One week till moving day

Whether internal or external affairs, they keep developing with total disregard to my desires.  But is that a bad thing or perhaps a good thing?

I haven’t made much in the way of preparations. I have put into a paper sack the paper I had gathered to start fires in the stove – there is no wood stove in the apartment – and also some old magazines and such.

I intend to bring home another roll of garbage sacks and throw away the rest of the computer games I have not played for years, except one or two with particular nostalgic value.  Should probably also throw away the DVDs with anime, as I have two identical copies on USB hard disks, and don’t watch most of them anyway so it is not the end of the world if both of the disks die at the same time.

Another sack for the comfortable old shirts that lack a button or two. I have enough shirts for at least a decade without them. Old trousers with a small hole – I don’t have the same reserve of those, but I don’t actually use them anyway. Boxer shorts that have lost all elasticity so they fall down are also likely to go.

Things that can be given away, such as the comic books, will have to follow along. I don’t mind that the apartment will get cluttered. That is a GOOD thing. It will remind me to drag the things off, I hope. Having this much space here meant that I still have stuff after one and a half year that should have been gone one year ago.

Even living here in the twilight at the very edge of the radiance of the Eternal Light, attachments are gradually fading away over time. Things I “absolutely needed” are optional, things that hurt to get rid of are fading to worthless and then to nuisance. It happens slowly, and it hasn’t happened to Sims 3 yet, but there is definitely a trend.

And even though I still occasionally feel the impulse to try to rent another small house in the countryside, I think it may be better to wake up from that dream now that I am roused anyway.

The VAT is coming! Buy books!

My self-sim still read paper books, but then again he does not have to physically move every object he owns from house to house every couple years.

Starting July 1st, the ever helpful Norwegian government will start collecting 25% VAT (a form of sales tax) on electronic services from abroad, such as subscriptions to online games. And, notably, e-books.

This is contrasted with one of the rare holes in the Norwegian VAT, for paper books. For some reason the same does not apply to e-books. The most likely reason is that the government does not want to appear anti-cultural by suddenly taxing books, but e-books were so rare when they were first classified as services rather than books, only a few of us bothered, and nobody important to the public. To extend this to e-books from Amazon is just a matter of harmonizing with EU rules, the European Union has already for some time tried to collect tax from America.

It is not a big deal really, those who think this tax is unfair can simply steal every fifth e-book. Buying them is after all a matter of conscience in the first place, since the Pirate Bay has (as I already mentioned) e-books I could not  buy from Amazon, Barnes&Noble or Google Books.  At least when it comes to the kind of books pirates like to read. Probably not so great a selection of the type of books on my Amazon recommendation list: Aristotle for Everybody by Mortimer Adler, On Grace and Free Will by St Augustine, Holiness is Always in Season by Pope Benedict XVI, and a few more of similar beach lecture level.

Now, buying that kind of books seems extremely dignified for someone such as I. These past 12 years have not exactly been an unbroken triumph march of dignity, piety and deep thought, do you think? Still, the books should be within my reach to enjoy, though it may take its sweet time. In fact, that is somewhat the point: The books I buy before the end of June should ideally tide me through until the US$ has devalued by another 25%, which will likely take several months, if not the whole year.  It may go faster if Congress and the White House cannot agree on the debt ceiling and the government stops paying its bills in September. I certainly don’t think it beyond them.

Since some of these books are likely to be a bit above my pray grade, they may require two or more readings, which should also help make them last. Most likely they are also slow going. But again, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is not like he who dies with the most books wins. Probably not.

Pre-diabetes and shoes

The glucose solution, in a manner of speaking.

The glucose tolerance test today delivered a mildly unpleasant surprise. The starting value was 6.1, which is already too high. (Ought to be 6.0 or lower.) Two hours after the glucose meal, the value was still 9.3, which is smack in the middle of IGT, Impaired Glucose Tolerance, also called Glucose Intolerance (sounds like a worse case, but actually used interchangeably), also called pre-diabetes because something like 10% of IGT cases progress to diabetes each year.

