To Dady

And I picked up the next item from the box, and it was an envelope, inscribed "To Dady". And I opened it, and it contained a card, and the only words written on the card were the same as the envelope, "To Dady". And I looked at it, and suddenly broke down and cried.

I recognized the handwriting, it was mine, from when I was very young, not past first grade, if that. And all I'd needed to do was find a nice card, a raccoon cleaning its food, and write "To Dady", no need for anything else, and that card was treasured, and kept for 35 years, and then set aside with other items to be looked at and disposed of following my father's death, and now, 9 years later, I reach into a box and find this message of love. "To Dady".

And I cry. I cry for my father, who is long gone. I cry for myself, for the child who could write such a simple note on a card. And I cry for myself, who has no child, and has never known what it is like to have such a card given to him.

And the card sits on the box, and I know it is there, and I cry.


One with the ages; life as ephemera

Having gone through four boxes of computer disks which my father had accumulated, programs, accounting records, tax returns, etc., there were a total of five disks which I selected for retention. And there may well be overlap on the contents of those disks.

Three of the disks are 5.25" disks, which is difficult enough to work with in this day and age, but furthermore they are CP/M formatted, Kaypro 2X CP/M to be precise. This predates MS-DOS, and are non-compatible, so not only does one need a 5.25" disk drive, a rare thing in this day and age, but one needs an emulation program, which will allow the drive to act as though it were on a CP/M system, with file transfer software to copy the files from the disk. Now it just so happens that one of the files I rescued from a dying hard drive was 22DSK144, which is just such a program, and one which you can still find on the internet, produced by Simtel and available on their site, as I just discovered by doing a quick search. Released in 1997, this program allows you to read disks formatted in a wide variety of CP/M formats, provided you have the appropriate floppy drives, compatible with the disks, which I just happen to still have.

So using an aged Win98SE system, which had compatible disk drives, I have copied the contents of the three disks to said computers hard drive. I then copied the two 3.5" disks to the hard drive as well, as my most modern system has no floppy drives. The contents of the five disks fit onto one CD-ROM, with plenty of room to spare. The next step, which I'm not sure when I'll take it, is to search amongst my various word processing programs for one which will allow me to import files in WordStar format, for WordStar was what dad used, both CP/M and DOS, and I no longer have WordStar; I threw out the last installation disks for WordStar in my possession yesterday, knowing that I have versions of WordPerfect which will open the files, and I believe my copy of Word is early enough that it too can open WordStar files.

Keeping a copy of WordStar would be silly, as I no longer own any printers for which WordStar possesses printer drivers.

So I now have a CD with files from dad concerning family history, his life, etc., which I may someday peruse, actually probably sometime soon so that I can insure I can open the files, knowing that eventually Windows will no longer support the software programs which still recognize the WordStar format, and that I'll want to have the files converted to Word or OpenOffice or WordPerfect file formats prior to that day.

Going through dad's paper files is having an equally small amount of material being retained. I have no inclination to read through his sermons from when he was active in the Unitarian Ministry, and old ledgers, bank statements, correspondence, all of no relevance to my life, or my sister, so they are being recycled. We are not being hasty in this, dad died in 2001, we've had plenty of time to develop an interest in these files and have failed to do so, and it is now time to clean house and minimize belongings in preparation to moving me someplace else. Those five disks of dad's? That's more than I've kept of my own work from over the years.

You can tell a lot about someone by the books they own, and going through dad's books this is certainly true. An interest in medieval history and culture, religion and philosophy in general, a smattering of economics, some mysteries and science fiction, some children's literature, some poetry and classics; very little that we are retaining from the perspective of would we actually read them. But the current batch of seven boxes of books, which had been in the office and his bedroom, a fair portion of them we suspect Powell's will actually be interested in. But much would only be of interest to someone with a similar background, and that makes for a small interest group.

It's sad, in ways, how little we keep. But the most precious are the memories, and those will stay with us. As will the photo and slide collection, which my sister will maintain, having more interest in them than I do.


Staying in touch with people, an area I'm weak in.

I've never been good at staying in touch with people, once I'm not seeing them all the time. I'm lousy at correspondence [what's to write about? I perceive my life as being dull and of no interest.] I don't like using telephones, although I'm getting better with that, having no choice if I'm going to keep in touch with mom and my sister.

So I've gone through my life making friends, good friends, and then dropping out of touch. Someone will move, there will be changes in schedules, staying in touch will require a certain amount of effort, and I just can't seem to make that effort.

