And bitter shame hath spoiled the sweet blog’s taste

Hello.  Good morning.  It’s Thursday again‒the last Thursday of January in 2023, if my reckoning is correct‒and so I’m here writing what used to be my sole weekly blog post, back when I wrote fiction most days of the week*.

I’m at the “other” bus stop this morning, the one that’s a stop earlier than my usual one on the bus route, because that same homeless person has again used the bench of my usual stop as a bed.  The bench where I now sit is better sheltered and longer, but it has a handrail sticking up in the middle, and one on each end, so it wouldn’t make an easy bed.

Mind you, I’ve slept in more difficult places than that, and I’m bigger than that lady, so it should be workable for her.  However, it might not be as safe a place for a woman to sleep precisely because it’s better sheltered.  It’s also less well-lit.  Though it is right here at the very edge of Broward and Miami-Dade counties on one of the main roads of the area, it still might be risky in the quietest part of the night.

Oh, well.  It’s an inconvenience, and I don’t like things that upset my routines and expectations, but it seems churlish to begrudge her the spot.  I don’t expect she’ll be using it all that long, since I suspect the lives of most homeless people are rather erratic.  Still, I might be wrong.  Maybe I’ll be gone before she is.

I mean, I will be gone from the area in the immediate sense before she is; I’m catching a bus that’s due in about 15 minutes.  But I think you know what I mean.

Sorry about all that.  I don’t mean to make “the daily bus stop report” a feature of this blog.  What a thing that would be to make people wade through right at the beginning of their reading!  At least I can take comfort‒so to speak‒in the fact that very few people will be affected by it.  Still, if I mean to court new readers, I should do better, and what writer doesn’t want, at some level, to court new readers?

I was thinking yesterday about someone like Herman Melville, an author whose works were unnoticed during his lifetime, but were lauded after his death.  I want to suppose that’s better than nothing…except, no, when you think it through honestly, it really isn’t.

I mean, if some convincing supernatural entity came and offered me the deal that I could be a world-famous author, but it would only happen after I’d died‒and if the evidence was very strong that its powers were real, so I would have honest reason to believe it, at least provisionally, especially if it could give me a glimpse of the future‒then that would be some consolation.  It would not be as good as having people read and like my work while I’m alive, but it would be far from horrible.

In the real world, though, if you become famous and beloved only after you die, like Van Gogh, it does you absolutely no good at all, and you never, ever know about it.  Even if there’s an afterlife (which seems unlikely), I suspect you’ll be too busy there to notice anything about your work from before you died.

Is it good enough to be Ozymandius, famous and mighty in your own time, and have all your creations crumble into sand after you’re gone?  Well, the crumbling is going to happen to everyone and everything in the long run no matter what, so it doesn’t seem too horrible.

In other news, I’ve already lost interest in 11/22/63, not through any fault of the story or its writer.  I even went and got the first 2 Stephen King short story collections and read The Jaunt, but it wasn’t as creepy or interesting as I remembered.  Then I got a Kindle Unlimited Japanese  “light novel” that seemed potentially interesting.  It’s peculiar and somewhat humorous, but too all over the place for me to think I’m going to stick with it.  None of the nonfiction books I own are interesting, and even my own stories‒most recently In the Shade‒are hard for me to read.

None of my old sources of engagement are working, and nothing new seems interesting at all.  I’m trying to restart watching Stranger Things, but it’s very slow-moving, and I dislike many of the characters and one or two of the actors**, though I can at least fast forward through the older sister’s scenes.  She’s played by a young woman who seems to be a perfectly fine actor, but her character is so irritating.  Where’s that Demogorgon*** when you need it?

I don’t know, it doesn’t really work for me.  It certainly doesn’t really remind me of my youth in the ’80s, though I lived in a very different kind of area than Hawkins.  I want to like and enjoy it.  But I have difficulty doing that.

People at work occasionally recommend that I take a vacation of some kind, but I can’t even comprehend the suggestion.  No matter where I go, there I am, and that’s my problem.  I can’t even think what I would do with a vacation.  As I said, I don’t like changes to my routine at the best of times.

What I think I’d prefer is just a “dirt vacation”.  That’s similar to the proverbial “dirt nap” but with the added recognition of the fact that it will be no mere nap.

I just haven’t yet worked up my nerve to book the trip yet.  But maybe I’ll get there soon.  I hope so.

By the end of the week, I should know whether the palindromic number I’ve mentioned before occurs.  It’s got something like a one in ten-thousand chance of happening, so don’t put big money on it.  Still, it’s not the sort of thing that’s so rare one could see it as a miracle.  One in ten-thousand chances happen to 800,000 people a day, on average (if we’re counting one-a-day events) after all.

Anyway, that’s enough.  Really, that’s too much.  Sorry.  You all have a decent day if you can.

