Tag Archives: Life

Black Lives Matter protests

It is difficult to summon up what I really think about everything happening. Is that because stress hinders brain function, or because the pattern of events going back a long ways suggests that the only reliable expectation for the months ahead is centrifugal forces growing stronger?

Is there a practical difference between the two?

It’s weird to watch all of this from home. Not that I’m just watching. I’m making my contribution with related activism.

Read More →

Twenty Years

I missed the 20-year anniversary of my college graduation by a day, but under the circumstances, you know. You’ll have that.

Twenty years ago I got a graduation ceremony—in fact I got two of them, one for the College of Design and one for Iowa State University Class of 2000 as a whole—whereas this year’s graduates get a webcast.

Halfway between then and now, I wrote about assorted life lessons at another blog.

Now we are living through a greater unraveling, and, yeah.

Read More →

2019 Year in Review

It was an eventful year, as they have become. So, an “official” year in review for 2019, in addition to the summary version as well as the decade in review which I have already posted recently.

Kind of like in 2017, this year included a single insane week in autumn which distills a lot. Within several days, in September:

  • I spoke up on behalf of facts when a candidate for office started repeating totally made up things on campaign literature—and then I experienced all kinds of blowback
  • I produced a crazy amount of work for candidates so that I could get away for an extended weekend
  • Flew out to San Francisco for said extended weekend, had a lovely time
  • But while there, not only was I fielding calls and e-mails and things, also the news blew up with revelations about a Ukraine edition of presidential wrongdoing
Read More →

Crowded life, sparse commentary

So much going on. Yet so much of it is political, and taking to my personal blog (which is barely more than a diary) to comment on that seems kind of naive.

Not that I wouldn’t write a long, indulgent post expressing my views on e.g. Lakewood’s political tug-of-war that is now into its fourth consecutive year. But given how much my days are packed with the kind of inelegant campaign activity that actually reaches people, I suppose I just can’t bring myself to expend the effort required by any kind of deep essay.

I’m currently doing… a lot of work for two candidates for state representative, plus some work for another, and for two state senate candidates. I’m writing, for publication, where it makes sense… the latest LO included my promo for next week’s Lakewood Dem Club meeting, and an article encouraging support for Issue 1. (It also includes an ad I designed for one of the rare nonpolitical clients.)

Last week I made a day trip to Detroit for political organizing.

I dream of capturing once more a life beyond all this. But certainly not before May 8, and probably not for some while after that, really.

Oh well. This morning is relatively calm, and I was going to jot down some thoughts about The Infinity War (comic book series) stirred up by recent ballyhoo for the big feature film… then I found that I already wrote such a post three years ago. So.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The blur months

Perhaps, in some limited ways, a blog can say as much through the absence of posting as it can through actual posts.

It does seem fair to say that the absence of activity around here is in some sense a record of my life, lately, or at least of the disruption of my life’s former routine.

Seven months ago, I wrote

After weeks of dithering, our city council has confirmed the November general election as the date for our referendum on their vote to close our community hospital. So, just under 35 weeks to go. 😐 Then I can (maybe) have my life back!

We’re now down to just more than four weeks. And whatever I imagined was the case in March, in the past five or six weeks this campaign has really “just about maxed-out my personal energies,” in ways which challenge me to find a personal precedent.

I hardly know where to begin.

On a personal level, life has become so different. It has now been a bit more than a year since the last period of real, extended quiet like those which I experienced with some regularity during the past decade. Last September, e.g., with a seasonal slowdown in freelancing work, I had peace, quiet and even boredom.

Since then, no. Even when work has slowed down, this year, tranquility has remained a memory only. Always some new thing going on. Meetings… meetings… documents to write, documents to design… strategy to consider… e-mails… phone calls… reading, analysis and posting.

Read More →

Basketball, Winning & Contentment

I have been thinking lately about the complexity of happiness, and how it so often differs from getting what we want. I feel like 2016 Cyclone men’s basketball is a wonderful illustration.

This past March, when Cyclone MBB ended its tournament run in the Sweet 16, I felt afterward like this was about as happy an ending for me as any possible. Basically because it felt like the team achieved all that was within reach.

Iowa State moved through the first two rounds—improving immediately upon a first-round upset loss last year—then exited after a game against an obviously superior opponent. I don’t remember the details, but the result was not a humiliation, nor was it close enough that I was left anguished that “they were so close, they had it, why couldn’t they finish?”

There was really no heartbreak element. Our guys reached a respectable plateau—the Sweet 16, surpassing more than 75% of all the other tournament teams—and the next step was just beyond them this year. Okay.

Of course, if offered it, I would have chosen more.

Read More →

Hancher vs Hilton & life beyond politics?

