Monday, October 05, 2009

I hear music

Just a quick note to march out an idea that keeps rolling around in my head.

Do y'all remember several months ago when I was asking folks how much of the time there was either music playing around them or music going through their mind? Does this ring a bell? I started taking that informal poll because it is 100% for me. Easily. And I had no idea that we're not all like that. It's just background radio for me. If I get up to use the bathroom overnight, there's a song in my head between the bed and the bathroom.

I've met a few other folks like that, so I know I'm not alone. But I've met others who say that maybe 25% of the time there's music. WOW.

I remember being a little boy, and just losing myself in the music on the radio, or maybe in the songs on the record player. At age 3 I could change the 45s on the turntable.

I remember sitting in the back of my mother's car, listening to music and wondering what I was hearing. What are those instruments? Are they playing this right now? Again? What do performers look like? For as long as I can remember I dissected the songs.

And now, when I'm in the car with my kids, they usually just talk over the music. I'm still singing along, still feeling the impact of lyrics, and they're talking away about whatever. It's so wholly different, and I don't get it. It frustrates me sometimes, I must admit. But my experience is not their experience. I figure somewhere within that difference lies a thesis, but not for me. At least not anytime soon.

Monday, July 06, 2009


those years I spent hunched over my little Macs, plugging away on Juke so faithfully... nodding off sometimes, or aching inside from some character I'd killed off...


those years I blogged about... what? Why in the world did anyone read all that?


those years when I technically had a mother, and she never asked. Never asked how the kids were, how I was, anything. I had a moment this weekend when I wanted to send her photos of her grandchildren, to let her see them. It passed.


those love songs with those lyrics that mean so much to me. Like this one from Imperial Drag's "Illuminate"

"But no matter what I believe in love. So there--I said it."


those years when I wish I'd seen things more clearly. Why did I wait so long?


of almost 88 years my grandmother has lived. I spoke to her on the phone today, and she has outlived her body and her mind. She really is all but gone.


of the years I lost when not speaking to my aunt, just gone. It's good to reconnect now, but I wish it hadn't been the way it was.


the vivid dreams I had, like the one in which I begged my grandmother not to marry my grandfather.


this time spent on school and licensure and chasing hours and whatnot sometimes causes me to briefly lose sight of what I wanted when I started: Private practice. The wheels are spinning again.


the things I wish I could say to you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Night's All Right for Loafin'

“Wanderlust” is a great word. Just great.


You know, has anyone put out a great baseball song since Fogerty’s “Centerfield” in the mid-80s? I can’t think of one. Aren’t we due?


I got a used $3.99 MVP Baseball game for the PS2 I got Wolfboy. I’m not very good at it. Tonight I think my performance got about as good as it’s gonna get; I lost to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 10-9.


I still think someone should write an epic poem about the marriage of salsa and cheese.


Work is good, but not easy. Is there a more challenging population to counsel? Prison inmates maybe? Iraqi veterans?

After dealing with the size and scope of the presenting issues I see on East Lancaster, man, I’d be happy to talk to some student who needs help with test anxiety, let me tell you.


Tomorrow is my friend Sammie’s farewell wingding at the church. Follow your bliss, sister, but please don’t disappear from my life.


I want to train again. I’m looking into it.


Life goes pretty well in general I’d say. I’m not here at my apartment much, yet they still expect me to pay the rent. Odd.


We’re social creatures. I mean… look at us. Separated by physical distance, yet clamoring to socialize online. It’s like being in a giant room with LOTS of people you know. You can tell them what’s up, ask them what’s up, play songs for them, play games with them, be available to chat… interesting.


You should see the movie Big Bad Love,, but not if you’re kinda down.


I’m tired. Man, I may be in bed by 11pm on a Saturday night.

Y’all take care.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A grad school paper I found

Two days after a man at a health fair ranted at me about Italian coffee and the Book of Revelations, I had the good fortune to attend a lecture by Michael Nye, photographer for Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness.

I'd seen the exhibit some weeks before. It's a collection of several dozen photographs of people with varying types of mental illnesses: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, etc. And addiction. Addiction is almost always mentioned (a point Nye underscored in his lecture).

Each photograph is accompanied by a four or five minute audio narrative. For me, the audio was the element that lent real power to this exhibit. We're often dismissive of the mentally ill when we encounter them. On the streets we feel endangered, or in our homes or businesses they are an embarrassment or a distraction.

In each narrative emerged a voice that often gets dismissed. Young, old, either gender, any ethnicity. And so many of them sound quite normal, for lack of a better word. We could really use a better word.

Jerry self-medicates with alcohol to calm the voices he hears. His parents put him in "a mental hospital" when he was six. He fights and goes to jail a lot. If he has a fight, he's pleased even if he loses. "At least someone took the effort and the time to whoop me," he says.

Richard has a dramatic lilt in his voice yet speaks of chromosomes and neurotransmitters as the origin of his problem. I find myself wishing I could converse with him.

Joe wishes he'd been a truck driver. Would I want him on the road? He's now homeless and hears voices.

Anna has some sort of phobia regarding the end of the world. How did 9/11 and Katrina affect her?

Carolyn says, "I render myself unconscious as a way of treading water." She looks like a relative of mine.

Molly wears a leopard-print coat just like my grandmother's.

Many of them don't remember pivotal episodes that got them sent away in police cars or registered as inpatients.

Nye was funny and candid as he addressed the audience in the small auditorium at the science center. He spoke about the difficulty he had getting the project underway, getting past confidentiality. When he first began to present his material, he "could barely say 'mental health or schizophrenia'," he said. "I've come a long way."

At the end of the discussion the hands shot up. Some from this roomful of advocates and mental health professionals merely wanted to thank him. Others wanted to know how to help him get information, this information, out there to malls, Washington DC, state government, wherever. These people understood the intrinsic value of making this exhibit more widely available. Nye graciously invited some of them to come see him after the lecture.

I didn't dismiss the man who ranted at me at the health fair. I paid attention to him, and I remember a nurse in another booth telling me he lives in a shack on some neighborhood property. He's a Vietnam veteran, proudly claims that he doesn't drink, yet is belligerent, and given a wide berth wherever he goes. And as he spoke, I just found myself thinking, you're important. You count too.

[Advanced Abnormal Psychology, Fall, 2006]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some Gris Gris for Ya

I'm the fool who scaled a six-foot iron fence on Memorial Day, only realizing at the very top that (A) I'm 40 and probably too old for this crap, and (B) those sharp iron spikes could cause some real damage.

Luckily I landed safely on the other side. I was determined to work out. I'm trying (oh yes I am, Whit) to get back in gear. I've lost a chunk of stamina that I'd like to have back.


My aunt Shirley is doing well in her recovery from surgery Tuesday, I'm told.


This has been my busiest counseling month so far. This morning in supervision, as I review the cases from my 7 individual clients, my two (thus far) at my day job, and my three (and possibly soon four) groups that I run or co-facilitate, my supervisor asked me, "When are you not working?"


