October 10, 2007

Avid activity vs. depression

Physical activity can be quantified.
  • It's not the same as the level of depression in terms of amount of non-depressed behavior.
  • However, physical activity may be useful as a treatment for depression.
Mental activity is hard to quantify.
  • A variety of activities in a day, a lot of hours used for some different activities every day, isn't necessarily a lot of mental activity, and isn't necessarily not depressed.
  • A lot of time each day used for difficult mental activity that has some results or progress, even if a hobby, isn't necessarily not depressed. (It might be required work or a habit, and going very slowly or unenjoyably.)
The kind of not depressed I want is an "appetite" for learning and activities, and "energy" to put hours into various hobbies and activities every day.

It's hard to express in abstractions and generalities.

A very depressed state is sleeping in, sitting around, not taking much of an interest in anything, —which means specifically when one happens to look at a book, turn on a radio or t.v., pick up an instrument, there's nothing important about it, it's all boring, and even if one has hours to spend doing that one thing, it's only the most casual amount that gets done and it doesn't catch on to doing every day— going along with watching t.v. sometimes, but not even consistently about that and losing interest in longer, boring things because it gets hard to pay attention.

A moderately depressed state is having activities at various times of day every day, being able to have a routine of media consumption, scheduled radio and t.v. programs that one likes, and reading time to keep up with some periodicals and reading novels, being able to have an exercise routine and regular meals, shopping, laundry. But choice to do new things isn't there much, and avidity to learn and to progress is lacking.

A positively not depressed state includes the ability to take an interest in learning something, to read and to study it avidly for hours every day, to make the time for it, just because it's interesting and one is curious or feels challenged. It doesn't have to be part of a school program or have anyone else's approval as an activity that's "not a waste of time."

It's hard to fake a proper interest in a hobby just by putting time or money into it or making some product or performance to show for it. Without interest, whatever art it is, one barely might put out cookie-cutter, paint-by-numbers, crude models, school-level unenthusiastic performances, etc.

With a proper interest, one can produce results from areas of interest that don't seem to lend themselves to showing results. One can have a wealth of knowledge and skills and related products and accomplishments to show for it, where others if they just heard of the area of interest would think there's nothing really to do in that area, at least not for an amateur who isn't well funded, because there isn't a conventional expectation of school-like project results to show. For instance, people can see how an interest in boats might be demonstrated by the result of having a boat or the result of making model boats, because that's relatively conventional, but to take some arcane, useless-seeming curiosity and make a product people wouldn't expect out of it, resourcefully not extravagantly, is possible with a proper interest.

But not to get materialistic about having products, or to make interests about having something to show off.

With interest, one can take a curiosity about a language, for example, and learn the language and read interesting books in it, and so on.

With less interest, less avidity, one reduces language learning to having to know a list of words that are substitutes for what one already knows, so it becomes intensely boring, then one doesn't seem to have the energy to spend hours on it every day, even if there's still an interesting part left one feels a lack of energy to get through the overhead to getting to that part and would rather sit around and daydream than spend time on it every day.

It has to do with a distinction between "interest" as having a motive to do something that's in one's interest, then it's all a means to an end and one needs to have willpower and low time-preference to get through it for the long-term result, and the more colloquial sense of "interest" as one's curiosity about something, pleasure in learning it, which is really living not preparing to live.

With depression one feels "stuck," "blocked," fears and inhibitions and dislike of routine and tiredness blocking getting through the basic requirements of activities that would be "interesting," that is, mentally stimulating and learning experiences.

August 26, 2007

What are we all?

We're part of life on Earth. What life on Earth really is, how new species arise, we don't really know. Random mutation and natural selection doesn't explain it, it just restates the problem of what life is at another level of detail. What is really random and where does randomness come from? That's a deep problem for the philosophy of life and existence. If mutations are random how do they end up so often when and where needed and not very often at other times? That's a problem to keep at least geneticists busy for a long time, if the answer doesn't lie somewhere beyond their specialty. How is "natural selection" different from "what survives, survives," a redundancy?

