Not Posting So Much

Never was but I occasionally wanted my blog to be a Thing. However …

The interactive side of the Internet has worn thin on me of late. This is good because it means I have shifted my attention in more productive and positive directions. I don’t really care about Facebook conversations like I used to, though I still check in because I’ve become good at ignoring and/or not attracting negativity and dumbshittery and some real gems do emerge once that mud is scraped away. I scroll Instagram but it’s mostly just to be in a daze for a few minutes and occasionally comment on some pithy thing one of my few remaining beautiful woman friends says so they think I’m not just an old creep but a smart old creep. Blogging seems to me a misuse of writerly energy because I’m actually making progress on my book and dare I say it, building momentum. Indeed, while I sit here blathering this I could, you might say should, be working on that instead.

Bu-u-ut I’m a dilettante. I’m interested in and good at a lot of things, while I’m committed to and really good at none. I’m better at dilettanting when I don’t use up precious time blogging or what have you. Oh gawd, now that I’ve started I have lots to say about the what-have-you. Now that I’ve started I could sit here and blather all day. Good thing it’s a pretty day out and I have to change the motor oil in my Jeep.

By Zeus

Kerim Bey: “I’ve had a particularly fascinating life. Would you like to hear about it?”

Benz (muffled): No.

Kerim Bey: “You would?”

A conversation, whose context has since drifted away. Memory of an image. A search, high and low, for that image. Discovery. Download. Here it is.

This picture cracks me the hell up.

An hour or two into 2016. I appear to be having thoughts. I probably am, but this particular nymph was beyond reach and I had my own Hera anyway.

I have decidedly mixed feelings about the past, as do we all. Epically unwise decisions with unanticipated repercussions that continue to echo real-time. The trick is to stop giving them my attention. Hard to do.

Whatever the story behind this instant in time, it clearly was not in and of itself an unwise decision.

How I Unfriended 4.7% of my FB People

I never actually decided to quit Facebook. I only decided to improve my life, and talking about quitting Facebook was a part of doing that. What I really decided to do was stay away from most of it and continue to enjoy the parts that work.

Part of this included thinning out my people list. There seems a lot of deadwood, and some people are just too annoying.

At the top of the unfriending to-do list was a certain personality I have struggled with for twenty years across various platforms. I have struggled rather than simplified because of many seemingly different reasons, but they boil down to an instinct that we are in fact friends and not just contacts, and that his relentless unpleasantness towards me arises from a combination of his (or our) unresolved personal pain and some traits we unexpectedly have in common. Whenever I thought, ok, that’s enough, I’m unfriending this motherfucker once and for all, something inexplicable would stay my hand.

Loyalty, perhaps, A desire to avoid looking weak. A desire, above all, to somehow find the words that will inspire some self-reflection that in turn leads him to be less of a damn bully. The bullying doesn’t harm me, obviously. I stand my ground perfectly fine. I just always end up reflecting on how miserable he is and that no one has ever inspired him to do something about it. And yes, I see quite clearly how arrogant this all looks of me. But while nothing I’ve said about him doesn’t apply also to me, I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about him.

Some days ago I thought about posting something — whatever it was now doesn’t matter, I didn’t do it, but it was a really fuckin’ good article in the WSJ — and very soon I imagined what this particular individual would have to say about it. This led down a bit of a rat-hole of imagined disagreements and deflections that while imagined are born of experience. This in turn ruined my mood for the morning (I’m a moody motherfucker, in case that needs mentioning, though I almost always climb out of it when there are other humans around). This, in turn, led me to think about not bothering to post. And that, quite naturally, led me to think, well, if the existence of one person is going to affect my decision to post something, then it’s time to get rid of that person.

The next step was to resolve that a) I won’t unfriend during a controversy because then I’m just reacting to that controversy and b) while I’m at it let me get rid of a bunch of other people too. I set an arbitrary goal of one hundred.

