Overprocessing

My computer is getting older, so it can’t handle running too many processes at once. But I still force it to hold fifteen tabs across two browsers that I really do intend to read soon, and some sheet music, and various Google Docs for writing projects, plus two different word processors for two different writing projects I’m simultaneously working on (with the help, obviously, of the Google Docs).

I was trying to also live-stream my church service, while flipping back and forth between all of this information (because the church service wouldn’t stream properly, so I kept getting bored, and that means more tabs need to be open to assuage my boredom, which further prevented the church stream from working.)

All at once it occurred to me: of course the live stream can’t load with all that demand on this old laptop. This is the exact same reason my brain often doesn’t seem to work anymore, and it shorts out when one more process is added (typically a noise is what takes me over the edge into cannot-function: this added stimulation completely fries me).

I’m always pulling myself in twenty directions, always dipping my toes in many little streams of information at once, asking my poor cognition to handle reading five books at a time and listening to podcasts and working and writing lots of unrelated things.

It makes sense that nothing makes sense, in conditions like that.

So I opened a new tab to write this insight down.

Apartment Landscapes

I really want to go somewhere right now. Basically anywhere.

You, too?

Alas, we cannot.

Instead let me take you on a tour of the apartment complex. And I’ll tell you about Mary,* while we’re at it.

As you get close to the building, you’ll notice a certain wildness on the sidewalks. This block has been described, not at all accurately, as the Times Square of this otherwise subdued city. There are lots of people milling around, hanging out in biggish groups despite everything, and engaging in all kinds of commerce. Sometimes there are other gatherings, too: book sales, religious revivals, heritage festivals, ad-hoc playgrounds for children, farmers markets,** etc, all happening in front of the more traditional commercial storefronts (your cellular companies, your ice-cream parlors, your nail salons, your fried chicken, your megabank).

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Quaroutine: Baking

Today we’re talking about baking. Specifically, sourdough.

Yeah, I know. 

In my defense, I was doing it before the pandemic (although not, I note for the record, before it was cool.) I have the marks against my TSA record to prove it from all the times I flew back and forth to Michigan with my little sourdough starter baby in a jar in my carry-on. 

“That’s a gel, ma’am,” they’d say, unscrewing the lid after testing it for bomb residue.

“No, it’s my son, and you’d better hand him back right this minute!”

I lost my son somewhere in the chaos of 2013-2014 and I hope he’s happy out there, wherever he is.

Anyway, now I’m starting again because there’s time, and I fucking love bread to an Oprah degree. 

This new son is named Stanislav. From his conception until today, he’s been confined to a too-small jar due to a severe jar shortage. Every time I fed him during his growing phase, he would overspill the top by morning. I’d wake up to find Stanislav having crested and overflowed his bounds.

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Conference calls in casual mode

You know conference calls, I trust?

(If not, teach me your secrets!)

In case you’re new to them, how shall I describe them? Perhaps I’ll say they’re a technology for many humans to try to talk at once, and somehow simultaneously also for no one to talk for quite a long and awkward time, from different locations. They’re also quite possibly the greatest-ever advance in human boredom-creation technology. 

If you’re a conference call veteran, then you’ll know the feeling of awkwardly announcing your presence, then waiting for fifty-five minutes absently refreshing your email while someone explains something in great detail that one other person on the twenty-person call needed to know, and then pretending to have enjoyed the experience when you, with a vast sigh of relief, say “Thanks, everyone!” and press the big red button just in time for lunch.

Now, introducing: conference calls in the time of COVID! 

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Quaroutine: Running

I’m working toward running a 10k

Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong: I like running. Specifically, I like the 47 hours after I’ve done it, when I feel pretty good and also don’t have to do it again yet. 

But after a long break from being in running form, my whole body struggles against the levity that is required to yeet myself forward across space and especially up a hill. I’m a bit bottom-heavy, like an orc*, and the physics just aren’t there. 

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QUIZ: In a time like this

In a time like this, you take one look at the news and you:

  1. Click on all the links and read the comments to make sure you are fully informed and thinking critically.
  2. Avert your eyes, then gently but firmly state a boundary to those nearby that you cannot share a room with news content in this season.
  3. Immediately tell someone what the fuck you just read about these fucking clowns.
  4. Notice a buzzing between your ears and everything goes a little green, as though some ghoulish children’s-YouTube video were living in your brain. Take a nap to resolve this.

