Up up and away

31 January 2018

I guess today is finally the day. I’ve been wanting to open up about it for a long time, and since I’m virtually anonymous here, I pretty much can say whatever the hell I want. And you probably will be polite about it, and listen. So here goes nothing.

I haven’t admitted this freely to anyone yet, but thinking about gravity often causes an impending sense doom in me. It’s called barophobia and it’s a real thing. I has been weighing heavy on my heart the first day I left the delicious bouyancy of prebirth. Unlike most other barophobes, I do not actually that gravity might increase to the point that I might become spherical. My fear is much stupider. Whenever I’m in a building with a high ceiling, I’m terrified that gravity might reverse direction, accelerating me enough to leave me a wee crimson smudge on an otherwise pristine ceiling.

Like any good phobia worth cultivating, I keep touching it like a loose tooth. I love coming up with several complicated analysis and theories about how it works. Hell, there’s nothing much else to do then theorize when you’re obsessively gazing at the ground. So I present you with my commandments, and I welcome you to my preposterous madness.

Rule nr 1: Location, location, location. A good place to fear death should be worth being remembered over. St Peter’s. The St Hubertus gallery in Brussels. The blue mosque in Istanbul. I have particularly fond memories of dying a million deaths while traversing Grand Central Station in New York. Sometimes I think I should embrace my destiny, and lie on my back on the floor of the Sixteenth Chapel. Arms wide open, waiting till gravity lifts me into God’s transcendental embrace.

Rule nr 2: There is a very real possibility that gravity might not reverse. I’ve only observed it rotating in straight angles, but that’s probably attributable to human buildings tending to be built in orthogonal ways. This fear usually manifests when looking at a tall building from a big distance. For example, the sweet agony of caressing my lover’s face when she lies in my lap, visualizing hurtling across Siena’s picturesque main square before death scrapes my puddle-like self off the tower. Or imagine admiring the Flatiron, the first skyscraper of New York. An office tower where they had to pay the workers double, as everyone was convinced it would fal over in the first week. Meanwhile I’m concerned I might fall into it. Perhaps I can admire it’s fine masonry detailing in my final moments.

Rule nr 3: Stick to the sides. Many building have a small slope where the ceiling meets the wall. If I get lucky, that might make me skid onto the ceiling rather than careening into it. I don’t actually believe this, but I do get some comfort out of pretending I believe this.

Rule nr 4, which might explain rule nr 3 to some extent. The angle matters. I’m not afraid of falling into a mountain slope or pyramid. But I am terrified of falling into a cliff or monolith. Generalizing, the more perpendicular and planar a surface, the more it evokes horror. That’s why man-made structures feature so prominently in my fears. Fascist architecture, like Milan’s central station, is especially bad. No surprise there.

Rule nr 5: The sky is actually not terrifying. Even if gravity would reverse, I just slowly asphyxiate while having a killer view. Not scary at all. Hypothetical. Gravity simply doesn’t reverse when you’re outside.

Rule nr 6: The major exception of rule nr 5 is that sometimes the sky turn into a ceiling. Or even most of the times. Starry skies are especially dangerous. Cloudy skies aren’t ceilings though, I can safely look at them. This might seem counter intuitive, but direct experience has proven this to be another fundamental rule.

That's nuts

17 January 2018

I’m living in Sweden now,
and that’s nuts.

I’ve been here for 3 months,
life is good,
work, which was my primary motivator to move, great,
and that’s nuts

Yesterday I walked in the dark
at 4 pm
slipped on the snow and hurt my ass
hoping to assemble my ikea bed
in time to sleep in it
and wake at
8 am
at when it’s dark

and that’s nuts

My feelings about all of this fall on two sides. I’m incredibly lucky to have found this job, and, more recently, a good group of people to live with. Stockholm is good place to live according to every metric. There is also some baggage that I didn’t manage to shake off back home, but being in a new place is very conductive to reframing it in my head. On the other hand, typical expat bullshit. Not knowing basic stuff, where to get stuff, what paperwork to do, etc. Loneliness. Which I’m fine with, but it takes time and effort (apparently a lot here) to fix with. More then the times before, I miss my friends and family.

I guess I live in Sweden now?
And that’s pretty nuts

Sapiens

10 December 2017

I read Sapiens by Harari, a book about the evolution of the human race. It has long chapters on how settling and agriculture changed society, and how that change came about for reasons that differ a lot from what you expect. Really well written, novel and interesting. Few things are as satisying as a well written introduction to a whole field of knowlegde you don’t even know the basics of I told some people about it, and several people mentioned both having read it, and loving it to bits. Unfortunately, the book turns a significant turn for the worse. Starting in the industrial section, and very acutely at the introduction of DNA (manipulation), Hariri shows that he has basic errors in his understanding of genetics, and those mistakes form the very shaky foundations of a lot of his predictions about the future of mankind. What vexes me most is, that if I can find mistakes, hiring an expert for some QA would have improved this book massively by either cutting it short, or making the latter chapters relevant. So, buy the book. And read about half of it.

