hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music, tech

Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Finally! A Few (Brief) New Book Reviews

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 27, 2020

Those of you who have been with me for a long time may remember I used to constantly write book reviews, for years, and in some cases, some very thorough, comprehensive in depth ones that took a long time to write. Unfortunately, my health really plummeted a few years ago and has gotten progressively worse ever since. I’ve been blogging regularly since 2003, often on a daily basis, but typically several times a week over the whole time, and while I’ve written on many different topics, my book reviews have typically drawn the most viewers. So when I went a year without posting anything while trying to stay alive, once I returned in 2018 for sporadic visits back here — sadly — I discovered that I still had a good number of followers, and hadn’t lost virtually any — technically. What I did lose, though, was virtually my entire reader base. And even though it’s been two years, I’ve never recovered any reader base at all, which has left me conflicted because my health has gotten very worse with the prognosis not too great and I’ve closed nearly all of my social media accounts and have very limited time, strength, energy, etc., to interact with people, let alone write much of anything, let alone READ much of anything — at least not like I used to. Nonetheless, I’ve been enjoying trying to get some more reading in and I’ve been writing largely brief reviews for many of these books, most just junk, but some fairly decent. But I am starting to feel like why write or post anything on this blog at all if literally no one sees or reads it ever besides myself. I’ve known others in similar situations over the years and the usual stock response is to do it for yourself as a form of diary, if nothing else. And that’s how I’ve been treating it. But if my expected life span is not that long, why the hell would I want to waste my time writing or posting stuff here if no one literally sees or reads any of it??? It’s a waste of valuable time and energy that could be better spent in other ways. Thus, while I’m starting to seriously consider permanently stopping blogging after 17 years and deleting this, my last, blog, I’m still hoping to work on a couple of blog posts I’ve had planned for the past couple of weeks, but just haven’t been able to do so while I ponder things. So I thought Why not post a few little reviews from some recent ones I’ve put on Goodreads? Which might be a way to jump start me and inspire me to move on to the bigger projects I’ve had in mind. So, forgive the lack of quality my book reviews formerly had. I’ve been woefully out of practice for a long time. But for the one person who stumbles across this blog post and decides to glance at it, I hope you’ll see something remotely interesting at least. Thanks, and cheers!

 

 

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Doc: A MemoirDoc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, the book’s okay, but not actually what I was hoping for. I remember when this kid came up. What a hell of a rookie year he had (and his second year was basically as good if not more so). You want strike outs? Serious freaking heat! He went from a name to a recognized world sensation in a month! It wasn’t long after that, with Daryl Strawberry supplying the lumber and former Expo catcher, Gary Carter, smacking a few out while providing clubhouse leadership, that they beat the Red Sox to win their first World Series in 25 universes…? Seemed that way.

I’m not a Mets fan, but this kid — they were starting to call him “Doc” — was a once in a life-timer. And then he seemed to just start to fade away. Eventually disappear. 15 minutes.

I guess I wanted to really hear about his coming up to the majors and his incredible rookie year, and on to the Series, instead of opening the book to him passed out in a drug den doped up and too screwed up to make it to the stadium for the big game. It’s not that that’s not important or what Gooden clearly wanted to do with his book. And it’s his prerogative to do that, sure. But it’s my prerogative too, as a consumer, to not care too much because that scene has been written about a thousand times in a thousand sports and entertainer’s books, while few of them ever approached the level of success he had in his first two years. It’s not that his focus isn’t valid — it is. It’s just, been there, done that a million damn times with players not even worth 10% of him, and I just wanted to read about a rookie season for the ages. I’m actually kind of sick of all of these screwed up athletes ruining their careers and lives and then NOT writing about what made them interesting when they were able to play, but instead writing almost exclusively on how down the gutter they all fell and what it took for them to make it back. And again, I don’t want to invalidate that. I’ve got my own stories too. But when reading a memoir of an athlete of this stature, I really just don’t want another “Insert pages of last athlete’s memoir, replace author/athlete names with current one, change book jacket, sell.” They’re redundant after awhile, so you almost start to not care anymore because you become so desensitized to it. Which is sad. I only wanted to read something fun for once, something decent, exciting, celebrating an amazing accomplishment instead of just another book on an athlete destroying their careers and lives. Hell, I predicted this exact outcome, but as I write this, former Steeler All Pros Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell just finished their first season after “escaping” evil cheap little Pittsburgh and neither of them really understood that they WEREN’T the damn straw the stirred the drink — they were an overall part of the drink, every part of the drink is replaceable, and frankly, Brown’s bitching about Ben really ticked me off because without Ben throwing him the ball — and Ben had PLENTY of other high drafted, very talented people to throw to, many of whom went on to become 1,000 and/or Pro Bowl receivers, often with another team rather than staying with the Steelers for their entire career — like respectable Hines Ward did, Stallworth, etc. The point is, Brown owes practically all of his stats to the 6th best QB in NFL history and possible the best offensive line for any one decade in NFL history, with three annual All Pros, two other decade-long starters, 2-3 going to the Hall of Fame one day? They thought they could spit in Pittsburgh’s face for whatever greedy, elitist reasons and continue to duplicate their numbers nearly ANYWHERE else? They obviously don’t have good agents or advisers because I would have bet my house that neither would do crap and that they just nuked their careers and their once probably HOF destinies due to total idiocy. See, we see a few Doc’s every year. And it’s not that they’re story, especially if redemptive, isn’t good, valid or interesting. I just wanted a good view into that incredible year for once rather than the downside of fame and riches. A different take. On something that I actually care about because I’ve seen and been around enough misery throughout my life around this planet to think there’s too much special about the redemptive stories — a ton of people could write the same thing — but they are the only ones who can write about what it was that made them household names. Whatever, I guess it’s just me. It’s an okay book but I’m kind of over these types of celebrity autobiographies, so while I want to give this book two stars for ticking me off, that’s subjective and probably not fair to the author, so I’ll give it three, but know what you’re getting before you get it so you don’t make the same mistake I did…

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Being ThereBeing There by Jerzy Kosiński
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Postmodern brilliance. Stunning in what is says in what it doesn’t say. I actually prefer Kosinki’s The Painted Bird, which is a little more brutal, but I honestly think Being There is the author’s best truly “postmodern” work, translated well to the screen, and perfectly holds a mirror up to society. Will they even glance at it? I did. Kicked my ass. Couldn’t be more recommended, but for those you don’t like minimalist postmodern, you may find yourself bored, possibly not picking up on some subtleties, or simply unimpressed. Or you may actually walk away feeling more and more impressed the more you think about it. (In fact, I was so impressed with it that I wrote a short paper on it from a Reader Response position and it was published in a peer-reviewed, MLA-indexed journal: The Arkansas Review. It’s titled “The Dialectics of Getting There: Kosinski’s Being There and the Existential Anti-Hero.” It’s actually online somewhere, but I don’t know what the policy here for giving our URLs is, so if you’re interested at all, you cane either do a search or go to my blog listed on my profile (hankrules2011), with hyperlink, and find it listed among a few publications. Feel free to leave comments re your own observations, if you’ve read it. It’s definitely not a universally admired or appreciated text. Which makes it all the more delicious for me. 😉

