Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Beach

I recently got a digital camera at Wal-Mart for less than $100, just a couple weeks ago. It's a Kodak EasyShare C813. I hated it at first, because the instruction manual is just a 'Getting Started' kind of manual, instead of a complete, thorough, detailed manual (which can be downloaded from their website, but I haven't gone there yet). So I had to find out how to operate it by using the 'What does THIS button do?' method, which is always a little scary, because you might mess something up and not know how to fix it. And it was very difficult to figure out how to download (or upload, or whatever) the photos to my computer. And it didn't work with Windows 98, so I had to use it on my laptop instead, which means I'm burning pictures onto a CD-RW to put them on my PC, since I had to abandon the struggle to make a connection between the two computers... it's a long story.

I'm going to use Flickr for my photos like my brother in Arizona does. His pictures are of anything he notices, things that are beautiful, weird, unusual, entertaining, or different from what he knew here on the east coast. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zombieite) Now that I have a camera, it suddenly turns out that there are a lot of interesting things that I want to show people.

I never wrote about the beach trip yet, but it would have been the perfect moment for my digital camera that I didn't have yet. I am taking pictures of bizarre and unusual animals and bugs and beautiful flowers and anything else that seems at all interesting. Normally I would have just seen things and said 'Hm, that's neat,' and then gone on with my life. Now I can say, 'Wow! That's neat! Get the camera!'

Every little thing is amazing. There's a line from a song I love, from years ago: 'Throw your arms wide, embrace all things, from small to tall, from fat to thin... Catch them all, toe to chin, and lose yourself in the wonder of things.'

I hadn't gone to the beach in years - not since college, in the mid 90s - but when Mom-Mom died I acknowledged her death by celebrating my own life for a day. So after I got out of Six Flags, which I already wrote about, I then headed towards the coast instead of going home. I had wanted to go to Cape May, but it seemed really far, and I was tired. So I just went to some random town, Avon Something, which is the first town you reach if you go directly to the ocean from Six Flags. There were a couple towns there, and I got so badly lost, I didn't know which town I was really in, so it might not have even been Avon Something. I just looked at my map afterwards, and saw a bunch of towns in the general area I was in, and the only one I can remember was Avon Something. Now I'm curious to check the map again but it's in my car. Darn it......... Okay, it's Avon By The Sea. Now that I found that out, it seems obvious.

When you get to Avon By The Sea, you are on a main road, and eventually you have to leave the main road, then just keep going straight towards the horizon and have faith that you will soon see the ocean. The main road doesn't have a big sign that says 'Ocean, this way ->.' I got off the main road and got onto a smaller road that went through some houses and small shops, and it was only a minute or two before I could see the ocean.

I felt shy and anxious. I didn't know if this was an area where you had to pay money or ask permission or tell somebody, 'Hey, I'm going to the beach now.' I didn't know if you could just walk right up to it. So I drove my car around for a few minutes just looking at everything. You had to pay for parking in some places, so I avoided those areas. There was plenty of room to park everywhere else.

I left my sandals and socks in the car. (Yes, I've been wearing sandals and socks. A long time ago we made fun of people who did that, but then it became a popular style. And I'm doing it for a reason, having to do with problems in my house, but that's another story.) It was around dinnertime. It was still warm but the sun wasn't directly overhead. I was already badly burned from being at Six Flags all day.

There wasn't much to notice on the way down to the water. However, if I'd had my camera, there would have been a lot more to notice. There's a reason for that. If I see something interesting and don't have the slightest idea what it is, I can take a picture of it and examine it more closely later on. The camera helps me get a better detail view of things up close. And I can think about them at a more convenient time, or look up a picture on the internet to compare it to whatever I'm looking at. So I would have been picking up the tiny crushed pieces of shells and the little clumps of seaweed, maybe, and taking pictures of them. Maybe I would have been able to find out their species.

The ocean itself is mostly flat and grey, to look at, so you don't really look at the ocean hoping for anything exciting to happen. There were a few boats out there, but they were not very interesting. I would have liked to see an old sailing ship from hundreds of years ago. Something like the Mayflower. (That made me laugh a lot, but it's true. I just pictured a bunch of immigrants coming over from Europe on one of those old sailing ships, and actually, that would have been amazing.)

This has to do with my recent interest in primitive tribes, self-reliance, and doing things that normal people can't do because those activities have been monopolized by the government (like aviation, which I'll write about sometime). A long, long time ago, if you felt curious about the ocean, you had to be responsible for designing your own boats that were strong enough and big enough to make it all the way across the ocean. I've heard that the waves are dozens of feet high in the windy areas, when the wind just crosses the ocean uninterrupted for hundreds of miles. The ship has to be the right size and shape to not get drowned.

(Oh no. This is going to be one of those situations where everything I say has a double meaning.)

Actually, those old sailing ships were still kind of 'monopolized by the government.' I remember Columbus was asking the Spanish government to give him money for the trip. I don't remember how the Puritans and all those people got the money for the trips when they went. I'm guessing they didn't actually OWN the Mayflower. The boats have always been really expensive. But I've heard stories about people who tested small, 'primitive' boats that successfully crossed the ocean in some places, although it might not have been all the way across the Atlantic.

I just don't like the idea that you HAVE to have some impossibly expensive ship which can only be bought with borrowed money or government money. I like thinking that if I absolutely had to do it myself, somehow I could. Not just me alone, but a relatively small group of people, using less money, making our own design, without any government regulations.

I had on my ordinary clothes that day, so I just walked in the edge of the water. Along the edge there were these things that looked like thick round pieces of glass. I would have taken pictures of them. They were all over the place, lying out on the sand. Why would round pieces of glass be everywhere? They were about the size of the bottom of a glass jar. I thought that's what they were. So when I touched one with my finger, it was totally unexpected. It was a squishy jelly thing, not glass. I jerked my hand away and was afraid it would start stinging, but it didn't. It was some kind of jellyfish but not the type that stings. I couldn't see any 'moving parts,' no legs or tentacles or whatever moves a jellyfish through the water. I guess they were dead.

I walked along for a while and it was peaceful and refreshing. I let my ankles and legs get soaked but I didn't want to drive home in soaking wet clothes. (The herbal contamination disaster made everything more complicated than it used to be. It really is a terrible situation. I actually have to be cautious about things like wet clothes touching the fabric of the car seat, and it's really hard to explain these things to anybody. It makes me wonder about other people who have attempted to grow dangerous herbs indoors - how many people experienced anything like what happened to me?) Next time I go I'll be more prepared.

There is a constant wind that blows in from the water. I took meteorology class and I used to know the reason why that wind blows all the time. It's perfect for flying kites or testing your primitive, homemade glider, which I was fantasizing about. (The P-word, 'primitive,' is going to be everywhere, for a while. That's the new focus. Primitive tribes, primitive tools and weapons, and so on. The idea is 'anything you can make, by yourself or with a few other people, out of materials in your own backyard, without spending money.)

I wasn't alone when I went to the beach. I still heard voices. I'd like to go someplace where I didn't hear them anymore. I'd like to just hear the silence of my own mind. I'd like to think my own thoughts and feel my own feelings. So the beach wasn't as peaceful as I would have liked it to be. They wanted me to show off and go swimming, so that I would be interesting to look at. But I didn't.

I walked around behind a couple fisherman, so that I wouldn't walk under their fishing lines. Nobody caught anything while I was there. After that, I reached a sign that said you had to have a 'badge' to go on the beach there. I didn't have a badge, but I walked through anyway, and looked around at everybody else to see what the badges looked like. I only saw one or two people with badges. But it was much more crowded there, and I felt self-conscious, and eventually I just turned back.

A couple times I dug into the sand, hoping to find the tiny little lavender colored clams that dig down into the sand after you expose them. They're very small, just a couple millimeters. But I didn't see any of those. I remembered them from a long time ago. You can actually watch them quickly burrowing back down to hide.

I looked for seaweed too and found some. I was afraid to touch the seaweed, but I touched it anyway. I thought it might be poisonous. Nothing happened though. It was dark green and had air sacs, round bubbles to make it float. I don't know enough about seaweed to remember whether it's supposed to be anchored down someplace, or whether it just floats around all the time. A lot of them stay attached to rocks. I'd like to know which kinds are edible, but I don't know if there's too much pollution in that area to eat the local seaweed. It didn't LOOK very polluted.

After a little while I went back to my car, and I was covered in sand which was clinging to my pants. It got all over the floor of the car, but I don't mind it. Then, I struggled to escape from the town. That was the hardest part of the whole trip. Well, not as difficult as getting past Philadelphia on the way back. But I just could not get out of that beach town. I kept trying to get back to the road I thought I was on, and couldn't find it. I went in circles over and over again while being nagged by and arguing with 'the voices.' They said I must be deliberately trying to evade my followers, and I explained that no, I was sincerely lost. Hopelessly lost, and getting angrier and more frustrated every minute. I was sick of driving in circles through that town trying to find the main road. Every time I got on a main road, it took me miles in the wrong direction before I decided that this wasn't it. The map wasn't detailed enough - I could kind of see what I had to do, but there was one little area where I had to just guess.

This 'getting hopelessly lost' phenomenon is actually a new thing. It didn't used to happen to me very much in the past. It has happened a lot lately, and it always involves a lot of arguing with 'the voices.' In the past, I would get briefly lost and then find my way to wherever I was going relatively easily. I'm becoming suspicious that 'getting hopelessly lost' might not be entirely my fault.

