reality is weirder than you think

Month: November 2017 (page 1 of 3)

No wifi no life

It’s funny how little you think about your dependence on WiFi until it’s not available.

Wifi has become like air and water.

Except it’s not.

Necessities of 3rd or 4th order reality are not necessities at all, really. Only for those orders.

Certainly not for primary reality (reality prime?).

And yet we still crave it.

Why you should literally never use the word “literally”

I’m not even going to try to write this post like a sales letter. I’m not trying to sell anything, just trying to start every sentence with “I’m” and hash out my thoughts on things.

I’ve had more “random” thoughts lately, which means that I’m finally settling into my new environment (even though I don’t get keys to my new apartment until tomorrow). It helps that I’ve set up a new configuration for my bullet journal-style planner which is much more conducive to my way of operating. In practical terms, it means that I have a “notes” section where I can jot down random thoughts instead of putting them on random pieces of paper or forgetting them or letting them fester until they’re just weird vapors spun from the rationalization hamster.

Anyhow. One of the things that I’ve recently been able to see and identify is this ability for people (who are not strategic thinkers) to skip directly from a high-level/strategy/overview way of thinking down into this middle domain that is characterized by rumor, innuendo, words meaning things, what other people think, and lots of other stuff that is ultimately irrelevant to strategically accomplishing a goal.

In other words, something like this:

Level Characterized by
High Strategy, long-term, vision, ideas in their bare form
Middle Social, “what will other people think,” sophistry, rhetoric
Low On-the-ground details, data, facts, reality

I suspect this is heavily influenced by (and maybe inadvertently copied from) Nassim Taleb’s ideas about asymmetry and “barbell theory.” I’d check, but my copy of Antifragile is packed right now.

I believe that the best way of thinking is with the vision of the high-level strategy, and the practicality of the low-level data. Anything else just gets in the way of clear thinking (unless you have to take account of it to successfully navigate your projects–politics are a real thing).

Lots of people who can’t or won’t stay with the high-level thinking (not totally sure why, if it’s just laziness or if they legitimately aren’t intellectually capable of it) will skip down to the middle and wallow around in it.

Ideally, good writing would combine “directional truth” (as Scott Adams would say) of the detail-free salesy version (which I sometimes think of as the “metaphorical understanding”), or you get the super duper uber detailed version, with the charts and graphs and raw data and alllllll the analyses.

The stuff in the middle fails to communicate either the endgame, or the reality. It writes phrases like “substantially all” and favors the insufferable passive voice. This is where the fifty-cent words come into play.

Hence why you should never use the word “literally.” It’s a dead tell for middle-level (OMG DID I JUST PRETEND THAT I INVENTED THE TERM “MIDDLEBROW”?!?) writing.

Dirty adverbs:

  • Virtually
  • Substantially
  • Literally

I used to wonder why some websites that check your writing’s grade level issue a warning for adverbs.

Now I know.

Go big or go home, folks.

Faculty or Baby Boomers?

If you’re in the higher education racket, you deal with faculty. Period.

Maybe, if you play your cards right, you can get out of dealing with students, but you can never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever escape the faculty.

If you can work successfully with faculty, I’m pretty sure you can work with anybody. (Although I’ve heard that surgeons are pretty bad too.)

The thing is, most individual faculty members are perfectly lovely people. If you talk with any one of them one-on-one, even the old crotchety ones, they come across as decent people with good motives.

As a group? Entirely different story. They are so difficult to work with. Recalcitrant, paranoid, constantly complaining without being willing to take action to change things.

For a long time, I thought about why they always seemed to be this way. Was it the low risk tolerance? The innate leftism that was bred into most of them, leading to a hugely r-selected population? The self-selecting for introverted personalities who prefer “facts” to action?

All of those are true, I think, to some extent.

But I didn’t realize until Stefan Molyneux’s most recent call-in show that there might be more nuance to my observations of faculty than I previously thought.

You see, one of Stefan’s guests was a Baby Boomer (trigger warning for the background image), out to disprove all of his negatively-biased conclusions about her generation.

Naturally, she failed at her own aims and succeeded only at reinforcing the Boomer stereotype. (Of COURSE it’s all about me!)

This was when I realized–what if it’s not just faculty, but Boomer Faculty who present such a difficulty to work with. Many of the same hallmarks are there–the entitlement, the inability to see themselves as part of a larger group or trend or demographic, th

Perhaps this is why there is such a divide between senior faculty and junior faculty. Between the Boomers and Gen X.

Most of my favorite faculty were and are Gen X.