At least we know we're part of life on Earth. We're just like any other land mammal, except for our behavior. We're adapted to the Earth's atmosphere, gravity, Earth foods, Earth bacteria. There are skeletons of presumable human ancestors who lived about any number of years ago you care to name. Not a skeleton for every year, but enough to fill a picture with links including some extra links that probably aren't ancestors. Within the last 12,000 years, the skeletons are supposed to be about the same anywhere as up to 1492. For skeletons that are believed to be about 40,000 years old, the ones in Europe that looked less like ancestors of anyone were called Neanderthal, and the ones that looked a lot like local ancestors were called Cro Magnon. Since that terminology was vague and misleading for human remains outside Europe, finds that would have been called Cro Magnon are now called "anatomically modern humans" as the preferred terminology. If anatomically modern humans weren't our direct ancestors, then who was?

The story scientists are telling now is that about 100,000 years ago, in East Africa some hominids who were already pretty much anatomically modern humans began spreading out over the whole world, and also became human in behavior, at least as far as painting with ocher and making figurines and other things archaeologists can detect that are beyond just making one kind of sharpened stone by habit. But the alternate story that there was some mixing of regional varieties with a spreading group of humans with modern behavior still has some life in it, because science always has new measurements and hypotheses. Maybe there was a bottleneck roughly 100,000 years ago in terms all human ancestors, then those spread out, then roughly 50,000 years ago behaviorly modern humans arose, and spread out and mixed with the earlier wave, but that spreading and genes for intelligence becoming predominant is not yet complete.

Why hominids split from apes and when is a totally separate range of prehistory problem, whatever you believe about the accuracy of various forms of radiological dating. Of course there are still apes, there are still jungles for them to live in and stay safe by climbing trees, where modern humans are in danger from predators because it's harder for us to climb trees, being adapted so well to walking upright since Australopithecines, which they say lived 4 to 6 million years ago. If it weren't for apes, it would be some other distant relative of humans that creationists would ask their question about. Why are there still cows, if humans and cows share a primitive mammalian ancestor? Why are there still flies? Why are there still rocks? If life evolved and humans are the superior product of evolution, then everything in the universe should be humans, nothing else remaining, according to creationist logic.

Now scientists are saying there are a few more million years to wonder about between Australopithecines and a common ancestor of apes and humans. I think that could be the time in which the pre-hominids developed from forest apes to all the adaptations to walking upright that we have. I tend not to believe that random point mutations and selection can explain major changes in species like that, because if you look at the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees, there are entire chromosome reorganizations. Truly distinct species are unable to produce fertile offspring together, due to chromosome set differences, which implies for every species there was a bottleneck of one lucky complete mutant as the founding mother or father of the whole species, and since it's so hard to breed successfully with chromosome differences, a lucky breeding incident of that mutant and the previous normals, or else parthenogenesis.

As for humans having 26 hour biological clocks, I think the deeper physiological clock of humans that regulates heat has been shown to run at about 24 hours, but the sleep clock runs at about 25 or 26 hours when humans are separated from natural cycles of sunlight and dark. That's a good thing, because it allows rotating your sleep to adjust to the seasons and changes of what parts of the day are good for activities and for sleeping, and it may allow a hunter or scavenger to make use of moonlight, following the almost 25 hour cycle of when the moon is up.

The Garden of Eden is an allegory for something that really happened: Humans started judging what was good to eat for themselves, and invented agriculture, instead of just eating the easy and appetizing fruit and nuts and meat that don't have to be cooked to be edible. That choice condemned their descendants to earning their bread by the sweat of their brows, as it is written.

[I wrote this as a comment to a post at Vault-Co. It stands well enough on its own as a sample of where my thoughts on human evolution are.]

August 19, 2007

Bicycling going well

I've bicycled 19 days in a row, and I'm starting to feel better and getting better at it.

I rode about 8 miles yesterday, while the weather was sprinkling and it was dark. Today I rode the same a little earlier so I had some light, and I don't feel tired, I feel energized.

I've been averaging about 12 mph for entire rides, including stops, which is supposed to be typical for casual bicyclists (as opposed to cyclists, competitors in the sport of cycling.) I don't keep track precisely of how fast or have a speedometer or bike computer, because that would defeat the purpose of getting out there and letting out energy freely and losing track of time. I blow past some more casual bicyclists despite myself. Since I'm up to using gear ratios of 2 or more through the whole ride including uphills and I'm increasing my cadence along with that, I might get fast enough to keep up with some amateur cyclists, just based on my natural level of enjoying physical exertion.

Exercise literally means "driving out" as in driving animals out of an enclosure to let them have their necessary physical activity. When I studied that and decided to believe it works that way - that you just get out there, then do as much as you like - then it became easy. I just make sure to get out on the bike at all every day, and the rest comes naturally.

