Weekly Posts Spring 2023

17 June 2023

Another week like the past several. Still cranking out more Dicks Retirement Trailer Park episodes—I've just finished my 50th episode—although they're taking longer to make: since I've gotten more serious about the characters and stories, I've likewise gotten more serious about the art and the animation, and I'm currently in the process of totally remastering all of the art. Not that it matters much; it's just me killing time. Meanwhile, today's image is Zack posing in the kitchen window.

10 June 2023

I have allowed myself to become entirely obsessed with Dicks Retirement Trailer Park. Originally intended to be strictly a comedy, it's taken a more serious turn when I decided to delve into the backstories of these silly characters I've invented, as though they were real people. Why are they the way they are? Why is Rita terrified of everything? What's the troubling secret behind Carl's over-the-top gung-ho Marine persona? I've also made some changes: Dot was intended to be pure ditz; now she's smart and caring. Glen was supposed to be totally obsessed with football; now he's turning into the Park's wise man of sorts. Paul is getting fleshed out with a PhD and a family of cats. And so forth.

Among the very few people who follow it, it's become a little polarizing. Some have become fans, while others think it's pretty much a waste of time. Doesn't matter to me; it's keeping my mind off of some troubling stuff, such as a dear friend dying of cancer. And so I've begun tackling that topic head on, with some surprising results. For those who enjoy my efforts, stay tuned for much more drama to come. I still sprinkle comedy in along the way, but it's not absurd slapstick and one-liners any more. The fourth batch is online, with a fifth in the works. And I've got plans for several more.

By the way, if it's of any consequence, I've added "Director's Commentary" for all of the episodes. It might help shed a little light on why I do what I do. It's not voice-overs for the vids—that would be an absurd technical challenge, not to mention a waste of bandwidth. Instead, it's pages of text linked to the episodes on the video pages. Enjoy.

3 June 2023

Dicks Retirement Trailer Park has taken on a life of its own. It's not winning any awards on YouTube, but that wasn't my goal. The second series is tonally quite different from the first, and the third series is also online, with the fourth not far behind. Originally conceived as an episodic comedy, it's turning into a serial with a bit more drama behind it; now that I'm becoming more familiar with the characters, I'm building backstories and character arcs, and now I have so many more stories to tell. I hope someone enjoys them. But of not, no biggie; I do these for my own entertainment.

27 May 2023

Having gotten Max Dumproom out of my system, I've moved on to something more substantial and satisfying. For quite a long time I'd wanted to produce an original animated series; I just needed a little nudge to finally get my butt in gear. The old saying goes, "write about what you know," and my new hood provided the ideal inspiration.

Thus was born Dicks Retirement Trailer Park, an exceedingly quirky series about an exceedingly quirky bunch of residents at an exceedingly quirky mobile home park. The one-minute episodes are produced in a very spare, simplistic style for the economy of both time and technical resources; indeed, I leveraged the style in certain aspects of the storytelling—such as it is. It's early days, and the series is admittedly less than satisfying. But I'm learning as I go, and hopefully it will improve over time.

Although it's a cartoon, it's definitely not for little kids; however, it's also not "excessively adult," so hopefully Dicks will find a broader audience than some of my other efforts.

20 May 2023

For the first time in quite a long while, I've actually been enjoying myself. The "Max Dumproom" videos have been a lot of fun to make, although after having made 120 of them, I've gotten kind of burned out on them for now.

This week's photo is a Northern Mockingbird, a bird I never saw at my woodland home. I've added it to the wildlife page for my current home; it joins a few others I likewise hadn't seen before.

13 May 2023

After sleeping for 14 hours straight, I started returning to a reasonably "normal" life, or at least what I had come to expect as normal. I'm still having sleep issues, but at least it's plain old insomnia, my lifelong companion.

This has been an experience I would never want to repeat. It falls in line right behind the time I was treated for Lyme: the doctor warned me that I'd feel awful, and brother he was not kidding. Indeed, "awful" doesn't even begin to describe it. Had I not been able to reschedule the neurologist appointment, I suspect I'd be a candidate for a straight jacket and rubber room.

