Just say “No” to vember

Well, it’s Tuesday morning, and against all my considered advice, a new month has started. That month is November, in case either you’re reading this at some later date or you’re really not paying attention. It’s the year 2022. That’s AD or CE depending on your preferred terminology, though those things, like the number of the year or the month or the day are all arbitrary. For all I know, by the time you’re reading this, you may be using something like stardates from Star Trek or summat.

I’m writing this on my phone again, because I didn’t feel like bothering to bring my laptop home. Yesterday was just about the least enjoyable Halloween I’ve had since I got back from being “up the road”. It was a disappointing October in general. I had an almost unnoticeable birthday, then a pathetic Halloween, which was a particularly rotten day for business, also. I put together a pretty cool costume, in case we did something at the office as usual, but we didn’t. I wish I had that money and effort back.

It’s not a big tragedy to have a disappointing Halloween, obviously, but it is one of the only things to which I look forward, so it hits harder on top of my general deterioration than it might for other people. I also had more trouble with the WIFI last night, and my rest was worse than usual even for me. I didn’t get a single hour of uninterrupted sleep. My back/hips/leg/ankle are really bothering me this morning, but that’s partly from worse-than-usual sleep and probably partly from wearing boots to go with my stupid costume yesterday. That was an ill-considered idea in retrospect, but it’s no one’s fault but my own. I always make a mistake when I approach something optimistically.

I did upload that video about perception not being reality yesterday. The content is literally the same as the audio I posted with my blog yesterday, other than the screen picture, but here’s that video, anyway.

You are certainly encouraged to “give a thumbs up, subscribe, hit the bell, comment, and share” if you are so inclined. It doesn’t really matter, of course. I’m sure my YouTube channel has no future of any note.

Speaking of the future, and also about the past, I didn’t even begin to edit the audio that I recorded with my nocturnal thoughts about time from Sunday night/Monday morning. I anticipated there being…I don’t know, something happening at the office. There was nothing. But I still didn’t get any editing or anything else useful done there. I don’t honestly know if I’ve ever done anything useful. I guess it would depend on one’s definitions of usefulness.

I’ve been trying to find books that are intriguing to me, but no fiction or even non-fiction seems interesting. My favorite blog (or should I say “website”) that I follow is on a near-hiatus, with only minimal posting for the moment. That site is the closest thing I come to socializing, so I’m disappointed. Anyway, I’ve curtailed my commenting on it of late, because most comments I make end up coming across as weird or stupid or irritating to me or to other readers or to the writer of the site, and I don’t want to bother people who are some of the only people, and some of the most rational people, with whom I interact in any way. That would really be mortifying*.

***

We’re currently stopped in the train at the station two up from mine, apparently waiting for clearance from the dispatcher. I have no idea why. They haven’t mentioned anything about any accidents or whatnot. It’s a bit frustrating, because I seriously considered not going in to the office today, since I had such a rotten night’s sleep, and I feel so utterly depressed, and in more pain than usual. But I said to myself that since I wasn’t literally sick**, and especially since it’s the first of the month, when rent is due and all that, it feels irresponsible not to go in. Considering yesterday was such a lame day for business, it seems only right to do my part to be “all hands on deck” today.

I’m so tired of always feeling responsible, though, of always feeling like I have to try, to do my best, to do my part (or more), to try to act cheerful and to be a person who can help other people when they come to him for help, as they always do. Honestly, the times I’ve been in the hospital for surgery or relatively severe illness were such a relief in a weird way. Everything was out of my hands, and I could rest.

***

They just announced that there has apparently been a “trespasser strike” north of Fort Lauderdale station; that’s the cause of our delay. I believe this is a euphemism. A trespasser is someone who wanders into the vicinity of the railroad tracks, which is technically the property of the state of whoever runs the railroad system, and by “strike” I don’t think they mean someone is marching on a picket line holding a sign.

This is why I said it would be rude if I were to throw myself in front of the train or in between cars of a freight train. It leaves everyone on the trains delayed and inconvenienced. Of course, it’s very sad that someone was apparently hurt or possibly killed, but little stressors and inefficiencies and backups accumulate in any society, costing money, time, energy, stress…and these effects do wreak costs upon the health and the lives of numerous people, with consequences that are real and tragic, but are not seen so clearly because they happen via the accumulation of disparate forces and events. What looks like a traffic accident due to driver error is really an externality produced by the increased stressors that accumulated to wear that driver down, until the wrong thing happened at a bad time, with tragic outcomes. It’s happening all the time, it’s as real as the cumulative effects of sun exposure that lead to skin cancer over time, or accumulating atherosclerosis leading to heart attacks and strokes when the system finally fails at some weak point, and it’s even harder to pin down. It’s probably utterly hopeless and pointless for me to even try to do my part not to make things worse by not destroying myself in a disruptive way, but I don’t want to make things worse if I can help it. I probably can’t help it, given my nature.

Oh, well. My foundations and load-bearing walls are creaking and cracking and crumbling day by day, and they will eventually give out somewhere, and the whole edifice will collapse. I can hear the creaking; it’s getting louder and louder, growing slowly but with an exponential trend as time goes on. I don’t know what to do about it. I have no personal resources to apply to it, and I have no right to ask anyone else for help.

Anyway, that’s enough of all that. I’m sure you all wish I would finish off sooner rather than later, and just get it over with. Probably a good idea.

In the meantime, I hope you have a good day and a good month, and a good remainder of the year, and a good next year after that. If you’re patient enough to have read this far, then I’m sure you deserve the best.

***

P.S. We had started to go forward, but halfway between one stop and the next we approached what must have been the scene of the “strike” and now they say we’re going back to the previous station, though currently we’re sitting still. I don’t know what they’re going to do from there. Sometimes they arrange bus services or whatnot, to go around the spot. I don’t know if I can handle that. I may just walk to the nearest regular bus.

P.P.S.  I have gone back to the house.  I cannot wait for the shuttle because it’s not there and I’m in increasing pain and stress and am so very tired.  I went back to the station and back to the house.  I have no reliable means to drive to work and back, and I do not have the wit or will to deal with taking the bus.  I just want to go to sleep and stay asleep.  That would be so nice.


*Unfortunately, not literally so.

**In any infectious, contagious sense, anyway. I am sick in the head, and I’m not being facetious about that. I am very, very ill right now, and I don’t have any good idea what to do about it. I think it’s going to kill me.

I hear the train a-comin’, it’s rolling ’round the bend

It’s Saturday again, and I’m going to work today, so I’m writing a blog post.  Any of you who follow me on the weekend may be glad (or not) that this is the case.

I’m waiting at the train station for the first Saturday train, and they just announced that the northbound train, the one I take, is delayed “15…20 minutes due to a mechanical failure”, so I’m going to be sitting here longer than I thought I would be.  I wish I had a reliable alternative means to get to the office, but the buses are also slower on Saturdays, and the trip always takes longer via bus, since the train doesn’t have to stop for traffic lights, and has fewer stops to pick up passengers.

