Just two videos for fun this week: Star Trek and Jordan Reyne

Note: In 2021, I’m blogging once a week, typically on weekends, but I’m more or less skipping this week (Sunday Jun 27 through Saturday July 3) due to travel. This entry, something of a placeholder, is number 26 of 52. We’re halfway through the year! So far, counting today’s non-entry entry as a missed post, I’ve missed only 3 posts in 2021. That means halfway through 2021, I’ve posted to my blog 23 times so far this year!

The idyllic, colorful photo shows a hill with bushes and trees. In the distance are more hills/mountains with trees, and above is a blue sky with white clouds
Photo by me, 23 June ’21, from Mt Emily Recreation Area, NE Oregon

I’m travelling this weekend, so I’ll get back to blog-posting in earnest next weekend. In the meantime, I’ll leave any readers out there with two videos.

First is the 34-second TV promo from the 1990s for a Season 3 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Hollow Pursuits.” So far, of Star Trek — I grew up in a Star Wars household, so I didn’t watch the better franchise until recently — I’ve completed The Original Series, The Animated Series, the first five movies, and the first three seasons of The Next Generation, and besides the wonderful fourth movie The Voyage Home (better known as the one with the whales), “Hollow Pursuits” is my favorite Star Trek story. I think the episode, which introduces the Lt. Barclay character, is amazing, but you wouldn’t know it from the hilariously ridiculous promo clip, which focuses on things other than the thought-provoking and empathy-generating story. Which I’ll admit, plot-wise, is over the top, in that so-bad-it’s-good campy way. Don’t be fooled by the goofy promo clip! Watch the actual episode someday, especially if you’re interested in mental health topics. It says a lot about psychosis and recovery: just replace the external, computer-created Holodeck room with a holodeck of extreme fantasy/delusion/escape inside a person’s head, but in either case keep the important help of social support and meaningful work.

“She’s accelerating out of control!”

Second is the music video, about five and a half minutes long, for the song “Johnny & the Sea” by one of my favorite musicians working today, Jordan Reyne. Here’s her Wikipedia entry. I could have picked any number of her songs, but while I was travelling through eastern Washington state and Northeast Oregon recently, “Johnny & the Sea” repeatedly came to my mind. I like her lyric lines “It’s through nausea and fear that we come to know how we are made” and “You forget how to swim once your life doesn’t throw you too far.” If you like the song, I recommend checking out the rest of her music, for instance the whole album that has “Johnny & the Sea” as its opening track, 2012’s Children of a Factory Nation. I love so many of the songs on that disc (to use an outdated term), but if you’re in a hurry, maybe check out “Wait (I Run Too Slow).” Or, for a more recent song of hers, listen to 2017’s “Birth Ritual.” What sticks out to me in her music are her vocals, her lyrics, her compositional style, and how well she plays her acoustic guitar (idk how she manages to get that bright percussive attack sound!). So yeah, everything about her music :-) She is her own person with her own unique style.

“none of these is as intimate with Earth as those who live on, live with, breathe and drift in its seas” — Theodore Sturgeon

Maybe I should someday post to my blog reviews of Star Trek, and more reviews of music…

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Just two videos for fun this week: Star Trek and Jordan Reyne, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2021/07/02/two-forfun-videos-startrek-jordanreyne/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest reading this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post one on one? Email me: dal@riseup.net.

Running as exploration and adventure

Note: In 2021 I’m going to publish at least one blog post per week, on Wednesdays. Last year I didn’t quite make it, but this year I will. This is entry 1 of 52.

Note: The off topic photos of salad bowls are here to update readers familiar with the post where I introduced that regular meal of mine. Here’s how the dish is getting made these days. I introduced this salad for my first post of 2020, so I think it’s fitting to bring the bowl back for the beginning of 2021. The images show the salad bowl that was made adjacent to mine a few days ago by someone who really knows what she’s doing; hers was much more visually appealing; my meal, with ingredients strewn together haphazardly, simply disappeared into my happy stomach unphotographed.