SO (deep breath) I found out how to download my friends list in HTML, pasted the browser view into Excel, found that the format of listing the date they were friended under each name instead of next to it made the list unsortable, pasted it instead into Word, found a way to replace the carriage return between each name and date with a tab, exported that to a text file (perhaps unnecessarily but I like to make sure only the ASCII is carried over), imported that into Excel such that the tabs would delimit a new column, used various simple formulae to convert the Facebook date format into something Excel can use since sorting by date friended can be more useful than by name, created columns with which I could categorize each individual by what part of my life they were mostly in, used filtering to view only each of those in turn, and marked in an additional column where people were candidates for deletion. I also used COUNTIF() to count up the marks in each category because, of course, who wouldn’t. I intended to put each person in just one category though several could properly exist in more than one. I’m not sure I did that part right because the sum of the numbers shown below disagrees with my friend count per FB but eh whatev.

I looked at every single person and marked every one I could. My informal goal was to shitcan 100 people. At the end of this exercise I had identified 23. 23 represented 4.7% of my friends list. “What the fuck?” I said with some expression. But I had done my due diligence and any further ejections would require too much thought and time so 23 it was.

I happily went through my Unfriend list, spacing people along the way. These were folks who either are not a part of my life or are just annoying in some way. “A part of my life” is loosely defined, thus the remainders include a lot of Burners whom I never see these days but might again, and for reasons that defied the moment’s thought each one deserved if they deserved even that, most of them wound up staying. I think there was only one I know personally rather than as some peripheral party-meet, and he went because he always makes fart jokes and is 4x to 5x the age you have to be in my opinion to predictably make fart jokes.

OK, so 23 names. I got through 22 and guess who was the last one? And I stopped. The same old reluctance took over. We’re actual friends, in some way. We’re not randos or acquainted just through some common interest. Known each other a long time. I felt, again, that I was betraying myself in some way to scrape him out. I allowed myself some time to ponder.

In truth, he never acts like a friend. I only hear from him when he has some often-scathing critique of my opinions or my means of forming them. When I finally get through the exchange enough to clarify why my opinion is correct, or at least valid, he goes silent. Never once has he indicated a willingness to listen or to learn or to at least accept that from my perspective my view is valid. None of that. And I thought, well, aren’t I cutting ties here? Not just to him but to all toxic individuals (I dare say he may be the last toxic person left in my life), not to mention people such as my artist former partner, who is not toxic but still needs to be further away (I waffle on that, long story, duh). Point is I’m cutting ties these days. No more negative hangers on.

So, out he went too.

Twenty-three down, four hundred sixty eight to go. Well, no, I’ll always keep at least the 31 in Column C above.

Wasn’t this interesting? Thank you for your persistence.

Somebody

I wrote, “I respond very deeply when we can be children and run off to play.” But I didn’t send it.

T told me it was hella snowing, up where she lives. I said I wanted to be there. “Wanna take video of train passing by in snow storm.”

She said, “I wish you were here too darlin … would close my computer, bundle up real good and we would go watch for the train.”

I feel this so deep within my chest. Something about our inner children holding hands and going to have fun together resonates within me so strongly my whole body rings like a big old bell.

I didn’t send it.

This is because when I think of inner children holding hands and going off to play, I think not just of me and T. Mostly I think of me and S. We loved each other so god damn much. When you were hurt as a child and tucked that hurt child safely away, placed in a dark room far back inside, and decades pass while you pretend to have grown up, it’s unbelievably wonderful to find another tucked away hurt inner child, a child who feels safe with yours and with whom yours feels safe, and you can run off together and play and explore and love and be happier than you knew possible.

Some of me is still there. But the rest of me sees her more for who she really is, a rich combination that has significant proportions of self-interest and selfishness and little sympathy for people who expect anything of her that they can, and probably should, do for themselves. For a fully healthy man this isn’t bad at all. But I was never there and am not certain I ever will be, in ways that work for her. It only matters I get there in ways that work for me.

Some of this was bundled up in what I wrote. I knew T would see it, so I didn’t send it.