Good point. She suggests that I'm a candidate for burnout, and she's probably right. I'm going to take a hard look at my schedule and set aside some free time each week for me.


The new day job is a real adventure, and I'm enjoying it so far. I'm learning a lot, and I'm making mistakes here and there. I can't talk about clients, of course, but you know, I'm getting the kind of stories that will stick with me for years, believe me.


Tomorrow would have been my 16th wedding anniversary. Technically we'll make it, though we're living apart, of course.


And as of Monday I'll have a new extraordinary chicken to admire on my calendar.


Yesterday THEGIRL won the only "art achievement" certificate handed out at the awards ceremony. Wolfboy had the highest number of points for reading in his grade. There were many good, accomplished readers present whose scores he had doubled or more.

My kids!


Gotta scoot. Y'all take care.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lookin' Out My Back Door

"For a manfromTexas! Create a happy family! With a Russian bride!" That's what the advertisement on the side of this page reads as I type this.


Things are moving along okay here. Things are peaceful, amicable. That's about all I'll say regarding my impending divorce at this moment.


Having the kids over to my place is enjoyable, yet still a challenge in many ways. Sunday night I had us all sleep in my king-size bed.

See, technically there IS space enough for the three of us in that bed. You know, if we all stay in our places and share nicely.

But what happens is that THEGIRL, when she's not beating the bejeebers out of me with her knees and elbows, gravitates towards me. I put off heat, and maybe she just gravitates that way to keep warm. So all night long I have this munchkin right up against my back.

Last night I tried a new approach. I put them in the big bed, and I "slept" on the air mattress.


Ruffles potato chips don't have as many ridges as this stupid thing. And it's got a "built-in pillow." That means it's got this distended bit at the end where your head goes. But it's just wrong. Wrong size, wrong angle... I woke up with such a pain in my neck. Oy.


But I'm holding up okay.


God bless Creedence Clearwater Revival.


I'm a busy boy, and frustrated by the fact that my place is a wreck and that stuff I need is inevitably packed away in some box somewhere.

Everyone has been terrific and kind though. I have been given terrific stuff like furniture and kids' toys, and folks have lent their time and energy to help me get into my new place. And the moral support has been beyond belief. One of the greatest lessons I'm taking from this transition is what it really means when someone has your back.


My friend Angie has this posted on eBay:

If you buy it, I want to look at it.


In case you hadn't heard, I'm changing jobs within my agency. After 2.5 years working to help clients enroll in state benefits such as CHIP, Medicaid, Food Stamps and more, I'm moving to a new program that will help the homeless. I'll get to do a lot of drug and alcohol counseling, which is why I got into counseling in the first place. It'll get me my internship hours quickly, and it'll be a real challenge. I start May 18.


On the way to work this morning I was listening to a bootleg of the Who in Dallas, August of 2000. Kelli was pregnant with Wolfboy. I remember what a great show that was, and how I had this immediate sense that they were NOT just jerking around; they came to prove something. Great show, and a solid bootleg.

I worked for Yahoo at that time. So much has changed. Two kids now, a divorce... after Yahoo I went into commercial TV, then changed career paths altogether. I wish I knew then what I know now.

Y'all take care.

Friday, May 01, 2009


I'm strong. I'm determined. I will succeed in this new chapter in my life.

Kelli and the kids are gone to Corsicana, leaving me time and space to pack my stuff and get out.

It's just Ringo and the radio and me. Lots of work to do, but nothing to worry about.

Until I found a bottle of Ativan in the cabinet.

Just typing that gives me chills. If you're not familiar with it, it's an anxiolytic, a benzodiazepine, and above all, highly addictive.

And fun.

Shaking my head.

I didn't expect this. Me, all alone, no one to know what in the world I'm up to, no one to answer to...

It sang to me so beautifully.

I put my head against the door frame there in the bathroom and listened to it.

I thought of three or four people I should maybe call.

After about two minutes, I walked into the yard, opened the bottle, and pitched all of those tiny pills into the grass.

I am before you now, giving thanks to my maker for giving me strength right now, in my hour of need. I passed the test.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Hell in a handbasket

My kids won't eat biscuits if they are buttered. They want jelly only.

Yet they will eat butter straight out of those tiny tubs you get in restaurants.


I met a young man recently who talked to me about a Guns 'n' Roses song. I asked him what album it's on. "Album? It's just a G 'n' R track. I don't know."

Ah... this is life in the MP3 era.


He also called me "sir" repeatedly, which was equal parts disturbing and... appropriate. Dang.


Most of the young men I see today would be met by yours truly with a loaded firearm if they came to my house to pick up my daughter for a date.

"I have no problem going BACK to prison."

Heh heh.


Paramore? Is this really the name of a "punk" band??


I watched a young man in the parking lot by my office berating a young woman who clearly aimed to get in her car and drive off without him.

"Fine, I'ma just get anothuh one o' my hoes to come get me!" He yelled at her.

Let me just say that if you're really such a pimp, sir, you probably own your own car.


Another young man told me he has a hard time sitting through two Who songs in a row.

What?? Ack! Blasphemy.


But I actually don't mind Kanye West.


Good night.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Couple Notes About My Kids

Couple days ago THEGIRL invited me into her room for a private picnic.

I sat down and saw a pink plate covered with little girl stuff (hair ties, tiny toys, etc). A princess doll stood on either side of the plate.

I picked one up: "Who is this princess?"

"That's not a princess. That's your drink."

Ooooooh. The little things were all supposed to be food. Got it.

So she'd point out something and instruct me to "eat" it. The little pieces of styrofoam were celery.

"Yuck! I don't like celery!" I said.

I picked up one of the plastic bugs on the plate. "What's this?"

"That's a sandwich," she said.

"Oh, okay," I said, pretending to nibble. "What kind of sandwich is this?"

"A bug sandwich."


I picked up Wolfboy today, and he asked me what I know about French. Not much, I explained, though my great grandfather, Pierre Poursine, was a Frenchman.

I asked Wolfboy why.

He explained that there's a new kid in class who speaks only French. I asked if he's from France, or maybe an African country.

Wolfboy said he's African. He then told me that he wanted an English/French dictionary so he can talk to the new boy.

We went to the library tonight and checked one out.

I explained to him that this new boy, a second grader from across the globe, is about as far from home as anyone can imagine. He may come from a place where there's war, or where the government doesn't like him because of something like religion or tribal affiliation. I asked Wolfboy if he can imagine how strange this new place where no one really looks like him and no one speaks his language must seem to him.

I have never been prouder of my little boy, and I told him so.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Just a dash of this and a pinch of that

Good morning.

Rangers won 9-1 in their opener yesterday (which thankfully wasn't on the road for once). They lit up Cliff Lee pretty badly. I gather Lee looked awful in spring training as well. I imagine the Indians should be concerned about their Cy Young winner. Do I recall that he was 22-3 last season?


BB's current therapy: Death is this Communion by High on Fire.


