I should have at least been complaining about the weather, but I have been too depressed to do much more than feed myself, or take a shower. I can’t tell you when the last time I turned the TV on except I caught the last lap of the 24 Hours of Daytona last Sunday.
Anyway I forced myself out of bed and the house to pay property taxes Friday which I did for 2 of the three taxing bodies who lay claim to my property unless I pay their ransom. Just kidding I don’t mind paying taxes so much because they buy me something I like to refer to as civilization small “c” because the one with the capital “C” is a registered trademark.
Now the reason why I paid my taxes in February instead of January, and why I only paid 2 of 3 taxing bodies in my town is we have been covered in ice since Tuesday, actually light ice followed by light snow, followed by heavy ice that brought down tree limbs, and some trees, powerlines that weren’t buried, ditto phone lines that weren’t buried. It wasn’t a grid disaster like 2021, power outages were local and confined to likes broken by ice or brought down by idiots who can’t drive taking out poles and substations. I heard a rumor that the driver that destroyed a substation transformer died from the high voltage, but I’m pretty sure that was wishful thinking on the part of a person without heat because no electricity to run the thermostat or fans.
Anyway, I paid city and county property taxes, but the schools offices hadn’t reopened, so I can’t pay them until Monday of next week. Which means I have to spend more money on transportation, to go with the $30 extra I had to spend paying city taxes because we were out of checks and had to use a card. Summoning a Lyft or Uber is only about $10 with tip, but that’s a significant drain on the budget multiple times a day like what happened Friday because although the streets were clear the sidewalks and parking lots were NOT! This meant that as a person using a cane to navigate I was at more of a peril that usual because of limited traction to go with the bad balance. I managed, but not without some scary moments. And I have to do it again Monday, because GISD offices were still closed on Friday.
Anywho, enough of the meandering narrative or lack thereof. Time to put this to bed.
Basically I have exhausted almost everything I have to say about almost everything after over 3600 posts since November of 2008. I don’t want to talk about politics, I don’t want to talk about bicycle infrastructure because then I have to talk about why we need bicycle infrastructure. Which then takes me back to why I stopped covering bicycle wrecks.
The tl;dr version of that story is after years of writing about the same three wrecks with different names and addresses attached to them I finally couldn’t take it any more and went into a more-depressed-than usual funk, and had to take a permanent break from writing bike stories. Everyone has a limit and I reached mine in either March or April of 2016, because there are no wreck stories after April of 2016, but there were wreck links through March of that year. So basically not quite 8 years of death and destruction before I lost my mind. I even did a page dedicated to how most bike wrecks happen, the link is the Spelling It Out link in the list of pages at the top of the blog.
And it has been more than 24 hours since I started and I still haven’t thought of anything more to say so it’s time to put this to bed.
Short post to explain the sudden lack of posts. The headline pretty much explains everything, but for the record trees and grass have been been having an orgy and my head is caught in the cross-fire. I can breathe, but at the cost of not having energy to do much else beyond that. Part of that is allergies, part of that is the deep funk I fell into after Chauvin was convicted of the murder we all watched repeatedly on TV and social media most of last year after every protest against a cop killing a BIPOC which seemed like every other day. I mean nonchalantly kneeling on the neck of a Black man with his hands in his pockets like this was a normal thing for him to be doing, murdering a Black man in the street with dozens of people filming it and recording the sounds of it as Floyd’s life left his body.
I get that he is going to prison and unless he spends the rest of his life in solitary the rest of his life will be short and violent. But this still does not feel like a victory. The closest thing I can compare it to was that one hill in Vietnam we “won” like 3 times, only to abandon it and the VC were back on it firing on our troops in a couple of weeks at most. To “win” this one we have to eliminate White Supremacists from all branches and forms of LEO and make ever being a part of any racist organization disqualifying for having a firearm and from working for law enforcement. We not only have to “take the hill” of each individual LEO who kills a BIPOC, we have to “win the war” against White Supremacy. And that looks like a very long and costly battle.
