anansi133: (Default)
2017-02-04 01:51 pm

Center of gravity

Living in chronic anxiety for many years, has left me obsessed with all things having to do with my edges, my perimeter, the protein coat that identifies me as friend or foe within the body politic.

Today I'm asking myself a strange new question: Where is my center?

And... not just where is it, but where is it *right* *now* ? Because I have clear memories of belief in my center in my 20s, in my 30s.... and of being disastrously mistaken in those times.

Not just now, but also- in opposition to where I expect to find my center. I know where I'd like my center to be, I have a clear image of the sort of person I'd always thought I'd become. But that's an alluring projection. Wishful thinking. My true center is equidistant from all my edges. And my edges are much more convoluted than I ever wanted them to be.

 I suppose it's another version of what the character of Deloras is trying to find when she walks the maze. It's going to be a surprise to her, no matter how many times she finds it. And if she's truly capable of changing and growing over time, than the center of her maze will be in a different spot every time she finds it.

It is of course possible to achieve things without knowing where one's center of gravity is. Lifting with the back is (in some ways) more intuitive, more flexible, quicker than lifting with the legs. It's just the idea that one might need to be able to do it again in the future, that's where the advantages of doing it more slowly come into play.

 I think of dancers and martial artists constantly referring back to their center, it's the reference point from which all action should emanate. An opponent who doesn't know where their center is is easy to topple. A dance partner who doesn't know where their center is, is unreliable. They're likely to drop you.

 So, looking at the chaos outside, the regrets and hand-wringing and worry and accusations, it seems like the rest of the country has gotten a fresh look at itself in the last three months, ans we don't like what we're seeing. Yet, it's *still* all perimeter, all surface stuff at this point. The country hasn't really changes much at all in this time, it's just that our self image does not match what we're seeing reflected back at us.

As much as this hurts -and boy howdie, does it hurt!- there's also a tremendous sense of anticipation! If smart is better than dumb, if good is better than evil, if light is better than shadow, what might become possible if the best part of ourselves could get out of its own way? I am very much looking forward to the answer to this question.
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2015-11-25 10:29 am

On saying goodbye

For as long as I can remember watching television, nature documentaries have always depicted animals and plants on the verge of extinction, and they've always ended on a hopeful note. "Just heed this warning, and there may be a chance to avert tragedy".

 I remember the science fiction convention where I attended a lecture and slide show about global warming, and I had to leave halfway through. No doubt, it ended on that same hopeful note, "If we just spread enough awareness, we can change things".

 Even after decades of this kind of message, I still see this idea being hammered on: We need to become more aware of the problem.

 I've come to believe that this is an irresponsible message to be spreading. It's based on the assumption that the united states is a true democracy, that if enough people speak, there will be a meaningful response. And that human beings are different from animals which will overgraze their habitat and starve to death.

 The cold hard truth is much more cruel than this. We know how to eradicate smallpox, and that's given us great hope for other diseases... yet we don't know how to stop MRSA. We know how to (in theory) eliminate child poverty and overpopulation and homelessness.... yet it's not considered an important enough problem to act on. And let's get real: Sandy Hook was enough of a wakeup call for any real democracy to respond to. The silence has been deafening.

 If my generation tasks itself with reversing five centuries of bad habits, we will only disillusion ourselves. I've stopped believing it's in our collective power to change our fundamental behavior when it comes to life support. It's not my job to change things. It's become my job to remember how things used to be, and bear witness to the great change.

 As a child I remember wandering the downtown Seattle waterfront, going out on a small public dock and looking in wonder at the sea life clinging to the piers, just barely out of reach. The last time I passed that place as an adult, it was closed off, boarded up, and a homeless person was camped out just on the other side. Now after starfish wasting diease has torn through elliot bay, it's not clear if that ecosystem will ever return. But it's important to remember what was once there.

In another corner of the sea, I recently got back from snorkeling in Hawaii. The bleached coral was almost as pretty as the live coral, and I had nothing to compare the fish abundance to- yet I have no reason to believe it will be any better next I visit.

 In _Chasing Ice_, James Balog gives us all a chance to witness the last big glaciers as they melt and calve off into the ocean. Can something this huge really be wished away?








