The numbers don’t decide…or do they?

Huzzah.  It’s Monday.

I’m sure you’re all celebrating the beginning of a new work week and the last Monday in January of 2023.  Yes, that’s right, the first month of this new year is already all but gone.  And, as with almost every month nowadays, I say “Good riddance.”

I’m not sure what subject(s) to address, today.  I guess I could start out by announcing that I passed my potential palindromic recording number on Friday without hitting it.  We reached 26266228 in the morning, but then there was a lag in business and the next recording number after lunch was 26266601.  We skated right past after coming so close.

Anyway, that was the final extension I had given myself, after passing 26211262, 26222262, 26233262, 26244262, and 26255262 over the latter part of 2022.  Those were all good palindromic numbers, but I missed them all, and given the repeating 26 and the repeating 62 of this last one, it felt like a nearly ideal last hurrah.

I had thought that if I did see one of those recording numbers, I was going to promise to myself not to go the Heming way, nor to fall prey to Kurt’s co-bane*.  But that refuge is gone, and I’m not going to reset the target, either.  I’m not saying that I am definitely going to kill myself, because Cat only knows what will happen at any moment.  But I’m definitely not going to promise not to kill myself, and there seem fewer and fewer things in my life for which to live.

People at the office come and go (except the owner, of course), and so do housemates and the like.  All my old friends are a long way away and/or have busy lives of their own, and I’ve never been good at maintaining interaction with people from a distance.  I’ve always made friends either at school or at work, wherever I was, and could get close to people because they were literally close, but when people go away, or I do, I can’t figure out how to keep in touch with them.  I don’t even know where to start.

And I have a hard time with phone conversations other than with family**.  Even getting text messages can make me feel anxious and panicky, though it’s a bit better.  Emails aren’t too bad, but people rarely communicate through emails socially, it seems.  And Facebook messenger and Twitter’s equivalent can fuck off and die.  I hate them.

Learning that all this is probably due to undiagnosed Asperger’s is, I guess, at least a bit of an explanation, so I don’t have to feel quite as much that I’m just a heartless jerk***.  But it doesn’t change the fact that I have a very difficult time connecting with people, and the fact that several of the people who have meant the most to me‒indeed, two of the top three, plus several others‒have severed ties with me doesn’t help.  I’m apparently an unpleasant person around whom to be, a lot of the time.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: for me, at least, it is not better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, though I would never change the fact that my children were born, and so I would never change my life up until that point.  Not that such a thing is an option, but it’s a psychological and philosophical thought experiment.

They aren’t just useful in physics.

So, yeah, I’m basically just floating through things, and fewer and fewer of the people I know, who seem to like me, are around on a daily basis.  And I have no nearby friends who read much, or are interested in science or mathematics or any of the other few things I really enjoy.  I have neither the ability nor the interest in trying to develop online connections or join groups.  I can’t even get over the stress and anxiety of thinking about joining online groups for Asperger’s/ASD support, nor to seek out online diagnosis-related resources, other than books****.

Oh, yeah, books.  Just since Friday, I think I’ve flipped into about seven different books, trying (unsuccessfully) to find one that would keep my attention, considering but passing by dozens of others that did not even catch my mind that far.  That’s not a good sign, not if you know me. Why, Kindle says my current reading streak is 140 weeks, and that just makes me wonder what the hell I was doing in that week before, because why would I have gone a whole week without reading?  But now I can’t really read much of anything.

And nearly every day at work, I consider smashing my black Strat, because I can’t find the interest or even willingness to play guitar, whether my own music or someone else’s.  Nothing is interesting, nothing is rewarding.  Nothing is fun.  And it’s not as though I have some overriding or motivating goal; I don’t.  I don’t even think I’m likely ever to do those audio blogs/podcasts on sugar, or on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, or any other similar thing.  I’m almost out of gas.

And January isn’t even over yet.

*Ha ha.  I know, those are tasteless plays on words, given the subject matter, but I guess I’m tasteless.  Unfortunately, because of the two artists I’ve chosen, you might get the impression that I’d meant to promise specifically not to killing myself with a shotgun, but I don’t currently have or even have access to a shotgun.  I merely was going to commit not to kill myself.  But that commitment is not forthcoming.  The opportunity has passed.

**And even that makes me stupidly anxious, though once I get started, it’s fine.  I guess it helps that I’m the youngest of three; my siblings have literally been there my entire life, so they can never feel like strangers.

