the ethics of a licensed practitioner

In case I don’t pretentiously mention it enough, I am currently working towards my Doctor of Psychology degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Over the last academic year, there’s been a strong effort made by multiple professors to instill in us, as future licensed practitioners, the ethical dangers of our profession; namely, the temptation to have sex with patients (which is apparently bad). We discussed it again last week, which reminded me of a story I’d recently heard about a licensed practitioner, named Pete.

Pete had been going through a period of depression, anxiety, and guilt. You see, Pete had sex with five of his patients. His guilt over the unprofessionalism and his fear of being discovered drove him deeper and deeper into a continual pit of depression from which he saw no escape. At his lowest points, though, a voice would come to him and say, “Hey, Pete, buddy, don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re not the first licensed practitioner to have sex with a patient, and you’re damn sure not going to be the last, so just enjoy yourself! You haven’t been caught yet, and trust me, your patients aren’t going to say a word about it.”

It helped, for a while. The encouraging voice would assuage his guilt and anxiety, which would in turn lift his depression.

Just before he could fully recover, though, a second voice would come to him and say, “Oh, but Pete, dude…you’re a veterinarian.”

the secret of human flight

Most people have, at one time or another, been faced with the question of what super power they would choose if presented with the opportunity. The most common answer seems to be that of flight. I’m not entirely sure why this answer is so prevalent, since I figured out the secret of human flight over two decades ago, when I was naught but a wee lad.

I know, a bold claim, but a claim founded in nothing less than the absolute truth. It’s incredibly simple, once you think about it; it’s a wonder nobody else has figured it out.

It came to me one day as I was running. What if I simply lifted my left leg off the ground and kept running with my right leg? After that, it’s simply a matter of lifting my right leg as well, and flight is achieved.

At least, flight is theoretically achieved. I still haven’t gotten the balance quite right. One of these days, though.

One of these days.

topic: the corrosion of the human individual by wave after wave of the social

I felt like writing something, but I didn’t really have an idea to springboard off of. I asked Twitter and Facebook for a topic, and here we are. I do not guarantee factual accuracy in these provided topic posts, nor do I guarantee any semblance of reason or sense. Sorry.

From Kyle, I will write something about the corrosion of the human individual by wave after wave of the social.

With this particular topic, I had to go back for a bit of focus/clarification. I saw this topic as having at least three separate and distinct approaches:

1. The loss of real human interaction

2. A loss of individuality as we’re inundated with mass opinion

3. A loss of uniqueness as our new levels of openness show us how none of us is a snowflake

I’ve had a draft on the first approach sitting for a couple of months, which I’ll eventually get around to publishing, but it won’t be today. Today, the corrosion of the human individual by wave after wave of the social refers to a loss of individuality as we’re inundated with mass opinion. I take this to mean that social media’s exponentially expanding reach has made overwhelming cookie-cutter opinions easier for people to thoughtlessly opt into. Opinions on the Internet are boiled down into 140 characters, or a Facebook post, or a tumble thing, and consist of little more than sound bites with no real depth or discussion. It is tantalizingly easy to simply re-tweet, share, tumble thing, etc. a popular opinion; to bandwagon, and avoid critical thinking and true opinion forming.

Though political opinion is perhaps the most harrowing victim, it goes far beyond that, permeating any opinion on the Internet (of which there are more than a few). The popular Internet opinion on a subject gets thrown around often by people who spend absolutely no time independently researching the validity of said opinion’s assertions. These people are allowing our most vital ability, that of critical and rational thought, to slip away without a struggle, because it’s easier to be arrogantly ignorant than confidently educated.

Now for the turn. The Internet, and by extension social media, is not entirely to blame for this loss of individuality. All the Internet has done is facilitate it on a larger scale. Before the Internet, people were still willing to blissfully submit themselves to popular opinion…the methods were simply smaller scale and less technologically advanced: newspapers, radio, television, family, religion, neighborhoods, etc. These people have always existed, and will always exist. We just get to see a wider variety, with a louder voice, because of the Internet.

