If anhedonia becomes interesting, does it thereby destroy itself?

Okay, well‒sigh‒it’s Friday.  This week has already been about two years long, so I’m relieved that it’s coming to its end and that I have tomorrow off.  If something surprising were to happen and they asked me to work tomorrow, switching weekends with my coworker, I would hope, I would want, to say “no”.  Knowing me, of course, there’s a very good likelihood that I would go along with it, because I’m stupid that way*.

It’s not as though I have any sense of looking forward to the weekend, other than that I’m intellectually glad that I’ll be getting some rest.  I’ll probably take some Benadryl to help me sleep, which, yes, I know, does interfere with circadian rhythms and sleep cycles and all that jazz, but at least it lets my body rest for a short while.

I don’t really get any relief or joy from sleep, even when I get enough of it, though I understand that many people do.  Many people really look forward to sleep.  The only time I ever enjoyed sleep was during the time I was taking Paxil, which didn’t last long, because it had untoward side effects (and coming off it gave me my personal experiences with sleep paralysis that inspired a scene from Outlaw’s Mind).  While I was taking it, though, I got real joy, both anticipatory and actual, from going to bed and from sleeping, though I was in the first year or so of medical practice, so I did not sleep all that much.

Nowadays I don’t really get any joy‒anticipatory, actual, reflective, or whatever‒from much of anything, let alone from my quite limited periods of sleep.  I’ve been having more and more trouble even finding books that I have any pleasure reading.  Even non-fiction, now, has become difficult.  I have well over 400 volumes in my Kindle library, and I am dismayed to feel that there’s nothing there that I want to read.  And when I go to Amazon to look for new books on subjects that I have previously enjoyed, there’s just what seems like recommendations from the dusty, dingy, tiny little book aisle of an old K-Mart whose manager doesn’t read nor understand people who do.

I’ve long known that I’m not a very good match for the algorithms of places like Amazon or Netflix.  They never have done a good job at finding things to show me that I want to read or watch.  This is despite my having bought those hundreds of books on Amazon.  Netflix is worse, or else they just don’t have many things in their library in which I have any interest.

To be fair to Amazon, the last time I went into a beautiful, two-story Barnes and Noble, in which I spent over an hour looking around, I left without buying a single book (or anything else).

YouTube does a slightly better job.  It even introduced me to the nature (and possibility) of Asperger’s Syndrome via the inscrutable exhortations of its algorithm.  But either that algorithm has degenerated or I’ve chewed through most of the material in which I have any potential interest, but In any case, I’m getting diminishing returns from YouTube.  And now that the BBC has canceled Mock the Week, I don’t even have new clips from that to enjoy.  Even I can only go through comedy panel show clips a finite number of times before I lose interest.  And they keep offering me the same two compilation videos over and over, no matter how many others I know exist, because I have watched them all.

There are certainly inefficiencies and errors in their algorithms or deep learning systems or shallow learning systems or whatever the fuck** they’re using.  But a lot of it is probably a problem*** with me.  I’ve always had peculiar tastes relative to most of the people around me, and I think that’s gotten to be more the case as time has progressed, which is what time tends to do.

Mind you, if I’m with someone I like or love and doing something they enjoy, I can enjoy it with them, and indeed, I’ve always had a fairly broad ability to do so.  But those days are past, now, as I have no one I like or love around me, and I don’t really have a desire to find any new such people.  It’s just not worth the effort‒the return on such speculative investment is quite low, and the inevitable long term cost and injury is almost always severe.  I don’t have to walk across a hot stove too many times before I just stop walking on the stupid stoves.

So, I’m corralled into a seemingly increasing region of anhedonia****.  It would be a rather pleasing irony if someone could get real joy from sharing their thoughts and experiences about and with anhedonia.  That seems unlikely to happen to me, though.  Therefore, I’m going to call it done for today and for this week.

I hope you all have a nice weekend.


*That’s far from the only way I’m stupid.  Like all other finite beings (which is all beings as far as I know) I am infinitely stupid, in the sense that there is a functionally limitless amount of information and understanding that I do not have.

**Note to all autocorrection people:  I rarely discuss any member of the family Anatidae.  I am, however, inclined to using profanity to express things more grittily than by “ordinary” words.  There is neurological research pointing toward the idea that this is legitimately different in the effect it has on the one swearing and the one hearing (or reading) the swearing.  Why do you think people with Tourette’s syndrome sometimes have coprolalia?  There are, to my knowledge, very few tics where someone involuntarily shouts out, for instance, “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah”.  Unless that were to mean something profane in their society.  Someone with OCD might do so, but that’s a different kind of disorder.

***Reminder to self: look up the etymology of probably and problem.  In what specific ways are the words related?  Do they come from the same roots?

****Are there any fictional characters called Anne Hedonia or similar?  There really ought to be.

“Hump Day” calls to mind a camel’s back, which we know can be broken by a straw

I’m starting this post at the house, seated on my “piano bench”, as I did a week or two ago when it was quite cold out.  It’s not cold today; it’s already over 70 degrees (F).  I just want to minimize the potential time in which I have to worry about the “shouty” lady, who really hasn’t been shouting so far this week, but has been laying around at my “usual” bus stop.

She was still there when I got back to the bus stop last night at about quarter after eight.  So she had been there for at least 15 hours yesterday, unless she wandered off during the day, which is certainly possible.

Anyway, that’s not very important, I just feel too socially awkward to want to have to worry about being approached by anyone, let alone someone to whom I can offer no consolation for what are surely myriad troubles.

I want to keep this post relatively short, because the last few have been absurdly long, especially considering the fact that I’ve been writing solely on my phone.  I think it can’t be encouraging for casual readers if I write thirteen to sixteen hundred words every day.  It would be one thing if there were significant substance to the posts, a deep analysis of some topic, but they’re just random, meandering blather.  That’s best in relatively small doses.

It’s only Wednesday, but the week already feels so very long.  I’m mentally exhausted, though physically I’m getting slightly more fit, walking 4 or so miles a day, sometimes more.  But even physically, yesterday I was in exceptional pain, even for me, all up and down my left side, focused on my lower back and hip but down to the ankle and up to the arm.

