You stand at the window.
There is a glass cloud in the shape of a heart.
There are the wind's sighs that are like caves in your speech.
You are the ghost in the tree outside.
The street is quiet.
The weather, like tomorrow, like your life,
is partially here, partially up in the air.
There is nothing you can do.
The good life gives no warning.
It weathers the climates of despair
and appears, on foot, unrecognized, offering nothing,
and you are there.
In Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut introduces the concept of a "wrang-wrang": a person who steers people away from a line of thinking by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang's own life, to an absurdity.
I'm trying to make Homer Simpson my wrang-wrang. Specifically this clip:
A sudden irrational and disproportionate fury at somewhat trivial things that are out of my control. In some circumstances I'm almost too controlled, many of my potential feelings of desire have to be vetted by my inner judge before they're allowed... but the feeling of "this is just wrong" rises up in a sudden furious tantrum, and I don't like that about myself. (It's gotten me into trouble in previous jobs; it's not that I rant and rave endlessly, it's just that one moment of exposed anger, even if directed at a system and not an object, can make people very uncomfortable.)
The issue has been on my mind for a while. In 2008 I wrote
"C'est la Vie!" / accepting that / "this should not be!" / but coping / more stoically; / philosophically-- / "C'est la vie..."
A few years later I read about William Irvine's modern application classical Stoicism, in "A Guide to the Good Life'; protecting one's equanimity and contentment at all costs, in part by triaging the world into things one has complete control over, no control over, and somewhere in between, and attending only to the first and last category, along with "negative visualization" - a meditative technique of thinking about how bad things could get, and then being happy when they're better than that; and realizing that you'd be able to cope even if they were that bad. So that was helpful, but just recognizing that a situation was out of my control didn't actually help my equanimity all that much.
Other approaches suggested themselves. I wrote this in 2015:
Recently a conversation with Derek gave me the idea of approaching the world with a kind of cheerful pessimism- assume that "a bit screwed up and annoying" is kind of the natural state of the universe, that things WILL be messed up, but generally not irretrievably so, and then be extra cheerful when the dice roll your way. "Lousy minor setbacks" that could otherwise be absolutely and inappropriately infuriating become almost soothing reminders that Murphy's in His Heaven and all's right, or wrong in the right way, with the world.
Again, that sounded better on paper than in real life, in terms of not being upset. I don't really want to be all that dour all the time.
In early 2016, I stumbled on "Amor Fati" - still a concept that resonates for me, a call for the cultivation of love of one's fate, even the parts that are unpleasant, that you wouldn't have it any other way. As Nietzsche put it:
"My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it--all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary--but love it."
I felt - still feel - that much of the problem is that our monkey brains are so good at daydreaming up these alternate realities that are just like this one, but better - this same roadway, this same car, not all these other cars - but those realities don't exist in our world, except for the power we give them to make us unhappy.
Later in the fall I also stumbled on the idea of using empathy to make situations more palatable. In its more extreme form, this is a kind of hippy-dippy "we are all one thing", but even without going to that extreme, if you see yourself on a common team of humanity, someone cutting you off might be a win you can share in. Of course, this doesn't apply to traffic jams so much, at least when everyone is equally stuck. (Remember- you're not 'in' a traffic jam, you 'are' the traffic jam)
But now I've found what seems the strongest counter-formula yet... the recognition of this weird animism humans tend to have, that we look for intent and purpose even in things that are just accidental and emergent. The first stage of the this realization was that "it is absurd to take traffic personally". And yet I do. Later, in the movie "Mistress America" I found the even wider application: "The path isn't against you. It's just the path." I've been finding that a very useful mantra lately. Similarly, when I get mad at a malfunctioning device or app, I should give it some sympathy, or even empathy; it's doing the best it can, you know? It has no sense of mischievousness, and it's more accurate to presume it would like to be doing a good job for me than whatever its current results actually are.
The other nice thing is that these various view points are complementary, they don't really undercut each other that much. (I've been told that's characteristic of Eastern religions, in general they are less combative, and defensive of their "unique path to truth" sense, than many Western outlooks.)
The traffic isn't against you. It's just the traffic.
FOLLOWUP (2017.02.27): Whether I'm furious about it and making myself angry or accepting of it, the traffic is still there. So why be furious? The only counter-example is if my rage now helps me avoid future bad traffic. But I could probably do that via rationality, not just gut level rage...
--Bill Gates in the Atlantic. I read a letter to the editor that countered, in effect, that capitalism is a much better corrective mechanism than what the government has, but I do think it's a good point in general.
The bunny who thinks 'I don't like this garden' is experiencing a thought and not a garden.
branch with a bit of dew
jan 12 evening , the fog over spy pond was lovely.
