Monday, April 15, 2024

Spring Poetry Project 2024

I didn't expect this year's spring poetry assignment was going to happen, but it happened and here are the results.

I was just trying to delete a bunch of older online accounts because who needs that shit lying around, y'know? Mundane stuff. I logged in to my old Evernote account to change things up, and while I was there, I found lots of old notes to myself. We're talking the off-the-cuff, "ubiquitous capture" kinds of notes, everything that was happening around me, except the important stuff like pictures of people. Some notes were nicer to myself than others, fewer part-time jobs and more wondering. A note from around this time 11 years ago wanted to capture a scan of a poem I must have written close to a decade before that. The poem is a bit more like prose without paragraphs, and its sayings are just encouragements I'd heard from other people. But what else do we have when we're freshmen in high school?

I admire that a younger instance of me wanted to express something, probably in coping with palpitations from unrequited love. It makes me happy that I've been trying to express myself through words for recovery and equanimity for the past two decades.

What I didn't admire was the capture of the poem by that slightly younger version of me (2013). A gruesome fluorescent white from phone camera technology that did not meet its marketing hype. A "ubiquitous capture" system that failed by leveling a desire to feel through the written word with stupid fucking shit like receipts and bad photos of food. Totally inept response, slightly younger me.

So this year for spring as I get all weepy like I always do, I'm responding to the younger, younger me with a new poem. This new poem has a style that a younger, younger me would have never thought to use, but he did always wonder why acrostic poems would indent their second line per stanza. I'm happy to be writing back to the past with an answer.

Presented below is the trite but earnest poem from 2004(?) with a poem from 2024 in response. Enjoy!

A continent doesn’t cry as it crawls
    adrift a boiling red sea
A rift yawns in its wake
Lava is such a passionate wound,
    the blood of the earth spilling over,
            but still made of stuff
                we somehow call mundane

Our mother does not even notice
    our tiny blips of life
She just wishes we were better

The earth also doesn’t know
    she’s going to die until too late
That’ll be long after we’re gone, oh well

So what will you do with this speck of existence?

The best times in the books
    are when new things happen
Good or bad,
    at least there was a story to tell

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Shameless Recommendations 2023-03-09

  1. Read The Book of Form and Emptiness, especially if you have concerns about the materials and possessions around you and/or you've experienced loss in recent years.
  2. If you happen to be in southeast Michigan, visit Westborn Market and pick yourself up some "Real Deal Tater Chips", especially the BBQ flavor. I've talked about how good BBQ Joe Chips are, and I still think they're great. But these chips from Westborn are the "Real Deal". I think their packaging is a little goofy ("Chippy, Chippy, Boom! Boom!") and it doesn't sell how tasty the insides are. The cracked black pepper on top of other BBQ spices makes them a serious contender for "Best BBQ Potato Chips".
  3. Play the party card game Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. It's a seriously silly good time. Be sure to remove hand jewelry and make sure your nails aren't too sharp! Otherwise, you'll quickly learn why I provide this cautionary advice.
  4. Check out the music artist on4word. They're currently on Bandcamp and YouTube. They use selections of Nintendo 64 game sound fonts to recompose critically acclaimed "alternative" and "electronic" music, such as Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and Radiohead. As I'm writing this, I realize these sounds may only appeal to older millennials who enjoy both Nintendo 64 and music they were too young to experience in real time, so YMMV.
  5. Read more about Discordianism and, more broadly, apophenia. I learned a lot about myself by giving a name to my mind's tendency to connect unrelated things. Put another way, and related to point #4, "Just 'cause you feel it/ Doesn't mean it's there".

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Talk to Yourself How You'd Talk to Your Friends

That's right, we're going to flip the Golden Rule on its head for fun and profit. The Golden Rule, remarkably, has its share of criticism. (George Bernard Shaw says, "Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.")

I have developed enough metacognition over the years to realize how harsh my tone has been with myself. Maybe you've found similar awareness. I developed a more compassionate voice to myself after reflecting on my tone in old journal entries ("Why do I even try? This isn't going to work. I'm a wreck.") and thinking more about how language is consciousness and vice versa ergo harsh words are literal psychic damage. 

If, for instance, a friend doesn't meet their running goals for the week, how would you respond to that? Would you tell them they should give up and not try again? Would you say, "Put your damn shoes back on and MOVE!"? Probably not, for one reason or other. Why should you talk to yourself like that?

If a friend isn't feeling motivated to do anything, would you yell at them and call them names until they did something? Probably not.

I hear and see people I know advocating very intense self-discipline, to the point where I worry about them. As if their own inner parent were very strict with their schedule, their diet, their house rules. If you've got enough structure in your life to support your basic needs, why continue to push discipline? Who is it really benefiting? Maybe you could convert that punishment into nurturing guidance?

I think one reason for harsh self-talk is that it's hidden to others. No one else can hear and then judge this self-talk, and so it can devolve into verbal abuse. If you verbally abused a friend you'd see their confused and horrified face and maybe anger and retaliation. You don't see such negative feedback when rudely addressing yourself in your head. So here I am offering that negative feedback: cut it out.

Maybe this is too Barney & Friends to be taken seriously, but wouldn't you like to be your own friend? I think you're worth it, and I'm not even trying to take your money.

Maybe I'm too firmly rooted in idleness movements for today's hustling and bustling society, but I firmly believe you should cut yourself some slack. You'd do this for others. Why not do the same for yourself? You're worth it.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Sassafras Roots

I recently started reading Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. There are plenty of articles and interviews to read about the book and the author, so I won't bore you with details you can find better written elsewhere. I do want to share a recent self discovery as it relates to the book's material. 