My whole left arm felt not just painful but numb, and was even vasoconstricted.  My left hand was pale and cool to the touch compared to my right hand, confirmed by a coworker.  I don’t know what I did to trigger it, but it was apparently some form of what they used to call causalgia, if memory serves.  I do have an old soft-tissue injury to my left shoulder that never completely healed.

I don’t think I can do this‒meaning, anything‒much longer.  I’m coming up on the last chance to get a “message from the universe” in the form of the most strikingly palindromic possible recording number yet, at the office.  I’ve missed all the others‒as expected.  Palindromic eight digit numbers are a rarity, especially when the first three to four digits vary only slowly.

Of course, I don’t really think the universe is capable of, let alone inclined to, deliberately send me a message in the form of a recording number.  This is really more like a game of chance I’m playing.  It’s not quite a variation on Russian Roulette, but it’s not really that far off, either.

I don’t want to let anyone at work know the nature of my game*, lest they try to fake an outcome for me.  I don’t think they would succeed, but they might try.  Of course, if I got even a hint that they were doing such a thing, I would just call the “game” off and consider it lost‒or won, depending on your point of view.

It’s sort of like how most people would say I won the game of Russian Roulette I played more than 10 years ago, but I sometimes think of it as having lost.  Very little net good has happened to me in the intervening years.  I won’t say there weren’t good things, but it’s been an unquestionably net negative, and the slope of that curve doesn’t look to be changing, certainly not in the positive direction.

Oh, by the way, those last two paragraphs were written at the bus stop.  The shouty lady is nowhere to be seen (or heard), and while I’m slightly concerned and hope she’s okay, I’m glad not to have to stand for twenty minutes while waiting.  My back and hips already hurt this morning, but it’s primarily on the right side today.  It’s good to keep some variety, to keep one guessing.  We wouldn’t want the pain to be boring, would we**?

Anyway, it’s also drizzling a bit this morning, so it’s good to be able to get under the bus shelter.  The water doesn’t bother me, but it’s hard to write when you have to keep clearing raindrops off the phone.

Okay, it’s become more than a drizzle, now, and the bus will be here in about five minutes.  I guess I’ll call that good for today.  It’s not good; very little has been good for me in a while.  But we’ll call it that.

Rest would be good.  Sleep would be good, if it were restorative, or at least entailed true oblivion.  I want to go to sleep.


*They already know my name, so there’s no need for them to guess it.

**That’s a slight joke.  Sometimes one hears of pain described as “boring”, meaning it feels as if something is drilling into or through some body part.  There are so many delightful and multifarious types of pain in this world, aren’t there?  It’s enough to make you want to throw up.

Where does a true blog wait? At the bus stop, sometimes.

It’s Friday again, and‒again‒I’m sitting at the bus stop, writing this blog first thing in the morning while waiting for the bus.

That woman who was screaming on a few previous mornings is screaming in a different region of the intersection now.  At this point, I honestly suspect she’s actually mentally ill.  There’s also a person with some form of fidgitiness or movement disorder or just some anxiety syndrome who has come and sat on the (small) bus stop bench not far from me.  I suppose he might either be on some kind of drug or withdrawing from some kind of drug, rather than having a primary disorder, but the woman is almost certainly mentally ill.

Of course, there’s not much one can do for her unless she asks for help or is openly a danger to herself or to others.  Actually, in Florida, even if she needs help, and asks for it, she’s probably out of luck.  Public services are rather limited here, despite this being the third most populous state in the US, and obviously quite wealthy.

The man I mentioned before couldn’t sit still for long before he got up and walked away, across the road to some other place.  I don’t know if he was hoping that I would speak to him or some such, and gave up when I didn’t even look at him other than in peripheral vision, while writing, or if he really was just stopping to rest.  If that latter, well, more power to him.

This end of the nation’s dong isn’t especially hospitable, so you should find rest when you can.  I would like to find some rest.  It would be so nice to go to sleep and to stay asleep through the night and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed rather than just groggy and resigned.

I do wish at least that this state were just a little less full of desperate and disgusting people.

I’m talking about the people in the state government when I say that, by the way, not people such as I mentioned above.  Also, some of the voters are a bit contemptible, the ones who imagine that they are solely responsible for all their own prosperity, even though the vast majority of them have not even a superficial grasp of how the universe into which they were extruded functions, from the subatomic to the cosmic, from the unliving vastness of intergalactic space down to computers and medicine and information technology and chemistry and biology and electricity and automobiles and the internet/the web and even television.  I don’t know how so many people can apparently stand not to know about these things, let alone sometimes still act smug and self-righteous.

As for troubled people like the shouty woman and the fidgety man, well they just make me feel a bit sad, really.  I mean, I don’t want either one to intrude upon me writing this blog post‒and neither one did, by the way.  Even when the shouty lady ended up walking past, in front of me, she was just muttering something about “catching the bus when it’s free” or something (as far as I know, it’s never free).

If I had unearthly powers, I would probably try to provide some help to either or both of them; I certainly gave a lot of money and stuff away when I was in medical practice.  That’s a big part of why I had to go with the public defender’s office (well, it’s an adjunct office, actually, but it’s the same idea) when I was charged with the bullshit I was charged with.  I was never very good at taking care of myself for my own sake, and I’ve gotten worse at it even since then.

So many people are so grasping and parasitic.  There are people in the office who regularly come to me for medical advice‒and even OTC treatment‒even though it’s thanks to the government of their poxy state that I can’t practice medicine anymore.  Cat forbid that they take responsibility for learning about and seeing to their own health.

From time to time, I think that I’m too high-functioning a person really to have any autism spectrum disorder‒but then, looking back at the things that happened to my life, and the way I have done things, especially once my separation and then divorce happened (and at many of the ways I managed things before then) when I was down here in Florida, far from my family and friends and everything, and when I realize how hard it is for me to arrange and keep track of the functions of daily life, I think…yeah, that ASD stuff actually explains a lot.  Knowing it doesn’t make it easier to counter, but I prefer to understand things as much as I can.