***Though that’s not ruled out.  There’s no fixed either/or dichotomy involved.  Just because there may be a clinical explanation for me sometimes acting like an asshole, it doesn’t mean I’m not also just an asshole.  And I have it on good authority that, at least part of the time, I am one.

**** But after a few of those, I couldn’t read them any more, because there’s no mechanism explored, no real neurobiology, just people talking about their lives, and I can’t easily do very much of that.  Even Simon Baron-Cohen’s stuff is far from deeply-understood neuroscience and psychology and so on, and the latest research papers are often all too superficial and yet narrow.

“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.

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

One Stone to bring them all and in Dark Energy bind them

Well, well, as the oil baron said, it’s Tuesday again, the 10th of January.  And two times five makes ten, so I guess this day has something to do with prime numbers other than just the year (the last 2 digits, anyway) and my age.

Of course, all numbers have to do with prime numbers, in a sense.  I’ve heard mathematicians say that prime numbers are the “elements” of the numbers (or of the whole numbers, at least, I suppose), comparable in a way to the entries in the periodic table.  But 1 (the number of this month, as it were, and surely the more fundamental building block of all the whole numbers) is not considered a prime, because of it were, then every number’s prime factorization could stretch to as long as you like, since any number times one, no matter how often you multiply it, is still the number with which you started.

Mentioning the elements/the periodic table reminds me of a joke that I sometimes see on shirts or mugs or similar that really irritates me every time I encounter it.  It might have been appropriate way back when someone first came up with it, but now it’s just too incorrect, given what we know, to be funny.  That joke is any version of the line, “Never trust an atom/element…they make up everything.”

It’s a silly little play on words, obviously enough, but the fact is, we know now that the elements/atoms don’t even come close to making up everything, so the joke doesn’t even work as a pseudo-nerdy pun.  Atoms, indeed all so-called baryonic matter (which to us might be thought of as “ordinary” matter*) make up only around 5% of the total mass/energy of the universe, according to the latest best estimates.

Another 25% (all these figures are rounded off a bit) of the universe’s mass/energy is so-called Dark Matter (which is dark only in the sense that the Ringwraiths are dark, being invisible, i.e. not interacting at all with light, nor with the strong force, nor (except neutrinos, if you’re counting them) the weak force, as far as anyone can tell).   They only definitely interact with gravity.  And, of course, according to General Relativity, gravity isn’t technically a force, it’s just the shape of spacetime**.

Speaking of spacetime, the remaining 70% of the mass/energy of the universe is what is called Dark Energy, though really that’s just a name that’s kind of sexy-cool, and it’s only “dark” in that it seems to have nothing to do with the electromagnetic fields (aka light).  This stuff, whatever it is, has characteristics consistent with the “cosmological constant” that Einstein supposedly considered his “greatest blunder”, though as it turns out, he was apparently right, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Yes, when you’re Einstein (you’re not, though) even your mistakes are remarkably fruitful, and eightyish years later they can end up being legitimate descriptions of the universe’s large-scale structure, function, and evolution***.

Of course, whether the Dark Energy is really that uniform energy of spacetime itself that creates a negative pressure throughout its reach and thus repulsive gravity, or if it’s some other process with roughly the same overall effect, we know it’s not what scientists had tried to describe using quantum field contributions, because that was too big by (if I remember correctly) about 123 orders of magnitude.  That’s a factor of 10 to the 123rd power, or a 1 followed by 123 zeroes.  That’s a number so big that if you set it down next to a googol in a form visible to the human eye, you wouldn’t even be able to see the googol.  It would be too vanishingly tiny.  So that’s not the right answer.

Anyway, that’s why I don’t like that joke about atoms or the elements.  It’s just too wrong to be funny.  And now that you know why it’s so wrong, you may be able to stop thinking it’s funny, too.  Am I not generous?  Are you not entertained?  I hope you’re not entertained by that joke, anyway.  People only tell that joke (or so I suspect) to try to make themselves look vaguely scientifically knowledgeable.  But in fact, they do the opposite.

Oh, well, I guess if they’re enjoying themselves…they’re not really doing too much harm…other than spreading misinformation regarding the structure and nature of matter and the cosmos, of course!

Ugh.  Why do I care?  What’s wrong with me?

Well, I know some of the answers to that last question, but knowing doesn’t help much.

