Writing about a potpourri of ponderings. Follow me on Mastodon!

The world Jasper Fforde creates in “Shades of Grey” is imaginatively as vibrant as an EDM festival (which would definitely be Leapbacked technology!)

Why would we have use, in 2023, for dystopian novels of the oppressive, 1984-like Panopticon style? Isn't the general population more concerned about the excess of sloth gripping the younger generations, pushing us collectively toward an “Idiocracy” future? Perhaps. However, despite living through the past two years of the worldwide pandemic, I found tremendous value in reading a fantasy novel and the relationships that sprouted forth.


Chances are you haven’t heard of Semmelweis Ignác Fülöp, also known as Dr. Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis. A Hungarian physician who made one of the most foundational contributions to modern public health: handwashing. This is a rendition of the futile story of Dr. Semmelweis and the Vienna Medical Society at Allgemeine Krankenhaus der Stadt Wien (Vienna General Hospital).

Vienna General

Childbirth has always been difficult. Nature does not prioritize the comfort or safety of the adult over the birth of the child. In the early 1840s, only about 5 in 1,000 women died in childbirth done by home birth or midwife. Many chose this method over exposure to “The Doctors’ Plague” in a hospital, where deaths from puerperal fever (also known as Childbed fever) were 1 in 6.

In 1846, Dr. Semmelweis was applying for a position at Vienna General, but there were two problems: he was Hungarian and Jewish. Surgery was reserved for the elite doctors, who had the right pedigrees and prayed to the right gods. He was hired, but not as a surgeon – he was to run the obstetrics division of the hospital.


I was watching an old Tested video where Adam was talking about “The Myth More Dangerous Than It Seemed”. A big lesson I took away was how Adam looks at safety in his work:

“You're never going to be able to make something safe. You can increase the margin of safety. And as long as you're holding to that, and you don't suffer the illusion that you have made something safe, then you stay in that mental state that allows you to deal with contingencies cause they're going to happen.”

I really like this take. The “margins of safety” call attention to the fact that things are never 100% safe. There is always that possibility of catastrophic failure in whatever situation you are in.


Sadly, I am already “falling off the wagon” on some of my New Year’s resolutions.

It isn’t even halfway through the month, and already I am feeling the massive inertia in my brain. It really does not want to expend the energy to build these new habits. I had set a rule to not miss more than one day in a row, and the first violation of that rule has come to pass. Determined not to make the same mistakes, I am looking at my response.

I have an interest in how the ways we talk to ourselves influence our thought patterns. A popular form of therapy is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which aims to reframe our responses and “inner voice” to emotions. It is quite helpful in certain circumstances.

In the interest of getting a new blog post out, and dissecting some of my psyche, I am going to explore reframing the first sentence.


Crap Art is a movement that seeks to “de-commodify” art, by urging a return to creative roots. The anti-elitist movement seeks to popularize to making “shitty” art. To give creative power back to the people. To cast out the gatekeepers and emphasize art as human expression, something inherent to everyone. Their website says it well:

The name is meant to sound honest and down-to-earth; to make you think, “I can make crap art!” perhaps. And you can! Anyone can participate in the movement, as long as the attempt is honest.

Art is a subject I both feel compelled to talk about and feel totally out of my element critiquing. Beyond the snide “art is subjective” that I often say, it really does feel inaccessible sometimes. Which is the entire point of this movement, started all the way back in the early 2000s. Those who try and make art status symbols of class and wealth miss the point. Art is the most egalitarian of pursuits, because it is a way to manifest in the physical world the slippery and formless emotions we harbor inside.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. has an exhibit of cave paintings. They note that children’s handprints may be the oldest example of art we have. Art literally is a part of our bodies.

I am, in a way, trying to participate in making “crap art”. Not intentionally, of course. But, like Ira Glass says, there is a gap between your taste and your ability. The work you produce doesn’t live up to your standards. I have read a lot of great writing. And I am trying to produce some myself. But I am still in the beginner gap. And the only prescription for that is more work, more deliberate practice.

That is the takeaway: deliberately practice by making crap art.

Day 8 of #100DaysToOffload. Many of these recent posts have been kind of meta. Not sure what to make of it, just an observation.

