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Semiformalishmaybe

Drawing Outside the Lines

Begun in 2010, but will be finished outside the lines. I like the symbolism - just like that "Does not play well with others" that I (and many others) received on their elementary school report card that's become a mini-emblem of identity, rarely in life do our adventures line up with arbitrary borders, however much we might like them to (sense of occasion?).

What was 2010 to me? I'd like to say that it's when I conquered (again) depression, but it'd be more accurate to say that it's under control. I'd like to say that -REDACTED- but that's not nearly so simple. Apart from depression and lonliness being markedly down, more's the same than different in my life - still tweaking this understanding of humanity and society that I've been building for years, neat advances in sciences, thought, literature paired with the usual faults against which we struggle. Actual shifts:

  • Steady work on drawing. This covered the whole year (and more). Getting a bit better.
  • Fixed bike, then recently bought a new one. Also been jogging again. Biking and running are not really new to me, but I'm in better shape than I've been for a long time because I'm taking them more seriously now.
  • There's a very big manner I'm leaving quiet for now. Complicated, but mostly good I think?
  • Having come out of depression, there's always a bit of a "who am I?" that changes me. I'm pretty sure who I am now, even though the who I was is like a pre-last-regeneration DrWho
  • Android phone changed my life a bit - continual net connection = catch up with news all the time, meaning less time spent doing so at other times.
  • SSD changed my life a bit, first in a good way and then in a bad way when it died. Now that I have its replacement, I need to figure out when to move back onto it. Importance of spare hardware is reinforced.
  • Cooking! I cook more often now, and skill levels are up! I believe I'll be baking most of my own bread from now on, and I'm getting the family recipes
  • All three of my younger sisters became engaged. This is a bit weird for me, but I approve of their choices. Part of the oddness is I'm certain to be married last (if ever), and part of it is suddenly having three new guys to consider kin. I would not be surprised if I end up being an uncle soon. This shifts my personal impression of my age a bit - although I'd like to be a father (I think I'd be ready for that now, were I in the right kind of relationship with the right person), I think my personal perception of age stopped in my early 20s. The universe doesn't care about that - I age despite myself.

For next year:

  • Get a violin or string bass (or just maybe something else)
  • Likely move (Yes I say this all the time, but it is reasonably likely this time b/c my job is going away come summer)
  • Do more stuff. Seriously.
  • Be less timid about making life changes that make me happy. It is ok to spend money on myself - I don't need to save every dime, and so long as I donate enough of my income and save enough, I can be happy spending a bit on me.
  • Shape my relations with others to make me happy (without making them unhappy)
  • Focus on high quality inputs of ideas/music/art/etc in my life.
  • Get involved again with some kind of charity work. I've done this in the past, but not much in Pgh. Either here or wherever I live next, it'd be good to be helping again.
First night celebration:
  • People dancing with fire. First one dude, then a bunch of geeky-but-punky ladies dancing to classical videogame music (I don't like the term "chiptunes" much, sorry) while swinging flaming things around.
  • People on stilts
  • In an unadvertised but still public venue, someone was leading a group of random people in playing drums and singing. I was told there are still some drums free when I went in, but I decided to stand back and just join in some of the singing. I felt really connected with humanity for a bit there, and that felt nice (almost teared up though). One of the older guys in the back looked distinguished in some odd way, like he's an African-American cultural leader, highly educated, and really really cultural - was surprised to find myself instantly liking him despite him not visibly doing anything but sitting there looking wise and looking around to approve of people. The whole thing felt like a home I've never known.
  • Dinner at the culinary school - some kind of weird spicy minestrone(?) soup, very good cider, cookies. Very tasty, very affordable. One of the guys at the door knew me from somewhere but couldn't remember where (this was mutual).
  • Wandered through more galleries.
  • Parade! I walked with it for a long way and took photos
  • Saw 「Cello Fury」 in the food court. They rocked. I was surprised at the ability of one of the cellists to play while headbanging (lots of hair!) - how did that not get in the way of his fingering?
  • Returned to a jazz/hiphop band area, saw that nobody was dancing, changed that (and got a lot of smiles and winks from people) with my high-energy moves. Occasionally individuals or couples would come up and imitate my moves nearby for awhile (until tired). Bumped into Carl, who thought that some of them were trying to pick me up(!) - lol. Anyhow, good times were had, and I danced a lot longer than I thought I was going to (had been a long time since I let loose like that).
  • Wandered home, long phone call, then some wine to usher in the new years.

