The deep of night is crept upon our blog, and Nature must obey necessity.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the 27th of April, the week after my son’s birthday, and I’m already in the office as I write this blog post‒because I never left the office last night.  It got to be late enough that, if I caught the next train, I probably wouldn’t have reached the house before nine, whether I took the bus(es) from the train station or walked.  That is what happened Monday night and Tuesday night.

Of course, If I’d had the bike at the train station I might have reached the house earlier, but I didn’t, and I don’t regret that.  Given that every time I ride that bike, it triggers a flare and a new (but not improved) alteration of my back and leg and foot pain, I think I’m going to keep it for “special occasions” or something like that, even though I’ll be paying for it for three or four more months or something like that.

Pretty pathetic, isn’t it?

Even if I’d caught an earlier train, I don’t think I would have had the energy to get back to the house from the train station, and had I reached the house, I don’t think I would’ve had the energy to come back to the office this morning.  I had sort of planned all along to stay here, because if I went back to the house, I didn’t think I’d be coming in today, and I wasn’t sure if I would be coming in ever again (if you know what I mean).  I guess maybe it was a kind of semi-conscious self-preservation thing, in a way.  But, of course, that can’t work forever.

It’s not a big deal if I stay one night in the office.  It’s not like it will produce a noticeable effect, outwardly.  I always wear one of 2 kinds of black shirts, the same kind of black pants (or trousers if you prefer), the same brand of black socks and one of three brands of black shoes.  Once you find something that’s comfortable for you, I say, you might as well wear that.

I prefer black because you don’t have to worry about matching anything; black goes with everything, particularly other black things.  It’s also a nice, outward representation of my character, my heart, my outlook, what have you.  And if I ever have to pass as a Sith Lord, I can do that.  I only wear black nowadays.  Even my underwear(!).

In any case, though, I don’t mean to stay at the office tonight, though if there were a shower here I might be tempted.  I feel very grimy and sticky, and that’s a particularly unpleasant feeling for me.  But it is dreary to have the daily ritual of going back to a place that feels no more like home than does the office or the train, and not much more like home than the bus, frankly.

Nothing feels like home, anymore.  The planet Earth doesn’t feel like home‒not that it ever really has, to be honest.

I find myself strangely envying my former coworker who just died.  That may seem insensitive, but it’s simply true.  He didn’t die instantly, with the initial heart attack, which sometimes happens.  He had a few weeks or more of being ill and having all other responsibilities taken away, and his family (and friends), aware of his ill health, got to come and be near him for one last time.  That might be nice.  I sometimes think that, if I were known to be dying of cancer (for instance), maybe my children would come and see me.

I don’t know what other sort of thing might engender that outcome, and I certainly don’t want to try to force my way into their lives.  They deserve autonomy and to be free from my odious self, who already screwed up everything in his own life, and caused them pain in the process.  But I would dearly love to spend time with them.

Of course, I do have a potentially terminal condition, and I don’t just mean “life itself” which is uniformly terminal as far as we can see.  I mean depression.  Depression has a direct lifetime mortality rate of about 15%, or at least that was the statistic the last time I checked.  That’s not counting the many things depression makes one more likely to have‒people with depression are more prone to various kinds of physical illnesses and to worse outcomes if they get those illnesses, and they are also more prone than others to drug and alcohol problems.

But I’m talking here about direct self-destruction: suicide, from the Latin “sui” meaning self, and the “cide” part that always means killing, as in fungicide, herbicide, insecticide, anthropocide, etc.  “Suicide” almost feels like it ought to be the opposite of “sui generis” but that’s not correct, and in fact they probably often go together, subjectively speaking.  Maybe it would be the opposite of “sui genesis”.  Could it also be called “sui exodus”?

Anyway, my point is that depression has mortality rates comparable to many cancers, but there are no Ronald McDonald houses for it (as far as I know).  It’s not a sexy/tragic/dramatic disorder worthy of Hallmark movies and that kind of twaddle.  It just sucks all around, because its very nature is to suck and to make everything in the universe feel like it sucks.  Maybe in this it’s like the very curvature of spacetime; tending to bend inward on itself and collapse, unless it is infused with a uniform, positive energy, in which case there will be a tendency to expand.

Believe me, I don’t have a uniform positive energy.  Maybe I used to, but my cosmological constant has long since quantum tunneled into a vacuum state so close to zero that it makes that of the universe, tiny as it is, appear flipping gargantuan.  I don’t know if I have a negative cosmological constant, which would make a kind of human anti de Sitter space.  Then I would collapse rapidly, which might be nice in and of itself.  Also, you could mathematically demonstrate the holographic principle on me using certain areas of string theory.

Maybe the state of suffering from depression is rather like being a human anti de Sitter space.  And the speed of collapse depends on how large the negative lambda is, but collapse is inevitable unless it changes signs.

Incidentally, it appears that people on the autism spectrum‒which I suspect I am, though I don’t have an “official”* diagnosis‒suffer from depression, including chronic depression AKA persistent depressive disorder AKA dysthymia (which I do have), at a significantly higher rate than the general population, are harder to treat, and also, if I recall, are more likely to commit suicide, and certainly to engage in self-harm.

I could have told you that.  Wait, I just did!

Okay, well, that’s more than enough for this Thursday.  I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow or the next day.  I’m scheduled to work on those days, and I suppose I will, since I don’t like to inconvenience the people around me.  But as I told a coworker yesterday, I’ve been staying alive for quite a long time mainly just not to inconvenience other people, and there’s only so much longer I’m going to be able to do it.  I don’t have any other drive to stay alive; there is nothing to which I look forward.  I’m tired.  Sleeping on the floor in the office is no worse than sleeping at the house, but that’s not saying much at all.

Someday, perhaps soon, my sign off on a Thursday will be “TT” rather than TTFN, because I won’t expect to return.  But for now, the expression remains:


ads space ish

*It’s an odd notion, the “official” diagnosis of anything.  I mean, it’s useful for things like insurance and statistics and science, and certainly there is some value in the judgment of experts on such matters, but it is not something handed down from Mount Sinai (the medical school or the Ten Commandments place).  No one can speak ex cathedra on medical diagnoses, or on any fact of nature, frankly.  So don’t put too much stock in them**.

**Unless it’s good chicken stock.  Good chicken stock is tasty.

Can one exaggerate the dangers of “mental health”?

Well, here I am again, writing a blog post on my phone, because I didn’t feel like toting my mini* laptop around.

It was really rather pleasant not to have to carry it at all yesterday.  Even after I picked up a seltzer and some minor dinner items at a convenience store between two buses on the way back to the house last night, the load was minor.  Despite my light burden, however, I didn’t walk from the train station, as should be obvious from the fact that I mentioned two buses; it was simply too late in the evening.  As it was, I didn’t get back to the house until just before nine.

It’s a glitzy, glamorous life I lead, I know, but don’t envy it.  You don’t see the struggles I face when out of the limelight.