I am obsessed with SIAMÉS. I found them recently from YouTube’s music video recommendation algorithm. The machine hit the nail on the head. Every song I have listened to of theirs is catchy, with a solid bassline, guitar and synth riffs, meaningful lyrics, and tight production overall.

One song in particular, “No Lullaby”, is squeezing a lot of dopamine from those brain cells.


My stomach punched my throat as we lost lift. I closed my eyes. We banked sharply right turning completely upside down as our pilot frantically tried to regain control, pushing buttons, turning knobs, fighting with the stick. I could see the ground every half second, as the tailspin intensified. I gripped my seat and prayed it would be quick.

I opened my eyes, glad to see the Rocky Mountains beneath me, and the plane still level. My then-girlfriend, Jewel, was looking at me quizzically, but I forced a grimace. I looked out the window nonchalantly and tried to keep my hands from white-knuckling the vinyl seating. Everything was going to be ok.


As I mentioned earlier, I am starting off the new year with a rousing cabal of habits. I have done research on and off into habits and self-discipline. However, it hasn’t really ever stuck for me.

A popular writer in the habit field is James Clear, with his novel Atomic Habits. After skimming, and looking for various action points, I was left a little dissatisfied. I have run into the ideas of habit stacking, conditioning, etc. before. And I have tried them again and again. This year, I am trying something different.

While these techniques have undoubtedly worked for others, I have simply found no success with them. Whenever I focus on making something a “habit”, my brain immediately becomes viscerally disinterested in whatever it is. I tried this with yoga a year or so ago. I wanted to build a 30-day habit. But after 3 days, the thought of even unrolling the mat was too much. So I dropped it.

Around July of last year, I decided to try again with yoga, but this time was different. Before, yoga was decidedly a physical exercise that I went into with goals of increasing flexibility, easing pain, and getting stronger. However, this time, yoga was more centered around spirituality. In fact, I wrote down in a journal why behind why I wanted to do yoga. Maybe this is ridiculously obvious, but I had never sat down and worked out my actual motivations for the habit. Further, the motivations that I did have in the past were always shallow, often related to some vague goals of physical improvement or intellectual advancement. However, this time, I really wrote down exactly what I was hoping to gain and how yoga could help me in life.

Now, when I unroll the mat, it isn’t just to check a box. It is a chance to slow down, recenter myself, and practice physical gratitude for my body. The increased strength and flexibility are secondary benefits. There is a deeper, more human meaning that is affirmed every time I practice.

I think this is also why discipline is so off-putting to me. I don’t want to force myself to do things (reasonably, of course; sometimes it is unavoidable). For habits, I want to improve, I am now focused on actually searching for the deeper reasons that I hope to do them.

This post is day 5 of the #100DaysToOffload challenge.

I am a big fan of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It might seem cheesy, but I really enjoy the feeling of finding a word that encapsulates an experience. I have toyed with making poems out of them too, just to see what feelings arise. One word I have come back to a lot is adronitis.

In other words, I know we're going to be best friends, let's get into the good stuff!

Adronitis is feeling an instant connection when you meet a new person, but being dismayed about all of the formalities that need to occur before you can get to the more satisfying “meat” of the person. Their history, hopes, dreams, fears, pleasures.

A definition from TDOS is:

Adronitis (n.): frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone—spending the first few weeks chatting in their psychological entryway, with each subsequent conversation like entering a different anteroom, each a little closer to the center of the house—wishing instead that you could start there and work your way out, exchanging your deepest secrets first, before easing into casualness, until you’ve built up enough mystery over the years to ask them where they’re from, and what they do for a living.

I think the most obvious example is in meeting someone new, and feeling that gleeful little lump in your chest that they might understand the same weird things you do. And you want to jump into all the strangeness, but not so fast as to put them off. However, I have found that mentioning this fact (going meta) can speed up this waiting time.

I think this feeling can even cut across the animal kingdom. For example, if you get a new cat, they can be standoffish for a little bit. After a few days/weeks of constant feeding, they become a bit more cuddly and less skeptical (though it never seems to fully go away…).

Day 4 of the #100DaysToOffload challenge. I am glad to be participating. However, this post was definitely not up to my internal standards. But, here it goes anyway!

Translation courtesy of The Poetry Foundation


By C. P. Cavafy

Translated by Edmund Keeley


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