TTFN

anhedonia

[P.S.  To the people who program autocorrecting for phones: STOP PRESUMPTIVELY STICKING AN APOSTROPHE IN “ITS”!!!!!  An apostrophe is used there only when it’s a contraction‒like that time, just now.  It’s not necessary when it’s possessive.  When “it” requires an apostrophe, I can add it myself, as I did each of these last few times.  I don’t need you auto-incorrecting my punctuation.  Morons.]


*I tried to write posts for my other blog, Iterations of Zero, on Sundays, but that didn’t pan out very often.

**Meaning I don’t like their acting, not that I don’t like them as people.  Also, obviously, Winona Ryder is good, and always has been, and the girl who plays 11 is good, but some of the other child actors are just out of their depth.

***I and my friends always pronounced “Demogorgon” with a long e sound, as in “demon”.  The way the kids in Stranger Things pronounce it, it sounds like they’re referring to some manner of floor model Medusa that you can try in the store before deciding if you want to buy one for yourself to take home.

Cycles both vicious and viscous

It’s Monday again, the start of a new work week.  I guess this must be the 4th week of the year, since Saturday was January 21st, and 21 is 3 times 7, and this year and month started on a Sunday.  I’m at the bus stop again, writing this on my phone again while waiting for the first bus.  It’s generally better, for me at least, to wait somewhere to which I’ve already traveled, rather than waiting before I travel.  That way I can just sit still until the next stage of my journey.

Unfortunately, this bus stop has a strong smell of human urine this morning.  I don’t know if that’s because the weekend just passed, and people get drunk and pee in inappropriate places on the weekend sometimes, or if that homeless person spent more time here than expected and had to pee during that time.  I’ve not noticed the smell before, so it doesn’t seem to be a frequent thing.  I suppose if it had rained there would probably not be any residual odor, but it’s not the rainy part of the year down here in south Florida.

I had thought to myself, if the homeless person were to have been lying out at the bus stop again, I would go to the other nearby stop that I had (internally) recommended to her a few days ago.  That’s where I usually get off the bus at the end of the day, so it wouldn’t be a strange one for me to use.

It is curious‒I don’t know if other people do this or notice it or what have you, but I often take slightly different routes when going to and from a place.  Some of that is probably just a byproduct of perception, in that certain paths look or seem easier from one angle compared to another.  They can even be easier to see from one direction compared to another.

Sometimes it’s a matter of lighting and timing, such as the fact that, on my way back to the train after work, I take a slightly parallel portion of the route (which in the morning just goes on down the main road) because there’s a nice, quieter, tree-lined block behind the regional courthouse, and in the evening, when there’s light and I’m done with the work day, it’s more pleasant to walk there.  It also goes directly to the side of the tracks where I catch the train in the evening, whereas when I’m getting off the train, it would require a significant detour.

All this is trivia, but my point is that having these different routes when going one direction compared to another seems to be ubiquitous, at least for me, and I suspect I’m not alone in this.  This means, of course, that the routes become a kind of circle, rather than simply a reversible, oscillating process.

Of course no macroscopic processes of that sort are actually reversible, anyway, because of friction and the creation of increasing entropy, but even if one could eliminate such things, a to-and-from trip that takes different routes could have a net gain or loss*‒I think loss would be most likely‒and this loss could be perpetual and steady.

It’s a bit like that economics or game theory or decision theory idea whereby if someone prefers place A to place B, and prefers place B to place C, but prefers place C to place A, one could effectively be induced to pay to go in an endless cycle, from A to C to B to A to C to B, etc.  Of course, it would be profoundly irrational for someone to do such a thing, but people get caught in even stupider cycles all the time, which are even more costly, but because they rarely pay attention to the nature of their actions as if from the outside, they often don’t even realize they’re doing something thoroughly irrational.

I return again to my musings on the myth of Sisyphus‒the actual myth, not the book by Camus, though I still haven’t answered his main question to my own satisfaction‒and how horrifying it is that Sisyphus is the one doing his own punishing.

Say what you will about the horrors of Prometheus’s fate, at least he was the passive, chained victim of it**.  That may not make it better, and it may indeed be worse, but it is different.  Sisyphus’s very mind has been changed, so that he feels an irresistible urge, or drive, to push his boulder, despite the fact that he never gets it to the top of the hill (or mountain or whatever) without it rolling back down again.

But, of course, we all do very similar things all the time.  We eat to stay alive, and that eating gives us some pleasure, but the pleasure is transitory (as it must be) so soon we feel the urge to seek food again, and continue the cycle, which just spirals its way from bassinet to coffin, with the only certain outcome being that entropy in the universe will have been increased as part of the process.

Of course, the very universe itself may well be Sisyphean in nature‒see for instance my musing on Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, though even Inflationary cosmology can produce endless recurrences and infinite repetition.  Heck, even the old-school Boltzmann type of heat death of a universe implicitly produced endless cycles as, eventually, entropy would occasionally dip low enough to regenerate all the “stuff” in a universe, before making its way back up again.

And, of course, if the universe were “closed”, which it doesn’t seem to be, it could expand, collapse, “bounce”, reexpand, etc.  And if some of the “braneworld” scenarios in M Theory are right, there’s a cycle of brane-universes smacking into one another, restarting the hot Big Bang conditions over and over as they do***.