Now, I have repeatedly told my doctor about my two diabetic parents, so he was probably less surprised than I. Back in 2005 I tested my blood sugar several times and it was below any warning lines. So anyway, I blame my shoes!

See, if I had replaced my jogging shoes two weeks ago, I would probably not have gotten a sinew sheath inflammation (or that’s what it feels like … my family has a predisposition to get those, it seems) and so I would still have been walking (with some jogging when needed to keep the heart rate up) for an hour each day. And so my liver would probably have some room to swoop up extra glucose for topping up its glycogen reserves. That would probably have been enough to lower the blood sugar to 7.8 mmol/l, or at least very nearly so. So, blame it all on the shoes. ^_^

That said, this is not exactly bad news. I don’t have high blood pressure, I have barely elevated values of fat in the blood stream (triglycerides and cholesterol), my pulse is slow, and I don’t have sleep problems by human standards. Health personnel used to envy me, perhaps not so much now with this new development.

But seriously, having more sugar in the blood? That just means I can eat less sugar and still be as active as before. I have to look for new types of food that contain less sugar AND still very little fat (since fat makes me ill) and don’t taste like coarse grass or worse.  Uhm, I am sure I will find something. I did find low-fat foods in 2005, after all, it just took me a couple months or so to change my habits and then the rest of the year for my digestion to rebuild for the change. For a beginning, I have bought a small bag of pressed oats, the old Norse and Scottish breakfast cereal. OK, not sure exactly how old, but I am pretty sure oats breakfast predates Kelloggs.  Mixing this with my fruit yogurt makes it last longer till I grow hungry again. It has lot of healthy fiber and slow carbs.

I am pretty upbeat about this, although I am sure my doctor will (figuratively) beat me up over it. I mean, having more fuel than necessary does not seem like a problem. “There is a way with the sausage that is too long” as the Norwegian proverb loosely says. Meaning you can just cut off some of it. I can do that with the food as well now that I know it is too much.


Oh, and the shoes. I have been thinking about buying new ones, off and on, for weeks at least. But I never found an opportunity to get away from work for long enough. (The shop that sells them in the city takes plenty of time with each customer and nearly always has customers. People seem to accept that a specialty shop requires waiting for half an hour or two.) So I did not take that time until I was already in so much pain that the alternative might have been to stay home from work for that.

This fits disturbingly with something I read by Ryuho Okawa yesterday, that there are people who love illness. They just steer straight ahead, ignoring the warning signs, until they get sick. Then they want sympathy, or feel that that they can’t be blamed. Well, I don’t expect sympathy for this. I made a mistake waiting this long, and I plan to make less mistakes in the future, if any. Or at least not the same mistakes as this time…


Speaking of making the same mistakes over and over, there is a small house in the countryside for rent a few miles from here, still in the Mandal area. For 3/4 the price I pay here, but 30-40 minutes walk to the bus, judging from the map. Which would been a GOOD thing, except I just have shown myself incapable of ensuring that I can even walk…


My right foot was almost completely healed this morning. Unfortunately, on my return home from work it hurt worse than ever. The top of my right foot and front of the calf (leg, not animal) hurt very much like my wrist used to do when I was typing a lot at work some years ago. I assure you however, I have not been typing with my toes. Instead, I suspect my shoes. Unfortunately it is the last pair so I will have to take some time off from work to buy new ones. I think that is better than not being able to go to work at all!

Tomorrow is the lab appointment. For that, I have to stay in the clinic for at least 2 hours. (Glucose tolerance test.)  If the doctor has time, I will mention the foot again, this time with feeling. ^_^

Not going to look for a spiritual explanation of my foot problem before I have tried new shoes. The voice in my heart seems to concur with this. It certainly does not protest.

Food and money

No, generally speaking people in the third world are not starving because you eat too much. It is not like there is a fixed quantity of food in the world. It may have some small effect, but more on you than on them, I would say.