It’s curious that the announcements for delays say, for instance, “15…20 minutes” rather than “15 to 20 minutes” which seems to me to be the more normal way to express such a range.  If one took it as giving an estimate in the way people often read off strings of numbers, one might infer that they were saying the train would be delayed by 1,520 minutes, but that’s 25 hours and 20 minutes.  Surely anyone waiting would just take the next train, in an hour, rather than wait until tomorrow morning at 6:09 am.

Of course, based on past experience, the train may end up being cancelled and I’ll be taking the next train anyway.  It’s not an auspicious start for a Saturday, but one doesn’t do what one does because it’s convenient (necessarily).  A lion on the savannah that gives up hunting because the prey seems too difficult to get and it’s an unpleasant day will have a much lower chance of surviving to reproduce than one that just buckles down and keeps trying.

Lions are idiots.

Ha ha, just kidding.  Of course, lions aren’t that bright relative to the average human, but they’re pretty bright as far as the overall animal kingdom goes.  So are their competitors.  Their prey is not necessarily as bright as they are, but they don’t have to be.  It doesn’t take much brainpower to sneak up a blade of grass, but herbivores still need to be smart enough to avoid carnivores as often as feasible.

I’m a tiny bit nervous about today—about how I’ll be, that is—because I have not taken my antidepressant.  I haven’t mention it, but I’ve been back on them for some weeks now (I don’t recall exactly how long) as an attempt to see if they can help me with my worsening depression.

That hasn’t happened, as I’m sure you can tell if you’ve been reading my posts.  My depression has, if anything, worsened, though that may just be a natural progression that has nothing to do with medication.  Also, I cannot know how I would be if I had not taken them, though perhaps, if the many-worlds description of quantum mechanics is correct, somewhere out there in the omniverse are versions of me that have acted as the experimental control to my attempt.

Hey, they just said the train will be boarding in 10 minutes!  That will, honestly, make it only 15 minutes late, not 1,520 minutes, which is quite preferable.  See, sometimes things go better than expected, even for pessimists.

Anyway, the reason I’m stopping my antidepressants, at least for now is that—in addition to seeming to fail to improve my psychological state—they are giving me side effects that give me even more difficulty interacting with people around me, and leave me feeling more tense, more irritable, and also more dry-mouthed.  That latter bit isn’t such a big deal, but the others are a problem when, possibly because of my supposed ASD, I already have trouble interacting and connecting with people.  And that only makes me feel worse about myself.  I don’t feel worse about the other people; it’s not their job to connect with or look out for me, after all.

Oh!  I got at least some of the editing done on those sound recordings from yesterday.  The one from the middle of the night was really full of background noise, and also, apparently, the microphone on the phone is especially susceptible to breath and movement noise, so that’s required a lot of fine-toothed editing.

The phone app records in stereo, which is interesting.  I’m assuming that means there are at least 2 microphone inputs on the phone, though they can’t be very far apart.  Anyway, I also recorded a brief addendum, which I’m just going to tack onto the end of the first and turn into a “video” which I’ll front with a picture that I’ve manipulated and altered and made, I think, pretty cool.

I hope that having stopped my antidepressants doesn’t lead me to crash and burn today, but I’ve been losing altitude steadily anyway, and sooner or later there’s going to be a hill or a building that I can’t clear, and that’ll be it.  There are rarely survivors of airplane crashes—though I’m not sure what the statistics are for metaphorical airplane crashes.

I think the reason medicines have sometimes worked for me in the past was because I was also getting therapy, and for someone like me, who has trouble connecting, but who can talk about what interests me once I get started, it was very useful to have someone whose job includes listening.  I tried the Better Help website to do therapy late last year, but I think I’ve mentioned that that fell apart because my therapist had to go on maternity leave within a month or so of my beginning, and the online therapy wasn’t a great fit.  I also just didn’t have the strength to start again with a new therapist so soon.

I had to do text-based therapy, since I didn’t feel up to Skype-style talking over the computer, and I didn’t want to talk out loud about my issues in the house where I live, anyway.  Unfortunately, in-person therapy is expensive, and I have no insurance, nor good transportation or spare time.

A lot of why therapy has helped in the past was, I think, because I was just in a better situation then, overall.  I was depressed, as well as being apparently “neurodivergent” without my knowledge, but I was—the first time—happily married, finishing med school and then doing residency.  After that, unfortunately, my back injury and chronic pain and then failed back surgery syndrome and all that jazz made it less effective, as did the failure of my marriage and, later, my professional catastrophic failure.

Prison wasn’t much help, either.  Not because it was bullshit* that I was sent there—I’ve never expected anything but injustice from the world in general, and by that time, with chronic pain and my marriage having failed I didn’t see it as being much worse than where I already was—but because it separated me from my children, whom I haven’t seen in person in over ten years now.  It also made it very hard for me to return to my previous profession.

Anyway, if I get “worse” from stopping antidepressant treatment, well that’s just too bad.  Hell, I may just steer myself toward a hill or mountain if I can see one.  I’ll avoid buildings, because it wouldn’t be nice to injure other, innocent people, just because I hate the world and my life and myself.  That would be petty and pathetic, and I have no patience for people who do such things.

Well, that’s enough for today.  Be on the lookout for my “video” this weekend.  I may do a reading of Poe’s The Haunted Palace for Halloween and put that on YouTube, so be on the lookout for that, too.

Thanks for reading, today and otherwise.  Until we “meet” again (if we do, which is far from certain) I wish you the best.


*Yes, I know, surely everyone who is arrested and then takes a plea bargain because the state has threatened to try to put them away for a minimum of 15 years (and as much as a few hundred) for (naively and foolishly) trying to help others who have chronic pain, but not grasping the societal dynamics of the situation fully (probably at least partly because of ASD) would say that their situation was bullshit.  But I honestly think I’m being objective about this.  It was a politically motivated process, in which I was something analogous to a dolphin caught in a tuna net, but there was no incentive for them to throw me back.  My uncle, who was a criminal attorney for many years, had even said that it was obvious that they knew I wasn’t a bad guy—they barely paid any attention to my case other than to finally offer the plea deal to avoid having to prove anything, knowing that someone who doesn’t have millions of dollars at the ready and so cannot easily defend against a state machine that does, and the risk of getting a possibly very long sentence if found guilty (jurors are unsympathetic toward doctors, apparently, and I was judged not to be a likeable person to put on the witness stand) is going to take it and save the state the trouble of actually trying to prove any crime.  Of course, I figured, three years is better than the risk of fifteen or more, and I’d be able to see my kids again after that at least before they were all grown up**.  But the state wasn’t about simply to drop the case; that would have looked bad and been politically inexpedient.  What wonderful reasons they have for ruining so many people’s lives.

**Insert gales of sardonic, scornful laughter at my own repeated naiveté.  I am so foolish when I’m optimistic.

“A weary pilgrim on the road”

It’s Friday morning, and I’m once again on the earliest train heading toward the office, because I woke up way too early and wasn’t able to get back to sleep.