August 05, 2007

Starting Bicycling Every Day

I'm on my fifth day of biking every day.

I decided at the end of July to start at the beginning of August so that it would be easy to count how many days I've biked, to keep up my resolution. I thought of starting this for several months this year, thinking of how to slide into it easily. Then I realized the months were slipping by without my starting it, and the summer when it's easier to start was slipping by. Conclusion: Start whether it seems easy or not, like my life depends on it. I'll figure out whether it was exactly the right decision later on, instead of letting that worry prevent me from starting when it will very likely be a good decision in hindsight.

An interesting incident from the second day:

I went too many miles too fast, because I was excited by exploring a new bike path and didn't want to wait until I was in shape to go that far. I thought I "bonked" on the way back. The "bonk" may have been a combination of a number of types of exhaustion: dehydration, hypothermia* from having clothes wet with sweat as the day cooled into evening, low blood sugar, out-of-breath**, sore muscles, and sleepiness. The overall effect was that my pedaling was not just weak as in normal tiring, I started feeling like maybe I should just take up walking instead of biking. I felt a desire to sit down and rest at the very next park bench by the path.

When I sat down, my perception of the situation went from a narrow focus on getting somewhere, to realizing how incredibly tired I was and how much I needed to rest and to catch my breath, to resting and taking in some calm, to waking up to the need to get home and my sensitivity to perception and awareness being enhanced. Except my ability to bike wasn't enhanced. I felt weak enough that I didn't pedal at all downhill, and discovered more subtle downhills than I was aware of on previous rides. When I did try to pedal it was like going weak in the knees, not being able to put much force in, and although I didn't feel dizzy, when I went over bumps the bike shook almost out of control. Because of those effects, I walked up every hill and across every road crossing for the rest of the way back, more like stumbling, for safety's sake, not knowing how much more damage I might do to myself in that unusual state. Plus it was dark, since the ride was taking a lot longer than I had planned.

And yet, I liked the experience overall, for the effect of enhancement of perception and enjoyment, which continued for a couple of hours afterwards.

What I learned from the fifth day:

Even if your muscles are sore, that does not mean you can't get out there and bike a useful amount. When I'd had sort legs all day and felt sure it wouldn't be a good idea to go very far, I was able to go a mile away easily, and come back with plenty of energy. The spinning seemed to work the soreness out of my legs by increasing the circulation, so my legs weren't sore afterwards.

In conclusion: Why biking?

The overall reason for biking although it isn't natural, is that civilization judges us for whether we walk or run (or stand or sit) and makes it difficult physically, with pavements and traffic, to choose walking or running by instinct. Bicycling lets a body get out there and let loose any amount of energy it feels like, whether it would count as walking or jogging or sprinting uphill if on foot. You can't tell very well how much energy you're putting into it, unless you have a bike computer that measures that, because even if you can estimate how fast you're pedaling and with how much force, to multiply to estimate power, those quantities are constantly changing, and your perception of them changes as you get excited or tired. It's a good thing that you can't tell how much energy, because it lets you just take out energy that's otherwise pent up in the constraints and self-consciousness of civilization. Taking out energy as your body desires helps your whole nervous and physical system adapt better to living.

Notes added August 8:

* Instead of hypothermia, I may have experienced increased core temperature, which sports medicine says may lead to muscle relaxation and changes in neurotransmitters. (See Runner's High: Is It for Real? at MedicineNet.com and 20 Proven Health Benefits of Exercise at Health24.com, benefit number 5: Exercise is an excellent de-stressor.)

** Instead of out-of-breath, I may have experienced hyperventilation, because of breathing more in anticipation of out-of-breath.

June 12, 2007

Discarded reasons why civilization should end

1. global warming, being responsible for it
[A runaway warming is not happening, and not possible. The warming that there is probably has nothing to do with civilization, except urban heat islands. Industry probably hasn't even affected CO2 levels more than a few years cumulatively because of the adjustment of the natural system to absorb industrial output, several times more carbon being in plants than in the atmosphere and increased CO2 increasing plant growth, a powerful negative feedback. Even if it were happening, big deal, the Earth's climate has changed as much before.]

2. DDT and other pesticides and herbicides
[No, they don't kill everything and cause extinctions. There are some that as Rachel Carson wrote about cause local die-offs if overapplied, including poisoning of a few people who are exposed acutely, but that's why there are warning labels and regulations. A major pollution disaster where no one is held accountable is not an everyday thing. The residue in the environment is a small price to pay for control of malarial mosquitoes and other pests, not as bad as civilization's unintentional pollutants. Nature is full of natural insecticides produced by plants anyway. That's why they aren't all eaten by insects already.]

