Shingles wrap-up and back to the main highway to nowhere

I started it (blogging about it), so I should finish it.

Started feeling better Friday. Pain continues in waves, but more manageable. At least, I’ve been sleeping, and I’ve been getting around.

I presume I will work (from home) tomorrow, though eight hours of sitting at a laptop might be a challenge.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer…no, really, I hate to…I know you don’t believe me…anyway, I’m just conveying my thoughts…

I’m feeling it’s been a lost week in the context of a much vaster lost period that I’ve alluded to recently.

There is no such thing as no-censhorship mode. If I really unloaded in here, you might feel the need to worry about me endlessly, and then you’d have to distance yourself from me, which you probably already have.

I’m not trying to be cryptic there. If you’re reading this, what I said probably applies to you. I’m one of those toxic people, and I know it.

I’m struggling not to launch into a full-throttle venting of the thoughts that are suffocating my mind. I’m not going to do that.

I’ve just spent 20 minutes starting at the screen and trying to reach into my mind for some thoughts that are digestible. There aren’t.

Sometimes, like right now, I despise this blog.

I’ll go to my other blog now, the one with the songs, the one that probably seems like a sad joke to everyone but that I take very seriously. A couple of people humor me by participating. I do appreciate that, by the way; keep humoring me.

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Airplane!

Airplane is 88 minutes of sheer joy. It never gets old for me. Just watched it via Amazon Prime. Nice change of pace from having watched a meth addict get crushed by an ATM on Breaking Bad the other night (Season Two…it’s really hard to watch back-to-back-to-back episodes…it will take me awhile to get through it…which is fine).

I really don’t miss cable/satellite. I’d be watching MSNBC all the time and more depressed by politics and the state-of-the-world than I already am…

That is all. Just some inconsequential thoughts that would normally just be a Facebook post. Shockingly, there are those who don’t have a Facebook account and have no idea the sheer amount of useless stuff I share on there that doesn’t wind up here.

Anyway, I should get up off the couch…

But, first, back to my original point…if you’re, say under 30, and you’ve only heard that Airplane! is hilarious but have never seen it, give it a chance. I’m not apt to watch a supposedly hilarious movie that was made before I was born. But trust me on this. It’s ok if you don’t know who Ethel Merman or Barbara Billingsley are. Well, there are probably a hundred jokes that depend on some pop-culture awareness. But then there are two-hundred more sight-gags and puns and wordplay jokes that will always be funny.

It helps if you are somewhat familiar with the Bee Gees. (The directors sped it up 10% in case it sounds off from the original).

No…that’s not the funniest scene. I love watching Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty dance, but…there’s more gut-busting stuff…

Hmmm…someone uploaded five minutes of material. A compilation…

No…lots of great stuff there, but…what’s my favorite scene? Too many. Here’s one more:

More metablogging

Last night, I was wondering if I should just kill off this blog. I’ve been writing “the what’s the point” post ever since I started it. I know what the point was. I didn’t want to be tied to the increasingly-aggravating platform LiveJournal (does anyone still use that?) I wanted my thoughts on my own website. I wasn’t creative enough to come up with a name that didn’t include “Toastie”, which is unfortunate, since there’s nothing toasty about my blog, and it’s certainly not the toastiest anything.

Facebook has killed many a personal blog. It’s easier just to use the platform that everyone’s on to share a thought. But I’ve always rented that Mark Zuckerberg and that company really own your thoughts. I’m guilty of having most of my thoughts flow over there, but I’m still uncomfortable with it.

But I’ve always been uncomfortable with this blog, too. Every time I post something personal, there’s this anxiety that I’ve crossed a line. I don’t want everyone’s reactions. I wish some people weren’t reading it at all.

If I can just focus on the therapeutic benefits of writing and completely discount what anyone actually thinks of it all, I’d be far better off. As I’ve established long ago and maintain, I can’t just relegate my thoughts to a private journal, because it’s not therapeutic have my thoughts go into a void. There is still a private journal, and content goes in there from time to time. There are plenty of topics and details not fit for public consumption. When I do post something as harsh as what I put up last night (and back in May 2008 and countless other times, which are out there for the finding, though I won’t be looking for most of them), it barely scratches the surface.

I don’t know where I’m going with it. I was intending to just to write for the sake of it. I should spend 15-20 minutes doing this every night.

