat and smoke, and three of the first four times I tried to start it I got no response.

But folks fleeing hurricanes had taken one-way rental cars out of the city, and not much was available. The Sable and I hit the road.

***

The radio in the car was set on 90.7. As I drove down I-10 and up 55, the first song I heard was "Snake Drive" by RL Burnside.

THIS, my dear reader, was a good sign.

They went on to play Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis, Son House, Bobby Bland, Sonny Landreth...

I kept it on that station the whole time.

***

And on 55, just as the marsh turned into Lake Pontchartrain, I saw an alligator in the shallow water. Cool.

***

My instructions for meeting my great aunt Beverly, whom I'd best describe as an 82-year-old Cajun hobbit, told me to take the exit and meet her at "the second juke joint on the left."

And there she was. She left her car in the parking lot, complete with the keys in the ignition.

***

As we walked into the Belle Maison nursing home, a little band was playing. They had a dobro, guitar, bass, washboard, banjo, spoons, and a man with seven harmonicas.

God I love Louisiana.

Then, in she came, my dear Babbi.


She's 87, and frail. Her mind isn't what it once was, but she was focused and present for much of our hours-long visit.

We ate dinner there, and caught up about past and present family.

She and her sister Beverly told me about their father, a Frenchman named Pierre Poursine. He brought the dial tone to Tangipahoa Parish, and since his parents had come to the port of New Orleans directly from Normandy, he couldn't stand the mangled "Bogalese" French the locals spoke.

We had a long, frank discussion about the state of the family. I was introduced all around. Babbi and Beverly bragged on my master's degree, but I made it clear: I'm the second person in this family to get one; Babbi was the first.

***

Parting was bittersweet, of course, as these days I walk away from any visit with Babbi fearing it could be the last.

I will write her letters. I will.

***


The view from my room on the 43rd floor of the Sheraton was simply amazing.

***



***

Saturday, after attending several sessions, we had a break of several hours before the evening soiree (more on that later). My coworker, Denija, loved her room, and took advantage of her stash of comic books to kill time.


I headed into the French Quarter.

Almost immediately I ran into a commotion.

Recognize this hair?


Yeah, that's Richard Simmons, greeting fans there.

***

There in the street was a musician, a man playing slide guitar

He was doing a cover of RL Burnside's "Snake Drive."

***

I went into a few shops, including the Vampire Boutique, where I bought Bride of the Fat White Vampire, sequel to the highly amusing Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox.

***

Sometime in the mid-90s when I went into this courtyard in the Quarter, a man was relieving himself in plain sight.

This time, there was a coffee shop. I stopped and had a cup.
***

Back from my little jaunt, I summoned Denija and we headed out for a museum tour, dinner, and some music at a place called the Cabildo. I believe that's where the papers for the Louisiana Purchase were signed.

But... there was no bus. There were no coworkers, no volunteers around... the event was due to start in 13 minutes, and we didn't know a darn thing about it.

After conferring with a valet and a cabbie, we figured out where it was and walked over.

At the door, they wanted our tickets.

Uh... what tickets would those be?

Some $40 tickets we were supposed to have bought.

Ah, fudge. Time to go with Plan B, which was... well, nothing.

We walked to the river, took a few photos, and headed back to the hotel.


The St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square.

*


How many french fries do you think you could fit into my nose? (Stolen from Whit)

*



***

Denija had some things to take care of back at the hotel. She went up, and I headed back into the Quarter to seek my dinner.

I headed across the street and put my name on the waiting list at the Palace Cafe.

Finally they seated me under the staircase.



I had surf and turf, featuring asparagus risotto, and the best scallops I've ever had.

I was living large. I headed back to the hotel.

***

I wasn't sleepy, even though it was getting late. I began to wander the hotel like some old ghost, riding the escalators and just exploring the building.


My homage to Spike Lee...

The hotel was nice, though the gym didn't have a heavy bag. Dang.

*


Taken in the lobby at midnight. Sometimes BB goes a wee bit crazy.

*

I hit the restaurant for dessert, but they'd just closed. So I headed for the lounge, where I had some apple pie a la mode.


Life
was
good.

***

I stayed up until almost 2am watching a Chris Rock performance on HBO. The neighbors must've thought there was a maniac in the next room, cackling like I was.

And they might have been right.

***

7am came very early, let me tell you. I'd packed the night before at least.

They sent a bus to carry all us agency folks back to Louis Armstrong International Airport.

I had a fine breakfast, and took in some of the sights there in the airport.

This big mural got my attention. See that banjo player? That's Danny Barker. I had the good pleasure of spending some time with Mr. Barker once.