3. destruction of archaeological treasures in Iraq because of war that wouldn't be possible without civilization
[This makes no sense as a reason for civilization to end. If civilization ends, then not only will archaeology not be done and treasures not dug up, and thus effectively lost, but civilization will cease producing artifacts for future archaeologists to dig up, and civilization having been a bad mistake will mean that the treasures considered priceless because they come from the beginning of civilization should be thought worthless.]

4. civilization being too irresponsible to prepare for every contingency that might cause its own collapse
[That's at most a reason why civilization might collapse, not a reason to help it along. If you see a contingency that might require preparation, then you can warn people, and they might take heed. That's the main reason Y2K fizzled: Everyone was warned and overprepared. People are looking at the possibilities of an asteroid impact and of a solar flare causing electric storms and knocking out satellites, so maybe they'll be prepared in time. If they aren't, it doesn't mean civilization was never worth it.]

May 02, 2007

How this civilization will end

In September of 1859, the entire Earth was engulfed in a gigantic cloud of seething gas, and a blood-red aurora erupted across the planet from the poles to the tropics. Around the world, telegraph systems crashed, machines burst into flames, and electric shocks rendered operators unconscious. Compasses and other sensitive instruments reeled as if struck by a massive magnetic fist. For the first time, people began to suspect that the Earth was not isolated from the rest of the universe. However, nobody knew what could have released such strange forces upon the Earth--nobody, that is, except the amateur English astronomer Richard Carrington.
(from Princeton University Press catalog entry on The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began, by Stuart Clark.)

Greenie Watch (John Ray) comments on the above: "Imagine the impact of such an event on our electronically connected society today."

Today's outspoken astronomers talk about plasma physics and the electric universe. thunderbolts.info makes a good starting point for learning about the subject and has daily updates to continue learning once you get into it. Just as happened to Richard Carrington, no one believes them, not even other astronomers. This despite their supporting the same science that he did, which the world supposedly accepted in the 19th century. Geocentric presumptions say that the Earth and the celestial spheres have different forces working in them and the twain shall never meet. Mainstream popular astronomers claim to think non-geocentrically, but they never consider anything but the forces of gravity and magnetism and think that the force of electricity only occurs, out of all places in the universe, in thunderstorms on Earth.

When the forces of the solar system come down to the surface of Earth again en masse, which they haven't done since the invention of transistors, civilization as we know it, relying on transistors, very vulnerable to electric surges and static electricity, will come to an immediate standstill. Only those who have prepared with vacuum-tube and mechanical equipment or never adopted civilization in the first place will survive.

How violent are humans?

Humans don't behave violently in conditions of overcrowding or scarcity. (Look at actual crowds and food lines.)

Human violence happens almost exclusively between adolescent males competing for dominance with males from outside groups, and in social situations arranged on that model.

The stress that a person needs to discharge doesn't come mainly from a drive to violence; it comes from a drive to act physically for well-being and to get necessary things for survival. It needs release through physical exercise or else causes worry, depression, and other nervous disorders. Why people don't exercise, how social norms constrain them to sedentary behavior, that I don't know yet.

[I wrote the above as a comment on a post about violence at the blog How to Save the World.]

April 21, 2007

You Will So You Can (English translation)

You will so you can
I say you can if you will, you will so you can (It is clear you can)
I say you can if you will, you will so you can

They who govern our world are incompetent
Why ask about conditions why obey and wait
Why waste time we have well willed clearly
Evidently something must happen soon
At a furious pace, they're consuming our globe
They're turning dreams to ashes and soot
On him who obeys the idiot is himself idiot
Affixing fetters around his own foot
So chin up and find strength in your inside
The fools' leadership makes the people lesser
So frightened, snowed, misled
Governed, watched, but never seen
Under compulsion we're not really we
Governed by someone else not really free
High time to stop waiting, get done what's intended
The thought holds the doors closed.