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The Bomb: A New HistoryThe Bomb: A New History by Stephen M. Younger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A lot of people seem to like this book, and it’s not that it’s not good — it is. It provides a solid history of how it came to be and what has happened since with some good technical details thrown in. And for those not already familiar with such information, it’s a good primer. However, in terms of the author’s present worldview, recent worldview, future worldview, again, while I don’t necessarily disagree, it simply seems a bit dated and it’s hard to believe this was published merely a decade or so ago, because this feels most definitely like an immediate post-Cold War book to me, and one wonders where the author has been the past 20 years… It’s like he hasn’t kept up with the changes he didn’t anticipate, or couldn’t have in 1990, but which were already taking place before he even published this book. Which again begs the question — are his assessments of present geopolitical conditions, military strategies, hegemonies, etc., accurate not only at the time of publication but today? I think most would argue, NO, they weren’t and aren’t. I feel fairly confident I could, most certainly. Which then begs the question of if he was and is so off base in his understanding of the present dynamics and his predictions of future dynamics and geopolitical likelihoods, how do we know how much to trust from this book, and further, is this book of any current relevant value? As a historical primer, it’s fairly well done. As a “New History,” it fails miserably. There are many better books out there and thus this is most definitely NOT remotely recommended.

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DeliveranceDeliverance by James Dickey
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

God, I can’t tell you how much I hate this book, nor how much disdain I have for Dickey. He represents, for me, everything that is wrong with both southern literary fiction and general “acceptable” and virtually ordained “literary fiction,” per the academic establishment officially set up to define what is “acceptable” and what is not “acceptable.” Gotta love these people claiming the title of judge and decider of such things so they can dictate not only to virtually all English professors what they can and can’t teach but to all students what is accepted and what is not. As well as to discriminate between those worthy of NEA grants, inclusion into the Academy of American Poets (yes, I was a member for years), etc. I recall asking a professor as an undergrad why we always had to study Dickey, Faulkner, Wharton, etc., but never Kerouac, Ginsberg, Rexroth, Bukowski, etc. The scorn was palpable as I received a lecture on true and acceptable literary work and its craft and value versus populist drivel writers. I recall thinking that very narrow minded, but as I continued in my academic studies, research, publishing, later teaching and even later deciding I hated the academic bullshit and got out of there, I’ve come to conclude the majority of these academic sheeple don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, are just trumpeting the party line, seem to think themselves worthy critics yet aren’t good enough to write and publish anything as good as, not only the authors they teach, but the extremely popular and successful writers they diss. Those who can’t write teach, yes? There’s a reason that saying came into being decades ago. And obviously it’s not that some English and writing professors don’t write or publish, but I’ve rarely met any who A) were successful at publishing more than a couple of small quickly forgotten useless pieces of academic, literary mainstream pathetic crap or B) who were successful at publishing more than a few books, and generally were well written, well crafted, but in the vein of much literary fiction/poetry, just flat out boring as crap. I recall when I was publishing prolifically one journal standing out especially as a stereotypical university journal that I hated so much, as did many of my friends and colleagues. The Southern Humanities Review, I believe, would often have issues that were full of little but poems with titles like “sunset at deer lake” or “robin at rest” or “sunrise at ‘x” mountain,” etc. It’s like, have none of you academic writers ever ventured outside your ivory towers or gone anywhere besides rural America? Do you love Walden that much? Because that’s not been my life nor the life of many I know and maybe that’s why I was always initially drawn to Sandberg’s Chicago poems and the grittiness of ACTUAL reality for so many people, followed by both reality and actual creativity and talent in Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind (the biggest selling book of poetry in US history), or Ginsberg’s infamous “Howl” and especially nearly any of Bukowski’s books. The fact that he was one of America’s most prolific poets, most successful and popular poets, and a continual best selling author in many other countries around the world, and that countless books have been written about him, movies made from his books and about him as well, etc., is irrelevant to those in charge of teaching, instructing and molding the minds and skills of students when in fact, virtually none of these people have the talent, skills, success and credits to even compete at all with Buk seems lost on them. Which should show you enough about their intelligence, knowledge and critical abilities. Crap, I really don’t know or care how good or not Deliverance is. It’s just always represented and been a symbol of all I view as wrong with the canon. It’s not that I think the topics they write about or some of the writers aren’t good or legit. I just take issue with these assholes simply casually dismissing non-rural, gritty populist fiction and poetry as illegitimate merely because so many of these deal with topics, issues, people, cities they dislike or don’t want to dirty their pristine hands with because I guess they’re too damn delicate to enter actual REAL life that so many millions in this country face every day, as opposed to their fairy tales spun and regurgitated as the only life experiences that contain validity. I’ve often wondered how these people would survive and what they would then write if they were placed in John Fante’s life, Bukowski’s life, Antler’s, my own for that matter… I would wager many of them simply couldn’t make it. Yeah, if you buy into the brainwashing, this book may be for you, and if you legitimately enjoy southern fiction or “legitimate” literary fiction, this book may be for you and more power to you. However, I’d implore any and all of you to not close your mind to others not in the “official” canon because if you haven’t stepped outside of the imposed boundaries, you might find yourself surprised by the creativity and talent out there. And you might not want to go back…

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Collected PoemsCollected Poems by Philip Larkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never really enjoyed or appreciated poetry — especially that of the “masters” they continually shoved down your throat year after year throughout your educational experience. I mean, is there any official academic ban of a little damn diversity in poets and poetry being taught??? I recall asking a couple of professors why we never read or studied certain prominent poets and got the reply that they weren’t worthy of it, weren’t good enough to take seriously, etc. So while I have far too much education and too many degrees, the fact is as always, tradition academics devoid of open minds and creativity continually decide the appropriate “canon,” simply by recycling the same shit every year. I grew to hate Dylan Thomas with a passion, felt like puking when reading Plath, took years for me to appreciate Yeats, etc. If they didn’t cram it down your throat every year, I don’t think I would have been a poetry-hating English major! Thankfully, one professor quietly pointed me to Larkin as a poet who might appeal to me, and he was right! While not every poem resonated with me, I found relief in Larkin and simply quality poetry that was generally overlooked or ignored in academia. Naturally, I read everything of his that I could. LOL! It wasn’t too long, though, before I stumbled across the two poets who would both shape my own life and my own writing: Ferlinghetti and Bukowski, both of whom I had the pleasure of later meeting and getting to know and I will always treasure the various autographed books and other things they each gave me, but I’ve often wondered if I would have even found them, let alone come to appreciate them so much, if it weren’t for Larkin in the first place. I continue to remain grateful to him and his poetry for helping me to turn away from my hatred of poetry by realizing that there were many legitimate alternatives from the same old dusty boring “masters” forever taught in the schools and who gives a damn what some Ivory Tower academic says about what is or is not acceptable quality — it’s purely subjective, and the fact is, both Ferlinghetti and Bukowski have been far more popular and successful than any other American poets, with the sole possible exception of Ginsberg. If you haven’t read Larkin, do so and I think you may find yourself surprised at what you read, ideally in a positive way. Obviously recommended.

