The Inscrutability of the Relativity of Popularity

I’ve said it before, but I can’t resist noting again that, as I begin writing this, it is Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock.  It’s the beginning line of one of my favorite Beatles songs, She’s Leaving Home, as many of you probably already know.  And as people who know me closely—if there are there any such people anymore—will know, I love to quote lyrics and books and poems and so on.  But I particularly like when things in the real world evoke or even literally iterate the events of a song.

It’s liable to happen again if I keep writing this, since I generally get up at least this early, even if I don’t have anywhere I have to be.  My insomnia is rotten—or, one could say, it’s very good at what it does, though what it does is not very nice.

I’ve noticed a curious thing.  Yesterday, the post that I wrote in which talked a bit about the physics of black holes—asking some questions about it, among other things—got very few “likes”.  In fact, as of the last time I checked, it had gotten one.  It wasn’t especially long, for me anyway, and I thought it was interesting enough, but I guess it wasn’t appealing.

However, the quite long post I wrote on Monday, dissecting the Bob Dylan song Blowin’ In the Wind got oodles of reads and likes, even though it was about 1800 words long.  This makes it one of my longest posts, possibly the longest, not counting my sharing of sections of Outlaw’s Mind.

I’m happy that people still like “longer” blog posts and read them, at least.

I remember being told once that the optimal blog post length was about 800 words, which seemed horribly short to me to try to convey anything interesting.  It’s nice to know that estimate may be wrong.  I’m steadily disheartened by how little most people seem to read anymore, but even more disheartened to think that—possibly—most people have never been very inclined to read.  Perhaps social media isn’t drawing people away from reading but is simply giving them newer things to do instead of other things they used to do instead of reading.

If that’s the case, then at least I’m glad that there are some excellent YouTube channels with educational and interesting materials about science, mathematics, history, literature, and so on.  I have doubts whether anything educational ever happens on TikTok or Instagram or even Facebook or Twitter, though the latter two can at least be used to share links to educational articles or videos.  And I have seen some creative and hilarious TikTok videos.  These were shared with me by coworkers; I do not use TikTok myself, though apparently my music is available on it.

Referring again to songs, and specifically to lyrics, I often recall the words of the Steely Dan song, Reelin’ In the Years, in which the singer says, “Well, you wouldn’t even know a diamond if you held it in your hand; the things you think are precious I can’t understand.”  This is how I tend to feel about a lot of the world in general.  I really don’t get why some things are popular and some things aren’t.

Which is not to say that I understand none of these things.  Some works of art and music and science and whatnot are so broadly universal in their greatness that even an alien like me can recognize why they are loved.  The music of the Beatles, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Shakespeare, movies like The Godfather or Alien or the original Star Wars movies, the writing of Poe*, TV shows like Seinfeld or M*A*S*H—these are things that are enduringly popular (some more than others) and of which I understand the appeal quite well.

But I have no idea why anyone cares about the Kardashians**, or why the “music” of Cardi B is popular.  (This assessment is quite apart from the person, Cardi B, herself—from what I’ve seen, she’s charming and funny and seems quite nice, so I don’t begrudge her success.)

Don’t even get me started on wondering why The Donald ever became popular, let alone admired.  The man has bankrupted casinos!  These are places where people come and willingly—one could say willfully—give the house their money!  I, myself, have given my money to a few of his old casinos, and I enjoyed it quite a bit; they were nice, and I used to relish a little blackjack from time to time.  I’ve even been to Mar-a-Lago, quite some time ago, for an AECOM*** Alumni Association event.  It was a bit gaudy, but then, so is Versailles.

But it was horrifying when I was there to see accomplished, well-to-do, middle-aged-and-older adults fawning over the man, even gaggling about him looking for autographs!  I can kind of understand wanting a book signed by its author, especially if it has a “personal” message, or wanting to own an album that was signed by the Beatles, say.  But why fawn over a rather questionable**** businessman who is—admittedly—colorful, in more ways than one, but whose greatest skill seems to be surviving his own mistakes and passing the costs on to others?  And why in the world would anyone think he was qualified to be President of the United States?

Alas, humans are inexplicable to me in many ways—at least when I try to understand them as intelligent individuals.  It gets easier when I recognize them as a large population of unusually brainy primates, who, when you pay attention, are merely doing the stuff that all other lemurs and monkeys and apes do, just on a larger, more complicated level, and who fool themselves into thinking otherwise—it gets easier, but not more reassuring.

So, that’s a rundown of thoughts triggered by the fact that I don’t know specifically why my Monday post was apparently quite popular (relatively speaking), but my Tuesday post, which dealt partly with a bit of General Relativity (in a popular style, I think), was apparently not.  Maybe yesterday’s post is a slow-burner, and people will come back and read it in the future and will consider it some of my finest work.  I doubt it.  Honestly, I don’t truly think it’s some of my finest work, but I don’t think Monday’s post was either.

I don’t understand.  But why would I expect to?  I am a stranger in a strange land.  Your customs and your ways are foreign to me.

Maybe I should just go home.


*Though, man, you should’ve seen them kicking him.  Goo-goo-ga-choob.

**Unless you’re talking about the alien species that first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation and was more prominent in Deep Space Nine.  They’re not as interesting as the Klingons or the Romulans, but they’re way more interesting than a family that’s famous for the fact that its former patriarch had been part of O.J. Simpson’s defense team, and then for the rest of the family being rich but dysfunctional.

***That’s the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, not the infrastructure consulting firm, of which I just now became aware.

****Yes, he was questionable even back then.  And, yes, I thought so even back then, and well before.

Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!  Microsoft does murder sleep!”

I occasionally have my bones to pick with Microsoft, though on the whole I think they do a good job and make products that I use all the time, and that I have used since I was maybe 12 years old.  But last night, my Windows-based laptop did an automatic update at around midnight or twelve-thirty, and the consequences thereof made me feel less-than-charitable toward the company and its people.

I had gone to sleep watching a YouTube video of a British comedy panel show (one I’d seen many times before, which was why it helped me go to sleep), but once the aforementioned update was over and everything restarted, that show restarted, from its beginning, along with its raucous opening music.  This, weirdly enough, woke me up violently out of what had been, up until then, a reasonably sound sleep.  I had to scramble first to figure out what was happening, then to input my password just so I could get to the screen with the video and stop it playing.

I’m not saying I would have slept through the night like a log otherwise; that almost never happens.  But I was asleep until then, at least.  I had gone for a nice long walk in the evening after work the night before, which helped make me sleepy.  And once I’d been startled awake by the video, it was a long time indeed before I was able to get back to sleep, and my sleep was intermittent after that, as it often is after the first few hours of the night.