I don’t know where I’m going with this discussion, but in a way, that demonstrates my point.  I write my blog post every workday, for no particular reason, but because various confluent and complex drives in my nervous system lead me to do it.  Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Except, it’s not really “needed” in any deep sense.  It’s just an urge.  Even life itself is just a habit.  And it’s not always a good one, is it?


*Of course, one’s potential energy returning to it’s original point in a reversible system means that no net “work” has been done, no matter what path has been followed, but I’m leaving aside such idealized systems…though at the tiniest level they may be more accurate representations of reality than any more “realistic” macroscopic analogy.

**Who else thought of The Big Lewbowski when reading that line?

***This is the sort of “collision” to which the title of The Chasm and the Collision refers.

Another restless wind inside a letter box

Okay, well, it’s Saturday, and I’m now, more or less, at the bus stop, waiting for the bus.

It’s mildly interesting that the Saturday schedule for my first bus of the day is the same as its weekday schedule.  That will get me to the Tri Rail station in time for the second train of the day‒they run on a reduced schedule on Saturdays‒which will board only about 20 minutes later than the one I’ve been catching during the week.  So that’s rather nice.  I don’t even really have to change my commuting schedule, even though it’s Saturday.

I appreciate not having to change my routine.

Speaking of not having to change my routine‒and of being “more or less” at the bus stop‒I’m not sitting down to write this because someone is using the bus stop bench as a place to lie down, or at least to recline.  I think it might be that shouty lady from earlier this week.

I’m quite frustrated that anyone is using a public spot, paid for to at least some degree by the people who ride the bus, as a place to lay out, but when I calm myself down, I can sympathize with the fact that she doesn’t have anyplace to go.  Still, why lie out at the bus stop at an intersection that’s busy even on Saturday mornings?

The main road is six lanes wide here, and though the crossroad is not as big, it’s still a pretty busy road.  I would think it would be preferable to go someplace where there was greater peace and quiet.

I suppose one might be more vulnerable in more secluded places, but one could pick a spot with relative care, and I would think it would be more pleasant.  Heck, just on the other side of the crossroad, there’s another stop with a bigger bench and a better shelter, where one would still be close to the intersection and protected by the relatively high traffic from at least any unobserved crime.

Sigh.  It’s so wonderful to have worked hard all one’s life and tried to do the right thing and be very highly educated and to have striven to be a benefit to the world and then be stuck at age 53 not being able to sit at the bus stop early Saturday morning because a homeless person is using it to recline…and to muse about the ins and outs and safety concerns for such a homeless person, because it’s not completely impossible one might be such oneself (I have been in close to that situation, sleeping in the back of a rental vehicle for which I was not paying on a few nights while out on bail).

I know that the universe promises us one thing and one thing only, and it certainly doesn’t make bargains or special deals with anyone.  But it’s still frustrating.  I feel like I’ve wasted so much time and effort.  I feel like I’m still wasting time and effort.

Of course, all time is wasted in some sense; in any case, it passes‒or we pass through it, or whatever‒no matter what we do in it.  And, of course, even the nature of time itself is unclear.  It certainly isn’t one vast, monolithic, singular thing that is the same for everyone in the universe.  As I’ve speculated before, it may even have more than one past-future orientation, just as up-down changes depending where you are on the surface of the Earth.

It’s partly because of that fact of time’s locality that one can actually model a universe that begins at a finite place‒say, the isolated collapse of a hypothetical inflaton field‒and yet becomes an infinite space to those within that bubble.  Because time is local and causality only proceeds at the speed of light, at least in our part of the universe, it can all depend on one’s point of view.

Of course, it’s by no means certain that inflationary cosmology describes the way our universe came to be, though it is internally consistent.  Other possible models include Roger Penrose’s Conformal Cyclic Cosmology‒which I like a lot, aesthetically*‒in which the accelerating expansion in a universe, leading to eventual increase of entropy to where nothing can really exist any longer, leads to or simply becomes the highly uniform, comparatively low entropy state of the next universe, just on locally small scales.  Entropy, after all, is not necessarily on a fixed, absolute measure, nor is space itself.  Entropy can be small in a tiny region that then expands to become a much larger one, still with low local entropy.

It’s a bit analogous, I think, to taking a number line and multiplying everything in it by two, so that the space between any two previously chosen points on the line is doubled, but the number line itself is just as infinite as it was before.

The nature of the real numbers being what it is, there’s an uncountable infinity of numbers between any two points on the real number line, and so there’s room to grow a universe of any size you might like from the space between any two locations on a number line‒or in a 4-D spacetime.

Penrose has posited that it would be conceivable for the residents of such a universe, if they knew and understood the kind of universe they were in, to leave behind messages in the very fabric of mass and energy arrangement in their universe for the people in the next universe‒nothing very complex, I would guess, but maybe just enough to make it clear that they had existed.