I do still have issues with my neck and knee, and I suspect these will be with me for a good long while now. I've been distracting myself from the pain by doing stupid things, like making political humor videos, something even just a year ago I'd never dare to do. Now I don't care; if anyone objects to my political leanings, that's on them. I'm not going to change myself just to appease the preferences of others—I'm much too old to worry about such nonsense. (Curiously, I lost five subscribers as a result of the new vids—evidently some modelers objected. Then again, I picked up five new ones, so...)

Today's image, BTW, is my green, the color that "does it" for me.

6 May 2023

Going into my third week from hell, I've been hit with yet another side effect from the RLS medication debacle. I have bad varicose veins on my left calf and foot, and the continuous pacing I've been doing has aggravated it to the point that one of the veins ruptured while I was taking a shower. But I didn't notice that it happened until I was drying off and saw red splatters on my right leg. What the...? Then I looked down: blood was squirting from my ankle and spraying all over the place—the bathroom looked like a slasher movie set. For punctuation, I suffered a drop attack right after I got everything cleaned up.

I'd finally had it. On Tuesday I called my neurologist's office and demanded that they move up my appointment. Thursday was available (almost two weeks sooner than before). But even a couple of days had become too long to wait, as the RLS was getting progressively worse. I was experiencing whole-body spasms, having the sensation of being electrocuted randomly several times a minute. At these times I jump up and stagger around the house clawing at my muscles with my fingertips as if vainly attempting to tear them out of my body, all the while waiting to see the floor rush up at my face. And on some of those occasions I'd crawl back to the bedroom on my hands and knees. Add the indignity of occasionally losing bladder control, and it all becomes a form of torture that I really don't know how I've endured.

On top of this is the acute nerve pain in my sprained neck, which hovers between 7 and 9. OTC pain meds are like sugar pills, and the only way to knock it back to a dull roar is to stand in the hottest shower I can tolerate. I'm up to 3-4 showers a day (my electric bill is going to be killer). At least the neurologist was kind enough to include a script for "real" pain meds. Meanwhile, any work done on my computer up to now, such as this post, was accomplished in spurts of 15-20 seconds in between laps around the trailer.

Now the RLS meds are on their way. But they won't offer an instant cure; it will take at least a week to gradually return to normal. But at this point, any improvement is cause for celebration. Anyway, it'll take this long for all of my cuts and bruises from falls to heal. But my neck? I may need to see a specialist about it. (Uh oh, here we go again...)

So, if you should hear anyone trivializing RLS, please correct them: it has the potential to be fatal.

This week's photo is my new bedroom window view. Yes, the condo builders are back in town. Joy.

29 April 2023

The second of four weeks from hell ended very slightly better than the first. Still, it's hard to imagine ever getting used to living on a half to three-quarters of an hour of sleep a day. I am dealing with Drop Attacks a little better, watching for warning signs they might be imminent, so I've been able to reduce the number of injuries I sustain. Honestly, this would make an excellent torture technique.

22 April 2023

Time for a good old-fashioned, maximum-grumpiness rant. The next time someone from Washington says they're working to reduce health care costs, "bullshit" would be the most appropriate response. In fact, the bastards are finding ways not only to increase costs, but to increase health risks as well, irrational as that may sound. Allow me to explain.

I have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS); I've had it my entire life. For the last thirty-odd years, my General Practitioner has had me on the second-lowest dose of an old, reliable drug that's as benign as aspirin. But, during the last year, the Feds have been cracking down on who can prescribe what drugs, ostensibly to combat drug abuse. The problem is that their new rules go well beyond Draconian; now, whole classes of drugs incapable of being abused can no longer be prescribed by your GP.

Consequently, I'm now forced by idiot politicians to see a specialist—in this case a neurologist—in order to continue receiving the same dose of the same drug I've been taking for over three decades. There was no advance notice of this change; I only learned of it when I went to refill my prescription and was told, "Sorry, SOL."

Thus began the nightmare. I cannot go without the med for more than a couple of days; otherwise I'll begin to suffer escalating reactions, or what I call "RLS with a vengeance"—while it predominantly affects the legs, RLS can also affect most any other area of the body, including arms, shoulders, neck and trunk, and in any combination; at its worst, it's akin to being continuously electrocuted. However, the average lead time for an appointment with a specialist is four to six weeks. In the meantime, what do I do?