Actually, I guess you do “see” a lot about them if you read my blog regularly.  You don’t see all of them, of course.  Even I am not quite so indiscreet as all that.  But you certainly know about some of my difficulties with depression.

With that in mind, I must (and do) apologize to StephenB for my extra-gloomy reply to his comment yesterday.  I think he was trying to perk me up with a little good-natured humor, playing on my words in a way that skillfully echoed how I played on them, but I just doubled down on the doom and gloom.  That’s one of my greatest skills.  It might be innate enough for me to consider it a talent, or even a fundamental attribute of my being.  Maybe it’s just my nature, my design (or design flaw) always to feel self-hateful.  I don’t know.

I do wonder what it would feel like to love myself.  Much is made in literature and spiritual inquiry and religious teaching about the danger of self-love**.  Certainly, in public discourse we see frequent reminders of the perils of narcissism.  The generally believed notion seems to be that everyone loves his or her own person more than they do anyone else.

But the Judeo-Christian admonition to love one’s neighbor as oneself is very bad advice for me.  I’ve always tended to feel more positive and generous in spirit toward other people than toward myself.  Cat forbid I should view other people as dimly and darkly as I view myself.

I’m reminded of a line from a Monty Python sketch in which some TV criminologist, played (if memory serves) by Graham Chapman, says, “After all, a murderer is only an extroverted suicide.”  It would be very bad, or at least not very positive, for my “neighbors” if I started to “love” them as I do myself.  I have become more prone to misanthropy over the years, and even edge toward pro-mortalism, but I recognize this as probably irrational and born of my mental illness, as it were.

Incidentally, I’m puzzled by a recent apparent shift toward referring not to mental illness but rather to using “mental health” when one is actually referring to what would previously have been called “mental illness”.  We live in a world in which people say things along the lines of “we have a growing problem of mental health” or “if you’re troubled with mental health…”*** or similar phrases.  I wish I could think of a specific example.  But it’s weird because mental health is not a problem, it’s the lack thereof.

Tiptoeing around words to avoid upsetting people by naming the fact that an illness is an illness and a problem does not seem like a healthy thing to do, as far as I can see.  If you’re afraid of words, how are going to deal with actual illness, actual pain, actual, physical danger?  Not too well, I would guess.

Speaking of actual pain, I’m at least somewhat pleased to note that my thumb pain doesn’t seem to have been too badly exacerbated by writing my post on my phone yesterday.  This obviously influenced my decision to do it again today.  I may come to regret this choice, but my future selves often get pissed at my past selves.  My past selves don’t really have to trouble with that fact, though, because they aren’t around to have to face the consequences of their actions.


I guess I’ll just have to wait to find out if I have troubles from doing this.  Some form of trouble will always come, of course; that’s the nature of the universe.  But I may or may not avoid this specific one.

Meanwhile, I’m having a hard time staying motivated or disciplined even to go to work.  I won’t just slack off, because I don’t want to cause unnecessary trouble for the people at the office, and for my boss, and so on.  I’ve never been any good at doing things for me, really, but I do find it distasteful to be rude to other people or to let them down.

I’ve always tried to live for other people in some sense, but it’s left me prone to real problems when either other people get fed up with me‒which tends to happen‒or when other people take advantage of me because I like to work hard and be productive and be appreciated, and try to relieve suffering when I can.  Sometimes that ends up landing me in prison, while people who took advantage stay free and clear and go on about their lives.  Certainly I was the one who bore the brunt of that situation, the one to which I am not-so-obliquely referring.  I still am bearing it.

Apparently, this sort of thing happens to people with ASD with some frequency.  This is another clue that’s caused me to sneak myself toward the suspicion that I might be “on the spectrum”.  I doubt that I’ll ever get an official diagnoses****‒the process is expensive and not easily entered by adults, especially ones who are, on paper, successful, or who at least have been in the past.

Also, frankly, there doesn’t seem to be much benefit in America, certainly in Florida, to receiving a diagnosis of ASD as an adult.  It’s not as if I’d be able to get disability benefits, and even if I could, such benefits are laughably inadequate.  So, what would be the point?  Better our nation should spend its cultural energy arguing about what terms are harmful and should be avoided at universities or should never be mentioned in a public school or whatever, right?

That was sarcasm, just to be clear.  Yes, my self-hatred is beginning to leak out onto my “neighbors”.  Should it ever fully escape containment, that would be a direr catastrophe than Fukushima and Chernobyl combined.

Okay, that was wildly hyperbolic, I admit it.  But who doesn’t appreciate equations like y=1/x?

And with that very bad, very nerdy joke, I’ll begin to end this blog post.  If I’m still alive and still able to do it, I’ll write more tomorrow.  Don’t get your hopes up: I probably won’t die today.  More’s the pity, right?

hyperbolic speech

This is the most important diagram of all time in the entire universe.

*This has nothing to do with the Mini Cooper or Cooper Mini car, or whatever the proper way to name it is.  Although, I think it would be rather cool if they made a small laptop with their logo and design or something, as a promotional thing.  Though that would probably have a very limited market.

**People even used to think it could make you go blind or grow hair on your palms.  Ha.  Ha.

***I’m quite sure I’ve literally heard that phrase.  “Troubled with mental health”?  I wish I were so troubled.  I’m troubled by a lack of mental health.

****Though I do carry “official” diagnoses of depression and dysthymia, from more than once source.

Doom’d for a certain term to blog the night and, for the day, confin’d to fast in fires

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday, the 20th of April in 2023 (AD or CE, whichever you prefer), and so, here I am at the bus stop, writing my usual blog post.  It’s very exciting, isn’t it?  You can almost feel that paint drying!

I think there is a certain subgroup of people who celebrate this as “420” day, a reference to marijuana, though the origins of that reference are unclear to me*.  Though I find it silly, I guess such a day may as well exist.  There are holidays for every other stupid thing in the world, from various kinds of foods and snacks to alcoholic beverages and all sorts of other things.  I doubt there is a heroin day, but if I were to find out there is, I wouldn’t be surprised.  And, of course, there are geeky, nerdy holidays for people like me, such as Pi Day** and Star Wars Day***.

Much more importantly, it’s my son’s birthday, as I mentioned yesterday.  I sent him a present, of course, though it’s not particularly clever, because honestly, I don’t know what he’s into now or what he would like.  It’s been more than ten years since I’ve seen him in person or even heard his voice.

I’ve sent presents in the past (that’s not an intentional play on words) that matched what I knew his long-term interests were, and they apparently went over well.  But I’ve pretty much emptied my quiver on that front, at least for now, without simply rehashing things I’ve already sent, which seems lamer than sending something broad and generic, at least to me.  But what do I know?  I’m terrible at things like this.

I’m also terrible at things like just getting people to keep wanting to be around me for long.  People don’t end up hating me or anything, at least as far as I can tell; they just don’t ever stick too close to me for very long.  And, of course, I’ve screwed up everything in my life with respect to my children (and their mother) and my career and all that other stuff.

