Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Monthly Archives: March 2016

Situating yourself in the universe.  §


— § —

How much does it matter?

Rules of engagement.  §

(1) Integrity: Do what you do well, according to the standards that matter to you. Other peoples’ standards are other peoples’ business; when you reach the end, you will answer to yourself, not to them.

(2) Journey: Work to improve what you do, not just how you do it. Continuing to find where and when to act is as important, if not more important, than knowing how to act.

(3) Stamina: Grit your teeth. Allow yourself to suffer if necessary in order to do the right thing. You are mortal. All suffering is temporary. But history is not. Your actions and decisions are forever. Put other people first and you’ll be able to live with yourself—and not be alone. Put yourself first and you’ll be alone—and unable to live with yourself.

(4) Wisdom: Allow things to be what they are. Don’t try to make the simple complex; don’t try to make the complex simple; don’t try to make the small large; don’t try to make the large small. Don’t fight reality.

(5) Knowledge: Force yourself to ask and to see what things are, including yourself. Yes, change is part of the fabric of life, but refusing to see things as they are makes right action impossible. Refusing to see yourself as you are makes doing right by yourself impossible. See what is, then embrace it. Otherwise, you yourself and everything you do become fiction.

(6) Patience and alertness: Make peace with time, and cooperate with it. Time must be your friend, since it is the substance of your existence. Time is also your enemy, since it will someday end your existence. Either way, it is more powerful than you. Of all the facets of reality, time is the one that you can fight least successfully. Follow time’s lead in all things. Understand this or face failure on every other count above.

(7) Perspective: Realize that a life is an aggregate, not a moment; you will not live it all at once. Continue when you fail. Redouble your efforts. Paradoxically, this includes your effort to accept things as they are, both yourself and others.

— § —

“To understand everything is to forgive everything.”

— § —

(8) Acceptance: The world is not just and it never will be. You will not be dealt with “fairly” because the nature of your existence, in a world with endings, living a life that will end, is unfair. You cannot save anyone. You cannot save yourself. You cannot “repair” anyone. You cannot “repair” yourself. There’s no point in demanding reparations because they repair nothing—nothing that has passed can be changed; nothing can be “repaired” once it is done. To fight this battle on these terms is to spend a lifetime striking out at shadows, only to realize at the end that you have missed everything that you might have had in the time that you were here. Learn from each moment, embrace it, then move on to the next.

Ups, downs.  §

In the last eight months I’ve only managed to run one incremental backup to DLT.

This is not good. I know where this leads. This leads to me losing precious data—photographs, writing, work, etc.

I need to pull myself together, get up the motivation to do some data cleanup, and then run a backup. I have been down this road too many times to not know better.

— § —

I have another bunch of stuff that needs to be sold on eBay. I need to pull myself together and get this done, too.

There is no point in having things sitting around losing value when I can use the clams.

In general, there are more than a couple non-pressing, “needs to be done,” “pull myself together” tasks on the list that ought to be attended to. I know better. I need to respect myself and reality enough to move muscles and make them happen.

— § —

Most of the time I go along through life doing my best and making the sense I can of things, staying relatively stable (all things considered) in the face of the state of sheer bizarreness that is being a person.

But like a kind of subterranean heartbeat, I periodically have these stretches of down-ness, like everyone. They tend to last a few hours, at worst a couple of days. They suck. In these moments, the full force of everything that is a risk in my life, of everything that I have ever lost, of my age, and of my trajectory as a human being tend to overtake and obscure other thoughts. I know that this is happening, in general, so I can mitigate against it and continue on as normal. But the experience is not a pleasant one.

Often it starts in the middle of the night; I’ll wake up without remembering any particular dream but feeling vaguely panicked and desperate, with no particular remedy at hand and the distinct awareness that my mind is playing tricks on me. After all, I went to bed in no particular trouble, maybe even completely happy, and nothing new has happened over the course of the few hours that I’ve slept.

Rationalizing helps me to keep on keeping on, and to avoid giving in to wild impulses toward control and action that used to plague me, say, when I was in my twenties.

Still, it’s not comfortable.

I don’t suppose too many people have ever arrived at the condition of having no particular downs in life, just ups. I’d like to get there someday. Mine aren’t too bad—again, all things considered—in that they don’t leave me incapacitated and they only last a few hours to maybe a day or three. But life would be better, and I would be so much more, without them.