Damn. It ties into my disabilities, doesn't it, the inability to work on things unless they grab me, the whole lack of proper adrenaline production, the inability to work on many things unless its reached crisis point and adrenaline production is upped, oh *bleep*. *bleep* *bleep* bleepitty bleep* Jiminy Christmas! Fudge brownies!

Well, that was a lovely thing to just figure out, boy am I slow on the uptake.

And anything I take to improve my functioning results in increased blood pressure, at the least, such as the Ritalin and Adderal that I'm on, or raises the blood pressure and also increases the incidence of kidney stones, such as anything with caffeine. And the substance that seemed to have the best impact, ephedrine, is now a proscribed substance due to it being used in the creation of crystal meth; pseudophed was such a lovely OTC, dealt with my allergies and got me functioning [and sent my blood pressure through the roof, *sigh*]

Actually, I should be impressed with how well I'm functioning just now, I'm getting stuff done everyday in regard to sorting through stuff and disposing of stuff, although the trick is still to come, working on organizing what I'll keep; rather, deciding what I'll keep. I'm really torn in regard to shop stuff, I haven't done anything with the shop in five+ years, and it feels like the drive has gone away, but that also ties in with when pseudophed became unable to be obtained, doesn't it?

Mega *bleep*!

On the flip side, I'm much calmer these days. That's the downside of anything that helps me function, due to not being able to replicate the brain's natural delivery system everything is delivered by swamping the system, it's a hack job, no surgical strike this. Under medicated is very mellow, over medicated is strung out, and there isn't any such thing as properly medicated, or so it seems.

So the shop question is also the sewing question, and the leatherworking question, etc., because at some level the interest is there, but I just don't quite have the oomph to do anything about it. Maybe if I can get to where things are cleaned up and organized, then sewing would become a possibility. Now when did the place really start to decline? Oh, yeah, same time period.

I really need to talk to my psychiatrist and see what the options are which we haven't tried. First I need to write up what the problems are, so I don't have to be functioning during the visit; that's the problem, if I'm functioning I forget what the problems are, if I'm not functioning, well, there ya go!

OK, got my marching orders, need to write stuff up.

Later. Not just now. I don't feel up to it at the moment. Which, of course, is the whole problem.

Me go read stuff now, will feel more cheery afterward.


Letting go of the past, one document at a time

I have two small accordion files of checks to go, and Tucson and Chicago will no longer exist. There will no longer be documents in my possession, other than resumes and related documents in my disability application file, relating to my having ever lived in either city. By the end of the day I will have shredded the last of them. I've already thrown out all my letters received and all my other mail, newsletters and such; I hadn't looked at any of them since 1994, when I moved back from Chicago, I wasn't going to suddenly start doing stuff with them now, especially since when I started to I just ended up crying. My father and grandmother both died in 2001, and reading their letters would just remind me that they are no longer here, just as reading mom's letters remind me that she is now in an adult group home.

Going through the house, sorting things and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, so little that I choose to keep; I'm not really all that attached to things, I find, which given how much money I've spent on things over the years is unexpected. The books are going to be the interesting project, that and the shop. Deciding which of my books I'll actually read again, and thus might justify keeping, against the ones that I don't see using again, no matter how much I had to have them at another time. Do I see being a reference resource for anyone, as at one time I was, or will my hermit existence continue, with no one using my resources other than myself? And those that I determine not to keep, how to dispose of them to their best advantage? Or can I afford to concern myself with that question, and instead just take them to Powell's and other stores, and what is not taken donating to thrift stores, or just recycling as of no interest to anyone at this time.

We've already given all the jigsaw puzzles, except for a few that my sister is keeping, to Goodwill; I haven't' worked on a jigsaw puzzle in over 15 years, growing up they were a family activity, we had so many 1500 piece puzzles, lovely and complicated, spending hours an evening working on them together, my hording pieces, my sister leaning over the table and obscuring pieces with her hair, mom trying pieces that to everyone else obviously didn't fit, dad being very intense and not happy with pieces being horded or obscured, and Beth and dad insisting we couldn't look at the picture on the box, that we had to put the puzzles together without that aid. There were a couple I might have liked to keep, but before I realized they were going away they were gone, and really, when would I work on them? Jigsaw puzzles aren't something I do by myself, they are a social activity to me as a result of my upbringing. And I wonder about my collection of games, which do I keep on the off-chance that I'll become social again, with folks who would want to play them? And even more important, which of them will I be up to playing?