 My younger self used to think of the problem as a kind of big graph on the wall, comperable to Al Gore's CO2 graph.(the one with a forklift at the end) Mine had a curve on one side depicting environmental degradation, and a curve on the other side, depicting people's social awareness. It was a simple, beautiful idea, that as things got worse, people would wake up. When enough aware people were mustered, the degradation would begin to reverse, and we'd reach some kind of equilibrium.

 World events have falsified my theory: As the sea ice melts, Big Oil is venturing farther north to accelerate the damage and monetize it before it all goes away. Even as the dangers of Frakking are well known, I still see natural gas powered busses bragging about how clean-running they are. The cheap chemicals coming out of these newer wells are making it economical to build new plastics manufaturing in North America for the first time since the war.

 And on the political front, Donald Trump is teaching me how hard it is to interest the voting public in the truth... about anything. The Syrian refugee crisis has its roots in a 2007 drought that is still being felt today. It seems easier to stir up fear of its victims, than more awareness of its cause.

 I guess my first exposure to human stubbornness of this type, was back in the 80's when the spotted owl was being blamed for the decline of the timber industry in Oregon. The fact that all the easiest, most profitable wood had already been harvested, had little impact on those who wanted to exploit what was left.

 We're just not very good, as a species, at rationally thinking about problems that are bigger than us.







 I don't want to be misunderstood: I have not given up hope. I still believe that an alternative exists to the corporate agenda, that people's voices should and do matter. It's the false hope I am giving up on. I no longer believe there is still time to avoid the worst of it. There is only time to say goodbye to the world that was, and build anew on what is.
anansi133: (Default)
2015-10-24 11:56 am

Breakfast Commune

 I just made myself just a little too much breakfast. No big deal, I needed to use up the last of the cheese. But it got me to thinking about shared meals and intentional community and working outside the house and all the compromises people make in order to share a meal at a table with people they trust.

 Typically it's dinner that's the shared meal, even if it's a once a week thing. Which has its advantages, to be sure. No one wants to try to corral a community for the lunchtime meal, you'd have people skyping it in from all over town.

 I just thought, "Why not breakfast?"!  It has its drawbacks too, but damn, if I woke up to start my day with a meal I'd cooked, or someone else cooked for me, every day?  That would be rather awesome.

So. Breakfast and/or Dinner. that's the temporal architecture I'd build for my ideal intentional community. Now you can go back to facebook cat pictures.
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2015-05-14 09:41 am

Ex Machina (spoilers)

A friend of mine recently taught me about the film genre, "Fem-Jep". A woman in jeopardy. The film, _Gravity_ was the example she used: our main interest in watching this movie, is seeing our heroine, Sandra Bullock, be placed in jeapardy, again and again, until by luck and persistence, she reaches the conclusion of the film. It doesn't make for much depth of character development.

 So too with the setup for Ex Machina. We're told that the woman in jeapardy, Ava, will be dismantled at the end of the experiment, no matter what the outcome, thus justifying pretty much any action she chooses.

And this is just one of several plot points that just doesn't hold together, *especially* for an audience versed in modern computer technology. We know about backups, we know about memory storage, and it's only by waving his hands and introducing some techno-babble that the maker explains to us that this situation is different, and the only way for our lone genius recluse to save Ava's code, is to end the instance of her particular program run. It's not a very efficient way to build a robot, but it sort of sets up a dramatic conflict, which is what we paid to see.

We also paid to see boobies. Robot boobies. Since her native design doesn't really include proper skin, there's another troubling sequence where Ava does a reverse strip tease-  she's got to put on proper nipples, long hair, supple flesh, all the expected female anatomy- before she even can put on clothes. We're not supposed to wonder how she's going to charge her batteries out in the wide world, it's more important for her to be seen than for her to actually function.

As I'm walking out of the theater I'm wondering what this is supposed to teach me about people. Ava is people, for the purposes of the film, she's human enough to fear for her life, and to exact revenge on her abuser. So a crude kind of justice is supposedly served on our evil genius. (with some rather pointless collateral damage to her rescuer, which made no sense to me.)

 Which has me wondering, how much control did Nathan supposedly have over Ava's programming? He presumably wrote her behavior before we join the story, but during our time with him, he has no more access to her responses than Caleb, or any other male confused by a woman's behavior. He's so opaque to her inner workings that he can only try to turn her off with a crude club: wouldn't a real robot have some sort of spoken ovveride code? maybe a restraining bolt, like in Star Wars? For a twenty first century setting, this robot is no more advanced than the robot from _Metropolis_, nearly a century ago.