I started my new group last night. I was supposed to start next week, but that got changed. That is, everyone was informed that it'd be changing except yours truly, who got the call only a few hours prior. But that's okay. This ain't my first rodeo.

It went well. I'm excited.


Work tends to be extremely busy lately. Our Refugee Services department makes steady referrals to us, so I'm often in the middle of some Food Stamps and/or Medicaid stuff with clients.


My work computer has died, so I've got my trusty, road-worn iBook here to get me by.


And... I wanted to say thank you. You know who you are.


Happy Tuesday.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Car Stuff Mostly

I slept with Wolfboy again last night. He elbowed me in the eye as he turned over, but he's not that big. It didn't hurt much.


We bought a car. I take some pride in being able to negotiate, given proper time and circumstances. Several things worked in our favor this time. For starters, we managed to turn our '98 Buick LeSabre into a $3000 down payment, and that helped. That thing was worth $500 maybe, and every time it went 100 yards I was thankful.

I'll spare you the whole story. We got an '07 Nissan Versa.

I don't have buyer's remorse, though I'm not particularly excited either. It's MOBB's car anyway. I'm happy for her.


Reading Whit's blog, I'm mighty doggone thankful, again, that the wreck wasn't worse. The suddenness of it all is what's really frightening. No time to react, no choice, nothing to do but stomp the brakes and hold on.


Ringo is currently chewing on a plastic hanger.

At least he's cute.


It's been another busy crazy, crazy busy week. I think about half of my friends are convinced I'm ignoring them, and the other half are just convinced I'm a jackass. I email them and get responses like "THERE you are!"

Driving to pick up THEGIRL last night, ostensibly to head up to Corinthe to buy a car, I got about a dozen texts from MOBB about the awful better biz bureau ranking the dealer we were about to see had. That was when texts from Whit about the wreck came in. Mix in a handful of random "What's up" stuff from friends and man, I just got overwhelmed.

We had a deal worked out to buy a used Civic for a great price from a Porsche dealership, but it fell through over a $500 fee.


Grubbs Nissan here in Bedford did right by us.


Baseball season starts a week from Monday.


Time to crash. Good night.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Here's What I Can Tell You

We thought, THOUGHT we knew where to look for a car, but discovered at the last minute that this place had an F rating with the Better Biz Bureau.

So we came home and had tilapia.


I worked the dealers against each other tonight, finally getting a deal from a place in Plano that made the place one city over shake their heads and surrender.


The place in Plano has no grade at all, but at least no F.


"Can I ask you a personal question?" asked my aunt.

Of course...


Friends ask me to counsel them, and I have to tell them no. "But I trust you!" they say.

I refer them out.

I refer out couples too.


I want to see a counselor. I want to talk about a few things.

I may just be the very worst type of client.


Being a counselor, by the way, is like having to be sober twice.


I'm in my comfortable pajama pants.


Wolfboy begs me to sleep with him, night after night. I often do. Tonight I will.


We have this big bag of oranges. Oranges? Tangerines? Clementines? Something. Small little orange fruits. Two of every three are sour, but that third one... wow.


I remember Brendon in the elevator, eating oranges out of a grocery bag before he even got back to his desk, big grin on his face: "Try one! They're SO sweet!"

He's in Uganda now.


"I am everywhere."


I genuinely like having Ringo around. We play. He gives me big belly laughs every day.


Whit wrecked his car. No... I gather some schmo darted out in front of him and wrecked it FOR him.

I'm glad the family is okay.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Decades ago I worked with this guy named Stephen. Tall, decent looking, ponytail, guitarist... He once told me that he thinks he feels the same way sober that most people feel while high.

I tried to get him to sell me some mushrooms, but we never got around to it.


I've got a whole lot of "friends" on here, though some aren't friends at all. Some are gyms or fighters or musicians or whomever.

One of those folks is a bigtime marijuana proponent, in spite of his accomplishments. Drives me nuts when he says stuff in his status like "I'm gonna smoke a bowl." I think I'm going to un-friend him.


Not that I never smoked grass. Last time: New Year's Eve, 1986.


But I've got a few "last" dates in my sordid history.

My last "last" date was in February of '04.

That's when THEGIRL was born. She's my little sobriety baby.


One of my friends has photos up right now, new ones, where she looks like she's doing shots.

Other friends have all of these drinking pictures.

I envy normal folks.


Your job, if you know someone in recovery, is to always keep a little disbelief in you. It's the best thing you can do for yourself and the addict you love.

Always, ALWAYS leave room for the possibility that they are not clean. Addicts are terrific liars. It's just part of it. It's self-disclosure. No I couldn't have told you the truth, and I'm hesitant to now even though you caught me red-handed... I couldn't admit how awful this is even to myself, so how could you expect me to admit it to you?

I've begun to realize lately that the longer I'm clean, the harder it is for me to lie. I guess I should be proud of that.


Once in a great while I get the question. A sleepy BB bears some resemblance to a stoned BB. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were on something."

Good. I mean... BAD. Bad to be the person who by all rights deserves this. But it's good to be questioned, because it means you care. And it's good that I'm telling the truth. Clean time becomes this precious thing after a while. The idea of blowing it becomes overwhelming.


My last drink was August 17, 1995. I stuck to the medicine cabinet for almost 9 years after that to get my thrills.

No one told me that I'd have drinking dreams after I gave up alcohol. No one told me about the dreams in which you casually toss a few back, then wake up with this horrible feeling: Dear God--I've wrecked it all, I've... wait... it was only a dream.

Ever had a dream in which you have some overpowering emotion, and it sticks with you the whole next day? This is also that type of dream.


I had that dream Saturday night. In the dream, I had a beer. It was no big deal.

I didn't wake up feeling bad about it. This is not foreshadowing, this is not drama. I just... knew it was a dream. I consider this to be an improvement.

No one can ever say they have this thing licked, okay, but I think I'm about as close as one can get. I just really don't think I could ever do it again.


At a Lutheran church many years ago, during communion I grabbed the wine instead of the juice. It was like having a siren go off in my head as soon as I tasted it. I calmly walked straight to the restroom, spat it in the sink, and washed out my mouth.


I'm going to be okay.

Happy Good Day

Okay, my dates were off... not sure what I called that last post "BELATED..."



Had a fine breakfast taco from the Fiesta this morning. Have I mentioned that I love it when Mexicans speak to me in Spanish first? It’s one of the perks of being just a little bit dark I guess. The server and I were on about equal footing language-wise. As I left, she said with a smile, “Happy good day!”


Ever watch batters getting ready to step into the batter’s box, as they take some practice swings? They often have this little weight called a “donut” on their bat. It gives resistance, prepares them for swinging hard. I guess the idea is that once the weight is off, the bat will feel lighter when they’re facing live pitching.

That’s what playing the Les Paul is like. It fights me. It resists me. I have to muscle it into sounding good, into giving me something. And if I go straight from the Les Paul to the Strat, the notes just fly out of my fingers.

I still want to put new pickups in the LP though.