I’m quite good at useless things like teaching myself how to draw and to compose and play music and writing books that almost no one will ever read, and understanding complicated ideas of physics and math and biology and astronomy and medicine and all that stuff.  But regarding the things that have really, deeply mattered to me—being a good son, a good friend, a good husband, a good father—I’ve almost uniformly failed.

The fault is almost certainly all mine.  At the very least, it’s my fault in the sense that “I am a faulty machine”.  There’s definitely some fundamental flaw—and nothing limits the count to only one such flaw—in the way I try to live with the people I love the most, because at various times I’ve lost relationships with my parents, with my wife, with my kids, with friends, all that.  And I’m not the sort of person who can just pick up and restart his life, a so-called new life, with new people.

Even if I were such a person, given my track record, why would I be willing to submit to the risk with new people?  That would definitely be a masochistic choice.

All of my old friends are quite far away, and even with the use of social media, I’m not good at doing long-distance friendships very well.  I don’t quite even know what the protocols are, and I always feel awkward**** about intruding on the lives of other people at any level.  I’ve tended to make my friends in school and university and at work, from among people who had similar interests and tastes and so forth to me, and who were nearby.

I’ve been very lucky in the friends I made in middle-school to high school and in university.  But once I was married, and of course, going to med school and all that, my focus was on those closest by, as it tends to be.  I put a lot of effort into my marriage and my career, which makes sense, of course, and until my own health deteriorated because of my back injury, I handled it pretty well.

But I certainly couldn’t maintain any kind of extended social circle.  That’s not how I’m designed, it seems.  Thankfully, my wife’s family were always very welcoming and warm, and my own extended family has always been wonderful, and my wife had friends with whom we socialized.  But my family is a long way away now—those that remain—and when my wife divorced me, I couldn’t exactly maintain close ties with her family, though they were important to me.  Their loyalty belongs to her, not to me, which makes perfect sense.

Anyway, sorry about all that trivia.  I just feel the emptiness of life particularly strongly today, which is probably understandable.  I have a notion of a metaphorical creature or situation that matches the sense of how I feel and am, but I can’t quite grasp it and put it into words, because I can’t quite think of the life form that fits.  Maybe I’m like a wandering, free-living amoeba that used to be—and ought to be—part of a slime mold?

No, that doesn’t quite work, nor does it really make sense.

I was trying to think of a metaphorical herd animal or pack animal that got separated from its group—a deer, a wolf, a lion, an impala—or maybe an ant or a bee or a termite separated from its swarm, or whatever.  But of course, it’s really just that I’m a simulacrum of a human, a replicant, who is inherently separate from the humans to whom he was supposed to be assigned, still living in a parallel “space” so to speak, but unable to interact directly; and they certainly don’t seem to grok me.

It’s almost like a Star Trek episode, isn’t it?  Or maybe it’s like an X-files or a Supernatural or something:  there’s a poltergeist that’s terrifying or at least horrifying to people, that they want to avoid it or if necessary eliminate it, even though the entity causing the weirdness doesn’t mean any harm.

I wish there were someone who could exorcise me and send me on to the next plane or—better yet—to peaceful oblivion.  But, of course, even more so, I wish that I were able to be part of my kids’ lives, to spend time with them, to be close to them, and to have friends around me, and not to be in pain every day.

While I’m at it, I might as well ask for a pony and for world peace and harmony.

Enough of this.  I’m sorry to subject you all to my morosity.  Then again, no one’s forcing you to read it, I guess*****.  I hope, after reading this post, your day improves.  It’s unlikely to go downhill from here, right?  That, at the very least, is something I can offer you in my daily blog posts:  once you’ve hit rock bottom (i.e. by reading this) the only way to go is up.


hamlet and dad

*And, to be fair, I don’t care enough to look into it very vigorously.

**March 14th, because in the US date system it shows up as 3-14.  Seven years ago, it would have been 3-14-16, which would have been especially good, though I don’t recall noting it at the time.

***“May the 4th be with you,” in case you don’t know.  It’s a stretch, but it’s doubly nerdy because of the pun.

****I think it’s particularly appropriate the the spelling of the word “awkward” is so awkward.  W-K-W?  What a peculiar progression of letters!

*****Though I am very, deeply grateful to you for doing so.

“Ashes and dust and thirst there is, and pits, pits, pits.”

I’m at the bus stop today, because I didn’t feel up to riding the bike this morning.  I almost didn’t feel like riding the bike back from the train station at the end of the day, yesterday, even though that would have meant leaving it in the proven-to-be-unsafe location of the station.  I wouldn’t have worried about that too much, though.  I’ve got two thick cables and a U-lock securing it when it’s there, including one threading through the seat, so vandalism seems more likely than theft.

I did end up riding back to the house last night, but I just didn’t want to ride this morning.  I’m feeling some extra strain and pain in my hips and lower back that may be from riding, and I also just feel like I’m not up to the intensity of exertion it entails.  Walking is more my speed at the moment, and it’s cool enough out—for south Florida, anyway—that certainly the walk to the bus stop isn’t bad.

I may walk back from the train station today rather than take the bus, depending on how I feel.  I know I’ve written before about how much time it uses up, but it’s not as though I do anything better with my time than walk.  Honestly, if I could just avoid my feet feeling sore so often, I’d be fine with walking every day, everywhere.

I didn’t just feel tired yesterday afternoon.  I also felt extremely—I don’t know…stressed, anxious, tense, some word along those lines?  All afternoon, I felt as if I were going to fly apart.  I don’t mean I felt as though I would explode in anger, just perhaps that I might collapse into a ball or something.  I told my coworker, quietly, amidst another conversation, that I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown.  I know this is sort of a vague and antiquated term, but it seemed to capture what I felt.  My mind (and body) felt on the verge of shaking apart at the seams.

I still feel like that this morning, though not to as high a level, and it’s probably the main reason I didn’t want to ride my bike.  I also just feel fatigued, mentally and physically.  I’m even sort of out of breath, though that’s mainly a subjective feeling.  I just feel uncomfortable.

I’m very tired of all these negative feelings all the time, but I can’t seem to find many positive ones.  It might help if I had a pet, but I don’t have the wherewithal to take care of a dog because of my schedule, and I’m quite allergic to cats, so that’s not going to work.  I’ve already had the long experience of having a cat, and I had to take allergy meds and decongestants every day for seventeen years.  When I first got the cat, I didn’t know I was allergic, and once I had her, I wasn’t going to get rid of her.  But I can’t put myself in that position again.

Plus, honestly, I can barely take care of myself, and that meager ability is deteriorating day by day.  I don’t have any business trying to bring in and care for any other life form.

Oh, by the way, I didn’t realize it at the time, but yesterday was apparently Adult Autism Awareness Day, though I have no idea in what way it’s celebrated or promulgated or whatever.  Certainly in Florida there are no clear public health resources or supports of any kind for anyone with any kind of chronic, neurodevelopmental issues.

