Torque and rapidograph pens

There are a ton of things I don't know. I mean, not that that should surprise anybody, but some days it feels like I've got a pretty good baseline in most things, and some days I feel like I've walked into a wall of shit-I've-got-no-clue-about.

Today in my Appropriate Technology in the World class, I ran into one of those walls in engineering. 

Engineering is a category of learning I've sort of passively-actively avoided learning anything about for most of my life. It kind of proactively doesn't interest me. Or, didn't. I feel like I've mostly gotten over that now, but that still leaves me in a position where, unlike most other things I attempt, I don't have a decade or so of soaked up bits of trivia that I can quickly lattice together into a basic understanding of what I'm doing.

I don't know what torque is. I know it's a force involved in gear boxes, and has something to do with rotation, but beyond that? No clue. And it's really important that I understand torque by Thursday.

I also found out today about rapidograph pens -- a type of drafting pen that used to be very popular before computer drafting was a thing. They produce incredibly even and precise lines, and the nicer ones actually have sapphire tips so that they write without wearing down on very hard materials.

The latter is interesting to me because it's a curiosity in a category of my interest -- pens -- that I probably wouldn't have ever run into if I weren't in a class that put me in a position to explore engineering.

I feel like I'm rambling a bit. I'm going to go to sleep now, and in the morning I'm going to google torque. I promise.

reflections on my bedroom

I'm slightly unsettled by how at-home I feel in my room right now. 

It's a dorm room. It's about 80 square feet. The only illumination is my laptop, sitting on my bed, and from where I'm laying I can see the vague outline of my desk, covered in neat piles of stuff, the laundry basket filled with clothes just to the side of that, the window with a small window fan in it, the wooden rod with all my jackets hanging from it. 

This space is very small, but it's not the smallest space I've ever lived in. I'm in a mod with 5 other people but it's not the most densely crowded home I've ever lived in. 

And, vitally, this place is entirely under my power.

I mean, I'm sure there are plenty of things I'm not allowed to do -- throw out the bed, dismantle the fire alarm, remove the screen from the window -- but there's nothing on that list that's stuff I'd want to do, anyway.

Nobody else's stuff is in here. I came in and the room was bare. Every surface and drawer was just waiting for me to fill it with the things I wanted to be there. There's nothing in this room anyone else can reasonably expect access to. There's nothing that's taking up space that I don't want here, and nothing that I couldn't get rid of if I wanted to.

To be honest the biggest take-away I'm getting from this living experience so far is that I'd probably be really comfortable in a studio apartment. Which is good, because as my program of study gets more and more esoteric and based in less and less things-people-get-paid-for, it's becoming more and more likely that I'll have to be comfortable living in a pretty small space for a very long time.

Solarpunk Press on Patreon

This is the end of my pre-scheduled blog posts, and starting Monday I'll be back to 5 posts a week, written pretty much as they post. The first several will most likely be pretty stressed out. I will have just started living at a new school.

Anyway, I figured this was a good time to remind everyone that the web magazine I started with my partner, "Solarpunk Press," launched its patreon campaign last week! Our first issue comes out October 5, and we're very excited to be so far along. If you want to get a copy of the very first issue of Solarpunk Press in print, the Patreon's the only way to get it -- and the print run is going to be very small. So check it out while there's still time!

Day 5 of 5 scheduled videos to relieve pressure of obligations

Meditative listmaking

I've been working on a great big spreadsheet list of absolutely everything I'm planning on bringing to Hampshire when I leave. It's pretty extremely detailed: like, there are separate entries for my wacom tablet, its cord, its pen, and its spare pen nibs. There are two Aux cables on the list, identified by description, and assigned to different overall categories of things. Clothes and medications both get their own references to additional spreadsheets, and I came up with a sizing system for approximating the size of everything I own.

(It's 1-5: 1 = could forget it in your pocket, 2 = could forget it in your bag, 3 = could lose it in a clutter, 4 = hard to miss, 5 = hard to carry.)

