Father’s Day 2022

Father’s Day started with a bang at 8 am, Sarah and I participated in the 2022 Mountain Swim Series – Solstice Swim 1.2 mile race in Union Reservoir, Longmont.

As one of the two codgers (over 65 years old) in the race, I did pretty well in relative terms. Objectively, the race organizers didn’t properly lay out the course and it was significantly shorter than the nominal distance stated. (the winning times would have set world records if the distance had been correct) So my times were better than expected but the distance wasn’t credible. My results are here, which even has a link for my video finish. The organizers screwed up the awards too, as I actually placed second rather than the 3rd one given to me.

After the race, we met up with a friend and enjoyed a great brunch. We met this fellow waiting in the line.

After a nap, I rejoined my friend for a City Park Jazz Concert picnic with Hazel Miller headlining. What a great day!

Dating Epiphany

One thing I’ve noticed about the online dating scene is that I learn something with every encounter. Some things are about the world in general, and others specifically apply to me.

A woman, I met online, brought up the topic of philosophy and religion. On the dating applications I have always found it difficult to answer the “Religion” question due to all of the options not being fully applicable. I’ve tended to say I’m agnostic, which doesn’t really answer the question for someone to whom it matters. The Christians all assume I can be brought back into their fold, when the only reason I don’t say “Atheist” is that I can’t prove the negative. All of the choices are inadequate to fully describe my views. After I explained that in some length, she took the conversation in a different direction by asking how I lived my life.

I responded that what matters most are the things you do, rather than what you say. What you say you’ll do and what you actually do should be in complete accord. How you treat people in general, being consistently ethical regardless of with whom you are dealing. It hadn’t escaped my notice over the years that religious belief certainly doesn’t make its practitioners ethical, in spite of the common assertion that religion is necessary to “teach” ethics or morality.  I’ve also noticed something I call “Tribal Ethics” where the members of a specific creed treat other members ethically, but are free to treat outsiders however they wish without moral consequence. I would consider that to be unethical myself.

I’m also fairly steady-state when it comes to emotional issues. If life throws a curve-ball, you deal with it and move on without bemoaning it for the next few years. It doesn’t mean a lack of emotion (which is conflated today as a sign of stoicism) it simply means you feel negative emotions at the time, deal with it as best you can and move onward without further complaint.

When it comes to how I interface with the larger world, I don’t require magical thinking to explain my place. If I act poorly, I don’t have the luxury of blaming “The Devil” for it – it’s me that’s the asshole. If I don’t understand something, I don’t make up something supernatural to explain or justify it.

After listening to all of this, she tells me I’m a Stoic from a philosophical standpoint. I remembered a few things from college philosophy, but needed to refresh what I knew before I could agree.

First I learned Stoicism is applied philosophy rather than a religion. It builds off of man’s technological understanding of the universe without the need for an activist “god” to fill the empty space. The Stoic applies force of will towards behavioral goals such as courage, justice, moderation, and wisdom. As with any philosophy, the practitioner will not always live up to the ideal, but the goals are fairly straightforward. The Stoic learns then applies, and repeats this cycle endlessly. Self actualization before it was a 20th century thing. Again it fits my behavioral model.

What is the reward? Not heaven or paradise in a magical setting, but a life well-lived and admirable. Meeting death without fear or bewailing fate. Seriously, what more can anyone ask? In a practical sense, I was to witness soon thereafter that Stoics can also be hypocritical, but then I think all humans share in that failing to some degree. It doesn’t mean you can’t work on it.

So now when it comes to any questions regarding religion, I’ll use the term “Stoic” as my choice. Whether the world understands the term or not is irrelevant. It’s a more thoughtful and truthful answer than the alternatives provided.