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Last Exit to BrooklynLast Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is without doubt one of my favorite novels of the so-called Accepted literary canon. I also think it’s Selby’s best work. Loved it a bunch, but I’ve always gone that way, whether it was Sandburg and his grim Chicago streets or John Fante in downtown LA or Bukowski on skid row and most of William Burroughs’ early work, like Junky and Queer. Of course, there’s the so-called “shock” factor. I guess academics (and I was one for many years) are a bunch of wussies then, because if they think this one is rough, there’s much rougher out there and just for shock value alone, I invite anyone to read de Sade’s Juliette. I read it in college and it blew my mind. The cool thing about that one is besides the sickness and perversion, de Sade goes into a great deal of philosophical thought/dialogue that should make many of the Enlightenment crowd pretty impressed. So twice the bang for your buck! Seriously, if anyone thinks this is too shocking (and they do), they’ve been sticking too closely with Jane Austen (whom I like), and ought to get their intellectual feet wet beyond the kiddie pool. Strongly recommended!

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Leaving LinkedIn. Hopefully Some New & Diverse Blog Posts Here…

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

I am coming to the conclusion I may finally terminate my LinkedIn account after 15 years there. There are a number of reasons and it both pains and saddens me, but I see no viable alternative. I’ve worked hard over 15 years to build the largest very high-quality network on the platform, and by most accounts, I did pretty well. I have 19,910 followers at the moment (really wanted to reach 20K very badly), of whom about 55% are senior execs and some 40% C-level execs, and in every industry that exists in over 160 countries, at the highest levels of commerce, government, military, science, etc. But for some reason — and I have my theories — after being a huge ambassador for LI for a decade and a half, they turned on me last year — and I’m a PAYING customer! — and started to arbitrarily and punitively harass and “punish” me for alleged rule violations that tens of millions of people do everyday but on a far worse basis than I ever did, and with the company’s full knowledge and blessing. And for a year, I’ve interacted with these customer service pukes and it’s like talking to a damn brick wall! They refuse to respond to anything I say, assert, allege, ask, to send me to colleagues or supervisors or even their Legal department, to defend their blatant hypocrisy in their absurdly inconsistent enforcement of alleged rules they continually cite, but which are not at all on one document they cite and it’s hidden beneath generic links on the other they cite, so no one could ever find it, and they just robotically intone the same idiot sentence or two repeatedly, regardless of my question, assertion, statement, topic, allegation, etc. It’s like they’re brain dead zombies! I have a lot more to say, but this wasn’t originally going to be my topic, so I’ll end this part. Suffice it to say though that I’ve NEVER been this stonewalled, this ignored, this shit on by any company in the world and I think it speaks very ill of them, especially since they’re lying hypocrites. I expected more from a company such as theirs. If I still had my health, time, energy, strength, stamina and the money I once had before my medical bills decimated it, I would literally sue them — and I would win! I’ve never lost a lawsuit and I’ve sworn to go to my grave with that record intact. I’m confident it wouldn’t be too hard to prove my allegations against them, and despite what their terms say in regards to litigation damage maximums, a good attorney will get around that, and I would be looking for millions….

In any event, I often post links to interesting articles on a variety of topics there, and I often add my own commentary or thoughts or opinion. And sometimes I’ll just write a much longer independent article, again about various topics. Some of my posts don’t get too many views, but many get quite a few, and some get a large number. I posted about the Capital One Hacker a few days ago and got about 650 views. Then I posted about how the DoD has banned military personnel from using CBD, even though it’s federally legal in all 50 states. That one got closer to 2,000 views. Some of my posts have exceeded 15,000, 20,000+ views, but those are rare. And it’s always hard to predict which ones people will find interesting.

The point of all of this rambling that as I take several days to extracate myself from LinkedIn, I may stop posting pieces there and start posting them here. I don’t have a fraction of the followers or readers, but that doesn’t matter. I post on things I find interesting and hope others will too. If they don’t, they don’t. If they do, they’re definitely welcome.

Cheers!

Scott

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Some Blog Site Changes

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 5, 2019

While I’m having a hard time finding the strength, energy, time, etc., to write many blogs, to write any articles, book reviews or much of anything, as well as rare new difficulties doing things I’ve always done and taken for granted my whole life, such as simply reading, playing computer games, watching shows or films, paying bills, walking, swallowing, and well the list is endless. And the time I spend online and using my computers has diminished by a shocking degree, which saddens me. Nonetheless, I am capable of making a few changes here and there, things that aren’t time intensive or brain taxing, such as edit or modify this blog, and make occasional changes at LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Discogs. So I wanted to briefly let you know about a few things I’ve done here.

It may not be apparent that I’ve done anything, which is understandable since I haven’t changed the theme or general layout. That said, I actually HAVE made some changes to the layout, or more precisely, I’ve eliminated some of the sideboard items (Twitter and Instagram feeds), edited my blogroll, added to my right side “Music” category with a few other minor additions or deletions in various sections on the sidebars. I’ve also updated and added some Pages, which are the topical tabs at the top of my blog (“About,” “Contact,” “Favorite Books” and so on). I’ve been trying to modify and lessen my digital footprints for several reasons and dating back to last year and before. Some of the actions I’ve taken have been to delete my Facebook account, the most important of them all. Followed by the termination of two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts, a few others that were somewhat similar, and most recently, and at a painfully slow pace, trying to get away from Google’s clutches! I feel strongly about this and have for a number of years. There are many variables, but ultimately I’ve known for a long time that Facebook’s business model consists entirely of data mining their users’ personal information and using this to attract advertisers or selling it to various highest bidders. They offer no products, make nothing tangible, are essentially useless as a commodity — except for the massive amount of personal data they’ve constantly harvested from every user (and even non-users!) to sell to those willing to pay. And as the world found out, adversarial states are more than willing to pay insane amounts in efforts to destabilize other countries, their governments and organizations such as NATO, the EU, etc. And everyone has jumped on that bandwagon right after that. I’ve stopped using any Chrome or Chromium-based web browsers, terminated my Blogger account, my YouTube account, two Gmail/Google accounts (with one more major one to go), no longer use Google Maps or even its search engine, among other things. There are alternatives to all that don’t involve any known data mining, spying, storing, analyzing, and selling ALL of your personal data, which until recently, was the exact same business model of Facebook’s.