I'm doing this because I can't actually start packing yet. It's not quite close enough to start making my things inaccessible to me, and I haven't got quite the set of boxes I need. But I feel constantly like I need to be doing things, toward the end of leaving.

It doesn't just feel like moving out. It feels like attempting to find a way to build a space in which I can optimally absorb a torrent of information that exceeds my past experience, without having a breakdown.

I have no idea how hard Hampshire is going to be. I do know that my course descriptions don't exactly fall in the bubble of comfort that I know I can approach with near-perfect competence.

Monsters would probably be better

I've been having stress dreams about college this week. I keep dreaming that I haven't really gotten in, or I'm not going to be able to pay for it, or there's a problem with my insurance and I'm not allowed to go. Last night I had one where the school was terrible, and in the wrong part of the country, and was a high school. While there, I fucked up my relationship and got kicked out. The dream ended with me trying to figure out how to get my car back from the dude who was holding it for me, who was obnoxiously cissexist and didn't want to move the stuff in his garage that was blocking me from pulling out.

Today I got an email that says there's a hold on my account, because I haven't payed any of my tuition yet. I'm sure I'll be able to figure it out. But I'm also sure I'm not going to dream well tonight.

Bad money habits

 I left my list of fake words at home, So I'm afraid you'll all have to wait to find out my very clever definition of the word "Finoil." 

It's been a strange, and emotionally exhausting, couple days, and right now I'm realizing that I'm dealing with a self-destructive reaction in the form of online shopping.

I've bought a lot of stuff online lately, of a wide variety of justifiably. The shower bag for Hampshire? Definitely justified. The Lamy Safari I received yesterday? Not so much, but I'm really happy with it. The second Lamy Safari, this one in red, that I put in my wishlist today, so I can have a red one and a black one for note taking? Definitely not.

I'm attempting to hit the breaks there, and I haven't ordered the second pen. But it took a great force of will not to instead buy the cart full of stuff I want for Hampshire that I'm saving for later this month when I have money.

Fortunately, I've got one more meeting with my therapist before I leave for Hampshire. Unfortunately, it's still over two weeks away. I may have to do some of the working through this on my own.

Possibly in writing, with my new pen, in my favorite notebook, which I also have a post to write about.

Procrastination parade

I had a list of about 15 things I meant to get done today, with pretty much the entire day free to do them. I think that I've crossed two things off that list. This blog post is going to be number three.

That's not to say I didn't do anything important. I did a whole bunch of work -- I spent the last two hours reading and writing prep stuff for Solarpunk Press. I also scanned a bunch of documents and sorted them into my Evernote account, and shared some of the important ones with the relevant other people. 

I just didn't do the important things that are on my list of important things to do.

This kind of procrastination has a strange feeling. It's almost scary -- it's sort of meta-scary; in the actual act of it, it feels productive and reassuring. I'm getting things done. There are all these things that have to happen to make this project work, and I'm doing them! Go me!

But it's like I'm mowing a lawn, and there's a really overgrown patch with a big rock in the middle, and I'm nervous so I just get the whole rest of the lawn while I go in circles around that one big rock. And that part of the lawn is pretty much just as easy as the rest of the lawn, but it manages to be scarier. So that patch of lawn gets more and more overgrown and no matter how much work I put into the lawn, it's never actually going to be done.

(Lawns are terrible, by the way. If you have a choice, don't have a lawn.)

It's not too bad with Solarpunk Press stuff -- because my partner, Faith, is very familiar with my anxieties, we can distribute work in a way that leaves her responsible for all the tasks that are objectively as easy as any other, but have ballooned in psychological difficulty for me to the point where they're outside my ability to tackle.

It's a problem with other projects, though, where I'm responsible for all of the things.