***

It was a really good trip. I spent a lot of time with my family, hung out with my nice coworker Denija some, and had lots of time to just follow my whims there in the Crescent City.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jammin' with THEGIRL and Niece



We were having some fun, making some music. I didn't know MOBB was making a video. I was waiting for her to snap a photo, which she eventually did.

Anyway, I love the drumming and the dancing!

Sorry it's so dark.

***

I'm headed out of town on a business trip tomorrow. Back in a few days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bill Cosby -- Dentist

My son had a request tonight: He wanted to see some Bill Cosby.

That hit a nerve.

If I am funny, it's because of Cosby, George Carlin, and the long line of funny Briscoe men. I grew up listening to Cosby LPs, falling asleep to them at night.

He's not the traditional comedian; he's a storyteller, a raconteur. Clean material almost exclusively too.

So we hit the library, but didn't have much luck.

Off we went to the Movie Trading Company, where I rented a copy of Bill Cosby: Himself.

Now, I explained to Wolfboy that watching standup comedy is like reading a picture-less book (which he is now doing): You have to do some work in your head to enjoy it.

I put it on, and immediately Cosby used the word "asshole."

Ah, dang it.

And then he went into a routine about drug use. It was dicey for a few minutes.

But...

But...

Something about Cosby's physical antics and voices and facial expressions grabbed that boy, and he started to chuckle.

And then... this routine.

And we wiped the tears from our eyes as we laughed...

That boy is going to be A-OK.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mourning

It's a concept that's been on my mind a bit today. I only looked on Wikipedia, but it seems like it's specifically meant to refer to how people react to the death of people.

And yes, that's been a theme here lately, but it's more than that to me. I just can't help but feel that sometimes I mourn things that never were, as well as things that were.

I mourn our lowest common denominator culture. We have such great potential, and we should really be abhorred at what we mostly are.

I mourn the unrealized potential in the arts. God there's a lot of genuine garbage that pays the bills in the entertainment industry.

I mourn the children I didn't have.

I mourn the choices I didn't make.

I mourn the passing of the years.

I mourn the pieces of my heart.

I mourn the loss of innocence.

***

This is a half-realized idea. I'm tired. I'm not depressed, but I'm too worn out to give this much more thought.

Peace.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Freddie King


Honestly, of the three Kings (Albert and BB being the other two), Freddie may have actually been the most complete musician (arguable, I know). He had a really good voice (unlike Albert), and was a really technically proficient guitarist (unlike BB).

Anyway, this song is overlong, sure. I like the 45 version of this song. I mean... what a great lyric: "Have you ever loved a woman so much you trembled in pain?" Outstanding.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An update from...


My sister and her kids left here after at week at la casa de BB.

And that image above is a joke. Yeah, seven folks in this house was a bit crowded, and nerves were frayed here and there, but honestly, I kind of enjoyed it. Maybe it's because I had the benefit of going to work so many days while Kelli and Amanda were home with the kids.

***

I worked an agency event Thursday evening that found us in the belly of a big hotel in downtown Ft. Worth. The event went well. I hadn't been in a hotel kitchen since I was an AV tech in Austin in '94.

(Horrible job. I lasted five days. Just imagine being a roadie in a suit. With no schedule. For piddly pay.)

And look at that shot... seriously, have I ever had a good hair day in my life?

***

Leaving the event reminded me of when I was a roadie for the country band in the '80s. I'd leave some gig at two or three in the morning and drive home. Few other cars would be on the road, and it would be just me with my thoughts (and my ringing ears).

***


We had some fun for sure. We took the kids to Incredible Pizza on Friday night. It wore us all out, but the food was good, and the kids loved it.

***


Back at la casa, life went on.

The girls doubled up in THEGIRL's room, the boys in Wolfboy's room, and Sis in the study.

And we fell into a fine routine, with all of us pitching in on chores and minding the kids.

***

Sis went home to no electricity, iffy sewer, and limited water. I hope she has her utilities soon. They are welcome back anytime. I think her kids should come spend some time with us next summer.

***
***

I'll get back into the blogging routine again soon enough.

Anybody want to go to this with me?