They will happily put you in prison, though.  Our benighted governor even jokes about putting another one of these prisons—as if we were not already overflowing with the shit-holes—on land near where Disney World is, as part of his process of antagonizing and threatening the state’s biggest employer and single biggest bringer of money into the state.  This is in response to the corporation merely making a public statement—you know, exercising a First Amendment right, that thing that even corporations can do, and which the Supreme Court said is why it’s okay for corporations and such to spend oodles of money in support of specific candidates, because that’s a form of speech, and is protected by the First Amendment.

He’s just so interested in the needs and concerns of the people of Florida.  He’s plainly trying to make himself attractive to the hardcore Trump supporters in case he has a run for President, and he’s perfectly willing to sacrifice the interests of the state for which he ran for governor, and to which he has sworn allegiance, willingly, voluntarily, to do it.  These are not the actions of an honorable man (unless I’m reading the situation incorrectly).

So, he fits right in in Tallahassee.  But not in the legitimate workings of the United States of America, as I’ve thought of it most of my life.  And it’s not as though he has the excuse of being ignorant of the US Constitution or the Florida Constitution; he’s an effing lawyer.  He graduated from an elite law school, and he worked for the JAG corps, I think, if memory serves.

Oh, well, I really shouldn’t care.  The people of Florida—at least the ones who are allowed to vote—apparently chose him and the legislators who write these various imbecilic laws.  I rather hope that he either causes the state to be subject to a multi-billion dollar lawsuit from Disney and that then the company leaves the state and the state goes bankrupt and everyone in the future ties its final decline to his idiotic actions.  He’s antagonizing a very large company that brings jobs and income to the state, and he has the temerity to call himself a Republican?

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, I guess.  It certainly doesn’t have much effect on my non-life.  Everyone on both sides of the thing could burst into flames and die for all I care; the world would probably be a better place.  Then again, the world would probably be a better place if all humans burst into flames and died.  It would briefly raise carbon dioxide levels, but in the long-term, things would improve.

I should probably just put my money where my mouth is and lead by example.  It would be comparatively difficult to get gasoline right now, given recent flooding, but I think I have enough lighter fluid to douse myself quite thoroughly.

I doubt I’d have the courage to do that, though.  I need to find a better way.

In other news, tomorrow is my son’s twenty-third birthday.  It’s been more than ten years since I’ve seen him in person, or spoken with him, though we exchanged one email, more or less.  But he does always send along thanks for his birthday presents and other holiday presents, via his sister.  It’s been just as long since I’ve seen her in person, but I’ve spoken with her briefly on the phone, and we exchange texts and sometimes emails.

I doubt that I’ll ever see either of them again, or hear their voices, let alone spend any real time with them, which is the thing I would most like to do in the world.  They don’t want to do it, it seems, particularly my son, who doesn’t really want any kind of relationship with me.  How could I blame him?  I’ve surely fucked up everything important in my life, and they are the most important part of my life.  I’m no good at taking care of myself, either.

I’m really stressed out and tired and uncomfortable and lonely and confused and overwhelmed—the latter is ironic, because my life is thoroughly empty, so I don’t understand what feels so overwhelming.  But, it is what it is, as they say.  I used to want to conquer the world, and then sometimes I just wanted to destroy it.  Now, though, I just wish to be able to go to sleep and rest.  Why is chronic depression/dysthymia not considered a terminal illness for which one can avail oneself of physician-assisted suicide (not including oneself if one happens to be a physician)?

Well, okay, I guess the answer to that is fairly obvious.  Among other things, the whole nature of the disease calls the possibility of informed consent into question.  But goodness, sometimes the notion of a friendly IV mixture of opiates and benzodiazepines and barbiturates and digitalis sounds like the best, most delicious, most refreshing cocktail I’ve ever imagined.

Oh, well.  I guess I’ll wait a little longer.  It wouldn’t do to have anything happen that might taint the happiness of my son’s future birthday celebrations.  I want nothing but the very best possible life for him and for my daughter.  I wish that included my prominent presence, but maybe no one’s life would or will be made better by having me in it to anything more than a peripheral extent.  I know my life isn’t made better by having me in it.

Well, okay, that doesn’t make sense, does it?  My life is whatever it is, and no matter what state it might be in, it will be that way with me in it, more or less by definition.  But I do suspect that, given my neuropsychiatric characteristics, I am not prone to be a benefit to myself—certainly not when by myself.

Again, “Oh, well.”  I am what I am, I’m my own special…cremation?  Probably not.

ashes and dust

No less than Moore’s Law

I’m writing today’s post on the train and on my laptop*, though I doubt that’s obvious to anyone at first glance**.  Yesterday’s voice-to-text experiment was not a complete failure, but neither was it a success, at least from my point of view.  Also, correcting the weirdness created by the voice-to-text process exacerbated the arthropathy in the base of my thumbs, and I’ve been fumbling and nearly dropping more things than usual since then.  Also, writing on various paperwork at the office has been more painful than usual.  So, I don’t think I’m going to be doing that again any time soon—at least until the technology improves significantly.

Not that I ought to besmirch that technology too much.  It’s a bit like the old bit about the dog that walks on its hind legs (or talks, in an alternate version):  it’s not that it does it well, it’s that it does it at all that should impress you.

I can still remember when my Dad—who worked with computers his entire career, going back to when they were huge, gym-room-sized megaliths—got our family an Apple II+.  We were the first people I knew who had a computer at home (I grew up in a factory town, after all).  I remember my friend Andy saying he was so “ennnvious” of me.  He said it with a grin, though***, and he and I would soon spend many hours learning to program in Basic and writing games to generate characters for Gamma World, for instance, or calculating the conversion of mass to energy via E=mc2 or getting on BBS services with our 600 or 1200 baud modems.

That computer, which was state-of-the-art for home machines, had the expansion to 64K of RAM!  That was a big deal back then.  As far as I know, there wasn’t a home computer with more RAM than that, though I could be wrong.

By comparison, the little mini-laptop on which I’m writing this has RAM that’s just shy of a hundred thousand times larger.  It almost certainly cost a LOT less, even in non-adjusted dollars.  I don’t know what my Dad paid for our Apple, but I’m pretty sure it cost more than $30, which is about what the one I’m working on would cost in roughly-calibrated 1980ish dollars, assuming a constant annual inflation rate of 5%.

The hard drive in this device—and it is far from the state of the art—is a million times larger than the RAM was on that Apple II+, though comparing RAM with a disk drive isn’t really a legitimate comparison.  It’s like comparing Apples and Verbatims.

Speaking of drives, I’m often kind of blown away by some other effects of Moore’s Law.  I sometimes call people’s attention—when I am able to keep them from falling asleep—to the fact that, when I had finished undergrad in 1992, my then-wife and I had a Mac SE, and we bought an external hard drive for it.  She was going to law school and I was doing post-bacc work to get my med school requirements (having decided to go to med school at the last minute, so to speak), and working at the same time, and it was handy not to have juggle all those old, not-so-floppy 3.5” floppy drives.  It cost us a few hundred dollars, if I remember correctly, and it had its own plug for a power supply, and it had a capacity of—wait for it—one megabyte!  And it was amazing!  I still think fondly of it.