I want Adobe to make life management software

I really wish there were to-do list programs that took themselves as seriously as Photoshop takes image editing, or as seriously as Excel takes spreadsheets. I want software that I could use to organize everything in my life and still only hit on like 30 percent of the features. I want a program that puts things in rather than leaves things out. I've been listening to Hello Internet and Cortex a lot lately, and I've seriously been spending time daydreaming about the ideal to-do list. And on Saturday, I dumped out every bit of ideas I've had so far into an Evernote file, which I'd like to (slightly neaten up and then) share.

So, here are the things I want in a to-do list:

I want the program to automatically gather data: to save information about things I've done, things I haven't done, how many times I hit snooze, etc. I also want sophisticated tools for rearranging that data into readable charts and graphs. Like a line graph over-set on a calendar indicating stressor levels and average deviation from scheduled pill taking time or number of missed meals.

I also want to be able to interact with a task in a variety of ways -- I want to be able to skip tasks and have them recorded as skipped, rather than having to mark them as done if I want them to go away until the next time they're supposed to show up.

I want undoing to be easy. With my current to-do list app, it's a pain in the ass to put a task back on my list for the day if I accidentally mark it as done. I have to set it up as a new task to take place in the future relative to right now so it reminds me again; I want to be able to hit "undo" and have the task return to its most recent state in continuity with itself.

Task customization: I want to be able to change a wide variety of settings, not just overall, but  with respect to specific tasks. Like, I'd like the reminder interval for my pills to be shorter than my reminder interval for homework. I'd like to be able to set different kinds of snoozes -- when I snooze my pills, it stays present on the status bar, then just buzzes again after seven minutes. When I snooze the new episode of Steven Universe, I want that to just go away for an hour or two or a day.

I want there to be an advanced tab, when I set it up -- so I can hide questions that almost always have the same answer and can safely be ignored unless it's an unusual case. Like, there should be a button on my morning pills prompt that tells the system to add caffeine pills to my shopping list if they aren't already there.

I'd like to add an "Are you sure?" button to task skipping, but only for important things, like pills. Or for less important things, like shaving, after I've skipped them a certain number of days in a row. I'd also like a counter to show up letting me know how many days it's been since my last shave, shower, laundry, etc. I'd also like to be able to add a prompt for explanation if I'm skipping certain things -- like pills.

Additional data collection: I'd like some of my tasks to show up like little surveys. Like, my morning pills task will show up all as one task, but the box will prompt me to fill separate yes/no entries for each pill, and questions like "With food?"

Prompts that are just for data collection: Like a daily ask that says "How do you feel right now?" With check boxes for physical and emotional states.

The ability to create tasks in order to mark them as immediately done. Like, if my phone prompts me for food info three times a day, I want to be able to add an event between lunch and dinner for snacks.

Tasks should be able to affect other elements in the system. Like, I should be able to mark "Took afternoon pill with morning pills" on the advanced tab in my morning pills, if I put them off until later in the day, and it'll fill in both entries and the afternoon pills box won't pop up.

Other elements should affect tasks, too. Like, an upcoming important calendar event could automatically increase the priority of hygiene and self-care tasks days in advance, so I don't have to worry about being more than usually prepared on a given day that's already going to be stressful. Like, "All hygiene and self care tasks get 'Are you sure' prompt for X days in advance of calendar events set to X priority or higher, or with 'Self Care +' tag"

I'd want certain kinds of events to automatically generate their own list. Like, when I add a shift to my work schedule it should add to-do events throughout the shift for things I know I have to do at work, a reminder to check for a clean button-down the day before, and reminders to make sure my gas tank is full earlier in the week.

I want to be able to set individual tasks or task-sets to private -- so, for example, a task could have an obfuscated prompt and a clearer description, unlockable by password -- so I could have a reminder in my daily to-do list to brush my teeth and shower and I can gather data on those without having to worry about (a.) forgetting what my coded symbols mean and having a to-do list that's confusing rather than helpful, and (b.) someone looking over my shoulder and making fun of me for having hygiene stuff on my to-do list. (I have anxiety issues, okay?)

