Catastrophic Disk Failure


Hello, On Saturday, 23 April 2016, I suffered a disk crash.

Now, first, I should say that I am not the kind of man who doesn’t make backups at least once a day. However, I had just done a backup on my backup disk. I then physically disconnected all drives except my main drive. And I initiated a fresh install to a new Linux distribution.

The install was completed, I had then plugged in my other drives, and my backup drive could not initialize. It made an expensive sounding “click”, I guess that the read/write head could not find anything.

After a few hours to try all sorts of utilities to read the drive, I gave up, put the backup drive in a box, and fell asleep.

The only irreplaceable thing I lost was sixteen years of cat photographs. Since three of those cats are currently dead, these photographs are precious to me.

In addition to my cat pictures, I also lost all of my Linux articles, my economics articles and e-books, my massive music collection (approximately 300 GB of music), my e-book collections (approximately 150 GB), all of my technological articles, my resume, and more.

I have been accumulating these files over the past eighteen years, and their loss hurts me. But, as I have said, my cat photographs are priceless to me.

I have emailed a man in Fargo, that might be able to grab my files from that disk. However, as of right now, he has not yet responded to me. I have been told that data recovery from such a crash is not expensive as it sounds. I hope that fact is true.

Now, I am still somewhat distressed at my recent loss, so forgive me if I do not post for a short while.

 

What Do I Think About Cultural Appropriation: Part One.


On 10 April, 2016, I wore a kilt to “church”. More accurate it was a “Utilikilt” that I had purchased on http://Amazon.com. Some people in “church” had asked if I was of Scottish descent. I didn’t think anything of that question, as I was more concerned in answering another question “What do I wear under my kilt?”

Anyway, it wasn’t until the next day, 11 April 2016, where I had figured out the meaning of that question, for some questioners. I think that at least one questioner may have thought that I was “guilty” of “Cultural Appropriation“. And that very concept is meaningless and makes me feel angry.

See, my position is now, who cares if I am of Scottish descent or not?

And I imagine that some people may be offended by my position on this matter. But, I don’t care if anyone gets upset at my wearing a kilt. As a matter of fact, you may throw all the hate you want at my attitude in this matter. I will not apologize, I will not even state if I am of Scottish descent or not. Essentially, you can piss up a rope and suck on the other end, for all I care.

“Cultural Appropriation” has no meaning, as far as I am concerned. The people who even claim a person is appropriating some other culture seem to have nothing better to do other than hassle other people who are just wearing a hairdo or a style of clothing that “offends” you.

Get over it!

In my opinion, when I wear a kilt, most people would probably not do that themselves. But my wearing a kilt is an expression of my masculinity. My utilikilt is not a tartan, it is plain black, or olive drab, but that does not detract in my expression of my masculinity.

And if someone wants to buy and wear a kilt, why should I be concerned? Of course, I will comment on his expression of his masculinity, because only when men have the freedom to express their masculinity, these men have the ability to form bonds, friendships, and deep male-to-male relationships, in a strictly heterosexual manner, that our society is lacking. So, why should I care if anyone is “allowed” to wear a kilt? In my opinion and observation, men need to form bonds, if that bond is because of wearing a kilt, good for them and good for us.

Our culture, in the United States, has been described as a melting pot. However, I will say that once upon a time, the United States was a melting pot of cultures. However, ever since the dreaded “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) have gained power around 2011. It seems to me to be an expression of Third-Wave-Feminism. And that is the source of this nonsense about cultural appropriation reared its ugly head.

However, since the United States culture is composed of all other cultures throughout the world, the best way to honor the other cultures, and to express our American heritage is to appropriate things from other cultures that we may like. It is the American thing to do. This appropriation does, in my opinion, not harm other cultures, does not insult other cultures. The only people that get hurt are the SJWs, an we can safely ignore those people, as we should.

See, if the American culture is, essentially, all cultures throughout the world. What is wrong with that? When we appropriate other cultures, we are calling attention to those cultures. And if the other culture gets upset by that, I don’t care. If these other cultures didn’t want to be imitated, maybe they should have thought about that and not allowed those pieces of those cultures into the American culture.

See, I am under no obligation to let other people know a part of my culture. I can keep it secret, if I so desire. But if one person speaks out, it is fair game for appropriation. Again, if you don’t like that fact of reality. Sorry, deal with it, shut up about it, and accept the fact that a piece of your culture has been appropriated.

I would like to see my American culture a true melting pot, once more. It seems to me that the SJWs want to forget that melting pot, want to impose harsher set of restrictions on our ability to act. And I disagree with that fact.