In most of Europe and North America, there is little connection between income and diet. People with more money to spare may eat out more at restaurants, but they generally don’t eat more and they generally don’t eat more meat than people with lower income in the same countries.

In the so-called “Third World”, on the other hand, food is a large part of living expenses. If there’s not enough money, there is not enough food. (This is a bit different for those who grow their own food, but if the crops fail, they generally don’t have much cash to tide them through until the next season.) Those who are a little better off can afford as much staple food as they want (such as rice or maize) but may only eat fruit and some vegetables when they are in season, and meat and fish only on special occasions.

As more and more people have made the move from abject poverty to lower middle class in countries such as China and India, the demand for meat especially has increased. This has put some pressure on the prices for staple foods also:  Pigs eat much the same food as poor people, and cattle need at the very least grazing land that might have been used for growing food for humans. Where cattle ranchers can afford it, they also tend to feed their cattle some grains and vegetables for faster growth.

My point here is that there is not a fixed amount of each kind of food that you just parcel out among the world’s population. Increasing food production is pretty simple, and we do it all the time. We could easily feed 10 billion people on this planet, but it would be expensive if they were all eating meat virtually every day, as is common in America and parts of Europe.

That is not to say that we could not do it even then. The problem is not that food is too expensive: It is not expensive compared to most things. The problem is that some people are too poor.

This problem can not be turned into “some people are too rich”. There is again not a fixed amount of wealth that we can distribute. Rather, wealth is continually generated by human work and thought. The world today holds many times as much wealth as when my grandfather grew up. Not only are there several times as many people, but the average earthling is far more wealthy. This does not happen because a planet has a fixed trajectory of increasing wealth that we can simply distribute: It happens because people have had the freedom to generate wealth and the incentives to do so, the main of these incentives being “not being robbed and killed if richer than others”.

I am not opposed to rich people sharing their wealth with the poor. Far from it! That is a commendable thing to do. But even more commendable, for those who can, is to invest their wealth in such a way that it creates opportunities for the poor to use their own talents to generate even more wealth, for themselves and others. If we were to simply give all the wealth of the rich to the poor to use for food, this would like eating the seeds. Any sane farmer knows that you don’t eat the seed grain unless you are going to die anyway. We should have the same level-headed attitude to all forms of wealth.

There are some who are happy to contribute to emergency food aid to the starving poor, when drought or flooding or volcanoes have destroyed their livelihood. That is nice. But if we were more eager to contribute to schools, libraries and vaccines, there would be fewer people who were on the verge of starvation anyway. Even if there is drought in California one year, you don’t see a million Californians sitting on the ground covered in flies with a beggar bowl in their hand.  Are Californians created in God’s image and the people in certain other places are not?  No, but some people have currently more resources than others.

But the one most important foundation for any progress is PEACE. There is no point in building schools when they are bombed the next day, just as there is no point in planting crops that will be raided in the harvest. Once peace is broken, it is hard to put back together. I think we should all consider this. Even in the rich world, war is possible if we too readily believe in flattery at the cost of others. Before our culture wars reach the point where people start arming themselves “just in case”, we should consider that the end of this path is certainly poverty, starvation and pointless death. But if we live to be of help to others, everybody wins, including (and especially) ourselves.

My splendid isolation?

Actually I am very similar to Rika Dobashi here, except I have no one to tell me “You don’t really rely on others, everything you do is decided by yourself”. Well, nobody outside my own heart, at least.

If you came to this site by googling for the phrase “splendid isolation”, as I just did, you should probably go back to Wikipedia or some reliable history sites. I had no idea that this phrase had ever been used before until a few minutes ago, and the voice in my head used it in an ironic meaning. I think it was ironic, at least.

See, I had something like a small panic attack this afternoon. This is rare indeed at this stretch of my life, thankfully. I had napped a little in my chair and felt kind of sick and weird, and way too cold for the glowing hot room. Then I got kind of sick. But anyway, sickness happens to all sometimes, so that is not the point. Rather, at the same time a sense of dread came over me, and a feeling that my life was a failure and would end as such.