Yet now, I can get on Amazon—or go to an appropriate shop, even sometimes a convenience store, certainly many drug stores—and for twenty to forty dollars buy something that has 256,000 times as much memory as that plug-in device that was as big as the base of the computer—and the working portion of the modern memory device is as small as a fingernail.  Also, its memory is much more durable.

And, of course, for well under a hundred dollars—in modern money—I got an external SD drive for the office that has the memory of my old desktop hard drive squared.  A million million bytes (not square bytes, so I was being a little sloppy there), or a terabyte****.  And let’s not even get into processing speed.

Seriously, let’s not.  At least, I really shouldn’t.  I don’t know that subject well enough to have a very good discussion of it.  I know that FLOP is a “floating point operation”.  Also, apparently the Apple II+ could reach processor speeds of up to 8 Megahertz, whereas my current processor is 1.1 Gigahertz, so about 125,000 times faster.  Again, I’m sure there is nuance here, by it’s the rough idea with which I’m dealing.

The point I’m making, overall, is that I shouldn’t be too dismissive or disrespectful of the failings of voice-to-text technology.  It didn’t exist, as such, even ten or so years ago, at least not in any commercially available form.  Now it’s an automatic, included thing in texting and writing functions on the smartphone in my pocket—which is far from top of the line, but is vastly more powerful than even my Mac SE, let alone the Apple II+.

It’s also not an Apple, because I’ve long since become disenchanted with Apple as a company, though their products are surely still good ones.

Nevertheless, typing is still a more effective way to write a blog post, and that’s what I have done and am doing today.  Oh, and by the way, I did in fact record a little five-minute audio tidbit yesterday after finishing my first draft of the “written” post, before someone else arrived at the bus stop and it became a bit too awkward to keep talking out loud to myself in a way that—to me at least—was obviously not a phone conversation.

However, when I went to edit the audio, the traffic noise was just too intrusive.  It was still possible to hear and understand me, mostly, since I was much closer to the microphone, but the noise of cars and the occasional truck was just too much.  I did my best to reduce that noise using various functions of the program, but to make it tolerable, at least to me, led to my voice sounding as though I were speaking through a tight respiratory mask made of cardboard and papier-mâché.

It wouldn’t have made good listening, even though it was only five minutes long, and I certainly didn’t say anything profound enough to make it worth anyone’s while to muscle through it.  So, I don’t plan to upload that.  If I’m going to do audio blogs—or podcasts, if you will—I’ll do them indoors, or in an outdoor setting where I’m away from the noises of traffic and from passers-by who might hear me talking.

With that meandering, weird, tangential bit of fluff, I’ll call today’s blog post to a close.  I hope you all have a good day and a good remainder of the week.  Take care of yourselves, and if you’re fortunate enough to be sharing your lives with people who love you and whom you love, make the most of that.  I don’t seem to be very good at such things over the long term.  Being bad at and awkward and uncomfortable about connecting with people and keeping relationships working doesn’t mean someone doesn’t want to do so, of course—though there probably are such people.  But for those who do want to but are abysmally poor at the process, it can be very unpleasant.  So, if that doesn’t describe you, try to enjoy it.

*I’m sitting on a seat in the train and I’m using my laptop, to be more precise.  I’m not sitting on my laptop, though in the original meaning, a lap is sometimes an appropriate place on which, or in which, to sit.  Still, how could I sit atop my own lap?  Nor am I sitting atop the train, though I understand there are (or have been) places in India where that happens.

**Which is why I’m telling you.

***And it wasn’t terribly long before his family got an Apple III, if I recall, which was also great.

****A terabyte is a trillion bytes, and a trillion (1,000,000,000,000) is a million time a million.  Just count the zeroes.  Now, I’m sure that there are fine points to the comparison, and the literal multiples are not exactly correct, and I’m sure some computer scientist out there could point out the subtleties, and that would be welcome, of course—learning is always a good thing.  But it wouldn’t really change my point.

Was Sisyphus afraid of moss?

I’m sitting at the bus stop this morning, waiting for the morning bus.  There are a few reasons for that.  Actually, I suppose if one were to drill down, one could probably find many reasons—or at least, many causes­—but the main ones are:  1) I’ve walked over 24 miles in the last two days, and though my left knee support thingy is helping, there is still some twinging in the knee, and B) I am trying out a new pair of shoes.

By that, I mean, I am trying a new model of shoe, so to speak, though they are from the same company as usual.  I didn’t want to give them the full 12 miles on their first day, in case there is any chafing or rubbing in new areas that’s going to be likely to cause new blisters.  I really don’t want that, since my other shoes—the ones I haven’t discarded—are not causing blistering, even with the new ankle supports, even with a full 12 mile days.

I should let you all know, I have bitten the bullet and ordered a new bike post and seat.  They don’t come together as one “item”, which strikes me as odd, but maybe it’s not; maybe that’s the usual way things go in the world of bicycles.  There may be good reasons for it.

Anyway, I don’t know if reading Matthieu Ricard’s book is helping me, or if it was a comment/suggestion of encouragement from my cousin—most likely some combination of both things and just a general stubbornness on my part—but I decided to try it, to get a new seat.  It’s nice to be able to get back to the house before eight o’clock sometimes rather than at about nine (or even later).  I just have to remember to run my locking cable through the seat base when I park the bike.

I don’t know that this will change any of my long-term plans (if that’s even the right term).  Certainly if I get this new seat and post and something else goes wrong, I’m going to be quite perturbed.  That interference with my expected plans is a large part of what made me so upset—maybe that’s part of my possible undiagnosed Asperger’s or something, I don’t know.  On the other hand, a large part of it is certainly down to my dysthymia/depression, with which I’ve had to deal since at least my mid-teens.  As it turns out, that can be secondary to/a complication of Asperger’s, so it could all be intertwined.

I’ve recently come to the realization, which I’ve commented on before, that apparently I have a rather blank expression on my face a lot of the time, even when I feel like I’m conveying severe misery.  The closest I came to being expressive, recently, was last week, when I was having an exceptionally bad, three-sigma at least, outlier day with respect to pain, and I was just miserable and in agony, despite far too much medicine and stretching and back massage machines and whatnot.

Someone in the office asked if I was tired, because apparently that’s what my face was expressing.

I’ve never really thought of myself as expressionless, but I do remember, for a long time, practicing smiling in the mirror, partly just so I could think of myself as someone who was happy (or at least looked happy) and partly because I wanted to have a good smile.  That’s long gone, of course; I don’t tend to smile at myself in the mirror anymore.