I will never again state my claim on whether I am “allowed” to wear a kilt. I will wear a kilt, I will wear it proudly, as I drip masculinity all over the place. And if people don’t like the fact that I will not state that I am “allowed” to wear my kilt, it sucks to be you, I guess.

Concerning The Kilt: Part One.


A Brief History Of The Kilt.

The kilt is a knee-length skirt-type garment with pleats at the rear. The origin of the kilt was first worn as a traditional men and boys in the Scottish Highlands in the 16th century. However, since the 19th century it has been identified with the wider Scottish culture in general, and with the Gaelic heritage even more broadly. The kilt is generally made of wool and with a tartan pattern.

Although the kilt was originally worn on formal occasions, at the highland games and sporting events, in todays society, so some small degree, it had been adapted as an informal male clothing in recent years. And, thus, has become an everyday garment.
{https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilt}

Me and My Kilt.

I have an authentic real live kilt, with an almost full kit. I do not have a pair of Ghillie brogues. These things look ridiculous, and are uncomfortable. Instead, I wear wing-tips. Other than that, I have a full kit. The problem with kilts is that they are made of wool, my kilt is made od heavy, winter weight wool, and they require to be dry-cleaned. And, I don’t really trust a dry-cleaner to not mess up my pleats. So I don’t wear tham very often.

But, I have just purchased a utilikilt, it is made of cotton, and is easier to clean and press. Now, as I live in North Dakota, it is still a little cold to wear it out and about, but perhaps tomorrow will be a good day to wear my utilikilt.

So, why do I want to even be caught dead in my utilikilt?

First off, the kilt is an expression of masculinity. It is much more masculine than anything a man can wear. I say this because I get some really good “feedback” when I wae my kilt. I have had women hit on me, out of the blue. Some men, however, have reacted negatively, not because I am looking “unmanly”, but because they seem to view me as a threat.

Whatever.

However, when I am wearing my kilt, I think it is possible that I behave somewhat differently. I would guess that I may be, to some extent, expressing my masculinity, almost dripping with masculinity. I don’t know, but I do get reactions that I will interpret as positive.

So, possibly tomorrow, I will be walking around downtown Fargo, dripping masculinity all over the place.

Heh!

What is Love? Part One.


Three times in the past, I had told a woman that I loved her. I was mistaken. Two of those women were my wives. I was married the first time in 1984. I was too young to understand anything about love, and I got my first divorce in 1988. I was married the second time in 1999, I thought I was old enough to love the woman, but I discovered that I didn’t love her and she left me, because of my stroke, in 2013. Both of my marriages ended tragically, but I did not have to pay any alimony as a result, which was very good for me. And in the end, while I didn’t come out ahead, I came out of my two failed marriages mostly intact, fortunately. The second time I told a woman that I had loved her, she was a girlfriend, in 1991. That was a good relationship, it ended amicably, in the end. We had eventually parted on good terms.

But I never understood a single thing about love, even though I am now Fifty-One years old. Is that a failing for me? Or is it the fact what many people call love, really isn’t love? This feeling that we call love could be just habituation.

Now, I have experienced tenderness, and some other fantastic emotions, and things that other people might call love. But I have never experienced the end-all, be-all, mind-numbing emotion for which I would live for and die for. And perhaps my conception of love is unrealistic, a pipe dream, an illusion that is better than life. But I don’t think so.

I think that most other people also do not understand love, but they think they understand love. And that is sad for them, because these other people have also never experienced love, but because I admit that I have never experienced love, I guess I could be ahead of the game.

Or not.

I think that my “habituation hypothesis” is a more accurate assessment of what people call love. We get used to a person, we learn the ways of the other person, and we “get in a rut” that we call love, but isn’t. We, essentially, get used to the other person, we overlook things that we would not tolerate except we are used to the other person’s shortcoming, and we eventually accept these facts because accepting these things is far more comfortable than if we leave the other person.

Again, I ask you, have you been in love? Or was it merely habituation?

 

In Defense of Masculinity: Part One


First off, I must say that there is no such thing as “toxic masculinity“, nor is there anything called “testosterone poisoning“. These things are a total fiction and they come from people who hate men, masculinity, and testosterone. Make no mistake that people who “think” these, and assert these things, hate men and hate manhood.

The official definition of masculinity, according to the dictionary, is “pertaining to or characteristic of a man or men.” Thus, masculine is a trait of men. And manhood is the normal behavior of a man, or of manliness.

In addition, “manliness” is sometimes a synonym for masculinity. In addition, the antonym of masculine is femininity, and femininity in a man is also called effeminacy. Now, I would imagine that some people may disagree with my definitions of masculinity, the relationship between masculinity, femininity, and effeminacy. Nevertheless, I will stick by my definitions, and if you dislike my definitions, I acknowledge your diversity.

