The Inscrutability of the Relativity of Popularity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe I should just go home.


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

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

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

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

This is the post that the blogger has made

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll never know now, will we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m tired of it.

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

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


*I guess I can’t blame him.

**Florida.

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

Is it really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be good to each other and to yourselves.

TTFN

desperado oilified


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

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

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

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

Let there be gall enough in thy ink, though thou blog with a goose-pen, no matter.

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for my usual, normal, typical weekly blog post.  For those of you who dip in only occasionally to read this weekly post, you should know that I’ve been writing “daily”* blog posts for about the last two and a half weeks, since I have no will or desire or urge to write fiction, or to play guitar, or to do anything else more creative than writing whatever comes into my stream of consciousness for these blogs.

This week, my Monday and Tuesday blog posts were probably a bit gloomy.  I’m never sure how they come across to other people, though—I seem unable to express my feelings in ways that other people even notice, let alone understand**, so I can’t make unqualified assessments.  But yesterday’s was, I think, more lighthearted, since it was the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

I like things like that.

Since I write a lot, I’m often slightly irritated by Word’s grammar checker function.  It frequently makes recommendations or highlights things that, apparently, its algorithm considers cases of incorrect grammar or punctuation.  Maybe half the time, maybe slightly more than that, it’s correct, because I’ve made a typo or was writing too fast on my first draft (or I just was incorrect, which does happen), but the rest of the time it’s simply wrong about its detected “error”.

There’s nothing wrong with that (ha ha); I don’t expect such algorithms to be perfect.  The problem is, when I address the suggestions, Word only gives me the options of changing what I wrote, not checking for that issue at all anymore (which I think would be counterproductive) or ignoring it “once”.  If I choose the latter, which I usually do, but then go back and edit that sentence or paragraph in any way—even if I put the cursor there—it highlights that “error” again, and I then have to choose either to re-right-click on it and tell it to ignore it once, yet again, or just to ignore the little blue double-underline that has clearly been designed to be difficult to ignore.  It’s irritating.

If there are people from Microsoft reading this, especially people who work on programming Word, please note:  I love your work, it’s a brilliant word processor; in many ways it’s The word processor, the standard by which all others are judged, and rightly so.  But can you please give us some other options such as, “ignore this from now on in this document”, and possibly even, “this would-be correction is itself erroneous”, the latter choice perhaps triggering a report to be sent back to Microsoft so the algorithm can be updated when it’s discovered that it’s making erroneous suggestions in certain circumstances.  I wouldn’t expect Word just to take my word for it, so to speak, but if many writers send back such reports on a particular issue, the program can be steadily improved, which would be of benefit to many.

I worry about this not merely because of the minor inconvenience to me which repeats itself several times daily, but also because there are many people out there who don’t seem to have studied grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc., since, perhaps, third grade—and I doubt they got a very good grounding in the matters even then—so they learn what they think are rules of spelling and grammar and punctuation and usage from the corrections they are given when they use texting functions and word processors.  Which means they’re learning something incorrect in many cases, assuming they’re trying to learn in the first place, which I’m pretty sure at least some of them are doing.

I know, of course, that language is an evolving structure, and some “rules” are arbitrary and even silly…but not all of them.  Grammar exists because there is a logic to it that allows language consistently and accurately to convey thoughts and ideas in useful ways from one person to another.  Some conventions are no more “natural” than driving on the right side of the road versus the left.  But even in such cases, people need to pick a side of the road for everyone to stick to, even if it’s just arbitrary, or there will be many accidents, and no one will get anywhere.

Some things are real and fundamental—I think Chomsky showed, or at least posited, that there is an inherent grammar or syntax structure built into all human brains—and some things are semi-arbitrary, such as whether “prepositions” come before or after the words they modify, whether it’s even possible to split infinitives***, what symbol one should use to indicate that one is writing what some other person is or was saying, and so on.  These things can be, and are, done differently in different languages, but within a language, communication is better when the conventions are followed, for the most part, by those who actually want to communicate in that language.

When I write fiction, there are times when I will deliberately write ungrammatically, most often when writing dialogue.  But this is not the same as not knowing or caring about grammar and punctuation and related matters.  Language evolves when there are causes for changes, good or bad, but hopefully not just because of laziness and slipshod reliance on automatic spell-checkers and grammar checkers, especially if those are going to give bad recommendations.

Sometimes I despair.  Other times, I’m asleep.