In a time like this, your to-do list consists of:

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Quaroutine: Staring.

Now we come to one of the most important parts of the daily routine: 

Staring.

At what, you ask? 

Not to be rude, but clearly you’re not great at this yet. Don’t worry; there’s plenty of time to learn.

Back to first principles: we inessentials are not going much of anywhere. It’s sort of like being on a ship, if the inside of the ship were your dwelling and also there’s wifi and no rocking (we hope). 

Think about it: there’s a lot of time to look at stuff while on this boat ride.

Assuming you are awake about 16 hours every day, my back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that you will spend roughly 90 daily minutes with your eyes closed due to blinking.* Now, what will your eyes take in for the other 14.5 hours? 

If you’re anything like me, the answer is roughly 13.5 hours of a combination of laptops, phones, and TVs, what with all the working and hobbying and online workout classing and maintaining every relationship you’ve ever had over video call.

(Does this feel good? Not even a tiny bit. It feels a bit like dry cotton balls have been rubbing against my eyes, or perhaps my optic nerve, by the end of the day.)

So that’s the first kind of staring: gazing into the white-light void about a foot from your face all day. It seems to contain all the world, but it also sort of makes you nauseous and doesn’t let your brain finish any of its processes.

Plus, the allure of Content is fading a bit. Back in the old world when you were always falling behind on television, didn’t you wish something would happen that would require you to stay home for a while? You fantasized about having long uninterrupted stretches to binge-watch this or that, or to play through that one video game you bought years ago. But when it comes down to it, you just don’t even seem to have time for that, or it loses its luster immediately. And aren’t you having a lot of conflicted feelings kind of regretting that wish you once had for a break back when the world felt normal, but also basically hoping you’ll never have to go back to the office?

Just me?

Here’s a dog I mutually stared at for a while the other day.
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A modest argument.

Corporations are indeed people. 

I mean this on an emotional level, not a legal one, and I hope you will soon agree.

Have you ever talked to a corporation? Of course you have. As you’ll remember: they are coy. Like a sequestered fairy-tale princess, they do not permit to be spoken to directly. You must approach from a distance. You must find the allowable envoy, the maidservant at the castle gate who can take a message.

Or, rather, you must call the 800 number and navigate the inside of a computer using your phone’s keypad (a knightly quest!) before you can reach the inner keep.

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Phishers of men

Full disclosure: this blog is not (yet) an international phenomenon. 

However, it does get a fair number of comments (but not page visits, puzzlingly) from people based in other countries who would very much like for me to click on their links and probably provide my banking information.

So that’s something like being an international phenomenon.

I have a lot to learn from these commenters. They are expert in the rarefied arts of both marketing and flattery. 

Don’t get me wrong: some of them still post treatises about global conspiracies to kill us all through RFID chips, and some are tactless enough to come right out and say that they want me to click on lots of grody links to infect myself.

But many of them, wearing the guise of a credibly middle-America-sounding name like Bob Democracyman, have cleverly decided to provide compliments and no links. Just flattery. 

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Quaroutine: Cooking

It’s cooking-dinner time!* Join me!

I thought I’d show you how I whip up something tasty using some unusual pantry combinations.

Did I say “unusual”? Freudian slip. I meant “creative,” probably.

One of my favorite things to make is chili. This is primarily because it’s one of those words with almost no actual meaning, kind of like “sandwich” or “dumpling.” I find that anything between a soup and a solid can legally be called a “chili,” if you’re prepared to keep a straight face and stick to your story when you announce what you’re serving.

Today I’m starting with some beans I soaked last night.** We’ll just set them on to boil. That’s another nice thing about a chili: set it and forget it!

While we wait, here: let’s take a look at one I made before, as a sample.

Okay, fine, I know these are cheese balls. I just really wanted some cheese balls for breakfast. They may be to blame for my burgeoning nighttime ulcer and the scabs on the roof of my mouth but I see no reason to stop.

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