Archive for March, 2011

Some Days You Just Wanna Curl Up In A Ball

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

gabby just curled up into a ball

This isn’t a Woe Is Me post about all the crap that’s been happening to me recently. That’s so last week, literally.

This is about depression.

I have sporadic bouts of depression, probably just like most other people, nothing serious enough to call clinical. What really strikes me about it is how disconnected mood is from reality.

In a large number of ways, things are Much Better Now than they were Just A While Ago. I’ve delivered my work to my old team (closure), I’ve moved to a new team doing something fun (robotics), I’m healing up from my illness (wellness), my wife’s returned from her trip (companionship), and I have a book coming out (success).

But nothing is perfect, and there are little setbacks that happen all the time. Sporadic depression, I find, isn’t brought on by nothing, the way clinical depression extends over long periods for no good reason; it gets triggered by one of those little setbacks.

When I was down with tonsillitis right before several major deadlines, things like a smashed toe made me upset and angry, and things like work challenges made me frustrated and worn out. Now that things are evened out, you’d think I’d have more resilience.

Instead, I found myself having a Surprisingly Shitty Day. Even though I felt better, I was making progress on all my work tasks, at least partially resolved my setbacks, and even made progress on writing and drawing, the depression never let up.

Now, I had a setback, as I said, and there are things that would make this situation better.

But what interests me is that some of these feelings I felt today – “I wish I was doing something else” and “I’m so tired” and “I can’t take it anymore” – I thought were attributable to my previous less-than-ideal situation: working on what I didn’t want to work on, under deadline pressure, while sick.

I know that’s not the case now. I’m working on what I do want to work on. The next deadlines are weeks away and I have no competing pressures. And I’m feeling physically better. Even the setback passed out of my mind. So why am I feeling the same way?

I suspect because those feelings are a habit of mind. A response to a challenging situation I’ve picked up that has become free floating. There are challenges inherent in everything you do, no matter how fun it is – and any bad habits of mind don’t care how closely aligned your current work is with your goals, your desires, your attitudes. Your bad attitudes and thoughts are just sitting there, waiting to spring, starting the tapeloop spiral into depression.

So what am I gonna do about it? Recognize it, blog it, and move on. I’ve had many, many cycles of mild maniac / depression in my life, and I didn’t start to get better until I recognized it, stopped wallowing it, and moved on.

My formerly quick temper had the same solution: notice it’s happening, turn the alarm off, and deal with the situation, sometimes cathartically, usually not. That worked so well my wife hasn’t ever seen me really lose my temper in eight years of our relationship.

If the solution to dealing with anger is not to get angry, is the solution to dealing with depression just not to let yourself get down? To pull out of the situation, relax, do something fun, and tackle it again with your energies renewed?

Let’s see. Time to kick back, throw on some Who, and chill.

-the Centaur

lenora sitting as if she's gonna watch some of the teevee

It’s … radiation

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

radiation doses for various things

Over at Information is Beautiful they’ve got a chart detailing the levels of radiation at the Fukushima nuclear disaster compared with other things, like the radiation at Chernobyl (bad) and the radiation for eating a banana (not so much).

As XKCD tried to put into perspective earlier, the radiation at the plant is a real threat to the heroic workers trying to shut it down … but for the rest of us, not so much.

Sorry, folks. Radiation is just not as dangerous as you’ve been told in the movies and the media – we simply try to keep exposure low because the effects are random. And even if you do get a fatal dose, it won’t give you superpowers.
-the Centaur

Jeremiah Willstone Is On The Air

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The Mic at KFJC

Somehow, after only 4 hours of sleep (AGAIN after trying hard to crash early and failing to take care of myself) and heavy rains on the way to Foothills College, I managed to stumble in to Ann Arbor’s studio at KFJC at seven after ten and still made my reading time ten minutes later. I come on the air at about 25 minutes in to the audio archive, reading from JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE:

http://www.kfjc.org/broadcast_archives/archives/1103230653h_ann_arbor.mp3

Lightning gouged a chunk of the wainscoting an inch from Jeremiah Willstone’s head and she hurled herself back, bumping down the stairs on her tailcoat, firing both Kathodenstrahls again and again until the doorpanels were blasted into sparks and splinters.

Her shoulders hit the landing hard enough to rattle her teeth, but Jeremiah didn’t lose her grip: she just kept both guns trained on the cracked door, watching foxfire shimmer off its hinges and knobs. The crackling green tracers crept around the frame, and with horror she realized the door was reinforced with iron bands. She’d intended to blast the thing apart and deny her enemy cover, but had just created more arrowholes for him-or-her to shoot from.

