last week

April 20, 2017ramblefav

Just when you start to think the RMV was getting it- a painless online address change. Just to find out from the city office that that did f***-all to change where the car is "garaged", which the RMV website doesn't mention when you change the address? What's the point?
My company CarGurus has been named "Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year" in the 29th Annual Harris Poll EquiTrend Study, unseating our longterm rivals. And they asked me to plug it on Social Media so here we are.

It really is a pretty sweet company, and a great place to buy a car, especially used. Techies should definitely hit me up if they see something on our jobs listing that seems like a fit.
"Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part / that wonders what the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of"
--They Might Be Giants, "Where Your Eyes Don't Go"

Serendipity brought me to Cormac McCarthy on The Kekulé Problem - (the title comes from the premier example of "the answer came to me in a dream / flash" ) and thoughts on what the heck this unconscious is. This directly ties in with what I wrote about Saturday and have been a little obsessed with for a week or two.

(McCarthy calls it the unconscious; I think of it as the subconscious, a subtle but possibly important distinction.)

McCarthy concludes wraps up saying
The unconscious seems to know a great deal. What does it know about itself? Does it know that it's going to die? What does it think about that? It appears to represent a gathering of talents rather than just one. It seems unlikely that the itch department is also in charge of math. Can it work on a number of problems at once? Does it only know what we tell it? Or--more plausibly--has it direct access to the outer world? Some of the dreams which it is at pains to assemble for us are no doubt deeply reflective and yet some are quite frivolous. And the fact that it appears to be less than insistent upon our remembering every dream suggests that sometimes it may be working on itself. And is it really so good at solving problems or is it just that it keeps its own counsel about the failures? How does it have this understanding which we might well envy? How might we make inquiries of it? Are you sure?

I'm not as convinced as McCarthy that dreams are always so deliberate and purposeful from the subconscious; I accept they can be a communication pathway from the unconscious to our rational selves, but sometimes it's a bit more random and chaotic than that. (And I am always shocked at how whatever part of brain that says "this can't be real" is so much more asleep than the rest of us.) And man, now I really am wondering about whether the unconscious knows that it will someday die and how it feels about that!

I feel like I'm gathering more instances of the subconscious as having its own personality and- all too often- separate agenda. I've started thinking of it as my "inner toddler", but I'm a little wary of thinking of it in such disparaging terms - like it might grow to resent me, and that would be pretty bad for my overall mental wellbeing. Still, there's a stubborn petulance there. Like, it's bad enough that I eat my desk at work, but there's even less dignity when I start digging in while still walking from the damn kitchen. So yesterday I apply some willpower and hold off chowing down 'til I'm safely seated. Great! And then today... I don't even make it out of the kitchen. My inner toddler sees the taco in my hand, recognizes it as delicious, and I've had a bite or two before my rational self is fully aware of what's going on. I've witness that "backslide/backlash" factor before. (I also wonder if my inner eater is just a more well behaved version of the inner demons that are so destructive in the life of

McCarthy writes "the fact that the unconscious prefers avoiding verbal instructions pretty much altogether--even where they would appear to be quite useful--suggests rather strongly that it doesnt much like language and even that it doesnt trust it." My first instinct says that it's not a matter of disdain, but it lacks language as a toolset. I can't tell my inner toddler to "use your words" because it doesn't have any! Of course, this seems to contradict my earlier theory that this subconscious was my "fast reading/skimming brain". But perhaps words can come in, but they can't come out, and the "jist" that my fast reader is so good at providing my rational self is more based on images and feelings than I realize. No wait - I got started last Saturday by trying to explain the subconscious process that was making my typos, especially my oddly-phonetic-almost-dyslexic swap of "m" and "b". So words go in and words go out, but they aren't its native language. (So to speak.)

And so it might be a mistake to think there's only one subconscious entity. Or it might be hard to understand in general. Especially right now, I feel like I might be back to conflating my "self", my consciousness, with my "inner voice" process using words. (To quote Emo Phillips, "I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.")

I wonder if I'm on to something here. It is very odd to think of an internal part of oneself as some kind of (at times, childish!) companion rather than... well, than as ourselves, but I think it suggests a whole new set of promising approaches for self-therapy. I think every successful weight-loss I've had has had to cope with this inner toddler, for instance! (And again, I wonder if I'm risking further resentment by calling him that...)

Of course sometimes it's like this Id/subconscious self is the only part of me that knows how to enjoy anything! Sometimes I think the only pleasure my ego/rational self gets in life is...well... ego stroking...

(and btw, it's so sad that googling topics of communicating with your inner child are so often about coping with buried past trauma and backgrounds of abuse and neglect.)
I do wonder - is it like this for everyone? Are McCarthy and I outliers? Are he and I and some others somehow less coherent and unified people than most? Why aren't people talking about this more? Is it different for them, or is it just to painful to admit we're not as singularly in control as our rational selves would like to be?

I've seen many rube goldbergs but nothing with this kind of narrative! Lovely!

