Friday, August 31, 2012

Kristen's Korner: "My Bipolar Boyfriend"

Yesterday evening the lovely and effervescent Kristen told me that she had composed a lil' something for this blog. I had no idea she was working on this, but after reading it I couldn't help but think that she expressed some things about bipolar disorder better than I have and maybe ever could. And she wants to write more stuff for this site, too! So expect more out of Kristen's Korner from here on out.

So without further ado...

"My Bipolar Boyfriend"

First, I’d like to thank Chris for letting me borrow his blog. I don’t have the time nor the patience to keep up a blog of my own, but I do (on occasion) feel led to write, and requested a venue to share my thoughts.

Second, I’ll introduce myself. My name is Kristen Bradford. You’ve perhaps seen my name referenced in Chris’ entries, or even seen pictures of me on here in the past year. I am proud to have earned the role of “Chris Knight’s girlfriend.” He is my first boyfriend - the only serious relationship I’ve ever had in my 27 years of life, and I can honestly say I have never been so happy before.

Now that I’ve gotten the housekeeping things out of the way, it’s time to delve into what I want to talk about... bipolar disorder.

Those of you who have been reading The Knight Shift for some time will know that Chris has not kept his mental condition a secret. In fact, he wants you to know about it. We were barely in the “open communication” stage on eHarmony when he revealed his condition to me. At the time, although I had heard of it, I didn’t really know much about it. Fourteen months later, I am still struggling to understand what bipolar is... although I never truly will, since I don’t have it.

***

I am one of those people that likes to help others. Whether it’s a friend who needs someone to listen, or a veteran’s disability case I’m working at my job, I want to do whatever I can for others. So it’s been difficult for me this past year, because although Chris has become the person I am the closest to, I can’t always fix things. Sometimes he calls me in the midst of a bipolar episode. All I want to do is comfort him and help him feel better, yet I may fail in doing so. Those are the times that I feel inadequate as a girlfriend, wishing I could do more.

But I am slowly learning that I can’t just fix bipolar. Chris is always going to have it (unless, God-willing, a cure is discovered). Nothing I say or do will make it go away. Chris may be a person of reason, but bipolar doesn’t deal with reason. He has to battle his mind, a mind that wants to trap him in either a state of depression or mania. I cannot fully comprehend what that must be like, and honestly I don’t think I want to know.

All I can do is be there for him. If he needs to talk - even at 3 in the morning - he knows I’ll be there to answer the phone. I’m not going to fix his condition, but I am someone he can lean on when he needs it.

What makes this difficult on the loved ones surrounding someone with bipolar? First, you never know when an episode will strike. Although medicine does wonders, it isn’t a cure. Episodes still happen (but luckily, they do pass). It’s especially hard for me, though, when Chris is at his home and I’m at mine - about an hour and half away - and I can’t physically be there for him during an episode. Sometimes episodes will put a monkey wrench in plans that have been made. But that can happen with any type of illness - even the common cold or a stomach flu. I am trying to remind myself that although there may not be much projected outward (since it’s a purely internal disorder), that doesn’t negate the fact that it is a medical condition that may require time apart until Chris feels better.

I’m also learning that bipolar is nobody’s fault. It’s not my fault if he gets depressed or recalls a bad memory - I just may happen to be there when it happens. It doesn’t mean I caused it (which is taking me a while to understand). And it’s certainly not Chris’ fault. Chris is a genuine, decent, and honest person that I am thankful to have in my life. He is one of the kindest people I have ever met. But because of bipolar, he has done things in his past - and even a few things since we started dating - that can be attributed to the bipolar, not him. I cannot blame him for a mind he can’t always control. He is always apologetic, regretting what has happened, but I know the true Chris inside is not the person that bipolar may portray him to be.

That’s what I want people to recognize - bipolar doesn’t define a person. It is, unfortunately, a part of the person that has it. It’s like Bruce Banner and the Hulk. The Hulk is inside Bruce, but Bruce can’t control when he turns green or what havoc he may cause afterward. But the Hulk doesn’t define Bruce Banner - Bruce is an intelligent scientist who uses his talents to help others (anyone watch “The Avengers” this summer?). But there are times he gets angry, and the Hulk emerges - ready to smash! Can Bruce Banner be blamed for what the Hulk does?

***

What do I want readers to take away from this?

-Remember that bipolar disorder isn’t an easy thing to deal with - for the person suffering OR the loved ones surrounding.


-You have to learn patience. It may take a while to find the right medicine to manage the condition, and episodes can be difficult but do pass.


-Don’t give up. If you have bipolar (or any mental condition, for that matter), remind yourself that it can’t keep you down forever. Rely on your support system, your counselor, your medicine. You are not alone. And to those who know someone with a mental condition - please don’t give up either. Don’t give up on that loved one. It’s not going to be an easy road to walk, but you may be the only support they have.

I know that life has its ups and downs, and may be moreso with Chris and I, as he goes through life managing his disorder. But I wouldn’t take any other road than the one I’m on. We all have our burdens to bear - Chris just has one that is more difficult (yet less visual to others) than most people. Despite the bipolar, he can still have a normal life. And I’m honored to be part of it, and know we will get through whatever challenges may arise down the road.

Bipolar may not be easy to live with or have a cure... but it is controllable, and doesn't have to stop those affected by it from enjoying life. Chris and I are certainly enjoying ours.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

About the Republican National Convention...

