Living with Misophonia – It’s not that I want you dead, I just want you to not breathe

I’ve been sitting on this completed post for a couple of months. I haven’t posted it for a couple of reasons: first, despite attempting to have a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek narrative, I’ve created a mean-spirited, snarky one; further, this topic is one of intense sensitivity in my family, as I’ve seriously hurt feelings over things that are, to a normal person, not a big deal (but to me are very much a big deal). So putting that out in the beginning, I’ve decided to share this post anyway, though most of the examples have been edited out, which has left it a bit shorter than normal, and ending a bit abruptly. I am hoping that you, the reader, will understand it in the way that it was intended, rather than in the way that it was written (a tall task, I know, but please try to read it with some level of silliness…), and forgive me the awkwardness of the post, as I found that the more I wrote, the more I hurt those that I care about the most.

 

Oh darling,’ I pondered aloud, ‘could I ask –
A light little favour? A trivial task?
It’s nothing demanding, important in style –
Just something I’d like,’ I explained with a smile.
‘Most certainly sweetest,’ he said with a grin:
Through sorrows, tomorrows, or thickness and thin –
Whatever our fate or our destiny brings,
I’d never deny you the smallest of things!
‘So make your request, my intended, and know:
I’ll never refuse if it’s mine to bestow!’
I looked in his eyes as he waited above –
And tenderly whispered: ‘Stop breathing, my love.’

– reddit, u/Poem_for_your_sprog

My whole life I’ve been impatient with the audacity of obnoxious noises. Everyone is, right? Like that “teh” sound when people smack their lips? Or grown adults chomping their food? Of course everyone is. Like that terrible sound of somebody biting into an apple, or the rage-inducing sound of someone eating cereal. Everyone gets ready to break things when those noises are around. I mean, how is someone expected to listen to the awful racket of the person next to you breathing,  what kind of world do we live in, after all? Everyone understands that the vile, pandemonious tumult of someone typing should be banned from any decent workplace, right? Of course you understand that it’s perfectly normal for me to want to fly into an uncontrolled rage every time that electric guitar plays on that damnable commercial, right?

What? Oh… well… I’ve recently learned that the answer to all of those questions is overwhelmingly “no.” Huh. I guess that explains why I’ve hurt so many feelings over the years. I guess that explains why I’m such a difficult person to live with (ask my wife, kids, former mission companions, or family). I guess people really don’t understand why I want to shout or cry or break things when they BREATH too loud.

Misophonia is new for me, at least the word is. There are, like every disorder, different levels of misophonia. One website lists a 1-10 severity scale (I’ve shortened it a bit, for ease):

Group One:
A person may be aware that some sounds can be a problem or an annoyance but does not seem to have a significant negative experience with them. Some people have commented on a sound “getting on their nerves.”
Group Two:
People at this level have reported having or having had some experience with misophonia but they do not seem to have a strong fight or flight response. They feel discomfort but are able to withstand the trigger event without undue stress and may be able to remove themselves from the offending sound without significant effort (or possibly endure the event).
Group Three:
Level Three persons have reported experiencing a significant negative response that includes wanting to escape the trigger event, politely asking someone to stop making the offending sound or feeling on edge until the sound ceases. At this level, people find it is difficult to endure the trigger event.
Group Four:
A person with a Level Four reaction reports having had at least one distinct fight or flight response. The person may feel tense and look perturbed by a trigger. Such a person can feel intensified reactions as described in Level Three above. Also, covering or plugging of ears is reported. Som e people report crying as one of their significant reactions and others report wondering if they are “insane.”
Group Five:
At this level, people report having a powerful fight or flight response that can be expressed as panic. The response is immediate and not something the person can control; the offending sound may elicit strong feelings of disgust. It may seem to the Level Five person that the offending sound, if coming from another person, is being made intentionally or inappropriately.
Group Six:
A person at this level of misophonia may feel the need to “sarcastically” mimic the offending sound or snap at the person making the sound. Some people report having a need to scream. At this level, people have reported experiencing physiological reactions such as muscles becoming tenser.
Group Seven:
A person experiencing Level Seven reports not being able to be distracted from the trigger sound and needs the sound to cease immediately. They may remove themselves from the trigger event abruptly, inappropriately and/or verbally insist that the offending person immediately cease making the noise.
Group Eight:
This level generates an intensified level of stress (as reported by respondents). All of the symptoms and reactions listed so far are in play. A person may become verbally assaultive, may threaten some action that will make the offending sound stop or has other extreme thoughts about how to handle the situation.
Group Nine:
Level Nine seems to be marked by a very intense hatred of the sound(s) and can elicit a desire to strike out at or forcefully make the problematic sound cease using inappropriate or excessive methods. People have reported using some kind of self-induced pain as a distraction. Some people say they have thoughts about using violence and many comments left indicate how prevalent this reaction is at very high levels of distress.
Group Ten:
At this level of the spectrum, people report having had violent behavior. They say they have physically attacked another person or have caused themselves some significant degree of harm.

While I’ve only rarely gotten all the way to the ‘9’ point on the scale, and never to the ’10,’ I’ve also rarely been below a level ‘3.’ I hope to help you understand that I don’t mean to be a jack-ass when you are making those noises, I’m just dealing with some really intense feelings.

The solution, if you can call it that, is that I’ve taken to being that guy who wears ear buds wherever I go. I’ve found that by playing low level music or podcasts, I can still hear most conversations directed at me, while also relieving my psychosis by not hearing most of the ‘little’ things. Knowing why I do that may not make it any better, but it might make you despise me a little less!

 

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Guns and Going to the Extreme

Let’s talk guns for a minute:

It’s an important thing to carry ones argument to the failing point, and every argument has a failing point. I tend to be more libertarian, but the libertarian failing point is anarchy – when you carry libertarian principles to the extreme, the result is anarchy, which is a failed idea. So, as a libertarian leaning person, I must recognize the failing point, or the extreme, of my values, and then draw a line. Some might say “anarchy is the way to go,” in fact, I remember debating someone with that view in high school – I showed her that the result of anarchy was mob rule, or worse, strong-man rule. She insisted that with no laws, people would be inherently good and treat each other justly. In her mind, all evil stems from the government. I disagree with her fundamentally. I believe that, while most people are good, it only takes a few to ruin it for everyone else: this is the purpose of government – to keep people from harming others or taking their stuff. 

Having gone to the extreme of my viewpoint, I draw the line. For me, the place to be is as far toward the libertarian extreme as we can get, without the breakdown of society. For me, the line is the US Constitution. There are, admittedly, a couple of amendments that I would repeal, given the chance to be dictator-for-a-day, (the 16th and 17th come to mind) and a few that I would add, given that same authority (a balanced budget amendment, for example). I believe that the US constitution, as written, provides the greatest liberty to the greatest amount of people, while still holding together the republic that best protects people from other people.
So to guns – I think the argument has been settled since 1791, but there still seems to be constant questioning, particularly when people die because bad people use guns badly.