I’m not sure why people who were approaching the heat death of their particular universal iteration would bother with doing that, but maybe they would.  A bigger question to me would be, how would they target it?  If spacetime were expanding exponentially, as it seems to be doing even now, then every future “observable” universe would lie only within a tiny tiny tiny chunk of what was left of the previous universe.  So how would a previous universe’s intelligent life choose where to leave the message?  Would they try to encode it in every possible tiny region of their spacetime?  That would require engineering on a cosmic (but highly detailed) scale, and if you can do that, why not alter the expansion of the universe in the first place?

Of course, that’s not relevant to whether the notion of CCC is correct, just to the question of if such messages would be possible and how they might be carried out.  My more itchy question is, whence would the energy and particles of each new iteration of the ever-expanding universe arise?

In the Inflationary model of cosmology, all the immense energy that suffused our early universe was “created” when the hypothetical inflaton field underwent a phase transition and dropped to a lower energy state, so the local inflaton particles quickly decayed into all the particles of our more familiar quantum fields.

Inflation is not universally (ha ha) accepted, but certain aspects of it are certainly plausible and are supported by at least some data.  For instance, our universe is currently inflating, based on our best data and understanding.  That’s the Dark Energy stuff about which you’ve probably heard.

Exponential expansion is exponential expansion.  The doubling rate can change, but it still blows up at ever-increasing speeds.  If you compress or stretch your time axis, all exponential growth curves look the same.  It’s a little like that Conformal Cyclic Cosmology notion.

Anyway, as far as the source of the “reheating” of the universe in CCC as opposed to inflation, I doubt that Sir Roger Penrose has overlooked or missed that question.  He frikking brilliant‒even when he’s wrong he’s smarter than most of us are when we’re as right as we ever get**.  I just need to read a little more deeply into his model to figure out where that comes from.

Perhaps that will also allay my puzzlement about the “leaving a message” notion.  I simply haven’t finished his book on the subject.  It didn’t help that, as of last check, it wasn’t available in e-book format, and so I only have the paperback.  Not that there’s anything wrong with paperbacks, but it’s less convenient to carry 400+ of them around with you at any given time than Kindle format books, and so you’re less likely to have any one of them with you on any given day.

Oh, well.  I’ll see what I can do about learning more.  That’s rarely a waste of time, at least.

Wow, this post has really meandered from one thought to another, going truly across the universe‒and beyond, depending on how you define the word “universe”.  Perhaps it would be best to use “Omniverse” when describing the totality of all possible realities, as the wizard does in DFandD.

Speaking thereof, if any of you have read it and would like to make any comments about it, I’d be delighted to receive them, either here or on the blog post proper that entails my sharing of that story (so far).

In the meantime, my train should be here in 5 minutes (I rode the bus in between these two times).  My estimate of the schedule was correct, as is usually the case when I bother to check and when people and organizations keep to their own, voluntarily chosen schedules, on which numerous people act in reliance.  Don’t get me started on that topic.  I’ve already written way more than I would have expected from such inauspicious beginnings.

Have a nice weekend, all.  I won’t be posting tomorrow, barring the unforeseen, but I will be back on Monday‒again, barring the unforeseen.  Those unknown unknowns can strike at any time.  Take care, and be as prepared as you can reasonably be.

penrose by any other name


*This is no reason to think it’s more likely to be correct than any less aesthetically pleasing model, but it keeps it fun.

**He also looks rather a lot like my former Uncle Barney.  That’s neither here nor there, but I wanted to make sure I said it at some point.  So, there, now I have.

Picture and Shakespeare “quote” deferred due to mechanical difficulties

Hello and good morning, everyone (or at least, everyone who’s reading this).  It’s Thursday, the 19th day of January, which means it’s also the 19th day of 2023 by our standard dating system.  And I suppose you could say it’s the 384th day of 2022, if you were being rather unorthodox…though that might lead one to ask what day it is of 2021, and of 2020, and so on.

That way madness lies.  I ought to know.

Yesterday, I published the draft of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado as far as I’ve written it‒about 100 pages worth on MS Word, single spaced, in Calibri 11-point.  I included quite a few “illustrations”, which is another way to say that I posted quite a few of the drawings* I did way back when I was first thinking of the story.  As you may be able to tell, I had planned a lot of the things that have happened so far in the story even 10 or 15 years ago.

There were a few drawings of the meeting of the Desperado and the wizard that I haven’t been able to locate‒some of them are probably on my old MySpace page.  Yes, it’s out there still, MySpace, but it’s sure as hell not what it used to be.  More’s the pity.  I liked MySpace in its original form.  It was much more wholesome than Facebook or Twitter, and for my money (so to speak) mostly more interesting.

As an aside, the same idiotic, loud and screamy woman I mentioned the other day is having another piercing, shouted conversation on the other side of the road again this morning‒or who knows, I guess it could still be the same conversation.  Maybe she really is mentally ill.  Why else would someone have prolonged, shouted discussions at 5:22 in the morning more than once in a single week, even if they are talking on the phone and there’s some real person on the other end?  Surely any grasp of decorum at all‒indeed, even the slightest functioning of the mediating aspect of the frontal lobes‒would make a person refrain from such displays.