Since three readers have asked me this afternoon what I think about the Republican National Convention going on right now in Tampa... and about the crazy rules changes that the Romney camp seems to be hellbent on implementing... maybe that means I'm supposed to post something.

So here it is:

It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Republican party were to split apart after this election, and maybe even before then.

If so, I can't see how that would be anything but a good thing.

I've seen this coming for a long time. So have a lot of other observers. Those among the Republicans who genuinely desire less government, slashed taxes and cut spending believe - with no small amount of evidence supporting their claim - that they have been incrementally squeezed out of having influence within their own party. The "old boys network" of party elites can't have the grassroots gettin' too uppity, ya see. The rank and file have to be clamped down on. Punished, even. But I can't remember it ever being so blatant as it is become this week down Tampa way.

I'm not active in the Republican party. But I do know plenty of good folks who are (along with good people in the Democrat party). And a lot of them are getting mighty peeved at what the "GOP-e" are doing to their sincere efforts toward reducing the size of government.

The Republican bigwigs have become like an abusive spouse: the kind that beats the poor wife and then says "Where else are you gonna go bay-bee?" It's been that way for awhile now. And the Republican leaders are choosing to be ignorant of the fact that the ordinary citizens making up the party are getting up the nerve to at long last retaliate.

Like I said, I can't see how this could be a bad thing at all. If the Republicans split, it could give this country something it hasn't had in a long, long time...

A real honest-to-gosh second major party.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An open letter to the citizens of New Orleans

Dear people of New Orleans:

Right now Isaac is still a tropical storm. But we all know how fickle these Atlantic cyclone systems can be. It could still draw enough strength from the warm waters of the Gulf to intensify into a major hurricane. And at the moment most of the computer models have it following the same track that Katrina did seven years ago.

I blogged a lot about Katrina and its aftermath in 2005. Most of it had to do with the failures of government at various levels, from the mayor's office on up. I don't want to do that again in 2012.

So let's be blunt...

Ray Nagin is not mayor of New Orleans anymore.

Kathleen Blanco is not governor of Louisiana anymore.

George W. Bush is not President of the United States anymore.

You folks still have time. My advice is to play it safe, take some initiative, and get the hell out of there right now.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Chris

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jerry Nelson has passed away

Late last night it hit me that I haven't posted any classic Sesame Street clips in quite some time. And I almost went for another Bert and Ernie skit. Even had one picked out. It just sorta popped into mind for no apparent reason. Dunno why I didn't use it at the time but it was like something was telling me, "wait". Maybe it was providential...

The very sad news today is that Jerry Nelson, legendary puppeteer who brought Count von Count, Herry Monster, Sherlock Hemlock, Amazing Mumford and many other lovable Sesame Street characters to life, has died at the age of 78. It had been eight years since Nelson had done physical puppeteering but he continued to provide his voice to the characters. He even appeared as the telethon announcer in last year's movie The Muppets. Nelson also worked on The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock.

Here is Count von Count, in a clip that seems especially appropriate today...

And that clip that I thought of using last night? Here it is: Jerry Nelson performing Count along with Jim Henson as Ernie and Frank Oz as Bert, in one of the most disturbing (just look at Ernie's eyes) Sesame Street skits ever...

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family this afternoon.

Thanks for all the great laughs and good memories, Jerry. And if the Count could, he would be counting "ONE! One new angel in Heaven, AH-AH-AH-AH!!"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Todd Akin is why the 17th Amendment was always a bad idea

As I intimated in my previous post, I arrived way late to witness the tempest surrounding Todd Akin at the apparent zenith of its wrath. But now that friends have caught me up to speed on it...

Let's ignore for the moment that what Akin said is not an isolated incident. That in fact ridiculous, nonsensical and downright ignorant statements seem to be a chronic malady of those in high office (how Sheila Jackson Lee is still in Congress, I haven't a clue). It's not even the worst thing I've come across said by a politician about rape: the all-time record holder for that has to be Clayton Williams who once remarked that if rape is "inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."

Now that I know what the Akin situation is about, what is most on my mind about it is that this is why the popular election of senators was never a good thing, and why the Seventeenth Amendment needs to be repealed.

I have to point out that the Founders intended for the House to represent the people and for the Senate to represent the individual states. Senators were not to be glorified "congressmen": they were to be chosen by their respective state legislatures.

I can tick off a lot of benefits found in the original system. That it necessitated a state's people to be more aware, more involved and as a consequence tending to be wiser in regard to their local government was one of them. And I've long thought that the legislatural appointment of senators had an elegance to it befitting the wisdom of the Founders.

Look at what popular election of senators has degenerated into: the guttermost disgusting campaigning in American political history, only a hair shy of that for President. We already knew that but the Todd Akin situation has made what should be a matter solely for the state of Missouri and her people... into something of national "importance". Indeed, most of the demands for Akin's withdrawal from his race are from his fellow Republicans who insist that their party's retaking the Senate trumps any and all other considerations.

Good God. Have we really come to this point, as a country? Where we don't even pretend anymore that our politics is anything but a game to be "won" by any means necessary?

This is why the United States is supposed to be a republic and not a democracy. And for once I don't even need both of the "major parties" to make my case. Just one of them is doing it fine enough.

There can be no return to "civility in politics" when the current process itself is codified incivility.

