About Bill

Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.


This entry is a few days late, as we just got our Internet back.

I’ve just been looking at videos from the Florida Keys and reading about the devastation in the Leeward Islands. On St Maarten they have no food, water or shelter. The people have banded together to search the wreckage of supermarkets and other sources in order to gather and share what resources they might come across.

I was uncomfortable because, for about twelve hours and five minutes, we had no lights and no air conditioning. Of course we had several good flashlights and a big supply of batteries, and we had a little battery-powered fan that kept us reasonably comfortable. Essentially we lay in bed, napped, played with our cats, watched the storm on our phones, and I read a sci-fi novel on my Kindle. We snacked from the cooler. We talked. Our day was thrown off balance. We couldn’t go to work.

I’ve been thinking, though, about how easily our lives can be thrown out of balance. Continue reading

Hurricane Hints From Someone Who’s Been There and Done That

Timely Hurricane Hints from someone who’s been there and done that:

FIRST: DO NOT RUN GENERATORS INSIDE THE HOUSE OR IN THE GARAGE, PERIOD. Every storm, someone dies of carbon monoxide poisoning, and usually takes someone else with them. Now that you’ve read this, there’s NO EXCUSE.

SECOND: Don’t use your phone to stream movies and similar stuff. Bandwidth will be jammed for days. Text whenever possible, rather than calling by voice. It will keep the phone system open for emergencies. Even cell systems get clogged up. Texts are more likely to go through anyway.

You can charge your phone in the car (watch your gas; the motor doesn’t have to be running if you have a decent battery). You can also charge it from a Universal Power Supply after unplugging it from the wall and unplugging the computer and printer, etc. It won’t run them long, but it will charge a phone several times even if the UPS (APC) is pretty old.

Other stuff:

1. When prep is finished, BE SURE to take a good shower before the hot water dies. It will probably be your last warm one for several days. Believe it! This storm will take down trees and power lines all over the state of FL, and most likely in GA and SC too.

2. If you’re at the store, pick up some Woolite or other cold-water washing detergent. No power = no washing machine and no laundromat. In a pinch, use liquid hand soap or TINY amounts of dish detergent. Did I say TINY amounts?

3. You will need hand sanitizer, too. Lots. Your water supply may be compromised. You can still use it to wash, but use sanitizer afterward. THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA WHERE FOLKS USE SEPTIC TANKS. Water leached from septic tanks by flooding can contaminate both surface water and wells.

Halazone tablets or 5 drops of Tincture of Iodine to one quart of water, shaken and allowed to sit for an hour, will get the nasties out of your water if needed. Use 10 drops if the water is cloudy.

You can filter crud out of the water through a microfiber towel, doubled paper towel, or coffee filter, but it will not purify the water; just makes it look better. ONLY A REVERSE OSMOSIS SYSTEM will purify water without adding chemicals as mentioned above.

4. Remember: NO COMBUSTION LIKE CHARCOAL FIRES OR CANNED HEAT WITHOUT VENTILATION. Not likely, given there’ll be no A/C, but it needs mentioning.

5. Get some dead tree books, or charge up your e-reader. You need to keep your phone charged for emergencies. Don’t read on it unless you have lots of backup charging available. Turn your screen to the lowest usable level. It uses more of your battery than anything else on the phone. Use the kill feature on your phone to put unneeded apps to sleep.

If you have apps on your phone that are eating up power, just uninstall them for the duration, then reinstall later. You probably don’t need them, anyway. Yes, even Facebook!

6. Don’t depend on cooking or heating, and certainly not on refrigeration. Canned beans taste fine with a little vinegar and spices and there are lots of foods that you’d normally heat up that are just fine cold, like canned cord and packaged custards, Spam, some sausages and cheeses, and so forth. Use your imagination. Shop accordingly.

7. This is a great time to get to know your neighbors. Many hands make light work. Just before hurricane Wilma, everyone on our floor got together and pooled our perishables we had on hand for a huge feast! It was incredible fun, and we all bonded more than we had in the previous several years.