April, on the way to a year.  §

It’s nearly April.

April. May. June. And then—July.

Before too long, it will be a year. Time continues, in many ways, to stand still, though I know it shouldn’t and mustn’t. But a year!

What will I do on that day? How will I handle it?

— § —

There’s a good reason for the way in which society hesitates to allow young people too much responsibility, and for the way in which it considers twenty-somethings and even thirty-somethings to be “young people.”

The reason is that no matter how well-developed and how experienced you believe yourself to be throughout early adulthood, you simply haven’t had time to have learned the hard lessons until you have arrived in your late thirties and forties.

You still throw your hands up and hope. You are still naive. You are still in denial. You still think—and this is a big one—that time is on your side, and ergo, that reality is on your side.

People say that you gain “experience” as you go, but the less euphemistic way to put this is that it’s not until your late thirties or forties that you’re so tired of fuckups and suffering, and so aware of the fact that you’re running out of chances, that you finally begin to get things right.

You could have done it all along, but you just didn’t. Because how bad could it be? How wrong can it go? How many times can it go bad? You need those years to be shown that it can always be worse, it can go ever more wrong, and it can and will go bad every single time you get a little complacent.

— § —

Last year I was excited for, and hopeful about, spring. This year I’m not. I regret that this post is such a downer, but the fact is that today, tonight, I am wishing that spring had simply never arrived. I’m not ready for it and I don’t want to be ready for it.

That goes double for summer.

But reality is what it is.

— § —

Meanwhile, the weeks and months continue to sail by.

I have to cut this out.

Knowledge.  §

The worst possible circumstance in life is this one:

  • Justice must be done because there is simply no other choice left while living; no-one has left you alternatives, and what is right can no longer wait while you draw breath.
  • Doing justice is easy; a simple matter of knowledge that is already at hand, but that has remained covered, obscured, unseen as a matter of intention. It is a simple matter of coming to know that which you have as yet avoided knowing.
  • And yet in coming to know these things—things that have not been uncovered because all are better off not knowing them—you know, too, that the seeds of future injustice and suffering will be sown, the fruits of your own hands.

There have been multiple times in my life when I have faced such a calculation—when unavoidably doing the right thing is also unavoidably doing the wrong thing, and both (which are, after all, one and the same) fall readily to hand once the moment of truth has arrived.

— § —

When faced with this circumstance, in every case I have fought hard for alternatives. Because while right is right, surely right without harm is so, so much better. Sometimes you find alternatives. Sometimes you don’t.

Happily, this time I have.

— § —

Integrity is a bitch and will kill you if you give it the chance. You’ve got to watch it all the time, like a cagey wild animal, and prepare to both subvert it and protect it at once, like tranquilizing a noble, wild predator.

My right-now-elsewhere wife says that I live unhelpfully by principles. She’s absolutely right. But you are who you are, for better or for worse. Some things about yourself you can change. Other things are suicide, and you try to change them only if there is no point in going on as yourself.

— § —

When you’re young, you hate to hear about “gray areas.”

Later on, when you dwell in and rely on them for your breath, you realize why your elders inevitably explained nearly everything in such terms. It is because you yourself are unavoidably a gray area; the world would be both immeasurably better off and also so much the worse without you.

This is not me being maudlin, me being self-absorbed, nor me being down. It applies, objectively, to everyone.

— § —

“Just once I knew what life was for.
In Boston, quite suddenly, I understood;
walked there along the Charles River,
watched the lights copying themselves,
all neoned and strobe-hearted, opening
their mouths as wide as opera singers;
counted the stars, my little campaigners,
my scar daisies, and knew that I walked my love
on the night green side of it and cried
my heart to the eastbound cars and cried
my heart to the westbound cars and took
my truth across a small humped bridge
and hurried my truth, the charm of it, home
and hoarded these constants into morning
only to find them gone.”

— Anne Sexton

Marketing II.  §

Someone has just hit my inbox trying to give me the hard sell on how I can boost traffic and turn a profit with this long-running blog, just by tweaking my writing style and presentation a bit. They want to work with me.

What they don’t get is that this blog is not a product, but is—rather—my therapist. And that without it, at various points over seventeen years, I would quickly and easily have gone clinically insane.

The last thing I need to do is boost my traffic, tweak my writing style, and generate an income. I get income elsewhere. I need this space to talk to and about myself, without resistance. Because there is noplace else that I can do it.