Masculinity is based on genetics, and it has nothing to do with any sort of social constructs. That is because human beings are sexually dimorphic. That is, the two human sexes exhibit very different characteristics beyond their sexual organs. That is, male humans and female humans are inherently different from each other. That is an undeniable fact of life. Anyone that chooses to ignore that simple fact is under some sort of delusion.

The essence of masculinity is to defend and to conquer. The path of masculinity is, essentially, the way of the warrior. A man is almost always a warrior and a protector. A man is willing to die for his beliefs. and more importantly, a man is willing to kill for his beliefs. A man who is not willing to die, and to kill, for his beliefs is no man, in my opinion. A man will protect his larger group, his family unit, and himself. A man is willing to die for these things, and he is willing to kill for these things.

Thus, the role of masculinity is, to be a warrior.

Men have strength. This strength is a result of testosterone. Let’s face it, in general, men are stronger. In the Olympic games, the best women cannot compete with the strongest man, or even the weakest man in the Olympics. This is a hormonal thing, pure and simple. During puberty, a man’s strength increases drastically {Mooradian AD, Morley JE, Korenman SG (Feb 1987). “Biological actions of androgens”. Endocrine Reviews 8 (1): 1–28. doi:10.1210/edrv-8-1-1. PMID 3549275.} {Bassil N, Alkaade S, Morley JE (Jun 2009). “The benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy: a review”. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management 5 (3): 427–48. PMC 2701485. PMID 19707253.}

Now, these are simple biological facts, and I am merely stating these facts for this article. In no way, do I dislike women at all, nor look down on women. I am just saying that men and women are different from each other. And that difference is a matter of biology, nothing more and nothing less.

Let us address the issue of testosterone. More specifically, what are the effects of testosterone on the male? Now I have heard some of the effects of testosterone, but I have not included these thing in this article, due to lack of sources.

One effect of testosterone is that testosterone seems to increase truthfulness and social behavior.

“… Researchers have now been able to demonstrate that this sex hormone surprisingly also fosters social behavior. In play situations, subjects who had received testosterone clearly lied less frequently than individuals who had only received a placebo.”
{https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172212.htm}

Additionally, testosterone reduces fear and anxiety, and to some extent, calmness, in men.

“These data provide the first direct evidence for fear-reducing properties of testosterone in humans. Furthermore, by dissociating specific aspects of fear and anxiety in humans, this outcome highlights that testosterone’s effects on motivation and emotion concern the subcortical affective pathways of the brain.”
{https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15939408}

So, men, rejoice that you are a man. If you didn’t know, as a man you are not flawed, not damaged, and absolutely not a “broken female“. We are a part of a sexually dimorphic species, and as such, we are as necessary as a woman is. Always remember that simple fact, do not allow yourself to be shamed, do not apologize for being a man.

Ever!

Concerning the Utilikilt


I have recently purchased a “utilikilt” through Amazon.com. I haven’t worn it out and about, yet, because I forgot to purchase a buckle for it. Now, I should first mention that I have a real live authentic kilt made of heavy winter weight wool that I purchased in 1999. And while I have a Sgian-dubh, Sporran, Flashes, and Hose for my authentic kilt, these items are for my authentic kilt.

This is because my utilikilt is separate and distinct from my authentic kilt. So, there! I have other similar accessories for my utilikilt, but no flashes. But I forgot to purchase a buckle for my belt… no worries, it will be here tomorrow or Thursday.

Now, while I will be wearing my utilikilt around and about in downtown Fargo, as I go for my daily walks, I have no idea what the response I will get. The thing is, when I have worn my kilt, it is a severe expression of masculinity. And some people have noticed that. And while I think that some people have an appropriate response, whatever that means.

I was in Washington DC in 1999 for about a week. And during that entire week, I only wore my kilt. In 1999, the response was fine, I did think that some people were intimidated by my kilt. But that could have been seeing a crazy man wearing a kilt, or my immense masculinity.

I had also worn my kilt at a Christmas party in 1999, when I was working for NSC Systems Group, wherein I had “upstaged” a man that was known to be wearing outrageous, but sane, clothing during the yearly Christmas party.

I had gone to another Christmas party in 1999 from my ex-wife’s employer, and I wore the kilt then, also. However, the boss said something to the effect that he like the fact that I don’t take myself seriously. Then my ex-wife mentioned to him that he misunderstood, she said that I always take myself seriously.

In June of 2000, when Ed Learning Systems was being sold, we had a “good bye gathering” party. I wore the kilt, again, and even though my ex-wife was there, I do believe that a female employee was “hitting on me”. It went over well for me, but my ex-wife didn’t like it a bit.

