Social Anxiety.

So, I have, for a long time, had issues with social anxiety, issues with “getting” social cues, and other issues (including lifelong struggles with “The Black Dog”). It’s been something I have been working on with…minimal success. Nevertheless, here are some of the things I have looked into.

Some of the tips in these various videos have been, difficult to achieve (don’t go out solo, go out with friends–considering the number of friends I have local to me–can be counted on the fingers of one foot–that’s…difficult). Others, well, either they were oversold or, well, as I am wont to say “all people are not the same and one size does not fit all”, they just didn’t really do anything for me.

This, of course, is only one facet of the issue. Problems with getting social cues that are well understood by others feeds into the anxiety issue. And when you have a tendency to depression to begin with, that just acts as an amplifier to the whole things.

Still, I try. Progress might be microscopic, but even microscopic progress is still progress. They say the longest journeys start with a single step. Well, I’d break it down still further. That first step starts with shifting weight from one foot to the other.

Goth on Ice: Introspection.

One of the things about the skating is that I don’t really have what one would call a talent for it. I have a love for it, which inspires me to work hard at it, but not really a talent for it. I struggle with things that come a lot more quickly and easily to other skaters. Things like bone structure, innate balance, kinesthetic sense, and a whole host of variables matter for something like ice skating.

But that’s fine. It’s not like I’m aiming at Olympic glory or anything like that. If nothing else, I can show folk what they can do without talent, just through effort and persistence.

And so, I go out there and I skate and I learn and I (slowly) get better. And I have fun doing it–even if I’m sometimes hampered in language by the presence of children in the rink. (It can be bloody frustrating when you catch you toe picks and hit the ice hard on a technique you’re supposed to have down.)

Sometimes it seems that I’m progressing backwards, getting worse, unable to do things that I just did. But I get back out there and try again. And, in time, it gets better.

And then the technique that was giving you so much trouble “clicks” and it’s like the whole world has opened up. Second best feeling in the world.

So go and do thou likewise. It doesn’t have to be ice skating. That’s my “challenge myself to be better” thing. But find something. It’s worth it.

When the Demons Come: A Musical Interlude

I haven’t done a musical interlude in some time. This one is going to be a bit different.

I’m mostly pretty satisfied in my life. I’ve got a generally pretty good life. I’ve got a good job, a reasonably nice house–plenty for my needs. I’ve got a wonderful daughter. I’ve got activities that I’m passionate about. On the whole, it’s pretty good and I’m reasonably happy…most of the time.

But there are times, in the still of the night, when the things I don’t have start to loom large. It is then that the demons come and (jokes about “making friends with them so now they fight my enemies” aside) I have to fight them off. Part of that is a playlist I have for catharsis because sometimes you have to bring things to a peak in order to break through beyond. As the guy said in the movie Deathgasm (a fun little movie) “It’s like when life sucks, and you feel alone and empty. You stick on some metal and life is better, because somebody else knows the pain and the rage that you’re going through.”

It’s not just metal. And it’s not just goth. The playlist covers quite a bit of territory. Here’s a selection. (The whole playlist is 50 songs long–so far–so I’m obviously not going to put the whole thing up.)

And a special 11th one:

Goth on Ice: Ouchies

Next eight week block of ice skating classes starts tomorrow. One of the things I wanted to do today was make some videos of where I stand in a few key elements, things I need to get down before I’m ready to move up to “Pre Free Skate”, to provide a benchmark to show progress as the class goes on. Unfortunately, things did not go as I’d hoped.

First, I did some work with spins. The element I need to get is “two foot to one foot spin”. Here’s a video of some of my practice:

It’s not the best I’ve done, but it gives me a starting point. And as I progress I’ll be able to see that I’m more stable into it.

The next thing I wanted to do was do some spirals past the camera, followed by some lunges. Lunges are a required element in Adult 6. Spirals are not, but they’re taught to the younger skaters and, so, are part of the preparation before going into the Free Skate (actual, bona-fide figure skating) series. However, as the video shows, things did not go well:

First, as I crossed the field of view, I did fine. Not getting enough “lift” in the free leg but that’s a matter of building flexibility as well as strength in my back and glutes. Coming back the other way, however, was another matter. Just before I reentered the field of view on the right, I caught my toe picks. Somehow, I was able to prevent myself from face-planting (a reason you really don’t want to catch the toe picks in this element) but I overcorrected and ended up falling backward, as you see in the video. My toe picks got stuck in the ice again and I hyperextended the ankle.

I don’t think I hurt it too badly. After picking myself up and shutting off the video I did a slow lap of the ice and the ankle was stable. A little sore, but not too painful. Still, I decided it was better to call it a day there and not risk possibly injuring it further.

Once I got home I pulled some additional layers of compression socks over my foot, to provide some additional support and pressure on the ankle to help head off any swelling. I also got ice on it. Right now, it seems a little sore but, again, stable. So, I’ll be going into class tomorrow and seeing how it goes. I’ll be taking it easy and ready to call a halt if there’s any problem at all.

Yes, it’s frustrating to be sidelined for injury, but there will be other days to skate and taking the time to heal is better than risking more serious injury that could really take you out.

The thing is, falls happen. There’s really no way around it. As I tell others when it seems appropriate: when you stop falling, you stop learning. And that, certainly, is very much the truth.

