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I would like to hear from people about how they are feeling; how your week went, what gave you joy, what made you anxious- what you do to stay human in these challenging times. Do you have a specific practice, a creative outlet or a nurturing community that renews your spirit, keeps you in the game?

Knowing a blog post is not the greatest medium, I still would like to hear from those who are comfortable writing about their thoughts and feelings. I'll start it out....

I had a great week (despite the freezing temperatures here in Montana) due to the fact that my youngest daughter gave birth to her own daughter, a beautiful being who has everything to learn about this crazy world. The good thing about the cold weather is, where I tend to distract myself with "chores" -running this way and that staying busy busy busy- I am back to my desk doing some reading and writing and thinking. So that is good. As far as politics...nothing you all don't know, total delirium, lunatics running the asylum and it is truly amazing how quickly the obscene farce becomes "normal...  I took a couple of weeks to travel to the west coast to see my very old parents. They are doing amazingly well on their own (for their ages) but I know their care and well-being is something I will have to deal with in the not-too-distant future. But I'm getting by with a lot of help from my friends and now I have a new little being to fight even harder for. And even though we are a small counter-force here at IOPS, I appreciate everyone's efforts. Next.

Discussion 23 Comments

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 7th Jan 2017

    Fat congrats on your granddaughter, Dave, I assume your first grandchild!? I find grandchildren (two grandsons, 5 and 2) really help with ageing, passing on the flame, seeing that new burst of sheer energy-as-eternal-delight explode into the world, seeking its own unique-common paths, as we gradually fade out... The old question of differing life stages we're all at. Caring for ageing and then dying parents a big one too, as you mention. Knocks you about quite a bit (mine in 2007 and 2013).

    Here it's hot and humid and I've lost one of my bee colonies to the small African hive beetle for the first time ever: global warming changing pest distributions and disease vectors... Shall put in meshed bottom boards and beetle traps...

    Spend a lot of time writing every day. Since June it's been mainly a Big History project: developing a common story to tell ourselves about where we are right now within evolution since the big bang 13.7 billion years ago. Matter to Life to Mind/Culture, and within the latter Pre-modern to Modern to Postmodern; the Great Acceleration within evolution and how do get from the present unconscious technocratic Anthropocene to a conscious, democratic Anthropocene that does not suppress the previous stages but integrates them in a new creative synthesis... Keepin me busy alright...

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 7th Jan 2017

    hey dave, peter, ok…i’ll go next…
    heading back to the classroom on monday where i teach middle school art in miami, fl…>heavy sigh<…it’s a love/hate thing…
    spent winter break up in the rural hills of kentucky where we’ll retire in the next 5 or 6 years…(no where near as cold as Montana!)
    that keeps me sane…hiking the woods, creeks, planning the garden, going to antique stores and flea markets for old stuff that beats the new crap they sell any day…and planning/making art…
    visited my family in the city…parents old too, but doing well…siblings, nieces, nephews…actually managed to all get along by not arguing about politics…it’s pointless…
    i read a lot…trying to make sense of the world…also to keep sane…
    lots of friends, colleagues…plenty of things in common, but plenty of things where i rarely go there anymore…like politics, philosophies and alternatives to capitalism…
    our son told us last week he’s getting married…wow…just might be a grandparent someday too…who’da thunk…!
    peter, sorry about the bees...that just sucks...weather patterns in kentucky are creating beetle problems for certain tree species...

  • Bat Chainpuller 8th Jan 2017

    When I'm around musician friends I feel alright. I fucking laugh for real. I smile with a beer in hand, talk of Rollins, Frank, Eugene, Miles, Ornette, Taylor Swift, Jim Hall, Wes, Dewey, improvising or not, and everyone and everything else, feeling part of something. There is a real sense of humour there, a common understanding, a desire to just laugh and smile that seems so lacking elsewhere. I can listen to the music of Evil Dick, aka Richard Hemmings, https://evildick.bandcamp.com/releases and hear Frank all over it, without it sounding turgid and sycophantic, but unique and full of humour, yet devoid of lyric and talk about that to friends and they understand and laugh. I can go into the studio, pick up my guitar, and instantly play and record and say, "that's it, that's all I got right now, here and now" and then post it as a testimony to my moment to moment existence, whatever it's worth, an existence that extends beyond its usual boring and disempowering routine, if just for that five or ten minutes, something that says, I'm here and I'm ok.