We’re car shopping. From the back seat during a test drive the other day, Wolfboy asked, “Dad, what are these levers on the doors?”

“Son, this car doesn’t have power windows. Those are for rolling the windows up and down.”


My shoulder is very slowly getting better. But I walked out of session the other day and suddenly had bad pain in my knee. It lasted a few hours. As of yesterday afternoon, it felt great, like it had been miraculously cured.


Speaking of sessions, let me tell you that it’s absolutely great when clients start to get better. Do you realize that one of the main goals of counseling is to get fired? It’s a funny way of saying it I suppose, but yeah, we want clients to come in at some point and tell us that they’re done, because they don’t need us anymore.

And the client I saw last night is improving. This is an especially difficult case. There’s a lot of work to do yet, but it means the world to me that what we’ve been doing is helping.


The kids are in Corsicana this week, hanging with their grandparents. Do grandparents “hang”? I’ll pick them up Friday morning, and we’ll head to Willis, TX for our pseudo-camping trip. That is, we’ll be in a rent house by a lake. They consider this camping. Eh, who am I to burst their bubble?


So the house is mighty doggone quiet these days


The beard is coming back.


BB’s current therapy: “Poles Together” by Pugwash


My job requires a lot of travel, and I like that just fine. I’m headed to Glen Rose, Texas in a little while.


Happy good day, y’all.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Living, Dying, Surviving

Some concerned folks called my father today to ask him to check on his neighbor. The fact that the neighbor hadn’t put out his trash or let the dogs out was unusual.

Dad looked through the window and saw that the neighbor had died.

His passing was not unexpected, though Dad is sad nevertheless.

He was clear that this was not like the passing of his friend Mike a few years ago. That one devastated Dad. But Dad had always enjoyed his time with the neighbor, and will miss him.


Wolfboy was looking at a CD of mine tonight as we drove to the daycare to pick up THEGIRL. It’s the new Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.

He told me he wanted to hear the song “Survival Machine.”

I cued it up, then took a moment to explain to him that the song, as far as I can tell, is about forgiving Robert Oppenheimer. I went on to tell him what I could about the atomic bomb, and its terrible toll in Japan.

I explained that it’s the most powerful weapon ever used, and that the events of August, 1945 were so catastrophic that even though we have more powerful weapons today, we don’t use them.

The tears streamed down his face as he asked if the bombs had only killed soldiers, or if they’d killed families. He kept asking why we’d do something like that. I said that the USA felt like Japan did not intend to surrender, and that a demonstration of this nation’s ability to devastate them was the only way to force them to do so. He asked me why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and I told him what I could.

I also explained that, just like when he and his sister fight, there are two sides to every story, and that the Japanese certainly have their perspective on these events. I told him that one of my favorite people in the world is half-Japanese, and that those events had affected her family profoundly.

And as my boy sat there in the car, not caring in the least about the quarrels between nations, we hugged and cried about the people caught in the middle.


The lyrics:

“Survival Machine”

Oppenheimer’s refugees
The greatest minds that science could convene
Welcome home, hail to the chief
He swears his ends will justify your means

Now all you men of great renown
I need your smarts so gather ‘round
Right or wrong it’s our destiny

All I ask is that you try
You’d be saving so many lives
Go forth now invent our vaccine

Survival machine

Trinity in ‘45
The sum of all our fears now quite alive
So in the east a fireworks show
Just to prove at last that God does in fact take sides

A voice cheers through the telephone,
“Now I can bring our boys back home”
You just might have stopped World War Three

But this intellect can’t reconcile
How could our gifts become so vile
Come home lads you’ve set us all free

Bless survival machine

Late one lonely night my soul was given up to flight
A chance to see what happens when love gives way to self defense

Now don’t you worry
You are forgiven now

Come child take my hand
I’ll walk you through our ravaged land
You’ll breathe that fire into your lungs
And feel the heat of a thousand suns

Now don’t be sorry
You are forgiven now

Brothers, sisters pity me
I lost all sense of family
Was blinded by the victory signs
A hero’s welcome in my mind

We know you’re sorry
You are forgiven now

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunday Morning Weirdness and the BB Tour of Texas '09

Last Sunday morning, I found myself running TOWARDS a man with a gun, and not away.


Just... line up to call me an idiot. Fine.

We'd left church, and an armed man was running across the parking lot behind the next building. I hustled MOBB and the kids into her car, and they left.

Things got serious in a hurry.

But when everyone else was going elsewhere, I was going towards him. I was... primarily trying to confirm that I'd really seen that.

Anyway, the pastor and some other staffers finally got my attention, and I snapped to. I joined them in the church.

Within minutes Hurst cops showed up with assault rifles. It didn't take long to ascertain that this numbskull was holding a paintball gun, and not a real firearm.


Friday morning I went to see Whit in Katy, Texas. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, so I all but inhaled the Tex Mex plate at the joint where we met. Shortly thereafter we attended one of his SWAT meetings. It was good to see his staff and students, as always.

We spent the evening hanging out with his wife and son, who were preparing to leave for a cruise the next morning. Larry was out of town, doing some Krav stuff up in my neck of the woods, coincidentally. Sorry I missed you, amigo.

Saturday morning Whit taught Tai Chi, and I bumbled my way through. Right after that he taught Kung Fu. I REALLY bumbled my way through that. But then it was open mat time, so I pummeled a bag for a while.

We grabbed some Schlotzky's and headed over to the BJJ tournament. Whit's students Mike and Mark were competing. Neither won, though as I explained to Mark, he'd lasted three minutes down there. I'd have lasted about 10 seconds, so my hat is off to him.

Mike lasted the whole five minutes.

That evening we just took it easy. Homeboy actually fell asleep on the couch. He has a reputation for waking up like the ninjas are attacking, so this ninja decided NOT to put his hand in a bowl of warm water.

We watched UFC 95 on Spike, then called it an evening.


The next morning we went on a quest for breakfast, ending up with some fine breakfast tacos from the carniceria down the street. We said our goodbyes, and I hit the road for Austin.


The Doug was there to greet me as I arrived. We didn't light in the room for long; we were hankerin' for a good meal, so we hit Threadgills. I had some terrific fried oysters. Dad has always loved that place. It's where we had our graduation celebration back when I got my BS in '94.


We talked a lot, opening up about all manner of things. That was the whole purpose of this trip. I had questions, he had answers.

The next morning we went guitar shopping. I'm putting together a plan to buy an heirloom-quality instrument in the future. We started at Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas Music. I explained to Dad that this place is an Austin landmark, and that Ray knew Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Honestly, he had nothing that impressed me. Oh, the PRS CE 24 was easy on the hands, but the tone wasn't there. And that Peavey Tele-style was nicer than I expected, but... Dad was quick to point out that it's not my "Maserati."

See, I'd explained to him that all of my instruments are basically the equivalent of a Toyota Camry. Now, I'm making plans to eventually get a Maserati (Ferrari, whatever).


We ended up going to several places. I was a little disappointed in Strait Music, though the Billy Corgan Strat I played there was a pretty neat instrument. Still... it isn't the one.