I say you can if you will, you will so you can
I say you can if you will, you will so you can
Dare to will, dare to question, know your own ability

I say what the hell leave off whining stop chattering, talking a load of crap
You are surely far too well to be nagging on complaining that bites
Do off your yoke and chains to get to know how strong you are
Write your own book on construction presses for each good idea
Protest, criticize, sing, cry, talk, discuss
roar, paint, initiate, glow, for bread on the waters for many
Light fires where you see darkness for you have the energy for you never get tired
Turn when you get stuck water where the drought screams when you see rot
Do your own building in authority-free zones
Own battalions of love-soldiers with cannons
At forgotten windmills at millions of illusions
Spreading joy shooting notes reality of visions
Your own thought please so makes reality of it
Let your feeling give you courage and make your neighbor your friend
Best you do it now, for your time is now and not later
Best that you are you and you can do it again

I say you can if you will, you will so you can
I say you can if you will, you will so you can
It is clear you can, clear you can (so yes you can)

So many musts are they actually yours?
Many take second and do them as orders
Stressed rushing for someone else's will
As never exists when you fall downhill
At needs stay only take over glow
Do it till your life's in overflow
Live not so death takes what you never had
You can if you will, you will so you can

What only I see is closed doors there
For us who want more than to build a career
Seek in yourself for it's lies they teach
they play with fire on low desires
So refuse to stand still
Know what you will
Striving in charity with the friend next to
You can and I can, together we can more
Advanced like a fire by the heat, we become more

I say you can if you will, you will so you can
It is clear you can, clear you can, clear you can make the dream come true
I say you can if you will, you will so you can
Let them see you have a damn more to give

[This is my translation of "Du Vill Så Du Kan" by Svenska Akademien. YouTube video Swedish lyrics]

March 26, 2007

getting going, more specifically

specifics of my current plan for getting going: (in contrast to the abstract ideas I wrote in "strategies for getting going" that anyone could apply)

1) Quit smoking. (I've thought about this a lot recently, and I think I have how smoking works and how to quit figured out. I won't post all about it, at least not until I prove it in action.) Smoking gets in the way of wanting and doing and feeling satisfied in a natural sequence. Smoking gets in the way of adequate exercise and undoes some of the benefits of exercise.

2) Bicycle every day, or at least get out for a walk if weather, soreness, or mechanical problems prevent bike riding. The human body needs exercise. Bicycles don't occur naturally*, of course, but a bicycle has high efficiency and happens to allow exercising and getting around in my current circumstances. Going out at least once a day would prevent the result of what I did before: trying bicycling sometimes, then taking rest days that continue indefinitely into another period of depression. Once I get out on the bike, I can decide how far to go that day according to how I feel.

3) Whenever I feel nervous, go out and walk or ride, anytime of day or night. Bodily energy bottled up causes nervousness, which leads to depression. "The prison of civilization" involves such obvious physical restriction of activity by social convention. The criticism of civilization as a prison by modern Gnostics and Primitivists doesn't say the world just magically acts like a prison in some invisible way. The imprisonment has physical reality, the locks may not. In various theories, "the prison of civilization" remains that by how we look at it and what we choose to believe.

4) Get fresh real food every day possible. Real food means paleodiet food: food that by nature does not need to be cooked to render it tolerable for human consumption, although having control of fire, we may well choose to cook our food, to neutralize bacteria that artificial handling has introduced and to render it yet more easily digestible to make up for the loss of nutritional value due to artificial handling.

5) When resting, read and study seriously, as should come automatically and enjoyably when energized and physically tired from exercise. The alternative of amusing oneself pointlessly on purpose seems to appeal more the more one lives removed from natural health and guilty about it.

*-The idea that nature includes everything, therefore we can make no useful distinction between natural and artificial, spouts from know-it-alls who don't have the slightest idea of the insidious deadliness of that idea, or they do, which makes them evil.

in short, my proposed regimen:

instead of smoking,

every day, bike out and get some meat, eggs, fruit & veggies, cook them to taste, and enjoy!

I thought of this beginning some time ago, last year, but it seems so highly experimental compared with what most people do and choose, and with the limited degree of freedom of choice of lifestyle that most people allow themselves, that it has taken a while for me to evaluate it as a perfectly reasonable, acceptable choice.

March 17, 2007

word wrap for Firefox bookmarklet

Firefox displays each paragraph in a plain text file (txt format) as a single line, if long running off the right side of the window. That doesn't seem optimally useful.

I asked for help on it at MozillaZine forums and got the advice to right click on the page and click View Page Source, which has a word wrap option. That works, but it seems unnecessarily complicated. I wanted the text displayed in a better format in the same tab it was opened in, in one click or less.