Aesthetic control, like color coding and font -- I want total control here. I'd rather it let me make it as ugly as a MySpace page than make it impossible to use how I want to so that it's impossible to make it aesthetically unappealing.

Excellent cross-platform control: it should have as close as possible to perfect synchronization, and really good desktop programs for managing the data I'd be gathering through my phone. There should be a mode that's unambiguously for working on managing the list rather than interacting with it. Like, a mode where when you click on a check box it takes you into the settings for what kind of box that can be, instead of checking it.

Ideally, but not vitally, access to all features on all devices, but with varying levels of accessibility so I don't get myself mired in stuff I shouldn't be trying to use my phone to do, but could get there in an emergency.

Extremely good organization of abilities, so that a person who wants or needs none of this stuff can use the app and not have to muddle through a whole bunch of overwhelming options -- I'd rather have to look up how to do something than have to figure out how to not do it when I'm trying to do something simpler.

Ability to manage lists for other people, or share lists with other people. Ability to have the whole list visible while only giving some people the power to complete different tasks on it. (So, like, I know I need to write the copy for page X of this document, but I can also see that pages H through J aren't done either so not everyone's waiting on me -- or, it's visible here that it's my job to lay out the pages, and I can see who is and who isn't done with the text for those pages to start putting it in.)

I'd also like the ability to set the list up so that it's possible -- but not mandatory -- to submit work directly through this program into another system.

It should have a sophisticated understanding of time -- so that, for example, if I mark my evening pills as "Done" at 1:30 a.m., it recognizes that that's the "done" for the previous day, and doesn't mark a missing entry on that day and an extremely early entry on the following day.

Also scrolling calendar view -- so I can look at the calendar and see, for example, the last two weeks of one month and the first two weeks of the next, or 2 to 3 months at a time when I zoom out, arranged as if they were one continuous page of a physical calendar. I would like similar functionality with daily calendars -- like overlapping ends (so 12-2 a.m. shows up at the end of Saturday and the beginning of Sunday), easy, fluid adjustment of the "first day" of the week so I can quickly look at a Wednesday to Tuesday span instead of just Sunday to Saturday or Monday to Sunday, then have it revert to my preferred default automatically.

I'm doing stuff. Really. I swear.

It's summer. I might have mentioned that already. And since right now I'm not in school, one of my jobs is intermittent freelance work and the other is one or two nights a week, most days I have pretty much nothing to do. I've been playing a lot of Minecraft. I'm honestly pretty proud of the stuff I've been doing in Minecraft. I feel accomplished. I am learning new skills and applying them to achieve goals.

Just, like, not in meatspace.

I'm currently participating in two worlds: a multi-person Realms account, and a singleplayer Modded game (the Feed the Beast Infinity pack). The modded game is fun because there's tons of stuff I've never done before, and the vanilla game is fun because it's really exciting to do things in Minecraft with another person.

But even if this is the same kind of creative exercise as most of the other stuff I might do with my free time, something about it feels less satisfying. Which is really frustrating, because I feel like I'm feeling bad about myself for a reason that isn't actually any good.

Estimating the size of global problems

I wrote a comment on Tumblr a couple days ago, on a thread about the lack of media coverage of Bernie Sanders. Here's the whole thread, but there's a point at the bottom that I've been thinking about all day, and I want to expand on it.

There probably/definitely is some conspiring going on in parts of the industry, but I’m betting most of [the poor coverage of Bernie Sanders] is the organic consequence of the culture of journalism today and the awareness or fear that those conspiracies exist and might threaten one’s credibility, employability, and livelihood.

This is an important point to me because I think it’s important to stay aware that the media, like many industries, is full of potentially-good people reacting to threats and pressures, meaning some effective top-level reforms could free them to be the reporters they once imagined they could be.

I.