What I don’t get is, why does the system trigger a re-starting of such videos after it updates, even if the lock screen is up so that one cannot access it without entering the password?  It doesn’t make sense.  If one’s computer is dormant after restarting, such that to use it one must input one’s password, then videos certainly shouldn’t be relaunching until and unless someone returns to the relevant page.  Surely the code for this can’t be too hard to add to the system; I’m amazed that it wouldn’t simply be the default setting.

Maybe it’s not a problem with Microsoft as much as with Google, who produced the browser I was using and, of course, who owns and operates YouTube.  If they’ve deliberately made it so that videos start playing when a system has restarted after an update, even when the lock screen is on—knowing that most automatic updates are set to happen late at night to minimize user inconvenience—then they need to rethink their software, and indeed their very lives.  Those of us who already suffer from insomnia would be delighted to be tasked with keeping the responsible programmers from ever having more than one hour of daily sleep for the (very brief) remainders of their lives.

Perhaps I should only speak for myself.  It’s not as though anyone else has nominated me to speak for any group, and I certainly haven’t been unanimously elected to represent all the insomniacs of the world or even the USA.  Still, it’s irritating.  This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it happens intermittently, and rather unpredictably—since updates happen irregularly, and I don’t tend to notice ahead of time that they are coming.

And I enjoy using such YouTube videos to help me go to sleep.  Dropping off at night to a favorite British comedy panel show is at least a pleasant beginning to a night’s slumber, even for those of us with both difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep.

You would think that such an issue would be a minor problem, and I suppose it would be, if not for my already troubled sleep.  But, as I’ve mentioned before, I can literally remember the last time I had a restful night’s sleep; it happened in the mid-1990’s.  I’ve had general anesthesia since that time, but it’s just not the same.

And though I can induce somewhat longer sleep using medications, they don’t make me feel rested—I don’t know that they make anyone feel rested, since they tend to screw up the normal sleep processes—and I really can’t use them during the work week, because they all make me feel foggy and woozy the next day.

Sorry.  Here I am complaining again.  But I guess I can do that if it’s what I want to do.  As I’ve said, I hoped to use at least these daily (nearly-daily, anyway) blogs as a kind of therapy or catharsis* of some kind, and so, given that, well…it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.

I don’t know that any of it is doing any good one way or another, though I suppose if word of this happens to reach someone at Microsoft or Google (or both) and encourages them to change their software so they don’t further damage people who are suffering from insomnia on top of dysthymia/depression and ASD, decreasing such people’s chances of survival past the end of the present month, which was already not terribly great, then maybe—just maybe—it will have done some good in the world for someone, even if it hasn’t done any good for me.

For me, it’s doing about as much good as the dream-voice that troubled Macbeth did for Duncan after he had already been murdered.  It might almost just as well be a dagger of the mind, proceeding as it does from this heat-oppressed brain.


*Though I’m pretty sure the more or less literal notion of catharsis as a psychological process has been disproven, at least in its semi-literal idea that some form of “pressure” builds up and needs to be released.  But maybe I’m conflating catharsis with something else.

“It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind”

It’s Tuesday now, which generally follows Monday, which was yesterday.  Of course, in a sense, Tuesday also precedes Monday, and has done so for practically every Monday we’ve officially had.  But it’s not guaranteed either way.  There may, for any of us and even possibly for all of us, come a Monday not followed by any Tuesday, or a Tuesday not followed by any Monday.  But I don’t think that both things can happen, not for any given person.

Someday I will see my last Tuesday, and it will follow or be followed by my last Monday—but one cannot be certain of the order of those two final iterations of days, can one?  For those who die on a Monday, their last Tuesday is followed by their last Monday.  Otherwise the reverse is true.  I suppose that means that there is a six out of seven chance that one’s last Tuesday will follow one’s last Monday.  Which makes it quite likely but far from certain.

This Monday was a frustrating day at work for me—more so than most Mondays, to be honest.  But I suppose that isn’t terribly unusual.  Work is work, and for most people, it’s not expected to be a place one goes for fun.  If it were, why would they need to pay one to go?  Well, mainly because, even if you enjoy doing what you do at work, you still have to earn a living.  If you don’t do it, then someone else has to earn it for you.

I do think it’s fair to guess that, a lot of the time, even if they would have needed to do it anyway or else die, our ancestors enjoyed hunting and gathering.  Those who enjoyed doing the activities that kept them alive were more likely to do those things, and to do them well, and so were more likely to thrive and to leave more offspring and all that.  It’s one reason cats, for instance, like to hunt and kill things even when they’re well fed.  People are quite similar to cats in many ways, but our social milieu is far more complicated than that of cats—even in the wild—so we have more complicated things that we are built to enjoy, like both hunting (and gathering, presumably) and also doing social things with other members of the tribe.

I say “we”, but of course, I really mean “you”, using that word as a collective pronoun rather than a singular one.  I’m able to learn to do the whole social interaction thing, but it doesn’t come naturally; it often seems unintuitive to me, and I don’t tend to enjoy it except with a highly select few people.  And even most of the people I like to socialize with end up not wanting to socialize with me, so apparently, even when I like socializing with someone, I don’t do a very good job at it.

Maybe that’s because, with the people I really love and want to spend time with, I let me guard down and act like my natural self more, and my natural self is unpleasant to most humans.  I don’t really know.  I know that my natural self is unpleasant to me, at least when I’m not around the people I love, which is all the time nowadays.  But you can’t judge by me, since I don’t tend to like the same things the average human likes in many cases, or not in the same way.  I’m apparently quite weird.  That can work nicely to make interesting characters and situations in sitcoms and movies and the like, but in real life it causes trouble and is not fun.

Not that I want to be normal, either.  The antics and depredations and pantomimes of “normal” people are puzzling and disheartening and disappointing and frankly embarrassing and often infuriating.

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell I’m writing about today or why.  I honestly just feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do to try to alleviate my mental and physical discomfort…I’ve tried lots of things, believe me; I am very stubborn, and I don’t give up easily.

I honestly almost wish I had a drug problem.  If you have a drug or alcohol problem, at least you have those occasional, (apparently) sweet moments of escape, and even if your life begins to crumble, there are resources and people all around the place who will stage interventions and help you get back on your feet and will sometimes even praise you for your courage in fighting your problem.  Even jail can be a respite, and badge of honor in some circles.  And if you fail ultimately, and die from an overdose, for instance, well…I guess that’s no worse than most deaths, and better than some*, and people will mourn it and see it as a tragedy.  Not that this will do you any good once you’re dead, but still…

If you just have dysthymia/depression and an ASD (apparently), but you don’t find drugs or alcohol pleasant or relieving of your issues, people just think you’re shit to be around, just a downer, and they don’t like to spend time with you or certainly to spend your life with you.  And if you die because of your illness**, people kind of blame you and have the temerity to wonder why you would choose a “permanent” solution to a “short-term” problem.