A Stoic take on lying, as an example:

“By lying, we deny others a view of the world as it is. Our dishonesty not only influences the choices they make, it often determines the choices they can make—and in ways we cannot always predict. Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to.”
Sam Harris

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Random Quote

“..I’m no Stephen King. However it turns out I’m in really good company, as these days even Stephen King isn’t Stephen King.”
Dan M. Kalin

March 2022 Production

Starting once more to track monthly writing production. Lots of ups and down, but it does provide a baseline to improve.

Active projects for the month.
Daily production and cumulative total for the month.

Masters Swimming – CO State Championship

This weekend I participated in the USMS Colorado Short Course Championship held in Thornton, CO. All in all it went very well, all times were improved significantly, earned 38 points for my team, and scored two t-shirts. Not a bad weekend.

This weekend was even better when the below canvas print was waiting for me after the meet. I hung it where a different Blue Boy used to be and I quite like it.

Canvas print from Huntington Museum.

Online Dating

Many online profiles start with something like “My friends describe me as…”

What we’d rather know is “My ex-lovers describe me as…” Just keeping it real.


A woman sends me a message and leads with the line.. “My favorite quote for conjuring a visual – dead head sticker on a Cadillac .”

OK, Eagles reference, but surely I can come up with a visual quote too. In response I sent, “..barroom eyes shine vacancy, to see her you’ve got to look hard..”

I think she’s still running, haven’t heard from her since. 😉 This boy knows how to clear a room!


Came across a great profile; she’s attractive, athletic, and had a checklist of things she’s looking for in a match.

“My ideal lifelong partner has the following attributes : Sense of humor, (life is too short and perversely complex not to have one), mischievous, confident, honest, intelligent, cultured, emotionally supportive, and financially independent. (Gentleman, am I asking for too much?)”

Reading through the list, I’m getting all excited, since I’m checking off all the boxes.. until I read the last requirement. Gentlemen! Sadly I’m unqualified for the title. I will say however, as a gentleman-nought, no you aren’t asking for too much. 😉

Image by Erika Wittlieb

The Vanishing Part

Awhile back I was speaking to a friend and mentioned the concept of “Layers of Meaning” which an author can use to convey more complex ideas or concepts. I could tell from the reception that she didn’t really understand it, and I did a poor job of explaining. Something as simple as a title can be immensely complex with the right perspective. Take the title of this short piece, The Vanishing Part, as an example.

I could be referring to the process of getting older, many writers have commented on how the aged slowly become more invisible as they age, mainly because the young are conditioned to increasingly ignore them. While not true invisibility it stands in for the concept, as what is invisibility without the relative perception of others?

There are other plays on aging; the disappearance of muscle mass, color of the hair, clear unwrinkled skin, clear and brightly colored eyes, many other things. In this context, the vanishing part could be the process of losing those things.

Along the same lines, it could simply reflect an impending haircut which eliminates the length of hair necessary to make a successful part. That could be a lifestyle choice or a succumbing expedient response to a receding hairline.

How about the social? What if it really refers to an upcoming divorce and the vanishing part refers to what is being elided from your life? Or take that a bit further, and make it self-referential, detailing how you plan to vanish slowly from a social circle that has been outgrown or made redundant.

What if it is vanishing from your current identity completely? The dismantling of an entire self in fire until there is nothing left to find. Perhaps a phoenix then rises up with bright new feathers to live a completely different life. The concept has a bright appeal for anyone with regrets, and who does not have regrets?


Take Samuel, a sixty-something with three solitary children and a second wife. For some time he has wondered whether his continued presence and the playing of his role signifies a marked lack of ambition on his part. In the end analysis, he subjugated his own desires to serve those closest to him for more than 25 years and continues to do so in a gradually reduced capacity.

The children have flown the coop as children do, and who would want it otherwise? Not Samuel. So far the children have not fallen into the long haul of having children themselves, so there isn’t much call for being a grandparent. Samuel is secretly happy he hasn’t had to engage, children are so messy and a pain in the ass if you view it objectively. Samuel is beginning to see many things objectively.

