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.

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.

“What have we here, laddie? Mysterious scribblings? A secret code? No! Poems, no less. Poems, everybody!”

It’s Wednesday morning, and I’m at the train station, but it’s more than half an hour before five o’clock.  Officially, the train station isn’t even open yet—in the sense that the payment kiosks and the bridge and elevator access portals are all closed off.  I suspect there’s at least a bit of dereliction involved on the part of the person tasked with opening them, since the first train arrives in roughly fifteen minutes, and it seems reasonable for the station to be open at least fifteen minutes before the first train.

I couldn’t stay asleep this morning, as is probably obvious, having awakened at around two.  After rolling around a bit and ruing the fact that I never can seem to get any real rest, I gave up, got up, took a shower, got dressed, and headed for the trains.  I’m certainly busted flat in a figurative sense, and I would say that I was feeling nearly faded as my jeans, but I don’t wear jeans, anymore.  The sentiment still applies, nevertheless.  I feel not only faded but frayed and, in places, rather tattered and torn.  I wonder if there’s anything that can be done about it, apart from the obvious.

I did recite the two poems I mentioned yesterday on video, and I uploaded them to YouTube.  I’ll also embed them here.  I decided to make two videos instead of just one with two poems, because the two poems have quite different general ambience.  I also decided to do a little reverb and stuff to my voice in addition to eliminating background noise, and while I was editing the sound for the first, it occurred to me that it might be nice to add a little music.

I didn’t want a copyright strike from YouTube, though for a non-monetized channel like mine these are mostly harmless.  Still it’s a minor irritation, and I happen to have music of my own to use, so for The Second Coming, I took the opening and closing music from my song Come Back Again, which I’ve never “released” but for which I have a “video”, which I had made private.  I guess I’ll make it public again, and will have added a link for it just above.

Anyway, I slowed the combined music down just enough to make it last until it faded out at the end of the poem, then lowered its pitch by three semitones to make it more ominous, and put it through a couple of reverb filters in a row to make it sound distant and hollow, then adjusted the balance and added it to my video before doing just the barest bit of trimming on the ends.  I think it came out nicely.  Here it is:

For the second poem, Alone, I used the opening, the bridge, and some of the final fadeout from my song “Like and Share”, which I slowed, again, reduced in pitch, and put through three different reverb processes, so it’s quite echoey and distant.  I wanted to do that because it’s slightly less somber to start with than the other song, and I needed it to be a little more hollow to make it match the poem.  This is one of my very favorite poems, and since the first time I read it* I felt not just that it had been written for me, but almost as if it had been written by me.  Of course, I cleaned up the audio for my voice as well, taking out background noise and so on.  Thankfully, I’ve done that sort of thing so often now that it’s speedy work.  And here is that video:

I hope, if you enjoy them, that you’ll give them a “thumbs up” and maybe subscribe and possibly even share them.  If you feel like it, please comment on them, either here or on YouTube.  Of course, I’ll always give you the out that the man selling a broken barometer gave to potential buyers:  No pressure.

I’m thinking of doing a video of The Raven, as I think I mentioned yesterday.  For this, I may dispense with the mask, and possibly even with the sunglasses.  Though I strongly dislike seeing my unimpeded face, for that poem such a horrific sight may even be beneficial, and in any case, I want to have full expressivity, not just of voice, but of face, to recite it.

I want to use some background music for it as well, I think, but I don’t know whether I’ll use just one song or multiple ones for different sections.  The latter notion sounds like an awful lot of work.  I do have an old piano piece I wrote as the theme for a really crappy horror screenplay I wrote in high school, and for which I dreamed of making the movie; the music is way better than the script was, as even my most generous friends agreed.  Maybe I’ll do some of that, and also the bad guy’s theme that I wrote for it, on my keyboard at home (maybe using a pipe organ setting, that might be good), and of course, do various things with the audio to make it more suitably ominous for the background of The Raven.

We’ll see.  It’s a lot of work, all that, but it might be engaging enough to keep me at it for a few hours, which is probably all it would take overall.  It’s not like I have anything better to do with my time.  So, if I do anything at all, I’ll probably do that, but I can make no guarantees.  It’s entirely possible that I’ll crash and burn before then, possibly even before tomorrow; but I’m rarely that lucky.

Oh, as an aside, by the time the first train arrived, this morning, they had not yet opened the train station at Hollywood.  If anyone involved with the Tri-rail system reads this, please note that fact, if you haven’t been made aware of it already.  It’s not cool, to make people with chronic pain and other, similar disabilities have to walk all the way down to the nearest crossing and back to get onto the other side of the tracks.  I don’t much mind the exercise myself—I’m self-hateful to an astonishing degree—but there are people I see regularly at the station for whom this seems an onerous and unkind imposition.

That’s about that for today.  I hope you enjoy the poetry recitations a bit, including my original background music.  Have a good day if you can.