Maybe I should write all this out and send it to S in a week or so because that’s when she has a birthday. I wrote something two years ago that she didn’t see until the following year, and she responded lovingly but not very personally. I think that even by then, and certainly by now, she got over whatever wounds were left open by our failure to reconnect, and that I have been moved into that category we used to jokingly look forward to whenever that song would play by Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know”.


So I’m alone in this office and I watch the video and it has me choking sobs, hoping no one happens to come in from the shop. Fuck. Just gotta work.

Go

I’m not really in a spot, not worse than usual, and better than many. But as I keep going forward I become more and more aware of just what is wrong. This is a good thing. It also makes me more sensitive to the effects of bad habits I haven’t broken from, habits that I can’t always commit to breaking because from an objective standpoint they don’t look exactly “bad”. FB, for ex. All I do with it anymore is check in on History groups (California, Northern California, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento, the 680 Corridor, etc) which is never a bad experience, and exchange in banter with various old hometown people and some of the remaining folks from misc.writing. It’s interesting that the latter, culled of the less agreeable elements, form a fun group, while my other big crowd, the local Burning Man / Arts scene, are really much better taken in person.

No, what happens is, as I become more and more aware of my own bullshit, the chronic depression, a recent diagnosis of mild bipolarism, the face to face misunderstandings that round out my neurodiversity trifecta — there are connections I make better than anyone, and there are connections everyone makes but me, and these have been true since I was a kid — I see what makes it worse and what does not and discover certain habits I haven’t broken, well, as fun as they are, they gotta break.

There’s an interesting correlation between everything being great, and everything not being great when I can observe that oh by the way I spent some time in the past six hours on social media. How that shit triggers the dark side I don’t know, but trigger it it does. So does reading the news, especially these days, so I’m cutting that out too. But I need social interaction. The pandemic and its “social distancing” have been a blessing by and large, but it would do me a world of good to hang out with fair-weather friends at a bar now and then. This is an interesting thing to discover. I spent a lifetime, especially the past few years when public online self-examination became an Olympic sport, convinced I was an introvert, and dreaming of being snowed in in a cabin all winter. I’m not so sure anymore. For an introvert I’m pretty dang not-introverted. I think my perspective of introversion was more a response to the over-populated chaos I constantly threw myself into than anything inherent.

Dust: “Facebook is the antithesis of [human interaction], the fake-food Twinkie of human interaction, nourishing as a mouthful of vaguely toxic plastic beads. Like all illusions, it it scratches something in us that we may not have even known was itching — the long-evolved human instinct for the tribe. But it’s not, really. It’s just another pretty chunk of plastic dressed up in sparkles to convince our chimp brains that there’s something interesting over there to look at.”

It’s the fake-out that gets us. We need it, or something vaguely like it, and it’s what we can get, so we swallow it up; and then after digestion there’s nothing to show but a mild case of the farts and a bad smell, not to mention the reminder that some people you had forgotten were idiots really are idiots. But it’s a faux-social distraction and when a brain like mine needs distraction — which is all the time: I haven’t actually been able to stay on one subject for more than about ten minutes, ever, with two exceptions — when the neurons are kicking at the door and need to be let out lest they crap all over the carpet — it’s way tooooo easy to just go take a harmless look, just for a minute. And that mysterious process kicks in yet again whereby a couple hours later I’m ready to drive myself and the next three cars ahead of me into that overpass support, yeah, here we go …

So, being human, I’m pretty good at half-measures. As half-measures go, a social medium I have fallen into is actually a pretty good alternative. There are real people, there are no politics, and it fools the monkey-brain like no one’s business. It’s worthy of an essay unto itself, so no more hints here (this isn’t a promise to write it up), though I will allow that there are no exceptions to the rule about limiting one’s time online.

Whatever the hell I meant to babble about, this is what we got. Points were, [A] thanks for the encouraging thoughts, [2] things aren’t nearly so bad as they were say a year ago, and [ζ] in some ways I’ve hidden, often in plain sight, all my life and I’m sick of that shit.