At Musicmakers, a place that I really disliked back when I lived in Austin, I played a Gibson custom shop ES-336.

Our ears immediately perked up. It had a very musical, chiming, bell-like tone. Dad was quick to point out that it sounded far better than anything else I'd played all day.

He was right.

I went on to try a pretty Cherry red ES-335, and it was nice, but... no Maserati.


That evening we had two of the hottest tickets in town: Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel opening the 35th season of Austin City Limits.

The studio holds fewer people than it did back when I worked on the show. Capacity is 320 now, I believe. That's a rather exclusive audience.

I heard the Wheel many times back in the day, and they've never sounded sharper than this night.

And when Willie joined them, I have to say that it was pretty darned exciting. Together they did lots of hits, as well as a bunch of songs from their collaboration (the title of which I don’t currently know).

The band played for over two hours. We had a good time there listening to the music and visiting with Michael, Maria, and their father Bill. I saw several folks I knew from back in the day. On the way out I bought a nice ACL ballcap and a limited edition print to commemorate the show.

We didn’t hurry to get out of town the next day. We ate a bit, ran a couple errands, and finally said our goodbyes.

I hope we get to do it again someday. The trip went pretty perfectly.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It's pushing bedtime.

I'm home, after a good trip. I'm about half crazy from fatigue.

I should write about my travels in detail, I suppose, but for now, just know that I have terrific friends in Whit and Michael, and a terrific father in Doug.

Whit and I did martial arts stuff together, watched TV, and had some laughs. Some things never change.

Michael got Dad and me two of the hottest tickets in town.

Dad and I talked about everything under the sun. A lot of it was boy talk, and... some of it was magic.

We shopped for guitars, and also had the privilege of being two out of 320 people to watch a two hour and twenty minute Willie Nelson/Asleep at the Wheel concert at Austin City Limits.

I'm glad to be back. The trip was great.

I'm listening to the new Steven Wilson solo album, Insurgentes. It is... epic and sublime. It's what I wanted Radiohead to sound like.

If I fell asleep right NOW, I could get eight hours of rest.

Soon, but not quite yet. I just can't let go of this CD yet.

Y'all get some rest.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just a quick note

I'm in Katy, at Whit's house.

He's asleep on the couch. We've had a busy day!

We got up and went to his school, where I fumbled through a couple classes.

Then we hit the BJJ tournament, where two of his students performed admirably. I enjoyed being there.

And we're both kind of tuckered out. UFC 95 is on Spike tonight, and I think we'll just hang out and watch that. If he wakes up anytime soon.

Tomorrow I leave for Austin to hang out with the Doug (aka Dad).

Y'all take care.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday Mish Mash

MOBB is at a job interview right now.

She was laid off in August. She has searched diligently for a job ever since. I don't make just a ton of money, and her unemployment is about to run out.

It's time.

Please keep her in your thoughts.


Mornings... ugh. Just... kill me. This is my curse.


They taught us in grad school that among the possible hallucinations, the olfactory variety are typical of the most severe pathology.

As I brushed my teeth this morning, this overwhelming scent hit me.


That can't be right. It seemed to start right there. Being a guy, of course, I wondered what in the name of Ronald McDonald could be song wrong with the (heater, water heater, attic insulation, wiring...) that it would smell like THAT, and what potential disaster did this hint at?

I tried to ignore it.


A-Rod... you know, the guy never seemed sincere. Ever. And no, I don't believe that simply because he threw his Rangers teammates under the bus that he ONLY did steroids here. I mean, the pressure doesn't exactly relent when one joins the Yankees, you know?

Wolfboy, who is a rule follower, took the news well. "He's a YANKEE anyway."

Good kid.


Sitting on the couch this morning about a half hour ago, I smelled it again.

It's... Asian food?

The heater had just cycled. I tried to remember: Did the smell start when it ran? What dead critter smells like... sesame?

MOBB was dressing for her interview. I asked her, "What the @#$% is that SMELL?"

"It's ME."


Seems that during last week's massage (a gift from her dear friend Heather), the masseuse suggested rubbing sesame oil on the skin to soften it. And MOBB did exactly that this morning.

And she stores it under the bathroom sink.

"If you need to cook with it, there it is," she said.

Well, okay.


Former Rangers whose names have been associated with steroids: Jose Canseco, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Ruben Sierra, Randy Velarde, Sammy Sosa, Eric Gagne, Alex Rodriguez... I'm sure I'm forgetting some.


I must admit that I'm concerned that this morning's interviewer might wonder why my spouse smells like Pad Thai.

(She assures me she wiped it all off)


One can't make this stuff up, folks.


I'm pretty concerned about this balky shoulder of mine. I see the doc next week.


Y'all have a good one.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [to Igor] Now that brain that you gave me. Was it Hans Delbruck's?
Igor: [pause, then] No.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in?
Igor: Then you won't be angry?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby Someone.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby Normal.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Normal?
Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [chuckles, then] Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide GORILLA?
[grabs Igor and starts throttling him]
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Is that what you're telling me?

From the movie Young Frankenstein.Source: IMDB


What's normal?

Sorry. Is that word offensive? Not PC?

I just mean "typical." But really, the word that comes out of our lips more often than not is "normal."


What is it?

There's this thing that happens to counseling students as they read the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, aka the psych industry bible): They diagnose themselves.

They see that yes, they need to turn a light switch off three times just to be sure that the light is off. Or they rock in their seats. Or they have racing thoughts. And so on and so forth.

These students see something familiar there in the diagnostic criteria, and as soon as they clearly recognize one, well, one or more of the others might be there too.

Do I have delusions of grandeur? Well, I AM pretty bitchin'...My gosh, I have schizoaffective disorder!

[Note: I do not even remember if that's really a symptom of schizoaffective disorder. Heck, I'm not even sure I'm spelling that correctly. But just roll with me, will you?]


So what's the deal?

Let's look at it like this:

Behavior occurs along a continuum. It's a progression, if you will. At one far end is symptom-free, "normal" behavior. Ground zero.

At the other end is full-blown pathology, the type that's debilitating and extreme to the point that hospitalization is necessary.

Statistically speaking, not very many people are at that far-most, troublesome end of the continuum. That's a good thing.

But I'd venture to guess that there are far fewer at the symptom-free end. In fact, I'm about convinced that there are none.


The diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV are lists of behaviors.

Are you easily distracted?

Are you anxious for no reason?

Are you hypervigilant?

Do you struggle to get out of bed every morning?

These are all criteria used to establish diagnoses. I think that even the most normal among us have behaviors that are a step or two up the continuum. Does the fact that you hyperventilate when you fly in an airplane mean you need medicine? Yes? No? How about if you hyperventilate when your child plays with an airplane toy?


And thus far in my new counseling career, I've been something of a "normalizer." Ten years after the passing of your parent you still have crying spells at the holiday? I don't see this a pathological. Your husband or wife left with the kids and cleaned out the bank account? I'm not surprised that you can't sleep at night. I often point out my clients' normal behaviors.

