Unkown Blogger Pursues a Deranged Quest for Normalcy

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Posted by ubpdqn on November 16, 2015

I have failed in a quest for freedom from both the black dog and the chemical designed to keep it at bay. The personal toll is nothing new or even alarming but the toll on the amazing and strong people who I love and (for reasons I am grateful for) have loved me.

The world is a complex place and agony and ecstasy frequently co-exist and perhaps with the exception of the “unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics explaining the natural world”, human behaviours remain sources of misery and joy to me, currently in unequal measure and beyond my comprehension and capacity to deal with.

I have had a simple approach to the “world”. I have tried to be open but from within an extremely shy or socially inept vantage point. I have learned, to some degree of sophistication, to be an effective, clear and consistent communicator (as it is necessary for my job) but this has not protected me from being harmed by inconsistency, irresponsibility, at times frank dishonesty (all assessed from my internal simplistic frame of reference).

The perfect misery has overwhelmed my capacity to deal with it and though an old enemy I contemplate why continue to fight and continue the harm on my loved ones. This is clearly the black dog barking but clothed in a rationalization.

I know I have tried my best. I know the world is not fair, or just and that in real terms I have many “first world” issues and not am suffering as many many people from starvation, natural disaster, terrorist attacks or even more common struggles of everyday life.

I pray for those souls suffering from demons within or circumstances without and those remarkable heroes who stand by their loved ones. I pray for the souls of those suffering after the Parisian attacks including my daughter and her partner.

I pray for some relief one way or another to give my long suffering loved ones some joy.

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Posted by ubpdqn on October 12, 2015


World Mental Health Day passed on 10 October. There has been an intense media frenzy in relation to Mental Health. This is all well-intentioned and some may even be useful. It has been a challenging time in many ways. I cannot help reflecting on the invisible, those who suffer in darkness, and those unsung heroes who stand beside them and lament a fickle media environment that at times exploits rather than illuminates, trivializes rather than explains.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” in some ways explores an individuals inner mental life in order to cope with a world he finds difficult to fit in and the transformative power of a random upheaval. My partner and I shed tears at the ending at the denouement of the film: the emergence of Walter Mitty from his safe inner-life into the “real” world brimming with opportunities and real human connections at a time when he has lost the job he has been a dutiful servant for the majority of his working life. As the metaphorical butterfly emerges from the cocoon, the triumphant celebration of Mitty and all he represents is declared to the world through a magazine cover by a photographer who saw more than an automaton in a corporate machine designed to excite, titillate and otherwise evoke response.

This is, alas, just a movie. A gentle, beautifully crafted and shot piece but fiction nonetheless. I hope that my fellow sufferers and their long suffering heroic fellow travellers are subject to uplifting transformative random events and opportunities and that life can imitate art.

This image from Clifford Pickover’s tweet stands as a metaphor of “seeing the world from another perspective”…an opportunity to learn, to solve, to discover, to heal, to develop, to grow…


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Posted by ubpdqn on September 20, 2015


I never I thought I would reach this ‘milestone’. I continue to learn a lot from Mathematica Stackexchange and it has also been a refuge and restorative  during a year in which my mother died after a sudden unexpected illness,  I suffered a life threatening illness  myself and I am struggling through some very difficult times.

Depression and suicide has been very topical  and given various faces including famous sporting identities. I hope it portends greater understanding, greater research, effective treatments and in general a more compassionate and peaceful world.

n the spirit of RUOK day and World Suicide Prevention day…may we be open and sensitive to those who suffer in silence and translate slogans into connections, may we venerate those who stand by those sufferers and may we support those who are left behind when the worst comes…peace to all.