As we deal with mom, I keep having the thought, "How long until it's me?" My disability claim had to do with my mental functioning, reliability and the ups and downs of my abilities, and my increasing fear of trying, of taking risks, of being able to react appropriately to challenges and stress. Of fear of interacting with people, being afraid that I won't be able to do so at an acceptable level, that I'll be a drag on those around me, which does my friends no little injustice. But I've always been feral, under the surface, insecure, although for many years my success spurrec me on to overcome this, but as I perceive myself to be declining, I draw back into myself, back to how I was as a child, alone because I didn't have the skills to interact, because my mind betrayed my, being damaged at birth. I've done so much better than anyone thought I would, some of my doctors didn't see how I would make it to adulthood without being institutionalized, and it was close, closer than I like to think about. And how much I owe to my mother's persistence, her not accepting the negative prognosis, but constantly searching for other possibilities, wanting the best for me. And now she's deteriorating, memory betraying her, , showing everyday that wanting to help others is central to her very being, as her memory gets worse and she thinks she's on staff at the group home, thinking she's helping when she's a client, they like her, they humor her, I talk to her on the phone and I cry, cry for my mother, for who she was and who she is, my mother, whom I dearly love and can no longer help, other than talking with her and being her son, who loves her very much.

Given typing through a wall of tears, my touch-typing is very good.

My sister is under so much stress, dealing with mom, and me, at this time, as well as having been working on growing her music instruction, trying to get more students, working on a website just before all this started, not having it up as she can't focus on that now, I don't know what we'd be doing if not for my sister, Beth, I couldn't do what she's been doing, I'd just freeze up and break down, now she has to care for her mother, and try to set things up for her brother, and I fear that the day will come where she'd having to look into my care as well.

Not what the heading indicated this would be, this has been very much stream of consciousness.

On a cheerier note, I've gotten quite the collection of bookmarks now, reaching back 40 years some of them, and there are many more to be gathered in from my books, and one can tell, to an extent, where I've lived over the years, based upon the bookmarks, although there are stores that I'd think I'd have bookmarks from that aren't showing up so far, but there are many more books to go through. And some of the stores where I know I had many bookmarks are only showing a couple, but as stated, many more books to go through.

And in a bit I'll feel better. As I've commented before, at heart I'm a very cheerful person, which is a very good thing.


How many computers do you have?

19. That's how many computers I currently have. 16 of them are in mom's living room, along with 9 printers, 4 monitors, and a number of mice, keyboards, dead hard-drives and a bunch of other computer related peripherals.

2 of those computers run CP/M, they're old Kaypro 2Xs, purchased back in the mid-1980s; one was used in dad's bookkeeping/tax preparations business for many years, the other was used by my sister through grad school. The most recent software they ran was WordStar 4.0, a very good wordprocessing program which dominated the CP/M world, but was sabatoged by the marketdroids when they transferred to PC-DOS; rather than properly develope and support their existing program, they chose to purchase others work and relabel it as WordStar, stabbing their loyal followers in the back. WordStar 7 for DOS wasn't bad, but the atrocity that was WordStar for Windows, meh, horrorshow, no wonder folks switched to WordPerfect and Word, Microstar took long enough to produce a DOS program that their dominance was lost, and then they put out crap.

Then there's a PS/2, and we're not talking about video game consoles here; this one was an old machine gifted by a friend when she upgraded, haven't actually used it or found a home for it, it's just gathered dust. Ditto the ZEOS 386 tower, which is the heaviest of the lot, truly an awkward machine, begging for the installation of wheels and handles. There are at least 2 486's, one of them a laptop running Win95, an old IBM Thinkpad, the model with the butterfly keyboard. One NextGen 586, which was a non-pin compatible alternative to the Pentium; nice machine, actually, but no upgrade path, and there was the periodic problem of programs properly identifying the hardware. 2 Pentiums, Compaq DeskPros, a P95 and a P115 I think, bought used at Stuff, the P95 came with built-in SCSI support.

The remaining 11 computers are all AMDs of different vintages, mainly with Win98 installed; this computer runs Windows 7, the next most recent operating system is WinMe, I'm thinking of installing WinXP on a secondary hard-drive on this machine so I can run computer games which choke on Windows Vista and Windows 7, which is the main reason why I have the WinMe and the most modern Win98SE machine up here and not with the rest in the living room; the problem with those machines is that the sound seems to have cut out, which is a drag when playing games, and for some games a critical failure problem. If I get a new hard-drive to install as my back-up drive, I can then use the current back-up drive as an alternate OS drive, and have sound with my games; I'd also need to get a USB joy stick, as they no longer provide MIDI/Game Ports on computers and that takes care of my old joy stick. Of course, I could also check to see if my games would play with Wine, and if so I could look at installing a Linux distro. Pity my WinXP computer died, seems to be motherboard as well as the hard-drive being toast, that forced me to my current machine, at least no boot activity with a new hard-drive, which sure makes it look like toast to me, it should at least POST if the motherboard was still good.