I’m exaggerating a bit how much it bothers me, of course, and I don’t feel any moral outrage toward people who make such mistakes, or toward Word’s programmers for not having produced a program that’s perfect in all its parts.  That would be silly, and not in the way that I’m usually silly.  I just think it would be nice to try to improve the situation a bit to help people who really want to learn the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling and so on properly****.  And it would be good if Word could be told when its grammatical suggestions are wrong.  Still, when I think about how much I write, even though this happens to me at least once a day, that’s still an awful lot more Word gets correct than it gets wrong, so kudos to those involved!

And to all the rest of you, who’ve now read an unplanned quasi-rant, since I don’t have any fiction writing to discuss, well—please have a good day and a good week and a good month and a good year, l’dor v’dor, ad infinitum.  Try to stay healthy from within and from without, which is a bigger challenge right now in much of the world than it usually seems to be.  Be good to those you love, and be good to those who love you, and if there is significant overlap in those two groups and you get to spend time with the groups’ members—that’s wonderful.  Cherish that fact.  Try to keep things that way if you can.

TTFN

pene-blog1


*In scare quotes because technically I have only been writing on the days that I go to work, so not on Sundays, and not on every Saturday.

**I’ve quoted often the line from Pink Floyd’s song Brain Damage, “And when the cloudbursts thunder in your ear/ you shout, and no one seems to hear” as representing my experience a lot of the time.

***Boldly or otherwise.

****So that, when they do break those rules—as they will, if they write enough—they can do so deliberately, choosing when and where and how they do it, achieving much more reliable results and effects than if they didn’t know what they were doing.  As Picasso is reputed to have said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”  He might not have been the most admirable of people, but he knew his stuff when it came to art.

Warning: Dysthymic/Depressive Thoughts Follow – Read at Your Own Risk. (Further bulletins as events warrant).

Well, it’s Monday again, which seems to keep happening every week, no matter what people try to do to stop it.

I took the weekend off writing because I had the weekend off work, but now I’m back at the train station (and then back on the train, but thankfully not back on the chain gang) so I’m writing.  I still don’t have the will to write any new fiction—nor to play any music.  But I seem able to do this, at least.

I didn’t get anything useful done at all this weekend, including getting a good rest, because I’m thoroughly washed out, physically as well as psychologically.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Maybe it’s just a physical manifestation of worsening dysthymia.  Traditionally, I’ve been quite an energetic person, really.  Ask anyone who’s known me for a long time; I’m not usually lazy, though there are things I don’t like to do because they’re psychologically unpleasant.  But I’ve never been averse to work, per se.

Now, however, I’m barely inclined to get up and go to the office, or to write even this much.  But even lying in bed* is frankly uncomfortable for my back after a while, though being up and about is likewise eventually uncomfortable.  So, I have to keep switching it up.  Anyway, just not working, and not writing, and not doing anything at all would probably shortly become more irritating than doing those things.  I don’t have anyone to do anything fun with, because, unfortunately, I find dealing with most people more and more stressful as time goes by (and my masking skills atrophy), and that makes being with me frankly not much fun for other people, either.

Sorry, I realize this is turning into just a complete bummer of a post.  I apologize.  I’ll try to put some warning** in the title for the sake of those who are easily upset by what the thoughts of someone suffering from potentially-terminal depression sound like—or, well, look like, I guess, since this is written.

I don’t know, do most people read by “speaking” the words in their head, so that reading is like listening, and reading someone’s thoughts is like hearing them?  That’s how I read, a fact which probably arises from the prior fact that my parents (and my older siblings, too, if I remember correctly) read out loud to me when I was very young.  I get the impression that not everyone experiences this.  I personally think any parent who doesn’t read aloud to their children should not be called a parent, and indeed, probably ought to have their organs of generation removed and burned on a sacrificial altar.  I am biased in this, of course, but I also think I’m actually right***.

For those of you who haven’t heard (or read) yet, the new 988 hotline number has gone into effect, or so I understand, starting on July 16th, 2022.  This is a new way to access—by phone and by text—the national Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or whatever the official name of the thing is.  It’s good to know and have available, though evidently the old toll-free number (1-800-273-8255) is still extant and is hooked into the same system.

This is the sort of stuff to which I pay attention, for what are probably obvious reasons.  I skim over to the associated website a couple of times a week, weighing pros and cons.  Unfortunately, I had a very bad experience after calling the original number a while ago****, so I don’t think I’ll ever use it again, though I have in the past (obviously).