Anomie.  §

The word of the day is ‘anomie.’

anomie is a ‘condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals.’ It is the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community, e.g., under unruly scenarios resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values.”

— § —

Just once, I would like everything in the universe to stay where it is, as it is, for a day, to give me a chance to catch up.

Having to make decisions and judgment calls all the time about things that matter is exhausting. It is not a state of being that is conducive to personal fulfillment or achievement. Quite the opposite; it feels rather like constantly being tasked with putting out fires, only without proper supplies.

Instead, you are shown two tanks containing clear liquids and asked to choose one of them to be sprayed over the flames. Of the two, only one contains water. The other contains alcohol. And the fire may or may not be a grease fire.

Good luck!

— § —

Time is a merciless tyrant that doesn’t value human life at all.

— § —

The watch project is almost done. Now the task is to select those that will go and sell them on eBay to recoup their costs (and in some cases, to make a profit). Likely keeping:

– Two Seiko Flightmaster automatics
– One Orient Sparta military automatic
– One Orient Sparta pilot automatic w/full lume face
– One Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk Classic
– One Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk Promaster Titan Titanium (my 40th birthday gift to myself)

Likely selling:

Everything else.

Hooray for eBay. And with that, once all are sold, the “watch collection” phase of my mid-life crisis will end. For at least 10-20 years.

— § —

The image of Bernie Sanders smiling at a small bird on his lectern is indelibly etched into my mind.

I’m not a religious person, but I’ve always been a spiritual person in the sense that I adhere to something that goes well beyond a “rationalistic” or “realist” approach to life and the thngs that I value (and the ways in which I determine value and select amongst values).

That is a real moment in a great universe of unreality. For two worlds—the authentic natural and the manufactured human—to meet in that way went well beyond the monadic and evoked the transcendental.

That anyone can witness the moment and not be changed is well beyond me.

— § —

To care for people is not the same as to be loved by them. In fact, you know that you care, and that you love them, precisely at the moment at which you practice this caring without love in return.

— § —

It has been seventeen years since I raced down 900 East Street at 80 miles per hour feeling as though my life had begun to disintegrate.

I can honestly say that the disintegration has continued apace. It’s not that you ever manage to put the pieces back together; it’s that as you age, you become accustomed to, and skillful at managing, the piecemeal approach.

The disintegration—that is permanent. One version of me might even say that confronting, accepting, and learning to navigate the inherent disintegrative and disintegrated properties of self and everyday life are, when taken together, the essence of adulthood.

A simpler way to put it is to say that adulthood is learning to hurt while actively trying not to hurt back whenever possible, no matter the stakes.

— § —

Mortality. Mortality, mortality, mortality and time.

Everyone and everything dies. This is how we know that we are alive; death makes it so. Life is meaningless without mortality. There is no love, no excitement, no joy, no desire, no significance without endings.

But endings also render these things painful, at least by turns. At times, intolerable.

The Buddhists have long held that life is suffering. Taoists planted the seed of this wisdom, but Buddhists elevated it to its proper place in the human canon.

Suffering is the root of all that is good. That is the sad and terrible nature of all of human existince. And good it is—as well as, at times, intolerable.

Marketing.  §

Any patently absurd product has a reasonable chance of being mainstream a decade later.

— § —

“…they pray not just for their daily bread, but for their daily illusion…”

Remembering ‘The Farm.’  §

In 2004, I went on a road trip with —— to the Deep South.

I was half excited, half reluctant to go along on what was originally intended to be a solo trip. Excited because I love road trips, and I love adventure. Reluctant because ——’s entire reason for wanting to go on this very long journey was to drop in on and stay for a while at a leftover—but apparently still “operating”—hippie commune called “The Farm.”

The Farm itself promised to be a memorable experience, but going with —— made me nervous. This person was young, idealistic, from a wealthy Los Angeles family, sure that a hippie commune would be a kind of naturalist nirvana full of enlightened people, like Whole Foods only bigger and more authentic. To ——, the fact that all of the information that could be found about The Farm said that it was “open to all”—drop in whenever, come as you are—meant that it was an open and tolerant place of love.