While watching a video to pass some dead, middle-of-the-night time, I heard a casual statement that poked one of my pet peeves, so I made a quick, five minute, audio essay on my voice recorder* responding to this idiotic verbal excretion.  I’m going to edit that a bit and then post the audio here, and also probably turn it into a “video” on YouTube, though there is no actual video involved.  I’ll probably just put up some picture, hopefully of something relatively pertinent, as the video portion.

An “interesting” thing happened in the office yesterday.  Where I work, they play loud background music all throughout the day** because people are on the phones talking to customers and don’t want to be distracted by other people on their phones.  The music is literally just noise to break up any coherent verbal background.  I’ve never worked anywhere else where people felt the need for such things, but apparently this is typical in these settings.  I’m often tempted to play construction noises, or factory floor noises in the background, since—supposedly—this would serve the same purpose.

That’s more or less what the effect of the constant noise is to me.  It’s like jackhammers and drills and traffic and chaos always going on in the background, and it’s overwhelming.  I need to stay relatively aware of things, because my own job requires responding to things happening in the room, recording and processing and checking various things as they happen.  But I do have a pair of good earmuffs or whatever you call them that I put on occasionally.

At other times, when things are a little slower and I can afford minor distractions, I will put in earbuds and watch a video or podcasts or something either on the computer or my tablet or phone during the downtime.

Well, it’s a been a strange and slow week, with very diminished business compared to last week, but with erratic spurts of good activity, and yesterday afternoon, after doing some decent business during the middle of the day, things were slowing, and I put in my earphone*** and was watching some videos.  Then, at some point, I looked up from one of the videos and realized that everyone else was gone.  They had all left early, since things were so slow, but nobody had made sure that I knew.

For a moment, I wondered if everyone had simply stepped outside for a moment for various reasons, and it had just coincidentally all occurred at once.  Such things are possible.  But I doubted it.

I texted my coworker who is closest to me in the office and asked him if everyone had just up and gone.  He texted me back that yes, they had, since all but one person was off the phone already, and there seemed little point in pushing through for the last forty minutes, with no prospects in sight.  I texted that it would have been nice for someone to tell me, and he duly apologized and said that he’d forgotten I had my headphones on.  I did only have the one, but the other ear is obviously even less useful than I thought.  Also, I guess, when I’m focused on something I can become difficult to distract.

I’m already having worse trouble than usual lately with my dysthymia/depression, and my (apparent) ASD, and just generally a non-existent social life, since all the people I’ve ever loved don’t seem to want to be around me.  But this new occurrence certainly didn’t help my mood even as I made sure the coffee was off and shut off the rear and front lights, set the alarm, and left to office to go to the train station.

I know that my problems in general are my “fault”, in the sense that they arise from my less-than-ideal machinery and programming, so to speak, and I don’t think anyone is out to get me or particularly trying to hurt me or anything of that sort.  But it still does hurt to have that glaring reminder of how different and separate I am, even where I work, before leaving to go back to the house in which I live, in a room by myself, where I don’t talk to or interact with anyone but the stray cat in the back who seems to like me.

I’m allergic, unfortunately, so I can’t take him in, but he’s a pleasant cat, and I do give him food.  I know cats can take care of themselves, but he’s a somewhat older male, and there are a lot of stray cats in south Florida, and raccoons and other creatures as well, so it’s nice to make him as stable as he can be, as well as another cat, a female, who is extremely skittish and timid.

Anyway, it further cements my provisional conclusions that I am not really a beneficial organism to the creatures around me—except a few stray cats—and that I have no connection of any depth with other beings.  I feel utterly adrift and alone, like I’m on a raft in a limitless ocean.  It’s a big raft, and there’s enough food and fresh water for an indefinite time, but there’s nothing else about, and no land in sight.  There may be no land anywhere.  I want just to dive into the water and sink, but the delusion that someday I might see land of some kind makes me keep putting it off, despite the fact that the journey is so dreary and pointless.

That’s a pretty ham-handed metaphor, and it’s not very good.  Sorry, I’m sure this is getting tiresome.  I know it’s tiresome for me, like everything else, so I’ll leave it at this for now.  I’m working tomorrow, so I’m sure I’ll write and post something then.  Have a good day, please, if you can.


*Yes, I figured out how to set it up and use it, which was not hard.  What confused me was the fact that it asked permission to be able to save the recordings on my phone’s memory, and even to use the microphone and speakers.  I don’t recall other such apps needing to ask for permissions.  Why would I record something and then save the recording if I didn’t want it saved on my phone?  It still makes me nervous, just ever so slightly.

**I say “music”, but it’s pretty crappy.

***I mainly put only the left earbud in, because my right ear has badly reduced hearing, and constant tinnitus, and it’s also good to keep at least that, rather muffled and hampered, source of sound input active, so I don’t miss too much.

How strange or odd some’er I blog myself

Hello and good morning.

It may not be morning when you’re reading this, but it is morning when I’m writing it, and since the time any given person reads it is variable—it could be anywhen from noon back round to noon, and in any time zone—the only stable point from which to make departure is that time in which I am writing.  Thus, again:  good morning.

I’m using my laptop today, which is easier and faster, though it may lead to the post being more wordy and rambling than the ones I wrote on my phone.  Perhaps not.  Those who’ve said anything at all have said they can’t tell the difference.  It feels different, of course, but then, it would feel different, wouldn’t it?  A laptop and a smartphone are, despite many common attributes, very different devices with which to work.

I’m waiting for the second train this morning, rather than having gotten up for the first as I did the previous two days.  It’s not that I wasn’t up frequently during the night; I was awake well in time to come for the first train, but somewhat ironically, since I’m not feeling quite as physically ill, I was able at least just to lie there “in bed” and wait until five minutes before my alarm went off before getting up.

Of course, given my traditional greeting, in case you don’t know, it’s Thursday, the day I’ve long reserved for writing my blog posts, even when I didn’t write them any other day.  As with the time, you might be reading this on pretty much any day of the week, but I’m writing it on Thursday, and that’s not going to have changed, unless reality is far more fluid than it seems.  I’m pretty sure it’s not.

I’ll briefly relay an issue I had when I arrived at the office yesterday, already sick and uncomfortable, forcing myself to go in when I should have stayed in bed because it was payroll day.  Suffice it to say that I had to rush to the restroom when I arrived, only to discover that the toilet paper had not been maintained as I’ve always asked people to do, even in my absence, and I was caught rather short.

I decided to enact a temporary, prison-style system of people having to be responsible for their own toilet paper, since they couldn’t be responsible for looking out for each other according to very simple procedures of letting someone know when they take the last replacement roll from the cupboard.

I’ll revert to the old system today, for stability’s sake, but it’s frustrating that grown people don’t take simple steps to be considerate.  I wish I could fit everyone at work—including myself—with a shock collar, to activate when someone does something rude or inappropriate.  Of course, the person I have most complaints about is myself; the very fact that I get so angry about everything, and always feel so tense, just makes me hate myself more every day.