Anyway, I hate myself far, far too much, and I don’t honestly think I deserve to get help, so I’m highly unlikely to seek it in any straightforward way.  The best route for me is probably the Shakespearean bare bodkin…though honestly, the idea of using a dagger for such a purpose is intimidating, to say the least.  But I think Hamlet was speaking somewhat figuratively when he said that.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for now.  If I’m still doing this—or anything at all—I suppose I’ll probably write something tomorrow, and maybe it’ll be a bit cheerier than this.  I would say it couldn’t be much less cheery, but this is me we’re talking about; I don’t think there are any limits to how gloomy and dismal I can be.

A person has to be good at something, I guess*****.


*I sleep on a futon on the floor, actually, because it’s a bit better for my back and saves space.

**I did, see?

***Okay, perhaps not about the burning on the sacrificial altar.  But I think the rest is correct.

****This was NOT the fault of the helpline, however!!  I want to make that clear, and I do NOT want to discourage anyone from calling or texting any version of the helpline.  If you are in doubt, use it!  It’s a brilliant organization, and the people involved are wonderful and do a terrific job providing a very beneficial service that saves who-knows-how-many lives.  My bad experience was with a couple of imbeciles in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, who handcuffed me because I was feeling suicidal—which I guess is scary, because it might be, I don’t know, contagious?—and did nerve damage to my left hand in the process.  They do seem to let a lot of pussies become cops these days, but I have no doubt at all there are good cops out there, and I’d be willing to accept that most cops are good cops and good people, or at least try to be such.  Who knows, the guys who cuffed me for being depressed might have gotten forced into early retirement after shooting someone for having partial complex seizures or something.

*****That’s not of necessity true as a matter of physical law or logical necessity, but I think it’s almost certainly true that every reasonably functional human has abilities that could be considered “good” at a significant number of things.  The ability to speak, let alone read and write, in a complex symbolic language alone is unprecedented in the natural world.  No other species before us seems to have done it, and as far as we can tell, no other species alive right now does it.  On Earth, anyway.

Who is this Frigga person, and why is a day and a minced oath named after her?

Well, it’s Friday once again, despite all the odds against that happening*.  I’ve now been writing these quasi-daily posts for almost two weeks.  Really, I suppose, it’s closer to being a week and a half, but that’s a difficult measure to use, because half a week, of necessity, involves half a day in the middle, since weeks have an odd number of days, but days, and daily things, are whole numbers.

I’m told that the number of days in the week was originally related to the number of “non-fixed” celestial bodies that are visible to the naked eye:  the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.  Of course, our modern. English names for the days don’t completely match up with the names of the planets/moon/sun, but we do have a Sunday, a Moon Day, and a Saturn Day**.  That’s almost half a week worth of days…but, of course, since weeks are made up of an odd number of days, we can’t have a whole number of days equate to half a week, anyway, as I said before.

It’s good that the number of minutes, hours, and seconds in our standard time measurements are more sensible.  It’s my understanding that this comes from the Babylonians, who were not only good with hanging gardens*** but with highly divisible numbers, such as 24 and 60.  Just look at all the ways you can divide sixty evenly:  by 2, by 3, by 4, by 5, by 6, by 10, by 12, by 15, by 20, and by 30!  And 24 isn’t a slouch for being a smaller number; you can divide it by 2, by 3, by 4, by 6, by 8, and by 12.  Just imagine if the number of minutes in an hour, or seconds in a minute, or hours in a day, were odd numbers.  Imagine if they were prime numbers!  How cool would that be?

No, wait, I mean that would be highly inconvenient.  And it would be inconvenient.

Presumably there were other attempts to devise systems for measuring time during a day—I think I recall reading that sometime around the French Revolution and the creation of the Metric system****, there was an attempt to innovate a decimal clock of some variety.  You can sort of understand where they were coming from, if this story isn’t apocryphal.

But there appears to be a sort of natural selection with secondary inertia that applies to things like systems of time division, and it’s very difficult to knock out an entrenched one that functions reasonably well, and upon which many dependencies have evolved, without some truly catastrophic breakdown of the prior system.  Just look at the QWERTY keyboard layout!