The irony is that the Internet is also the best, easiest, most readily available tool for facilitating the resurgence of critical thought and individuality, if only the will and desire existed.

topic: eggplant

I felt like writing something, but I didn’t really have an idea to springboard off of. I asked Twitter and Facebook for a topic, and here we are. I do not guarantee factual accuracy in these provided topic posts, nor do I guarantee any semblance of reason or sense. Sorry.

From Austin, I will write something about eggplants.

Few people are aware, but the eggplant (Solanum melongena) is actually a member of the Solanaceae family of flowering plants, also known as nightshades. Don’t let the name alarm you, however; while it may be a part of the nightshade family, it is not closely enough related to Atropa belladonna (commonly known as Deadly Nightshade) to have any harmful effects other than the truly terrible taste and texture of its fruit, also called “eggplant.”

Fewer people are aware that the eggplant is technically classified as a berry, and fewer yet are aware that the bitterness of the eggplant’s seeds are due to its high levels of nicotinoid alkaloids. If that sounds like something you’d find in a cigarette, that’s because the eggplant is a close cousin of Nicotiana tabacum, also known as “tobacco.” So we have eggplant, the flowering plant that produces a berry of the same name, which is related to Deadly Nightshade and tobacco. Ready for some new facts? Eggplant is also related to potatoes, chili peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of different berries.

The most common culinary uses of the eggplant include use in the French ratatouille, the Italian parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan), and the Iranian kashk e-bademjan (loosely translated to eggplant gruel). The eggplant berry, like humans, is made up mostly of water. When preparing it for cooking, some recommended that, also like humans, you slice or cube and salt for a couple of hours before actually cooking, followed by a rinse and pat dry.

Lastly, I hate the smell of cooking eggplants. I loved my grandmother, but she had a habit of cooking eggplant, making the whole house reek of it and giving me a terrible headache.

topic: eating habits of bats

I felt like writing something, but I didn’t really have an idea to springboard off of. I asked Twitter and Facebook for a topic, and here we are. I do not guarantee factual accuracy in these provided topic posts, nor do I guarantee any semblance of reason or sense. Sorry.

From @ritzyfoxx, I will write something about the eating habits of bats.

This is not as easy at it would seem; there are many different types of bats, and they each have their own eating habits. I’ll focus on some of the more well-known varieties: fruit bat, vampire bat, and Batman.

There are actually many different types of fruit bats, but they have generally similar eating habits. Most are either frugivorous (subsist mainly on a diet of fruit juice) or nectarivorous (subsist mainly on a diet of nectar licked from flowers). Much like bees, both frugivorous and nectarivorous bats assist in plant distribution and pollination by carrying seeds or pollen as they travel.

As with the fruit bat, there is not a single species of vampire bat, but three. All three vampire bat species (the common vampire bat [Desmodus rotundus], the hairy-legged vampire bat [Diphylla ecaudata], and the white-winged vampire bat [Diaemus youngi]) subsist entirely on a diet of blood. The common vampire bat contains thermoreceptors on its nose, which allow it to detect areas on its prey where blood flows near the skin. They only emerge to feed when it is full dark; while the hairy-legged and white-winged vampire bats feed primarily on birds, the common vampire bat prefers the blood of mammals (including humans, when it needs to increase the population of vampires).

Batman eats only the finest foods. These spectacular dishes are either prepared and served by his faithful butler, Alfred Pennyworth, or purchased in Gotham City’s finest and most exclusive restaurants.

Here endeth the lesson.

where elements meet

I went to Venice Beach with a pad and a pen, and a singular purpose: to write…something. I had no idea what I wanted to write…perhaps I wanted my own small Walden. I went, I stood, and I wrote what came to me. There’s no real point to it other than writing for the sake of writing.

At the edge of the world, two of the fundamental elements collide in a never ending struggle. The ocean crashes onto the soft granular bulwark of the beach, eating away at it with each rolling wave. The earth draws the overreaching waters down into itself, recovering what was taken and reinforcing itself against the impending assault. Neither side able to press advantage and turn the tide (if you’ll pardon the phrase) in its favor.

Here I stand, at the edge of existence,
Firmly rooted in soft, yet stable earth,
Watching as the waves grow with persistence,
Roaring in with inimitable mirth.