I’m currently on the bus, by the way, approaching the train station.  It’s just another day.  Obviously, my recent setback has not resolved itself, and indeed, it may never do so to anyone’s satisfaction.  But I am at least just about done with this blog post in time for the train, which is now 5 minutes away.

I don’t think I’m going to be writing fiction again after this; I still haven’t even figured out how to check the results of the poll I put up (I haven’t tried, to be fair to me).  Oh, well.  Life is either so tragic that it’s comical or so comical that it’s tragic.  But then, at least, it’s over.

Of course, if the universe is infinite in space or in time (or both) at some level, any given life will just start over again, somewhere, somewhen, somehow, and no matter how big the distance between the two iterations, the individual won’t notice the passage of time.  Or it may be that our lives are fixed phenomena in a spacetime block universe as implied at least to some degree by General Relativity, and the instant our lives end, we may just start over again at the beginning, like a DVD (or Blu-ray) played on a loop, never doing anything different, never changing, never learning anything new we hadn’t learned the last time around.  It’s possible, in principle.  We don’t know if it’s true, though quantum mechanics suggests, at least, that it’s not the full picture.

Like the fella said, ain’t that a kick in the head?


*As you can see, it’s hard to justify calling something that makes up only around a twentieth of the matter and energy in the universe “ordinary”.  You could be forgiven for calling it “familiar” matter, I would say.  That might be better.

**Maybe M. Night Shyamalan can make that movie.

***It’s a bit like the paper he did with Podolsky and Rosen that was intended to demonstrate that quantum mechanics was incomplete, i.e. that there must be “hidden variables” beneath the seeming randomness, using descriptions of what must happen to two particles produced by the same event but which head off in their usual opposite directions, and whose characteristics, due to conservation of charge, momentum, spin, etc. must be complementary.  Years later, J. S. Bell devised a famous theorem, a test by which one could ascertain whether Einstein was right in that there were hidden variables, or that the states of a particle truly happened randomly but that nevertheless the state of one constrained the state of the other of the pair, however distant.  And just last year, Alain Aspect et al got the Nobel Prize (it took a while) for their experiments confirming, using polarization of photon pairs produced by single quantum events, via Bell’s theorem, that Einstein was wrong, there are no hidden variables in the sense he suspected.  But Einstein’s (and Podolsky’s and Rosen’s) quite legitimate question set into motion the concept of quantum entanglement, a truly important idea in quantum mechanics, just as he had pioneered the early field of quantum mechanics itself in 1905 with his (Nobel Prize winning) paper demonstrating that light comes in what we call photons, the energy of each individual one was described by Planck’s equation of h time the frequency.  One of his other papers from that year used Brownian motion to demonstrate that atoms and molecules‒you know, those things that “make up everything”‒really must exist.  He also did a few somewhat interesting papers on the nature of the speed of light and how it relates to time and length and distance, and something about the equivalence of mass and energy****.  As Sabine Hossenfelder would put it…”Yeah, that guy again.”

****But of course, the paper “On the electrodynamics of moving bodies” didn’t win a Nobel prize, nor did it’s follow-up containing a certain formula relating “rest mass” to energy via the speed of light squared.  So those papers couldn’t have been that important.  Right?

And “prime” rib doesn’t come from the 13th rib, even though cows have that many*****

Well, it’s Tuesday, the 27th of December (in 2022 AD or CE) and I’m writing this on my phone because I didn’t feel like carrying my laptop yesterday.  I have to say, now that I’m not writing fiction anymore, I find the portable laptop more and more just useless and even irritating.  It was handy on Friday night, when I was at the hotel‒“free” Wifi that comes with the room and all that‒but that sort of thing is unlikely to happen very often.  In any case, I brought it with me on Friday specifically with that thought in mind.  But for other purposes, it’s just mostly an unnecessary and often unpleasant burden, rather like its owner (me).

I think it’s interesting that, come 2023, I will be (indeed, I already am) 53, a prime number, in a year for which the last 2 digits (23) are a prime.  2023 is not a prime, though it looks like it might be at first glance.  But it has prime factors 7 and 17 apparently; a nice pair, but the number they produce (by multiplying 7 x 17 x 17) is by definition not prime.  Still, that’s not many prime factors, and again, they’re particularly pleasing primes, though 7 and 13 would have been more fun.  But 7 x 13 x 13 would be 1183, I think…yes, that’s right.  I just went and checked my mental arithmetic and it was correct.  Phew, that would have been embarrassing to make that sort of mistake in front of all my readers.