It's going to take a couple of trips to run them all over to Free Geek, which is a local organization which will first attempt to make computers function as Linux systems, and failing that recycle them properly; if you bring in more than a couple of systems at a time they do charge, but it's minimal, and they'll try to utilize everything they can prior to sending to recycling, and given my not wanting to toss these puppies into a landfill but instead have them properly disposed of we'll find the funds for their fees.

And it's interesting being able to access my second bedroom again, it was full of dead computers. Now, the really painful part was tossing all the old software, several thousands of dollars worth that have no value now, expensive wordprocessing programs, OSs, games, etc., none of which will run on anything modern, or if you can get them to run you can't get them to print, as they're using DOS printer drivers, printer specific drivers written for each program. The great thing with Windows is that the printer has one driver for the OS, and programs talk to the OS; previously printer drivers were program specific, so each program required their own printer drivers, and once the program ceased being supported you were toast once you could no longer purchase supported printers. With Windows so long as the program can properly talk to the current version of Windows you can use any modern printer, and this, to me, is much more significant than the GUI, and is one of the things which forces OS upgrading, the need to be able to print with modern printers, as it's not cost effective to maintain old printers. Now, the thing that drove my upgrading to WinXP was that it was the minimum required to run TurboTax a couple of years ago, and that was the final straw for Win98SE, no longer running modern tax software when it was time to do my mother's taxes.

OK, my mind is starting to drift, time for afternoon meds and then food, I guess.


Unknown Boxes [Not what I thought it was!]

Somewhere, I have several boxes of old Tournaments Illuminated, and Complete Anachronists, relics of 20+ years of SCA activity. I thought I knew which box it was, as I'd gone through all the other boxes in the room I though they were in. But that box, whilst big enough to hold all the TIs, didn't. Instead, it was full of LPs.

This surprised me. See, I have lots of LPs, a vast collection, esoteric and fascinating in its own right, but they aren't up here in this apartment, they're down in the basement, in record boxes, awaiting the day I again had a functional phonograph; my phonograph died in grad school, and I shipped my records home after grad school, to be stored by my parents, as I didn't want to entrust them to UPS or anyone else involved in shipping things from Tucson to Parts East, known as Chicago, when I didn't have digs established yet, and not having a functioning phonograph in Chicago I never saw fit to have them shipped out from Portland, it would have been silly.

Yes, the phonograph was taken in by my parents, who got it repaired, and shipped it out to me. And it arrived in Chicago and had died in transit, the tone arm not having been properly strapped down. It's currently sitting on top of the glass front in my living room, awaiting a visit to a phonograph repair place, yet again; it's a good phonograph, direct drive, a sturdy Technics turntable of respectable vintage. And I have both of my parents' turntables, one also a Technics, one an ancient monstrosity from my grandparents which will play 78s as well as 33s and 45s.

So, anyway, there's this box of records. I looked through them as I transferred them into more reasonably sized boxes; yes, with age I've learned to pack things in smaller boxes, it's better for my back. I found that with very few exceptions I recognized these records, they were indeed mine, except for three 45s and a copy of the Messiah and some Spoken German collection. And while thumbing through, a Bloomington bus schedule dropped out.

Now, I've never been to Bloomington, Indiana, but I know someone who lived there, who lived in Tucson previously and afterwards lived here in Portland, in that very room for a bit, and then in Apt 4, across the hall. Cameron Craigie, the Once and Future Roommate, whom I shared an apartment with in Tucson and met up with in the Midwest when he got work in Bloomington after obtaining his PhD in Optical Physics, and whom we housed when he had enough of the Midwest and moved back to the PNW, sans job initially, but correctly thinking he'd do better finding work out here if he was here than he'd do hanging out in Bloomington. And I remembered, then, that he had pulled a bunch of my records out, to borrow and keep in Tucson while continuing his studies, with the promise to get them back to me, sometime, before the world ended.

Well, apparently he did, leaving them in my spare bedroom. And I really have no memory of this occurring; I thought he still had them! Now I need to sort them, and then when I get to that part of the move, reintegrate them with the records he didn't borrow.