So to discuss guns, we ask what are the extremes? 

To the authoritarian extreme: Complete governmental control of all guns; keeping guns in the hands of the military and police forces.

The the liberal extreme: the complete obliteration of all guns, the removal of the existence of guns, and the ability to create guns.

The Conservative extreme: The restriction of armament to the good, honest, emotionally stable

The libertarian extreme: The complete removal of any restriction of armament, up to and including weapons of mass destruction.

So seeing the extreme of each position, I’ll sum up the breakdown of them: The authoritarian extreme fails because it doesn’t allow for evil in government, nor does it truly protect the populous. this is evidenced in Australia, and the UK, who, implementing laws that draw close to the authoritarian extreme, have had a significant increase in violent crime, (though an overall decrease in gun crime…), an increase in *hot* home break-ins (hot meaning that the resident is home at the time of the break-in) and a decrease in overall public safety.

The Liberal extreme fails because it is literally impossible. Even if all guns could be rounded up and destroyed, and all gun manufactures put out of business world wide, guns aren’t really all that difficult to manufacture at a small-scale level, and the black market of home made guns would immediately take off.

The conservative extreme is theoretically lovely, but like the liberal extreme, it’s impossible. How do we restrict the armament of the evil, the dishonest, the emotionally unstable proactively? This is the current question and intent of law enforcement theory, and the science-fiction end result is Minority Report – the removal of rights based on what a person MIGHT do, rather than what they HAVE done.

Finally the Libertarian extreme fails because SOME people are evil, SOME people want to kill many people, and allowing weapons of mass destruction into everyone’s hands doesn’t result in cold-war stalemates, but rather mass destruction
Of course, few people sit in any one extreme, (and few will admit to actually being extreme in their position) – around here, we tend to get people who are both conservative and authoritarian in their views. The result is that they trust the government without (or with little) condition, while still desiring allow people their rights. This is an awkward conclusion – a people who support individual rights as directed by the central governmental force (I tend to think that this view is hypocritical, naive, or stupid).

In some areas, the combination is a liberal-authoritarian view (DC and Chicago come to mind) – complete trust on government, paying lip service to individual rights, but refusing individuals the ability to make any decisions – the end result is some of the highest murder rates in the country, general distrust (and riots) against the police, who at best fail to protect the citizenry, and at worst act as tyrants over them.
My view tends to be libertarian/conservative – While I don’t thing that we should have any restrictions on personal armament, I also do not want weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the evil or ill-intending, and am willing to allow for the restriction of those weapons on all individuals.

I used to make the liberal exception: if we could remove all guns from history, and the knowledge of them, we’d be better off. after all, guns are only (or mainly) to just kill people… except, they aren’t. they aren’t just to kill people, they’re to equalize people.

We get caught up in the second amendment being about guns. If the Bill of Rights enumerates God-given rights, surely ‘guns’ don’t fall into that category? Surely, God didn’t give us the right to have GUNS? No, He didn’t. He created us with the right to defend ourselves. There’s an old saying: God made man, Sam Colt made them equal. Guns give everyone an ‘equal’ shot at defending themselves
Of course, not everyone is ‘equal’ – some people are faster, some people are better shots, some are better trained, some are better equipped, but those things are all controllable at an individual level. Even as a disabled person, I can train, practice, and spend my time and money on the best equipment and education to be the best prepared and most equal in defending myself. Without guns, I cannot do that. for all intents and purposes, I’m crippled. I cannot defend myself using martial arts, despite my knowledge of some. I cannot defend myself with a sword or knife or baton, despite being trained to do so with at least 1 of those. And because my disabilities are no longer invisible, I’m at a significantly higher risk of being targeted as a victim of violent crime. A gun gives me a real shot (no pun intended) at defending myself against someone intent on harming me.

(There’s no one trying to get you, some argue – but they are deliberately or ignorantly confuscating the point: I have a right to defend myself period, not just a right to defend myself only if someone is trying to get me)

So back to the first full paragraph: What is the end conclusion, taking into account the extremes? I am in favor of the greatest amount of personal liberty possible. My personal extreme is the libertarian extreme, but the line I draw is for weapons of mass destruction. I’m not sure that the second amendment allows for that restriction. But we’ve a long way to go before we get to that extreme… a long way.
When deciding policy, we MUST define our personal lines. we must define our political lines. Where do we stop? The problem with most proponents of “common sense gun control laws” or other bull-manure fallacies, is that they say “let’s go toward this extreme. we’ll go only a little bit toward it, for now, but next time, we’ll go farther. and the time after, we’ll go farther. and then farther. eventually we’ll be close to the extreme, but at no point will we define where we will stop.” This is why the discussion rankles people like me, we Second Amendment supporters. It feels dishonest, and in the case of most politicians, it IS dishonest. So before I’m willing to have the conversation, the ‘other side’ has to first acknowledge the extreme and put into place their stopping line. 

What is the problem with the Founder’s stopping line? Their line is “The Right of the People to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.” It’s the libertarian view. The problem that people have with the Founder’s stopping line is that it leaves room for bad people to do bad things. We naturally want to prevent a San Bernardino, or an Aurora, or any number of other events wherein bad people did bad things. What nobody is willing to admit is that we CAN’T prevent all of those things. That’s not a nice admission. That’s not something we want to hear. But we can EITHER control the actions of every individual in our country, OR we can keep our people free to choose. The first doesn’t work, and it also strips the individuals of liberty AND responsibility. Both allow for bad people to bad things. 

It is hard to admit that in a free society, people will make decisions that we disagree with. People will use their freedoms to make poor choices. They’ll use that freedom to make bad choices. They’ll use that freedom to make decisions that hurt themselves or others. It’s hard to allow people to be wrong. But Freedom can’t exist without that choice.

It’s difficult to make policy decisions that are perfect. But if we can’t be perfect, I’d err on the side of personal liberty.

 

Marijuana and Mormonism: the Morality of Mary Jane

To best way to prevent oneself from falling into temptation, is for the moral person to make a decision on the morality of a thing before they have the temptation placed before them. Because of this, I made my mind up to keep myself sexually pure long before anyone found me sexually desirable. I may have gone overboard, as Julie was the first  (and only) girl that I ever kissed. Many people in my generation believe that the question to the legalization of marijuana is only a matter of when, and not if. It is therefor important for us to work out the moral ramifications of marijuana before it becomes fully legal. Currently, despite some states legalizing the substance alternatively for medicinal and recreational use, it is still illegal in the United States at a federal level. I will attempt to compile my mental gymnastics coherently over the next several paragraphs. I intend to address the legal status of marijuana at both federal and state levels, but then (perhaps more importantly) form a well though out argument concerning its morality. As a member of the Church of Jess Christ of Latter-day Saints, my argument will be from that position, though will hopefully be morally compelling to all).  I’ll leave my conclusions until the end, because I want you to read the whole thing!