8. Try not to bitch. It brings you down, and everyone around you. If you can’t lighten up, talk to one person about it and get it out of your system.

More info at the NOAA site.


Hurricane Thoughts

As we contemplate the chaos left by hurricane Harvey and look ahead at the unknown that Irma will bring, it’s good to remember that everything we think we own is on loan anyway. The only thing we can really leave behind is memories, and their content is entirely up to us.

We will all be affected by the storms in our lives. Staying in the moment is the answer, as always, but a little bit of luck can help, too. May yours be good, whether or not you recognize it at the time.

Thought for the day, sort of…

I’d be more than delighted to attribute this if I knew where it originated.

Hello! Is this Gordon’s Pizza?

No sir, it’s Google Pizza.

I must have dialed a wrong number. Sorry.

No sir, Google bought Gordon’s Pizza last month.

OK. I would like to order a pizza.

Do you want your usual, sir?

My usual? You know me?

According to our caller ID data sheet, the last 12 times you called you ordered an extra-large pizza with three cheeses, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and meat balls on a thick crust.

OK! That’s what I want …

May I suggest that this time you order a pizza with ricotta, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and olives on a whole wheat gluten free thin crust?

What? I detest vegetables!

Your cholesterol is not good, sir.

How the hell do you know?

We cross-referenced your home phone number with your medical records. We have the result of your blood tests for the last 7 years.

Okay, but I do not want your rotten vegetable pizza! I already take medication for my cholesterol.

Excuse me sir, but you have not taken your medication regularly. According to our database, you only purchased a box of 30 cholesterol tablets once, at Drugsale Network, 4 months ago.

I bought more from another drugstore.

That doesn’t show on your credit card statement, sir.

I paid with cash.

But you did not withdraw enough cash according to your bank statement.

I have other sources of cash.

That doesn’t show on your last tax return unless you bought them using an undeclared income source, which is against the law.


I’m sorry, sir, we use such information only with the sole intention of helping you.

Enough already! I’m sick to death of Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and all the others. I’m going to an island without internet, cable TV, where there is no cell phone service and no one to watch me or spy on me.

I understand sir, but you need to renew your passport first. It expired 6 weeks ago.

~ Unknown

An Unsolicited Plug

For several reasons I make it a point not to review books or accept ads, “infographics,“ and guest posts on this blog, except in extremely rare situations.  When I tried it the first one led to more, and to requests that didn’t meet my standards (never easy to refuse for a codependent like me), plus other complications, like conflicts of interest, etc.  I don’t like hassles, and promoting business in whatever fashion is not the purpose of this site.  However, it’s my blog, and I occasionally make exceptions for myself when I think it’s important enough.  This is one of those times.

My long-time readers will probably have noticed the blurb in the sidebar for Joe C’s book, Beyond Belief, Agnostic Musings For 12-Step Life.  No doubt the word “agnostic” turned some of them off.  I’d like to comment on that, and explain why the ad, recommendation, or whatever you want to call it is there.

Continue reading

Fine Print

Education is what you get when you read the fine print;
experience is what you get when you don’t.

~ Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger is one of the Grand Old Masters of folk, along with Woodie Guthrie, Buffy St Marie, Bob Dylan in his early days, Joan Baez, Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers, Odetta, Leo Solieau, The Carter Family, Fiddlin’ John Carson, Harry Belafonte, Dave van Ronk, and a host of others–not forgetting the Folk who carried many of the tunes in their oral traditions and sang them over the centuries before recording technology.  They’ve all contributed more to our culture than we may realize.

Seeger has always sorta been a hero of mine.  In addition to the obvious effect he has had on generations of music aficionados, he influenced major figures in the Civil Rights movement and other movements toward Liberty as did many of his contemporaries. He had a way of expressing himself that was at once deceptively simple and, at the same time, pretty damn deep.  The quote above is a prime example.  When I ran across it recently I was immediately struck by the subtle way in which it relates to my recovery, and maybe yours, too. Continue reading