So, anyway, 1183 is nice, but it’s 840 years ago next year.  So I’m a little late for that one, I’m afraid.  It’s 839 years ago this year, and 839 is a prime number, but neither 2022 nor 22 are prime, so what’s the point in that?  I wouldn’t even have looked at the number if not for my previous digression.

All that stuff is beside the point I intended to make.  The point is, my age is a prime, and the last 2 digits of the year will be prime, so if I die before my next birthday (but on or after New Year’s Day, of course), I will, in a sense, die “in my prime”.  It’s slightly forced, but as Michael Palin said in the role of a pet shop owner, “It’s as near as dammit”.  He was trying to pass off a terrier as a cat for the customer, who said it wasn’t a “proper cat”.

Anyway, that’s all slightly encouraging about next year’s prospects for me.  It’s about all I have to look forward to (or, rather, “all I have to which to look forward”), so I have to take what I can get, even if it involves squeezing a bit of the potential prime number relationships.

When you think about it, the numbers for the years are more or less entirely arbitrary, and even Darth Ratzinger* has admitted that the historical Jesus (assuming he actually lived) was born in about 6 BC, according to our current date system.  Which is kind of funny, when you think about it‒Jesus was born six years before Christ.  But then, we know he wasn’t born on Christmas, either, as I’ve mentioned before.  Hey, it was 2000 or so years ago, how accurate do you want people to have been**?

The next subsequent chance I would possibly have to die “in my prime” would not be until 2029, when I’m 59!  Although, 2029 is actually a prime number, and so is 29.  So that’s a bit tempting.  But I don’t even really want to imagine waiting six more years!!  And what if I died by accident some year in between?  What a waste that would be.

All of this is silliness, of course.  I like the idea because it’s playing with prime numbers and playing with words at the same time, and they are both things that I like to do.  But I’m not in any way committed to any numerological notions in any magical thinking sense.  If I were, then the 2029, 59 thing would be much more convincing, particularly since 2029 is the year the asteroid Apophis‒named for an ancient Egyptian god of chaos and destruction‒will come within 19,000 kilometers of Earth on April 13th.   That will be a Friday the 13th, by the way!  And if the asteroid passes through a very tiny gravitational “keyhole” (extremely unlikely) it will have its orbit altered such that seven years later it will hit the Earth***.  If I were dogmatic, committed to some quasi-mystical notion of prime numbers and the magical powers of some words, that would all be quite convincing.

But I don’t believe in any mystical or magical things, and I don’t think I’m wrong not to want to believe in them.  I’m well acquainted with metaphorical notions of magic (and fictional ones, of course) and am well acquainted with awe and with the numinous and with the state of being moved profoundly by wondrous things, from the contemplation of the scope of space and time on up to the births of my children.  But these don’t require belief, in the sense of conviction without justifiable evidence and reason.  Faith of that kind is a bug, not a feature, of the minds in which it resides.

So, no, I’m not convinced by the prime number/prime of one’s life coincidence.  I’m just very tired, and have nothing of real, deep value in my life, nor am I myself of any real, deep value.  But I enjoy prime numbers and word games, so it would at least be mildly amusing and satisfying‒or so I imagine‒to die in a year in which my age is prime and so are the last 2 digits of the year.  There’s nothing deeper to it than that.

There probably is nothing deeper than that, come to think of it.

*That’s the Sith name of Pope Emeritus Benedict.  Is he even still alive?  Also, why does “Sith” get the red squiggly underline of an unrecognized word, but “Jedi” doesn’t?  It’s blatant bigotry and hypocrisy by the Jedi, as should come as no surprise to anyone.  Well, I’ve added Sith to my local dictionary, at least.

**Of course, presumably God could have ensured precision and accuracy, but probably an omniscient, omnipotent, infinite being would not think our arbitrary dating systems‒or indeed, we ourselves‒were important in any way whatsoever.

