New Stuff

I just had to replace my laptop.  It had been shutting down on me periodically and the power jack would get very hot, but computerbefore I could take it in to have it evaluated, it fried and will no longer power up.  It took me a weeks or so to select a new laptop and I’ve spent the last several days trying to find my way around Windows 8.1 and a whole new look.  I still can’t find things and have been unable to figure out how to make certain changes.  Everything is different and I have to change some settings every time I turn it on, like “View on Desktop” but I can’t always find the desktop and my short cuts.  On the plus side, it is faster than my old laptop, has much better sound quality, and they’ve made improvements on the battery and power jack.  I don’t think this one has as big a chance of overheating as my old one.  So far so good, though it seems like my space bar sticks a little.  I also can’t figure out the mouse.  I have to find the settings for that, but haven’t yet.

I started Shotokan Karate last weekend and have had four lessons already.  Sensei said Shotokan is the most difficult form of martial art.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I can see that to do the moves properly takes many years of practice.  I have a problem with recognizing left from right, and mirror imaging, so I often have the wrong hand or foot forward.  The turns are tricky too.  It looks so simple when I watch others make the moves, but when I do it I find I’m turning the wrong direction.  Turning to the left isn’t as simple as just turning, but you make a 3/4 way turn in the opposite direction (or so it seems to me).  There are also no mirrors in the room, so I have trouble following the other students, as I have to turn my head, and therefore I no longer have the proper karateposture. Sensei is Japanese and has an accent to get used to.  He uses Japanese terms that I am unfamiliar with and I don’t know the terminology yet. (I need to find a book.)  I can’t tell when one word ends and another begins.  He speaks rapidly, throwing in Japanese terms and with my problem knowing my left from my right, it’s no wonder I’m confused.  I hope to make it through the month at least, and maybe take the next class.

I have been practicing at home watching videos on Youtube, but each person has their own way of teaching so I can’t necessarily study the moves I was shown in class.  But the basic moves are all the same and the way you move is always the same, so I think watching he videos helps.  I do like the class though.  It reminds me a little of Tai Chi, except for the speed.  I work up quite a sweat and get pretty red in the face and breathing hard.  I would’ve thought the Zumba classes I was taking had gotten me into a little bit better shape.  I had no trouble dancing for an hour, but this is a whole different kind of work out.

The heat has been horrendous for the last couple of weeks.  Even this close to the water it’s in the 90s!  There has been very little breeze and of course, we have no AC.  We had to change the curtains in the living room.  The sheer ones we had weren’t doing much to keep out the sun and heat.  We finally got the new ones hung, and they are much better at blocking the sun.  The temp in the room is still high, but probably a few degrees cooler.

Still making changes in my life.  Learning karate, taking an improv class.  I’m out of the house four nights a week, and then out with husband another two, going out to dinner, or taking out the kayak.  I’m happy (most of the time) with my life and have an easier time accepting my aging body, wrinkles and all.  lol!

Endings and Beginnings

I’m still pretty much mourning Robin Williams–I always had a big crush on him.  I have been spending my evenings watching old talk show clips and his HBO specials.  It just hurts to think what a giving person he was, only to die feeling Robinalone, afraid, and useless.  Of course, I’m making an educated assumption, since these are feelings associated with depressed and especially suicidal people, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t feeling very funny.  I have an inkling as to how lonely he must’ve felt, and it hurts to think he didn’t feel worthy of the adoration of his millions of fans.  I’m disappointed that I haven’t seen more in the media about depression and suicide, but people have always had difficulty with the subject.  I keep telling myself I have to write about my suicide attempt, but I haven’t been able to find the funny.  Of course, I haven’t written anything in a few months now.  I’m hoping the improv class I’ve signed up for fires that motor up again.

It feels good to finally getting things accomplished.  We’ve got curtains for the windows instead of the shear ones we had (which don’t do much to keep out the heat) and will finally get them hung tomorrow.  We already have curtains up for the spare bedroom (where the boys are sleeping) and it’s so much nicer.  Pictures have been hung, and the missing spoon rack replaced.  Books are on the shelves and all the TVs and computers are up and running.  It only took three months, but I think we’re finally moved in.  Old clothes have been donated and old computers recycled.  We still have a bunch of stuff in the garage but have started to sort through it for a yard sale probably this fall.