(For those of you with their heads in the sand the past few years and you’re unaware of the dangers posed by Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and sadly Amazon, among others, I encourage you to research this. I’m going to provide you with a few helpful links for those of you who wish to avoid Google as much as possible. Not perfect, a little rough around the edges, some of these, but sometimes you have to sacrifice things like convenience to save and salvage your privacy, etc. For starters, here’s an article on Google and privacy dangers, another on 20 alternative Windows web browsers to help you get away from the major norms, a basic article titled “How to leave Google behind,” and a similar one called “Drop Google” with more links to more Google alternatives that I’ve found pretty helpful.)

OK, the last half of this post was not intended to be the tangent it turned out to be. Just mentioning some changes, start giving a seminar. Sorry.

The main change is this: I belong to literally dozens of various professional associations and organizations for many different reasons. Indeed, I’ve also belonged to a number of other, different ones at various times in the past. And when people see this list of over three dozen active organizations in which I’m a member, most express a great deal of surprise at the variety and diversity of career fields, specific professional categories, and more seen there. So I decided to post these here, with links to each one’s website, preceded by an explanation, of sorts, attempting to provide a partial story that might help make sense of it. And I created this, not as a blog Post, but as a permanent Page as one of the tabs at the top of this blog, beside the ones I mentioned earlier, and others. As it is the newest Page, it’s located on the right end of the row of Pages at the top of the blog and is easily accessible. It’s simply titled “Professional Organizations” and I encourage everyone to check it out as it borders on being truly bizarre. Look at it and you’ll see why!

OK, I’m done. I’m worn out. I promised Gretchen I would go to bed tonight, but I didn’t/haven’t, instead staying up to post something on LinkedIn and to write this. It takes me much longer to do anything these days, especially writing, which is one of the reasons I write so very little now. I started at 12:30 AM and it’s now 4:30 AM. Not going to bed now. And I’ll be very fatigued tomorrow/today, as I am typically every day now and I’ve also been sick for quite awhile, which has really worn me out. As I think I recently mentioned, I stopped blogging a couple of years ago for one year because I went through such an insanely nightmarish year regarding my health. Up til that point, I had accumulated a decent number of followers, many of whom commented and interacted with me. However, in the year since I returned, I’ve only been able to post sporadically and even though I basically still have the same number of followers, even on days I post something, I no longer get virtually any hits, likes or comments. It was discouraging, but I feel I understand why and I don’t blame anyone or hold it against anyone. So this huge amount of time I just spent writing this was likely a complete waste of time energy and resulted in a complete lack of sleep, and virtually no one will see or read this and no one will comment, so I’ve been asking myself Should I Continue when I’m only writing for myself and I think I’ve concluded Yes. I’ve been blogging since 2003, generally enjoy it, and if nothing else, I can treat it as my own public occasional diary for future reference of what I was doing or thinking at a certain point in time. And that’s good enough. So, if anyone sees this, thanks for reading and have a great day. For those of you who do not see this, there’s obviously no need to say anything, so I’ve alerted you all to my new Page. I hope at least one person will eventually see it and find it interesting. Thanks and cheers!

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Visit Some Of My Updated Social Media Sites

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 30, 2018

Hi! I haven’t been blogging as much as I want to, nor have I been as active on some sites like I’d prefer to be, but lately I have been more active on some of my social media and other sites, and I thought I’d let you know about them.

Years ago, I got caught up in the Pinterest craze, created some boards, and pinned quite a few things to my boards. I developed a good number of followers, especially for a couple of my boards, such as my Amazing Men’s Watches board.

Well, for whatever reason, I got tired of it and haven’t been back in a long time. Like four years. 4 years! I was last active on the site in 2014. For some reason, a couple of months ago, it occurred to me to go visit my site, and I suddenly became interested again and started pinning new things to my boards. In fact, I’ve gotten so into it, I’ve created a number of new boards, and I’ve pinned quite a few things to them. And I’ve slowly been getting a few new followers here and there, so that’s been nice. I now have 18 boards with over 2,500 pins! While my watch board remains my most popular, with 368 pins and 524 followers, I’m particularly fond of some of my new boards and have been busy pinning pics, etc, to those especially. Among them are boards entitled Art I Like (262 pins as of today), Favorite TV Shows (58 pins as of today), and Boutique Computers (245 pins as of today). My Sports board has 8 sections with 459 pins. Some other, original, popular boards include Music, Musicians & Bands, Cute Animals, Books Worth Reading, and Places To Visit. So, please come check out my Pinterest boards, and feel free to follow me. Also, if you have a Pinterest site, let me know where I can find it and I’ll check yours out!

Another site I’ve been very active on for the past year and a half is Discogs, the audiophile’s online music site. I’ve bought and sold a number of really great items there, and among the great things about that site is, not only do they have just about every album ever made in their database, with most having copies for sales by people all over the world, but you can get great deals and find out the media and sleeve gradings, join discussion groups, and put your collection on your site for people to see. And one of the cool things about that last bit is Discogs will list the value for your collection, and in Minimum, Median, and Maximum value. I actually just got rid of triple digits of albums, so my collection is actually one of the smaller ones I’ve seen on the site, but I’m still proud of it because I have some good, rare, and valuable items, which is totally cool. Some of my more rare items include a Russian version of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, a Greek Public Enemy album, a Portuguese Depeche Mode album, a rare red vinyl Czech Iron Maiden album, a Chinese Linkin Park CD (which technically does not exist — I had to work hard to find it and get it out of China for a customer, who then didn’t want to pay the bucks for it…), German and Australian editions of Gary Numan’s debut Tubeway Army album, an old French Devo EP, and many more. I currently have 823 albums listed, with a Median value of $6,920.90 and a Maximum value of $11,883.21. You also are rated on your purchases and any sales you make, and it’s strongly recommended to try to maintain a high rating. In fact, they’ll kick you off the site if your rating drops too low. Fortunately, my ratings as both buyer and seller are 100%, so that’s awesome. I’ve worked hard to satisfy everyone I deal with there. The only thing that bugs me is everyone is supposed to provide “feedback” (ratings) for every buyer and seller, but I’ve sold quite a few items on the site and only about a third of my buyers ever bothered giving me feedback, even though most sent me private messages expressing satisfaction. But it looks like I haven’t sold much there, which isn’t the case. I used to have a large listing of items for sale, triple digits, but selling became too time and labor-intensive, and my health has become so bad over the past five months, that I basically shut that down and now I have just five items listed for sale. Still, I’d love it if any of you went to my Discogs site and looked at my profile, as well as my collection. Let me know if you do, and let me know if you have a profile and collection there, so I can go check those out. You can find my Discogs profile here, and my collection here.