...and there were ducks walking on water.
that is a very orange bike
selfie: the new stylin' thrift shop shirt, the old baggy jean
fringe benefit of having a housemate who is a graphic designer: arrows with dropshadows.
The bull is the eternal principle of life, truth in action.
It is not the same to talk of bulls as to be in the bullring.
eating is so badass i mean you put something in a cavity where you smash and destroy it with 32 protruding bones and then a meat tentacle pushes it into a pool of acid and after a few hours later you absorb its essence and transform it in energy just wow.
Honk if on windows you make a new .html file by making a New|Text Document in the folder and then you "sure you want to change it"
--"Weightless"...supposedly the most relaxing music in the history of everything.
Someone should remake VH1 "Popup Video". Maybe with those little popups they have on youtube. Can you add those to someone else's videos?
"We've been called on a mission here we feel- and we could be wrong- we don't have perfect knowledge, let me assure you."
80% of your favorite language is your favorite library.
via. Wow. I hope there's hope.
Playing the Snowpocalypse News Report Drinking Game. For example, every time a reporter touches snow to show you how snowy it is, drink.
http://tracystoys.blogspot.com/2010/05/1947-lone-ranger-atomic-bomb-ring.html - coolest cereal box giveaway toy ever (scroll down)
http://www.cracked.com/article_18417_the-lighter-side-dark-side-5-villains-who-were-good.html - liked the Wicked Witch and Sauron views.
I wonder how many unconscious, or semi-conscious, thoughts might have be conscious, or semi-conscious, but forgotten...
Looking at a few little bookmark DBs I've started and generally abandoned over the years. It's hard not to be a packrat with this stuff - it's not like it takes up physical room - just mental space - and I hate the idea of "missing something" cool. It's hard to accept how much of the world I won't be able to bear witness to, give it the attention it deserves -- to accept that my life is complete as-is, that the "number of interesting things seen" is more of a quantitative than qualitative thing at this point.
All energy is borrowed, and someday you have to give it back.
I was browsing laptops yesterday, thinking maybe one with a big screen might be an actual desktop replacement for me. It's funny though, they give the diagonal measurement, but you get less surface area if it's "widescreen" - I've always thought Megapixels were a poor way of judging the quality of a camera, but they're more honest than the '17 inch!" measurement of widescreen laptops and monitors.
Can you be energized by fear, rather than ducking it? Like the mad scientist/adventurer standing up to the alien light "Ain't it great? I'm petrified!" Maybe that's a more useful thing that being blasé about it all...
How many songs do you have in iTunes? How many do you actually carry? ~7500, ~1800 for me. (Not meant to be a contest, just wondering)
January Blender of Love Digest!
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out your ass.This seems like good advice for this online dating world.
Bad Fan Boy-I'm a little dismayed at how I didn't even notice there's a "Clone Wars" cartoon. Then again I almost missed "Droids" in the 80s
Scrabble is to Language what Guitar Hero is to Music.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
I think the two groups should have merged to become Earth, Blood, Wind, Sweat, Fire, and Tears.
W00T, 1700 iPod tracks (3 stars or better outta iTunes)
Nokia makes a decent smartphone, but the default that calendar alerts play this little echo-y chime over and over is getting on my nerves...
I guess it's a positive sign that NOW when the Dow slides, it's only one or two hundred points, not 4 or 5.
Rode the red line out, just like old times. When did I become a green line snob? It's not like its trolly like cars are impressive...
Earth Defense Force 1817
Featuring Soldier Seeking Bugs, Huge Hovering Spacecraft, and Robotron-esque Run and Gun Controls!
Funny of the Moment
Manager: Man, you guys from Alabama are hard-core putting someone getting the chair on the back of your quarter.
Boss from Alabama: That's not someone getting the chair -- that's Helen Keller!
Manager: You guys electrocuted Helen Keller?!
--from OverheardInTheOffice, OverheardInNewYork's poorer cosuin. Still pretty funny. You know, I am probably more amused than I should be by that "MISTAKEN ASSUMPTION / CORRECTION OF ASSUMPTION / INCREDULOUS CONGLOMARATION OF MISTAKE AND CORRECTION" formula... it's pretty simple but gets me laughing fairly readily.
"Macaroni and cheese is good, the manna that God gave to the Christian people in the wilderness, which is where we are still living."