***Of course, there’s plenty of time before then for someone who has, for instance, a private space program to send up a rocket that will gently nudge the asteroid, just a little bit, so that it hits the Earth in 2029…or in 2036, if that’s easier to pull off.  It wouldn’t need to be anything as dramatic as NASA’s recent asteroid deflection test thing, but it would require careful simulation and then application of force on a local scale.  Are you listening, Elon?  It wouldn’t be a mass extinction event, nor even a civilization-ending event, but it would be a global catastrophe such as hasn’t been seen since civilization began.  It might shake humans out of their idiotic Woke vs. MAGA type tribal bickering and make them take seriously the fact that they need to spread out off this planet, to colonize the moon and Mars and so on.  Or…was that actually the purpose of the rocket you sent toward Mars with a Tesla in it?  Is that camouflage for a mission to nudge Apophis to make it hit the Earth?  That’s it, isn’t it?  Oh, I knew you were an evil genius after my own heart!****

****Speaking of evil geniuses, I’ve seen recent videos that show, for instance, what the Death Star’s weapon would look like if it were accurate to real lasers, or showing how impractical it would be to use such a powerful laser, and regarding the apparent rebound energy if one fired a laser powerful enough to destroy a planet.  But the Death Star weapon is no more a laser than are blasters or lightsabers (though lasers may be involved in the workings of the devices).  Blasters and lightsabers are packeted plasma weapons of some kind, with the plasma perhaps constrained in highly shaped electromagnetic fields.  And the Death Star weapon is similar but of a different fundamental type.  I suspect it to be a highly energetic and dense plasma, but composed of anti-matter, and when the plasma strikes the planet at relativistic speeds, the matter/antimatter annihilation is what provides the incredible destructive force.  Or perhaps, alternatively, it is some form of plasma of W and Z particles, which cause massive, rapid nuclear decay in the atoms of the planets they strike, causing hitherto unprecedented fission events on a planetary scale.  It might even be a quark-gluon plasma, but generating that on such a scale seems boggling even to my jaded science fantasy mind.  Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, it’s just a pet peeve.

*****It can come from the 7th rib, though, and I guess you could request that specially.

Great Hypnos, child of Nyx and Erebus and twin brother of Thanatos, why keeps’t thou thyself thus so strange from me?

Well, I have my laptop with me today, and I’m at the train station even earlier than I was yesterday.  This is related to the fact that I woke up even earlier today than yesterday, though I didn’t go to bed or to sleep any earlier.

It is 12-20-2022 on a Tuesday, which is kind of fun—because there are a lot of 2s in today’s date.  I don’t mind the zeroes, but I wish we didn’t have that numeral one in today’s date.  I do remember that the Tuesday on which fell, using the European date writing system, the twenty-second of February of this year was 22-02-2022, which is about as palindromic as such dates can get*, and the ultimate twos-day.  Matt Parker did a video a few years ago about February 2, 2020 for Stand-up Maths, claiming it was the most palindromic, because it worked in European or American dating order.  He had a point; I’ll put a link here if I remember.  But that date did not fall on a Tuesday.

I had to check online to confirm the days on which the dates above fell.  I could probably have worked it out for myself with a bit of figuring.  If I had plenty of energy, it’s the sort of thing I might do—but not right now.  Right now I have almost no energy.  I’m frankly exhausted at nearly every level, though perhaps not according to the literal definition of the word, since it implies something that is fully empty (is that an oxymoron?) in the literal sense.

I feel like I am very close to that point, though.  I’m so tired of doing what I do every day, just to maintain the various functions of life that continue to require maintenance, from eating, to brushing teeth, to working, to buying food, to getting to and from work, to doing laundry, to all those other things that are just repetitive maintenance for a life that I don’t even want to keep doing.

There’s a famous fact of physics that, if there were an airless hole straight through the middle of the Earth**, and if one jumped into the hole, it would take—if memory serves—forty-two minutes to get to the other side of the planet.  I believe Newton figured this out, himself.  Of course, this is highly counterfactual, since there would be air resistance and worse in such a hole, and a large portion of the Earth isn’t even really solid, so you couldn’t maintain a hole, and the Earth’s interior is far too hot to survive passing through even at high speeds.  But still, it seems like it would be nice just to jump into such a hole and fall, going back and forth through the planet without stopping, forever, or at least for the rest of one’s life.

Actually, come to think of it, that’s an experience that’s the same as any form of free-fall.  Anytime one is moving unimpeded along a geodesic in spacetime, one is in the same circumstance.  That was Einstein’s great insight that I believe he described as the happiest thought of his life:  when he realized that a man falling from a high roof would effectively experience no forces whatsoever while falling, and it led him to the principle of equivalence—that acceleration and gravitation are locally indistinguishable—which then led him down the path to General Relativity.  So, just being an astronaut on the ISS would be the same experience, internally, as falling through such a hole in the Earth, though I doubt they’d send me up there just so I could get a break.