It's really incredibly easy to think of people as being good or bad, for us or against us, part of the solution or part of the problem. And that's not always a terrible way to look at things -- the last one, especially, highlights the reality that we're all living with unconscious prejudices we have to identify and unlearn. But this point, about people afraid to act, is one I've been thinking about a lot as an activist.

There are people -- I believe a huge number of people -- who have a solid internal moral compass, and know what they'd prefer to choose to do, ethically. But every day, to protect their livelihoods, they make a different choice, and do things they'd rather not do, because starvation and imprisonment doesn't sound like a good time.

I believe that all those people have a tipping point. For some, it's a tiny nudge, for others it might be a complete re-configuring of society. Some people may just need to feel confident they can pay off their student loans. Others may be willfully resisting becoming aware of truths that might make them hate themselves for doing the work they do. But I believe that for most people, the choice not to fight for social justice is not about real ideological disagreement; it's about fear of the consequences.

If you want to discuss the minutiae of ideological disagreement I'd be happy to get into it, but the broad point is nobody wants to see everybody suffer if they can avoid it. Even hardcore Ayn Rand devoted objectivists justify their "Screw you, I've got mine" approach not on the basis that other people's wellbeing actually doesn't matter, but the belief that a socialist approach to human wellbeing is doomed to fail. That's fear. Fear that trying to make things better is bound to make them worse.

II.

The way the mind naturally flows to passively viewing these folks is with a certain amount of contempt. If you're an activist, and you're thinking of someone who does less activism than you, I expect you probably think it through and respond kindly and with understanding, but when you do the quick mental math that happens in the corner of your brain where you're not really looking right now, what you get is

My activism - their activism = positive sum; Therefore me > them

This shorthand is super-easy to resist when that's the only problem you're trying to solve. "Am I better than this person? No, obviously not. Human worth is not calculable in terms of measures of perceived activism."

But I think it sneaks in sometimes when we think about bigger problems. When we think of the unimaginable scale of problems like climate change, racism, misogyny, worker exploitation, and we try and wrap our heads around it --

I'm going to stop saying "we" now, because I'm not reading your mind.

When think about problems of that scale, what usually happens is my brain makes a rough calculation of how hard it's going to be. It goes something like

(People in favor) * (institutions supporting reform) - (people opposed) * (institutions supporting status quo) = an extraordinarily large negative number that reflects the degree of resistance I expect the movement to meet

But when that equation is spread out, the (people in favor) ... - (people opposed) part is the same equation as above, and it suggests that the majority of the people in the world are actually committed to, or at least are perfectly indifferent to, human suffering, and need to be convinced individually that, on whatever individual issue, the wellbeing of the relevant people matters.

Obviously, that's not really true. A lot of people may not realize there's a problem, and will turn their behavior around as soon as they see it and work to support the wellbeing of others whatever way they can, and a lot of other people may just be waiting for the ethical option to be made safe enough that they can take it without risking their livelihoods.

III.

It's hard work coming up with a mental shorthand that gives me an approximate impression of how difficult any given social justice movement should be, given the expectation that people are basically not evil. I think it'd have to be different for each separate thing. Like, the equation for raising the minimum wage to a living wage should probably turn out something really simple, because most people are convinced as soon as they really understand just how little $7.25/hr is. The equation for ending factory farming might be a lot closer to the first approximation, because not everyone is quite as prepped to extend empathy to animals as well as humans. But maybe I'm totally wrong about that. Maybe it's the opposite.

What I've come to understand and believe is that it's not worth trying to do the math. Huge, global problems seem unfathomably hard. It's my general impression that they're pretty much always a lot easier to solve than they look, and that there's a lot of support just waiting for better weather.

Instead, I think it's worthwhile to just assume that every big problem is solvable within my lifetime, and act accordingly. The worst case scenario there is that I'll accidentally help chip away at some problems that would have seemed too scary to even look at if my projections were more refined.

Whales' Footprints

One time, when I was young, I went on a whale-watching trip with my family. We did see a few whales, though that I remember only vaguely. The thing I most clearly remember about the trip is the guide explaining whale footprints.

