I have been so busy writing books and taking care of my grandfather that I didn’t visit many parks or write many blog posts last year. Here are a few things I did do:
I discovered YouTube channels DrBecky and Cody’sLab:
Doctor Rebecca Smethurst is an astrophysicist who covers the latest news in cosmology, gets really excited about black holes, and sings.
Cody takes care of bees, chickens, extracts valuable metals from catalytic converters, plays with mercury, turns everything into charcoal, and is currently building a habitat to simulate Martian living.
In the meantime, I posted another article to LovesTampaBay.com, this one written by my mother about her visit to Sawgrass Lake Park.
I also saw a GIGANTIC beetle in the summer. It resembled a Japanese beetle, but was bigger than a June bug. Unfortunately, I got no pictures.
What I did get a picture of was the night sky when it was every color of the alphabet and then some. It is hard to see in the photo, but they are there.
Another day I went to check the temperature and found I was not the only one:
I made chili using leftover Lima beans:
Here are some other pictures:
Patriotism and treason have no meaning when a country is at war with itself.
Somewhere on the back way connecting South Kingstown and North Kingstown is the entrance to Tripond park. I stopped my car there in late September of 2019. I only found one pond, so I wonder if there is more to the park that has been hidden from me.
The path enters the woods and runs alongside a pond, but it is nearly impossible to see through the thick vegetation. A short way in, the trail splits. I took the right way.
This path winds crazily back and forth across mud and brooks. I have never seen so many wooden footbridges. The vegetation was thick and it was dark under the trees. The only animal I saw was a lone squirrel. Finally, the path terminated on the side of a quiet road without a building in sight.
Retracing my steps, I returned to the split and took the left way. This path took me all the way around the pond back to where I started.
There wasn’t much to see but roots.
I didn’t get out much in 2019, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened. My grandfather’s rhubarb plant put up flowers this year. First, it put up a very tall stem. Then buds formed. Then they flowered and before long became disk-shaped seeds.
There are also three types of lilacs on the property and a fourth type just over the hedge on the neighbor’s property. To my eyes, they had quite different shades, but the camera doesn’t pick this up well.
It takes no effort to be smart. To take the default position, the straightforward interpretation, and the obvious conclusion takes no effort at all. Anyone can be smart. It takes a true genius to be a fool. The multiple layers of pretzel logic some people construct in order to argue a point must be exhausting.
I visited Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in southern Rhode Island in late August 2019 and I think it was the wrong time of year. What flowers were still around were dry and broken. Everything seemed tired and in disrepair. Even the spider webs were full of holes...
The trail south from the parking lot splits in two and I took the western branch first. After passing a field of tall grass, it becomes a regular wooded trail for a while. Everything was overgrown with vines. I even saw a few raspberries. Eventually the trail leads down a narrow peninsula surrounded by opaque, green-grey water. This is where a steady breeze picked up. Looking out across the pond, I could see the ocean just on the other side of the narrow strip of land around it. Beyond this it was so hazy that I could not tell where the ocean met the sky.
At the end of this trail is a deck and telescope. I watched the gulls, red-breasted mergansers, and other birds that frequent the pond. I also took a peek at the human houses among the trees just outside the preserve. Of course, I didn’t care about any of those things. What I really wanted to know was whether I could aim the telescope at the sun and use it to burn a hole in the deck! Alas, it was noontime and I could not point the telescope high enough. Darn!
Returning the way I came, I then took the connector trail over to the east side of the park. This is where there is another deck and telescope. On the way I saw a rabbit:
Past the eastern deck, the trail continues right into the water. I had hoped to explore there, but my way was guarded by a monster:
After this, I returned to the parking lot. On the way I encountered a couple of decks on the border of a pond filled with lily pads. Oddly, one of the decks was not easily accessible. There is no path to it and a fence blocks the way. The other deck is well shaded and home to a very sneaky chipmunk. When I turned around to leave, I saw it scurry away from its spot right behind me.
