2021-01-16: Smokey: Just some notes

I’m here today coding instead of writing. But because I’m sitting in what’s become My Writing Chair both sets of engines in my head are spinning, so I’ve got to get at least the list of topics out into someplace while I work. As such I’m typing this right in to my wordpress “new post” edit window instead of the wiki, which is a mistake. But I can’t set all that up while I’ve got the panels pulled out and the wires all over the floor.

Here’s a list of things I’ve got ripping through my head to write about…you know, when I have time:

  • The Fecklessness of The Right and “gotcha”ism.
  • The “feelings” of creativity and familiarity, as opposed to their actual manifestations.
  • The “wave of cool” of a great soundtrack. (Mirror’s Edge: Kate’s Puzzle) Contrast with “Project Rinzler
  • Write about the Huge Honkin Console work I’m doing today.
  • People who don’t finish games.
  • Shocked that I’m down 28 pounds
  • Text convo with Abbi about watching self destructive people and outsiderism.
  • Orwyn
  • Is the argument against big government best made by equating it with the argument against big business? “Where do you find these angels?” … “What makes people who literally seek power any more virtuous than the people you hate so much for pursuing commercial success?”

2021-01-11: Smokey: Back to your regularly scheduled madness

To say I keep a pad of paper next to me at my desk at home would be silly.

Last night I counted 5 pads. Graph pad, 11×17, a big art pad for drawing mind maps and such on, a couple notebooks, a simple 8.5×11 pad, and I really have to count the 3×4 foot whiteboard that’s within arms reach.

The idea of course is that if any idea strikes me at any time I’ve got someplace to put it.

“Yeah, Total Wilson move” I can hear people saying.

Now, people who REALLY know me know what I’m going to type next.

They’re all completely blank.

There’s very little as intimidating as the blank page. Some day (maybe in a couple paragraphs if my head goes that way) I’ll walk you through the thought process of what that actually looks like. But suffice it to say it’s true.

At the other end of my desk is my long boxes of 3×5 cards that are full of decades of “The Idea Deck” and about 500-700 new cards.

It occurred to me that one of the things that makes the page so daunting (I can’t use the word daunting without thinking of the Princess Diana interview where she uses the word like 6 times with her head lowered in that insufferably practiced English way to try and indicate the gravitas of being hounded by the media, but I digress) is that any single idea can’t really justify a whole page.

Yeah yeah I don’t pretend it makes TOO much sense outside the level to which I understand it.

Suddenly last night all of that occurred to me at once. I realized it was simply unacceptable.

So I grabbed a little stack of 3×5 cards and just started blasting ideas on them. As a goof, here they all are. Not entirely unrelated:

  • Topic: The Idea Deck (Is the post already out there?)
  • Topic: 3×5 cards for ideas: Thread from bite-sized chunks
  • Topic: “Don’t judge your enemy by your morals” isn’t right. It’s closer to “Don’t call out your enemy for invalidation of your morals”
  • Topic: Snack Madness
  • Idea: 3×5 carry-around wallet/case. “Shirt pocket 3×5 card wallets” just suck. Little leather box maybe?
  • Topic: Rebalkanizing The Internet
    Federated Social Media
    Tim Berners Lee (and his SOLID initiative)
    VPNs
    Mastodon
    Hive?
    I blasted those out in… I don’t know 3-4 minutes?

Now, I’ll expand on those in their own time. But removing that weird little barrier to entry for getting shit down on paper is of immeasurable value.

I’m really tiring of being able to feel an absolute tornado of creative energy that feels like has absolutely no outlet. Now “no outlet” is one of those weird emotional-based traps I get myself into, I know. Knowing that doesn’t dispell it outright. It’s not one of those seemingly external emotional gambits I play with myself like survivor guilt was (i.e. something that, once well defined and boxed just sorta ran out of steam on its own.) But it does have some of the virtue of being a containable border, if I’m paying very close attention.

So solutions start suggesting themselves if I force compartmentalization of the issue.

Without that it’s a thing that sits in the background of my mind, ready to pounce on on me like Hobbes waiting around a corner for Calvin with a bucket of snowballs every time I move towards making something.

But if I can sit on the box I can usually get past it. If I define it I can point an accusing finger at it. It’s when it’s not defined and identified that it has the power to be sneaky.

It’s interesting stuff that I’m essentially realizing as I write about it.

It doesn’t immediately reveal the solution, just a way to defend against it. I still get myself tied up in unbelievable fucking knots with the need to create something.

ANYthing….well, no not anything.

I can see something else kicking around in there, malevolent and undefined, that’s doing something similar. But playing the game of trying to turn around fast enough to catch yourself sneaking up on you hasn’t borne the fruit that it usually does with this one.

I end up leaning back on the vast number of pursuits I’ve got as some kind of defense. But the “for any one thing you do, there’s an infinity of things you’re NOT doing” doesn’t seem like it’s the problem. I know that pretty well. And sure, I find it REALLY tough to give up on ancillary pursuits. I mean hell, look up there at that list: Am I going to get some leatherworking tools and a big sheet of veg tan to make myself little box for 3×5 cards? (Trick question: I already have just about everything I need.)

