The Atlantic: Winners of the 2018 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest


The Atlantic has a feature about some of the greatest underwater photos of 2017. You gotta go take a look. Here’s a peek.

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The tragedy of celebration


In 2006, Tina’s dad made an announcement. Not just any announcement.

He announced he had cancer.

Not just any cancer. Stomach cancer.

Not just any stage cancer. Stage 4 borderline stage 5 cancer.

This was not just any announcement. An “I’ve got so long to live” announcement. “Let’s do things. Let’s reconnect. Let’s make up for lost time.”

The distance from the announcement to his death was short. At most, eight months. He attacked it with every ounce of strength he had. He tried keeping up his active lifestyle of rollerblading in his Florida neighborhood. He tried to keep dating a woman he’d been on and off again for a few years.

We saw him for a weekend that fall. His mom, Tina’s grandma, passed away in October. He flew up to the funeral. We talked to him. His hair was gone. But he felt okay. His feet felt heavy, like “concrete” he said, so he was buying tons of shoes to comfort the feeling.

Back in Florida, he was far from all of us Chicago relatives. While the sun and warmth were probably good for his soul and his attitude, he was alone down there. He had to drive himself to doctor’s appointments and treatments. He was a proud man, and didn’t want to bother his girlfriend. He started taking cabs to the doctor. He took cabs to chemo. He needed help.

His health nosedived toward Christmas. His brother ended up driving down to get him around the holiday with hopes he could help alleviate some of the ease of doctor visits and cancer treatments. But it was really to have him near his brothers, Tina and the rest of the family when he died.  Continue reading

The helpless feeling of anger


Over the past 15 years or more, I’ve sat off again and on again on the couch of a therapist. I’ve discovered a lot about myself and the inner tickings of this old brain of mine.

Abandonment is a large issue for me. I trace abandonment back to adoption, a mental place of loss before I could decipher what loss was. Feelings of abandonment can trigger a swing. Abandonment can encompass betrayals. Abandonment can be triggered by another’s behavior that has nothing to do with mine.

Keep in mind, I realize that the best, most loving result of the situation that occurred before I could walk on my own was that I would eventually be adopted by two incredible parents. But all the good in the world won’t change my chemical and physical makeup for what my head thinks it needs, wants, desires and hopes for.

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A link dump, a dumpster fire, and skating on thin ice, how nice.


When I took aim at blogging again with regularity, my goal was to reach back to what this blog used to be and that was a news aggregate of sorts. That hasn’t happened.

For the most part, I’ve been doing my best to stay away from consuming too much news. It’s like sugar, it tastes good for a few minutes and then you come crashing down after an hour or less. In this media market, there’s so much sugar that it’s causing a crash every second if I let it. So I stay away.

This video below is a metaphor for the mental state I’ve been aiming for, calm beautiful purposeful sounds that relax and encourage.

But occasionally the news of the day seeps in and disrupts my garden of tranquility. Below the fold, I’m going to throw a bunch of links to the shit that I would be posting and discussing more, but it puts me in a negative headspace.

So I’m considering this a link dump. I’m considering it a fire pit. A place where the news that sucks goes. Or news I might discuss and find some negativity about it. In this post, I douse it with gas, light a match, flick it on top and walk away.

If you descend into the link dump, come back to the top and refresh yourself by watching this video playing the sounds of skating on thin ice. Ah metaphors.

 

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How about a quote collection?


You can say I’m milking the quotes I pulled from Tim Ferriss’ book Tribe of Mentors all you want. I’m having a great time reviewing them to see what sparked encouragement to me, and I hope that they encourage you.

There are these two from Max Levchin, a computer scientist:
“Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.” The line is from the inimitable David Mamet, a quote from Ronin, one of my all-time favorite movies. A laconic reminder to always be decisive in battle and in business, and at a most basic level, to trust your gut.
And:
“The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” This famous line from Walt Disney on willpower cannot be more true when it comes to entrepreneurship.

Having an idea and sticking it out till it’s completed became my earliest memory of how to do things. Whether it was chores my mom had for me or little art projects as a kid. This discipline has stuck with me longer and through times when my closest friends and supporters couldn’t find a way to do the same thing.

I love this next one from Dita Von Teese, a burlesque dancer:

“You can be a juicy ripe peach and there’ll still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.”

I find this quote to be true of so much, like music, religion, car purchase, diet regimen, book or movie passion, etc. You might have the juiciest, peachiest faith and belief system, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to get hungry for it. You can LOVE country music and expose me to your favorite tracks, but the likelihood is I’m not going to add it to any of my playlists. I’m sorry not sorry.

This principle works multiple ways. Some people kinda like peaches, so they don’t mind one once in a while. Others like it in their pie, maybe in a candy, but not raw. Point is, some people kinda like religion, but they don’t full on LOVE the one someone else is selling.

And that’s okay! You’re okay. They’re okay. We’re all okay.

And finally, this last 1.15 is from Neil Strauss, author and journalist.

The audiobook I’ve given away most is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Though “nonviolent communication” is poorly named (it’s the equivalent of calling cuddling “nonmurderous touching”), the central idea is that, unbeknownst to us, there’s a lot of violence in the way we communicate with others—and with ourselves. That violence comes in the form of blaming, judging, criticizing, insulting, demanding, comparing, labeling, diagnosing, and punishing. So when we speak in certain ways, not only do we not get heard, but we end up alienating others and ourselves. NVC has a magical way of instantly defusing potential conflicts with anyone, from a partner to a server to a friend to someone at work. One of its many great premises is that no two people’s needs are ever in conflict. It’s only the strategies for getting those needs met that are in conflict. Disambiguation: The version you want is a 5-hour, 9-minute lecture. You can recognize it by the cover, which is a close-up of a hand flashing a peace sign. It starts slow, but then gets revolutionary. Do *not* get any versions of the printed book, which has the same title.

And finally, which I’m reminded of a lot in general:

“Learn more, know less.”

We’re nearing the end of the Whole30


Tomorrow marks 30 days of not consuming alcohol, sugar, legumes, dairy and grains. Not to mention junk food, sulfites, or — as I’ve found — nothing you can’t pronounce or identify as a food product.

My first Whole30 experience has been a good one. Positive. Mind expanding. Challenging and liberating.

The diet started with a bit of a laissez faire attitude. I could care less if I lost weight. If I quit drinking beer alone, I was sure to lose seven or eight elle bees.

I started the diet to support Tina, her cousin and her husband.

Now I’m wondering if I’m ever going to quit the diet ever. Yes, it’s that good. I don’t miss any of the foods we aren’t supposed to eat. I’m not missing alcohol, and this was my BIGGEST fear on this diet. I was this close to consulting an AA sponsor before we started. On day 29, I have very little desire to have a drink, and I didn’t need AA to do it. Yay me! Continue reading