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

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.

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.

Accidental (?) Reader

So when does a healthy appetite for new things to read get out of hand? Easy, when friends and relations start making suggestions.

My friend Rebecca pointed out in her trademark low-key fashion that the biography of Stalin written by E. Radzinsky was depressing, but excellent. OK, normally this would be out of my comfort zone, but an endorsement like that couldn’t be ignored.

In the process of acquiring said book, Amazon (wily temptors that they are) suggested a couple more Robert Massie books. My son John had suggested Dreadnought to me over the holidays and I enjoyed reading all 1,000 pages of it. How did Amazon know? End result, a couple more largish books entered the queue.

My daughter Sarah sent me the Hank Green book as well.

My science fiction jones is being fed by James Cory and Alistair Reynolds. Chaim Potok had a sequel to a book I love and thus another was snagged.

You won’t see much of me in the coming days. Should I stop responding to queries, you might want to send search and rescue. This is the reader part of the equation.

Eudaemonia

“…See you can’t please everyone,
so you got to please yourself…”
Ricky Nelson

In a fit of COVID-confinement boredom, I recently took advantage of a six month membership offer for a popular dating website. Anything but boring. Between Netflix, Starz, and this, my free time has pretty much evaporated.

It’s been a real education for me on a number of levels, having been out of the dating world for more than 23 years. The people watcher in me has had a field day reading all the profiles, which range from desperate appeals to unwarranted arrogance and mirrors I wouldn’t mind owning. The people I’ve corresponded with (pretty much all you can do in the current wait-for-my-vaccine environment) have largely been interesting, accomplished, and attractive; while some few are batshit crazy. Crazy has its own appeal, but you shouldn’t have doubts about waking up around them.

The author sees it as an opportunity to create character profiles for use in upcoming books. No names or attribution, just personalities and physical descriptions. Talk about a dual use upside! Heck, I might even sell a few books as potential dates kick tires and check my teeth.

I’m having way too much fun with this!

Good Times, Bad Times

“..Sometimes you’re the Louisville Slugger, sometimes you’re the ball..”
Mark Knopfler, “The Bug

It’s been that kind of year, hasn’t it? In my case, I’m seeing only a subset of the challenges of COVID19. Being mostly retired, my income hasn’t been significantly impacted but other challenges have risen instead.

I recently was diagnosed with a medical issue needing an immediate start of treatment, but COVID19 made it impossible to see or be examined by a doctor in person. One could have gone to an emergency room, but it would have only led back to the same queue awaiting treatment, as emergency room doctors aren’t the right type to deal with the problem.

After a month of negative COVID19 tests I actually got in to see a doctor. Cutting to the chase, I started treatment last week – four months after the initial diagnosis. Better late than never, right?

In the meantime, a friend of mine gave me an idea to do a Dear Leader Tales anthology of short stories, in time to be released prior to the election. We just closed the submissions period and are reading/scoring the 300+ stories now. So in between treatments, the daily work of publishing continues!

When you’re a ball, sometimes it pays to spin things around to where you’re back on the Slugger side of the equation. Especially if you can produce something which will bring joy; if not to readers, then to the authors being paid for the use of their work. All in all, that’s a win-win situation.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Hobbit Birthday Celebrations

Inspired by a close acquaintance and her hobbit birthday celebrations, I’m celebrating my birthday by offering the Kindle version of Martyrs al-Sabra free to all on Amazon for the next five days. Pick it up!

If only the print version will do, and you want an author-signed version, they can be found here.

Chasing Eleven Available

Chasing Eleven was released this week. It’s a collection of my short stories, early versions of some have been shared on the site, but others are definitely new.

The foreword is exerpted below.

“The title and concept for Chasing Eleven is inspired by an iconic scene from the movie Spinal Tap; specifically, a conversation between characters Nigel Tufnel and biographer Marty DiBergi:

“..If we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?”

“You put it up to eleven.”

“Exactly! It’s one louder.”

“Why don’t you just make ten louder, make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”

(long pause as Nigel considers the possibility)

“These go to eleven…”

What does that have to do with a collection of short stories? More than is initially apparent! I’ve found certain behaviors in myself and others invariably becoming a source of rueful amusement. Generally, this occurs when a person is so focused on a singular obsession they ignore all external indications they may be incorrect and persist in likely folly.

Think of a poker player, betting all-in while drawing to an inside straight. The odds of pulling that one card is very low, but the gambler ignores them, betting everything left, sure this is the one time it will happen. Indie authors are kind of like that: persisting regardless of ample evidence to heaven’s vast indifference. Why each writer persists varies by the individual, but is closely tied to the reasons they write in the first place.

As for me, I’m just chasing eleven.”

It was fun pulling it together, Sarah Kalin – Editor helped me trim some of the more self-indulgent elements into something more or less cohesive.  I hope you enjoy it!