I thought back, over the many long years in which I have felt content, have woken up in the morning grateful for a new day, the many years of not so ecstatic or intense but still happiness. Thinking back, there has to the best of my knowledge not been a single moment in my life in which I have wanted to end it, and only minutes at most, in my teens, where I at least halfway wanted it to end. Apart from that, it has been decades of enjoying this life I have been given. Oh, I did not enjoy my job for most of the time, until just a couple years ago. But I accepted it and I certainly enjoyed the life it made possible. Looking back at my life, I found it hard to agree that it was a failure, that it was wasted, when I had lived decades of quiet joy.

But at the same time, I reprimanded myself. (It is somewhat hard here to keep track of who is I and who is myself, more about that in a moment.) I had been happy, sure, but had I made others happy?  Occasionally and more or less by accident perhaps:  Back when I still was in the Christian Church, I had friends by the simple virtue of us all walking in the Light, but now that we are not in contact anymore (and they probably assume I don’t walk in the Light anymore, since I don’t attend the Church meetings), that opportunity has closed. And I have no skill in making friends. Not that I need those friends in order to feel loved or accepted. I need them in order to give those kind of feelings to others, to make others feel the love I now have for them only in the most abstract sense.

Around this point was when one of the voices in my heart, I am not sure if it was me or myself or some kind of spirit guide or whatever lives in there, used the phrase “splendid isolation” to describe the last decade or so.  Sure I have had a splendid time, but very rarely did that rub off on others.

For some reason, one of the voices in my heart (and evidently not me, since I have never heard it before) found the phrase humorous, to the point where I eventually had to look it up to see what meaning it had beyond the obvious.

Evidently the era of Splendid Isolation was at the last height of the British empire, when it stood astride the world like a colossus. At the time, it had no allies or friends to support it, but neither did it need them.  Albeit just barely not. Being alone in the world is precarious even for an empire, as I am sure the most recent contender has also begun to find out.

There is also a song with the title “Splendid Isolation” which is closer to the meaning in which I (or possibly myself) used it, but I have never heard it before. I am listening to it right now and neither the lyrics nor the music sounds familiar at all.

Then why do I recognize the phrase? Well, I really did not. It is one of those rare glimpses of there being someone else in min mindscape who knows things I have never heard of. You probably won’t see it unless you believe it, but of course I have the Presence, whether it is a tendril of God or a guardian or guiding angel or spirit. I am not a theologian, luckily for all involved probably.

But you see, this is exactly where the splendor come from and exactly why the isolation does not bother me. I think it bothers the Presence more, actually. Maybe I did not get all this blessing just to live a happy life in splendid isolation, but to share some of that splendor with others. I just have no idea where to begin, except for my work.  And this journal, but I am not sure I can give you hope and courage and make you feel loved by telling you about my panic attacks and conversations with my heart. Well, not unless you know me already. In that case, it may amuse you a little, I hope.




Harmless doctor visit

Next stop: The glucose syrup diet! Kind of.

Let us talk about my doctor visit! It is always interesting to hear old people talk about their health, is it not? ^_^

Today was the appointment for my second doctor visit this year. (The trip in between was only to the lab.) Today’s appointment was originally for checking my prostate gland, but as I have already mentioned, in the meantime I found another explanation for that particular problem. I explained this to my doctor right away. He did not seem particularly disappointed, strangely enough, despite not getting the opportunity to study my rear end.

It seems the doctor had already concluded from my questionnaire that it was probably not a prostate problem. He seems to have thought of diabetes, as well he should since I have repeatedly told him that both of my parents developed this condition. However, the glucose content in my blood sample was within normal range, albeit higher than perfect. This is really the same as when I talked with him two years ago or so. He seems to be waiting for me to develop glucose intolerance, but that is unlikely to happen if my foot recovers within a reasonable time so I can keep walking everywhere. As long as you keep moving about, it is very hard to develop metabolic syndrome, even if you are bit overweight. And I’m barely even that, although what little fat I have seems to have gathered around my guts as I have grown older.