Oh, well, anyway, back to DFandD.

I reread much of what I have written so far in the process of posting it and especially of inserting the pictures.  There is much editing that could be done, of course, but then again, it really is a first draft.  Still, I thought it was reasonably good.  Certainly, it’s a more light-hearted story than Outlaw’s Mind, but then again, it’s not a horror story.  Even though the two main‒indeed, title‒characters are a supremely deadly gunfighter and a fairy who hates humans and likes hurling magical fire at them, and it begins with the Desperado nearly dying of thirst in the desert, it’s actually comparatively upbeat, at least for my writing.

I’m not the greatest self-salesman, am I?  I have a difficult time saying positive things about anything that I’ve done or made, even when I actually am trying to promote them.  I have a very hard time talking myself up, even to myself.  I’m not my own biggest fan.

In any case, yesterday I effectively took the day off from writing, since I posted that draft.  I had a brief return to my prior commute for the day, which was a little easier, but it also left me feeling a bit stiff.  Today, I’m back to the bus, as you may have (correctly) inferred from my mention of the screaming woman, just a bit ago.

I do like the extra walking that I get from taking the bus to the train, and then back again at the end of the day.  It’s a bit more pleasant today than it was most of the last week, because the temperature is in the sixties.  Also, of course, my commute is relatively environmentally friendly, since I’m using mass transit (though, she below).

All that is surely fairly uninteresting to all of you all.  It wouldn’t be interesting to me if it weren’t happening to me, honestly, and even that barely brings it into the level of being worthy of my own notice.  I would love to be able to sleep through it all, though I don’t know what type of blog I might write if I did it in my sleep.  Who knows?  Maybe it would be better than it otherwise is.

Anyway, back to the main point.  I would be interested in what anyone thinks who reads The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, especially as compared to Outlaw’s Mind (or any of my published stuff, too, I guess).  So please, feel free to share your reactions in the comments below, or on the actual posting of the story.

And, still, if anyone out there knows how to check the results of WordPress polls from the inside, I’d love to know without having to go to the trouble of trying to contact the “happiness engineers” at WordPress**.  Though, in all likelihood, there have been no more than 4 people responding since I posted the poll in the first place, and one of those people was I.

I voted for me to stop writing, for Cat’s sake.

TTFN

[Note:  I apologize for the relative lateness of this post.  The train I rode this morning had a mechanical failure, in that the engine died, and we had to wait for a (delayed) subsequent train, which was very overcrowded, and I arrived at my stop about an hour later than I would have otherwise.  This is the third time this week that the Tri Rail system has had delays or cancellations of trains I’ve taken.  If any of you know any of the responsible people behind this, please give them a stern talking-to.  Thank you.]


*Some were just in pencil, some in plain ink, and some colored either using colored pencils or watercolor paint/ink or even using Photoshop.

**Honestly, can you think of a more nauseatingly pseudo-positive euphemism for customer service?  Jeez, Louise!

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.

There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top

Well, it’s Friday, the 13th of January, and I don’t have any idea what to write or what to write about today, but I’m writing anyway, as you can plainly tell.  That’s a metaphor for life if there ever was one, don’t you think?

Of course, I could write a bit about the fact that it is Friday the 13th, but I’ve mentioned that previously, and it’s not all that interesting.  There’s no such thing as an unlucky day or an unlucky number; that’s all just superstitious, magical “thinking” stupidity.  But there are numbers that are interesting, and the the prime numbers are interesting to me.  I feel a sort of peculiar, protective affection for 13, since so many silly humans think it’s an unlucky number.

For similar reasons, I’m slightly less fond of 7 than I am of most other prime numbers.  It’s sort of the numerical equivalent of Prince Harry or, to pick an older comparison, Paris Hilton*.  It’s already receiving plenty of attention and support, far more than it deserves, so I won’t waste my effort.

There was an update overnight to my phone’s operating system, and now some “buttons” such as the return key, are no longer slightly-rounded rectangles but are more precisely slightly rectangular ovals.  I don’t like it.  The background colors are also slightly altered, and that’s frustrating, too.

In addition, the app buttons are changed, including the text app, and the phone is trying to push all sorts of new apps that it recommends “for me”…but of course, it’s not actually for me (or for you in case you think otherwise) it’s actually for the companies that make the apps, who have paid a premium to have those apps promoted.  

The system forces you to go through their stupid update-based notice thingy to decide on new apps, and many are pre-checked, so you have to opt out of them actively.  Similarly with their “bookshelf” function or whatever it is, and when you close the apps, the screen doesn’t go away, you have to dismiss it separately, which makes no sense and was not that way before.  The people responsible for all this should be burned to death with flame throwers as soon as possible.

I don’t know why companies do that sort of thing.  Gmail has done it with its updates, turning all the nice, well-demarcated shapes with edges and corners into soft, gooey, Play-Doh looking things, as if they really are trying to “child-proof” the world.  I don’t enjoy change without good purpose, and I think there are good reasons not to enjoy it.  If something is functioning reasonably well, most changes will be for the worse, especially if optimality is something not simply and easily achieved.