So, in every instance I wore my kilt, I got a good reception from my kilt.

But, now I live in Fargo, North Dakota. I do not know if the Fargoans (is that a word?) can and will understand me and my utilikilt. I guess we shall see.

In addition, I did not buy my utilikilt to “pick up women”. That isn’t even on my radar. I bought the utilikilt because I like wearing a kilt, and the utilikilt is affordable. My authentic kilt cost me $300 in 1999, which translates to be about $425-$450 in 2016. And that was just the basic kilt, with the full kit, which was about $150.00, $220 in 2016. The basic utilikilt costs about $55, with about 25 for the kit. So, I bought this because it is much more affordable than authentic kilt.

Note, however, an authentic kilt is made of wool, whereas a utilikilt is made of heavy cotton. That is fine for me, as I will not be wearing it during the cold.

So, those who live within a five mile radius of the “Hawthorne” neighborhood of Fargo, look for me!

 

The Blight of Third Wave Feminism: Part One


{{I have been asked about my opposition to Third-Wave feminism. This is my initial response to why I consider Third-Wave feminism is a threat to me, and to all people, not only men, but also to women}}

Once upon a time, during first-wave feminism, in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, woman had earned the right for all women to vote, and for equal pay for equal work. Under the “Equal Pay Act” of 1963, in the United States, the goals of first-wave feminism were officially over in the United States.

Although as a footnote, all men had gained their vote relatively recently prior to women getting the vote, and for that “privilege”, all men had obligations that women never had. Like military service, for one example.

So, first-wave feminism was focused on suffrage, and they won.

Second-Wave feminism, from approximately the late 1960’s to the late 1980’s, was focused on the issues of issues of sexuality, family, and workplace inequalities. Now, one thing to recall was the fact that the second-wave feminists had opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States.

We must question why.

See, there was much support for the ERA, and it had seemed several times that it would pass, but under the influence by the Second-Wave feminists, it had always failed. This is because if the ERA existed, then women, in general, would win nothing, moreover, women would lose what they had gained during Second-Wave feminism. And men would gain the rights that they had lost.

See, during Second-Wave feminism, since women had the same rights as men during First-Wave feminism, since Second-Wave feminism, women had more rights than men. If you disagree with this statement, you should ask yourself two questions: What rights does a man have that a woman doesn’t have? And what rights does a woman have that a man doesn’t have?

Every right a man has, a woman also has. But, there some rights that women have than a man does not. The primary right is biological integrity. In general, men are circumcised at birth, women are not. Yes, this is in the United States, it is a first country problem, nevertheless it exists and is acceptable, for some reason.

Also, with respects to birth, women have the option to be a parent, they can get an abortion or they can choose to not be a parent. Men do not have that option. At all. A man is not allowed to have a “legal abortion”, a man is not allowed to opt out of parenthood, a women is.

So, after that, you will realize, or you should realize, why Second-Wave feminists opposed the ERA, tooth and nail, and why the ERA does not exist, because under the ERA, women would win nothing, and would lose rights under the ERA.

Now, what in the world is Third-Wave feminism. More importantly, why does it even exist? During First-Wave feminism, the feminists won equal rights. During Second-Wave feminism, women have more rights than men. Third-Wave feminism is a blight on humanity, in my opinion.

First off, Third-Wave feminism started in the early 1990’s. It had arisen to the perceived failures by the Second-Wave feminists, and seems to be primarily focused on diversity, more importantly, non-white feminists.

The Third-Wave feminists are full of “body positive” rhetoric, bad rape statistics, even more control over their reproductive rights, bad statistics on gender violence, something called “man-spreading“, “man-splaining“, and more.

Because, lets face it, my statistics come from the Uniform Crime Report, produced every year by the Department of Justice, and are exclusively used by the FBI concerning all crime within the United States, and those statistics are in blatant contradiction to what the Third-Wave feminists claim.

So, essentially, the Third-Wave feminists are wrong about their statistics. All of them. In addition, the “hate all boys” thing is right from Third-Wave feminism, as are “I drink male tears“, “throw rocks at boys“, “cry me a river” (directed at males), and other such nonsense.

So, in my observation, Third-Wave feminists hate men, even though they claim that they do not. But, actions speak louder than words.

Additionally, the “body positivity” position is essentially fat acceptance, and … well…. ugly acceptance. Sorry if you disagree with that statement, but that is what I see, and that is what I feel. And if you dislike my statement, then communicate with me. Do not attempt to shame me, communicate with me like a real human being.