It’s not as though I don’t understand, intellectually, how things are done and how to do them.  I’m able to understand a lot of things.  But I can’t seem to pull myself or anything together, I can’t seem to organize my life or deal with ordinary things.  I can write novels and stories and blogs, I can write and perform and record and even produce songs (the latter not to a terribly high standard), I can draw, sometimes pretty well, and I can practice medicine and do science and operate computers…but I can’t promote my own works or stand to seek out anyone who would help me do so.  The social aspect of such things veers toward horrifying for me.

I’m able to survive‒often I don’t really want to survive, very often I don’t want to‒but thriving seems beyond me.  As Radiohead sings, “I’m not living, I’m just killing time.”. That’s from True Love Waits*, their last song from their most recent album, though the song itself has been around a lot longer.

Anyway, the bus will be here soon, and I will ride it, then ride the train, then walk, the trudge through the day and reverse the commute process at the end.  And tomorrow, since I have work tomorrow, I will do much the same.

And on Sunday I will do laundry, and then on Monday the cycle will begin again.  Sisyphus, eat your heart out!

Actually, that sounds more like a job for Prometheus than Sisyphus.  Are there any mythical figures who specifically eat their own hearts?  Whence did that expression arise?  I have to admit that I do not know.  It doesn’t really matter, but if anyone has any reliable information about the origin of that expression, I’d be glad to learn.

In the meantime, have a good day.

my bus stopadjusted

P.S.  The fidgety man just got on at a later bus stop from where I waited.  I think he just didn’t like sitting still, or perhaps he didn’t like sitting next to me.  It’s hard to hold it against him.


*It’s not a promise or anything optimistic.  The full title verse goes, “True love waits in haunted attics.  And true love lives on lollipops and crisps.”. In other words, the notion of true love is not something to be taken very seriously.  It eats like a child and “lives” like a ghost.

A passion for timeliness and a late-appearing fruit of passion

Well, it’s Monday again, to the surprise of essentially no one.  That’s just what happens after the weekend, isn’t it?

I’m starting this post while still at the house, sitting on the “piano” bench in my room, because it’s too chilly to sit at the bus stop for too long and do the writing.  This is not merely a “chilly for south Florida”* chilly.  It’s about 45 degrees Fahrenheit out.  I don’t know how windy it is‒I haven’t been out yet‒but that’s not shorts-wearing weather even for snow birds.

Thankfully, fleece hoodies with the hoods up are more than adequate against such modestly cold temperatures, and walking is much warmer than riding a motorbike.  I have more extensive covering I could wear in a pinch‒a long, black duster I got originally to be part of a costume, but which is also quite handy for cold weather.

Anyway, there’s not much going on.  I had thought last evening about writing a topical blog post this morning, something relating to a book I’m rereading, called On Being Certain, but I’m not terribly into that right now.

I didn’t do anything useful at all this weekend, really, apart from getting some physical rest‒well, I walked 3 miles to 7-11 yesterday, but that was because I currently have no better means of travel, and I had some things I wanted.  It was worth the trip, I’d say, though 7-11 is pricey.

Still, the good thing about my current disrupted commute really is how much I’m walking.  Twice last week, I chose not to ride the buses back from the train station in the evening.  The first time was just because I wanted to do it, and was early enough for it to be workable; the second time because the bus that had been scheduled to come just hadn’t shown up, and the next one wasn’t for 30 minutes.

I made a good deal of progress before that next bus finally passed me:  more than half the distance I would have ridden it.  I felt quite smug, as though I were the one passing it, not the other way around.  On each  of those two days last week, I walked more than 8 miles total.  All the other days I walked more than 4.  So my walking really is getting boosted.

It occurs to me that I still haven’t done any of my “audio blogs” or podcasts or whatever one might want to call them.  Maybe I’m setting my bar too high.  I’d been planning to record them using Audacity and a decent mic, at least, but maybe I should just use my phone.  I’m using it for this, after all.  What do you all think?  Which should I do?

***

Okay, well, now I’m at the bus stop, but there’s still a good fifteen plus minutes to wait until the scheduled time for the first bus.  That’s just the way I do things.  I hate to be late to nearly anything, and at least since the time when I was in junior high, I always tended to get to school before nearly anyone else.  I just preferred the quiet solitude before the cacophonic arrival of all the other people into the area.

This has continued through pretty much the rest of my life (so far, anyway), and has, if anything, become more pronounced.  Indeed, my early awakening may well be distantly related to that sense that I can’t stand to be late (and being on time = being late to me).

If it’s related, it is pathologically so.  For instance, I first woke up last night at around 12:30.  I swiftly went back to sleep, at least, but still woke up more or less at least once an hour, and it became harder and harder to get back to sleep‒and it took longer each time‒such that by about 3:30, I mostly gave up.

But there was not too much point just to getting up and leaving early.  Oh, I suppose I could have walked all the way to my old, standard train station, and I would have arrived in time at least for the second train, if not the first.  But then, even given the weather, I probably would have started the day all sweaty.

Ending the day sweaty is okay‒you can shower and change clothes and all that‒but starting it that way can be a bit unpleasant.  And in Florida, at least, it leaves you at increased risk for skin fungus, or at least for mildew smells in your clothes, and there are very few smells that I find more repulsive than the smell of most fungi (though baking and brewing yeast are exceptions).

***

Okay, well, now I’m a bit anxious.  I looked on the “Myride” site and though it shows that there’s a scheduled bus arrival at 5:49 (in 2 minutes now) there’s no “estimated time” of arrival actually given until the next bus arrival time, which would be 15 minutes from now.  It’s really not cool for them to fail to have the first bus actually run, especially on an unusually cold morning.

Getting on the next bus will mean getting on an even later train, and so on.  Maybe I should have walked to the train station after all.  But if I left now for the train station, I’d be much later.  And there’s always extra work to do at the office after a weekend off.  But when one bus (or train for that matter) ends up canceled, the following bus (or train) is always that much more crowded than usual, and I hate that.  If it’s always crowded, at least I know what to expect, and I’m mentally prepared, if not exactly happy about it.  But if it’s a change from usual, it’s stress-inducing.

BCT used to run a pretty good bus service, but it seems they’ve been slipping lately, because this is now 2 different buses in the space of 4 days that are late or canceled.