Just look at genetic mutations to get a clear example.  In an organism that’s functioning well enough to survive and reproduce in its environment, most changes in general are not going to be beneficial.  That’s one reason I hate social movements that say they are pushing for “change”.  Well, what kind of change, in particular?  I mean, the global Covid pandemic was/is a change; the war in Ukraine is a change; the diminishing respect for rule of law and the constraints of the U S Constitution are changes; an asteroid impact that wiped out civilization entirely would be a change.

Well, that last one would be beneficial, so it’s probably a poor example.

Anyway, I wish that people like Android** and Google (are they part of the same company?) and Microsoft and all those would reserve their updates to those changes that are at least attempts to improve functionality, not cosmetic nonsense or transparent and pushy marketing.  It’s very irritating to get used to the color scheme and key layout of a computer system and then wake up to find that it’s different, as are some of the basic functions, and for no good reason.

Even the icons to start writing and to save writing on the Google Docs app are different colors.  Why?  I mean it would be one thing if the previous color were some frequency of X-rays, and using the app was causing cataracts and retinal deterioration and even ocular cancer.  But it was just a sort of neutral blue or gray color, and was reasonably pleasant.  Now it’s sort of a yellowy orangey beige that looks vaguely like something you might heave out after you’ve already vomited all the food contents of your stomach but your body still wants to throw up some more.

It’s unnecessary.  I don’t like surprises, usually even when they’re positive ones.  And this is not a positive one.

Oh, well.  What else is new (ha ha)?  I had a brief glimmer of hope that my enforced change of commute might come to an end today, but it looks like that isn’t happening.  I’m not really surprised, but I am mildly disappointed, and it doesn’t help my energy level.

Oh, I did have a slightly interesting thought about Friday the 13th, thinking of the movies by that name as compared to the Halloween movies.  I had thought for a brief moment that at least the Halloween movies are named after an actual holiday, and it was also one that comes around a bit more often than Friday…the…

…then I caught myself, because I know that any month that begins on a Sunday is going to have a Friday the 13th in it.  And on average, one in seven months will begin on a Sunday, and so there will be, on average, just under 2 Friday the 13ths every year‒the day, not the movies, thankfully.  And in non leap years, if February has a Friday the 13th, so will March!  So there are quite a few more Fridays the 13th than there are Halloweens.

Just imagine if we had 2 Halloweens every year.  Wouldn’t that be great?

Anyway, that’s a lot of writing about nothing. I apologize for the last few days, and for my foolish notions of seeking help, when I don’t think I deserve, or merit, or am worthy of help, or frankly that it would be a good use of anyone’s resources.  Also, I probably would/will not know how to accept help.  Sting had a great line from one of his songs*** that feels pertinent to this: “And I wriggle like a fish caught on dry land, and struggle to avoid any help at hand.”

Of course, if someone could offer me a goodly dose of Valium and Fentanyl that I could use in a pinch to make a basically painless exit, that might at least be worth keeping in my pocket, just in case.  But otherwise, I can’t really imagine doing anything that would involve serious changes.  I don’t like change, and I don’t like surprises, and I particularly don’t like phone calls out of the blue, especially from someone who has in the past made me feel guilty for being depressed.  It all just stresses me out and makes me feel worse about myself.

I mean, if my son or daughter called me, that would be a different matter.  That would be brilliant.  But I would be deeply ashamed if they did so out of a sense of obligation rather than just because they wanted to do it.

I don’t know what the hell I’m getting at.  Nothing much, probably.  Anyway, it’s Friday, and I don’t work this weekend, so you shouldn’t be seeing any new blog posts from me before Monday at the soonest.  If something catastrophic‒depending on one’s point of view‒happens and I don’t write anything even on Monday, well…that’s a change that most people wouldn’t find too unpleasant, unlike the stupid muddy, puss-like color and shape changes on the phone apps and keyboard.


*Interesting…both examples have “initials” P. H.

**And that name doesn’t makes sense.  Android means “man-shaped” and nothing about the operating system or the phones is man-shaped.  Even their little symbol isn’t really man-shaped.  I’m android.  Nothing about the phone system is.

***Be Still My Beating Heart

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.

Even the bus route isn’t a prime number

Well, it’s Monday morning, the second Monday of 2023.  I’m probably going to stop keeping count of such things pretty soon, so if you’re interested, you’ll need to keep track for yourself.

I hope you all had an excellent first weekend after New Year’s.  I myself did not.

I won’t get into the specifics, but remember how I said that I was considering changing my daily schedule so that I would take the bus to the train to work and then back again?  Well, that change has been forced upon me by various circumstances, mainly related to my own mental fatigue.  It turns out that I wasn’t feeling as rested on Saturday as I thought I was‒that was apparently an illusion brought about by the fact that I was so chronically fatigued that a slight increase in sleep duration‒brought about by having taken half a Benadryl, in this case‒gave me a foolish sense of false well-being.