Finally, I made it back. The entire outing took from 12:00 to 2:30. Only once did any flies bother me and that was near the brook passing under the connector path. Yet, somehow during my brief transit they left me with dozens of bites.
Highlights: On the ground I saw red galls and green galls. I saw an apple tree. I saw a lot of tiny, green dragonflies. Most notable, I saw a black-winged damselfly fly backwards in a jumpy sort of way that reminded me of how scallops swim. Show off!
Best Highlights: On the way back, I stopped at Dunkin Donuts, ate a Boston cream donut, drank a coffee milk, and sat in the lobby watching traffic through the window. This was the best part of the trip.
This is a poem I wrote in 2019. I imagine it to the tune of If I Had A Million Dollars by Bare Naked Ladies.
You know I love you and I’d do anything for you and I’d buy you anything and I’d give you everything I have. In fact, I wrote a song about it and I’ll sing it to you right now.
If I went to market (If you went to market)
I would buy you a fat pig (But not a real fat pig; that’s gross)
And if I came home again (And if you came home again)
I’d go jiggity-jig jiggity-jig (Jiggity-jiggity-jig)
And this little piggy went to market (And this little piggy stayed home)
And this little piggy had roast beef (And this little piggy had none)
And this little piggy cried wee-wee-wee-wee-wee (All the way home)
(I thought this was a song about all the stuff you were going to buy me.)
It was, but I forgot. I’ll do better next verse.
If I was named Jack Horner (You’d be teased in high school)
Then I’d eat a Christmas pie (But not a whole pie at once; that’s gross)
And if I found in it a plum (A fat, juicy plum for me?)
I’d say what a good boy am I (What a meanie!)
I once heard a cat play a fiddle (You said you saw a cow jump over the moon)
I once heard a dog laugh (You said you saw a dish run away with a spoon)
I think I finally understand it all now (You’re insane)
(What was in that Christmas pie anyways? Mushrooms?)
No, I think it was just plums and magic reindeer meat.
(That explains it.)
If I was named Peter Piper (You’d still be teased in high school)
I’d pick a peck of pickled peppers – for you (You know I’ve always liked pickled peppers!)
And if I was named Peter Piper (Your initials would be pee-pee)
A peck of pickled peppers is what I’d pick (A peck of pickled peppers is what you’d pick – for me)
And if I was an old woman (Then I’d guess you’d live in a shoe)
And if I slept under a haystack (Then I guess you’d be little boy blue)
And if I sang this song to you on our wedding night (You’d be weird)
In March, I stumbled across the YouTube channel How To ADHD and now I wonder whether I have ADHD. I have long thought I might have some tendencies in that direction since I was easily distracted by noises or movements when I was in school, but I was never evaluated, and I finally decided that if I did have it, I had a very mild case. I never really thought about it again. What I have learned from watching the videos has made me consider the issue deeper. So much of it sounds just like me.
I used to doodle all over my math sheets and notebooks. At the time, I just thought I liked to doodle, but now I realize my mind refused to stay on one subject for long. In the absence of external distraction, I am distracted by my own thoughts. This same story is told by others who did the exact same thing!
During class reading time when we took turns reading out loud, I was never able to synchronize my reading rate with those around me. There was no way I could pay attention to the words on paper and follow the voice of someone stumbling over unfamiliar words at the same time. My natural reading rate was faster than everyone else’s and when it was my turn to read, I had to turn back a page to find where they all were. At the time, I thought my speedy reading comprehension just meant I was smarter than average, so I didn’t worry about it. It seemed stupid to force everyone to read together and I believed the slow readers must be having as hard a time keeping up as I was keeping down. Why not let everyone read at their natural pace? A very similar story is told by the host of How To ADHD.