*In an Edgar Allan Poe collection I got as a holiday gift when I was about twelve or thirteen, I think, but I may be one year early or late on that.

Make sure to water your pedestrians

Okay, well, here we all are again on a Friday.  It’s the end of the “standard” work-week, though I am scheduled to work tomorrow, so that doesn’t really mean much to me.

I posted my video yesterday, finally, on YouTube, and here it is below, for your viewing pleasure, or for your viewing pain, or for your viewing indifference, or for your complete lack of viewing.  Obviously, I would appreciate if you would watch it, and (as I say in the video) give it a “thumbs up”, share, subscribe, all that stuff.  I don’t know whether it makes a difference to my statistics whether you watch it here or on YouTube proper…if someone out there does know, could you let me know in the comments?

Thanks.

By the way, I’m writing this post on my smartphone, via Google Docs, rather than on my laptop, because I arrived at the station barely five minutes before time for the earliest train, and it would be a pain to get the laptop out and then pack it right back up.  Of course, it turns out the train was about ten minutes behind schedule, but here it comes now…

…and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s arriving on the wrong side of the station today again, even though there was no announcement that such a thing was happening, not even just on the light-boxes, and yesterday it had gone back to its usual side.  Thankfully, one of the people waiting on the “correct” side with me was a Tri-rail security officer.  He waved down the driver and insisted that they wait for us all to cross.  That took some of the stress out of the situation, and gave me and five other people a chance mutually to vent our frustrations and sardonic amusement as we crossed back over.  However, we still had to hurry a bit, and I took a misstep getting onto the train, which has drawn vociferous objections* from my left knee, hip, and ankle and from my lower back.  That’s not too unusual, but it is annoying.

I’m mildly curious about why they went back to the normal side yesterday morning, then flipped again today to the abnormal side.  I suppose I could ask the conductor, but he is working and is also at the other end of the front car.  Also, of course, he’s a stranger, at least if sorts**, and I’m not overly comfortable striking up conversations with humans I don’t know, though a bit of mutual grumbling in the midst of a frustrating gaffe by the Tri-rail people seems to have been fine.  It didn’t hurt that I’m already an outsider among the group that had to scramble across this morning.  That makes things easier in some ways.  I’m already not expected to “fit in” so a lot of the pressure is off.

Oh, I meant to ask those of you who are regular readers if you can tell any difference in my writing style in this blog post, which I’m writing on my phone*** as compared to my typical blog post, and whether that difference is good or bad or something more complex.  I’ve asked this before, on those occasions when I’ve used my phone to write posts, but I don’t remember getting any feedback.  Maybe no one really had an opinion or preference.  Maybe some people had a preference, but didn’t feel like bothering to make a comment (which is fair enough, I guess).  Or maybe no one has actually read any of those blog posts, and so no one even knew that I had asked.

It would be sad but also laughable if I were writing these near-daily posts and no one had actually read a single one of them, or perhaps no more than enough to make a rare comment that seems to have to do with the post, just to keep me thinking that someone reads them and even “likes” them, when in actuality they are sources of amused scorn, ridicule, and contempt for the readers.  That would be hilarious, in a way.  To paraphrase The Master, from The End of Time, Part 1, that would be the funniest thing in the whole wide world.

Why, I’m laughing so hard right now it brings tears to my eyes.  I can hardly see to write for all the laughing.  I hope you’re having at least as much fun as I am.  It’s not hard; I hardly have any fun at all, or so it feels to me.

And that brings me to roughly 800 words, counting footnotes****.  I guess I might as well draw to a halt now in the next few moments.  If you’re so inclined, please check out my video.  I’m glad to be sharing it.

I’m also glad to have changed my “gravitar” and the sharing profile picture, so it doesn’t give the impression that I’m just speaking tongue in cheek when I say I hate my life and wish I would find some way to pass away, preferably without too much fuss or inconvenience.  I’m not joking.  I am conflicted, and wish I could be cured, but I don’t see it happening, and my pain continues and is quite real.  So, well…just so you know.

P.S. I want briefly to discuss a bit of a pet peeve of mine.  As I walk from the train station to the office, I pass along in front of many businesses with “lawns”.  And at that time of the morning, often, the sprinklers are on and steadily watering the grass (as well as the sidewalk and the people walking on the sidewalk) even though it’s been raining steadily and heavily for days.  These sprinklers will still run even during a hurricane, as long as the power isn’t out.  I’m not being facetious.  I have seen it.

It would be so easy to devise a small, open-topped reservoir on a simple scale, spring based or balance based, whatever is easier and cheaper, that pressed down when filled with more than a minimal amount of water‒as from rain‒and suppressed the sprinklers’ watering programs.  It would then dry out when it had been non-rainy, and the sprinklers could run again.  There could, perhaps, be a tilted mesh screen above the little reservoir to keep debris out so it doesn’t falsely suppress the sprinklers.  And it would save water that is otherwise wasted on already sopping grass, and on sidewalks and pedestrians.