Well, I finally made it back to the main road. The rest of the trip home wasn't really interesting enough to write about in detail, except for the Philadelphia problems. I knew that 'getting hopelessly lost' in the Philadelphia area was not a good thing. After the difficulties at Avon By The Sea, I knew Philadelphia would probably be a disaster. It was tricky on the way in, on the first trip, when I was trying to find the hospital my grandmother was in, and I got stuck in a big traffic jam. So, on the way home, I wanted to avoid the worst of it.

I pulled off the road before I reached Philadelphia, and set out to deliberately, carefully plan the route I would take. This upset the voices very badly. They got angry and started zapping me and interrupting me while I was carefully focusing on the map. I got out a piece of paper and wrote instructions for myself, as detailed as I could make them, and I even drew a little picture of which roads were where.

The voice arguments, when I was driving, would cause me to get lost, because sometimes they would tell me things that were true and accurate, and other times they would tell me things that were inaccurate, or not detailed enough, too vague and confusing, or just wrong. Since I am in a first-person view, and they seem to be in a satellite view (I assume), it must look easy to them. I can't just listen to their instructions and trust that if only I drive twenty miles in some direction, I'll get where I want to go. I have no idea whether it's going to be twenty miles or twenty feet, because they're never very specific. They'll say stuff like 'You're going the wrong way' without saying which is the right way. Is it 180 degrees behind me? Is it 90 degrees to the right or left of me? Which one of a thousand different possibilities is it? There are infinity ways to go wrong. Just telling someone that they're going the wrong way isn't very helpful. It just makes them anxious and confused without providing any information.

It's possible that humans use a magnetic compass in their brains, in their bodies, like other animals do. There are magnetic structures in the brain that do, in fact, get attacked and used by people who are doing electronic harassment. I don't know the details of it - it's been a long time since I read about the exact method of interacting with the magnetic structures in the brain. I remember that I used to just feel a vague sense that I had to go some way. Nowadays, trying to 'just feel' anything at all is impossible. If I silence my mind and pay attention to feelings and sensations, I get zapped and interrupted within seconds, almost immediately.

So in that way, while the trip was enjoyable, I still never completely got away from the things that are bothering me.

So I struggled with the map and my instructions. I was careful, and I concentrated as hard as I could, but I kept getting interrupted. It turns out that there was this green line, which was hard to see, since it didn't have much contrast with the other background lines on the map of Pennsylvania, and it actually went underneath the fold in the center of the book on the New Jersey map. The little green line, 276, which I totally overlooked, was the line that I really needed.

I made this plan for how I would avoid Philadelphia by going up north around Trenton. It was all going to work perfectly. I was sure I had everything right. But I was supposed to get on the little green line, and I didn't, so I went looking for other roads instead. And I ended up going all the way down through Philadelphia, looking for some way to get on the road I wanted. I saw a couple of opportunities, but I thought they were wrong, because I didn't understand something. For instance, one sign made it look like you could get on a road that went east, but not west. I wanted west. It was the right road number, but the wrong direction. So I didn't get on that exit. I skipped it. The voices complained that I had missed three (I think) chances, so far, to get where I wanted to go. They had told me 276 was what I wanted, but I didn't think so, because I thought 276 was going parallel to me. Since they can't REALLY read your mind all that well, they never seem to understand WHY you're doing what you're doing. They can talk, they can complain, but they never really understand you very well. So nobody was able to argue with me, or ask questions, and find out that I mistakenly believed 276 was going parallel to me. All they could do was tell me that I did the wrong thing, and then nag and complain for a really long time. If somebody had understood that I was imagining 'parallel,' then we could have worked it out, and said, 'Oh, wait a minute. No, it's not parallel. It goes directly west to 76.' This is one reason why the mental phenomena really do waste a lot of my time and energy and cause a lot of stress. They know how to complain, but they don't know how to understand. But I don't believe that the voices are there to make my life BETTER.

I went all the way down to Chester, where I finally got on 476 going north. The whole plan had been ruined. If there had been no voices telling me to do things, I might have tried some of the roads that I slightly suspected were going where I wanted to go. If I had been able to concentrate while reading the map, I might have noticed the little green line saying 276. And even if I had made mistakes or done things imperfectly, there should have been no 'imaginary audience' criticizing and disapproving of everything I did. There should have been nobody there but me.

Aside from those conflicts, the whole trip overall actually was a very happy, special time. I never go on vacations or do much of anything entertaining. I wondered whether there was anything inappropriate about going on a fun adventure because my grandmother died. But when I told people about it at work afterwards, most people responded with something like, 'Wow, that's cool.' They didn't say 'You shouldn't have gone to Six Flags and the beach after your grandmother died.'

There really is a mental 'cage' around me most of the time. (See this link: http://www.working-minds.com/WMessay70.htm and http://www.working-minds.com/WMessay30.htm) I don't know how much of it I created myself. I don't know how much of it was created by other people. The cage said I couldn't go do anything adventurous or entertaining, especially if it costs money.

The New Jersey trip got me mostly out of the cage for a while. And now my new camera is doing the same thing. So I'll mention it when I'm ready to put the photos on Flickr. (Sorry to disappoint everyone, but they're just going to be family-friendly, G-rated pictures of ordinary things. In a way, it's nice to have pictures of ordinary things in contrast to all the scary, difficult, traumatic things I write about in my blog. The pictures have a much happier feel to them.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The L-Word, old movies, Santa Claus, displaced people

Well, I used the L-word yesterday in my blog, which caused a lot of problems. The L-word is a word I normally don't use in my day-to-day life. (You know: 'one who loses.' The L-word.) I was writing that blog in haste just before work, and was trying to come up with 'random' nouns and things that would be funny for the D&D weapons. But past experience has shown that the worst insults tend to appear when my mind goes blank and I'm searching for some noun to fill in. Especially if something's meant as a joke and is taken personally or misunderstood. The whole rest of the day, and all night long, I heard voices saying 'I'm not a loser!' over and over again. So I figured I would clarify that. I don't use the L-word myself in any normal situation.

The L-word is similar to the N-word for black people. It's a word that you just never use for any reason, not even as a joke. I have a mental image of two kids, perhaps siblings - and this is somewhat based on my own childhood, but I think other kids had it much worse than I did. When I competed against my brother, in video games for instance, I was usually less competent and I almost always lost. If he had been obnoxious about it, he could have called me a loser and could have made fun of me. It wasn't quite that bad. He didn't actually call me a 'loser' - that particular word was never used. And my brother and I were always friends and we still are. In fact we've often said that we understand each other better than anyone else does. But even so, I grew up with the idea that I wasn't strong enough to compete against other people and win. I knew from the beginning that I should probably not try to compete.

I have seen other kids arguing with each other and it makes me angry to watch. If you imagine some hyperactive little brother pestering an older brother - and the kid's so young he can't really control what he's doing - the older brother could get angry and hate the younger brother for bothering him. I feel like this was a real incident I saw someplace - it might have been on television or a movie, though - but it was a scene with two young boys, two brothers, arguing and fighting and the one older kid was making fun of the younger kid and insulting him. And I think it was two black kids, and he called the other kid a nigger. But I can't remember where I saw this. I think the context where I saw it had something to do with people debating about the question, 'Is it okay for black people to call each other, or themselves, niggers?' I would say, no it's not. It's always a negative, insulting term, even if the person saying it to you could be called the same thing.

(*This whole discussion is getting distorted and manipulated. I have some people telling me what to say. We'll never know the real truth of how I myself feel about this issue.*) The older brother in the scene HATED the little brother. I'm sure it was a 'mixed feeling,' because you almost always feel some kind of attachment or love for your siblings and family members, even if they are abusive.

I know how that hatred feels, because I went for years and years being harassed and attacked constantly by people who never leave you in peace for a single second of a single day. I feel that hatred towards them, but I suppress it.

(*The way that they're interfering with this topic is that anytime I feel, or even talk about, my hatred or anger, about the fact of my being attacked constantly, it triggers some kind of defense mechanism in the disinformation system. They distort all of the feelings and emotions to be something other than what they are, to be something which is not legitimate or straightforward. It's like it's all a joke, or it's okay to inflict violent injury upon defenseless people, or like it's nothing but an 'enjoyable' domination-and-submission relationship - which it isn't. It's an attacker-and-victim relationship. There is nothing rewarding about it.*)

(*Over the years, when I was being manipulated to 'write to the hackers' over the keylogger and in emails, I used to insult them and hate them, because I was a puppet being forced to experience artificial emotions and urges and sensations, especially when I was on drugs, and I didn't understand what was going on. Every time I talk about that hatred, the 'disinformation system' distorts it to seem like we were just having some kind of fun, mutually rewarding interaction, and the suffering wasn't real - that it didn't matter - that I wasn't really considering suicide to get away from it - although actually, the 'considering suicide' phase only occurred whenever the really severe electronic harassment began, when people were shooting radio frequency weapons at me, and some kind of burning heat, and other things, all day long, and it was unavoidable.*)

But in a face-to-face relationship, kids will openly express their hatred towards whoever is bothering them, and they'll call the other kid names like 'loser' or 'nigger.' And the other kid isn't bothering them intentionally - they can't control themselves, or they're bored or lonely.

And the little kid grows up, getting angry every time he hears those insulting words again, and the words are extremely sensitive 'trigger' words for that feeling. It's the feeling that you're inferior to someone else who has power over you and is making fun of you, someone who hates you.