At that forum, I also found a JavaScript bookmarklet that was recommended for dealing with a similar problem, text without spaces that needs to be have potential breaks inserted so it can be word wrapped:

javascript:(function() { var D = document; F(D.body); function F(n) { var u, r, c, x; if (n.nodeType == 3) { u = n.data.search(/\S{45}/); if (u >= 0) { r = n.splitText(u + 45); n.parentNode.insertBefore(D.createElement('wbr'), r); } } else if ((n.tagName != 'STYLE') && (n.tagName != 'SCRIPT')) { for (c = 0; x = n.childNodes[c]; ++c) { F(x); } } } D.body.innerHTML += ' '; })();

The raw code intrigued me. I already knew about bookmarklets but I'd never written a new program in JavaScript. I thought I could figure out what was going on and write my own program to fix it anyway. I ended up spending all night learning a little JavaScript by experimenting and reading some definitions of some elements of JavaScript at DevGuru and came up with this:

txt to html v6

javascript:{var x, c; x = document.body.innerHTML; if (x.substr(0, 5) + x.substr(x.length - 6, 6) == '<pre></pre>') {document.write('<HTML><BODY>\n'); x = x.substr(5, x.length - 11); var textline = x.split('\n'); for (c = 0; c < textline.length; c++) {document.write(textline[c] + '<br>\n')}; document.write('</BODY></HTML>'); document.close();}}

Just cut and paste the above paragraph into the "Location:" field of a bookmark "Properties" window, open a txt file, click on the bookmarklet and watch it do its magic.

The only problem I've found using it is that when it's used on ordinary web pages, it strips most of the formatting, and when used extra times, it adds extra line breaks. That is, it's not foolproof. But you can just hit the "back" button to fix any problem.

Regarding this as an example of the increasing complexity of civilization: I find a lot of humor in it, how complicated it gets to deal with the simplest formatting issue within the complexity of modern communications. If it keeps going this way, pretty soon many common formats will be almost useless, like scrambled cable, when not viewed on matched devices and software, and too tricky for anyone to crack, not because they will be designed for copy-protection, but inadvertently because of rampant complexification.
 Updated May 16, 2012: More efficient word wrap bookmarklets were provided by Mardeg at Bugzilla@Mozilla forum in 2009. Either of these is what to use if you just want to change the view mode of an unformatted page displayed in Firefox to word wrapped temporarily, without changing the font or other page data:

shorter "Wrap" bookmarklet

even shorter "Wrap" bookmarklet

Mardeg also provided an undo which works for either of the two bookmarklets above, since the back button doesn't undo them:

"refresh" bookmarklet

By contrast, the "txt to html" bookmarklet I wrote mungs an unformatted page such as a txt file of plain text into a quirky minimalist html formatted page, which will then be displayed word wrapped by default and in your browser's default html font, and which you may then save as an html file. The "txt to html" bookmarklet doesn't seem to require a "refresh" bookmarklet because Firefox seems to treat rendering the newly munged page as navigating to a new page, which results in the back button having the effect of undo. I use the word "mung" since rather than convert the page data in a standard way, it's a work-around that strips the page data using the ill-advised "=document.body.innerHTML" trick and crude string manipulation, and I use the words "quirky minimalist" since rather than following standards for complete html formatting as determined by w3c, I merely used the minimum of tags that seemed to work for the purpose.

So if you use the "txt to html" bookmarklet and save a page you're viewing that way, be advised that it will insert the tags <html> <head>
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1"> [or some such according to whatever format and character encoding Firefox sets as the default] </head> <body>, a <br> for every blank line or end of line in the original, added line breaks that divide resulting lines over 132 columns into max 72 column lines [only visible in html source but done by Firefox when saving as html, maybe for backward compatibility with older text editors], and the close tags </body> </html> into the saved page.

A particular advantage of the newer "word wrap" bookmarklets is that if you also need to apply the "word wrap for text without spaces" bookmarklet in order to word wrap really long sequences of characters without spaces, you can apply both in either order. Though you won't see the reallylongwords wrap until you click both. With "txt to html" you have to apply the "word wrap for text without spaces" after converting to html, because the "word wrap for text without spaces" bookmarklet that this all started with does a sort of html formatting when used on unformatted page, which makes it no longer a plain text page that "txt to html" can reformat. (An extra element that makes this subject confusing is that Firefox has various levels of telling what html is actually in the source of the page and what html is taken as read or is imputed to the page because of Javascript. The "View Page Source" option seems to be fairly accurately the source that the page was generated from, from the start of a navigation step or JavaScript action that can only be undone by the back button. The "Inspect Element" option then "HTML" button seems to give closer to the html that's currently taken as read. Neither one gives you exactly what you'll get if you save the page.)