***

[Edit: I want you to hear this. Remember how a couple weeks ago I was raving about Jeff Beck? Read this quote from Guitar Player magazine about his song "Where Were You?" Many of you probably know that this is one of my favorite songs]

This, in spite of my lifelong devotion to Hendrix, might just be the greatest recorded piece of guitar in the world. Ever. Beck has no match. All through his life, he has made our jaws drop. I think we guitarists regard Jeff in the way Mozart's contemporaries regarded him. We do not understand where this magic comes from. What Jeff is doing here is colossal, but that wonderful sound--borne of the particular way he plays harmonics, and what is in his fingers as he plucks a string--makes it utterly beautiful. This track inspired me to make what I resolved would be the last U-turn I would ever make, during a period of deep crisis in my life. It led me to a rebirth of my spirit, and it's the closest thing I have heard to a divine revelation. Brian May, Queen

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike Update

Amanda is here with her kids.

Her husband is back in Lake Jackson, allowed to return because of his position at his plant, where he's considered to be essential staff.

Amanda's domicile is not damaged. She doesn't know the status of her rent house.

There is no power, no water, and no sewer service. Thus far they're asking that no one return before Wednesday.

We are fine.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

[An edited version of an email I just sent to Toland]

The book so far, is quite good. I'm only into the first chapter, but Brian Greene does a fine job simplifying tough concepts.

What it amounts to is this: General relativity (Einstein's theory) is a theoretically sound approach to how BIG stuff works in the universe: Stars, black holes, space, time... nice.

Quantum mechanics is a theoretically sound approach to how tiny stuff works: atoms, quarks, etc.

The problem is that those two theories don't get along. They don't mesh. The laws that apply to tiny stuff don't apply very well to huge stuff, and vice versa. This has had scientists scratching their heads for a long time. Two sets of rules... not acceptable.

Well, superstring theory, which he really hasn't gotten into yet, supposedly does a really exciting and logical job of putting those two together. It's the one big theory of how EVERYTHING works that Einstein sought but failed to find. There you go.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Unwinding

So it was February of 2004 when I decided a change had to happen. My friend Danny Henley was reminding me today about all the lunches we used to have, and how I'd rail against the evils of working for commercial TV.

Over 4.5 years later, I'm finally here. I've got my MS, passed my state boards...

I have some administrative stuff to do before I get license in hand. I will probably have the official piece of paper in 4-6 weeks.

I'll be counseling in a local church for starters, though I have renewed interest starting a private practice thanks to a good lecture from a peer I heard Saturday.

Here's what greeted me when I got home today.


***

The test was HARD. The questions come out of a test bank, and I gather that no two students get the same exam. I've had classmates take it who thought it was difficult, and some who thought it wasn't bad.

I can tell you that I thought it was far worse than our exit exam.

I'd studied hard for a week, but really, I should have been studying hard for at least a month.

The Rosenthal book I used was helpful in a secondary way; not many of the questions from that book were on the exam, of course, but Rosenthal's techniques for approaching the questions helped. His input was useful in helping me eliminate answers when a correct one didn't jump out at me.

***

I'd slept poorly, but I didn't wake up feeling bad. Had a nice breakfast and headed out.

An hour into the test I was ready to:

1. Throw up

2. Give up

I took their advice and gave myself breaks. Ever read so many word problems that after a while the words don't even make sense? I had to read questions over and over and over... when I reached that point I'd step away for a break.

[and the cat just peed on the floor again...]

I made myself go back over every question, though, and that helped. I didn't change many answers, but looking at my selections, I came to realize that I'd made good ones.

I finished with cautious optimism. It took me exactly three hours.

***

They print out the results and hand them to you rather unceremoniously. It's a sheet covered with words...

"Uh... did I pass?"

Yes.

"Oh!"

And one of those tiny words reads, "PASS," and that's good enough for me.

***

I feel the same way my nephew did after the dentist pulled his tooth: I never want to do that again.

***

If you stop by here, you know that I periodically get obsessed with whatever musician(s). Jeff Beck, Jason Falkner, Helmet, whoever.

Currently, man, it's Porcupine Tree. I never get tired of their We Lost the Skyline.

Here's frontman Steven Wilson doing "Sentimental"


***

Guess I'd better knock off. Thank you all for your kind words.

***

[Edit: Former UFC champion Evan Tanner has died. Apparently he was in the desert on something akin to a spiritual quest and was overcome by the heat.

I wasn't really a fan, but I thought he was an interesting guy, one who was definitely not cut from the same mold as most of the others. Honestly, I felt like we had some things in common. His passing is terribly sad.]

I passed!

The test was extremely difficult. I had serious doubts well into it.

But it's done.

Nap time.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

From the Crazy World of BB... and I know Crazy. I've Got a Degree in Crazy.


I'm trying to distract myself. I'm somewhat anxious about the NCE tomorrow morning.

As I opened the last chapter of the review book, the author stressed how important that material is, and how the reader should spend THE LAST WEEK before the exam going over it.

