I’m on a fixed income, and have already used up my discretionary spending for the month on a Raspberry Pi kit (goal: Pi-Hole). The odds are that by the time I could afford one of the masks, I’ll need the money for higher priorities anyway (eg, my 9-year-old computer is starting to show its age), so I might as well wait for a bit of spare cash before I try digging much harder.
(I can think of a few other reasons, but they’re mostly rationalizations to lend support to the main reason that feel less low-status-y than “not enough money”.)
I’m still struggling to escape the black dog of long-term depression, and as dormant parts of my psyche are gradually reviving, some odd results arise.For the first time in a very long time, today I found myself /wanting/ a thing. Usually, I’m quite content with what I have, and classically stoic about what I can’t; after all, my life is much better than, say, a 16th-century French peasant’s. But my browsing has just brought me to the two rodent Venetian masks shown at https://www.flickr.com/photos/flatworldsedge/5255475917/sizes/l and at https://www.flickr.com/photos/flatworldsedge/5123591774/sizes/l/ , and I can’t stop my thoughts from turning back to them again and again.Those pictures are eight years old, and those particular masks aren’t listed on the store’s website ( http://www.cadelsolmascherevenezia.com/en/masks/27 ); and I have neither access to a 3D printer nor the skills to turn those jpegs into a 3d-printable file; nor the social network to get in touch with anyone who could do anything of the sort.And yet, I want.It’s been long enough since I wanted something I don’t have that it feels like a new emotion to me, and I suspect I’m wallowing more in the experience-of-wanting than I actually want a mask. But hey, there are lots of worse things that could happen to me than that, so I figure it’s still a win. :)
A Flash of Colour in the Mind:
Some say to remember that the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. And some say that every time you call up a memory, you change it. But here’s the best I can express what remains of a split-second of thought earlier today:I was enjoying reading a classic SF novel for the first time, and as my thoughts went over expanding on an idea from one line, I had a combination of seeing that expansion in the form of some Avatar-like glowing blue text, combined with an odd sensation. It took me some time to nail it down, which was a combination of thinking that the expansion was new-to-me, interesting… and what I now realize was the actual emotional sensation of hope.I’m not sure if I can describe what it’s like to realize that I’d literally forgotten what hope feels like. I’ve cobbled together an intellectual approximation, so that, as a hyperbolic-to-the-unrealistic-extreme example, I can analyse the pros and cons of suicide, taking into account that I know my mind is prone to certain biases, and come to the logical conclusion that even if I don’t anticipate anything ever getting anything better, staying alive is most likely the better choice. But that’s an entirely different thing than actually /feeling/ “hey, that sounds like something better that just might happen”.Sure, I’ve now been going over that split-second so many times that by now I mostly only remember remembering it. But I’m still taking it as a /very/ good sign I’m still on an upswing. (Sure, one step back every few steps forward, and there are days as blah as before… but there are days that /aren’t/.)About the only downside is that re-thinking my latest story idea, I’m now realizing how bleak and depressing my outline is; so I’m going to have to change it so much that I might as well be coming up with something from scratch. Which is such a ridiculously contrived “downside” that I’m grinning lopsidedly to myself as I type this.Of course, given past experience, I may only be peaking before a return to previous depression; I’ve had such before. But… it may not be. And I’m looking forward to hoping my mental state will improve further.
Hah! Score one more point for the shower stall as an indispensable writer’s tool.For the last three days, I’ve known a few vague outlines of some ideas I want to write a story about, but couldn’t come up with anything better than those blurry notions. Today, while I was thinking about them while shampooing my head, I finally identified what I wanted out of them, and in enough focus to combine them into a three-word premise. (Or, come to think of it, a different three words, if I’m allowed to use published authours’ last names.) And now that I’ve done that, I’m extrapolating a host of details and new sub-ideas to play with.I used an old outline as the basis for IO.SYS, and was starting to wonder if I’d need to look into creativity-workshop stuff to kick my brain back into gear. Now I’ve got my authorial confidence back. :)(And /now/ all I have to worry about is whether I’ll be able to tell the difference between “not depressed” and “manic-to-hypomanic state”. But that’s a much more tolerable problem than before, so no complaints. ;) )
I think the protagonist here should have looked at earth.