It’s like there’s a house next door that’s always been quiet and now there’s a bunch of shouting and you go uh oh and your partner goes oh good and you say why and they say it sounds like they’re doing something about it.

Still babbling. Yeah, blogs are better. This’n’ll go forward a bit yet.

Stop

I’ve got to stop going on Facebook because all it is is a place to pretend you’re okay. Pretense isn’t solution.

The Old Drafting Table

When I was twelve I took a drafting class. We learned all the usual tools — triangles, protractors, pencils, paper — that are now completely unusual. I had a proven propensity for drawing and this just made it stronger. So within a year my uncle got me a drafting table.

It was a big solid thing of oak, with a flatfile drawer beneath two standard-sized drawers and a plywood surface that tilted up with the support of screw-tightened rods. It resided in my bedroom throughout high school. When I moved on to a series of apartments around the East Bay and then in 1983 to Sacramento, I left it behind, as it was big and heavy and there was never any room.

In 1986 my mother sold her house and undoubtedly made me decide if I wanted it. I did, of course. I’ve no idea where I put it at the time. I was renting a room in a house, after which I was living with my girlfriend and then wife, and I have no memory of it being there. Yet it was in the house we built in 1999, so I did solve that problem, I just don’t remember exactly when.

I left that home in 2010 and it came with me. I made room for it in apartments, and then bought a house. At the beginning of 2014 I set it up as a workbench in my garage. It did its job admirably for years. The drawers’ contents were more or less defined, and the surface acted as horizontal surfaces do in every garage, for ever-shifting uncategorized storage and dust collection.

Seven years later, at the start of 2021, I was alone in the house and was beginning to recognize that I could take the long-empty rooms over for myself. And then the woman I had bought the house to live in with and who later moved on asked if I wanted an old table I had put in our former studio downtown. It was a rough but sturdy old thing built by my ex-wife’s grandfather. I hitched my little trailer to my little car and went and got it. New visions of rearrangement danced in my head.

The old table was obviously for the garage, which meant my old drafting table could come inside. I did what for years I had thought the impossible and found a home for every object on the drafting table. That home was the trash for some of it but not all. I then disassembled the thing, and reassembled it in one of my spare bedrooms, the one with good light for having west-facing windows. I already had an art project underway and now I had a studio with a table in it. Win!

While reassembling it I found what I remembered finding an indeterminate number of decades ago and then forgot about. There were labels.

The manufacturing label indicates it came from a company founded in 1878 by a woodworker who had been asked to make type with which to print posters. He made them of wood using a foot-powered scroll saw on his mother’s back porch. Then he caught the wave of newspapers and print shops spreading across the land and ended up with a big huge factory. The company went from wooden type to drafting tables and now makes laboratory furniture. The other label tells us it was U.S. Navy property for a time, probably including WWII.

There was a third label.

Thanks to the internet it took only a few seconds to find that Swan Hall is on the grounds of Occidental College in Los Angeles. A few more seconds revealed a gentleman by this name who was substantial enough to merit an online biography. It shows he entered that college in 1952, became a Presbyterian minister after graduation, and followed his mission around California as well as in Thailand. His focus was on low-income single mothers, migrant farmworkers, and refugees. He wound up in Santa Rosa and died in 2015 at the age of 81.

I got the table in I would guess around 1971. My uncle probably acquired it through some sequence of events kicked off by a house-cleaning. I don’t know if it came to him by accident or if he made a concerted search through cast-off furniture ads, but I still appreciate him for it.

Today it is a horizontal surface with nothing on it but the parts for my son’s Xmas present. The making involved my creative brilliance (natch!) enacted in CAD and implemented in baltic birch via laser cutter, and so on involving glue and paint and artsy shit like that. Rev 1 was for the son who came up for Xmas, and together we determined the changes for Rev 2, for the one who didn’t. Both revs are prototypes of an object I could easily productize but for one detail.

I still can’t believe both my children are engineers, but it comes in handy sometimes, such as when I need to improve a design.