First we discuss the federal legality. Having found no constitutionally compelling argument for the restriction of marijuana, I must conclude that the federal government should have no part in the restriction of marijuana either medicinally nor recreationally. The above comment will, no doubt, upset many… Including in my own family. One could read deeply into that statement and (rightly) ascertain my opinion on the whole of federal drug law. Particularly in regard to marijuana, the reason for the absolute ban can largely be traced to influence purchased by the tobacco lobby (seeing a competitor) and is not based on sound science. However, I am open to new and impressive constitutional arguments on the subject.

Next we approach state level restriction.  Marijuana’s use as an effective treatment for a number of disorders, diseases, and side effects is generally well known, though not honestly. Anyone who says that  marijuana is any more dangerous than any number of (currently legal) drugs is kidding themselves. Anyone who says that the science clearly and definitively shows its effectiveness is likewise kidding themselves. The current medical research is insufficient because of a number of factors. Many of the research begins with an end in mind: either to show that it is or is not effective. These studies, in my opinion, should be summarily dismissed, as we cannot trust science that doesn’t follow the scientific method.  Most of the research happens at too small of a scale. There is a simply pragmatic reason for this: the very participation in  he studies makes one a criminal. I think this does a significant disservice to the medical community. Some of these studies show promising results, but others (one had only 24 participants)  show little more than anecdotal evidence. These studies should not be dismissed, but should be understood for what they are. Finally, many studies are inconclusive. Inconclusive studies need only show that more research needs to be done. However, anecdotally, the drug is proving to be effective where no others are. This is particularly true of nerve pain disorders, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and (the pain part of) Diabetes. Marijuana also has relatively few side effect (in adults over 25: under 25 there is ample evidence that shows long term damage to the brain, this is simply because the brain is not fully developed until about the age of 25. Studies of MJ users who start after 25 show no significant lasting effect).
Does a state have the right to ban outright  marijuana? That depends on the state’s constitution. Being generally libertarian, I think that states should leave medications legal, so that doctors and sufferers can find any effective alternatives to suffering.
I find no compelling argument for the legal restriction of medical marijuana in individuals over 25 at the state level. I will detail the extent of my conclusion at the end.

As for the legal justification of the restriction of recreational marijuana? The libertarian in me says that the drug should be legal. I’ll discuss moral ramifications later, but each state should be able to decide for themselves.

Now we discuss the morality of marijuana. For those who are not aware, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a health code, defined in the book The Doctrine and Covenants, section 89. The section outlines both healthful and detrimental health principles, and is called the Word of Wisdom. While generally a selection of recommendations, there are certain restrictions to which obedience is requisite to hold good standing in the Church. Specifically, these include the abstination from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco. Most Mormons use the Word of Wisdom as a guideline for their dietary foundations. Some are more exact than others, and that’s okay: the Church neither wants not expects zombies, but rather individuals who think for themselves.

So, I too will use the Word of Wisdom as a foundation for my decision on the morality of marijuana. Because there has been no revelatory codification of the morality of marijuana, we must use the principles otherwise outlined to make our decision. I’ll break down 3 aspects concerning the morality of marijuana. First is the morality of Doctor proscribed medical marijuana.  Second is the morality of personally proscribed medical marijuana (over the counter). And finally the morality of recreational marijuana. I will base my arguments by using current medical understanding as well as by comparing to other drugs, for which the Church has taken official stances.

First, Doctor proscribed medical marijuana. The Word of Wisdom, the average member of the Church, as well as most other Christians that I know hold no moral reservations to Doctor proscribed drugs, including much more dangerous drugs like amphetamines. I see no reason to differentiate here either. I have no moral objection to Doctor proscribed marijuana.

Second is over the counter medical marijuana. Some similar examples would be aspirin, alcohol, and caffeine. I’ll show the similarities first: aspirin has significant long term medical risk, but has very little short term risk (to the average person); marijuana is the same. Alcohol, while generally a relational drug is used in many cough and sleep aids. It is certainly mind altering, though in medicinal doses has little to no lasting short term effects (once it has worn off).  Marijuana is the same. Finally, caffeine is similarly addictive as  marijuana, though with a slightly lower mind alteration effect. Now, most members of the Church and most other Christians I know have no problem with the medicinal uses of those 3, and the use of alcohol on this form would not restrict a person’s good standing in the Church (though a shot of whiskey to help one sleep would). Consequently, I must conclude that marijuana, like the others, has no moral reason to be restricted as an over the counter drug. I must say, however, that an age restriction (25 and younger) would be appropriate, just as I believe an age restriction for other OTCs could be appropriate. 

Finally the morality of recreational marijuana use. I’ll use the example of tobacco (used in much the same method as marijuana), alcohol (similar, though greater, mind alteration and long term medical impact as marijuana) and caffeine (slightly lower, though similar, mind alteration and addictive properties to  marijuana). Many of the Christians that I know have open restrictions on the first two, and (as shown) those 2 are specifically restricted in order to maintain good standing in the Church. But I include caffeine because, while many members of the Church hold personal restrictions to it, the Church has said that caffeine is not restricted by the Word of Wisdom.

So what are the principles that define why we, as moral people, would restrict some drugs, and not others?

Addiction: as followers of Christ, we must not forfeit our agency. Addiction does just that: it takes our ability to choose. Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and marijuana all are (or can be) physically addicting. The difference between a physical addiction and physiological addiction can be simply described as the difference between a physical need and a strong habit. Few argue the addictive properties of alcohol and tobacco. Significant organizations are set up to help individuals overcome those addictions. But many argue that caffeine and marijuana are not physically addictive. Caffeine can replace adrenaline in the body and even hamper the body’s ability to produce adrenaline. Those individuals cannot function without their daily dose of caffeine. Marijuana, it is argued, isn’t addictive. This was true in the 60’s and 70’s, when THC levels (the addicting chemical in cannabis) was between 3% and 5%. Cannabis has been genetically altered to include THC levels as high as 40%. The argument that it is not addictive because it wasn’t in the past no longer holds scientific weight. However, like any addictive substance, some have greater propensity to addictive behavior than others. this means that while a person may drink alcohol every day, they may be able to stop indefinitely with no impact, while another may drink only every couple of days, but physically unable to stop without help. The nature of addiction, then, is that it is very individual and personal.