April 19, 2017

Yeesh, pretty bleak talk for a mattress store

(I enjoy macabre humor, but I was saw this looking up from Mindy Fried's book about getting appropriate assisted living care for her 90-something father- so I think I also got a subtext "so if you care about your elderly parent at all YOU'LL BUY BERNIE AND PHYLS YOU JERK")

April 18, 2017tuba

Bass Section of the School of Honk in Austin, TX, via The Book of Honk (prints available)

(The Ride 'Em Cowboy is my favorite from this batch - usually the tuba is riding me, nice to turn that around, though the "hero shot" might be even better than Franklin Marvel's Take at Figment.

Last years bass sectional photo was a little better, come to think of it:

"You might see punching bags are even better hugging bags if you'd just calm down for a second."
Write up about Ze Frank and The Show. Man that was great. Also, I really miss his page of little digital toys, he was a really inspiring toymaker...
"What do you care what other people think?"
--Arline Feynman

April 17, 2017

Weird things going on in Cleveland, attention seeking homicidal idiot on the loose, having Facebook Live'd an out and out street murder with a randomly selected victim and the killer saying it's because of some ex's fault.

(It's not the main point but reinforces my opinion that so little good really comes from livestreaming on social media. If it's worthwhile, it could just keep on youtube.)

"To live life, you need problems. If you get everything you want the minute you want it, then what's the point of livin'?"
--Jake on Adventure Time. I guess I'm not sure I agree? I think the point of life - or at least one point of life, could be to create meaningful novelty. Which doesn't seem to require problems. Maybe.

April 16, 2017

"I mean." Uberman cleared his throat, adjusted his necktie, and began delivering his morning whine, which is clearly what he'd been intending to do all along. "This is, what? The third network outage this year?"

I stopped. "We're having some problems porting your database to our server, sir." I edged one step closer to the exit.

"I mean," Uberman scowled, "if I can't depend on your network, I'm screwed. Just totally screwed, you know?"

Then how come you're not smiling? is what I thought, but "We'll have it back up as soon as possible," is what I said.

"I mean," Uberman whacked his PC with his newspaper again, "we never had problems like this before MDE acquired us. Dammit, our old Applied Photonics network never crashed! Not once!"

"So I've heard." And heard, and heard, and heard! And if you gave me just sixteen users in a one-floor office, I could make this network look pretty good, too.

--Bruce Bethke, "Headcrash", kind of a no-account cyberpunk-y book from the mid-90s... the technobabble is pretty clumsy, but for some reason this passage has stuck with me for 20 years so I thought I'd post it - from time to time, its reminder that little toy systems can get away with things that projects you want to scale can't is useful.
"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."
--Cormac McCarthy, "No Country for Old Men"

Blender of Love

"Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all"

April 15, 2017ramble

A friend's online moot/mute swap typo provoked me to write the following, clearly I'd been looking for an outlet for this ramble...
I make all kinds of phonetic typos (where I'll end up typing a third word that sort of sounds like the others), and then this odd m/b swap where I'll switch "me" for "be" say, or vice versa. Not mute for moot for some reason, I guess for me the vowels are less "swappable" than they are for others.

Lately - hopefully without raising too many questions about my mental health- I've been thinking a lot about this subconscious me, how there seems to be almost a personality in here, different than the rational / inner voice me (the one that tries to take credit for BEING me, though I think I got over that via Dan Dennett's "Consciousness Explained")

This "other me" might correspond a bit to the Id as drawn by Freud - or the pop culture "inner child", one that throws tantrums when things seemed aligned against it - that thwarts my attempts at smart eating by provoking cravings - and, FINALLY getting to the point - I wonder if it's the background processor that lets me read (well, skim, but with good absorption rates) and write very quickly, but not always accurately ("I want to live life like I type; fast, and with lots of mistakes")
This other me - under certain states of sleep/awakeness, I feel like I've had glimpses of him. Sometimes I think it might be a multitude, I've gotten this impression of a skull full of colorful worms, or lets say "sock covered slinkies" because worms are gross. (It looked a bit like this kinetic digital art piece I made, paintbars.) The fugue-ish state with that visual also gave me the idea that the worms are a little bitter because they're generally not in control, and short lived and forgotten, and that they can generally only communicate via emotional post-it notes. (Ever get that? Like I'll get a sudden stab of, say, melancholy, or relief, or something, and have to sit a moment and trace back where it came from.)

Also when I was a kid, twice when I was going through anxious times (moving to a new city) I had a dream about this "alternate me". For a while I thought he was supposed to be my opposite - skinny when I was chubby, wearing the other half of the pajamas I had on, and silent where I would be talkative - except then as we wrestled I went to scream, and couldn't, classic sleep-paralysis. This might be looking too much into it but now I wonder if he might be a manifestation of this other part of me.

There's a whole type of therapy, popular in New England and maybe not so much elsewhere, called Internal Family Systems that encourage recognizing similar sub-parts, and roleplaying engaging with them as full-fledged people. (So closer to the silent kid than the skullfull of worms) The practice talks about specific roles (Managers, Exiles, Firefighters) that I'm not sure feel true to me, but it might be an avenue worth exploring.
"Spiders are really tiny 3D printers"

April 14, 2017

I just ported an old macabre doodle program I made for my Aunt a while back, to make it modern-browser friendly.