A chalkboard at a gym reads: Exercise is a celebration of what you can do, not a punishment for what you ate.
Great message for an indoor gym; but, time to step outside

I used to go to the gym regularly and run on the treadmill with a portable MP3 player keeping me company. COVID-19 nixed the gym habit, and rain nixed my little music device. Now I’ve learned to pound pavement hearing the various songs of the outdoors, something I’d wanted to try for a long timebut did not have the strength of self to dare do.

Jogging without headphones places me much more in touch with the environment. Every little sound that comes my way reminds me I’m an animal taking part in a very physical world. It’s like camping, but each and every day. Usually, at least in the WEIRD world (Western Educated Individualistic Rich Democratic), the car and the cubicle lock adults into a zombie state; they forget, for instance, that their vehicle is thousands of pounds of metal hurling down the highway thanks to explosions, and treat the ride as a no-thought-required luxury cruise where they can eat and scroll their phone. Humans: from hunters persistently chasing prey to hunching over glowing screens with backaches and, above all else, predictable, safe, risk-free routines that keep them infantilized. It’s easy to understand how the treadmill fits in here: the runner watches another titillating screen, wears isolating headphones, and times the run on the machine’s complicated computer. Its flashing lights replace the jog in nature with something as scientifically managed, rigorous, and efficient as an assembly line. You don’t even go from a Point A to a Point B.

A well-known image which shows an amusing take on human evolutio. At the left, a monkey walking with four limbs on the floor. By the time evolution reaches the midpoint, it's a man standing with a spear and good posture. By the time evolution reaches the far right of the image, the man is hunched over again like the monkey,  two limbs on the floor and two limbs on a computer keyboard.
Makes me think of the Alexander Technique

Since I’ve been running outdoors with no headphones for a month or so, what other differences have I noticed? It’s amazing how much you learn about your surroundings when daily you run around them, any which way, not necessarily sticking to a planned course. Think of all the things that might be going on in your town that you don’t know about. Just today I saw that Seattle, whichever government department it was, placed a sign threatening a shockingly steep $1,500 penalty for anyone dumping waste in a cul-de-sac near me. For years I’ve seen sofas, scrap metal, chairs, and other junk dumped there, and now the story continues with escalating stakes and conflict between the cost-saving polluters and the neatnik authorities. What will happen next? It’s a miniature story right outside my doorstep.

Salad bowl as described in caption.
Incomplete salad bowl, so far with spinach, kale, red cabbage, and cucumber

At that cul-de-sac, there’s a somewhat rickety and certainly steep staircase climbing a hill; by the top, a wood fort stands, like one that might stand in a backyard for kids to play in. Whenever I run past it, I wonder what its function is, who built it, what its story is. Once you’re on the other side of the hill, it’s possible to walk a little bit and then take a trail circling around to, from another direction, the base of the staircase. Bigger infrastructure nearby inspires wonder too. I live by the “Low Bridge,” also known as the Spokane bridge, where the Duwamish River empties into Elliott Bay. (So come at me, bro!) When I was in zombie mode in my car, heavy metal blasting, I’d just assume the Spokane bridge was a drawbridge, even though I’d never seen it raise up to let ships through. It has a sidewalk for pedestrians, so nowadays I run across, a friend of the bridge, so to speak, getting to know it a little bit more each time. One day, before I could progress far across the bridge, a guard rail along its sidewalk came down and stopped me in my tracks. Next to me, vehicles were also stopped by a separate guard rail. Then the bridge very slowly swung in horizontal arcs to let the boat through. Finally it arced back together into one piece. Who controls all this? Does the bridge have a mind of its own? There’s a creepy tower by it that I can see from my apartmentperhaps the bridge boss is therein?

The West Seattle High Rise, the Low Bridge aka the Spokane bridge, and the mysterious guard tower
Scary tower + 2 bridges

My friends and I joke about this tower, because it looks straight out of some paranoiac novel. A different day, I was running across the bridge and happened to see a man come out of the top of the tower, the little room up there, onto the tower’s balcony area to gaze around the cityscape. I don’t know if he was satisfied or dissatisfied with what he saw, but he quickly vanished back into his lair. What’s his story? He some kind of wizard? What’s the tale of this tower? None of that does the driver typically see or think about, too busy zooming past while stressing over traffic. The treadmill gerbil in the gym definitely doesn’t take in all these unusual experiences either. Think of the multitudes of buildings you drive past routinely, the architectures and plants unobserved, the mysteries of who owns them and what they are doing with that ownership unbeknownst to you. Yet running outside, you feel part of the same highly active, physical world as the buildings (as opposed to a cerebral or deadened world), and might be inspired to research a particular structure you encountered next time you come to a computer.

