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Friday, August 17, 2012

Creating an Artist's Village for Folk with Bipolar

Co-Housing Project - Not sure where it's located.but it looks like somewhere I'd like to live.
As some of you may know, I'm looking into a new nonprofit startup - a co-housing project for people with bipolar and those who love them.  As I looked at my family's problem - 3 close relatives with severe bipolar and all on the edge of becoming homeless - I decided it was time to start up my sixth nonprofit organization.

I do that a lot.  When I run up against a problem a lot of people are having that's beyond their ability to solve, I get involved in creating a new organization or program or I run around looking for money to expand something someone is already trying to do.

This particular one hits close to home.  For those of you with a loved one who has bipolar and is in crisis, you know what it's like. Every day you go off to work, you wonder if you'll come home and find your spouse or child still alive or not.  Apparently I'm not the only one.

I got a note today from a guy who's wife thinks about suicide all the time. He loves her, so of course he can't leave her alone and unattended.  He's trying to make a living working at home and struggling. If you've tried it you know how hard it can be to get any real work done. There's always something. 

He's not the first I've heard from.  The families and caregivers of people with bipolar don't know what to do. Most "safe" places take them away from their families so that they feel betrayed and alone. Trying to keep them home without any close supports can be almost impossible. A lot of husbands or wives have had to resort to working from home for the safety of their loved ones.  If they can get disability for them, it's still very hard to make ends meet because the caregiver is hard pressed to find gainful employment without having to risk their loved one's life.

I came up with this idea the way I came up with all the other hare-brained ideas I've got myself involved with.  God only knows if it will work.  I call it the Rainy Day People Cooperative. The idea is to band together as caregivers and people with bipolar disorder to create a a community that works like we need it to.  Low stress, aid and comfort, backup, emergency plans and resources would be things we should build in to it.  It's not apartments.  With bipolar, you need lots of insulation and some airspace between yourself and your neighbors.  Bipolar can get a little loud.  The atmosphere in the community would be restful, calm and relaxing; designed to reduce stress and anxiety.  People in the community would understand how bipolar works and be able to take the odd outburst in stride.  The individual cottages would allow folk to interact with others as much as they were comfortable and retreat into a cozy cocoon when the anxiety becomes too much.  We could harness the creative energy often associated with people who have bipolar and put it to use to benefit the community and the individuals within it. 

Think of it as a retirement/resort/artist community designed to meet the needs of people who climb emotional peaks and slide down valleys as a way of life. Co-housing projects like this can be built anywhere. Most of the residents won't be going off to the office.  Residents can share community hi-speed cable and Internet, create a community website, take classes, do group therapy, gardening, hobbies and host special events.

Isn't it time those of us who have to live with this stuff decided to take control of our own lives. Shouldn't we live somewhere that works for us and isn't built just to make the developer a quick buck.  If we can put this project together it could be a sustainable, soul healing endeavor.  Drop me a note if you'd like to help us figure out how to do this.  My e-mail is .  Let's do this.

Tom King

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Science Fiction's Disturbing Futures

Are we doomed to lose ourselves in the collective?
(c) 2012 by Tom King

There are two basic routes science fiction authors take in developing future utopias/dystopias.

Collectivism/Social Justice/Surrender the Will:

One popular idea is borrowed from Easter Religions like Buddhism and favors an ultimately collectivist penultimate civilization.  This future nirvans take three possible forms - all of them either unlikely or unpalatable.

The first is the "sea of thought" utopia.  This future pictures a world in which, through some machine initiated device all humans are eventually absorbed into a sort of galactic thought-mush where we are vaguely happy being part of the collective consciousness and unhappy should we emerge from the sea of souls to spend even a short time as a lonely individual. I rather prefer being an individual, myself, but then I never saw the point of psychedelic drugs back in the 60s either.

The second collectivist vision is "the machine facist state".  In this cheery scenario, we either become or are replaced by the machines or by vast magical superbrains and all blindly serve the collective. Some believe this will be a machine collective, others an organic one. Either way I want none of it. I've always sort of had a problem with authority anyway.