The detail? So far the design is too labor intensive and I couldn’t sell any for enough money to compensate for my time. Yes, I will look into correcting that but the fact is some things never get made because they’re just not cost-effective. Hey, I never said I was an actual artist. But I do have a studio, and a bitchin’ worktable.

But These Words

Remember Usenet? Here’s something I posted in 2002. I had saved it into my journal, is why I still have it. Several lifetimes ago, this was.


A sunny autumn’s afternoon, bright and cool. My sweatshirt had absorbed
more than enough solar energy and lay somewhere on the driveway. My
eyes were occupied with a yellow-white flame seen through dark green
goggles, my ears with the flame’s roaring hiss and a Staind album
blasting from the garage. It was turned up loud so I could hear it.

You mother came up to me
She wanted answers only she should know
Only she should know

The flame danced around a cracked piece of steel in the frame of my
thirteen-year-old Cherokee. It’s a Jeep with a hatchback. The broken
piece was supposed to hold up the pneumatic hatchback supports. No
frame, no support, no hatchback. Damn thing weighed about a hundred
pounds and I was tired of holding it up with my head while using the
cargo area.

It wasn’t easy to deal
With the tears that rolled down her face
I had no answers ’cause
I didn’t even know you

Behind me was an A-frame ladder. The ladder held up a crutch left over
from some long-ago injury. The crutch held up the hatchback. The
hatchback was poised over my head, heavy with gravitational energy.
Just a nudge, and the thing would come down and knock me around but
good. I kept my big feet clear of it.

But these words
They can’t replace
The life you…
…the life you waste

Watching through dark green lenses I moved a blue wedge of flame, trying
to braze the busted pieces back together again. I hadn’t really welded
anything in twenty years so it was a nice exercise in practicing on the
patient. A couple little balls of molten brass dropped and burned
little black holes in the old carpet between ancient stains and
dog-hairs. I got smart and laid down a spare piece of plywood..

How could you paint this picture?
With life as bad as it should seem
That there were no more options for you

I heard the slams of car doors in the distance, and laughing voices.
Visitors? Not for me, for the neighbors. It was Sunday, about
lunchtime. A good hour for fellowship and a soda after church. The
welding rod bubbled and flowed. The gas flame hissed and sang. Staind
sang and screamed.

I can’t explain how I feel
I’ve been there many times before
I’ve tasted the cold steel of my life crashing down before me

My neighbors are nice people. A well-churched family, wonderful
children, prosperous, and keepers of a fine lawn. The oldest boy works
hard, always under the eternal loving guidance of his father. Mowing
the grass, washing cars. An A student, a little reserved, slightly
stooped as if the schoolbooks (or other burdens of teenagerdom) never
really go away. His life is much gentler than the father’s had been by
all accounts. The father had escaped a drill sergeant son’s life and
become a doctor, and a Christian, and a hell of a nice guy. He’s damn
sure his kids have a better childhood than he did.

But these words
They can’t replace
The life you…
…the life you waste

I looked around the flame, through green glass and a dirty windshield.
People strolled up our shared driveway, happy people, neatly dressed.
Shaking hands, little waves, polite children, beautiful happy people on
a beautiful happy day. No change of expression but a glance over my way
where there’s fire and noise and, well, music.

Did Daddy not love you?
Or did he love you just too much?
Did he control you?

I held the torch down and away, and pulled up my goggles to inspect the
joint I’d tried to make. An uneven brassy splotch like a metal spitwad
clung to the hatchback post, surrounded by sooty stains. Hot metal
cooked the paint and smoked. It looked like it would hold.

Did he live through you at your cost?
Did he leave no questions for you to answer on your own?

The happy knot of people walked by, up towards the other house, towards
the serenity of the doctor’s wife’s perfectly clean living rooms. My
torch hissed. I pulled the goggles back down.

WELL FUCK THEM!
AND FUCK HER!
AND FUCK HIM!
AND FUCK YOU!
For not having
The strength in your heart
To pull through!

Music echoed off our houses.

