The common blog of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue!

Hello and good morning.  Welcome to another Thursday, and thus to yet another edition of my weekly blog post.  I think there’s only one more Thursday in August this year; that will be next Thursday, obviously, since such things in the real world tend to proceed in linear order.

Actually, that might not be the case.  Reality could happen out of order, but with causality arranged as if in order, and we wouldn’t know.  If, for instance, we randomly cut up the frames of an old-fashioned film, or did the analogous process with some form of digital media, each frame would be in its place in the story, and no matter in what order they were “shown”, the characters, so to speak, in each frame would be experiencing whatever they “were” experiencing in that frame originally, as if it happened in order, and they would be none the wiser.  This concept was explored, if I recall, in Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, in which the main character becomes “unstuck” in time and begins experiencing his life out of order.

Okay, I can’t restrain myself any longer.

Who the hell at Microsoft decided to add a stupid text prediction function to Word?  As someone who writes quite a bit—often very long stories—I find such additions maddening, and madness is something from which I’m never very far in the first place, so I really could do without the nudge.  Are there really people out there for whom this is a useful function?  If so, perhaps they shouldn’t be writing.

Let’s go back to the old way and leave spelling and grammar checks for when I select the functions deliberately.  Whoever at Microsoft thought this auto-fill crap was a good idea, could you please submit your reproductive organs, along with those of your first-degree relatives, for immediate disposal?  I want to see your genes removed from the gene pool.

Perhaps I’m overreacting, but it really pisses me off.  How long will it be before someone just opens his or her word processing program and says, “Okay, Shithead*, write me a thousand-word blog post about what’s happened this week,” and then just looks it over after it’s done?  Could one really consider the result to be something written by that person?  I hate such crutches, and I particularly hate the fact that they are active by default and that I am forced to stop what I’m doing to look up the process for deactivating them.

People at Microsoft, take note!  This is NOT a selling point for people like me; it’s a point that makes me want to commit violence.  I know there are plenty of troglodytes out there who have difficulty dealing with spelling and grammar and creativity, but should we really be encouraging them to imagine that they can succeed at such things via shortcuts?  They already elect each other to high office almost uniformly and screw up nearly everything that they touch.  We need to make things harder for them, not easier (especially meeting each other and having children)!

I guess I’m a bit overstressed.  I apologize.  It’s just that so much of the world is so frustrating, and as I get older, it just becomes ever more frustrating.  I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to endure it.  As I expected right from the start, while the Internet and Web have certainly given us powerful tools for the advancement of knowledge and intelligence, they has also, even more so, enabled the advancement of stupidity.  And since it’s always easier to break things than to build them, stupidity has significant advantages.

Sigh.

I’m moving along rather slowly at editing In the Shade, because I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate, but I am making progress.  At least it, being an older document, doesn’t appear to have been set up with the text prediction function automatically on.  Of course, I’m probably going to need to take the step of turning it off for every new document that I start.

Do people think this actually makes them better at writing?

I’m reminded of a discussion on a Sam Harris podcast once, I don’t recall who the guest was** but he mentioned that there were technologies that make things easier for us that also enhance or improve us—he gave the examples of abacuses and bicycles—and there are technologies that make things easier for us and make us individually “weaker”, such as automobiles and electronic calculators.  There are situations in which the tradeoff is acceptable, of course, such as in long-distance travel and in rapid and sophisticated math, but it’s worth thinking about whether and when we want to make certain things easier.  Remember the tubby, floating, useless future humans in Wall-E?  Remember the Eloi from H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine?  Don’t be Eloi!

On that note, I’m going to bring this to a close for today.  I hope you’re doing well—unless you’re the sort of person who really needs predictive text, in which case you’re probably beyond my or anyone else’s help.  Still, try to take care of yourselves, and be as healthy and happy as you reasonably can be.

TTFN

confused


*This is my proposed name for such a program.

**And I’m very sorry for that fact, because he was quite interesting.

Faintness constraineth me to measure out my length on this cold blog.

Hello everyone.  Welcome to the second Thursday of August in 2021, and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  I won’t say “good morning” because I frankly had an absolutely terrible night’s sleep, even for me, and I don’t feel very good or very well this morning…though I do, of course, hope you all have a good one, nevertheless.

I say “weekly” blog post but, of course, I did create an interim post last week sharing a cover that I did of the Radiohead song Street Spirit (Fade Out), and if you’re interested, I encourage you to check it out and listen.  It exists as a “video” on YouTube, and as is usual with YouTube posters, I hereby request that if you listen on YouTube, and if you happen to like the cover, please do click the “like” button on the YouTube page.  This apparently does real, measurable good for the degree to which YouTube videos are recommended to people online, and increases the circulation of the YouTube page, which I would obviously like, all other things being equal.

This is all somewhat ironic, considering I did my own song called Like and Share, which bemoans the nature of liking and sharing online—but it does so with a very specific point, highlighting the way in which people sometimes try to create or pretend to a self-image by sharing things online and how they can become quite vulnerable to setbacks relating to this, sometimes even leading to, or at least contributing to, personal tragedy.  The only tragedy associated with liking and/or sharing my song cover might be if those who hear it really don’t like it…but in that case, I wouldn’t expect you to “like” it, let alone share it.

I did another “video” this week, of what was really an impromptu audio blog about the possible future of neurostimulation.  It was just some off-the-cuff thoughts, and I made a post on Iterations of Zero sharing the video as well.  If you’re interested in such things, I encourage you to check it out, and likewise to “like” it if you like it and share it if you wish.  By all means, of course, I would like you to “like” the posts here on WordPress as well.  And I welcome any comments, here, at IoZ, or on YouTube, about either or any of my videos or posts.