His second marriage has changed, as all marriages do given a surfeit of time. His wife has developed extreme hearing problems, which require the use of hearing aids when working. At home alone with him, she never wears them. Samuel has caught his wife nodding at verbal points he didn’t make, and laughing at jokes she didn’t get, almost knowing him well enough to complete the deception. Almost. He talks to the dogs now, and they understand most of what he says. Most.

Dogs are the one thing which ties Samuel to marriage and home. Two old rescue girls, whose crowning joys are his weekly dog-food making chores and the twice daily walks around their Florida neighborhood. Conveniently their street makes a 1 mile loop and, since the girls are older now too, seldom is more than one lap needed.

Samuel’s wife has taken up with a cabal of divorced friends from the tennis club. Occasionally, he catches her looking at him with a slight curl of the lip. As though she has discovered something unpleasant, marring her otherwise perfect home. Samuel would ask after it normally, but invariably her hearing aids are not installed, and communication would be an exercise in futility. Even if she could hear him ask “What’s wrong?” the answer would likely be the usual “Nothing.” Samuel feels as though he is becoming the nothing she refers to. So the questions are best kept to himself.

One day, on his walk, he passes a home whose lawn is seldom mowed. The edge, even when mowed, impinges on the straight line of the sidewalk itself, uncut being underneath the blades of their mower. On a whim, Samuel reaches down with his hand and trims the grass for one sidewalk rectangle, flinging the cut grass back onto the lawn for its eventual absorption.  Taking a few more steps, with two impatient dogs, he looks back at the newly anomalous straight line in the one section of sidewalk. Nodding as if in agreement with something only he hears, he turns and continues around the block.

That night, Samuel tosses and turns, with fevered dreams he later cannot remember. His wife lies on her back unmoving and unaware, miles away on the other side of their memory foam bed. Once in jest he had bought some lilies and placed them within her hands as she slept. The next morning they were still there, a joke she did not appreciate when she woke from her own rest.

Samuel wakes up and goes to the kitchen to start the morning coffee. The girls, after a short visit to the backyard, are in full lobbying mode for their breakfast. Samuel eats his oatmeal, drinks some coffee, and cleans up a bit prior to taking the girls out for their morning walk. Strangely, he can’t wait to see the place where he trimmed back the grass, to see how it looks with a day elapsed. As he turns the corner, the section with its clean edge is immediately obvious and oddly pleasing. Without giving it much thought, he reaches down once more and trims another section of sidewalk before continuing on his way.

The next few days, he trims more and more until the entire section is clear and clean. The areas where it has started to regrow, he retrims. Each day he knows it will be there and it gives him pleasure to see it, although he would have a difficult time identifying pleasure’s source. Perhaps the imposition of order where chaos once ruled, or perhaps something which owes itself solely to his continuous existence.

Lately, he has become concerned about a growing lump on his neck. It isn’t like anything he has seen before, but doctors remain reluctant to be convinced via teleconference. Getting an in-office appointment requires a heroic quest of its own, but eventually it’s arranged. Cancer found in the right tonsil, followed by immediate surgery to remove it and plot a course forward. Samuel’s wife and her silence continues, she’s willing to help out pro forma, but doesn’t really have the time. She provides transportation to the surgery center and back once, but proves too busy to do anything else. Duty, not love, where only love will do. Her view is that his cancer is easily survivable and nothing much to worry about. Perhaps.

Cancer, a club no one wants to join, but once in you find only other members understand the scope of the changes. Kindred spirits on their way to vanishing as well.

Treatment is seven weeks of daily radiation, mostly to the right side of his neck, with a weekly dose of chemotherapy as an adjunct. Samuel drives himself to treatments every day, and sits for the five hours of chemotherapy once a week. Samuel has only told his children of his condition, his relatives are mostly religious, and he doesn’t have the patience to endure last minute proselytizing. Even less than usual, patience vanishing.

In treatment, Samuel’s verbal responses are automatic, engaging on a superficial level. Everyone is wearing masks due to COVID, but patients wear the additional mask of giving caretakers the responses expected. Weight is melting off his frame steadily, fat, muscle, and bone density. Vanishing. He’s moved into the guest bedroom, because his getting up in the night disturbs his wife.