In between getting stuff for the new place and finding neat places to visit, I have managed to getsuicide hotline all my doctors appointments taken care of.  I see the neurologist (an MS Specialist) next week.  I need to discuss the ongoing issue with my ankles, and then maybe still go see an orthopedist as well.  I’ll wait and see what the new doc thinks. I’ll probably want to check i with a gyn in the next few months, but I’m not eager to attack the menopause monster quite yet.  Last time I had my doc check my hormone levels (about 18 mos ago) she said I wasn’t even close to menopause.  Of course, I’d never had a baseline hormone level, so who knows, maybe my hormone levels have always been high?  But I suppose I should still get a check up.  Eventually.

We’ve been having a pretty good time.  Husband has the yards finished and they look great!  (Photos coming.)  We have more plants than we really have room for, but it’s not overly crowded.  We had friends over for a BBQ the other day, and they commented on what a beautiful yard we had.  We are going to see if our neighbors want to join us for a BBQ tomorrow or Monday.  These neighbors are terrific.  Very friendly, very easy-going, and always inviting the grand kid to go to the beach and park with their two boys (6 and 9).  They’ve been to the beach twice today, once this morning for about an hour, and again this evening.  And in between the grand kid played with their boys in and out of the house.  I know that means that tomorrow none of them will want to see the others.  At least that’s how it seems to go with kids.

KayakWe’ve only been kayaking a couple of times, but hope to go again next week.  It’s too crowded to go anywhere this holiday weekend, but we will get out again next week a couple of times.  I especially like to go in the late afternoon.  The water is calm, the beaches almost empty, and you have a beautiful sunset!  Next time we plan to bring a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers to snack on.  Make kayak night date nite.  Perfect.

I finally enrolled in some classes from Parks and Recreation!  They have two levels of improv classes and I signed up for the basic course, and plan to take the more advanced class later in the fall.  They also offer a few Tai Chi classes and several martial arts, like ju jitsu, tae kwan do, and for now, I decided to start with a Shotokan karate class.  Something new and that will get me moving more, get my cardio going, and maybe help me shed another 10-15 lbs.

 

 

Meditation Haiku

Thoughts race, breathing deep

quiet mind, distracting sounds

sitting meditation

My new neighbor is very knowledgeable about Buddhism and he has been holding small gatherings of people wanting to learn and share their experiences.  We always have a 20 minute meditation.  I always thought the idea of meditation was to silence your mind, stop your thoughts from bouncing like a super-ball in your head.  Tonight F said he feels you should just allow your mind to roam freely.  You recognize each thought as it comes and then you let yourself move on.  What do you think meditation should accomplish?  Is it to calm your mind, slow down your thoughts?  Or is it an opportunity to let your mind run without having to act on anything your mind comes up with? 

I’ve prepared a short list of places I want to check out tomorrow.  There’s a yoga studio that sounds interesting, two Buddhist temples, and a martial arts dojo.  I hope to decide tomorrow which type of class I want to take.  The yoga is apparently a ‘new’ form created by a man named Mic Ja and sounds really interesting.  Then there’s the part of me that wants to take up kung fu or karate, or even boxing or some sort of MMA training, but I’m really intimidated.  I don’t expect to start a professional fighting career, but I’m not sure I can do something like this at my age.  I want to think I can, but I’m trying to be realistic here.  I don’t want to go into one of these places and get laughed at.  Though on second thought, I suppose they wouldn’t, because no matter what they think about my abilities (or lack thereof) they still want my money.  So I’ve got that going for me.  mma

So I hope to decide what classes I want to take, and whether I want to take up yoga and karate, or just one for now.  At least I’m finally getting motivated.