Photo by Jerry Kirkhart, released on Flickr in 2009 under CC BY 2.0

A whale footprint is a circle of smooth water left behind after a whale comes up for air and then dives back down. It fascinated me at the time, and has remained a potent image my whole life since.  Looking out on an impenetrable blue field, you can find circles of water where nothing is happening -- waters even calmer, smoother, more unremarkable than the rest of the surface of a calm ocean. And from looking at that disc, a small spot of quiet where there should be noise, you can infer the presence of an almost unimaginably large creature, somewhere very close.

In my mind this is a metaphor for almost every kind of knowing. It's what it means to learn by observation. It's how difficult problems are solved. The use of spectrometers to determine the chemical compositions of stars, Thomas Picketty's use of French and British literature to chart economic histories, quantum physics, critical theory, and so on, and so on, and so on. They're all whale footprints. Finding quiet where there should be noise, noise where there should be signal.

Even the most elusive of phenomena leave strange shapes behind them in their path, and those shapes render the unknown, in some way, knowable.

More money = harder work?

You know that idea that people get paid more for some jobs because they work harder? I have realized yet another reason that's a really destructive and harmful myth -- because I was thinking about my emotional relationship to work and promotion when I was younger, and less reasonably employed, relative to my relationship with it now.

My first jobs were really hard. Like, really hard. They pushed me to the very edges of my ability to cope emotionally, and I honestly believe that unless I make some big mistakes or find myself in extraordinary circumstances, they'll continue to be the hardest jobs I've ever had.

There were things to enjoy, sure. But for the most part, those jobs were a nightmare -- especially from the reference point of my work now. And there are worse jobs out there, that are more poorly paid.

So I should have been super motivated to get out, right?

The thing is, I believed at the time that people were paid in approximate proportion to how hard they worked. So if I was on the edge at minimum wage, I'd probably crash and burn if I ever got a promotion. I couldn't even imagine coping with the weight of taking up a profession. I carried through on a fantasy of more money for less labor, and I really believed that was fake.

When you take the people who work the hardest, give them the smallest amount of money, and tell them that people are paid in relation to how hard they work, they're never going to make any large-scale effort to get out. Individuals will try, and they'll spread themselves thin across three jobs because you have to work harder to do better, right? And they'll undermine their efforts by physically and mentally breaking themselves to prove they deserve more than $8/hr.

But in general, the people who want to occasionally sit down and relax? The people who want to spend time with their kids, or get more-or-less regular sleep, or even just be able to keep up with Game of Thrones? They're not going to look at that system, from within that myth, and try to move up the ladder. If you barely scrape by time to yourself now, and moving up means working harder, of course you're going to find a way to make $8/hr work because what's the good of more money if you have to strip your mind and body to ribbons to get it?

It's been a horrifying realization to discover that better-paying work is consistently easier than minimum wage work. It honestly disgusts me. When I think about it, I feel hurt. I feel lied to and betrayed. I don't feel fortunate to have made this discovery, to have gotten just a tiny bit out -- I feel outraged that anyone could continue to proliferate this vile, grotesque myth of a relationship between difficulty of work and amount of pay.

I feel like a zombie

School's been over for one day. One. Day.

Not even, though, because I've still got a final on Friday and one more TV Production class. Then awards ceremonies and commencement and the Observer staff dinner and all the summer work I'll be doing for the succession plan on the paper.

But today was my first day off, and it feels, just, like, awful.

I've had this problem before -- school vacations are historically not great for me, psychologically. And I'm sure a big part of it is my current car trouble.

But still. I shouldn't be feeling this like-crap One Day into vacation.

I would like to speak with the manager of my life, I have some stern words to share with them about my experience of free time.