I have had PTSD longer than PTSD existed as a diagnosis, and for most of my life it has been untreated, even after I was diagnosed. It is now known that untreated PTSD results in depression that is extremely hard to treat, because after a while depression becomes less like a mental problem and more like a personality trait. It burrows down into your soul, and takes up permanent residence there. And while I can live with it like this since I don’t seem to have the option of suicide, I would prefer to be actually happy sometimes, instead of just “almost not depressed” which is what passes for “happiness” for me. And to understand what depression as a personality trait looks like, I present Eeyore. Eeyore is so depressed suicide is too much of a bother because it will put others out cleaning up the mess. I passed that milestone decades ago. And the recent circus about the White Supremacist who murdered a man with his hands in his pockets did my depression no favors. I’m still not in any way suicidal because I don’t want to make anyone have to clean up the mess. And I still haven’t forgotten what may have been the hallucination of getting put inside a body bag, so suicide is right out.
This is normal right after my death day, and it doesn’t matter if there’s a big shindig, or I’m all by myself like this year. The difference is when there’s a big shindig it doesn’t last very long, and when I only have the cats to be with I get down for much longer. This year the cats didn’t show up either but they did come back in the morning, but I still got way down. This was a bad year for this particular problem. The only social group I interact with any more is the RPG Group. And nobody responded to my Twitter invite or my FB save the date. I never saw the FB thing go live so that might have been a mistake on my part setting that up.
But anyway, the end result was a lack of desire to write anything more complex than a grocery list, or work on the Mini Sprint-T, or the Sprint-T. I knew I was starting to come out of it when I started thinking about building a car for SCCA Solo racing A-MOD using a V-twin engine from a cruiser motorcycle and a setup that was basically a scaled-up shifter Kart with the suspension and brakes needed to be a legal A-MOD car. I planned on using Midget or Micro-sprint spindles (pretty much the same thing) with pavement brackets for big brakes on both sides (dirt spindles have a smaller brake on the left side only), hung on an axle made from wrapping carbon fiber around a foam core and steel inserts for the kingpins to ride in. The idea was to use a beam axle to keep the tires pointed in the right direction for camber and then make that sucker as light as possible for the lowest unsprung weight. I was going to use a rear axle from the mini- or micro-sprint to connect to the chain drive from the motorcycle engine with a jackshaft for initial gear reduction and moving the final drive to the center like on the Grind Hard Plumbing Princess Jeep only with much less articulation because pavement racer instead of dirt crawler/buggy like the Princess Jeep. But what they did prove was that using a small sprocket on the axle prevented chain bind or jumping when the axle was twisted through a range much further than an A-MOD Solo racer would ever see outside of a wreck. So Imma steal that idea for my car.
Also the reason I’m stealing the jackshaft idea is I’m mounting the engine way off center to balance the driver weight and to keep the polar moment as low as possible by keeping as much mass in the center of the car as possible. Driver to one side, engine to the other with both as close together as physically possible given the need to balance left-to-right and the need for the final drive chain to ride in the center of the axle. I’m leveraging my skinny butt to get as close to the centerline as the chainguard will allow, because I’m only 13″ wide at the hips. This reduces my moment arm from 11.25″ in the Sprint-T to 7″ leaving clearance for the chain and chainguard because I don’t have to leave room for another person, just the engine. I have really wide shoulders and a really skinny butt, like my Dad, and that’s the main reason why the driver moment is so large in the Sprint-T because I have to leave room for a passenger by the rules for Goodguys.
I also knew I was getting better when I started looking through the Hoosier tire catalog looking for the right tire to use when racing the Sprint-T in SCCA Solo events. Basically I was looking for short, wide and sticky that would fit a 15″ X 8″ or X 10″ wheel because there are light, strong, and cheap wheels in those sizes available in several different offsets that fit one or the other of the bolt circles on my hubs. I also used more than just the road racing tires and went into the pavement oval listings to see if there were any tires that came close, and I found a couple in the section for Modified class, and pavement sprint and Supermodified classes which despite being vastly different in layout use pretty much the same tires. Those tires were larger in diameter than my ideal of <23", but were considerably wider than most of the road race offerings with tread widths of 11-13" compared to the 8-9.5" of the road race catalog. The suitable tires for the pavement oval racers were 24-25.5" in diameter compared to the road race tires in the 22.5-23.5" diameter but much narrower as the diameter decreased. Also the oval racing tires are bias-ply while the road race tires came in a mix of bias and radial depending on the size, which tosses another variable into the mix. Radial tires have higher peak grip given the same size and compound, but bias tires are much more controlable at the limit and come in wider tread widths with stickier compounds, so ultimate grip becomes a wash. Also, the reason why there are so many size and compound choices in the oval tire section of the catalog is oval cars run different size and compound tires at each corner in the sprint and Supermodified classes to balance the handling or to use different diameter tires to force the car to turn left when running a locked rear or a solid rear axle (same thing, just built differently) so the right tire drives the car to the left.