As if depression were a short-term problem.  Depression is eternal.  Depression can make a single day feel like an infinity of freezing, caustic, malodorous, gray emptiness, like a bad acid trip that’s produced by the malfunctioning circuitry of your own brain, without the need for external pharmaceuticals.

Whatever else depression is, it entails a malfunction or lack of function in one’s very ability to feel joy, analogous in some ways to how one can lose one’s ability to see or to hear***.  The term is anhedonia, but that word doesn’t capture the Lovecraftian horror of it.  Imagine (if you’ve never experienced it for yourself) doing the things you’ve previously most enjoyed—eating your favorite meal, watching your favorite show or movie, reading your favorite book, going on your favorite vacation, just spending time with the person or people you love most—and being unable to feel that joy anymore, except perhaps in a very blunted and transient way, just a teasing reminder, while all your senses of the unpleasant and painful**** are working quite well, thank you very much.

I won’t say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  For one thing, I frankly don’t have any actual enemies.  Also, I think there are and have been people in the world who might “deserve” such a thing, or in any case in whom anhedonia and depression would be a benefit to society at large; I’m thinking of some world “leaders”, past and present.  But in general, I don’t recommend it.

Again, I don’t have any idea what point, if any, I’m trying to make.  But maybe that’s appropriate, since I don’t see any point or purpose to my day-to-day life, either.  It makes sense that my daily blog posts should seem meandering and senseless and unpleasant.  That’s simply a reflection of my true nature, I guess.


*Cancer, or COPD, or liver failure, things like that.  We keep ourselves alive long enough to die horrible, slow, painful and erosive deaths nowadays.

**And, by the way, depression has a mortality rate comparable to many cancers, and at least in some senses can engender greater suffering in those stricken with it, certainly for longer times—sometimes for decades, many of the days of which feel paradoxically as if they last for years.  And you never do hear anyone praising someone’s “courageous battle” with depression, do you?  Depression is too horrifying…a malfunction or malignancy in the very “soul”, and people stricken with it have a hard time coming across as “heroic”.

***You’d never really imagine, though, a scene in a movie where someone slaps a blind person and tells them to “snap out of it” and just start seeing again, already, would you?

****Which are, of course, more fundamental for survival.  People who don’t feel pain and/or fear die much more quickly and certainly than those unable to feel joy.  By logical implication, at least they don’t die in pain or in fear, and that’s good, I think that’s a kindness.  But they also don’t tend to leave many offspring.

When you shout into the abyss, does it do the limbo?

Hooray, it’s Monday.

That sentence is meant to have been delivered in a deadpan, sarcastic tone, but I realize that it’s difficult to convey such things well in print, so I decided to make it clear to you.  Everyone knows a joke is funnier when you explain it in detail afterwards, right?

Anyway, as usual, I’m not sure yet what I’m going to write about today; I’m stuck merely obeying the inscrutable exhortations of my soul, to paraphrase Calvin*.

Here’s something that popped into my awareness just now:  The little weather symbol—or moon phase symbol, maybe—on the tool bar of this computer in windows uses a highly stylized moon, which looks a little bit like a cookie with a very round bite taken out of it, with the “horns” of the crescent moon extending well past the midline of the disc.  It doesn’t look much at all like the real crescent moon.  If anything, it looks like a sun beginning to be eclipsed by another celestial body—perhaps a moon—that is slightly smaller in angular diameter than the star is, so that it can never be a complete eclipse.

It certainly doesn’t match the appearance of the actual crescent moon, because the dark part of an actual crescent moon is merely that portion of the moon that isn’t presently illuminated by the sun.  The sun’s “rays”, coming from so far away, are very close to parallel, so the shadow of the dark side of the moon is almost exactly half of the moon.  So the horns of the crescent moon cannot extend past the midline of the disc, or if at all past, negligibly so.

You would think that a place like Microsoft—I’m writing on a Windows-based computer—a technology company that relies on high-end scientific and technological advances for its products and services, would be able to keep on top of simple scientific and logical matters such as what a crescent moon really looks like.

Of course, I suppose there’s no requirement that one have a grasp of simple astronomy and geometry to design graphics for a computer system.  But if one is really trying to understand the world so one can get a functionally limitless number of things done, as opposed to learning by rote a highly limited set of skills to be able to do a particular job and only that job, then one should develop as broadly useful, internally consistent, a map of reality as one can.  At least, that’s the way I think of it.

Would you rather have a doctor who has memorized, by rote, every page of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, but only recalls it in the literal order and words of the textbook, so the doctor can only deal with the specific matters addressed therein…or would you rather have a doctor who understands, broadly and deeply, the matter contained in it, even if that doctor couldn’t quote a single part of it verbatim?

This is one of the reasons that in school, when you’re asked to summarize something that you’ve read, you’re asked to do so “in your own words”.  It’s not merely to prove that you have actually read the material.  It’s also to try to make you absorb it conceptually, so that you have a model in your brain of whatever ideas are being discussed, not merely the equivalent of a docx or pdf of the words.  It’s a useful skill, even if any particular bit of school reading is otherwise not broadly relevant to your life.

I suppose all this isn’t very deep or interesting to anyone but me, but this is my blog, so I can write what I want.  Maybe the process itself will help me**.  I seem to recall that studies have shown that any kind of talk therapy in general provides some improvement in people who have mood disorders, with some better than others but all providing some benefit.  I cannot cite the sources, but the idea seems plausible.  I think it’s that just having someone to talk to who is there to listen to you is beneficial, is “ego syntonic” as the saying goes***.

I’m not sure this can honestly be extrapolated to blogging.  It may be so, but one thing about therapy is that one actually has another person, listening and sometimes interacting, asking questions, probing, intervening more actively if there is danger, things like that.  Whereas with blogging, one is firing one’s words into the void and wondering if they are ever read, and if so if anyone thinks about them at all.  At times it can feel worse than futile, as if one were hollering into a canyon and not hearing one’s own words echo back, but only hearing echoes of derogatory laughter, as if the very abyss itself were deriding one.

Of course, on much of “social” media, the very abyss itself does tend to laugh at you or do worse than laugh.  But I’m not prominent enough to get that sort of response, and anyway, internet troglodytes are unlikely to make me feel worse about myself than I already do.  Which is not meant to imply that I don’t think I could ever feel worse about myself than I do.  I suspect self-opinion is an unbounded thing, more like the real number line than the absolute temperature scale; there is no lower limit.