I’ve also been fairly active on Goodreads — but not active enough. The site reports 1,467 books on my bookshelf there, with 1,061 read, 207 to be read, and 199 that I’m allegedly currently reading! Now, I’ve always read numerous books simultaneously — I have a system — and I have indeed let it get out of hand, but I’m certainly not in the middle of 199 books at the moment. A number of those books are ones I’ve finished, but haven’t had or made the time to review yet, and hence list them as Read. I’ve got several stacks of print and Kindle books to review. That being said, I probably AM in the middle of over 100 – 120 books right now, with me actively reading about 40-50 on a semi-daily basis. I read a few chapters of one book, switch to another and do the same, and continue on. And I get into phases, so that for several months, I was mostly reading religious, philosophical, and scientific books, other months nearly only sci fi books, other months mostly biographies, but lately it’s been a hodge podge of stuff — a combination of technology, biography, sci fi, business, history, nonfiction, and technical/scientific books that are mostly military in nature (electronic warfare, nuclear, etc.). As you know, I sometimes post some of my book reviews I write here on this blog, but I don’t do that for every book or every review — just some of them. So if you’re interested in my reviews, go check out my Read section (my most recent completed books are Philip Matyszak’s “Sparta: Rise of a Warrior Nation,” John Hernandez’s “How To Become A NFL Sports Agent,” and Joseph Siracusa’s “Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction.”), and if you’re interested in what I’m currently reading, go here (the newest books I’ve started reading are “The Holy Bible” –  ESV version, “The Quran,” “802.11ac,” and “Basic Security Testing With Kali Linux.”), and if you’d like to see what I’ve got lined up, go here (They’re ordered from oldest, chronologically, to most recently added to the list. My most recently added are Thomas Asbridge’s “The Greatest Knight,” Andrea De Martino’s “Introduction to Modern EW Systems,” Will Storr’s “Selfie,” Gordon Colbach’s “Wireless Networking,” Michael Steer’s “Microwave and RF Design,” Mark Richards’ “Fundamentals of Radar Signal Processing.”) and also, feel free to check out my Author’s profile page, and feel free to send me a friend request. Also, if you have a Goodreads’ site, let me know so I can check it out!

I’ve also been active on other sites, only two of which I’ll briefly mention. As some of you may know, over two years ago, Gretchen and I founded a small technology startup, which has gone through changes, difficulties, evolutions, and is currently on hiatus due to my extremely poor health. The name of the company is WireMe Designs, LLC. The original business model is described on the website, but it’s evolved this year to focus more on consulting, and we thus had a new website created early this summer to reflect that. It’d be awesome if you checked it out, and let me know what you think. Greatly appreciated. You can find it at https://wiremedesigns.com. Secondly, if you look back over my blog here, you’ll note I wrote a couple of posts in May about my LinkedIn site and profile, and my experience to date on building my network in both quantity and quality. Well, it’s gone REALLY big since then, and I intend to try to find the time to write a post about it here with updated information. When I last wrote about it, I had expanded my network from a little over 400 people in January to over 3,300 in mid-May, listing 171 “notable” connections, including the CEO of Symantec, the president of Dell, the CTO of the ATF, several major UN connections, the CISO of Nissan, CISO of US Department of Education, CIO of USDA, CFO of Sprint, CISO of IBM, and CISO of The White House.

Well, as I said, my network has seriously EXPLODED since then, and as of this morning, I now have over 11,600 connections and it’s a VERY high-quality network, with 44% of my connections being senior executives, many of them C-level executives. I now have the highest connections at nearly every company in most major civilian industries, nearly a thousand US and international military connections, many of them generals, at the Pentagon, and even on the Joint Chiefs. I also have over 1,600 federal and international government connections at the highest levels, including most agency leaders, intelligence agency executives, the Senate, House, dozens of people at The White House, a dozen directors and above on the National Security Council, connections in so many countries that I have no idea, hundreds of connections at the European Parliament and European Commission, Interpol, NATO, nuclear connections in over 45 countries, numerous ambassadors — foreign and domestic — and about 75 connections at the UN, including several on the UN Security Council, and executives in the Secretary General’s office. It’s truly stunning. It just keeps growing, and as a result, I’ve been offered some mind blowing opportunities in a number of areas. And, as as for recent “notable” connections, I now have over 1,400 listed, among them recently the CLO of Sony, COO of Universal Music Group Nashville, CIO KraftHeinz, CIO of AIG, CIO of Nike, CPO of Shell, CFO of NBC Sports, CPO of the US Navy, CTO of HP, CTO of WebMD, CSO of Fidelity Investments, CTO/CIO of AAA, and the CDO of GE. Simply amazing. So, feel free to check my LinkedIn profile out, send me a connection request with a personal message to let me know who you are and how you found me, and a link to your profile if you have one.

I could keep writing more, but I’m not well and this has taken too long and tired me out, so I need to stop. I hope some of you will check these sites out, as well as others, which you can find on a page located at the top of my blog called Find Me Here… It’s got links to Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as others. You can catch up on me in many ways, even though I haven’t been blogging here very often. Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me here, and for the comments. I appreciate all of you very much, and feel free to remind me to visit your blogs, because I’m bad about that and I admit it. Something I need to work on. I hope everyone is having a good weekend and cheers!

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Two Near-Death Experiences & Changes

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 18, 2018

Hello. I’ve been meaning to blog about some events that happened to me this summer, but I haven’t found the time, energy, stamina, etc. But I wrote a post and published it on LinkedIn this morning, and I’m going to provide the link for it here. It’s called “Major Changes.” It details how I suffered two near-death experiences in June and July, how recovery has been largely non-existant, how things keep happening to me, and how I’m unable to do any projects, gigs, favors, or even travel, for months. I’m hoping to be in a much better place by Christmas, but that remains to be seen. I may not make it to Christmas the way things have been going.

While I still have a decent number of blog subscribers here, since I essentially went an entire year without blogging (due to extremely poor health), I’m afraid I’ve lost most of my readers, so I really don’t know that too many people will read this or care, but for the few of you who will, thanks. And I’d like to blog more often — truly. It’s just really hard to find the time, energy, stamina, etc., when you feel the way I’ve been feeling for months. So, my apologies. I hope you are all doing well, and I’ll “see” you guys later. Cheers!

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A New Music Blog Post Today!

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 1, 2018

Hi! I wrote a blog post on Scott’s Music Shak today. It’s about buying online music from independent dealers vs. Big Box sites like Amazon, eBay, and the like. I think I make some good points, but I’m biased. If you get a chance, go read it. And please, feel free to leave a comment. I’m not getting enough comments from people, and can’t figure out why. They’re emailing me, just not commenting on my blogs. And by the way, I implemented a new promotion today which you’ll see if you visit my site. If you sign up for my email list, found at the bottom of any page, you’ll receive semi-regular email newsletters containing a discount code for 10% off your first purchase over the next week. I intend to do this regularly. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to hear about sales, new items, new collectibles, new blog posts, and more. So, please consider signing up for the email list and joining in that way. Thanks! Without further ado, I leave you with “The Benefits of Buying Music from an Independent Online Dealer vs. Big Online Stores.” Cheers!