March 16, 2007

strategies for getting going

Today I wrote myself a list of strategies for getting going. They included, more or less:

1) Raise my standards immediately, so I choose to do better things all day.

2) Just make sure to do what will improve my health and energy, such as exercising, and let doing better things follow in a more relaxed way.

3) Set myself free of the fear of criticism for doing too much. - I thought of how I feel afraid inside of potential criticism from family I see sometimes or from strangers for having a plan to do more or for keeping busy. Really, in my experience, when people see you doing something different or keeping busy, they ask why. It often seems to disturb them. If you give an explanation, they may restate or exaggerate the explanation in a silly tone, to mock it as pretentious or stupid. For instance suppose you're drawing. They ask "Why?" You: To learn to draw. I might do something with the skill. They: "Oh, I'm going to be a great artist. Look at me. I'm so great." Even if people don't mock so directly, it takes a thick skin not to read that into what they say, when you know that they mean to tell you not to be proud and not to expect fame or fortune, because that would be a crazy expectation. At least that's how people react in the culture I grew up in. All I could think in response while writing today was the desire to say something hurtful in reaction like, "I know you hate me and you want to criticize anything I do so that I won't do anything and I'll be depressed."

Now that I've explained the situation in enough detail for readers who may have different cultural assumptions, I see that this is an example of a message in a specific culture that is a sickness of culture that people constantly communicate to each other without necessarily realizing they're doing it or necessarily feeling hate or envy for another person's activity. This criticism of activity and putting down others for pride is part of the subculture I grew up in. It's a result of certain strains of Christianity, probably influenced by failure-oriented television, and maybe by lower-middle-class class envy. My finding this phenomenon without looking for it, but incidentally in the process of trying to improve my life and doing self-analysis, tends to verify for me a lot of what Nietzsche wrote about Christianity.

4) Try everything at my place every day, a little sample of every hobby I could do, and see what catches on. (You know, instead of letting it gather dust. A pile of stuff. Who needs it? Use it or lose it.)

5) Act like I'm at camp. (I went to a week long summer camp each summer for a few years when I was growing up. They were Christian camps, so there were daily religious services, but it was a great escape from family where there was playing and a variety of activities all the rest of the time. The sort of religion is negative, and the camps luring parents into giving up their children for a week by enticing children is negative according to the religion, but a double negative makes a positive.)

The last three strategies come under the same general strategy of choosing to do a lot of whatever I think that's reasonable, instead of letting it stop me that others who know me might say it's crazy.

Please don't take professional psychiatry seriously. They would say "trying everything" is definitely manic, and the other strategies are at least hypomanic if actually practiced. It's worse than that: If you can go out every day to do something you choose, and you have any energy left over or are speaking quickly, they'll diagnose you with mania or manic depression (euphemism: bipolar disorder) and prescribe something awful to slow you down, regardless of a lack of any of what they would call "irrational ideas" such as the above strategies. A few years ago, I was complaining quickly in a few minute visit to a psychiatrist that I was busy and having trouble starting college because I was staying up late doing homework and sleeping in, out of habit, and missing classes, so that psychiatrist changed her diagnosis of me from depression to manic depression. That doesn't make any sense, and I haven't trusted psychiatrists since.

There have been some news articles about the opinion in a book by Dr. John Gartner that famous creative individuals and typical successful people are hypomanic. There are some people who make money off gimmicks for treating mental illness who are critical of that perspective because it trivializes more serious diagnoses, e.g. Play Attention. Someone who identifies herself as having "hyperthymia," a replacement term promoted by author Dr. Peter Kramer for normal-range mood between average and hypomania, made a brightly colored webpage: Sharen's Outa-Sight Site

(Writing this is going very slowly, because I'm not energized today, and I like correct details. But I think it's important to keep going because the subject might have something to do with how much one can get done in life.)

Then after writing notes on paper on the above strategies for myself, I also wrote the following, with the intention of posting it on this blog (which makes it an experiment in the style of paper and pencil to Internet writing too):

"I'm already doing the best I can do."­-Everyone does, in a sense, but whenever you choose to do something physically, you're following some of your ideas and not others. How do you know which are "the better angels of your nature"?