So, like I said, I wrote the L-word as a joke for my D&D items, but then heard voices all day and all night long protesting about it. It's one of those words that's so negative, it borders on being a curse word, although it wouldn't be censored if somebody said it on television.

I've been writing an excessive number of posts because I used St. John's Wort the other day to help me get some things done, and now, I'm in withdrawal, and I write a lot in that phase. I always use a miniscule dosage, by crushing the leaves inside a ziploc bag, and then inhaling from the bag, so that I get as little as possible. It might be amusing to imagine me doing this; however, believe it or not, this method of administration really works.

This is a couple of random and miscellaneous comments from things I was thinking and noticing during the past day or so, just silly things. I wrote them on a piece of paper.

I watched 'The Rescuers,' a 1980s movie (maybe even late 1970s?) about two mice who rescue a kidnapped little girl. Of course, now that I'm older, I can see things that look 'dated,' like the style of music in some places. But that doesn't take away from its being an enjoyable movie. But at one point, I noticed that the growling of the alligators sounded EXACTLY like the growling of the bear in 'The Polar Bear King,' another favorite movie. It sounded so similar, I thought that the sound technicians actually used the same sound clip. It's always amusing when this happens - it started happening when I heard songs that people wrote using Propellerheads Reason - I could sometimes tell you the exact name of the sound samples they used.

The big difference I've noticed between old children's movies, and recent children's movies, is that the older they are, the more they take things seriously. The old movies aren't filled with comedy, and if they are, it isn't stuff like (for instance) fart jokes. They do have some comedy, but it's somehow a different kind of comedy. It's a more mature or tasteful comedy, somehow. This isn't universally true; it's just an impression I have. In the late nineties and in the past few years, all the kids' movies have been nothing but fart jokes and that sort of humor, or humor based on the presence of an obnoxious character you can't stand to be around. Then again, you might argue 'Of course she would say that,' because those are the movies from MY time period, so of course I would think they're better than today's movies. Who knows. But they're definitely different.

But there is a real difference between the sci-fi tv shows of long ago, and those of today. If you watch the old Twilight Zones, they were simple, low-budget plots - low-budget is a key thing here. They didn't rely on lots of special effects to entertain you. Instead, they asked some kind of intriguing 'what if?' question and explored the idea. It didn't matter if it was silly or impossible. Since I don't have cable tv, and my tv antennas don't receive anything at this house, and I hate tv anyway and never watch it except at other people's houses, I can only try to vaguely recall some of the episodes I've seen, and I can't remember enough of them. But 'what if?' questions just don't seem to exist anymore! And if they do, they're never original or ingenious. They're shallow, not deep, and they follow the pre-planned pathways that have been followed a thousand times before. They never say anything surprising that didn't occur to you. Innocent naivete of invention just doesn't seem to occur on TV or movies.

But, long ago, when people wrote movie plots and tv shows, when people wrote any books or stories at all, they were able to create their own ideas, instead of having thoughts put into their heads. They could think 'uncensored' thoughts; they could think things that weren't 'approved' by the surveillance. They could ask questions we aren't able to ask today.

Of course, there's disagreement about this, amongst the people who believe somebody puts thoughts into our heads - we often aren't sure the exact year or time period in human history when people started experiencing this, and also, since we can only live up to about a century, eventually you get to where no living person remembers how life used to be, so they can't tell you. Soon, there will be no living person who remembers how it used to feel to meditate, or think, or feel emotions, or dream dreams, or invent ideas, or fantasize, or fall in love, or hold a conversation, or write, a very long time ago, when the world was different.

Another totally different topic. I don't recall what made me think of this. First I was thinking about Tax Freedom Day, and then somehow I was also thinking about Christmas. Tax Freedom Day, if you don't know what that is, is the day when, according to calculations, you've worked enough days out of the year to pay all your income taxes for that year. The rest of the year is the time that your money earned is 'for you.' If 1/3 of your money goes to taxes (that's an underestimate) then Tax Freedom Day will happen after 1/3 of the year has gone by - four months.

Well, I was thinking somewhat cynically that I celebrate Tax Freedom Day on December 31 at 11:59 PM.

That got me thinking of Christmas. As Tax Freedom Day occurs later and later each year, Christmas season begins earlier and earlier. (Just a few days ago, a guy walked through the grocery store wearing a Santa Claus hat, around August 15 or so.) I'm not sure whether this book is listed on my myspace page or not, but my friend Rachael long ago found a book called 'The Trouble With Christmas' by Tom Flynn. I already had been uncomfortable with Christmas, but it was that book that gave me the courage to officially stop celebrating it.

I HATE receiving gifts. This subject is so complicated I'm not sure I even have the energy right now to explain it. Receiving presents makes me feel angry. And I don't like giving gifts either. I always used to try to say, 'Well, if I don't bother giving anything to anybody, then hopefully, they'll stop giving ME gifts.' Unfortunately, it doesn't work this way. People will continue giving unwanted gifts to you, and then pat themselves on the back saying, 'It's better to give than to receive, therefore, I'm better than Nicole.' Of course, if you asked them, that's not how they would phrase it. But that's what I hear. I'll acknowledge that a lot of people sincerely love to give gifts, and they're not consciously thinking themselves superior to you, and the offense is unintentional. Like I said, this is a big topic and I could rant about it for hours and get angry. Maybe it needs a separate post.

Christmas is very strongly connected with ... well, with whatever economic system we have here in the USA. It isn't really capitalism. It's something that was originally inspired by capitalism. It's an artist's rendition of capitalism, perhaps. (*An artist's rendition of capitalism would be more like capitalism than what we have.*) Or something. Anyway, Christmas isn't an ancient holiday. It is based on some old holidays, but the huge holiday we have now is the result of the past two hundred years or so.

Our economic system involves a lot of large corporations borrowing money from the banks. It's explained better elsewhere why we have the problems we have - but the net result that I'm talking about is we have a lot of large corporations selling us stuff we don't really want or need and never asked for, while the stuff we really need very badly isn't available anywhere (like medical treatments). And one of the things they're selling us is Christmas presents.

There's a lot of twisted psychology behind Christmas presents. There's a competition to buy the most presents, or the most expensive presents, or the highest total dollar value of presents, or whatever. My first thought is of Dudley, in the Harry Potter books, who protested that he only had twenty-seven birthday presents this year, or however many it was. (I think it might have actually been 37. But I can't trust any numbers that seem to appear in my head randomly, because it was only just recently that 'they' started explaining to me the sexual activities represented by numbers. I already knew '69' but I didn't know what any of the other numbers meant. So every time I try to 'randomly' think of some number, I have to check and make sure it doesn't have any unintended symbols.) Anyway, the Christmas competition is a way to get you to waste enormous amounts of money on your credit cards, to make you an economic slave the rest of the year.

I'd like to find Rachael's essay about shaving. It's in my box of Ancient Texts somewhere. I remember in her research she found that the United States' obsession with shaving all the hair off our bodies was actually an artificial, manufactured custom created by corporations to get us to buy razors. It was originally a non-problem, which somebody decided we ought to feel ashamed and embarrassed about, so that they could sell us razors. She talked about the time period in the early 1900s when movies and television were being developed, and women started wearing shorter dresses in the movies, and somebody decided that the ankles should be smooth instead of hairy. It was a moneymaking opportunity. Make people feel ashamed of something which is perfectly normal and healthy, and then, sell them a 'cure' for it and get rich. Make advertisements on television and magazines so that people are constantly bombarded with images saying 'There's something wrong with the way you look. You should look like the people in this photograph.'

Come to think of it, it was during the beginning of the TV and movies era that they also started cutting women's hair short. Back then it was viewed as a rebellion against women's 'inferior' status. (That's in quotes because there's yet another book on my long list of authors I'm always quoting from: Warren Farrell. He writes about the men's point of view and the dangers and difficulties of their role. The idea is that women aren't always inferior.) In a way, I can understand that. But nowadays I think it's time for a counter-rebellion.

So that was similar to Christmas. Some activity or practice is made into a really big deal, through advertising and television, and then they sell you lots of stuff after you feel ashamed and inferior from watching the advertisements.

Tom Flynn noticed that the taboo on Christmas is very, very strong. I have noticed that too. Some of the worst fights and arguments I've had with people have been about my refusal to celebrate Christmas. He pointed out that you can find more scholarly research questioning the existence of God, and questioning the impact of God on people's psychology, than you can find about Santa Claus. There are hardly any serious studies questioning whether Santa Claus is healthy for children. When I've talked to people and suggested that they stop lying to their kids about Santa Claus - to never even BEGIN the Santa Claus lie - they FREAK OUT. This is a MAJOR topic of argument. The brainwashing is extremely strong and very traumatic. You cannot convince people that they shouldn't lie about Santa Claus, that they shouldn't ever pretend he's real. It causes real, serious damage to kids' trust in their parents. The intensity of brainwashing and trauma about Christmas and Santa Claus is very similar to that about circumcision. Our parents did it to us, so we'll do it to our kids. It must never be questioned.

I wrote in one of my old diaries about how I got in trouble, when I was a little kid, because I went around at school telling other kids that Santa Claus wasn't real. Tom Flynn says that kids should be supported by their parents, not punished, if they go around telling people Santa is a lie.

But I like to go around looking for Santas and telling people they're not real. I've always done that. No matter what the subject, I like to look around for 'non-mainstream, alternative viewpoints' on the subject. But then again you could accuse me of finding favorite viewpoints and sticking to them unquestioningly.