***

Okay, well, the first bus wasn’t canceled, but it was five to six minutes late, and I can’t say that I’m okay with that.  It’s one thing for buses to be late when it’s rush hour‒such traffic is a chaotic system, and it can be effectively impossible to plan for every contingency when one has limited resources, as everyone does.

But at well before six in the morning, even in south Florida, there is barely any traffic at all, certainly not the kind of traffic that would slow a bus down.  People don’t tend to get in the way of buses, and police rarely pull them over, and the number of stops they make has a theoretical maximum, and they almost never have to stop at every stop.

Oh, well, what are you gonna do?  My boss at work sometimes sarcastically asks if I really think that the other people in the office are going to be able to do things to a level that I tend to do them, but my response is that yes, I do.  I’m not expecting people to grasp science and the like as well as I do, or to have the same enthusiasm for reading, but the things I ask for are things that should be graspable and doable by nearly any “normally” functioning human, since even I can do them, and I’m far from normally functioning, and barely human.  If they don’t succeed, it’s because they aren’t trying, or at least not very hard.

It’s like something I used to say to my kids when they would say they would try: “Good.  That means you’ll succeed, because this is something I know you can do if you actually try.”  Or words to that effect.

***

Anyway, that’s nearly it for today.  The bus arrived‒late‒but it looks like I’ll be able to get on the scheduled train, at least if it’s running on time.  Surely a simple 44 degree temperature isn’t enough to throw off all the public transit in south Florida?  Yes, it’s chilly for down here, but it’s not that cold.

Okay, well apparently the train is running about 3 minutes late.  That’s not horrible, but I still don’t think it should be considered okay.  Those responsible should feel embarrassed, though perhaps not ashamed.  People plan their days around the freely published schedules of the transit companies.  They make the schedules‒those schedules haven’t been forced upon them by a consortium of riders‒so they should stick to them.

The same goes for people at the office, come to think of it.  But apparently that’s just too much to ask of ordinary human beings.  If that’s really true, then ordinary people are not worth keeping around.

But I don’t think it’s true.  “Ordinary people” will for the most part live up to the standards to which they are required to live up, barring disease and disability.  And even people with chronic pain and dysthymia and depression and insomnia and apparent neurodevelopmental disorders can make it their business to get places on time and even early, and then to stay until all the work is done, even if everyone else has already left.  All that’s needed is just a little bit of passion**.


*Well, compared to whatever the temperature is currently in Michigan, or New York, or North Dakota, for instance, it would probably seem nice.  But you still wouldn’t want to sit at a bus stop for 45 minutes with just a hoody for your jacket in such weather.  And believe me you wouldn’t want to drive a motorcycle without layers and gloves and so on…though a good helmet will keep one’s head nice and toasty, at least.

**If that ending seems like a bit of a non sequitur, that’s because it was written in response to the fact that the person sitting in the seat in front of me on the train had a carton of passion fruit juice, and that made me think, “If there’s a passion fruit, why is there no ‘apathy fruit’?” which seems it would be much more an appropriate foodstuff for humans.  I put that last sentence in the main body of the blog solely for the purpose of writing this footnote.

Transport, motorways and tram lines, starting and then stopping

It’s Wednesday morning at less than 10 minutes before 5 o’clock‒indeed, as the day begins, at least for me‒and I’m writing the first part of this blog post at the house, at least for a few minutes.  It’s slightly chilly out, you see, and I’d rather do the writing here to the extent that it’s practical, rather than sitting at the bus stop.  That location has the advantage of having few distractions, and I do rather enjoy writing in such places; I think I enjoy the novelty of being able to write using my phone while just sitting, or even standing, just about anywhere.  But novelty tends to wear off before too long‒though I seem to be more resistant to that tendency than many are.  In any case, though, on a chilly-ish morning, it doesn’t seem worth it to spend quite so long at the bus stop.

Of course, as is probably obvious, I have not sorted out my recent transportation issues.  I probably never will.  My brain never was particularly inclined to deal with such matters, and without any local personal supports or prods, there’s nothing to get me over the very high wall of activation energy of that sort of reaction.  I’m definitely regressing.  And I’m okay with that, because there’s no reason not to regress, and there’s no reason not to deteriorate, and there’s no point in trying to achieve anything.

I’ve done all the achieving stuff in my life, much more so than most, and yet here I am, living alone in a single room in south Florida, about to go wait for a bus to a train to a walk to a job that has nothing to do with what I trained (for a very long time and with a great deal of effort) to do as my career.  What I would like is to find some comfortable ditch somewhere, go there, lie down, go to sleep, and just keep sleeping and let the elements take me.

***

And now, here I am at the bus stop at 5:18, waiting for a bus that’s not scheduled to get here for another 31 minutes.  Thence to the train station and so on.

Interestingly, last night I got on a slightly earlier train from work than I had the previous day, and so I decided to walk the four and a half miles back to the house from the train station.  As you might guess, it took only about an hour and a half, including time to stop and get something to eat (take-out) on the way.  That led me to the realization that I could, in principle, walk to my “usual” train station in the morning and, unless something slowed me down a fair amount, I would be able to get on the very same train that I catch by taking the bus south to the “prior” train station, which is what I’m doing now.

I go south because that’s the quickest/earliest route to catch the earliest potential train available.  I just rechecked all the schedules this morning.

Of course, I could get a bike and get to the station faster and catch an earlier train, but that would entail getting a bike, and then either locking it up at the station or lugging it with me.  Neither one is terribly appealing, and anyway, a bike is sort of an investment in the future, and I do not wish to invest in the future.  I don’t feel that I have a future in which it’s worth investing.

Also, at least if I walk, I’ll be living up to my namesake.

Anyway, right now I’m using the 31-day bus pass I ordered a few months ago in case of just such an emergency.  It would seem a minor shame to waste it.  You see what I mean about not wanting to make investments in any kind of future, right?  They get in the way of choices you might otherwise want to make.

The northbound bus just arrived on the other side of the road.  I’ve figured out that I could, if desired, take it north to the 7 line then go to my usual train station, but given the inefficiencies of transferring buses, it would again simply get me on the very same train…and that’s assuming nothing goes wrong.  At least walking would be exercise.