Depression

My son is currently experiencing one of his worst depression episodes I’ve ever seen.  The worst part is, I can’t help him.  It appears he is headed to completely alienate the family by taking out his anger and frustration on us.  I understand he can’t control how he is feeling right now.  I understand the pain he is in.  I can’t understand why he refuses all offers of help, except he sees it as pointless.  “No one will help me,” he says.  He goes to Urgent Care or the ER every few months, only to complain about his physical pain, and of course, no one is going to give him a 30 day supply of percocet or oxycodone, so he says no one helps him.  That no one cares.  Except we do care!  How do I make him understand how badly he needs help.  Professional help that we will pay for.  He doesn’t want that.  Doesn’t feel it will make a difference.  He just can’t see past his depression.pills

Very unfortunately his depression is often manifested by anger directed at others.  Angry words, accusations and complaints, that’s all we hear.  It makes it especially hard to want to help him when he’s yelling at you.  He just won’t hear us.  Any time we tell him he should get professional help, we get the argument that no one cares, no doctor will help him because they all think he’s just some drug addict.  Yes, he is a drug addict, but like most of them, he is altering his mood with drugs and alcohol.  I get that.  I wouldn’t even care at this point, but he can’t maintain a steady dosage.  He keeps adding to his ‘dosage’ to kill all his pain, only adding to his problems.

ERHe can’t see that we love him and want to help him.  He is angry we moved (again).  He says he hates it here.  How does he know he hates it when he won’t go out and experience the city?  It’s not this place he hates, but his life.  He says that a lot, that he hates his life.  Apparently he thinks he was happy in Westlake Village.  Of course, we know he hasn’t been himself since his grandpa died 1 1/2 years ago.  It’s a long time to be dealing with his many ups and downs.

For him, he also has the added disadvantage of being uninsured.  Obama Care denied him and referred him to Medicare, which in turn denied him and sent him back to Obamacare.  A true sign (to him) that the world has conspired against him.  We did try to rectify things and get him covered, but he refused to do any of the work himself and at the time, I was disinclined to do it for him.  After all, he’s a grown man and needs to take care of himself.  Except he can’t.  I totally realize that now.  I will look into getting him insured today.suicide hotline

The helplessness and frustration is taking a toll on the family.  We have to do something.  We can’t continue to live like this!  Cross your fingers I can finally get him insured and once insured, he will seek medical help.

 

 

 

RIP Robin Williams

I still can’t believe it’s true.  I’ve been watching old clips of Robin Williams for the past two days.  I had no idea his Depression was that severe.  I mean, I thought he’d be in therapy and under medication, and therefore be ok.  One thing that really makes me angry about his death is the stupid statements people make about what a “selfish” or “stupid” thing for him to do.  Clearly people who make such comments about a suicide have no idea what they are talking about.  I did come across the following article that I thought says it quite well, so I thought I would share.

Robin Williams’s death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish

Robin Williams in Man of the Year (2006)
Many words can be used to describe Robin Williams. ‘Selfish’ should not be one of them. Photograph: Allstar/Universal PicturesSportsphoto Ltd.

News broke today that Robin Williams had passed away, due to apparent suicide following severe depression. As the vast majority of people will likely have already said, this was terribly heart-breaking news. Such an iconic, talented and beloved figure will have no shortage of tributes paid to him and his incredible legacy. It’s also worth noting that Robin Williams was open about his mental health issues.

However, despite the tremendous amount of love and admiration for Williams being expressed pretty much everywhere right now, there are still those who can’t seem to resist the opportunity to criticise, as they do these days whenever a celebrated or successful person commits suicide. You may have come across this yourself; people who refer to the suicide as “selfish”. People will utter/post phrases such as “to do that to your family is just selfish”, or “to commit suicide when you’ve got so much going for you is pure selfishness”, or variations thereof.

If you are such a person who has expressed these views or similar for whatever reason, here’s why you’re wrong, or at the very least misinformed, and could be doing more harm in the long run.

Depression IS an illness

Depression, the clinical condition, could really use a different name. At present, the word “depressed” can be applied to both people who are a bit miserable and those with a genuine debilitating mood disorder. Ergo, it seems people are often very quick to dismiss depression as a minor, trivial concern. After all, everyone gets depressed now and again, don’t they? Don’t know why these people are complaining so much.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut and it didn’t bother you. Depression is a genuine debilitating condition, and being in “a bit of a funk” isn’t. The fact that mental illness doesn’t receive the same sympathy/acknowledgement as physical illness is often referenced, and it’s a valid point. If you haven’t had it, you don’t have the right to dismiss those who have/do. You may disagree, and that’s your prerogative, but there are decades’ worth of evidence saying you’re wrong.