I likely won’t be posting my daily Romney outrage. I am outraged by politics and other assorted news items on a daily basis. Unfortunately. I could really do without that outrage. We know I have plenty of negative energy stored up already without getting myself riled up about things I truly cannot control.

Specific topics. I was going to write about some. Not in this entry.

Repost: There’s something called ‘too much information’ and this is probably it…

I was going to write something original tonight, but then I realized I’ve got plenty of old material, and just about all of it still applies. And that’s the problem. I could pull something I’ve written from 4 years ago, 8 years ago, 15 years ago, even 20 years ago, and it wouldn’t sound much different. Any rambling wallowing I’ve done in here has just echoed things I’ve written privately to myself. There’s nothing new for me to say. If I’m being too revealing at this moment, or in any moment previously, it’s because I don’t care about the consequences. In early 2011, someone thought I should be part of some science conference’s panel of patient bloggers. It was an ultimately humiliating experience, as I sat there like an idiot for an hour without being asked a question while pompous windbags droned on and on. Worse, that someone blogged about how “David S–aka Toastie–a resident of Raleigh-Durham” would be part of this panel. Now that’s stuck on Google. And I hate that. But I digress…

Anyway, so I’m regurgitating a post from over four years. I’ll add some August 2012 comments in italics.

Originally posted May 23, 2008…

Me and Aremid 2008.05.22Ok, here’s the deal, World. I spend just about every night damning myself for not having done anything to make myself a better person over the past 24 hours. I lament the coming of the next morning, because I do not see it as a chance to start anew. Reason tells me I will be unable to achieve anyhing beyond more of the same, which, at best is something approaching meaningless mediocrity.

Now, imagine that I’ve spent another four years doing this.

I have had one defining goal for most of my life, and I have disastrously, pathetically failed to come close to achieving it, and with each passing day, cold, hard facts and reason dictate that this goal is more impossible than it was the day before.

Four-years-more-impossible now.

However you want to characterize my way of thinking, my skewed view of the world, of my myself, it seems unlikely there exists a force that can change this. I can guarantee that I’ve tried or considered just about all advice that anyone has ever offered. No science nor faith nor therapy nor anything else has ever helped.

I’ve tried plenty more over the last four years.

It is a bad idea on many levels to try to summarize a lifetime of hurt into one hastily-written public blog posts. I’m doing it to move past this awkward moment in the life of this blog.

The entire life of this blog has been an awkward moment.

I truly do despise this blog sometimes. As I’ve said many times, I don’t know what the purpose of it really is. I don’t want to be someone with nothing interesting to say, but I constantly find myself being someone with nothing interesting to say. Sometimes, this is my only connection I feel to the world, though. Geez, God, that’s pathetic! Yes, I know this.

I fooled myself into thinking this was a connection to the world. It’s really not.

The “social web” is a horrible invention for someone like me. Take an introvert with considerable social anxiety and low-esteem, and the social web is not a collection of tools to suddenly give one’s life meaning. Rather, it gives one a constant 24/7 reminder of what is lacking, of how one is deficient.

It’s even worse now.

I hate Twitter. There, I said it. I hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it. I will say no more with regard to that. Strike that; I’ll say more. I don’t hate it because I find it repulsive that people post about the candy bar they just ate and think others care. I hate it because I actually want to post about the candy bar I ate…but only if I know someone else cares. Chances are, if you have 50 or 100 or 500 or 1000 connections, someone actually gives a damn that Dark Chocolate Milky Ways are awesome. If I “tweet” something like that, I immediately ask myself, “Now why the hell do I dare think anyone has any remote interest in that? How presumptuous am I?”

I don’t spend a whole lot of time hating Twitter.

And the same can be said of anything I stick on my blog. Honestly, if I was hanging out “in real life” with people who gave a crap what I had to say on a regular basis throughout each day, day in and day out, I wouldn’t have any reason to blog at all. Blogging, tweeting, whatever, are substitutes for physical connections that don’t exist.

This is a tad extreme.

The social web is bull…unless you are one of the many people for whom it is not bull, and it is, in fact, a natural extension of what is already a thriving “real-life” social network.

It’s not bullshit, but, like alcohol, it just magnifies your natural state.