I’ve definitely gotten in better shape in recent months, as far as that goes.  I walked a total of just under eight miles yesterday, and I only have a mild rawness in a few spots in the soles of my feet, nothing like any true blisters or anything, and though I’m slightly stiff, I’m not truly sore or anything.

We’ll see.  The one downside to walking to the train is starting the day off sweaty, but that’s going to be a serious problem only as we get past wintertime, and I hope that’s going to be a non-issue for me.  That’s my tentative plan, anyway.  I’m certainly too mentally fatigued to want to bother trying to live much longer.  It’s boring at best and thoroughly miserable at worst, and most of the time it’s somewhere between the two poles.

There’s no point, there’s no fulfillment, there’s no joy, and there’s no help.  I probably wouldn’t be able even to accept help if it were offered.  I would freeze up and not know what to do.  Any help would probably have to be forced on me, even though I would want help and long for it.  It’s weird, but it’s true.

Anyway, in about nine minutes my bus is due, so I’m going to call it quits for today, at least.  I’ll do editing when I get on the train.  Enjoy the latest rotation of the planet if you can.  You might as well.

Some Saturday silliness secondary to slightly soothing sleep

It’s Saturday morning, the first one of 2023, and hopefully all of my readers are reading this only after having slept late in a nice, warm, cuddly bed, preferably with loved ones‒a significant other, a spouse, dogs and/or cats, whatever‒nearby.  If you drink coffee or tea, hopefully you’re having a warm cup as you read*, especially if you’re in a chillier clime than south Florida (though the current 60 degrees Fahrenheit feels slightly chilly here).

I had nearly five full hours of sleep last night, which compared to the previous three or four nights feels like an absolute surfeit of sleep, a veritable treasure trove of slumber.  To be fair, I don’t really feel fully rested, but I feel so much closer to being rested that it’s worth paraphrasing Tolkien and saying that it’s reminiscent of the taste of a slice from a loaf of fine white bread to one who is literally starving.

It’s interesting how much our appreciation of things is dependent upon contrast.  Stepping into a highly air-conditioned room feels terrific after you’ve been outside working on a very hot summer day.  But after being in that room for an hour, you might start feeling uncomfortably cold.  At that point, stepping back out into the heat can feel like a wonderful relief in its turn.

I suppose nervous systems really must be formed in such fashion, because they have to especially take note of those things that are outside the “norm” of a stable background input, as these are the sorts of things that have a higher chance of being relevant to the organism.

Although, to be fair, there are absolute levels of things that will always be unpleasant simply because of how extreme they are.  I don’t think anyone would enjoy being shoved outside naked in an Antarctic winter for even a minute, though one’s discomfort would likely be short-lived…as would one, oneself in such a situation.  Likewise, I don’t think most people would appreciate being plopped into the middle of Death Valley on a particularly hot summer day, without any water, and again, without any clothes.

I really need to stop doing things like that to people, especially when it’s just to demonstrate hypothetical points.

As you can no doubt tell‒or at least reasonably surmise, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while‒I am working today, so I am at the train station waiting for the first train of the day to arrive.  As I said, it’s slightly cool for south Florida, but there’s little to no wind, and I have a nice hoody jacket to wear, so this is fine.  At least I’m not sweaty and sticky.

I still haven’t discovered how to check the results (so far) of my poll, but to be honest, I haven’t really tried, either.  I was so sleepy all day yesterday.  I was also grumpy, and rather dopey, and a bit bashful, as always.  I was definitely not happy, and not particularly sneezy, either.  But I am, and always will be, Doc.  And, appropriately enough, I just got on the train, so, Heigh-Ho Heigh-Ho, it’s off to work I go.

I was going to wonder how many of you have seen the movie to which I was making somewhat oblique references in that last paragraph, but it occurred to me that many of my readers are probably comparable in age to me, and so will have seen it.  Youth these days will probably have been protected from viewing certain depictions of people and things in animated movie versions of fairy tales, just in case anyone is “offended”.

Meanwhile, of course, it’s perfectly okay to depict aliens as evil and dangerous, in movies like Independence Day and War of the Worlds, to say nothing of the eponymous Alien.  I therefore share the sentiments of the 12th Doctor‒who is also an alien‒when he said, “There’s a horror movie called Alien?  That’s really offensive, no wonder everyone keeps invading you.”

offensive

I’m being tongue in cheek, of course, and the Doctor was being deliberately curmudgeonly within the story, and of course, delivering a line written specifically for comic appeal when one looks at things from beyond the 4th wall.  But it is a shame when people censor not just themselves but works of art from the past for fear that someone might be “offended”, when most people‒even those who could possibly find personal offense‒know enough not to take such things too seriously, and to avoid them if they’re bothered.

Only a small fraction of tantruming kids** make a lot of noise over such perceived slights.  But they do make a lot of noise, and it’s easy for people who just want to go about their business to mistake that noise for a real signal, to use terminology from information theory and communications technology.

But of course, if you keep mistaking noise for signal, and jumping and fleeing at top speed in response to every rustle of wind as if it is a deadly predator, you’re going to exhaust yourself, and then you won’t have the wherewithal to detect an actual signal of danger when it comes…and soon the lion will have it’s jaws around your throat.

That’s a situation the lions would be quite happy to engender, since they can’t expect you to treat every signal as noise just from the get-go.  (Please note, much of this is metaphor.  I doubt there are many actual lions who spend much time contemplating information theory and signal to noise ratios as part of their strategy to bring down prey.  Many lions have never even heard of Claude Shannon, and only too many of them aren’t well-versed in the technical aspects of wireless communication.  Some lions don’t even have access to the internet, if you can believe it!)

Anyway, that’s enough for a Saturday morning.  I don’t think I’ve successfully discussed any particular subject, nor achieved anything edifying or beneficial or probably even entertaining, despite having written over a thousand words.

Now that’s what I call a result.

to sleep


*Though if you sweeten it, I recommend using a “non-caloric sweetener” rather than sugar or syrup or honey or any other similar, so-called natural sweetener.  Remember, rattlesnake venom is natural, too.  That doesn’t mean it’s good for you.  Anyway, table sugar isn’t any more “natural” than refined petroleum products are natural.