So, in conclusion, First-Wave was a good thing, they achieved their goals, and I agree with the First-Wave feminists. The Second-Wave feminism has overreached their bounds, and men have been losing rights since Second-Wave feminism roared its dangerous head. Third-Wave feminism is dangerous, not only to men, but also to women, and since Third-Wave feminism roared its horrible and sickly head, one is safe from its corruption.

It must be put to rest, and quickly, if it is not already too late.

I May or May Not Be A Difficult Person: Part One


Something happened this past Sunday (27 March 2016). It has been growing for the past few weeks, and it started getting worse to the point where I started complaining about it.

Background:

I go the the Unitarian-Universalist “church”. Which is generally referred as the UU church. Personally, I call it “The church without a god”, since most people in the church are Atheists. Really! And I have been involved with the UUs for the past twenty years in several different congregations. So, while I have never been an official member of that church, since I generally do not join anything, I do know the seven principles of the UU church.

However, these seven principles can be interpreted in different manners, and my interpretation of the seven principles are probably very different from most of the other people in my church. That is because I approach the church from a rational position, and I am a libertarian (notice the small ‘l’ in libertarian). Some will call me a conservative, some will call me a liberal, some will call be bat-shit crazy, but the truth of the matter is that I am a libertarian.

So, anyway. I had this idea about six weeks ago. I noticed that only members of the church had permanent name tags. I thought that was wrong. Nevertheless, the person in charge of membership in the church had made a decision that only members get permanent name tags. Now, I have a permanent name tag, because I took my permanent name tag from Pennsylvania into the Fargo-Moorhead UU church. Other non-members didn’t have the option, until I finally took action.

I bought a BUNCH of badge-holders and clips on Amazon.com. And brought them into church. Originally, I had left them at the front desk for those who wanted them. However, the membership person took them away from the desk, and put them in the office.

That caused a problem for me. Yes, I realize that I may have been stepping on the toes of the membership person. But, I didn’t care. I bought these things myself to give to other people. The battle had started.

I took back my name tags from the membership person, and had started to hand them out to people individually. The membership person had talked to me on three successive weeks. The membership person was telling me that permanent name tags are for people who are members. I disagreed. Membership person tried to explain it to me, but I didn’t care, I disagreed, and the membership person pretty well ignored my disagreements and had tried to shut my arguments down, I guess.

Wash, rinse, and repeat for three weeks until 27 March 2016. I became angry. Now, my mannerism has always been to start smiling when I am merely angry (when I get enraged, that is another story). So, at the part of the service for “Joys and Concerns”, I stood up, walked to the candles, lit a candle and started to talk:

Now, I do not recall exactly what I said, but here is the gist of what I said:

I am angry, I had a stroke in 2011, and among other things, my inhibitions are broken. I bought some holders and clips for permanent name tags for non-members. I paid money for these things. And I have been giving them to non-members, because I want to. I am getting a push-back. I understand what the push-back person is saying, but I don’t care. I am doing this because I want to, and I will not be stopped. Check the principles of the UU church, especially the first and the second principles. If you ask me to get out of this church, I will. (I turned to the person that was running the service and said: “That’d be a first, wouldn’t it?”). I then left the front of the sanctuary and sat down again.

Now, you do realize I had dared anyone to ask me to leave. But, within the UU church, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever been asked to leave. So, in particular, I pushed back on the push-back person and dared the person to do anything about it.

After the service I left the church, because I had an “appointment” with the most beautiful and nicest women I have ever met, and ate and talk for about two hours as I lost myself within her wonderful eyes.

So… I may or may not have been difficult. In my defense, this is the sort of thing that the UUs will do. The only thing that the UUs agree on is that the UUs disagree on everything. They rarely get agreement on anything, they constantly bicker on the most trivial of things. So, by me doing what I did, I was actually the embodiment of the UU philosophy.

Now, nowhere in this article have I named any names, and neither have I identified the sex of the push-back person. Thus, in my attempt to be neutral, I have added a little confusion into my narrative. Well, I don’t care.

So, in your opinion, was I being difficult? Or was I in the right? Tell me what you think, please.

Concerning My Loss of Ability: Part One


Yes, yet again, I am whining and complaining about my stroke. That is because I have never gotten over my stroke, and it has been almost five years ago that I have had my stroke.

I know that many other stroke survivors are far worse off than me. I really don’t care. The thing that bothers me the most is that I was taking Warfarin, an anti-coagulant, for three years before I had my stroke. I was doing what the doctors had suggested to prevent a stroke, and I had a stroke anyway.

Why?