That’s certainly one plan that could have been tried, given a certain amount of outside-view, objective, rational analysis. Of course, one could also say that “Mark Watney should have avoided zapping Pathfinder” or “The comic character Cathy should just stick to her diet”; just because it’s a good plan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one that an inside-view, subjective, emotional person is capable of thinking up, let alone following-through on.
Can you think of anything that a person could do, today, to increase the odds that, if they suddenly woke up post-apocalypse and with decades of solitary confinement ahead of them, they’d have increased odds of coming up with the most-winningest-possible plans for every aspect of their future life?
My SAD light seems to be doing some good; I’ve just finished a first draft of a quickie 6k-word story. Is anyone here willing to give me some private feedback on it before I make it public? If so, let me know and I’ll try to send a private message with a link to the GDoc. (Genres: hard-SF, at least in the general direction of rational, and abstract horror.)
If you want to learn more about the interplanetary and interstellar scale of this sort of colony-ship design, you could do a lot worse than to pick up the 3rd edition of the boardgame “High Frontier” by Phil Eklund. Its reference guide (PDF here) includes a couple of dozen pages of descriptions of how the game’s various reactors, radiators, drives, and other pieces work, with references to the original design papers. For a wider overview of related ideas, the indispensable resource is the Atomic Rockets site.
… Last Post?
Good news: As of a couple weeks ago, I have a new CPAP machine, and my blood oxygen isn’t dropping to 80% overnight. I have improved mood, drive, and all that mental-functioning stuff.
My new plan: Take one of my year-old story outline drafts, and use my new drive, and the things I’ve learned in the past year, to hammer out the unsatisfactory parts, until I have an outline worth turning into actual narrative. The outside view says that, given past experience, I’ll manage to write around 90% of a novel before pooping out. My hope is that the CPAP machine will make enough of a difference to get me over that hump.
Where you come in: If you want to comment on the original outline draft, it’s a GDoc that can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XcgNwELHCU-r7GuYUgDNDDIviThd8Y7Bdto_kMIcmlI/edit . I expect to be doing significant revision, especially to the later, societal sections.
Wish me luck—even with a fully-oxygenated brain, I’m going to need it. :)
The obvious way is usually enough: check through the addon’s settings to see if there’s an option to disable it. Eg, under Ghostery’s hamburger-menu is a ‘Support Ghostery’ setting section, with three different boxes for enabling or disabling phone-home behaviour. Besides that, you can glance at the user reviews on the Mozilla add-on download page, on Reddit, the top few Google results, and so on. It also helps to be careful about where you look for privacy addon suggestions in the first place.
The leaky extensions in question, like “Web of Trust”, phone home with browsing data, and say that they do. The extensions I use either just plain don’t do that, or have an option to turn off such feedback. It’s just one more detail that an eye has to be kept on.
Start paying twenty bucks a year for a VPN. Use Linux instead of Windows (even if just through a bootable flashdrive). Download the Tor Browser Bundle and start getting the hang of it. For everyday surfing, use Firefox as your browser, with the extensions Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus Pop-Up Addon, AdNauseum, BetterPrivacy, Decentraleyes, Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus, Flashblock, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, NoScript, Privacy Badger, Random Agent Spoofer, RequestPolicy Continued, Self-Destructing Cookies, TrackMeNot, U2F Support Add-on, uBlock Origin, and uMatrix, so that when one add-on fails you another can fill the gap. Use two-factor authentication, including paying ten bucks for a physical U2F dongle to plug into your USB port (and a second dongle to keep at home as a backup), and preferably not using SMS messages sent to your phone. Start teaching yourself about particular items such as various cryptocurrencies, BitMessage, and Ricochet. Don’t forget the basics, like clearing your Google and Youtube histories, and turning off personalized ads.
And, even if you start doing all of that right now, it’ll still take time and practice to avoid various privacy-destroying mistakes. So it’s better to get the practice period over as soon as possible, so you can then spend as much time as possible browsing with a modest level of privacy.
I think that before I invest myself too heavily in any particular hardware, I should try to find out more about what sorts of software exist for such passive wall displays. For example, I wouldn’t mind something like the custom channel used at my local coffee shop, with my own pick of RSS feeds, weather sources, GCalender items, and the like; but I don’t know offhand any piece of software, either for Android or Linux, that does that.
After a quick Google—a ‘to-do/doing/done’ list made of sticky-notes seems like it’d be simple, inexpensive, and helpful. Unless someone comes up with a better suggestion by tomorrow, I expect I’m going to start giving this a try as soon as I hit the nearby dollar store. :)
An interesting thought.