If anything, I feel rather surprised sometimes when I look in the mirror, as if thinking, “Oh, yeah, that guy.  I forgot that’s what he looked like.”  You would think I would be used to my face by now.  But it very much doesn’t feel like me when I see it, though as my sister has pointed out (quite correctly), that is not so surprising since I don’t normally have access to it; I’m on the inside, or words to that effect.  Maybe this is everyone’s experience, I don’t know.

It’s been a very long week so far, already, and it’s only now Wednesday morning*, which means today I have to do the payroll.  I haven’t even gotten started on the payroll this week so far, because I’ve just been too discouraged and despondent and tired.  Hopefully, taking the bus this morning will conserve at least a little of my energy and make things somewhat easier today.

Either way, I’ll do it, and I’ll probably do it quickly and accurately and well, and it will look easy to those on the outside, because I’ve been doing it for a while, and I know how to do it.  When I’m supposed to do something, however miserable I feel, I just tend to do it, to keep going, and only occasionally grumble a bit but not really make any kind of stink—and apparently it doesn’t even really show on my face that I’m in despair.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I think it bears repeating, or re-exploring, that the horror of Sisyphus’s punishment in the myth is not merely that he was forced to keep rolling his boulder up the mountain, or hill, or whatever, only to have it roll down again each time.  The true horror was that he felt compelled to do it, somehow.

It’s not as though an ordinary person would keep doing it, surely.  They’d be all, “Blow this for a lark” and let the boulder fall.  I’m sure that some other punishment would be enacted, but even Prometheus could recognize that, though he suffered horribly every day, it wasn’t his own doing.  His own mind had not been made into the vessel and source of his torment.

Sisyphus was a bit like all those people who walked calmly to the stake or to the gallows or to the guillotine or to the electric chair or whatever.  Why did they do that?  Why do people not at least force their executioners to drag them to the place of execution?  Why do they not fight?  Would I be the same in such circumstances?

It’s bizarre.  I mean, good luck trying to get a cat or a wolverine, or even a squirrel, to go along with you toward a situation that it even suspects is a danger to its life.  You will not come away without wounds.  Yet even unjustly sentenced humans go quietly most of the time.

It’s pretty stupid, if you ask me.  Which may in turn sound stupid coming from someone who often feels suicidal.  But if it’s my choice and I’m the one doing it—to whatever extent that even makes sense—then that’s at least a choice of some kind.  But you can’t tell me that, if Prometheus got a hand free, he wouldn’t have done his best to throttle Zeus’s eagle.

That, again, is the horror of Sisyphus, even though his punishment is less gory.  He has become his own hell.  Maybe that’s true of us all.  It’s certainly often true of me.


*A fact that I cannot state without triggering the beginning of the Beatles song She’s Leaving Home in my head.  As my ex-wife might have said, this is one of my buttons, and when you push them—even when I push them myself—there will be a programmed response.

And, in this upshot, purposes mistook fall’n on th’ inventors’ blogs. 

Hello and good morning.  I hope you’re all as well as you can be—which is sort of self-fulfilling, since you can’t in principle be better than you actually are at any given moment, and so you’re always as well as you can be, however disappointing that fact might seem.

I walked to the train station this morning—making quite good time, it ought to be said—because I had more issues with my new bike on the way back to the house yesterday evening.  It was raining, not insignificantly, when I arrived at the train station in the evening, but I was reasonably okay with that.  As I’ve written before, I’m a veteran of riding a scooter in thunderstorms and even tropical storms*, so the rain, though irritating, was not a terrible bother.  If anything, it can help one’s endurance, supplementing the cooling effects of sweat.  I also wrapped my computer quite thoroughly, and as you can tell from the fact that I’m using it to write this, my protective covering worked well.

No, the real issue was the bike seat—although now at least it rests on a post that hasn’t fallen into the frame.  But it simply would not stay level.  I had done my best to tighten the thing down when assembling it, but perhaps the rain made that tightening less secure.  So, all the way back to the house from the train, I had to perch myself just so on the seat to keep it from suddenly tilting backwards, and I didn’t always succeed.  This did not make the process of riding through the rain and puddles any easier.

By the way, there are no fenders on this bike, so there’s a fair amount of mud splash now on my backpack.  I don’t mind the cosmetics, but the grittiness is nearly maddening when I get it on my hands.  I hate grittiness and stickiness.  I always have, but I was raised, or trained myself, to avoid indulging in avoiding such irritations, though they make me feel disgusting.  I basically take the life approach that I don’t have any right to be comfortable.  This makes me able to endure a lot, but it probably contributes to the fact that I have needed to endure a lot, if you see what I mean.

Anyway, I had already noticed a little wobbliness to the seat despite my best efforts, and so ordered a decent socket wrench set—since I couldn’t find the one I used to own—which was supposed to be delivered yesterday afternoon.  Obviously, since I bothered to bring it up, and since I said, “supposed to be”, it didn’t arrive.

Perhaps the rain contributed to the delays in deliveries, but it was quite irritating, especially since one of the things that kept me motivated to keep riding was thinking that once I got back to the house, I was going to get out my new socket wrench set and tighten that seat into place until nothing would make it budge.  But I couldn’t.

The anger I felt toward the seat while riding probably helped with my speed back to the house last night.  I certainly didn’t feel as fatigued as I had felt the previous night or yesterday morning, though perhaps the rain helped that, too.

In any case, it wasn’t as though I could sensibly choose not to ride the rest of the way to the house.  At least, I couldn’t do that without just giving up on everything entirely, which I do consider on a frequent basis.  There are many times when I just want to be like the man in the video for the Radiohead song, Just, and simply lie down where I am and let the elements take me.  I still might do it someday.

Unless I’m going to do that, though, I have to get to where I’m going, and sooner is better than later when it’s raining, so I pedaled away.  I was soaked completely through by the time I got to the house.  And my new socket wrench set was not there.

So, anyway, now I’m writing this on the train, having walked this morning, and the train’s electrical system seems to have begun to have issues.  The air conditioning and some of the lights keep going out with a sort of humming groan as they fail, then popping back on after a moment or two, only to fail again.  It’s actually rather funny.  As long as it doesn’t affect the train’s ability to move, I’m relatively okay with it, but it is irritating that it keeps coming on and off.

At least the fact that I walked this morning allowed me to wear my new hat, which I rather like, but which couldn’t be worn when biking, since the relative wind would almost certainly make it fly off.  You have to take your silver linings where you can find them—if you can find them.

But so much of life is irritating.  It’s always been thus.  Maybe my tendency not to try to correct or avoid things that irritate me, out of some cultural tendency or implicit stoic philosophy or whatever, has led to the accumulation of more irritations than are tolerable, until finally they have worn me down almost completely, and soon I will crumble and blow away in the wind.  I can’t say that would be terribly disappointing for me.

I suppose, if I do give in and fail soon, you’ll more or less be able to tell by the fact that I’ll suddenly stop writing.  I wouldn’t think that would be much of a loss.  In the meantime, I’ll keep boring you with my idiocy, and you can indulge your masochism by reading it.


overlaid hat pic with distortion smaller

*No full-fledged hurricanes, though; even I am not that ridiculous.