It's late, I'm tired and maybe a little cranky...

I'm just getting back home from a few days and this is what I find...

Harry Harrison passed away last week, Tony Scott died yesterday and now tonight word is that Phyllis Diller has left us.

Augusta National Golf Club has caved and is now admitting women as members.

And some congressman named Akin is all over my news feed about "legitimate rape" or somesuch, whatever that is.

Last night Kristen and I saw The Expendables 2. 'Twas the most dumbest fun/funnest dumb gloriously loud hella awesome action movie I've seen since the first movie two years ago. And it still makes more sense than too much of real life that I'm looking at this late hour.

(Incidentally, this movie has the highest testosterone level I've ever seen in a film... and that's even before Chuck Norris arrives to show up everyone :-)

Seriously though: Harrison was a master science-fiction writer. His Make Room! Make Room! was the basis of the movie Soylent Green. Also should mention that his West of Eden was one of the first serious sci-fi novels that I ever read. Tony Scott left an indelible mark upon motion pictures with Top Gun, Crimson Tide, True Romance and a bunch of other movies (the opening titles of Days of Thunder alone are considered a masterpiece). And I've no doubt that Phyllis Diller is back onstage with Bob Hope tonight, playing to a crowed theater in Heaven.

Thoughts and prayers going out to their families.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

BEING BIPOLAR, Part 6: Back In The Saddle Again

This is the sixth installment of an ongoing and admittedly irregular series on The Knight Shift about what it is like to have the mental illness called bipolar disorder. I am attempting this endeavor with candor, with honesty, and at times with humor. If you're a new-ish reader of this blog you may wish to read the previous entries of Being Bipolar and check out the video supplements along with them. You don't have to go back into previous essays in order to "get" what I'm writing about this time, but you are certainly invited to read them at your convenience :-)

So it's been awhile since I did an installment of Being Bipolar. Like, more than a year.

Much has happened since then. Mom passed away. There have been other family and friends that have also left us. But also, many new family and friends have come into my life as well.

I've been able to do the first bit of serious traveling that I could enjoy in a long time. I finally have that female miniature dachshund that I've been threatening to possess.

The second most important thing that's happened is that God brought a very wonderful, sweet, godly and beautiful woman who I am madly in love with into my life... and for some reason or another she seems to be madly in love with me too.

Most important, is that I can see now how everything that I have gone through has drawn me closer to God than I've ever been before.

Are there regrets? Yes, absolutely. Regrets that I can't doubt I will continue to carry with me until the end of my days in this broken world.

But I have also seen God's wonderful hand at work, that He has always been holding me. I would have to say that one reason for the absence of writing about the bipolar has been that, I was able to let go of some things that were beyond my control. Things that I was desperately trying to fix and could not. And I had to finally acknowledge to myself and to Him that "God, I can't do anymore. I've done all I can. This is Yours to handle. Take it."

I had to reach a point of complete physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion from my own efforts, and do what I should have done months earlier: lay that burden down before God, not knowing or even caring what He might do with it.

How could I have possibly known that He was preparing me to have so many good things?

In spite of it all, I was able at last to forgive myself for the wrongs I had done and for the things which went wrong that I could not have prevented and yet carried the burden of. And when I did that I was able, for the first time in my life, to experience the utmost joy of the grace of God.

I would go through it all again, if I had to, to reach the place where I am now with Him. With where He has put me. With where He is taking me still.

What have I been doing for much of this last year and more? Beholding His mighty hand.

I would say that all things considered, this past year has seen me able to be happier than I've ever been at all before.

And still lurking in the background of it all is the mental illness that nearly two years ago I publicly disclosed that I have.

From One Never-Ending Battle...

In one way or another, bipolar disorder has factored into nearly every major aspect of my life and way too many smaller ones. In fact, even as I write this I am experiencing a bipolar depressive episode. It makes putting my thoughts together and being motivated to write much more difficult than it would be for me under "normal" circumstance. It's one of the reasons why I haven't composed a Being Bipolar post all this time: so many false starts that I couldn't push myself through to complete.

It might be different this time though. I'm on a new medication for one thing. I'm still taking a daily dose of the other drug: the only drug we've found among the wild plethora of pharmaceuticals across this past decade which has allowed me to keep the bipolar in check. The new drug... which I am still getting accustomed to... allows me to be more productive during the depressive episodes especially. It's letting me be more physically fit as well. The previous drug I was on caused a weight increase that... well, was pretty heinous for a guy of my build, not to mention bringing about considerable lethargy. I have lost around fifty pounds since going off of that rotten stuff this past November. Physically I'm in the best shape that I've been in years. My newfound hobby of ballroom dancing might have something to do with that too, but anyway...

My mood is drastically more stable than it was over a year ago. Sometimes I've wondered if it might have been a good thing to wait this long before another Being Bipolar. In the short term you can't see much change one way or another. Only in retrospect, when you're able to study the data over a prolonged period of time, can you be confidently assured that yes, you really are observing yourself getting better.

There are new strategies that I have discovered and developed since last time that help me keep the bipolar in check. I'm going to be talking about some of those during a future installment. One of them, well... let's just say that it would be totally cool with me if a certain piece of software could get ported to the iPad so I could take my "therapy" wherever I go.