This is nothing new. For longer than history, the waves have crashed against the shores. I suppose, in the bigger picture, there are more examples of aquatic victories than those of the earth, but these are the battles not of decades or even generations, but of eons and eras. They share commonalities, water and earth…they both support life, and both contain oxygen in their respective molecular makeups. They share commonalities with each other, but neither can truly ever be the other.

The world of water and the world of earth are intrinsically different.

As it is with water and earth, so it is with people. We share many commonalities with each other, but our collective experience can never be truly duplicated in another. We are each the product of our own unique existence.

I will never see the world as you do;
We may never see eye to eye.
I may never understand what drives you,
But it costs me nothing to stop and try.

Water and earth are what they are; they can not choose to be or not to be. People are blessed (and cursed) with self awareness, and with it, the ability to understand.

It is a choice unique to us. Why should we not take advantage of it? I suppose it was best said by a pair of time traveling philosophers…

In the words of Ted Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq.:

Be excellent to each other.

[future edit: little did I know, but I was touching on an idea I would learn about a year and a half or so later in grad school: existential isolation.]

i cannot abide fake people

I cannot abide fake people. Now, when I say “fake people,” I don’t mean fictional characters, figments of my imagination, mannequins, homunculi, shapeshifting aliens, or any other way in which it can be taken as a person who is not really a person. No, when I talk about “fake people” I am referring to a specific type of person that has become increasingly prevalent in our society; the sycophant. I consider sycophants to be as low and worthy of disdain as hypocrites (I wrote a poem about hypocrisy, years ago; if I find it, I’ll post it to make my feelings on the subject clear). There is a plague (metaphorical, not literal, unless you’re using the term “literal” hyperbolically, in which case stop it because you’re killing English) of sycophancy spreading throughout this world, and it is incredibly disappointing.

Let me assure you of one thing: if I’m your friend, it’s because I like you, not because you can do something for me. I’m not your friend because of any social status boost I get by being your friend. I’m not your friend because I know I’ll need something from you now or in the future. I’m not your friend because you’re the person that everyone wants to be friends with. I’m your friend because I think you’re cool, and I want to be friends. I’m not going to reject your friendship simply because you have nothing to offer me beyond your friendship.

Then again, I’m not a self-centered asshole (I don’t think).

[future edit: I was almost certainly being passive-aggressive about someone during a time in my life when I didn’t use a lot of my friendships or support systems effectively.]

surprise step-siblings

Let me preface the rest of this by saying that I’m not making excuses for my behavior or his, but I do want to paint a picture of this time in my life in order to provide a better context for this tale. That being said, I went through a period of a few years where I didn’t talk to my father. It started either in late 1996 or early 1997 (the most I can narrow it down is that school year, my last before high school), and if I recall correctly (which I’m probably not), lasted until after I had completed high school (my junior year).

That would put our reconnection somewhere around the year 2000 at the earliest, more likely in the 2001-2003 range.

The year leading up to…the incident…was not exactly the highlight of my life. In the summer of 1996, my parents divorced and my maternal grandmother died. I went into the eighth grade with drastic changes at home, and losing a person who meant more to me than words can ever properly convey. Needless to say, I was not what one could consider “well.” Looking back, though I thought I was doing fine at the time, I can see now that I was not handling events with any semblance of grace. I was unreasonably difficult to my mother (for which I carry a deep regret), reactionary to my father (for various reasons), and I didn’t care about school in the slightest.

It’s this last bit that sparked…the incident (oooh, dramatic!).

My father was a teacher at the magnet school I was attending (he still is). He pulled me out of my advanced algebra course and into his classroom during one of his planning periods in response to a notice he had received from one of my teachers (I forget which). Our conversation became heated, and I said and did some things that I am not proud of. However, both of us being of stubborn stock, neither of us would apologize for our behavior, and thus began years of silence between us.