*So to speak.

**Though I have been on trains with this particular conductor so often, over the course of so much time, that he feels very familiar to me.  I doubt he recognizes me, though.

***Remember?

****There are four of them now, in case you lost count.

Welcome to the October Country

Well, it’s October 1st, the beginning of a new month in 2022, a month initially meant to be the eighth month, based on its name.

I’m at the train station and, it being Saturday, the schedule is different than during the week.  There’s also some question of whether the trains are boarding on the usual side or not.  There’s a displayed “announcement” on the light boards that all trains are boarding on one side at this station until further notice, but it could be something left over from yesterday.  Also, the guard is not aware of anything regarding the change in sides.

Nevertheless, today was a day for ordering the monthly pass on the machines, and the ones on my usual side weren’t even working, so I’m on the other side for the moment, anyway.  I’m going to have to try to be vigilant as the time for my train approaches*.  If I miss one train, the next won’t come for another hour.

It’s hard to be vigilant, though.  I feel absolutely exhausted.  My brain feels like it’s barely running on one cylinder, metaphorically speaking**.  I’m just so very tired.

Thankfully, I can embed below my video, which I did end up posting on my YouTube channel yesterday afternoon, so that can provide some of the content and spare me a little writing today.  I might as well, since what I’ve written so far is about some of the most banal things imaginable.

Just a bit of clarification about the video, in case any is necessary:  Obviously I don’t mean to say there is literally no life in the universe, since that would be a contradiction (If there were literally no life, then I could not be speaking about the fact).

I just have always been irked by people who make the wide-eyed claims that it’s so amazing and quasi-mystical that the constants of nature are so perfectly designed to make life, and that must imply some sacred meaning or purpose to it.  That’s about as idiotic as looking at the location of a speck of dust in the corner of a school gym and saying how amazing it is that all the facts of nature conspired to bring that speck of dust right there at that point…it had to have been part of some greater purpose!  It’s drivel.  Only the case with life is even more unimpressive.

My biggest issue with this is that it leads to a kind of quiescence, an assumption that, if the universe was “designed” just so that life can exist, then life, and particularly intelligent life, must be important, and the universe will somehow arrange things to nurture us and protect us from extinction.  If you think that’s the case, then ask the dinosaurs, or better yet, any of the far greater numbers of life forms that went extinct in the Permian-Triassic “Great Dying”.

Oh, wait, you can’t.  They’re all extinct.

No, the universe is almost completely hostile to life, both in terms of its space and in terms of its time.  We are lucky beyond ordinary imagining, though I tried in the description of the video to give some notion of just how lucky in spatial terms, at least, by noting that life exists in roughly only 1.5 x 10-64 of the universe’s volume.

As far as time goes, well if you’re thinking of humanity alone, based on the time that has elapsed since the “Big Bang”, which may or may not be the literal beginning of our universe, the percentage is tiny enough, and others have demonstrated this handily, as in the “cosmic calendar” that Carl Sagan made famous in Cosmos.  But if you want to count all expected possible future time, well then our existence is some fraction of what could be infinity, which is pretty undefined, but might as well be called zero.  The limit certainly approaches zero as we extend the future further and further.

This is not necessarily a call for people just to give up and say “what the hell”, though you have that option, of course, and it is tempting.  I wanted to note that, if you would like for life to continue, and even to have some lasting, cosmic-scale impact, then you can’t take it for granted.  You need to work at it, and work hard, and work long.  The universe is not trying to kill us (contrary to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s habitual way of putting it); if it were, we would be dead already.  But the universe is huge, and it does not even have the capacity to care what happens to life, except in the minds of that life itself.

All life is in the situation of a castaway on a desert island—there’s no preexisting infrastructure, there’s no one out there looking out for you or protecting you, or providing your light, your heat, your air-conditioning, your food, your clothes, your shelter, what have you.  If you want any of those things, you’re going to have to make and/or find them for yourself, and you’re going to have to keep doing it, for as long as you actually want them and want to survive.

Without much more ado, here’s the video***.  I forgot to ask when I made the video, but please give a “thumbs up” and subscribe and share if you are at all inclined to do so, for any colorable reason.  And feel free to check out the other stuff on my YouTube channel if it looks interesting to you.  If anyone finds this interesting at all, I’m hoping to make more such videos about topics that interest me, assuming the universe doesn’t eliminate me in the meantime (though it seems likely to do so).  Oh, and please let me know what you think, either in the comments below the video or here.

Thanks.  Here it is:


*Just a slightly later addendum:  They have announced overhead that my train is approaching in 10 minutes, and have confirmed that it is not on its usual side.  So I was right to be proactive.

