Accidia occidere

Follow the adventures of a lone nerd as he fights a losing battle against Apathy.

Self-improvement, trial-and-error style.

Alright, obviously this ain’t been postville the latest weeks, this is because of… something something. Yep, i’m just lazy. Also I have had a couple of weeks of awesomeness brought on by the coming of summer in my humble country; I have been outside running, playing basketball and enjoying myself.

However the brighter the sunshine, the deeper the shadows. (As perceived by human eyes at least.) What I mean is that that the apathy is still a  factor, more so than ever. I rarely go completely cold for more than a couple of days, this time it was almost a week, feelsbadman.jpg. However, when one is hidden from the sun, one must learn to enjoy the shadows, and I am slowly learning.  The lack of emotions and general disinterest in anything outside of myself can be used to improve myself, hopefully. I’m  working on it, the best-case scenario would be if I could use the cold cycles to focus extra on my interests, something which is hard when emotions are more in control. The problem is that for some things I have no motivation at all when I am apathetic, I’m suspecting this is because they pose no actual challenge to me. When I am normal I can take interest in learning things that are easy simply because they are worth learning, but when I’m cold I want something that challenge and excite me intellectually. Anyway, that’s just some general thoughts, It’s not what this post is actually about.

Improvements.

I have introduced three chemicals into my everyday routine. The first is Melatonin, via the brand Circadin which I got prescribed from a local hospital after specifically asking for it as a solution to my sleep cycles issues. The result of this little experiment is that during the 21day dose I have for the first time in my life experienced the feeling of actually getting tired as it gets dark, sleeping without regular interruptions and then waking up automatically in the morning just from the sun. This is wonderful and new to me, and the effect is lasting somewhat after the 21 days, I’ll see in the next weeks if it stays or if I should get another pack. Either way this was a clear success.

The second and third chemicals are a combo; DMAE and Piracetam. DMAE is methylated into choline which is a widely used neurotransmitter in the brain. The main reason I started a regiment of this is that I wanted to take another chemical called Piracetam, and this Piracetam can lead to a deficiency of choline in the brain, and after trawling the nets for info DMAE (via the brand Denubil) seemed like the best alternative to correct this. I have noted no direct effect of DMAE since a). I haven’t had a stable environment to evaluate the effects, and b). I have taken it just minutes prior to each day’s first dose of Piracetam, and so any experienced effects could easily be due to the piracetam. However, I haven’t had any of the headaches associated with choline deficiency, and since my nutritional intake, sleep and and general physical state has been all over the place this weekend and to a lesser extent also the last two weeks during which I have taken this combo, I can assume that continued high dosage of piracetam (2400mg, 4 times a day) would have made a dent at some point.

As to the effect of the Piracetam I was both delighted and disappointed. I had imagined the “focusing” effect to be an increased mental control and capacity for simultaneous mental tasks. However a boring task was just as hard as usual; I still had to stimulate myself mentally in some way while performing low-challenge tasks, so this was not a solution for maintaining attention in boring situations. However when I did get a decent challenge I was able to focus on it in an amazing way, putting all of my mind into it. Basically my focus and attention span has increased, but I have not gained any greater control over my mind; I am still bothered by distractions, but they are now easier to ride out.  I also found that what I tried to learn and read while on Piracetam+DMAE had a greater impact, It “stuck” better in my mind and was easier to recall. Reading a book like ‘Thus spoke Zarathustra’ with all it’s complexity is a delight when in this state of mind.

I was wondering a little about the combined effect of the Piracetam+DMAE combo and caffeine, and I do indeed have some results from that as well. To put it simply; It works. I can dose the Piracetam and also caffeine and get both the focus benefits and the energy kick from caffeine, but it is necessary to keep them separate to avoid brain fog. If I dose 2400mg of Piracetam and immediately follow up with a strong dose of caffeine (a large red bull for example) I get what is best described as “brainfog”, a dull and comfortable feeling and lack of focus spreading in my mind. It’s not bad per se, I for recreational purposes it would be great. But I am not much for that sort of thing, and this effect is the opposite of the one I want. Anyways, Piracetam+DMAE as focus and performance-enhancing is great, if  only I could find something to greatly increase my metabolism at the same time I would have the perfect combo.

Whoops, work snuck up on me. Over and out.

***

Left without translation. Also; lego!

This post is a bit of a rant, so don’t read it expecting amazing epiphanies or anything. I’m just venting stuff.