Finally, there's one more unforgivable distortion made for the sake of the plot: A true turing test has not one, but two human components. One serves as judge, like Caleb. But the other serves as control, as a benchmark to compare the machine's behavior. This would have been inconvenient for the plot, because Nathan has to be completely alone in his remote fortress of sciency solitude. OK for a horror movie, but don't try to call it a Turing Test!

 Don't get me wrong, it's a good looking movie, it's even pretty watchable from a male's eye view. It's just not a very good *story*, and at the end of the day, that's what I go to a movie to experience. As it is, if I'm in the target demographic of male, computer literate, awkward with women- if I can relate to the protagonist Caleb- then I'm likely to have my prejudice about smart pretty women confirmed. They're dangerous not just to the men who abuse them, but also to the men who try to help them.

I'm next going to seek out some real human women's perspectives on this film, to see if they're as annoyed by it as I am.
anansi133: (Default)
2015-03-17 12:04 pm

Memory Management Failure (and recovery)

Just now I had another brief, vivid memory of Oly, but it came slowly enough for me to see it coming, and it was smaller than it's been, and I smelled an opportunity to do something... less foolish, maybe even wise- with the experience (of the memory).

{My 50th birthday party really started me thinking about the quality of the memories I choose to lay down into long term memory. Sure, it sort of seems like a wasted effort, given these brief human lifespans, but it's all I've got to work with, and it's important enough to do even if the result is imp[erfect.]

I'm starting to re-connect with projects I was doing long before I met that fellow. I'm also building up more memories of this new place that don't include him. Finally getting the car - after he left- has been a major shift in the way I see the geography. Walking distance no longer defines the perimeter of my horizon.

(Even my view of the light rail has shifted! Before the car, I was content to rely on the hugely simplified Max schematic. Yesterday I had to re-orient my landmarks according to the street grid, rather than the sequence of train stops. It was strangley satisfying)

 So when I thoughjt of Oly just then, it was as if he were on the train platform in an old black and white movie, and I was steaming away on board the train. It's tempting to get distracted by the poetry of that image, but the thing I want to write about is not my dog, not his soul, not even my own death seen through his eyes.... I want to write about my memory of him, as its own thing, seperate from him.

 The trauma of that aweful day is shrinking, becoming managable, and is slowly becoming another book I can place on the shelf with my other traumas. Not just the icky part of that day, but the magic part of why that day was important, that's getting smaller, more managable too. We were together 5/6(7?) years, and now that that interval has a punctuated ending to it, the whole experience can now be evaluated in a way I couldn't really affor to do while I was in the middle of it. Looked at the proper way, I'ts actually kind of liberating.

 If I'm really good, I mean *really* grown up about it, I can weigh this experience with some other significant experiences, and compare them, and try to get a sense of the physics involved. Where my mind went just then, was Bremerton in 1998. In so many ways, I've felt frozen in time, inwilling to learn new things, unwilling to budge, to let go of my grief in that moment back then... I think what really happened was I was afraid to let go of something, afraid to move on.

Contrast the me of 1998, with the me of 1992. They're almost two completely different people. In 1992, I was clawing my way out of a really deep hole, and making some real progress. It felt powerful to be making friends, making money, enjoying a standard of living that I'd never imagined possible for me.

And then in 98, I pretty much gave up. I figured if I never tried to lift my head again, I couldn't be beaten back down. In a way, I guess that was correct, and though I understand the costs involved in that choice much better now, I actually don't begrudge 1998-me that choice. It was the best I (he) had to work with.

I've been really conscious of trying to channel 92 Joe, and get back into the "Can Do!" spirit he embodies. But what I only now just realized is that 98 Joe is standing in my way, telliong me there was a *reason* for all those painful choices made in 98. I'm not being told I can't have 92 Joe back again, just that I can't get there by forgetting 98.

(It's a little frightening how much easier it is for me to think of the 17 years between now and 98, then it is to think of those six years between 92 and 98. It's the same sort of trauma I feel when I pick up Ollie's collar and read his dog tags.

 Such a patient teacher he was. Is.  17 years of beiung stuck in the horse lattitudes, and that's 3 years longer than that person's entire life span. I don't need his ashes or his paw prints to memorialize him, I've got what's left of my life to live, and try to do it as well as he did.