 Physical harm: as followers of Christ, we must protect the temples He has given us. There are studies that show that there are some healthful benefits to drinking a glass of wine daily, though few dispute that the abuse of alcohol is detrimental. Smoking tobacco causes significant and irreparable damage. Consuming tobacco by other methods also damages the body. Caffeine, on the other hand, has few long term effects on the body. Smoking marijuana does similar damage as smoking tobacco, though consuming it in other ways, like caffeine, has few or less long term ill effects to the body (except in people under 25). Drugs, we see, aren’t inherently damaging to the body.

Mind alteration: when we alter the state of our mind deliberately, we reduce the strength our moral compass, increasing the likelihood to give in to temptation, and reducing our ability to feel the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, thus separating ourselves from God.

Again, we hear no credible argument that alcohol is not a mind altering substance. The alteration of the mind by tobacco is well documented, the many smokers will swear that there is no alteration to their mind. The same can be true of caffeine users, however one must simply ask someone who’s just drink and espresso whether their mind is altered, and you will hear them describe in great detail and it rapid speed without taking a breath how they have had no effect on their mind.  The mind and judgment alteration effects of cannabis is, like tobacco, well documented. However The ability of any drug to alter the mind is reduced with increased use of that drug. For this reason those seeking an high must constantly increase the dose of the drug that they are taking.

My conclusion is this: that drugs are not inherently evil but that an individual should ensure that they are following Christ. If one were to be addicted to caffeine, they should not take it recreationally. The same is true of marijuana. People under the age of 25 should not take marijuana because of the damage to their minds and bodies, though I do not believe that this is impactful for those over 25.  And finally, it is my belief that taking a drug for the purpose of altering one state of mind is contrary to the will of God. I see no advantageous reason to consume marijuana for recreational purposes than to alter one’s state of mind. This could be true of caffeine as well, though many who drink caffeinated beverages do so because they like the taste. My personal favorite is diet Dr Pepper, which is caffeinated.

So to break it down: I believe that medical marijuana should be legal on both the prescribed and over-the-counter levels. It is up to each individual to ensure that they are not abusing those drugs, in order to ensure that they are in line with the doctrines of Christ. It is not inherently immoral to use marijuana as a medicinal drug. However having no realistic recreational use besides getting high, I have come to the conclusion that, for me, recreational marijuana is morally wrong.

Further, this discussion for me is purely academic. Well I am one of those individuals who would benefit most from the legalization of the drug, my doctors have informed me, and my research backs it up, that the combination of the drug with some of the medications that I am on can be very dangerous. Because of this, even if this drug were legal I would not use it.

Compromise, Puppy Tails, and Crook’s Foots 

Any detailed search can show that the significant majority of criminals have 2 legs. I don’t know why the media consistently chooses to ignore this fact.  The statistics, however, show a clear correlation: bad guys have 2 legs.

During the course of this post, I’m sure to make some chuckle, some laugh and some grimace. There are those that will understand my meaning quickly, and take the point for what it is worth. Some will be offended, and still others may not understand me at all. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, please understand that while I have a very serious underlying message, the point is intended to be lighthearted and silly.

All puppies are born with a long tail. Within days, some version of the following conversation takes place between the owner of the puppy, and the puppy himself:

Owner: puppy, you’re old enough, it’s time to take you to the vet and get your tail cropped.

Puppy: oh, okay. Why does that mean?

O: well, the vet will numb your tail and humanly chop it off about 2 vertebrae above your bum. The whole thing is harms and necessary. Would you rather go tomorrow or today?

P: wait, chop it off? You can’t be serious?

O: of course I am. Dogs don’t have long tails. Would tomorrow or today be better?

P: can’t we talk about this? I don’t want my tail to be mutilated!

O: well, I guess we could keep it a little longer, just to show how reasonable I am. We’ll only chop off 3/4 of the tail. Would you rather do it today or tomorrow?

P: no, you don’t understand, I don’t want any part of my tail cut off! It’s mine, and I like it!

O: don’t be unreasonable! I’m willing to compromise, that’s why we’ll leave 25% of your tail! And just to show how reasonable I am, we’ll even wait until the day after tomorrow, so you can say goodbye to your tail, though I can’t imagine why you’d want to.

P: Compromise? Is there any form of compromise that doesn’t involve my tail being mutilated?

O: now you’re just being silly. Look, let’s just take off half of the tail. See how reasonable I am being? 

P: no! Please, I don’t want any part of my tail removed.

O: well, your lack of reasonable compromise show that you aren’t even willing to engage in responsible conversation. We are going to the vet today and we’re taking off the whole tail! I’ve tried to negotiate with you, I’ve tried being responsible, I’ve tried compromise, but you’re just stubbornly clinging to your tail. Let’s go!

And the puppy whines all the way to the vet, who reasonably lops off most or even all of the dog’s tail, mutilating the dog to better fit the owner’s view of what “dog” looks like. 

We all see how unreasonable the puppy is in this scenario, right? The owner just wanted to get things done, and was even willing to give up what he wanted to try to assuage the unreasonable puppy. Why wasn’t the puppy willing to just work to get things done? Instead the unreasonable puppy insisted on grandstanding and insisting that it should be his choice!

This brings us back to the opening paragraph: 

the statistics all show that the vast majority of criminals have two legs. I propose that we, reasonably remove 1 leg from each person. Doing this would, of course, ensure that we would eliminate criminals from our society almost over night! Sure, we’d each be single amputees, but there would be no crime!

What? You want to keep both of your legs? Why? Are you a criminal? We’ve already shown that criminals have two legs! If you’re not a criminal, there should be nothing to worry about!

What? I’m being unreasonable!?! You can’t dispute my facts, and still insist that you need both legs. Clearly you either are a criminal or you support criminal behavior. Fine. We’ll just take your left foot. See how compromising I can be?

What? You want to keep your left foot? Now your just being deliberately difficult! Fine! You can keep your left foot, I’ll just take your right foot! Now, it’s time to stop this ridiculous…

What now?! You need both feet? You’re just grandstanding. We’re talking about common sense application of the science, and you keep whining about walking! Fine, we’ll take the 4 smaller toes on your right foot, the larger toe on the left. Even you can’t  expect…

Seriously? You complain about that? You know what? I’ve tried to be reasonable! I’ve made every allowance! I’ve proposed compromise after compromise and you just dig in and make sure that nothing gets done! We’ll need to have some great executive just take control and make it happen!

Who is reasonable in these examples? Is the reasonable person he who compromises, or he that grandstands?