And then, there is the matter of my having gone public about bipolar disorder. Ever since I began this series and because of the coverage it received from Fox 8 WGHP, many people have written me to express tremendous amounts of appreciation and gratitude. Very often it comes from individuals who also must contend with bipolar disorder, either themselves or because they have to watch a loved one suffer from it. To have heard from so many, to be shown in some small way that this has made a positive impact in the lives of others, has been some of the best therapy I can imagine.

Revealing my bipolar disorder and choosing to chronicle my battle through this blog has turned into all kinds of curious blessing. And it has brought a huge sense of liberation with it. I'm no longer having to hide something that shouldn't be hidden away to begin with. Instead I'm free to confront it, to be bold in attacking it. This was something that I was born with, had no choice in being afflicted with it... but I'll do whatever it takes to control it.

Maybe that's why God let Mom pass when she did. One close friend told me after the funeral that Mom was able to see me take back my own mind and my own life. If so, then I will have to count that as one more "wink from God" among the many that have happened these long several months.

Most of this probably sounds remarkably easy to someone who doesn't have a mental illness. It has been anything but. I'm not deluding myself into believing that I will ever totally conquer bipolar. It's something I have to take responsibility for every day. Sometimes more than that. And I'm going to have to keep taking responsibility for it all the rest of my life.

I wish that I could have had my condition this much under control years ago. It would have no doubt kept me from getting hurt. It would have kept me from hurting many other people. My life would have probably turned out to have been radically more successful than it has been.

...To Another

Yes, what if I had been able to address my condition far more early?

What if I had never suffered bipolar disorder at all?

I'm going to share my asking "What if...?" because I have wondered about it. Have and even now been many times tormented by those questions.

Being able to enjoy life for the first time without bipolar wrecking havoc with it, has in some ways wrought a suffering almost as bad as the bipolar itself.

There is a second front in the war for my mind. One that in recent months I've found myself fighting as fiercely as against the bipolar: doing my best to not dwell upon what might have been.

I don't do "fake". I don't believe in "fake". If there has been any purpose at all to the strange weird path that my life has taken, it is to strive toward that virtue which the Bard articulated in Hamlet: "To thine own self be true". I am an ongoing experiment of the human condition, just as you are along with everyone else in this world. If a mental illness is what I have been dealt, then I will be honest about it, about all of it. I am not perfect and I'll never claim to be perfect. Whatever mistakes I make along the way, I'll own up to them if I haven't done so already.

Some people have tried to seriously convince me to take a stab at politics again. I doubt now that will ever happen. Too many people want an "ideal" candidate... and that's not me. Coming out with bipolar disorder has no doubt disqualified me from a lot of opportunities: maybe not officially, but in other ways.

I'm okay with that. I try to be okay with that anyway. On most days it works. And others...

What would my life have been without my own mind turning against itself? What opportunities could have opened up, absent the bipolar?

What if I could have been a successful writer, or filmmaker, or lawyer, or scientist? My interests are vast and sundry. My mind enjoys contemplating so many fields of study and yet has been kept in one way or another from pursuing them as much as I... as I... would have wanted.

What if I had been able to already be the husband I always wanted to be?

What if I could have been a father already?

"What if...?"

Two words that plague me when I'm alone at night. And most of the time those are followed by another word: "Why?"

"Why, God? Why did You let me have this?"

He never tells me anything but the same thing again and again: "My grace is sufficient."

But what if I could live my life all over again, only this time without the bipolar?

There was an episode of Lost where the survivors still on the island were propelled backward in time, to a night when they could have potentially changed the course of their fortunes. Locke knew that, but he refused to do it. It would have saved him a lot of pain, Sawyer reminded him. "No, I needed that pain," Locke replied, "To get to where I am now."

Maybe I needed all of this pain too. Including the pain of a mental illness that I would not wish upon a worst enemy. Maybe what I consider to be a good life wouldn't be the best life that I could have had accompanying that pain.

Kristen reminds me that if that had been for the way I've had to live with bipolar, we might have never met at all. She doesn't have to tell me the rest: that I would have missed having that happiness. Neither would I have possibly been drawn into the deepest and most wonderful relationship that I have with God today, without letting myself discover His grace and mercy at the end of that suffering.

I can't know what might have been. My heart knows that. My head... is learning it too.

I shouldn't regret where life would have taken me without the bipolar. I can only look forward to what will come of my life now that I have it under control, now that I'm learning with each new day how to make sure that it never again hurts me or those closest to me.

Fighting against my mind while also fighting against my doubts. And trusting God to not let me fall along the way.

I don't know if some people would consider that to be a "good" life. But it's certainly not a boring one. And from where I'm sitting tonight, depressive episode and all, looking back on where I've been and what I've gone through... it gives me a tingle to think about what God might yet have for me.

Maybe someday, long years from now, I won't have to ask "What if...?" or "Why?" anymore. On that far-flung day, the only thing I want to be telling God is, "What a great ride that was!"

Coming Attractions

Well, now that I've finally got Being Bipolar back up and running again, what can be expected in the near future?

More videos, no doubt. Heck, I still haven't made one with my iPad (and there's a wazoo of video apps on it that are begging to be employed!). Most of the times that I've tried to write about bipolar this past year were about the normal (more or less) routine that I go through to manage it. I'm able to do that now, and at least one thing I want to elucidate upon might arouse some chuckling from you, Dear Reader.