I’ve had doubts!
I have failed!
I’ve fucked up!
I’ve had plans!
Doesn’t mean
I should take
My life with
My own hands

I looked up and they were gone.

But these words
They can’t replace
The life you…
…the life you waste

But these words
The don’t replace
The life you…
…the life you waste

No doubt the children were inside serving cookies.

The Radical Center

It’s never been so fashionable to dis on Republicans. That will pass. Meanwhile I do like seeing the general population acknowledge there are many Republicans who never really accepted Trump and some who actively worked against him.

I was registered as Republican for thirty years. I believed in supply-side economics. I supported the Iraq war as a means to take down a likely nuclear arms dealer instead of add another dictator to our bundle of golden leashes. I had an understanding of the Second Amendment that kept me firmly in support of it.

Then the Tea Party, whose general tenor I appreciated, was co-opted and transformed by big money, and Obama’s election told Republicans to try something new. So they jumped on the new version of the Tea Party bandwagon, and a weird sort of derangement became the new order. By 2010 I’d seen enough of conservatives taking Sarah Palin seriously and I knew it was time to stop registering as Republican.

I just found an article from 2008 that explains the Sarah Palin Effect nicely. Also complimentary mention of Biden.

Sarah Palin “Represents A Fatal Cancer To The Republican Party”

The reasons why she was a fatal cancer have played out over the intervening twelve years. Yesterday’s debacle at the Capitol was a result. Unfortunately it was not a culmination. We’ll be seeing more of this sort of thing. Now that they see that government will be taken over by Communists, legions of false patriots will energize and assemble and arm up like we’ve never seen before.

That’s not a Republican thing at all. But the rioters identify as such, and the GOP has the tough task ahead of redefining itself in a way that doesn’t enable madness yet also doesn’t cause a fracture that can’t win elections. It will be interesting to watch their struggles.

A much toned-down but similar struggle is coming for the Democrats. Progressives, who are increasing in number, held their noses to vote for Biden / Harris. Like the right wing, the left wing is going to grow in influence and more divisions will appear. We could be heading for a four-way split.

We’re not. I’m just saying we could. At worst, it will be three-way, with the wings looking on with disdain at the centrists of both parties who have realized they need to work together. That center is where I stand, definitely more Left than Right, but unwilling to turn my back on the other side. Turns out this is called Radical Centrism. It’s a thing. But what sort of slogan would gain attention?

Can’t We All Just Get Along

Don’t Worry Be Happy

I’m Okay, You’re Okay

Can’t imagine why I’m not rolling in political sloganeering dough.

Three Blue Coffee Cups

I have three blue coffee cups. They are all interesting. This is not only because they are an attractive shade of blue. What sets these cups apart is that they are all logo’d by technology corporations and yet have no web URLs on them.

The first was acquired by my father in the 1980s when he was a user of WordPerfect. Once I learned to use it I really liked that program. Did all my writing etc on WordPerfect until 1992 when I got a new job. The new company was switching over to Windows from a DOS environment, and WP was no longer an option. So I learned to use Word and converted everything over. In time I got used to the WYSIWYG thing and came to prefer it. Honestly though, I think a lot of writing is made better by not knowing or caring what it is going to look like, but just by attending to the words and how they’re used.

Today Wordperfect has an office suite that, from their website, looks pretty good. Not that I can tell from their website. It mainly looks pretty good because it’s not Microsoft.

The second is from Schlumberger Corporation, best known for oilfield services and equipment. But when I joined Intel in 1995 they also made chip-testing equipment. I was hired to turn my manufacturing engineering background into semiconductor testing, and my team’s part of it was to fully test new ICs fresh out of the oven. Our product was fabbed in Malaysia and packaged in Ireland and the test scripts were mostly developed in Israel. We put all this together in a machine bigger than a Volkswagen that tested out a piece of silicon smaller than a thumbnail. Looking back, I rather enjoyed that. Looking back, I wish I’d been more engaged and less distracted. The programming was an interesting challenge and the job provided great exposure to international interactions. But I couldn’t entirely engage. I have spent my entire life in survival mode and in hindsight, my performance at Intel (and everywhere else) reflected that.