I have an electric stunner at the office—I bought it because in Unanimity, some characters use them for specific purposes, and I needed to know how they sound and look when activated, and how easy it was to get one.  I do various things to hurt myself when I’m either too angry at myself to hold back, or so stressed out by various things people do that I want to lash out, but I can’t allow myself to do such things, so I let it out where I can, at myself.

I’ve destroyed my own writing and art work, I’ve banged my head against desks and walls and tables until I bruise myself, I’ve punched walls—the first two knuckles of both of my hands are slightly bulbous from my having done this often over many years—I’ve thrown away precious items and books, and I’ve hurt myself in more extreme ways than these, but I won’t get too much into that*.  I don’t want to have to title another blog post with a trigger warning, especially not on a day when the title is supposed to be a minced Shakespearean quote.

The point is that I’ve never tried using my stunner on myself, mainly because I’m nervous about how it might interact with my chronic pain, which is at least partly neuropathic in character.  I don’t want to trigger muscle spasms or neural feedback loops or the like.  It probably wouldn’t do any bad or good, though; I’ve used TENS units with no particular benefit, even at very high power.

That’s the character of my life.  Each day is a loosely connected string of things I do to try to distract myself from chronic pain, tension/stress, sleep loss, dysthymia/depression, and deep inability to connect with anyone despite being profoundly lonely.  It’s a shitty ride, I’ve gotta say.  I’m not even going to give it one star on TripAdvisor.

People sometimes say** things like, “Hang on, keep going, there are people who care about you, you’re not alone.”  And that’s nice, and I’m sure there are people who care, at least in the abstract sense.  But it’s at least a bit like saying, “Hang on, keep going, there’s a supermassive black hole in the center of most galaxies!”  It’s true, and it’s interesting.  It’s something I care about.  But it has no apparent impact on my daily existence and the fact that I hate myself and hate my life.

I don’t have any answers for myself, in case that’s not obvious.  But I’m getting wearier and wearier of just plodding along, without any goal, and with no one nearby to talk to, with all the people I’ve cared most about not wanting to be around me.  Who can blame them?  You’ve read my writing; how much time would you want to spend with me?

Anyway, that’s enough for today.  I hope all of you out there are doing well, and have things for which to live, and people around you who love you and care about you and want to spend time with you.  If you do, please be grateful and treasure them.

TTFN

me distorted


*Although I will give a caution about one long-past event:  don’t hit yourself in the kneecap with a ball-peen hammer, even if you’re doing it to distract yourself from chronic pain.  Just…don’t.

**Or, to pick nits, they write such things.


This is an addendum, to be added to today’s blog post at the end.  The train I’m waiting for is delayed, and they keep running an automated announcement overhead that it’s delayed “10…15 minutes”.  But it’s already 25 minutes late, and according to the app that tracks the trains, it’s going to be at least 10 more minutes before it gets here, so the announcement is just wrong, and that grates on my nerves far more than it ought to do.  Of course, as always with delays, the train will be more crowded, because people who would have missed the usual scheduled time, or who arrive early for the next train, will be aboard.  I feel like I’m going to split in half because I’m so tense about it.  When the whole universe, or at least everything related to humans, feels like the Enemy, it doesn’t take all that long to become shell-shocked.  I feel that I have no escape and no comrades, like I’m the only member of my species in a strange, foreign universe.  I think I’m on the verge of some breakdown.  Hell, maybe I’m already in the midst of it.  I don’t know what to do.  I need help, but my need is no claim on anyone else’s abilities; my need is my own problem.  It’s a need I don’t think I’m going to be able to meet, and when one is unable to meet one’s needs, one deteriorates and/or suffers and/or dies.

I don’t know…trigger warning, I guess? Whatever.

Okay, well, I’m writing this post on my phone on Google Docs like yesterday, because I didn’t take my laptop with me when I left the office.  This time it was more or less deliberate, however.  I left work early due to general, global ill-feeling, both physical and psychological, and I just didn’t feel like bothering to pack up the laptop.

I honestly didn’t feel like doing much of anything.  I didn’t really feel like going back to the house‒and there were frustrations awaiting me when I arrived, but that was mainly a problem with my reaction to the unexpected change in my patterns and the like‒but I had nowhere else to go, and I didn’t want to stay at the office.  I didn’t want to be anywhere, but that wasn’t a readily viable option.

There was a moment, while I waited for my train, when a freight train passed, going in the “wrong” direction, using the commuter train tracks as they occasionally do when necessary‒I’ve written about that before.  It was intriguing to think how powerful the passing cars and the whole train were.  They were so close you could reach out and touch them if you wanted, since they were right there passing through the station.  If I had timed a jump to go between the cars as they passed (they were going no more than maybe twenty-five miles per hour), I would have been shredded to pieces in an instant, possibly before feeling anything but the initial concussion.

Of course, as I thought about it, I realized it was something I would have a hard time working up the gumption to do, and‒more importantly‒it would cause a great big mess, shutting down that train, shutting down at least some local traffic (since the station is right by a road crossing) and of course causing delays for the whole commuter system for hours.  That would be terribly rude, and though of course I would have nothing to fear from Hannibal Lecter at that point, I still don’t like to be rude*.

So, I just waited for the next train and went back to the house.  Someone was parked in my usual spot, which stressed me out as it always does when it happens, but I was able cleverly to third-space that stress by cursing out loud to myself repeatedly and hitting things and hurting my hands and hurting myself in other ways in the room when I got there.

It’s an overreaction, of course, but I do ask for very little from other people.  I pay the power and the water and the cable/internet bills, and I don’t bother trying to negotiate splits of those bills, because that process is more stressful to imagine than is just paying.  So it would be nice if my space and my routines and whatnot were left alone.

Oh, well.  Why would I think the world would be comfortable in any way?  It never has been so far.

Never.

Speaking of cable/internet, the WiFi went out again in the evening as I was sharing some “videos” of some cover and original songs of mine as a zillionth attempt to send a message out**.  This was particularly frustrating because I had a lot of trouble with it last weekend already.  I got so frustrated I went out to 7-11 and got 2 slices of pizza, which were not as good as usual, and two iced teas, which were quite nice.  This was not a positive thing to do, but involved another form of self-harm in a way.  At least when I got back my spot was open and the internet was once again stable after my reset.

I tried to relax and go to sleep after eating and watching a few educational videos, but I woke up starting an hour later, then 2 hours after that, then another hour later, at which point I stopped trying to get back to sleep.  When it was finally late enough, I got up and came to get on the earliest train, and here I am on the way to the office.

Lather, rinse, repeat as needed, until finally‒someday soon I hope‒it will all go down the drain.