That's the new topic because 'they' have recently been trying to convince me that I'm an enneagram type Six instead of a Nine. This changing of my enneagram is really exhausting. Back when I first learned about it, I went around and around all the types and couldn't decide what type I was. Meanwhile, I was also being attacked anytime I tried to introspect, to meditate, to look at myself, to question myself, to observe anything at all. When your brain can't function because you're under constant attack, it's really hard to make any accurate self-observations. So eventually, they convinced me that I was a Nine.

And meanwhile people debate whether your enneagram type can change during your life. And also, they debate about the phenomenon of 'integration' and 'disintegration,' which is when you show attributes of other types during healthy times or unhealthy times.

I think there's still a lot of good reasons to believe I'm a Nine. But I'll keep thinking about it. It's interesting because those enneagram types can be used as a kind of goal-setting or role model, and healthy role models are very, very important.

However, it's also being twisted and used against me. For instance, I was studying bookkeeping, and some people decided I shouldn't be studying that, and they wanted me to stop. They engineered some artificial disasters this year to put an end to my study of bookkeeping. I had a wonderful couple of days out in the park, where I sat out in the sun, and worked on my book, and continued the education that I had dropped out of years ago, at a very low cost, with the Schaum's Outlines that I love so much. These study sessions were so successful that somebody decided I couldn't be allowed to continue. And the enneagram is now being used as a rationale for why I shouldn't be studying or learning any technical subjects whatsoever - it's being described as a negative thing, a sign of unhealthy behavior instead of healthy behavior. I really value those personality theories, but every time I think about them, a lot of conflicts and confusion appears, and it's almost always used to accuse me of doing something unhealthy that I shouldn't be doing, and I should be doing what 'they' want me to do instead.

If I ever get my secret underground cave, I'm going to fill it to the ceiling with every single Schaum's Outline ever written. If the government ever noticed how useful those books are, they'd make them illegal. I'll read them in my silent monastery all day long, surrounded by my shield, with no interruptions.

And the last topic on my little paper note was: 'displaced versus primitive people.'

Displaced people are people whose lives are unsettled by some disastrous event. The people whose lives were ruined in Iraq are displaced people. They wander the countryside looking for a safe place to settle down. They try to leave the country and they become refugees in neighboring areas. Their lives are unpredictable. They don't know where to find food or shelter. They feel unsafe. They get sick and die from small accidents and diseases that normally would be trivial. They have no resources.

During a depression, large numbers of people become unemployed. If the government behaves as stupidly as it behaved during the Great Depression, then those unemployed people become huge numbers of 'displaced' people. They wander the countryside looking for work in some faraway city where hopefully, conditions are better. They have no home, no safe place to live, no source of food or money, no shelter. They have no knowledge or experience of how to take care of themselves 'directly,' without spending money. They're analogous to declawed cats being thrown outside, denied food, and rejected by their former owners. (That happened to one of the cats we had at my ex-boyfriend's house. One of the neighbors got a cat, but then found out their kid was allergic to it. So instead of actually making an effort to give the cat away, or sell it, or advertise it, or do anything at all, they just pretty much slammed the door and wouldn't let him inside, and also, never gave him any food or water or love or attention at all. And he was old, fat, neutered, arthritic, and declawed, which meant that it would not be easy for him to take care of himself. That's how he ended up coming over to our house.)

There is a big difference between 'displaced' people and 'primitive' people. I've been thinking about primitive tribal life recently. They might live in the woods or in some non-urban area, eating plants and insects and local wild animals. However, they already have a 'routine' set up, a familiar lifestyle, a pattern. They already know how to find that food. They already know how to make their own shelters. They already know where to get clothing. They live a stable life, even though it is a primitive life without luxuries.

In that way, they can feel more comfortable and even more 'wealthy' than the displaced people. The displaced people might have a house someplace, full of furniture and stuff, but they have no electricity, or they're bankrupt, and they have no job. The house is useless without electricity. Well, not 'useless,' but rather, it's just another big box without a fireplace. The fireplace might be purely decorative. It might be a fake fireplace that actually uses electricity. It might use some special, specific fuel, like gas or coal, and no other fuel - and in the depression, you can't get those fuels anymore. Besides, even if they had a normal fireplace that could burn wood, they would need money to go buy the wood. They couldn't just go get their own wood by themselves.

And since they're unemployed, and they don't have any money, they can't buy any food at the grocery store. The grocery stores and restaurants are the ONLY places where food comes from, unless people want to go beg for food from friends, family, or strangers. Or from the government.

Meanwhile, primitive people won't have the wide variety of foods that are in the grocery stores. They'll have fewer luxuries. They might not have cane sugar, but instead will use honey as a sweetener, from beehives. (I just remembered, honey sometimes contains botulin, if that's the right name for it - the bacteria that causes botulism. Botulinum? My nutrition teacher said people had problems because they used to put honey on a baby's pacifier, and it made the babies get botulism. Supposedly it wasn't a problem for adults with their stronger immune systems.)

Anyway. They won't have fresh fruits and vegetables from California and Florida during the wintertime. However, they will at least have SOMETHING rather than nothing. They won't suddenly be stuck with no money and no idea where their next meal will come from. They might have dried fruits or canned foods. They might have some vegetables that have a long shelf life in storage, like cabbages.

Making a transition to a primitive, self-reliant lifestyle that doesn't require money: that's what I'm interested in right now. I have nothing against money as such. Money is something you need in a large, complex marketplace with millions or billions of people. But since we all know that money is controlled and distorted by the government, we'd like to get out of that economic system if we can. I talk about gold and silver, but there are also other items that can be hoarded - there's a word for this, and I've forgotten the word. I think it might have been Fekete who talked about it. You hoard things that are less marketable substitutes, less than gold and silver, but still pretty useful. Any kinds of metal at all are good for hoarding. Anything non-perishable.

The whole concept is that you transition some people back to a primitive, tribal, self-reliant lifestyle, with no government utilities whatsoever, and no government money - although I still picture us having some normal jobs, and hoarding money somehow - and so you have a group of primitive people who don't even feel a thing, when the depression hits. They don't get very displaced at all. But they also don't have the comforts and conveniences of modern life. However, if you live in a supportive community, you can gets lots of help from the people around you. And the discomforts and inconveniences are less unbearable if they're only PREDICTABLE. If you know ahead of time that every day you must do unpleasant task X, it's less difficult than if you suddenly discover, all at once, that you must now do A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and so on, and you have NO IDEA how to do any of those things at all, and neither does anyone else you know.

There's a reason why I still insist on earning some kind of money. I am not going to just abandon the need for some kind of shield to block out the unwanted intrusions in my mind. And I think that's going to require a lot of research and money.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Butcher

I used to play Diablo (the first one) when I lived with my ex-boyfriend. And the time period I liked the most was in the very beginning, when you were poor, weak, defenseless, and inexperienced, and your weapons and armor were practically worthless. Useless Rags of the Mouse, Shattered Helm of the Cockroach, Vulnerable Shield of the Loser, Dull Sword of the Doomed. That kind of thing.

And the first guy you had to fight was The Butcher. In some ways, the Butcher was the hardest guy to fight in the whole game. You had to fight him with practically nothing at all, and you didn't really even have skills or magic of any kind yet. He was terrifying.

I kind of feel like that right now. It's funny because the Butcher is a metaphor to me - I'm an animal lover, struggling to change into an animal killer. I'd like to learn how to hunt, and I've been reading the dietary advice of Weston A. Price, who talks about the nutritional benefits of eating the way primitive cultures eat. But it's very difficult to think of killing animals when I still see them as cute and lovable. So the Butcher is the first really difficult, challenging enemy I have to confront.

(I remember a time when I fought Baal - I think that was his name - in Diablo II, and there was a glitch - I think somebody did something through the cable modem - and I had to fight two Baals instead of one. And I won.)

(But the most difficult enemy I ever fought was the Jabberwock, on the hardest difficulty level, in American McGhee's Alice. He was awesome. I think he's a good symbol for disinformation and encryption.)

gold and silver price crash

how can it be that kitco is having problems delivering bullion? supposedly, their prices are the best possible prices imaginable in the entire universe, because we're all globally connected by computers, and the price is always, constantly, the best possible price of all worlds?

and yet, the price of gold and silver has dropped. and there is a lot of demand all of a sudden. doesn't that tell us the PRICE IS TOO LOW?

silver at $12.70? holy *#$@. that's all i can say. it's not really $12.70. and it won't be for long. and gold is around $786.

that must mean there was a major deflation somewhere. somebody defaulted on a couple trillion dollars. it got crossed off the books. the money never existed in the first place. (i could be mistaken, but that's my interpretation based on what i've read about how it works. 'trillion' might be an exaggeration.)

what would fekete say about the basis? the basis: in futures, the basis is the difference between the spot price and the nearest futures price. he sometimes confuses me, because there's a way of subtracting one number from the other, in reverse, and it goes by a different name, but it's pretty much the same thing. so he'd talk about negative basis, but it seemed to me like he meant the exact opposite of what he was saying. (*that's weird. what if that was a disinformation glitch? censorship?*) that's why i struggled to understand fekete. and now, his gold standard university is shut down, because of lack of funding or something. so he can't talk to people face-to-face anymore. so now, we have to rely on an untrustworthy, hacked, censored internet, with the military spying on it, to read anything fekete writes. they could just change a word or two and it would make nonsense of the whole thing. and it would be important to do that, because he's probably right, and he probably knows loopholes and ways to make money that you're not allowed to know.