As is often the case when I find myself obsessed with making a song (or a cover), the editing process on In the Shade has been mildly held back this last week, but I’ve nevertheless been making decent progress.  The word count is shrinking at a slightly lower rate than it was in the beginning, but it does continue to shrink.  And, of course, I’m editing for other things besides simple length, wordiness, digression, whatever you might want to call it.  That almost goes without saying.

As for everything else in life…well, there isn’t much of it.  Though today is unusually bad, my general insomnia and dysthymia continue to give me trouble; I’m tired to exhausted nearly every day, nearly all day.  It’s often difficult for me to see the point in doing anything at all.  However, I am notoriously stubborn, something that might be good or bad or both, and so I plod on.  No one ever promised anyone a rose garden, I guess.  At least, no with the wherewithal to fulfill such promises has ever promised.  The universe promises us nothing—or at most, one thing—and as far as I can tell, it doesn’t make bargains with anyone.

Even so, it won’t be too much longer before I’m done with In the Shade, and then I can compile and publish Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and then I have plans to finish Outlaw’s Mind.  After that, I’m not sure what writing project I’ll work on next.  I listed several possible stories a few blog posts back—I’ll look for that post and link it here—and I’d encourage those of you who might be interested to take a quick read through them, and if any one or few of them sounds particularly interesting or promising to you, please let me know.  If you can also tell me why, please do so.

With that, I’m going to call it enough for this week.  I need to have a nap or something before editing and posting this, but at least the fact that it’s slightly shorter than usual should make that process quicker and maybe even easier than usual.  If my writing is poor today, I do apologize.  Please try your best to stay reasonably safe and healthy, and to be as happy as you’re able to be, as long as your pursuit of happiness doesn’t directly and unnecessarily impair someone else’s.

TTFN

Karloff monster

Street Spirit (Fade Out) baddish cover

Okay, here is the “video” of the cover I made to atone for the horrible “live” video version that I tried to sing without even warming up my voice.  Or trimming my hair uniformly.  Or being in any way photogenic.

I hope you like it.  It’s really me doing the music, including the double-tracked guitar arpeggios and of course the singing (though the drums are done electronically, because I don’t have a drum set).

Hold hard the breath and blog up every spirit to his full height.

Hello, good morning, and welcome to the first Thursday of August in 2021.  As is self-evident, it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.

I’ll start with the writing-related material this time, which I’ve tended lately to push to near the end of my posts, since—unfortunately—during the editing process, not much of substance changes from week to week.  In the Shade is proceeding well, however.  I’ve already passed my initial goal for story compression, i.e., the reduction in total word count, which hopefully is a good proxy for tight writing and quick reading, and thus a more pleasurable, gripping story.  I hope to do significantly more trimming as I go along, but I don’t know that I’ll reach my secondary “goal” of twice as much reduction.  Since I’m more than halfway through my editing iterations, it seems unlikely.  Still, setting a lofty goal, so to speak, usually means that even if one falls somewhat short, at least one will have achieved more than if one had set a low goal.  Only those who attempt the “impossible” can achieve the unbelievable.

I don’t know how I’ll learn whether I’ve achieved the desired overall improvement of my writing.  It’s difficult to tell from my own experience, since I always enjoy my stories when I reread them (so far, anyway).  It would be amusingly ironic if future generations of literary scientists analyzed my drafts compared to the final products and found, in some objective sense, that they were uniformly better in their longer, original forms.  I don’t know how that could possibly happen, but I can’t rule it out.  I take comfort in the fact that, should such analysis ever be done, I will likely be long since dead when it occurs.

I came within a hare’s breadth* of writing a post for Iterations of Zero this last Sunday.  I even loaded up Word for the first time on my newish laptop at home, but I unfortunately failed to clear the mental hurdle of putting the device on my lap in my bed (which is where I spend almost my entire time on weekends) and actually starting to write.

This fact is particularly frustrating because I so often come up with ideas that I would like to explore either in writing or verbally.  I often toy with the idea of keeping my phone handy—it is always handy, now that I think of it—and using it to record myself rambling about these thoughts.  They often occur in traffic, unfortunately, especially when my Bluetooth is acting up and I can’t listen to music as I go, which is my preference.  I sing along for the most part; I tend to get quite absorbed in it.  For instance, earlier this week when I just missed colliding with the very large vertical remnant of a semi-truck tire just over the top of a slight rise on I-95**, I didn’t even break the phrase of the song I was singing—even as I narrowly avoided going head over heels at nearly seventy miles an hour.

It’s weird; I tend to be stressed, confused, and sometimes almost panicky or enraged, in purely social situations, or when my daily routines or interests are interrupted.  But real, serious physical danger—to me or to others, as when I was in medical practice—just tends to focus my concentration.  I didn’t even need to stop to calm down after my recent “brush with death”, though I was very annoyed by the possibility there might be functional damage to my vehicle that I would need to address.  Thankfully, there wasn’t, so I can continue my daily routine as before without disruption.

Still, I really want to work into that routine a pattern of writing down or otherwise recording the various weird thoughts that meander through my head, on subjects from physics and mathematics to psychology, philosophy, sociology/politics/economics, technology, energy, climate, the nature of complexity, etc.  Also, I could use it as a kind of “therapy”.  I definitely “need” that, in the sense that my mental health is far from good and is probably worsening.

I have at least taken some baby steps in seeking help, using an unexpected disappointment that at least presented an opportunity:  When I clicked an offered link for help after repeatedly taking the online AQ test and getting consistently quite high results, it didn’t take me to any Asperger’s resources, but brought me instead to the “Better Help” site, which is a resource for online therapy.  After much hemming and hawing and false starting on my part, I’m trying to make arrangements for such therapy, but it’s been difficult because of my schedule, my innate aversion to doing anything to help myself***, and my discomfort interacting with new people, even over video or text.  I’ve finally got something moving, but it looks like it’s going to be only every other week or so; I work long hours, and I’m not going to do online therapy while other people are in the office, even if it’s during lunch.  It’s almost inconceivable that I could manage “in-person” therapy, though I’ve done it in the past.