No more school paper

Tonight was my last production night for the NECC Observer. It's not entirely over yet, there's still the staff dinner and I'm going to be spending a lot of time working on the succession process over the summer (We're hoping to really streamline it, to mitigate the loss of institutional knowledge that can cripple a student paper at a community college) and I imagine I'll make myself available for questions to the incoming Copy Editor and Editor-in-Chief. But my role in actually assembling the paper is over as of tonight.

I feel like I'm leaving it at a very good time. The Observer has done a huge amount of good for me. I got both my current jobs through the NECC Journalism program. And the commitment of the paper has never been so great that it was overwhelming, but it has been a challenge I've appreciated for the past few years.

I feel like I'm writing a sanitized, PR-style version of this post, but honestly. I am grateful for and fond of my time at the Observer, but I feel like it's a good time to move on to new things.

Terry Pratchett died today

I don't have a lot to say. That's not true. I have a huge amount to say. Terry Pratchett was, and will continue to be, one of the most important writers in my life. Apart from 1984 no book has had a greater influence on me than Going Postal, and Going Postal edges out 1984 for favorite book on account of it being a lot funnier.

I've made myself cry a whole bunch today imagining --

well, I wanted to write something there, that I'm sure other Pratchett readers can easily guess. But I'm writing this post at work, and I don't want to start crying in my cubicle.

I don't have a lot to say that won't reduce me to a shaking, wet-faced puddle, and I need to get at least a little bit of work done today before that happens.

I'll miss Terry Pratchett, now that he's gone. And I'm really, really glad that he existed in the first place.

resolution: an inquiry

Does anybody else out there on the internet really frequently think in metaphors about resolution? As in, like, 1080p, hi-def, I-can-tell-that's-photoshopped resolution. Images. I was going to come on here and say my blog was going to suck tonight, because I made a really bad decision, at a really high resolution. Like, it's a big deal, but only in a really small spot, and only if you look really closely, and if you were looking at the whole picture over a shitty internet connection you probably wouldn't be able to see it at all.

The decision was having a pint of ice cream tonight. As a result of which, I have a horrible headache and feel nauseous. It's on the extreme end of negative effects that tend to follow ice cream for me, which I could have anticipated, because it's been a busy week and I'm pretty drained and malnourished.

I bring this up because (a.) it's a slightly better blog post than "I ate ice cream and now I feel like I fell face first into a pile of rocks that smells like rotten fish" and (b.) I use this internal metaphor, like, all the time. And I frequently find myself starting to say something in this metaphor, then stopping because I'm not sure it'll make any sense to anyone else.

So -- is this a thing? Do other people think in terms of resolution, or at least think they'd understand metaphors phrased that way?

I'm jealous of my imaginary clone

I had a conversation with a friend a week or two ago about what it would be like if there were suddenly two of me. I figured, at first, that I would handle it pretty well -- the thing to do, I thought, would be to immediately, rapidly diverge our narratives of personal experience, so we can quickly start being different people and not be both trying to double-live our shared life. So, I figured: first, new me would pick a new pen name. That's easy enough. Could even be another Watson. Then, they'd pick out a new wardrobe, get an undercut and dye their hair bright blue. They'd possibly get a tattoo, some cool piercings, maybe wear way more makeup than I do (none at all because it's hard).

Then, I was like, "Hang on. How come my clone gets to be so much cooler than me?"

Obviously, the solution: we both get radical diverging redesigns.

I would learn how to bleach my hair really, properly white. I'd get a watercolor tattoo down my left arm, and I'd get non-prescription hipster glasses (because needing to differentiate yourself from your clone would totally be a good enough excuse).

Clone me could get a new job, and between us we'd probably be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Once we figure out how to get a new person who emerges into the world at 25 with all of another person's memories a federal ID. We'd have to figure out whether my school would give us both my degrees. If not, they'd need a GED and then would enroll in community college -- probably an art major, this time around.

Ultimately we'd want to eventually drift apart into relatively separate lives, because I'm sure there are an endless list of potential complications that would come from both being literally the same person, diverging at about 2015 -- but we'd stay in touch, and probably still hang out every once in a while, and help each other out with our careers and life problems.