**To again quote the 12th Doctor.  He had some brilliant lines, which of course were particularly good because they were delivered by Peter Capaldi.

For a minute there, I found myself

Wow, I’m really tired.  I had a terrible time falling asleep last night, even though, once again, I was tired and “shagged out” as if after a long squawk, in the words of Michael Palin’s pet shop owner from the dead parrot sketch.  And then, of course, when I finally did get to sleep, I didn’t even come close to sleeping through until my alarm‒though, rather amusingly, I fell back to sleep about half an hour before my alarm was due to go off, so I got to enjoy being awakened by it when I was thoroughly mired in unconsciousness and confusion.  Nevertheless, I did still get up and do three quick sets of (bad) pull-ups before taking my shower, getting dressed, and so on.  And here I am at the train station, waiting for the second train of the day.

I know all this must make for incredibly tedious reading, and for that I am truly sorry.  I’d prefer to write more about potential stories, and which ones, if any, my readers prefer, and about potential “podcasts”*, and all that stuff, with an eye to the future.  But when I revert to insomnia‒after an all-too-brief respite caused by a rather severe illness, the remnants of which are not even gone‒it’s just terribly discouraging.  It’s a special kind of teasing furlough, like getting a weekend off from being in prison, but having to go right back up the road after the weekend, for a sentence the length of which you don’t even know.  And there’s only one reliable way to escape.

It makes it hard to think about any future whatsoever.

Ah, well, it probably really doesn’t matter.  What do I want with a future, anyway?  I don’t have “a life” at all in any appreciable sense.  I can’t even read fiction‒including even comic books and manga for the most part‒anymore, and that’s long been one of the highlights of my life.

I’ve occasionally been able to watch some shows, most recently Wednesday, and I’ve even gotten through five episodes of The Rings of Power, the latter while I was sick.  And, of course, I’ve watched all of the episodes of the modern Doctor Who, most of them more than once, but these are the sorts of things that in the past I had always done with other people, with whom I could share the enjoyment, and even talk about the shows and so on.  It’s just not as much fun to do by myself, even when I watch some of the “reaction” videos of other people watching the shows for the first time, which is almost like watching with a friend, but not quite.

Even the prospects of getting healthier, sleeping better, trying to conquer dysthymia and to integrate into my self-understanding a probable diagnosis of Asperger’s all seem pretty unmotivating.  What’s the point, for instance, of seeking out an official, confirmatory diagnosis of the Syndrome Formerly Known As Asperger’s, at significant personal time and expense?  What, ultimately, would this even do for me?

What’s the point of trying to find a therapist with whom I can work, and that I can work into my schedule‒perhaps through BetterHelp or similar‒to try to mitigate my dysthymia/depression?  It feels better, so to speak, just to feel horrible constantly rather than to have brief respites of feeling a bit better, a bit more “normal”, only to have that feeling slip away again.

It’s even hard to pursue further learning in mathematics and physics, both of which I find deeply interesting.  I have tried to use Brilliant to work on my skills, but though their interactive, stepwise, animated approach is interesting, and I can see why it would appeal to many people, I find it boring after a very short time after I start to use it.  I think I just do better with textbooks, and with problem sets.  I even bought a copy of one of my old college calculus textbooks, the Thomas and Finney one, and started working through it to re-hone and improve my mathematics skills, with an eye toward moving to higher level mathematics after that.  But I haven’t gotten very far.

I also got a copy of Sean Carroll’s Spacetime and Geometry, and the huge tome Gravitation, by Misner, Thorne, Wheeler, et al, which not only is the bible of General Relativity, but is also an excellent demonstration of its own subject.  This is all in an attempt to improve my formal understanding, at the mathematical level, of General Relativity.  Special Relativity is pretty easy, and the mathematics to deal with it formally is/are rather straightforward.  But I don’t have a deep handle on tensors and matrices and higher dimensional geometries‒not at the mathematical level, anyway‒which I’d like to have to be able to approach the subject at a real, quasi-professional level.

I’d also like to be able to do the same thing for quantum mechanics, which is at some levels more straightforward than GR.  I got Susskind’s Theoretical Minimum book on that, but haven’t been able to sustain my attention for it.  That’s my fault, not the writers’.  Anyway, I really want more than the “minimum”; I want to get deeper into the subject, mathematically, because the concepts are all reasonably clear‒although often explained in rather wooly terms by many popularizers‒and I would like to be more formally and mathematically adept at the subject.

And I deeply regret not having done more in pursuit of furthering my pretty good initial exposure to computer science, both at the software and hardware levels.  Related to that, I would like to have done more in circuit theory and more general electrical engineering.

Of course, I did have a lot of my time and energy taken up by biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and the other subjects related to becoming a doctor.  And, of course, “helping” my now-ex-wife study (to the extent she needed help, which was, let’s face it, not very much) when she was in law school was quite fun.  But the time and effort put into both medicine and my marriage have turned out now to be moot and pointless, though they were worth the cost due to the fact that my children are here in the world now.

That fact would be worth almost anything.

Anyway, I don’t have any point** here with all this, and I’ve gone on long enough today.  I’m just tired, and if I can’t find a way to stop being so tired all the time, I really don’t see any good reason to try to keep slogging forward.  All the way up until my next birthday, my age and the two digit number for this year are both prime, and it’s sometimes better to leave while still in one’s prime than afterward, as I mentioned in a previous post.  Meanwhile, though, I’ll see if I can find any other answers.

Oh, P.S.:  Does anyone know off the top of your head how one checks the results (so far) of a poll one has arranged on WordPress?  I’m sure the answer is somewhere in the WordPress “help” functions, but it’s not amenable to a superficial and obvious search, and I’d rather not have to “chat” with one of their “happiness engineers”.  It doesn’t matter much, but if you know,  would you please leave a comment below?  Thanks.


*That’s one of those amazing terms that was a brand new thing based on an entirely new and revolutionary technology, but now that technology itself is already obsolete, but the term lives on.  I think the closest similar thing that readily comes to mind right now is the expression “running out of steam”, which I would guess arose from the era of steam engines, which are quite obsolete, but the expression remains common.