I hadn’t been there, but I imagined the opposite. It was, after all, a political commune founded in the ’60s, in the South. I imagined a lot of aging, strident, remnant leftists with no place else to go, forgotten by the calendar and colored by countless seasons spent in America’s rural racial crucible. To me, the fact that The Farm claimed to be “open to all” meant that in all likelihood the press on the place hadn’t been updated in decades, and so few people ever actually tried to visit that nobody had thought it worthwhile to bother. I suspected they might not know what to do with us if we turned up out of the blue.

By the time we found ourselves driving through the South, I had seen interesting things on the road that felt more promising. I realized that I was losing interest, and tried to talk —— out of it, hour by hour. There were so many other other places, places not rooted in what was fringe mythology even for the ’60s, to stop and look at and explore. The Farm—remote, all but lost to contemporary history, radical in its day, way off the beaten path—now seemed like a risky bet. But —— wouldn’t be dissuaded and became increasingly frustrated at my alternative propositions.

“What the hell,” I finally thought to myself. “I’m game. It’s not me I’m worried about anyway.”

So turn up out of the blue we did, which, —— was sure, was the spiritually proper way to make such pilgrimages.

— § —

We pulled in very late in the afternoon after another long day of driving. It wasn’t much to look at; there really wasn’t any “there” there. Not that I was expecting a gift shop and amusement park rides, but we spent a certain amount of time trying to figure out which dilapidated door to knock on and even whether, in fact, we were actually there at all. A little collection of criss-cross dirt roads ran here and there around us, and we explored a few of them by car, me at the wheel. In ——’s impatience, they kept nagging me that we should “Get out, come on, come on, let’s go!” but it was unclear to me just where —— wanted me to stop the car, and what —— expected us to do once we did.

At length we spotted a thirty-something Mestizo-looking guy working on some sort of large mud-and-straw construction by himself, raising dust everywhere. He was covered from head to foot in grime and sweat and he hadn’t shaved in a long time. I parked the car and we got out to introduce ourselves.

He listened to our introductions, didn’t say much, and didn’t stop working. As he continued to move back and forth between piles of straw and wheelbarrows of mud, shovel in hand, he told us that we could stay “in the house” for the night, and that he would take us there in a moment. The moment became ten minutes, then thirty minutes, then forty-five minutes as we watched him work. Sometimes we’d try to start a conversation about what he was doing, but he never did say much.

Finally, after about an hour, sun going down, he put the shovel down and started to walk. We started to walk behind him, and he told us to get in our car to follow. So we did. He walked us back to a two-story house a few hundred meters away along a dirt road. We parked the car in the middle of some wild grass and brush, got out, and went inside.

— § —

There was no particular welcome at The Farm.

As we got through the door, the Mestizo fellow disappeared into another room. We stood there, in a dim sort of common area, in silence. A very large, muscular, forty-something African-American man in colorful sports gear, with broad (but short) dreadlocks sat on a table in the corner, arguing about Marxism with an older white man that looked like a vagrant version of Neil Young.

A heavy-set, middle-aged white man with a straw hat entered the room, then left again, then entered again, then left again, doing something that was keeping him busy—I didn’t have the presence of mind at the time to observe what.

Nobody seemed to notice us at first.

We finally sidled over to the African American man and the old white hippie arguing in the corner and introduced ourselves. The big man grunted and said a few short words that basically came to, “Just stay out of my space, that’s all I ask.” The old hippie started to try to fill us in on the discussion, but his LSD-founded stream-of-consciousness channeled Dustin Hoffman in Apocalypse Now and didn’t make sense to me.

We didn’t have any food on us, and it was late. Fact was that —— had been positive of a warm, bountiful welcome, a feast amongst friends to celebrate our arrival. I had secretly purchased a few supplies at our most recent gasoline stop, but they were stashed outside under the seat of our car. When, after a number of minutes, it was clear that even for those to whom we’d addressed ourselves we might as well be invisible, I suggested that we go get the food I’d bought, eat, then ask where we could sleep. In response, —— became furious that I’d insult the hospitality of our new friends.

We sat down at an empty picnic table at the center of the common area listening to what was becoming a heated argument in the corner about Lenin and Trotsky, and that somehow involved Seventh-Day Adventism as well. For a while, we did and said nothing, each looking off in our own direction. I was hungry and tired, but didn’t want to press the issue for fear of making things uncomfortable. I don’t know what —— was thinking at that precise moment.