I also am feeling led to write about what bipolar disorder does to the ones that you love. Something that I have ample experience in regard to (unfortunately). But I've promised myself that I'm going to delve into this no matter how heartbreaking or painful it may be. One person already wrote to tell me that this series helped him to understand his wife's bipolar. Who knows: maybe this can save some relationships out there. If it does then I can't take credit for it. The work is ours, but the results are God's.

One thing that I knew but didn't realize how pervasive it is, is how many creative and artistic types out there are afflicted with bipolar. Okay, my own creativity has taken a hit too from this thing, but I'm gonna do my darndest to write about that and how I've been striving to get it back. I think it might be working 'cuz for the first time in awhile I've some new short film ideas. A few writing projects, too. So if producing this series is aiding me in finding my Muse again, so much the better for me. And I'm more than happy to use that to help others as well.

So keep your earballs and eyedrums wide open, 'cuz we're gonna hurtle even deeper into this blogger's strange and twisted mind! I can't promise you'll exit at a gift shop, but I'll do my best to educate, enlighten and entertain along the way. Sorta like Jerry Lewis! At least before he got canned.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Russian Devolution

In 1917 Russia, the revolution to overthrow the government was started by the Bolsheviks.

In 2012 Russia, the revolution to overthrow the government is being started by Pussy Riot.

I'm telling y'all here and now: our grandchildren's high school history books are going to be something else...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Photography at 1 trillion frames per second

My mind is reeling from thinking about the applications possible with this...

A sharp-thinking dude named Ramesh Raskar and his team of techies have come up with a way to take photos... at 1,000,000,000,000 frames per second. That's fast enough to watch an individual packet of photons from a laser moving through a soda bottle and being able to observe how the light particles scatter throughout.

And if you watch the video, you can also see how this technology might find its way into everything from medical imaging to search and rescue.

One thing that comes to mind is that in another decade or so, with enough refinement something like this could be put into a smartphone. The result? Your very own ESPER straight out of Blade Runner.

And then there is the notion of aiming this camera at a house, from across the street or from an aircraft, and being able to search it without having to acquire a warrant...

Well, as with all such things, with anything really, it's not the tool. It's how we choose to use it. And I'm thinking there are going to be some very neat uses for this.

Monday, August 13, 2012

6 Inches of Freedom: City of Reidsville discriminating against disabled! Pro-Monument protestors given "ridiculous" amount of space! ADA violation could incur $$$ penalties!

The Police Department of the City of Reidsville has as of late last week implemented and begun enforcing a policy of limiting those protesting for the return of the Confederate Soldiers Monument to a six-inch wide raised enclosure surrounding the former site of the monument, The Knight Shift has learned. Those who do not limit themselves to this "area" will be arrested.

This writer has attempted to contact Chief Edd Hunt to learn why. As of this evening I haven't heard from him or from anyone else in the police department. However one source did suggest that the policy came from "higher up".

Obviously there is a question of whether this policy violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, in that it is restricting of the rights of free assembly, of free speech, and also of petition (in the form of protest).

But that might be the least of the City of Reidsville's worries, folks...

Because this policy is also apparently in violation of Title II of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990!

A bit of refresher for those not up to speed (no pun intended). Early on the morning of May 23rd, 2011, the driver of a van crashed into the Confederate Soldiers Monument that had been standing at the intersection of Scales Street and Morehead Street in downtown Reidsville. The monument was erected in 1910 in honor and memory of those from Rockingham County who served in the Confederate army.

Now, you would think that the City of Reidsville - and its mayor, James Festerman - would have done the responsible thing, the right thing, by having the monument repaired and replaced with the insurance money. That's what's supposed to happen in a situation like that. But for the past year Mayor Festerman and the city council have done their absolute darndest to ignore this issue, hoping that it will simply "go away". In place of the monument there is now a plum-ugly planter sitting in the center of what most still refer to as Monument Circle. That hasn't stopped many people - from all walks of life - from standing on the circle to protest the city government's negligence. The protests are still going on strong more than a year later. A group called the Historic Preservation Action Committee (HPAC) has formed to pursue legal action in order to restore the monument.

(I have written about the monument issue previously, in an open letter to Mayor James Festerman and some thoughts about what the monument honestly stands for, in spite of "political correctness".)

But now it looks as if the City of Reidsville intends to wipe out peaceful demonstration in favor of the monument... or at least sparing it a half-foot of liberty.

The Reidsville Police Department is as of last week warning individuals that they must stand on the concrete enclosure surrounding the flower bed at the center of Monument Circle, if they wish to protest at all. Failure to do so (i.e. standing on the brick walkway) can and will result in arrest.

As of this evening, no one in the Reidsville Police Department has been able to tell me what city statute this policy derives from.

Here is Monument Circle this afternoon, looking east from Morehead Street...

I didn't know how much space exactly it was that the protestors now have to stand on (other than it was, as one pro-monument leader told me today, a "ridiculous" amount) until I whipped out my tape measure...

Six inches! Six measly inches in which those standing on the site petitioning for the monument's return must be restrained to, under threat of arrest. The enclosure is almost twice as high off the surrounding walkway.

Why should anyone be given such an insanely tiny amount of public land - technically park land - in which to peaceably assemble and exercise their right of free speech? Especially when there's a whopping FIFTY-THREE INCHES of brick sidewalk on which they can safely stand?