I merely wish to say that the sort of things people say and do in comments and replies and tweets in trying to deride or “cancel” someone are more likely to make me hold them in contempt than to make me feel worse about myself.  Though they do often gradually erode what little confidence I have in humanity, which hurts my mood if not my self-image.

Seeing other people being so stupid so often doesn’t make me feel superior in any way, even by comparison.  It’s a very low bar to clear to be less idiotic than some people online; it’s frankly astonishing to know that there really are so many people who seem able to limbo under it.  That can be terribly disheartening.

Anyway, that’s enough for this Monday, the 8th of August in 2022.  I hope you all had restful weekends—at least more restful than mine—and that you have slept well and are energized and cautiously optimistic about the coming week.  I can at least live vicariously.


*The cartoon boy, not the religious “thinker”.

**Though I doubt it.

***Okay, it’s not a saying, it’s a psychological term, but the point doesn’t change.

This is the post that the blogger has made

It’s Friday.  I say that just in case you didn’t know (or perhaps in case you’re reading this some day other than the one on which I posted it, which is possible).

As usual, I don’t know what I’m going to write about today, but if experience is any guide, I’ll probably just write something anyway, and I’ll have more words than I ever intended to have written before I’m done.  You can all see how my book Unanimity grew to be more than half a million words long in its first draft.  I just write and write and write and write.

I guess it’s much the way some people just talk and talk and talk and talk.  I often do that, too, if it’s a topic in which I’m interested, and if there’s anyone around to whom to talk about it, but I often soon get glazed looks from other people, so I have to catch myself and shut up and walk away, chagrined.  When I’m writing here, there are no glazed looks to be had, and if anyone really isn’t interested, they don’t have to keep reading.  If they do keep reading, it must mean they were interested.  That’s a nice thought, in a weird way.

I’m going to write a post tomorrow, since I’m working tomorrow, but I may just share a video that I’m considering posting to YouTube.  I made it quite a few months ago (I’m not sure when), and just haven’t yet uploaded it.  I can’t recall what made me reluctant to do so, which probably means I didn’t have terribly convincing reasons.  It’s a silly video, but it was a bit of fun, about a comic-book-science idea I had regarding whether, perhaps, Superman’s powers were derived from solar neutrinos*.  I describe the process of my thinking, my “back of the envelope” calculations, and my conclusion, which will probably be obvious from the title of the video.  I won’t say more right now, but if I post it to YouTube, I’ll probably embed it here, tomorrow.

As for anything else, well, there’s really nothing else going on in my life as far as I can see.  I had a pretty good response (for me, anyway) to my blog post yesterday, in terms of number of people who came to read it, and that was rather gratifying.

It would be nifty if I could reach the number of readers that Jerry Coyne has for Why Evolution Is True, especially if I could get his level of engagement from readers who comment.  I read his website every day (except when I’m not working), and I often comment and almost always “like” the posts, which is not dishonest, because I actually like the posts I “like”.  It’s one of the few reliable refuges of sanity and intelligence that I have found in the world.

Yet, weirdly, even there, I almost always feel embarrassed after making comments, like I’m probably just annoying to PCC(E) and everyone else who comes to the site, and I really ought to shut up, if not for my sake, then for everyone else’s.  This is how I tend to feel about life in general.  Most of the time when I actively participate in anything, I come to feel that I’ve embarrassed myself and made everyone else uncomfortable.

Probably no one really notices, to be fair and to try to be rational, but it’s difficult when you can’t really tell how people react to you, or what they think or feel, and it seems similarly that other people are utterly unable to catch messages that I’m trying desperately to send, where I feel like my emotions must be written all over my face and be painfully obvious, but apparently, they aren’t.  Admittedly, when I look at my face in the mirror (I can only rarely tolerate it), I do usually find just a sort of non-expression.

It’s odd, isn’t it?  I can read Shakespeare or a poem I like, or recite movie lines and things and apparently do a good job of expressing emotion when doing so, and sometimes it seems that the only times I can actually feel my own emotions are when I’m singing a song that expresses them, but otherwise I can’t seem to convey feelings I’d really like to get across, and can’t seem to land messages that I honestly, desperately wish that someone would get.

I sometimes feel like someone from one of those Star Trek episodes in which a character is “out of phase” with the rest of the universe, or some other, similar such nonsense**, and I can see and hear all the other beings around me, but I can’t seem to reach them, and they certainly don’t quite seem able to hear or see me.

It’s not like being an anthropologist on Mars so much as feeling like an anthropologist from Mars.  Only, really, no one comes from Mars, so I must have come from someplace else***, but I don’t have any idea where it might be, or even if there is such a thing, a place to which to return, or fellow beings like myself.  Quite possibly not.  The universe doesn’t guarantee anyone that they will find a place that they feel they belong.  The universe only really guarantees one thing, and it clearly is not taxes.

Would it be better to be a mutant, unlike any other beings in the universe, or to be an alien that has lost its home planet, if that planet even exists at all, anymore?  What are your thoughts?


*Of course, Superman doesn’t actually exist, but it can still be fun to imagine comic book level scientific explanations for things that happen in comic books, and to try to apply a certain degree of scientific rigor to those explanations.

**Nonsense physics-wise, I mean.  The episodes can be quite good if you can get past the fact that the science fiction ideas are logically contradictory and physically senseless.  Good writing, directing, and acting really can make up for a lot.

***And I’m not an anthropologist except out of necessity.  If anything, I’m a misanthropologist.

En route.  En passant.  En Comète, en Cupidon, en Tonnerre et la Foudre

It’s Wednesday morning, but it’s slightly after five o’clock as I write this, because I’m moving a bit slowly today, and if you find that this post is more disjointed or peculiar or bizarre even than is usual for me, that may, like my slowness, be because my sleep last night was even worse than usual.

I’m almost always plagued by early and frequent wakening, as I’ve described before, but last night I had trouble even getting to sleep before one thirty in the morning.  Then, of course, I woke up starting at about two-thirty and then three-thirty and so on.  So I’m feeling very frazzled and fuzzy and mentally fatigued, and that may come across in my writing.  I’m not sure, though.  Maybe there won’t be any difference that the unprimed reader would ever catch.  Though, since I’ve given you warning, you may be more likely to draw the conclusion that I seem tired than you would had I not let you know about my worse-than-usual sleep.

We’ll never know now, will we?

I think maybe my sleep is worse than usual partly because I’m now sleeping in the “new” room that I’ve moved to, and perforce, my sleeping position is on the opposite corner of the room relative to what it was in my prior room.  Also, the previous residents had cats in the room, and I’m allergic to cats (though I love them).