Just as I was about to try to strike up a conversation with —— that would somehow fastidiously avoid anything related to Marxism, hippie communes, food, or sleep, the Mestizo guy came back into the room, now cleaner (though strangely, still not entirely clean) and asked if we had anything we could eat. I said that we didn’t, but that we also didn’t want to impose. He said it was no trouble at all and disappeared through a door on the far side of the room.

He came back carrying two grocery store granola bars and two ancient plastic cups full of water, set them on the table in front of us, and left again.

I opened mine and began to eat. So did ——, in silence.

— § —

Minutes of quiet chewing and two-thirds of the way through my granola bar later, the African American man suddenly stopped talking, stood up, and walked heavily and quickly toward us.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he asked.

“Just eating,” —— replied.

“I mean the tension,” he said. “I can sense your tension from here, from both of you. Why the fuck do you think it’s okay to come and eat our food and bring that tension shit in here with you. I don’t need it, man. I don’t need your fucking tension.”

From the corner, the hippie called out, “I don’t think they’re aware, man. It’s probably not their fault. They don’t know.”

“You,” he pointed to me, “and you,” he pointed to ——, “need to cut that shit out right now. Did you hear me? I told you I didn’t need that shit. You understand? Go outside. Take that tension outside. Come back inside when I’m asleep. Because I don’t need your fucking tension.”

“Sorry, man,” I said. “It’s not intentional. But I hear you. I’ll try to relax.”

“Thank you,” he said, satisfied. “That’s all I ask.”

And with that, he walked back over to the table in the corner, sat on it once again, and resumed his discussion with the old hippie. And strangely, with his thanks in hand, I did feel myself start to relax. Still looking for a thesis topic at the time, I decided that maybe we could play at being anthropologists and crack this nut yet, or at least turn ourselves into ersatz journalists, learn a thing or two, and write something interesting about The Farm for posterity. I was beginning to feel gritty and adventurous once again.

But I turned to find —— crying. “Let’s go,” they said. I paused, struggling for a moment to keep up with reality. There was nothing at all for miles and miles around.

“Did you hear me? I said let’s go!” Now —— was grabbing me by the arm.

I said a quick, loud goodbye to nobody in particular. The African American man stopped talking once again, turned his head toward me, and nodded in agreement. I’ll never forget how grateful he looked. The old hippie saluted. And out the door we went.

— § —

We climbed into the car, drove twenty miles out into the middle of nowhere in silence (a rather larger middle of nowhere would have to be crossed to reach civilization again, and we weren’t up for more that night) and slept by the side of the road. It was cold, but starry.

The next day, we hit the road and went back the way we’d come—all the way back, in one straight shot.

And The Farm was never mentioned again, until now.

— § —

Don’t know why this particular apocryphal memory came back to me the other day, or why I feel inclined to write about it. But here it is.

Do I regret going? Not at all. Sometimes you have an experience that teaches you things that can’t be put into words, and in which you meet people that you’d never have otherwise met, and that expand your horizons in strange and inexplicable ways.

It’s a memory, knocking around somewhere inside my skull. A memory of people that I now have to remind myself were and are real. With pasts, stories, hopes, and sadnesses.

I hope they’re all well, and that at least one or two of them is as mystified by me as I am to this day by them.

Clear out the dust.  §

Boring technical post.

I had a couple of hard lockups on my main machine over the last 48 hours. I looked at my temps (in a water cooled case) and found them to be running around 60 degrees celsius at CPU die during idle.

I realized I hadn’t opened my case and blown the dust out since October.

Just did it, and raised a cloud of dust that filled half the house for about ten minutes.

What are idle temps now? 30-32 degrees celsius. That’s a 30-degrees-celsius drop just from half a minute with canned air and the side of the case off. Way, way back in the day people used to talk about dust a lot in relation to computing, but that talk sort of evaporated in the ’90s.

I just got reminded that dust actually remains sort of a BFD. It can put a severe kink in your workday and seriously shorten the life of your tech, even in the 2010’s.

Texty blog, rah, rah, rah.  §

This place is pretty texty. I realize that. Thing is, I’m pretty texty.

I did try to add images in a couple of past incarnations of the blog, but it mostly didn’t work out. What it did was keep me from posting much, which is not the right sensibility for this venue, given the reasons for its existence in the first place.

— § —

Still adding here and there. Random posts now available (too often it leads to one-liners and similar pointless things from years back, but oh well) and a “most read” widget is now gradually filling up and tracking.