If you're doing less than you could because you're afraid of being busy, then you can change that by changing your mind about it. Consider the truth of the following saying:

"If you want something done, give it to a busy person."

If you're avoiding doing more in a day than you're used to doing, because you're superstitiously afraid it will be too much and you won't remember it all, or that it isn't time to make a big change in your life, then you can realize that's a superstitious fear, maybe a fear you're holding onto because at some time in you life doing a lot in a day became associated with causing yourself pain, then you can change your mind about it and decide to do a lot of things you want to do.

I'm not talking about pushing yourself to keep busy with things you don't want to do to keep your mind off your feelings. Follow what you want. Play. Enjoy life.

Then tonight I found that Jack Trace has new posts for March on his blog, after a break since December, and his "12 March 2007"/"Imagine life where you cared not what you did." goes into the subject of fear in more depth of psychology and cultural critique than what I've mentioned here about fear. He subscribes to the Jiddu Krishnamurti (not the same as Krishna from the Bhagavad-Gita) teaching about desire that comfort leads to fear and becoming fearless turns desire into joy.

March 14, 2007

About to blog more often...

I’ve made 15 blog posts in 1 1/2 years, and had 11 comments: one spam I deleted, 6 comments from 4 readers, and my 4 comments in response to each of them. So I want to try to blog more often for at least a while, to see what happens.

Daily blogs that have new content plus news links on a subject that has a blog community seem to have a chance of becoming well-visited. I know that those blogs easily get to the top of my links list for each subject I browse regularly.

Seeing if this post goes through from 43 Things to Blogger forms part of seeing what happens. The main part of seeing what happens: Can I keep up writing and linking interesting things, or will I run out? Then if I keep it up, will I get more comments?


January 13, 2007

The Now Club

Suppose there are two different clubs that meet to talk about improving their lives.

One club is called The Someday Club. They talk about what they want to do: plans, goals, resolutions. They talk over a meal or just hanging around. Whatever they talk about, they never do during their meeting. They expect that anything you mention doing, you'll leave until later, when the meeting is over and you're on your own, at least, better yet the next day or when you said you might do it in a week or two.

It's unseemly to begin doing anything of any importance while with them. You're supposed to relax as a guest and to be entertained, or to be a gracious host only concerned with entertaining, if the meeting is at your place or on your tab. Their sort of entertaining does not include doing things that members have said they want to do. They can do those on their own time. Entertaining is for extras, things you might not have known you wanted, and a good meal or snack, regardless of whose diet it breaks.

Sometimes they'll put someone down for being all talk and no action. They think maybe they're encouraging him to do more before the next meeting, so he can report back on his progress and be proud of himself. They end up not having interesting conversations, just barely reporting how it's going if there's any change and eating quietly, because no one wants to talk about interesting things that they haven't been doing any real work on lately and that they aren't sure they're about to work on, and then to be put down for it.

The other club is called The Now Club. When someone talks about doing something, if it's possible to do then, they do it. They help each other accomplish their goals, right now. Whether it's work or play or going on a trip somewhere, if it's something someone wants to do that's a priority for that person, and it's enjoyable or worthwhile to do, they pitch in and help, or if it's something better done by one, they let a person work on it while they're hanging around.

Which club do you think is going to be more successful? Which club is more help to its members? Which club are better friends or closer family to each other or acquaintances who are more friendly? Which club is like a natural band of human beings and which is an impersonal sharing of all the bad habits of civilization? When you're with your friends or family or neighbors, which club are you participating in? When you plan what you're going to do, thinking by yourself, which club do you belong to?

[I was going to say more about The Now Club, but after writing what I did about The Someday Club in this rewrite, I couldn't add very much honestly. I realized I don't know The Now Club. I've never met them. The Someday Club is my life.]

[I came up with this concept along with the name "The Now Club" a few months ago, in the context of talking about deciding to get regular exercise to have the energy to do more every day.]

[In the middle of this rewrite I looked up the names "The Now Club" and "The Someday Club" to see if they were already widely known in some other use that would interfere with the message.]

["The Now Club" is the alternate title of the song "No Limits" on the album The Look by Shalamar. I checked a sample at Amazon, and recognized I've heard the song, which was released in 1983, and that they say "the now club" in the lyrics.]

[Heyoka magazine has an article that includes an explanation and lyrics of a song titled "The Someday Club" by Layla and the Orlando Rock Band. It's very pertinent. Another "Someday Club" is Someday, a jazz club in Tokyo.]