But there can be a point at which the client's "normal" isn't normal at all. For example, someone with panic disorder is effectively reverting to fight/flight mode all the time. Primitive brain functions take over; the brain is hardwired to repeatedly put aside higher workings (logic, reason, abstract thought) and send out a distress call.

How does one complete their grocery trip if standing in the produce section triggers the very same reaction he or she would have if the building had caught fire?

Do you think that telling this person to calm down will be particularly helpful?

Yet a person with such a disorder goes through life like this. "Distress" is a key word that appears in many diagnoses. Behaviors are often quirky or even charming... until they cause distress.


We are all at least a little bit crazy.


I'll be back soon.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Got them insomniac blues

I've been up since around 4am. Racing thoughts. I had to just give up and get up.


So I made myself a pot of coffee. When MOBB came out to check on me, I was startled and brandished a tablespoon at her.


Spork is one very funny word.


Something parenting has taught me: A princess does NOT eat bread crusts. However, if big brother is being a pain in the rumpus, a princess WILL kick him in the jewels.


I'm in the process of declaring a truce with my Les Paul. I still put it down shaking my head a lot, but I've discovered that playing it loudly does give it some character.


I watched the Superbowl. I'm not sure why.

Bruce was good though.


I'm deeply disappointed in Michael Phelps.


I've been clean and sober for years.

Substances I have used to cop a buzz:

Sleeping pills
Amyl nitrite
Primatene tablets
Cough syrup
Skelaxin and other muscle relaxants

...and more. I was slipped things here and there for which I never had names. I once drank a bottle of cooking sherry. I'm amazed the salt content didn't kill me.


Compared to some clients I've seen, I was extremely lightweight.


We do not own cats. Cats own us. Ringo is in bed with THEGIRL right now, just like he is every night. I've given up on opening the door to see if he wants out. He just stares at me like I'm a fool.


These days I feel as plain as unbuttered toast.


We don't have anything I really want for breakfast. I think I'll stop into the Fiesta store by the office and get a breakfast taco.

(BB's blog: where readers get the hard-hitting facts)


Bailing out. Happy Monday.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 More Random Things About BB

(Because admit it: You can never get enough BB)

1. If I started a band today, I'd name it "Diabolical."

2. Whit's mother, Mary, will always be "Mother Mary" in "Let It Be" to me.

3. I saw a brutal fist fight at a Rush concert once. The first punch went right past my face.

4. I think Myspace is really boring in comparison to Facebook.

5. I like bananas just a bit on the brown and spotty side.

6. I used to have a million concert shirts, but not anymore. Now I just have a Mance Lipscomb/Navasota Blues Fest shirt. MOBB's old Replacements/All Shook Down shirt is in my closet too.

7. Someday I'd like to have some custom cowboy boots made.

8. My right leg is a bit shorter than my left. I wear a shoe insert to correct this, but I'm starting to wonder why it matters.

9. I didn't touch a guitar for two years after my daughter was born.

10. One time while working at a recording studio, I walked in on an engineer and a client in the middle of a "side project." She screamed when she saw me. I just said, "Good night!" and left. No one ever said a thing about it to me.

11. In November of 1990, I watched an orange fireball blaze across the Austin sky.

12. I have seen a UFO, God help me.

13. If I could make a detailed list of reasons I'd never commit suicide, I promise you that somewhere on that list would be "because I want to be around to hear new music."

14. One time I thought Gary Busey was going to take a swing at me.

15. The first CD I ever bought was Led Zeppelin IV. I wanted Rush's Moving Pictures, but Wal Mart didn't have it.

16. My first concert, technically, was Kenny Rogers. He played at a rodeo I attended as a kid.

17. I was at a solo Britt Daniel (Spoon) show one night when someone yelled something like "you suck!" He rushed out into the crowd, wanting to fight whoever had said it. We all just laughed. He DID suck.

18. I once worked security for Jesus Jones.

19. Lou Ann Barton gave me the "heeeeeeey!" sultry greeting in a video store one morning. It made me need a really hot shower. Blech.

20. Some hands I've shaken: Jackie Chan, Willie Nelson, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins. Chan only offered me his left.

21. My kids must have a couple hundred movies. Maybe more. Therefore, I don't feel bad about secretly throwing away "The Teddy Ruxpin Movie." It was just about the worst thing I've ever seen, and folks, I'm a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan.

22. I think that when playing a solo, any note on the neck is potentially useful in any key.

23. A big piece of my heart is in New Orleans.

24. On the one hand, I don't much care for it when metal players do finger tapping stuff. One the other hand (are you snickering by now?), Stanley Jordan is absolutely incredible.

25. Jackie Chan's security kicked me out of the store where I met him for trying to snap a photo of him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On the PRS

[From an email I sent to Toland]

I put my first toe in the water today, finally putting my hands on a pricey guitar. I was in Weatherford on business, and they have a shop there called Craig's. It's where I bought my acoustic. They're PRS dealers too.

I only had a few minutes, as a coworker had driven, and our shift was over. Didn't want to keep her waiting. I put my hands on a Chris Henderson model. It's a single cutaway Les Paul type.

The good: Big crunch. They have an amp just like mine there. I dialed in a familiar setting, and it drove the amp better than mine. The tone was kind of generic, but maybe I could have tweaked that out with EQ.

The bird inlays on the fretboard really are quite beautiful. The workmanship looked very good, and I liked the color.

The bad: One tone knob seemed messed up; it turned like it had no... resistance at all. The other knobs all acted normal, whereas this one felt... broken. And I'm sorry, but I don't like recessed knobs. I felt like I had to work harder to access them.

Their famous "wide fat" neck felt kind of unwieldy in my hands. Maybe a guy with big hands like yours would like it, but it was a wee bit cumbersome to navigate. And for whatever reason, I didn't feel like my bends sang the way they should. I'd bend up, and the note would just die.

AND the A string vibrated in this strange, very wide, buzzy arc. Now, this instrument has 3 humbuckers, and a big magnetic field like that will jack with strings' vibration. Still... this is a $2600 (street price) instrument. You'd think that if they're bothering to make such an instrument, they'd have a common problem like this one licked, you know?

So the verdict thus far on PRS is a big fat "overrated." Granted, I only spent five minutes with it, but I now wish I'd spent my five minutes with the black Gibson ES-335 up on the wall...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice Ice, BB

Well, we're iced in here. That includes the kids. Suddenly I'd like to go back to work so I can rest up.


I've pre-ordered my copy of Roger Joseph Manning's Catnip Dynamite CD, which was available in Japan for so long.

You should do the same.

AND, Manning should tell his buddy Jason Falkner to release the Japan-only I'm OK You're OK here too.


Yeah, so last night I got around to changing the burned-out bulb in the oven. As with most of my little projects, I made it harder than it needed to be. I took out the whole fixture instead of just taking off the cover. Hey, it was hard to see in there.