*I’ve sometimes thought that a good, polite, unobtrusive way to kill oneself would be to go to the nearby Atlantic Ocean and start swimming eastward and just keep going until exhaustion led one to one’s inevitable end beneath the waves…or until one reached Africa, I suppose.  However, the fear of ocean-going predators (though a rarefied possibility) and a less-than-ideal comfort with swimming makes that process difficult to contemplate for me.  A better one might be simply getting up and going for a walk, and just continuing to walk until dehydration and exhaustion and the like finished one off, though there are plenty of possible caveats there.  At least, though, it would give one time to reconsider, which jumping from a great height would not allow (and which “Russian Roulette” only allows if you lose***) and the process itself might bring some sort of rescuing, spiritual insight or enlightenment‒at least if one believes some religious and spiritual stories and legends.  It’s something to consider.

**It never works; I don’t know why I bother.  I guess I must be more optimistic than I think I am.  I’ve said it before, I wish I had a drug and/or alcohol problem, because there are numerous resources out there that are available and eager to provide help and support for those issues, and one is given social and moral support, often almost lionized, for fighting an addiction.  Failing that, one can always just overdose.  I think high dose fentanyl, probably combined with Valium, would likely be a decent way to die.

***Now that is a tense game, I can tell you from personal experience.

A Raven-ous Friday post

Good morning, yet again, I say as I often do—though I sympathize with Gandalf’s irritated inquiry after Bilbo wished him good morning at the beginning of The Hobbit.  I won’t go into that discussion, however, since—much like when Costello didn’t want to talk about which end of a racehorse he owned—it’s a long tale*.

As I warned you yesterday, I have indeed finished and edited my recitation of The Raven, and I posted it on YouTube.  I’ll embed it here, below.  As you can see, I dispensed with the mask during this performance, though I left on one of my two pairs of dark glasses—these ones are actually reading glasses, but I wasn’t reading; I did the whole thing from memory.

I left the mask off because I wanted to be able to convey the emotions this poem always engenders, at least in me.  It’s weird, but I cannot seem to express or often even feel emotions of my own, or at least not recognize them, unless I’m reading something—out loud usually—or singing along with a song, or singing it myself.  I think sometimes that’s why I, and people like me, enjoy melancholy and dark songs so much.  It’s our only way of even crystallizing, let alone expressing, our own feelings.  Often, it’s the only way we can even tell what they are, at least if we have alexithymia/dyslexithymia.

Anyway, all of you are hereby warned that, if you watch the video, you’ll have to look at my face, unimpeded by the mask, though at least I’m wearing dark glasses.  Unlike that weird, one-hit-wonder pop song from the eighties, though, this is not because the future is bright.  Ultimately—in the long run, anyway—the future is dark.  Indeed, one could say that the future is darkness itself.  But that’s not going to be fully instantiated for trillions to googols of years, so you’ve got time for a quick bit of breakfast before we go.

With that warning, here is the video of my recitation of The Raven, with background “music” by me.  I hope you like it.  If you do, I would be grateful if you could give it a “thumbs up” on YouTube, because apparently that makes things more likely to be recommended to other people and all that.  Obviously, if you want you can subscribe as well, though if you follow my blog, you’ll probably know about my videos shortly after they are posted, assuming there ever are any more.  Also, of course, if you’re inclined, you can share to social media and whatnot, and that too would be appreciated.

It’s interesting, but before recent times, I found the YouTube recommendation algorithm quite good and useful, directing me at times to subjects that I wouldn’t have known related to me without the recommendations, such as Asperger’s.  But of late it’s been spending a lot more of its effort recommending videos I’ve already watched.

To be fair to it, when I like something, I do often rewatch it many times, just as when I like a book I reread it many, many times.  But still, it would be nice if, instead of things that are entirely rehashes and obvious draws from channels to which I subscribe, it would do more of the thing it did with Asperger’s, a sort of “a lot of people who watched similar videos to you went on to look at these videos and related ones”.  I don’t think there was any recognition of connection in the algorithm, it just spotted patterns across a very large data set and suggested similar patterns to me (and no doubt to many others) so that I would stay there at YouTube.

But I have noticed that most of these algorithms in general don’t work too well with me anymore, if they ever did, whether it’s Netflix or Amazon or YouTube or Facebook or Hulu any of the other various things that can make money if they can recommend something to you that you’ll watch.  I’m apparently too weird, or perhaps just to anhedonic, for typical things to appeal to me.

I guess I shouldn’t really hold it against YouTube too much.  I recently tried to restart all three of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Lord of the Rings, The Belgariad, some comic books, some Japanese light novels, and—most concerning of all—some physics/cosmology books that I enjoy.  I haven’t been able to get far in any of them.  I just get…well, not exactly bored, but unable to maintain any interest.  Just apathetic.  As Pink (the character in The Wall) sang, “Nothing is very much fun anymore.”

I am at least looking forward somewhat to this Sunday evening when we will be able to watch the Doctor Who sixtieth anniversary special, and Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration moment, The Power of the Doctor.  I think it’s going to be fun, though it will be sad.  I’ve enjoyed the 13th Doctor, and most of her episodes, especially in the last two series.  I look forward to seeing the 14th Doctor, of course, but will miss 13.  She isn’t my favorite Doctor, but she’s been very good.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.  BBC America will be showing the above mentioned program Sunday night at 8 eastern, so if you like Doctor Who, keep that in mind.  It’s just possible that I might go on to recite some more poems, or read bits of books or stories that I like and want to share, but I think I’ll use the mask again for those, unless my face changes significantly.  That’s unlikely to happen, since unlike the Doctor, I don’t regenerate**.

I’m off work tomorrow, so there won’t be any more posts before Monday, if there are any at all***.  You can all be thankful that you’ll be granted at least a restful weekend without my words.


*Or “tail” in Costello’s horse’s case.

**As far as I know.

***After all, something might prevent me from making them even on usual days.

Musing on the transience of stray ideas and on the difficulty in preventing…things

Well, it’s Saturday morning once again, and since I’m working today, I’m writing a blog post today.  Aren’t you lucky?  I suppose it does help to while away the idle hours, if and when they happen, to have a blog post to read, and mine are longer than many.

I briefly had a few thoughts, as I was getting showered and dressed this morning, about what topic to address in my post today.  However, not one of them persisted in my mind, and I’ve lost the threads completely.  Likewise, I didn’t write them down or otherwise take notes, so I don’t remember what I’d thought possibly to write.

I guess that means that none of them was truly gripping and important enough for me to hold onto, which probably means they wouldn’t have been that engaging to read, though that guess could be wrong, at least in principle.

It’s a bit like a phenomenon that happens with some regularity on my Saturday mornings.

On my way to the train, I pass a club of some sort on the southeast corner of a relatively major intersection along my path.  Though it is mainly deserted during the week, on Saturday mornings it is almost always packed with cars, to the extent that people have to park in the otherwise empty lot that serves a convenience store across the way.  One often sees people, all alone or in twos, crossing the street and heading for this club.  This is at about five in the morning, which implies the club is open pretty much all night; it’s hard to imagine that it opens at three or four.