Well, life is complicated.  I frequently doubt whether it’s worth the effort, but since we can’t test the alternative and then change our minds, we keep putting our shoulders to our Sisyphean boulders and hope that maybe, at the very least, this time we might get a tiny bit of rest at the top of the hill.  Though, honestly, I don’t know what I would even do with such a break.

Still, I have Outlaw’s Mind to look forward to finishing once I’m done with In the Shade and thence with Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  Writing new fiction—and usually even new nonfiction—is always a boost.  I’m not sure why, but it is.

TTFN

full-13


*Which is larger than a hair’s breadth, of course, but hares do tend to be svelte, so it’s still pretty close.

**A smaller bit of debris to the right ripped a panel loose on the side of my bike, but I have a cool head in times of stress.  Though I wobbled back and forth for a few subsequent seconds, I never came very close to going over.  Sometimes I honestly regret such “coolness”, but a motorcycle accident on the interstate is not how I would prefer to die, especially since it might not kill but merely maim me.  That would be such a pain both literally and figuratively.

***Who among us would not have mixed feelings at the prospect of giving aid to his greatest enemy?

And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’ the blogs of darkness do devour it up

Hello, good morning, yadda yadda yadda weekly blog post.

People apparently don’t like it much when I write speculative things about speculative science.  At least they didn’t like it last week.  Or, rather, they didn’t “like” it as much, or as often, however you want to put it.  Or, at least, I didn’t notice as many “likes”, though I suppose I could be mistaken; obviously I’m not interested enough to go and check at the bottom of the post and its predecessors to see if there is a difference.  Maybe it’s all in my head.  People seem not to mind much when I express the difficulties I have with things that are definitely in may head, which I would have thought would be more boring than speculations about science.

I often wonder what proportion of the people who “like” a given blog post actually read it.  I, of course, don’t write particularly short posts—they are almost never as short as I intend them to be—and so I guess it’s hard to hold it against people if they don’t quite make it to the end, or even past the initial paragraph, or past the initial sentence.  Or past the title.  I almost never get any feedback, so it’s quite difficult to tell if this whole thing isn’t an exercise in futility.

The nominal idea behind this blog was to promote my writing in general, but I’m not sure it’s done any good at that (or that anyone other than immediate family reads my books and stories).  This blog and its schedule have certainly led me to write a lot that I might not have written otherwise.  But there are things that I’ve written here, especially recently, that I probably should have just put up on Iterations of Zero.  Last week’s science stuff is a good example, but so are my mental health concerns.

But this blog is one I write every week, by personal schedule, by commitment, by whatever you want to call it, and I have yet to get myself into a good schedule for IoZ.  So sometimes I’ve just gone and written here some things that I would otherwise have relegated to my “secondary blog”.

Such subjects may drive away those who might be interested in reading about my writing and the writing process and so on, though I’m not sure such people exist.  Actually, I’m barely sure that there are any other people out there.  That’s not literally true, of course, I’m well aware that there are over seven billion people in the world.  I’m not a solipsist—by definition, there could never be more than one solipsist if that person were correct.  The notion of solipsism has been handily demolished by more interested minds than I.  I’m certainly convinced that I don’t have it in me to imagine the whole universe, even if it’s only limited to the things with which I’ve interacted personally.

Nevertheless, I do still feel almost completely, profoundly alone.  And though this is a terribly unpleasant and almost intolerable state, the prospect of meeting other people, interacting with other people, connecting with other people, is more daunting than the prospect of dying alone, at least if the latter happens sooner rather than later.  I have it on good authority that I’m an unpleasant person—a good number of people whose opinions I value dearly have either explicitly or implicitly made this clear.  I even feel it about myself.  So why should I be so cruel as to inflict myself on other people?

I’m toying with the idea of quitting this blog, or at least putting it on hiatus.  I don’t get any feedback or interaction from it—or nearly none—and it’s frustrating to share one’s thoughts every Thursday morning without knowing if anyone encounters them or gives a flying fuck at a tiny little rat’s ass about them.  If it’s just a matter of talking to myself, I can do that without a word processor—and I do, quite a lot of the time.  I already hardly use Facebook or Twitter, except to share these blog posts and some YouTube videos I find interesting.  I’m not egotistical enough to imagine that the world will suffer from not having my thoughts out there, or indeed from not having my existence.

Since I always title these weekly blog posts with slightly altered quotes from Shakespeare—or I have done so for quite a while, anyway—I figure that, once I decide for certain that a given blog post will definitely be my last, for any reason, I’ll simply title it, “The rest is silence” …Hamlet’s last words.  Similarly, if I knew that I was sharing my last item to Facebook and/or Twitter, it would be the final song of the first album of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  But of course, it may well come to pass that I’ll write a final blog post and share a final share on those other “social” “media” without knowing that it is the last one.  This could be the last one for all I know.  I’m not sure I would mind that.

Anyway, I’m still editing In the Shade, and the process is going well enough.  I hope to be done with it reasonably soon, and possibly then to release my collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  I have all sorts of possible book ideas to write after that, but right now I have no interest in writing any of them.  I’m very tired, on all levels.  To quote from the fourth-from-last song on album one of The Wall, “nothing is very much fun anymore.”  And, obviously, I’m not much fun, myself.