Anyway, I don’t have any grand conclusions to this line of thinking at this point, so I’ll let this post drop with a very unsatisfying THUD, but I’ll be exploring it more as I slowly wade into the waters of a new project.

The relativism of travel time

One of the delightful bonuses of moving from a medium city to a small town is that it takes much less time to get anywhere.

Part of that, certainly, is having access to a car and roads without too much traffic on them. (Tonight I got caught in rush hour, which was a whole two blocks long.)

Or not having to get to and wait for and travel on public transportation. (There are public transportation options, but they take much less time.)

I’m a happy girl–I feel like I have hours and hours of my life back.

(Of course that’s less time spent listening to podcasts, but I’m sure I can make that up somehow.)

But while these distances and travel times have me absolutely happy, the locals have an entirely different view of things.

“I could go to Wal*Mart, but you have to drive forever to get there.”

It’s a 15 minute drive, max.

“That grocery store is in the next town over.”

The travel time happens to be the same amount of time it would take to drive from my parents’ house to their grocery store…in the same town.

If travel relativism is related at all to temperature relativism (in that the actual distance is objective but the perceived change in time or temperature is HUGE), that means I’ll adapt to this new way of transportation soon.

I wonder how long it’ll take before a 5 minute drive feels like a long time to me.

Wanna start a betting pool?

On Being a Nomad

I like to joke that I’ve been homeless since October 27.

Strictly speaking, that’s not true, since my parents have always offered to take me in during the lean times (and it’s their couch that I’m sitting on as I’m writing this).

Airbnb has also been great.

It’s not so much that I haven’t had a place to stay, but that I haven’t had my own place to stay. All of my stuff has been packed in a trailer for the last month. It’s not a bad thing–just a byproduct of the moving process–but has provided some interesting moments as of late.

  • Oooh, I can’t wait to start decorating for Christmas…with the decorations that are packed somewhere.
  • My new-to-me car will only play audio CDs. I can burn some of my music…with the blank CDs that are packed somewhere.
  • I need to clean my brush with a brush-scrubber….that’s packed somewhere.
  • It’s getting colder and I could make the perfect outfit with…the sweater that is packed somewhere.
  • Let’s cook a steak on my cast iron pan…that’s packed somewhere.

Basically everything is packed and so my plans are all half-baked.

If I were to be a true nomad, I’d sell or give away most of my stuff so that I never had those thoughts. All the things I needed would be with me at all times.

There would be no decorating for Christmas or burning of CDs, or any of that.

“Living out of a suitcase” would become merely “living.”

Talk about rootless. It works for some people.

I’m not yet ready for that life.

Christmas Fireplace Edit

It’s that time of year again, where our collective unconscious seizes us with the desire to snuggle under festive quilts and drink candy-cane-bedazzled hot chocolate out of Santa mugs by the fire.

Thanks to the wonders of modern architecture, most of us don’t have fireplaces. We turn, then, to the next best thing: Youtube.

This leads to a host of other problems. There are approximately 70 gorillion “fireplace with Christmas music” videos on Youtube, of varying quality. When one is in the mood to snuggle up, one does not want to wade through 69 gorillion videos to find the ones that are actually viable.

My friend, your problems are solved, courtesy of my brother.

This right here is the greatest of them all:


  • Actual fire footage with a fadeout loop
  • 2 and change hours long
  • 13 different Christmas songs, on repeat (which you probably won’t notice because you’ll be paying attention to something else)
  • Excellent arrangements, both orchestral and choral
  • No horrible synthesizers
  • Fireplace sounds, including popping (with sparks) and logs shifting
  • Just fireplace, no extra “Christmas room” effects
  • Will work best in a dark room but not out of place in the daylight

Bookmark this guy and you’re all set for the next time that the snow starts falling lightly from the sky, and you happen to have a blanket and a good book at hand.

And hey, if you hate Christmas music, you could always stare intensely at a rotating pizza.

Image of the week: random phone edition

I’m sure that if you’re anything like me, you save various amusing or informative pics from Twitter when they swim across your timeline.

Maybe you saw this one recently.

It made me chuckle.

It makes you laugh, because it’s a visual representation of the obvious joke that pointing out the truth (it’s okay to be white), is heresy to the modern orthodoxy.

But then, I start to think about how much of a “church” social justice has become. I start to think about the Catholic church before the reformation. How hierarchical it was. How corrupt it was. How obsessed with appearances it was.

It’s hard to think of SJWism as a “church,” because it is so loosely structured and doesn’t run our society in name. It certainly runs our society in many areas, and tries to squeeze itself into the areas that it hasn’t yet taken over. But it’s not institutionalized, not in the same way that the church was, so it’s easy to overlook. Or dismiss away.