Fisking A Socialist Meme

The original version of the image had a caption that socialism works so well that people build boats out of trash to cross shark-infested waters to escape it. But the Socialist Party had to try to respond. As usual, they do so badly thus:

  1. America has more people than Cuba. Ohio alone has about as many people as all of Cuba, plus we have 49 other States. Of course we’re going to have more people in poverty in absolute numbers, that’s before counting:
  2. “Poverty” isn’t some fixed value across all nations and regions. It’s a sliding scale relative to local standard of living. A person “in poverty” in the US would be “incredibly wealthy” in, say Rwanda, and “comfortably middle class” in much of Europe. What counts as “poverty” in the US, isn’t “poverty” in Cuba.
  3. Funny how the people keep running away from these other places to the US, which the meme would have you believe is actually worse than the places they came from. and..
  4. Also funny how the meme basically admits that socialism is too weak to stand up to competition from capitalism. They would have you believe that capitalism, that feeble, ineffectual, economic system, is able to run roughshod over all these socialist paradises.
    1. Oh, and lest anybody think this is entirely one-sided, I’ve crossed swords with supposed ardent capitalists who moan about competition from socialist economies because they don’t have the strength of their convictions either (the other guys use slave labor? Well, so what, from an economic point of view? Slave labor is less efficient than free, so what they’re doing is leaving potential economic output on the table, reducing their overall capability, in order to gain an advantage in one small sector. They’re strangling their own economy for the illusion–and that’s all it is–of some kind of “economic victory”.)

Once again, the Left can’t Meme.

Economics Lesson from a Little House Book

From “Farmer Boy”, the second of the Little House books by Laura Ingles Wilder:

“Almonzo, do you know what this is?”
“Half a dollar,” Almanso answered.
“Yes, but do you know what half a dollar is?”
Almonzo didn’t know it was anything but half a dollar.
“It’s work, son,” Father said. “That’s what money is; it’s hard work.”
Mr. Paddock chuckled. “The boy’s too young, Wilder,” he said. “You can’t make a youngster understand that.”
“Almanzo’s smarter than you think,” said Father.
Almanzo didn’t understand at all. He wished he could get away. But Mr. Paddock was looking at Father just as Frank looked at Almanzo when he double-dared him, and Father had said taht Almanzo was smart, so Almanzo tried to look like a smart boy.
Father asked, “You know how to raize potatoes, Almanzo?”
“Say you have a seed potatoe in the spring, what do you do with it?”
“You cut it up,” Almanzo said.
“Go on, son.”
“Then you harrow–first you manure the field, and plow it. Then you harrow, and mark the ground. And plant the potatoes, and plow them, and hoe them. You plow and hoe them twice.”
“That’s right, son. And then?”
“Then you dig them and put them down cellar.”
“Yes. Then you pick them over all winter; you throw out all the little ones and the rotten ones. Come spring, you load them up and haul them here to Malone, and you sell them. And if you get a good price, son, how much do you get to show for all that work? How much do you get for half a bushel of potatoes?”
“Half a dollar,” Almanzo said.
“Yes,” said Father. “That’s what’s in this half-dollar, Almanzo. The work that raised half a bushel of potatoes is in it.”
Almanzo looked at the round piece of money that Father held up. It looked small, compared with all that work.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingles Wilder

Of course there’s more than just the work in that round half-dollar. There’s the equipment used to do the plowing and harrowing and hoeing. There’s the cellar itself where the potatoes are stored and the land where they’re grown. There’s the knowledge of how do do the tasks, of when to plant, when to hoe, when to dig up. There’s the wagon used to get them to the market. And all of that goes into producing that round half dollar. And better equipment, allowing one to produce more potatoes with less work? Well, then that equipment means that one can produce that half dollar’s worth of potatoes for less work. (Note that more potatoes for less work probably means the price of potatoes comes down as well, but the general principle still applies.)

And that equipment, that capital, is it’s own value. Earlier in the book the author describes a threshing machine. The owners of the machine brought it around to farms for various farmers to thresh their grain more quickly and easily (not to mention more cleanly) than by having cows tread on them. The owners of the machine were paid for the use of it, generally with a portion of the threshed grain. The farmers benefit from being able to produce more grain with less effort. The owners of the machine (capital equipment) benefit from a return on their capital investment (the machine did not come free).

The same principle applies in modern businesses. The owners provide capital equipment. The workers bring skills and labor. That the owners of the equipment deserve compensation for providing it is the same whether they are dragging the equipment from farm to farm to farm, or have it in one place and have people come to work for them.

Goth on Ice: Apotheosis

It would appear that I’m a…well, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

At the rink the other day I had planned an “easy” day. just some light skating around the rink a little work on my spins and a lot of work on my backward outside edges (the one that still give me trouble–I’m doing well enough in the others).

Turns out that there were some first timers on the ice, in particular a group of teen girls who appeared to be…struggling. As is my wont, I skated over and asked if they were okay and if they wanted any help. They snapped that up. So I gave an impromptu lesson in the very basics of skating. The first lesson type stuff–forward marching and forward swizzles.

While I was working with them a couple of younger kids approached and asked if I could help them too. And, so I gave them an impromptu lesson as well.

All told, I spent about half the hour I spent on the ice teaching basic ice skating to these young people and loving every minute of it. I like to teach.

Afterwards, when I was on a bench rinkside and taking off and wiping down my skates, one of the teens approached and said that her friend said I was the “goth skating god.”

And so that is how I achieved apotheosis and have now become the patron deity of ice skating goths. 😉

On This July 4: An Annual Tradition

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Independence Day, on every July 4th, we celebrate this document and the war we fought to throw off tyrannical rule and establish our own government to preserve the Liberty of the people.  In addition to remembering what has gone before it also serves as a reminder to those in power:  there’s plenty of room on the calendar for another holiday should the people of the US decide this point has been reached again: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”