it would be weird, and horrible, if some particular person's emails and web pages were designated for censorship, and every time you sent or received letters from that person, a particular word would get changed to some other word. and you'd both think each other was crazy and stupid because you couldn't communicate. so 'basis' would get changed to its opposite, and so on. and nobody would know what was going on.

the other night i heard the little fish saying 'i'll go deflate him....' 'pfffffffff...' from finding nemo. the big puffer fish who inflated when he got angry or huffy.

inflation and deflation, at the same time, to different degrees, in different places. there is no such thing as a universal average trend of inflation or deflation, perhaps, because that concept destroys too much information about the state of things. you might estimate how much money exists on the entire planet, but that wouldn't tell you much about things getting written off the books at particular corporations.

it's different places, and different countries, different banks, marketplaces, different commodities, etc.

the coin dealer actually sells individual bullion coins at a price with respect to the price he bought them at. he told me that when i asked him why there was a difference in price between two similar pieces of silver. he can't go rewrite all the pieces of paper by hand every time the 'official' numbers change. that's helpful - it slows down the price changes.

but kitco sells it to you at whatever the internet-computer price says it is, at that exact instant, so their prices change constantly. and it results in weird things like their website's message saying they can't deliver the bullion right away.

and there's some suspicion that the internet's gold and silver prices might be hacked. i don't mean necessarily 'hacking,' but rather, some artificial distortion, as a result of the calculations used or the method of trading. people complained about this recently when some new york or chicago computer system suddenly went online. it happened earlier this year. i forget what it was called. they said that this new computer connection was set up and suddenly the prices dropped unexpectedly low. they showed before and after images on a graph at kitco, where the graph shows at the bottom the names of the trading systems, or locations, like new york stock exchange, that kind of thing, and hong kong, and then there was a new computer trading system that suddenly appeared down there one day.

wow... the gold/silver ratio is up to 61.89! it had only just recently been down around 50 something, but i forget what exactly it was. you can buy lots and lots of silver, with one piece of gold. it means, spend a piece of gold, to buy a whole bunch of silver.

when the ratio is low, it means, spend only a few pieces of silver, to buy a piece of gold.

wow, i wish i had defaulted on my debt just before this happened. it would have definitely been entertaining to my delusions of grandeur - that would've been fun. i could have bragged that i was the person who triggered the disastrous 2008 gold/silver price crash. oh well, i will have to just jump on the bandwagon after defaulting has already become popular.

it's strange, it feels ruthless, to watch the banks losing money. we watch them and wonder if we can encourage everyone else to default as well. defaulting, the popular new trend.

my apartment doesn't have a fireplace.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Poisonous Flowers Incident

Well, something unusual happened after I woke up this morning at 3AM. I shouldn't have been awake, but that's another story.

I got a drink from a bottle of cranberry juice that I had just brought home from work last night. Then I lay back down in bed.

Only a minute later, I suddenly opened my eyes with a feeling of panic and intense discomfort. I felt like I was going to throw up, and I felt very certain that something was wrong. I recognized immediately the 'I have been drugged' sensation.

Over the next few minutes I lay there struggling to relax and figure out what had happened. Had somebody put something in my drink? I was definitely sick somehow and couldn't fall back to sleep. The feeling of drugged discomfort went on and on.

But gradually, the feeling faded over the next hour. Whatever it was, it wasn't very severe.

After a while, I figured out that it was 'Accidental Herbal Medicine.'

My co-worker had given me a bouquet of flowers - they had been on sale for only ten cents each, and she bought two of them just for the heck of it, and handed one to me before leaving. Without thinking anything of it, I stuffed the bouquet of flowers, with its flower stems exposed, inside my grocery bag along with my leftover cranberry juice and some other things. The cut flower stems must have touched against the cranberry juice bottle, close enough to the bottle's opening that it got on my mouth as I drank from it.

I don't know what kinds of flowers are in the bouquet - I'm not very familiar with flower types by sight. But I know that a LOT of different ordinary plants and flowers have very mild medicinal effects. The only medicinal plants that are commonly known to most people are the really strong ones, not the mild ones. The mild ones have become obscured over the years and are only known to people who study herblore.

After realizing this, I felt reassured. This was a typical situation where you have to distinguish between accident versus sabotage. I live a life of constantly anticipating 'sabotage.' If people think I'm paranoid, I always emphasize that accident and sabotage are not mutually exclusive: you can have both accidents AND sabotage in the same world. Sometimes things go wrong by themselves, and other times, people make them go wrong, and both things can really happen. You just don't always know which it is.

The 'poisoned' feeling is gone now and I don't feel any more discomfort. The only problem now is I'm awake in the middle of the night.

Friday, August 15, 2008

defaulting on the debt

I have a bunch of stuff that I want to say in a hurry, which means that it will probably be disorganized. Something happened and it upset me. Sometimes I see something happen, and I interpret it in a frightening way. Maybe my interpretation is wrong. Sometimes, I jump to the wrong conclusions.

I have delusions of grandeur, and I also have delusions of insignificance. I like to fantasize that I'm somebody very important, and that I'm going to do big things that affect the world. Sometimes, it's not actually true, and I don't have the ability to do those things, or I don't have enough resources. But other times, I think that I'm really UNimportant - I think nobody's listening, nobody's taking me seriously, nobody believes me - that nothing I do is of any consequence to anyone.

But suddenly I find out, every now and then, that people listen, people care, and sometimes, people might even believe me. That's really scary! I like to assume that I'm the ONLY person who's crazy, and everyone else is perfectly sane. That means, all the scary stuff I'm talking about is actually just a fantasy, a delusion. The voices, for instance, would be something caused by a screwup in my brain, instead of actually coming from some outside source. Reading about me and my voices would be kind of quaint, kind of entertaining - how odd, the things that she experiences. But every once in a while, I think people might be scared or traumatized because of what I talk about. Or they might have their own experiences, and they agree with me, or they believe me.

I don't like seeing people traumatized or made bitter. I went through that. It took several years before I 'calmed down' and learned ways of viewing this, or interpreting it, or enduring it somehow, so that I could survive. If I looked back at myself, in the very beginning when I started to say 'I'm not crazy - this stuff is REAL'... and if I couldn't HELP that person going through that, it would be terrifying. In some ways, it's worse to see somebody else going through a bad experience than it is when you yourself go through it.

Actually, that fits with how I think about death. The person, or animal, who dies, they no longer feel any suffering afterwards. That's based on the assumption that your spirit disappears and is no longer conscious after your death. I assume that, as an atheist. However, for everyone else who's still alive, the suffering continues. The lost person dies, and everyone else continues to grieve, and lives without them, and has to make changes in their lives to fill the role played by that person. In some ways, you're better off being the person who dies, according to that interpretation - you no longer feel any pain. (That doesn't mean what it sounds like. It's still not good to die! I don't want to, and I hope nobody else wants to, either. I choose life.) When I went through the hell (saying 'I'm not crazy - this stuff is real'), I considered suicide, because I couldn't see how I would endure life while still believing that mind control was real. It scares the crap out of me to think that other people would believe me, would feel the same way, would be traumatized just as badly as I was, and would consider the same 'solutions' that I considered. It scares me to imagine that other people are also harassed and attacked.

It reminds me of Lemony Snicket. I read his books about a year ago. He always gives a disclaimer, saying that these books are very unpleasant, and that the horror just goes on and on without stopping, and that if you want to read something pleasant, you should pick up some other book instead of this one. His books have themes which are very similar to mind control, except that he never comes out and explicitly writes about mind control. He just hints at it. I read the books, and it's true, I didn't feel good afterwards. I felt a sort of bleakness, weariness, and despair. However, I'll say that the final book in the series does have a good ending. The ending reminds me of the things that I'm talking about nowadays: my desire to start a family, and go back to a more natural, less modernized lifestyle.

Well, I am going to switch topics now, all of a sudden, because there was more than one thing that I needed to say. This is connected with the previous topic in a way.

First I'll say how 'they' trained me never to answer the telephone. I'll be brief about it because I'm not really telling that story right now, I'm just mentioning it. I would get harassing phone calls from 'puppets,' calls that were relevant to things that had happened that day, or things I had written about. I did some things to get away, like, I tried changing my phone number. But after my court case, I changed my number, and somebody decided to give me a phone number that used to belong to a lawyer who handled drug-related court cases. It happens that MY case was categorized as drug-related. So it was 'relevant' that I 'somehow' ended up with that particular person's phone number. The harassing phone calls started again, except now they were directed at this lawyer and framed in a way that used his identity to convey the harassment. It's hard to explain and I won't go into it right now. I already explained elsewhere, in a previous blog, that they started doing things to my caller ID, too, so I got rid of caller ID, and stopped answering the phone altogether.

Well, now, I also have old unpaid credit cards. This has been a very painful thing for me. It's impossible to even write about it or speak about it without being made to say things I don't want to say. There's all this involvement with 'the voices.' It's like they want me to say specific things and specific phrases, but it's all wrong and artificial, and I don't agree with their interpretation. I'd interpret it differently if I were able to think about it all alone, without being disturbed.