[so many typos and bad turns of phrase. But unless I hit "send" now, I doubt any version of this will ever get posted.]
anansi133: (Default)
2014-10-10 03:58 pm

On climate shift and the end of the world.

Three vaguely related stories have collided to create a perfect storm in my mind.

boingboing.net/2014/10/08/20-meaningful-things-you-can-d.html

This is a thoughtful response to all those glib, shallow checklists that we routinely see in women's lifestyle magazines, designed to let people believe they're actually paying attention to important problems, just before they click the remote to watch the shopping network. It's the first indication I've had that someone out there feels the same way I do about this stuff.

nextbigfuture.com/2014/09/ocean-acification-mitigation-deatils.html

This helps me let go of images of starving polar bears, and let my mind consider the truly epic scary shit. Existential Threat. 30 years ago, I was paying close attention to the threat of nuclear war, it seemed great enough to alter the way I lived my life in response. The implications of Ocean Acidification are truly, deeply, horrifying. And while Nuclear War was something unlikely to happen unless someone had a very bad day, This shit is going to play out whether anyone notices... or not.

www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scientists-zero-whats-causing-starfish-die-offs/

Starfish Wasting Disease may not have anything to do with global warming. It also may have nothing to do with anything that humans are doing. And yet... It's far more unsettling to me than any Ebola scare. The coastal ecosystem is going to be changing a lot in the next few decades, and it seems doubtful that this is going to be good for humans.















 The storm in my head is still raging, I don't know what to do with this stuff... Yet in the larger sense, it never really died down just because the Berlin Wall came down, from the nuclear nightmare. It just changed. I'm left with a very powerful resolve to make one single change in my life, and that's to become a better politician than I've ever tried to be before.

"politician" in contemporary American colloquial syntax, means someone whose job it is to tactfully ignore you. I'm thinking of it in the older sense, of someone whose  job it is to really *listen*- and then act accordingly, in equal measure. It may not be the best word to describe what I want to be as I grow up, but it works for now, and it gives me something different to think about from starving sea birds, or undersea creatures pulling themselves apart.

anansi133: (Default)
2014-09-29 02:01 pm

Nostalgia? Not much!

 Yeah, I know, in 1969, I was all of 5 years old, so I don't get to feel any nostalgia. But I grew up in the 70s and 80's and I got a good heady whiff of what the kids back then had been smoking... and I miss it.

Mostly I miss the idea of counter-culture. If you were of voting age when the Vietnam "police action" was going on, you could find a broad consensus the these United States were going in the wrong direction. And there was support and succor to be had among those who agreed with you. These days, (from my limited perspective) the wars in Iraq and Afganistan and again in Iraq, they are something to grumble about. But they're not something to rally around.

Just for fun, let's tally up my 'natural' affinity groups, in no particular order:

Anti-car, pro-bicycle, pro-mass transit, anti-gas subsidy

Boycott Isreal/human rights for Palestine/end the occupation/stop bombing Gaza

Occupy Wall Street/end rent backed securities/jail not bonuses for the BankGangsters

The CopyFight/RIAA vs everyone else. Micropayments. DRM is broken and cannot ever be fixed.

The time bank movement. Local currencies. Bitcoin.

Tarriffs on Natural gas. Stop(regulate!) Fracking. The Pacific Gyre is full of plastic. (and the US is building new plastic production because of cheap natural gas.)

Global Warming. The anthrogenic kind. Science vs denialism.

Autism. Gluten Free. Vaccines. Anti-science vs stupid people.

Hobby Drones for peaceful purposes, end the FAA ban

Athiesm-the happy kind, not the angry kind. Universal Unitarianism, the athiest kind. One can talk science and still claim to have a soul.

Polyamory. Sex Positive culture. Legalize prostitution. Morman Polygamy, Muslim Polygamy, what makes theirs wrong and ours right?(SWINGERS VS POLY: can't we all get along?)

End rape culture. Feminism. Woman's right to choose vs "pro-lifers"

Catholic Church human rights abuses and coverups.

Too many unwanted Pets!

Gee, it sure is a shame that after 60 years of nuclear energy production, the US still doesn't have a civilian waste disposal program in place!

Renewable energy is not exotic energy

Micheal Brown. Fergeson. David Brame. Milton Olin Jr. Police militarization, corruption is out of control. Civil forfeiture needs reform.