    I seriously do not want grandkids, but know they will probably arrive. Until all the dire predictions from all those all knowing radical revolutionaries are cleared away, why would anyone want to bring someone into this world unless by accident? And I'm not just talking about global warming, I'm just talking about everyday living. So joy is is always to be swept aside at any moment by anxiety. Anxiety rules. Joy is knowingly fleeting. Hanging with my muso friends makes me forget...and I like to forget most of the time. Remembering is stressful.

    • Alex of... 12th Jan 2017

      trying to remember my sense of humour. ya, what you said. moment to moment, the here and okay. auto-correct is telling me i spelled humor wrong.

    • Bat Chainpuller 13th Jan 2017

      Certainly don't want the moment to moment thing being mistaken for some sort of mystical mumbo jumbo. More that my state of being is what it is, now, as I write, and can't be otherwise, like my improvisations, and so therefore the notion of being "OK", better, or otherwise, (a reference to my father saying to me "you're OK" before he died) is fairly moot. I would say most of us are by some set of criterior or measure, relatively OK or not, however, in the world as I see it, I lean more towards not. And it isn't due to some disconnect with something other or more or lost...it's more the bumping into the fucked up nature of the nitty gritty of social relations and the inherent problematic nature of communication, language, that we think we have a handle on, along with internal problems that we can argue about till the cows come home.

      That the US, in some ways, for commonsensical reasons, felt the need to screw with traditional spellings of words (although mom for mum is a tad ridiculous), sets up yet another US against them scenario (US=us). Analytic versus continental philosophy. Next [US] System Project versus everyone elses. US capitalism versus everyone else's. The Blues versus European functional harmony (the flat seven appears before the major seventh in the harmonic series thereby throwing into question the notion that a major chord with a seventh - a note a tone below the tonic, or ten semi-tones higher than your starting note in the tempered scale - requires some sort of resolution that gave rise to the "perfect cadence", a "dominant" chord resloving to a "tonic" chord or tonal home base and the basis of the cycle of forths and western functional harmony. Another example of sophisticated society, or perhaps Big Daddy White Geezer, appropriating something universal, and trying to take ownership of it. A reason why perhaps, an old white jazz teacher of mine at music college always treated the blues with a little contempt (even though he often played it - but he hated anything loud and rock) as a simple music that was "fun to play" at times, but just didn't measure up to the "art music" musings of the likes of Bach or Mozart. It's 2017 and people still possess these attitudes and far far worse. But the blues is American and 100% black so not European and white).

      Which leads me to a Stewart Lee story about when an old contemprary free improvising and free jazz venue in his suburb of London was going to be shut down and converted into a Nandos. He was recognised by a black women in the street, who asked him whether he was part of the anti-Nandos campaign. Arrogantly and presumptuously adoping a posture ready for praise, Lee answer yes. The women, to Lee's surprise, responded with, "shame on you" and that she didn't see him protesting the Chinese restaurant on another block. Lee explained that the basis for her reaction was that Nandos was seen as a eating establishment frequented by the black community and that he was being racist, not wanting blacks frequenting his neighbo[u]rhood. He assured her this was not the case. He was protesting the loss of his favo[u]rite free jazz venue and the music he loved. Music with obvious black cultural roots. So he was in fact not racist. She responded, as any normal lay person one meets in the street would, not the music you like to listen to. That yes, while the music of Sonny Murray and Albert Ayler, most definitely does have in its roots, black culture and consciousness, it is predominantly influenced by the music of the post world war two white European avant-garde. So there!

      Humo[u]r. Does it belong in music?

    • Bat Chainpuller 13th Jan 2017

      As to the music above.

      Evil Dick is both English and white, as is Dave Jackson the saxophone player. Both therefore white European. Although perhaps now both are technically not European, but you get the (continental) drift.

      Here's some liner notes.

      "Fifty-two minutes of original music. Complexity and unpredictability. Bold, abstract sonic art. Free improvisation. Serious composition. Stupid liner notes. Great artwork. The saxophones of Dave Jackson. The drums of Richard Hemmings (whoever he is). Humour. TRAGEDY..."