None of the preceding was what I had “planned” on writing about this morning.  Well, I say “planned”, but it was just a vague notion, and I distracted myself right from the start with stochastic and tangential thoughts, which is almost always how these blog posts happen.  As it was written by the great Robert Burns—you know he’s great just from his first name—the best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.  And my plans are rarely among the best laid; in fact, I don’t think my plans have gotten laid in more than ten years.  No, not even on Frigga’s Day, which you’d think would be good for such things.

I had thought about a post detailing a movie or story idea, about a person who wakes up one day to find, or perhaps discovers gradually, that he has become a zombie.  He’s not a philosophical zombie à la David Chalmers, but a horror-style zombie…of sorts.  He doesn’t start shambling about (much) and he certainly doesn’t have the urge to bite and/or eat living humans, except maybe when they’re being really annoying.  He’s just gradually rotting and falling apart and wearing away.  He has no vivacity, has low energy, and his face and body are steadily decaying and becoming disgusting.

But none of the people around him seem to realize what’s happening to him, even when he tries to call attention to it and see if anyone can help.  He’s gone to doctors and sought out zombie-therapy (it’s not a unique problem to him), and tried medications, and meditations, and supplements, and lifestyle changes and all that sort of stuff, but it doesn’t seem to help…or when it does, it only helps a little, or for a very short while.

I’m imagining his appearance degenerating sort of in the fashion of David’s friend, who was killed by a werewolf, then showed up more and more rotten every time while he urged David to break the bloodline of the wolf in An American Werewolf in London.

And our protagonist is unable to rest, because, well, rest doesn’t really help a zombie feel better.  It’s just immobility, after which, if anything, he’s stiffer and sorer than before.

A big part of the story would be him feeling tormented by the fact that the people around him don’t seem to realize that he’s got this problem, even when he tries to ask for help.  And he could really use some help, because—being a zombie—he’s unable to help himself.

Finally, he decides he just has to try to figure out what ways there are to destroy zombies reliably, and with reasonably little pain and mess, so he can end his torment.  Some versions of the zombie lore say its enough to “shoot them in the head” as in George Romero’s movies, but others say zombies will keep moving as long as any part of them remains intact.

He considers using fire, but that would be very difficult to force himself to use.  He still feels pain, you see.  Indeed, he feels it more than most, because his body is slowly falling apart, and his nervous system is fairly screaming at him that something is wrong, all the time.  So, if fire didn’t work, or if someone “rescued” him after he’d doused himself and lit the match, he’d be in that much more pain and his existence would be that much more horrific.  Similar issues arise with notions like walking into the depths of the ocean to be crushed or jumping from a very high cliff.  If he shot himself but didn’t aim perfectly, he’d be “alive” but with part of his brain destroyed, assuming destroying the brain even works on zombies.

And the people around him might still not realize that he had a problem.

I’m not sure how this story would end.  Is there ever going to be a way to cure this affliction?  It seems unlikely.  There are treatments that sometimes relieve symptoms (in the story world), but there is no known cure, because the cause is nebulous.  Zombie-ism is at least somewhat genetically influenced, since it tends to run in families, but no one is quite sure how, and it appears to be too thoroughly multifactorial even to conceive that there might be one single root cause.

It’s a bit ham-handed as stories-that-are-metaphors go, but if it were well done and well-acted, it could be decent.  If someone did it, I might watch it, or read it, seeing as I am a zombie myself.

Let me know, please, if someone makes that movie or writes that book.  Thanks!


*As far as I know, there was almost no chance that it wouldn’t happen, but it sounds more dramatic the other way.

**And you could sort of make the case that Wednesday, from Wotan’s Day, is a Jupiter Day, but that’s stretching things a bit.  I’m not sure that in Norse mythology Wotan or Odin was ever actually associated with the planet Jupiter.  And Friday is supposedly named after Frigg, or Frigga (played by Rene Russo in the MCU), a Norse goddess of fertility or some such, very loosely similar to Venus—and apparently, many languages (as in the Spanish “Viernes”) refer the name of this day of the week more directly to Venus.

***You’ve gotta be careful with hanging gardens, though.  If they fall, your former garden can become a dwelling place of demons, as in the line from Revelation 18.

****Which is quite a logical, internally consistent, and excellent system.

Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your blogs? your flashes of merriment…

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday (July 14th, 2022), and so it’s time for my normal, usual, regular weekly blog post—as opposed to the semi-daily posts I wrote last Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and this week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so far, in case anyone reading here today didn’t know I was doing them.  If you read my weekly blog posts, and if you find my writing either entertaining or morbidly fascinating or some other adjective that makes you want to read more, do feel free to check those out.