The VA had increased my Warfarin dosage after my stroke. And the doctors at the VA were very good at that sort of thing. Nevertheless, I guess I needed a higher dosage of Warfarin than I had had. However, I had been trying to remember to ask my doctor to allow a higher INR with my monthly blood tests.

As an aside, INR stands for “International Normalized Ratio” it is an evaluation of the extrinsic pathway of coagulation (also called “ProTime INR” or “PT/INR”). This is a rough measure of the ratio of how long it takes to form a clot. Thus, and INR of 3.0 would, I think, have it take three times as a normal person to clot.

Anyway, the VA doctors (actually pharmacists) want my INR to be 2.5-3.0. I, on the other hand would like an INR of about 3.5, just to be safe. Yes, I am in no way a medical professional, I don’t even pretend to know anything about medical stuff. But, I would much rather bleed out than have another stroke. Really!

And, so, since I know about Warfarin, and how the combination of alcohol and Warfarin interact with each other, I try to drink one or two beers a day, every day, except for the day before I get my blood tested. See, the alcohol will increase my INR to about where I think I want it. So, while I am not allowed to increase my Warfarin intake, I compensate with alcohol.

And, for the record, I am not an alcoholic, I am merely a harmless drunkard.

As I may have said before, my pre-stroke life was working with and on my mind, I was a mathematician and a philosopher by training, I had an almost PhD (don’t ask) in Mathematics and undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy. I was in college for a total of FIFTEEN years from 1989-2011, I had worked for Sun Microsystems as an educational developer. Everything in my post-military life was focused on my mind.

Then I had the stroke.

That stroke ruined my life. Forever. Yes, neural pathways can be rebuilt over time, but the rebuilt neural pathways will NEVER be as efficient as they were originally. Never! Thus, I will never be as good as I was pre-stroke. Period.

Nevertheless, I will continue to try my best. I will persevere.

So, what do I do? What do I remember?

In a real sense, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Pre-stroke, I had specific ideas and ways of doing things that many people had questioned, but, I was really really good at everything, except playing a piano. I was the kind of guy who could get away with wearing a kilt in public, and no one questioned my masculinity. Actually, I got positive responses from women, and… well… aggressive responses from men. And, I think that I can still get away with wearing a kilt even today. Except, for the past two previous years, it was a bit chilly on 6 April for me to wear my kilt on that date. {April 6 is Tartan Day. Look it up on duckduckgo.com}

So, I do the things I remember as long as I can get away with these things. Now, I am uncertain about many of these pre-stroke things that I have done. Well… it’s more like, I remember the things I have done, but I don’t know if I am good enough to do these things post-stroke.

For example: My Mathematical knowledge is sorely lacking. I need to use a calculator when I subtract two numbers. Some people will think that that is OK, but I know it is not. Some people will proudly proclaim that their math skills suck. I do not. For me, it would be the equivalent of saying “Well, I don’t really understand the English language at all”. But, yet, it seems to some people to claim that they cannot do simple arithmetic and are proud of that shortcoming. I know that I cannot do basic arithmetic, and I feel ashamed of that fact.

I used to know mathematics, advanced mathematics. I used to know philosophy. I used to be a shell scripting maniac. I could program in C, C++, Ada, Prolog, Pascal (sorry), and I even did some assembly language programming. I knew why C++ is not really better than the original K&R C. I knew why, exactly, the C-shell was a piece of crap, and that the original Bourne shell, or the Bash shell were far superior to that C-Shell (or the TENEX, or tsch). I was an educational developer for Sun Microsystems. I was a great many things, I did some very diverse things in my past.

I do remember doing these things, but after my stroke, they are all gone except the memories, but not the details.

And as I have said, I have known some stroke survivors that are far worse off than me. And, again, I don’t care. It seems to me like a cruel thing that left me a memory of my once former glory, but not the ability to regain it. And I know that there is no god, there is no “higher power”, there is nothing but other people. BUT, if there was a god, I hate his guts for what he/she/it has done to me. For such a god would not, and could not, be omnibenevolent, omniscience, nor omnipotent. This god would be evil.

Luckily, I am still an atheist.

And these are the things that I remember what I have lost. These are the abilities I once had, but are gone because of my stroke. That is why, exactly, I am so pissed off almost all the time. That is the source of my shame and my anger.

Let’s Talk About Executive Functions: Part One


As I have stated before, a major result of my stroke in 2011 is the loss of my executive functions. I got this diagnosis from having had two Neuropsychological test (which I refer to as Neuro-psyche evaluations) which were taken in 2012 and 2014. And that was the most surprising result from those two evaluations.