I only studied for a total of a week. Uh... how about the last FIVE MINUTES, pal?

***

Random images.



***



***

Hey, go to Whit's blog and check out the "Half Marathon" and "Business Time" videos.

***

I played guitar for a while in the living room today. That is, I put the guitar on my lap and sat through ten minutes of my kids jacking with it before I got to do anything musical. I'm too nice for my own good.

So I got lost in it for a while, finally. When I looked up, I realized that THEGIRL had assembled an audience for me... ha!



***



***

Okay, assuming I pass the test tomorrow, I have office space ready for me at the church. I'm pretty excited.

Tomorrow after the test I will, of course, let everyone and their dog know how I did. Unless I flunk, in which case I'll go hide under a rock.

Good night.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

Meet Ringo Briscoe!


I'm the person who least wanted him here.

I'm the person whom he scratched first.

Yet here he is, on my lap.

And he helps me study too.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dry Dock?

I'm studying all the time for Monday's NCE exam. The book has 1050 practice questions. As of tonight, Thursday, I've reviewed 550 of them. Ideally, I'd like to take Sunday off to rest my brain, but I'm not sure I can cover the next 500 questions over the next two days. Maybe.

So if I have a rather diminished online presence until after the test, that's why.

Of course, as I was explaining to Toland, the nerd in me compels me to read and write when I'm taking breaks from reading and writing. So maybe I'll update, maybe not.

***

A few quick hits:

THEGIRL has upheld her end of the bargain and successfully transitioned to full-blown toilet use. Therefore, we are getting a cat tomorrow. He is mostly black, has white-tipped paws, is eight weeks old, and is currently named (ready for this?)... Titan.

There's much discussion about renaming him. THEGIRL liked my suggestion, Ringo. A real effort's been made to continue with the mythological names since we're such Harryhausen fans here. I didn't mind Perseus, because I'd call him Percy. It's kinda soulful, no? But THEGIRL has been referring to him as Titan today, so the deal may be done.

*

My test is at 9am Monday, and it lasts for 4 hours. It's taken on a computer, and it's pass/fail, 200 questions. I'll get my results the same day. I'm told it's comparable in difficulty to our grad program's exit exam. I thought that test was quite difficult.

Assuming I pass it, I will be an LPC-i (Licensed Professional Counselor Intern). I'll be able to get PAID at that point.

*

Kelli's church has graciously offered me office space in which to counsel. I am looking into it. I will soon meet with an LPC supervisor who may take me on so that I can work at the church. I'll spare you the specifics.

*

Randy Couture is returning to the UFC, figuring perhaps that the best way to end his contract squabble is to actually do his fighting in the octagon instead of the courtroom.

He's facing much ballyhooed Brock Lesnar.

Couture is an elite athlete who has won many titles in multiple weight classes and disciplines. He has also trained some terrific fighters as well.

Brock Lesnar used to be in the WWE, and he has won one (1) fight in the UFC.

I sure as heck hope the rest of the card is good, because I expect Couture to defeat Lesnar in about 38 seconds.

*

Our local coffee shop has an open mic night on Mondays, and I'm seriously considering working up a few tunes and giving it a shot. The material has to be family-friendly though, which eliminates a lot more of my songs than you might realize.

Note to self: Learn some happy tunes.

*

I have a business trip to New Orleans later this month.

*

That's about it. I've been working hard in anticipation of this test. I think I'll pass it. People have given me grief about taking the summer off before testing, but I don't think it was a mistake. I think I earned the time off to rest and decompress. And looking through this book, I'm remembering a lot of what's here without much difficulty so far.

Y'all take care. I'll holler when I can.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Addiction Story

Something I found online:

c.2008 New York Times News Service

We've heard it before. "Drug abuse is an equal-opportunity destroyer." "Drug addiction is a bipartisan illness." "Addiction does not discriminate; it doesn't care if you are rich or poor, famous or unknown, a man or woman, or even a child."

The phrase "addiction doesn't care" is not meant to remind us that addiction casts a long shadow — everyone knows that. Rather, it is supposed to suggest that any individual, no matter who, is vulnerable to the ravages of drugs and alcohol.

The same rhetoric has been applied to other problems, including child abuse and domestic violence — even suicide. Don't stigmatize the afflicted, it cautions; you could be next. Be kind, don't judge.

The democratization of addiction may be an appealing message, but it does not reflect reality. Teenagers with drug problems are not like those who never develop them. Adults whose problems persist for decades manifest different traits from those who get clean.

So while anyone can theoretically become an addict, it is more likely the fate of some, among them women sexually abused as children; truant and aggressive young men; children of addicts; people with diagnosed depression and bipolar illness; and groups including American Indians and poor people.