The cardinals of SJWism don’t all wear the same fancy robes, nor do the acolytes. Rank-and-file SJWs tend to have distinctive modes of dress (the Tumblrina, the Soyboy, the Antifa), but the higher ranked officials often skate by because they look like every other globalist cuck politician.

The victim mentality also goes a great deal of effort to convince us that they’re the victims, of course they aren’t in charge or exerting any tyranny of the minority.

Other people have written more and better about SJWs than I ever will, but it’s fun to think about sometimes.

New (to me) design choices in the sports arena

As an old millennial,  the motion graphics that I grew up with were clunky, low-res, and…frankly, I was old enough to remember when channels started displaying the score of the game onscreen while the game was going on. As that idea evolved, graphics tended to mimic those found on network TV news–self-consciously 3D, lots of gradients and unnecessary moving parts.

In some ways, the graphics on TV sports games were the flashy sports cars of the design world.

Nowadays, I rarely watch sports-related programming on TV. Or streaming. Or in any way, really. The last time I sought any programming out for myself was when the Seahawks wore head-to-toe highlighter green during a game sometime last year. That was fun.

So it is really strange to be home with my folks and see flat, gradient-free design on ESPN2.

It makes sense that hipster graphic designers need jobs, and get jobs with sports-related entities just as much as they get job for music companies and fashion brands, but it is just weird to my eyes to see a more modern, clean, simply, flat, bold approach to design for football- and basketball-related material.

I’m happy to see some simplicity on the TV screen.

It’s also interesting to watch the “trickle down effect” in play in visual graphics. (AND THEY SAID IT WOULDN’T WORK.)

That said, it doesn’t feel like the people who watch sports are also the ones who would appreciate minimalist or clever design. Sports, to me, should be fairly like a sports car–functional, refined, a bit flashy.

Unlike a boutique fashion publication, the focus shouldn’t be on the design work (or on figuring out which school’s logo you’re looking at), but on the sports events themselves.

Good thing the gradient hasn’t totally disappeared:


An Incomplete List of Things I’m Thankful For

Since it’s that time of year and all.

  • My new job that pays adult money
  • The car that was gifted to me at the perfect time
  • The safety and wellbeing of my family and extended family
  • K-pop
  • The new apartment that I’m beyond excited to start living in
  • The unexpected skincare bonus in the no-makeup foundation I just started using
  • The actual, real bodily healing that has resulted from my carnivore adventures
  • Jesus Christ, the resolver of paradoxes and firstborn from among the dead
  • MY LACK OF PSORIASIS, WHAT (see also: carnivore)
  • The fact that this is my blog and so I am not bound by the AP Stylebook or any other style–I can do what I want
  • How much less stress there is in my life now
  • Smallish regional chain stores that stock the best goods
  • Raw-milk cheese (see also: carnivore)
  • The rad Adidas hoodie that I’m wearing right now that kinda makes me feel like a superathletic medieval princess, courtesy of the employee discount provided by my previous employer
  • YouTube
  • Ears to hear, eyes to see, wisdom to discern
  • And, sleep.

With that, I bid you adieu and goodnight.

The necessity of charm

A few last thoughts on The Perfectly Imperfect Home.

I’d never thought about graciousness being a component of home decorating, but now that it’s been brought up, it makes a lot of sense: “Why bother with a quaint relic of a time when people communicated principally by letters? This is why: because like lunch on the lawn or a candlelit dinner, sitting down at a proper little table is entirely gracious. It is about the necessity of charm.”

We like to be charmed. A little charm in our lives means that there’s enough extra energy and thought to be channeled into something that’s not quite practical.

Another passage that charmed me is this one describing the philosophical differences between schools of decorating:

The stern Sister Parish used to engage in a practice her employees termed “traying” in which she went around a new client’s house with a tray scooping up all the tchotchkes, figurines, bibelots, and knickknacks she deemed superfluous. Tough, but necessary. If it’s not beautiful, useful, or meaningful, you might as well lose it. And then the arranging can begin.

Decorators obsess over how to wield our decorative objets. On the frontlines of style, the tablescapers face off against the tchotchkeyites. The tablescaping aesthete believes in clustering like objects together to create a strong visual statement, while the savvyless tchotchkeyite tends to disseminate objects all around the room, diminishing their impact and creating a sense of bitsyness.

One can–almost–see in the authors description of the tablescaping aesthete a purpose for figurines and other decorative objects. I can see my own antipathy to figurines in her description of the savvyless tchotchkeyites.

This passage almost–almost–has me convinced to hunt down a motherload of knickknacks with which to decorate my tables.

After all, a tablescape without its decorative objects is nothing.

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