Play it again, Sam

22 July 2017

I’m probaly repeating myself. But, this time, there’s a sliver of a chance I’m repeating myself. As you’ll see, very much in the theme of it :)

The most important thing I’ve learned over the years, is to iterate. Not only when writing creatively, but it’s the one I’ve seen the most dramatic bump in quality. If you’re going to write a thousand words, delete 800 and publish 200. At the very, very least reread your text once. As tempting as the myth of “straight from the heart” sounds, it simply ain’t true. For sure, get it out there. Dump it in .txt. But owe it to yourself to regurgitate, iterate, get it to the state where you’re not sure if any change is for the better. It will be a couple of times before you hit that. That’s the productive part. Try to divorce your reading from your writing. Try to become your own worst audience. But also judge how good your piece is. I really think your ability to write is corralated to your ability to judge your writing. Even if you’re naturally talented, you can benefit from craft. And I’m talking to you, me!

Screw the dailies

21 July 2017

I’m going to pull the plug on the dailies. I’ve been writing sloppily just to try and hit them. The more I’ve churned out some evenings, the more I’ve avoided sitting down and actual doing it in a way I get any satisfaction out of it. In short: kudos to those who can, I couldn’t, I shouldn’t, back to the regular programming.

The best thing is that I can continue, rather then cutting to another post for metric’s sake. Hence, the long form:

It’s been a very… eventful? interesting? couple of months. And I mean interesting in the “may you live in interesting times” way. I’ve taken quite a few thing on the chin. I’ve been confronted with some major demon in the first person, ones I have dealt with in the second person a while back. Being really pissed to have go through that twice when most people get to be blissfully ignorant of.

Getting rejected from job interviews. Not the ones I where I got rejected out of hand, which I usually had coming. Fair enough, don’t care, move on. But about two or three times it really came down to the wire. Where a single person could flip the verdict either way. And, every time, it flipped the wrong way. For which I have strong reasons to believe are arbitrary reasons. It sounds self indulgent, but in each instance I’ve had people in the process reach out to me privately (which is very unorthodox) to tell me how unfair/random my rejection was. And, once again, I could probably take one or two of those on stride. Not all of them.

Last week, it came down to the wire yet again. Once again the anxiety. Refreshing inboxes. Sitting on decisions, kicking it a million ways in search of solutions, chewing over those solutions tens of times. Smooth sailing until a part of the process I didn’t know mattered. Overanalyzing every word of every sentence of every email. A very tense week or two, especially with the previous experiences, wondering if 10 years of experience were arbitrary, or actually amount to a directed progression. As a good friend of mine said: “It’s not always impostor syndrome. Sometimes they’re genuinely terrible”.

The wire. Once again. And, somehow, it worked. There was a hard blocker that threatened to throw everything in jeopardy. I’m not sure yet why, and I’m definitely going to confirm if my hypothesis is right. But they had a demand I couldn’t fulfill in any satisfactory form. In the moment I came up with a solution that I think payed off, a very honest one. I counted on some previous relations, and made with tentative confidence of good will on both sides.

It worked. I have a job offer, and I’m going to take it. It’s professionally very interesting, and my gut feeling is that the atmosphere in the office will be pleasant. I’m moving to a new country (that I’m a bit unsure of). I’ll have to become a lot more advanced on a lot of skills that are either dusty, or even rudimentary. I have been procrastinating a lot of personal development by conveniently classifying the last couple of years as temporary. And that might very well be a bigger challenge than the professional ones.

I really f****ng hope that it doesn’t come down to the wire. So sick and tired of that thing. I’m hoping to to build a sandbox. Someplace where I can experiment, and can fail without feeling it might jeopardize my entire future. I don’t want to feel it can go either way. I really hope I can start building, rather that shoring up what I have. Throwing dice and curing another one. There’s no real reason for me to have a lot of disparate positive things (I have a great group of friends, a lot of positive memories to offset the negatives, a good amount of raw talent for some pursuits). I want to have it all connected, to not have to wonder which way I should, or it will, end up going.

Wish me luck!

Passive knowledge

6 July 2017

Describing a location on a street is a bit weird. Nobody uses address numbers. I barely know my own. We say “Down”, “Up”, “At the end of”, “At the beginning”. Up and down can make sense if a street is not flat, but we still use it when it it isn’t. And end? Both the beginning and the end are pretty much the same thing.

The weird thing is, we usually know what is meant. Down usually means central, or away from where we currently are. Up usually means away, less central. The beginning and end is probably similar, where beginning is the end (!) closest to a central feature.

This sorta breaks down in my town, as we have the train station and the literal center of town as reference points. The avenue running between both is a place where this terminology breaks completely.