TTFN

no outlet

As imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the blogger’s pen turns them to shape

Hello and good morning.  As usual, it’s Thursday—well, that’s only usual on one day of the week, but since this is that day of the week, it’s usual on this day—and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I’m feeling pretty exhausted today, partly because of a temporary change in work schedule that’s throwing my mental functions into a minor tailspin, and partly because of frustration associated with trying to get feedback and do useful research about my neurophysiology through the advice or input of people with expertise in the matter.  Some of the fault is mine—I have a hard time forcing myself to initiate or undertake most interactions, including contacting and setting up some form of new relationship with a new therapist…or doing therapy at all.

I also get distracted—and I suspect that some of the people I’ve tried to contact have done so as well—by the ongoing issue of my dysthymia/depression, which is certainly troubling, but which is an old companions of mine and unlikely to improve.  But there’s only so much one can get from YouTube videos and reading, whether it’s technical literature or works aimed at laypeople.  And I have a terribly difficult time even contemplating joining online support or discussion groups (or “in person” ones, which seem even more intimidating and disruptive).  I may be stuck.  I feel stuck.  I could really use some help—of various kinds—but the very prospect of seeking it is too daunting and confusing, and it is further hindered by the fact that I feel, deep down, that I don’t really deserve any help of any kind.

On the other hand, work on In the Shade is proceeding reasonably well, as it has been for some time.  I’m doing a nice job trimming it down, at least as far as raw numbers go.  I hope it improves the story; it would be a shame if it made it worse.  In any case, though, I’m more than halfway through the overall editing process, and that’s a good thing.

A thought popped into my head this morning that has popped in many times before, and I’m tempted to send emails or similar to the likes of Brian Greene just to see if he can clarify anything about it.  But I would feel quite cheeky and rather obnoxious to trouble him, even if I could find a way to send him a query.

Roughly and briefly, the thought is related to the ideas of “M Theory”*—which encompasses more “traditional” string theory as I understand it—and the notion that our entire three-dimensional universe might be a “brane” embedded in a higher-dimensional “bulk”, and that we can only experience the three dimensional universe in which we live because we—all the force-carrying particles and matter particles of which we are made—are trapped within the brane, possibly because they are composed of open-ended “strings”.  However—again, if I understand correctly based on the reading I’ve done—the graviton, the hypothetical force-carrying boson of the gravitational force, would be a closed string, and could, if there are branes and a bulk and so on, travel between branes.  The hypothesis has been put forward that this might be part of the reason gravity seems so weak; it is not as narrowly confined dimensionally as the other forces, and so spreads out to a greater degree.

I played with some of these ideas very indirectly in The Chasm and the Collision.

Anyway, my thought was that, perhaps, this could provide the explanation for the apparent existence of “dark matter” which is proposed as the presence of a large amount of mass in the universe that doesn’t interact much with “normal” matter, or with light, but which has gravitational effects measurable in the speed of rotation of galaxies and of the interactions of galactic clusters and so on, and which, based on those various measures, would be about five times as abundant as “normal” matter.  But no one has been able, so far, to detect the presence of any such dark matter particles, which would be presumed to interact at least occasionally with normal matter in some way.

It’s proposed as possible in M Theory that there could be other parallel “three-branes” in the bulk, “next to” ours in higher-dimensional space, analogous to planes or pages that float, aligned but not touching, in three-dimensional space.  If most fermions and bosons are stuck in their branes but gravitons can more or less freely pass between them, and if parallel branes came into existence—in their current states, anyway—roughly at the same time, so to speak, then as those universes expanded and evolved, with initial quantum fluctuations leading to increasing clumping of matter, leading to galaxies, stars, etc., they would have influenced each other’s clumping, and so a galaxy in one brane might well tend to be “near” or roughly lined up with, a galaxy in nearby branes, and so on.  If so, and if gravity can, at least to some degree, pass between branes, then the vector components of such gravity that happens to align with the nearby branes’ dimensions might well be felt as an “extra” gravitational force without any source in detectable matter.

If there are multiple branes in parallel to each other—or perhaps even a limitless stack of them, so to speak—depending on their separation and the degree to which gravity can pass between them, the net effect might well be enough to generate the phenomena we measure as evidence of “dark matter”.  If one were only thinking of, say, a four-dimensional space between the three-branes (with other dimensions curled up small), the force of gravity between matter in them would presumably fall off at a rate of one over the distance cubed, but if there were multiple branes in parallel, and again, if the distance were right and the properties correct, then I don’t see why it couldn’t accumulate to give a net effect greater, on large enough scales, than the apparent impact of gravitating mass within a given brane.

Unfortunately, my math skills are not presently up to the task of even doing a “back of the envelope” calculation about how that might work, though I have tried from time to time.  I also don’t know much of the technical details about string theory/M Theory.  And, of course, the whole theoretical framework is troubled by difficulty creating measurable predictions, at least with current technology.  But…if such parallel branes could in fact account for “dark matter”, they would, if correct, predict that there would be no measurable dark matter particles.  Ever.  And so, of course, the longer we go without being able to find one, the more our Bayesian probability might edge toward the correctness of at least some version of M Theory.  Of course, if dark matter particles are found and have characteristics that explain the phenomena we see, then that would at least disprove my notion, if not all of M Theory.

It’s likely that such a notion is already ruled out by some specifics details that I just don’t know—which must of course be almost all the specifics of M Theory.

Maybe some day I’ll work up the courage to forward some version of this to someone like Brian Greene, or maybe Lisa Randall or Leonard Susskind**.  But probably not.  I have a hard enough time mustering the nerve to talk to anyone regarding my own neurological and psychological health.  And, in any case, those people have enough on their minds.  And I have books to write.  And—unfortunately—miles to go before I sleep.

In the meantime, I hope you all stay well and do your best to take care of yourselves and of those who matter to you—and also, while you’re at it, do your best to avoid causing problems for other people.