Samuel still walks daily with his dogs, and trims the sidewalk every day with his own hands – maintaining its order and rightness. No one seems to notice except for him, maybe the works of his hands are also vanishing.

After treatment concludes, radiation and chemotherapy have had their way. His hair, which wasn’t all that full to begin with, has fallen out in patterns reflecting radiation exposure. One benefit, his neck no longer needs to be shaved, but the absence of hair detracts from his usual look. He books an appointment with his barber, who initially balks at the request for a clean sweep. She comes around as she sees what hairline is left, works, and jokes there is no need for a part anymore when finished. His part, vanished.

When Samuel got home, he knocked on the door of his wife’s office. When she is listening, with hearing aids installed due to the workday, he asks for a divorce. A marriage, vanishing.

Three months later, living alone in a townhome, he books a mover to complete vanishing. Nothing left but the essentials, it’s time to finish. Bathing in the flames of his past, he works to complete a transformation. Vanished.

Who is the person with bright eyes, in a new city, a blank slate of friends – ready to be defined? Surely nothing so simple as Samuel.

All rights reserved (C) 2022 D. M. Kalin

Image by Skylarvision

Online Dating

When a woman, no matter how attractive she is, starts her dating profile with something along the lines her faith is very important to her, Jesus is her navigator, etc. I give them a hard pass. They already have a man in their life and I’m not into threesomes.


One woman’s profile read, “I always curate my appearance, home, and cuisine to provide a suitable style..” My advice to all prospective matches, run away as fast as you can, because if you get involved with this woman, she will be curating you into a “suitable style” as well.



What it says: “Looking for a trustworthy man”
What it means: “My last relationship was with a cheater”

What it says: Favorite trait for a partner – kindness
What it means: “Don’t be critical of anything I do”

What it says: “Looking for a partner on my worldwide adventures”
What it means: “I’m looking for someone to fund my worldwide adventures.”

As is only fair, here are excerpts from my own profile examined the same way.

What it says: “Intellectually nimble athletic women are irresistible.”
What it means: “Looking for women who are fit and witty.”

What it says: “Humor is very important…”
What it means: “Don’t be triggered by humor and actually have a sense of humor”

What it says: “Unpretentious”
What it means: “I wore suits every day for 30 years, not wearing one for Sunday dinner.”

What it says: “Musical interests wide-ranging  and there is always music playing at my house.”
What it means: “Our musical interests need to be compatible.”

What it says: “Grew up in So. California, traveled and worked most of the world..”
What it means: “I know which places I don’t ever want to return to as well as those I do.”

What it says: “Tonsil cancer survivor in complete remission.”
What it means: “Keep walking if that is a problem.”

What it says: “Myers-Briggs INTJ-A”
What it means: “The last thing I need is an extroverted emotionally hungry vampire sucking all the oxygen out of a room.”

What it says: “Children are fully launched, have houses and TVs of their own.”
What it means: “My money and time are my own without external factors.”

Image by Erika Wittlieb

Masters Swimming – Yet Again

Saturday, I attended my first masters swimming since 2018. So many things have happened during that period and returning seems a bit like getting back to normal. I was swimming during the interim, I just wasn’t attending masters events other than ocean water swims. It always seemed like there was plenty of time to come back to it. However, things like COVID, cancer, cervical issues, divorce, and a cross-country move suggest otherwise.

I might have procrastinated a few years more but for the input of a friend who also swims. She wasn’t obnoxious about it, just persistent. Exactly what I needed to get off the dime, and I’m grateful. I swam 5 events and did better than I expected. (You always hope you will do better, but it doesn’t always happen) There is also some light at the end of the tunnel over being able to regain lost ground.

So, health permitting, I’ll be attending a lot more of these.

Helping a fellow swimmer keep count in their distance event.