Depression doesn’t discriminate

How, many seem to wonder, could someone with so much going for them, possibly feel depressed to the point of suicide? With all the money/fame/family/success they have, to be depressed makes no sense?

Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of logic to this. But, and this is important, depression (like all mental illnesses) typically doesn’t take personal factors into account. Mental illness can affect anyone. We’ve all heard of the “madness” of King George III; if mental illness won’t spare someone who, at the time, was one of the most powerful well-bred humans alive, why would it spare someone just because they have a film career?

Granted, those with worse lives are probably going to be exposed to the greater number of risk factors for depression, but that doesn’t mean those with reduced likelihood of exposure to hardships or tragic events are immune. Smoking may be a major cause of lung cancer, but non-smokers can end up with it. And a person’s lifestyle doesn’t automatically reduce their suffering. Depression doesn’t work like that. And even if it did, where’s the cut-off point? Who would we consider “too successful” to be ill?

Depression is not ‘logical’

If we’re being optimistic, it could be said that most of those describing suicide from depression as selfish are doing so from a position of ignorance. Perhaps they think that those with depression make some sort of table or chart with the pros and cons of suicide and, despite the pros being far more numerous, selfishly opt for suicide anyway?

This is, of course, nonsensical. One of the main problems with mental illness is that is prevents you from behaving or thinking “normally” (although what that means is a discussion for another time). A depression sufferer is not thinking like a non-sufferer in the same way that someone who’s drowning is not “breathing air” like a person on land is. The situation is different. From the sufferers perspective, their self-worth may be so low, their outlook so bleak, that their families/friends/fans would be a lot better off without them in the world, ergo their suicide is actually intended as an act of generosity? Some might find such a conclusion an offensive assumption, but it is no more so than accusations of selfishness.

The “selfish” accusation also often implies that there are other options the sufferer has, but has chosen suicide. Or that it’s the “easy way out”. There are many ways to describe the sort of suffering that overrides a survival instinct that has evolved over millions of years, but “easy” isn’t an obvious one to go for. Perhaps none of it makes sense from a logical perspective, but insisting on logical thinking from someone in the grips of a mental illness is like insisting that someone with a broken leg walks normally; logically, you shouldn’t do that.

Stephen Fry, in his interview on Richard Herring’s podcast, had a brilliant explanation about how depression doesn’t make you think logically, or automatically confide in friends and family. I won’t spoil it by revealing it here, but I will say it involves genital warts.

Accusations of selfishness are themselves selfish?

Say you don’t agree with any of the above, that you still maintain that for someone with a successful career and family to commit suicide is selfish. Fine. Your opinion, you’re entitled to have it, however much we may disagree.

But why would you want to publicly declare that the recently deceased is selfish? Especially when the news has only just broken, and people are clearly sad about the whole thing? Why is getting in to criticise the deceased when they’ve only just passed so important to you? What service are you providing by doing so, that makes you so justified in throwing accusations of selfishness around?

Do you think that depression is “fashionable?” And by criticising the sufferers you can deter others from “joining in”? Granted, we hear more about depression than we used to these days, but then we know what it is now. We see a lot more photos from Mars these days, because we have the means of doing so now, not because it’s suddenly trendy.

Perhaps you are trying to deter anyone else who might read your views from considering suicide themselves? Given that statistics suggest that one in four people suffer some sort of mental health problem, this isn’t that unlikely an occurrence. But if someone is genuinely depressed and feels their life is worthless, seeing that others consider their feeling selfish can surely only emphasise their own self-loathing and bleakness? It suggests that people will hate them even in death.

Maybe you know some people who have “attempted” suicide purely for attention? Fair enough; a debatable conclusion, but even if you’re right, so what? Surely someone who succeeds at committing suicide is a genuine sufferer who deserves our sympathy?

Perhaps you feel that those expressing sorrow and sadness are wrong and you need to show them that you know better, no matter how upsetting they may find it? And this is unselfish behaviour how, exactly?

A brilliant but tortured individual has taken his own life, and this is a tragedy. But levelling ignorant accusations of selfishness certainly won’t prevent this from happening again. People should never be made to feel worse for suffering from something beyond their control.