**Now there’s a pithy summary of a life 

As blog is full of unbefitting strains, all wanton as a child, skipping and vain

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the 5th of January, and this is my first official, “original recipe” Thursday morning blog of the new year.  Isn’t it exciting?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.  But people are supposed to pretend to be enthusiastic and celebratory about every little thing it seems, until there are so many celebrations and holidays that it becomes a relief when a rare day arrives in which nothing in particular is being celebrated.  There are so many sweets and treats and rewards and awards, day after day, that soon people feel entitled to receive a medal for not drooling and peeing on themselves, and a piece of cake for dinner because they skipped a cookie at lunch.

Eventually, many seem to think that, because they got their various “best attitude” or “cleanest desk” awards throughout their formative years, they’re just as worthy of admiration as someone who received a Nobel Prize in Physics or a Fields Medal or a Hugo and/or Nebula Award for science fiction.  It’s nauseating.  No wonder we consume so many acid blocking medications these days!

As you can probably tell, I’m a bit grumpy today.  This is in large part because I’m very tired again.  My insomnia has been reasserting itself over the last few days, with last night being worse than the night before.  Though exhausted and stressed from matters at work‒another contributing factor to my grumpiness‒I couldn’t get to sleep once I finally got back to the house, and then, despite that, I woke up starting at 3ish this morning, slightly earlier than yesterday.  It’s a weird situation when one finds oneself wistful and nostalgic for the times when one was (more) severely ill, because at least in those situations, one could rest.

In other matters, at the time of my latest look this morning, there have been two total votes on my poll from yesterday.  I would say that’s not a statistically significant sample of any kind, especially since the two didn’t choose the same option.  Perhaps the statistically significant result, which should have been obvious to me from the start, is that nobody gives a flying fuck at a rat’s ass what I do.

Well, why should they?

Apparently, the Tri-rail has given up on even the pretense of trying to run their trains in time in the year 2023.  So far, every train I’ve been on, and the other ones I’ve seen going the other direction, have been five to ten minutes behind schedule.  There are those who believe in some notion of “American Exceptionalism”, but sometimes it seems that we’re most exceptional‒at least among wealthy, “western style” democracies‒at being slipshod and disorganized.

Oh, I know, I know, NASA is pretty darn impressive, and always has been.  But NASA by its nature draws applicants from among the brightest, hardest working people in the country (and the world) and can be selective‒for now, at least‒about whom it hires even from among that group.  Of course it would tend to do exceptional things, even if that were the only factor that made it exceptional.

But to be exceptional is a judgment only properly to be applied after the fact, rather like “luck”.  There is no inherent “exceptionalness” which would mean someone or something is exceptional before it’s done anything at all.  Of course, one could say that everyone is exceptional in some way; certainly each person’s specific genes and environment are unique, and indeed each new moment in the universe in any given place is different in some sense from every other that has come before.  But this sort of “universal, uniform exceptionality” is trivial at best.  Or, as Dash so wisely noted in The Incredibles, to say that everyone is special is just another way of saying that no one is.

“Ignorance is strength.  Freedom is slavery.  Speech is violence.” One of those three statements is not from the original book, 1984, but spiritually it belongs right there among the aphorisms and axioms of Big Brother’s Party.  Of course, nowadays, if you mention Big Brother, most people will probably just be triggered* to think of some idiotic “reality show”.

I don’t know how I got on that track, but that’s one of the things about a free-form blog post: you never know what you’re going to get**.  I honestly didn’t much feel like writing at all, today, but “mood is a thing for cattle and loveplay, not fighting”, and also not for most anything else to which one has committed oneself.  An Impala that doesn’t keep a watch for lions and leopards and hyenas and the like because it’s not in the mood is soon going to be removed from the population and gene pool.  That’s more or less how it has to be, given the laws on nature.

TTFN

day off


*Shouldn’t we be eliminating the use of the word “triggered”, given that it could be, well…triggering in and of itself, since it can invoke thoughts of firing pistols and rifles, which thoughts can cause recurrent trauma in those who are personally devastated by news stories of mass shootings, even if they’ve never experienced a single instance of true violence in their own lives?  It seems rather insensitive.  We really ought to put edge guards and drawer locks and padding on (and apply sanitary wipes frequently to) all surfaces, literal and metaphorical, should we not?  We need to child-proof the world, since it is, after all, populated merely and entirely by children.  Of course, it bears remembering that all the Powers That Be are children, too, so they certainly can’t be trusted with doing the child-proofing.

**This is in contrast to the Gump-ian box of chocolates, since with a box of chocolates, unless it is a prank or joke or a trap, what you’re going to get is a selection of chocolates.  Of course, what you’re going to get in a blog post is some sort of writing on some subject or topic of the writer’s choice, so perhaps it’s unfair of me to criticize the line from Forrest Gump, but rest assured that when I do so criticize, I do it for a very good reason: I am a Hypocrite.

A story I forgot to mention yesterday…and a poll!

Whew, I’m a bit more tired than I was yesterday morning.  It was a long and somewhat frustrating day at the office yesterday, and then I had trouble getting to sleep and subsequently a bit of that really early awakening with which I sometimes have trouble.  Whatever else you may say about being sick, I have been getting slightly better sleep since my recent illness started, and that is nice.  Hopefully last night was a minor fluke*, and I’ll revert back to my slightly improved sleep pattern at least.  I have reason to suspect it may be so, but it’s not guaranteed.

Oh, by the way, yesterday when I mentioned the possibility of starting writing again, and using solely the cell phone to do so, I neglected to mention the option of starting a new story that would be written entirely on the phone.  If I did start such a novel, it would almost certainly be Changeling in a Shadow World, a story I’ve mentioned here before.  It’s an old story idea; I even wrote the beginning of a prologue to it once, back in the day.  It has ties to other stories of mine, including Outlaw’s Mind itself and The Chasm and the Collision.  It even has bits that hearken back to my lost, first sci-fi/fantasy novel, Ends of the Maelstrom.  So I have some affection for it.