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Yesterday I reclaimed four boxes of my childhood legos, I brought them to my apartment from my mothers house and than sat up way later than I should head playing, cross-legged on the floor. Just like old times.  Then I wanted to tell my friends of this wonderful feeling, of finding pieces old contraptions, putting them together and having all the memories flood in. In my head a dialogue started (like always) as I ran through what would be said, and this is a great example because it represents the opposite of the problem that’s bugging me today; in the internal dialogue I didn’t really need to explain because me and my friends are so similar. They all have their own fond memories of lego and they would all understand my feelings perfectly. I could probably say something like “Found my old legos last night, I rebuilt my old starship. ’twas awesome.” and we would both go to that place and be in sync. That’s great, and I wish all communication could be like that.

Now for the next situation.

I try to explain to a female friend a feeling that’s mainly emergent in males; machismo. I am not talking about the stereotypical overcompensating machismo here, but the basic guy thing with testosterone and whatnot, making us like to wrestle, thump our chests and flex our muscles. I am trying to explain it from my point of view; how it feels and what happens in my mind and fantasy when I am in that state.

This seems to be pretty much impossible. In vain I search for words, I stutter slightly and find countless dead ends trying to find something to compare to. The reason is there is no common ground on the subject; she obviously doesn’t have and tendencies towards machismo and she cannot imagine what it is to be afflicted. After several minutes of babbling I have successfully conveyed the gist of it, but no matter how much I try, I cannot find any way to make her understand the feeling. You see, I cannot even explain here the how it was to be in this tight spot-  although once again I don’t need too, because you’ve all been there at some point.

I’m gonna get back to those legos, because they haunt me.

So, yeah. Lego. Yesterday I was picking around in my collection of lego, mainly consisting of technics and regular, and I figured out why lego is so attractive to me even at this age; It’s Simple!  You see, I work with computers. I develop embedded OS configuration which means that I spend a lot brainpower and emotional energy (as frustration) in pursuit of various elusive errors to which there is really no end. Mostly I can do nothing but find out how to cure the symptoms of a bug and accept that I cannot do anything about the source. A lot of people would now tell me “No prob, just work in an  opensource OS like linux!” and that’s advice I guess. However in the end I am one person, and as such I am not capable of maintaining multiple linux configurations over multiple platforms with various apps and in various environments. The point is that in this I can never achieve perfection. Especially seeing as this is actually just part of my job; I am also a service technician and general technical support. To put things in perspective I can mention that building a configuration of windows embedded standard 2009 means that I first have to pick out a few thousand components out of appr. 20 000. I’m not gonna go into detail with the following 9 or so steps, but let’s just say that there are countless things that could go wrong, and often there is not even a point to trying to find out why, because you cannot solve it on your end.

But with lego it’s all so simple. I can stimulate whatever parts of my brain may be involved in building makeshift strange jumping machines (for example) out of plastic pieces and an electrical engine without having to ever get to the point where it’s impossible to solve, and because of someone else’s mistake. If I run into troubles I can mostly just look hard at my piece and after a couple of seconds I’ll see that “Of course! That cog right there isn’t secured and because of the slanted teeth it’ll slide when I exert pressure!”, and sometimes its just “Whoops, missed a block…”. All the problems are a result of my own failings, and solving them means restoring balance to my creation.

And then you get to the really cool part. when I was really small, building lego took some focus. I was fully there as I worked, and when I later learned to do it so well that no real effort was needed I upgraded to more advanced lego until I eventually got bored. What happened towards the end of my interest was that the lego lost it’s status of “primary interest” and became secondary, meaning something I did when there was nothing else to do. These day’s it’s still my secondary, but it actually let’s me process my primary interests as I do it. I’ll be building lego and meanwhile I’ll be thinking through stuff I learned today about CE6, or about nutrition, or about languages or maybe about social patterns. It’s a wonderful distraction. And a welcome one as well seeing as it wasn’t good to constantly disassemble and reassemble the various gadgets around my apartment; eventually you break something. This happened with my gaming interests as well, I just to have computer as a primary interest, but then I got kinda good and finding challenges became boring in the end. After having gamed regularly for a few months without once feeling that rush you get when you outdo yourself, I stopped. A few months later I started again, but merely as something on the side; complementing social gatherings, or something to do when my brain is too abuzz to do any actual studying..

Anyways, yeah. Loud noises!

Multiple levels of language = Multiple levels of consciousness?

So I’ve recently been checking out a bunch of different languages; Latin, because it’s the origin of english, Russian because it sounds cool, Lojban because I think it would improve my mental faculties, and Toki Pona because it sounds like a great language to just chill out in. Warning, Wall of text coming up. Below. Coming below?

Along these lines of though I realized something important, although kinda obvious: Languages have very different purposes!  All natural languages like english, spanish or swedish are meant to cover all bases, you should be able to communicate short and quick, smart and comprehensively, and also poetically. These take time to learn because there are many many rules, quirks and idiosyncrasies in the languages, and often there are specific name for items or concepts, names which often make no logical sense..   The constructed language lojban is meant to have all the strengths of a natural language; it is fully comprehensive and in a group of people speaking it you should never need another language. It is meant to be parsable by machines, and it is constructed in such a way that new words can be constructed and used without there being much confusion about what they mean. It’s basically a language that optimizes the flow of information for yourself and in communication with others. It’s Unambiguous.