But in doing this the City of Reidsville is also - as best as I can tell - in gross violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Specifically, Title II of the ADA, which pertains to discrimination on the basis of disability by state and local governments.

Six inches of "free speech zone"? Deviation from which will result in arrest?

Because I cannot for the life of me figure out how a person whose mobility is limited to a wheelchair, or a motorized scooter, or even one who must employ crutches or some other aid, can protest under such a ludicrous policy and not be arrested. For nothing more or less than the obligations demanded by their individual circumstance.

If the City of Reidsville insists upon limiting protest to those six inches of cement, then per the ADA it has the legal obligation to construct equal access to those with disabilities. Ever seen a wheelchair ramp leading up to a six-inch wide strip of concrete? Me neither.

But I can see this much: the City of Reidsville is discriminating against disabled individuals on top of some possibly egregious violation of constitutional rights. And for actively violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, that alone could make the City of Reidsville liable for $50,000 in penalties. Perhaps even as high as $100,000. Maybe even a lot more, if it's found that the city government is committing multiple violations of the ADA.

Mayor Festerman, members of the Reidsville City Council, I ask you...

...is it really worth trying to shut up the majority of public opinion about the Confederate Soldiers Monument with six inches of free speech? Is this attempt at political correctness honestly worth possibly losing a hundred thousand dollars of money that Reidsville doesn't have?

A question about Paul Ryan

Longtime readers of this blog know that I'm for fiscal conservatism and letting the free market be responsible for itself, without government interference. Meaning that among other things that I've never thought anything favorable about government bailout programs.

A few days ago Mitt Romney, the assumed Republican candidate for President, announced that Paul Ryan would be his running mate in this fall's election.

Paul Ryan is being touted as a "Tea Party conservative".

Okay, well then...

Why should this blogger, or anyone else for that matter, vote for a Romney/Ryan ticket when Ryan:

- voted for the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP)

- voted for bailouts of $14 billion for General Motors and Chrysler

- voted for bailouts of Bank of America, BB&T, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and other banks

- voted for bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

- voted for the insanely expensive Medicare Part D

?

The auto industry bailouts alone have honked me off to no end. As they should every citizen of this country.

So I'm sincerely asking supporters of Paul Ryan: how is his voting record indicative of someone who holds to financially conservative and responsible values? More to the point: why should I or anyone else vote for Ryan based on his record?

Don't even bother offering up bullcrap about "You're voting against Obama". I am not now or ever have voted for Obama. I need to know why I should vote for Romney/Ryan.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A word of wisdom from a minister friend

"The Law is a widower constantly seeking a girlfriend, and usually finds one at church."

Something that James Hodges, a very dear brother in the Lord and Baptist minister (and also bona-fide sci-fi novelist!) wrote.

I thought it was more than well worth sharing with my own readers.

James also recommended studying Romans 7:1-6 as that seems to be what led him to that terrific analogy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

It's taken me two visits to the theater before my thoughts have settled enough about The Dark Knight Rises to articulate them.

So what did I think of this, the final installment of Christopher Nolan's take on Batman?

More after the jump!

The Highlight Reel: Aaron Goins Jr. lays it down about pro wrestling and culture (especially pro wrestling)

Last week I brought two blogs to your attention: Once Upon A Time In My Head by Doug Smith and Life Lessons in Hope, Faith, & Love by Vanessa Tachenko. Well, it's been brought to my attention that another friend also has a blog and I think y'all will be mighty entertained by it!

From the twisted mind of Aaron Goins, Jr. (I mean that in a good way) comes The Highlight Reel, and as it turns out Aaron has been working on this one for going on three years now! But it's never too late to discover a good blog. On his, you'll find Aaron's musings, rants and ravings about everything from the state of professional wrestling and other sports, to his thoughts on movies and television and other happenings in our culture. Aaron and Doug are good friends and reading their blogs, I can't help but imagine the two of them having a no-holds barred talk show on premium cable. Maybe someday that will happen. If it does, it'll be in part because they were showing us their good commentary and mad skillz already.

Anyhoo, mash on over to The Highlight Reel for more from Aaron!

We'll be starving to death... but at least we'll be driving cleaner cars!

The drought in the Midwest is causing the price of food to soar worldwide. Especially for corn and corn-based products.

It could be less though in spite of the recent weather. That is, if more corn were available as feed for livestock farmers. But the Obama Administration refuses to let those farmers and ranchers have the needed corn. Instead, the corn is being used to fulfill government "mandates" for ethanol in gasoline. And it's making corn drastically scarce to those who depend on farming livestock (and who the rest of us depend upon in turn).

We don't need ethanol to survive. We do need food, however.

Can't help but be reminded of the government-enforced devastation that Ma Chalmers and her soybean worshipers wracked in Atlas Shrugged...

And pray at the Republican convention too, right? Right? Hello...?

A few weeks from now, on the eve of the Democrat National Convention starts in Charlotte, an event called Charlotte714 will be held at the Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre.

Here is how it's being described by USNews.com...

On the night before the Democratic convention in Charlotte, at the tip of America's bible belt, more than 40 evangelical, Baptist and other Christian churches will host a massive church service in the 20,000 seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

"Charlotte714," as the Sept. 2 event is being called, was inspired by bible verse 2 Chronicles 7:14, which instructs that if people "turn from their wicked ways," God will forgive their sins. The group's website says that with the country's focus on Charlotte that week, in a "morally degenerating culture," it is an opportunity to organize a service that will help "[God's] church return to Him."