Attitudes, values and behaviors play a potent role as well.

Imagine two people trying cocaine, just to see what it is like. Both are 32-year-old men with jobs and families. One snorts a line, loves it and asks for more. The other also loves it but pushes it away, leaves the party and never touches it again. Different values? Different tolerance for risk? Many factors may distinguish the two cocaine-lovers, but only one is at risk for a problem.

Asking for more of a drug is no guarantee of being seduced into routine use. But what if it happens? Jacob Sullum, a senior editor at Reason magazine, has interviewed many users who became aware that they were sliding down the path to addiction.

"It undermined their sense of themselves as individuals in control of their own destinies," Sullum wrote in his 2003 book, "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use." "And so they stopped."

I only read about these people. Patients who come to our methadone clinic are there, obviously, because they're using. The typical patient is someone who has been off heroin for a while (maybe because life was good for a while, maybe because there was no access to drugs, maybe because the boss did urine testing) and then resumed.

But the road to resumption was not unmarked. There were signs and exit ramps all along the way. Instead of heeding them, our patients made small, deliberate choices many times a day — to be with other users, to cop drugs for friends, to allow themselves to become bored — and soon there was no turning back.

Addiction does indeed discriminate. It "selects" for people who are bad at delaying gratification and gauging consequences, who are impulsive, who think they have little to lose, have few competing interests, or are willing to lie to a spouse.

Though the National Institute on Drug Abuse describes addiction as a "chronic and relapsing disease," my patients, seeking help, are actually the exception. Addiction is not an equal-opportunity destroyer even among addicts because, thankfully, most eventually extricate themselves from the worst of it.

Gene Heyman, a lecturer and research psychologist at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, said in an interview that "between 60 and 80 percent of people who meet criteria for addiction in their teens and 20s are no longer heavy, problem users by their 30s." His analysis of large national surveys revealed that those who kept using were almost twice as likely to have a concurrent psychiatric illness.

None of this is to deny that brain physiology plays a meaningful role in becoming and staying addicted, but that is not the whole story.

"The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards: confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely," wrote Pete Hamill in his memoir "A Drinking Life." Heroin and speed helped the screenwriter Jerry Stahl, author of "Permanent Midnight," attain the "the soothing hiss of oblivion."

If addiction were a random event, there would be no logic to it, no desperate reason to keep going back to the bottle or needle, no reason to avoid treatment.

The idea that addiction doesn't discriminate may be a useful story line for the public — if we are all under threat then we all should urge our politicians to support more research and treatment for addiction. There are good reasons to campaign for those things, but not on the basis of a comforting fiction.


Sally Satel is a psychiatrist and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

***

I'd say that's a rather antiquated stance that hearkens way back to the old "it's a moral failure" days. Ms.Satel hints at biological reasons, and tips her hat to the disease model (which I also feel is archaic but a useful perspective for allowing the average person to at least grasp the scale of the problem), but ultimately points a finger at choice.

Seriously... tons of addicts keep behaving that way even when there's zero reward. I've known alcoholics who were miserable and weak and had alcohol tolerance you wouldn't believe. Their bodies scream for alcohol, even when they can't really cop a buzz anymore.

***

My head is significantly improved. I have been offered kind words, prayers, good advice, and many types of medicine for this, and I thank you all. Everyone took my complaints very seriously.

***

BB's current therapy: Real Animal by Alejandro Escovedo.

I kept setting aside time to listen to this, to give it my undivided attention. It kept falling through, but I finally got to start it a little while ago.

It's mighty good so far.

***

I could write a post about Al. I should do that sometime.

***

I spent five or six hours in a coffee shop today, studying for the NCE, which I take Monday. There are 1200 questions in the study guide. I covered 200 of them today.

MOBB quizzed me on them tonight, and in 20 minutes I didn't miss any.

So far so good.

***

As THEGIRL grows, she seems to be more fascinating and unique by the day. She's quite a creative little pixie, drawing pictures that are advanced for a kid of 4.5 years.

Lately she's been using the Legos a lot. I was playing guitar the other day, and before I put it down she emerged from her bedroom with a "guitar," complete with frets.

See what I mean?

Tonight she emerged from bed with some sort of intricately crafted Lego machine. The interesting thing, though, is that she'd also made a very accurate drawing of the machine as well. We couldn't get her to clarify what came first, the drawing or the Lego machine. Nevertheless, the attention to detail really caught us scratching our heads at the wellspring of artistry in this child.

***

I'd better crash. Good night.