      Note the spelling of humo[u]r. Bloody language! Bloody language and pedantic bastards! Bloody language and pedantic bastards equals fun. Bloody language and Pedantic bastards and linguists equals fun. BL+PB+L=F...to put it in the universal language we can all intuitively understand. Not like those dastardly things we call thoughts that appear so frequently in one's mind that are often it seems, via the accessing of some internal capacity/facility, given verbal form through some creative production process, that is subsequently bashed and mashed and bastardised in some sort of externalised form...a form that usually ends up being followed with the phrase, "no, that's not it."

  • fred curran 9th Jan 2017

    Can't sleep, or don't want to sleep rather. I got a motel room with my brother and his pet scarites, so we aren't parking lot people tonight & I'm trying to squeeze out every minute of this room I can.

    Congrats on the grandchildren and the marriage and the warm weather you three. (sorry bat when I wrote this you hadn't posted yet)

    My week has been a wonderful one. Just moved back to Eugene, Oregon from Chicago. Was angling on escaping the winter but found myself an ice storm here in Eugene.

    We headed west but got caught and turned around in the mountains of Wyoming, a flash blizzard caught us. Going from admiring the clear night sky to 20ft visibility. Camped out at a gas station then headed south with a convoy of trucks to Las Vegas. Tried another approach from the south up through central California, only to be turned around again by another blizzard. It seemed the gods weren't quite ready for us in Eugene and preferred to force us through some of the more beautiful landscapes the US has to offer.

    Moving out wasn't easy. I've been the primary caretaker for my grandmother for several years, and leaving her in the hands of her daughters was somewhat daunting. That and the coming anniversary of Leif Lonne's death, the member who contributed the wonderful art that graces our home page, and the inspiration for my return to IOPS has been a subtle reminder of the fragility of life.

    Wondering what is in store for me, for the world in the year and years to come.

    Speaking of 13.7 billion years, I hear it is just the beginning. Our little universe is apparently going to last trillions or a trillion, I can't remember exactly.

    Wondering what will become of everything, wondering if this human experiment will blossom into something beautiful expanding out into the universe, if we'll make it.

    Hoping to keep statism and capitalism and fear and greed to a blip in the cosmic record. Maybe we can start off here, building a beauty that'll last. (Written late last night/early yesterday morning, in between interactions with a fellow transient who was not so lucky to have a motel room for the night)

    • Alex of... 12th Jan 2017

      i know now you are real cuz we chatted on the phone, but you have always sounded pretty real as well. i want to sleep and don't want to sleep. it fucks with thinking minds. between two places myself. helping mom but drained. transitioning into an artist's home with a bird nest outside the window. trying to get my shit together enough for a trip and can't understand the first damn thing about money. feeling blessed and depressed.

  • Rod 9th Jan 2017

    Congrats on the little bundle of joy, Dave!

    I quit my job 3 weeks ago and have been enjoying my free time this past week, taking long walks in the city or in nature. It works really well as a meditative practice for me, enjoying the view and wondering about whatever bubbles up in my mind.

    I'll be free for a few months before I start looking for a job again. I hope to regain some of the discipline I've lost over the years. The past year in particular has been very stressful for me (from worry about work and the future of the planet), which resulted in chronic headaches and sleepless nights in the last few months. At the same time I seem to have found a new sense of meaning in life. The power of catharsis perhaps :)

    I've always lived in a kind of crisis mode (partly by choice), but I seem to be at a turning point now where I feel the desire and pressure to settle down into a groove for a while. Find more balance in my life, even though I know it will be temporary and partial.

  • Dave Jones 9th Jan 2017

    Awesome everybody, thanks for sharing. It helps me to know there are flesh and blood, meat and bone humans behind this glowing, bluish computer screen. Let's all see what we can do to help each other through 2017.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 10th Jan 2017

    On ya Dave, great idea.