Wolfboy was holding the flashlight for me. As I struggled to replace the wire that holds the cover, I jerked the fixture by accident.

The result: sparks, and a puff of smoke.

Wolfboy took a deep breath before yelling to the whole house:

"THAT... WAS... AWESOME!!! Blue sparks and smoke!"

Glad I could amuse you, kid.


I have also pre-ordered my copy of the new Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) solo album, Insurgentes.

It comes with a CD, a DVDA (which I assume is a 5.1 mix of the CD--THAT would be cool), and an autographed jewel case booklet.

Get yours.

I love you, Newbury Comics. Will you marry me?


Repeat after me: Texas wants Ben Sheets.


Speaking of 5.1 mixes, my friend Ken Baum has been ripping me some lately. Beatles, Chicago, REM... he got me the two-CD Fragile (Nine Inch Nails), and you know, I have no idea when I'll get to hear it, as it'll only play in my DVD player. MOBB won't sit through that. I guess I can't blame her.


I have just been going non-stop lately. I've been in several trainings for work. When I'm home, I'm doing counseling stuff. I'm up to five clients now. It makes BB a busy boy.


The new Krav Maga school opens here in Hurst on February 3. Cool.


My February "boys only" tour of Texas is shaping up nicely. First, on February 20 I'll head to Katy, Texas to hang out with Whit and his JMMA crew. I expect to show off my mad new Krav skillz.

On Sunday the 22nd I'll head to Austin to hang out with the Doug for a few days. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed: There's a decent chance we'll get to attend a Willie Nelson/Asleep at the Wheel taping of Austin City Limits.


Well, I've got some important sitting around to do. Y'all take care.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The BB Protein Shake

In summer of '07, I was in good shape. I almost had pecs, almost had biceps. I was almost comfortable shirtless.

Life intervened. The shirt went back on.

I haven't ever descended into total sloth, at least. Any given time I've needed to work out or exert myself I've gotten by.

Now, I want it back. As my busy schedule allows, I am getting back into Krav. I joined the new school. I'm doing my pushups too. I want it back.

It's hard for me to get enough protein. I'm not a big meat eater, so it's a struggle.

Here's the protein shake I've been enjoying lately. THEGIRL helped me make one a few minutes ago:

3 scoops of Genisoy protein powder
12 ounces of 2% organic milk
4 tablespoons of peanut butter
About a teaspoon of honey

Blend. That's slightly more than 50 grams of protein, and it tastes great. Genisoy doesn't sweeten their powder as far as I can tell. I don't recognize all of the ingredients, but I don't think any of them are sweeteners. That works well, as it lacks that odd zing with which so many other powders make you deal.

Sometimes I'll drop in a banana for a few more calories, maybe as a breakfast drink. Then the honey isn't necessary.

THEGIRL loves it. Wolfboy doesn't care for it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Wrapup

Did you know that the U2 song "Pride (In the Name of Love)" contains a historical inaccuracy? The lyric is, "Early morning, April 4... shot rings out in the Memphis sky" (as we all know).

But Dr. King was assassinated in the evening. That was about four months before I was born.


I try to stay out of political discussions. I have my own opinions, but I don't enjoy the sort of heated debate that comes with politics.

I'm going to throw this out there, considering the importance of this particular time.

I voted for Obama.

I respect the office of the president. When Clinton was in office, I was appalled at the name-calling.

I happen to think that George W. Bush was an absolutely terrible president. I won't stoop to calling him names, or joining the "chuck a shoe at the president" group (or whatever that little online group is called).

He may have done us one of our greatest favors though. I mean this with all seriousness.

He set the bar so unbelievably low that there simply was no way another conservative was going to be elected. He made possible the election of an African-American president. Mr. Bush fumbled so badly that even this nation so prejudiced managed to elect a Black man.

I like Obama. I think he's smart and charismatic. I hope he's not one who is big on ideas and talk without delivering though.

I am cautiously optimistic.


So yeah, I've hauled my antiquated fanny back to Krav. Well, to a different Krav school. I am just starting over, effectively, and that's fine. I trained so infrequently in the last year that I need to do this. On some stuff I get by just fine, and on other stuff the rust shows.

I work out in these great KM BDU pants that Whit got me. They're sturdy, roomy, and they look good. Oh, and they're comfortable.

But I learned that all the physical activity loosens them up just a bit in the waist. I hit the Army/Navy store to get a little cloth belt for them.

On a rack in the back were some boys' pants. Lo and behold, I found a pair of olive drab BDUs in Wolfboy's size. They're identical in construction to my KM pants. They're even the same brand. They FIT him nicely, and they were only $4.99.

Score one for BB.


We did a lot of cleaning today. I moved the surround speakers like I've wanted to for so long. They'd been positioned right behind the couch since the days when we had a woefully underpowered amplifier. Once we upgraded, though, they needed to be positioned properly.

You know, they sound a lot better than I expected in the new positions. I came home from KM and MOBB was watching some Spanish-language movie, and running the sound through the stereo because she liked it.


And now a nice Spock's Beard song for you.

Have a great week.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Don't Mind

The amazing Jason Falkner, doing "I Don't Mind" from his Japanese-only release I'm OK You're OK.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Am Iron Dad

It's Friday night, and MOBB is watching Iron Man.

This movie is so flippin' great.

And I'm ready for an Avengers movie. I mean, we've already seen Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Storm, and Wolverine on the big screen. How hard would it be to write Captain America into an Avengers script?

And you know... why hasn't Cap's costume ever changed?


I bought some wrestling shoes tonight.


The head of the school of social work at Tarleton asked me to give a lecture this semester.

Do you have any idea how pumped I am to do this?


I have no particular plans this weekend.


I've been listening to a lot of Spock's Beard lately. Snow is one terrific CD.


I've been thinking about our home state lately.

The machine at the hotel made Texas-shaped waffles. Tell me: If you're from, say, some rectangular-shaped state like Kansas or North Dakota, do the hotel waffle irons there make rectangular waffles?

I think I'll cogitate on this one a while, see if there's a real post to be had.


An excellent point made at the conference yesterday:

Immigration from Mexico is a concern. Whether you want open borders, fewer immigrants, more immigrants, tougher laws, more flexible laws... everyone has an opinion about it.

What happens when and if Mexico genuinely becomes a failed state, and suddenly those immigrants are refugees, fleeing north with only what they can carry? How do we respond when they are gathered at the border?


Y'all have a great weekend.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Random Facts About BB

I had a nightmare about a hedgehog this week.

I also had a nightmare that terrorists stole my French fries.

I fell into our big, curbside trash can. Really.

I think I have a texting-related injury. Again, really.

I’m going to Stephenville tomorrow.

There’s a nice-smelling candle in my study now. I want it to always smell like that in there.

I received a form letter from director Robert Rodriguez last week.

My pinky hurts.

I’ve started listening to Dock Boggs again.

I play some sort of video game called Super Mario Brothers Smash Melee (or something like that) with Wolfboy. I almost never beat him. He encourages me nevertheless.