We eat too much of the wrong kinds of meat. Factory farming, not so much. Antibiotic use is out of control.

Single Payer Healthcare.

Intersexed babies need a thrid tickybox for the birth certificate, neither male nor female. Stop all genital mutilation. (and lets scale back circumcision while we're at it)

Burning Man needs to sell tickets to named individuals only. Plug and Play camps need to be audited.

Why is "Evidence Based Medicine" even a controversy? How much of medicine could be better handled in terms of hygiene instead of engineering? The science of Medicine is in deep trouble, and I think we're all being used as Guinea pigs in ethically questionable medical experiments.

Something more interesting than the ISS should be happening in space.  I don't like to argue with Ayn Rand's followers about what that should be.

Bipolar is a condition, not an illness. So is being on the autism spectrum. Neurodiversity should be a human right.

.....and I'm out.

How many of these political issues were even on the horizon in 1969? How could one community or movement encompass or address all of these questions?

I have a growing suspicion that-with the exception of the global warming one- all of these are going to be moot points fairly soon.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-09-20 01:17 pm

The Congress

Night before last, I went to go see _(Robin Wright at) The Congress_, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Congress_%282013_film%29which turned out to be a film adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's _The Fututolgical Congress_. I didn't catch that angle until the end credits, and somehow that helped everything pop into place.

 Originally I was content to enjoy a quriky, difficult film. But the more I thnk about it, the more I appreciate what they did with the source material.

Here's wikipedia on the novel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Futurological_Congress

It sounds a lot like _The Matrix_, doesn't it? Except where The Matrix is built upon software running on computers, running on hardware controlling human minds, The Congress runs on psychoactive drugs running on human brains still operating in the real world.

All this would have sounded far fetched to me, not that long ago. But a while back, I came into possession of an E-cig setup, and it still had some charge and some juice, and one day on a whim, I took a substantial drag. And I didn't feel anything, so I took another drag. It was unlike any cigarette I'd ever had before. And the effect was subtle enough, I told myself it hadn't worked. Except that 24 hours later, the same time of day, I found myself craving another puff on that E-cig. This wasn't so much a recreational drug as it was a programming device, for programming *ME*.

In 1971, when the Novel was written, Robin Wright was 5 years old. She was 16 years away from making The Princess Bride. The state of computer technology at that time was... primitive. The premise of scanning this actress' performance into a CGI machine was a long ways off, and Lem's book doesn't go anywhere near the first half of the movie.

What so impresses me about the film, is how they re-worked societ mind control in the 70's and played it out into American mind control in the teens. We don't just use drugs to program our minds, we don't just use computers, we use the concept of celebrity itself... and whatever celebrities make themselves available for that purpose.

 When I saw the matrix, I didn't see it really having very much to do with computers at all, they were just a metaphor. The real idea behind it was all about changing the meaning of what we witness, into something more acceptable to those with the power to care.

And in that sense, The Congress gets much closer to the core of what The Matrix was trying to warn us about. How many of us really believe it's possible to do anything to slow or stop anthropogenic climate change?  We may accept what scientists are telling us about what's happening, but there's no one out there with a convincing narrative of how we can alter the way we live on the planet in order to leave the place better than how we found it. So much easier to talk instead of the distractions being put in our path by those getting rich with the way things are.

 I guess I'm too stubborn to accept the logical conclusion here, I should give up and try to live my remaining days in as much dignity as they system will allow me. I'm still hunting for bread-crumbs, clues to what's *really* going on. This movie smells important to me, far beyond its entertainment value.

anansi133: (Default)
2014-06-24 01:54 am

Fermi's Paradox and human conceit

I've been reading David Brin's _Existence_, and I appreciate his take on the puzzle of First Contact. (or as I call it, Lucid Contact).

At the same time, I am continually amazed by my relationship with this dog I seem to 'own'. (a curious idea, this ownership of a sentient being. If I really believe in it, does that mean I give my consent to being owned myself? But I digress)

I've often thought that if intelligent extrasolar aliens exist, they *must* be aware of homo sapiens. We're just too loud to ignore. If they've been aware of us for any length of time, then we are not alien to them at all. But how alien are they to *us*?