Now, let me tell you that a Neuro-psyche evaluation is not cheap. These things take all day and they are given by a psychologist who also interprets the results. They are a series of tests and each test is somewhat grueling and tedious. But they seem to test EVERYTHING within the context of the patient’s psychological state. And in my opinion, they are no fun at all.

Now, when I say that my executive functions took a major “hit”, this does not mean that my executive functions are gone. Rather, these functions are in some way, damaged. And also, I can probably regain those functions over time, if I am given the time, and if I work on these functions, actively.

As I have stated before, the executive functions are a set of cognitive processes which include, but are not limited to:

  • attentional control,
  • inhibitory control,
  • working memory,
  • cognitive flexibility,
  • reasoning,
  • problem solving,
  • planning, and
  • stimulus control

Let us consider each of these functions one at a time.

ATTENTIONAL CONTROL:

This is my ability to pay attention to things, or the ability to not be distracted by things. And, yes, I do find it harder to focus my attention for more than a few minutes.

Hell, sometimes when I am talking, I distract myself and I forget what I was saying, and with that coupled with the remnants of Aphasia, I “lose words” sometimes, which causes other people some confusion, can cause amusement as I try to remember what I was talking about. I was talking in a small audience recently, concerning friends and friendship, and I could not remember the term “acquaintance”, the only word I could use was “associate” which was the wrong word. Fortunately, someone helped me out and gave me the proper word.

However, my attention does wander a bit, and it is quite easily for someone to completely derail myself.

INHIBITORY CONTROL:

This causes all kinds of problem for me. My inhibitions are really damaged. You have no idea how hard it is for me to behave and say things that are appropriate. I am the guy that says thing that need saying, but everyone else is afraid to say them. And here I am who says what they think and feel.

Really, as an employer, how many people want to have an employee like me? I am generally labeled as a “wise-ass”, because I generally just say what I think, and I don’t concern myself with the consequences.

However, I do recognize that my inhibitions are broken. I have recently “come out of my shell”, and I am trying to “fix” my inhibitions. But you have no idea how hard it is for me to behave appropriately. Now, my “shell” was mostly self-imposed. I had a stroke in 2011, I knew I had a stroke, I knew that I had lost a great deal of my cognitive functionality, and I was, and still am, embarrassed by that fact. So ever since my stroke, (FIVE years ago), I have pulled within myself and kept everyone away from me, primarily for my own protection.

Now, in addition, Inhibitory Control is necessary for one to override “stimulus-driven behavioral responses”. And that is yet another part of my downfall. It is really hard to resist buying things I see at Costco that I like. The only positive I can see in my behavior is that I am not interested in most things I see at Costco. But that didn’t prevent me from buying 500, yes FIVE HUNDRED, envelopes. They were cheap, but, I am probably die of old age before I even use half of them. And, on three different occasions, I purchased yet another multi-tool. I have a drawer in my kitchen that is half full of these multi-tools, I just cannot resist. And once, I saved the money to buy an expensive telescope. Fortunately, I had finally done the appropriate research and had learned to discover that I would have to drive an hour and a half to go to a totally dark sky so I could use the telescope in the most efficient manner.

WORKING MEMORY:

Once upon a time, pre-stroke, my memory was a steel trap. Now, while I didn’t remember everything, I retained alot of information. Post-stroke? Forget it! (pun intended). Working Memory is also called Short-Term Memory, and my short term memory is broke. I cannot remember a three-digit number for even five minutes. About once a week, I read two formal definitions on “Injective functions” and “Surjective functions”, and I totally forget the definitions within about five minutes or less.

However, since I know that my short term memory is damaged, I need to be honest. Yes, I really need to be honest with other people. That is because I do not have the memory to remember what I have lied about. I knew that back in 2011, and I know it now. And since I moved to Fargo North Dakota in 2013, I have always been honest with people. My memory loss cannot allow me to lie. So, for better or for worse, I am condemned to tell the truth, probably for the rest of my life.

And, really, would you like to know a man who always told the truth? Ya know, if your wife were ummm… a little chubby… would you really like to hear the truth? I have no idea. And while I am under no obligation to say what I think, if we combine that short-term memory loss, my honesty, and my broken inhibition control… well, I could conceivably say the wrong thing to the wrong man, or the wrong woman.

COGNITIVE FLEXIBILITY:

That is the functionality of a person when doing task switching. First off, I need to say that the human mind is totally and irrevocably unable to “multitask”. Let’s face it, while people claim that they can “multitask” that statement is pure fantasy. The best that humans can do is “task switching”.

And poorly at that.

However, me, the guy with broken executive functions, am even worse at task switching than a slug. Yes, my Neuro-Psych evaluation had tested my task switching capabilities, and to be honest, in my own words, they sucked. Alot!