So a bunch of evangelical Christians are going to show up at the Democratic convention and pray for people to "turn from their wicked ways".

And I'm assuming that this same group of evangelical Christians will also be having a similar event prior to the Republican convention in Tampa, right?

I mean, why should a group of churches be at one political party's gathering, apparently implying that said party is "wicked" and "evil", and not at the other party's gathering?

Are these evangelical Christians implying that because one political party is "wicked", that the other one must be "good"?

I wouldn't dare make a judgment about any person's condition of his or her soul. But all the same: these Christians, however well-meaning they may be...

...well, they just don't get it. About how corrupt and fallen and broken this world is. Including the United States of America. Especially the United States of America.

These people expect that this country will have a "miraculous turn-around", if only the right people get elected into office. Funny thing: I've seen firsthand "their people" get into office. And nothing happened. Nothing substantially good anyway.

These people perceive themselves as holy warriors in the "Culture War". They should take off the blinders and realize that the Culture War has been lost and it's their OWN fault as much as anyone else's.

If these evangelical types were at all consistent, they would be planning and staging an event no less as massive at the Republican convention also. But, we all know that's not going to happen. And I wouldn't want them to be at the Republican convention any more than I see how they will do any good at the Democrat one.

These people are trying to save the world with political power, and they have become so blinded by might - by their own - that they either can't or they won't acknowledge how they themselves have driven America away from God.

We can serve God, or we can serve power. But we cannot serve both.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Walt Disney presents... "The Story of Menstruation"

This video turned up on my YouTube front page this afternoon. Why, I've no idea whatsoever, apart from wondering if Google/YouTube is aware of my fondness for old animation. Especially old animation that isn't shown anymore for various reasons.

From 1946, here is the ten-minute long "The Story of Menstruation", produced by Walt Disney ("through the courtesy of Kotex Products")...

Friday, August 03, 2012

The 3rd Annual Popcorn Sutton Acoustic Jam begins TODAY!

It started as one evening's tribute in music and song of the memory of legendary moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton. Last year it became a full-blown event that had to be moved to the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, practically at the last minute because there was so much interest.

And this year, it's gonna be even bigger!

The 3rd Annual Popcorn Sutton Acoustic Jam kicks off this afternoon at 4 p.m. in Maggie Valley, North Carolina (about 40 minutes west of Asheville). At least fifteen bands will be performing country, bluegrass, a bit of everything in between. There will be tons of food and drink ("...but will there be moonshine?!"), merchandise for sale, loads more.

Unfortunately I will not be able to attend this year's festivities because of something else that I have to attend to this weekend. But I was at last year's Popcorn Sutton Acoustic Jam and had a rollickin' great time! It's only two dollars for admission. I can not recommend enough attending this event if you can at all make it to Maggie Valley this weekend! Here's the event's official Facebook page. Click on over for more information.

And if you go, please tell Miss Pam that Chris Knight says "Hey!" :-)

New DOCTOR WHO trailer hints explosive action for Series 7

Or is that Season 33? I mean, look at this new promo art that the BBC has released for the new season of Doctor Who...

That's darn nearly every model of Dalek since the show first began in 1963! If you look toward the left there's even the Special Weapons Dalek, first (and until now last) shown in the 1988 story Remembrance of the Daleks back when Sylvester McCoy was the Doctor.

You can click on that image for a much larger version, bringing every detail of the Eleventh Doctor's grim, bloody visage into stark clarity. To say nothing of Amy Pond unconscious in his arms.

And as awesome as that pic is, well... here's the trailer which hit the Intertubes yesterday:

The first episode of the new season, said to be "Asylum of the Daleks", doesn't have a transmission date yet but widespread word is that it'll premier later this month on BBC One and BBC America.

Latest 3-D Printing news: Action figures and functional firearms

The realm of 3-D printing is one that continues to bear watching. A few months ago there was some legal action taken by Games Workshop in regard to a printable 3-D version of one of the company's more iconic models. At the time I remarked that the "Dreadnought" in question was worse than lame, that it was craptacular. I quietly wondered how long would it be before the quality of this kind of thing would catch-up to traditional molding and casting.

Ooh-boy...

From computer scientists at Harvard University comes some new software that will let you print highly-detailed and fully-ARTICULATED action figures! And it's pretty insane how the software does it too: it takes an animated 3-D character and automatically figures out where all the movable joints will be, and figures-in how to manufacture those joints in a real-world model. In other words you could take a picture of Shrek and turn him into a fully poseable toy. Or print your own Star Wars: Clone Wars action figures. Which no doubt Lucasfilm's licensing department would have something to say about that (and you thought Games Workshop's lawyers were bad...). But all the same, the Harvard thinkin' dudes are planning to make their software available commercially. Eventually. Click on the link above for some groovy pics and video of the process in action.

And then there's this lil' application of 3-D printing that's sure to put gun control nuts into conniption fits: The world's first 3-D printed gun.

Yes, it really works too.

Apart from the chamber (which remains solid metal), this .22-caliber pistol is entirely printed plastic. It fires 200 rounds with no apparent wear or damage to the weapon. It was manufactured with an older 3-D printer and about $30 of resin, but its gunsmith - who goes by the Internet nom de plume "HaveBlue" - reckons that it could be made for as little as ten bucks.