The current setup is that the back of a dresser is facing my bed, with the corkboard on the back; do you know of any such screens that would be feasible to attach, in whatever manner? Or are you thinking more along the lines of grabbing an El Cheapo tablet, supported by a pile of pushpins?
Due to Life, I now have a 2x3-foot corkboard just above the foot of my bed. What should I pin to it?
Printing several pages onto one piece of paper?
Embarrassingly silly and small question that I can’t seem to find an answer through Google on, and there don’t seem any good subreddits for:
I’ve compiled some notes I want to have handy to refer to into a 16-page PDF. I want to shrink and rearrange those pages, to print 8 per side onto a standard sheet of paper, so that I can cut, staple, and fold it into a pocket-sized booklet. My last-ditch solution would be to hope a photocopy/print shop wouldn’t charge much to accomplish that… But does anyone here know how to wrestle my doc into usable shape without having to pay cash?
(My available computer is Linux-based. I’m generating the PDF by fiddling with an HTML doc mostly full of tables and ‘printing’ it to a file. Some further fiddling is probably going to improve its presentation, but if you’ve got an auto PDF-to-booklet script handy, or otherwise want to play with it, I’ve tossed my current draft here.)
Over the Hump, and Starting a Return to Normality
There are some downsides to being a data pack-rat, as well as the obvious up-sides.
I’m in the process of moving to a new house, and the last month has pretty much been dedicated to that project—everything from a new set of floorboards being laid down to finding the best stores near the new place to buy my favourite beverage (grapefruit Perrier). The process is still ongoing, and I’m still going to be paying rent at the old place for some months to come; for example, even after getting rid of nearly all my mass-market paperback novels, there are still a /lot/ of books in the old family library that are still going to have to be shlepped over to the new one, and not a single member of my family has great strength or endurance.
But most of the hard work and planning is done, and life is settling into a new normal: today, I hope and plan to apply for a new library card, do some banking, grab some income tax forms, and just maybe visit the nearby branch of a computer store to upgrade my laptop’s RAM. My sleep schedule is still ridiculous, if I lose 50 pounds I’ll still going to be overweight, asthma sucks… but a lot of the stresses from the old home are just plain gone. I am, as I see it, in about as good a mental state as I’m likely to be in the foreseeable future.
Which means that, barring unexpectable crises, it’s time for me to start writing again. My current plan: When I hit my new local public library today, I’m going to sit down for a while and start going over my partial draft of ‘Extracted’, to both refamiliarize myself with it and to start nudging any details I find that seem to need editing. And, by the time I’ve gone over what I’ve already written, to start finishing writing what I didn’t get around to typing out the last time I worked on the piece.
The main bit of uncertainty around this plan is that I have insufficient data to predict whether, how soon, and how severely I will go through my next bout of more-severe-than-everyday anhedonic depression. I’m hopeful that the release of stress from the old home will make such a bout less likely; but I’m also aware of the statistics that show that the act of moving to a new home adds its own form of stress. Barring low-probability black-swan events, my range of expected mid-term futures runs from going back to my previous levels of depression, all the way up to completing a novel and beginning the brand-new venture of learning about e-publishing.
an obvious solution
an obvious solution
I’ve been skimming some of my setting-idea notes, such as ‘algorithms replacing middle-managers’ and have realized that, for a certain point of the planned setting, you’ve highlighted an approach that is likely to be common among many other people. However, one of the main reasons for my protagonist’s choice to try relying on himselves is that AIs which optimize for various easy-to-check metrics, such as profitability, tend not to take into account that human values are complex.
So there are likely going to be all manner of hyper-efficient, software-managed organizations who, in a straight fight, could out-organize my protagonist’s little personal co-op. Various copies of my protagonist, seeing the data, will conclude that the costs are worth the benefits, and leave the co-op to gain the benefits of said organizational methods. However, this will cause a sort of social ‘evaporative cooling’, so that the copies who remain in the co-op will tend to be the ones most dedicated to working towards the full complexity of their values. As long as they can avoid going completely bankrupt—in other words, as long as there’s enough income to pay for the hardware to run at least one copy that remains a member—then the co-op will be able to quietly chug along doing its own thing while wider society changes in various values-simplifying ways around it.
… That is, if I can do everything that such a story needs to get done right.