It has been a bit difficult to type this in as Clint has decided to lay on my lap on his back demanding tummy rubs which means I have to type with one hand while holding the cat with the other to keep him from sliding off my lap and grabbing me with his claws to keep from sliding. That usually results in long deep scratches. And now he lost interest and has left the room.
Which makes for a good time to end this and hit "Post"
Well, I have a good title that describes my current emotional state, but what can I build from that? I’m literally unable to do anything towards making the thing because I can’t get the stuff to make the thing, and unless the thing is some kind of food that’s true for almost every thing, notice there is a separation between every and thing. We blew all the raw stock budget buying food 😝 When your mind is essentially a fountain of ideas that won’t stop coming until you at least get started, the inability to get something started is nothing short of painful, physically so. And that is not a joke or other attempt at humor, not being able to build any of the things I have planned is physically painful for me, a literal interpretation of “beating your head against a wall”. No kidding, I get a pain like sinus pain when I plan something for too long and not even get a glimmer of how it will get finished. And there is not a damned thing I can do about it but suffer.
This project has been stewing in the old grey and white matters since 1987, when the inspiration struck at a club meeting for the Tennessee Region SCCA, where we were discussing making a consistently good autocross car. I came up with the idea of a tube frame hotrod with an SBC and a TH350 transmission for a literal “stab and steer” car that would keep the tires mostly correctly oriented to the track. This was when the modified category rules were not as stringent as they are now, and the possibility of running a T-bucket in the production modified classes was not that wild an idea. Even if some people at the meeting thought it was hilarious. Mostly they were amused at the idea of using the automatic transmission bringing up the Powerglide (which wouldn’t be a bad idea for a trailered car), “Slip and slide Powerglide,” was the chant. I was looking at a 350/350 combo which were common as dirt in junkyards, in a car that weight slightly less than a ton, and also knew that as long as I didn’t let the power to weight ratio get too crazy the main thing to worry about was grip and brakes. I knew from experience that power without grip was pretty useless, but as long as you had enough power to get and keep going grip was much more important, witness the VW powered special with a stock 50 HP engine and sticky race slicks that consistently stomped the high powered American iron. My idea was to get a bucket and sort out the handling and clean up. Thirty-one years later it is still a viable concept if the execution has shifted more to the lightest possible V6 and 4 cylinder engines and away from the now-ancient SBC and 350/350 combo.
Anyway, one of the things I did in the past to stop this feeling was to buy something “not-very-expensive” (aka “cheap”) that would move the build forward in a tangible way, and also be something I could physically grab hold of and hold and say “This is part of my car”. The problem is I’m running out of things I can do that with. There are very few parts left that will work on any of the variants I’m “working” (thinking) on, that are still something I can afford by saving up or sneaking money out of the money I get from the trust for presents. I’m running out of options for not losing my mind and dropping into a giant pit of despair and depression. I’m not depressed (much) now, but I have played this game enough to know what’s coming if I can’t work my way out of this trap. And it ain’t pretty for me.
And now that I have horribly depressed you, a cat picture.
And the tag is another description of my physical status after literally spending almost every penny I had getting bandaids.
Or am I depressed because I’m creative? There is literally a plague of depression in the creative class, so that it looks like you have to be depressed to be creative.
In my case depression came first as a side effect of the PTSD I got as a military brat during the Cold War. Seriously, we should have gotten a medal for what the DOD put us through. “Hostile environment” does not even begin to describe what dependants endured in public schools outside military bases. My family was lucky, because of what my dad did we spent most of our time out in the boonies where they hadn’t developed a hatred of the base that technically didn’t exist. I mean, who expects a Navy base in Nebraska, or rural Washington state away from the water?
But my depression is not why I’m posting today. There are a bunch of other people who are not doing so good. I’m not naming names because it’s not my place, even though they left statements on their web sites about their conditions. Seriously, look beyond the entertainment content and into the other stuff posted on the sites for the stuff the creator wants to talk about. And some content creators are talking about their depression openly, not just me.
But that still doesn’t answer the question about whether depression and creativity are required roomies, or if you can keep the good one and send the other packing, or even not let it in to begin with. You know what? I don’t know because I don’t know for certain how early my depression started, I was displaying signs of creativity at an early age, and also signs of depression as a Junior in HS. So for me it would be very hard to tell. The only thing we know for sure is I’m depressed and creative.
