…I mean, yes, we’ll all still be swept away by the ruinstorms powered by our collapsing climate—but that’s a helluva lot less agonizing then succumbing to c diff or a septic staph infection.
All that aside, the science here is really cool: instead of a new traditional antibiotic (which is basically the equivalent of bug spray), this 25yo (!!!) researcher has designed and grown little nano-caltrops that tear apart the cell walls—and, just as hundreds of generations of deer have failed to grow immune to bullets, it likewise appears that bacteria cannot grow immune to these targeted lil anti-pathogenic death spikes.
Rather than poisoning the bad bacteria like antibiotics do, the molecules, called peptide polymers, destroy the bacteria’s cell walls. And unlike antibiotics, which also poison surrounding healthy cells, the polymers “are quite non-toxic to the healthy cells in the body,” Lam says. That’s because they’re much too big (about 10 nanometers in diameter) to enter healthy cells—”the difference in scale between a mouse and an elephant,” Lam’s supervisor told the Sydney Morning Herald. What’s more, in Lam’s experiments, generation after generation of bacteria don’t seem to become resistant to the polymers.
I’ve written scads of advice things to folks who’ve emailed me expressing interest in freelance editing/copywriting, but nothing sort of generically about productivity in the “GTD” sense.
Anyway, when it comes to that, two pieces of advice jump to mind. The first is something a rabbi said during High Holidays services once, which amounted to “God doesn’t really give a shit about something you did one time; it’s when you repeat things over and over again that God takes notice.” The rabbi was talking about sin, basically advising against beating yourself up over a single fuck-up.Instead, make good and move on to Do Good Things (which may or may not square you with any Magickal Sky Fairy, but is certainly a helluva lot more socially productive).
But this position—that the thing you do one time isn’t what you are—goes for everything, good and bad: You aren’t a thief just because you stole something one time, and you aren’t a writer just because you wrote and sold one good thing.The last story/book/article/brochure does almost exactly jack-shit to help you write and sell the next one. You are a writer because you write every day. So, decide on the thing you want to be, and be that thing for at least a little while every day.
This sounds sorta stupid—or, at best, equal parts stupid and profound, like the Wise Men of Chelm—but still, every story I’ve sold in the last, I dunno, eight-ish years has been mostly written 25 minutes at a time weekday mornings while children slept.
The other piece of advice is straight from Ramit Sethi, who is sort of a huckster and sort of dead-on about most of what he says (albeit in a huckstery life-coach-ish way). Anyway, one one his big pieces of advice (at least a few years ago, when I was more actively following him) was to stop saying “I don’t have time for X.” All of us are busy and all of us blow precious minutes and hours dicking around on Facebook and leafing through shitty magazines and watching crap we don’t care about on YouTube and whatever. We have time for it. You can get up 25 minutes early every morning and write stories and novels 25 minutes at a time. You can get in shape—great shape, really—25 minutes at a time. You can learn about retirement savings or knitting or how to eat all vegan 25 minutes at a time. We use time as an excuse, because we don’t really—in our hearts—give a shit about the things we say we want. Just like TLC warns, we are scrubs “always talking about what we want / then we sit on our broke ass”
The real problem isn’t the time, it’s the prioritization. So, just the honest and start saying “I’m not prioritizing that.”
“Lose some weight? Sorry, I’m not really prioritizing going to the gym right now.”
“Hate my job? I’m not prioritizing finding a new one.”
“Feeling perpetually pyscho-emotionally fucked up? Yeah, well, I just can’t prioritize finding a shrink and going to sessions.”
(These are all drawn from my life, incidentally.)
Changing your language like this forces us to really look at what we’re doing, ’cause when your kid says “Can we go play at the park?” or “Can you read me this book?” or “Can we watch this show?” and instead of saying “I’d love to sweetie, but I don’t have time” you say “I’d love to, sweetie, but I’m not prioritizing that right now”—well, you feel like a royal douchebag, and you do the important thing instead of the thing you thought was important.