As I pass the place, I often think to myself that it is remarkably popular, and I tell myself that I should look into it.  In this age of Google Maps and the like, it should be quite easy to find the spot on the map app and see the name of the business.  From there I could easily find out more about it, assuming that it has an online presence of some kind, which I am guessing that it does.  Most popular places do.

And yet, as it turns out, this is the longest I’ve ever kept a thought about the place in my mind after passing it.  I’ve not yet looked it up in any way, despite having passed it almost daily for years now.  I don’t even recall its name; I don’t know that I’ve ever actually read what it is, though there is a sign.  It’s not a strip joint of any kind.  The sign is painted, not internally lit or molded from neon-filled tubes.  It’s clearly some form of “social club”, and it seems rather wholesome, but I don’t get the impression that it’s part of or affiliated with any religious organization, though I could easily be mistaken about this.

It just doesn’t stick in my mind, and though I do occasionally regret this upon passing it once again, it’s not a very deep regret.  Obviously, if I were truly curious, I could find out more.  Believe me, I consume oodles of written and video (and sometimes audio) material about various scientific curiosities, carefully curating the information to get it from reliable sources rather than purveyors of woo and pseudo-science*.  I’m capable of pursuing my special interests with great fervor.  So it must not be that important.  But the fact that such thoughts and ideas so frequently spring into the mind only to—on most occasions—simply dissolve into nothingness like a light frost in a warm morning sun shows something interesting about the way ideas and thoughts come into a mind.

On an unrelated note, I’m now sitting on the train in a seat analogous to the one by the poster of which I shared a picture recently (the one about the suicide help line, which I still haven’t called again, though I surely qualify for its services).  The poster here, which I’ll show below, is for “Aware and Care Palm Beach County”, which is about preventing mass violence.  Indeed, as you can see, it reads, “Mass violence can be prevented…it starts with you!”

poster on violence prevention

I applaud the sentiment of preventing mass violence**, pretty much however one can define it, but I’m not sure that the statement is correct.  It’s certainly not been demonstrated, either logically or in practice to be completely preventable.  If someone is dysfunctional enough to want to commit violent acts against large numbers of strangers, and is even willing to give their own life to do so, it’s hard to see it being absolutely preventable.  I think what the sign-makers really mean to convey is that mass violence can be reduced, or that some mass violence can be prevented.

But the sign also includes the words “Learn how to…report suspicious behavior”, and that makes me nervous.  It seems to imply a bit of a Big Brother mentality, a KGB, Stasi, CCP, DHS, Gestapo kind of attitude of seeking out and removing “undesirables”.  I don’t think that’s its intent, but such things often, or perhaps always, have “good” intentions at their roots.  Rarely does a dangerous but popular movement get started by openly encouraging people to act to cause chaos, death, pain, and destruction on huge scales.

But a state has tremendous power, and it can—and does—commit greater violence and destruction against its own citizens on many occasions and in many ways than any lone madman, however well-armed.  And this happens so diffusely, its effects so broad, that most of the time, most people don’t even notice it, let alone think about it.  It’s a bit like death and injury rates from car accidents—they are huge in number, scope, and overall scale, but they are hardly even noticed, for they happen episodically, their effects spread out over time and space, so only very few people notice the carnage and devastation they entail.

It is probably the case that most committers of mass violence share certain characteristics of personality, psychopathology, and behavior.  This is barely the beginning of working out a predictive model for locating such people.  It’s like the breast cancer screening test problem as so often used to explain Bayesian reasoning relating to probability and statistics.  Veritasium did a good video on this, and Derek is also an excellent educator about difficult concepts, so I’m linking that video.  You could do worse than to subscribe to his channel.

The important thing is not solely that most—or even all—mass violence committers have a certain set of characteristics, but also how many of the possibly billions of people who have those characteristics will ever go on to commit any kind of mass violence.  I suspect you’d find it to be a tiny percentage indeed.  You may have some of those characteristics yourself.  How confident are you in the state’s ability to tell the difference between those who will commit violence and those who will not?  What if they think that you are such a person?

That being said, of course, I do think, if you see someone who has access to many and/or powerful weapons and they are acting in ways that make you think they are considering committing some atrocity, it’s reasonable for you to tell someone about it.  You’ll probably be wrong, of course, given the statistics of the matter, but you might at least call someone’s attention to a person who could use some psychological help.

But it’s worth it always to keep in mind that those in “authority” are just flesh, blood, bone, and (in principle) brain like you are, and on average they are no more intelligent nor aware nor ethical***.  Don’t give those people more power than that with which you’d trust the average football fan…and less than you’d give a referee.


*Though I enjoyed such material when I was very young—from stories of UFOs and so-called paranormal phenomena, to “cryptozoology” stories about such things as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster—as I got older, I was able to see the difference between the type and quality of evidence behind such claims and the information which explained, for instance, how and why biology operates, what makes cars and ships and planes function, what the nature is of gravity and electromagnetism, the history of the universe as well as we can discern it, and so on.  These are not only much more satisfying because they are about subjects that are actually real (as witnessed in part by the immensely powerful technologies such information can produce) but also because they have internal and mutual logical consistency.  It’s hard to see how a universe that is not mutually consistent could even hold together.  For a good primer on the important difference of such fields of curiosity, I can unreservedly recommend Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World.  Get it and read it if you haven’t already.  His writing is clear and conversational, and he conveys complex ideas in ways that are both wondrous and easy to understand.  It’s not for nothing that Stephen Jay Gould called Sagan “the best advocate for science in the millennium”.

**This is violence that interacts with the Higgs Field, and so has mass even at “rest”, and cannot ever move through space at the speed of light.  This is as opposed to “massless violence” which always travels through a vacuum at the speed of light.  Massless violence doesn’t experience a “personal” flow of time.

***Certainly the readers of this blog are well above average in intellect, knowledge, and morality, though that doesn’t necessarily reflect on the blog’s writer.

If life’s a piece of sh*t, as Eric Idle sang, then where is the flush pull?

It’s Monday, the start of another “work week”.  It’s interesting, isn’t it, how we divide time into both arbitrary and non-arbitrary measures?  A day is a sensible division of time, as is a year, and even a month is not pushing things too much.  But weeks are thoroughly arbitrary, and rather bizarre in that they are comprised of 7 days, a prime number—not that I’m complaining about that, since I’m a big fan of prime numbers.

Anyway, that’s what we’re dealing with, this arbitrary thing called a week, which gets further narrowed into the “work week” which is nominally Monday through Friday, though in fact many people’s actual work weeks are nothing like so well-constrained.  More’s the pity.

It would actually be rather nice if everyone worked the same work week, but then, of course, grocery stores and other shopping places would be closed just when people had the free time to use them, and people would be forced to be more thoroughly idle on the weekends, which would have some advantages but also some disadvantages.  I could see such a thing happening briefly, but cultural evolution would more or less guarantee that something would adjust to fill the niche of open commercial time on the weekends, and other things would have to compete with such newcomers or lose ground and perhaps perish.