Yesterday I had to get up about 4 hours earlier than my normal rising time. That was just the start of a seriously shitty day. I had to leave before I finished my coffee, and barely had time to eat an envelope of PopTarts before throwing my raincoat on and heading out the door.
To pass the time enroute I opened my Twitter app on my phone, and was greeted by videos of a mass shooter making his way through a FL high school. Wonderful, another school shooting with a double-digit body count .
Close to Over 2 dozen injured or killed yesterday. And that makes 19 times this year that a firearm has been discharged on school property…
So anyway, about that rain coat. Basically it’s vinyl windbreaker with no ventilation held closed with Velcro and held together with vinyl tape after as many years as I have had it. That means it’s a sweat generator, and the hook part of the front closure snagging on everything in range, and that hook part dangling loose after Mrs. the Poet borrowed it without understanding it was delicate because of the tape. So hot and basically catching on every fabric surface in a half-meter radius, because there was a misting rain and fog when I left the house that ended before I even got to the transit center to catch my second bus. I carry my wallet in a drawstring bag I throw over one shoulder, so I stuffed the jacket into the bag and had it under my arm the rest of the day.
This brings me to the visit with the Lab Rat Keeper. It seems that stopping the anti-depressants was a Bad Idea from a blood pressure point of view, as I have been asked to augment my current med (Byvalson) with the diuretic HCTZ to get back to the numbers I had when I was taking the anti-depressants. In case you didn’t know or forgot, I stopped the anti-depressants because I can’t live with the side effects of no sex life or sleeping all day and night. Whodathunkit? Depression is bad for your blood pressure.
And getting back to the school shooting, the shooter was 19 and legally bought his assault weapon after learning to shoot and maintain it as a cadet in JROTC. As a graduate of the Navy version of this program more than 40 years ago, I can say that wasn’t the cause, but it probably did teach him how to use the rifle. And since it’s more than likely his instructors were combat veterans he likely picked up the “run and gun” protocol he used from one of them. But how does a 19YO with documented mental health issues get that much firepower with multiple magazines and a brick of 1000 rounds of ammunition? I mean that’s the Mass Shooting Starter Kit, did nobody at the gun store contact the police?
And that’s all my stomach can handle.
I don’t have a way to use the Dingbat font in this blog, but it’s the comic strip and book substitute for swear words. And it’s cold enough in my office to make me want to swear. I have warmed my office up to 63°F from 54 when I first got here after getting out of my nice warm bed with all the quilts over it. I am the main heat source in the room right now, but there’s only so much heat you can radiate from a single human body, especially in a room as large as my office. Which is why I really want to get back in that bed with all the quilts on it.
My brain shutdown montage was cars again, but mostly the Sprint-T. I guess it is really hard to fully let go of something you have been working for for as long as I have been working on getting my bucket. This time it was about pitching the bucket build as an episode of Fast and Loud to Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage, and to run it as a GMG entry at Goodguys. Again one of those things that will never happen in the real world, but thinking about it helps me get to sleep at night. I fool myself into thinking the world isn’t going to shit on me forever, that I will have a purpose to continue existing beyond just being there taking up space and resources.
I got up early so I could check out the local places to sell plasma, but it was just too dang cold for the clothes I have without going to the long underwear. Basically all the cold weather gear I used to have is now worn out or Mrs. the Poet got rid of it because I “never wear” it. I have lots of summer wear, but not much useful when the temperature drops below freezing. So maybe I’ll try again when the temperature goes up at the end of the week. It would be really nice if I can get this to work since I can sell plasma twice a week.
On the depression front, I am. Still depressed, that is. The meds that used to work aren’t any more, or have side effects I can’t live with. Most days aren’t too bad, I mean I’m still alive, still fairly mobile, still married to my first wife and two weeks out from celebrating 40 years in that condition. Things really could be a lot worse. They could be a hell of a lot better, too. We got our tax documents back and we are living on about $12K last year, about $4K below the point where they start counting taxable income. But we have food on the table, a roof over our heads, and the full suite of basic modern communications: Internet, basic cable, cell service, and a land line. By some standards, we are rich. Hell I had a bowl of Cocoa Dyno-bites cereal mixed with vanilla yogurt for dessert tonight, I’m doing good. Still depressed though.