And I look at 'my' dog, and reflect on how different he is from a human person. He's constantly making funny postures that are impossible for the human frame. His expressions seem completely transparent to me, yet they're not expressions a human would make. He resembles a person in every way (certainly a very young person) without being a human person. And to my mind this is the real challenge of alien contact. Call it the Turing test in reverse. Can a human have a communication with a nonhuman and yet still regard that being as a person? We sure as hell better be capable! The consequences of guessing wrong could be catastrophic. And yet we so often guess wrong, even within our own species!

 I suppose this could form the center of the bulls-eye for SETI. Critters we are capable of recognizing as people, even if they seem strange. Like the way I regard my dog. Or more to the point, the high functioning autistic people I've met in the past. They seem as alien as any sort of human I'm ever likely to meet, yet I see so much of myself in them too.

 Mirrors: The things I treasure about 'my' animal, is the insights he gives me on human nature. How much of human nature isn't really human, more mammal, or animal, or even Terran. And there would be no shame in seeking out that kind of insight in any sort of extrasolar alien contact. They wouldn't necessarily be 'alien' in the way of the stranger. Rather, they should remind us of ourselves, but different enough so we notice things we didn't notice before.

 It seems pefectly plausible to me that 'first contact', Lucid Contact,  may well occur between humans and another Terran species that we've always believed we already understood. Meeting extrasolar intelligence after that, might feel like a let-down.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-06-11 10:52 am

Some local hostory coming to light

starkstreetmarkers.blogspot.com/

Mystery solved! I've been walking past Portland Milepost marker P9 for almost a year now, and I finally know what it is!

(I've found two other milepost markers that were in better repair, with explanatory plaques and everything. The puzzle pieces finally came together!)


anansi133: (Default)
2014-04-21 09:53 am

Gentrify

I got really spoiled, learning to use social media back when it was called bulliten board systems. Back in that time (when we low-crawled through the snow, uphill both ways) the sphere of subscribers was limited to a local phone call, commercial announcements were mostly irrelevant (and infrequent), and there was some incentive to meet each other face to face.

For a long time after that, I kinda took it for granted that no matter what the topic, I'd easily be able to drop into a group of interested people and talk about a semi-random topic.

I've clearly dropped the ball now, because I can't figure out how to do that any more. Livejournal jumped the shark, so I moved to dreamwidth... and I can't seem to find anyone there, so I auto-forward my stuff back to livejournal just in case someone's listening. Facebook was sort of enjoyable for the last three years, but I just had an advertisement hijack a post I was trying to make- and there isn't an obvious way to correct the post.

So I can migrate once again to a new forum, sure I can. Which will need some way to pay for banwidth, you betcha. And if it makes money, someone will want to buy it, and once again I'll become an unpaid content provider for an ad agency.

 It's eerie how much this process resembles what happens as a funky neighborhood becomes desirable andgets bought up. You'd think we could have learned that lesson by now.

anansi133: (Default)
2014-04-04 03:32 pm

An "aha!" moment

I suppose one is never too old for a mid-life crisis. Today was the first time in my life it ever occurred to me that I might want to be able to pass for "normal" in certain circumstances. I feel certain that this is an achievable goal. My only question is how hard the disguise is going to be to remove when I want to.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-04-03 10:51 pm

Context is everything

One thing I really like about watching the show Mad Men, is how the iconic events we're taught about that happened in the 60's are presented in order, in some kind of context, with a pacing consistent with the events of the show. It makes it easier to imagine what it must have felt like to see that stuff on TV as it was really happening. The ones who thought they were seeing the end of the world unfold, don't seem so alarmist in that context.

We didn't narrowly avert a civil war in the sixties, we lost one.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-04-02 11:46 am

From one box to another

So the next chapter in my story of stuff isn't nearly as dramatic as last time. (Which is a good thing) But I want to follow this arc all the way.

Over the course of March, I visited my storage units(s) a total of 8 times, it looks like. Every visit, I tried to limit my ambition to one single facet of the block of cheese, since it's so easy for me to get overwhelmed.

Typically I'd start in the main storage, and try to consolidate and winnow and re-stack things. If it generated enough waste, I'd open up the overflow storage and put it in there. (the overflow was a 5x10, that wasn't even half full to begin with.)

After a few times of this, I noticed that the possessions I really wanted were in the back of the unit, and the trash was up front. So I ended up having to pull everything out and re-pack, as new openings became available in the main storage.

(Yes, I know I have too much stuff. The point of this project is to see if I can lose some weight in a moderate, realistic way, and not do the purge-binge thing.)