I am able to focus on a single task, especially playing games. I am and have always been a gamer. Now, my game-playing skills have become crappier since my stroke, but that has become the only thing that I can enjoy. So I game.

But, I did notice something earlier today. I was getting severely beaten in a boss battle, I was getting my butt kicked repeatedly, like fifteen times in a row before I finally killed the boss. and I had realized that I had been holding my breath for about a minute and a half throughout the final battle. I almost passed out from lack of oxygen. Thus, my task switching skills really need to improve before I pass out during another boss battle.

REASONING:

Pre-stroke, while I was not a “Randroid”, I did pride myself on my reasoning ability. I was working in a lab in 2009-2011 and there was a lab procedure that we require to mix “stuff” together to use as a reagent in animal testing. The person who had made that reagent previously told me that it needed to be mixed in really really hot water in order for the chemicals go into suspension. I had tried that about three times and then I started to think. Maybe this previous lab-tech was wrong? The previous lab tech was dead wrong, I even used a “failed” batch of that perticular reagent to go into suspension quite easily once it had cooled down to room temperature.

The point being that I didn’t believe the previous lab-tech, and I had thought a little, did a test, and it was successful. Easy Peasy.

Then the stroke happened. Since my stroke, I have tried to remain rational, I have tried to reason everything out. And eventually, I guess I do the right thing. However, I am, to some degree, ruled by my emotions. And while I know that emotions are an effect, and never a cause, when it comes down to the real life in real-time it is difficult for me to think rationally and reasonably, and I sometime “think” with my emotions, often to my detriment.

PROBLEM SOLVING:

OK, in my defense, I think my problem solving capabilities took a hit. However, that did not dissuade me from replacing the high-pressure power steering fluid hose, the heater blower/fan, and change my oil in my car last year. Now, it did take me about four days to replace that hose, about an hour to replace the fan, and about four hours to change my oil (don’t ask). So, I am still able to, eventually, solve problems successfully. But, my problem solving skills have been somewhat limited due to my stroke.

PLANNING:

Generally, I don’t plan anything. I am always early for all appointments, because after 2_1/2 years, I still have no idea how long it takes me to drive four miles to the VA hospital, drive/walk 1/2 mile to my local UU church. And while I generally go for a walk every day, I don’t actually plan when I will leave for my walk or when I will be back from my walk. I just walk, and then I go home, and 2-3 hour later, I am back home and I take a nap, usually.

So, my planning skills are probably the worst. I had to drive to the VA hospital in Minneapolis last year, I checked maps.google.com and made my best guess of how long it would take to drive there, added an hour for a meal on the way, and then multiplied my estimate my +50% “just in case”. Of course, I was early, as usual. But, I accept that as a part of my normal daily life. At least I am never late,

STIMULUS CONTROL:

Now, among all the damage to my executive functions, I think that my stimulus control is mostly intact. I know that I should stop when I am near a stop sign, I know these things and I have never forgotten these things. So, in my opinion, my stimulus control is pretty good, I guess. I can look at the situation and make a relatively quick assessment of how to change my behavior to avoid getting in trouble.

So, at least my executive functions aren’t entirely broken.

CONCLUSION:

Now, I think I have run down my impressions on what happened to me with my stroke.

As a brief comment, what generally happens to the brain such that the executive functions have taken a hit?

Now, the prefrontal cortex is necessary, but not solely sufficient, for executive functions. Thus, I would imagine that the physical damage of my brain had impacted my prefrontal cortex. However, the caudate nucleus and the subthalamic nucleus, whatever those things are, are also involved in inhibitory control and the behavior. Thus, my best guess is that not only did my prefrontal cortex take a “hit” but also my caudate nucleus and subthalamic nucleus as well. So for all readers who understand the geography of the brain, this is for you. Because I cannot understand anything in this paragraph.

So, what do I do about this executive functions being broken?

I deal with them as much as I can. I know that these executive functions change naturally over time. With my stroke, I imagine that it will be slower for me than with a normal person. So, as always, I will persevere.

I know that many stroke survivors “give up” after 2-3 years. I am not one of those people. Yes, I have isolated myself for about five years, but I have recently, as I had said, “come out of my shell”. I actually talk to total strangers when I go for a walk, on some occasions these conversations have lasted fifteen minutes or more. Recently, I have been having conversations with a person that have been lasting for an hour or more, we have drunk coffee, we have played scrabble (PS: I am really bad at scrabble), and we have just talked. And for the first time since my stroke, and probably since 2003, I see a decent and kind person and I think that I might have been wrong when I have said to myself that with my stroke, my life is over.

Now, I don’t know. Nevertheless, I will persevere.

 

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