**Of course, it’s a metaphor.  I don’t honestly think that any of you really believe that my brain is an internal combustion engine of some kind, except in the loosest of possible senses.  Apologies.

***I wore a mask and dark glasses in the video mainly because I don’t like how my face looks—it bears evidence of the many things that have happened to me in the last decade or so.  Maybe no one else can see it but me, but it is what it is.  Anyway, the glasses are awesome, I really like them, and the mask combined with them makes for a good look, I think.  Certainly better than my underlying face, anyway.

Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee, And hush’d with blogging night-flies to thy slumber

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for what was once only my weekly blog post, and which remains the most “formal” of my posts.

I’m waiting on the earliest train this morning, because I fully woke up a bit after 2 in the morning, and was not readily able to go back to sleep.  When it was finally late enough (so to speak) to come to the train station and not feel just silly about it, I decided to get up and do so.

I thought of something interesting during that early morning time.  Well, it’s not truly a new thought for me, but it’s something that crystallized a bit.  I’m going to try to start making short videos for my YouTube channel, discussing some specific topic in each one, though I may go off on a tangent or two, it being me.

But I’m going to set my timer when I start making the video, so that I have a maximum length to record, before editing, that hopefully will keep me from meandering too much.  My “Superman Neutrino Hypothesis” video was fun—for me, anyway—but I think it probably went on for too long for other people to stay interested in it.  So, if I set myself a limit, such that an edited video is between ten and twenty minutes long (at most), that might be good.

Of course, there are arguments that can be made that a purely unedited video would be better to share—more honest, more straight up.  For highly personal videos, that’s probably true.  It’s not as though I’m going to be adding any significant special effects or anything—that’s not what it’s about.  I don’t intend to create some homemade wannabe TV news program or special.  I just want to convey my thoughts about some subjects in ways that are likely to reach more people.

I know, obviously, that those of you who are reading this are the sorts of people who read the written word, and that’s great.  I think there are more people out there who might be interested in what I write, but there’s no good way to make people who might be interested aware of it, other than asking people to share the posts on your social media (please do, if you would), and for me to share them, and so on.

I’m sorry to have to accept that videos just reach more people than written posts and articles do, though in a far less efficient way (data-wise).  It’s tragic, but life is tragic, so what are you going to do.  Plus, I do sometimes like to talk, and though I have no one to talk to in person about the things that interest me, maybe if I start a one-sided verbal conversation, someone out there will engage with it.

I was thinking of starting to do some other new videos anyway, though the specific reasons for that are something I’ll try to keep close to my vest for the moment.  We’ll see what happens.

Of course, I’ll share/embed any such videos that I make here on this blog.  I may even also share them on Iterations of Zero, which I’ve been leaving fallow for a long time now, at least since I started just sharing my brain drippings here on this blog.  Maybe it was a mistake, or at least not terribly useful, for me to have made two blogs, but I had my reasons at the time.  I still like the name of it, and the symbol I made to represent it, which I use as the “cover” of many of my video versions of audio blogs, and of some of my songs, including the official cover of my song Like and Share.

Anyway, I expect to try to record this first foray this morning, since I’m up early anyway—you’ve got to seize the bull by the horns of the dilemma while the iron is hot or get off the pot, after all.  So, hopefully, you’ll get to see that soon.

To begin to bring things to a close, it’s worth noting that this is the last Thursday in September of 2022, already a week after Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.  I really didn’t hope to be doing any of this still at this point, but there have been reasons why I didn’t want to inconvenience other people around me too much, and that would have happened, otherwise.

Also, I’ve been trying to adjust some lifestyle matters related to my chronic pain—that’s a long story and quite boring, frankly.  It’s one of those things that sounds interesting, perhaps, if you leave it vague, but then if you knew what I meant, it would be dreary and even distasteful.  I’m just struggling, always, to find ways to mitigate my pain that don’t cause more problems than they solve.

For the most part, medicines have engendered vastly more issues than they have corrected.  Though I am okay with using borderline (and not-so-borderline) toxic doses of aspirin and acetaminophen and naproxen, all in various combinations throughout the day as needed, to mitigate things a bit.  It’s not as though I particularly want to avoid liver and kidney and GI failure, anyway.  It would frankly be okay if my whole system would just have a catastrophic meltdown sometime reasonably soon; it would save me a lot of bother.

Oh, and the hurricane clouds were heading north-northeast this morning, consistent with the hurricane now being northwest of my location now, or at least the center of its rotation (cloud-wise) being there.  That seems roughly to match the predicted track of the thing.  Locally the rain has mostly stopped, though it’s still windy.  But the trains (and apparently the buses) are all running in Broward County, and good on them!  I’m reasonably impressed, as I have been many time before.  It’s a pretty well-run organization, or pair of organizations.