I’m eliminating all the brain drugs because the side effects are worse than the disease. I was taking anti-depressants because untreated PTSD from when I was a kid turned into depression, so I took SSRIs which helped the depression for a while until the side effect of destroying my ability to have sex kicked in. I managed to get most of a year in without depression, and I had a positive attitude and everything. I was even cheerful and talked with my wife regularly. That was great while it lasted. but eventually side effects kinda blew that out of the water.
So, then I changed meds in an attempt to find one without sexual side-effects, with the first attempt getting the side effects in full effect before the intended effect of reducing depression even started. Which brings me to the current med, that uses a chemical strategy that does not even affect my depression. Well my soon-to-be-previous-med, that takes as long to wean off of as it required other meds to be clear from my system. It will be about 2 weeks to detox enough to switch to an SSRI. Then at least another 2 weeks to get back up to speed on the SSRI as I mourn the death of my sex life, or not. I might decide to just save the money and live in a dull, grey world, and retain something of my sex life.
In other news I was going to get my toes done Tuesday, but we are experiencing the southern end of an arctic cold front that dropped the temperature about 40°F overnight, from a high of 57° to a forecast low of 20 tomorrow morning, with wind chills expected to be in the single digits. That’s chilly. We had to fight to get the cats to come in and stay in because they want to be out in what is still pretty warm, and now they are pacing the hall yelling to be let out.
I don’t know if I will ever have the re$ource$ to build out any road-going version of the hot rod, and it has caused a downward trend in emotional futures here at Casa de El Poeta. Those of you betting the new anti-depressant was not going to work after it “settled in” can now collect your winnings. It looks like I can either have a sex life or not be depressed, but not both at the same time. And that knowledge is depressing in and of its own self. Throw not having the financial resources to build the car on top of that… Fortunately I’m staying above the suicide line. I’m sad I won’t have the hot rod, and all that but I won’t let it drive me below the suicide line, I’ve been there and it is a Very Dark Place (using Milne Capitalization for emphasis).
On the other hand, not having to restrict myself to any rules or regulations except “will it go fast” and “will it be fun to drive” turned loose a bunch of mutants from the imagination. One in particular was based on the A-Mod car with the 90° Vee Twin sidewinder engine next to the driver, and the exhaust pipes running out the passenger side of the body and a small gas tank hanging from the roll cage to feed the EFI pump. That one would have been funny-looking with the rear axle tucked up behind the body and the front axle just far enough in front of the body not to hit the tires against the fiberglass at full lock. No visible engine, especially if I run the exhaust under the body. And not enough room outside the body to put an engine as small as the 420cc Predator from the local Harbor Freight store.
I then went through all the permutations of putting a liter class I4 motorcycle engine in the car, using both the mid-engine short chain drive to a differential and the front-engine offset to a lightweight rear axle. Both of those would work as long as a separate electric motor could be used as a reverse. I was sticking that engine in every which way trying to find a performance advantage. The only way that had a theoretical advantage was the mid-engine short chain drive. So still thinking even though there’s really nothing I can do with it.
OK I’ve been doing this writing thing for a while, and my nose is froze just from normal breathing. And right now I’m listening to “The Bertha Butt Boogie” on YTM, the album version. In case you thought things were “normal” around the ranch. I think I was in 8th grade when Jimmy Castor did his thing with Ms. Butt. The other hit from that album, “Troglodyte” is also in my rotation. But that still doesn’t do anything to make my office warmer than the current 64°F which is the warmest reading I’ve had with all the TVs and computers running plus my personal heat pumping into the space. It was 62° earlier when I first looked today.
Getting back to the opening paragraph, now I need to go through detoxing from my anti-depressant, which takes about 2 weeks to do and from the instructions sounds like Hell to go through. There are 2 main reasons to go through this, the first being it doesn’t work for me and I don’t need any more chemicals running through me than absolutely necessary. The second thing is this med makes me sleep half the day, and depression does that to me all by itself, I don’t need any help in staying unconscious. So the med has to go. I guess I’ll be unmedicated for a month to see what my baseline feels like, I really need to test that when I’m playing with my brain chemistry. Back to baseline after a failure. Making a note of that. Right here in my blog I’m making a note that I need to spend a month without brain meds to gauge my mental condition after I have a brain med that fails to work as advertised.
And with that, I really need to take this shoe off. I have a toe that needs a trim and the nail base is starting to hurt. If I try to run around the house unshod I’ll be hurting from another source so I need to get my feet back in bed where they will be warmish or so. I think I really need to hit the road and get my nails done in the morning, or after I get up since technically it’s already over 2 hours into the “morning” as I post this.