The third collectivist vision is the most nonsensical - the Star Trek Next Generation universe. In this fantasy, everyone's needs are taken care of somehow - we know not how - and everyone runs around doing his job simply because he or she wants to.  And since their needs are automatically taken care of, they magically become hard-working, creative workers who are fulfilled by their jobs. What these authors portray is the airy socialist nirvana that relies on the myth that ordinary folk just need a certain number of needs met along Maslow's heirarchy to trigger their inner altruism. It's a fantasy which posits a state very like the Christian idea of heaven, but without the bother of having to put up with a pesky God or even the need to submit to some sort of change in nature like conversion or death and rebirth.

It doesn't matter to these cheery optimists that all attempts to create these sorts of workers' paradises have heretofore failed miserably and often violently because inevitably too many people choose to embrace their self-centered wolf-like nature and tend to instead, run about slaughtering all the nice people in order to win power over them all.  Collectivist governments are notoriously vulnerable to megalomaniacs.

Ayn Rand/Hard Capitalist/Free Will:

This vision of the future universe posits either a rough wild-west flavored galaxy like Poul Anderson's Nicholas Van Rinjh Trader to the Stars adventures and Joss Whedon's Firefly or to an alternating descent into self destruction and anarchy followed by a rise to cultural greatness. Usually the no hope stark anarchy dystopias are written by people who favor the magical Star Trek collectivist vision who want to warn people what's in store for them if they don't adopt the collectivist view.  These stories actually should be considered part of the collectivist literary canon as examples of morality tales.  Phillip K. Dick wrote this kind of stufff which even post-modern Hollywood had to cheer up by adding a little mildly happy ending to his dark tales.

Isaac Asimov, something of an intellectual elitist himself, posited a secret society of elite smart people called the Foundation who figure out how to mathematically manipulate history. Even then Asimov, a keen student of history, only allowed his mental supermen to roughly poke and prod history along in a general direction that kept humanity's corrupt leaders from killing too many people in the process. He recognized that human nature tends to overpower central planning in the end.

These more conservative views of the future tend to be held by people with a working knowledge of history and of the ebb and flow between anarchy and regimentation that countries undergo throughout their histories.

The God Is In Charge View:

I favor another view - the idea that there likely is a powerful consciousness, an interdimensional being if you will, who is behind the design and upkeep of this particular universe. I believe He's using the earth as a laboratory in which to grow decent people who have free will, but who choose to reject doing evil because they've seen enough of where that leads.

It makes sense He will aid them in transforming into the people they choose to be and will at some point harvest the product of His vast social experiment, provide them some sort of durable, everlasting housing for their consciousness and then use those trustworthy individuals to create the sort of utopian universe the Trekkies would like to see happen -only without the Borg and where Klingons and Romulans were nice people.

I don't see where that's such a preposterous idea either.

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

(I Wanna Join) The AARP -- A Parody for Aging Boomers

Suggested by a post by Roelle Seamount on Facebook of a cartoon 
called "The Retirement Village People"

"Don't know who to credit the picture to - will do if anyone finds out!"

Someone said it would be nice if we had complete lyrics to the song, so here we go.

(With apologies to the Village people who are by now, probably pretty geezerly themselves.)
By Tom King                        Tune:  YMCA

Old man, You really ought to sit down .
I said, old man, you need a cane to walk ‘round.
I said, old man, what’s that weird creaking sound
Is that your knee joints popping?

Old man, every half hour you go.
But here there’s restrooms every 10 feet or so.
They’ve got TV so you can watch all your shows
Many ways to have a good time.

You belong to the A-A-R-P.
You belong to the A-A-R-P.
Your hair’s falling out, people describe you as stout,
You pull your pants up to your armpits.

You belong to the A-A-R-P.
You belong to the A-A-R-P.

You get regular meals, your apples always come peeled,
You can nap wherever you feel ...

Old man, are you listening to me?
I said, old man, that Ducolax sets you free!
I said, old man, It’s kinda sad that your dream.
Is to have one good BM!

I know, you’d rather bathe by yourself.
I said, Old man, just put your pride on the shelf,
Hit the call light, you get Nurse Ratchet herself.
I'm sure she can help you get clean.

I wanna join the A-A-R-P.
I wanna join the A-A-R-P.

You know they have a hot tub, Old ladies looking for love.
Skinny dipping is Thursday night!.

We belong to the A-A-R-P.
We belong to the A-A-R-P.

We’ve got our own lobbyists and buddy when we get pissed
Even senators do what we say ...