This is one of the longer-delayed posts I've made in recent memory - started NYE, finishing it on the 3rd. Huh.

Let's think a bit more broadly and look at the world.

  • Political winds are shifting in unpleasant ways in the United States. The relatively mild healthcare bill may be repealed, as the far right attempts to dominate our political climate. Yes, we just can't have nice things - people who doubt the grand project of civilisation are determined to divorce our society from facts, lie, and do whatever they can to push us to depend on corporations to define and seek the public good. I hope they can be made to look bad enough that we can bury this small-l libertarian streak for good (unlikely, but a nice dream).
  • Schwarzenegger is on his way out. Most people doubted him when elected (including me), but he was surprisingly effective and good in politics in many respects.
  • Cheap and powerful tablets didn't arrive yet, but they're on their way. I recognise the last product on this list of "worst products of 2010" - it looks almost identical to a bit of free hardware I got this year. I agree with the review - it's a piece of junk. I keep it in the kitchen with whatever I'm cooking's recipe on it, but getting it to do anything is an exercise in frustration. Maybe next year.
  • The environmental movement hasn't really recovered from manufactured controversy. This is very worrying.
  • Wikileaks has become ever more interesting, but its recent leaks might imperil its existence.

Ken MacLeod (a socialist science fiction writer I like) talks about James Cannon, American Socialist. I don't agree with either of them that socialism is inevitable - it's hard to believe that our beliefs, whether the secular liberalism of the west or socialism for those of us who are socialist, are inevitable. People grow up with whatever values they're raised; we are liberals because of our lineage and exposure to ideas - it takes something special and rare to get people to abandon the views with which they've been raised. I think this relates to how it's hard for me to get entirely on the bandwagon of Wikileaks - I believe that an open society, with the right people and political environment, is a good thing, but in many circumstances, releasing the secrets brings about at least an immediate harm (again, by our values - harm is a value-laden judgement) - there are nations where the leadership is more liberal (or pressurable by western nations) than the people. Many liberals fail to see this, in the same way that neoconservative foreign policy requires a faith that establishing strong markets and weak democracy all over the world will let people be finally able to be like us as they've always wanted. Our values, whether socialist or capitalist, neoconservative or liberal or something else, are not what everyone's always wanted in their heart of hearts. Cultural struggles and inculturation are crucial because what a people believes is pretty free form. (Refernce: utter failure of Sam Harris)

Thinking a bit about this particular 「Law and the Multiverse post」 about mens rea and actus reus, I'm toying with this as one of the general principles of law: Law is a tool by which people are (shaped towards/punished ifnot) acting in reasonable ways (as shaped by custom), in areas where there is a social interest (generally, preventing a harm) in conformity.

I intend to get back into webcomicking - not a continuation of Oyschlisn - rather a redoing and continuation of the other story I occasionally posted bits of on here before.

Comments

woo, baking bread is the best! do you have any tricks for it?

i've never gotten a loaf to come out quite perfectly; usually i get the timing of the last rising wrong. also i think i should replace the metal baking sheet with a better surface...
I'm using a metal baking sheet - the recipe I linked just turned out well without any tricks (although I used generic flour rather than bread flour, and I used olive oil).

Maybe try changing the environment of the rising a bit? Or perhaps change how you knead the dough?
could be any of them. sprinkling flour on the sheet under the bread seems to help, though the edges stick. then again, i haven't attempted in too long...

i am a fan of this website: http://www.baking911.com/bread/problems.htm
There is something hilarious about both the name and content of that site. Thanks :)
more things should be titled in c_style.
You can put cornmeal under the bread.