And I am completely baffled as to where the old TIs and CAs are hiding, I'm guessing down in the basement. I'd really been hoping to find them, I want to find a good home for them, unlike all the old SCA newsletters I'm sending to recycling. They definitely aren't where I thought they were.


Locks and Memory, or memories

Whilst sorting through stuff today, well, more like while making sure it's nothing I need after not seeing this stuff for over ten years, and recycling papers, I came across a box that probably hasn't been looked at since I moved back from Chicago in 1994. And in this box was a combination lock. This lock was last used by myself in 1988; it locked my bicycle. I obtained this lock in the fall of 1975, the first day of school; it was my locker lock. Not having seen it in 15 years, not having used it in 22 years, I calmly spun the dial, and entered the combination, and opened it.

Yes, I remembered the combination. Good thing, too, it's not written down anywhere, I'm sure the school bookstore purged their records of that lock many years ago [I did, early on, forget the combination, called the bookstore, and they told it to me; they kept records just for that purpose.]

I can't remember any of the four addresses I had in my six years in Chicago, nor the telephone number, the same holds true for Tucson and Eugene, both of which were school-related tenures. At the moment I still have papers from Tucson and Chicago, and if I looked through them I could find that information. Shortly, in the next several weeks, all of that information will be gone, except for several boxes which have shipping labels on them and are still in use. Shortly, aside from some photographs, books, and a couple of tchotchkes, I will have nothing left from the vast majority of my life, no tangible items reflecting my experiences and history, nothing except my memories.

My memory is a quirky thing. I can remember the address and phone number of the house I grew up in in Salem, Oregon, and I could draw a diagram of how the house was laid out prior to our moving to Portland. I can actually draw floor-plans for every place I've lived, now that I think about it, even if I don't remember the address. Well, except for the first two houses, but I was very young, less than a year old when we moved into the house on Saginaw in Salem, so I have no memory of the house on State Street which we lived in initially upon moving to Salem, nor the Potter Street house in Eugene where we lived when I was born; I know the streets they were on from my parents' conversations over the years, and there is the slight chance that amongst their documents we'd have those addresses. I can't navigate Salem as well as I used to, because of the construction over the years since we moved.

In my mind I can see people that I've known over the years, worked with, gone to school with, known in fandom and the SCA, and I know who they are... except that the names are starting to fade, with time and mental disuse. Well, some of them, some of them can be dredged back up, given time. But I've always been bad with names, at least when I initially meet people, it always took a while for me to learn names, part of my memorization problems which have always been with me. Once I learn the name, I'm pretty good, I guess. And I can remember what people look like.

There was a period when I took lots of photographs, before my first real camera was stolen; I fell out of the habit, then, and never got back into it. So there are a couple of years with lots of photos, of the SCA, some of fandom, some school, but after that not much at all, I was too busy doing and not recording. Taking photos is what spectators do, and I enjoyed myself so much more if I was helping make things happen. Which means for most of my life there is no record, other than the very documents I'm in the process of discarding. Some will be kept, those which look to be of use, such as those supporting my disability claim; it may come under review sometime, so I feel the need to keep those documents, which means I'll still have copies of my last job resume, and a work history which describes in some detail what I did at various jobs, all part of documenting what I'd been able to do prior to the gradual decline. But I'm throwing out alot of memorabilia, con programs, newsletters, letters, all sorts of stuff that I look at and force myself to ask if I'll ever look at them again, and find the answer being "No, I'll never go through these again", so I discard them, the neglected record of my past.

And then I'll go through my books, and that will be hard, going through and looking at them from the perspective of what I'm honestly likely to use, as opposed to the reference librarian who wants to keep everything, but if I'm looking at moving into a considerably smaller place, I really have no choice.

And the wood shop and all my electronics and building maintenance materials, what of them to keep and how best to dispose of what I don't? Again, the question of what do I actually see myself using. I'm seeming to be functioning some better recently, but how will that carry over to various activities I haven't done in years?

So much of going through my stuff includes saying "This I used to do, but do no longer, and will never do again". There needs to be some "And this I may do again", something of planning forwards, seeing future accomplishment and activities. To be blunt, a reason for going on. I need to find things that I will be doing, that will involve me with others, for I need to be involved with my fellow man, and at some level be a contributing part of society; I do not enjoy being a spectator, and at this time I'm not even doing that.

I'm tired. Guess I'll go to bed, then.