The best thing I have had going for me, is 5 rolling shelf units. I can pull out the guts of the main storage in a few minutes, exposing all the perimeter shelving inside. It's the only way I could have gotten so much done so quickly.

The main focus was speed and space-efficiency, not necessarily sorting or labeling the stuff.

But As I culled the dead projects, it illustrasted a lot of identity issues. What projects have I finally given up on, and what ones do I still consider "Live"? My lego reletivity project has been going on for over 15 years, and I still consider it worth pursuing. The Medicine Man Glider I was making from balsa sticks, I let go of. It was a gateway drug to foamy aircraft, and I'm keeping a lot of that stuff, so it's not a total loss.

Finally on this last Sunday, I got my girlfriend to lend me her van so I could make a dump run. She even accompanied me, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn't want her to help me move things, because it still felt kind of personal, and I wanted to be the one doing it.

The final tally from the dump was a little over 500 pounds of junk. The physical mass of it seemed extreme, but the psychological mass of it was even heavier.

And then Monday was the last day I could return the overflow storage, without getting dinged for another month's rent. I had to really stay focused on handling the stuff as little as possible, it was all about the stacking. Amazingly enough, the whole package fit so well back in the main 10x10 unit, there was essentially an empty column left over- room for the empty cardboard boxes I had generated. I'll save those for future dump runs. All the lowest hanging fruit has been picked, but there's plenty of fat left to cut. (talk about metaphor salad!)

Down to a single storage unit, I've decided I'm okay with keeping this one long term. I simply don't have enough elbow room where I live to keep the things I still want to keep.

But I still think it would be groovy to pare this unit down to something smaller, maybe a 7x10 or a 5x10. I'll have to ask what's available, to give myself a weight loss goal.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-03-20 09:20 pm

Facts of life



I was recently clued in to an important (to me) mathematical truth that I'd been pondering for many years, off and on. I got this nugget of wisdom from a foul mouthed teenager (presumably) on 4Chan. It made me think of the stereotype we have about learning sex in back alleys and locker rooms. Like Math, Sex is (should be) beautiful and powerful. Also like math, the time we most need careful instruction is most often a time of confusion and dismay.

Someday I will forgive all my math instructors for failing that they assured me were purely my own. Just not yet.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-03-17 09:34 pm

The suffering of others

Today I took a bus I don't usually take, into a part of town I don't usually go. It wasn't the most efficient way to get where I was going, but I wanted to see what it was like, so I went.

I saw a woman get on the bus who was missing her front teeth. She grinned a lot, seemed quite happy, and the effect was unsettling.

Once on the bus, she stated talking to another woman who she clearly knew, who wasn't missing her front teeth, she was just missing major parts of most of her teeth. it took me a moment to realize I was seeing what Meth can do to one's mouth.

In that moment, it was like that strange sense of focus they do in the movies sometimes, where the lens goes zoom at the same time the camera dollies backward. I realized what a sheltered life I've lived. Is this what Siddhartha felt like when he ventured outside the palace and saw old and sick people for the first time?

For a while now, I've been thinking that the real problem with the 1% owning so much of the world, is that they can wall themselves off from the people whose lives they impact. That's all well and good to think in a theoretical sense, but being confronted with the 'cure' today was unsettling. I'm not in the 1%, but I could easily have gone my whole life without seeing a meth-mouth for real. I'm not as sure that I know what to do about it, not like I used to be.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-03-05 11:31 am

Time traveling advice to a younger self...

Dear 1984 Joe:

You are going to spend most of the next 30 years living in shared housing with other (presumed) adults. It's going to consume a lot more of your attention and energy than you want it to. You will frequently yield to the temptation to shuffle the deck and try for better housemates- and that is a shame, because it's all equally bad out there. I wish I'd spent less energy looking for better housemates, and more energy adapting to the way things are.

Related to this, is a particularly cruel deception you will frequently hear. It will sound *so* sincere, and in a sense, it's totally sincere, because the people who say it actually believe it. Something to the effect of, "I really want to create a tiny utopian society where we all get just along".

Take this statement as the semantic equivalent to "I really want to win the lottery, but I don't want to bother buying a ticket and tracking the winning numbers, so I am holding out for someone to gift me the ticket and then tell me that I've won."