Link of the Moment
Killer Robots from Space is a good little comic with a lot of neat quirky ideas. It's still pretty easy to read through the whole thing, but if you're in a hurry, my favorite was the culinary and moral dilemnas from On the advertisement of foodstuffs, followed by Please, "journal", and The Outer Space Manual of Style, Pt. II (this clip is from Pt. I) The trend seems to be gradually improving for the comic, so that's good. (via Lore's site The Slumbering Lungfish)
of the Harmonia
In the dream I didn't see the usual showstopper scenes, just the early scenes set in the general store interior (which looked suspiciously like a living room) and then some very strange interprative dancing, with, oddly, a lot of women in this pink frilly underwear. I vaguely remember moving around to different seats as more and more people left, though we got yelled at for sitting right in front of the piano and soundboard, which were kind of perched over the left side of the first few rows of seats.
Metagripe of the Moment
Now, the meaning of "unique" is my very biggest meta-gripe. Nothing in the world is "the only one of its kind", everything can be categorized in some way or the other. So nothing is unique in a technical sense. Or, everything is unique, in at least a trivial way, no two things can be quite the same. So it makes logical and intuitive sense to speak of "degrees of unqiueness"...only pedantically does it fail.
but no two things quite the same;
unique: a spectrum.
--from an e-mail I wrote in response to this Tuesday Morning Quarterback article. Actually, I hate cutesy haikus as well, but I thought it gave me a better chance of getting noticed.
Thoughts about Programming of the Moment
Way, way back in the day, I read something in one of those 80s home computer magazines -- it might have been "Family Computing" (man I loved that magazine, though Compute! and Compute's Gazette for the C=64 had better type-in programs) about how odd it was that people were so scared of programming, that it wasn't really harder than, say, learning a new foreign language and unlike, say, conjugating french verbs, you would generally get feedback when you did something wrong that would point you in the right direction.
I quoted that a bit when I was a precocious little kid and the thought still lingers in my head. But I don't believe it as much as I've used to. I've heard enough horror stories and banged my head against enough unhelpful stupid code that I don't have the confidence I used to in working with computers. Systems and Programs fail, and sometimes they fail silently or give misleading explanations.
This confidence thing is a big detriment; I think the biggest part of my urge to slack isn't laziness, it's fear: fear that I'm up against one of the those problems that's going to totally kick my ass and I won't know what to do. (And be taught, once again, that I'm not as smart as I assume I am, I'm sure that enters into it.) And sometimes those avoidance techniques get me to ignore what potentially helpful feedback the system is providing. Google can be a great help, both in its web-crawling and Usenet-archive incarnations, sometimes just an error message can be the link to someone whose posted a solution or workaround. Or at the very worst, tell me that it's a problem someone has faced before.
Our lives are geared mainly to deflect the darts thrown at us by the laws of probability. The moment we're able, we insulate ourselves from random acts of hate and destruction. It's always been there - in the neighborhoods we build, the walls between our houses, the wariness with which we treat the unknown. One person in six million will be struck by lightning. Fifteen people in a hundred will experience clinical depression. One woman in sixteen will experience breast cancer. One child in 30,000 will experience a serious limb deformity. One American in five will be victim of a violent crime. A day in which nothing bad happens is a miracle, a day in which all the things that could have gone wrong didn't. The dull day is a triumph of the human spirit, and boredom is a luxury unprecedented in the history of our species.
--Douglas Coupland, "All Families Are Psychotic"
Hates of the Moment
We Hates Software -- techie gripes of various kinds. (I wonder if the kind of bad navigation (every link is "a") is some kind of ironic metacommentary) Someone else really hates Weblogs. Hmmm, which type of weblogger am I?
Legalese of the Moment
Hee. Memepool linked to proper usage of the Photoshop trademark. I love how all the "correct" examples use like twice as many words as the incorrect versions, and how Adobe is fighting a losing war against "photoshop" becoming a verb. (I think they're a bit safer in their struggle to stop it from becoming a synonym for "digital image", though they have another tough road to hoe to get people to add in "Adobe" beforehand.)
Image and Slug Porn of the Moment
for more |
REAL LEOPARD SLUGS!!!
HALF A METER IN THE AIR!!!
YOU WON'T BELIEVE THE FLANGES ON THESE BEAUTIES--THE HOTTEST HERMAPHRODITE ACTION EVER!!!
"If I fell in, you'd pull me out wouldn't you, Mr. President?"
"Certainly... ...after a suitable interval."
--White House correspondent Sam Donaldson and President Jimmy Carter, on the edge of a fuel producing manure pit.
Link of the Moment
I browsed through last year's entries and made up a best of 2002 page...again, focused on stuff I created, rather than links. Unfortunately, there wasn't a single day where I posted all of the game buttons, so I did the non-interactive buttons instead, which were four on one page.