Scott's Music Shak

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Scott’s Music Shak: My New Music/Audio Shop & Website

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 30, 2018

Hi all! It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about my newish music selling business (Feb. 21), letting you in on some of the stuff I’ve been doing for the past six months, and providing links to my then-seven online shops. Well, I’ve made some changes. I’ve closed down two of the shops (on Bonanza and e-Record Fair) and I’ve created my own new music and audio website! I’m very excited about it. It’s called Scott’s Music Shak and it’s now open for business! If you don’t want to click the link I’ve supplied in this sentence, the URL is: https://scottsmusicshak.com/. It’s mainly a shop, and features a number of “Collections,” where most music lovers should be able to find something that interests them. I’ve only put in some initial inventory, but I’m going to be adding more on a near-daily basis. The Collections are “Vinyl,” “CDs,” “Cassettes,” “Accessories & Components,” “Rare & Collector’s Items,” and “Under $10.” I also display some Featured items at the top of the homepage, while I have a live Instagram feed at the bottom of the homepage. The Collections are toward the bottom of the home page, while a link to my entire Catalog is in the menu at the top of the homepage. At this point, I have 63 items in my Catalog, but I’m going to adding hundreds. It’s very time consuming to do so, so I can only add so many per day.

In addition to my catalog, there’s an “About” section, a section on the Goldmine Grading Standard, my Terms, and a “Blog/News” section, where I posted something today (“Are You Truly An Audiophile?“), as a matter of fact. Indeed, I’d be grateful to anyone who headed over there to check my Blog/News section out and possibly leave any comments, should they wish to. I’d also be grateful to anyone who wanted to suggest things I should add or delete or change or create (if possible), etc. I’ve done most that I can, but I could always potentially do a few other things. Finally, I’d love a couple of sales, if anyone feels extra supportive or inspired. I’m still learning how these transactions work. On my other shops that I’ve had (and I still have a few, though I’ll probably be closing or changing 1-3 others), the platform/website I’ve used has always handled the transactions automatically, sending me emails and texts when a new sale came in. This system is a little different and I have to be more proactive in how I go about things, so there’s a bit of a learning curve. I guess you could say I need and would appreciate some practice. LOL!

 

Scott's Music Shak

 

Anyway, I just wanted to announce the opening of my new website. I’m pretty excited about Scott’s Music Shak, and I have high hopes for it. I’ve done fairly well in a couple of my shops and I’d like to transfer my success to this website. Please come visit and feel free to leave comments or email me or do anything you want there! Cheers!

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A Great New Food Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 26, 2018

Hi! This is a bit of a plug, so please forgive me, but my wife, Gretchen, has started a new food blog called “Vital Vittles – Food Trends: culinary finds for foodies,” and I think I lot of people who are “foodies” or into food and/or cooking might enjoy it. In case that link didn’t work for you, you can find it at: http://www.vitalvittlesfoodtrends.com/.

On her homepage, she writes “I’m Gretchen –  a food enthusiast and part-time blogger. It seems like every time I go to the grocery store, I find more and more choices! The choices we have today are almost overwhelming. Food trends come and go and with these trends, major food companies compete for our hard earned dollars. I provide some help in this blog with my unbiased reviews and comparisons. Comments are always appreciated, especially if you have anything to add to help others decide if that new food product is worth the money.”

So she reviews various food products, with plenty of photographs so you know exactly what she’s writing about, how it looks, how it might look partially cooked even, and occasionally she’ll get a “picky eater” taste tester to compare to her own observations. Among the items she’s reviewed lately are DelMonte Fruit & Chia, Green Giant Veggie Spirals – Zucchini, Forager greens pressed vegetable chips, Hostess Bakery Petites, and more. For whatever reason, she’s been getting a decent amount of “Likes,” but not too many comments, so if you visit her blog and read some reviews you find interesting, I’d encourage you to comment, leave a question, anything really. She’d like to make this more of a two way conversation, I believe.

Well, I’ve always known she’s a darn good cook, and I’ve been encouraging her to write a book or at least some articles for publication for awhile now. She’s one of the most creative people in the kitchen I’ve ever met, taking recipes and modifying them every time, a little different, always experimenting, always good outcomes. She may not have written her book yet, but this is at least a foray into writing about various foods, and the reviews seem good to me, so again, hop on over to her site and read a few. You may learn a few things and find it interesting in general. She and I certainly hope so! Thanks a lot for reading this plug, and please consider helping her out with more readers, likes, and comments. One note: her blogging platform doesn’t allow for followers, which is a major annoyance, but it does have an RSS feed, and you can always bookmark her blog if you like it. And if you do like it, check it several times a week, because she tries to write new blog posts 2-3 times per week, which keeps her busy. Okay, that’s enough from me. Go check her out, with many thanks. Have a good one!  — Scott

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Subtle Changes To My Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 2, 2018

Hi All,

I haven’t written a new blog post since the last one, but I’ve been working on updating my blog. I was nosing around some of my PAGES (as opposed to Posts) and was horrified at how out of date some of the information was. For instance, my beloved wife of five years was still listed as my “girlfriend!” Geez. That’s bad. So, I spent some time updating some of my sections, and I thought I would key in any of you who might be interesting in seeing or reading over the changes.

First of all, I changed the About section at the top (upper left) section of the page. While I retained some of the older material, I both updated it (from one cat to two) and added some newer relevant material (entrepreneur, audiophile, etc.). So, if you want an updated bio to find out where I’m at these days, there you have it.

I also added some books to my Favorite Books section. Two new novels, one new work of nonfiction, five new science fiction novels, and one I call a “Straggler,” that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I don’t have links for all of these books to Goodreads or Amazon, and maybe I should, and I really don’t think I have the time to do so, but it’s a good idea I just thought of, but in the meantime, there are some good books listed there that might appeal to a lot of people, so feel free to check them out.

One of the biggest changes I made was to my Find Me Here section. First of all, some of the websites and social media sites were outdated to the point of no longer existing, so I had to make some edits. Secondly, I had sites listed followed by hyperlinks. So 2013. I thought why not make the site words themselves the hyperlinks? That’s only the obvious thing to do. So that’s what I did! Check that page out, please!!! You’ll notice two Instagrams and two Twitters. That’s because I have an individual account for each and a music business site for each. They’re both listed separately to make it easy to know which you’d be accessing. I have 13 links/sites listed there at the moment, and while there are more I may add in the near future, I thought that was a good place to start. And I need followers on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter music business pages, so please feel free to drop by and follow me in those places. Also, feel free to make recommendations or requests, because I’m totally open to all.

Next, I briefly updated my Penguins Fan Page, although not by much. It essentially takes you to my website, to my Pens fan page there, but it also admits that it’s not up to date, and that I want and need to update it, and I plan to as soon as I find the time. Not too much there, and I won’t blame you if you don’t feel like visiting that page, although I’d be grateful if you would, obviously.