So, that’s the advice:
Be the thing you want to be for at least a little while everyday.
…you and I don’t appear to really have much anything in common, m’man—apart for our mutual love for whatever the hell it is we each individually think of when we think of “Freedom”—but you are a human untroubled by any insecurities of any sort, and I applaud that.
The vet’s records say Lunchbox is 13-years-old, but that’s not true. We’ve had him for 13 years, but he was full grown when we got him from the rescue. We thought he was a puppy—and he was marketed as such—but as he failed to grow any bigger, or loose any “baby” teeth, or need to be housebroken, it slowly dawned on us that he wasn’t a puppy, he was just a small dog some dipshit didn’t want.
We figured it was the heat; we live in Michigan, it had been 90 for a week, we have no AC—it was miserable. He mostly just moped around that week, looking at us with utter disgust at our inability to make the house work properly. By the weekend, he was lying on the hardwood floor in front of a fan, only going outside to potty when coaxed (or, on several occasions, carried).
Then the heat broke, but he felt no better. He was very listless, and seemed confused. He was having trouble standing up, and trouble navigating the steps, not that he couldn’t—he could be coaxed up with treats—but more like he couldn’t quite understand how steps worked.
This all seemed Really Bad, so I took him to the vet Monday. It turns out that he’s full of “masses” that are almost certainly tumors. One (are several) inside the membrane that surrounds his heart, and another maybe on his liver or spleen—which is in line with some elevated something-something levels in his blood (he had a lot of tests, and I was having trouble following, because the vet—who was a very nice, small young woman—was so obviously absolutely miserable to have to be telling me any of this). As a consequence of the tumors (and possibly the heat, and likely a variety of lingering infections permitted to slowly simmer in his failing, mass-ridden system), his pancreas had swollen enormously, and was smooshing his organs and distending his belly and generally making him miserable as fuck. Also, it was making it really hard to tell in the x-rays what masses in his guts were attached to what, and how severe they may be.
I just had to give my ID to the pharmacist to get dope for my dog. #sighs#America
The upshot is that Lunchbox probably has 6 months to live, maybe a year, maybe less. The vet sold me anti-emetics and antibiotics, and instructed me to shift him to a very low-fat diet—which, absolutely no joke, is my diet: Cheap-ass, low-fat beef/chicken over steamed brown rice. I also had to pick him up a ‘scrip for controlled narcotics.
At the human pharmacy.
For my dog.
My dog is on dope. His name is on the bottle and everything: “Lunchbox Spindler.”
This is the face of the Midwestern opioid epidemic #America:
It’s now two days later, and he’s absolutely and 100% back to being his old self—mostly due to the anti-emetics (which killed his nausea, restoring his appetite) and antibiotics (which are bringing down the most obvious belly-distention), but infinitely bolstered by the fact that he’s absolutely elated to be on my diet.
From his perspective, this has all turned out terrific—because he doesn’t know what the future is, and therefore doesn’t know that he’s mostly dead.
I don’t know if that means he’s an idiot or a fucking zen master. I guess, all things being equal, I hope that I can begin to emulate his comportment in the face of death.
When I first started trying to find a way to talk about all this, I’d imagined I’d follow that bold-italics bit above with something like “I guess that means God is not a total dick sometimes.”
But then I realized: Lunchbox is a dog. God didn’t make dogs; we did. They are our first, grandest experiment in Genetically Modified Organisms, now in it’s 15,000-ish year. We are their God, and we made them in our image—or at least the best parts of it: We took wolves and foxes and selectively bred them until they became beasts mostly composed of love and loyalty, forever content, forever in the Now, perhaps somewhat easily Scared, but not cursed with Fear, because they aren’t cursed with thinking they have any fucking clue What Comes Next.
The Rabbi Jesus might have urged all-y’all to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow, neither toiling nor spinning, but I couldn’t tell a fucking lily from a mayapple or crocus or onion plant. Fuck lilies. As far as I’m concerned, consider the dog, how he loves, how he trusts that things will sort out OK, and food will come, and rest will come, and warmth will come, and affection will come. He doesn’t toil, he doesn’t fret, and yet he does OK, all things considered.