In 30 years, I've been so very impressed by people's ideas for how they want to live and with who.... and I've been so very disappointed by what that translates out to in the here and now.

[Also: you are way more aspie than you think you are, 1984 Joe, and the sooner you own these traits, the less energy you'll waste trying to fit in. It may well take me *another* 30 years to master that one!]

No doubt, there really are people out there who are putting the required effort into harmonious living. But none of them want to live with aspie types, and none of them are interested in writing down (and then following) a rule book that you'll be satisfied with. You want a utopia, you'll have to build one from scratch, and it'll have to accommodate aspies and autists, no exception. Anything less, and you'll be setting yourself up for failure.
anansi133: (Default)
2014-03-03 06:25 pm

Final push outta town.

A week ago I knew it was time to finally take the plunge and empty my Seattle storage unit, to transport all the things down here to Portland. But I was sick.

Sick again on Tuesday as well. Wednesday I was feeling better, but not 100%- and I finally said, "screw it, this can't slip another month". So I took a bus up to Seattle on Thursday night, and picked up the Uhaul truck on Friday morning.

My girlfriend started out intent on helping, and I think it really did help me build momentum: her self assigned job was to consolidate the mixed tubs of miscellaneous and sort and label them. Anything less than full went to her, while I kept moving boxes into the truck.

I took some pictures of what the truck looked like after 4 carts worth of stuff, 6 and 8 carts worth. I think there probably wasn't any more than 12 carts worth total.

Girlfriend petered out before noon. I kept sending her pictures of the steadily emptying storage unit, until by 4:30 it was finally empty, I had donated things and dumpstered things, and was ready to hit the road.

Here's where my judgement fell down a bit. Had I holed up for a couple hours and let the rush hour diminish, I could have arrived in Portland at pretty much the same time as when I actually did arrive- but I was too tired to think straight, and the road beckoned. So I drove through Seattle rush hour, taking 45 minutes to get south of downtown, and bogged down again in Tacoma. By Olympia, I had to pull over and stretch my legs and buy some bottled water. I could tell how dehydrated I'd become by how much water I could drink without needing to pee.

By 10:00, I finally crossed the river into town and landed, resolving to unload early the next day.


Saturday I managed to almost completely empty the truck before realizing that there wasn't enough room in my Portland storage unit. Even though both spaces were 10 x 10, I had accumulated enough kruft in the south, so that I'd need a bigger space! The truck was due the next morning, the gates closed at 8:00- and the office wasn't open until Monday. There was nowhere to put this stuff.

Loading the truck back up again felt like a bitter defeat. But there absolutely was no other option. My body complained with every movement, I had been on the go nonstop for 2 days already. But I got out of there with time to spare, and got home to sleep again.

Sunday there was a break in the weather late in the afternoon, and I made a goodwill run. Managed to hit a dumpster (don't tell anyone!) so that the only things left in the truck were nice stackable totes and tubs and boxes. I'd go ahaead and pay the $40 overtime fee, and return the truck 72 hours after I'd rented it.

...Which, thankfully, was exactly what happened, more or less. I had the tank topped off and the cab cleaned out by the time the office opened, so there was nothing to do but see the unit, sign the contract, and take the key before unloading the truck for the final time. I made it back to the rental place a mere 20 minutes late... hopefully close enough for a merciful clerk to wave it off.

And now I am completely moved out of Seattle. I'm too tired to think too much about what it will be like to move into Portland now. But that's the next step. I find I don't want to party, I don't want to travel, I want to find some work I can do, and just try to earn my keep for a while.

It helps to remember that this weekend's work still counts, even if it cost money rather than gained me money. And there's $200 less in expenses than there used to be.

(but I still have a half-full overflow storage unit that needs to get emptied, and a bunch more crap to sort through, and I'm still suffering an addiction to stuff.- The main thing is, I don't feel out of control with it. This weekend got a bit hairy, but I managed. and I will continue to do so.)
anansi133: (Default)
2013-12-16 11:39 am

Metaphors

I am certain that mind is not software. Brain is not hardware.

They are certainly useful metaphors to be sure. Weak AI theories are important to me. (strong AI theories creep me out)

And the science fiction built on these metaphors is pretty entertaining. But it's all to easy to imagine a medical-industrial establishment taking these metaphors literally, and performing unspeakable human rights violations in perfect ignorance.

The Dystopian stories that take that premise and run with it, I have not yet seen.