In our current political climate, we continually hear about how the American People just want congress and the president to “get things done,” people who will “reach across the isle,” or who will “make reasonable compromises.” But do you know what? I’m tired of the “reasonable compromises” of our values and principles. My argument is simply this: compromise is not good, it’s evil! Compromise, without fail, gives in to evil. It just does it more slowly than just giving in completely. Instead of someone who reaches across the isle to get things done, I will only support someone who will grandstand for the truth. It is  not up for debate. There is no reasonable restriction to be had when it comes to my God-given rights.

But does that mean I don’t support bipartisanship? Certainly not! Those on the other side are more than welcome to compromise their points of view to join me! I say it partially in jest, but they are! Further, there are points on which we can almost all agree, even without any compromise. For example; we are failing our vets. Many are literally dying to get an appointment with the VA. This is not some kind of social welfare program, instead it is a contractually guaranteed benefit to our military, and we are failing them. There could reasonably be some discussion on how we resolve the problem, but that we resolve the problem cannot be compromised. Both sides agree, but yet nothing happens.

My challenge to you, reader, is to never throw your support behind someone willing to settle for just the amputation of your foot. Stand with those unwilling to give in, unwilling to compromise, and unwilling to surrender their values for political gain. Compromise is evil, not good.

Democracy, the United States, and the Importance of Semantics

Let’s talk about democracy for a minute.

In the course of discussing any topic, one must first begin by defining terms. Using our language, it’s no longer safe to assume that people, particularly those with different or opposing views, values, or principles, will inherently understand our terminology. Often dictionary terms are sufficient, but particularly when terms have changed over time, it’s critical for common understanding to explain our meanings. A perfect example, though not politically correct, is the word “gay.” If I post a Facebook update stating how gay I am, despite using a meaning pulled right from the dictionary, I’d have some confused family and friends (particularly my wife and kids), while I myself would be frustrated by every else’s stupidity: of course I mean I’m happy!
So allow me to define terminology:A democracy is a form of government werein each individual of society has equal political weight or equal voting power. Simply put, it means that every person gets 1 equal vote. Regardless of current dictionary definitions, it does not include representative governments, unless those representatives simply write laws, which are then placed to the people for direct voting.

A republic, on the other hand, is a representative form of government wherein representatives are selected by the people to represent them in government. These representatives may or may not be directly (or democratically) elected, but the representatives make the ultimate decisions of government: they write and vote on the laws.

Now having defined these things, let’s talk about our government. We (the United States) are NOT a democracy. I will explain, so please continue reading before you get your torch. In fact, there is not any aspect of the constitutionally outlined federal government that IS a democracy. 

Why do the terms matter? Because democracies and republics aren’t the same. They are not equal in efficiency, nor in equity. They do not grant to the people the same level of Liberty.

But our society has conflated (deliberately or not) the two terms, believing that a republic is a form of democracy, and as a consequence our populous has become ignorant and complacent. This has lead to political devision. Worse, it has made common the belief that the American Constitution is nothing special, not spectacular, and even an outdated and out of place document. This is dangerous, but that is a conversation for another time.

So what did the founders want? The founders looked at multiple forms of government when re-evaluating our first confederacy. They looked at a monarchy, which was the standard of government at the time. They looked at limited monarchy, similar to England (in fact many principals of our government come directly from England’s government), they looked back into history and saw Greece’s democratic (little ‘d’) and Rome’s republican (little ‘r’) governments. They looked at the Anglo-Saxon tribal governments. And they realized that the best form of government for a free and liberated people was (and is) a republic. However, Rome’s example didn’t fit our needs. They specifically decried all of the examples of democracy; Madison called democracy “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” Jefferson called it “nothing more than mob rule.”

So the Founders recognized a clear distinction, if we are to understand our government, so must we.

Now we take a brief look at the federal and state governments of the United States, as I have said, there is not any part of our government that is, if we follow the constitution, democratic.

The majority of the constitution is spent in the creation of the congress. Apart from being the most complex portion of our federal government, it is clear that the constitution and its signers intended congress to be the greatest and most powerful portion of our government.

Congress is split into two sections (an idea taken from England) the House and the Senate (a concept of Rome). The house is representative of the people of each state, and is the closest thing we have to a democratic section of government at a federal level… But it’s not democratic. Why? Because each person has different weight in the voting process. My vote in Wyoming (if I lived there) would have greater weight than my vote in California (God forbid I live there: too many people). Thus, despite being similar to a democratically elected house, the House of Representatives is distinctly NOT a democracy. 

Next the Senate, which, (until the 17th amendment) was filled, not by the vote of the people of the state, but rather by the vote of the state’s governments. Why? Because the senate is designed (or was designed) to represent the STATES, not the people of those states. Again, an important distinction. It’s a distinction that shows that the Founders desired to keep the new government similar to the original Articles of Confederation, keeping our various states (read: countries) confederated (or federated) together, but each being distinctly sovereign over its own polices.

The 17th amendment, which I would repeal given the chance, significantly muddied the original intent of the federal government, and made the senate little more than another House of Representatives. In neither the initial design, nor in the current design is the Senate democratically elected. Having 2 senators from each state means that a person’s vote in Wyoming has significantly more weight than a Californian’s: a distinctively un-democratic thing.

Next the Presidential Branch: the president is elected by electoral vote, rather than popular vote. Despite current desire to push for popular election of the president, it is important that the election process remains the way it is defined in the constitution. Why? Because the president is the leader of the STATES, not of the people of the states. He (or she) should be representing the states equally, not the people equally. This position is anti-democratic, if you will, and it defined the 2000 election, much to the chagrin of Al Gore. 

And finally, and least of the three branches, is the judicial branch (but wait, jared: the branches are co-equal! No! Nowhere in the constitution will you find the words “co-equal branches of government” nor any language attempting to convey that idea. The constitution simply a declares that congress shall establish a Supreme Court. “Co-equal” is a term coined by, you guessed it, the Supreme Court! It is a perfect example of a branch of government commandeering the authority of another branch – a branch that is almost without fail the congress). the court is filled by appointed positions: clearly an anti-democratic concept. On further rant: the court cannot create law. It cannot write law. It cannot establish law. The constitution simply gives the court the authority to give an OPINION concerning law. Congress, according to the constitution, has the ultimate authority to decide constitutionality of law, not the Court.

So on the federal level, no part of our government is democratic. But what of the states? the constitution does not leave it to the states to be governed by democracy. The constitution declares that one of the few purposes of the federal government is to ensure that each of the States ha a republican form of government. Thus each had state must be, like the federal government, republican in design. Cities, townships, and counties could choose to be democratic, if their state’s constitution allowed; the constitution does not forbid democracy at that small scale.

In conclusion, when people say that we are a democracy: the correction is important, even if it is annoying. We are not a democratic nation, nor have we ever been, nor are we constitutionally allowed to be. 