Anyway, the transition is irritating, partly because I didn’t have a great deal of choice in the matter.  In the first place, I only moved into the house I’m living in now, several years back, because I was asked to move there by my now-former housemate, because he was moving there at the end of work release, which I was ending also.  His friend, Barry, was the owner, but he (the housemate, not Barry) couldn’t afford to rent it on his own.  The location is really not terribly convenient to where I work, as you might be able to tell from the fact that I can write a daily blog post—and before that, quite a few long short stories and several novels, including one very long novel—during my commute.

Nevertheless, as I tend to do, I adapted myself to the situation as well as I could, and became used to the commute and my schedule.  Then, of course, my now-former housemate became my former housemate, with all of a week-ish’s notice before he moved out, and then I had new housemates who were terribly messy, so much so that I retreated even more completely than before into my little room.  I could hardly stand even to pass through the kitchen.  I’m not the neatest and tidiest of people in the world, but this was just intolerable.  There were fruit flies actually breeding in the food they left out on the counter.

Anyway, they moved out, and the landlord wanted to rent the rest of the house as one unit, and so “asked” me to move into the back room.  Most people would like this, I guess, because it is a bit bigger and there is an “en suite” bathroom, but the shower is tiny, and I’m going to have to go out of my area of the house to use the kitchen (including the refrigerator) and the laundry room, into the area that’s supposedly being rented “en bloc” to the other people.  I also am going to need to enter and exit at the back of the house, walking through sand and dirt to get there.

It’s far from a concentration camp or anything, but I wish I had just rented someplace a lot closer to work in the first place, or taken up my father’s offer to stay with him and my mother and sister after getting out of work release, to do my writing and spend time with them in their final years and so on.

I elected not to do that partly because my soon-to-be housemate was counting on me, but mainly because I hoped that by staying in/returning to Florida, I would be able to see and spend time with my own children.  That’s a bit of an unpleasant joke, looking back on it.  My kids didn’t want to see and spend time with me; my son doesn’t even want to interact with me*.  I could have forced visitation, but by the time I was done with work release, my children were both well into their teens, and more than capable of knowing and expressing what their preferences were.  I was hardly going to try to use the law—of which I had become less of a fan than previously in my life—to coerce them to disrupt their lives when they would only resent it.

I’ve never felt it acceptable to force my presence on others if I could help it; I dislike myself too much to think I’m doing anyone anything but a disservice by pressing myself upon people’s lives, even from a distance.  I had, in fact, just expected that my kids would want to see and spend time with me.  This, it turns out, was a foolish notion, which is not unusual for me.  I don’t understand people very well, it seems, including even my own children, whom I love more than anyone or anything else in the universe.

So, I missed out on the last few years of my parents’ lives, other than phone calls, and I’ve continued to miss out on my kids’ lives, including their entire teenage years and now into their early twenties (so far).  My brother and sister are in Michigan and Ohio, in that order, and they have their own lives and families.  And I’m still here in what I refer to as America’s syphilitic penis**, commuting a stupid distance daily to a job where at least I honestly like my boss and many of my coworkers.

I’ve made good use of my commute to write my books and short stories, at least; indeed, I’ve always said to myself that my reason to work is just to keep me alive, which I only want to do so that I can write my stories.  But now I’m not writing fiction anymore, and I suspect I never will again.  I’m also not doing any music.  The whole situation has been a rather dull farce perpetrated upon me mainly by myself due to my inability to grokk humans.

Partly because of that, I had been unable (and indeed, unaware of the need) to protect myself against a legal system that doesn’t really care that I never wanted or tried to do anything but take care of people who were suffering from chronic pain (like I was and am), because everything the system did was merely the politics of shit-throwing apes, not the workings of honest, reflective, intelligent life forms seeking something like actual justice.  I’m also apparently unable to be able to maintain personal relationships with other people—these beings who are becoming ever more inexplicable to me, or so it feels, as is the world itself.

To be clear, the physics and math and chemistry and biology of the world, and all that, are comprehensible.  All that stuff is straightforward.  And I suppose human behavior is no more inherently bizarre than the bobbing and bounding of bower birds and baboons.  But I don’t think I’d feel very at-ease living with bower birds or baboons for long, either.

I certainly can’t “feel” human behavior, even though I can see and understand it from an outsider’s perspective.  I used to be better at it, but then, I used to be either the youngest of a family of five, or a member of a group of friends and/or college roommates, or the member of a family of first two then eventually four.  So I’d had my built-in groups from whom I could learn, and to whom I could adapt, and on whom I could rely to accept and even embrace my weirdness—I’ve always known I was weird, but I thought that was “just one of those things”, and not necessarily a bad one—and love me for who I was.  I thought I could rely on such things, anyway.

All of this was, as I think I wrote earlier, farcical and foolish, and I’d laugh at my past self if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not even very good farce.  It’s all just rather pathetic, really—and, as with its farcicality***, it’s not even very good pathos.  It’s all just rather unpleasant and tedious, even to me.

I’m tired of it.

Or maybe I’m just tired.  Maybe if I could get a good night’s sleep from time to time everything would be easier—easier enough at least to make it tolerable.

I doubt that I’ll ever know whether that’s the case.


*I guess I can’t blame him.

**Florida.

***Is that really a word?  Microsoft Word seems to think it is.  Go figure.

Faces Look Ugly When You’re Alone

Well, it’s Tuesday, it’s morning, and as usual, I don’t have any idea what I’m going to write about today.  That didn’t stop me yesterday, of course, from writing quite a bit about various numbers and digits and physics and whatnot, and even choosing a nice paraphrase of a lyric from a song by the fictional band Spinal Tap as my title.  But I don’t think I’m going to have anything nearly as fun (to me) to write about today.

I suppose this is the sort of issue my therapists have had to deal with at various times in the past*:  is he just going to ramble on about some curious set of facts that popped into his head and struck his interest, and that he wants to share with someone else because he thinks it’s interesting, or is he going to be utterly—and sometimes contagiously—depressed?

Actually, for some people, even the first option might be depressing.

Of course, therapists get paid to deal with such things, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them, though I always kind of did, even so.  I’ve usually felt bad for almost anyone who finds themselves forced to deal with me, even if they’re being paid to do so, and even if they are (like you) coming to read my words voluntarily.  I suppose it’s probably a kind of projection; I don’t like myself, nor do I like to deal with myself most of the time, so I assume other people find me as unpleasant as I find myself.  Of course, they at least get me in smaller chunks than those in which I get myself, which is basically a continuous stream**.

Still, I suppose being exposed to my written thoughts in chunks of 1300 words or so (I think that was about how long yesterday’s blog post was) isn’t so bad.  At least you don’t have to live with me.  Everyone who has ever had to live with me, from my parents to my spouse to my children, has ended up deciding that it was not worth the effort, and they didn’t want to do it anymore.  So they don’t.  To be fair, my parents have since died, after having reversed course and helped me out through some real difficulties, but they still didn’t have to live with me.

