My Monday was a total loss. I put in the desk time, but the work was an annoying, ineffective slog, and I ALSO didn’t accomplish any of the many small but important non-desk activities that have been piling up for a while. I was seriously frustrated with myself by the time Spouseman & I went on our Neighborhood NightWalk on Monday evening.
He listened to me gripe about not getting done what I wanted to do (bc he is awesome that way) & explained it all in one statement:
“Makes sense. We had people over yesterday.”
We did. It was a celebration weekend. We had friends over for fancy takeout food, toured folks around the new game room for the first time, and gathered around the firepit for posh drinks & dessert on the new patio afterwards. It was a GREAT time. Hours & hours of enjoyable relaxing, conversating, catching up, pet talk, & planning for future funs.
But it was still a social event, one involving significant advance preparation & loads of communicating.
So, DUH. Of course I was made of mush the next day.
I keep forgetting my brain doesn’t care if events are satisfying or stressful, fun or frazzling. Brain only knows social interaction = major processing required, and that means a mental crash+emotional rebound ripples WILL follow whether I like it or not.
(For the record, I do not like it.)
I’m still feeling the effects today, (HELLO, SELF-DOUBT & ANXIETY, YOU CAN LEAVE ANY TIME NOW) but knowing the cause helps me better cope with the effects. I’m focusing on physical chores so I have those small victories to boost me.
And Pippin is doing his best to model proper relaxation for me.
This episode of me is just three rambly items. That is all. Yes, HUGE things are going on In The Real world. Bad things. Humanity being awful to humanity at home and abroad. But. Not here. ITRW I’ve done what I can for now–I’ve put my money where my principles are, voiced words of support–and I will continue to do what I can. As I have been reminded, so I remind others: dwelling & doomscrolling & working up a knot of stress helps no one. So. This blog post isn’t about anything Real. It’s about the usual: reading & cats & randoming.
Thing the First.
Did you know Lido means beach in Italian, and in British English, it also refers to an outdoor swimming pool + its associated amenities? I did not, until today.
At long last, I have an explanation for why there are “Lido Decks” on cruise ships! The term always puzzled me when I watched Love Boat in the late 70’s. This trivium comes to us courtesy of a Guardian interview with some BBC broadcaster who’s probably a household name in Britain but who was completely unknown to me. Score one for a beautifully designed enticing headline.
Which I’ve already forgotten.
Random thing 2: the latest in Cat adventures.
Pippin’s current Favoritest Toys Ever are the tear-off strips from boxed Trader Joe’s hot chocolate packets. (not the packet w/chocolate! The litle strip you pull on to open the box.)
These bits of paper hold a narrow lead over mylar strips cut from the bottom of pita chip bags. Something about the way those things crunch fascinates him endlessly. There are a dozen or more Stacey’s Pita Chips bag-ends scattered about the house, built up over the last few months.
He is generous with his toys, too. On any given morning I’ll find up several of crunchy mylar strips on the bed. Pips naps with us at night, but he comes and goes–and every time he returns from a ramble he brings us a toy in case we wake up and want to play with it.
Lastly, I have discovered A Best New Game for me, courtesy of Louis Evans, who I follow on Twitter because…yanno, I don’t know if I met him or someone suggested I follow him, or he followed me for inexplicable reasons and I followed back, or what. I try not to let that ignorance bother me, but it still does sometimes. My discomfort over the parasocial nature of online connections is one of my biggest peeves with social media, and I have a LOT of peeves…never mind, this is digressing even more than usual, ANYWAY.
This game is Semantle, and it’s SUPER FUN. Like Wordle it’s a once-daily word puzzle, but that’s about all they have in common. I like Wordle’s simplicity, but that’s about all I do like about it. It’s a pretend word game. it isn’t about language at all, nor really about vocabulary. It’s letters as numbers, essentially. Finding a solution w/in 6 guesses is a process heavy on betting the odds of a given vowel or consonant being used, plus luck and eliminating variables.
I find it fun, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t…stimulating, I guess? It’s about spelling, not words.
And don’t get me started on people who get hung up on use of wordfinders, dictionaries or other tools. Is it legitimate or does it constitute “cheating?” It’s a SOLITAIRE WORD GAME FFS. What is even the point of getting judgey & snobby about how someone else plays it? Any yet. People gotta feel superior, I guess.
Solving a Semantle occupies a lot more of my wording brain than Wordle. That’s my favorite part. My second favorite aspect is the no-limit guessing. There’s no “genius!” for a lucky break or any competitive triggering at all. Guess until you get it right, for pure solution satisfaction.
And like the name implies, it’s all about semantics. Associations. Connections. Right up my happy neighborhood parkway, in other words.
You’re attempting to guess a secret word based on hot/cold responses to your attempts. The more similar your word is to the secret one, the higher your guess’s rank will be. And once you get within 1000 words of the secret one, you get that clue as well.
Look. It’s kinda hard to explain but super-simple to play. Type words, type more words that seem related, rinse & repeat. My best result so far is solving the puzzle in 33 guesses, my longest game was 87 guesses.