Another constructed language is Toki Pona, and I really like this one. It’s a very simple language with just 124 words, and the first thing you learn is the word “Pona” which means good. Basically this a language for easy and intuitive person-to-person communication. A lot is left open to interpretation and I get the feeling that the language easily melds with body language. Some things would be very difficult to achieve with this language, for example I can imagine that trying to explain a complicated new concept would be very hard, so it’s not really suitable for using as your only language.

¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

So lets say that for example my day is spent with me being in three different lingual modes:

  • Primitive communications

  • Flexible Communications

  • Advanced communications

*These aren’t the best way to describe this, and this dialogue with myself isn’t the smartest way of communicating this to other people. But then again- I am writing this mostly for my own benefit.

  1. The primitive communication mode would be when I am hanging out with my buddies, maybe gaming, training or something else that doesn’t involve any deeper discussions. We would communicate feelings, opinions and ideas about our situation and so on, but mostly on a shallow level, and our body language would do most of the talking. For this you do not require a complicated logical language like lojban, and neither do you actually need the natural languages which requires on to take some care in expressing oneself.  In this situation a language like Toki Pona would be fully satisfactory.
  2. Then there’s the flexible communication mode. Let’s say that after having spent some time sweating under various weights at the gym and speaking Toki Pona we decide to go home. We might talk to some people on the way out, and on the way home we buy some food and call some friends and whatnot. Now a natural language would be best since it would allow us to communicate effortlessly with most people we come across, and while discussing movies, foods,  places and such it would be easier to do it in the language where those already have dedicated words and concepts.
  3. Also, the advanced communication mode. So, after a hearty protein-rich dinner and a movie involving men, women, violence¨, comedy and science (all you need in a movie) we would start discussing the concepts introduced by the movie. We would segway into technology perhaps, and make the inevitable (ok, this is not so much an example as it is an excerpt of my life) step into the world of computer hardware, software, games, maybe also programming. At this point what would be better than a logical language where half the learning lies in the formation of words themselves? We could learn and improve our learning without having our minds constricted by the arbitrary words that have been assigned to each concept by someone. There would be no ambiguity, and no greater misunderstanding. No one would have to be hammered over the head with various flawed metaphors until he understood what someone truly meant. Logic hoe!
  4. As we tire our minds we would settle into a calmer pace of speech, talk about recent events and other people. We might slip into that bad habit of spending minutes just quoting various shows and games instead of holding an actual conversation. So, natural language it is. Probably a mix between our native language (in my case swedish) and english. (This mix is known as swenglish, or svengelska.)
  5. Towards the end of our social relations we wouldn’t have much more to say, so we would sprinkle what ever activity we shared with some short comments, just a few syllables here and there. Again,  Toki Pona would be perfect.

 

Ok, so that’s the idea. As we move between various communicative states we would use different languages- The right language at the right time. This would be useful in other ways too, have you ever felt like instead of saying “This food is very good.” you would instead want to say “food good.”? But how would it sound if our language regressed like that whenever we were preoccupied with our plate? And maybe you have felt annoyed by having to search you brain-fruit for what the hell was it called when you did *that* kind of format in your writing again? Wasn’t it something borrowed from latin? Or was it a word in your native language, but influenced by english? It would be a lot easier if just knowing what *that* was meant you almost automatically knew the word for it.

The first thing I thought about when reading about Toki Pona was how much better at listening you could be; you wouldn’t have to carefully phrase your short replies right when listening to an upset friend who needed to vent some feelings. You wouldn’t have to try and summon up a good sentence while preoccupied when all you needed was something that communicated you general opinion. Think about a long phone conversation, one of those where you miss the person and really want to keep talking with them, but you don’t have to much to say. All those long silences, half-expressive grunts and half-baked attempts to maintain constant dialogue would be exchanged by words that expressed you general point or feeling without requiring any assembly of sentences.

Sapir and Whorf hypothesized that our language skills shaped our mind and set the rules for how we would think about things. This is kind of like machine languages, and how you can achieve the same results in lets say Lisp as in C, while one specific function or structure may be easier/more comprehensive in one language, and those programming in one language might my more prone to use this or that sort of structure than one programming in the other even though it’s is just as possible in both.

Imagine then that you have access to languages of all levels to speak, think and feel.  It sounds awesome, which is why I’m gonna grab myself by the bootstraps, shake myself around good and tell myself to get cracking. Then I’ll take myself out for a beer to apologize for the rough behaviour, maybe make up for it with a gift. Maybe Chrono Trigger for Nintendo DS, Who knows.