If you feel you are dealing with depression, the charity MIND has many helpful sources, but there are many other avenues you can pursue

Dean Burnett is on Twitter, @garwboy

A New Chapter

I have not been inclined to blog lately and it makes me feel guilty.  I haven’t checked in with my favorite blogs in days.  There’s so many people to catch up with, but some of them are also taking a hiatus, and one of my favorite blogs seems to have disappeared altogether, or at least become inaccessible.  And to top it off, WordPress has snuck in a bunch of changes.lonely

I feel, as have many before me, that I may be done blogging, at least for now.  But the relationships I’ve made have been very important to me.  So many people here helped me make changes these last 2 years or so.  Why stop blogging?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  It just seems I don’t need to anymore.  The connections I’ve made here were so vital to me for so long, now seem more tentative and distant. 

I feel as if I’m closing a chapter in my life and wonder if that means I close the door on the friendships I have made?  Do people come into our lives only to teach us and move on?  Has my need for friends lessened?  Perhaps I’ve just become more interested and involved with the “real” world.  But I feel an obligation here.

thU5O54C3II feel as if I am leaving a job where I’ve made lots of friends.  Exchanging phone numbers and promising to stay in touch, except you know it doesn’t work that way.  You stay in touch for a bit, sending emails, and passing on jokes, but it just doesn’t last.  At least for me it hasn’t. 

Maybe I’m saying good bye here, but I don’t think so.  Maybe I’ve moved to a place where I don’t need to blog anymore.  But there are so many stories out there that I want to know the ending of.  And then there’s the guilt.  I need to know what’s happening in my friends’ lives.  I hope they need me as well.  I may not be as active on WP as before, but I’m still here.  I want to keep in touch with the many fine people here.

Changes

Doing my best to avoid falling into old habits, so that means a lot less time on the computer.  We haven’t fallen into anything like a schedule yet.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.  People seem to need routine and without it I feel a little off balance.  Like I need an anchor.    Been going to my neighbor’s on Wednesday nights to talk Buddhism with him and some of his friends.  That’s been interesting so far.

tai chi3Still haven’t decided on Tai Chi, Yoga or some martial art.  There is an interesting yoga studio a few miles away which promises to be interesting.  I plan to check it out tomorrow and maybe sign up for a month of classes to see how I like it.  For the most part I’m only finding gyms where classes are offered.  I don’t want to join a gym like 24-hour Fitness, but join something like a Dojo.  I’m sure I’ll find something.

I’ve gotten most of my doctor visits dealt with.  Saw a GP and she seems fine, and a psychiatrist that got my meds straight, though we decided to leave my antidepressants at the lower dosage.  My new GP has referred me to a neurologist and an orthopedist.  I have to check and see if they are on my insurance plan and make appointments.  So I’ve got things moving health-wise.  Today I saw a therapist.  I like her and will see her again next week. She gave me a couple of assignments:  write a sentence a day about something I am grateful for–not, and write down the funniest thing that ever happened to me.  That’s not going to be easy.  I can’t think of anything.  I’ll have to review some journals, see if I can find something.Kayak

Not having a routine is a bit weird, but Husband and I come and go any time of day or night.  We’ll walk around downtown or one of the other hip places with shops and bars.  Last night we finally took out the kayak and put it in the bay.  We were only out a short time, but we had fun and weren’t too tired.  This morning though, I was surprisingly sore!  I look forward to going again later this week.

Husband has been out on his bike nearly every day and feeling good about it, though I don’t know how he does it.  Riding a bike for 1/2 hr hurts my tailbone and he is taking 2 hour rides.  He is really enjoying it.  He still wants to get a stand up paddle board, but feels guilty about spending so much money on himself what with the bike and the kayak (though the whole family can enjoy the kayak), he wants me to go out and bikesbuy something expensive.  I don’t really have anything in mind, but maybe I’ll just translate an equal amount of money toward a martial arts class for six months or so.

Son has been looking diligently for a job and finally has an interview tomorrow.  He’s hoping to get the job.  The money wouldn’t be great, but he figures it could open the door to something better, though if this job was to offer health insurance, he would be most thrilled.  As would we all.

Getting Settled

We’ve been in the new place about a month now.  Our neighbors are all very friendly, and don’t seem to mind the yipping dogs too much. Walking the dogs around the neighborhood, I’m learning my way around.  I know where to shop and what shops I can walk to.  It’s starting to feel like home.