It’s weird, isn’t it?  There are people who don’t really want to be around you…but they don’t want you to kill yourself, either.  And all the various clichés about why you shouldn’t commit suicide talk about how it will hurt the people who love you and whatnot.  Okay, probably not all the clichés.  But a lot of them.

Weirdly enough, it has traction, that argument.  The anticipatory guilt actually gets in the way, that feeling of not wanting to cause sorrow for people who don’t even want to be around you, and who in fact are not around you, but who don’t want you to die, because then they would feel “sad”, which I guess is a euphemism for “guilty”.

The funny thing is, if you simply disappeared—not in any kind of dramatic sense, but simply in the sense of no longer being someone they heard from or about—they probably would never even notice that you were gone, except maybe, upon rare occasion, when something triggered the thought, “I wonder what ever happened to him?”  Then they would shrug and go on about their day.

It’s bizarre to feel bound to the world by ties to distant people whom you don’t want to hurt or inconvenience, and who would ask you not to die if given the chance, but who don’t seem to mind thereby condemning you to a life of daily suffering, all alone, without any apparent available cure or recourse, just because your death would cause them a passing pang.  It’s very strange.

It doesn’t exactly seem moral to me.  I mean, I know there are people who say that depression is a passing thing, that suicide is a long-term answer to a short-term problem, all those trite memes, but I’ve had dysthymia (aka chronic depression) since I was a teenager at least—so, for more than thirty years—and apparently, I’ve had “ASD” since I was born (or before, technically), and trust me, nature is NOT guaranteed to give you only problems that you can handle or solve.  Nature is allowed to destroy you—indeed, it will destroy you eventually—and it is allowed to do so swiftly or slowly, mercifully or with Lovecraftian cruelty.

Believe me, I’ve seen it.  You have, too, though you might not be willing to admit it to yourself.

It’s so very strange.  We don’t want other people to destroy themselves so they can at least escape thereby from a life dominated by suffering—from whatever source, of whatever nature—but we don’t want to go to the trouble actually to try to relieve such people’s suffering.  That would require a lot of work.  So we’ll manipulate and cajole and occasionally reach out and try to discourage someone who feels suicidal from going through with their escape plans.

Sometimes we’ll even lock them up by force (or, well, we’ll have someone else do that for us).  And we’ll thereby leave them suffering because, I’m sorry to inform you, we don’t have very good and reliable treatments for depression/dysthymia, particularly associated with “neurodivergent” circumstances***, or for many kinds of chronic pain, and so a life can be both solitary and dominated by discomfort (mental, emotional, and physical) for decades at a time without significant respite.  And while Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with and without SSRIs and other antidepressants and whatnot, can improve things to some degree, none of them have been studied for very long-term outcomes very well—there’s no money for that—and there’s no treatment that works for everyone.

It gets old.  It’s a lot to handle on one’s own.

Anyway, I don’t know the point of all this, but really, if you’re trying to talk someone out of suicide or something like that, don’t tell them not to do it because it would hurt you unless you’re going to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.  If you are able and willing, then yes, for God’s sake, do help!  PLEASE!  Don’t expect people who are mentally ill to be able to help themselves.  That’s absurd and frankly idiotic.  It’s like typing the words “Change your operating system from Android to iOS” into your smartphone’s search bar and expecting it to do so.  It’s like telling someone with a severed leg just to grow it back and expecting them to cast aside their crutches or prostheses, to rise, and to walk away on a new limb, as though the notion just hadn’t occurred to them until you suggested it.  It’s like telling someone just to choose to stop having lupus, or asthma, or cancer and expecting them to be all better.  It’s not something a person can just bootstrap themselves out of.  Such people are going to need initiative from other people if those other people really, actually want them to survive and (perhaps) thrive.

But if you’re not actually going to try to help, then maybe you shouldn’t try to guilt someone into not killing themselves.  Maybe you should just shut the fuck up.

Actually, maybe I should do that.  I’m not being very positive and I’m not getting anywhere.  I apologize.


*That’s “in the past” because I no longer go to therapy.  It’s too expensive, I don’t have the time or the wherewithal to get to a therapist, the BetterHelp online experiment I tried didn’t last long before my therapist had to take maternity leave, and I hate trying to start all over again with someone new; difficulty feeling comfortable with other people is one of my big problems.  Anyway, obviously it has all never had many long term benefits.

**One might imagine that it’s broken up by sleep, but weirdly enough, I never feel that I “get away” from myself in sleep, and I certainly don’t sleep very continuously.  I rarely sleep for more than an hour or so before waking up at least for a moment, looking around, realizing that I’ve only been sleeping for an hour or so, and that there was no reason to wake up.  Then I try to go back to sleep, succeed for a short while, and begin the cycle again until finally it’s late enough that I might as well just get up.  The last good, restful night of sleep I can remember happened in the mid-nineties, in White Plains, New York, at 205 Pondside Drive.  It was amazing!

***This is neither surprising nor anything for humans to feel too bad about.  The brain is the most complicated thing humans know in the universe, by a significant margin, and everyone is a very long way from understanding it fully.  Rocket science is easy.  Neuroscience is hard.

Is it really?

Okay.  Um…it’s Friday now, which tends to happen on the day that follows Thursday, and since yesterday was Thursday, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone, let alone me, that today is Friday.

I suspect there are plenty of people for whom Friday is a good thing in and of itself.  Or, well, not really “in and of itself”, now that I think about it.  In and of itself, it’s just another day, with nothing to set it apart from the 1.6 trillion or more others since the Earth first coalesced and cooled and the similar number that will pass in the future, until the sun’s expanding surface envelopes Earth and reduces it to cinders and dust in the eventual ring nebula that our solar system will become.  But within our current social system, Friday is the end of the “work week” and the “school week”, and so for many people it is a harbinger of pleasant—albeit brief—times to come.

This will be my weekend off, meaning I won’t be working tomorrow (the office is never open on Sundays), so I don’t expect to be writing anything tomorrow.  I also don’t think I’m going to be making and uploading any videos, but that’s not unusual.  Eventually, I expect I’m going to do a bit of the latter for a while, though it probably won’t last for long.  If I do end up successfully following that plan, I will no doubt share/embed such videos here, for posterity and for the ease of my regular readers.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling discouraged that there are so few regular readers out there in the world.  Has it been this way my whole life?  I feel that when I was younger there were more readers around, as a percentage, than there are now, but perhaps that’s a misperception on my part.  I lived in a family that embraced and celebrated reading; both of my parents read to me when I was young (as did my sister), and certainly my sister was (and is) at least as avid a reader as I am.  My brother is not as big a reader of fiction as I or our sister, but still, he read quite often when I was young.