Maybe someday there will be free-fall vacations, where a person can book a flight to be put in orbit for a bit, with no engineered gravity, and just allowed to go to sleep.  Maybe one could even climb into a sensory deprivation tank during that time, and the lack of gravitational acceleration would truly allow them not even to experience proprioception related to gravity.  It seems like it would beat just floating in a bath of Epsom salts.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like to get away from it all, and I do mean from it all.  I can’t relax my mind, I can’t relax my body, but both of them are just achy and tired all the time.  And everything I do is utterly without a point.  I mean, from a certain point of view, everything anyone ever does is without a point, but people can at least have their own, internal purpose, the things that give their lives and deeds meaning to them.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s even rather admirable and heroic and beautiful in its way.

But I don’t have any purpose.  I don’t even have a dugong***.  I’m not going anywhere, I’m not achieving anything, and I don’t get any satisfaction out of anything that I do.  I really am like someone who has kept a Great Ring.

I need just to give up.  I don’t know what I’m achieving by any of this, but I’m pretty sure it’s nothing.  Not that I’m achieving “nothingness”, mind you.  That would, in a sense, be an achievement (ironically).  I’m just achieving nothing, by which I mean not achieving anything.  I guess that’s probably obvious.  Sorry.

I wonder if Michael Jackson’s old doctor makes house calls, if he even is allowed to practice medicine after finishing his remarkably short (shorter than mine) prison term..

I’ll bet he’s not commuting on a train to and from work, living in a single bedroom in the back of an old, cinderblock house, not doing anything for fun, not spending time with his kids or any friends or anything.  And, above all, if he has trouble sleeping, we know he has some tricks to take care of that problem.

Oh, well.


*Speaking of palindromes, yesterday we missed the last possible palindromic recording number for the year in doing our verification recordings at work, which was what I had set as a deciding factor regarding my future plans.  So, the universe has sent me no positive message.  Not that I was expecting it to do so.  The universe could hardly care whether I live or die.

**Actually, straight through any two places on the surface of the Earth would give the same basic result, but I’m going to keep things simple.

***Get it?

Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun Nor the furious winters’ blogs

Hello and good morning.  You should know that it’s Thursday if I use some variant of that greeting.  I got started in that habit early in the course of writing my (then only Thursdays) blog, and got myself locked into the pattern mentally.  Now it would make me very tense and stressed if I were to write a Thursday blog post without that opening.  Likewise with the title being a slightly altered quote from Shakespeare.

I’m writing this on my laptop for the first time this week, because I decided to bring it back from the office yesterday.  It was our first decent business day this week, but I still felt thoroughly rotten, in the sense of being tired and in pain.  I’d been lying awake in “bed” during the night, looking at the clock, deciding when just to give up and get up.  I had seen the time getting to about 3:50 and started thinking about the various three digit numbers coming up.

I knew none of the even numbers were prime, and I knew 351 wasn’t prime, since the sum of its digits is a multiple of three*.  But 353 looked like it might be prime, so I started checking it in my head.  Obviously it wasn’t divisible by any even number, nor by 3, nor by any multiple of 5, so I started trying from 7, then 11, then 13, then 17, then 19, then 23, then 29…by that time I was getting suspicious.  The next prime was 31, and I tried that in my head, but it wasn’t divisible, because after you divide the first two digits by 31, you’re left with 43 remainder, which is clearly not going to be evenly divisible, so I stopped there with that.  And the next prime number was bigger than 35 (it’s 37), which started making it look like 353 might be prime.

I cheated then, turned to my computer and checked with Google if 353 was prime**, and it said it was.  That was good enough for me.  I decided to get up at 3:53, which by that point was about a minute and a half away.

Thus, I got on the first train, and luckily, there were no “trespasser strikes” or any other kind of delays, and my train arrived and left at the scheduled time.  I definitely am not going to kill myself by jumping in front of a commuter train (or probably any other train).  I don’t like hypocrisy, and to be worn out by delays only to cause them oneself would be petty and spiteful in a way that I would prefer not to be in my swansong.  I need to do something less intrusive.

That’s all unless, of course, I give up on trying to be polite and just act on some impulse that comes at the right time in the right place, and fuck all the humans if it causes them problems.

I’m sitting in a different seat on the train than I usually use, because I didn’t feel up to climbing to the top level.  I worry that I’m sitting in someone else’s usual seat, but it’s very non-crowded on the midway level of this train car, so I don’t think I’m causing anyone inconvenience.