Democracy is contrary to freedom. Democracy is best (in my mind) represented by the symbols of the torch and pitchfork. Justice and liberty cannot live long in a democracy.

My Religion, Faith, and Politics

I suppose before a person can begin making arguments to persuade others to their point of view, it helps to first declare that point of view. When Hamilton rote the first Federalist Paper, he made clear his intent to convince his readers of the importance of federalism and the new Constitution. I don’t pretend that my lowly blog will ever be as well written nor as widely read as those masterful works, but I do hope to mimic their methods.

So without further ado, I endeavor to inform my reader (or readers? I hope so) on the basis or foundation of my beliefs.

Religion:

I was born to parents who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a child, I did not doubt the testimonies of my parents. I had no reason to. I was baptized, as is customary in our Church, at the age of 8, when I was old enough to know what I was doing and make my own decision. I proudly remember stepping into the warm font waters on February 9th, just days after I turned 8. I was baptized by my father, who at the time was an Elder of the Church.

My first doubt came when I learned the true nature of Santa: if my parents where not telling me the truth about that man, what else would they lie about? Looking back, it was no significant crisis of faith, but it was my first, and so it felt significant at the time. Fortunately, my parents had wisely taught me the correct principles of the Church since I was old enough to learn and the crisis of faith was averted shortly, and without them ever knowing (this may be the first time they’ve heard that: surprise!) Those that know me best will, rightly, gather that this is the cause of my aversion to Santa: I am convinced that he strips faith, rather than building it.

At the age of 12 I happily was ordained a Deacon in the Church, having hands laid on my by the Elders and leaders of our congregation. This consisted of responsibilities and also the power of the lesser, Aaronic Priesthood. My responsibilities consisted primarily of passing the sacrament of bread and water to the congregants. This was a role took seriously.

At 14, as is the standard, I was given additional responsibility as a Teacher. I kept my Deacon’s responsibilities, but added the role of entering into the homes of those in our congregation, checking that their physical and spiritual needs were being met, and teaching them gospel messages. My first partner was my father, his masterful instruction began my lifelong love for educating others, and myself.

At 16, as is standard, I rose to the calling of Priest: still an office of the lesser Priesthood, I added the responsibilities of preparing and blessing the sacrament and working with the Elders to prepare myself for proselytism. I believe that, while somewhat silly, I was a serious and sober young man. I took my commitments to the Church seriously and pushed myself to do as I was expected.

It was during this time that I was in an accident that would shape the course of my life. I’ve written of this event in some detail, and won’t repeat the whole of it here. But critical to my faith in the Priesthood, having had every attempt at modern medical science fail to help me heal, I had the hands of the Elders laid on my head, first anointing me with oil and then, my father acting as voice, commanding my body to heal. This is something that I am hesitant to share openly on the Internet to the random stranger who may read this, due to the very sacred nature of the experience. Nonetheless, my body healed within weeks rather than the many months it should have taken. As the New Testament promises, the laying on of hands had healed me when I had become a wonder to medicine by not healing.

Having my faith buoyed up by both the subtle whispering a of the spirit and the majorly miraculous workings of the Priesthood, i accepted the calling of Elder and the accompanying greater responsibility of the higher Melchizedek Priesthood. With it, came the call to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. A calling I took to Detroit, Michigan, where I served as a full time missionary for two years without payment and at the loving expense of my parents.

I hope to share some of my missionary experiences in other writings. But let me sum up the experience as this: it was the most difficult, most trying, most exhausting, and most powerfully rewarding time of my life up to that to that point. My father would occasionally share his mission’s experiences with me by letter. And my mothers faith, testimony and teaching on my behalf impacted me daily. One small story: the first area of my mission was in Sterling Heights, Michigan, an area populated in no small part by the Iraqi Chaldeans, who are the Christians currently genocidally butchered in the Middle East by the radicals of the Islamic State. These loving Christians shared some wonderful aspects of their culture with me, including their food (which I remember with the highest fondness) in my first 6 or 7 weeks, I’d gone from 160 pounds to 215 pounds… I had gotten fat. I spoke to my mother on Mother’s Day, and told her that I intended to send home my unfitting and unopened clothes, asking her to replace them with a larger size and send them back. I will enter forget her sage and loving instruction: “gluttony is a sin. Lose weight!” The blatant and unrestricted truth has always been my mother’s style, and I took her chastisement to heart and lost the fat that I had quickly accumulated. (A process much more difficult than gaining it in the first place).

Returning home, I found a singles congregation and endeavored to fully integrate. I was asked to teach Sunday School,  which I enjoyed. I failed at integration, as I married my lovely wife just 4 1/2 months after returning home.
Julie and I were married in the Idaho  Falls temple. Like the temples of old, the temples of the LDS Church are the places that we dedicate for the work of the Lord. It is here that God has established to be His house on earth. Appropriately, and as the faithful of old, we put every effort into the ensuring that the buildings are the finest in the world. It was in one of the white rooms of the Temple that I knelt across from my beloved and made the sacred covenant of marriage with her in front of witnesses and in the sight of angels.

Some believe that what goes on in the temple is nefarious because members of the LDS Church don’t speak about them: this isn’t true. We do wonderful things in the temple: taking symbolic actions to learn and make covenants with God. One action performed both inside and outside is baptism: the symbolism is simple enough; thy we are laid down beneath the water as if being laid down in the earth and rise up as a new person; laying down in death our old self and being raised up new in Christ. Because of the sacred nature of these things, however, we don’t talk freely about them, and rarely. I will likely not go into detail in my posts on the acts of the temple.

I’ve held many callings in the Church, but they have been primarily either scouting or teaching: my two passions.

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve never questioned my belief that the Church is God’s. I’ve had too many declarations from Him to doubt it. I have had some trials of faith, but I’ve never doubted that.

Faith:

Some might question why I would separate faith and religion. The answer is that, I’m not sure that they are the same, though they are undoubtedly tied.

From the earliest age, my parents taught me of Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Brother, my King, and my Friend. They taught me of His birth, His life, His death, and His overcoming the Grave. They taught me that he as returned on many occasions, first to Mary, then His apostles, then his disciples both in the old and new worlds. And he has returned in our day as well to a young boy, calling him as a prophet.

I hardly doubted as a young boy, and rarely as an old one, that my parents knew it. I leaned on their faith for a time, as all children do, until the Holy Ghost had spoken enough to me to lean on my own faith.

My journey of faith is less linear and more difficult to write about than my journeying in the Church. But I can speak some to my beliefs, though the following is by no means comprehensive:

I believe that under the direction of the Father, Jesus Christ created the earth.

I believe that Jesus, as the God of the Old Testament, called prophets to lead His people and administer his words.

I believe that Jesus came to earth, the Son of Mary, to fulfill the laws of justice and make way for mercy.