There are plenty of other fascinating surroundings I’ve checked out since switching to jogging outdoors. To get certain places, it behooves me to run alongside train tracks. The gravel beneath my shoes there is so uneven that in spots, I have to really pay attention, which makes the exercise almost like a hike. These days I know that the trains near my neighborhood are usually the BNSF company’s; when did I ever notice and think about things like that before? I didn’t, just a drone on the unchanging treadmill. I’m grateful for my current newfound ability to run, listening, through grassy parks, down dirt paths following the Duwamish River, as close to the Seattle shipping terminals as their defenses will allow (Hi Homeland Security!), on sidewalk trails to their ends and then continuing alongside long streets leading into downtown, scrutinizing as I pass by the shops and other buildings I never knew were there. It’s like being an adventurous kid, exploring on a bicycle.

Salad bowl as the caption states.
Added avocado, sesame seeds, and edamame.

Why didn’t I do this before? Seattle is a gorgeous city with plenty of walkable (and runnable) paths, whereas North Texas, where I’m from, consists of unappealing corporate parks, car dealerships, tract houses, and strip malls. But it’s much more than that. A person has to have a sufficient measure of strength to hurl themselves, panting hard, through the cold pouring rain and dark, down paths that aren’t yet paths. Where no one has planned for someone to run, where the person is creating the trail beneath their sneakers as they go, creating the idea. It requires engagement and participation with the world with all its detailswatch your step on the uneven gravel! look that building up when you get home!instead of withdrawing, giving up, and hiding in bed with unhealthy but comfortable habits, often grandiosely reassuring oneself falsely that one is achieving greatly.

I’d better get to bed. Getting up before dawn to run somewhere that’s just miles from my door, and I’ve never even been there before!

Complete with dressing and quinoa cooked in turmeric, ginger, and coconut milk

p.s. If you like the thoughts in this post, you might enjoy the videos of the vlogger shiey, aka illegal freedom. The artistic videos, a type of travel journal, show off his athletic, even daredevil, exploits exploring urban jungles, particularly restricted areas.

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Running as exploration and adventure, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: https://douglaslucas.com/blog/2021/01/06/exercise-exploration-adventure/. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Seattle Food Not Bombs sharing report: 25 March 2018: Happy Defectors

This evening at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square, the Seattle chapter of the worldwide Food Not Bombs movement once more shared, with homeless individuals and others and ourselves, donated food.

Free soup

40-plus aid recipients enjoyed hot soup for no cost. The vegan, glutenfree meal contained cauliflower, carrots, beans, and more — perfectly good food that otherwise would have been thrown out by the donor restaurant. Guiding this action was the principle that quality food is a human right.

Four volunteers had lots of fun implementing a better world. Two guys, two gals. We played guitar, sang, danced. Some discussed the possibility of going train hopping in the near future. Others petted the leashed cat a passerby randomly brought. Each week, creating a Food Not Bombs reality is probably my happiest time.

Various aid recipients seemed really happy as well, especially when talking a bit. One guy said he might go to New Mexico soon, or Louisiana (he wasn’t sure), by bus I guess. Another told us the warmer weather was cheering them up. It seems when people have little, the food tastes better, ordinary things matter more.

The sign

Lots of people are still lodged in the bombs life, wherein they’d much rather gaze upward at the death-dealing leaders to pick one of them to promote in their rivalrous battles with each other, but to those people I’d like to say, there’s still time for you to do something different. Find a Food Not Bombs chapter in your area or start one. Defect from bombs and make good food a human right!

Creative Commons License

Seattle Food Not Bombs sharing report: 25 March 2018: Happy Defectors by Douglas Lucas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It does not affect your fair use rights or my moral rights. You can view the full license (the legalese) here; you can view a human-readable summary of it here. To learn more about Creative Commons, read this article. License based on a work at www.douglaslucas.com. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license? Email me: dal@riseup.net.