I have lived by the following quote for what seems like about the past ten years: "Time you enjoy is never wasted." I forget where I heard that quote first. At this point, I may have said it so many times that a historian may credit me with creating the phrase. I think it's still relevant to my outlook today. Thanks to the message I'm picking up from Four Thousand Weeks, I'd offer an even simpler take: "Time is never wasted." 

Time is never "wasted", at all, because it can't ever really be "spent" as if it's a currency that you can have more or less of at any given instant. (How would it even be possible to "have" time in an instant?) Time is it. That is, your experience, any given moment in which you can exist, is time. The accumulation of moments appears to be a unidirectional and linear flow of time for how we "pass through it". Really, instead of thinking of time as some currency, it's more like an integral from calculus. 

All the moments you've experienced, in "deep time" as some call it, make up your life, sum into this integral. No measure of years, months, days, minutes, seconds, or smaller, can accurately and consistently describe this accrual. If, for instance, you spent a year grieving, you'd probably accrue many fewer moments to remember because of being in a lower energy state, but you'd "have" plenty of time to reflect on past moments. That year will not have gone any faster or slower by scientific measures. It may feel a lot slower from the lack of punctuated events in life. But it'd be ample time to review the story told so far, a fine activity in this lower energy state. (All this, I should add, requires ample rest. No need to force oneself into accruing more memories. There's no room for that in this state.) 

Don't worry too much about "being fully in the moment" or "being here now". You're always now, and you're always here. There's no way to do it "right" or "wrong". You might remember some moments better. Those are the ones to reflect on and appreciate anyway. 

Thank you for "spending" your time to read this blog post. Maybe it bored you or scared you in thinking about time an unconventional way. Maybe you had an enjoyable moment.

Monday, November 15, 2021

I Wish There Were Fewer Manifestos

Anyone else feel like there are too many manifestos out there? I'm not even talking about the horrid kind left behind by mass murderers, I'm also talking about manifestos of corporations, non-profit organizations, books in your book clubs, and political movements.

One of the greatest things there is is to not know. To live with wonder about an infinite universe is humbling and calming. There is so, so much that each one of us doesn't know anything about. Why prize what we claim to believe or find "true" when it's not even a sizable fraction of what's left unknown?

A manifesto demands adherence, some shared set of beliefs. The thing is, no one ever really fully buys into a statement of shared beliefs. Some statements we can tolerate being around even if we don't agree. Some we really don't agree with. Some things we accept in disagreement out of convenience or exhaustion. More often than not it's the idea of someone who's really bought in, and the rest follow along thinking they'll maybe get something out of it. If not everyone's bought in, why use language like "we" in your statements?

The next time you're reading a manifesto, ask yourself, "Do I really believe that?" Maybe you'll find out you don't. I encourage your independent discovery.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Shameless Recommendations 2021-08-17

  1. Read Why Fish Don't Exist, and don't read anything about the book before starting it.
  2. Play Baba Is You. It's available for major computing platforms, smart mobile devices, and Nintendo Switch. If you get stuck, don't cheat! That ruins the whole point of the game. Instead, check out guiding hint sites like Baba Is Hint which help you think about how the game works instead of giving away the solution.
  3. Get a therapist or counselor even if you don't think you need one. Really. If there's nothing "bad" or "painful" to talk about, you might still learn about yourself and learn to think about your own thoughts differently with a therapist's help. If things are already bad, it totally sucks to jump through all the hoops and forms and insurance and such to get connected with a therapist. Get started with therapy before your energy state is super low from grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, whatever. Future you will thank you.
  4. Eat Joe Chips. Serious but non-damaging crunch with just the right amount of give, excellent flavor dusting. Try out the assorted chips linked, and learn what your favorite flavor is. The BBQ flavor of Joe Chips (BBQ is generally my favorite chip flavor) has just the perfect balance of salt, smoke, spice, and sugar. I have not encountered anything else out there so balanced. BBQ chips are often too smoky (I usually pass up "mesquite" labeling) or not sweet enough. Not BBQ Joe Chips.
  5. Go on a walk through a forest or park, and try to find one object of each color of the rainbow. Maybe you'll find a red leaf or an orange peel, or even a yellow dandelion. Make a note of your discoveries somewhere, or even take photos of each object of each color and arrange them to form your own lovely ROYGBIV. This exercise was adapted from Why Fish Don't Exist, but it doesn't spoil anything, I promise.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Old Internet Will Make a Comeback

You heard it here first! (Maybe not.) Old Internet activities like Blogger and LiveJournal are going to be hot again. Longform soliloquies like this one will become popular forms of expression again as we tire of our uncles having something to say about everything on social media platforms. Widely-supported, probably-already-installed, instant-loading fonts like Verdana will make a comeback, and expensive fonts like Circular which have to be downloaded and slow down page loads will fall out of favor. Maybe this time these newly-hot old platforms will benefit from wide support for emoji. 🔥 (Maybe not.) I betcha there will be some "new" site that replicates the experiences of these classic platforms.

How refreshing that Old Internet sites load pretty much instantly. The Servo or V8 or WebKit engine in your browser is overengineered to load and execute poorly-written JavaScript faster than it really should run. It's not just the web developers' faults though; basically all software is enormous and slow these days. If you keep your site simple and low-tech, it's like driving to the corner store to get some milk with a souped-up Ferrari, which is a funny image. (But did we really need the Ferrari in the first place?) Maybe just keep it simple and low-tech because all computers require energy to run and we ought to be responsible about energy consumption. "Call 4-H to find out how you can do your part."

(My favorite part of Old Internet? Hyperlinks! Maybe I just wish web pages thought of themselves as simple documents on the greater World Wide Web instead of be-all, end-all experiences. You might have already guessed that I don't think Facebook is the bee's knees.)

Go grab a stopwatch, click this link, and start the stopwatch. You can stop the stopwatch when the page finishes loading. How long did it take to load?