I heard a Motorhead song from the Spongebob Movie soundtrack today. Jeez, is NO ONE unavailable for the right price?

Monday, January 12, 2009


I have enrolled at a new Krav Maga school. It's based in Saginaw, though they've begun to teach in a karate school very close to my house. I had terrific times at the old school, and I'm sad to see it go.

This is an IKMF (International Krav Maga Federation) school, whereas the other was a KMWW (Krav Maga Worldwide) school. Pretty much the same stuff, just taught out of two different organizations.

I'm excited. The instructors are well-qualified, the location is good, and the tuition is reasonable. If you live near the mid-cities or Saginaw and are interested, I'd certainly recommend checking it out.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Galveston Struggles on in Hurricane Ike's Aftermath

Thanks to Bruiser for pointing me to this terrific video, set to "Blackbird Fields" by one of my favorite bands, Varnaline.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Disease Model of Addiction: A Polemic

I'm going to take this opportunity to express an opinion that, while not inappropriate, really can't be expressed in a professional context.

See, the most popular approach to conceptualizing addiction is the disease model. And I start off by saying that I respect this concept. It is a good thing.

Why? Because it lends the proper perspective to it all. It's a viewfinder through which one can properly see the scope of what lies before them.

If a family system is no longer able to function, the fact that they rail against the "disease" that's doing this to them is useful. They understand it, and it doesn't presuppose that addiction is wholly a moral failure. It nods to the biology at work.

It's the model supposedly embraced by AA, a widely-respected organization. Substance Abuse Counseling (Lewis, Dana, & Blevins) writes, "The disease model was first conceptualized by Jellinek (1960)."

But the "Doctor's Opinion" portion of the preface to the first edition of the AA "Big Book," published in 1939, states:

It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us. But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete."

It seems that AA, by soliciting the opinion of medical experts who espoused a disease model, chose to abandon the facets of addiction that they had originally accepted. They appeared to be pushing for a disease model decades prior to Jellinek.


Some of the tenets of the disease model:

*Alcohol- and drug-dependent people have physical cravings that can be irresistible.

*They lose control over drinking and drug use.

*The condition is progressive and irreversible.

"Many adherents of the disease concept view all slips as relapses, and a client's slip is thought to obviate prior success." (Lewis, et al). That is, a person who has been sober for a period of time has to "start over" if he or she ever drinks or uses again. The prior clean time has, in accordance with the model's "all or nothing" assumptions, been in vain.

The disease model also does not account for the phenomenon of spontaneous recovery. Sometimes addicts quit successfully, with no particular intervention or medical assistance. I would venture to say that there is little in a progressive disease that is analogous to this behavior.

And sometimes addiction does not progress like a disease. Substance use/abuse occurs on a continuum, with non-problematic users at one far end and problematic, physically dependent users at the other. Many people who abuse alcohol do not worsen to the point of their demise.

(Nor do they improve to the point of complete sobriety)


I am a proponent of the biopsychosocial model. Let's break this down:

BIO, as in biological, refers to elements of addiction found in the disease model. It can be a deep physical need. Withdrawal from alcohol, for example, is potentially lethal, as it can cause grand mal seizures.

There is a genetic component. A child with an addict parent has a 50% chance of becoming an addict herself.

[Question: How would you, as a parent, react if a genetic test could tell you that the child you have conceived carries an addictive gene?]

The need for drugs or alcohol can become hard-wired into the brain. We all share some basic brain parts with other, simpler creatures. Our primitive or "lizard" brain structures are the ones that control basic things like regulation of heartbeat and respiration, fight or flight (and other) instincts, all that. So if a person has spent years dealing with anger, which is considered to be an offshoot of the basic emotion fear, by drinking, the need for this chemical becomes imperative. Those old brain areas, which typically would be flooded with endogenous (neuro)chemicals during such times of stress, become trained to expect the foreign chemical as well.

The brain is essentially screaming for alcohol.


PSYCHO is psychological. There is no magic here. This is when the substance is used as a response to some emotional stimulus. Use is a coping mechanism. The person who dealt with anger by drinking was initially drinking for psychological reasons. Only by pounding the brain with this chemical repeatedly does the biological need develop.

Typically, the brain will have some means for responding to anxiety or fear or other emotions. The unpleasant nature of the response, such as tremors, is sometimes coped with through substance use. How many of our heroes of old war films dealt with a troubled conscience with marijuana or bourbon?


SOCIAL is the point at which others' behaviors can affect what happens to the addict.

If someone has cancer that is in remission, their health is not jeopardized by socializing with someone who has active cancer. The same cannot be said to be true for addicts. An addict in recovery can relapse simply as a result of socializing with people who use.


For years, addicts were thought to be morally deficient people who could be saved if they would simply acknowledge and change their sinful ways. Well, in reality no matter what they acknowledge, addicts can't just stop. That is addiction--the inability to stop, no matter what. Addicts know every consequence of their addiction: lost jobs, screwed-up relationships, squandered money, betrayed relatives, and so on. But they can't help their behavior. Dr. Drew Pinsky, Cracked.


In substance abuse treatment centers, patients are currently given dual diagnoses. The idea is that addiction does not occur in a vacuum; it is comorbid with emotional disorders. The patient is perhaps disagnosed with opioid dependence and depression, for example.

There are over 100 pages devoted to substance abuse disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV. Surely in the coming years and decades we will look back on even this time as somehow missing the mark regarding addiction. I do believe, however, that whatever we uncover in our quest, we will be better served if we can find some way to more accurately conceptualize addiction.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I Went to Entmoot and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

It's Saturday night, and I'm here, enjoying the quiet.


New Year's Eve was wholly uneventful.

New Year's Day went as planned, pretty much. I hunkered down and spent about 10 hours watching the Lord of the Rings DVDs.

A few thoughts:

I love how it plays almost like an alternate British history. It just has that "this could be true" feel to it (dorky, I know). And watching this reminded me that if I am going to invest myself in a fantasy movie, for whatever reason I enjoy one that doesn't rush to create this "other" world. It might explain my fondness for Legend as well.

The lighting was terrific.

The music was too. Did this win anything for music? Wow.

Entmoot sounds like it should be a music festival.

And the shots all LOOKED good. Nothing that looked low-budget. I watch a lot of bad movies, and in those you can see just how a limited budget can hinder things.

Great casting.


True, by the third DVD my attention was waning a bit.


Lately I've been enjoying listening to old Stax/Volt stuff.


I got a haircut today, and did the leaves in the front yard.


Things are shakin' on the martial arts front. More info as I get it, but it looks like I'll be getting back to regular training soon. I can't wait!


Been listening to a ton of Guy Clark too (thank you again, Toland). I should just up and learn about everything the man has ever written, I do believe.


My father and I are tossing around the idea of taking a trip together, but we can't seem to figure out WHERE exactly.

We have ruled out Mexico.


This is meandering, and I thought more would occur to me. Y'all take care, and I'll take another stab at this soon enough.