Old man, I see you’re wearing black shoes
With black socks, and Bermuda shorts too
It’s great, when you hit sixty-five
And can wear shirts from Hawaii.

When young punks, try to make you afraid,
You take your cane; whack ‘em upside the head
Then taze ‘em, you carry one million volts.
Wanna bet that gangsta wished he hadn’t…..  

Tried to fool with the A-A-R-P
He tried to fool with the A-A-R-P

They have shuffleboard here for you to enjoy,
You can really impress all the boys..

A-A-R-P ... you’re now a member of A-A-R-P

Old man, old man, now if you ever fall down.
Life Alert, will pick your butt off the ground.

A-A-R-P ... you’re now a member of A-A-R-P

Old man, old man, there's no need to feel bad.
Old man, you’ve got, pills like you’ve never had.

A-A-R-P ... you belong to the A-A-R-P.

Old man, old man, there is no need to drive
Don't you want, to come back alive

A-A-R-P ... you belong to the A-A-R-P.

Old man, old man, there is no need to drive
Don't you want, to come back alive

A-A-R-P ... you belong to the A-A-R-P.

Old Man, You can go out, a van they will send.
It's dress-up, so be sure and wear your Depends

A-A-R-P ... you belong to the A-A-R-P.

Old man, old man, are you time to go to bed?
Old man, old man, turn up you’re hearing aid.

(Spoken fading)  Hey I KNOW you can hear me.  You’re just doing that thing where you turn off that hearing aid so you can pretend you don’t hear me. You guys were up to three in the morning last night. The nurses just can’t take it anymore. No I didn’t say beer time. I said bed time!

Lyrics © 2013 by Tom King

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Comedians are Wrong About Olive Garden

Mmmmmm, Ravioli de Portebello
Ever once in a while some sitcom makes a joke about the Olive Garden as though the food there isn't the real deal. It amazes me how liberal comedians and writers who purport to be such friends of "the people" can be such utter snobs and elitists.

Yes, it's true. The Olive Garden is a chain. You go there, you know what you're going to get and there are few surprises. Go there a few times and you know what your like and what you don't like.  The food is good. It's well presented and you can eat till you're full. 

Yes, I know that they are a chain.

I know they aren't some pretentious mafia hang out on New York's lower east side. I like that about them. It's unlikely a mobster would ever be caught dead in there. Which is a good thing to my way of thinking. After all, who wants blood and little bits of cannoli sprayed all over your lasagna?

Also, I suspect Italians probably don't put a tiny little bit of pasta on an enormous oddly shaped  plate drizzle a little unidentifiable sauce over it and the two pieces of asparagus and a slice of some kind of exotic squash next to it and call it "cuisine".

My wife and I recently went to the Olive Garden because she had a yen for their Ravioli de Portebello with the smoky sun-dried tomato sauce.  It was a lovely meal. The waitress was a sweetie - very professional and attentive without being intrusive.

It does cost a little more than some other middle-class restaurants, but I don't mind so much. Sometimes you go to a restaurant to feed your soul.  The OG is close so I don't have to wander around some huge city looking for somebody's idea of an "authentic" Italian place.

When your get to the OG, you can rely on them to bring you good food. If you're a salad snob, they'll bring it without tossing it in the dressing.  They'll even put it in a bowl so you can have it "on the side" and enjoy the illusion that you prefer your salad fresh and that you're not going to dip the heck out of every bite and lick the dressing bowl.

Don't get me wrong, I love discovering these wonderful little Mom and Pop restaurants where the food is great and the place run by lovely people in the same way I love restaurants in general - as a treat from home-cooking. The truth is, home-cooking around our place is pretty danged tasty. The prime attraction of a restaurant is not having to cook the meal or clean up afterward and the reduction of stress you get from having a waitress or water running back and forth to fill your glass for you.

So I want to be sure I'm going to enjoy the food.  The OG and places like that are a sure thing. They're consistently good.  I know some things can go wrong even at well known restaurant chains, but it's far less likely to.  I have a few favorite places to go for my favorite dishes.  My top ten favorite purveyors of middle class haute cuisine are listed here. In the meantime, it's Sunday. Treat yourself to a nice lunch  at your favorite middle class fancy restaurant after church or before the baseball game.  You deserve a treat.  Enjoy!

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King