I may be posting here more. I am currently on hiatus from Facebook, so the little pieces I drop over there I will be dropping over here instead.

The aftermath of mass shootings is stressful for everybody. For me, the conversations online tend to revolve around the question of whether the shooter was mentally ill. I go about on my metaphorical Rocinante, challenging people who say “well, really, he must have been crazy. Sane people don’t commit mass murder.” It gets to be a bit much.

Everyone has a breaking point. Mine was when a friend of a friend suggested in all seriousness that the country should have, not a registry of gun owners, but a registry of the mentally ill, with information provided by doctors and pharmacists.

There is a long post about the…. ill-advisedness ….. of such a registry waiting to be written, but just right now I am worn out.

And more importantly, the Not-So-Little Drummer Boy has been in town from Korea for a short stay. The whole family took a day trip yesterday (the Red-Headed Menace came up from San Diego for a couple of days), which was lovely, but I just want the next couple of days to feel pleasanter and more hopeful than they have lately.

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“Against one perfect moment, the centuries beat in vain.” Sir Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time.

A wood bench on a sidewalk overlooking La Jolla Cove.

Seventy-one-degree weather.

Warm late afternoon California sun and a cool gentle Pacific breeze.

Toddlers and teens climbing on the rocks and in and out of the cave. The slightly anxious parents following the toddlers.

Red kayaks a mile or so off bobbing up and down in the surf like so many fishing lures.

Swimmers seemingly appearing out of nowhere but really probably coming from the opposite shore a couple of miles off.

Seals sunning themselves, rousing only to drive off the cormorants that were beginning to encroach on their lounging space.

Sea lions splashing in the water, their booming barks ricocheting off the cliff, menacing the snorkelers who had wandered into territory the sea lions felt was theirs.

An older gentleman softly playing free-form jazz on his trumpet with perfect pitch and a round golden tone.

It was a perfect moment.


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Sometimes the world is a wonderful place: the flea collection of the Natural History Museum in London has its own Twitter feed .

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A few years ago, The Weather Channel had a series called It Could Happen Tomorrow, about natural disasters which, because of their unusual nature, would have potentially disastrous effects. One show was dedicated to the scenario of a Cat 3 hurricane hitting Tampa.

St. Petersburg is down at the tip of the Pinellas peninsula, which forms the western shore of Tampa Bay. There are four ways out, one of which is unusable in high winds and which is not a good direction to evacuate in any case and another which is a nightmare to drive on good days.  Over 900 thousand people live in Pinellas County, over 250 thousand of them in St. Petersburg. Even more at risk,  there are eleven barrier islands which have significant development. Getting people off of them will pose an additional threat to human life.

The house that my brother and his family live in, and where I spent my formative years, is located down in South St. Pete, about a mile or two from the bay.  No matter how long I have lived in or may live in California, St. Petersburg is and always will be home.

The track that Irma is headed appears to be scraping up the east coast of Florida. However, some models show the storm veering slightly west and heading up through Naples and Fort Myers and Tampa. Irma is currently a five, and may well be a four when she hits the mainland US. Even if it doesn’t get a direct hit, the storm is wide enough — and the state of Florida narrow enough — people on the west coast of the state are going to get hit with at least tropical storm winds.

I’m kind of stressed out.*

*And, to top it all off, I am worried about friends in California and Oregon who live near the fires.

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Damn, I’m good.

Last night, I went to my usual Monday night trivia game at the dive bar near my house. I was a team of one; there were seven teams of three to six, and one team of two (that finished dead last).

I won by six points. I beat out eight other teams with theoretically more mental firepower than me. Go me.

Of course, it helped a lot that I almost ran the photo category (it was about movies), that I knew that Vinson Massif was the highest mountain in Antarctica, and most of all that Herculaneum was the other city (than Pompeii) destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. That last was the Betting Bonus question: only three teams got it, and one of them only bet four points.

I was also helped by the best team not showing up last night. Still, not too shabby for a team of one.

Of course, now I have a certificate for a large pitcher of beer, to go with the certificate for a small pitcher of beer that I got for placing third a couple of weeks ago.

See? That hellishly expensive liberal arts education really has paid off.

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The crazy lady hands out mental health advice.*

I don’t speak in public. I occasionally engage in other expressive conduct (I’ve walked out of church sermons in protest), but I haven’t spoken. Until yesterday.

I attended one of the many rallies against Charlottesville at city hall. As I suspect happened at some other rallies, the conversation turned more broadly to the Trump administration, the ACA, how to get involved in local Indivisible or Democratic organization, etc. I heard about working against racism, sexism, and for LGBTQ rights. I did not hear anything about disability issues.**

So I quickly got my thoughts together, stood and spoke:

Hi. My name is Pat. I have a disability — I have bipolar disorder.

I watched in horror during the campaign as Trump mocked a disabled reporter. I have watched as senators have voted to dismantle the ACA, which so many disabled people, whatever their disability, rely on to get needed health care.***

One of the things I find, not just for myself but for some of  my friends, is the fight against despair. Because sometimes  it looks like there are so many things… There’s health care and voter suppression and there’s this and there’s that … I think that’s part of their strategy, to overwhelm people so they can’t get a grip.

I would encourage people to find one or two things to work on, so you don’t get overwhelmed.

I was at the Women’s March. I was at the March for Science. I’m here. Being together  with other people is so important.

One last thing –if you are feeling overwhelmed, Robert Reich has a wonderful video called “How to Survive the Summer of Trump.” I thought I’d pass that along.

Thank you.

It’s not the Gettysburg address; on the other hand, I was a lot less long-winded than some of the other speakers. When I mentioned struggling against despair, I saw people nodding in the crowd. The same happened when I mentioned the Reich video.

But best of all, afterward a teenage girl came up to me and shyly said “I have bipolar disorder, too. Thank you.”

Next up: maybe counter-protest at Google; definitely a rally the day after. Maybe a counter protest in San Francisco on the 26th.  This fight is going to take a while.

I seriously doubt I will speak at any of them; then again, I didn’t expect to speak yesterday.


*Yes, I know crazy is supposed to be derogatory. I’m using it ironically.

*** I’ve noticed this a lot. Often times, disability rights get overlooked in the list of causes progressives fight for.

***Unfortunately, I forgot and left off the line that I had in my head, which would have tied what I said to Charlottesville: “And I am well aware of what the Nazis did to people like me.”

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I <3 these people.

I am working on an extensive post about the geographical origins of Trumpism, but in the meantime, I just feel like posting something absolutely trivial. (The Trumpism post is still in progress, and while I think it’s important (at least to me), it’s also depressing.)

My current media crushes:

Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Rachel Maddow.
Chris Hayes.
Joy Reid.
Peter Capaldi.
Wonder Woman (okay, Gal Gadot).
Stephen Colbert.
Peter Sagal.
All of the regular panelists on Says You!, especially Murray Horwitz, Barry Nolan and Caroline Faye Fox.
Helen Mirren.
Idris Elba.
Chris Hardwick (fare-thee-well, @midnight!).
Hannah Hart.

And,  in my media crush Hall of Fame: Alton Brown.

Looking over this list, what I am struck by is how smart (geeky, too, several of them) all of these people are. Even the stunning Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, whom I would follow over any battlefield you would care to name, comes across as a sharp cookie. Naive, yes, but intelligent just the same.

The Resident Shrink once told me I have a “brain fetish.” Boy howdy is that true.

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