Anyway…back to my initial point. I am not happy. I have not been happy in a very long time. The window I have for attaining this evasive happiness is shrinking rapidly. I think it is extremely uncommon for an unhappy person entering the stage of physical deterioration that I’m about to go through to manage to become a happy person. My guess is that someone with my tendencies is likely to completely break in the face of what’s ahead for me. Heck, I’m probably already just about at that point.

I haven’t completely broken. I just teeter endlessly near that breaking point.

BUT YOU HAVE A NEW KIDNEY NOW!

Yes, and Dick Cheney got a new heart. Point?

Perhaps this would be a good time to break out a couple of short lists that are in my wallet, lists that couple of well-meaning people came up with once upon a time. The crux of my existence is, perhaps, that I am unable to embrace, much of the time, the points in these lists. (I can’t see myself how others see me, something like that). Now, it is debatable how true any of these are. These represent how, supposedly, others see me (at least the positive traits, since to remember those was the point of lists).

List #1: What Dave Has Going For Him:
– have job
As usual, I job I LOVE (sarcasm)
– homeowner
I’m a lousy homeowner
– college-educated
And the still-present debt to go with it
– kind to animals
Well, yes, here is this
– environmentally conscious
I don’t care anymore. After two hybrids, my next car will be I enjoy driving.
– non-smoker
Geez, this friend was really reaching.
– respectful
Geez, this friend flat-out doesn’t know me.
– honest
Not sure that this is such a plus.
– good sense of humor
I can’t tell how much my sense of humor has gotten me laid over the past four years. No, I’ll tell you. It’s every other day. I’m a regular Dane Cook.
– financial future
Oh, I remember which friend this was. She had no clue.
– sincere
Whatever.
– enjoys arts
When I actually find someone to enjoy arts with, which is virtually never
– creative
If this true, I’ve sure been wasting it
– hopeful
I suppose this is true, if the definition of hopeful is that I hope to wake up in the morning, because I do, even if I always want to go right back to sleep.
– loyal group of friends
Not loyal enough to stay single and never date. Kidding.

List #2: Why Dave Is Great:
– sweet
If I ever was, I’m certainly not anymore.
– thoughtful
If I ever was, I’m certainly not anymore.
– intelligent
If I ever was, I’m certainly not anymore.
– intuitive
If I ever was, I’m certainly not anymore.
– funny
Ok, I’m still funny
– quirky
Yeah, I’m a regular Zooey Deschanel.
– generous
Not that generous.
– sensitive
A butterfly flaps its wings on Mars, and I flinch.
– caring
Maybe sometimes.
– giving
Maybe sometimes.
– conscientious
Maybe sometimes.
– self-aware
I don’t want to be self-aware

I have had a refrain the last few years, whenever I’ve gotten the “you’re a great guy sentiment”…

Clearly, I’m not quite great enough.

Four years later, I don’t even get the “you’re a great guy” sentiment.

And then there’s the list I could make of the 384 reasons why Dave is clearly not great. I’m supposed to try to sanitize these, maybe even sweep them under the rug, when going out into the world to try to connect with people. I don’t do this very well, if at all.

Even worse now.

So…in conclusion…No, I am not ok. I am, from day to day, more likely than not, not ok. That sort of blunt expression will gain you no favorable contacts, I am aware.

In conclusion, I am still not ok.

I am acutely aware of how alienating and awkwardness-inducing my authentic self can be.

Still acutely aware.

So…(don’t really know when this will really be in conclusion)…I don’t know what I should or will write about in this blog. Until I say something to the contrary, I’m aware there is no compelling reason for anyone to read anything here. I am aware that this post, itself, exists for the purpose of potentially gaining some sympathy. Shit, I want someone to write me and say, “Actually, you’re really, really, really great!” Who doesn’t? Honestly, who doesn’t? (Yes, I know some people actually have real content 95% of the time, and they write in order to communicate important facts and opinions to the community and not in the hope that someone will tell them how awesome they are. And maybe I shouldn’t speak for the rest of the blogoshere. Maybe there are some who completely don’t care what anyone else thinks….in which case, why bother at all?

So…no comments…I think I’ve just jumped the shark enough for now…

This blog jumped the shark before I even started it.

No, Google, I don’t want to use my full name

I’ve been meaning to write a quick blurb on the issue of internet personas. I always intended for most of my internet activities to be under a moniker. I had no desire to put my full name out there in front of either my blog posts, or any place on the internet where I wanted to publicly express a thought. I didn’t mind sharing TMI as long as I wasn’t used my full name. I didn’t mind offering blunt opinions here or elsewhere.