I find Semantle MUCH more satisfying to play. There’s no right or wrong way to think of connections. I’m fond of Thesaurus.com for inspiration, but also fond of typing a bunch of ideas into Google & skimming the results for a word that just feels right as a guess, and also blindly staring at my list of guesses until the next inspiration strikes.
Spouseman still doesn’t understand how I could look at bureaucrat and leap to the secret word (historian) in two guesses. (president and constitution in between)
I can’t explain it either. But that’s the wild thing about inspiration. It’s always a leap into the dark that pays off. It’s an idea arcing across a void of not-knowing.
Writing a whole post of accomplishment lists has led to pondering WHY I like making “I did this” lists so much. Here’s my answer: it’s a frame adjustment.
I know, I know, “WTF frame what?” Stick with me here. Start with the idea of “progress.”
See, all our lives we’re taught–both formally and informally– to find worth in achieving goals and measuring progress, but that whole plan is fundamentally mismatched with the way life WORKS.
Progress is grounded in linear concepts of direction & endpoints. It’s all about the quantifiables.
When a task is done, it’s done. When a thing is filled, it’s full. When a goal is achieved, it’s over. There are jokes about the reward for a job well done being another job, but the system is accepted as valid.
Except it ISN’T. Reality doesn’t work that way.
Life is built on multiple, interlocking circular processes: sunrise to sunset to sunrise, winter to summer to winter again. Washed dishes get dirty, dinnertime comes around again, dust returns again, plants need tending, laundry piles up AGAIN.
No wonder people feel like we’re always failing. We’re judging ourselves by a metric that’s incompatible w/the medium.
Measuring success & satisfaction by progress is like measuring slices of bread in a loaf by weight. You can do it, but it takes some mental gymnastics.
Lists are my favorite way of somersaulting past frustration & feelings of failure. They line up my position in the endless cycle of Life Doings with the idea of “done,” and presto, I HAVE DONE THINGS.
It’s not only gymnastics, it’s kinda like a magic trick when it works.
Now I’m wondering what neat tricks other people use.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you want to celebrate by curling up with a cozy kissing book, may I suggest Weaving In The Ends? I wrote it, it’s all about love, but not only and not even mostly the romance hearts & flowers kind. It’s about the prickly kind of love, sibling love, family love, and formed-family love, the patient kind and the kind that makes mistakes and owns them and makes amends.
Also, there is knitting. And empaths. Available most places books & ebooks are sold. You can find it here https://bit.ly/kmhkindle along with the other books in the Restoration collection.
Sleepy cat for everyone who got this far. Until later!
Yesterday morning Spouseman gave me a cheery “You’re up early!” for getting my ass out of bed before 10 AM.
For context, I usually wake up 7:30ish this time of year. I often go back to bed to snuggle for an hour or two, but I wake up within an hour of sunrise when I’m healthy. (Even with blackout curtains.)
Except after cons. Sometimes I’m in bed as late as 11AM for a day or two or three after getting home.
And I usually get 7+ hours of sleep per 24, but I am rarely in BED for more than 6 hours at a stretch because my joints hate me lying still.
Except after cons. I’m in bed as much as 10 hours the day after a con.
Two data points. It’s officially a trend, right?
My brain pretty much shuts down for a reset after leaving high-interaction events. Unless I crash a few hours before leaving. That’s a simmering hot stew of awkwardness when it happens, so I try VERY hard to avoid it. I was home, unpacked & washed up after Cap before I crashed hard with a cat purring on my lap. Good times.
I had a fabulous time at Capricon this year. It’s always a great convention, but this time was extra-special because, well <waves vaguely> YOU know. Things. I had the most panels I’ve done at a con ever, and I enjoyed every one of them, despite 3 of them being in a room with a CAMERA POINTED AT ME.
And I moderated three panels (two in the Camera Room Of Doom, one in a room without microphones because tech difficulties) and I only screwed up a few times in each panel, so big yay and confetti and buckets of self-congratulatory happiness right there.
The Dealer Room was like a bookstore smorgasbord, books were sold, things were bought, plans were made, and fun was had. Evenings included hallway chats, hotel room haircuts, and late night conversations.
New friends were made (I think, I hope) and I enjoyed getting to reconnect with old friends too! (although not NEARLY as much as I wanted. Sorry to alla y’all who only got bits & pieces of my time, my energy was low & I had roommates & I didn’t feel comfortable crossing the streams or mixing up groups and, well. Anyway.)
Some of us should get together soon, masked & safe indoors. That’s all I’m saying. Soon.