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To Be or Not To Be

Posted by ubpdqn on April 28, 2015

The current times cast a surreal and incomprehensible shadow over my dysthymic diathesis.  Thousands of lives lost in Nepal, millions of people displaced and children at risk; 11 people (from Australia, from France, Ghana, Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and Indonesia) waiting for execution in Indonesia, the tragic suicide of Sawyer Sweeten at the age of 19…these are part of the current media cycle…they are manifest tragedies from large to small scale and they are without doubt only the tip of the iceberg of macro and micro human suffering happening in the world today. Our view is skewed by a frame of reference, a frame at times imperceptibly sculpted by the complex interaction of the media and our “appetites”.

The large scale devastations such as Nepal are unintelligible to me. The tragedy of suicide, though a locally devastating event, is no less tragic to me for the hidden suffering of the individual and the expanding indelible scar on those left behind…the media frequently displays “friends” who assert “it came as a shock”, “we had no idea”… “if only he or she reached out”…I  suspect these self described friends would in all honesty do nothing, not want to know, displace responsibility…in short opt out of care, action or support. This is the microcosm of the large scale inertia and apathy that limits our compassion to people enduring the incomprehensible suffering of natural disaster, war, genocide, terrorism and other ideologically driven malevolence and I am as guilty or worse as any in this regard. Steven Pinker inspires to reflect on the better Angels of our nature and no doubt he builds a compelling case of a trajectory towards peace over millenia. However, my direct and local experience from the inside of melancholia has been that true kindness, support and understanding are much rarer than the overstated “circle of friends”. Of course, this is, perhaps, more a reflection of my character traits than indictment of others but perhaps it goes some way to insight into the “surprise” people (“friends”) exhibit. There is no doubt that true loved ones, those there in good times and bad are caught devastatingly unaware of the depth of the internal suffering that leads a person to an ultimate irreversible and far-reaching event…the sufferer wants not only to stop there own suffering but the burden they have imposed on those they love and have been there…these are a different class of people to the “friends” who express sentiments that they would never act on.

I believe these true loved ones are true heroes, as are those common people who are trying to rescue people in Nepal, those children standing by bodies out of respect, those countless and nameless aid workers who are just doing their job (digging out bodies, helping people get food water). I give thanks to those people who stand by the children of the lesser gods be the poor, the devastated by natural disaster,  who stand by those on death row, who recognize the humanity of the different, the depressed, the psychotic and otherwise misfits of the world. True kindness, perhaps love, is patient, long suffering and potentially transformative. It is not a slogan, a sound byte.  I thank the heroes in my life and am grateful for these largely invisible towers of strength.

“We are Groot”.

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Its Not Your Flag

Posted by ubpdqn on March 2, 2015

Assumptions can be dangerous things and managers with perverse priorities beware.

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Of All The Souls

Posted by ubpdqn on February 28, 2015

Star Trek was an important influence on me. I looked forward to watching it every week during it’s original airing. A world in which a  black woman, an asian, a russian, a scotsman, a plain speaking country doctor and an alien worked harmoniously with their captain in a supportive and nurturing way for common noble purposes. This was a comforting vision of the future, particularly for a misfit with few evident redeeming features. It was Mr. Spock within this team, that I was particularly drawn to.  He applied his mind,…if I worked hard enough I could try to apply my mind and be a valuable member of society. Yet despite this his unshakable adherence to logic and rationality he was a loyal, a team player and a good friend. As Kirk observed: “of all the souls i’ve encountered in my travels his was the most human”.

I used to believe I worked in team reminiscent of the Enterprise crew and at times this idea sustained me. I was sadly and somewhat cruelly mistaken. My current experience of cold, friendless demolished team in no way diminishes the power and hopefully transformative aspiration of the Roddenberry vision and Spock as a central character of this vision of the future. As I mused in “Deathly Wisdom”, ‘it is necessary for us to continue to believe what is not true, in order that it may one day be true.’…it is too late for me but I have great faith in my children and great hope for their future progeny (should they be so blessed).


Thank you Leonard Nimoy for your skill and talent in all your endeavours and in particular as Mr. Spock.

May your soul “live long and prosper”, as your characters influence has for generations and I hope generations to come.