“Fabbed” means fabricated or manufactured, where they lay the layers of doped silicon down to make the chip. “Packaged” means assembled into the little plastic or ceramic casing with all the legs on it that plugs into a circuit board. I got the cup at a two-week training in the South Bay. Here I admit the constant need for distraction as mentioned earlier and the immature state of mind that posed one of the many challenges to my marriage led me to discover the South Bay didn’t have any good strip clubs. It probably did a decade earlier when there was a lot of new money down there and the 70s weren’t so far in the past.

The third is from DDI Inc, which was much smaller back then than the global corp it is now. When I was a circuit board designer at Intel they were one of our go-tos for board fab, advice on impedance management, and layout if we’re stuck for layout resources. The guy who managed our account and was likely the chief manager of all accounts was a super nice guy about my age who was a Tower of Power fan and gave me the cup at some point. That it doesn’t have web stuff on it tells me it’s from the late 90s when web stuff was beginning to show up on things but wasn’t yet ubiquitous.

I don’t have a follow-up paragraph for DDI because they too were in the South Bay and it was a few years later and I have zero stories to tell about strip clubs. Not that I have any that are interesting anyway.

Now wasn’t that a fine detour through my cupboard? I opened it and saw the cups and went hmm. I had no idea it was going to lead me to actually be nostalgic about my corporate life or remind me of that brief period of time when there was some surprisingly good writing in alt.sex.strip-clubs.

Settling the Chaos

On my way out of Mt. Shasta yesterday I visited a high school friend who moved up there thirty years ago. Being a couple old men out on the front porch, we talked about all sorts of things, from old friends we’ve come back into contact with to the annual local forest fires to our shared experience of having been long-time Republicans who evolved into flaming liberals. One thing that stands out for me is mentioning that I seem to have attracted chaos all my life.

Chaos? I don’t know if I’m ADHD or have just, for other reasons, always sought a measure of chaos, but while I’m easily distracted and have a hard time settling in to get much done, a lot of that distraction I sought directly. This was true when I was a child, through school, through the present day. I barely graduated high school and took seven years to get my four-year degree and another seven to get the two-year degree that eventually followed. My high school girlfriend was an orphan bouncing between foster homes, my wife constantly beset with demons, and my most significant post-divorce girlfriend clinically ADHD with significant childhood trauma to work through. In that life I embraced the inherent chaos of a six-child household and continuous experimental efforts towards establishing her career as an artist, always a very unclear path. Meanwhile my work habits included frequently going online for distractions, beginning with a borrowed modem well before I got any hint of usenet. So on and so forth.

A lot of this has no more to do with seeking “chaos” than with simply needing distraction from whatever I’m doing, which is similar to rarely being present, which is basically turning away from the outside world and spending as much time as I can in my inner world. Additionally there was often a hu-u-uge amount of codependency involved. So, yeah, I had and have lots of things going on inside. Is that a form of chaos?

So now, new year, most of that shit behind me, I want to convert some of that chaotic (or undirected) energy into doing what I want, and productively. I was productive enough as a corporate engineer and I’ve managed to create some neat-o things. But did I rise in the company? Did I really get somewhere with my writing? Did I restart as an amateur musician? Do I have a functioning workshop as a result of actually making things? To all those, sort of maybe sometimes, but no, not really.

So, how? Fuck if I know. Try and be more conscious of how I use my time. Be aware when I’m descending into something unuseful such as Facebook or smartphone games (or writing blog posts? hmm). Practice the discipline to set aside time for specific things and respect the time I’ve set aside (and respect therefore myself). Things like writing, and designing / making, and working better at my job (which requires me to display the leadership that seems missing from management but that’s a whole nother subject). You know, stuff that’s harder to do than Facebook and smartphone games and writing blog posts. But I am going to do more (maybe) of the latter anyway. Doesn’t hurt to get this stuff out there.