No, there’s a sense of hesitation in crossing the finish line on all kinds of things that has boxed me out to the point where I tend to sorta dick around on projects and not finish all that many. It’s less true of making physical things (out of wood, steel, etc.) since it’s just so much more glaring to walk past an unfinished piece of craft than it is to pass over a directory of unfinished writing or software projects.

It’s still there though, in the “longer term pursuit of the hobby.” Straight up Peter Panism seems a hollow explanation, however well it fits.

But hell, maybe it is that simple. It doesn’t suggest so easy a solution.

“Dude just pick something or…somethings” just rings pretty shallow. I mean yeah, but that’s unsatisfying and unproductive.

I’ve clearly got to figure a way around it. It’s there to be examined if I can find the proper approach to it.

Fuck it. Post it undone.

2021-01-11: Blowing out the lines

I’m sitting here fucking vibrating with disgust and admittedly impotent fury over the events of the left over the last week, most poignantly the last few days with regards to the mass coordinated censorship and deplatforming of the president and his allies.

Last night’s actions of Amazon (Google and Apple) to kick Parler (a twitter alternative) off of their hosting service was the last straw. I woke up this morning and deregistered my 3 kindles, my 2 amazon echoes, and my amazon FireTV box.

I deleted my audible account, my goodreads account, wiped my payment data and addresses from amazon itself before deleting my account there as well.

Fuck ’em.

You have to have a line. Maybe it’s a petty gesture. Don’t care. That’s an easy line.

“But dude, you’re on facebook of all things.”

I have so many ad blockers and anti-tracking measures in place that facehole doesn’t get a dime from me. I use it on one browser dedicated to only facebook on one laptop.

But the amount of money I’ve spent at Amazon over the last 22 years is…well, let’s be honest, it’s multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The only REAL sting I’ll feel (aside from possibly yelling to my kitchen “Alexa, what’s the weather? Oh shit, right.” over the next couple weeks) is the audible exclusive books. But…where there’s a will and a newly minted disregard for legality, there’s a way.

I was at the end of that process (dammit…it already worked. You’ll see what I mean in a couple/few paragraphs) and bouncing back and forth on social media outlets (you know, those that fucking remain) when I realized “dude, you’re too charged up for this shit. Get the laptop and go to Smokey.”

So I started bopping around my house packing my backpack (laptop, glasses, etc.) when my brain went back to a girl I get along with at Johnathan’s who I haven’t seen in a long time. I didn’t quite blow it. But I didn’t strike while the iron was hot either.

I texted one of my friends who works there:

“I caught myself missing Kathy. I wonder what that nutty chick has been up to.” She’s…nutty. But she’s really good. And admittedly I kinda wanna see her naked.

“Where’ve you been? She’s here ALL the time. She’s in this toxic relationship with a womanizing redneck. They break up every time they’re here.”

I was immediately nauseous. I’m not going to air her laundry (or her real name) here. But I get it. I understand why that shit happens. I watch it all the time.

I texted my friend back that it was a strange thing to be the kind of person who watches those things go on and sees the future of it all clear as day. It really reinforces my identity as an outsider.

Her message came in as I was hitting send on that one. “It won’t last.”

I grabbed my bag, walked out the back door and it was quiet. There was no internet. None of the nonsense was happening. Just a few snowflakes starting to fall against the backdrop of my back yard and I smiled.

It lasted for the drive over. Coming in the cigar lounge they had the news on and the usual suspects were glued to fox, watching the Parler CEO talking and my blood pressure immediately tripled.

I set everything up, bought a few cigars and a couple bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper (my preferred cigar accompaniment) and got RIGHT back on to twitter and facehole, you know….to check.

Yeah that didn’t do me any good. At about a half hour in I realized I was just fucking vibrating with fury. The following conversation insued in my brainbox:

“Dude you’ve got to write. You’ve got to open the damned wordprocessor and just type SOMEthing. Even if it’s just how fucking mad you are.”

“God Dammit NO. I’m furious. I don’t WANT to calm the fuck down.”

“You know better. Open Q10.”

“Fuck you.”

Ten minutes of ragescrolling later.

“God DAMMIT.”

“…”

On my way over I’d been listening to the audio version of The Antidote, which is a great little book for people who are sick of self-help pablum blowing sunshine up your ass. The 20 minute segment I listened to on the way over was the beginning of the author’s interview with Eckhart Tolle, who says that our identity isn’t our thoughts. And since our thoughts exist as a reaction, almost an abrasion against our senses that identifying with our thoughts creates an impossible scenario where that with which we identify at (almost) the most primitive way is fundamentally built on conflict. THAT portion of ourselves can, by definition, never be at peace.

All of that came to mind as I sat here and fumed petulantly at myself, knowing better about being all Kirk in The Final Frontier:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/WLzJAebfEIg

It sounds great, and there’s absolutely an element to it that’s as true as anything ever said. But…it’s also a lie.