So in the very near future, it may not be that big of a hassle to go out and buy a guy at all. Just download the 3-D model from a website like The Pirate Bay or Demonoid and in a few hours time you'll have a fully-functional firearm to defend your home and loved ones with. And with the cost of 3-D printers dropping to the point where one can be sitting in your living room...

I can already envision some politicians are going to hear about this and decide "something must be done about it, think of the childrun...!"

When 3-D printers are outlawed, only outlaws will have 3-D printers :-P

Coming soon: Gears of War Erector Sets!

Craziest thing: I was wondering the other week about whatever the heck happened to Erector Sets. Yes the classic toy that you could make real working bridges, robots and miniature vehicles out of with a crazy assortment of metal beams, screws, nuts and pulleys. I got a used one when I was five years old and still remember making all kinds of wacky things with it! Most of them weren't half-bad. They weren't half-good either, but anyway...

Unfortunately in the past few decades Erector Set has faded because of plastic building toys, electronic gizmos and the like. It sadly looked as if there might be the first generation since Erector's invention by A.C. Gilbert a hundred years ago that had never heard of the toy.

Until this week.

Look! Officially licensed Gears of War Erector Sets!

Coming to Toys R Us later this month, Erector is releasing four sets based on the insanely popular video game series. Each set also includes action figures of Marcus, Dom, Anya, Locust Drones and other characters from the franchise.

My heart is already lusting horribly for that King Raven model. Maybe if I'm really good this year my girlfriend Kristen will put it in my Christmas stocking (hint-hint :-)

Mash here for more details and tons more pics of the Gears of War Erector Sets. And I'm digging that Armadillo model, too.

A couple o' blogs to watch

In the last few days two blogs have come to my attention that I'm no doubt going to be visiting a lot from now on, and all two of The Knight Shift's readers might want to check them out too!

First, having its world premiere this week is Once Upon A Time In My Thoughts, presented by good friend Doug Smith! It's brand-spankin' new but already shows heaps of promise. For its initial set of posts Doug is focusing on movies he likes that many others hate, and conversely movies he hates but that other people think are classic! I agree with him: The Godfather, Part III and Gods and Generals are much better than a lot of folks give them credit for... but I can't figure out how anyone can not like It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World! I mean, just Jerry Lewis' very fleeting cameo alone qualifies that film as comedy gold. But anyhoo, I like Doug's style and no doubt others will too!

And then there is this delightful blog that I only discovered late Wednesday night but has already won me over with its writer's beautiful gift of writing, encouragement and inspiration: Life Lessons in Hope, Faith, & Love. I can't put it any better than this: Vanessa Tachenko's site is very much the kind that I would like my own to be but have sadly missed the mark. Vanessa is someone who has embraced the grace of God with abandon and is letting His love be reflected in everything that she commits to writing. If you want to know what I mean, her thoughts on the Chick-fil-A situation is by far the finest essay that I have come across anywhere about that particular connontroversy. A good blog is one that you visit and when you finish reading it, you feel like you're a little better for the the time spent on it. Well, Vanessa's site is time is time well spent indeed...

So if y'all are fed-up with the seeming dearth of posts on The Knight Shift lately (there have been good reasons for that, honest!) then I think you'll be more than satiated with what Doug and Vanessa have to offer :-)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

For everyone caught up in the Chick-fil-A controversy...

...here is a cautionary tale from 1987. Written by none other than legendary screen and comics scribe J. Michael Straczynski, it's The Real Ghostbusters episode "Chicken, He Clucked"!

I'm NOT eating at Chick-fil-A today...

...and you wanna know why?

Because today I just don't feel like I want to eat chicken.

It has nothing to do at all with the recent statements by the company's president, Dan Cathy, regarding his beliefs on homosexuality and "gay marriage". It was a statement of his personal opinion and he's entitled to have them. Personally, I'm inclined to agree with him, but that's not the point of this post.

So today has been declared "Let's Go To Chick-fil-A And Buy Their Food And Show We Support Traditional Families For God And Country Day Hurrah For Us!" or something. It's in response to the boycott that some "gay rights" groups (I never understood the concept of "gay rights" either: what rights exactly do some homosexuals believe they're being deprived of? I've never seen a "Straights Only" lunch counter in all my years of living in the South of all places...) have called of the restaurant chain.

So of course, hundreds of thousands and perhaps even a million or so self-described conservatives are descending upon Chick-fil-A locations across the fruited plain to rally their support behind Cathy, anti-homosexuality, and whatever else that "conservative leadership" (whatever the hell that means) has decided.

But I'm not going to Chick-fil-A today. And I've been called conservative (and "closet conservative", whatever the hell that means too) a heap of times.

I just don't feel like eating chicken today.

I mean, I've had chicken two of the past three days. Why would I want to go anywhere today to eat more chicken... is that "eat mor chikin"?

Now, is that supposed to be at all indicative of where I stand on this particular issue?

I'm not hungry for chicken today. Any of my conservative friends and colleagues got a problem with that?

And if we have arrived at a place where we feel that we must be a component of collectivized thought in order to "matter", to have any sense of worth in this world, then we've a much bigger problem we should be addressing than one company president's personal beliefs.