Finally, as far as my PAGES went, I made substantial changes to the My Sports Teams page. I made a lot of additions, with links to all of the teams I follow. I added an MLB team, three NCAA football “teams of interest,” two NCAA men’s basketball teams, a second women’s basketball team, a second women’s softball team, a second women’s volleyball team, and two NFL “teams of interest” as well. All in all, there are 25 teams listed for 10 sports, ranging from high school to college to the pros. If you enjoy sports at all, by all means, check that page out and feel free to leave comments!

Okay. Those are the changes I made to my PAGES at the top of my blog. But I didn’t stop there. I made more changes to the lists and widgets on either side of my main blog wall. On the left, I changed my Twitter feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak. So too, I changed the Instagram feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak also.

On the right side of my blog, I deleted some obsolete blogs in the Blogroll, added a couple of Bookstores, and made some significant changes to the Music section, where I deleted over a half dozen groups, such as Hungry Lucy and Unto Ashes, while adding over a dozen new groups, such as KMFDM, Rammstein, Pet Shop Boys, Within Temptation, Flora Purim, Neal Schon and others, AND I added a number of audio companies, largely audiophile-quality companies for those interested in such things, such as Bryston, Klipsch, Pro-Ject, Krell, Rega, and others. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can find anything from affordable entry level audiophile-quality turntables from Pro-Ject for $500 to Bryston amps for $6,500 to a Rega RP-10 turntable for $7,000 all the way to the new McIntosh XRT2.1K loudspeaker system for a small, little $130,000/pair. Yeah, you read that right. But hey, if you’re a REAL audiophile, you find ways to feed your obsession, right? Heh. Finally, I added a new section called Boutique Computers, listing some of my favorite custom designed and built computers and the companies that make them beneath the heading. It’s a long story and the subject for a blog post some time, but suffice it to say that after experiencing some unexpected tech disasters in the spring of 2017, I decided to go high end with the idea of very high end for a very long time with the goal of expandability, so I had a “boutique” computer custom built for me, realized I had been short sighted and that it wasn’t sufficiently expandable, returned it, had another with 34 drive bays started being built by the same company, but work on it got bogged down, I grew impatient with what I viewed as their ineptitude, so I cancelled our contract, and I went elsewhere. I ended up with a Xidax X-8 Glacier, the specs of which are pretty awesome. I could have gone even more awesome, and maxed out some rigs to see how much it would cost to go uber awesome. The Falcon Northwest Mach V maxed out at $24,000 while the Digital Storm Aventum was just about $30,000! For a tricked out PC. One that would still be tricked out five years from now. But the Xidax I got cost a great deal less and will still be a quality computer five years from now and has enough storage capacity to last me at least 10 years or more, and that’s what I was looking for after a quality processor and quality GPUs. Anyway, like I said, a story for a different blog post….

And I guess that’s about it. For now. Next, I’m going to have to write another “real” blog post, eh? I’ll try to do so sooner than it took me last time. By the way, in my last post, I mentioned that I have seven online shops at the moment, although I’m trying to close two of them. I’m also considering opening my own e-commerce-based website, my own shop, and shutting down all but one of these shops (because this one, on an audiophile site, gives me lots of sales), but that would be a major commitment, both in time and money, and I’d lose the global audience that’s built into some of these sites for the uncertainty of people not ever knowing about or ever finding my own new site. So, it’s a bit of a gamble. But I wouldn’t have to pay all of these fees for transactions, I wouldn’t get banned from listing items because I’ve allegedly listed “too many” of a certain type — when I’ve never listed ANY of that type before! — I’d have complete control over my inventory and pricing, my marketing and promotion, and my social media sites could all point to my website instead of my Facebook site — which has not translated into sales at all — and ideally, if I could get people to jump to a “landing page” on my site and enter their email for a discount or a promotion of some sort, I’d be able to send out email newsletters on a semi-regular basis, maybe weekly or bi-weekly, offering both tips and promotions, which is what you’re supposed to be doing to get sales, according to all the data. So, if anyone reading this has any opinion on this gamble, I’d love to hear it. I think longterm, the good outweighs the bad, but upfront, it would be a massive timesuck, a hell of a commitment, and I’d have to work very hard to get people to notice this site. But it couldn’t be any worse than several shops I have right now, so I don’t see what I have to lose in that regard. I really only have 2-3 sites where I’m selling anything, really only two, and I’d be glad to dump the rest in exchange for full control over my own inventory, pricing, shipping, listings, promotions, everything. Lemme know your thoughts and thanks!

Okay, have a great weekend everyone. Cheers!

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An Overdue Overall Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2017

12/31/17

Hi. Last day of 2017 and I’ve blogged almost nothing at all this year. I regret that, but it’s been the toughest year, toughest two years, of my life and I haven’t had the ability to blog or even write book reviews like I once did. I started an “Update” blog about 6-7 weeks ago, but never got very far, and have been horribly ill for a week, and don’t have the strength to finish it, but I’m determined to write a blog post for 2017. I’m including what I had gotten done last month at the bottom of this post, but am just going to give a brief synopsis here to let those of you still reading this blog know I’m still alive.

2016: I had 8 minor surgeries, most on my back. I had at least 33 tests and procedures that were diagnostic tests for my stomach ailments alone, the final result being I was ultimately tested for the rarest of diseases into 2017 with no results, leaving the doctors to discard me and wish me the best. I also had at least two strokes in the fall, the second of which was pretty major and continues to impact me to the present. Before the strokes, I had lost the ability to drive, and became largely homebound except for 2-3 medical appointments a week, every week, for which I took either a city disabled van or taxis. I had to start walking with a cane in late spring. The strokes impacted me in various ways, as my memory started to fail, and I lost my balance and coordination, resulting in numerous, regular falls. I was also on 3 of the 5 strongest pain medications in the world, whose side effects messed me up, but none of which really helped me. I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications of any type around November 2015.