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I’m No Andy

Posted by ubpdqn on February 22, 2015

The “Shawshank Redemption” is my favourite motion picture. I was extremely reticent to watch it when it was first released. However, once it started I was transfixed. This has never abated.   In the movie, Andy serves almost 20 years when the confluence of reaching breaking point and opportunity for freedom arise. It approaches 20 years (30 years if I count my years as a young slave) that I have been an inmate of “Chateau D’If” (my less than flattering but nonetheless accurate descriptor for my  indentured servitude).  Perhaps, this realization contributed to the uplifting effect of a recent screening.  I have long struggled with the “black dog”. However, more recently my despondency is more reflective of the increasing resemblance of my “jailers” to Warden Norton below. This marked Andy’s epiphany: Andy’s genius was that  he played the long game and strategically set up the pieces of the end game like a chess grand master.     Freedom…glorious freedom… I still find the flawless execution (as only can be contrived in fiction) exhilirating: I am no Andy, however.  I sadly am more like Brooks…institutionalized, irreversibly damaged and afraid of the real world: I yearn to be  like Red: but alas I have no friend, no Andy to illuminate the path to salvation or anticipating my release and journey to Zihuatanejo, no priest to inspire my as did Edmond Dantes, I am on the “Green Mile”… Peace to fellow invisible isolated inmates. May we “get busy living or get busy dying”. May we soar in our minds while our jailers rejoice.

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Better Angels of Our Nature

Posted by ubpdqn on January 29, 2015

baounThis was one of my first kindle purchases. This is an excellent book. It is long but , I believe, important exploration of the decline of  violence in deep and broad set of contexts.

The book explores multiple data sources in attempt to prove and quantify the decline in violence and looks from multiple viewpoints (historical, psychological and other social scientific viewpoints) with a view to explaining this decline. The importance of the “leviathan”, economic prosperity and mutual dependence, the feminine influence, empathy and most importantly reason. I found the “pacificists” dilemma a very useful device for explaining how these factors change the payoff matrix to encourage non-violent cooperation.





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Posted by ubpdqn on August 25, 2014


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Posted by ubpdqn on May 19, 2014



Clouds never cease to amaze me. The timescales of persistence the diverse variety of forms in such an unstable environment continues to seem remarkable to me.  A recent extremely windy day provided an opportunity to witness the longer term and more evanescent forms…

I have experienced what seems like years of unrelenting external stresses, with the recent political turmoils somewhat like an engagement in a new war I neither wished to participate in nor was equipped to fight…a peace treaty seems to have been reached by the powerful on both sides while we in the trenches are grateful for the quiet from cessation of intense shell fire from both sides.

Yet, in this “peace” the corrosive, painful and oppressive structural stresses are unrelieved…as a broken and weak soul I commit to taking no more. I have appealed for mercy…the oppressive load has been lifted and whatever happens next I know I have spoken the truth, I have acted not for myself, I have shed the fair weather acquaintances and other pseudo-friends and stand with my conscience intact and with the soothing and strong love of my family…the only love that counts…an authentic frequently painful but always transformative.

I have experienced a measure of peace for the first time in years and for however long it lasts I am grateful…forgiveness…hmm well that is another matter. “The Railway Man” and “Philomena” are two movies which both have major themes of forgiveness. In “The Railway Man”, Eric Lomax is ultimately able to forgive his Japanese torturer when he sees his torturer’s humanity and the suffering and sorrow his torturer experienced in the years since the tragic events. In the case of “Philomena”, the Catholic church representatives were recalcitrant and unmoved by Philomena’s plight or her petitions and rendered no apology. Philomena’s forgiveness emerged from her own nature and strength of character and abiding faith. Both Eric Lomax and Philomena Lee felt compelled to publicly express their stories and journey.  I do not have Philomena’s strength or virtue  but the institution is no less paradoxical in having the form of benevolence but having incontrovertibly acted malevolently upon me…yes forgiveness is just a word but peace is very much welcome…and it is not the product of any benevolence from persons and institutions…




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