Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Extended things.  §

(1) Bernie Sanders appears to be reassembling the old FDR coalition. It has been absolutely dead since Reagan, though there was a bit of a breath around the Clinton years, until NAFTA. This is fascinating to watch. My curiosity is biggest around why. Why does this old socialist Jewish guy finally connect with working class whites in particular and get them to stop voting against their own interests? What is the cultural resonance? Is it merely the appeal to justice rather than policy?

(2) Being back in Utah, and leaving my previous posts and my previous place of residence has been tremendously bad for my ego and confidence. Whereas I felt like a “somebody” before, I feel like a “nobody” now. The effects of this shift are not purely emotional; confidence plays into performance and performance into confidence. It has been a downward spiral for a long time. I need to find a way to reverse this spiral. Large audiences once again are probably the easiest way to do this.

(3) Days have a way of ticking by like seconds. Something is put off until “tomorrow” and this “just once” and suddenly it is months later. This is how lives slip through fingers. There is a bit of a literature on the notion of “living consciously” and figures as vulgar as Oprah have had something to say about the notion. It’s time that I paid attention to this as well. Less than half of my life is left. I need a plan and, more prosaically, a calendar. That I stick to.

(4) The trouble with Chinese New Year in middle America is that it’s impossible to celebrate it correctly. None of the community-oriented things actually occur, from puppet dances to the general collective effervescence. Imagine having to celebrate Christmas, only with no Santas at the malls, no sales at the big box stores, and no coverage in the media. Just you and a tree and some candles. It wouldn’t be the same; much of the inherent beauty and joy would go unseen by most.

(5) The IZGO display panel on my aging iPad air is beginning to show signs of backlight degradation of the sort that I saw in a lot of display models, with dimming at the left and right vertical edges. I wonder if this is something to do with dust attraction (as is common on laptop panel backlights) or a more fundamental design issue, since it is occurring at both edges (is there a backlight source at both edges? I haven’t looked).

(6) It is time once again to get the Volvo safety inspected. This is a huge pain in the ass. In fact, cars in general are a huge pain in the ass. Only a few minor things need to be done, but I do not have the wherewithal or the time to do them myself, and being without a car for a few days, even here, is a tremendous logistical nightmare. I am not happy about this. Perhaps my wife is right and it’s better to buy new. New cars need to go to the shop, too, but the shop needs are less of the minor, maintenance-centric variety that pop up once a year. I’d gladly pay more per needed repair, as is typical for new cars, if the frequency of needed repairs were lower and they didn’t always happen at the same time every year.

(7) My mother continually argued that the ability to play the piano would be one of the most important skills I’d have in life. She spent years and many dollars trying to develop sound piano-playing skills in me. I am not sure to this day that I have encountered a single situation in my entire life in which playing the piano would have been of any benefit to anyone at all. On the other hand, the five distracted minutes that she spent showing me how to thread a needle, tie a knot, and sew a button back on a shirt have proven their value again and again, doubly so now that I’m a parent. And I regularly wish that I knew how to operate a sewing machine, and that my stitching and related skills were better. Note to parents: fuck piano, teach them to sew.

(8) Vision is a sense so central to my understanding of the world and the meanings that I make of it that even the sight of a goldfish with cataracts is enough to touch me and lead me to feel deep pity. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I were to lose my vision, and I hope I never have to find out.

(9) The Sanders campaign has made me hopeful about politics and about the United States as a project of nationcraft in ways that I have only felt once before in my life, during the Obama campaign. Unfortunately, Obama largely dashed those hopes by abandoning the bully pulpit in favor of the moderate technocrat’s fine suits. Sanders right now has the pulpit. I hope he continues to use it and sees the long-term imperative that is at stake it continuing to hold fast to it.

I have no idea what I’ll do when spring arrives again. I cannot possibly imagine myself “fixing sprinklers,” “mowing lawn,” and “trimming bushes.” The very thought is bewildering and repulsive to me.