I believe that Jesus lead a sinless life, thus the law of justice which says that the consequent of sin is death, had no hold on Him.

I believe that Jesus set up an actual organized Church, granting it His authority to act in His name.

I believe that Jesus acted vicariously for all sinners: suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and, contrary to laws of justice, He died.

The law being broken, Jesus held the power over life and death, and rose again: immortality connected to his body.

I believe that Jesus will grant all who have lived second, resurrected life: never to be separated from our perfected bodies again. He gives this gift freely and without cost.

I believe that Jesus’s sacrifice made him an intermediary to the Father on our behalf, and we must only accept this gift to made pure and freed from our sins.

I believe that Jesus’s Church is a necessary part of accepting His atoning sacrifice.

Because of the actuality of this Church, I believe that either the Church never fell away, and is the Catholic Church, or it was lost and would need to be restored. Protestation and reformation of an organization that has lost its rights cannot work: either the Protestant Churches are heretics from God’s Catholic Church, or the Catholic Church had lost its authority and and restoration would be necessary.
I believe that His Church apostatized, and was lost. Neither the Catholic Church, nor its Protestant and reformation splinter groups have the authority to act in The name of Jesus the Christ.

I believe that, despite the loss of authority, many good Catholic, Protestant, and Reformative people lived and acted according to God’s will: making way for a restoration of Christ’s Church.

I believe that Jesus the Christ and His Holy Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and called him to open a new dispensation of the world, and to restore Christ’s Church on the earth for the work of salvation to be continued.

I believe that despite his many flaws, Joseph did in fact work to the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, including the reception of Christs authority, called the Priesthood, by the laying of hands on his head, just as has been done from the beginnings of time.

I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s own Church, restored to earth, with all the privileges, powers, and responsibilities previously established by Christ to His apostles.

I believe that the apostolic line restored to Joseph still stands, unbroken, and is headed by Thomas Monson.

I believe that God reveals truth to his prophets and apostles, as He always has. I also believe that He reveals truth to the honest seeker as well.

I believe that God wants us to be happy, and has established commandments not to restrict our happiness, but to expand it.

I believe that God allows us to be wicked, but sorrows in that wickedness because it keeps us from the happiness he desires for us.

I believe that God has established the American Continents for the growth of the righteous, but thy he will remove the unrepentant wicked from this place and put in our place those who seek Him.

I believe that God inspired and directed the Founding Fathers to build a government that ensures the greatest liberty and chance for righteousness ever known to man.

I believe that we have the responsibility to protect individual liberty and encourage personal righteousness.

So we can see that my faith and religion are inexhaustibly connected, but that my politics are dictated by my faith.

Politics:

I’ll try to avoid great detail, as I expect to do detail on future posts, but here are the foundational principles.

Unlike many of our contemporaries, I don’t mind labels. I’m a Mormon. I’m fat. I’m white. I’m handicapped. I’m daddy. I’m silly. I’m nice. I’m mean. Labels are descriptive. They don’t define me, but they do help describe me. Some may be more true than others. I’m conservative. I’m traditional. I’m libertarian. Each label has different meaning to different people, so it’s important to understand the spirit in which they are intended.

Politically, I describe myself as a conservative, libertarian constitutionalist. There was a time when the 3 labels meant mostly the same thing, but that time has passed. Another label that is accurate is liberal, though the true meaning of term is lost by the deliberate hijacking by the American Progressive movement.

So to define, which is important. I believe that ‘conservative’ values are generally correct, as they have their foundation in the Godly principles of the bible. They are currently described as Judeo-Christian values. An important thing to note is that I believe that the concept of relative morality is horse manure. Murder is wrong despite the fact that some cultures condone, accept or encourage it. It’s wrong even in those cultures, though the people of those cultures may be less accountable to the Great Judge than I am, raised with correct principles, it is still wrong. There are those who will be offended at this truth, and I am sorry to offend, but not sorry for the truth.

As a libertarian, I believe that people should have the freedom to act according to the dictates of their  own conscience, even when their conscience leads them to violate the principles and morals that I believe in.

I believe that just governments are instituted to protect the liberty of people by ensuring that one person doesn’t harm another or take their things. Thus, I am a constitutionalist. I believe that the Constitution was inspired by the Father and ensures the greatest level of liberty ever instituted by people in the whole of history. Government must protect life, liberty and property, or else it is not just.

Using these foundation principles, I dictate every aspect of my political belief. With every issue, I consult my values, consider the philosophies of wiser people, and come to conclusions with the best of my ability. Sometimes I get it wrong, and that is okay. But my political views that I will share will be founded in these principles.

Of course, I don’t expect my reader to agree with me, though I hope to make compelling arguments enough that I can at least challenge those who disagree, and give those who agree further foundation for their beliefs. I will point out areas where I have changed my mind, and areas where better arguments have caused me to change as well.

The Mean Work Lady, Troubled Dreams, and Sleep Paralysis

I could hear her coming. Every day, she’s trying to get me fired. She keeps saying “one of these days you’re gonna slip up, and when you do, I’ll be there to catch you.” And now here she comes. She’s going to catch me sleeping on the job and report me to my boss. And the worst thing? I can’t wake up! I can’t move my arms, or my legs, and there’s something on me. I can see into the hallway, and I can hear her coming… But I… Why is she in my house?… Wait… How did I get in my house or am I at work? She’ll never let up! She just keeps trying to get me fired!… Fired from my… Do I have a job? Who am I working with? Who is this lady? Wait, what lady? Why can’t I move?

Sleep paralysis is a strange thing. For most people it’s accompanied by severe panic and terror, but my ‘quick’ nap earlier was almost amusing rather than terrifying.

I’m fortunate to be a stay at home dad: no one can fire me, and there’s no mean lady trying. It’s a strange feeling to be ‘wide awake’ looking into my hall, hearing clearly every creak of the foundation, ever movement of the neighbors, and every song of the radiator, but without any control over my physical body. I understand why it is so terrifying (full confession, the first several times where terrifying, and even now, sometimes I get the panic and paranoia when it happens), but knowing what is happening lessens the severity of the experience, leaving me worried about a mean lady, rather than panicked about an house fire, for example. 

There’s not much to be done, and some people almost enjoy the experience. For most people it happens when they are waking up. The running theory is that the person is in a dream state, but awake enough to incorporate surrounding details (sight and sound) into the dream. For me, at least today, it was as I fell asleep, rather than as I woke up, that I ‘dreamed.’

If you ever wake up to find the weight of an elephant on your chest, your arms and legs denying your commands, and the feeling of dread or terror… Just remember, the mean lady won’t tell anyone: she’s not real.