Two surprising statements at Washington’s March 2018 Behavioral Health Advisory Council reveal dehumanization of the vulnerable, show need for solutions

This agency oversees the Council

Last week at the March 7, 2018 meeting just outside Olympia, two surprising statements were made that showed how dehumanization of the vulnerable is normalized within this body of the Washington state government. One was by a DMHP (designated mental health professional) for King and Pierce counties, Robert aka Robbie Pellett; the other by Dr. Caleb J. Banta-Green of the University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute. Especially as this Council engages with mental health and substance abuse block grants that affect the lives of vulnerable human beings in the Pacific Northwest, the disregard revealed by the two statements should elicit urgent concern that leads to tangible action.

Input from the success stories? “I don’t know.”

The first surprising statement came from Pellett when he was presenting about the changes going into effect on the first of next month for “Ricky’s Law,” the involuntary treatment act for substance use disorders. According to a Department of Social & Health Services flyer passed out at the Council meeting, “Involuntary treatment for substance use disorders had been historically a planned admission process with a court order. As of April 1, 2018, designated crisis responders will be able to immediately detain a person who meets the criteria for involuntry treatment due to a substance use disorder to a secure withdrawal management and stabilization facility, if there is space available.” Pellett addressed councilmember questions — such as, how will first responders distinguish between an individual in crisis due to substance use and an individual in crisis due to (so-called) mental illness — and I, attending the Council as a member of the public, had a good opportunity to ask him a question myself.

I asked Pellett, “What input on this involuntary treatment act change has been heard from individuals who have overcome substance use disorder?” and he said, “I don’t know.” This Council meeting wasn’t the first time Pellett has presented on the upcoming change to Ricky’s Law, so I think it’s safe to say he should know the answer to the question (and if not, why not?) — and that the answer may well be “None.” Pellett walked over to me later and told me such input would be welcomed.

What’s likely happening here is straightforward: salaried folks in the Washington state government are imposing lockups and forced treatment on a vulnerable population without procuring the input of those who have succeeded in fixing the vulnerability — and that’s dehumanizing because it probably isn’t helping long term, it’s treating the vulnerable as impersonal products for the medical industry. Given withdrawal risks, danger presented to others, and additional issues, it’s understandable that unpleasant measures may have to be taken by those around a person with substance abuse problems — but that doesn’t mean bureaucrats and cops dictating from above have the answers. I find it hard to believe that individuals who have overcome substance abuse would advocate for confinement as “medicine,” but maybe they do. The point is, their input, like that of psychiatric survivors, has likely not been sought by the government/medical establishment, which makes money by compelling “treatment” rather than addressing the widespread social, environmental, nutritional, trauma/abuse, and other conditions that are among the root causes of such problems to begin with.

Research about the unusual? “Science is for most people.”

The second surprising statement came from Banta-Green during his presentation on opioid addiction. Among other things, he advocated for opioid replacement medications, which I’ve heard from individuals with a history of drug abuse is a good step. But, a scientist himself, he also said something very illuminating about the nature of the science industry.

Banta-Green said (I’m quoting from memory): “Science is for most people; it’s to find out what works most of the time in most cases.” He didn’t say this principle is problematic; he said it as if it’s an inexorable fact that everyone on the Council must learn and hew to. But those who differ from the masses are also valuable and entitled to support — they should not, through being ignored, be dehumanized.

The science industry’s glorification of the majority and erasure of the unusual is not acceptable. If you have a rare condition that’s killing you, you won’t agree that because your problem isn’t popular it doesn’t merit research. Each person’s life is meaningful. It’s unjust to devote resources only to those who are in the box of being common. The scientific establishment provides the rationalizations for industry, so of course in favor of those who are cogs in the machine it ignores the irregular humans who might jam up the wheels of profit.

