reality is weirder than you think

Month: February 2018 (page 1 of 3)


Woe is me! For I am

Like the fruit pickers and the grape gatherers.

There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,

Or a first-ripe fig which I crave.

The godly person has perished from the land,

And there is no upright person among men.

All of them like in wait for bloodshed;

Each of them hunts the other with a net.

Concerning evil, both hands do it well.

The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe,

And a great man speaks the desire of his soul;

So they weave it together.

The best of them is like a briar.

The most upright like a thorn hedge.

The day when you post a watchman,

Your punishment will come.

Then their confusion will occur.

Do not trust in a neighbor;

Do not have confidence in a friend.

From her who lies in your bosom

Guard your lips.

For son treats father contemptuously,

Daughter rises up against her mother,

Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;

I will wait for the God of my salvation.

My God will hear me.

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.

Though I fall I will rise;

Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.

I will bear the indignation of the Lord

Because I have sinned against Him,

Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me.

He will bring me out to the light,

And I will see His righteousness.

Then my enemy will see,

And shame will cover her who said to me,

“Where is the Lord your God?”

My eyes will look on her;

At that time she will be trampled down,

Like mire of the streets.

–Micah 7:1-10

Player ME has entered the game

In my old job, I worked for the boss.

Wait, let me back up. Of course I worked for my boss.

But my boss was the one who had the final say, the one that everyone else had to bend around. THE BOSS.

And I knew that my boss backed me up 100%. Within reason, of course, but my boss wouldn’t throw me under the bus.

With this convenient arrangement, I could throw myself into the fray of academic politics without much regard for my safety. I had no political designs myself (although my boss may have), and merely had to position myself and my projects in such a way that I could get the rest of my faculty stakeholders on board.

I didn’t have to worry about myself.


In this new job, though, I don’t work for the boss anymore.

My boss is just another face in a long line of middle managers (they don’t call them that in my industry, but that’s what they are).

Maybe he has the ear of certain people, but those people can make whatever decisions they want.

Those people don’t have my back. It remains to be seen if my own boss has my back.

(I’m not going to count on it.)

As I settle into this position and start to take on more responsibility–and talk to new people–it’s becoming clear that the political landscape is a bit more vicious. The pieces are out on the board, and they’ve already drawn blood. (Bit of a mixed metaphor, but it works to describe the slow-moving bloodsport that is academic politics.)

This time, I can’t enjoy my protected little vantage point and focus on getting things done..

This time, I have to play for myself.

The reality of this situation finally hit home this afternoon. I’m no longer a politically neutral entity that operates more or less in tandem with my boss-like entity.

If I am going to be effective, it is imperative that I acquire a reputation and political capital (is that what they’re calling it these days?) on my own. It must be as separate from my boss as I can make it.

Which will be a challenge, since he’s a micromanager.

I now have skin in the game.

The mental breakdown of my generation

Today I learned that a guy I knew in college came out as trans. Or rather, he followed me on Instagram with his–her–new identity.

What a millennial way to find out something like that, right?

The gender-mania that’s going around right now seems to me most often associated with the younger generation, the ones who are young enough to be unduly influenced by adults with agendas. But it’s a meme that spreads insidiously, and even the older generation aren’t immune. My generation certainly isn’t.

It’s not just gender issues. So many people I know struggle with depression, some friends a while back struggled mightily with suicidal thoughts (and prevailed against them), and girls I know are plagued with hormonal imbalances that greatly impact their mental health and menstrual cycle.

I met up with a friend a handful of years ago who was trying out a high-powered neurotransmitter to augment her therapy. She said it made her feel the best she had in years (she had been studying out of the country so I hadn’t seen her face-to-face in a while) but I felt like I was talking to a robot version of my friend. The conversations that we used to have, so fluid and far-ranging, were stilted and small talky. It was like meeting someone completely new.

Maybe that was my fault. Maybe I was the distant one. It’s more than possible.

I’m not perfect and I certainly don’t have perfect mental health.

It’s been an emotionally exhausting couple of years–if you let yourself get overly engaged–with the meme wars and how the spiritual battle that we are fighting breached the surface of the water of reality. (If you have eyes to see. If you don’t, are you just really confused?)

Maybe the confusion explains why so many people I know are succumbing to the darkness, to the insanity.

I don’t understand it. I fight like hell to keep my grip on reality.

And yet I see my friends being pulled under. I don’t know how to help them–how does a person in rightside-up world throw a lifeline to someone in upside-down world?

All my touchstones, my footholds, are repulsive to them. My anchors are their cement shoes. What lifts me up drags them down.

I don’t know how to help them see clearly.

All I am is sad.

I quit dairy and my menstrual cramps are gone again

Forgive me, this entire week has been a learning lesson in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” leading to a bunch of addle-headed evenings. I haven’t been giving my best to this blog, because right now I don’t have my best to give.