I spent days on the phone calling doctors and specialists begging for a solution; none could help because the government has their hands legally tied. My pharmacy recommended that I visit an Urgent Care Center to obtain a temporary emergency supply of the drug to tide me over. I paid $166 (the portion not covered by insurance) to spend over an hour haggling with them, and in the end they begrudgingly provided exactly five days' worth of medication. The next step, I suppose, might be to visit the ER... and then sell my home in order to pay for it.

After my paltry emergency supply ran out, I still had four weeks to go before I'd see a neurologist. At this writing, I've gone a week without the drug, and my life has gone straight down the toilet. You see, outside of the medication, the only relief comes from pacing. Non-stop. I've gotten no sleep, and sleep deprivation is a very, very bad thing indeed. One of the side effects can be Drop Attacks, a condition where a person suddenly and with no warning drops to the floor like a sack of potatoes, from one to several times a day—one day I fell at least a dozen times. Plus, just to pile it on, you're usually conscious the whole time: the sensation is that of being a rag doll violently hurled to the floor by some angry giant.

Falling down is risky enough even for healthy people; for the elderly, it's life-threatening. So far I've mangled my bad knee, started to damage my good knee, cut my scalp multiple times, sprained my neck—which already has two collapsed discs, and is now the source of intractable acute pain—and I'm covered in scrapes and bruises. Every part of me aches. Worst of all, I live in constant, abject fear that my next fall could land me in the ER. It figures: the only remaining thing that brings relief from RLS—walking—is now the most dangerous thing for me to do... and I have three weeks left to go! Certainly none of this is good for my heart condition...

This is what happens when our wonderful Federal Government does something they absolutely, positively should never do under any circumstances whatsoever: practice medicine. They have not only made my already poor health significantly worse, but put me at risk of severe injury, and will force me to pay hundreds of dollars for something that ordinarily cost me $5 a month. I could only wish the morons responsible for this insanity would all have to experience what I'm enduring right now; I'd bet there would be some swift policy changes... but of course that won't happen. We live in a society where conditions must reach total breakdown before those in power react, and we're already facing so many critical issues that a situation such as mine is at the bottom of the list.

15 April 2023

Nothing much to report this week. The most noteworthy item was the weather: last Sunday night, it dipped down very close to 32°. Then yesterday soared to 92°. It certainly put my heat pump through its paces. The sunset is deceiving: careful cropping eliminated the trailers in the foreground, and a telephoto lens setting made the trees appear much more dense than they are in real life.

8 April 2023

This week was marked by an emotionally challenging event: I learned that the fellow who bought my woodland home put it on the market already, after not having spent one minute at the property. I learned of this through an email I received from one of the bidders on the house who was so thrilled at the prospect of possibly owning it that they felt compelled to contact its creator.

It all made for a surreal experience, especially after seeing the listing: it featured over 70 photos, including a series taken from a drone, as shown above (something I would love to have done back while I was building it). I had deeply conflicted feelings about the whole thing. Naturally, the seller was free to do with his property as he chose, but this totally blindsided me...

The seller was in a hurry, too: the listing was up for less than 5 days before it sold—for considerably more than the asking price. This made me feel a little good considering that, as I was building it, realtors warned me that it might be difficult to sell because it was too personal and unique—one agent even called my home "strange." Not that it mattered; I had no intention of ever selling it, and routinely advised people I would die there. (Little did I know at the time what life had in store for me...)

Then again, the person who'd contacted me—someone I very quickly grew to trust—was outbid, leaving the identity and, more significantly, the intentions of the new owner unknown to me, thus throwing the property's fate into a discomforting cloud of doubt. I had to force myself to divorce myself from it all over again, which made for a really rough week; it may take some time for me to come to terms with it all.

Here are some more drone shots.

1 April 2023

Another SSDD week. I bid farewell to my animation dioramas; they now belong to a fellow out in Ohio. At least I know they're in good hands.

Despite feeling like something I scraped off the sole of my shoe, the news this week did give rise to a wee glimmer of joy. Normally I avoid politics, but this was just irresistible, and so I made up a little fantasy image of my own. Rejoice!

25 March 2023

Spring is here. I used to celebrate the Spring Equinox; in fact, it was the only event I ever actually celebrated. Now it's just another day, like any other. There's nothing left for me to celebrate.

As for this week's image, I liked the effect from last week so much that I applied it to another slide from the same collection. This is the cabin my folks owned in New Hampshire where I spent 18 summers and many vacations. I left my heart there.

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