I don’t know what my point is (in many ways)

I’m sorry in advance.  I suspect this is going to be yet another boring-ass blog post like the two earlier this week.  Something about walking from the house to the train station seems to set me up not to write very well, or at least not to write in a very interesting fashion.

Maybe it’s just that I’m not writing anything new, but am just rehashing the same old garbage that’s always moving through my mind.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about that, though.  I can’t move anything through my mind but my own thoughts, and I can’t simply choose those.  If I could, I would probably choose not to be depressed, as I think anyone with depression would choose.

Of course, it may be the case that I would have a hard time choosing not to be depressed because—presumably as a consequence of my depression—I often feel that I deserve to feel depressed, that I deserve to hate myself, that I am right to hate myself.  But, of course, if I could choose to change my thoughts, then surely I could choose not to think that I deserve to feel depressed, and not to hate myself.  Here we see the beginning of a potential infinite regress, one that’s related to the fundamental ontological* problems with any concept of “contra-causal” free will.

We also run up against issues of fundamental identity, relating to the concept of “terminal goals” as discussed in AI research and the like.  There are instrumental goals—piecemeal goals, objectives, chosen as steps along the way to achieving terminal goals—and then there are the terminal goals, the fundamental goals, the things that are the root drivers of a system.

Could any intelligence with true terminal goals ever opt to change those goals?  How could it choose, as an instrumental goal, the changing of a terminal goal, when such a change would almost certainly lead it to fail in its terminal goal?  I think it was Robert Miles, in one of his Computerphile videos, who proposed a fictional example as a comparable choice to a human:  consider whether (if you are a loving parent) you would be willing, for any reward, to have your personality altered such that you wouldn’t care whether your child or children lived or died, and indeed, that you would be willing to kill them.

If you’re not a parent—not a loving parent, anyway—it might be difficult to see the bone-deep trouble with this, but I suspect that most reasonably normal parents would rather die than be altered so as not to care whether their children live or die, and for good, sound, biological reasons.  I certainly meet that description.

But the point at which I’m getting is to imagine if, somehow, I could once and for all cure my dysthymia/depression, but it would have the effect of changing my character, my nature, my personality—my terminal goals, if your will—would I do it?

It’s somewhat difficult for me to imagine, because I can remember times in my life when I was not depressed, and not all of them were that long ago.  I very much think that I was the same person at those times, fundamentally, as I am now.  There’s a continuity of thought, at least from the point of view of my present memory, which is the only point of view I have.  I don’t feel in any serious way that I was a different person either twenty years ago, or thirty years ago, or forty years ago, or whatever, back to as far as I can remember, to when I started grade school and a bit before.

Of course, I apparently have always had some form of ASD**—Asperger’s or whatever—though I don’t have a formal diagnosis.  Does anyone really have a definitive diagnosis for that, though?  The criteria are semi-arbitrary and are not based on a measurable, physical structure or quantity but a constellation of attributes.  Still, whatever the case, it is something inherent to the given person’s nervous system.  And it does seem to predispose one to depression (and presumably to dysthymia, and certainly to alexithymia), so maybe that tendency has always been there in me.

There are certainly many, relatively early times when I found myself feeling burned out or washed out, or just blank and empty and exhausted, but I didn’t connect it to anything or know why it happened.  By the time I started high school I was already having periods when I would be depressed and have suicidal thoughts.

But I didn’t hate myself back then—not most of the time, anyway.  I even put on something of a show of pretending really to think very highly of myself, to be egotistical and narcissistic in a playful way.  And I did have moments of somewhat megalomaniacal tendencies, but then again, I was good at a lot of things, and I got attention for it.

I definitely always felt different and weird compared to the people around me.  I tried to turn that to my advantage, to make it a defense mechanism—to make myself seem vaguely scary and dangerous because of being sort of crazy, I guess, to make sure no one messed with me.  But it is a fact that I did feel weird; I felt like I was strange, or crazy, and I also felt vaguely hostile and even borderline hateful toward many other people at least some of the time, because what stranger in a strange land of alien beings would not feel that way?

I don’t know where I’m going with this, or what point I’m trying to make.  Again, I’m sorry.  It’s not a very good blog post.  But if it helped you pass a few moments in which you would otherwise have been staring at a wall or—cat forbid—a TikTok video or something, then I guess it’s been worthwhile.

would i lie to you

*I think that’s the term for which I’m looking.

**Apart from the congenital heart defect, I mean.  That was definitely something I had at least until I was eighteen.

Sometimes jokes are expressions of desperation.

Well, it’s Monday again.  Welcome to another Monday.

I walked to the train again this morning, as I did on Friday, and since I chose to get up and go a bit earlier today, I’m actually now on a train that will arrive at my destination earlier than would have the one I would have boarded had I taken the bus to the train.

Wow, that was a long and convoluted sentence, wasn’t it?  Sorry.

I think on Friday, after my first morning walk to the train, I started the day off a bit giddy, and I think that affected the quality of my blog post that day, so my apologies for that.  I think I was experiencing my first real endorphin rush from endurance exercise in many years, and it got me rather wired and a bit garrulous and—for me—outgoing for the very early part of the day.

That didn’t last, of course.  By early afternoon my general outlook was diminishing and deteriorating and various other verbs starting with “d” and ending in “ing”.  I don’t know how well that fact came across to others in the office, though.  I seemed to make people laugh a bit more than usual in the morning, and I certainly felt less tense than I usually did, but I can’t tell at all if my personality from their point of view was any different than usual.  Even when I’m profoundly depressed—in my immediate mood in addition to my general state of neuro-psychology—I tend to say sardonic things that people find funny a lot of the time.

I think this actually impairs my ability to convey the fact that I really feel deeply horrible.  People seem to assume that if you’re making jokes and are funny, you must be doing okay.  I can tell you from personal experience, this is not necessarily the case.  Sometimes jokes are expressions of desperation.  Just look at poor Robin Williams, if you don’t believe me.

But by the end of the day I felt tired and frustrated and grumpy and gloomy.  That was me on Friday afternoon, which makes me rather different—according to popular understanding, anyway—from most people.  Friday afternoon leading into a weekend in which I don’t work is not a prospect that meant much good for me.  I just sat around in my room at the house, alone—after walking home from the train, which at least caused another, if less notable, bump up in my mood.

I walked to local convenience stores a couple of times over the weekend, and I walked to Burger King on Sunday, and of course I did my laundry, but that was it.  I didn’t really do anything enjoyable.  I certainly didn’t spend time with friends, since I don’t really have any—though I did speak with my sister on the phone on Sunday evening, and that was very nice.

