Coping: With Brain on Fire

imageThe alarm clock didn’t matter today.

The brain went off first…waking me at 2:50 AM due to the hugely exciting events on this week’s to-do list.

For one, I am likely to drop back into “trading mode” this week and that excites the hell out of me.  Wall Street is a casino you don’t have to travel to play.

For another, I had a really useful insight into the future of Bitcoin, so that’s now a whole Peoplenomics report for Wednesday.

Then there’s the matter of the weather turning cooler here. The heat pump kicked on for the first time this season.

OK, I know that’s not “exciting” to most people (means winter is coming) but to me there is the matter of rebuilding the deck on the front of the house.  This kind of work is best done out of the summer heat.

Ideal working weather for my DNA profile is in the 45-65 degree range, although I can still hustle pretty well into the low 80s.  Above that,  I turn into a puddle of useless sweat and look for the closest air conditioned space.  The (at last hallelujah!) arrival of cool weather means I can begin “unloading” some of my (whole summer’s worth of ) ideas into this plane of Reality.

Brain On Fire is something I’ve always had.  It’s different than manic depressive disorder.  That’s worth discussing a bit.

In depressive disorder, people tend to operate almost god-like when they are “up” but then they crash and can slip into dark despair (even becoming suicidal at the extreme). 

One of the elective officeholders I covered in Pacific Northwest news days was a manic depressive fellow – a lawyer and a brilliant guy in his “up” moments.  He quietly managed his disorder with lithium carbonate and that was that.

My own encounters with “brain on fire” have always been event-driven and thankfully crash-free. 

The more pressure there is, the more I like it.  Oddly, for some reason in my family there’s no “down side” which is common to the more manic experience.

Instead, my offspring are (like dad) addicted to the “rush” of what they are doing.  One of my daughters is a super-serious mudder…and she and her-soon-to-be husband go off every few weeks to impossible mud-laden obstacle courses and love that sport.  It’s their rush.

I have already told you George II’s exploits.  Everything from repelling down the side of a 12-story building when he was young (and something of the local Raymond Reddick type more than a decade back) to being as deeply immersed in emergency medicine and HIV studies as a human can get.  True, that’s not the same kind of adrenaline hit, but he’s made up for it with his Class C skydiving ticket and he’s about to turn over his 300th jump.

Not everyone gets Brain on Fire.  Their loss, as I see it.

Some people are just perpetually laid back; to the point where you can’t excite them even poking them with a sharp stick.  You’ve met people like this, I’m sure:  Not engaged, not interesting (or interested).  It’s what makes average people average, I suppose.

Brain on Fire is a kind of super-sized engaged in Reality…Some people aren’t.  They don’t enjoy the view afforded by life at high speed…To BoF’ers that’s the only place to be – on the Edge.

Admittedly, three cups of strong coffee doesn’t hurt keep the Fire lit, once rolling.  But it’s a lot more than just the caffeine working.

It’s the anticipation of worthy projects, a continuation rally this morning and (maybe – just maybe) into tomorrow. 

What was the Harvey Specter quote from “Suits”? 

“I don’t have dreams.  I have goals.”

If I could box the Brain on fire feeling up and sell it, I’d be a rich man.  It’s possibility thinking at its finest:  One of those nights when you wake in the Huey Lewis moment “…the Future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades…

Not every morning is like this.  Many are average.

Analytically, some of it is the prospect of adrenaline (trading), imminent success (the novel should be coming together this week), the deck project is back on track, warm happy relationship rolls on, a fine dinner last night and a good run of personal “bests” over the past week.  Still smiling about mastering the ugly crosswind landing in Hannibal, Mo. Thursday morning, for instance.

I keep my “trading boots” off, most of the time.  But every now and then when I get a trading plan, I jump in…bare-back money riding.  What could be more exciting?

Up in Dubuque, Iowa this weekend (more on that in a sec), I took a $100 bill and ran it through the Mystique Casino which is connected to the Hilton Garden up there.