I think my Dad didn’t read as much as he wanted to, because he worked a full time job, but his father was a big reader, and my Mom read quite a lot.  I remember she liked those Harlequin romance novels, but she also always loved mysteries.  And my family got three daily newspapers, at least for a while, and quite a few magazines.

Nowadays, even people who have good imaginations and who will want to tell stories and be creative in doing so are going to have a higher chance of being distracted by all the video media that abounds, and very few people will read, let alone write, long stories in the printed word.  Even things like Harry Potter became movies even before the whole series of books had come out, so though the books did bring many young people to the wonderful world of reading magical stories, I can’t help thinking that there’s someone out there who would have started reading the books and loved them, and maybe from there would have gone on to read more and other books, but didn’t because, thanks to the films, they didn’t need to do it.

Oh, well.  There is no gravity; the universe is just warped.

In front of me now, one the wall of the train, there is a (very nice) poster advertising* the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and related services.  It’s good that they promote it, and that they do it in such a way, trying to show a group of people from various walks of life, all of whom look glum, and above whom are symbols of things like heartbreak, confusion, pain, etc.  “Lonely?  Depressed?  Anxious?” it asks.  Then below, it tells us, “It’s OK to not be OK”. I have two minor and really pointless quibbles about this line, and I can’t help having them, despite the fact that it makes me hate myself even more than I already did.

The first quibble is with the split infinitive.  I don’t like split infinitives partly because, in many languages, it’s not even possible to split an infinitive**, and this includes the most broadly spoken language in the western hemisphere***, Spanish.  It’s not a terribly big deal, I guess, but I feel that in many ways writing “It’s OK not to be OK” would be at least as good, and in a certain emphatic, rhetorical sense, it might be better yet to write “It’s OK to be not OK”.  That last one makes “not OK” the state you’re in, as one phrase, and I think it really works for emphasis.

Never mind that.  The point that really got into my idiotic, dysfunctional nervous system was to note that, well…it had better be OK not to be OK, because it’s not like people get to choose.  If people could choose, no one would choose to be “not OK”.  Why would they?  It makes no sense.  Surely, if people could choose, everyone would choose to feel good and energetic and motivated and enthusiastic every day.

If people could choose, there would be no self-help books.  Who would say, “Hmm…today, I think I’ll dial myself toward the ‘depressed’ and ‘suicidal’ settings, just to change things up and keep from getting bored”?  If they could do that, why not just adjust the “boredom” dial downward and not be depressed and suicidal?

It’s a bit like saying “It’s OK not to be able to go the speed of light”.  Well, it had better be OK, because you don’t have any choice about it.  And though it’s more complex, you don’t have any simple choice in the previous matter, either.  It’s like I always want to say when I hear the Rush lyric, “I will choose free will”—No.  You won’t.  You either have free will or you don’t have free will, but you don’t have any choice in the matter.  It’s not up to you.

Of course, ultimately, I’m quite sure that the whole point of this most welcome poster on the wall is to say, in a concise and relatable way, that they know that people don’t have a simple choice about not feeling OK, and that people shouldn’t feel guilty or bad about the fact that they do.  It’s not a sign of weakness, or a fault, and even if it could be called such things, it’s not your fault in the sense of being a mistake or failure on your part.  It’s something that happened to you, not something you did.  And it’s OK to ask for help if you’re able to do that…though many of us are not…it’s one part of that thing that makes us not OK.

If you had designed and built the world and yourself, you might be personally to blame, but you didn’t and you aren’t.  Neither did any of the people around you.  So, try not to take at least that bit of blame and shame upon yourself, if you can help it.

Of course, when you’re depressed and suicidal, that’s a state of mind that can be hard to achieve.  Goodness knows I can’t seem to do it.


*Is that the correct term?  I guess it works.  I wish I had taken a picture of the poster; I tried to look for it online but have been unsuccessful…which doesn’t really help my self-esteem much.

**To do so in Spanish would be to split the word in a bizarre kind of tmesis.  “To not be” would roughly equate to “ha-no-cer”, but even that doesn’t quite capture the trouble.

***Based on number of countries, at least, in which it is the primary language.  I think one also cannot split infinitives in Portuguese, the primary language of Brazil.

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought blog and bids it break.

Hello.  Good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for my long-term, usual, weekly Thursday blog post, as contrasted with my newer string of nearly daily blog posts*.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), the reason for the daily blog posts has not changed—I haven’t yet again found any interest in writing fiction, whether on the two stories I have partly completed or on any other stories.  I don’t know if I’m ever going to write any more fiction again.

Similarly, and also unfortunately (or, again, perhaps fortunately), I haven’t had any desire to play (or write) music.  I haven’t even listened to much music, though that’s partly because of the change in my commute; I used to listen to a lot of music on my way to and from work.  But I think I may just give most of my musical stuff to my former housemate.

It seems fair, since he made two of the guitars, and he’s certainly a much better guitar player than I am.  I might give the one I keep at the office** to the son of one of my coworkers, who has ASD, and is probably a bit too young now, but who likes music, and on the few occasions he came into the office with her for a few minutes, he enjoyed strumming it.

I’m probably being silly and sentimental in thinking about doing that.  Probably if I gave him that guitar it would just sit around and gather dust, or it would end up getting sold—which is what I honestly almost hope will happen with the others if they go to my housemate.  He’s on disability (missing left leg below knee and other chronic injuries born from the same accident), so he can usually use a bit of extra money.

None of it is doing much good with me, at least.  Even the thought of picking up and playing, yes even sometimes simply looking at the instruments, makes me feel queasy and dysphoric.  That happened just now, for instance.  It’s a shame, I guess, since I used to find minor respite from such unpleasant feelings in music or writing, but that doesn’t seem to work any longer.

On the good news front, a New Balance walking shoe that has always been a good fit for me, but which had briefly become unavailable, has become available again, and I have a pair on the way.  It wasn’t even expensive, despite the name and the fact that some New Balance shoes have become as absurdly overpriced as Nikes and the like.  So now I’ll have a total of four pairs of decent shoes (with inserts) in which I can walk long distances with minimal trouble.  They’re also all lightweight, which means carrying them with me wouldn’t be an issue.

I haven’t even read any books this week, which is unusual.  Kindle isn’t going to know what to do with itself!  I don’t think I’ve read anything since Saturday, other than online stuff, of course—news and a few blogs I follow.  I did listen to a bit of the audio-book version of Pawn of Prophecy while walking the other day, but the guy reading it has a bit of a thickish accent, and though his reading is in general good and enjoyable, it feels confusing; it’s a book I’ve read many times, and therefore I tend to hear it in my own voice in my head, and my accent is quite different from the narrator’s.