So, please throw that into your voting machines.  Come to think of it, maybe I’ll try to insert a readers’ poll here, if I can easily figure out how to do it.  I know it can be done, because I’ve seen other people do it, but I don’t feel like trying too hard about it.  I’d rather just get some feedback in the comments below.  There’s more flexibility that way, and it feels more like an interaction.  I know that, in some situations, a poll is simply efficient, but I think I still have a contained (shall we say “elite”? Yes, I think we shall) enough readership that we don’t have to resort to crude measures.  That doesn’t mean you can’t curse in your comments, by the way, as long as it’s cursing that serves a grammatical and/or rhetorical purpose!

One thing I will say, though, is that if I do this, and start writing fiction again, I want to stick to whichever story I pick until it’s done.  One of the things that kept me from ever having finished and published anything prior to going to prison was that I would have a new idea for a story, or something similar, and let myself divert from one to the other, and so I had a relatively wide selection of beginnings of books, but only two that I’d finished in even first draft form**.  I also had a handful of completed short stories, and the cheapo, low-quality screenplay I wrote in high school, with the notion of trying actually to make it, starring my friends and classmates.

I even filmed, or attempted to film, one scene, using a home VHS video camera one of them had, but it and the sound were really quite limited, and I had no personal experience with movie-making, and it was high school so we had a lot going on.  Anyway, it didn’t get made, which is not a tragedy.  My friend Joe said that the title*** was too good for the story, anyway, and he was right.

I did write some decent musical themes for it, though, including a bad guy’s theme that drew inspiration from the carousel in Something Wicked This Way Comes, and a main title theme that I can still play pretty much by heart on the piano, and which is probably the prettiest music I’ve written.  That may not be saying much, but it is what it is.

Okay, well, sorry about those various tangents.  I’ll do my best to stick with sines and cosines**** hereinafter.

Anyway, I really would appreciate your input about how I should go about doing a story and the blog posts‒using the phone should make it easier to work writing in, anyway‒and which story to write if I write anything.  Or are things in the world better in general without my writing any more new fiction?  It’s certainly possible that such is the case.  Although, if someone convincingly told me that my continued writing of new fiction would literally and significantly put the whole human race in jeopardy, that might very well give me an added impetus to write.  I am a would-be supervillain at heart, after all.

Well, let me know, please.  Also, have a good day, if you can, and if you are so inclined.

Oh, and I did put a poll in at the bottom, below the footnotes, so if you’re so inclined, would you weigh in with your choice?


*Which sounds like some part of the anatomy of a whale or a seal or some other, similar marine mammal.

**That’s Ends of the Maelstrom that I mentioned earlier, and The Vagabond, which at the time I called simply Vagabond.

***Night Vision.

****This is an example of that truly rarefied entity, trigonometry related humor.  Pythagoras would probably not approve, but he was a putz who repressed knowledge of irrational numbers and the dodecahedron (or his followers did) and who (as I’ve heard it) died when he refused to run away from would be murderers across a field of beans, because he hated beans.  Now that’s what I call a food intolerance!

I’m under the (warming and improving) weather

I’m really going to try to make this short, if not sweet, today, because I’m laden with a respiratory virus that hit rather suddenly and progressed very quickly yesterday afternoon.  I’m feeling quite under the weather, however much better the weather is than it was only a few days ago.  How under the weather, you ask?  Well, I woke up to my alarm this morning rather than hours before.  I guess my body is awash with enough immune cytokines and interferons and interleukins and related crap that they were able to suppress my insomnia.  I guess that’s a good thing, in its own way.  At least my system is smart enough to force itself to go into rest mode in certain, relatively extreme circumstances.

Of course, I’m going in to the office today, though ideally, I should not.  Indeed, I would not if it were not Wednesday.  But on Wednesdays, the payroll has to be done, so I’ll do it as soon as all the reports arrive.  But after that, I mean to leave the office.  It’s just too ironic that I’m sick enough that I’m able to sleep, but I can’t because of work.  I’m sure there are millions of people who can relate to that.

I’m writing this on my phone, by the way, because I deliberately chose not to bring the laptop with me yesterday when I left the office.  I felt like crap, and I just didn’t want to have anything extra to carry.  I will try to remember to bring it today, though.  The Thursday blog post is easier to write‒and feels more natural‒on the laptop.

I’ve been feeling an added impetus to do a “podcast” if you will, what I call an “audio blog” post, relating to sugar metabolism and its issues, since I uncovered how apparently insulin resistant I have become.  It seems appropriate.  Of course, right now I am just too hoarse and ill to consider doing such a thing.  But I will try to get around to it soon.  Obviously, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot, both lately, and in the past.  Diabetes and related matters comprise a big chunk of the work of a typical general internist in the modern world.

Then I guess I’ll try perhaps to do an audio blog on Parkinson’s disease and/or on the whole cybernetic future thing.  I’m not, for the moment, planning on doing any specific outline of the subjects before doing the recordings, but obviously, I’ll think them through a bit ahead of time.  I’ll see how they do, audience reception-wise, before deciding whether or not to do more.  But I’m not likely to record anything before the new year.

Wow, “the new year”…just think about it:  within a few days it will be the beginning of 2023.  It seems like barely 12 months ago that it was the end of 2021.  How did 2 years pass in just over 12 months?

Ha ha.

Of course, now that Christmas has passed, the Tri-rail has, as I suspected they would, put on the automated message that, yes, they will be operating on a Sunday schedule on January 1st, New Year’s Day.  Which is a Sunday, so of course they are on a Sunday schedule.  The saddest part of that announcement is that there probably really are a few people out there who need to be told that information.  But I can’t help thinking that a person who requires that announcement to know that the trains will run on a Sunday schedule on a Sunday will probably still not get the idea.

I wonder how long it will be before they start auto playing the announcement about the next holiday that applies.  I’ll probably let you know when it happens.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now.  It’s been difficult enough getting the post to be this long.  Stay well and healthy.  And wear masks if you have to go out in public when you’re sick.  That’s what I’m doing.  Or, well, I’m wearing a mask; more than one at a time is rather stifling, and probably doesn’t confer significantly greater benefits, though it may perhaps give some improvement.