“God DAMMIT!

Well there’s only one thing to write about then, isn’t there.

Fuck.”

I tweeted, and opened Q10.

A few paragraphs in….yeah, I felt better. Always. It ALways works. Every time. It’s perfectly reliable. (I marked the moment parenthetically above.)

My attitudes to those things that have my Irish up haven’t changed. But the primary identification with my rage reached its temporal end.

And sure, the triple play of “Did I miss the opportunity?”, “Dude you dodged a bullet”, “You’re just trying to make yourself feel better.” re: Kathy (name changed to protect…me) is still warring in its little warren in the back of my mind, the truth being that it’s a clear combination of all three. Fair enough. But it’s not causing me undue consternation, not at the moment anyway.

But at least I’ve blown out the lines enough to write about what I CAME here today to write about.

2021-1-2: Nostalgia

I got an invitation from an old and current friend to join a Zoom
“party” next Saturday night with a bunch of The Crew from…18 or so
years ago. A few lifetimes by any estimation.

My knee jerk reaction was a weird mix of “oh HELL no” and “God it’d be
nice to see soandso again.” So I stood up and went out to the back
porch to give it a little think. On one hand I’ve been complaining to
myself lately that I haven’t maintained contacts with some of the
worthwhile people in my life, having let friendships atrophe and fall
off a bit too easily.

But I thought about it a bit more and realized that kicking up a get
together (virtual or not) with a bunch of people I used to know,
nearly two decades later isn’t the same thing. It’s nostalgia and I
don’t really have a lot of time for nostalgia, it anchors us in the
past in a way that reminds me a bit too much of the barbed hooks from
Hellraiser.

It also brings to mind Facebook back when it was starting to get
popular. All these people from high school started coming out of the
woodwork. My sisters’ friends and people I worked with in the 80s. I
connected with all of them. But…it only took a month or two to
realize how fake it was. Now that’s certainly all of Facebook. It’s a
saccharine replacement to actual social interaction. I started
cutting people back off and was dealt an interesting case of whiplash
because I didn’t want to play “remember when” with them, reinforcing
my decision.

Connecting with people from your distant past and pretending you can
pick up where you left off is just delusional. Sure, it can be
pleasant if you’re confused about what’s really going on. But it’s
actually poisonous.

You’re not who you were 10, 15, 20, or 30 years ago (and if you are,
that’s a whole different level of problem I’ve not the inclination to
address here.) Neither are they. So meeting people on THAT level
anchors you with an image of yourself (and of them) that’s as old as
that relationship’s original incarnation and in a very real way pulls
you back to those habits, roles, and self-appraisals.

It’s quite the same thing as the yearly trek home to family for the
holidays. Pete Holmes, of all people, hits this in one of his
monologues. Unless you’re really strong, your whole family tends to
snap back into the roles from childhood.

This isn’t to say that you can’t get in touch with people from your
past. It’s just that you have to recreate the relationship almost
from scratch and from your current perspectives; a process that’s
harder, in fact, than meeting new people, since you’ve got to get rid
of all the cruft of expectation then start over.

After all, you can learn an awful lot about a person from how far back
he goes in time when he tells his glory day stories, and fewer and
fewer of mine are from back then.

So I came back in the house, sat down at the laptop and typed my
honest response.

Wasn’t easy. I’m by nature an overly agreeable person, inclined to put
myself out rather than rock the boat. I know it doesn’t seem like
that to a lot of people. But that’s kinda the point. But I realized a
few things in a rapid cascade after I hit enter on the facebook
message.

Immediately afterwards, it not actually having been a cut and dry
decision I had the cool breeze of clarity that indicates it was
absolutely the right thing to do. Okay good. It happens like that an
awful lot of the time, the clarity of a good choice appearing after
the fact, even if before the consequences. It’s frustrating that way
since there’s no more information after the choice is made than
before, like you’re playing a massive trick on yourself by pretending
not to know, being absolutely unable to access the part of you that
DOES know. But it’s an absolutely clear sensation of clarity. It’s
the opposite number to the sinking feeling of regret when an
opportunity passes.

Somewhere between a minute or two afterwards I was thinking about how
the act of making that decision carved a ridge in a previously
nebulous definition of myself. It erased a charcoal line and replaced
it with ink, reminding me that decisions define. My brain, upon
thinking that, cast over big decisions I’d made in the last few years,
moving to Nashville, buying a house, “nominally retiring.” So yeah,
more decisions. More actions. Declaring yourself out loud to the
world has power. But that’s a topic for another time.

So no I’m not interested in reliving the past, fond as a lot of my
memories from those times are. I’ve spent an awful lot of energy
growing and moving on. I’m not him. I’m not there. Engaging in that
kind of weird nostalgia just seems like an act of desperation.

If I’d maintained those friendships over the intervening time, that
would be different. But I haven’t, quite intentionally.

No. No thanks. I’m not interested. But yo tell the cute one I said
wassup. 😉