The results were a disaster…but it reminded me why gambling in the stock market is much closer to poker than games like roulette.  More skill, less chance.

In stocks, you can (in effect) stop the wheel where you are happy.  It’s not that easy in options – which is where the real money is.  But that’s the rush of it; matching skill against chance.

People who play the market come in two flavors:  Investors and traders.

An old Wall Street joke has it that “Traders drive Chevy’s…Investors drive Cadillac’s…”

Most often, the “joke” is told by someone who isn’t a trader, and never had Brain on Fire.  If they had, they wouldn’t make such stupid generalizations.

Besides, traders drive airplanes.

Trip Report

imageEver since our discovery of bullet holes in our old Beechcrate, I’ve held back a bit on announcing our specific travel plans in advance.  But now that the weekend is over, I can regale you with the adventure, a bit.

Being as it’s Monday, work can wait.

That’s Elaine’s fancy camera work coming into Springdale, AR on the way up Wednesday.  It was something of a flap and bounce due to cloud cover.

imageA few minutes later, there’s the runway at Springdale…A couple of hours of discussion with Chris McCleary of the site followed, if you’ll recall our chat last week.  (Click the picture for a large view.  My right hand is not on the parking brake – those are old-style manual flaps and I am just putting in one more notch on short final approach…This is where you transition the plane from 80 MPH down to 65, or so, and then touch down at 55.)

We opted to come back from Iowa on Saturday because the Sunday morning forecast just plain sucked.  Saturday offered a solid 15 knot tailwinds the whole route south.  We took it. 

As it turned out, marginal visual flight rules and instrument conditions prevailed Sunday morning, so I felt no guilt about missing the Beech Aero Club annual BACfest banquet.  Regrets?  Yes.  Guilt?  No.

That is the whole point of having hard “personal minimums” – unbending safe flying rules that are adopted to keep us safe and out of harms way – especially when there is such a fine group of people (Elaine and me) onboard.

Next year’s BACfest gathering will be in Branson, Missouri…so that will be fun.  And a much closer flight.

That said, the weather on the Saturday return flight was absolutely frigging amazing.  Three hours and 42 minutes from KDBQ down to Fort Smith, Arkysaw (KFSM).  Then  about 2-hours flat from there to Texas.

This warms me again to comparing private aircraft with commercial flights. 

It was 685-nautical miles from Dubuque, IA or Palestine, TX.  That means 788 statute (regular folk, ground-walker) miles. 

Now, let’s talk time:  3.75 hours from KDBQ to KFSM, another 2.0 from KFSM  to KPSN and 0.5 on the ground for fuel and personal recycling.  That works out to an average speed of 126-miles an hour – including the fuel stop.  137- miles an hour if we don’t count fuel.

According to Google, if we drove that, it would be 14-hours and 21 minutes of road time.  Somewhere in there, I’m figuring 2-3 pee stops and fuel, and let’s have two burgers on the road, so 15.5 hours if you can safely drive that long.  I don’t think I can.  12?  Sure.  15?  Where’s the no-tell motel?  I have columns to write and trades to make.  Sitting in a car for 16 when your brain’s on fire just don’t cut it.

Flying commercial wouldn’t be this fast, either. 

Just for the hell of it, I put the same flight into Orbitz and came up with 5-hours and 42 minutes but that doesn’t count the half-hour further than the local airport, so the times are about equal…but only on the southbound leg.  The fastest commercial flight from Tyler, TX to Dubuque was 10-hours and 55 minutes…to the old Beechcrate whumps commercial hands down.

Of course we would never go to Dubuque, except for the Beech Aero Club meeting.  Still, nice country to visit and if you ever get to Dubuque, go check out the fellow’s house that has an inclined railroad up the side of the hill (open to the public now) which we’re told was worth the time to see.

A bit of Americana:  A club member/volunteer (whose initials are Dennis Weiser) explained to us in the club van on the way out to the airport Saturday morning that many people don’t know the Dubuque area is where most of the lead was mined for bullets and such from before the Civil War forward.

