atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4286: Returning to something approximating normality

Yesterday Mrs. Fungus and I watched the first episode of Leftover. The premise of the story is that 2% of the Earth's population of people has simply disappeared, and apparently the entire planet has collectively lost its shit in the aftermath. No one knows where the people went, nor why they disappeared, nor how.

Among the symptoms is this cult of people who wear all white clothing, smoke constantly, communicate only in writing, and stalk people, including Liv Tyler, who ends the pilot episode by joining them.

There were several "Hey, we're on HBO!" moments included, of course.

...but don't let my disdain for these elements confuse you. I think it's an okay show and look forward to seeing what's going on. I just hope that the writers have some idea of what's going on themselves, you know, unlike what happened with Lost where the writers started with a premise and just added shit because it would be confusing, and then discovered they had to make some kind of sense out of all of it at the end, and did...poorly.

In the same vein, we picked up the boxed set of the first season of Under the Dome, because it was $15 (less than that with my discount, actually, though not a lot less) and the trailers for it were intriguing. It's another "something strange happens that no one understands, and this is what happens afterwards" series. We seem to be suckers for that kind of stuff, having watched the first season of Resurrection and the entirety of Lost.


* * *

Something I've noticed from reading Sarah Hoyt is how much people on that blog--Sarah and her guest bloggers alike--love to overuse parenthetical statements. If you're embedding parentheses and you're not writing a computer program, you really have to cut it right the hell out. It's confusing to split an already complex sentence with an equally long parenthetical statement, and if you embed them you are compounding the problem.

One of the very, very precious few useful things I learned from high school English classes was how to recognize when you are using too many parenthetical statements. I wish I could remember which teacher it was who taught me that; it was a useful lesson that I recall to this day, and it's something that I consider every time I write anything.

Still, Sarah's published and I'm not, so who am I to judge?

* * *

The usual finger-wagging from nanny-staters about How Dangerous Fireworks Are. Okay, let me say it again: there is no substitue for safety precautions and common sense.

Commercial package fireworks are almost universally labeled with the same instructions:
Do not hold in hand. Do not hold in mouth. Place on ground, light fuse, and get away.
And the bigger the "bang" the more careful you have to be. Last year, for the first time, I bought mortar-style fireworks. They were six shells to a box with a launch mortar, and they were something like "buy one get three" or something, and at $20 for four boxes the "dollars per fuse" equation was in the right region of the graph.

And I was careful with those things, because the lifting charge is about the size of a large gumdrop and when you light one of those things it goes PFOOM!--very loudly--out of the mortar. "Light fuse and get away"? As soon as the fuse started I sprinted away, because anything powerful enough to blow a 1 oz shell eighty feet in the air is powerful enough to fuck you right the hell up.

So you must be careful with them.

The article is woefully bereft of facts. How did the victim light the thing? How was he holding it? Was he using it correctly, or was he clowning around with it? Was alcohol involved? All the article says is that the guy picked up "a firework" and lit it; it doesn't even tell us what kind of firework it was.

Yes, fireworks are hazardous. You have things that you light on fire and which accelerate quickly and blow up and emit showers of sparks--yet millions of people manage to use them every year without blowing themselves up or otherwise injuring themselves.

And most of the time that injuries occur, it's because someone was either misusing the fireworks or because alcohol was involved.

Myself, I'm too cheap to buy the big stuff; but furthermore I'm simply not interested in setting off large explosions. The people who love quarter- and half-sticks of dynamite are crazy; high explosives are not toys and even M-80s are beyond the pale.

...but reading Wikipedia on the subject explains why--some forty years ago--four Black Cats with their wicks twisted together were able to propel an aluminum water tumbler ten or fifteen feet in the air, where today they can barely move a soda can weighing less than half as much: the feds got involved and regulated the fun out of it. *sigh*

* * *

As for me, I'm suffering knock-on effects of a stressful week. I think I've taken more Xanax in the past four days than in the entire previous month. Normally I only need a tablet at bedtime, because usually I'm too busy to notice being anxious, but when I lay down to sleep that's when it gets me.

This past weekend, though, I found that I needed half-tabs during the day because the anxiety was really bad. Really bad, like "eight on a scale of one-to-ten" bad. (I hit "ten" a couple of times in my life. Both were when I was a teenager. I worry about hitting that level again.) I'm grateful that half-tabs were enough to take the edge off, because full tabs would have simply put me in bed.

And even now I'm sitting here, breathing heavily, sweating, my heart going a mile a minute. Figure I'm at a six easy, possibly seven. Yeah.

"Oh, just relax! What's the big deal?" You might say. That's just it; I can't relax. It's a chemical imbalance in my brain; there's nothing actually happening that demands I be in such a state of panic. There are no saber-tooth tigers about to pounce on me. There's not a thug with a gun threatening to shoot me if I don't give him the loot. I'm not in any immediate danger, yet here I sit, adrenaline flooding my system, fight or flight reflex safety-wired to "emergency maximum". I can take all the deep breaths I want, and I can think happy thoughts, and I can do all the other psychological tricks they teach you when you have an anxiety disorder, and none of them are doing me a lick of good.

...and it's impossible to think rationally or reasonably when you're in this kind of state.

Guess I'm having another half-tab today. *sigh*

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