It’s nice to see something being done rather well, especially when so many things in the world are done only as well as they absolutely must be to survive—and that merely because those that aren’t done well enough to survive do NOT survive, and the ones that remain include, seemingly in the majority, those just barely good enough to survive, since there are likely to be more of those than there are of really successful and exception things—that last one by the very meaning of the word.

I’ll stop myself here, now.  Maybe I should set my timer to constrain myself writing the first draft of these blog posts!  Do you think that might make them better?  Do please let me know, if you have any interest.

Right.  That seems unlikely.

TTFN

cane

We’ve been trying to reach you, Rob

Guten Morgen, bonjour, buenos días, ohaiyou gozaimasu, and good morning.  It’s Wednesday, at 10 to five, and I’m already on the train, because despite being sick, I still couldn’t sleep, and if anything, I awakened sooner than usual.

Yes, I am still sick—it’s rare that anyone really, actually, gets over a respiratory infection in 24 hours, after all—but I also still have to go to work.  That’s particularly true on Wednesdays, when I have to do the office payroll in addition to my other, regular duties.  It’s not a dirty job, but nevertheless, someone has to do it.

I feel even less that I have a topic to write about today than I did yesterday, but as regular readers will know, that never stops me from writing.  It’s a bit analogous, I suppose, to the jocular saying that one should never let facts get in the way of a good story.  So:  never let lack of a subject stop you from writing a blog post.  Goodness knows most pundits and politicians and even most journalists nowadays don’t let lack of subject matter stop them from writing or speaking at length.

Still, my energy feels unusually low today, even for me.  Maybe I should write about how unreasonable it is in our culture that we demand of ourselves that we go to work even when we’re ill, thus increasing the chance that other people will become ill, and probably reducing overall productivity of the workforce and decreasing the overall quality of life for everyone.  As if we needed to push that down lower than it already is.

But I suppose that subject has been addressed innumerable times in many ways by many other people.  If you need it discussed beyond a few words to trigger the thought, I’m not sure what world you’re occupying.  Perhaps your life is so satisfying that you don’t even comprehend how anyone could be less than happy.  More likely, you’re so worn down and resigned—dare I say, fatalistic—that you don’t even recognize, let alone consider, the possibility that things could improve.

I feel you.

So, what should I write about?  Or should I try to write about anything at all?  Should I just start spewing random sentences in question form, as though initiating a Socratic dialogue?  Would there be any benefit to that?  If so, what would it be?

I’m not good at small talk in general, and I’ve gotten worse at it over time, as my socialization has diminished.

I did very briefly pick my guitar up yesterday, because I had watched a video of someone reacting to the Radiohead song Knives Out, for which I had learned the lead guitar part some time ago, and I wanted to see if I could still do it.  I couldn’t do it from memory—I needed to get out the tabs—but it wasn’t too bad.  And while I had that out, I quickly fiddled (so to speak) through part of the lead from Big Log, by Robert Plant, and a bit of Wish You Were Here, and then the chords from One Headlight and A Space Oddity.  I made a video of me playing and singing the latter a while back, which I guess I’ll embed below as a space filler.

Then someone noticed that I was playing—I usually only play when no one else is around—and so I put the guitar away.  Anyway, I wanted to watch a reaction to the Radiohead song Lift that I noticed on the YouTube list, and the chords for that involve a B add…ninth, I think*, that gives me a terrible hand cramp to try to reach, so I wasn’t going to try to play along.  And listening to that song, and the reaction, made me want to cry, so I had to stop all that.

So that’s it.  I actually did get out the black Strat at the office, or picked it up and turned on the amp, since it’s always sort of “out”.  But who knows if I’ll ever play it again?  I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t.  It’s like picking up your kids—there will be a moment when you pick up your child in your arms for the final time, and you will never pick them up again after that, and odds are, you won’t even realize that it is the final time when it happens.  You’ll just never happen to pick them up again.  Likewise, there will be a last time that you hug or even see each of the people you love, and then one of you will be lost to the other, or both will be, for the rest of time.  So don’t take those things for granted, okay?

That’s about all I’ve got for the time being.  Hope you have a good day.


*Yes, that’s what it was.

A brief reminder of my “audio stories”

Well, I’m working today—as I will also be doing Monday—so, obviously, I’m writing a blog post.  Aren’t you excited?

When I arrived at the train station this morning, I thought the whole system was shut down somehow, because the “garage-door” style barriers were closed, blocking the stairs, the elevators, and the payment machines, like they do when there’s a hurricane coming (there isn’t…I check frequently).  However, it turns out that the guy who opens them just hadn’t arrived yet.  He only arrived after I had gone all the way down to the end of the station to the road to cross the tracks and had come all the way back up on the side on which I need to be.

Ah, well, it’s a little bit of extra exercise, and that can’t be too bad, can it?