As the foxfire dissipated, the crackling continued, and her eyes flicked aside to see sparks escaping the broken glass of her left Kathodenstrahl’s vacuum tubes. Its thermionics were shot, and she tossed it aside with a curse and checked the charge canister on her remaining gun. The little brass bead was hovering between three and four notches. Briefly she thought of swapping canisters, but a slight creak upstairs refocused her attention.

No. You only need three shots. Keep them pinned, wait for reinforcements.

Get it now, before it disappears from the archive a couple of weeks from now.

-the Centaur

Posts With Images Hanging Right Now

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

They seem to do fine on the main page, but they hang on detail view. Will debug this weekend, just letting people know if you drill down on a link and nothing shows up.

Reading Jeremiah Willstone on Wednesday

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

I am reading from JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE at 7:20am Wednesday morning on Ann Arbor’s radio program Unbedtime Stories. A teaser:

Lightning gouged a chunk of the wainscoting an inch from Jeremiah Willstone’s head and she hurled herself back, bumping down the stairs on her tailcoat, firing both Kathodenstrahls again and again until the doorpanels were blasted into sparks and splinters.

Her shoulders hit the landing hard enough to rattle her teeth, but Jeremiah didn’t lose her grip: she just kept both guns trained on the cracked door, watching foxfire shimmer off its hinges and knobs. The crackling green tracers crept around the frame, and with horror she realized the door was reinforced with iron bands. She’d intended to blast the thing apart and deny her enemy cover, but had just created more arrowholes for him-or-her to shoot from.

As the foxfire dissipated, the crackling continued, and her eyes flicked aside to see sparks escaping the broken glass of her left Kathodenstrahl’s vacuum tubes. Its thermionics were shot, and she tossed it aside with a curse and checked the charge canister on her remaining gun. The little brass bead was hovering between three and four notches. Briefly she thought of swapping canisters, but a slight creak upstairs refocused her attention.

No. You only need three shots. Keep them pinned, wait for reinforcements.

-the Centaur

Take Care Of Yourself Before It’s Too Late

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Gabby naps, with the sabretooth skull in the background.

I can’t even begin to tell you all that I’ve gone through recently: sleep deprivation, tonsillitis, tinnitus, internal injuries, a trip to the emergency room (unrelated), and near disasters at work. I’ve started another blog entry to explain what’s been going on, but even that had to be put on hold by other disasters.

The quick point I want to pass on is that I work hard sometimes. I used to describe as working two jobs: by day, my work at the Search Engine That Starts With A G, and by night, the author of the Dakota Frost series. Both could take 40 hours a week or more, meaning normally almsot every nonworking minute ends up on writing.

Recently, that’s become like four jobs: my old project at the Search Engine, a brand new project at the Search Engine, both with hard and conflicting deadlines, a scientific paper for my new project, also with a hard deadline, and my fiction writing, also with deadlines. Each one could be a full time job. Aaa.

Recently, this came to a head: I’d finished my scientific paper, had a breather on the writing, yet still knew I was going to have to work hard, nights and weekends, just on my two work projects. So I decided one night I needed to take a break, to chill out, to go to bed early and catch up on sleep. To recharge my batteries.

Too late.

That night, when I got home, planning to crash out early, one of my cats urinated all over our curtains, then tracked it through our house, necessitating a 3:45AM cleaning job (cats will urinate after each other unless it is completely cleaned up), just before a Monday at work. The next night I was kept up by a sore throat, was worn out Tuesday, and was diagnosed with tonsillitis on Wednesday. The throat pain caused sleep deprivation, the coughing fits caused hemorrhoids (yuk!), the nasal congestion caused tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear, and all of this indirectly caused my trip to the emergency room (more on that later). This went on for days, then for over a week. And all of this just before a huge presentation at work, which we figured out we needed to cancel much too late to cancel – so I had to keep working, even though I could barely keep working. I couldn’t really code in my exhaustion, and when I did readings for my other project – and I did work on my other project, because its deadlines wouldn’t stop either – the textbooks actually blurred when I sat down to read them.

It was almost two weeks later, a day after the presentation, when I finally crashed, for essentially 36 hours straight.

So my point, and I do have one, is that you should take care of yourself. Now. While you’re still feeling good about yourself. Because if you wait to take care of yourself until you’re all worn out … it may be too late.

-the Centaur