At some point, people all across the internet decided they didn’t mind sharing things publicly under their name. Well, they minded, but they put the blame on the websites, like Facebook, when they felt their privacy was violated. Others shy away from any significant self-expression, with the refrain, “I assume everything I post to the internet is public”.

I’ve always maintained that you don’t have to put your identity out there with your internet activities. I’ve been one of the last holdouts, it seems. And now Google wants to take my Youtube account from Toastie and tell the world who’s really behind it.

They are giving me the option, but, really, they want you to integrate your whole life with your Google+ account, and they want your “brand” to be your real identity. I suppose advertisers can’t target “Toastie” as well as they can target “David _____” who lives at this address in Durham, NC and is a registered Democrat, and acknowledges liking Air Supply, Downton Abbey, and dogs. (Not that I’ve ever been marketed to as an Air Supply listener. Whatever you listen to on VEVO, they will still try to force Nicki Minaj upon you).

Well, no thanks. I don’t make public posts on Facebook or Google+. I don’t put my name on my Flickr account. I don’t use my name on this blog (I can’t do anything about it if others have used my name and this blog in the same link somewhere). I don’t comment anywhere on the internet using my name. I don’t put my name on my Twitter account. (@toastie’s full name is just “Toastie”.) So I’m not going to do it with YouTube either.

I’m obviously frustrated that Google is even asking me.

I’m not writing an essay here. Just thoughts off the top of my head. And I hate that I even have to put that caveat in here. I DON’T want to watch every single fucking word I use on this blog or anywhere on the internet. (Let me Google this guy David _____; ah, I see, look at the limited range of his vocabulary. Not a very articulate guy). Or analyze whether or not I really want to publicly associate a YouTube video with my name. (I want to hire this guy, but, did you see some his YouTube videos?)

I suppose I can sum up (my “blurb”) by acknowledging that I am frustrated with the path that the internet has taken. I liked it when it was expected that you would use a pseudonym on the internet. Only public figures made their identities public. Many people would only ever know you by your pseudonym. You decided who among your acquaintances got to learn about your pseudonym. Now, everyone chooses to be a public figure. And I wonder, why would you do that?

I know most of this is nonsensical, and I hate that I even have to worry about that. If I could merely be “Toastie”, I wouldn’t.

I am so sick of my Top 379

That being said, I will soldier on and post my entry for #379 tomorrow, #378 the following day, and so on and so forth. #1 will be posted on January 13, 2013.

I finished my four-month process of rating songs yesterday. The list is done. Really, I could just dump the list on here and be done with it and move on. Since most of the list are pointers to the past, it might be best to just be done with this project.

But the whole point of the project, initially, was to have something else to blog about. This aim was derailed, though, as I spent all this time listening to music and almost no time planning the blog. I’ve had a bunch of ideas of what I’d want on the site but haven’t implemented anything.

Fortunately, I don’t really care about the first 100 or so songs, so if I do little more than dump a post with a video once a day for the first three months, I won’t feel like I’ve failed. I may eventually regain some enthusiasm for the project. However, I’ve really got more important projects to focus on, that are more relevant to bettering myself.

I still can’t decide if I go with a bare bones WordPress theme that I can build on or use a pre-fab theme isn’t ideal for what I’m doing but I can tweak as I go.

So the site is top379.com if you want to visit it, and I hope that you will. Subscribe to the feed in your reader of choice. I won’t mention it on here every single day. Maybe I’ll do weekly summaries.

Oh, so when I say I’m sick of the Top 379, I’m most sick of the music itself. Four months of listening to music that I like but that is, for the most part, critically maligned and that conjures up bad memories.

Maybe this project is a way of gradually weaning myself off of the stuff I’ve liked since I was 14.

Goal for 2012: Discover good music.

I hear Durham has this live music scene. What’s that all about? And are any of them Air Supply tribute bands?

Metablogging 2011.12.30

16 days without a post. I used to go five or six and declare I was on hiatus. I thought I would have something to say about this, but I don’t. I’ll try anyway. That’s what I used to do and suppose still do on rare occasions…just do some stream-of-consciousness writing and see where it goes, not worry about where it goes, and post it as-is.