That said, I seem to live on the threshold of that condition, like my parents. If something happens to make me stop using my body actively for a while, it may well break out. Light send that doesn’t happen anytime soon.

My amount of bad cholesterol is also higher than ideal, despite my low-fat diet. Then again, the ideal may be a bit extreme. The doctor fished out a book illustrating the levels of heart disease risk at various combinations of age, smoking or not, blood pressure and cholesterol. Evidently to his surprise, when we looked at it, I fell squarely within the dark green area, the negligible chance of heart infarct. (Of course, fate may still intervene, but so may meteors from outer space.) So he slightly sheepishly added: “But if you would start smoking, you would be at risk!” Yeah, I’ll consider that if I ever feel suicidal and want bad breath thrown in.

So as to not waste a perfectly good patient by sending me home happy, he decided to attack the diabetes angle instead. I got another lab appointment, this time for Tuesday. I am supposed to not eat anything after 9PM on Monday, then at 8:30 in the morning to show up at the lab and drink a hefty beaker of concentrated glucose solution. Then I am to wait quietly for two hours and they will measure my blood sugar again. His theory is that it will go down more slowly than it should, thus betraying my glucose intolerance which will manifest within a year.

Of course, this is pretty close to my standard workday breakfast, which consists of two cups of chocolate pudding with vanilla sauce, and (until recently) two glasses of Pepsi with 10% cane sugar. I have recently replaced the Pepsi with chocolate milk though. Lifestyle change for healthy living!  I haven’t told my doctor. The blood sample was also analyzed for long-term blood sugar, where sugar molecules bind to hemoglobin. Evidently that was within acceptable range too, despite the sugar pudding with sugar sauce and sugar liquid. So I am pretty optimistic about that test.

And of course, the opportunity to tell the poor nurses: “Foolish mortals! You have provided me with a source of unimaginable energy! Yes… I can feel its power coursing through my veins!”

Seriously though – one cup of glucose after 12 hours of fasting? It is likely to leave me begging for another serving. I usually eat sugars and starches from morning till night. What else should I eat when I can’t eat fat? Broccoli? Perhaps one day – with modern technology, I may be able to work from the bathroom…

No more long walks

That small gray stripe in the far background is a glimpse of a sand road I would sometimes walk. Picture taken during my last long walk in that area.

It may be a coincidence. Actually, according to the scientific worldview, everything is coincidence. You worldview may vary… Actually, I hope so, for your sanity. Although I suppose you can go too far in the other direction as well. (I am thinking of you, New Age people!)

I have been taking a walk of approximately one hour almost every day for the last few weeks. But when I came home from work on Monday, my right foot was hurting. I walked for half an hour that evening anyway, but I’m not sure that was a good idea. Since then, my foot has been hurting so badly that I can’t seriously consider taking long walks anymore. Even walking from the bus station to my workplace hurts now.

Yes, Monday was the day my landlord told me he had sold the house. That was after I came home from work, and my foot had already hurt for several hours.

If this turns out to be a long lasting problem, I will have to find some other way to exercise. But in that case it would be pretty amusing if the house was sold at the exact same time that I could no longer use the feature I most loved about it.

Anyway, I hope I get the chance to talk to the doctor tomorrow about this. My appointment is about something entirely different, so maybe the best I can hope for is to get a new appointment, and even that may not be before the summer vacation. And in any case, it is quite possible – even likely – that my foot will heal naturally over time. After all, my body has had a tendency to do just that for the last 52 years… Although it won’t continue that way forever, of course, and perhaps I needed a reminder of  impermanence in the midst of all my happiness, which I was so eager to display to the whole world.


A change of plans

If you feel like you are pathetic, then do something about it! (From an anime NOT by Happy Science, strangely enough. It is one of their basic principles, thus the happiness.)