2017: This year, I’ve only had two minor surgeries for my back, both failures. I was scheduled for a third, but the surgeon refused to do it, saying it’d be useless. Gretchen and I later met with the chief surgeon who said even a major surgery would not only be ineffective, but counterproductive, and he refused to perform any. He recommended as my only realistic hope an experimental and dangerous brain surgery that is hard to find and obtain. More on that in a minute. Before that, I started to experience more falls and greater memory impairment and even total memory loss, progressively, day by day. We explored getting me a home health aide, part time, but can’t afford one. I’m now wearing one of those fall alert pendants. Gretchen’s worried she’s going to come home from work and find me at the bottom of the stairs with a broken neck. I started having bizarre “episodes” — don’t know what else to call them — beginning March 31, in which I woke up and started wandering around the house at 3 AM, disoriented and unable to control myself, resulting in 15 falls, the last of which Gretchen witnessed as I tripped in the dining room and fell face and head first onto our hardwood floors, breaking my nose, knocking me out, and busting the hell out of my head. The pain in my head was unreal. I didn’t care about the nose or anything else. I refused to go to the hospital, even though four paramedics were there when I regained consciousness, working on me, and trying to convince me to go to the hospital. I don’t go to ERs. I had a horrible experience in early 2016 and vowed to die at home with dignity than go back to another damn ER. I tried to get a CT or MRI for 10 days, but no one would refer me for one without my going to the ER. Finally, on the 11th day, I went, had a CT scan, was told I had a severe, probable long term concussion, had possibly experienced some brain damage, and that was a joy. According to multiple doctors, I had already experienced brain damage with each of my strokes. My nose bled 24×7 from then into June, and the incident screwed up my neck and back, forcing me into home healthcare PT. My memory impairment and losses became much worse from that point on. I experienced more “episodes” like these in August and September, and have watched my memory deteriorate badly, as well as seeing my forgetfulness increase exponentially. It was about two months ago when this orthopedic surgeon stated I need Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, which has a 4% mortality rate, and which is available for Intractable Chronic Pain possibly only at Mayo and the Cleveland Clinic. One of my doctors put me on a supplement for memory loss/retention two months ago, and earlier this month, my neurologist put me on a hard core medication for severe dementia and Alzheimer’s, while allowing it’s possible I may be in the early stages on Early Onset Dementia. I am 51. I no longer expect to live to see, say, 54. And this drug he put me on has caused a very serious adverse reaction, or reactions, so that over the past week to week and a half, the symptoms have been so bad, I’ve honestly felt I was going to die several times, and today is the first day I’ve had the energy and wits to actually get online and do anything. I’ve simply been lying here trying to survive during one of the most hellish and painful weeks of my life, sick to death.

After those two depressing paragraphs, there were other things that happened in my life. In 2016, Gretchen and I created a startup that I poured myself into far more than I should have and it badly impacted my health. We decided, due to having to delay opening for business indefinitely while suffering tremendous costs and state taxes, to start to shut things down this fall, and I’m still trying to tie up loose ends, as I’m able to. Additionally, both Gretchen and I have started new side businesses, just to see how they’ll do, part time. Just really getting underway, but who knows? Gretchen’s oldest son was married last month in Maryland, so we made a long car trip to the wedding, which was lovely, but it was hard on me. Still, it would have taken a lot to make me miss that, although we didn’t decide I would actually go until the last minute. It was touch and go. Nonetheless, it was a joyous occasion. It was also good to see the rest of her family and meet some new in-laws.

Gretchen is busting her ass holding down the fort, working full time, having to do all of the errands and chores I once did when I was mobile and more able, and still find time for her side projects and to look after me. She stays very busy. And as limited as I am, I stay busier than I want to, mostly with technological projects that would take too long to go into. I’m worn out now. Sorry. I wrote more than I intended, but I just wanted to say I haven’t forgotten you folks out there, and I miss interacting with you, and if my health ever improves sufficiently, I’d like to resume blogging and book reviewing, but I have no idea if or when that will be. I hope everyone has been doing well, has had a good holiday season, and here’s to a good 2018 for all of us. Cheers!

— Scott

 

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Hi! I don’t even know where to begin. I haven’t posted a “real” blog post in nearly a year. It’s kind of stunning, because I’ve been blogging since 2003 and used to every day, but the past year and a half have worn me down until I no longer had the strength, energy, physical or mental abilities to continue doing so, and had to call a halt to it.

Lessee, for the past 3.5 years, my health has been unbelievably bad. Most of you know I have Trigeminal Neuralgia Type 2, a very rare, very, very rare, extremely painful head and facial pain disease, considered the most painful disease in the world, typically referred to as “The Suicide Disease.” I also have three other head pain disorders, including Cluster Headaches, which are also known as one of the most painful disorders in the world, and which I’ve also seen described as “the Suicide Disease” in some sources.

After having had a nice little break from that, my head and facial pain came back with a vengeance in the summer of 2014, but this time bilateral, which is unusual. I immediately had three minor brain surgical procedures, but I told my doctors they wouldn’t help, as this pain was different. I was right. Then, in early 2015, my back started giving me real problems again. Serious pain to match my head’s serious pain. I’ve had back problems on and off for six years, but like my head, it had been off for a couple of years, and this was an unpleasant surprise. I went back to my orthopedist and started seeing a rheumatologist, who told me I had “massive” amounts of osteoarthritis throughout my body and would need two hip replacement surgeries at some point in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, my orthopedist told me my DDD had gotten much worse, and I had other problems in my back as well, which I knew — spinal stenosis, a broken tailbone, nerve damage, etc. She sent me ultimately for six months of PT, but it didn’t help at all. In February 2015, sick of being far too overweight, I went on a massive low carb diet, ultimately averaging 6 carbs, then down to 4 carbs, per meal per day. I lost weight and it felt good. However, and I do think this was coincidental, about four months later, I started developing stomach problems that developed into a nightmare. At first it was just gas after meals, but then it was joined by nausea, and progressively advancing, stomach pain — incredibly severe stomach pain. So severe, it easily matched my back and head pain, each of which were at least a 10 on a 1-10 scale every day without a break. This happened over a period of months though, so I had no idea it would get so bad.

I suffered through the remainder of 2015, still losing weight from my diet, but my stomach was causing me to lose my appetite, along with my stomach shrinking from my diet. My back didn’t improve, my head didn’t improve. I had a new neurologist, who was trying things like Botox and steroid injections, as well as Trigeminal nerve blocks, but nothing helped. By November 2015, I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications, both OTC and prescription, with one exception that helped me so little, it was almost a non-issue. In January 2016, after two months of bugging her, my pain doctor put me on a new, much stronger pain medication with another strong pain medication to take for “break through” pain. The new ones had lethal side effects. I’m not joking. I had to be really careful about how and when I took them. And when I took the other one in conjunction with the first one. But they, too, didn’t really help, and their side effects seriously fucked me up in the worst way. I complained about both the low dose of the main one and the break through pain med, but my dose on the ER medication was not increased. The new IR literally almost killed me. Taking both, and a third to boot, almost killed me. Several times, I basically lost the ability to breathe and my tongue swelled up so much, it largely cut off my breathing passageways. Another time, I became paralyzed from the chest down, and Gretchen had to lie me down — I had been standing — where I lay for a couple of hours until it wore off. I thought it was going to kill me then for sure. Backing up a moment, in December 2015, I also lost the ability to eat. It’s hard to explain. I couldn’t eat, didn’t want to eat, got sick at the thought of eating. I’d go 3, 5, 7 days without eating anything, then take a couple bites of rice and a bite of chicken, and go vomit. I was nauseous when dinner was being made. My diet was thrown away; I now had some form of eating disorder, for all intents and purposes. I lost about 150 pounds…

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