This is what they WANT me to say: 'I used to respect the financial industry and I used to respect my responsibility to repay my debts; however, things have happened which are beyond my control, and I cannot pay my debts now or in the future. I no longer respect the financial industry and I no longer feel that I am responsible for this debt.'

It's difficult when I ALMOST agree with something but not completely.

It happened again and again over the past few years: I tried very hard to recover, but lost jobs again and again and again. I lost jobs for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes it was caused by economic 'bust' cycles and layoffs. Sometimes it was a spontaneous quit. Sometimes I got sick. And so on.

I suffered from chronic fatigue and 'depression,' and struggled to get employed again after losing jobs, sometimes for months and months, while my parents gave me money to pay rent while I lived with a former boyfriend, or to pay my own rent when I lived alone, and to pay all my other bills as well. And I couldn't stand being dependent on them, because I respect myself more when I am self-reliant. And when you depend on people, you're vulnerable to them. I had 'strings attached' every time I took money or help from them. I had to make sure that I was spending the money for things my parents would have wanted me to spend it on. And while living with my ex-boyfriend, I had to avoid fighting and arguing with him, since I wasn't strong enough to go live by myself without help, since I kept losing jobs and getting sick. Every time I depended on other people to pay for me or take care of me, I had to do things they wanted me to do, and avoid conflicts with them. The fights and arguments were much more severe, and I felt helpless, like I had no right to demand anything of my own. How could I possibly demand anything, when all I did was sleep all day, or sit in a chair writing in journals or reading? How could I demand anything, if I was too depressed to even go job hunting or filling out applications? Everyone would say, 'You should get out of bed and go do something!'

When I did finally get my own apartment, I still had problems keeping jobs. Even if I had a job, I was vulnerable to 'getting my hours cut,' which I'm sure most people know about. You go through months when they're not busy, so they reduce your hours. But in good times, they can't RAISE your hours to a number greater than forty, because of the !@#$!@$# )(*%^*@#$ wage and labor laws. Over forty hours, they have to pay overtime, so nobody lets you work more. It would be great if you could work sixty hours or seventy hours when they need you.

At McDonald's, I even tried this: I used algebra to figure out how to lower my hourly wage to a particular number, such that it would 'cancel out' the total dollar value of my overtime, so that, if I worked X number of hours, I'd be making the same total dollar amount that I used to make at forty hours. It isn't an equation with only one answer - instead, you have to try out various scenarios. Anyway, I then went to the manager and asked him if he would be willing to lower my hourly wage to this number, and I showed him the algebra. :( There is no nice way to say this, but he simply didn't understand what I meant. When he DID finally start to understand it ('You want to work at $5.65 an hour???' when I was currently at $7.50) he told me that the higher-ups in the corporation would forbid it, because their paperwork would just show 'Nicole has overtime.' They wouldn't care about the total dollar amount that I received - they only cared that the paperwork indicated the presence of overtime occurring. The total dollars meant nothing. Of course, that wouldn't be so easy to do nowadays, because the #^$* $!#$@! fools have raised the minimum wage yet again, forcing the entire country to... don't get me started about the minimum wage!

Anyway. Well, after getting my own apartment, and continuing to have problems earning enough money, I ended up using credit cards every time I ran out of money. I didn't use them to buy 'fun stuff' like a closet full of trendy clothes. I didn't buy millions of unneeded technical gadgets. I do have a small number of things that I bought on credit, always believing 'The future will be better - soon, I'll have a job that I won't lose, and it will pay more money.' But a large part of the money on the credit cards was for things like food, bills, and rent. And then, eventually, for psychotherapy.

Well, for a while, I was trying to pay the debt down. I have a careful record of it all in the other computer, on my laptop. I used to make my monthly payments, however small, on time. But then some things happened that caused me to stop even trying to pay them. I think 'they' were involved - the voices. It was a change in my former pattern. I didn't even make monthly payments at all anymore.

So that's how things are right now. I ignore the telephone, and mostly don't even try to pay the credit cards, and the credit card people call me all the time. I've gone through phases when I started paying them again. But I avoid the phone, because as soon as I start talking to them, I become convinced that yes, I DO want to pay my debt again, and I set up an automatic payment plan, where they take out the money by themselves and I don't have to send any checks or anything. And I know from experience that as soon as I start talking to them on the phone, I'll get convinced again that paying my bills is what I want to do.

This is an extremely conflicted area. I am actually starting to believe that I DON'T want to pay the debt anymore. And this is reinforced by the fact that I started gradually collecting a small amount of silver coins, for the future, as a way of saving. Instead of paying off old debts, I am working to prevent future debts. And I am starting to believe that a lot of the debts were not my fault. But there's another part of me that hates to avoid responsibility. I think that I SHOULD pay that debt and be responsible for it. But there are things that have happened, which keep happening over and over again, that are beyond my control.

And if I were talking on the phone to the credit card people, or to my parents as well, since I also owe them money, and if I had to explain that things have happened beyond my control, things which are not my fault...? I've read stuff in psychology, in books I used to read, books I have a lot of respect for - I read that you have to take responsibility for things. You shouldn't call yourself a victim, or blame things on events that you had no control over. And yet... it IS TRUE that I can't control some of the things that happen. This is an extreme example, and it doesn't happen this way to me personally, but imagine that a 'puppeteer' forced me to go out and buy a bunch of stuff on a credit card, even though I didn't want to, and then I had to pay the debt for all that even though I didn't want any of it in the first place. And meanwhile, I would have to experience all the guilt and the regret from buying stuff I didn't want. And I would feel bad about myself and think I was a bad, shallow person for buying junk I don't need. I would have to tell people that I was physically, literally, not responsible for my own actions, because somebody else was directly controlling my mind and body and making me do things. Well, it doesn't go quite like that for me, but I can imagine it might for other people. For me, it's more like, I have disasters, and they're always expensive, and I lose jobs even when I don't want to quit. Things like that. And I'm starting to think, it's not my fault.

So I would have to tell that to the credit card people or to my parents. I know my parents don't believe it, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe the credit card people already know about this. I think maybe SOME of them DO know about it.

The other thing is, I don't want to start crying. Here's my official position on the phenomenon of crying. I've had experiences where I KNOW that I was FORCED to cry, because I can recognize the physical sensation of being artificially triggered to cry. This is hard to explain, because, in principle, I'm not 'opposed' to crying, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it - I think it feels good to cry - it's a relief. I cry sometimes especially if my hormones are acting up, or if I'm in withdrawal from St. John's Wort. But I don't normally cry very easily.

But there is a particular pattern, which I suspect is artificial, forced on me from outside: I've had times where I had to tell people things, and accidentally started crying, and was humiliated about the fact that I was crying, and was humiliated about the whole event going on in general - just being 'humiliated about crying' or 'not supposed to cry' was the idea. I know this is hard to believe, but there were times when I was sure it wasn't me. I didn't feel that way - it was somebody else.

And this exact thing happens whenever I'm alone, practicing and rehearsing the words that I'll say to the credit card people on the telephone. As I'm rehearsing my words, suddenly I notice that the words aren't my own - they're 'voices' being put into me like a puppet. And then, in the rehearsal, as I'm talking to the credit card people, I suddenly start crying, and I apologize to them, and I'm humiliated, and it's horrible, and I have to get them to believe me, but I'm sure they won't believe a word I say, and they'll think I'm crazy. And the whole thing is wrong - it's bad to default on your debts. It's bad to avoid responsibility.

But I, Nicole, am not quite reacting that way, even though my feelings and beliefs are somewhat similar. If I were meditating by myself, all alone, and rehearsing what words I would say, I think that I would be able to convince myself one way or the other to be firmly committed to what I was doing. I would choose either to continue trying to pay the debts, or else I would choose to default on them, but either way, I would know what I was doing and why I was doing it.

But the choice is unknown: Nobody, including myself, knows the absolute certain answer to whether or not I would choose to continue paying the debt. It's been so long since I was totally alone, thinking my own thoughts, feeling my own feelings, making my own plans, that I honestly don't know the real truth of what I feel or believe about this subject! It's something that I can't even THINK about without being interrupted, without people talking to me, without people trying to force me to do this or feel that.

And after realizing that, I always get angry. I don't like 'giving in' to things that people force me to do, especially if there is the slightest doubt or suspicion that I might have chosen differently if acting alone.

For several weeks now, they've been brute-force bombarding me with voices shouting at me to answer the !#$#ing phone. It happens at random times and it's very disruptive. I'm defaulting 'by default,' so to speak - by NOT answering. I'm defaulting, by avoiding the phone calls.

And I can see it now: I answer the phone, start talking to the person, 'express my feelings,' and as I get the feelings out, why, it turns out that there's no real problem after all! Nicole just wanted to vent her feelings a little bit! And really, we can all work out this little problem! So the person on the line has sympathy for me! Poor girl, she started sobbing uncontrollably - I felt so bad for her! So we made this deal where she just gives us a really small monthly payment. She just needed to talk it out a little bit! In reality, there's no objective reason why perhaps she SHOULD default on those debts, and keep all of her money to herself as much as possible, and save it for the future instead of paying down the old debt.

I was fantasizing, last week, while hearing those bombardments of 'answer the bleeping phone,' that I would answer it, and that I would default (without sobbing hysterically). Then (we fantasized) I would blog about what I was doing - I would blog about defaulting on the debt. I would make a joke: that everyone should get their gold and silver now, because something disastrous was about to happen, and it would be triggered by me personally defaulting on my debt. Like I personally was the LAST person attempting to pay off my credit cards, and when I defaulted, the whole world's financial system would collapse.