One of the reasons for that is the lovely, ever present PMS. All my ladies know what I’m talking about. My astute gentlemen probably track this in their female bosses and coworkers so they know when to get out of the way.

Anyway, back when I was eating vegetables but no grains, sugar, or dairy, I didn’t have any menstrual cramps. I still got hormonal and moody around my period (I doubt there is any way around that), but my period itself was not painful. That was nice.

Then, I went keto, and lost my period altogether. Keto may not stress your body out, but it did mine. My advice for you is to find out what things unduly stress you body, and then don’t do those things.

After my keto experiment, I went full carnivore, with dairy. I thought I could get away with dairy, I really could. And for a while I truly thought that dairy was helping.

I was wrong. Dairy and I do not get along. As my systemic inflammation rose, my menstrual cramps came back–and it seemed like they were getting progressively worse each month.

Last Monday I cut out dairy again as part of the disastrous breakfast experiment. This weekend, not even a full week later, I’m experiencing no cramping.

There’s a lot of work to be done on the systemic inflammation that’s built up over the last 9 months, but if I can see this much improvement in less than a week, I know I’m on the right track.

A few of my friends have had horrific experiences with menstrual cramps, and they eat high-grain and high-dairy diets. If you eat foods that are known to cause inflammation, I encourage you to explore low-inflammation diets like autoimmune paleo, low carb/high fat (LCHF), or going full carnivore, to see how decreased inflammation can have an effect on your periods.

It doesn’t have to be bad, I promise.

Fun with Venn diagrams and k-pop

Twitter is a wonderland. Today’s bounty of wonder came in the form of a Venn diagram featuring the many incarnations of NCT.

The problem (“””problem”””) with this particular Venn diagram is that it’s entirely in Hangul, except for song titles which are deliberately in English.

This is not a problem–this is a puzzle! It’s a matter of cross-checking the members in each song with the other songs that they’re in, under which group. The name in the most-overlapping triangle, for instance, is Mark since he’s debuted with every group so far, and nearly every song. (He’s missing only from the NCT U vocal songs–Timeless and Without You–and the upcoming Tae/Ten release.

Then, I double-checked myself with the Hangul alphabet to make sure I had all of the names right, like in the case of Lucas and Jungwoo who both debuted with NCT U but haven’t yet done anything else, or the Dreamies.

Here’s a version in the Latin alphabet for us Westerners.

It’s a little messy but I didn’t want to completely obliterate the Hangul characters.

This is so much fun to look at. I’m excited for the rest of NCT 2018 and what different combinations they’ll come up with. Perhaps a Venn diagram will be impossible in the future–we’ll see.

Speaking of NCT 2018, we have been blessed with fancam of Taeyong and Ten’s Baby Don’t Stop which isn’t due to be released for a few more days.

300% better than Boss, tbh.

The styling is perfect. The choreo is dope and perfectly suited to this duo. The song is catchy as whoa. Sign me up.


Image of the Week: completely unimpressed edition

This week’s image is more like a visual representation of how I’m feeling right now. This week has not been the greatest.

It was not my best week at work. While I did extend my tentacles into a new project in a different arena that will allow me to use some of my skills, I made some tactical blunders on the personal side. Being in a terrible mood all week did not help.

The terrible mood stemmed from my eating window experiement this week. In fact, the experiment has been so awful that I’m not even extending it for a full 7 day week. I’m cutting it short today.

Moving my window has made me irritable and tired (even though I’ve been sleeping more), caused me to resent mornings, caused a huge upheaval in my guts, and created a huge scheduling problem with my workout schedule. And for what? No real gains.

I’d rather be in a good mood and eat at 8 pm than be cranky and irritable and think that eating breakfast makes me a better person.

Night owl status confirmed.

Virginia Woolf ran a publishing house and it’s inspiring AF

When Virginia Woolf was around my age, she convinced her husband to buy a dog, a house, and a printing press. (I have to find a husband before I can convince him of such things, but nobody said we had to do this in the same order.) What started out as a hobby, and a way to dodge harsh criticism from mainstream publishers but still put out books, ended up as a legit publishing house that ran for 30 years and published people like TS Eliot and Sigmund Freud. (And of course Virginia herself.)

Leonard Woolf said that one of the reasons for the success of the Hogarth Press was that they had no overheads. The printing was done in their home, they didn’t pay themselves for their time and any profit they made was always reinvested.

Sounds a lot like running a blog, actually.

I saw some of their early products today. They’re not fancy. The later books were, with dust jackets and cleanly-designed covers. But the early ones? They were simply bound with stitches, with covers printed on colored stock or fabric. Some were really tiny, pocket-book sized (pamphlets, really) while others were normal-book sized.

As their confidence grew, the Woolfs started to sell their books by subscription. They compiled two lists of subscribers, group A, those who would buy all the Hogarth Press publications, and group B, who could be notified of new publications and would then select the titles they wanted.