Those are my thoughts today.

Of vulnerability and attraction.

It is interesting to see the effect of vulnerability on oneself. No, I don’t mean it is interesting to observe oneself being vulnerable, but observing one’s reaction to another person’s vulnerable state is very interesting indeed. Facing and interacting with someone who has opened up completely and left themselves vulnerable is a feeling hard to describe, I think your actions and behaviour in such moments define you as a person.  Why is it that such vulnerability is so attractive?

Even more interesting things happen when you know that the other person’s vulnerability is caused by an interaction between the two of you, but that despite you opening yourself up just as much you are not quite as vulnerable; The possible consequences for your actions differ completely. Should one try to protect the other person in their vulnerable state by closing oneself again and adding distance? Should one introduce oneself ever more into the other persons life and situation and lend strength? Simply put, should one attempt to help knowing that it could go very wrong, or distance oneself, causing temporary pain, but knowing that the potential of fuck-up is minimized? What is selfish in this situation?

How should you react when in the other persons eyes you see that you might be a mistake that they just made? Because mistake or not is all up to you.

Nils Lofgren – Wonderland <- This is beautiful.

Filling yer boxes since 1989.

See that picture? It’s placed to the right, isn’t it? Why?  That’s not important. Here something that is, at least to me; I was born in 1989. Before continuing I’d like to mention that this post is entirely pointless in most ways. It is written purely as a way to process the reflections and all the meta that my brain is processing at the moment. If you’re easily bored, move on to some other piece of the internets.

1989. Having been washed over by media from all over the world since I was a child, I have found that some significance seems to reside in that number. You’ll see it here and there, kind of like 1969, just not as big. I currently have a jeans jacket with 1989 texted on the back (did not notice when I bought it). The jacket comes from Japan, it was part of a batch of second-hand clothes imported by Tokyo Stop in Stockholm.

Today I looked up 1989 on wikipedia and at first I found it to be a profoundly boring year. I saw tons of boring trivia like the electrocution of ted bundy and the brandishing of a cocaine bag by president bush. BIG fun. I soon started just scrolling up an down at speeds rendering the text almost unreadable, and it was like this that I picked out a couple of events that my sore and bored eyes had previously missed.  I had prior knowledge of both these events, but I never connected them to my own birthyear. It was Woodstock ’89 – an event of goodness and love, and the Tiananmen square massacre – an event of fear, anger and violence. Or maybe it was mainly sorrow, that was after all the reason of the protest.

My mind worked it’s usual strange magic and, ignoring the storyline, sought out the specs. 100k people were present and involved at the massacre, 30k people were attending the woodstock festival. The initial estimation of the massacre was about 3k dead, although later analysis says that it might be as low as 400-800.  The only number which cannot be found on wikipedia is a number measuring the balance of good vs bad between these two events. Good<bad? Is that the end result of the year when I was born I wonder? I guess you cannot quantify something as unstable as the emotional response as the human race when it comes to such events, though you might be able to quantify the backlash in everyday life with carefully taken statistics.

The one thing I keep wondering is whether the 1989 print on my jacket represents something completely random, or if it represents one of these events. Further digging (wikipedia) tells me that the brand was initially founded in manhattan before it spread to japan, which means in all likelyhood the print signifies Woodstock which is all American. I wish to be certain so I look it over again and I find something that, while not surprising, changes things. “Made in china”. So this jacket is sown in china. This jacket is sporting the print 1989 which was a relatively good year in America, but it was sown in china where the year brings to mind a national tragedy that still changes the world-view of anyone who reads about it for the first time. Heh, weird right? Did the person who assembled the textiles of this jacket ever reflect on the strangeness of this? Probably not. Did he or she reflect on the meaning of 1989 for them, and if so was he or she aware of whatever significance it might have for the designer, who was probably and American? Who knows. My mind is still stuck on this, trying to perform crude imitations of asimov’s psychoanalysis. Woodstock ’89 Vs Tiananmen Square massacre, Happines Vs Sorrow, Agner Vs Love and so on.

How did the two events shape the coming years, did their impact somehow show in the environment where I grew up and could it have had had some subtle effect on the way I turned out? Probably not, and even if it did the whole point with psychoanalysis is that it cannot determine specific events in an individuals life. I could not find out using math. I have another tool though, and this tool already gave me the answer in a way. I always felt that 1989 held some sort of significance in culture, and looking back it always gave the impressions of something bad. My mammal brain and it’s intuition strikes again. Interesting, to me at least.

Oh and the picture is unrelated, it’s a stick man trying and failing to make it out of the box.

/Daniel

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