  • Alex of... 11th Jan 2017

    now this is what i love, more after some busy crap in the morning :)

  • Alex of... 11th Jan 2017

    i just don’t right now. loving others brings me joy, but i want to love myself, as well. it brings me joy to hear your stories but i have a hard time believing any of you actually exist. maybe the internet is a curse, i don’t know. i know nothing. i am switching back and forth between misery and joy in extremity. i want to be free. i want this world to be free. fuck if i know what that means.

    had a wonderful conversation with a local indie media guy this morning to borrow a cameras before i head to DC. i’m pretty sure that was real in some way. still not sure. why be sure? i feel so spoiled in this world. how the fuck can i ask to be happy when others don’t even have access to clean drinking water? so i’ve been abused as a child, but i had water.

    i see pain and joy everywhere. pain in joy, joy in pain. how can i help? that’s what’s been on my mind, taking refuge in as per question for check in. i want to be strong for others but i’m feeling humbly destroyed.

    plan in DC is to ask people what they are for, rather than in protest, those willing to say so on camera, and hand that off to whoever willing to edit. but, i’m barely making it through the week. i feel weak. do i need the strength of others or my own to live? are we all pretending to exist?

    that’s a moment. tell me what is real.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 12th Jan 2017

    The DC film plan sounds great, Alex, pretty real to me. Good luck with it. The internet is probably the last place to feel what's real I guess. We all navigate the two worlds now, maybe always was two worlds, namely our human fictions/the inter-subjective and the real/the subjective-objective? Only now our fictions may be taking over as more and more of us seem to be leaving the real world for screen worlds, the five or six holy senses for just eyes/ears and the twittering Fakebook mind fuck...Leaving the real world behind. Maybe now and again need to get back to/come to our senses, breathe in a tree again, a fly, a flower, an ant, a beach, a river, another's skin...?

    • Alex of... 12th Jan 2017

      thanks man. you sound pretty real.

  • Dave Jones 12th Jan 2017

    Thanks Alex, you remind me that we are unified not just by our utopian yearnings and need to connect, but by the damage done to us as well, by our wounds, none escape unharmed. Peter's advice is essential- I am privileged to be able to spend time on rivers/spend river time on myself/ luxuriate in river space/time. So that really helps.

    Like the idea of asking people about their positive vision, good luck.

  • Bat Chainpuller 13th Jan 2017


  • Lambert Meertens 21st Jan 2017

    A belated check-in. Let me keep this to the first week of 2017. Time for some things I’d been keeping putting off, like some chores in the house, foremost of which was putting up some shelves in the kitchen for keeping the spices and herbs. There used to be a shelf for that, but we removed it in an earlier round of redoing the kitchen. Ready-made solutions were both expensive and unpractical, so in the end I designed and constructed something myself using relatively cheap components originally intended for very different uses. By the end of the week, I was done and everything was up. Unfortunately, no loved ones were around to admire my handiwork, as they were traveling thousands of kilometers away.

    I’m emotionally invested in IOPS, not so much because of the time and effort I’ve spent on it, but because I think we urgently need a flourishing organization with a vision like that of IOPS – and at the moment IOPS is the best we have. If IOPS does well, I’m happy. Looking at were we are, it’s somewhat of a mixed bag.
    What made me less happy, is the extremely low participation in the selection polls. That can hardly be inspiring to the candidates that are selected. I can only hope this will improve as we make the website more interesting and worth visiting regularly.

    The present revival attempts might have fallen flat if we had not found enough volunteers for the various roles. But, fortunately, that fear has not come true. More than a few volunteers are from among the first wave of members. I was particularly happy to see a large share of woman volunteers, 40 percent – to be contrasted with only about 25 percent women in our overall membership.

  • reader 21st Jan 2017

    Hello, anyone had difficulty with logging in to the IOPS site? Sometimes I'll type in my username and password and nothing happens. Sometimes it works, though. Just wondering.

    To quote the late Grace Lee Boggs in the spring of 2012, this is a wonderful time to be alive. There's a lot to be grateful for.
    And I hope there's an abundance of peace, joy, love, and enlightenment for you and yours.
    The other day I was puttering around or cleaning something or what, and it occurred to me that basically what everyone is doing, in addition to trying to survive, is trying to hold together the shreds of their personal dignity. I try to remember that especially when speaking with someone whose views I disagree with.

    • reader 21st Jan 2017

      And usually I won't speak with someone once I realize our views are so divergent, just let their wind blow over. But maybe that's irresponsible or dishonest, to just agree with people and concede to them for the sake of getting them to leave you alone.

    • Rod 24th Jan 2017

      I don't know if this is the cause of your problems, but I've noticed that logging into the site when using the address 'iopsociety.org' instead of 'www.iopsociety.org' is not working. Hope that helps.

    • reader 24th Jan 2017

      Yes that solved it. Thank you sir!