Heck, while you’re at it, if you like my writing, why not consider buying and reading some of my actual novels or short stories or collections?  You can find all of them on Amazon, and a few of them are also available through Wal-Mart’s website and Books-A-Million as well, I think.  If you do happen to read something of mine, please at least rate it afterwards (if through Amazon, anyway), even if you don’t feel like leaving a review.  Be brutal, be frank, that’s fine, but please rate if you can.

Okay, that’s got that bit of self-promotion out of the way.  Trust me, it’s not an easy thing for me to do.  As I think I’ve said before, I’m not very keen on myself as a person—I don’t like to spend time in my own company, but I don’t have much choice about doing so, though there are choices of sorts—and so I feel rather awkward trying to promote my works.  But I think I’m a decent author.  At least, I like my stories for the most part, and believe me, I’m not prone to be kind to myself.

I like some of my works more than others, but that’s almost inevitable.  If I liked them all equally and unconditionally, it would be hard for me to think I could recommend any of them.  Unconditional love, as I’m fond of saying, is worth what you have to do to earn it.  Or, to paraphrase Dash from The Incredibles, reflexively saying “Everyone’s special” is just another way of saying that no one is.

Of course, it’s possible for everyone to be special but in different ways and to differing degrees among the many ways it’s possible to be special, and this is almost certainly the case in reality.  By genes alone there are many more ways to be human (or whatever species I am) than there have been people who have ever lived, and then there are all the other variables raised by environment and the astonishingly plastic and adaptable and versatile nervous system humans have*, meaning there are many more orders of magnitude of ways for a mind to form even beyond genetic variability.  Frankly, I’m amazed it doesn’t go worse than it does more often.

Despite my own endorsement of my stories, I’m not able to rouse myself to write any fiction for now, so I’ll continue to write daily blog posts for the nonce**.  For all I know, I may never write any more fiction again.  In fact, based on my self-assessment, I would give fairly high odds that I won’t, just as I don’t think these daily blog posts will go on that much longer.  There seems little point in continuing to try to do much of anything in the long run, at least for me.

But who knows?  Maybe I’m wrong.  Prediction is a tricky business, especially about the future***.

I am thinking (very vaguely, to be fair) about reading aloud some more of the chapters of The Chasm and the Collision and sharing them here and on YouTube as “videos” as I’ve done for the first (I think) nine chapters so far, and as I’ve done for some of my short stories.  It always feels a little weird putting up a “video” that’s really just an audio recording accompanied by a single graphic image, but it would feel even weirder to make an actual video of me just reading my story.  Looking at my face while trying to listen to a novel isn’t going to help anyone’s enjoyment.

With that, I think I’ll begin drawing to a close for the day on this, my usual weekly blog post.  There’s nothing much going on other than these blog posts.  I haven’t played guitar in weeks, nor written any fiction, and I don’t see that turning around.  Similarly, I don’t really do anything for fun in the evenings after work, nor on weekends…nor during work hours for that matter.  I have a hard time even finding books that I want to read—when even The Lord of the Rings gets boring to me, I know I’m reaching the end of my resources.  I certainly don’t hang out with anyone; I’m not so cruel a sadist as to inflict my company on other people more than is absolutely necessary.  I’m basically just spending most of my time dilly-dallying near the edge of a bottomless precipice and doing a lot of glancing over and thinking that it doesn’t really look too bad down there.  It’s certainly less dull and dreary than it is up here.

TTFN

skull drawing


*Yes, I know, sometimes it doesn’t seem that the human nervous system is very adaptable and versatile, to say nothing of being very bright, but on this planet, at least, it’s definitely an outlier with respect to high complexity.  It’s not its fault that most humans make poor use of it.

**Why doesn’t the nonce write its own blog posts, you ask?  Well, the nonce is notoriously lazy but nevertheless noisily demanding.  It’s easier just to write its blog posts so it’ll shut up.

***That’s a quote—or at least a paraphrase.

Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins…

It’s actually 5:03 am as I’m starting to write this, but it’s damn close to the time mentioned in the opening line of the Beatles song She’s Leaving Home, and that seemed too fine a coincidence not to note at least in the title of today’s post.