Now the con is somehow a week in the past, Thursday is over, (it’s technically Friday morning wee hours tbh) and my biggest accomplishments since getting home have been…hm. Unimpressive:
laundry! Yes, it deserves the exclamation mark
dusted my home desk
dusted my work desk & did sundry library tasks over 2 shifts
put away con stuff, updating inventory & sales records
brushed the cat two days in a row (he forgave me both times)
reread 2 romance novels, ignoring the stack of lovely new books I really do want to read
surfed on Twitter & Facebook more than I’d like
played a lot of Absurdle
filled out a Con Feedback survey, gushed about my fellow panelists & praised other moderators
watched episodes of 2 TV shows and 2 movies (finished Stranger Things rewatch, started Mythic Quest, big thumbs up, sat through Free Guy & Venom: Let There Be Carnage, meh x2)
booked 2 hotel rooms & 1 plane flight for 2 separate future events. This involved multiple conversations, negotiations, and consultations over a couple of days.
read one whole chapter in the nonfiction book I’m trying to chew through. Stolen Focus. There’s irony to be found in my inability to concentrate on a book about all the ways modern systems demolish our attention spans, but I’m not appreciating it.
cooked a spicy chicken casserole from scratch. Well. From a boxed rice dish plus leftover rice from Chinese takeout, and various other add-ins. So, kinda like Stone Casserole instead of Stone Soup?
sliced up a cucumber I’d forgotten was in the fridge & set it to soak w/onions & brine for fridge pickles.
and wrote this blog post
It looks good written down, but hey, I’m a writer. I’m expected to make things looks good in words.
When measured against my days of otherwise unemployed time, the accomplishment level is…meager doings. George Carlin had a bi about stuff filling the space available. Tasks fill the time available, I guess.
Has it been restful? Oh, yes. And have I enjoyed myself? Mostly, when I’m not ambiguously frazzled, or second-guessing every recent interaction (at the con & since, online & off) and/or draaaagggggggggging myself through daily routines in pursuit of basics like personal hygiene.
It’s silly, all this listing I do, but it’s also soothing. In one sense it’s a long, wordy version of, “Look at me, I can do the bare minimum to survive!” And in the world I grew up in, making much of nothing is tacky, selfish attention-seeking nonsense.
But in another sense, these lists are the vital opposite of making much of nothing. They’re making much of things overlooked and undervalued. They’re balancing the meaningfulness scales.
I am proud of others when they do what I am doing, so it’s only fair I make note of the important basics too. Besides, even just thinking, LAUD ME, FOR I HAVE DONNED CLEAN CLOTHES & INGESTED SUSTENANCE! makes me smile, and smiles are always good.
So I shall feel proud of myself now that I’ve noted all I’ve done. I mean, I didn’t spend the WHOLE time surfing or reading articles about dairy cow milk production and teaching dogs to pull wagons. And I did get in a little good writing time. A teeny bit. But as the That Counts As Writing bot on Twitter points out out, it’s all progress.
So. Here we are, at the end of another meandering life post. That’s all there is to it. Except for a cat pic.
Did I need to research dairy barn restoration and collect architectural drawings of historical barn types yesterday & today?
Checking my barn-related terminology for a single scene sent me skipping through Indian dairy farming advice blogs, across encyclopedia entries on cow breeds, and down a long sideline into the meaning of “Highline electricity” into power line work and voltage issues with server racks.
Fun facts: gawala means cattleman or head dairy worker in Urdu, at least according to two language sites I consulted after being puzzled by the term’s appearance in an otherwise all-English language paper comparing the efficiency of different cow configurations in milking barns. (Surprise, it was an INDIAN dairy industry publication. …which bounced me into a brief investigation of dairy farming in India.) Gawala may also be a kind of milk-based candy?
Highline vs lowline refers to the voltage carried by power lines. Also back in the day your builder needed to know whether your farm had highline or house plant electricity before drawing up plans for your barn.
And barn research totally relates to volcanoes, right? Okay, no, but I saw a news headline while I was closing a tab. Count on a geology/meteorology nerd like me to click on ANY link with a satellite photo of a huge ash cloud.
What happened in the Pacific last week will have global effects for a long time to come. Like every huge eruption, it’ll teach geologists a ton about what’s going on beneath the thin biosphere we inhabit. And like every huge eruption near humans, its toll will be expensie and heartbreaking. The videos and photos of the aftermath are incredible. The cost? Incalculable.
ANYway. Speaking of satellite photos, I’ve been watching US winter storms on assorted weather sites lately. The quality of the images is interesting (in a muttered curses way) because it pretty much indicates how blatant the site is about downgrading the available imagery to engineer subscriptions to the premium subscription strategy. Charging for something that should be a free public resource.
I recall my excitement a zillion years ago when my parents got cable television and a new TV with a remote. Not because we got HBO. Not because the TV picture was suddenly clear instead of getting fuzzy or staticky when it rained. Not because I could flip channels from across the room. Nope.
I was over the moon because I COULD WATCH THE WEATHER RADAR! MInd, this was not the amazing many-layered weather displays of today’s weather apps. It was straight-up regional Doppler precipitation radar on a 30-second loop. It still fascinated me. Weather patterns both local and distant shifted, grew, and passed right in front of my eyes.
I loved mentally connecting those trends to the conditions outside the window. My dad used to make fun of me for checking the television for the weather instead of looking outside (weather rock style) but matching screen to reality taught me tons about reading the sky for future conditions in just a few years. Priceless free education.
But I digress. The free imagery now available from modern satellites is MIND-BLOWING. You won’t find it on easily-accessible, fast-loading commercial weather apps, but it’s out there. Full-color, high-resolution visuals. Temperature gradients. Precipitation. Stills and animation loops for hours. Any time there’s a Big Weather or Big Fire event, I am up online ogling the imagery from space.