A subscription model you say? Like, I don’t know, an email list? Gee. I don’t have an email list yet, but perhaps it’s time to start.

Certainly I don’t agree with most of the politics of Virginia and Leonard–and I definitely will not pattern my death after her–but I am absolutely delighted to learn about their press and how they grew it from a tiny little baby into something that had legs and made money and published actual legit works.

Lessons we learn

  1. You absolutely can be an author and publisher at the same time
  2. It’s okay to start small selling to your friends
  3. Don’t be afraid to scale up when the time comes
  4. Always keep track of why you started doing it in the first place

NCT will fight U

NCT U is back y’all.

Honestly? I’m not that into it. It reminds me a little of the pre-debut test Bassbot, but without the musical or choreographic interest.

The Eastern Bloc-inspired uniforms and Ukrainian architecture can stay, but everything else can slide on by.


That doesn’t mean we can’t have some NCT appreciation. Or is it analysis?

Boss sounds like an NCT 127 track, but has the delicate task of debuting two new members. Hence it being a U song.

Like NCT 127’s Limitless, Boss is a rather unsubtle statement of NCT’s goals. The meme behind “limitless” was simultaneously the number of members in NCT, but also drilling the idea for limitless potential into the heads of the members. Same with Cherry Bomb: I’m the biggest hit on the stage.

In a behind-the-scenes video for Boss, Mark talked about how the video starts with all the members fighting over who’s boss, and ends with them realizing that they’re a team. I get the teambuilding exercise, but is it really the greatest idea to meme a fight between Taeyong and Mark into existence when a new members are lurking?

Oh, wait, I forgot this is SM Entertainment. Of course it makes sense to pit all of them against each other, especially as we’re bringing in new members. It’s basically a thematic representation of how some of us feel about the new members.

The Boss video features Lucas the Usurper, who is apparently a 3rd rapper in the NCT crew. Lucas was probably supposed to be the leader of group that would have included Kun and Jungwoo, plus others from the auditions. I wonder if SM wasn’t getting good auditioners? I wish we knew more about the sudden switch to NCT EVERYONE ALL AT ONCE.

Anyway, I’m not endeared to Lucas. He is direct competition for my boy Mark. I am not one of those all-inclusive fans. I want Mark to win, always. Just keeping it real, folks.

Jungwoo has a nice voice. He can stay.


On the style front, let’s appreciate the return of NC-TURTLENECK.

Thank you, Jaehyun, for your contribution.

Knowing Thyself

It’s funny, that what you can admit so readily to yourself becomes irritating when someone else points it out in you.

Kind of like how you can make fun of your brother to his face, but the minute someone else does, you’re all up in theirs.

I took a personality inventory over the weekend, and–when I think about it objectively–it really wasn’t much of a surprise.

But it’s never fun being told you’re not that agreeable.

Even though

  • Your favorite part of music is the counterpoint
  • You do your best work after you hit the “forget you” mentality
  • There are few people in the world you call friends
  • You’re fine with having contrary opinions in a group
  • Trolls and tricksters are reliably your favorite characters
  • You say “no” straight up (most of the time) instead of deflecting

I also consider myself incredibly polite, but I have to acknowledge that I have to work hard at it.

It’s also a distinct possibility that my low agreeableness is what allows me to be interested in art and creativity, but also fairly right-leaning in my thinking.

There are plusses and there are minuses.

(It makes dating extra difficult, though.)



It’s self-experiment time! Changing my eating window

For years, I’ve naturally gravitated to the French-style dinner. It has been normal for me to eat my evening meal at 8:00 pm–or sometimes even later–since I started managing my own meals.

That’s over a decade, if you’re counting.

As I’ve started to put together the parallels between my physicality and my personality, I’ve noticed that one of my less-helpful habits is my tendency to start slow and build to a huge frenzy of work under pressure.

This is probably a great structure for a novel, but my daily life doesn’t need that type of stress.

So I’m changing the way I eat.

Instead of eating no breakfast, a decent lunch, and a huge dinner, I’m eating a legit breakfast, and a big lunch. No dinner. (I’m also deliberately doing some intermittent fasting because I need to lose some fat.) All completely carnivorous, of course.

This means that not only can I not lollygag in bed before work, because I need to eat breakfast, my guts get a nice long break overnight to rest and heal. Supposedly we lose fat in our sleep, too, and I’m hoping that being nice and fasted during a nice, long, uninterrupted sleep will help with that.

Demolishing the food bad habit and the lay-in-bed bad habit (oh I didn’t mention that one?) in one fell swoop. I stopped eating cheese, too.

So far so good, with the exception of some heartburn at about hour 6 of digestion for both breakfast and lunch. Hopefully that will go away as my body adjusts to its new digesting times; if it doesn’t I’ll definitely have to reassess. Heartburn is no bueno.

I’m giving this a one-week trial period.


Update: This experiment ended after 5 days. Not worth it. 

Giving up cheese was a good call, though.

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