I also remember that while I got perfect or near perfect scores on my tests without ever studying (just reading the textbook through once was good enough), I could not always finish my homework on time. After sitting in school all day, I was in no condition to spend any additional time on such things. When four of my teachers would assign homework on the same night – all due the next day – I burned out. One semester I got a D in math and an F in English in spite of getting As on my tests because I couldn’t finish my homework! I just thought I had less stamina than average; I didn’t realize all these symptoms were related.
While I might burn out from working long hours, I was always better than average in the short-term. I was quick to understand new, complex concepts. I was good in emergencies. I thrived at McDonald’s because every order was an emergency that had to be finished in ninety seconds or less. I was the most efficient employee they ever had. Yet when at home, I somehow never got around to working on my novel for fourteen years. This is exactly the behavior of those with ADHD. When a subject is interesting or urgent, they are able to “hyperfocus,” exceeding even those of normal attention.
I have also noticed that not all distractions are created equal. Sometimes distractions are distracting, but other times I need them so that I don’t get distracted by my own thoughts. This is also a sign of ADHD. I imagine this effect makes it hard to diagnose and could even bring up the question whether it is a real condition – but I’ll save those thoughts for another time. Many report needing to fidget with something while they work so they don’t get lost in their own minds. I fidget a lot. I find I often have to pace while thinking or else I can’t focus. Of course, fidgeting can also be interpreted as a symptom of Tourette’s, tardive dyskinesia, autism (stimming), or it can be culturally learned, so one has to be careful not to read too much into it.
I have also always had a hard time getting to sleep and tend to sleep more than the average person. This tends to be an ADHD symptom. I also start more projects than I finish and my father is the same way. ADHD has a strong genetic component, so now I think he might have a mild case too. I have also never been great at estimating time. This applies not only to estimating how much time has already elapsed, but to my predictions of how much time projects will take me. A day can feel like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. This is also a symptom of ADHD. I had no idea that all these things were related!
At the core of the condition is something common to all mankind – the inability to focus on that which doesn’t interest us and doesn’t seem urgent – some just suffer from it more than others. ADHD is a spectrum. We all have a little bit of it. “Trying harder” does not work because one first has to have the mental focus on something to make a coherent choice to try anything. “Try harder” is something that can only apply to the body, not the mind.
One symptom that doesn’t fit me well is lack of emotional regulation. I’m generally pretty good at not getting emotional in the usual sense – although, one could of course explain my outward behavior as the sum of many emotions, such as the desire not to appear emotional, or the emotion of calmness canceling out my anger, fear, or excitement. Sometimes I feel like Spock from the original Star Trek. Vulcans actually have emotions far more intense than humans, but they ignore and suppress them through equally intense mental discipline, honoring only logic.
In any case, the channel gives much practical advice on how to manage tasks and schedules that should be useful to everyone – and everyone is at least a little bit ADHD sometimes.
Among other ideas, the host suggests keeping a “to-did” list alongside the to-do list, to remind you of what you have accomplished, keeping things interesting enough to keep going. She also suggests adding a scoring system and a set of rewards.
She suggests that if you can’t find a good way to start something, to simply start badly. Eventually, the stimulus should activate your brain enough to fix any problems you might have created in the beginning. I learned to do this years ago, but it still goes against my nature. I need more practice.
She suggests setting up routines of the same tasks in the same order so that finishing one provides the cue for the next. She also suggests taking regular rests. While many of my tasks are unique, one-time things that do not fit routines, and I am often interrupted, I can certainly take more, short rests instead of the few, long rests that I do now.
She suggests adding new tasks to the schedule incrementally only after we have mastered our current work load. This is something I know too well. I am terrible at estimating how much I can handle and tend to take on too much too soon.
Finally, she suggests breaking big tasks into smaller steps. I now realize that sometimes the reason I don’t start tasks I mean to do is because they seem overwhelming because I haven’t broken them into small enough steps. Granted, sometimes there is no way to do this, but usually there is.
With any luck, I will have twelve books ready to publish in 2024 – without resorting to medication.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.