I planned yesterday to mention the subject of some of my reading-aloud “videos” of my fiction, but the post got to be too long, and it would have been a very abrupt change of topic, considering I was writing about my difficulties seeking and finding and begging for help when one is circling the drain, as I am.  I haven’t gotten any useful answers, other than a commiserating one to the effect, “Whataya gonna do?  You just gotta keep on moving.”  I can respect that attitude.  It’s far better than someone pretending to have answers when they don’t.  But it doesn’t help me figure out why one should bother to keep moving.  I can’t see any reason, honestly, and the effort has long outweighed the reward for me.  I’m frankly skeptical that there is any reward at all, or that there has been one for some time.

Anyway.

Quite a while ago, I did some recordings of me reading some of my stories, and I turned them into videos, though the “video” portion is nothing but the cover of the story in question.  I think they came out reasonably well; I’ve always been decent at reading stories out loud.  But they didn’t and don’t get much play, even though they are a free way to listen to my (already cheap) short stories, which is why I stopped doing them.

I also recorded and uploaded onto YouTube the first nine chapters of my book The Chasm and the Collision.  This is my most family friendly story, since I wrote it with my kids—who were in fifth and fourth grades when I started it, I think—in mind.  It a story about three middle-school students who become caught up in a trans-universal “fantasy”* adventure.

Thanks to the very wise advice of my father, there’s not even a single curse word in the whole book, though there are scary bits, since there is real danger in the story.  Real danger to the characters, I mean.  I don’t mean to say that reading the story is dangerous.  It’s not.  My sister has read the book several times, now, and she says it’s her favorite of my stories.  As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the fact that she fell and hit her head earlier this week.

I recorded the first nine chapters, but I finally stopped doing it, because, as I said, no one seemed to be listening.  I thought it was a shame, but it was a lot of work to do the reading and then the editing of the audio (though it helped me learn Audacity, which was definitely worthwhile).  Since then, at various times, I’ve thought that maybe I would like to pick up on reading the chapters and uploading them, and then maybe even start to record and upload my other books, a bit at a time**.  I’ve also got a few more short stories and novellas that I haven’t recorded and uploaded, and they could be stand-alone “videos”.  But, again, it’s a lot of work, and it would be doubly frustrating if no one ever listens.

I’m embedding here, below, the YouTube video of the first chapter of The Chasm and the Collision, so that people can get a sample of it.  I’m also going to see if it’s possible to embed the YouTube playlist that is all the “videos” that I’ve done so far from that book, and maybe even the playlist that has the “short” stories that I’ve read aloud and posted.  Again, it’s a good way for people to get exposed to the stories*** for free.

If you listen and like them, I obviously would be delighted if you’d decide to buy them.  All my stories are available for Kindle, and my novels and collections are available in paperback as well.  My last collection, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities is even available in hardback.  Here’s a link to my Amazon author’s page, so you can peruse them:  The Link.

If there’s more than one person out there who would be interested in hearing more of me reading my stories, please let me know in the comments below.  You can also leave story-related comments on YouTube.

Nowadays one can self-publish for Audible, which is kind of neat, but I think I’m going to stick with the YouTube format, because it’s more informal, and it’s free for listeners so they can introduce themselves to the stories, as read by the author.  I’m very self-hating in general, and that hasn’t changed, but I think my stories are pretty good, and I’m especially proud of The Chasm and the Collision, because I wrote it with my kids in mind—though I don’t think either of them has ever read it, and they probably never will.

That’s about all I have for today.  Nothing has really changed since yesterday, so there’s no other real news to give.  Have a good holiday weekend, for those of you in the United States.  And everyone else, I hope you just have a good weekend.

Here’s the embedding of those videos and playlists, if I can successfully do the latter:


*I put that in “scare quotes” because if you pay attention when you read it, you’ll notice it’s actually a science fiction story.  But the character of the tale is definitely more like fantasy than sci-fi.

**Boy howdy, wouldn’t Unanimity end up taking up a looooooong time?

***That makes them sound radioactive, somehow.  As far as I know, they are not.

Whatever happened to Saturday (night) in the park when it’s not the 4th of July? Is it no longer all right for fighting?

It’s Saturday, as you can probably tell by the title above (which is a loose mishmash of a few songs that contain the word “Saturday” in their titles).  I’m keeping up my pattern of writing blog posts in the morning, and I’m sure that WordPress will soon be telling me that I’m on a five-day streak—which is true, of course, but banal.  Then again, I commented on that fact already yesterday, so my commenting on it again today is not merely banal but also redundant.

“Who’s the lame one now, Robert?  Ha!” – WordPress.

I’m going to work today, and I’m currently waiting at the train station as I write the first draft of this post.  If I were not going to work, I probably wouldn’t be writing a post today.  For instance, next weekend I’m not supposed to be working, so I probably won’t be writing anything, even if I’m keeping up this habit of writing blog posts “every day”.