My God, I love that! We have sentient postal trucks, out there having new and interesting experiences, and yet they don’t have the damned sense not to play with fire. It’s a self-aware 80,000 pound truck with the executive function of a toddler; O brave new world that has such people in’t!
At any rate, this does tend to explain the errant check for several thousand dollars I’ve been waiting for. *sighs* Guess I’ve gotta call a client later today.
Anyway, for the curious, here’s my mail burning up last month:
He sticks his finger in his mouth, then draws the spit-slick digit out and, swift as a fencer, pushes it into my face. I instinctively rear back, as though moved by some sort of mystical energy field, perhaps one created by all living things—the sorta thing that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.
There are three types of things you have to do in this life:
Things you enjoy doing for entirely internally motivated reasons—those things that you simply find pleasurable or gratifying in and of themselves, without further social context.
Things you enjoy doing because someone will give you money to do it.
Things you enjoy doing because they please or help other humans whose opinion you give a shit about.
Note what is lacking here:
things you don’t enjoy doing
Everything that you do, you should be able to mentally reorient into one of the Three Things listed above. If there’s a thing you can’t do that with, then maybe you need to excise it from your life.
I just learned that my Aunt Lola died last night–great aunt, technically, the wife of one of my father’s uncles. Although we’ve lived in the same town for twenty years, Lola and I, I had only seen her a small handful of times during those decades; there’s been bad blood in our family. Not with Lola and me, but elsewhere, and we wound up on different sides. That’s just how it goes.
I loved her very much when I was small. She was small–putting her at my level, as a tall dweeb in a clip-on tie and penny loafers–and glamorous and funny. She glowed. Her rich, thick Czech accent always reminded me of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, which is a not-super-insane association for a boy who watched a ton of TV in the ’80s. I remember one time, at a summer party at my Aunt Denise’s house, at the end of the party, she slipped off her shoes–fancy gold, sharp-toed, high heels. Her toes were twisted and calloused, almost as though her feet had been bound–which I guess they had, although by American women’s fashion, not some out-modded and backward cultural obsession with ideals of beauty (ha! Joke!)
I remember her gingerly stepping from foot to foot on the thick shag in her hose, “Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh!” as though it was hot as coals–and she wasn’t play acting; her feet were aching from the shoes and the standing and the heat of the day. She looked up to see me sitting on the sofa across from her, looking on in dismay.
“Oh David,” she smiled, “Sometimes you need to suffer to be beautiful.”
I didn’t know then that, at 16, she been shipped to Auschwitz like a crate of shoes–a slow three-day train ride, because of the congestion on the tracks created by shipping so many other folks to camps, like cattle or shoes or some other commodity. There she’d been disgorged onto a ramp, and at the bottom stood Dr. Mengele. He was making a selection. Some were sent right, other left. Her folks went one way, she the other. She became my aunt, they became ash. She was stripped and shaved and tattooed and beaten, and sent walking to her new life.
She ended up in the barracks closest to the crematory ovens, and so her job was to sort the belongings of the dead–the clothes, the luggage–searching for jewelry and food and blankets and meds and anything of use. To sort it, to box it up for storage, or to be redistributed to widows and orphans.
But I didn’t know any of that when I was small–I mean, I knew all of that, because such stories were not rare where I grew up, nor such survivors. But I did not know her story until I was much older–older than she was when she was enslaved–and I’m still learning bits and pieces, because I never heard it from her.
Which I don’t take personally; there was never a good time to share it with me, and there was no bad blood between us. When I last saw her, even though the folks around her were shooting me and my sisters daggers–gosh, even though one of my cousins later sought me out to hassle me about that chance encounter–Aunt Lola was still as charming and gracious as ever.
And I still loved her very much. Let her name be a blessing.
Her name is Lola Taubman; she sorted the laundry in Hell for a time as a teen, and then lived 72 years more, largely here, largely in good health.