Indeed, that is what has happened, such that now, even on days that are official or national holidays, or big holidays, like Christmas and the like, one doesn’t see all that many things closed, other than those few remaining factories and big businesses in the US.  I don’t know how it is in other nations.  But I suspect that they fall into similar cycles of competition leading to mutual erosion of quality of life, in a truly maddening feedback loop, because anyone who tries, individually, as a company or whatever, to focus on reasonable time schedules and the like will be outcompeted, and they will be forced out of the market.

Of course, our various legislative bodies are supposed to make laws that will curtail the excesses of such situations, artificially as it were, but they are subject to similar competition of funding and marketing and donations and so on, and they will almost inevitably fall into one form of corruption or another.  There are also feedback loops that support divisiveness, since one way to rouse one’s own supporters is to treat those who disagree with one politically as immoral, as the enemy, as a literal threat—which is all nonsense, of course.

One party is only rarely much more moral (or immoral) than any other in politics, or in nations.  They’re all just made up of people scrambling locally to survive and thrive, responding to local forces, like anything and everything in the physical universe, and producing larger effects and patterns without any deeper thought or intention, as epiphenomena.  And almost none of them ever stop to take a look at themselves and the forces to which they respond as phenomena, to think about what changes might affect those local forces, and in what ways.

It would be nice if “political science” were approached like an actual science.  I guess that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

Well, it’s the start of a new week, as I said, although yesterday was literally the start of the “calendar” week.  I have not yet made my new video, though I had the time to do it.  I simply didn’t quite have the energy to make it, so to speak.  Though the intention to do so at least led me to transfer notes from my previous phone to an email to myself, and to download a new note-taking app to my new phone.  It’s the first “smartphone” I’ve bought that didn’t just come with a note-taking app built in, which surprises me.  It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would cost the manufacturers anything to add, and it might be a selling feature.  But there may be forces at work affecting this of which I am unaware.

I’m not looking forward to going back to the office, though I may at least try to start making a new video once there.  But last Friday, my already high-stress state, which has been getting steadily worse over time—not that this is anyone’s fault but my own “faulty” machinery—was worsened further by a particular idiot and related, peri-idiot idiocy in addition to the usual chaos and nonsense in the office, and some other parallel idiocy, and I literally both shattered my coffee mug and banged my head on my desk until I gave myself a bad bruise and possible minor concussion, knocking some things off the desk from the force of my head banging.  I did other things as well that were harmful to myself, but I won’t get into those as they might be troubling to readers.

Also, the trains are boarding all on one side of the track at my station again, though I’m not at all sure why—there’s no sign of any construction or maintenance on the other side that I’ve discerned, but of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any going on.  But it does stress me out a bit.  I suppose to a normal person it would be just a minor thing, possibly not even an inconvenience.  After all, the side on which we’re boarding is nearer the entrance, so the change in sides means I didn’t have to go across the tracks in the overhead bridge.  But it does make the one side of the track more crowded with people—urrgh, bleah—and it just kind of messes up my expectations, or my usual pattern, I guess.

It’s stupid, I know.  I have mentioned that my machinery is clearly faulty, but unfortunately, I have only limited access either to the hardware or the source code.  I do my best to tweak things as I can, to try to improve them, and I’ve been working on that since at least middle school, with autosuggestion, with self-hypnotism, with trying to enforce personal habits, with simply learning about how such systems work and behave, and trying to pay attention to the way people around me—particularly my older brother and sister back in the day—behaved that worked well for them, and the behaviors and activities that seemed not to produce good results for them.  I think that was a real advantage, having people from whom to learn by example, even indirectly.

But there’s no one from whom to learn, now, or nearly no one.  I mean, there’s something at least to be learned from everyone, there’s almost always some tidbit of skill or knowledge any given human has that I don’t have.  But it’s hard even to tell which ones might be useful, though seeing which ones are definitely not ones to emulate is clearer these days than it was with my siblings, neither of whom did many very counterproductive things relative to the great mass of humans.  I’m very lucky that way.

But I’m not lucky enough to have been hit by a meteor or to have a sudden lethal heart arrhythmia or hemorrhage or be struck by lightning or whatever, so I’m headed to work again today.  As I’ve long suspected, I’m just going to need to be more proactive.  It’s annoying, but there’s a reason for the cliché, “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.”

The borogroves sure are mimsy today, aren’t they?

It’s Friday again, and another weekend approaches.

Yippee.  Huzzah.  O frabjous day.

I think I don’t work tomorrow—at least, I’m not supposed to—so there probably won’t be any blog post then (which will be Saturday, unless some hitherto unimagined catastrophe literally throws the days of the week out of order).

I may be posting a new video on my YouTube channel this weekend, though.  I haven’t made one yet, so there’s no guarantee that something won’t stop me from doing so.  I’m unlikely to be lucky enough to be involved in an asteroid impact between now and tomorrow, but there’s a functionally limitless number of things that could, in principle, stop me from recording a video.

Nevertheless, it is my intention to make a video, so I probably will.  This is a different type of thing than fasting; no physiological processes and neurological feedback loops are likely to interfere with my commitment to making a video.  Evolution is, so far, utterly blind even to the existence of videos…though that could change.

I’m still not sure what topic I want to address in the video, unlike last time.  I may literally just start my timer, start my video, start to talk, and see what happens.  If that sounds like an inauspicious way to start a video, well, you’re reading the written equivalent of it right now.  If you enjoy this, you’re proof that it can work.  If you don’t enjoy it, that’s not proof that it cannot work, since your lack of enjoyment doesn’t preclude anyone else from enjoying it.

People do seem to have trouble understanding that others can like things that they themselves find disgusting.  I can sympathize with that, and fall prey to the failing myself, but that doesn’t make it reasonable.

It’s true that all mammals, let alone all humans, have more in common than they have differences, but nevertheless, the potential differences just within a given species, given sexual recombination of genes and the sheer number of genes each individual has, is well worthy of the adjective “astronomical”, so we shouldn’t be surprised that others like things we find repugnant.  In fact, given that the number of possible combinations of gene pairs in human DNA alone is vastly larger than the number of (for instance) light years the visible universe is across*, maybe we should switch our use of the terms “biological” and “astronomical” to describe very large numbers.  Unfortunately, I think most people wouldn’t catch onto the nuance of saying that something was “biologically large”.

Oh, well.  It was a brief dream, swiftly shattered by the one who dreamed it.  Typical.

Anyway, so, I’m back on food again, more’s the pity.  I’m tired of having all these biological urges and needs and drives.  They’re very irritating.

Also, I’m tired of how stressed and angry I get about things people do at work.  Don’t get me wrong—the specific things I’m thinking about are worthy of anger.  But the problem is that I get so stressed, and so angry, and it just makes me hate myself more and more all the time, without any evident upper bound to the process.