Lately it feels like my life has been subsumed by overtly political concerns and activity. I look down the front page of this blog, and posting has been a bit more sparse than usual, but more significantly almost everything in recent weeks has been tagged “politics.”

It’s a presidential election year, and I’m reading too much about that. I don’t know if things were different decades ago, or if it’s more my personal feelings changing, but US presidential contests seem like they have become not only all-consuming but invariably near-apocalyptic. Good news, we seem more and more to have real choices; bad news, the nature of those choices combined with the growing power of the office make it difficult for me to say “oh it’s just politics” and turn back to “real life.”

I would probably be getting more actively involved already, if not for having already just about maxed-out my personal energies for Lakewood Hospital. After weeks of dithering, our city council has confirmed the November general election as the date for our referendum on their vote to close our community hospital. So, just under 35 weeks to go. 😐 Then I can (maybe) have my life back! Certainly I could use more in my life than slow, tiring and usually dispiriting campaign hack work. As I’m not sure what else that is at this point, though, I’m doing a little stock-taking.

First, I have completed the manuscript for a third book, and at some point in the next year will present to the reading public Hancher vs. Hilton: Iowa’s Rival University Presidents.

Read More →

First 15 Lives of Harry August

It has been another interesting year, and broader notes about that are coming.

Among the many interesting experiences in 2015, though, I feel like recalling one remarkable book in particular: The First 15 Lives of Harry August, by Claire North aka Catherine Webb.

This was excellent on multiple levels. First, I found it a simple compelling page-turner. It’s also very cinematic; I can picture vividly the lead-in scene as the first few seconds of a movie trailer. “I almost missed you, Dr. August. I need to send a message back to the past…”

Beyond this, the conceit is one of those things that comes close to being something new under the sun. North basically asks “what if a small number of people all experienced something like Groundhog Day, except for their entire lives rather than 24 hours?” The consequences are challenging; you basically have to imagine a series of timelines in sequence, which mostly follow the same course except that certain individuals always begin their lives remembering all that they experienced in each previous timeline. It pretty much works, though. The resultant world and its more detailed, human consequences are fascinating.

What impresses me most of all, though, is how these have stayed with me now for many weeks since I finished the book. Themes and ideas have kept coming back to me, and I have gradually concluded that—by explicit intent or not—The First 15 Lives of Harry August is an insightful metaphor for life itself.

Read More →

Thankful Thursday, 2015

I have been thinking, lately, that for all my frequent moments of despair, the past five years have been a decent run, for me.

On this formal Thanksgiving without any of the usual activities (having held those early this year), it feels like a worthwhile time to attempt some sort of exploration of this idea.

There’s definitely reason to believe that the preceding five years of my life, roughly 2005-2010, were an era to make a lot look good in comparison. I was fired. My father died, in most of the ways you don’t want someone to exit: early, of multiple debilitating diseases, in a non-luxury nursing home, and agonizingly slowly. Let’s see, the occasional, diagnosis-proof failings of my horrible Pontiac finally reached the point of a realistic danger to my safety, and then I got to discover the joy of used-car shopping without any help for the first time, while under a lot of pressure and still effectively locked out of full-time employment because being fired does that to you. The work I found consisted of temporary contract jobs which, while they had their good points, involved long, nerve-wracking commutes and on two occasions a micromanaging sociopath boss even more deranged than all those who’d preceded him. I also made a failed, first attempt at earning a living from my own clients, wrecked by a combination of overconfidence and an ill-timed global economic crash.

All of this, meanwhile and to very modest surprise in retrospect, eventually produced two years or so of serious, relentless physical tension that screwed up my body to the point of an extended period of plain agony. Having to quit any regular running near the beginning of this period, due to innately substandard joint design, hadn’t helped at all. Nor did much of the medical advice I got, some of which eventually triggered a whole additional gastrointestinal condition on top of things.

Yeah. Politically, 2005-2010 was rather more encouraging, but personally that didn’t help so much because my own life was kind of crap during that period. (The Thankful is coming.)

Read More →

That far shore

I have very possibly lived half my life, now.

I don’t know why birthday #37 has prompted so much reflection on the finite, but it has. In addition to realizing that “young adult” status is now firmly over, it has dawned on me recently that this is probably as close to the midpoint of my life as it’s ever going to be possible to determine, in advance.

Obviously one can’t know with precision, so there’s little point getting into arguments, but the suggestion that I have something like four decades remaining to me does not seem wildly unrealistic either way.

In some ways it’s a relief, too, honestly. When I suggest that the prospect of living through 10 more presidential campaign seasons is horrifying enough that I don’t even want to imagine another 15 or 20, any humor in the remark is incidental rather than fundamental. I’m tired, of many things.

The idea of significantly extended lifespans is usually more a dread than a dream, nowadays… which is why it seems just as well that I won’t see them.

Read More →