Normalization: Polite, well-paid people permit dehumanization

Councilmembers at the meeting were positive and pleasant throughout the day, and I think Pellett and Banta-Green both sincerely want to help others. Banta-Green was endearing when he talked about how he learned to put away his wonky charts of statistics when meeting with communities who requested concrete solutions. Pellett took initiative to speak with me about how the input of substance abuse success stories would actually be welcomed (who will gather that input?). The problem is, while vulnerable people are suffering and dying, we cannot afford to ignore the dehumanization that’s taken for granted in behavioral health committee conversations, that no one much speaks out about any longer because they’re so acclimated to it.

The political circus, which teaches the conservatives in the United States to laugh and joke about launching bombs and the liberals to normalize the lesser and increasingly worse evils, trains the population in these norms of dehumanization, such that smiles go hand in hand with disregard for human beings. For instance, hearing USians’ responses to Obama over the years showed me that many in this country are quite willing to see his victims as the mere eggs one has to break in the quest for the omelette of lower health insurance premiums. This is the idea that some lives are expendable. Just as USians shrug about those still captive in Guantánamo whom they rarely hear about, so the success stories aren’t on Pellett’s radar, so the outliers aren’t subjects of Banta-Green’s science. When you advocate for dehumanization at the countrywide political scale, expect no immunity from it in the medical system when your own health tanks.

Readers might say, “This is all well and good, and I more or less agree, even if I don’t go into such detail or say anything publicly — But what, after all, is anyone supposed to do about it? Can’t fight City Hall. And just look at those Occupy people: idealists, radicals went into the streets, and the cops stomped them. How can you reasonably expect me to take action, when I’m yelled at by my boss all day and just want to come home to consume corporate entertainment before going to sleep and beginning again?”

Actions you can take

People have a range of abilities, interests, and time available to dedicate to making the world a better place. Below are some strong suggestions for what you might consider doing about the issues exposed by the two surprising statements documented above.

  • Attend such government meetings, take notes, speak out there, publish about it afterward. In Washington state on the topic of mental health, there are Behavioral Health Advisory Board and Mental Illness and Drug Dependency meetings in King County as well as these state Behavioral Health Advisory Council meetings. They’re all open to the public. There are probably similar meetings across the country. Much of the actual governance takes place in these unelected ministries/agencies, rather than exclusively that political circus which receives corporate airtime.
  • Where there’s weakness, there are predators. For example, poverty is a problem (which can be addressed by debt jubilee, basic income, changing the economic system, and more); accordingly, predatory lending agencies swoop in to make the problem worse for their own gain. Mental health is no different. Since the predators aren’t interested in helping, take matters into your own hands and strengthen yourself by overcoming addictions (for example: alcohol, porn, caffeine) and building community and undertaking the work necessary to improve your own health. This lightens the load on others and gets you into a clearer state from which it is easier to take effective action.
  • Speak out against dehumanization and stop celebrating Omelas. If you don’t want presidential candidates to kill your own children, why do you glorify them knowing full well that they’re killing the children of others? It may be just you and a few people having a conversation, but fighting for hearts and minds to alter beliefs is necessary for any dramatic change to happen.
  • Pursue further, better documentation of the issues surrounding the two surprising statements. How would we confirm that no input from the substance abuse success stories has been heard by those altering Ricky’s Law? What would Banta-Green say if challenged about his statement that science focuses on the average? Is there a way to calmly, rationally document what’s happening here and encourage people to devise their own strong solutions instead of begging the authorities to change?
  • Building a better world requires knowledge that’s both trusted and worthy of trust. Corporate social media platforms, small one-person websites such as this one, and the bottlenecks of academia and journalism all sometimes produce good information but not well enough to overcome the global problems facing us today, for the reasons explained here among others. Funding, programming for, and sharing information about the global data commons project would allow everyone to own public information to create knowledge resources that would sustain movements establishing alternatives to the current systems.

Also, if you like this post, please consider donating and/or sharing it!

Creative Commons License

Two surprising statements at Washington’s March 2018 Behavioral Health Advisory Council reveal dehumanization of the vulnerable, show need for solutions by Douglas Lucas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It does not affect your fair use rights or my moral rights. You can view the full license (the legalese) here; you can view a human-readable summary of it here. To learn more about Creative Commons, read this article. License based on a work at www.douglaslucas.com. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license? Email me: dal@riseup.net.