When we finally reconnected, I discovered that he had remarried during our silence. His high-school sweetheart, Pam, was the lucky lady, and a mother of three; I had two step-sisters and a step-brother! I had met her and the youngest of her children sometime after my parents’ divorce, and had interacted with them on occasion (mostly while playing Hearts with my father’s duplex neighbor), but I never met (or I don’t remember meeting) the others.

Did I mention that by the time my father and I had reconnected, he was no longer married to Pam? That’s right, folks; for a year or two, unbeknownst to me, this only child had three step-siblings.

Crazy world, huh?

the well is dry

If asked to describe myself with a few key words, I feel almost certain that “ambitious” would not be on the list. This is not to say that I don’t have certain aspirations, but I would not go so far as to call them ambitions. Specifically, I want to talk about a certain aspiration of mine that I have trouble with: writing.

The written word can be as much of an art form as music, painting, and performance when used gracefully. As with any art, each artist has his or her own particular style. I consider myself somewhat whimsical, with an inexplicable (and unapologetic, damn you) adoration for alliteration abounding and a passion for a purposeful plethora of parenthetical punctuation (case in point, every single post that I’ve submitted so far on this site has contained at least one parenthetical aside; it’s just how I roll, baby). My grasp and control of the English language is a personal point of pride, and I adore the written word as a true art form, but what is an artist without imagination and inspiration?

Ah, now we come to the crux of my aforementioned trouble. The well is dry; to be perfectly honest, I hold some doubt as to whether the well was ever…well, wet.

Allow me to explain; to elaborate; to explicate; to expound; to, dare I say, elucidate.

Once an idea has taken root (in the well; I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense, just go with it), my mind is capable of creating the entire tree; every branch, leaf, knot, and twig starts growing and taking form beautifully. My problem is in finding a seed (something to write about) and in finding a mental connection that I feel will plant said seed (so that it can, you guessed it, take root). For example, consider the majority of my college papers. I spent more time staring at a blank screen than I spent writing them. Once a single sentence, regardless of its eventual placement in the paper, managed to make its way to the screen, the rest would just flow from my fingertips, but finding that first sentence was a (pardon my English) bitch. The main reason for my previous (and potential future) lack of activity here is this very issue; the initial idea and a connection to that idea.

I found the seed of a novel, half a decade ago. The damn thing just won’t plant.

failing to follow through

For the less perceptive among you, it has been over a year since I last submitted my words for your eyeballs. Fun fact: it took nearly a year for the aforementioned previous submission itself to appear before you. Having said that, take a moment to appreciate the title of this particular submission; go ahead, I’ll wait a tic for the point to sink in.

Though I hardly think it necessary, I do feel that saying it outright is going to be conducive to my thought process as I type: I have always had (and will likely continue to have, to certain degrees) a problem following through with a great deal of things. I have fleeting ideas that I take initial steps to realize, but over time, these ideas (and the efforts I have put into realizing them) fall by the wayside, and slowly fade away. I wouldn’t say that I’m unreliable, I just either fall into this sort of ennui or my aforementioned social anxiety kicks in about most of my goals which result in their inevitable failure. They go out not with a bang, but with a prolonged whimper (sorry for the paraphrasing there, T.S.).

My mind is positively alight with examples, but I think I’ll narrow it down to one of my more recent shortcomings. I made a resolution at the start of this year, you know. I was going to put in a conscious effort to community with my friends and family on a regular basis. I bet you can imagine how that worked out, hm? Think back and count the number of times I’ve chatted with you this year, be it via call, text, IM, Facebook comment, email, smoke signal, Morse code, or any other method of communication you can imagine. Having a hard time coming up with a non-pathetic number, right?


Now, the most important part: why? This is not directed at the specific example of communication, but at the habit itself. Why does this pattern exist? Why, when I am obviously aware of it, do I not change it? If I knew, then perhaps I could. I have a feeling that it may have to do with my self-esteem issues. I don’t think I’ll be ultimately successful in any of my efforts, so the motivation to see them through to the end is non-existent. If that’s the case, all I need to do to ensure that I follow through is…solve my crippling lack of self-esteem (future edit: oh god this old stuff is hard to read sometimes).

Let’s see if I follow through on that.

[edit fRoM tHE fUTuRe!: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha my dissertation.]