It’s not ironic, by the way, in case anyone out there thinks it is—though probably most of the readers here on WordPress know the difference between irony and coincidence.  But the public at large, unfortunately, at least in the USA, seem to think irony is simply any somewhat amusing or tragic coincidence.  Whereas (for instance) the only real irony in the Alanis Morissette song, Ironic, is that none of the examples she gives in the lyrics are really cases of irony*.  In that sense, the entire song, taken as a whole, is truly ironic…which is a rather delicious irony, if you ask me.  I sneak myself toward the suspicion that Ms. Morissette did that on purpose, and in fact, I would be delighted for her to confirm this fact.

If anyone reading knows her personally, could you ask her for me?  Thanks.

Today is July 13th, a date which has the slight fun of being a pair of prime numbers (7 and 13, in case anyone was unclear on that).  It has the added charm of being a combination of a supposedly lucky number (7) and a supposedly unlucky number (13), which combination is borderline ironic in a certain sense, but not really.  Of course, which numbers are deemed lucky, and which are deemed unlucky is deeply culturally dependent.  Apparently, for instance, the number four, in at least one of the ways it can be pronounced**, is considered unlucky in Japan, because it sounds like the word for “death”.

This is all good evidence that “lucky numbers” are not actual, natural, real things in the world, outside of human minds.  Cultures the world over figured out arrows and spears, and fire, and the fact that things fall when you drop them, and that pyramids are strong and stable structures.  The Mayans figured out the number 0 (zero) centuries before Europeans used it or came to the western hemisphere, but the people of India had figured it out, too, on the other side of the world.  When things are real and natural—at least when they’re also useful or pertinent—cultures across time and space will tend to arrive at the same conclusions about them.

Judge for yourself, based on this, whether the many and varied world religions have more in common with “the wheel” and “counting numbers” or if they are more like “lucky numbers” and local fashions of apparel.  Don’t worry about what I think; I’m not here to tell you what to decide.  I’m here to be judgmental if I disagree with you.

I’m kidding about that last sentence.

This will now be, if my figuring is correct, the eighth of my pseudo-daily blog posts since I decided to do this instead of writing fiction—which I cannot be arsed to do right now—or playing guitar—which I don’t enjoy much at the moment, and which is giving me some kind of repetitive stress inflammation in my right hand and wrist.  That soreness could be contributing to my lack of enjoyment, obviously, but I don’t think it’s the main thing.  I’ve just got rather severe (and worsening) anhedonia.

For example, I threw away a Dutch apple pie yesterday which I had accepted as an impromptu gift from someone who had it and didn’t want it, because when I began to eat a small piece, I realized I didn’t much like it.  This is very weird for me.  In my younger days, I was known to eat an entire mini-sized Dutch apple pie from the Publix bakery in a single sitting***.  It was one of my favorite things.

This is not the only one of my prior “comfort foods” or foods-of-indulgence that has lost its charm.  Almost all of them have.  You would think I would start to lose weight, since I’m not eating as much of the foods I like.  Maybe I am, but it’s too slow to notice.  Oh, well, whataya gonna do?

I don’t think I really have much more to talk about today.  It’s arguable, of course, that I haven’t had much to talk about on any of the previous days that I wrote blog posts, or when I wrote fiction for that matter, but that didn’t stop me from writing—which is fine in my view.  But today I just think I’m in the mood to peter out early, not just with writing but with everything else.  I wish I could take the day off work or something, but Wednesday is the day on which I do my most “crucial” work at the office.

Someday soon I’ve gotta just get them ready to take care of all this without me, because I really don’t know if I’m going to be around much longer.  Not because the job is bad—it’s not.  I like the people I work with well enough, and my boss is very nice, and positive, and my coworkers are for the most part good and well-meaning people****.  In fact, it’s safe and accurate to say that the only person at the office whom I really, deeply, do not like…is myself.

I need to get away from that asshole.


*If “Mr. Play-It-Safe” who was afraid to fly had refused to get on a plane but had instead taken a train, and then the train had derailed catastrophically, that would have been irony!

**“Shi” as opposed to “yon”.

***This wasn’t a good thing, per se—it’s certainly not a healthy habit, and was in its own way a desperate attempt to find some reliable source of positive feeling when I couldn’t seem to generate such things by other means.

****One of them came in late yesterday specifically because he wanted to be home to watch the revelation of the first scientific images from the James Webb Space Telescope, and I can’t argue with that decision or his priorities.  They were fine images indeed, though I’m more interested in the new science that can be learned through them.