There is still some layout to fix. Notably, the AddThis links (social sharing) don’t render correctly on iOS, they break out of their container. I’ll fix that later. It’s coming.

Not sure what else I want to add. But I suppose there will be things…

Tears every time.  §

“I won’t forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand
I said I was a boy; I’m glad he didn’t check.
I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other’s lives out on the pirate’s deck.
And I remember that night
When I’m leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me it’s not safe,
someone should help me
I need to find a nice man to walk me home.

When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom,
Climbed what I could climb upon
And I don’t know how I survived,
I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.

And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too.

I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor come outside to say, “Get your shirt,”
I said “No way, it’s the last time I’m not breaking any law.”

And now I’m in this clothing store, and the signs say less is more
More that’s tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me
That can’t help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat

When I was a boy, See that picture? That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees
And I know things have gotta change,
They got pills to sell, they’ve got implants to put in,
they’ve got implants to remove

But I am not forgetting…that I was a boy too

And like the woods where I would creep, it’s a secret I can keep
Except when I’m tired, ‘cept when I’m being caught off guard
And I’ve had a lonesome awful day, the conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.

And so I tell the man I’m with about the other life I lived
And I say, “Now you’re top gun, I have lost and you have won”
And he says, “Oh no, no, can’t you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I’m alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you.”

— Dar Williams

Sleep?  §

It is four:something in the morning yet again and I am up and foggy and uncomfortable. It has been a number of days since I’ve slept well.

I remember reading a few different somewheres that the years of middle age are the hardest years of life—highest stress, highest levels of dissatisfaction, highest levels of personal risk in every dimension of life.

— § —

When I arrived at graduate school the first time and was busy exploring “advanced” and esoteric concepts in my subject area, as all new graduate students tend to do, I came across a subfield calling itself “precarity studies” and I had trouble wrapping my head around it.

“Precarity? In what?”

The subfield seemed to encompass a whole bunch of disparate issues and kept framing them in terms of “precarity.” I thought of it as a silly field then. I remember sitting in The Pub and making fun of it with someone as “the study of problems in general, oh no!”

I was in my mid-twenties then.

Now that I’m past forty, I get it. Precarity is a kind of aggregate value. It comes from many disparate sources, yes, but despite this diversity and disparity, it accumulates toward a kind of transcendental threshold of risk. It becomes an overriding concern in life, the level of precarity that you are confronting. Increments in precarity combine to magnify one another, to compound risk. Put them together in the right combinations at the right times, and the increase can be exponential. Because high risk demands risk-aversion in future action, a kind of conservatism in productivity, initiative, and investment results, which may then feed precarity further (another risk).

Of course, when precarity does give way to catastrophe, there are also significant social costs with knock-on effects for other proximal actors or for future generations.

A part of me that is now interested in precarity studies, retroactively, and finds simple calculators like this one to be fascinating:


— § —

I work in marketing but I struggle to turn that marketing skill around and apply it to myself. I am and/or should be highly marketable. I am and/or should easily possess the skills to market myself.

The problem is a cognitive one and a cultural one; I was socialized from a very young age in a region and in a class that felt it was untoward to “sell” or even to merely “compliment” oneself. These are things that mature people allow others to do for them. And despite the fact that others may happen to have nice somethings to say about you, you never solicit such a statements, and in fact deny them once made as a matter of modesty. It’s polite, see.

Giving myself permission to be successful despite the lowly station of my birth remains something of a mental block that I have to overcome, if I am to live well over the next decade or two. Absolutely essential.

— § —

I’ve been up for an hour now and it’s time to try to get some sleep once again.

I don’t want the night to end. These days, I never want nights to end, despite their recent unslept-ness.

Wisdom?  §

Sitting here in the fading afternoon light wishing wisdom could be the sort of thing that arrives with the right weather, or that can be collected consciously and put to use.

I could use some of it.

Instead, light is just light. It is neither wise nor not wise, it simply is, like me.

Like all of us, I suppose.

Pi and pragmatics.  §

A mere thirty-nine digits of pi enables the calculation of a sphere the size of the observable universe with an error the width of a single hydrogen atom.

Mathematicians have calculated pi to more than 13 trillion decimal places.

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“To get to a place of affinity between people, ambiguity must be resolved. For this resolution to occur, each must practice grace.”