Numerous decisions await us:  stand up board (SUB) or kayak?  And where to take a little weekend away?  And do we put in a Zen garden? or grass?  Where will Son live?  Can he stay sober?  But that’s not living in the moment, is it?  It’s easy to fall into old habits, though Husband and I are trying not to.  We are trying to be more social, and trying new things, like going out to a club, or eating Thai (or some other equally exotic food).  We’re starting to push each other a little more out of our comfort zone.  Husband says buying the kayak/SUB feels so selfish.  I think that’s a good thing.  He’s never expressed feeling selfish before, though he (and I) deny him nothing.paddle board

It’s so easy to fall back into old ways of thinking, but I am still able to pull myself out.  I haven’t decided on visiting a Buddhist temple/center to visit yet, so I’m feeling less centered.  I wanted to talk to our neighbor, who is also interested in Buddhism, maybe he’d recommend one?  Meanwhile, I have postponed setting up doctor visits and I have been without some of my meds for weeks, and will be out of my antidepressants soon. I can’t let myself postpone these appointments any more.  I don’t know what would happen without my antidepressants, and I’m not keen to find out.

Doobie

Doobie

Our house abuts a community garden, which we thought would be a good thing.  We figured that with all that huge garden, nothing was going to bother our little garden.  We were wrong.  We’ve seen so far, two huge racoons, countless squirrels, rabbits, hawks, and one skunk.  Our dog Doobie discovered the skunk.  Whew!  What a smell.  A cross between burned hair and boiled peanuts.  Something the poor dog got so close the fur on his face was green.  We’d gone through it with our last dog, and that was the middle of the night, we let the dog in and he brought the stench with him.  Right onto our bed!  At least this time we were able to easily bathe the little dope and cover him in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.  Also have dishes of vinegar in each room, and burned scented candles all afternoon.  My eyes still burn.

Still Among the Living

Pretty much moved in now. Things did not quit transpire as anticipated, but, of course, worked out just the same.  We’re still making two more trips to the house to get some forgotten items, organize the donations and the junk to haul away.  Make sure that water and power are off.  Plus we still have our old computers to get rid of.  There’s a place near the house that recycles computers and related items. kitchen

Son ended up with us after all, but it is definitely temporary.  We only bought a tiny dinette set with only two chairs.  We’ve got a loveseat, not a couch.  Only one bathroom.  So this can only last a couple months.  Now that we finally have internet (been cut off from the World  since June 11!) son has started to look for work.  Luckily, they are hiring at two good local companies right now.  I looked at apartments and found a few suitable with suitable rental rates.  Maybe we should wait until he’s employed?  Or would it be better to provide the incentive to work now?LB

We’re still sorting through boxes three and four times, and have enough cardboard for an entire cardboard “tent” city.  It will take us months to dispose of it all through the recycling.  Then yesterday, one of our recycling bins didn’t get dumped, and the neighbor’s recycling bin didn’t return from the street yesterday.  I think it’s one I see across the street.  How it got there, and if it is ours, is still a bit of a mystery.  But one I can live with.  I checked the other nearest neighbors and they don’t seem to have an extra bin, so I think odds are good it belongs over here.  Otherwise what do I do?  Call the city and tell them our recycling bin went missing?

Working hard to landscape the little back yard.  We’re about halfway done.  We’ve got the flower beds planted, just need to put in a low deck or patio and some stepping stones, and we’ll be done.  Hopefully, we will be in a position to invite our neighbors and Husband’s friends over for 4th of July barbeque.  Tonight we’ve been invited out to meet some of Husband’s friends for drinks. blues I think I’d like to say no (we’re not meeting them until 9:00 PM), but this move is a lot about doing new things, so I told Husband we should go.  We don’t have to stay very long.  We can tell everyone we’are tired, and truthfully we are tired after working in the yard and the garage all day.  Did I mention we live above a garage now?  That means up and down the stairs a minimum of 3 times a day, and lately it’s closer to 10-15 times a day!  I better lose some weight now!

I still need to spend some time setting up appointments for my various new doctors, but I will be catching up with everyone soon.  I am eager to hear what people have been up to this past week or so