The funny thing is, we are never explicitly told this. We just pick it up without thinking about it. Probably like a lot of stuff we don’t even realize. What if we mostly learn subconsciously?

(45365)

I think about this every day

6 July 2017

At the exact moment you’re reading this, at least a million fucking.

That means at least a thousand are engaged in something nasty.

That means at least one couple….

(44365)

Only the best, artisan oil

2 July 2017

It’s pretty late as I’m writing this, and I’ll definately not hit my 8 hour’s worth by tomorrow. Not just today, every day. If I need to be up at 7, I’ll sleep at midnight. Up by 10, sleep at 3 in the morning. I know this is a terrible habit, and I’m sure that for every hour I sleep to little, I lose two in productivity during the day.

Not sure why I do it. Not wanting to sleep is not part of it, I love sleeping. Part of it is not wanting to call it a day, and having to “tally the resuls” of that day. Part of it is not wanting to wake up, starting obligations. Many of them due to my procrastination today.

Secretely I do know what it is. After about 10pm, I live in the moment. Everything is quiet. There is no sunlight to distract me with the notion that there is a place outside my direct experience. No sms, whatsapp, viber, email, phone, etc… No food to prepare, nothing on my calendar. Just time to do whatever I feel like. It’s in these hours that I read, write, study, play games, etc…

Sometimes I think it might be more productive than office hours!

(43365)

The Wire 201

29 June 2017

If you haven’t watched the wire, skip this post.

Obviously, I like the wire a whole lot. I love the wire a whole lot. If you don’t, you probably won’t get a lot out of this post. Best to leave. Everyone who loves (or even watches?) the Wire cannot shut up about it, and neither can I. Hence, one big post to get it out of my system once and for all.

I don’t particularly care for Stringer Bell. He doesn’t change during the entire saga. He’s smart, he’s an asshole, and he only seems to cares for Avon. He has his place, but I imagine he could have been written a lot better. The actor, Idris Elba, definitely has the range to pull off a much more sophisticated character. The educated gangster from the project is also a very lazy stereotype to use. Even his betrayal of Avon feels lazy.

Avon doesn’t seem to evolve either, but somehow his character works. And I think it’s because you gradually get to know his character. He starts out as a typical drug kingpin, in it for the money. But, after a while, he turns into a very sensual character. He doesn’t care about the money at all. He cares about the “game”: winning in a competition, defending his reputation. Adhering to a very strict code of conduct. Tis gradual reveal that keeps his character interesting. There is some danger that was actually a too simple, dangerous stereotype, but it has some real hart in it. Perhaps could use some more Marc Anthonyesque

Omar is a very specific case. My take on it is that he shouldn’t have been in it, even though he might be the most popular in it. He doesn’t evolve at all, even though he might doubt himself. If you try to imagine him in a revenge flick, it would be a bad one. Unlike all the other characters, he’s not part of an institution, and that sort of lobotomizes him. He’s 100% in control of his own actions. He’s affable, he’s fun, but ultimately uninteresting.

Brother Mozone is the logical extreme of this. He’s unbelievable, one-dimensional, and a very bad blow against the suspension of belief. Even in a Marvel superhero Netflick, he would be a terrible villain. I really would like to know the motivation for including him (just as Omar). Audience testing?

Bubbles is obviously the main character of the show, no debate. He goes through multiple arcs. I cried through most of them. Others, laughed. He is profoundly tragic, as even as tragedy happens to him, his reaction to it only deepens the hole. Apparently, he was so good at his role, that during a break in shooting a junky gave him some free heroin because he was looking so bad.

I think Bodie is a slightly different take on Bubbles. He’s empathic, he cares. He’s smart, protective. He didn’t even set the first step on the path of his life, but he follows his destiny with a fatalistic determination. This is very evident from his final scene, where he fully comes to terms with the destiny life has forced upon him. Without even a single complaint.

Season 2? We don’t talk about season 2.

So that’s about 10% of what I wanted to say about the wire. I guess more posts could be incoming…

(41365)

The Wire

29 June 2017

If you’ve watched the wire, please feel free to skip this post.

It was always heading to this direction. Anyone who likes, or perhaps has simply seen The wire, can’t help evangelizing it to everyone at every (in)opportune moment. So here goes.

You really, really need to watch the wire. For me, it’s the show where characters are flawed, and evolve. Good characters get punished for it. Bad people sometimes prosper. Drug dealers can be good people, victims of circumstances. Some fight to become something better, some rush towards their unwelcome destiny out of a sense of duty. People shape institutions, institutions shape people. No one is one thing (with some very notable exceptions). In short, it’s a show about a lot of very different people, and how they, and their relationships evolve.

Which doesn’t mean there isn’t some bullshit going on. Some of the characters seem written in for popular appeal. Others are too one-dimensional. Some of the episodes go nowhere, and are irrelevant for all future ones.

But watch it. You’ll probably know after the first scene of the pilot. It’s amazing.

(40365)