Posts in the “personal” category

Lisa Scottoline’s writing is much better in Killer Smile


“One thing (Lisa) Scottoline is very good at, is something that many authors are not, and it is a pet peeve of mine. There is a rule in writing – if you put a gun on the mantelpiece in a scene, sometime later that gun needs to be fired. Red herrings are ok, but you can’t have irrelevant details or facts. Scottoline fires every single one of her guns, and that makes me happy.”

I didn’t like parts of Lisa Scottoline’s earlier books because she actually violated this “rule” quite a bit, but in her book, Killer Smile, she keeps the action moving and eliminates at least 90% of the “irrelevant details or facts” that I didn’t like in her earlier books. (Killer Smile is really good.)

If you can’t be brave, just be determined

I was listening to a book by Lisa Scottoline named Killer Smile, and a woman in her seventies told a woman in her late 20s or early 30s to be brave.

“I don’t know if I can be brave,” the younger woman replied.

“Don’t worry about that,” the older woman said. “If you can’t be brave, just be determined. And you’ll end up in the same place.”

That struck me as smart. I’ve often thought that I don’t know what brave is, but we all know what it is to be determined.

Mast cell activation disease vs histamine intolerance (differences)


I’m pretty new to learning that I probably have Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD) — also known as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) — and as I’m learning more about it, I’ve been wondering, “What is the difference between MCAS/MCAD and histamine intolerance?” In this article I’ll share what I’ve learned so far.

(Note: I take a little time to explain mast cell activation disease in this article. If you just want a quick overview, see the Summary section below.)

A Christmas Story

[From time to time I write little stories that have nothing to do with programming or technology; this is one of those stories. So, if you’re only here for the technology stuff, you’ll want to skip this one.]

I’m standing in the kitchen of a friend’s house at a Christmas party, making myself a drink while talking to a friend named Angie. This was nothing unusual; she and I were always talking about something. We became friends during our last year in high school, and we’ve been talking ever since.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that I have feelings for her, but I guess you could say that I didn’t appreciate her back then. After high school, my ambition took me away to college, and then to a series of jobs in different states. By the time I decided to move back home, she was married and had two young children.

While we talked all the time, this kitchen conversation was unusual. I don’t remember how it started, but Angie did ask me about something I rarely talk about: my parents getting divorced in high school.

Glen Frey, talking about Bob Seger and writing music

Bob was the first guy that wrote his own songs and recorded them that I had ever met. He said, “You know, if you want to make it, you’re gonna have to write your own songs.” And I said, “Well, what if they’re bad?” He said, “Well, they’re gonna be bad. You just keep writing and keep writing and eventually you’ll write a good song.”

~ Glen Frey, talking about Bob Seger and writing music

Taking a statin suppressed my MCAS symptoms (for the worse)

As a brief personal note, I just remembered that back during 2014-2017 when I went unconscious seven times — a process known as syncope, and pronounced sync-oh-pee — I would later find out that the reason I went unconscious is because I didn’t feel the initial symptoms of MCAS. Those initial symptoms were suppressed because I was taking a statin.

So while I was taking a statin I would feel sick, like I’d been poisoned, and then go unconscious in a process that took 2-15 minutes. But on September 1, 2016, I stopped taking the statin because of some things that happened in the previous days. To my surprise, after I stopped taking the statin I would feel bad from the MCAS much earlier in the process, and then I’d also get hives, rashes, and other symptoms hours before entering pre-syncope. This gave me an opportunity to take more medicine to avoid the actual syncope event.

So, my personal experience is that taking a statin suppressed the initial mast cell disease symptoms, and that led me to go directly to syncope events without first having hives, rashes, etc.

Speak to people in a way that ...

A friend posted this quote on Facebook recently: “Speak to people in a way that if they died the next day, you’d be satisfied with the last thing you said to them.”

It made me think that I was happy that Lori and I had a good relationship through Facebook, and that the last time I talked to Ben, he was showing me photos from a cruise that he took, and giving me advice if I should ever go on one.

The rawness of Peter Gabriel lyrics (Washing of the Water, etc.)

One of the things I love about Peter Gabriel’s music is how brutally honest his lyrics are. Sure, there’s imagery and metaphor and other things that make music great, but like these lyrics from Washing of the Water, the lyrics are just raw and emotive:

’til the washing of the water
Make it all alright
Let your waters reach me
Like she reached me tonight

Letting go, it’s so hard
The way it’s hurting now
To get this love untied
So tough to stay with thing
’cause if I follow through
I face what I denied
I get those hooks out of me
And I take out the hooks that I sunk deep in your side
Kill that fear with emptiness
Loneliness I hide

River, oh river, river running deep
Bring me something that will let me get to sleep
In the washing of the water will you take it all away
Bring me something to take this pain away

Sanctify Yourself

I was laying in bed last night, waiting to fall asleep, and the power went out. As I laid there thinking about how cold it would get, a gray telephone we had many years ago began ringing in the closet. I wondered what it was doing in there.

Instantly the scenery changed and I flashed back to an event I didn’t know about twelve years ago. As I observed it, it made me sad.

Then I kept going back in time, first to one event and then another.

Song of the Day: Letters From The Sky, by Civil Twilight

That you and I were made for this
I was made to taste your kiss
We were made to never fall away
Never fall away

’cause even though you left me here
I have nothing left to fear
Fears are only walls that hold me here

You’re coming back for me
You’re coming back for me
You’re coming back for me
You’re coming back for me

This is a song called Letters From The Sky, by a band named Civil Twilight. I learned of the song from the underrated 2011 movie I Am Number Four. The end of this video is really terrific.

The spirit of a boy, or the wisdom of a man

There’s a constant contradiction,
What feels good and what feels right.
But you live with decisions that you make in your life.
And what steers your direction is hard to understand,
(With so much riding on the choice at hand)
The spirit of a boy, or the wisdom of a man.

~ Randy Travis

Another note about meditation and nighttime hallucinations

As a brief note about meditation, over the last few years people have written more about some potential negative side effects of meditation. I haven’t experienced those, but over the last two years I have experienced hallucinations when I wake up during the middle of the night. A sleep specialist told me the name for this, but I can’t remember it now.

As an example, two nights ago — the evening and morning of 8/20 to 8/21/21 — I woke up and looked across the room, and in an area where there is a hallway that leads to the bathroom (and laundry area), I saw a disembodied head that looked like Princess Diana. Two years ago that would have been pretty freaky, but now things like this are a common occurrence.

This experience only became freaky when she began to move her eyes. It was like her head was frozen, protruding out from the laundry area into the hallway, and then her eyes began to move and look around, like, “Holy crap, where am I, and why can’t I move my head?!” That reminded me of an old Don Knotts movie where he’s in a haunted house, and it was indeed freaky.

UPDATE: I’m reminded that I wrote about the name for this phenomenon before in Sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and hypnopompic hallucinations, and the name for these specific experiences is hypnopompic hallucinations.

Sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and hypnopompic hallucinations (no, you’re not crazy)

As a brief note today, for the last year or so I’ve been experiencing various “visions” when I wake up at night. I mentioned them to a doctor recently, and he said, “No, you’re not crazy, they’re referred to as hypnagogic hallucinations.” I found out that more accurately, the ones I’m experiencing are known as hypnopompic hallucinations.

If you’re interested in what these look like, here are three that I experienced recently. I regularly see images of “splatter” on the ceiling, and they can be all sorts of color. Last night they were mostly black, but the night before that they were red and pink:

Hypnopompic hallucinations - color splatter on ceiling