If I do write one next Saturday, I’ll probably be pretty grumpy, since it will mean I’ve had to come to the office and work to cover for my coworker.  His wife just had their first baby on Thursday, after a worrying situation that led them to go to the hospital early, so he hasn’t been in the office since Monday—which was a useless day for work, anyway, but there was at least a bit of a cookout for the holiday.  We’ll see whether having a new baby will count as a reason to switch weekends.  I doubt it.  Though if there ever was a good reason for such things, that would probably be it.

Goodness knows that, when my children were born, I did not take much time off work.  I was in third year of medical residency when my son was born, and then was in my first year of private medical practice when my daughter was born.  Trust me, I took very little break time, though I happily did a lot of feeding and diaper changing at home, and since I was better at getting up in the middle of the night than my (ex-)wife, I did a lot of that, and was happy to do so.  I loved spending time with my kids—nothing better, not ever.  I would still love spending time with them if I could, though they are now 22 and 20 years old.  But I haven’t actually seen them, in person, in about ten years, lamentably.  That’s not by my choice, though it’s certainly related to mistakes I’ve made.

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about that—or to write about it—too much, because honestly, it makes me want to die right here and now.  And no, that’s not a figure of speech.  There’s very little point in going on with my life since I can’t see them anymore, but I do it anyway, because that’s what biological organisms like me are shaped to do by natural selection, “long after the thrill of living is gone”.  It’s a frustrating and Hellish fact that, even when you don’t have a particular desire or motive or reason or excuse to stay alive, your body, your brain, your inherent mechanism, is saddled with an almost insurmountable drive to continue, long past the time when you’re going to reproduce, just because that drive to stay alive was such a strongly selected-for survival attribute.

I still have no desire to do any fiction writing right now, and I likewise don’t have any urge to play guitar.  I’m seriously considering just giving most of my guitars to my former housemate, who is a very good guitarist, and who built two of the guitars I own.  They’ll just take up space in the room I’m moving into, and since I’m moving (against my desires), I might as well free up that space.  I might even give someone the Strat that I play at the office, but I’m less sure which person would be the best recipient for that.

It’s interesting to note how my calluses on my fingers are slowly waning, which is a noticeable fact for me because it changes the subjective experience of typing.  My left fingers always feel comparatively just so slightly numb compared to my right fingers because of the calluses from guitar playing, but eventually I presume that will revert to equality, though it will probably do so asymptotically, and I’m not sure how long it will take to reach rough* equivalence.

Oh, right!  Yesterday I finally posted my video of the first act of Macbeth.  I’ll embed that here, below, for those of you who want to watch it.  It’s reasonably well-performed, I think, but of course the video-making and editing is highly amateur, and the actor is not pretty to look at.  Still, maybe that latter fact makes it a more realistic portrayal, especially when I’m doing the three Witches.  It was at least fun to “perform”, though doing so and then editing it was a great deal of work, and that wasn’t always fun.  I don’t know if I’ll do any more of it, unless there’s a surprising amount of enthusiasm from the viewing public (so to speak).

Now that Independence Day is over, we’re entering a comparative desert of holidays for a while, at least in America.  Even Labor Day isn’t until September.  That’s not exactly a very big day of celebration, and it seems that fewer and fewer people get the day off work than used to do.  I don’t know for sure if that’s ironic or particularly appropriate, but it seems to be the case, though perhaps that’s just my highly biased and filtered perception.  The next really good holiday—since the world at large has ridiculously failed to embrace Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday** as a worldwide celebration of peace and joy and the triumph over evil—is Halloween.  As someone who already feels as if he’s a poorly-animated corpse, it’s not inappropriate that it’s my favorite holiday.

But it is a looong way off.

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ll write for the day.  I’ve skidded past a thousand words, and since I don’t have any pressing reason to go further, I won’t.  I hope you all have a good weekend, and that the weather’s nice and warm but not too hot and muggy for you to enjoy yourselves***.  If you can get to the beach or an amusement park, or someplace you can get ice cream or popsicles or sno-cones, or what have you—and if you and your loved ones enjoy such things—why not get out there and indulge yourself (and them) just a bit?  Believe me, the plants and the ectothermic organisms are taking advantage of the heat; you might as well do so, too.


*No pun intended.  Honestly.

**September 22, for those who don’t already know.  They were not born in the same year; Frodo was 78 years younger than Bilbo, but they were born on the same day of the year.  This is not at all uncommon, by the way; if memory serves, in any group of 23 people (or more), there is a greater than 50% chance that two of them will have the same birthday****, though which date it will be is not specified.  If you’re looking for a particular day of the year, the odds are much lower.  Look it up—it’s (wrongly) called the “Birthday Paradox”.