It turns out that actually, the price of gold and silver crashed just recently. A lot of journalists were shocked and were saying, 'What the @!## is this?' By my understanding - and I could be wrong about this - the price of metals crashes whenever there's a huge default somewhere. When somebody wipes a trillion dollars off the books, somewhere in the world, and that trillion dollars ceases to exist, when somebody out there says, 'I don't have this money, and I never even had it to begin with, and I'm never going to have it, and I can't pay it back to you, ever,' then all of a sudden, there's a lot less money in the world than there used to be. And the price of precious metals goes down very suddenly. That's deflation.

Actually, then, you wouldn't advise people to BUY gold and silver, you'd advise them to short-sell it, on paper, while keeping the real physical metals for themselves - that's what Antal Fekete talks about, except I don't understand what he means. His explanation is too abstract for me and it depends on understanding other ideas which he hasn't really written about publicly. He says he has a way of doing this, and it also involves futures, and the 'basis.' I struggled to understand some of it a while ago, and gave up.

But anyway, so the fantasy was that I was supposed to pretend that I personally was the straw that broke the camel's back, and that something very noticeable and dramatic would happen to the financial system immediately after I defaulted. I think that 'something' has already happened, when the metal prices crashed, so unfortunately, I've have to be just another average ordinary straw on the camel's back, like all the other straws, instead of being a really SPECIAL straw. I'm like the straw you put on the camel after the camel has already fallen.

(They're warning me that there's some dirty double meaning when I'm talking about this, but I'm going to use the straw-and-camel concept anyway.)

I think in reality when I talk to them on the phone, it won't be as emotional as the 'rehearsals' have portrayed it to be. On the other hand, it's frustrating because I'd like to speak in a clear, assertive, honest way - the way that the REAL Nicole Binns would speak if I were allowed to rehearse it all alone without being interrupted - I would know exactly what I was choosing to do, and why I was choosing to do it. I would explain it by using all my assertiveness training from the books I read years ago. I would think clearly and I would phrase everything in a very simple, direct way.

The concept of defaulting on my debt, and believing that events have occurred through no fault of my own, feels almost sickening, and traumatic. It hurts very badly to admit that yes, you HAVE been injured. When I pay the debt, it's like denying that I've been injured through no fault of my own. It's like denying that I was attacked, denying that I was manipulated, denying that I'm sick. It's like denying that there are enormous, systemic problems in the entire financial industry, and those problems lead people to do things that they otherwise wouldn't do. It's like I'm pretending that things are okay, and they've always been okay, and they're going to be okay in the future. If I just keep fooling myself into believing that my future will get better, then I'll keep paying the debt, knowing that eventually the debt will be all finished and I'll have a clean record and I'll never need to use debt again. But the default, on the other hand, is a horrible scar. It's when I admit that I'm injured. Something very, very bad happened, and it resulted in a default. I'm not happy about it. It's not really the same as quitting or giving up, because in reality, I'm still planning and preparing for the future - I'm saving hard money. I'm still alive and taking action and surviving.

The purpose of defaulting is that I will then have more energy and more money to direct into my activities. (The voices just now said 'prostitute,' and I remembered something: in Garet Garrett's book 'The Cinder Buggy,' Agnes kept a record of her debts to Thane - I loved that book because there are old iron furnaces around State College, and they made me feel like I was in the same town where that book happened. 'Prostitute' has to do with marriage and barter, along with the ordinary meanings of the word. Agnes's debt reminds me of my debt, and it was connected with her marriage.)

Well, the way this connects to the previous topic was that I think that I WILL start answering my telephone. Unfortunately I know that also means I will get the phone calls that I don't want, and I will have to be rude to some of them. It means that I will be under a great deal of stress. I am not naturally rude, but I can't help getting sick of call after call from some random telemarketer or whatever they do. This isn't the time to get on a discussion about how the government monopoly of the telephone system is the reason why we get unwanted phone calls and can't avoid them no matter how hard we try, or the fact that the government itself, they say, is the one who gives your phone number to the telemarketers, or the fact that the telephone system is 'hackable' and is easily used to harass people deliberately. Or the fact that you have no privacy because some people are listening to every word you say on the phone, including cell phones.

Anyway, if I start answering my phone, it might mean that I start ... well, simply enough, it means I will start talking on the phone again. It's been years since I talked on the phone much. Anyway it might make me gradually become more accessible to people, hopefully real people.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gas pipeline

Well, when I woke up this morning, they were telling me that I must not put a garden on the cleared-out area that I had described, up in the woods. At first I thought I would rebel against that. But then they explained it was the gas pipeline. I have seen the sign that says 'gas pipeline - call before digging.' I forgot all about that sign. It had been so long since I had actually walked around the cleared area in the woods that I didn't remember that. So I went up and checked on it, and yes, there ARE signs warning of the gas pipeline.

However, there are several areas in the woods nearby that aren't cleared out. They're growing small trees alternating with bushes. They're off the sides of the main cleared strip. By my understanding, the ONLY place that has the gas pipeline is the grassy, cleared, straight-line area without any trees at all. In the slightly wooded areas to the sides, there isn't any pipeline.

I also noticed a big fallen tree branch lying on the power line. That's going to be a problem when the wind blows.

I need an area that already doesn't have many trees, but it can have a FEW small trees. It just has to get enough sunlight most of the day. I can plant the garden in between the few small trees that are in the nearby areas, away from the cleared off strip of grass. The trees are those sumac-like, walnut-like trees, and I don't know my tree species very well, so I can't say what they are, but they're short, like ten to fifteen feet high. Those trees couldn't be growing on top of any gas pipeline.

Uh-oh, I just thought of something. A guy told me just recently that walnut trees poison the surrounding soil so that a lot of plants can't grow. I'll have to verify whether any of them are really walnuts.

Now I feel anxious and uncertain. Reluctantly I might say that I would have to call the gas pipeline people, but then, I'd also have to confess that I want to dig a garden on land that I don't own, and they might frown upon that, and the slightest discouragement or disapproval might stop me from doing it. The whole hillside cannot possibly be a gas pipeline, especially amongst the trees. Maybe I could just call them and ask general questions about the pipeline without telling them what I want to do?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

hair cutting kids

(originally this was an informal note for myself. i decided to post it on the blog.)

i was thinking of something after reading about circumcision. cutting children's hair when they're too young to refuse could be viewed as a violation of their physical body. it's nowhere near as traumatic, and it's definitely trivial compared to circumcision. it doesn't directly cause physical pain or injury, and their bodies are able to continue functioning, except for they're unable to perform the particular function of creating a certain type of physical appearance. they're unable to do whatever functions that the hair does. 'cosmetic changes' to the hair could potentially also be viewed as 'functional' changes, if you take this concept to an extreme.

the idea is that when you remove the long hair, it's years and years of irreversible setbacks that cannot be undone. perhaps the child doesn't want that to be done.

i have heard lots of stories, only from girls of course, about how they once had very long hair, as a child, and for some reason, somebody cut it off. it happened to me. i grew slightly long hair when i was young. it wasn't entirely long - they kept my bangs short, because 'that's the way it's done.' nobody made any explicit, conscious decisions about the beliefs and assumptions behind haircutting.

well, when i got into about second grade, for some reason, 'we' decided that i would get it all cut off, into a short bowl haircut. i don't know why. maybe i wanted to make my hair look like mom's, because at one time, she also had long hair - she looks beautiful in the old photos - and then she chopped it off to a bowl cut. i don't know if it was my idea, or my mother's idea. i don't know how my father felt about this either - i don't know whether dad had any preferences or feelings one way or the other about what he wanted mom's hair to look like. there might have been marriage problems, too, because that's about the time when the hospital management changed, dad began his midlife crisis, and we moved to west virginia so that dad could get a new job.

i remember going to get it cut. we went to some informal haircutting person, not an official beauty salon. i don't remember having any feelings about it. based on my memory, i didn't care about anything at all, and was totally neutral. i don't remember any trauma, and i don't remember any regret, and i don't remember thinking that i lost my hair and i wanted it back. the memory is too vague.

haircuts are often associated with trauma - as in, the traumatic problems begin first, and the people cut their hair in response to the trauma. i remember doing that several times myself during difficult and traumatic periods of my life. if life was painful and unstable and crazy, like when i was dating terry, and when i was in college, i would impulsively chop my hair off and drastically change my style, and it expressed the emotion 'i have been injured.' it expressed outwardly that i had been damaged or traumatized - and yes, when i got older, when i was in my late teens and early twenties, cutting my own hair myself, i WAS consciously aware of the 'damaged/injured/traumatized' symbolism of drastic haircutting. sometimes it was an expression of anger or self-injury. it said: i want to hurt myself, but i don't want to do any REAL damage, so i'll just chop off all my hair and drastically change my appearance. and then afterwards, i suffered the feelings of pain and regret and loss, every time i looked in the mirror and saw that my hair was gone. of course, i didn't ever grow any real length - the most i grew, during that time, was a year or two of hair, down to shoulder length.

in the movie 'what dreams may come,' annie does the typical self-injury haircut when she gets committed to the mental hospital. her long, beautiful hair is all crudely and unevenly chopped off. this is the EXACT type of self-injury i'm talking about - a relatively gentle and mostly harmless form of self-injury that won't actually kill you. but it reminds you every time you look at yourself and every time other people look at you. in a way, it's like saying 'i survived a severe injury.' the pain is still there, and the scar wound is openly visible to everybody.

that's different from the 'maintenance' haircuts, where people keep their hair in a certain style for a long period of time, and get it cut once every month or two. the self-injury haircut is when you drastically, suddenly change your hair during a period of emotional trauma, stress, and instability. the maintenance haircut doesn't change suddenly, and its symbolic meaning is different from the self-injury haircut.

the symbolic meanings are somewhat different for men, because many people will say that a man's drastic haircut is an improvement, a cleanup, instead of a painful loss.

now, i compared it to circumcision because that's what i was reading about today, but i am realistic enough to know that haircutting is nowhere near as permanent or traumatic. there really is a difference between those things. but in some ways, there are similarities. for instance, a child might not want his or her hair cut. but they have no choice about it, because the parent decides for them, and forces their preference on the child. meanwhile, the child might grow up to become a teenager, and look over at a classmate's hair, which is much longer than their own, and say 'i wish MY hair was that long,' but they can't help it because it wasn't their choice - and now, it's too late to do anything about it. they would have to start from scratch, and wait about a decade for the hair to really look long. but usually, the thought passes through their mind, too briefly, and they never make an official decision to start right now and commit deliberately to a decade of hair growing. then, they just move on, and think about something else. it's seen as something of minor importance, to everyone except a hair-obsessed person like me.