TTFN

more branes


*Which is, of course, speculative to say the least, but which is certainly intellectually interesting, and which could, in principle, be a description of the deeper physics of our universe.

**These are the three physicists from whose popular works I’ve learned most of what I “know” about such matters.  I first encountered string theory and M Theory in Stephen Hawking’s book, The Universe in a Nutshell, but alas, no one can get any messages to him anymore—or, at least, we can’t get any messages back.

A wretched soul, blogged with adversity, we bid be quiet when we hear it cry

Hello.  Good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t quite know what I’m going to write today.  That’s not so unusual; I often start my posts without any outline in mind.  Perhaps that’s only too obviously to those who read this blog on a regular basis.  Perhaps you would prefer that I made specific plans about what to write.  If so, I can only apologize and say that, at least for now, I’m not able to do that.  Sometimes when I try to plan what I’m going to write about, I feel stiff and tense about the writing, and it doesn’t flow well.  Sometimes I suspect that is the reason my little project about analyzing and exploring villains from various books, movies, shows, etc., didn’t come off well.  Probably, though, it was just because it wasn’t something that interested many people.

My editing has been going reasonably well this week, though I wish it would go faster.  I don’t ever get quite as much done on any given day as I ought to get done.  I find that, more and more lately, I need to take a rest in the morning and lie flat on the floor for my back to feel a bit better, and to clear my head and gradually break myself into the proverbial zone.  I’m just gradually becoming more and more mentally and emotionally exhausted, and it’s harder to develop energy and focus.  I still do it, of course, but it’s difficult.  I don’t really have much in the way of mental/emotional support; I’m very much on my own, as it were*.  Of course, in a sense, that could be said of everyone, but that would be a very cynical and pessimistic sense; I think it’s a bit too much even for the likes of me to claim.

Still, In the Shade continues to improve (I think), shrinking steadily but perhaps more slowly than at first, and definitely getting tighter and sharper…again, so I think, at least.  I’m not at all sure that I’ll finish the editing by the end of summer and have the collection ready before autumn, but it’s difficult to judge.  Time swirls about at bizarrely inconsistent rates—at “times” it feels like it passes ridiculously fast, the years being chewed up like…well, like some simile describing things being chewed up extremely quickly.  At other times, it feels as though each moment is proceeding far too slowly, and I just want to get to the end much more quickly than is happening.  I’m very tired.

I’m still pursuing that neurological thing that I mentioned last time—never yet by name in this particular blog—but the more thoroughly I educate myself, both from general consumption sources and from the medical and scientific literature, the more I’m convinced that I’m probably—almost certainly—correct in my assessment.  But I don’t like to rely solely on myself, even though I trust my mental judgement at least as much as anyone else’s, and more than most.

I’m having a harder and harder time dealing with social interactions, whether online or in person.  I even feel embarrassed writing comments on blogs and similar.  I feel that I’m sure to be saying something irritating or boring or inexplicable and nonsensical that will make others wonder why I don’t just shut up and go away.  Maybe that’s me projecting; goodness knows, a lot of the time I wish that I would just shut up and go away.

Anyway, I have at least put in inquiries to two organizations, one a non-professional entity that provides support and guidance and resources.  I investigated their available recommendations for professionals near me, but haven’t been impressed, so far, by the locally available people listed.  They don’t fill me with confidence or ease.  The other, a strictly professional organization, may be more promising, though they’re a little bit far from where I am.

A big problem I have is that all these kinds of people and sites and organizations have options for, and require, and provide resources for, calling or online chatting, or whatever, and the thought of doing any of those things is just terribly stressful, let alone actually going to some office somewhere.  I can talk on the phone at work, for goal-directed reasons, just as I’ve always been able to make friends or “friends” at school or work or whatever, in places where there’s a purpose, but when it’s seeking something for myself—let alone simple ordinary purposeless socialization—I’m at a loss.

It’s not that I’m afraid or anxious, exactly, though there is a bit of that; it’s just that I find the processes stressful.  They take so much mental effort.  I don’t feel I get much out of it, and I just inconvenience everyone else.  The last time there was a work-related outing, when the office (as it were) went to a restaurant after work to celebrate a particular milestone, I developed a migraine as the day went on, and ended up just not going.  I didn’t really put it together at the time, but the migraine was probably caused by the stress of anticipating dealing with a purely social situation.

So, asking for help at a personal level or a professional level is very difficult—mostly so daunting that I just can’t force myself to do it, even when I know I could really use it**.  It doesn’t help that I’ve had terrible experiences when dealing with “crisis hotlines” in the past, as I think I’ve described here before.  I’ve had other, similarly frustrating experiences on related occasions when seeking help or being forced to seek help.

I’m not sure at all what to do.  There probably isn’t any one right answer or best answer, and if there is, probably no one knows what it is.  The world is extremely complicated, and we’re never guaranteed that events will be fair or good or successful…at least not by any honest, reputable, reliable sources.

I know I’m being vague.  I started off meandering and, by God, I kept meandering.  That was the mode for today, I guess.  Apologies.  I hope to get again into a mental state where I can again feel optimistic about future writing and think and talk about the many story ideas and book ideas I have waiting in the wings.  I’m not sure if I’ll reach that point, or how to reach it, but I guess it’s possible.  In the meantime, I beg your patience and indulgence.  I also ask that you treat yourselves and those around you as well as you possibly can and try to be healthy and happy.

TTFN

broke down bigger


*This is no one’s fault but mine.