It’s probably bothering me more than it would bother anyone else that I’m not in my usual seat, but I just didn’t feel like taking 8 more stairs up.  If it had been a prime number of steps, maybe I would have done it.  Probably not.  I only just now counted the stairs to see, but I hadn’t counted them before deciding I didn’t want to climb them.

It was eighty degrees out and quite muggy when I left the house this morning before five o’clock.  Don’t envy it.  It’s not as though people are going to the beaches or sitting out in the sun and sipping cocktails, or enjoying any other aspects of warm weather.  Everyone is scratching out their livings, going through their daily routines in a grimy, overcrowded urban environment.  One of the only visible effects of the warmth is that you’ll see people wearing things like basketball shorts to work—grownups who are not professional athletes wearing baggy, gaudily colored shorts in places of business.  How is one to take any of them seriously?

At least the people who run the Tri-rail trains all wear uniforms of one kind or another.  They are quite professional and serious—and pleasant and friendly to passengers***—and they do their jobs well and with enthusiasm.  There’s even a conductor who sometimes works in the evening on the train I catch leaving work who, as we approach my station (which is Hollywood) makes the announcement, “Now approaching Hollywood…Hollywood, California, now approaching Hollywood.”

I like this because it’s similar to my own usual thoughts when we approach the station, which is to recite the words of the man on the street in the beginning of the movie Pretty Woman, who calls out to no one in particular, “Welcome to Hollywood!  What’s your dream?” and so on.  That’s a moment or two before we see a young Hank Azaria in a bit part as a detective, investigating the murder of a prostitute, astonished that tourists are taking pictures of the crime scene.  It’s an unusually dark beginning to a classic romantic comedy.

Real romance rarely begins so darkly, though it often ends unpleasantly.  It does always end, eventually, even for those who stay together for the rest of their lives, because life is no more than 120 years (at the extreme maximum) for humans, and usually quite a bit less than that.

Sorry.  That’s dreary, even for me.  I’ll try to turn it around by taking a line from the…I think fifth series of modern Doctor Who, in which the Doctor describes a species of mayfly on some planet I can’t remember, saying that they live only twenty minutes, and they don’t even mate for life!

Time is relative in many senses.  I’ve had more than one day this week that seemed to last far longer than twenty-four hours.  The faster you think, the slower time will seem to pass for you, so it may be worth practicing that, if that appeals to you.  Users of psychedelics sometimes report their trips seeming to last for eons, and meditation and similar states can sometimes produce similar experiences.  We all know that dreams can give that impression.

So, as Tyrell says to Roy, “Revel in your time,” even if all those moments will be eventually be lost like tears in the rain.


Hollywood_Amtrak_Tri-Rail smaller

*It’s actually also a multiple of 9, since its digits add to 9, but it’s 9 times 39 (9×40=360, take away a nine and you get 351), and 39 is 3 x 13, so we know that 351 is also 27×13.  The prime factors of 351 are 3x3x3x13.

**I do this sort of thing often enough that when I start typing, by the time I get to “Is 353…”, Google pops up the option (and the answer) for the question “Is 353 a prime number?”

***This is lost on me, I’m afraid, though I admire it.  When the driver waves out of his window toward passengers as he pulls in, I’ve never had the impression that he was waving at me until this morning when, for the first time, I thought it seemed like he might have turned a final wave in my direction after more obvious ones to other regulars—I always stand at the far end of the platform.  I just felt a bit frozen and stressed, like someone who’d been called on in class but hadn’t been paying attention to the lesson.  I tried not to look toward the window, but just kept kind of looking down-ish and toward my entrance to the train, and I felt like a fool.

Don’t touch that line, it’s hot!

It’s Tuesday morning, which should come as no surprise, since yesterday was Monday.  I am on the earliest train right now—I just got on board less than a minute ago, I’d say, and certainly it only just left the station.  I woke up early, as usual, and just didn’t feel like I could sleep anymore.  On the other hand, although I did wake up early, I can at least report that I didn’t keep waking up over and over again before the final time I woke up, so I seem to have had a few hours’ uninterrupted sleep.  That feels like a major boon*.