So here I am at the bus stop now, waiting for the first bus of the day.  Unfortunately, it arrives about half an hour later than my memory of its schedule, but it’s been a long time since I took it, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about that.  I’m waiting for the southbound bus.  I think it must have been the northbound bus I was thinking about when I thought it arrived half an hour earlier*.  In any case, I’m quite a bit early even for that, because I woke up and left the house at my usual time.  It looks like I won’t even be close to catching the first or even the second train this morning.

I had been thinking about buying a new bicycle, and if I took such a means to get to my usual train station, I might make the second train of the day, but then I would be lugging a bike around, and I would also get quite sweaty from riding.  That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s slightly annoying.  Still, it would be faster than the bus in the long run.

Of course, I could just plan to get up later in the morning, and come to the bus stop closer to the appropriate time, but sleeping late enough in the morning is not something at which I’m that skilled or gifted.

As for writing…well, at least I am probably going to finish this blog post in plenty of time.  I may well finish the first draft before the bus comes (I did).  But I don’t think I’m going to be trying to work on any fiction after that, even fiction that I had already begun.  I don’t think I could completely finish a new novel and have it ready for publication before October of this year.  I certainly wouldn’t want to work on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, because that’s supposed to be the first of a series, so even finishing it by October would be rather beside the point.  Only Outlaw’s Mind has any chance of being done, but that’s far from certain.

And once October comes, my age will no longer be a prime number, though the latter portion of the year still will be for a few more months after that.  And I don’t want to be past my prime yet again if I can help it, because the next time I and the year will be in my prime is far too long from now to contemplate.

It’s not that riding the bus to the train and then back again is such a big deal.  Hell, I did it for a long time after getting out of work release**, and though I was tired a lot, I was thinner and more fit, certainly.

It’s amazing how things that would have been minor to moderate inconveniences way back when one had family and friends around, as well as a (misguided) sense of purpose, become just overwhelming when one has no one around from day to day, and no ability to connect with anyone, and when one is already teetering on the edge of collapse***.  Setbacks feel like mortal crises, and in a way, they are, because they really do push one to the brink of literal self-destruction, and that brink itself is not a stable platform.  It’s a cliff ledge over an abyss, and it’s riddled with cracks, more and more all the time, and it could give way any second, at the slightest perturbation.

Ugh, all this heavy-handed use of metaphor is galling.  I feel as if I’m trying to be evasive or something, as though I can’t say clearly what I mean without making things worse.  I guess my point is merely that I have nothing to which to look forward, I am achieving nothing and contributing nothing, I have lost almost everything that mattered to me, as well as pretty much all the skill I’d ever had at connecting to other people, and so I have no local, day-to-day emotional support nor any ability or clue about how to achieve it.

Even when people try to reach out to me, I react defensively; I find such situations stressful and even frightening at some level, like a feral cat that can’t be approached even when someone is giving it food.  It’s difficult to trust other people after a certain point.  If nothing else, prison can do that to you.  I even tend to say now that I don’t trust anyone, and even that I don’t believe in trust, I just take calculated risks.  I’m not lying when I say that; it’s really the way I think.

It’s all just so tiring and thoroughly unfulfilling.  And it’s not as though my chronic pain has stopped, even though I don’t write about it often.  It’s been going on for twenty years already; why would it suddenly stop?  That’s just now how significant biological damage works, especially neurological damage.

Anyway, the point is, I’m getting fed up and worn out, and things are more or less entirely pointless to me, as I suppose they have been for a long time.  I’m 53 and the year is ’23, which are both prime numbers.  Today isn’t a prime number day of the month, but there are 7 more such days left in January…and seven is a prime number itself!  That’s nice.

I’m just about out of gas.

But like I said, I hope you’re all feeling much better than I am.  If not, the world is even worse than I thought it was, and that’s saying something.


*I was correct in his assessment.  The northbound bus arrived at the time I had been expecting, incorrectly, to catch the southbound one.  The situation makes sense.  The intersection at which I was waiting was near the south end of the bus route, so it was near the beginning for the northbound, but near the end for the southbound.

**In fact, I feel almost as though I’m regressing back to my earlier state.  Maybe I should just arrange to do something so that I go back to prison.  But that is a pain.  There are good things about prison, but the inconvenience is irritating.

***It’s funny, on Saturday my brother texted just to ask how I was doing, and I replied that I was metastable at least‒an unusually effusive report for me, but more accurate than I knew.  Those of you familiar things like energy diagrams for quantum fields and for chemical reactions and for other similar systems will recognize that something that is metastable is a system that will stay in its current state if undisturbed‒it’s on or near some plateau of the energy function‒but if nudged at all will fall down the slope of the energy curve.  Imagine a pencil perfectly balanced on it’s tip.  If nothing disturbs it in any way, it could stay that way forever.  But if even a slight breeze comes along, it will topple.  I feel that, if I’m not indeed already toppled, or toppling, then I’ve barely been able to retain my balance on my pencil point.  I don’t think I can keep it up much longer.