**It’s a bit like finding myself having swum a too far out from a beach and realizing that I’m in trouble because the current is sweeping me ever farther away from shore.  But calling for help will drain the strength I need to swim and tread water, and I’m not a very strong swimmer.  The people I can see in the distance aren’t really looking in my direction, anyway, and they probably couldn’t hear me no matter what.  And I’m not sure any of them are trained or qualified to make a rescue attempt without putting themselves at serious risk, which is something I certainly don’t want to happen on my account.  Better just to tread water quietly, trying to make my way shoreward (though the shore keeps getting farther and farther away), and let the ocean take me if that’s what it’s going to do.

Ruin hath blogged me thus to ruminate, that Time will come and take my love away.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, as happens periodically, and thus it is time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  It being the second Thursday of the month, it would have been another entry of the long-since-abandoned “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”, had I continued that enterprise.  Unfortunately, that pursuit appears to be one of those idiosyncratic enthusiasms that a certain kind of person tends to have, holding little interest for others, and in fact boring them—a joy that, because of its peculiarity, cannot be shared.  Oh, well.  Life is rarely satisfying.

I made a follow-up video on the subject that I introduced in last week’s blog post.  I posted it on YouTube and embedded that in a post on Iterations of Zero.  If you want to learn more about what I was referring to in last week’s post, and about my personal reactions to it—and some rather random, meandering, and inconclusive thoughts on what I should do* about it—by all means, I encourage you to view it.  I tried to cut out most of the hemming and hawing, the pauses and mutterings, and to make the audio as clear as I could in a reasonable amount of time.  The fact that I still can’t bring myself here to write explicitly what the subject of that video is may give some clue as to how unsettled I am—unsettled because I think, more and more, that the results of the tests I discussed are probably right, based on my explorations and reflections since then.  But sharing such personal matters has always been difficult, at a certain level, for me.

I’ve always had trouble expressing my wishes for other people’s input and even (gulp) help.  I find the prospect of such interactions daunting, partly because I find interaction itself daunting.  More and more over time, other people have come to seem indeed very much “other” to me, in a deeper than usual sense—almost alien.  I’ve always felt quite different from the people around me and find much of what they say and do inexplicable** and stressful.  I’ve also, frankly, nearly always felt that I have no right to request or expect help of any kind from anyone.  And so, when I’ve tried on numerous occasions to make subtle requests for help, or for input, or for whatever, I’ve tended to be too subtle—or so it seems—and no one responds…or if someone responds, the things they say and do are often counterproductive or confusing, though the attempt should always be appreciated.

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I’ve long resonated with the last four lines of Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage, from the album whose name is invoked in that song:

“And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear

You shout and no one seems to hear

And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

 Well, the “band” I was in has long since gone on to play completely different material from anything I knew.  I don’t even get to hear of any of the performances—by their choice—and only one of the “members” communicates with me at all anymore***.  It isn’t the first time I’ve experienced such alienation, though it is by far the most wrenching, and certainly the most heartbreaking.  But that kind of heartbreak—produced by and causing such alienation—is something for which I seem to have a talent.  It’s hard to blame anyone else when I’m the common denominator.

Oh, well, as I said before, life is rarely satisfying.  Most days it hardly seems worth the effort.  Actually, most days it seems utterly not worth the effort.  But I guess I’m stubborn, or habituated, or just the victim of my biological drives, at least so far.

Speaking of stubbornness, I’m continuing to edit In the Shade, and it’s progressing nicely.  I’ve finished three passes and have already almost achieved my level-one aim in word count reduction, which means I may have a decent shot at reaching or at least approaching my level two target:  a 20% reduction in word count.  I know that’s an arbitrary and mechanical target to use, but it’s not intended to be an end in and of itself, just a means by which to trim unnecessary discursions that may, I fear, lead people to find my writing too laborious.  I don’t really know—I’m hypothesizing without much data.  In any case, I have no idea whether any but a handful of people will ever read the story, anyway…or if I’ll even finish and publish it and the collection.  The future is stochastic, after all.

That’s more than enough for this week’s post.  I hope you’re all having a nice summer so far—I know it’s been hard for many people in many places, what with sweltering heat and fires and storms and viruses and building collapses and various other slings and arrows.  But many people seem to be astonishingly gifted at finding and making joy in their lives despite everything that drives weirdos like me toward despair.  Please keep it up, all of you.  You deserve to be as happy as you can possibly be—as long as it doesn’t infringe on the happiness of others unnecessarily.

TTFN

reaching out


*I’ve had a link open on my browser for more than a week asking if I want to chat online to a licensed professional about my results.  I cannot seem to work up the nerve to click it.

**It’s not so much that it’s impossible to understand as it’s impossible to credit, to believe…the sorts of things that lead one to think, “You can’t be serious.”

***Apologies for straining the metaphor here.  It’s part of that same severe difficulty I seem to have expressing myself explicitly when referring to anything emotion laden.  It’s something I’m aware of and recognize, but I can’t seem to overcome it.

So quick bright blogs come to confusion

Okay, well, hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for my weekly blog post.  I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for it on tenterhooks.

It’s the first day of July, and in the U.S., we’ll have our founding holiday this weekend—Independence Day, popularly referred to merely by its date, The Fourth of July.  I prefer the more formal term, myself, since it reminds us of what we’re supposedly celebrating.  It’s a nice day to reread the Declaration of Independence, if you’ve not read it in a while, or have never read it.  It’s not very long, and it’s okay to skip the list of grievances if you want.  Actually, it’s okay if you skip the whole thing and just spend the day with your family (if that’s an option for you) and maybe watch and/or set off some fireworks.  It’s not as though any of it really matters.

Of course, if you’re outside of the United States, you probably will just have an ordinary Sunday.

I’ve continued to edit In the Shade, being fairly draconian in my word trimming, and I think it’s having a good effect.  Of course, I don’t know how others will perceive the outcome.  For one thing, no one is going to be able to read it in its first draft form and then compare it to the final draft to see which they like better.  Then again, it’s unlikely that anyone will ever read it but me, anyway.  And if they do, it’s unlikely that I’ll get any feedback about it.  So, again, it’s not as though any of it really matters.