I lived in the original Chaos Node for over 20 years, and it grew really packed with stuff, because I was a packrat born and bred. It is probably in my genes, it was certainly in my environment. Be that as it may, I threw away several car loads full of stuff when I moved, in addition to carrying books and magazines to the used book store for two months or so.

Four years later I moved again, and once again I threw away stuff, albeit less than last time. In each of these cases, I only kept what I was sure I was going to use, what I was sure I was going to miss if I did not bring it with me.

After a year and a half, most of it is still not used: Most of the remaining books and comic books not read again, most of the movies not watched again (in all fairness, almost all of them are Smallville episodes), most of the clothes not worn, and most of the old broken computers neither repaired nor used for spare parts, most of the remaining computer games not played. Even though I threw away almost everything I was not sure I would need…

If they are actually going to destroy the house without moving in first, I should ask the landlord if it is OK to just leave things here.  I suppose they are going to torch the place.  I am thinking of leaving about half of my stuff in that case.

Failing that, I intend to bring it all with me to the new apartment, except for what I throw in the garbage bin  Tuesday in two weeks (Wednesday morning is garbage day). Then give away what I can, throw away the rest, except enough to furnish one living room and one bedroom.  And then move to a smaller, cheaper place. There is no point in spending most of my after-tax income on rent if it is not awesome. And I suspect this was my last awesome place ever.

If I find a house in the countryside I can rent later in my life, I have no problem with leaving 2/3 or even 3/4 of it empty. Who does that hurt? Who will scream out in pain if rooms stand empty? But if I don’t, I will try to rent small apartments at a much lower cost. And have so little stuff that I can move quickly and cheaply.

I don’t want to compete with families anymore.  Dragging with me all this stuff is insane: It is cheaper to buy new clothes and electronics when they wear out, than to bring with me a decade’s worth of spares and have to rent a whole house to keep them, or else live in clutter. Or both.


The universe agrees. After writing today’s entry, but not yet telling anyone, I found this link posted by an online friend (the article itself is by a complete stranger though, but you have to wonder about the synchronicity here!)

Please, make yourself uncomfortable.


Five sure things

Thank you for the memories. One day, they will be all that is left.

According to Buddhism, there are five sure things in life.

-It is sure that you will lose your youth.

-It is sure that you will lose your health.

-It is sure that you will lose friends and loved ones.

-It is sure that you will lose your belongings.

-It is sure that, in the end, you will lose your life. And whatever the other losses you have not yet experienced, will come with it.

Obviously all this is true even if you have never heard of Buddha. It is just that they like to meditate on it more than others, I guess. In that regard I am a “Christian Buddhist”, in that I see detachment from things in this world as a message shared by the Buddha and the Christ, whatever else they may disagree on.

Jesus told a story about a farmer that had grown rich, so much so that his barns could no longer hold all his stuff. So he decided to tear them down and build new and larger barns. “Now you have much good saved up for a long time to come” he said to himself. That night, his soul was demanded from him (in death). What benefit did he have of all that he had gathered?

In the Christian Church, where I learned most of what has been useful in my life (beyond what I learned from my parents), we used to have yet another song that I find myself singing now. As always it is in Norwegian, but the lines in question translate like so: I will sing about victory when my earthly hope is being crushed; instead I now own a heavenly, which remains in the test of the baptism of fire.

To briefly return to the Buddha, who lived for about 80 years, wandering through the lands of India and teaching Liberation from all worldly attachments. When his life came to an end, these were his last words, or at least they can be translated like this: All things that have form are subject to decay. Strive diligently!

What for, when all things are falling apart anyway? For that which has no form. Now, I may not personally be striving very hard. But now that one of the minor “baptisms of fire” has come over me, by the treachery of my landlord, I have an opportunity I would not otherwise have had:  To know for sure whether I am attached to the things that can be seen, or whether my heart remains in that which cannot be seen.  For the visible is temporary, but the invisible eternal.

Of course, as long as I can still play Sims 3, it is not much of a trial though…