I wish it were true to say, “I can’t stand it anymore”, but unfortunately, I’m able in principle to continue standing things for who knows how long.  I wish I would just collapse into a heap, and literally, physically, not be able to go on.  It would take so much out of my hands and would be such a relief.  Unfortunately, there’s no clear sign of that happening, though I try to sabotage my own health as much as feasible without being Baker Acted.

And here is another maddening thing that just happened:  the trains this morning, it turns out, were all shifted to one side of the track, as was the case last week once.  But this wasn’t announced early, unlike last time, so I went to my usual spot to start writing this while waiting.  Then, when the “announcement” was made, it was just posted on the overhead light board; there was no verbal announcement, though they give recorded verbal reminders about such things usually—they’ve been informing us, ever since Labor Day, that the system will be running on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving, which is in November, for those of you who don’t know.  Labor Day was in the beginning of September.

I only failed to miss my train because I always start getting ready to board five minutes early, and I looked up from my writing to notice that there was no one on my side of the tracks.  Only then did I see the notice that trains were all boarding on the other side.  I was able to take the elevator up to the bridge, but I had to rush down the stairs on the other side because my train was approaching, and my knees and hips and ankle were miffed about that.

It would have been nice for one of the people who always gets on the same train I get on to have said something to me, rather than just letting me sit there typing on one side of the track by myself.  I’d like to think I would have said something to them, were the situation reversed.  Maybe I wouldn’t.  Maybe it’s an instance of the bystander effect.  Maybe it’s one of those rare circumstances in which my reticence to interact with strangers is obvious to everyone, and I seem so unpleasant that no one wants to interact with me even enough to say, “Hey, all the trains are boarding on the other side for some reason…better cross over.”

Better cross over.  That’s the best idea I’ve heard today, that’s for sure.

Okay, well, that’s it for today’s disjointed meandering.  I hope you’ve found some modicum of joy in it.  It would be nice to be able to do at least something positive for the world, even if it’s small.  It would be far better than what I usually do.


*Using the particle horizon as the measured “distance across”. **

**Actually, since there are four bases in human DNA (guanine, cytosine, adenine, and thymine), if they were assigned randomly, then even a string of 1000 base pairs has 1.15 x 10602 possible combinations.  If memory serves, this is larger than the String Theory landscape, which number is already so vast as to lead many physicists to say it can predict anything and therefore it can predict nothing.  And human DNA is on the order of a billion nucleotides long.  My computer calculator can’t deal with billionth powers of four, but a billion is a thousand times a thousand times a thousand, so 41000 cubed should be about 101806 unless I’m missing something.  The diameter of the visible universe in Planck lengths is only 5 x 1061, which is not even close to the same order of magnitude.  Of course, the maximal information within a horizon the size of the visible universe is larger still, but then again, that’s a measure of the maximum entropy possible within that region, so that’s almost a given.  I think it’s 210^123 or something along those lines.  I may be getting at least some of this wrong.

G’mar chatima tova

Hello there.  It’s Wednesday, October 5th, 2022.  It’s also Yom Kippur, “the Day of Atonement”, the highest of the Jewish High Holy Days.  It’s a day on which observant Jews fast—from food, water, sexual relations, and other such things—and usually go to synagogue and take part in communal prayers relating to…well, to atonement, such as for the things that one has done wrong over the course of the prior year, and so on.

I’m no expert, and obviously I’m not observant, or else I wouldn’t be writing this post while going to work on this Wednesday morning.  However, I do like the fasting process, though I am not actually a religious believer of any kind, at least not in any sense that most people would use the terms.  I find that fasting every year on this day is a nice way of psychologically (or mentally, or spiritually, however you like to characterize it) cleansing oneself a bit.

It’s a separation from the immediate satisfactions of such carnal desires as the one for food that is so easy to indulge in the modern world, and which can by used by those with chronic mood disorders and similar problems as a source of tiny and transient comfort or relative joy in a world otherwise defined by unpleasantness.  This indulgence, however, as with most such things, has negative long-term consequences when it is done for pleasure/escape (however fleeting) rather than for its biological purpose.

So, it’s good to break that cycle sometimes.  I’m not going without liquids, because I was already out sick yesterday with a gastrointestinal bug, and I don’t want to leave myself dehydrated or volume depleted, but I’m only too happy to have a strong reason to go without food.  No one at the office is going to try to push food on me if they think I’m avoiding it for quasi-religious reasons.

Without such reasons, people are annoyingly pushy about trying to get other people to eat, even when the other people make no secret of the fact that they are troubled by their weight.  It’s almost as if there were recovering alcoholics in the office (there are, sometimes) and people kept offering them drinks…or tried to slip Percocet to recovering opiate addicts.  It’s frankly unconscionable, and the people who do it ought to be ashamed of themselves, but they seem actually to puff up their egos by offering food.  It’s madness, it’s reprehensible, and it’s disgusting.  If you are reading this, please don’t do it, ever.

With that out of the way, I think I’m going to extend this fast a bit.  I’ve done that before, just a few years ago…I had done the full fast on the day proper, including liquids*, though I’d had to go to work, which was fine, since it wasn’t as though I had a temple to visit or was a member of any community.  But I extended the fast because it cleared my mind a bit, and I felt more at ease with myself.  In fact, when I broke it, after about three days (I think), I was actually disappointed.

But, of course, it’s hard to resist the eating drive.  For Yom Kippur, the one day fast, there is a strong enough religious, or social, or communal, or “spiritual” impetus if you wish, to push past it, and then, once one has pushed past it, it’s easier to continue.  One has already cleared the activation energy, now one just has to let the reaction continue.

So, this year, I’m hoping to continue the fast for a longer time.  Longer than one day, hopefully longer than three days.  I would like to keep it up long enough to reset completely some of my habits regarding food, so that when (or if) I restart, I’ll be able to approach eating simply as a necessity, not as a pleasure.  It would be particularly nice if I could achieve some manner of “spiritual” equanimity, but that may be an impossible dream for me.

I’m also hoping that, by making the announcement here, in my blog, I’ll have the added social impetus—to which I’m only very weakly susceptible at the best of times—to keep me pushing forward.  It’ll also give me something to write about.

Another nice thing about fasting is that it will save me money, and that’s always nice.  I’ve banked a great many calories in my abdominal fat, exchanging money for centripetal adiposity, and I’d like to reverse that process at least to some degree.

Hopefully, as has supposedly been the case with many a seeker after internal peace, the process of fasting will help me clear my chaotic and cluttered and extremely unpleasant mind somewhat.  Also, hopefully with some lost weight, my back and hips and knees and ankles, and even the rest of me, will have less pain.  My understanding of physics and physiology, which is well above average, suggests to me that this will probably be the case.

So, in case there’s any use to it, please wish me luck.  And if you are Jewish, and are celebrating Yom Kippur, so to speak, “May you be inscribed, for Good, in the Book of Life”.

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*Abstaining from sex seems to happen all on its own, weirdly enough.  Ha ha.