A rather peculiar, or disturbing, or enlightening sequence of events happened to me over the course of this last week, some of the details of which I’m not quite ready to get into, but the general shape of which I’m prepared to share.

As happens sometimes, the YouTube algorithm—drawing from its vast, mindless database of patterns of videos people have watched and “liked” after watching others—presented me with a video on a subject that I’d not seen before.  Not to say I wasn’t aware of the subject, I’d just never watched or sought out any such videos, nor read any but very general information about it.  It’s one I was aware of, as a medical doctor (by training and degree, though no longer in practice), but I was far from an expert in the subject.  Something about the video’s thumbnail intrigued me, so I watched it, and one or two others by the same person.  I was truly flabbergasted by how familiar many of the things this person was saying were to me.

So, I decided to take an online test (it’s created and provided by a legitimate scientific source, not some click-bait website), and I got a surprisingly high result.  Higher than this video-maker had scored when he took the test, and higher than that of some other people who do videos on the same subject.

I assumed that I must have been exaggerating, overestimating, and misinterpreting the test questions, and so the next day I took it again, trying to control for such overstatement.  It came back with a higher score.  So, being me, I watched more videos and bought a book or two* and looked up some research papers and less formal writings, and I’m sneaking myself toward the suspicion that this test may actually be correct.  I’ve even retaken it again since, trying harder not to be melodramatic, and my score went up more.

(I only once took a related, subsequent test, created by the same scientist/group that had created the first; on this one the lower the score is, the more “positive”, and my score was so surprisingly, remarkably low that I think it has to be an error or a fluke of the way I took the test, or a product of my bias, or something like that.  I haven’t taken that one again.  I’m frankly afraid of the result.)

I know I’m being terribly vague about all this, but please try to bear with me.  I don’t like jumping to conclusions, and I’m quite hesitant about my ability to be objective about myself.  I’ve only told one person (my employer) about the results with full information about what it was, partly because of the understanding way he’s always responded to my weirdness.  He was only generally familiar with the subject but seemed almost congratulatory about the result, which caught me by surprise.  I don’t quite know what to make of that.

I also don’t know what to do about all this; at first it seemed like a possible boon, a useful discovery, but now I fear that it really doesn’t change anything or, again, really matter at all.  There are links provided, after one takes the test and gets a high score, to possible people to “speak” to, to find out more, or get “help”, or whatever, but frankly, the thought of interacting with such people, or even of seeking out others who have scored highly on such tests is about as pleasant as being told that, to achieve some moderately desirable result, I need to eat a large bowl of fried eggplant.  That may not sound bad to many of you—you may happen to like eggplant—but even the smell of cooking eggplant makes me physically prone to throw up**.

I can’t even bring myself to seek out a new therapist regarding my dysthymia/depression, which is a confirmed and often dangerous problem for me; I’ve been through it all so often and in so many ways, and I have actual, clinical, expert level understanding of the problem—I’ve literally helped treat people for it, as a medical doctor.

It’s not out of arrogance that I avoid getting the therapy (though I think I am arrogant sometimes); I’m quite sure there are many people out there who could provide useful feedback and input for me, even if there’s no greater explanatory insight involved.  I’ve had therapists I liked, and who helped me, and if I could go to one of them again, I probably would, but none of those is close enough and I have no interest in trying to meet and develop a relationship with a new one.  The prospect is such a huge and daunting chore as to make me feel more depressed (see above about the eggplant).

So, anyway, for right now, I’m caught in a conundrum, with all the force vectors pushing against each other and holding me, pierced like a dissection specimen, in the center of their arrows.  It reminds me of a conversation I had with a psychologist (not about me, this was in a professional context) who said that in family therapy, in a severely dysfunctional setting, sometimes the only thing they could do would be the equivalent of setting off a stick of dynamite in the family dynamic, and hoping that after the explosion, things would settle back into at least a less dysfunctional pattern.  It sounded awful.  But sometimes I fear that it will require similar metaphorical dynamite for anything to change for me.  I’ve been through such explosions, more than once, and I don’t think the new patterns are better.  I don’t like my odds.

So, anyway, I’m knowingly being nonspecific, partly out of embarrassment, partly out of honest confusion about what, if anything, to do.  I guess it might be nice to find a kindred spirit of some sort, but I honestly doubt whether such a person exists, and the notion of hoping they might be possible and then finding they are not, or failing in some other fashion, is worse than not knowing.  Tennyson was an idiot, frankly, and similarly, Sisyphus would have been far better served just to stop pushing that stupid boulder.  He wasn’t going to get anywhere with it, no matter what he did.  He’d have been better served just to use it as a chair or a back rest and go to sleep.

That’s enough of all that for now.  I hope you’re all well, and that you have a terrific month of July, holidays or not.

TTFN

indecision


*Academic in character—the “personal” ones seemed entirely too subjective and anecdotal, which is probably unfair of me, especially given the nature of this blog post, but I’m trying to learn objective things, as much as possible, and most stories of and by real people, in written form, tend just to spin my head around, or bore me, and aren’t useful for insights.

**I’m not exaggerating.  It’s worse than mildew, worse than the smell of a dead skunk on the highway, and far more nauseating than walking into a camp latrine that hasn’t been cleaned in years.  It’s a physical response, not a value judgement.  I’m honestly envious of people who like eggplant, as with other foods I find intolerable.  They get so much pleasure from them, and it’s pleasure I can never have.

I am a fellow o’ the strangest mind i’ the world; I delight in blogs and revels sometimes altogether

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday, on which day of the week we complete the scared ritual by having me write my weekly blog post.