But really, I have a hard time being at all interested in anything much.  The YouTube algorithm is beginning to fail me with respect to offering me things I’m interested in viewing; but perhaps it’s me failing at the algorithm, in that I simply don’t have anything that interests me, and so YouTube can’t offer me much in the way of stuff I’d like to see.  It does occasionally offer me the little option box of being shown an assortment of things that I’ve never seen so far.  I’ve used that box once or twice in the past, but I don’t remember it being particularly beneficial.  I didn’t use it this weekend.

I wish I could find some longish-form fiction that I could enjoy again, like I used to.  Back when I was reading The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and The Belgariad, and later the Harry Potter books, and even things like The Sword of Shannara, and then The Elfstones of Shannara, or various Stephen King and related books, the books gripped my attention and could keep me occupied for quite a long stretch each.  Also, of course, in between reading books, I actually had a group of friends with whom I did things that we enjoyed.

Not so, now.  Now the only fiction that I’ve been able to stick with has been a few select Japanese light novels, most of them centered around high school kids, most of those being loners of some sort or another.  But these books, though I can stick with them, seem just to make me feel a bit more depressed when I’m done, as if they are surrogate friends or surrogate lives, and once they’re done, I’m even more alone than I was before.  And they are all ridiculously short, being light novels.

I have noticed a peculiar and rather amusing effect of reading some of these stories:  When they are written in first person, which is common, I often tend to think to myself in the fashion of the character for about twenty minutes or so after a bout of reading them, almost narrating my actions as if I were writing a first person story.  This goes away rather quickly, but it’s a bit unsettling.  It’s as though my sense of personal identity is so effaced that I just start mirroring the only identities from which I can get any inside view, which are those of first person narratives.

Oh, well, I think we’ve established already that I’m a weird person, so I don’t know why even I am surprised when I find new weird things about myself.  Maybe I’m just irredeemable—you certainly cannot save me up and exchange me for valuable prizes or anything of the sort.  If you save me up, so to speak, I just become wearisome.  Everyone who has ever spent a long time with me on a regular basis has ultimately found me not worth enduring.

I am one of those people.

I guess I don’t have an endorphin rush today.  I hope you have one, if you can.  They’re nice.

A turn or two I’ll walk, to still my blogging mind

Hello and good morning to everyone reading this, even if you’re reading it in the afternoon, or the evening, or at night, or if you’re fundamentally not a morning person and so you never see mornings as “good” no matter what anyone says.  Don’t feel bad about that, if it is the case for you.  Even Gandalf expressed his skepticism about the greeting “Good morning,” as we see almost at the very beginning of The Hobbit.

Most greetings are bizarre things, or at least many of them are.  I particularly dislike greetings that involve questions, because I have lost my former hard-earned skill, such as it was, at treating them as the vacuous, ritualistic bird-calls that they are.

If, on a Monday morning, someone asks, “How was your weekend?” I can’t simply reply with a ritual, “It was great,” and then ask about theirs, whether I care about their weekend or not.  I actually have to stop and think about the question*.  Often, I’m sorry to say, I can only shrug and quote Bart Simpson, saying, “Meh.”  This is me trying to avoid being too negative.  But, of course, humans—or at least Americans—don’t want to hear that sort of thing.  I don’t quite know why.

Similarly, some people will ask the rather grammatically suspect question, “How are you doing?” usually with some dropped consonants or strange contractions.  My first instinct, which I almost always resist, is to respond with, “How am I doing what?”  Instead, I tend just to go for the puzzled look followed by a shrug and, again, “Meh.”

The foreshortened version of the earlier question is “How are you?”  It is if anything more bizarre.  It sounds like the beginning of a deep, philosophical discussion, related perhaps to the old “Why is there something rather than nothing?”  How am I?  Does that mean “How is it that I exist?” which seems to be what it means if you take it at face value?

It’s an interesting thing—to me, at least—to think about the same question but changing “How” to various other words such as who, what, where, and when.  The first three make straightforward sense, the last one is an intriguing question calling to my mind the notion that, in GR, there is no time that passes, merely an extra dimension to reality.

They are all better questions and make more sense than the “how” one.  Then, of course, we could take our cue from the improvised, hilarious line given by Drax in Avengers: Infinity War, and ask, “Why are you?”

Okay, let’s move on to other matters besides my steadily atrophying skill at dealing with small talk in anything but a literal (and annoyed) way.

Today is the final valid day for my current bus pass.  These passes are really quite good if you ride the bus more than a few times a week in Broward County.  Unlike the Tri Rail, which charges full price for each calendar month—even if you buy the pass in the last week of that month—the bus passes start ticking (so to speak) only when you first use them, and they expire a minute before midnight thirty-one days later.  That’s it.  Straightforward.  So if you buy a bus pass and “sit on it” for months, you still have 31 days of use once you first use it.

I like it.  It’s a good system.

That being said, I think that after this evening, when I use this pass for the last available time, I’m not going get a new one.  Instead, if I can summon the courage, I’m simply going to walk to and from the train station every day.  That’s slightly under five miles in each direction.  If I can pull that off, counting the walk from and to the station up at work, I’ll be walking eleven or twelve miles a day.

I really ought to be able to do that.  Endurance is not an issue.  I just have problems with still-healing blisters.  But I can’t coddle myself with respect to those.  My blisters are all that’s holding me back, and they are annoying, but I have to push through to the other side of that barrier, because I have a task before me that I want to accomplish.

It won’t be a particularly useful task for anyone but me, and there will no doubt be those who will think it’s not good for me either, but that isn’t really my concern.  I want to try.  As I always say, I don’t want to inconvenience people I care about, so I’m thinking of something that hopefully will minimize “me-related” problems for them, though adjustments will likely need to be made at some level.

At least the number of people close to me personally and physically is small—it’s zero if you’re looking at the combination of the two attributes.  Also, at least my idea shouldn’t be messy or locally problematic.  That’s one advantage, at least.  Or is it two?

I feel that I have to do something though.  I don’t think I can endure much longer with nothing meaningful in my life in any serious way.  My foundations (metaphorically speaking) are crumbling; you can see the cracks widening if you know where to look, and when they give—I keep trying not to let it give as long as I can—the failure will probably be abrupt and messy and will cause trouble for the neighbors, so to speak.  I’d really like to minimize that if I can.  I cause other people enough unpleasantness just by existing; I’d rather not make it worse.

Of course, I’d rather do good for other people, especially the ones I care about.  I’d rather try to relieve suffering and cause joy, or at least to entertain.  I like to make people smile if I can, but I’m not good at it, and I don’t smile very well myself anymore.

I used to practice smiling in the mirror all the time, to try to get it right, but I’ve kind of stopped bothering with that anymore.  My smiles are usually façades and charades, at least in recent years.

Anyway, my bus will be here soon.  I’ll try to keep you all posted, and I’ll probably write something tomorrow again, whether you like it or not.  Have a good day, if you can, but you don’t have to have a good morning if you don’t feel like it, no matter what I said at the beginning of the post.



*Lately I’ve considered simply replying, “It was about sixty hours long”, but I always forget to do that when the time comes.