Web Surf of the Moment
That same guy who wrote that gaming article has a blog as well, with a decent essay on the definition of art (summary: games can definately be art. Maybe usually "low art" as opposed to "high art", but art.) The front of his main site mentioned he's started writing games in Blitz Basic, a simple to use game writing language that has both 2D and 3D forms. That led to a link for a kind of interesting multiplayer game, Squelch, where frogs battle it out to squish eachother in simple 2D environments. And also Mutton, which was only two players but featured flying cows and decent computer AI to play against. Going along with my usual procrastination-by-doing-things, I downloaded Blitz Basic...a lot of the lessons that come with it are from the Christian Coders Network, which seems like a kind of funny idea. It reminds me of a time when I thought all my doodling should be in service of my religion.
I guess getting so bogged down with my own Atari 2600 game has led me to seek other venues. I really should try to get back to that, though...
News Article of the Moment
Slate.com has Will Saletan pointing out some of the similarities in gullibility with the press and the clone story and what's happening with Iraq.
Image and Link of the Moment
Heh, remember this miniclip on the right, that used to be part of The Daily Show? I found this animated GIF on David A. Webb's Home Page Ground Zero, which should meet your US RDA of Rockin' Guitar Licks and Skeleton, Fire, and Blood Themed Animations. I did a bit of websearching to find out more about it. It's from "The Story of Ricky", a semi-legendary chop socky flick, and you can see a page with some stills and an mpeg clip at badmovies.org.
"Unfortunately, in my experience the only places without ice have southerners or californians."
--Greg Owen, 01-1-3
Link of the Moment
Computer Stew is a really interesting, really fun web experiment. Basically, some guys decided to see that if they could make a daily show with less than $3000 in startup costs, using the Net for distribution and consumer grade hardware. The short answer is, yup, they can, and the result is sometimes funny as heck.
If you only have time to see one episode, check out notepad.exe, in all-singing all-dancing music video tribute to everyone's favorite Windows text editor. "N to the O to the T to the E, P to the A, D, E, X, E my Notepad!"
Link of the Other Moment
Working Together In "War Rooms" Doubles Teams' Productivity, University Of Michigan Researchers Find.
A War Room is a smallish 'common area', with desks, but open (no cubicles), preferably with lots of whiteboards, where a programming team can share information really easily. I've been on projects that use these, and it works really well. It's great for sharing information, and I think the slack factor is somewhat reduced-- in a good way. (via this article on Slashdot, where the conversation got to some other programmer setups)
Tufts' Gravity Stone:
This monument has been
erected by the
Gravity Research Foundation
Roger W. Babson Founder
It is to remind students of
the blessings forthcoming
when a semi-insulator is
discovered in order to harness
gravity as a free power
and reduce airplane accidents
"All beginnings are easy, but the last steps are difficult and cost too much."
--Leif B. Kristensen paraphrasing Goete
On the T, riding to Coolidge Corner to see the new Woody Allen flick with Mo- I realized that I'm grateful to be able to take the T to meet her, because then we can drive home together.
simultaneous synchronicity huzzah!
"[having a kid] is like being in jail where you really love the warden."
--patient on "Dr. Katz"
In the jury pool waiting room, so odd being with such a demographic cross section. Usually when I'm in groups this size they're all people my age, or techies.
Odd how silent all the potential jurors are, even more so than at, say, an airport. I guess it's because everyone's here alone, no groups.
I'm as open to this journal as I am to a close friend, but no more than that- there are some thoughts that are saved for intimate moments, and I refuse to have those with a piece of software.
Jury trials. Bah. Panels of informed judges, that's the ticket.
"Commonwealth"- such a quaint term for a state.
Sitting watching the instructional video on benches with my fellow potential jurors, then having the doors open at the end, reminds me strongly of rides at Disney World.
Later now. Some people are chatting. Been in and out of a courtroom, and if my assignment (panel 6 seat 8) had been 2 or 3 lower I'd likely be sitting in on a trial where a man claims abuse after a false accusation of a Greyhound bus luggage theft. Bizarre how much of a role chance plays in this.
The courtroom had such nice lighting, seemed like sunlight filtered through giant panes of thick white glass.
They just called for panels "11, 4, 5, and 10"- here's hoping.
Damn. Post-lunch selection.
All roads lead to Rome, all thoughts lead to Mo, at least when I'm not focused on something else.
She's so cute, with such a unique look- "impish grin" comes to mind, but doesn't do justice to her prettiness. I look at other women, can admire their beauty, but my thoughts come sliding back to Mo, and I'm so happy just where I am. I love to admire her body when she's naked. I like to look at her face when she's not.
Because of that period of needing to act as if I wanted a fling and only a fling with Mo, sometimes it's strange to suddenly recall how much of a crush I've had on her for all those many months.
Women who wear ribbon scarfs or choker necklaces always seem as if their just barely keeping their heads attached, undo the thing around their necks and their head would drop to the floor and roll.