It’s been a fairly uneventful week, as far as writing and related matters go.  I’m editing In the Shade, as per usual, but that’s been going somewhat slowly.  I’m working on it every day, but I’ve been getting a bit less done than usual, due to some lifestyle changes I’ve made regarding allergy treatment, back pain interventions, and food habits—and other such things—and until my personal, mental clocks adjust to these changes, my concentration is a bit lacking.  To be fair to me, I am adjusting rapidly.  Today, for instance, I’m much more alert than I was yesterday and the day before.  I don’t think it will be long before I’ve gotten back up to full speed.  I may even accelerate.

I’m trying to consider what to work on after I finish In the Shade and complete and publish Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities and then complete and publish Outlaw’s Mind.  I think I may want to swing toward lighter fare.  I’ve been doing mainly horror or horror-related stories for quite a while now, which is fine, but I think veering toward more of a fantasy/sci-fi adventure tale might be good for a bit of a change.  Of course, there’s an element of horror to most of what I write—that’s just who I am, I guess—but still, it might be nice to do something a little less dark.

Among my released novels, two are purely horror stories—The Vagabond and Unanimity, though the latter disguises itself in a science fiction veneer.  The other three, however, are not.  Even Mark Red, which is about vampires and demi-vampires, isn’t a horror story; it’s more of a teen fantasy-adventure of sorts.  The vampires in the story are not merely the protagonists but are actually the good guys*.  Weirdly, though The Chasm and the Collision is a youth fantasy adventure, it could not only legitimately be called science fiction—albeit highly speculative—but it also has more horror elements than Mark Red does…which, I maintain, is essential in any youth-oriented fantasy adventure.

Of course, Son of Man is pure science fiction, though much of it is quite speculative, involving notions of complex time being used as a partial workaround of the Uncertainty Principle, and as a way of doing “time travel” without actually traveling through time.  It plays with identity questions related to the whole “Star Trek transporter”, copy-versus-original, destroyed and recreated versus actually transported question, but with the added levels of differences in time, and with chains of inescapable causality as well as unrequited love and the inability of even a supremely powerful being to change its past.  And, of course, given the title, it indulges in a bit of a playful religious allegory, or whatever the proper term might be.  Though there are references to truly horrific events in it—worse, frankly, than in any of my horror stories—it isn’t a horror story at all.  Go figure.

Of course, among the three tales in Welcome to Paradox City, two are clearly horror, though of quite different subtypes, while the middle one is sort of a supernatural low-key comedy.  I don’t know how funny it is, but though it involves “the unquiet dead**”, it is not a horror story.

All this is my way of reminding myself that, no, I don’t just write horror, though that’s what I’ve mainly written in recent outings.  So, I don’t have to write anything horror-ish for my next big project.  I’ve considered starting the novelization of a story I’d originally conceived as a manga***, based on two separate doodles/drawings I’d done, The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  If you look at pictures on my Facebook page, you should find some drawings of these characters, and scenes I envision them experiencing, and which are part of the narrative in the story in my head.  They are unlikely heroes, and quite unlikely companions, originally from different worlds (literally), who are tricked/forced to work together on a quest to serve the desires of an extra-dimensional wizard who is trapped in a tiny universe of his own making.  Along the way, they encounter another extra-dimensional being, properly considered a demi-god, who calls herself Lucy (not Lil), and who is a huge fan of the Beatles, and who models her realm accordingly.  As you might guess, Lucy is prone to call the Desperado either “Rocky” or “Dan” or even “Bungalow Bill”, depending on how generous she’s feeling toward him, and she refers to the Dark Fairy as “Sexy Sadie”.

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As you can tell, this story is conceived of as a fun sort of bizarre adventure, with few restrictions on what can possibly happen (though I do insist upon internal logical consistency, as long as it’s not too much trouble).  But I truly like the characters, as I imagine them so far, and would like to find out more of what happens to them, and to introduce them to other people.  I fear, though, that it would require an entire series to tell their tale(s), much more so even than with Mark Red, which can sort of stand on its own, though there’s more to that story than is currently written.

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This is Lucy. In the sky. With diamonds.

And, of course, I have a story waiting called Changeling in a Shadow World, which is about a boy/young man who believes himself to be a normal human, but who is actually the transplanted last survivor of a race of beings that perceive, move through, and manipulate higher spatial dimensions (and non-spatial dimensions), and who were wiped out by a creature or entity that exists between physical planes of reality, without integer dimensionality of its own, and which desires to invade realms of “normal” realities, either to become “dimensional” or merely to ruin such realms for everyone else.  It’s quite non-sane, being a creature without fixed dimensionality, and it has appeared in my stories before.  It’s referred to by those who fear it as Malice, or the Ill-Will, or the Other.  Its (rather unwilling) servants include less powerful irrationally dimensional creatures known as Crawlers…at least one of these appears in one of my soon-to-be-released stories already.

So, these are some of the options for what to work on after my current projects are done, which shouldn’t take too much longer.  If any of my readers have thoughts or preferences about what sounds like a good story for me to write next from among these descriptions, I would be honestly delighted to get your input.  I don’t absolutely guarantee that I’ll go along with your requests, but there can be no doubt whatsoever that you will influence me.  Surely all authors want to write stories that people will enjoy reading, and to which people will look forward!

In the meantime, I hope you all continue to do your best to stay safe and healthy and, especially, as happy as you’re able to be.

TTFN

full-12 (1)

This is the original drawing of the Dark Fairy


*I’m using “guys” here in a gender-nonspecific way for convenience.  The lead characters include a female vampire (Morgan, my favorite character that I’ve written so far) and a male demi-vampire (the title character).

**They find the term “ghost” offensive and would prefer that people not use it.

***Mark Red was also so conceived, originally.