Peter Hollens, Pain Medicines, and Filter

Ask me how I’m doing at your own risk. I usually try to give people the chance to rescind by asking “do you want to know, or are you just being polite?” Uncomfortable and realizing the hypocrisy of the socially demanded question, people usually tell me that they really want to know. For those that know me personally, it’s pretty common knowledge that I’ve never learned to shut up or filter myself. The result is usually wide eyes and open mouths as I tell the truth. 

Aside from dry mouth, I have been blessedly free of side effects on my current pain medication. For this reason my doctor has kept me on this drug rather than risk one that, while potentially more effective, may have significant impact on my life. Regardless, I’ve begun to notice a new impact, particularly in the higher dose I’m now (the highest safely allowed for long term use): any filter I may have had, (which, as we’ve established, was weak) is totally gone. It’s almost like having Terrets’s: any word that comes to mind, comes to mouth.

Last night after Julie asked Nathaniel to give me hugs before he needed to get in bed, he walked  grumpily toward me and grumbled “sit” under his breath. Bruce was not around (I discovered later that he had been inadvertently left out and was, at the moment, curled up under the hedge trying to keep warm and dry: I’m a terrible owner), and I was already sitting, so we weren’t sure to whom he was speaking. Basic questioning made it clear that he was, in fact, saying something else. Apparently my lack of filter has taught my 3 year old the finer aspects of expletive use. Shamed, emberassed, and amused I hugged him goodnight. 

Further, I’ve found that my emotions are always at the surface with the this medication. This is fabulous when I’m feeling happy, as I tend toward school-girl giggliness. If I’m feeling even remotely grumpy, I fly off the handle at the lightest provocation. And even the smallest melancholy brings me to tears. As you can imagine, this is simultaneously amusing and exhausting for my family, not to mention shocking for those who don’t know me. 

This morning I was listening to the fabulous Peter Hollens while on the way to the gym. As I silently wept to Into the West, I wondered what the daycare employees were thinking, and I tried not to notice the tough guys I passed on the way to the locker room. 

I haven’t learned how to address this seeming phycosis with those close enough to understand and merit an explanation, not to mention those who aren’t and don’t. Oh well, the weepy, bearded guy guy at the gym gets in the water where frequent dips cover the tears. Hiding my annoyance at the sloppy, splashing swimmers is a bit more difficult.

Ultimately, I find myself with the need to mentally delete some of my extensive vocabulary of expletives. It already includes a large variety of “dad” words (boogers and bugger start the ‘b’s) but also include the less appropriate “not dad words,” (there’s some ‘b’ words on that list too). My medicinally agrivated lack of filter means that if they’re on the list, they will be said. 

Heaven help the poor soul who asks how I’m doing on a day involving digestive problems.

BrokenDad’s 2016 update and 2015 year in Review

Happy New Year! Having never succeeded in a New Year’s resolution, here are my resolutions for 2016:

Eat too much

Avoid the gym like the plague

Gain significant weight

We’ll see if I can maintain my resolution history. In truth, I think the practice of resolutions is silly. If it is worth changing, it’s worth changing anytime.

Having said that, let’s have a small BrokenDad review for the last year, then we’ll do a basic update, and finally I’ve some administrative changes to announce, but I’ll leave those to the end so they are easily skipped.

2015 started with the family settling in the new state. Ezra finished up kindergarten as he turned 7 (he’s old for his grade, it was either that or to be very young). At about the same time my health had deminished to the point that we decided it would be best for Julie to get work.

Julie started working sales at the gym the same week I was laid off from work. They let me go because they didn’t have the work to keep me going, but I was days away from turning in my notice because of my health, so it was fortuitous timing.

Within a month, Julie was tapped on the shoulder for management in the gym, which she took. The summer was spent dealing with some seriously disturbing corporate decisions thy made it clear that a career couldn’t be made with that company. 

I made some attempts at cycling in the summer, culminating in a metric century (100k) ride in Lemhi County, Idaho with my brother, his wife, son, and our dad. While I normally ride at least 20 miles, at the 20 mile point my stomach decided I was done. I did get the participation shirt, but I’ll have to try for a completed century next season.

Ezra started 1st grade in the fall, and surprisingly, he’s not the oldest in his class: there are 5 like him, which his teacher loves! I volunteer at the school most weeks, when my health permits, and Nathaniel gets a kick out of that. 

In the end of the year, Julie took a data entry position in the end of the year (sad that an “entry level” position pays better than her previous management position), and the company she’s working for is really excellent. 

Christmas was spent with our families, and was great (though the -20 degree weather was painful for my back joints). We also saw Star Wars as a couple: it’s been a while since we’ve had a date. That was nice. The movie was pretty good too. 

So there is the year in review. I didn’t go into significant detail, because not all of you know me personally.
For the year update for me: I’ve replaced my trike with the pool at the gym trough the winter months so far. While Julie worked there, my membership was free, when she left, I was gifted a membership by family for Christmas. I’ve gone from just walking in the pool (I didn’t know how to swim) to being passable in my swimming, though I still walk. My health has continued to digrade since last year, and the treatments we tried on my back where ultimately ineffective. While some of the medication mixes have increased my life functioning in some degree, I still worry that I will continue to go downhill before a Plateau. I’ve found it both excruciating and fascinating to feel my vertibrae grinding directly on each other over the last month. I think that means that my ruptured disk has completely desintegrated, but it would take a CAT scan to verify. 

So when I feel well enough to excessive I swim (having learned by creepily watching the other swimmers at the pool), walk and stretch. When I don’t, I sit in the water and let the pressure on my spine be relieved, and in the extreme I don’t make it at all (yesterday was one of those). While I’m waking, I write on my phone, it keeps my mind off the pain.

So that leads to the administrative points: this year, I intend to use this blog to write about more than just my disablity. I’m afraid that I’ve run out of amusing things to write on that front (I’ll still share from time to time, but the news is rarely good, and it’s hard to be positive when things suck so bad). So I’ll separate my posts into some categories: my traditional posts will be categorized as “BrokenDad’s Blog,” as they have been; cooking exploits and recipes will be categorized as “BrokenDad Cooks;” I’ll be diving into social and political commentary categorized as “BrokenDad’s Politics,” these will likely be long and detailed, not often fun, but hopefully well thought out, and detailed. Don’t read these if you are looking for the politically correct, but I’d love to spark some discussion, and answer some questions. 

The categories will make it so one could easily read my blog and cooking exploits, while avoiding my political ideas, if they so choose.

So there we are: I hope that I haven’t exhausted you. I hope to keep you entertained, educated or at least was bored through the. New year. If you like my posts, lease share them: that’s the ultimate compliment, that my thoughts are worth sharing.

I hope that God continues to bless me and my family  in the new year. And for you and yours: God bless you.