I was also listening to the newer, Andy Serkis narrated Lord of the Rings a month or two ago, but though of course he does a wonderful job—being who he is—he’s quite dramatic, and so the progress of the story takes longer than it does in other audio versions, so I’m caught between loving his reading and yet wanting him to hurry it up a bit so we can get to the next good part.  Anyway, I have since been a bit derailed from that, but it is a good book to hear while walking.

It’s quite nice that, thanks to Kindle and Audible, I can carry a library of dozens of audio books and hundreds of print books in my pocket wherever I go.  I still love the feel and presence of a real, physical book, of course, but even I couldn’t imagine wheeling along a rolling library of nearly five hundred volumes.  And one can always, or nearly always***, buy a book one wants and take delivery of it almost instantly, without killing trees****, and yet the royalties go to the author just as much as if one bought a paper copy, and it even counts toward their sales figures, if that matters to them.

That’s pretty much it for today, I think.  I may shift out from doing near-daily posts to doing a couple or three times a week, but I don’t know, maybe I won’t.  Anyone who has any preferences or suggestions one way or another should please feel free to leave a comment below (NOT on Facebook or Twitter…not if you want me to see it any time soon).

Be good to each other and to yourselves.

TTFN

desperado oilified


*I almost wrote “podcasts” there, which is very peculiar, though I suppose they aren’t entirely dissimilar things.

**That’s the black Strat I played in my most recent videos.

***It used to be even easier until Google blocked the Kindle app from allowing in-app purchases.  I suppose this is justified as protecting people from themselves, especially from unscrupulous app writers, and it allows them to Google as if they are a morally upright company, but though I admire their products in general very much, and they do better than many big companies, they do not stand on any very impressive moral high ground.  Just ask Tristan Harris.

****Though, to be fair, the trees used for making paper are, I believe, from tree farms, and so more trees are planted as others are harvested.  And once paper is put in a book, it can remain there, on shelves or in hands or various other situations for decades and even—in principle—for centuries.  So, in a way, books may be a highly localized net carbon sink.  It’s something to think about.

He’s back…and this time, it’s personal (like all the other times)

It’s Wednesday morning (just shy of five o’clock this time), and I’ll begin this blog post by apologizing to anyone who has been reading my near-daily posts, and was expecting a blog post yesterday, and was worried about me when none arrived*.

I’m afraid that either something I ate Monday, or perhaps the side effects of a rather gooney bug bite or sting that I got on my left forearm and that had swelled quite a bit (or both things, perhaps) caused me to have both some tummy trouble and some general agitation and restlessness overnight on Monday, to the extent that I got—I don’t think I’m exaggerating—fewer than twenty minutes’ sleep, and so I was simply exhausted and washed out Tuesday, though thankfully most of the other symptoms had resolved themselves.

It’s a bit frustrating that I felt so bad Monday night, because during the day I did quite a nice job of being reasonably healthy.  After walking four and a half miles each on Saturday and Sunday, I walked a total of about eight and a third miles on Monday, with only some very minor blistering between the first two toes of my right foot as side-effects.  I think that’s not half bad.  I certainly was more than adequately re-hydrated by the end of the day, because I’d been fairly aggressive about that; it was around ninety degrees here for most of the day, and the humidity was at least that high a percentage, so I wanted to make sure not to sabotage myself.

For those of you who may be wondering about the possibility that my extensive walking had been responsible for what happened Monday night, I can only say that I have considered that possibility and think it unlikely.  The symptoms were not typical of those that I’ve had previously after overexerting myself; indeed, in those types of circumstances I tend to get tired and sleepy, not tense and jittery and belly-achey.

If anything, I felt particularly healthy once I arrived at the house and got hydrated.  It was distantly akin to the runner’s high I used to get when I was able to run a lot, though it was less impressive.  Whereas the way I felt on Monday night was…well, markedly unpleasant and different from any of those kinds of sensations.

Anyway, that’s passed, and now it’s just a matter of getting beyond the minor blistering, which really only happened because of the increased amount of walking I did, not because of any inherent shoe problems.  I think I’ve adjusted for all of those, and certainly I had no shoe/foot difficulties on Saturday or Sunday, which is worth a cheer from me.  In a sense, this is me cheering.  It’s about as enthusiastic as I get for anything, anymore.

I’ve also got a new backpack that I need to test out to make sure there’s no chafing-related or other adjustments needed (though, to be fair, that’s the sort of thing that can be done as one goes along).  It’s pretty neat, though I feel almost disloyal for getting it.

You see, I’ve had the same black Adidas backpack for several years now, using it every workday, and while it’s clearly not brand new—the shoulder straps show that they’ve been used, and are more supple than those of a brand new backpack would be—it’s in terrific shape.  The zippers are all perfectly functional, all its interior separations are intact and effective, it has decent water resistance (it’s not waterproof, of course, but it’s not meant to be), and its computer carrying section is in excellent shape.  I would recommend it to anyone who was looking for a daily use backpack that is going to see reasonably heavy employment.

Regrettably, it’s no longer available, but this is what it looks like.

my backpack

Unfortunately, though that backpack is quite roomy and excellent, I fear it doesn’t have enough room to carry all the things I’m planning to bring when I go on a long trek.  Those things will not be particularly heavy—I don’t want to make the burden too great and thereby create worse obstacles to my progress—but they may be rather bulky, so it would be good to have enough space to work with.

Of course, through all of this, whatever I end up doing, whether on this blog or through any high-risk undertaking I mean to take under, I hope to find either a new desire to live—which I don’t have now—or to die trying to find it.  I’m fully aware, though, that I might achieve the ironic outcome of learning to want to live again…and then dying right after that.  This would in some ways be a shame, but in some ways, it would also be fucking hilarious.

In any case, it would be better than my current daily internal experience, which is one of quiet** disintegration, disorientation***, anhedonia, isolation, neurodivergence (apparently, though I suppose that has always been there if it’s there), and above all, a profound and persistent and occasionally violent self-loathing.  It would be worth the irony of dying right after learning to love and desire life, just to have achieved that love and desire even for a moment.

Of course, I don’t honestly think that’s likely.  I will probably never again have any serious intellectual attachment to my life****, and I doubt that I will ever again feel any real joy in existing, but past performance is no guarantee of future results, as all those investment firms are forced, by law, to say, really quickly, right at the end of their ads.  I hope to find out if I’m wrong.


*Ha ha.  Don’t be silly, right?

**It must be quiet, because it doesn’t seem to disturb other people much.

***Why is that word not “disoriention”?  We don’t say “disintegratation”.

****The biological utility functions that drive one to fear death and pain are not easily shut down, unfortunately.  But they can be worked around with enough determination and effort.