Today’s date is a little fun, if you’re using the American ordering of the numbers.  It’s 10-11-2022, which of course is a mini pattern, with a ten and an eleven doubling into a twenty and a twenty-two…all on a “Twosday”!  So, again, a bit of fun with numbers, if you like that sort of thing.  Possibly I’m the only one in the world who finds it amusing.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

I regret to say that I wasn’t able to make a video yesterday, or rather, I wasn’t able to complete one.  I started one, but we had one of our various weird situations at the office, with a potentially returning coworker, who was there quite early, and that interfered with my ability to do a video.  I got less than five minutes of talking done before the interruption came.  I did fiddle around with trying out the video recording on my tablet again a few times during the day, just for experimentation, but that was all.  I ended up knocking the tablet stand over while reaching for something else, and thus knocking over the tablet, but it was not harmed in any visibly detectable*** way.

Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to make a video today.

I think I need to update my “gravitar”, or whatever that term was, that generates the accompanying picture that goes with blog posts, because it shows a picture of me from about ten years ago, in which I was trying to look vaguely amused and whimsical.  It’s a perfectly good picture, of course—“perfectly” not being meant in its literal sense, obviously, since I don’t know what a literally perfectly good picture would even be—but I think it makes readers not quite internalize the blog posts and things that I’m sharing as serious.  I think people read my blog posts in which I try to express my distress and depression, and they see that stupid “gravitar” of me smirking ten years ago, and they think, “Oh, he’s not really all that fucked up right now, he’s just exaggerating for dramatic and/or comedic effect.”

I don’t like the guy in those pictures.  But I guess that probably goes without saying.

It’s been a long time since I updated that picture—I don’t recall even how it’s supposed to be done, frankly, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find it somewhere on the WordPress site, which is where I added it originally.  I need to upload something that’s accurate to how I am now.

I finally have returned to the particular train and the particular seat across from that National Suicide Prevention Hotline poster that I wrote about sometime in the past, and this time, I remembered to take a quick snap of it.  That happened between sentences while writing this blog post.  You probably didn’t even notice it; it was such a swift process that there was nary a hitch in my writing!

I’m not being serious, of course.  Well, I did take a picture, I’m serious about that.  But of course, the time stream of me writing this and the time stream of the final blog post are not the same.  The flow of time is different in the two, and the flow of time in the blog post per anyone reading can be entirely different as well.

That’s kind of curious to think about, at least for me.  I might have mentioned before that if our universe were simulated, down to the Planck scale in space and time, each calculation of interactions could, in principle, take billions of years for some simulating advanced civilizations, but then, after the googols of years it would take to calculate enough of them, we on Earth might still only experience the outcome as the passing of a second, for instance.

I don’t know why an advanced civilization would bother with such things.  But it’s a thought experiment, the domain of spherical inclined planes and frictionless cows, so just go with it.

Anyway, I’ll share the picture of the poster, because one thing that bothers me is that they not only split the infinitive (to be), but they underlined the word with which they split it.  I think it would have been more effective, if anything, to write “It’s OK to be not OK”.  Even the more proper “It’s OK not to be OK” would be preferable to me.

ok not ok scaled down

I truly appreciate and admire the sentiments****, but the split infinitive just makes me more depressed than ever.  The uses of this world and the usages of words seems utterly irrational and pointless to me.  There’s just nobody home.

Might as well shut off the lights.

*Not a reference to Major Boone**.

**I don’t know who “Major Boone” might be, but it would be a good name for a character.

***Nothing I could see, anyway, with or without my reading glasses.  I’m sure there were microscopic scratches and dings, the inevitable hallmarks of entropy, such as will accumulate on even the most durable of substances.  Even diamonds surely lose a carbon atom or two whenever one rubs at them.  The surface atoms, after all, cannot be bonded each to four other carbon atoms, unlike the interior atoms; some must be bonded only to three, and perhaps some even only to two.  And the ones that are bonded to four other atoms in their traditional tetrahedral lattice, are obviously not in an unbreakable arrangement, or there would be no way to cut diamonds.  As far as I know, there is no such thing as an unbreakable arrangement.

****And I don’t want to denigrate the hotline, though my personal experience with them was regrettable because the PBSO came and took me away to a shithole, which I’ve talked about before.  I was only there for less than a day, but it was humiliating and associated with nerve damage to my left wrist, and it did not end up helping me feel better in the long run.  None of this was the hotline’s fault, and I recognize that, but it was quite unpleasant, and is one of the reasons I hesitate to use their services.  I think about calling (or texting) them more days than not, but I don’t think I ever will.  I’m not worth their effort, in any case.  There are many far better uses for their resources than something like me.