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.

In the year of the wildebeest, I wish you a “Happy Gnu Year”

Well, first things first (or perhaps first things second, or second things first), since the actual first was a Sunday, I would like now to wish you all a Happy New Year.  I know there won’t be any major holidays for a while, because the Tri-rail announcement has switched over to letting everyone know that it will be operating on a Sunday schedule on Memorial Day, which is in May.  To be fair to them, that’s a holiday in the US that always falls on a Monday, so it does bear announcing that they will be operating on a Sunday schedule that day.

I can’t say I’m unhappy to see the tail end of the holidays, because the single biggest thing they entail for me now is trying not to think about past times when I celebrated them with family and friends, and thinking about such times makes me very sad.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

So, as you all know, I was already getting sick last week by Wednesday, and then on Thursday, I posted a little blurb that I wrote directly on my phone to the WordPress site, just to let you know that I wouldn’t be doing my usual Thursday post.  By the time I wrote that, I think‒in retrospect‒that I was borderline delirious, and I probably had a fever, though I hadn’t checked my temperature (even as I was feeling better I still had a low grade fever, so it had probably been higher earlier).  I kept seeing weird streaks of movement across the floors and walls (never the ceiling, oddly enough) that looked almost like impossibly fast insects (or small mice?) zipping along straight gridline paths, like light-cycles in Tron, and of course, time was strange, and everything around me was slightly off and disconnected.  It was interesting, and I recognized right away that it wasn’t anything real.  I’ve been delirious before.  I wasn’t bothered by it, other than the fact that I felt like crap.

What had started as a purely respiratory illness, including sneezing and very violent coughing, strangely had spread into my lower GI tract (thankfully there was no throwing up, at least), and by the time I wrote my little Thursday tidbit, I was on the border of recommending to myself that I go to the emergency room to get some IV fluids or summat.  That didn’t really appeal, though, so I did my best rehydrating by mouth and just mostly being asleep/unconscious, between urgent and occasionally semi-catastrophic trips to the bathroom.

It occurred to me during the early hours of Thursday, that if I were to take a turn for the worst, and didn’t have the mental wherewithal to call 911, I might not even have made it to 2023 (which I have done, in case you were wondering).  I doubt I would have been stuck rotting in my room until the people in the other part of the house started to smell me‒people from the office probably would have called the police soon enough before then, since I’ve never been both absent and incommunicado before‒though I’m not sure if any of them know my address off the top of their heads (it’s not as though I ever have any visitors).

I’m frankly pretty okay with that possibility, though as I have said, it would be a shame to die “before my prime”.  Ha ha.  I’m with Dr. House (in the pilot episode of the show) in being of the opinion that there’s simply no such thing as dying with dignity, not really.  There are worse and better deaths, of course; I’m convinced about that.  But as for the rather nebulous term “dignity”, that applies to the way one lives, not to the way one dies.  That’s my point of view on it, anyway.  At least if I just died in my room it wouldn’t inconvenience other people too badly.

Anyway, that’s all by the by, since as far as I can tell, I did not die from my recent illness.  If I’m mistaken about that fact, I do hope someone will let me know.

That makes me think of an idea for a short story.  Imagine a man who has what seems to him to be a harrowing brush with what could have been a fatal accident, leaving him shaken but otherwise fine.  But the next day, when he goes to work or whatever, there are signs of his desk and everything being cleared out, and pretty soon he talks to a coworker or someone, who seems surprised and even puzzled that he is there.  That coworker‒and soon, everyone else‒tells him that, no, he didn’t survive his brush with death, he was killed, and he really needs to stop being in denial about it.

The key element here is that they aren’t freaked out or frightened or even stunned and disbelieving about the fact that he’s trying to go to work and so on despite the fact that‒according to them‒he’s dead.  They’re simply puzzled, in a “why are you doing this?” kind of way, and some are inconvenienced and annoyed, a few telling him that he’s making it very difficult for them to mourn and then get past his loss and to move on with their lives.

There is another layer of explanation behind all this, but I’m not going to tell you what it is, just in case I ever end up writing the story.  It’s not likely, but stranger things have happened‒four whole seasons of them, if I understand correctly.  I had a hard time sticking with that show…couldn’t get past the 4th episode or so, I’m not sure why.  It should have been right up my alley.  Though watching it led me to wonder, were my friends and I the only people who played Dungeons and Dragons (and many other role playing games) without using little figurines?

Well, enough of all that.  I’ll finish up by saying that, yes, I do still intend to do a “podcast” about sugar, and then maybe other subjects depending on how that goes, but I’m going to have to wait a little, because my voice is one of the things affected by my recent/current illness, and I’m going to be talking a lot today because the other verifier is going to be out sick.  In the meantime, I again wish you all a Happy New Year, and hope you have a good first work week of 2023.  Also, given that he’s now back as the 14th Doctor, I thought the following GIF with the 10th Doctor was particularly appropriate for this year.

New Year