***This applies in the northern hemisphere, of course.  In the southern hemisphere, it’s technically winter now, but I don’t think it’s probably gotten that cold there yet, outside of, for instance, Antarctica.  Perhaps I’m wrong.

****I just checked the math.  It’s correct, unless I screwed up in my calculations.

Thoughts while commuting on Tuesday

Well, there’s no new portion of a story to post here today, but I did write some yesterday on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado—about 1100 words.  That’s the first bit I’ve written since the 800 words I mentioned last week.

I also went into the office yesterday, because we were open for part of the day.  It was a thoroughgoing waste of time and effort, and I already wasn’t feeling well (I’d stayed home from work sick on Friday, and I was not feeling much better yesterday…come to think of it, I still don’t feel great).  Almost no one seemed to want to work, and those who did were interrupted and interfered with by those who didn’t.  And then, one infantile “coworker” let off a stink bomb or stink drops or something (near the one person who was trying to work, ha-ha…that would have been juvenile even back in grade school), flooding the office with a horrible smell on a day when we were having a bit of an office cookout, so people were going to be trying to eat there.

Yes, seriously, this all happened.  I was very pissed off, because I had gone into the office despite still feeling sick to my stomach, and the stupid stink-bomb nonsense didn’t help me feel any better.  Back at the house, one couple have been moving out of part of the house—they’re nice enough people, but they were horribly messy, even by my standards.  When I’m messy, I keep it in my own space, I try hard not to mess up common areas.  But now a transition is ongoing, and the property owner asked me to move into another room, though I’ve been living in the same room for almost five years.  The other room is bigger, but that doesn’t automatically make it better.  And I don’t like change much at the best of times.

I’ve also made a few videos, including one in which I read the Declaration of Independence out loud, which I’ll embed here, below.  I suspected most Americans probably hadn’t read it in a long time, and many have probably never read it at all, so it was worth a bit of effort, even when I wasn’t feeling well.

I did another video earlier, last week, about science, and about learning about science, which I haven’t posted to YouTube yet.  If and when I do, I’m sure I’ll embed it in some blog post here, as well.  Why not?  I’m not doing much of anything else that’s productive or valuable.  Of course, that begs the question of whether doing such videos is productive or valuable either, but I guess that can only be learned after they’re done.

I’m not feeling well at all, however.  This creeping crud is really doing a number on me, and that’s on top of my precarious mental state, which leaves me very easily irritated and also unable really to talk to anyone about the many issues that I have.  I don’t really know what to do.  I know what I want to do, but that want is not unadulterated.  If it were, I would simply do it.  Although, frankly, I don’t think right now I’m physically up to anything taxing.  I feel so beat up.  I guess I’ll have to wait a bit on that, no matter what.

I don’t really know what to do.  The wind is going out of nearly all of my sails, and I don’t have a big enough stock of provisions to endure if the sea is becalmed for too long*.  Maybe instead of trying to write fiction every morning, for a while I should just try to write a blog post every day, including my regular Thursday blog post.  I have a couple of files in my note-taking app full of what I call “article” ideas, and it’s not as though there isn’t plenty of nonsense in the world that might be worth discussing.  There are many topics on which I have thoughts, judgements, and opinions, and even some matters on which I am an expert.

Maybe I could do this as a sort of therapy—a kind of pseudo-Freudian free-association daily blog.  Who knows?  At one point, I considered writing a memoir/autobiography, and I even had a title planned for it (A Most Stormy Life, taken from the Poe poem Alone, which is one of my favorites), but that feels just so pompous.  Plus, I don’t think my life is all that interesting.  It’s had interesting and gripping moments, of course, but surely that’s the case for everyone.  But I had long since planned, or considered, to share various random thoughts on Iterations of Zero, my other blog.  I was going to constrain this blog to deal primarily with my fiction writing and related matters, but it’s veered gradually at least part of the way away from that, and I have far more people following this blog than the other one**.

Well, these are just some thoughts that I’ve had.  I suppose, if I make another post tomorrow, you’ll know that I decided, at least for the time being, to write and post something every day.

In closing now I’ll tell you a little about the very weird dream/nightmare I had last night.  As is often the case in my (rare) nightmares, I ended up becoming irritably, grouchily defiant toward the forces of evil (embodied in some manner of building/complex/zone that seemed to have a malicious mind and will, and which did not want to let us leave) that were victimizing or at least tormenting me and some other people.  As is also often the case, the form this defiance took in the dream was related to the fact that I had to go to the bathroom, and after making a horrible-sounding, shouted demand*** that I think I must have said out loud, because it woke me up—my own voice sounded demented and weird and otherworldly, even to me—I discovered that I had to take a wicked pee.

At least I know I was well hydrated.


*To really brutalize a metaphor.

**Probably simply because I do regularly make posts on this one, but don’t do so on IoZ very often.

***The exact words were a repeated, “Do you understand?!?”