By the time we got back from the whirlwind Saturday afternoon, we were shot, too.

Write when you break-even, or the brain warms up.


13 thoughts on “Coping: With Brain on Fire”

  1. George,

    What you are describing is the reason why meth- and coke-heads get addicted to the buzz, and their prevalance among those in the trading pits. It elevates them above the mundane and makes them feel superior (until they aren’t). At least yours is low-cost (other than the coffee).


    • Some of us have this energy, naturally, without drinking coffee, taking medications, or doing any drugs….I think it has something to do (my guess) with genetics AND getting a lot of exercise when young…a study just came out that if a kid gets enough exercise by the time they are 15, it helps ensure against diabetes…so just think of all the foundations that are set in childhood that need fresh air, sunshine (eyes, another study), healthy food like the good ole days, plenty of exercise, and lots of healthy fun! Not to mention, stable loving family homes and discipline with regards to CHARACTER development. Seems to me these could be great formulas for vitality!

  2. The Syrian situation is a little bit different than described. We see the SIX Chinese ships berthed in Syrian ports are some how lost, but let me assure you they are not there for fun and games. What Russia has done is a World changer, may even be a New, New World Order. Russia, China Iran and Syria. Russia put an entire Air Wing in place and even Israel didn’t notice. Now Vladimir the Great calls the shots. I think it is that impressive and noteworthy.

  3. George,

    Submitted for your consideration:
    With recent developments in the Middle East as a backdrop and bearing in mind the concept that sometimes “The movie IS the message”, I’ve been reminded of a two part episode (from 2012 if I remember correctly) of the television show “Castle”. Part 1 was entitled “Pandora” and part 2 was entitled “Linchpin”. A researcher for the U.S. government put forth the premise that a linchpin event could initiate a cascading series of events that would lead to a particular outcome. He theorized that a particular event would lead to the following outcome ( which naturally had a lot of folks trying….and succeeding….in “silencing” him): In August of 2017, America would surrender after being defeated in World War III and suffering some 25+ million casualties. When I first watched these episodes several months ago, I thought the premise to be interesting but seemingly far fetched. Now….maybe not.

  4. Brain fire is just a way of avoiding the mental fatigue of cognitive dissonance for a while. When it passes, the same fascist mess is still there, but the biochemicals of the brain fire will linger on, like that of a vacation after returning to a job that pays really well but still sucks. Job number one for Americans, just navigating the morass of the culture, hoping to not draw the attention of government. If I were there, I would do whatever necessary not to think about that too.

  5. I have looked down the wing, sideways at the runway, in my past. Thanks for the reminder. The smile is still there.

  6. Why yes Elaine’s camera skills appear excellent. One question though as I have yet to sit in the cabin of a vintage Musketeer, actually the only Beechcraft I have ever flown in was a Barron, but would appear poor Elaine was sitting in the back seat to get these excellent shots. I am trying to envision climbing into and back out of said seats while in flight. Especially on a short final.

    The necessity for avoidance of sensitive flight controls and the pilots head, ears & neck by the copilots feet, elbows, knees, and such must require extended training hours.

  7. Ie in regards to ifdr ( I follow de roads) Navigation and marginal IFR it is advisable to at least be able to stay level and know where you are so basic instrument training is advisable.. that can be done with Computer training aids. I use them to stay current most FBOs have them

  8. ‘Brain on fire’ is a great term and exactly describes what happens to me when I have projects to do that I am excited about doing. I also know that during this time the adrenals get charged up so it is a very physical thing as well. I am a coffee drinker, but when I have this ‘brain on fire’, coffee is not needed to keep me revved up! Thanks for the definition to describe what happens to me. Actually, this can be seen in the natal birth chart and the planetary and house positions. Strong cardinal signs and angular placements of the planets are the usual indicators if someone has this. I do and I am willing to bet that your birth chart shows this too. Just some interesting info to observe as I have been doing for over 40 years. I do get a lot done though, as I know you do to. Love your columns and your posts.

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