Now... Knowing that, if I had a clone I'd do all that cool stuff, how do I continue to justify not doing it now? (Apart from the glasses, which I'm not doing because I can't respond to "Why are you wearing those" with "I need to look obviously different from my clone.")

Not an extended metaphor about water

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about how sometimes I write angry rants that I don't want to publish. Today I've got a different kind of thing sitting on my computer. It's about 100 words, and it's an extended metaphor about water. I'm actually pretty proud of it. But I don't feel comfortable publishing it, for a reason that feels symmetrical to the reason I don't publish those angry rants. It's more emotion than content. There's a lot of content, but still.

I'm not sure how weird I should feel about that, about explicating my innermost thoughts and feelings on this blog.

Anyway, much like a few weeks ago I couldn't come up with decent posts because everything I wanted to write was too angry, right now I can't think of anything decent to post because everything I want to write is too fluffy.

g'night.

Quotes for my desktop

So, I've got a new laptop, and it's got an extremely high resolution monitor -- like, some programs haven't been correctly patched yet and their menus are like size 4 font because they scale for a screen with not nearly this many pixels. And I've also got photoshop, because one of the first things I did when I got a computer that could run it was sign up for Adobe Creative Suite. (I missed photoshop so much, you have no idea.) And I've been making desktop backgrounds. There's a really consistent format to them: I find a quote I find inspiring from someone I admire, and render it in a pretty and thematically appropriate way using free artwork and fonts. (Mostly. The photo of Westminster in the George Orwell one wasn't labeled fair use, but I'm guessing copyright surrounding photographs of British government buildings is probably too weird for me to bother with anyway, and besides, who's going to sue over somebody using a grayscale copy of the top of their photo of a really famous building as a backdrop for two paragraphs from George Orwell's "Why I Write?")

Anyway, after my first few -- one from Terry Pratchett, one from Mike Rugnetta, one from a They Might Be Giants song, and one from Ursula K Le Guin's speech at the national book awards, I realized that everyone I was quoting was white, and almost all of them were men.

So, I've started to dig around for more quotes I find inspiring from women and people of color. And it's really not as easy as I thought it would be. I've added five more since the first batch: two white men, George Orwell and Walter Benjamin, and three men of color, Junot Diaz, Jay Smooth and Orlando Jones. No more women so far, although I've got a Donna Haraway quote sitting in a photoshop file pending actually finishing a complete read-through of "A Cyborg Manifesto."

I figured it'd be easier than this, but the biggest thing I've noticed very quickly is that many of the quotes I find most inspiring or enlightening from women and people of color are about the experience of being women and people of color -- which has been a valuable part of my experience of achieving a more complex and complete perspective on my own privilege, but which aren't really inspiring or uplifting in a personal way -- like, they wouldn't and shouldn't inform my own decisionmaking directly.

My goal is to get my desktop to represent more people of color than white people and more women than men, and this effort has in the past few days compelled me to pay a lot more close attention to who among my role models I've devoted the most time and energy, and who deserves a lot more of my attention.

(Which is to say: Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman, you're probably not getting on my desktop any time soon. Sorry but not really.)

I'm not really okay right now

I usually try pretty hard not to say when I'm not doing well on here. I'm not sure how successful I am. After the post about Serial the other day, a friend texted me to ask if I was okay. I don't like to talk about it because it always seems like the obvious thing to do when I'm overwhelmed is to give myself a break somewhere -- and this is the most obvious place. Blogging less is an easy thing I can do to relieve some pressure on me.

But that doesn't work. It always, always makes things so, so much worse.

I'm going to be okay. I'm back in school, I have supportive friends, and everything that's bothering me right now is finite in its capacity to keep making me miserable.

This is temporary. It's horrifically unpleasant, but it's temporary.

Expect no interruption of service on txwatson.com.