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Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Friday Before Christmas  §

So here we sit. Or rather, here I sit. Just me. Empty house. On the Friday before Christmas 2015. Not exactly what I’d planned. 2015 was supposed to be the year in which we… well… made it. The Ph.D. was done. We both had good jobs. The kids were out of diapers, potty-trained, and in pre-school. The balances were getting better. We were meant to:

– Advance in our careers
– I, in particular, was going to pursue and succeed at finding academic work
– Buy a house, our house, finally after all of these years
– Finally begin to enjoy life as a family, rather than just trying to survive

Instead, here we are. Empty house. Divorce papers still hanging out there in the universe. Expensive counseling. Diagnoses of various kinds. Strained love. Uncertain futures. Doubts and insecurities and lack of trust.

Loneliness.

— § —

What happened is that we took on too much. People like us, I think, often try to live too much all at once. Me, because I always think I can handle it. My wife, I think, for other reasons that I am only beginning to understand.

But we did everything in the space of our eight short years together. We finished two graduate degrees, moved literally across the country, had two children, began to renovate an older house, switched our careers, travelled the world and the country, and made a whole bunch of other plans ahead of us still.

This sort of cascade of eventfulness wreaks all kinds of havoc:

1) It tends to persuade you to think of anything other than chaos as stagnation
2) It brings out any latent individual stress cracks
3) Because of the itense effort required, it draws into relief any differences between you
4) It demands ridiculous levels of coordination and compromise
5) It puts everything at stake, all the time and thus requires endless success at each step
6) It keeps everyone off-balance, ungrounded, and struggling to adapt

We didn’t know how to slow down. Me, because the world is a kind of candy store in which I want to grab everything, and my wife, I think, because any slowdown is a kind of risk that it will all come flying apart and we will have nothing that we wanted in the end, maybe forever.

— § —

So, here I sit. Here are some things that I used to do all the time, even compulsively, albeit productively and happily… that I simply don’t do any longer:

– Cycle
– Photograph
– Write
– Drive
– Participate in local life
– Participate in politics
– Read
– Code

These things were my mainstays for a very, very long time, and then, somewhere over the last eight years, they disappeared. I’m sure she’s had a similar experience. Somehow our together life sort of forced them out.

They are the things we’ll have to rediscover if we’re to be a couple again.

— § —

But for the moment, it’s Friday and I’m sitting here in an empty house and an empty kitchen at an empty table typing nothing in particular. At least I’m doing it on my blog rather than on Facebook, even if it is on the wrong domain.

It’s time for me to retire this abominable “aa-hsiao.net” domain and go back to being who I am and always was. That work remains to be done during this winter break in which and on which I’m not working.

— § —

On that note, I’m torn between tackling the always exciting but also daunting task of creating a new blog for the coming year or two, probably using WordPress, this time with my own custom plugin to dump FTP’ed in text files into posts, or… waiting for TheGrid.io.

Yes, I am a founding member (#12k something) and yes, I’m still waiting.

No, I don’t harbor any illusions that this platform actually represents “artificial intelligence” in web design or development or any such nonsense like that. But I do sort of harbor the (illusory?) expectation that it might just do a better job at creating something that is ultimately reasonably readable than I’ve tended to do in recent years sitting on PHP template files and HTML+CSS on my own, and that it might also save me the time of doing those sorts of things along the way.

Although perhaps “spending the time” is exactly what I ought to be doing these days.

After all, I’ve spent the past decade racing faster and faster, trying to “save the time” and pack more in. And now…

Now I have all the time in the universe. And, in fact, none of it, because time ran out anyway.

Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room”  §

is not available in complete form at all, for streaming, it would appear.

About this I am shocked.

The problem with blogging  §

these days is that blogging has been given over to the content management systems, like WordPress.

It takes multiple clicks and a bunch of pageloads before one is able to get anything out on the keyboard. This is heavy, extremely heavy. This is not conducive to thoughtflow. In order to justify this level of overhead, content must be correspondingly heavy. This leads to a tendency toward “article thinking,” as in writing of articles. Again, not conducive to thoughtflow.

Back in the day, I had a series of bash scripts. I would type:

diary

at the console, and up would pop an emacs window and I would pound out a few lines, save, and exit, and it would immediately go online as the next thing. In fact, the format was essentially that of Twitter in many ways. But, and this is an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, it was me and me alone, in “abstract public,” rather than “social” in a particular constructed tableau setting. The problem with social media is that it brings to bear social forces and social norms, which again condition behavior and are not conducive to thoughtflow.

What is needed is a single user twitter that does away with the 140 character limit and enables flexible styling.

That was the “blogging” model that worked for me. I wonder how many others it also worked for?

Even this, which is fairly lightweight in terms of styling and fairly stream-oriented in terms of UX, still suffers from all of the backend heaviness problems I just described. There are a couple of personal mobile device apps which get close, for example MomoNote for iOS, but the problem is that they are not oriented toward publication and sharing.

— § —

Make note, I am pointing toward a very specific position and set of properties here, one that is currently not available or supported by most software:

– Public, as in sharing
– Non-social, as in not explicitly oriented toward audience interpellation

The ability to publish and share without sharing to a specific group of people, that is to say, to “publicize in relative anonymity and asynchronicity” is a kind of publication that, when done in a lightweight fashion, enables thoughtflow as free of both overhead and social conditioning. It allows for the possibility and reality of publicness while, at the same time, not engineering it directly, but enabling it to emerge organically.

No, it is not emerging organically on social media, though some would argue that. Even if I have zero Twitter followers, the fact of the matter is that it is an entire platform for sharing and interpellation and as such, has implicit biases, properties, and outcomes that do not match those of, say, writing on a sidewalk in the dark, which is much more similar to the kind of blogging I am talking about.

In sidewalk terms, Twitter is rather like calling your friends, family, and the public to appear on your particular stretch of sidewalk at a particular place and time, writing on it, and then putting a spotlight there to shine into the sky and announce to the world that you have written something on that sidewalk, while also erecting lamps over it at night time and installing signs on surrounding city blocks to point out that you have, in fact, written something on the sidewalk.

Social media has the ethos of showmanship while blogging of the sort that I’m talking about has the ethos of mere exposure-in-place.

— § —

I don’t know if I can recreate or duplicate what used to exist for me. I’ve been trying for years with WordPress, Drupal, and a couple other CMS systems along with apps or email integrations or similar, but the fact is, it’s still to heavy, both on the backend UX side and on the frontend presentation side.

I’m tempted to return to shell scripts again, though this would imply that posting can be done only from my desktop.

Still, I see a need. Is there a way to serve it? I wonder.

Ain’t no thang…  §

I’m back.

Back from whatever it has been, and whatever it is. Legal trouble? Not really. Personal trouble? I suppose. Involving more than just me.

— § —

Things:

– I’m older than I used to be
– I’m not as old as I seem to be
– I’m not where I want to be
– I’ll be what I am to be

— § —

Manhood is a funny thing. You go along all regular and full of nothing in particular until something matters, and then testosterone makes you beat the living shit out of whatever happens to be around, all in the interest of love and justice.

We wage war, yes. The feminists are right. But without us, there would be nobody to wage war. Think about that for a moment.

If you don’t get it, think longer and harder.