I used to write about politics every other day. Or, rather, I’d post about politics. I’d typically just post a link to or an excerpt from something I had read, or a video. I don’t typically trust the integrity of my own arguments to write any extended commentary. But it was something. I’m not going to look it up, but I must have had dozens of posts with the tag ‘election 2008’. Actually, it’s easy enough to look up. 90. I had 90 posts related to the 2008 election. The 2012 election? One post. I haven’t lost interest in politics. I’m reading about politics every day. I’m done with cable, so I don’t hear the sound-bytes 40 times a day. I don’t hear Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann’s commentaries. But I’m still very much attuned to what’s going on and have strong opinions. But I’m not sharing them. I don’t have a good reason for not doing so. I just haven’t.

I used to post about lots of random things. I suppose all those random things wind up as Facebook posts. Maybe 90% of my blog posts from several years ago would’ve simply been Facebook posts in 2011. The reality is that if your goal is share thoughts and information with people, you’ll reach more people on Facebook than with a blog…well, if your blog has an insignificant readership in the first place.

Still, I like that I own my blog. Mark Zuckerberg owns whatever I or anyone else posts on Facebook. As long as I pay for my domain and web hosting, this is mine. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, this would all be gone in a couple of months when my hosting provider shut off my delinquent account. I suppose I could figure out how to automatically mirror this site on wordpress.com. But now I’m being morbid.

Back to the State of My Blog. So I post pictures…of a vacation…of the pets. I post music I like, which I know is of no interest to anyone. Still, I’ve persisted with this Top 379 project, which I’ll have a post about later on.

There were the kidney posts. Those get a bit old. I’ve stil got ongoing issues, but I don’t know if they warrant posts. Then again, since I avoid any type of support groups or forums, venting about these ongoing issues would probably be therapeutic.

Blogging has always been therapeutic…except when it hasn’t been…and it’s been a chore to post just for the sake of posting. Once I start being selective about what I post, when I think too hard about what’s worth a post and what’s not, that’s when the blog is a chore. Went I post random stuff on a whim, I think that’s when it’s actually therapeutic. That’s probably also when anyone reading this actually finds the blog more interesting. Though, I shouldn’t really care what anyone reading this finds interesting. It’s not like I make money off of page views.

Ok, so I started off with nothing to say and said a bunch. It may have been a bunch about nothing, but that’s something.

Note to self

You do need to take a sleep aid from time to time because your medications can cause insomnia. However, you should not blog after you have taken the sleep aid. Unfortunately, this advice may go unheeded, since at the time of publication, you have no idea that you’re blogging something you’ll wish you hadn’t the following day. Seriously, you’ve got dozens, if not hundreds, of unpublished drafts. They remain drafts for a reason.

Top 379 ramble/preview

I have been rating songs for three months now. My spreadsheet is huge. (Yeah, that does warrant mocking. My spreadsheet is HUGE!) I’ve cheated and calculated the in-progress ratings a bunch of times. (No, there’s no purity to my methodology.) I’ve been obsessing over which songs are going to be in the Top 10, which I won’t even reveal for another 13 months. I’ve been obsessing over which songs will make the cut in the Top 370s. I’ve been obsessing over all of the music I like.

Maybe I haven’t mentioned that I’m happy with the music I like. I’m in full-embrace mode. I love this music. It doesn’t mesh with what anyone likes (for the most part). People have their favorite bands and maybe some nostalgia for 80s ballads, but I have a ridiculous affinity for these songs, and even more so for the schlockiest of easy listening ballads. I embrace schlock. I embrace cheese.

If I knew anyone who’d go to karaoke with me, I’d gladly go and butcher all of these songs (after a drink or two). (Volunteers? Seriously. I’ve karaoked about four times in my life, and I’ve always wondered why I don’t do it more.)

Stream-of-consciousness interruption…how I also wish I’d just say to hell with it far more often and just write…just embracing typing whatever is on my mind, and being self-absorbed enough to imagine that the world actually cares what’s on my mind…

I’m going to execute on this Top 379 idea, and I’m going to do the site, even if I only have one person other than myself actually following it.

Oh, and Top379.com is live! Nothing to see. The logo is a placeholder doodle for now. The real logo will likely be a slightly more coherent doodle.

And, of course, a Top 379 preview, which I think would be awesome with interpretive maracas during the bridge at the 3:20 mark.