(i'm not sure i like calling myself the f-word, 'fetishist,' because that's kind of a pejorative word, something negative-sounding, and also, it makes it sound like this preference is very rare and unusual. however, i'm sure that i could technically be put in that category. my fascination with hair is 'extreme,' because i have a set of strict rules that i do act upon in real life. i've decided that 'extremism' means: any set of rules, different from the mainstream's rules, that you act upon for real. it doesn't matter what those rules are, or whether they're good or bad, safe or dangerous, trivial or serious. it's ANYTHING. you're an extremist if you insist that you must ALWAYS wear orange-colored shoes, to every occasion, in every circumstance.)

(my hair knowledge is limited. i'm talking about caucasian hair, which behaves totally differently from wooly-textured african hair. i'm interested in african hair but i have very little experience with it. there are websites that talk about how to grow and take care of natural afros, twists, braids, dreadlocks, and other natural styles that are alternatives to chemical straightening. i've seen chemically-straightened hair, on my friend in college, and it was very time-consuming, damaging to the hair, and the results were, in my opinion, not very touchable - the hair was stiff, fragile, and breakable.)

you can convince children that they want what you want them to want. some children will argue with you or be rebellious, but i myself was mostly agreeable and just did what i was told, at least in some areas. and my parents were lenient about most things anyway, so we didn't have a lot of arguments about what i would do. anyway, you can just convince kids that there's nothing questionable or significant about cutting hair. it's an issue that's viewed as trivial or just ignored. if you behave as though there's nothing unusual about this, then the kid won't think to ask any questions themselves unless they see somebody else asking questions.

i'm an advocate for long hair and beards on men - with the understanding that, in reality, people have to look a certain way at the workplace and most employers will put some kind of pressure on you to meet their criteria, and i don't tell people to go against those rules, because i'm not sure whether i'd be strong enough myself to break those rules, if i were a man. they tolerate long hair on the head, at some places, but beards are much more difficult. i've considered that maybe long beards could be braided or pinned up or tied in some way so that they're kept 'neat and tidy' during work and so that they are kept away from foods or machinery. the refusal to cut hair and beards would be supported if people could say it was their religious practice, because the amish grow beards - but then, the amish aren't working at normal jobs either - they're on their own farms or doing carpentry work, and stuff like that. anyway this is something that i am sympathetic about. i don't like pushing people to do things if i myself wouldn't be strong enough to do them. do unto others as you'd have done to you. (oddly, some of 'the voices' told me that they expected ME to grow a beard, and they were disappointed to see that i wasn't making any progress at it. i don't have a beard, just a mustache, and a couple of chin whiskers. so, unfortunately, i won't be able to participate with all the other anarchists out there in the world growing their beards. they will have to have all the fun without me.)

well, anyway, the whole concept was that cutting children's hair does something irreversible to them, which they might regret later on. they lose an opportunity for a potential long-term project or investment or achievement, however they might view it. it's nowhere near as bad as some other things that can be done to them; however, it MIGHT be something that parents ought to think about - to at least consider that maybe, this will be something the child regrets, and might want to have a choice about when they're old enough to choose.

(note, i'm not advocating that everybody grow full-length guinness world record FINGERNAILS. it interferes too much with productive work. i will have to google some photographs of years-long, curly fingernails to see what they look like. if YOU want to advocate uncut fingernails, then feel free to start your OWN long-fingernails tribe! but i personally am not interested. this is one of those things where people pick and choose which details are important to them, in their subculture. and you can't have absolute logical consistency in the principles behind it, if you examine them very closely. i've tried to write out the beliefs, rationales, principles, and symbolic meanings associated with hairstyling, hair cutting, and allowing hair to grow, and actually, i haven't been able to make a perfectly coherent belief system that stands up to logical argument attacks. sooner or later, it always ends with me saying 'this is my personal preference. i just like it that way.' it's the same end result as the other fundamentalist religious communities, who point to a passage in the bible and say, 'this bible passage tells us that the women must not cut their hair.' i could make a fake bible and say that the invisible pink unicorn told me so. the IPU is a parody god created by atheists on the internet.)

as i said, i've heard many stories from women who grew long hair and then suddenly had it all chopped off - this is very common. many times, they can't explain any particular reason why their parents decided to cut all their hair off suddenly. sometimes, they DO express feelings of anger, regret, injury and loss. sometimes they talk wistfully about how they loved their long beautiful hair, and sometimes, they say they cried when it was cut. afterwards, usually, they NEVER GO BACK to trying to grow it long. instead, they make the adjustment, and start learning to style it in ways that can change from day to day and year to year, following the trends and fads on television, magazines, and local cultures. and then, there are a whole bunch of beliefs and rationales for why adult women should keep their hair short within a certain range.

with boys, it's very different. it isn't even an option - their hair starts getting cut very early in infancy. they never experience a dramatic, sudden loss, the way some girls do. instead, long hair is just inconceivable, something that never happens and never will happen, from the day they're born, till the day they die. they never think of it, and it's never seen as important. if they do experiment with long hair, it might be an experiment lasting a year or two, but they are unlikely to keep it for decades or a lifetime. it usually happens through accident or neglect, when people just don't want to bother getting haircuts, don't want to spend the money, or just don't care that much.

one thing that made me feel better was reading about the symbolic meanings of men's long hair, throughout history. historically, it has meant that you are rebelling or protesting against something in the main society. since a lot of people ARE protesting things nowadays, like the war in iraq, this theme fits. i'm not sure why, but i didn't notice a very visible hippie-protest culture against the war like they did for the vietnam war in the sixties. the protesting is done over the internet, and the people aren't necessarily meeting each other in person and making changes to their physical appearance. it also has been associated with anarchism and protests against the government.

however, my way of looking at things is unusual. i'm not thinking of merely a temporary protest. i'm imagining a long-term way of doing this and taking it for granted as the normal way of life, in a particular subculture. some tribes of the native americans took long-haired men for granted as a normal thing. it would be seen as a tragedy to cut off hair that had grown very long.

you don't see any kind of visible, noticeable tragedy if you're 'used to it.' if you cut the hair once every month, or every few weeks, then there is no sudden drastic change, and you're never conscious of what's being lost. it's only noticeable when you cut a large amount at once.

there are negative meanings associated with long hair on men. most people already are familiar with these meanings right away. i saw the latest indiana jones movie (i didn't like it much), which had some material about aliens and mind control. but one of the things that happened was that there was this guy, lost and isolated out in the jungle, who was kept with a group of people, and i forget who they were - they were sort of 'the bad guys.' anyway, he went crazy, and started talking in riddles, and didn't recognize anybody he used to know. and, of course, his hair and beard had grown long and unkempt. whenever he 'regained his sanity' and 'rejoined society,' and began recognizing people and relating to them without talking in riddles, at the end of the movie, his hair had of course been all cut off and he was clean-shaven. so long hair and beards mean you're isolated and crazy and cut off from society.

it also means you're abandoned or shipwrecked. i've jokingly called it 'the desert island makeover.' it means you're no longer in the neat-and-tidy world where everything is safe and predictable, and instead, you must fend for yourself, alone, and not worry about your appearance anymore. again, that's a meaning which we might see in anarchists or people starting their own colonies and subcultures, but it isn't explicitly a 'rule.' it's just something that happens by accident, and whenever the hero rejoins society, he doesn't keep the long hair and beard 'on principle.' he cuts it off and he fits in again.

well, this was originally a casual, informal 'note' in my opera browser (you can recognize the notes because i use 'notescript,' with all lowercase letters), and then i thought about maybe posting it as a blog, but if it gets too long and repetitive then i'll change my mind and declare it to be 'not readable by the general public.' long obsessions don't make for easy reading. there is some disease or disorder where a person absolutely must write constantly and never stop writing, and i forget what that disease is called (somebody said 'polyglossia' or something, i think it's similar to that), and i don't really have that disease, but my habit of journal-writing for hours on end is very similar to that. they noted that in that disease, the written material isn't necessarily high-quality, in fact it's usually not at all. mine tends to deteriorate like that over the hours. so the best thing is to just send it out there before it's too late.